Wiscasset public safety, health priorities as pandemic continues

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 10:00am

    Only a month ago, we thought that Coronavirus (COVID-19) was something that happened to other people in other places. We are now facing the reality that the virus could be anywhere, and see that it is spreading and coming to almost everywhere.

    We all watch the reports from the Center for Disease Control in Augusta and very much rely on the impressive professionalism of Dr. Shah and his excellent communication skills. Good information on the spread of this virus is hard to come by but we can be sure of the facts that Dr. Shah puts forth.  The virus is highly infectious, highly dangerous but survivable by many, but fatal to some. We are all responsible to stop the spread of the virus.

    Maine is in a state of emergency,  as Gov. Mills proclaimed in the middle of March. The expiration date of this state of emergency was extended from the original April 8 until the end of April. Schools have been closed, activities curtailed, restaurants closed, in person meetings of more than 10 have been discouraged, and social distancing of at least six feet is required. Grocery stores, convenience stores and gas stations stay open and allow us to continue with our essential daily activities.

    At the town level, we have made some visible changes. We have had to close the municipal offices to the public and, despite constant disinfecting, we could not maintain a safe environment for employees and public. Town business can be transacted by mail, online, or by calling the town office at 882-8200. If no one answers, you may leave a message and our staff will get back to you. Most of our forms are available online.

    Public safety and public health are our priorities with EMS, Police Department, Fire Department and Public Works being the public face of our municipal services. They have been extremely busy with storms, snow, wind, falling trees and power outages. Another storm is imminent as I write this on Monday afternoon and more storm damage is expected. Wastewater is also meeting the challenges posed by power outages as they have to move emergency portable generators to various pumping stations. Long hours and hard work by them is what gets the job done.

    Transfer Station hours had to be curtailed in an effort to protect the public and employees from infection. Social distancing is a definite nuisance but is effective in slowing the spread of the virus. It was determined that garbage removal was the most essential of the services that had to be maintained, so regrettably we had to sideline recycling efforts.

    The station will return to regular hours Tuesday, April 21Needed maintenance of equipment and buildings, and coronavirus precautions, will be completed by then. Only garbage will be accepted. Please stay in an assigned lane and maintain social distancing for the protection of all.

    Regrettably, recyclables will still have to be thrown into the hopper. We continue to look for opportunities to expand our collection efforts but it will take some time. We will keep you informed of developments.

    We ask that you be patient during this difficult time. This combination of virus and other storm and economic challenges is unique and will eventually end.

    Remember, to paraphrase a friend, “This is our first pandemic.” I would recommend that you read the excellent piece by Island Institute President Rob Snyder at islandinstitute.org entitled, “What ‘resilient leadership in times of crisis’ means.”