COVID-19 safety continued to be at the forefront of Magnolia’s town business last week at the first meeting led by acting Mayor Becky Magee.

The town’s mask mandate will extend through April 1 following a divided decision of a town board voting through video call as a virus safety precaution.

Aldermen voted 3-1 to extend the mandate which expired Jan. 1, with Alderman Joe Cornacchione voting against it.

“Our numbers are continuously going up. Every day it has gotten worse. That’s the reason for extending the mandate, and we’ll revisit it April 1,” Magee said.

Following the resignation of former mayor Anthony Witherspoon at the end of last year, Magee will hold the office until the town’s election in June.

In other virus-related business, aldermen accepted $56,681 in COVID-19 relief money that will reimburse eligible town expenses.

“It’s money that we’ve already spent on COVID,” Magee said. “The police department salaries and overtime actually took up the bulk. I reported all the COVID-related expenses, and the city of Magnolia was designated to get up to $56,681.”

The board voted to pay SGE COVID Solutions $2,774 for a recent deep clean of the town’s library.

Aldermen also approved paying $12,000 to Durrell Design Group PLLC  for the schematic design of the new police and fire station and $4,284 to Neel-Schaffer for work on Community Development Block Grant projects.

For the coming year, aldermen accepted The Ferguson Group to prepare the town’s application for CDBG and Neel-Schaffer to again provide CDBG engineering services.

Cornacchione added to the agenda a discussion of buying a new watering vehicle for town beautification. The board directed Cornacchione to start shopping for one.

“I realize that we don’t need it now, but we need to plan ahead,” he said.

Cornacchione also asked to discuss hiring Belinda Stewart Architects to design a bathroom for the pavilion area in downtown Magnolia, but no motion was made to do so.

City hall will be closed Jan. 18 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The next board meeting will be held Feb. 2 at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom.

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