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Despite executive order Tazewell County golf course opens, Sheriff explains

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As Spring weather draws in and the stay and home order continues, many people are enjoying the outdoors.

But some Tazewell County residents began asking questions when a golf course opened up despite the executive order.

The Pekin Country Club sent a notice to members saying that after discussing it with the Tazewell County Sheriff's Office, they would be opening up their courses to those members.

Sheriff Jeff Lower said Pekin Country Club is a privately owned golf course, but it's in their jurisdiction, not the city of Pekin.

Someone called the Sheriff's Office about seeing people playing on the golf course so they responded and told the person he had to stop.

"His argument was, he lives on the golf course, he pays as a member on the golf course and that we have no right or authority to remove him from that golf course and he is correct." said the Sheriff

So while there is an executive order specifically stating that golf courses are not considered essential businesses and should not be open, Lower said because it is privately owned on private property there is nothing he can do. Lower said the State's Attorney agreed.

"I have no authority to remove him other than an order from the Governor, which is not a law, it's an executive order."

On Wednesday the Country Club released a notice. It said only members could golf and must maintain social distancing. Only privately owned carts are allowed with one rider per cart unless it is family.

After reading the notice the Sheriff said, "It gave the impression that I gave permission. I do not have the authority to give permission, I don't have the authority to take it away. The only thing I relayed is that we would not be responding."

"We want people to comply with the social distancing, we want people to stay inside because I do believe this is a very serious situation that we're in. But we still do live under a set of laws. I have to work within the bounds of the law and that's what I'm trying to do."

The General Manager for Peking Country Club, Scott Roher, said that they have gone above and beyond the measures laid out by the Sheriff's Office. He said their club house remains closed, the course is only open to memebrs with their own gear, and they have removed water coolers, flag sticks, and other items that would be touched by multiple people.

He said he hopes all golf courses are able to open soon.

Kaitlin Pearson

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