As 2020 comes to an end, it’s a moment we’ve all anticipated as if it has been a year cursed and we want it to be over. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in so many ways. We have faced loss on many levels and overall, it’s been a hard, often lonesome, and discouraging road but there has been brightness, creativity, and an indomitable human spirit. Dec. 29 is also a full moon – the last of the decade and it’s called the “Cold Moon.” I have mentioned full moons in prior columns not only because they are interesting by name and lore but also, they represent cycles of time. So, a “Cold Moon” gives way to a new year, a new beginning. Let’s exhale, and let’s not forget the lessons learned.
Since March, there have been so many initiatives and purposeful actions. Instead of allowing the circumstances to break us apart, we’ve had a common goal, a unified challenge, and the meaning of community, the sense of community has grown stronger. The following are some of the things that occurred on a municipal and community level that helped us through.
In March 2020, we began dispersing information from accurate sources, The Governor’s office, Orange County Department of Health, the CDC, and County Executive Neuhaus’s office. This continued throughout the year. Simultaneously, collaborations and partnerships grew stronger with the Warwick Chamber, Historical Society, Wickham Works, and the Warwick School District, especially the Media and Music Departments
- All Village meetings were done via Zoom.
- The Village Board temporarily suspended any water shutoffs and penalties for late water and sewer bills.
- Memorial Day and Veterans Day videos were created by local community members and enhanced with the help of the Meistersingers.
- “Warwick Strong” took the form of T-shirt’s and as a grassroots community initiative.
- Meetings were set up with local businesses and restaurants, in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce, to discuss strategies as non-essential businesses were required to shut down. Out of this came the expanded outdoor dining from mid-July through October.
- On a community level, a Facebook-based Warwick Relief Market created a sales connection to the community raising over $400,00 for local business.
- With the help of local artists, “Thank you” signage was created, and blue ribbons were dispersed as a sign of thanks to our first responders.
- A “With Love” event was created online to allow individuals and families to express their gratitude to those on the front lines.
- Facebook posts were ongoing about pertinent information, as well as messages from the Mayor’s Office including, with the help of the Historical Society, a renewal of my marriage vows!
- In coordination with the Town of Warwick, Village of Florida, and Greenwood Lake and help from all churches and former churches throughout the Warwick Valley, we rang “Bells of Hope” as a sign of solidarity throughout the months of April and May. The Historical Society continues this every Sunday at 12 noon.
- The Village and Chamber conducted a virtual informational meeting for Warwick Business owners with County directors of Tourism, Economic Development, and Employment and Training to strategize business reopening.
- We began a signage campaign for visitors to remind everyone to wear a mask and to socially distance.
- After issues of Police violence and the deaths of African Americans, the Village worked closely with the Police to allow peaceful protests.
- Most importantly, we tried to continue the indications of normal life whether by allowing expansion of outdoor classrooms for Park Avenue students at Hallowed Ground, making sure the downtown was filled with flowers in the Summer, Holiday decor in the Winter, the Warwick Gardeners continued their efforts to beautify our Village, 1000 daffodils were planted at the Fredrick Franck sculpture, “7 Generations,” developing virtual events such as the Summer Concerts, Halloween Costume Contest, the beloved Christmas Eve Carol Sing-a-Long, and the coming Apple Eve, all helped to connect the thread that sews us together as a community.
Personally, I look forward to the year ahead. We have grown through this experience, been made stronger, and much more appreciative of what we have. So onward, be brave, continue your hard work, your vigilance, remember the core of love and happiness is within us and is the strongest vaccine I know.
On behalf of the Village Board of Trustees, Office Staff, and Department of Public Works I wish all a very Happy New Year!
The next Village Board meeting will take place on Mon., Jan. 4 at 7:30 p.m. and will be held through Zoom videoconference and may be viewed live by the public on the Village’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/VillageofWarwick.