While these things continue to develop, I took what time I had to meet with several people across the county to briefly talk about this situation. While by no means a great cross-section of the diversity we have here, I decided to stop meeting with folks in person.
Weston Allen is waiting out his senior year at Southridge High School at home. He’s more concerned about his final high school season of baseball than about missing prom. He has a positive outlook on this season because several starters from last year’s semi-state championship team are returning.
However, the first game of the season has already been canceled and he doesn’t know if the game after that is going to happen. Meanwhile, the team isn’t practicing and won’t until March 30.
But he has some perspective on the situation.
“At first I was pretty upset but I’m trying to stay positive about it,” Weston said. “I mean, our coach’s son, Payton Mattingly, he’s in his senior year and he plays baseball. His season’s been canceled. His career is pretty much over.”
Weston’s baseball career is still ahead of him. He is looking forward to playing baseball at Asbury University next year.
For now, he said he’d like to get a job. Two days into e-learning and he’s already pretty bored, he said.
He completed a trigonometry class today but it was difficult. “It’s a video so I can’t ask any questions during the class,” he explained.
As the virus seems to impact the elderly the hardest as well as those with pre-existing conditions, he is worried about his grandparents.
Erin Rauscher’s new studio on Fourth Street in Huntingburg is empty Tuesday morning but she’s leading kids through a children’s yoga class centered around St. Patrick’s Day.
Drawing upon the expressiveness necessary to teach kids, Erin demonstrates the yoga moves with broad, exaggerated gestures in front of her phone’s camera as she hopes children attempt to mimic them at home.
It’s a work in progress as she deals with slow internet and buffering on Facebook’s application. Maybe she’ll start pre-recording the classes, everything is up in the air and adaption is necessary.
She began the classes Monday and parents have thanked her for adding the fun activity. Some have posted photos of their children working along with Erin’s instructions. The classes she’s offered have been free but some parents have made donations.
“I felt I needed to close the studio,” she explained adding her national yoga alliance made the recommendation as well.
But she is a teacher at heart and has to try to do something for the many friends and clients she knows are likely dealing with stress.
She is concerned though.
“I think most people are really understanding because it’s not just me, it’s everybody,” Erin said about the impact on her business. “But I think months could be a problem.”
But she believes it is necessary.
“I think sometimes you even have to put differences aside and realize, like, how can we support the health and well being of the community,” she said referring to many small business owners’ decisions, forced or voluntary, to take measures to protect their customers and employees. “That comes first.”
The Meny family — Gary, Michelle and Dalton — is keeping Meny’s True Value open and cautiously continuing to provide for the public’s needs while offering curbside delivery.
The True Value stores in Ferdinand, Jasper and Dubois are important in a time like this. Michelle Meny is hoping as things progress and more closures come, the state realizes hardware stores are an essential service.
“I saw Pennsylvania state shut everything down and their list of essentials where hospitals, hardware stores, big box stores, groceries, so that makes me feel a little better,” Michelle Meny said.
In Dubois, the store supplies farmers with many necessary items.
“We have a lot of things (sanitation chemicals and cleaning supplies) that we sell to the farmers around here for biosecurity reasons,” Michelle said. It’s kind of been hard because we keep that in stock so that they can continue their operations day to day but now we have the whole county scrambling for these items.”
It’s also difficult because suddenly, it is harder to stock items. She attempted to order masks in January and the order still hasn’t been filled. Her son, Dalton, suggested they should probably stock up on Lysol and Germ-X. They placed an order and the next day, there was no more available to order. They sold the last bottle of Germ-X last Friday.
“It’s been a little bit of a challenge trying to keep up because we’re so used to being able to order it every week and we have it,” Michelle said. “And now all the sudden all our warehouses are out of everything.”
Michelle said they are taking steps to be prepared if a complete lockdown does happen. “I just want to know that if I have to lock the door, that we got that plan in place,” she said.
Meny’s True Value offers online ordering for the Jasper location and curbside delivery at all three locations. Customers can call in their orders to the Dubois and Ferdinand stores.
Michelle wonders if the virus’ impact will change her business operations permanently.
Meanwhile, they are here to help.
“This is home.”
Easter candy is 20 percent off at Chocolate Bliss and Kitchen Essentials on Jasper’s Square. Ann Knies is pragmatic but she understands things are difficult right now.
It’s hard for us business owners because we are in this for a reason,” she said. “We want to react; we have that in us. But, in this situation, we have to step back and say this is something completely out of our control.”
She wonders how the pandemic is going to change the country as a whole. “Everyone is in the same situation,” she explained.
She’s worried that perception is reality and the perception at the end of this, what will that perception be.
“When the time is right, when we are over this, will it be hard for people to accept the fact that things have gotten better,” Ann said.
Ann said she was looking to the community as her bright spot during the crisis.
“We have really good solid people. It has allowed me to be in business for 15 years,” she said. “People will rebound to taking care of their community as a whole, including businesses. I think they will really come back to their small businesses.”
She added that the community is doing that now.
“We had people in here on Monday who said they wanted us to know they support small businesses and they were here to spend money to show that support,” Ann said.
Liam Lampert is a kindergartener at Ireland Elementary. He misses the friends he’s made in Mrs. Wagner’s class.
He knows a little about the coronavirus because his teacher has talked to the class about it, he said.
He says that he and his friends talk about the virus and he is a little scared about it.
“I hate it. I don’t want it to come to Jasper,” he said adding that he doesn’t want anyone to get sick.
He mentioned that he has a friend who is sick but that it isn’t the coronavirus.
“I miss wrestling and karate,” Liam added.
He enjoys the e-learning classes he is taking though.
Monday was the first day Kyle and Jamie Jahn didn’t sell a single thing from Downtown Fitness and Running since opening the business four years ago.
They are still holding classes in the morning. Kyle’s class Monday morning only had seven attendees which kept him under the 10-person rule put out by the state. They are also doing virtual classes so that helps.
But as races and track meets are all canceled for the foreseeable future, the couple is worried. Spring is supposed to be the beginning of their busy season.
“We just see everything in the running world coming to a halt,” Jamie said. “I bought thousands of dollars of track spikes and they are just sitting there. It’s really scary for us.”
For now, they are looking forward to the Heartland Half Marathon and the training that will begin for that race.
Jamie is also the program director for Girls on the Run. The program has 243 girls taking part in the empowerment program centered around building self-esteem through fitness activities and friendships.
“We don’t know what the season will be for the girls,” she said. “We don’t know if we will have our 5K.”
The group is giving the girls at-home lessons to do and considering how to do virtual classes with them.
The couple is hopeful things will settle down soon.
“People can still go out and buy stuff from retail stores,” Kyle said. “They don’t just have to buy all the toilet paper.”
Providing classes and going for runs or walks are great ways to deal with the stress that many people are experiencing right now.
“They want to stay inside but I think that is the worst, to hibernate inside, especially with the kids,” Kyle said. “Get outside, go for a walk.”
Kyle and Jamie love helping people. They love hearing how a good pair of shoes has relieved pain someone is feeling or given them more mobility. They love when a stranger comes in with a problem and they can help them out.
“Our goal when we opened the place in the first place was to support our running community,” Jamie said. “Right now we feel like we can’t. We don’t know what to do. We aren’t supporting that running community the way that we want to. “
It’s hard to be a community when everybody says stay six feet apart.