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Downtown welcomes sidewalk dining

After a request from a local business owner, sidewalk dining is now allowed on Jackson Avenue after approval by the Russellville City Council.

This will give restaurants on Jackson Avenue the option of allowing sidewalk dining for customers, since restaurants are currently only allowed to have the dining room at 50 percent capacity under the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.

“We are just trying to do our part to help out local businesses at this time,” said Russellville Mayor David Grissom.

Grissom said this measure will give customers who are interested in a dine-in experience an option if they are more comfortable not being in an enclosed building.

Grissom said the city council was only approached by one local business with the request, but the resolution will give all businesses on Jackson Avenue the option, if they choose to take advantage.

Restaurants will be allowed to install tables, seating, railing, awnings, umbrellas, containers or similar items on the public sidewalk adjacent to the premises for sidewalk dining for patrons.

No alcoholic beverages are to be served or consumed upon the permitted premises, and there must be at least four feet of unimpaired sidewalk for pedestrian use.

The city council also accepted a grant from the CARES Act for $20,000 to go toward the Russellville Municipal Airport.

The city council also agreed to amend the qualifications listed for laborer. The qualifications originally required someone to have a Class B CDL license. The new qualifications will allow a new employee six months to obtain the license.

Councilman David Palmer said he worried about the way the amendment was written because it did not allow for extensions under extenuating circumstances, but instead listed the employee would be immediately terminated.

“I just know it always happens where if it is written that there are no extensions, there will be a situation where an extension is needed and then you are back to where you started looking for a new employee,” Palmer said.

Palmer said although getting a Class B CDL license in six months is very doable, he would hate to see an employee who gets sick and is unable to receive their license lose their job due to a firm timeline.

After some discussion, the council agreed if a situation came up where the six month timeline was not doable, the requirements could be amended to reflect that.