I want to send out a grateful thank you to all the residents of Falls Village for their compliance with the emergency orders that have been issued by Governor Lamont. Also, we should all be especially proud of the services provided to us by the volunteer ambulance and fire company in this town and especially their excellent personnel.
Both Michelle Hanson, who is our Emergency Management Director for the Town of Canaan, and I, as First Selectmen, are spending a lot of time on the phone with the Region 5 EMS Director and the Governor as well as many of our support Groups, such as COST, CCM, our Regional COG and others. Michelle’s help and leadership has been invaluable to me and the town. All those hours we have spent in the last year going to drills has not gone to waste. I can’t thank her enough. Our Social Services Director, Theresa Grainey, is doing a great job of making sure that those of greatest need are getting the support they need. We have been able to keep our groceries flowing and, if this becomes an issue in the future, we will call on our town to keep it stocked.
We continue to be under the guidance of voluntary isolation and the maintenance of the simple safety steps that keep us all safe as well as those around us. It’s a good time to catch up on old tv shows, old movies, that hit Netflix or Amazon Prime series or that book you bought but never had the time to read. Maybe do a little yard work as it looks like we are going to have an early spring.
At this time, we have no reported cases of Covid-19 in Falls Village, Cornwall or North Canaan. We ask that those of you who have taken refuge in your summer home from some of the ‘hotspots’ in our region also follow the guidelines that were established by our governor to stay home, self-isolate for two weeks if you believe you have been exposed, etc.. If we continue to follow those best practices, we might be able to avoid having a cluster of cases as has happened elsewhere. Last week, we did declare a local state of emergency despite the absence of cases in the village. Given that, we still might undergo unusual expenses in our region that might be unexpectedly high. This gives us the ability to get funds directly from the federal government to pay for these expenses should this happen. Also, it underscores the potential dangers of the coronavirus and that the steps to avoid contagion are of paramount importance.
On Monday, the Governor announced that the schools will remain closed until April 20th. This is an extension of his original two-week closure. On a phone call yesterday, held for the CEO’s of our 169 towns, he intimated that it is possible schools may not re-open this year. Governor Lamont is holding twice a week phone conferences with the mayors and First Selectmen in which we have the ability to ask questions and get feedback from the government leaders on critical issues. He also held a CEO only call yesterday. While I can’t speak for everyone, I personally feel that the governor has been proactive, transparent and extremely helpful during this crisis. I give him and his appointed officials very high marks.
The best source of information on the virus is the portal noted on our website. You can see the latest data on the outbreak and where it has hit the hardest, practical advice and referrals to the many programs that are available on the state and federal level. These might be especially valuable for those small businesses which have been adversely affected during this pandemic as well as those whom have lost employment during this period.
Also, note that Governor Lamont, after I wrote this yesterday afternoon, has banned gatherings of more than 5 people.
Moving to a more local issue, we are going through budget time and must adopt one by, at the latest, early June. Given the bans on large meetings, this has created some confusion on how to proceed. We will be publishing our budgets online this year so that they are available to everyone in the village who would like to review them. If the closures or bans extend past the dates that we would normally have our budget hearings and town meeting, the state has adopted procedures that we can follow to as closely mimic our in-person meetings with virtual ones. We hope that we don’t have to go down this path, but, if we do, we are preparing to do so. The normal business of the town must move forward despite it all.
There is some good news. We have issued a permit to install new gas tanks at the station at the intersection of 63 and 7. These will alleviate the long trek up to North Canaan or down to Cornwall bridge. Also, plans for the building at 107 Main Street continue to be developed and we are optimistic that this will add more vitality to our small downtown area.
Our Town Hall offices continue to be closed to the public until further notice. If you need anything, leave a message as directed and someone will get back to you promptly.
Stay safe, stay healthy and stay happy. This isn’t the most enjoyable period we have gone through as a nation and as a village but rest assured—it will end and things will get back to normal.