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Mohave County GOP is taking picnic safety precautions

This file photo shows crowded conditions at the 2018 Mohave County Republican Picnic. The 2020 edition, to be held Saturday, July 18 at Mohave County-owned Hualapai Mountain Park, will feature safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Miner file photo)

This file photo shows crowded conditions at the 2018 Mohave County Republican Picnic. The 2020 edition, to be held Saturday, July 18 at Mohave County-owned Hualapai Mountain Park, will feature safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Miner file photo)

KINGMAN – The 76th annual Mohave County Republican Family Picnic is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 18 at county-owned Hualapai Mountain Park and was discussed at length at the Mohave County Board of Supervisors’ meeting on Monday, July 6.

“I don’t want the rug to be pulled out from under me in the last minute,” said LaJuana Gillette, District 3 Director for the Mohave County Republican Central Committee, who is in charge of the event. “I want to make sure that this board is not going to do that.”

Gillette said she feels the party has covered “all the things that we need to cover in order to have this event” safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said the volunteers handling tickets will sanitize their hands between customers. There will be hand-washing stations and face masks for those who want to wear one and don’t have their own.

“We will be doing spacing on the benches and encouraging everyone to bring their own chair so they can place their chairs where they want,” Gillette said.

The security and cleanup will be conducted by the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office.

Gillette said the party is still deciding whether or not to have a buffet, but if there is a buffet, there will be social distancing in the line.

“We didn’t address that yet,” she said, but added that people will not be crowded together.

As a political and therefore constitutionally protected event, the picnic can take place despite Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order to ban gatherings of 50 people and more due to a surge in coronavirus cases.

Since the Hualapai Mountain Park is county-owned and already zoned for events, the picnic didn’t require a special event permit from the board of supervisors, either.

Deputy County Attorney Ryan Esplin and District 3 Supervisor Buster Johnson recommended the county come up with their own safety recommendations for the picnic to protect the county from legal action if someone gets sick.

District 2 Supervisor Hildy Angius shared with the board the letter she received from the governor’s office, which stated that the executive order was not issued to inhibit constitutionally protected activities, including on the county’s property.

“We trust that the organizers of such activities will take precautions,” Angius read from the letter, which also recommends sanitization procedures and physical distancing.

Esplin repeated the issue is not the constitutionality of the event or peoples’ rights but that the Hualapai Mountain Park is a space that the county can easily and therefore should control.

Eventually, after an exchange with Supervisor Ron Gould of District 5 who said the park in fact is owned by taxpayers, Esplin said the safety measures proposed by Gillette are “pretty good” and that the board can say: “Yeah, go for it.”

Mohave County Republicans rented a recreation site at the park, county Public Works Director Steven Latoski confirmed.

They paid a $280 fee. Attendees of the event will not have to pay the park entrance fee at the picnic on July 18.

Admission to the picnic is $20 and children under age 12 enter free.

The guest speakers will be U.S. Sen. Martha McSally (R-Arizona), Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward and Congressman Paul Gosar (R-Prescott).

Attendance figures for past events were not available, but the picnic traditionally draws a large crowd.

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