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Posted on April 6, 2020 at 9:28 AM by Bryan Obenchain
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the world, we are reminded daily that North Dakota is not immune from the health concerns and societal repercussions of the virus. But we also are witnessing events daily that remind us that we, truly, are all in this together.
The number of positive COVID-19 cases grows daily in our state. Schools remain closed and students are taking lessons online. Many businesses are closed or are open on a limited basis. Residents are strongly encouraged to stay home unless it’s absolutely necessary to venture out in public for medical issues, shopping for essentials, or to go to work. Proper personal hygiene and social distancing can be powerful weapons against this disease, and I urge everyone to follow the recommendations of healthcare experts. Each of us must do our part.
The social and economic destruction left in the wake of this pandemic will no doubt change our world, our country, our state, and our city. Yes, life will return to normal at some point, but no one can be sure what that new normal will look like. Yet, we are encouraged by the displays of kindness we see every day in Minot.
We see it on a large organizational level: Multiple entities across our community have come together to provide information, resources, and assistance to those in need. Restaurants have joined forces with non-profit groups and other private businesses to bring food to needy families. There are countless other acts of genuine goodness happening in our community every day by organizations doing it for one reason: Because it’s the right thing to do. We will not forget these good deeds.
We see it on a personal level: Residents shopping for elderly neighbors who may be more susceptible to the effects of coronavirus. Family and friends checking on each other to make sure everyone is doing OK - physically and mentally. Teachers and other school personnel driving through the neighborhoods surrounding their schools to remind parents and students that the school staff is still thinking about them as buildings are closed and students are learning from home. Watching those school parades, I’m not sure who enjoyed it more – the students and parents or the teachers and staff members. Those smiles are etched into our memories.
There’s perhaps never been a more important time to realize how much our society is interconnected and dependent upon each other. Yes, we are connected in multiple ways through technology, which has proven to be an effective alternative to face-to-face interaction as we continue to practice good social distancing. With help and guidance from information technology staffs around the state, many employees are working from home, and schools have begun distance learning through technology.
These methods can be effective, and there’s no doubt some technical changes will lead to better and more efficient business, education, and healthcare models in the future. But there’s simply no replacement for good, old-fashioned human connection and interaction – even if it’s from a distance at the moment.
When this pandemic is over, we should never again take some simple aspects of life for granted. Children enjoying a playground at the park. Going out to a movie, a play, a sporting event, a concert, or to have lunch with friends. A t-ball game. Teachers in front of a room full of smiling students. Churches full of worshippers. We’ll never look at these things the same again, and not being able to enjoy these staples of our lives should leave us with a stronger appreciation for them.
As this pandemic continues – and when it is over – we must never forget the commitment, dedication, and sacrifice of thousands of workers who play vital roles in our society. This crisis has again proven that the success of our society rests with each and every one of us; everyone plays an important role.
Will we ever look the same at our doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers, and first responders? Will we ever again question the importance of our teachers? Will we remember the everyday heroics performed by farmers, ranchers, postal workers, delivery drivers, pharmacy employees, truckers, grocery store workers, factory workers, utility workers, bank employees, custodians, military personnel, civil service workers, restaurant employees, small business owners, IT staffs, journalists, public works employees, non-profit employees and volunteers, daycare providers, energy sector employees, retail workers, construction workers, and every other profession that makes up the fabric of our society.
Times of crisis reveal true character, and I believe the true character of our community is on display right now. It’s encouraging and heart-warming. Perhaps the only thing spreading faster than COVID-19 is kindness and a true love of community.
Posted on March 23, 2020 at 3:17 PM by Bryan Obenchain
In response to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control has recommended that residents across the United States practice social distancing – and, yes, that includes us here in Minot, too.
Social distancing, in short, means staying away from other people as much as possible, and when you do have to be around others, keep your distance (and stop shaking hands and fist-bumping). This is not a quarantine, and it doesn’t mean you are forced to stay home.
But it is our duty not only to ourselves, but to our families and our neighbors, to take the CDC’s advice seriously. You may be young and healthy, and may be only mildly sickened if you contract this virus. But your elderly neighbor or an older relative or someone with an existing medical condition like asthma or heart disease might be more at risk for serious consequences.
As part of social distancing efforts, the City of Minot closed most of its buildings to the public late this week unless you have a specific appointment, with the exception of Minot International Airport and the Landfill. All City services will continue to operate at this time. If you need to make an appointment to see someone at City Hall, please call 701-418-3011 or contact Tami Stroklund at firstname.lastname@example.org.
City Council and Planning Commission meetings will continue to be held, but we encourage anyone who doesn’t have direct business with the Council or the Commission to watch the meetings online, either on Facebook or YouTube. If you must physically attend a meeting, please use the main doors to enter City Hall.
Why is social distancing important in battling the spread of COVID-19? Because close contact between humans is considered the primary way the virus is spreading, especially when some of those humans are coughing or sneezing in the vicinity of others. This cannot be stressed enough: Now, more than ever, if you’re sick, stay home.
