Mayor’s Message Board
This has been a very active spring and needless to say, most of the energy has been spent on dealing with situations not normally on our radar. I know it has been challenging for all of us and required actions that aren’t natural for any of us. I mentioned before, we took so much for granted, and I hope the one positive result of the past few months is that we have a greater appreciation for our personal freedom, and the life we enjoy as free Americans. We’ve been conducting all Village meetings on Zoom (which I detest) and our office which was closed to the public is now open but with adjusted hours, frequent cleaning procedures and appointments required for in office interactions. We appreciate your willingness to adapt to the new requirements and hope we are back to normal sooner than later.
I have empathy for every resident and business for the negative impact this has had on your livelihood. The front-line workers are also worthy of our respect and gratitude. As we modified our office procedures, we also made some changes to the use and maintenance of our Village-owned facilities. The parks are back open and pavilions available for rental, our basketball, volleyball courts and baseball fields are open. These also have modified rules for those participants. The rules are posted at each facility stating what is required by individuals using these facilities. In addition to these requirements the Village is sanitizing all these facilities daily. We are asking that as we try to make all facilities available that you respect the rules helping us maintain the facilities safely. In addition to these changes, we will not be opening the spray park in the immediate future. The requirements to run this facility with current local and state requirements make it logistically unfeasible and cost prohibitive. In addition, we will not be opening the public restrooms for the same reason, the cleaning requirements are very cumbersome and costly. I resent the fact that our lives are changed for the foreseeable future but ask for your patience and understanding. Let’s all pray we are soon back to normal.
I also want to address the issue of our local law enforcement. With the recent incident in Minneapolis, I’ve had several inquiries regarding assurances that our police force is properly trained and will treat every citizen without bias and with respect. This topic has been on our radar prior to the most recent incident and I want to assure all, our officers are extensively tested, interviewed and scrutinized prior to being hired. In addition, after being hired we ensure their certifications are current and our annual training exceeds state-mandated training. In addition, our Police Department opted to voluntarily become certified by “Ohio Collaborative Law Enforcement Agency”. This certification takes an enormous amount of time but takes the department to the next level. I’ve attached some of the certificates illustrating the areas of additional training our officers received. The topics of certification are very pertinent and required for effective law enforcement. I am proud of our police officers and appreciate their daily goal of protecting and serving the needs of all residents professionally and appropriately.
Village of Middlefield
Our pandemic has lasted longer than I anticipated. I didn’t realize, I take so much for granted. I think we will all cherish life’s social events a little more when this virus has been eliminated. I remember flying prior to 911, and if you arrived at the airport and heard your name being called, as they were about to close the door on the plane, it was an indication your timing was perfect. You would run to your gate and be so proud of your efficiency in not wasting any valuable time sitting in the airport. Post 911, we all had to get to the airport 2 hours early to navigate the potential backup at security. Your family could no longer go to the gate to say goodbye or greet you at the gate when you returned. Our lives were permanently changed post 911. I think this pandemic will also have some permanent impact on some aspects of our lives. I hope they are minimal, as I still resent every trip to the airport due to the fact that the terrorists changed my life forever.
When I wrote this article, Ohio’s COVID-19 numbers and Geauga county numbers plateaued but are not declining. That being said, new people are getting infected weekly. The last report showed 65 new cases in Geauga in the past two weeks and 64 new cases the prior two weeks. I know the Governor is trying to assist our business community in returning to semi productivity. He has made the requirement that all employees, for their safety and safety of their peers, wear a face mask or face shield. These dedicated employees are making sure our daily needs are met. As miserable as this, if we could not obtain necessities, it would be intolerable. That being said I’ve always believed; I should not ask of others more than I would ask of myself. I know there are a lot of opinions in this community and other communities on the severity of this virus. In spite of our personal opinions, I owe it to everyone with whom I come in contact to respect them by social distancing and wearing a mask. These are the same demands being placed on every employee working each day to provide our needs. No matter where you are on this subject, I can assure you, following these personal guidelines will make an improvement. I look forward to our community being a community of mutual respect.
I want to again thank all of the front-line people who make each of our lives manageable. With my limited trips to the store, I am able to secure all my necessities. The entire supply chain that provides our daily necessities is to be applauded. If we think about the supply chain, we have farmers producing food, plants processing that food, truck drivers moving the product to market and store employees stocking our stores for our consumption. The same process applies to the factory worker who manufactures products that we require in our daily lives. I thank all the dedicated employees helping to ensure that we can acquire our life’s necessities. In addition to this, I am also thankful for our public employees who are able to fulfill their duties of keeping our water available and safe, our toilets flushing, and our Village maintained. I also want to thank our dedicated EMTs, police and fire that keep our Village safe and protected. Our doctors, hospitals and staff, who still handle any emergency, are doing a remarkable job. I am sure for the foreseeable future, our lives will change, but even with the changes, I am so thankful to be an American.
