Tri-City Ledger -

By Joe Thomas
Ledger Editor 

As things change dates change


July 9, 2020

In the March 19, 2020, edition of the Tri-City Ledger as the COVID-19 pandemic began exploding I wrote in this space not to believe any dates you read in my newspaper, any other newspaper or see on the news about when things would be open or how long things would be closed.

I looked back at that column this week and the only date that has stood firm is Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey's July 14 date for the runoffs in Alabama. We were supposed to head back to the polls on March 31. The governor pulled the plug due to the pandemic. With the runoffs set for this coming Tuesday, I think it's a safe bet that the polls will be open.

Over the past several months I've attended county commission meetings, town council meetings and listened to what is coming out of Montgomery, Tallahassee and Washington, D.C.

I listened and reported what they said, knowing full and well what they were saying at that specific time really didn't matter.

I re-read that column I wrote about talking to Escambia County Circuit Judge Dave Jordan on a Friday about the court system and the pending criminal jury term that was supposed to start the upcoming Monday. I talked to him and didn't take any notes. I knew what he told me on Friday wouldn't be the same by the time my paper came out the next week. They weren't, things changed.

Things continue to change. Judge Jordan sent out another order Monday changing course as the pandemic changed its course.

Escambia County School Superintendent John Knott still says we will open schools on Aug. 7. I hope he's right, but he really doesn't know. He's basing that date on the current data and information provided by the state school board. He doesn't have a crystal ball.

Back in the March 19 Tri-City Ledger there was talk of reopening schools as early as March 27 in Escambia County (Fla.), April 6 in Escambia County (Ala.) and April 15 in Santa Rosa County. None of that happened.

Flomaton High School head baseball coach Keith Nall was optimistic that the 2020 high school baseball season would resume but he did tell me that the season could also be lost. It was.

Parents were concerned but optimistic that youth baseball and youth softball would be held this summer, but didn't happen either.

Here we are in July and we still don't know. Things change on a daily and weekly basis. Most people are still optimistic that we'll play football this fall. I'm not so optimistic that will happen.

But I do want to give a shout-out to our elected officials across the area. They have been put under a lot of pressure to make decisions on which way to go depending on the pandemic numbers. Open this, close this, open this again, shut this down.

They have a tough job and they get criticized for making those tough decisions that affect our daily lives. But I've seen one common theme among city councils and county commissions – they work and make decisions to keep their employees and citizens safe.

At a July 17 emergency meeting of the Escambia County (Ala.) Commission to address COVID-19, County Clerk-Administrator Tony Sanks said it best when he said “It's not time to panic, it's time to make smart decisions.”

'Smart' decisions are based on the information you have in front of you at the time. Some decisions may look dumb later, but again nobody has a crystal ball. I've been impressed with how the elected officials we cover locally have dealt with the issues so far. Unlike what's going on in Washington, there are no political agendas. These people are making the best decisions they can with the information they have.

So, again, I tell you don't write dates in stone because they may have changed while I was writing this column. But Ivey's date of July 14 is rock solid and I hope you will vote.


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