Working with the Community to Find a Safe Way to Reopen Our Businesses in Kittitas County
I am compelled to share with the people of Kittitas County the good, the bad, and the ugly that has been occurring during this unprecedented time. As a leader I often think of a quote, “Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.” –Spencer Johnson.
2020 has come in like a tornado turning most of our lives upside down. For our children their education has been impacted. They have no face-to-face interaction with friends or classmates, no spring sports, no senior graduation, no senior prom, as well as other memories we all treasure from our youth. They will not be able to experience any of this in a traditional manner.
Businesses are suffering. The small business owners and employees are the backbone to our economy in rural America. There are plenty of efforts being made to lessen the impact at the federal, state, and local levels. However, at the end of the day most business owners and employees want to get back to work. There is a lot of concern, anger, and frustration revolving around these issues. I personally have spoken to several small business owners. Currently the focus has been on construction. Many other small business owners I have talked to are suffering as well. I have had several conversations about this issue with restaurant owners, salon owners, photographers, tradesmen, builders, as well as the Central Washington Home Builders Association.
The views in the community vary greatly. From conversations I have had there are those that believe we should close the borders of Kittitas County and not allow anyone in. Others think we should open everything up immediately. The majority of Kittitas County business owners I have talked to believe we should start the process of opening up businesses through a methodical, data driven process.
Opening up businesses slowly with plans in place to ensure we are practicing social distancing and limiting exposure to ourselves and others based on scientific information supported by our health officer is a method I personally endorse. As a community we should be proud of how we have responded to this crisis. It is believed that the limited number of confirmed cases in Kittitas County is due to how well the people in our community followed the social distancing recommendations from the very beginning of this pandemic. We currently only have had 14 confirmed cases and zero deaths. We are sandwiched between counties which have been severely hit. King County currently has 5,024 confirmed cases and 339 deaths, Yakima County has 748 confirmed cases and 35 deaths, and Grant County has 137 confirmed cases and 2 deaths.
To date the Kittitas County Board of Commissioners has sent letters to the Governor for the State of Washington, the Commissioner of Public Lands, and the Director for the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. These letters expressed a desire for additional residential construction to continue, and allow access to public lands within all non-developed areas.
These are trying times, but WE ARE KITTITAS COUNTY. We are a resilient community that is full of grit and perseverance. Together we will get through this.