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Chapin: It takes a valley

By Dave Chapin
Valley Voices

In a matter of days, life has changed for all of us. The lifts have stopped spinning, businesses are closed, our guests have returned home, jobs are lost and our local hospital runs the risk of being at capacity.

This is a moment in time to call upon our community’s resolve to pull together as it has done since Vail’s earliest days. It is a time to set aside our differences and come together with kindness and compassion to help care for those most in need. It is a time to extend our appreciation to the health care workers, first responders, pharmacy workers, grocery store workers, bus drivers and others who are working tirelessly on the front lines to provide essential services to our community. It is a time to be humble. And a time to act.

To slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus and put us on the road to recovery, it is critical that we all take responsibility to follow public health orders issued by our local, state and federal agencies. Stay home if you’re sick, consult with your doctor (especially before visiting the emergency room), practice good hygiene, help protect our vulnerable population, self-quarantine and use social distancing. Also, be prepared to adapt to additional requirements that could be mandated in the days ahead, such as sheltering in place. Information and updates from our trusted Eagle County public health officials are available at ECEmergency.org.

As these fast-moving public health orders disrupt our lives and our economy, our local leadership has been working rapidly to find ways to assist. We have joined Eagle County in declaring a local disaster emergency, which will help us apply for aid and assistance from state and federal agencies for the implementation of emergency plans. We have also been in contact at the highest levels of state government as well as our congressional delegation to open the lines of communication.

At the town of Vail, we’re committed to maintaining our critical services and to keep public business moving forward. Police and fire services are our No. 1 priority. Our public board meetings are taking place virtually. Other municipal services are available by phone or email. A list of our operational adjustments can be found at vailgov.com. Town Manager Scott Robson and his team of extraordinary employees are to be commended for their efforts to sustain these service levels.

To provide immediate relief to our business community, we are deferring town of Vail sales tax payments for a period of time. We’re also in discussions with event promoters to reschedule iconic events, such as Taste of Vail, to give our community an economic boost later in the year. And we’re encouraging everyone to get creative in helping both our business and residential communities throughout the valley.  

Our municipal employees are being cared for with pay and sick time policies that will keep paychecks flowing, including end-of-season bonuses for our seasonal employees.

While the town of Vail is fortunate to have healthy reserves, we have asked staff to reassess budgets and to pull back on spending. While our priorities haven’t changed, our reality has.

Join with us to reach out to your neighbors, coworkers and friends virtually to check in with them to offer support and assistance in any way you can. Shop locally. Order carry-out. Let them know we’re all in this together and we’re going to get through this together. This is a defining moment for us to set the example and direct our future.

Note: After this column was filed, the town made the difficult decision to suspend Vail Transit service. The decision was based on a rapidly growing shortage of bus drivers, the concern being voiced by drivers daily about their personal health, the number of COVID-19 positive results in town and the significant drop in bus ridership. The town will continue working closely with our medical and transit partners to get our bus system back up and running as soon as this public health crisis stabilizes.

Dave Chapin is the mayor of Vail. Email him at dchapin@vailgov.com.


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