By Mike Austreng, Editor
During these days of COVID it’s been amazing how much things have changed in the business world. There are very few businesses that can say they are “booming” – most would tell you their business has dropped off. We’ve heard talk from business owners who have mentioned business being down anywhere from 30 to 60 percent. Most would tell you it would be nice to get things back to normal.
Our small town businesses don’t exist solely so the owner can make money. They employ other people, pay taxes and support numerous functions and organizations with donations of product or money. Most people who are not the proprietor of a small town business wouldn’t believe how many times a business is approached for donations. From our experience it’s nearly weekly. Businesses donate to fundraisers, sponsor events, donate to churches and organizations – all a part of doing business in small towns – and donating is something none of the business owners will ever complain about.
The pandemic has been hard on everyone. Organizations and churches that hold fundraisers haven’t been allowed to. Businesses like bars and restaurants were closed to anything but take out or delivery until recently and now can operate at only 50%.
The new mask mandate is being debated among all of us – there is a long list of rules about when, where and why you are required to wear a mask, and when, where and why you don’t need to wear a mask.
From what we’ve witnessed over the past ten days or so, most people are abiding by the rule. Those that don’t comply could face penalties – here’s what we found about the penalties when we searched… individuals who do not comply could face a petty misdemeanor, with a fine up to $100. Businesses (and their owners and management) face heightened penalties, including up to 90 days in jail, $1,000 fine and up to $25,000 in civil penalties.
On the news last week was a report that there are a couple “promising” drugs moving into another round of testing and those drugs could be available to the general public by the end of this year. The next debate we might all want to have with ourselves is whether we should be inoculated with the new drug, or take our chances without it. We can’t imagine our government could force us to get inoculated, but the government was able to force businesses to close at the beginning of this pandemic, so, who knows?
Too many of us are beginning to feel like puppets being guided by strings held by the people we elect. A very common comment we’ve heard from people of all ages is “I wish this virus would leave us alone”.
As you might suspect, Congress is debating another CARES Act stimulus package to include another stimulus check. Congress is also debating the extension of additional unemployment money – this time the amount could be as low as $200 extra per week – down from the $600 per week people were receiving until last week.
Let’s face it, people need to get back to work. Not just for their financial well-being, but for their mental health as well. People back at their jobs will help our economy rebound.
Some people haven’t reported to a job since late March. That’s four months of probably hoping to hear some good news. Yet there are areas in our nation that have continually rising numbers of positive cases and rising number of people who have lost loved ones to this virus.
One debate in our household is where we trust going if we take our summer vacation this year. Original plans were to ride the bike to Florida to visit our brother and his wife, but aren’t sure we should, considering the rising numbers. We’ll have to wait to see if things calm down.
Basically there aren’t too many places anyone can go without being at risk of being exposed to Coronavirus. While staying safe and healthy is important, it’s also important not to stop living.
In the Constitution of the United States we, as citizens, are all granted rights. Among them is the right to the freedom of expression. Tied closely to that is the freedom of the press. There is also the right to peacefully assemble.
We’ve all heard, or seen, the reports about people burning the United States flag as a form of protest. Most of us have heard of, or seen, the recent controversy over the Confederate Flag. To some the flag is insulting. To others it signifies heritage.
A controversy has bubbled up in Cold Spring where a household flies the flag in the front of the home. Recently a ROCORI graduate and others have begun peaceful protests on the sidewalk (public property) in front of the home. They protest because: “For so many Americans today, the Confederate flag now symbolizes the oppression, torture, and terror of their predecessors” – (Found in our research of the Confederate flag) – because a part of the Confederate war was based on people in the Confederate states keeping the right to have slaves.
Granted, the war of the Confederacy was around 150 years ago, but there are those who are offended by the display of the Confederate flag. Yet our Constitution gives the homeowner the right to display this flag, as much as it gives the protestors the right to protest.
Just last week a reader sent us some photos of what was drawn on the sidewalks in the area with chalk. Not all of what is on those sidewalks is respectful, there are some (a few) messages of hate (against police) among the messages of peace and love.
Last week we received a rather long letter from a subscriber who sent in a renewal check. We’ll call the letter writer “heavy heart”. This subscriber’s letter told us of their disappointment in the paper received in the mail each week and gave us several suggestions on how to make improvements. We won’t say we didn’t agree with several of “heavy heart’s” points, but not all. One suggestion was to stop running our Way Back When front page feature and put something current in its place. It would be hard to count the number of people who have told us how much they look foward to that part of our newspaper and we know there would be far more disappointed by its removal than there would be who approve of its removal.
During our time here we discovered long, long ago that we will never, ever please everyone. There will always be those in our readership who believe we should be doing something better, or different. Yes, “heavy heart” we do have thick skin and take your suggestions to heart. Some are already being done and we’re not sure why you didn’t notice.
Letters with mild insults would bother most people (at least those who care), and while we take them to heart, we also take a little time to reflect on the letters and notes from readers telling us they absolutely love this newspaper – fortunately those come far more frequently than do the ones from people like “heavy heart”.
By the way, we don’t own a rocking chair, which “heavy heart” told us to get out of and start putting out a good newspaper.