As the state enters the fourth week of the stay-at-home order, water leaks still happen and the grass still grows, Greenfield City Manager Todd Wilkin noted in his report to the village council at its regular meeting Tuesday.
All council members, the city manager, the finance director, and the council clerk met from separate locations via a virtual meeting platform.
The decision made a couple weeks ago for non-essential workers to be home, but remain on call, was an effort to protect everyone from the new coronavirus and to help flatten the curve, Wilkin said. However, the need to remedy those water leaks and mow the grass, as well as other essential needs, have made it necessary to bring some employees back to see to those tasks. The employees come back with “the knowledge of social/physical distancing, wearing masks, and if they are sick, they are to remain at home,” Wilkin said.
He said he is on a conference call every morning with the Highland County Emergency Management Agency and then every afternoon with Adena Greenfield Medical Center. “Both meetings are necessary and filled with good information as they plan for the surge that is forecasted,” Wilkin said.
The city manager thanked the police department, adding that personnel are dealing with a spike in crime. “We often hear about the doctors and nurses who are working on the surge and crisis planning, but we never hear about the police officers who are helping to maintain the peace through these odd times. If a surge occurs in Greenfield, I guarantee our police force will be on the front lines helping through the crisis,” he said.
Through these “odd times” Wilkin has provided regular updates via Facebook and through a Facebook Live session with the public.
The Mill Street project is progressing, Wilkin reported. Curbs have been poured, asphalt base work is being done readying for the top coat, and the widening of the intersection at SR 41 and Washington Street is coming along. Sidewalks are yet to be done, and the asphalt will be laid once plants open mid-month.
At the conclusion of his report, Wilkin reminded everyone “that we should pray for our doctors, nurses, police, other essential employees, our neighbors, and our nation.”
“Thank you for your leadership during this time,” council member Mark Branham said, adding that Wilkin has done a good job leading and directing the village with the information provided during these uncertain times.
Council chair Phil Clyburn thanked the citizens in the community who have stepped up to help others during this time, like feeding first responders and sewing masks.
Wilkin noted that the pandemic and subsequent closures and stay-at-home orders will have a negative financial impact not only on Greenfield’s, but every municipality’s budget. He said Greenfield currently is projecting about a 20-percent loss of revenue, while some of the other communities he has talked to are projecting twice that. He said Greenfield had a carryover last year of $289,000, the administration worked hard to make that happen, and with the current situation that carryover will help see the village through the financial loss experienced during the pandemic.
While parks have been closed, recently the city put barriers up at Mitchell Park. Wilkin said that was done because of behavior witnessed at the park on more than one occasion that was not responsible in the current situation of a pandemic.
Still, Wilkin encouraged people to get out and enjoy the outdoors. The bike path at Felson Park is a good way to do that, he said, but those using it should keep in mind physical distancing from one another.
If someone has concerns about their health, they should call their health care provider and explain the situation. If people go to the emergency room, they could be exposing others to illness and the hospital will not test a person without them meeting the COVID-19 criteria. There are numbers available for people to contact to ask questions and seek out guidance if they are sick. They are: the Ohio Department of Health at 833-427-5634; the Highland County Health Department at 937-393-1941; and the Adena COVID-19 hotline at 740-542-7233.
The current meeting format of council members, city manager, and council clerk meeting by a virtual meeting system will likely continue until it is safe to resume normal meetings.
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the village of Greenfield.