Letter from the Mayor

Posted by Rick Hobart, Mayor on Sep 9, 2021

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To the Citizens of Vernonia,

First, I wish to offer my condolences to the family and friends of Grant Williams who passed this last weekend due to the COVID virus.

Grant was elected to serve on the Vernonia City Council and began his first term in January. He also served on the library board for many years along with his wife Eldonna and he served on the planning commission until taking his oath to serve as councilman. He was president of the Vernonia Lions Club and was an active member for 27 years. He recently opened his own church; the Open Door Gathering Place. He had a nice following of people, including and energetic youth group. Grant served many in different ways. Another way in which he made a difference was driving a school bus locally. He worked for Curls Bus Service for several years and I had the opportunity to watch him grow into his job and become a really good school bus driver. One who took an interest in every student and truly cared for their well-being.

Our community is being tested in ways that are both familiar and unfamiliar and I wish to discuss some of these. In March of 2020, our state asked us to “stay home and stay safe”. We, as a small community, took measures to help control the spread of the coronavirus. We were successful and we came together as a community and did our part to keep the infection rate low within Columbia County. After almost a year of lockdowns and government mandates, we were able to begin to open up our schools, restaurants, churches and small businesses. Several vaccines were approved and made available to those who chose to take them and it was strongly recommended that people still take precautions of social distancing, mask wearing, and “stay home if you are sick” measures.

Every now and then, I use an analogy that describes the ups and downs in life. “Just when you think you have your cows secure in the pen, one gets out most every-time”. Well, it seems, lately several have gotten out.

Because this new Delta Variant is so easily transmitted, and the COVID positive rate has substantially increased, additional mandates have been ordered by the state. Unfortunately, we seem to be in a crisis that is much more critical and unfamiliar than that which faced us eighteen months ago. Emotions are running high and understandably so. I believe fear of the unknown is probably the biggest challenge we face today. Most of us harbor many questions, but have little insight as to what tomorrow will bring.

I am by no means an expert on the coronavirus, but I do know that kindness, respect, and humility extend well beyond those character defects that stick up their ugly heads during times of unrest and division. I am asking all citizens to come together as one community, regardless of moral or political beliefs and support each other. We can do this Vernonia. Historically, we have overcome much diversity in the aftermath of two great floods. I know we will get through these troubled times together. Thank you for reading this note and never give up. You all are awesome Vernonians.

Respectfully, Mayor Rick Hobart