Coronavirus pandemic brought friends, neighbors, community together despite the historic toll

ORIGINAL CUTLINE: Sidney Ballweg, an employee at Copey’s Butcher Shop, picks out some steaks for a customer Friday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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Sidney Ballweg, an employee at Copey’s Butcher Shop, picks out some steaks for a customer in May The shop will celebrate its 70th anniversary in late September. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

In spite of the Pandemic, in spite of the shortages, and quarantines, 2020 has had some bright moments. Good generally persevered because a stubborn group of our friends and neighbors refused to let the virus get the best of us.

These local triumphs of human imagination and innovation made 2020 one to remember.

1. When the pandemic first hit, and the masks mandates began, local seamstresses and tailors got out the sewing machines and made masks to fill in that gap. From the beginning we had a sense of being in this together.

2. When national chain markets and groceries had shortages of fresh meat for sale, two local venues sold locally raised and processed beef, pork, lamb, and chicken. Thanks to Copey’s Butcher Shop in Medway and Hustead School House at Oakdale Farms in Mad River Township grills in western Clark County barely noticed that there was a meat shortage.

3. The Graduating Classes of 2020 did not get a prom, or many of the senior traditions. Instead they had yard signs, balloons, wishes fulfilled, street banners, and carefully distanced parades. Socially distant graduations were designed that were unique and special in their own ways.

ExplorePHOTOS: A look back at Clark County 2020 graduations

4. Even though swimming pools and recreation areas all over the county and state were closed, the New Carlisle Swimming Pool stayed open. April Lowrey and her crew worked within the guidelines given by the Clark County Health District. This herculean effort provided recreation for hundreds and many jobs.

5. The Clark County Park District was there when we needed them. As playgrounds and schools were closed by state rules, local parks and bike trails helped with mental health in addition to physical fitness. Clark County Parks District kept George Rogers Clark Park, Estelle Wenrick and its other parks open for hiking. Biking and multiuse trails stayed open throughout the pandemic, but organized activities and programs were cancelled. The park district also had a Haunted Halloween Drive Through event at GRC Park Fishing also continued at the Hosterman Lake. The parks website and Facebook page had postings of nature information, animal and plant identification, and reading of storybooks.

6. Enon canceled its Fourth of July Parade but the Fireworks still happened on July 3 thanks to the efforts of the Enon VFW and community sponsors. This was one of the few fireworks displays to take place in the area and another source of community pride.

7. Twice a week food trucks rallied in Enon. Masks were worn and orange traffic cones reminded those in line to keep six feet apart. A variety of food choices from Thai, lobster, BBQ, Korean, Hungarian, to good old American hamburgers were offered during the summer months.

8. Churches adapted by worshiping outside and in parking lots. Many broadcasted their services or posted recordings on YouTube or Facebook to watch later. Reaching out to others continued to be important.

9. Food pantries have been challenged since the pandemic began, and the community response has been strong and steady in both Mad River and Bethel Townships. This will continue until the economy recovers.

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10. When the Heritage of Flight Festival was cancelled for 2020, some vendors and sponsors of the Bike Show donated 1435 pounds of freezer beef and non perishable food items to Bethel United Food Pantry.

11. When school started in the fall local teachers were “adopted” by citizens and gifted with cleaning and sanitizing supplies in addition to educational materials. Heather Stewart-Rigsbee is now organizing an Adopt a Nurse program too. Volunteers are still needed.

12. The Enon Apple Butter Festival was cancelled for 2020, but Enon Community Historical Society members secretly met in July to make the apple butter while wearing masks and maintaining distance. The jars were sold at the food truck rallies as a fund raiser for local non-profits.

13. Throughout the pandemic construction on the new Greenon district schools has been progressing. Hopefully it will be someday filled with students that don’t have to wear masks.

14. The Covid Grinch could not take away our holiday joy. We’ve never seen so many lights up in our communities. The New Carlisle’s Santa Claus Parade was changed into a drive though event in the parking lot between the bank and Brethren church on Main Street.

15. Enon/Mad River Township Fire and EMS Santa Parade hit the road again in 2020. Instead of one evening this event lasted four evenings until most of the township had the decorated fire truck drive near them.

ExplorePHOTOS: 2020 Photos of the Year

I must say that I was so proud of our neighbors when I compiled this list of successful anti-virus pro-community efforts in 2020.

We have lost beloved family members, neighbors, and fellow citizens to this nasty virus. They will be sorely missed and we will hold the recovering survivors as they get better.

Our community has fought the virus as best we could with bleach, social distancing, masks, and hand- sanitizer. And now finally we can fight it with immunizations.

Our communities have over these last nine months held each other up and refused to let this virus change our worlds.

Keep fighting in 2021. Keep on keeping on.

Our victory is in sight. We just need to stay the course, keep up with sanitizing, masks, and social distancing. Those who are able to donate COVID-19 fighting antibodies are saving lives. And those who get immunized will be stopping this virus in its tracks.

Here is to a healthier and happier 2021 for us all.

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