The Lake Helen City Commission Chambers the night of Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Lake Helen was forced to nix a second attempt to hold a regular city meeting, because two commissioners have tested positive for COVID-19 and a third was on vacation in Alaska.

Around 3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 19, the city announced on its website that the 7 p.m. meeting that night would be canceled. 

City Commissioner Kelly Frasca has been absent from meetings since earlier this month due to a positive COVID-19 test, and planned to attend via telephone. 

But then City Commissioner Roger Eckert also tested positive for COVID-19. Like the recently sidelined mayors of DeLand and Pierson, Eckert had attended the League of Cities annual conference Aug. 12-14 in Orlando. Eckert also had planned to attend the City Commission meeting by phone.

But City Commissioner Rick Basso was on vacation in Alaska, and Lake Helen needed three of its five members to be physically present to proceed.

The meeting was rescheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 25. 

But when Aug. 25 rolled around, Basso was still deep in the Alaskan wilderness, and had no idea the Aug. 19 meeting had been moved to Aug. 25. 

As a handful of citizens in attendance at the meeting waited Wednesday night, texts to Basso’s phone went unanswered, and a Lake Helen police officer was sent to his house, but found no one at home. The City Commission couldn’t start the meeting, and couldn’t even officially discuss a date for rescheduling it. 

“I thought everyone knew that I would be out of communication,” Basso said when The Beacon reached him in Alaska on Aug. 26, after he had just come into cellphone range. 

Basso said he received a barrage of emails and half-a-dozen texts after his floatplane landed in the small town of Bethel, Alaska, Aug. 26. He was on his way to Anchorage to catch a flight to Daytona Beach.

“I could not even respond to the new meeting date, other than if I had a satellite phone,” Basso said. 

Next time, he said, he’ll consider bringing one along. 

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Lake Helen City Commission will take place — barring any more unplanned circumstances — at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, in City Commission Chambers at City Hall, 327 S. Lakeview Drive.


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