First, I have to admit, I almost skipped writing this column. As you know, the first Friday of each month is when “From the Mayor” is published. With the New Year’s holiday falling on that day this month, the Times-Union was not scheduled to be published.  

I took the opportunity to call the editor, Mr. Slone, and suggest that given the seemingly endless and worsening nature of the public health crisis, I was having trouble finding the “inspiration” to write the column. I told him that I couldn't think of anything to write that hasn’t already been said, over and over again. I went on to tell him that people are tired of hearing about what we have gone through in 2020. They just want this to be over. I suggested that since the paper wasn’t published on the day my column runs, why couldn’t he just give me the month off!

Like many of you, I was displaying symptoms of “burn-out” as the pandemic continues to drag on, aka “COVID fatigue.” Now in my 10th year as mayor, I have been writing a monthly column since taking office in 2012. I believe I have only missed writing one column in the past nine years.   Soon after my conversation with the editor, I began to feel a bit of remorse for trying to get a reprieve from writing my column. I soon called him back and promised to keep my end of the bargain and write my column, a week later as he had originally suggested!

Last year was full of anxiety, doubt and uncertainty. As the pandemic evolved, our community came to rely on leadership at every level to get through 2020.

It started with the Kosciusko County Public Health Department and their measured approach to the evolving crisis. Never once did they stray from the importance of public health data to guide their responses.  Our health care community mobilized to face the uncertainties that became realities.

The three public school corporations focused their planning on trying to keep the classrooms open. Public safety agencies from all jurisdictions joined together to plan and minimize risk behaviors for the protection of all. Leadership from our businesses and industry expended significant energy and resourcefulness to provide for and protect their employees and patrons while trying to keep their doors open.

Social service organizations and churches organized and collaborated to seek ways to meet the needs of those most at risk due to cultural differences or economic disadvantage. Our community foundations joined together to offer relief to those most vulnerable, providing relief for the nonprofits striving to meet the needs of their clients aggravated by the very difficult economic conditions.

My point here is that collaborative local leadership at all levels has put us in a position to finally work our way out of this pandemic. Unlike last year when this first began, we now understand more clearly what we need to do and how to do it.

We all enter 2021 with many lessons learned as we continue to deal with the crisis. Locally, if we use the experience we have gained, things will look a lot better in the second half of this year.

Let’s not let a little COVID fatigue demotivate us.