Update for 11/6/2020
Election Day is now behind us and it is important to point out that this Election Day took place under extremely difficult circumstances. Our Town Clerk, Assistant Town Clerks, Registrars of Voters and Deputy and Assistant Registrars of Voters met tirelessly, making plans and sorting through an ever more complicated set of state rules for months.
The end result was an Election Day that ran flawlessly, fairly and with little or no inconvenience to our residents. The job that these individuals did is nothing short of heroic and they fully deserve to be recognized for their efforts. In addition, I want to commend all of our residents for being so cooperative with new protocols and for turning out in record numbers to participate in our democracy, America’s greatest strength. When the results are finally announced, I am sure they will be extremely disappointing to some. It is my hope and belief that all will show the same civility that Easton has demonstrated throughout this highly contested process.
At the same time, we continue to see a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. Confirmed cases, deaths and hospitalizations are all rising. Many of you know that Joel Barlow High School had to be closed for several days. It is clear that individual behaviors drive the spread of the virus in our community. We are back to a situation of a rising curve (growth in the number of cases) with the need to again think about flattening that curve and the increase of new cases.
Please consider your actions when you get together with people. With the colder weather, this will happen more and more indoors. Groups of friends can be major spreader events. Please mask and social distance and sanitize, but really consider whether to have the gathering in the first place. One of the key elements of flattening the curve is also contact tracing. We now have a major effort in town to do this. I cannot stress enough how much of a difference this can make in controlling the spread of the virus, and it simply would not have been possible without our agreement with the Westport Weston Health District. Easton could never have secured the resources to do this on our own. The state reports weekly data on Thursdays and as of yesterday, the rate per 100,000 people over the prior two weeks was 14.5 which classifies us as orange, but red status starts at 15.
In Town Hall, we are also working on refining the permitting process for all construction and septic work. Our goal is to make Easton a building and construction friendly town. There will be new permitting packages for each type of project which will include instructions, fees and a checklist. The process should be transparent, simple and more expeditious. This will roll out gradually over the next few months.
Last night at the Board of Selectmen meeting, there was a discussion about the Easton Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. Several of the members discussed their first meeting and expressed their concerns. One member had already stated their intention to resign as well as one of the alternates. The Board of Selectmen added a sixth member so that the committee could be evenly split between parties so that more collaboration would be encouraged. This is a difficult topic to consider, and I am not surprised that there is some acrimony. To expect otherwise would, in my opinion, be foolish. Nonetheless, it is my hope that this important task force can focus in on ways to make Easton more cohesive to the betterment of all.
Also, there was a discussion about the maintenance of our athletic fields and the merits of keeping that function within the Park and Recreation Department versus combining the function with the Department of Public Works. Two editorials in the Easton Courier, one from a member of the Board of Finance and one from a member of the Park and Recreation Commission summarize the relevant arguments.
Last night the state issued a new Executive Order. The order tasked the Department of Economic and Community Development with creating or adjusting guidelines for youth sports. So far, no changes have been announced. I would urge caution, but as of this time, the order does not require any changes in current procedures. That may, of course, change in the future. Please know that, I am in constant contact with our Department of Health regarding town matters, and the superintendent of schools will contact you directly on school-related matters.
Please be careful, but do enjoy the weekend! Above all, wear a mask, wash your hands and social distance!