Empty store shelves, restaurants closed for dining-in, meetings and social events cancelled and more — this is the new normal in Sunbury, like it is in much of the country.
The outbreak of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, has slowed but not entirely stopped commerce in Sunbury.
For example, the village’s Facebook page has put together a “Sunbury Dining Card,” encouraging folks to order from local restaurants. In some cases, individuals have to pick up food. In other cases, the food is delivered.
Village facilities, such as the Sunbury Town Hall, Administrative Office, Streets Department and Wastewater Plant are closed to all public access. The village said trash pickup is on schedule.
Mayor Tommy Hatfield said essential services will continue to residents. To check the status of public meetings, visit https://sunburyohio.org/. For more information, call 740-965-2684.
“As the state and federal government have taken steps to slow and diminish the rise of COVID19, Sunbury has continued to monitor and act appropriately,” Hatfield said in a statement issued on March 21. “Our commitment to the safety of our employees and residents is a guiding principle in everything we do.”
The village has just placed a drive-up box to deposit utility bills behind the Sunbury Municipal Building, 9 E. Granville St.
“While these are unprecedented and concerning times, I couldn’t be more proud of how our community is responding and rallying during this time of crisis,” Hatfield said. “I will continue to pray for the safety of all of our residents and employees.”
The Planning & Zoning Commission meeting for March 30 and the Mayor’s Court on March 31 are canceled.
The village’s Easter Egg Hunt, which was to take place April 4 at Big Walnut High School’s football field, is also canceled. So to is the annual Harlem Wizards basketball game April 7 at BWHS.
Since March 16 and lasting at least until April 15, the Sunbury Police Department is limiting public contact with certain matters, such as handling records requests electronically. However, police operations will continue, Hatfield said. For more information, call 740-965-3946.
On March 16 and March 17, Delaware General Health District Commissioner Shelia Hiddleson conducted a question-and-answer meeting for employers regarding COVID-19.
“Medical experts expect that the number of COVID-19 cases will double every six days,” Hiddleson said in a message sent March 12.
John Fox, executive director of the Sunbury/Big Walnut Area Chamber of Commerce, said in an email March 18 that all chamber activities are cancelled until April 6, the Community Expo is being rescheduled from April 2, and all chamber business will be conducted by email or phone.
Fox said the business community may check out a resource page from the United States Chamber of Commerce: https://www.uschamber.com/coronavirus. In addition, “the Small Business Association is offering low-interest federal disaster loans to Ohio small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the coronavirus,” said Sarah Maar, the chamber’s administrative assistant.
For now, the annual Sunbury Farmers’ Market at the village square is slated for Saturdays May 23 through September 26, although that may change.
The Community Library at 44 Burrer Drive is closed, but patrons can pick up items through its drive-through and after-hours lockers. The digital collections are also available. For more information, visit www.yourcl.org or call 740-965-3901.
At St. John Neumann Catholic Church, all masses have been suspended through Easter. March 26 was the last day for donations to the church’s “Fishes & Loaves” program at the Parish Office. The annual Big Walnut Friends Who Share Food Drive is March 28 to April 19, and items for the food pantry can be dropped off at the Parish Office 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Thursday.
Deacon Thomas Berg, of the Diocese of Columbus, recently warned churchgoers about a scam that is going around “concerning alternate routing of your offertory if you are not able to make it to Mass at your parish.”
“Our church will be here in brighter days ahead, and the best decision now may be for you to remain at home,” said an email to St. John Neumann parishioners. “These unprecedented events leave many of us feeling sad, anxious, and uncertain. We encourage you to spend time in prayer every day. Share traditions with your children and let them create new ones. Start a blessing jar at home, and encourage your family members to write their blessings down and place them in the jar.
In the midst of the challenges, there are many blessings! Encourage your friends and family members to be thankful. Months from now, sitting down together and opening the blessing jar will serve as a reminder that we are all blessed in every season and time of our lives.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.