ROCKPORT — Rockport Town Manager Bill Post has updated the town’s response to the pandemic: I am sure everyone understands that the responses to COVID-19 change by the day and sometimes the hour. For those of us working in municipal government, we are constantly gathering information from the state, Maine Municipal Association, Centers for Disease Control, our attorneys and others, and we are making decisions on an ongoing basis. I also understand that everyone wants to know more about what to expect in the days and weeks to come, and in somecases the only answer is “we don’t know yet”.
Rest assured, that we are working diligently to serve our residents and customers as well as we can while abiding by the Governor’s orders.
This is an update on Town operations, public health recommendations and other information and resources that can be helpful to our residents and businesses. In response to guidance from the U.S. CDC, the Maine CDC, and our Governor, as of today, I have extended the closure of all Town Departments to the public through April 8th, pending future guidance from the State. Each department will go to a staffing plan that makes sense for the type of work that they do and the essential services they provide while practicing social distancing.
Staff will continue to check emails, using the mail to process transactions and responding to phone calls. I encourage all residents and customers to call the Town Office first to receive guidance on your transaction or question. We are no longer arranging in-person appointments for transactions. We continue to utilize a table in the vestibule at the Town Office that has many forms that you may need as well as the drop slot in the side door of the Town Office to receive paperwork and payments. Most of these forms can also be found on the Town’s website (www.rockportmaine.gov).
Rockport, like other communities in Maine, has many citizens that reside here on a seasonal basis. Recently we have seen an increase in the return of seasonal residents, which is unusual for this time of year. We are asking that all residents of Rockport, whether seasonal or year-round adhere closely to the CDC guidelines.
This includes eliminating any unnecessary travel from your schedule, whether local or out of state. All citizens need to adhere to social distancing meaning not gathering in groups of 10 or larger and maintaining a distance of 6-feet or more between people.
If you have been traveling out of state, out of the country, or are not feeling well, we ask that you stay home and self-isolate for at least 14 days. These measures are meant to flatten the curve, stop the spread of the virus and allow our health care system to not exceed its capacity to care for those in need. Please abide by these rules and be mindful in your daily activities.
Public distancing measures have caused challenges in holding public meetings.
Last week the Maine legislature adopted changes to the public meetings law to allow for remote meeting participation including voting on issues. Monday night, the Select Board held their first meeting under these new guidelines and the Budget Committee finished their review of the FY21 budget by a combination of telephonic and in-person attendance on Tuesday evening.
While these efforts were successful, we are exploring additional platforms for future meetings. The public will still be able to watch the meetings through livestream https://livestream.com/rockportmaine) and can provide comments and questions through that platform or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would also like to take this opportunity to direct our small businesses to resources that may be helpful during this difficult time. The Small Business Administration is offering working capital loans to help small businesses meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more information please contact our Planning & Development Director, Bill Najpauer, at email@example.com. You can also find more information on the SBA’s Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources website:https://www.sba.gov/coronavirus.
One last request from our wastewater department, with the onset of Covid-19, we are experiencing an increase in people flushing wipes into the sewer. Even wipes that are marketed as flushable are not acceptable to flush at any time and are a major cause of pump failure and emergency responses from our staff.
Please dispose of all wipes, clothing, or towels in the trash and not in the toilet. This will save the Wastewater Department and the ratepayers from expensive service and equipment costs. This is especially critical now as we could be experiencing labor shortages. We appreciate your support.
I understand the strain this situation is placing on individuals and the community at large. I am proud of how serious and responsible Rockport’s residents and businesses are being in the face of this challenge. By practicing social distancing, and quarantining yourselves when necessary, you’re demonstrating a commitment to protecting the most vulnerable amongst us at the sake of your own comfort, and often financial security.
I know during these challenging times we’ll continue to be kind to one another, be patient, share resources, and don’t hoard supplies that are badly needed by the many. This may last longer than we all want, but it certainly won’t last forever. When this is over, we’ll be a much stronger community for working together to take care of one another.