“It’s a marathon, not a sprint”: Highlights from the March 20 Yellow Springs virtual town hall
- Published: March 21, 2020
During their tri-weekly virtual town hall, Yellow Springs and Miami Township leaders updated the community on the village’s evolving response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Village Manager Josué Salmerón urged villagers to understand that the recovery from this crisis will take a long time.
“We have to be prepared for the marathon,” he said.
And although many villagers are struggling now, even more are likely to be struggling before, or even after, the pandemic threat has passed, Salmerón added. This is an unprecedented crisis, he noted.
“This is the hardest circumstance that our generation — many generations — will experience in their lifetime,” he said.
As many community members have lost their incomes over the last week, food and financial assistance has risen as the prime concern, leaders explained. They detailed local efforts on those two fronts.
Food assistance underway
Karen Wolford of the Yellow Springs Senior Center shared that the new collaboration between the center and Tom’s Market is working out well, with 26 local households taking advantage of grocery delivery since Wednesday.
Wolford said that it is not only for seniors.
“Our grocery delivery system is for anyone in need,” she said. “It is for anyone in the 45387 zip code.”
Orders are delivered Tuesday through Saturday, the day after the order is placed. To place an order, email the Senior Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 937-767-5751 between 10 a.m. and noon. Wolford said that only one delivery to a household is permitted per week, and encouraged those using the service to order enough groceries to last one week.
Meeting other senior needs
In other Senior Center news, the center is continuing its transportation program, with enhanced sanitation procedures, but has discontinued its homemaker assistance.
“We did not feel it was safe for our folks to go into client’s homes,” Wolford said.
However, any senior with a need or a question should contact the center to see if help is available, she added.
“We will do whatever we can to help older adults to get the services they need and answer their questions,” Wolford said.
Wolford said many local seniors may just need reassurance, as the coronavirus outbreak is particularly “scary for those in that demographic.”
“And they’re very very very lonely,” she added.
Neighborhood block contacts
Another effort to address those who may be isolated in their homes and need help is just getting underway, said Village Mayor Pam Conine. As part of the YS Community Foundation organizing effort, the village and township has been divided into 25 segments, and one person will be put in charge of each neighborhood. That volunteer will resource a in their neighborhood for questions or requests, Conine explained.
“It’s just a way of taking the big funnel from the big federal level through the state down through southwest Ohio and into our village,” she said.
New financial assistance available
A new avenue for financial assistance for struggling households was announced at the town hall. Sandy Hollenberg, director the Yellow Springs Federal Credit Union, said with the backing of the community foundation, the credit union is now able to make loans of $1,600 for those needing funds to meet basic needs. The loans are interest-free through 2020, and will incur an interest rate of 2.75% if the loan goes into 2021 (they must be paid back by the end of that year).
Hollenberg added that the credit union is encouraging its members to do as much banking remotely as possible.
Miami Township Fire Chief Colin Altman said that the fire station has gone to “essential personnel only.” They are also helping with a village-wide thermometer collection (visit the Facebook group “It Takes a Village Yellow Springs” for more information). And Altman encouraged villagers to take walks, play with their pets and try to have fun during a difficult time.
“Be a little light hearted — these are tough times,” he said.
Village Public Works Director Johnnie Burns said that his department is doing well with fewer staff, and was able to keep up with a 2.5-inch rain over the previous night. Still, the sewer system was challenged by material clogging the system; he urged villagers to not flush anything except toilet paper down their toilets.
YS Police Chief Brian Carlson gave advice for dealing with the uptick in scam calls flooding the state. He pointed people to the Ohio Attorney General’s website at https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/ and said people should never give personal or financial information over the phone, and even consider not answering their phone if they don’t know the number.
In response to a submitted question about evictions, Salmerón said the Village doesn’t have the authority to prevent them. However, he reported that the Greene County courts have suspended all foreclosure and eviction proceedings, and that local landlords have been urged to give their tenants relief.
“We’ve made the appeal to landlords to have some leniency, to show some compassion,” Salmerón said.
Finally, in response to a question about the availability of more COVID-19 tests, Village Council Member Lisa Kreeger said that they will likely remain limited and only for those who already have symptoms. As a result, villagers should act as if they have the disease to protect others.
“Everyone should assume they are infected with the disease, whether or not you have fever, or any symptoms,” said Kreeger, who has a nursing background. “We should all assume we are positive and protect our community in that way through physical distancing.”