On Tuesday, March 24, Governor Tony Evers issued the Safer at Home order to take effect.
“People across our state are still out and about unnecessarily that are putting our friends, our neighbors, and our communities at risk,” said Evers on his social media account Monday morning. “Over the past few days, I’ve talked with public health experts and with business leaders and local elected officials around the state. Overwhelmingly the response I heard is that we need an all-hands-on-deck approach to stopping the spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin. In fact, business leaders have suggested that it is imperative to slow the growth of the disease and that the state cease all non essential business statewide. And, folks, all hands on deck means you, too. I know this has been difficult and has disrupted the lives of people across our state. That’s why issuing a #SaferAtHome order isn’t something I thought we’d have to do, and it’s not something I take lightly. But here’s the bottom line: folks need to start taking this seriously. We also need folks to limit their interactions to the same people, not different small groups. Shrinking your circle of interactions will help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately that means no sleep overs, no play dates, and no dinner parties with friends and neighbors.
We’re all in this together, and each and every one of us has to do our part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 so we can #FlattenTheCurve to ensure our doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers have the opportunity to do their important work.
You can still get out and walk the dogs—it’s good exercise and it’s good for everyone’s mental health—but please don’t take any other unnecessary trips, and limit your travel to essential needs like going to the doctor, grabbing groceries, or getting medication.
Workers providing essential care or services in our communities will be allowed to continue to travel to and from work. That includes folks like healthcare professionals, grocers, family caregivers, among other people whose work is critical for folks across our state.
If it’s essential for you to go outside, please stay six feet away from others and shared spaces such as park shelters and visitor centers. In the days, weeks, and months ahead we will continue listening to the public health experts, healthcare providers, first responders, and businesses and workers on the front lines. And as I listen and learn I will continue to share updates with the people of Wisconsin.”
The order noted that all non-essential businesses were to close. People would still be able to travel to grocery stores,pharmacies and hospitals and some who work in what is deemed an essential business could also go to and from work. Restaurants are still able to also offer curb-side pick up and delivery has they had been able to last week.
People are still also able to go outside for walks and recreation but directed to maintain social distance.
Cities like Fennimore have stepped up in response to the new measures put in place to stem the spread of the virus.
At the time of printing there have been no active cases in Grant County or Fennimore and in an effort to keep things this way, the local community has banned together and shown resiliency.
Last week, Mayor Ryan Boebel declared a ‘state of emergency’ for Fennimore.
“This is not the first Emergency Proclamation I have done as Mayor however, it is certainly the most publicized and it’s impact is certainly farther reaching than any I have done,” Boebel shared. “Sometimes proclamations have to be done to make the City eligible for grants, aid, etc. which has been the purpose of any proclamations done in the past, at least to the best of my memory.”
Along with schools, restaurants and bars, the city is also working to comply with the new standards set forth by the government during this unprecedented event.
“I have never taken lightly any of my actions or duties as Mayor. I’m sure all would be agreeable, the changes in our lifestyles over the last few weeks or so are something we have not lived through before. Making the decision to close all City-owned properties off to the public was certainly not an easy one and certainly not one that was made without much discussion and contemplation,” Boebel explained. “I have previously been and continue to be in constant contact with people that I need to help me make decisions. I don’t think I have to tell you I haven’t had to deal with something like this before and we are ALL learning as we go and trying to make the best decisions we can based on the information provided. Many people had an influence on the decisions that I have made so far and I’m certain that will continue as we move forward. City employees, the City Attorney, the County’s Attorney, other municipalities, Emergency Management, Alders, our First Responders, the Community School District, the Technical College all have made an impact on what has been decided and what will be decided. I will say this, from what I have seen and heard, I do feel my “team” has helped to make the City of Fennimore one of the more pro-active communities in the area.”
As quarantine and social distancing limits continue to be strongly suggested, many people have been buying up large quantities of food, leaving the shelves barren for other shoppers.
Luckily for Fennimore however this is not currently the case locally at Bender’s Foods.
Jake Bender, Vice President of Bender’s foods shared that because of their independent status, they are able to keep more on the shelves.
“As an independent, we really do have a lot more flexibility to be bold, be proactive and not just sit around and wait for whatever corporate sends us or tells us or lets us do,” Bender explained. “I am talking with our suppliers, they are working to reallocate some things that might have been destined for the bar/restaurant and getting them into grocery stores instead.”
Bender indicated that shopping patterns have been similar to when there is a snow storm forecasted. Bread, milk, eggs, bananas, lunch items like meat and cheese and other kid friendly foods have been popular.
