We have made it to the final month of 2020. As much as we can look back at all the struggles our community went through throughout the year, we should rather spend our energy focusing on the good. And there has been a lot of good out there.
When COVID first hit and shut down not only our county, but our entire state, we had a group of local leaders come together and form the Crook County COVID-19 Task Force. Their quick actions provided funding before any other state agency or organization and supplied over $250,000 in grant funds to local businesses. The requirements made it easy for businesses to qualify, and most of these grants were distributed within a few weeks of the application process. There are many to thank for these efforts, but mostly we thank our businesses for doing what they could to keep going and stay strong during these tough financial times.
With schools being suddenly shut down in March, our community saw an amazing response from our school district. Crook County School District was one of the first school districts in the state to get virtual learning up and running so that our students could get back to education. Meals were being delivered to students, busses were set up with Wifi for those who did not have access to it at their home, and then there was the epic new way that we celebrated the graduating class of 2020. Although the traditional commencement ceremony did not happen, we saw a town wide celebration and parade that snaked several miles through our town to celebrate our seniors. This took the creativity and brains of our educators and others that started an event our future seniors are hoping will be a part of their graduation.
As June came around, there was the cancellation of our Roundup and Horse Races but the parades went on. Maybe not as large as in the past, but numerous organizations and volunteers got together and coordinated these traditional events in a new way. Vehicles snaked their way through our neighborhoods creating a route that accommodated the distancing and safety requirements and brought neighbors out all over town to celebrate the Prineville tradition of having summer parades. The Roundup and 4th of July parades both happened, with many standing on street corners and driveways to celebrate even with the new routes.
Then there was the month of August known as “fair week” in Crook County. With the hard work of our Fairgrounds staff and board, the Crook County Fair was able to go on. Kids were able to show animals, the auctions went virtual, and vendors set up all over parks in Prineville in the “Fair Around Town”. And as is tradition, there were fair concerts that kept crowds down, but kept live music going and boosted spirits for those in attendance.
As we ventured into fall the school district again stepped up to offer the best education possible while abiding by the new state restrictions. They provided options to students and parents, and had our kids back to meeting in person when it was safe to do so. Our administrators, teachers and classified staff all found themselves doing their jobs differently than ever before, and often speaking to screens instead of a classroom. Not an easy task by any means, but they continue to work hard at providing the best education possible in this pandemic.
At the Chamber we have also found ourselves doing what we can to connect local businesses to resources and information, and our community. We have been a resource for Covid-19 grant information, we have continued to plan events in a way that encourages safe and cautious behavior, and we will continue to do what we can as this pandemic continues. Our community has been blessed with great individuals, businesses and organizations that all worked together to keep things going in Crook County. It may not appear that there is an end in sight to the pandemic, but we need be thankful for those who have tirelessly worked to find a way to keep Crook County alive, supported and succeeding. Be sure to thank those that you see pushing through and making things happen during this crisis. Thank our businesses for keeping their doors open, despite trying times and falling profits. And thank you for encouraging our community and remember to focus on the good that is happening here.