Civic Engagement More than a Buzz-word but Source of Pride for All
By: Shelley Brophy, Mayor and Greg Sowell, County Judge
Civic engagement is something you may have heard about, read about, and even practiced in your day-to-day life long before the COVID-19 crisis hit our community. We always encourage civic participation and enjoy hearing from our residents. During this unique time, we look even more to our citizens to assist us in effectively communicating the facts of this public health crisis. We applaud you for staying informed through the newspaper and local news, for asking the tough questions, and for using your much-respected voice to communicate with your local elected officials and emergency management personnel. This is civic engagement at its finest.
Reading your local newspaper, watching local news, and educating your friends and neighbors is something we look to you as citizens to do in order to allow us to effectively communicate the facts of this public health crisis to the masses. We commend you for asking the tough questions.
As we continue to face many unknowns each and every day with the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to take the time to pull back the curtain of how your local officials have been at work for Nacogdoches and its residents long before the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in our community.
The Emergency Operations Center has been activated and working at “high-readiness” since March 20. Although working virtually due to the slow moving nature of this virus, Nacogdoches is home to some of the state’s top talent in terms of mitigating public risk during a disaster—no matter the type. Your emergency operations staff meet face-to-face every 48 hours, with countless phone calls in between, in order to project needs for the community in a multitude of ways.
Some of these ways include providing logistical support to our hospitals and testing center, continuing to foster and grow relationships with nonprofit organizations and community stakeholders, ensuring we are communicating with the public in a timely manner, and maintaining fiscal accountability to keep costs aligned and proportionate to actual and potential risks.
Much like during a major event such as a hurricane, this group effectively works in overdrive for the entirety of Nacogdoches. Although slightly different in this scenario, we are constantly identifying needs and coordinating closely with the Texas Department of Emergency Management and Catastrophic Medical Operations Center to procure supplies and mobilize resources available in our region and state.
Although this is a public health disaster, we still are able to employ basic principles of emergency management to help keep the community safe daily. We know the past weeks have been a whirlwind of information as we all adjust to temporary restrictions and adaptations, but it is vitally important to remember that by definition, a pandemic indicates the numbers WILL increase and many, many people will get the virus.
Although sometimes unseen, our local law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical services, and dispatch teams are applying necessary safety precautions to maintain all services while working to keep themselves healthy and safe. This means not only responding to the COVID-19 related incidents, but also the rigorous day-to-day duties of each of these groups.
As your local government entities we take our job very seriously and report factual, confirmed information on behalf of our respective organizations and local hospitals. It is safe to assume there are more cases, unreported and confirmed. As you may also know, the County and City of Nacogdoches issued joint “Stay Home, Stay Safe” orders two days prior to the Governor issuing a similar declaration for the entire state. Due to this, we follow the state’s ruling on what’s considered “essential” and “nonessential” and our law enforcement agencies work daily to educate community members regarding these guidelines. Nevertheless, we strongly urge each and every one of us to continue to practice social distancing and use CDC recommended safety protocols (social distancing, handwashing and masks in public) as we continue to navigate these trying times.
No amount of enforcement beats personal responsibility. There is no level of restriction (or lack thereof) that will satisfy all residents of Nacogdoches, so we appreciate your understanding and support as we adapt to all the information we are receiving.
If this crisis has taught us anything about Nacogdoches, it is that you never know how strong you are until you’re truly tested. We believe that this is at the heart of what it means to live in Nacogdoches. This is a time for us to come together, work toward a common cause, and take a moment to reflect on those things which are most important in our lives.
Stay home, stay safe, and thanks again for being involved in your community.
Thank you to the Daily Sentinel for featuring this message in today's paper.
You can find the story here http://nacogdochesdaily.tx.newsmemory.com/?token=8172f858fe2242a7f5d501ede25050a2.
As a reminder to you, the Daily Sentinel provides COVID-19 information for free on their website.
Photo by Josh Edwards from the Daily Sentinel.