MONROE COUNTY - In little more than two weeks we will experience a total solar eclipse.
Communities in the path of totality have been preparing for an influx of thousands of spectators, and city leaders in Sweetwater have been preparing for the big day for months.
Sweetwater City Recorder Jessica Morgan said they have had numerous meetings with law enforcement and agencies to go over safety measures for the day of the eclipse, Aug. 21. They have a shuttle planned so people can park and leave their cars to get around town. They also have alternate routes in place for ambulances.
“That, of course, is going to be our first priority that day,” Morgan said. “Secondly would be traffic control, and thirdly is we want everyone to have a good time and expose our county to new visitors.”
According to Monroe County Sheriff Tommy Jones, all law enforcement in Monroe County will respond only to emergency calls on the day of the eclipse. That includes all police departments.
“If you have injury or if you have someone breaking into your house, you know, a major crime like that, we’ll be responding to those,” said Sweetwater Police Chief Eddie Byrum.
Byrum says all officers will be working. He said they put emphasis on patrolling the neighborhoods and monitoring traffic. He suggests if you are a tourist or local, buy your gas, groceries and water ahead of time. And if you are local and want people to stay off your property, put up signs.
“The best thing that we’re sharing with people is just plan ahead and be patient,” Byrum said. “You’re not going anywhere quick if you’re coming to Sweetwater.”
Morgan said Sweetwater has sold about $20,000 in parking passes and t-shirts. Sweetwater will have events such as vendors, food trucks, concerts and movies throughout the weekend.
Morgan suggests alternate routes like Highway 411 to get into Monroe County, instead of Interstate 75.
Morgan said she is not certain how many people will come to the city, but they have consulted with other cities and towns who have had large traffic booms for events.
“We’re excited, we think that we can handle it, we’ve got wonderful staff and personnel, wonderful utility workers, wonderful police officers and Sheriff’s department, everybody’s doing a great job working together,” Morgan said. “We know it’s going to be big for Monroe County and Sweetwater City, and we’re excited to welcome our visitors and show so many people around here and from far off places what Sweetwater and Monroe County have to offer.”
Morgan said if you want to come to Sweetwater, plan ahead and take a look at the city’s website for parking and stay plans. All of Monroe County will have more than two-and-a-half minutes of totality. She also mentioned that if you live in the county, the best way to watch the eclipse might be from your own yard.
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