POLK COUNTY – The Polk County Board of County Commissioners collectively signed and mailed a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis this week, seeking more control in determining how to restart the local economy.

“Our Board asks that as you formulate your plan to reopen the Florida economy as we slowly emerge from our safer-at-home strategies, that you please allow county governments to help determine what works best for their residents, rather than a one-size for all Florida executive order,” reads a portion of the letter. “Even regional decisions are complicated when a county like Polk, sandwiched between two major metropolitan areas, has very different disease statistics and demographics than Orlando and Tampa. From our lessons learned as we closed down the county, our Board of County Commissioners would like to work with our communities for better continuity in opening parks, community centers and getting businesses open again with a safe and consistent plan.”

The letter was signed by all of the board’s commissioners and mailed April 21.

On Friday, April 17 Chairman Bill Braswell said it's time to get back to work.

“At (Friday's) BOCC agenda review meeting I asked my fellow commissioners to consider sending a letter to Governor DeSantis to allow each county to determine what closures they feel are appropriate,” Braswell said. “The letter will be going out (via) Fedex later today. It's time for Polk County to get back to work.”

The county commission met prior to mailing the letter April 21.

“We have set a target date of May 1 to start reopening what we can, remaining inside any state or federal guidelines,” Braswell said. “We instructed (Polk County Manager Bill) Beasley to coordinate with the municipalities so we are all in sync.”

Winter Haven City Manager Mike Herr said he is waiting on the governor to issue a plan for reopening the economy.

“Our focus will be on reopening city parks, boat ramps and recreation facilities that are currently closed due to the outbreak of COVID-19,” Herr said. “Hopefully our governor will be announcing the reopening of our statewide economy that will be timely, thoughtful and protects the health of every Floridian from the spread of COVID-19. Our large and small businesses are ready to open and hardworking people in our city want to go back to work.”

Contact Charles A. Baker III at cbaker@d-r.media.