Wichita County judge issues new order, no gatherings over 100 without approval

Local News

WICHITA COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — Ahead of Independence Day celebrations this weekend, Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom issues a new order, effective immediately, in an effort to control large gatherings.

Giving counties the authority to require prior approval of outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people.

“Our goal is not to write a bunch of tickets, our goal is to keep people safe,” Gossom said.

Judge Gossom stood at the podium and took action after Governor Greg Abbott left authority on prohibiting gatherings of more than 100 people up to county judges for unincorporated areas.

For those in incorporated cities, they get that approval from the mayor, so Gossom quickly met with Wichita Falls mayor Stephen Santellana in advance of this decision.

“This was not to leave out any other cities involved but it came about quickly,” Gossom said. “Trying to get together and address some of the events that seem to be on the horizon so we can kind of give them time to do this.”

For the approval of a public or private gathering that exceeds 100 people, you need to contact Judge Gossom’s office at the Wichita County courthouse.

Many might be worried about the fourth of July events already planned, like the Shepard Air Force Base fireworks show.

But with people being able to watch from their cars and a fairly easy process to get approval, Gossom isn’t anticipating too many problems.

“My goal is to say yes, that we can work together and develop a safe way to continue their activity,” Gossom said.

Masks are still not required in the county, but they are still strongly encouraged as cases soar with Wichita County reports 264 cases since June 15.

“If it’s an outdoor event and we’re going to have the temperatures we have, this mask becomes kind of cumbersome and tough. But not being able to visit your loved ones in the hospital with COVID can be even tougher,” Gossom said.

Tough precautions, all in attempts to slow down the surge in numbers, so everyon can enjoy the big holiday weekend approaching.

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