“It was rough on everybody the way the state decided to announce some of these closures last minute but I would say we are in a much better position now than we were earlier the week,” Bender said of supply. “I got a head of it and started working with all of our stores on Monday, March 9, especially to secure the paper product, wipes and other things we knew were going to fly. We have been asking people to be reasonable with their paper purchases, North America has huge forests full of trees that can be sustainably harvested, I think we’re going to be okay.”
Bender also shared that the deli is still open for carry out like always with mainstays like rotisserie chicken and other daily hot meals and the meat department is still making hot fresh smoked specials daily.
The restaurant and bar industry has also been hit hard during the measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Following Governor Tony Evers direction, all restaurants and bars were mandated to close as of Tuesday, March 17 at 5 p.m. This mandate however only pertained to dine in customers and many Fennimore establishments have pivoted with the requirements to continue to offer meals to their customers.
Melodie Betts, owner and now sole employee of the Lemon Door is among the locals who initially pivoted in response to COVID-19.
“I knew it was coming and had already started to set in motion on selling curb side and full quiches to see if it was going to take,” Betts said. “I’m fortunate to have such a small place that I can do that. I didn’t want any of the staff to possibly get sick, so I prepped enough to do the basics. I am exhausted, but like all of us, I’ve got bills to pay, payroll, insurance, utilities, those things just don’t go away because you’re closed.
However, in light of the Shelter at Home order from Evers, Betts decided to temporarily close. She was open Monday, to sell the last of her quiches to use up all of her fresh items she had left.
Friederick’s Family Restaurant remains open for business like several other restaurants in town. Friederick’s has a drive up window that is currently come in handy for the restaurant.
“Obviously business has not been as great as it normally is by limiting what we are allowed to do,” said Sarah Fischer, owner of Friederick’s. “I cannot describe how happy I am that my building had a drive-thru window, it took a little time, effort and cleaning to get it open, but with the help of my team we got it functional. Everyone has been pretty excited they can use the drive-thru window. We still handful of customers that prefer to pick up and I’ve only had a few deliveries to make within the past few days. Each day we get a few more orders than the day before. We’re not doing daily specials every day at this point, but we will continue to offer our full menu with the exception of ice cream.” Friederick’s Family Restaurant’s menu can be found online on the Fennimore Area Chamber of Commerce Facebook, with many other local businesses information during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Frederick’s also has a website to view their information at friedericksrestaurant.com.
The Fennimore Chamber of Commerce has been working to gather a list of local businesses that continue to be open and operating accordingly. The full, and most updated list is available on the Fennimore Chamber of Commences website, or give the local business a call. Many remain staffed and are eager to serve their community even while adhering to social distancing. Many are even running specials and some offering delivery.
Additionally, purchasing gift certificates for use later has also been highly recommended for those who would still like to support local businesses during this time of social distance. Purchasing is available with many quick and easily, over the phone.
In an effort to help keep residents entertained during social distancing, the Dwight Public Library is also offering curb side or home delivery of reading materials. Interested patrons can call 822-6294 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The City of Fennimore will continue to conduct it’s regular business between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. However the doors to the Memorial Building will be closed. Residents are encouraged to drop off their utility payments in front of the drop box located in the front of the building by the North doors. Payments can also be made over the phone by calling 877-885-7968. Anyone with questions are also welcomed to call the staff at 822-6110.
“The actions of Federal, State, and Local governments has required some City employees extra work and I would like to thank those employees for their extra effort. The two employees that I am most aware of are the City Clerk, having to make sure the Absentee Balloting get done, and our Janitor, having to take extra precautions including sanitizing items she would not normally do, such as City vehicles and shops,” Boebel noted of the efforts at the Memorial Building.
Despite the hardships this may cause many and the fear that most all of us have of the uncertainty of the future, knowing that our community is our greatest strength can be a balm during these hard times.
“I would like to reach out to the citizens of the community. I will be honest and tell you that it wasn’t that long ago when I didn’t take this whole pandemic as seriously as maybe I should have, just like many of you, Boebel said. “After watching the spread and the impact on the entire world, it didn’t take long for me to reconsider my stance. I know there are still people out there that feel that way. To them I will ask to please reconsider your opinion based on the facts. It is certainly not my desire to cause hysteria but, this is, or will be impacting everyone. It is nice to see that in crisis, there are still good people out there doing the right thing. It’s been said over and over but, our community is filled with awesome people. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes something like this to remind us.”