In theory, social distancing sounds relatively simple. In reality, it’s much more complicated because personal habits are difficult to break, and North Dakotans consider themselves a hearty bunch. We’ve probably all gone to work or attended a public event when we were sick and should have stayed home. We can’t do that anymore. Social distancing didn’t use to cross our minds when we headed to the grocery store, to the gym, to the movie theater, or to our favorite restaurant. We didn’t think twice about inviting some friends over for game night or a card game. Now, we must pause before venturing out in public or inviting large numbers of guests into our homes.
With the number of positive tests growing almost daily in North Dakota, it’s well past the time to take the CDC’s social distancing recommendation seriously. If we going to successfully slow the spread of COVID-19 locally and nationally, we must all do our part.
Our local schools and university are closed for a reason – to slow the spread of COVID-19. Many businesses have closed, reduced their hours of operation, or changed their business models – to slow the spread of COVID-19. Most public events have been cancelled or postponed – to slow the spread of COVID-19. Health officials have urged students who are out of school not to gather in large numbers at local malls or other locations, since that would defeat the purpose of closing schools in the first place – to slow the spread of COVID-19.
You can still enjoy many of the regular things in your everyday life – just in slightly different ways. You can still support the local restaurant that sponsors your child’s sports team by ordering food online and picking it up at the establishment or having it delivered. The Minot Public Library is closed to on-site patrons, but the library has lots of audio books and videos available to check out online. You can pay many bills online, including your water bill at the City of Minot, and there are also two payment drop boxes in front of City Hall.
Most of us are set up better than ever to spend more time at home until the COVID-19 situation improves. With technology, there’s an endless array of entertainment available at our fingertips. It’s also a great time to catch up on some reading, play games with your family, or spend time outside walking, bike riding or just playing catch with your kids. The point is, it’s easier than ever to stay home, and for many people, to work from home. By the way, while you’re home and online, take a few minutes to complete the 2020 Census; it’s quick and easy.
If there’s ever been a time to practice North Dakota nice, this is it. If everyone does their part in practicing good personal hygiene and participates in social distancing, the chances of minimizing the spread of COVID-19 should rise dramatically – and so will the chance of everyone returning to their normal lives as soon as possible.
Sincerely, City Hall
Posted on March 10, 2020 at 4:14 PM by Bryan Obenchain
Sometimes it takes a tragedy to remind ourselves of what’s really important.
The fire at the Hall’s Apartment building in downtown Minot on Feb. 26 was yet another example of the overwhelming number of good people who live in our community. I’m always proud to call Minot my home, and the outpouring of support that follows these types of unfortunate events always strengthens and reinforces that pride.
This fire was one of those times. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured in the fire. The residents of the building were all evacuated and accounted for, and although the loss of their personal belongings is tragic, we’re grateful that no human lives were lost.
We’re also extremely thankful for the first responders who battled the fire, and that none suffered serious injuries. Firefighters, law enforcement personnel, ambulance crews, and others did exactly what they are trained to do. Firefighters were en route to the blaze 83 seconds after receiving the fire call. Does anyone still think “trained, maintained, ready” is just a slogan for the Minot Fire Department? It’s not. It’s what they live by every second of every day. I don’t know how it works in other communities, but I know this about Minot: When an emergency happens, our first responders knowingly and willingly put their own safety on the line without hesitation. Every day. We must never take their selflessness for granted.
While the firefighters were still battling the fire, another kind of effort was also under way throughout our community: the work to assist the displaced residents. Local agencies like the Red Cross and the YWCA quickly put out the word about what items were needed to help the victims. Helping people in times of crisis is their mission, and they continue to do that for these displaced residents and other people who rely on their services. Their continued efforts in this incident and the positive work they do every day is commendable.
In the hours following the fire, the immediate and concerted efforts of many individuals cannot be ignored. Using the power of social media, many Minot residents quickly began circulating information about how to help the victims of the Feb. 26 fire. Within hours, drop off points were established for folks willing to donate clothing, personal items, and other necessities. Area residents helping total strangers in the face of tragedy reveals the true character of our community. That’s what makes Minot special. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
Sometimes, it’s easy to forget the overwhelmingly positive aspects of our community members. Too often we allow ourselves to become numb or indifferent to the needs of our neighbors, perhaps choosing to live through the electronic devices in front of us instead of paying attention to the real world. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we’re tempted to forget what really makes us a community, until our eyes are jolted open by the reality of a tragedy.
In reading through some online posts following the fire, I read several comments like “Minot isn’t as bad as I thought it was” or comments that expressed similar sentiments. The truth is that Minot has never been as bad as the naysayers claim. We forget that truth all too easily, as we get wrapped up in our own daily schedules and narrow vision of life. But in our hearts, we know this is still true: Minot takes care of its own when necessary.
Unfortunately, we know there will be more tragic events in Minot’s future. But we’re soothed by the knowledge that when it happens, community members will respond, just like they’ve always done. It’s who we are. It’s who we’ll always be.
When tragedy strikes our community, there are many local agencies that can provide assistance to victims, with your help. Here are just a few of them:
Once again, the truth about our amazing community and its character have been revealed in response to tragedy. Real life matters. Real people matter. Well done, Minot.