September Willoughby Times Article:
Last year at this time, we were reporting about the success of our great summer events as we prepared for the fall. Unfortunately, the summer of 2020 is quite a different story. A pandemic effectively shut down much of our local economy and two downtown road construction projects impacted restaurants, bars, merchants and service providers. The continuing impact of COVID-19 is lasting into the fall, and uncertainty is still a part of our everyday lives. While, as of this writing, the crisis is well-managed, many of us are still hoping to return to normalcy soon. What has impressed me most over the past months is the resiliency of our residents, businesses and other institutions, including your city government. I am reminded of the United States Marines motto of “Improvise, Adapt, Overcome,” which we have done remarkably well. Our neighbors and their families responded to virtual learning and the loss of many summer activities and events, our businesses developed creative ways to serve their customers, and our city departments used resourcefulness and ingenuity to maintain city services. As mentioned before, we originally furloughed all part-time employees, a budget-trimming effort and suspended all capital purchases and hiring. This put immense pressure on our departments to provide the same level of service with reduced resources. This is true for all departments, including Police and Fire, but especially true with our Service and Parks and Recreation Departments. While summer programming was curtailed and all seasonal workers were not available, the baseball leagues continued as did maintenance at our parks and cemeteries. Judean Banker and her team developed creative ways to engage our seniors during the senior center closure, and Service Director Lee Bock, Rich Palmisano and their supervisors maintained our city assets with a greatly reduce staff. What is especially impressive was the assistance other departments offered to Judean, Lee and Rich during a difficult summer. While many agree 2020 is a “Lost Year”, we are already looking towards an exciting 2021. We are looking forward to the restart of our usual activities and we are planning for new events for our Lakefront District and Downtown. Also, our directors and I are developing a priority list for 2021 that will identify our top goals in each department. In short, we are using this past year as a Great Pandemic Reset to evaluate how to serve our constituents better. As this priority list is developed and refined, I will be reporting these to you. As we enter the fall season, please remember to visit the city website and Facebook page for the most current information on city-sponsored events, meetings and updates.