Mayor Norton Letter to Citizens - May 4, 2020
On April 3rd I sent an open letter to our community outlining how the City will continue to operate and provide services in this current environment, where to find the latest information related to the health crisis, and highlighting many positive programs in Smyrna to help our citizens in need. The City continues to provide timely notices as this environment evolves through our website and social media outlets.
I want to take a moment to provide an update from my perspective on where we are as May begins.
First, I want to express my gratitude to all our citizens, staff, and volunteers who made the service honoring Officer Chris Ewing such a beautiful tribute to our fallen hero. Seeing the procession lined with safely distanced citizens waving flags, holding signs, saluting, or simply standing in support of Officer Ewing was extremely moving and appreciated. The service itself, as those of you who watched online know, was extraordinary. We should all be proud of our City for an excellent celebration of Officer Ewing’s life and contributions to our country and community.
Next, let me paint a picture of where we are in this COVID-19 pandemic in Smyrna, GA. This current environment we live in continues to change daily, and your Smyrna government assesses the most current data and information daily as it becomes available and reacts accordingly, with the number one priority always to keep our citizens and staff safe. We remain in a declared health state of emergency, and the Governor’s orders supersede any local directives.
In the past two weeks the Governor allowed businesses that had been previously ordered closed to re-open under a list of specific guidelines, except for bars and nightclubs. As of May 1st, the state shelter in place order expired for anyone other than people over 65 and the medically fragile. Several Smyrna businesses, including many restaurants, have remained closed or limited to take out only by choice, with owners still sensitive to ongoing health risks.
The City of Smyrna will continue to make cautious decisions about how and when to reopen. I want to make sure that residents and staff are not unnecessarily put at risk to the coronavirus. For now, our public buildings remain closed. City parks remain open, with pavilions, playground and exercise equipment closed. We continue to provide all essential services, and our staff has been amazing in how they have adapted to these circumstances and continued to provide excellent customer service to our citizens. The City Council also continues to have work sessions and council meetings virtually, with the public encouraged to participate. We are working on details to safely hold an in-person council meeting with public hearings, likely in the community center gym, later this month.
The City of Smyrna, in cooperation with the GA Department of Public Health, strongly encourages citizens to wear a face covering in public settings, especially in environments like grocery stores, when picking up food at restaurants, or waiting in line. Please also practice social distancing and wash your hands frequently. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has easy-to-follow instructions on how to make a low-cost cloth face covering. Cloth face coverings should allow for breathing without restriction, cover the nose and mouth, and be laundered and machine dried after use.
Please know how proud I continue to be of this great community that we all call home. Businesses and residents continue to step up in a big way to support each other in our community. The generous spirit of our citizens and just how tightly knit we are in Smyrna is on full display during these tough and uncertain times. Keep it up Smyrna!
As we get deeper into this health crisis increasingly there are individuals and families in our community who need assistance – and they need it now.
I’m pleased to report that we have eclipsed $100,000 raised and more than 1,100 individual donations through Support Smyrna (www.supportsmyrna.org) and have provided assistance in purchasing groceries for hundreds of families in Smyrna – so far. The Hot Meals Program in partnership with the Tillman House, Atkins Park Tavern, Wade’s, and Zucca, has expanded to three locations and over 1,300 meals per week! And our Smyrna Police and Fire Department personnel are delivering groceries to our most vulnerable population.
And, this community continues to support our local restaurants and businesses – please continue to help them get through this! Use the app that staff created to find restaurants serving takeout and offering delivery at https://smygis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html…. #CarryOutandCarryOn!
If you have any questions, please know your City of Smyrna staff stands ready to help you. You can access resources for all things COVID-19 related for individuals and businesses, including updates, at www.smyrnaga.gov. Please also check for updates through the City of Smyrna facebook page, twitter and Instagram.
Smyrna citizens, I urge you to please remain cautious in your interactions with others and continue to exercise strict social distancing. Let’s all stay strong and work together to put this health crisis in the rearview mirror! Y’all stay safe and #SmyrnaStrong.
Mayor, City of Smyrna