The community support for our first responders has been remarkable, thank you all. I heard our Governor today communicating his desire to start gradually opening the State starting on the first of May. This opportunity has been made possible by the citizens of this State following the simple instruction to not congregate, maintain social distance and be diligent with our hand hygiene and hard surfaces. I see New York and Pennsylvania are requiring masks for anyone going in public. I started wearing a mask earlier this week and it felt very odd. It finally dawned on me that instead of feeling odd, I should realize by wearing my mask, I am making the statement to you that I respect you and care about your wellbeing. The mask does far more to protect you from me than it does to protect me from you. I think we should all be making that statement to each other. To me, when I see someone with a mask, they are paying me and everyone with whom they come in contact the ultimate compliment.
With that being said, the opposite is true, if you don’t keep your distance from me, continue to congregate and then choose to interact with me, you are displaying total disrespect for me. If you think this isn’t disrespectful – and dangerous — to me, I have no choice but to consider you naive. Our entire country’s leadership has been dedicated to helping to resolve this crippling issue. You owe it to everyone you know, not to jeopardize their health and wellbeing with your nonconforming behavior. I see examples daily and realize those not following these guidelines have the ability to negatively impact entire communities. This Coronavirus is, by far, the most contagious virus of any of our lifetimes, as evidenced with how rapidly it has already spread around the entire globe. Please be smart and respect each other. It is the only way we will get this behind us.
Ben Garlich, Mayor
Village of Middlefield
STRAIGHT FROM THE SOURCE Issue 07 2020 04 15 From the Geauga County Health Department
STRAIGHT FROM THE SOURCE Issue 6 2020 04 11 From the Geauga County Health Department
April 3, 2020
I define community by all people who reside in our Village, work in our Village and shop in our Village.
The COVID 19 virus is the most contagious disease I’ve experienced in my lifetime. I’ve never been involved with a disease that so rapidly impacted every country, state and county with such devastating effects on people young and old.
Geauga County to date has been fortunate, but as we’ve seen is still experiencing rapid growth or spread. We now have several reported cases in our community. I am in current and urgent discussions with UH and Cardinal Schools regarding setting up a satellite hospital at our local middle school. This has the potential to be catastrophic here as we’ve seen in other areas of the country that did not take this threat seriously before it was too late. It is kind of like a fire which can go from manageable to unmanageable if efforts to contain are not successful.
I and all of our Village elected officials live here and serve here because we have a deep regard for the people that live, work, shop and play in our community. We are proud of the people that support to make our Village a great place to live.
The Federal and State governments have set guidelines for safe behavior. To date some of the guidelines have been direct orders that aren’t optional. Those legal requirements, as painful as they are, have been admirably adhered to by our business community. The requirements listed below have been communicated as requests, asking for our cooperation as individuals. These are initiatives we can accomplish as individuals to assist in defeating this terrible virus. The guidelines are:
Be sure to social distance, defined by staying 6 feet apart as individuals
Limit gatherings to groups of 10 or less (and when groups meet ensure you maintain the social distance requirement of 6 feet between individuals)
We are to stay home unless absolutely necessary for our survival.
We are to be diligent in washing our hands frequently with soap and water and if not available using high alcohol content hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your face.
Sanitize hard surfaces that have high activity.
If you don’t come in contact with a surface or someone infected you will not get the virus. Professionals tell me that many people have the virus but don’t display the symptoms. I spoke to the county health inspector earlier this week and he gave great advice, “treat every person you see and every knob or surface you touch as this person or object is carrying the virus” We all need to believe this and behave accordingly.
We all find these requirements as an infringement on the life we were used to living. The requirements are not comfortable but required for us to be respectful of our community and for our county, state and country to heal.
We as individuals can make the difference.
When I remark on the following observations they apply to our entire community, (I defined community if the first sentence of this memo)
I see violations every day in our community and surrounding area. I as the Mayor of this community with the support of all elected officials am pleading with you to set aside our personal desires, get past the attitude we don’t want to be inconvenienced, and this is a violation of our rights. Think of this period as a time when I am going to show all that I come in contact with that I respect them and don’t in anyway want to negatively impact their lives. We are a Christian nation and I firmly believe this is the behavior all Christians should adopt and embrace.
God bless our Community and our Nation
Mayor Village of Middlefield
With full support of Village Council
April 1, 2020
I am committed to providing a weekly update during this pandemic with items that pertain to our Village. I know all of our lives have been altered. We took many things for granted that we now consider a luxury such as meeting friends for dinner and getting together with family on holidays and special occasions.
I recently celebrated my birthday, and for the first time it was without my daughters, granddaughters and sons-in-law. I see lines constantly at the banks drive-up and walk-up windows. Onsite church services are cancelled, and we are attending services via streaming or watching on TV. Life is different; but we are still thankful we have access to food; and the supply chain, which provides necessities, is still intact.
