In a late addition to the Jones County Board of Supervisors’ April 28 meeting, safety concerns around the popular Amber Hula Hoop Tree were back on the agenda.
Supervisor Jon Zirkelbach, who owns the land adjacent, said he had become concerned about public safety.
He said over the previous weekend he noticed people gathering in tight groups, and they were not observing proper social distancing. The county is under strict gathering restrictions through May 1 and are only supposed to be leaving home for essential trips and gathering with people from their own household.
There have also been issues of people climbing the Zirkelbach’s fence to retrieve hula hoops.
Last September, Jones County Engineer Derek Snead investigated who actually owned the property the tree was on. Snead said upon measuring from the center of the roadway and digging up the old contracts and said that the property line was right on the fence line of Zirkelbach’s property, and the county owned 49 percent of the tree.
During that previous discussion, Jones County Attorney Kristofer Lyons outlined a couple of concerns. The first, and least likely, was what if the tree was to fall down. Secondly, there were concerns about the cars parked on the side of the road, and people running back and forth across the road.
To alleviate safety concerns at the time, the supervisors approved lowering the speed limit around the tree to 35 m.p.h.
At the latest meeting, Zirkelbach expressed concerns about whether he would be liable if someone caught the COVID-19 virus and whether it would have been prudent to call the sheriff’s office.
Lyons said, given the restrictions that were in place at the time, it would have been the correct call to make, saying law enforcement have been encouraged to enforce the announced restrictions.
“People that were gathering out there with people other than their household and within six feet of each other were violating the governor’s order and I think the sheriff’s office would’ve been a great phone call,” Lyons said.
Though restrictions are set to be relaxed slightly in Jones County beginning May 1, social gatherings of more than 10 people are still banned through May 15.
“Keep out” signs have now been posted on the fence to discourage people from climbing the fence and entering the Zirkelbach’s property.