Our utilities are still operating, and we have heat, lights and water. I so respect all the employees that continue to work every day to ensure we are supplied with basic needs. I applaud your dedication and courage. I am not trying to minimize the situation, but we still can conduct life with dignity.
This being said, I can’t emphasize enough how critical it is to follow the guidelines to help minimize the impact on our area. I am constantly receiving communications from citizens concerned with people they feel are violating safe-behavior guidelines.
We all need to realize our behavior not only impacts us, but potentially, with the contagiousness of this virus, the lives of all with whom we come into contact. We absolutely must adhere to social distancing, practice good hand hygiene, and not congregate in large groups.
Out of respect for our neighbors and to minimize the impact in our area, we must take personal responsibility. If we don’t, I can assure you our quality of life will decline. Let’s work together to make the absolute best of this terrible situation.
God bless America!
March 27, 2020
I wanted to take this opportunity to communicate with you while we are all adjusting our lives to cope with the Coronavirus/COVID-19. Most of us, if any, have never experienced an event like this during our lifetime. I spent considerable time this week meeting with UH officials and interacting on conference calls with federal officials, state officials and Ohio mayors. I want to communicate some information from these discussions plus relay my thoughts and some ideas that are helping me work through this, and I hope you will find helpful as well.
Our federal government has a plan that will resolve this issue. I don’t think it will be as quick as we would like, but this virus will be defeated. They have sealed the borders and reduced the number of people coming in from 60,000 per day to 4,000 per day. The people that are coming in are being medically screened to ensure they are not compounding the issue.
Government is working with private industry to retool; for example, General Motors facilities are making ventilators. They have energized research and development, reduced red tape, and are going full bore from multiple sources working on medical solutions to minimize symptoms and develop a vaccine to prevent infection. They are pumping dollars into our economy to try to assist and ensure the robust American footprint stays intact. We want individuals and businesses to survive this crippling situation and they have created a personal habit instruction book that if we all follow, we will not contract the disease. This plan however needs to be executed by us. Plans can be great but without implementation they are worthless.
Governors around the country have implemented different restrictions thinking they are doing what is required for their state’s situation. One size doesn’t fit all as some areas are harder hit than others. Our state has passed HB197 which I would encourage you to read. It deals with many issues in the area of unemployment benefits, utility shut offs and the list goes on. I can tell you it is designed to protect our residents as they go through this challenging period.
I’ve spoken to a majority of our major employers in Middlefield, most of them are defined as essential businesses and are continuing to operate. I know in discussions with them they are following the guidelines laid out for operating safely.
I was so impressed when I called landlords that lease space to businesses that were ordered to close. A majority of these landlords had already communicated with their tenants about forgoing rent until they could resume operation. I’ve had calls offering food to our front-line personnel or anyone in need. I’ve had offers for individuals that would volunteer their time to assist those in need. You would think this would be a time where we become more selfish as we have huge problems of our own, but it is definitely not the case.
The Village is also thinking of ways to partner and assist. We created a new hot line number for any urgent need that doesn’t fall in the 911 emergency category. We are maintaining all Village services. We also put in procedures that follow the required guidelines to keep our employees safe.
Our large food retailers have created special dedicated shopping hours for at risk individuals.
Our local restaurants have stepped up streamlining their takeout and delivery services, and I encourage you to support as this is their only revenue stream.
We discussed how the Village can creatively financially assist small local businesses in the event these conditions don’t correct within a reasonable period of time. We are in this together and will take whatever action is required to provide maximum assistance.
American citizens will solve this by being disciplined and intelligent in our daily behavior.
I heard the comment yesterday that social distancing does not mean social isolation. I had a resident send me a flyer from another community with an idea I think would be ideal for our Village for all times but especially now. The flyer promoted that every evening at 7 p.m. (weather permitting) go outside your house to the front sidewalk or curb. With this practice you could interact (remember social distancing, 6 feet) with your neighbors, catch up, share ideas for productive use of time and check on each other’s overall wellbeing. I know on my street of 11 homes two of the neighbors are relatively new and I’ve never met them. I hope they participate, and I will have the opportunity to make their acquaintance.
I received another suggestion that we encourage our children to decorate our sidewalks with sidewalk chalk. It would entertain the walkers and keep our children constructively active while they have additional free time.
Last Saturday, my entire family had a dinner competition and then played monopoly using a free app called house party. I felt like we were together, and it made for a great evening.
As damaging as this is, I do see some positives. This is the first time in years, or ever, that families have hit the pause button. I see more positive family unity in this short period than I can ever remember. I hope we appreciate and realize what we may have been missing and will work to keep this cohesiveness going forward.
As I stated earlier, when we posted that we are displaying our flags earlier in the year within the Village, we need to ban together, retain the lessons we learn during this period and keep positive as we look forward to life returning to normal.