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Governor issues stay at home order
 John Cavanagh

Oceana County along with the rest of the state was ordered Monday to ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ for the next three weeks in an effort to curb the coronavirus throughout the state.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued the order during a press conference Monday morning, requiring all non-essential workers to stay home.

District Health Department #10 also announced in the last week that there have been four people within the DHD#10 district testing positive for the virus with one being in Wexford County, one in Kalkaska County one in Newaygo County and one in Manistee County. Muskegon County has had two positive tests.

“Taking aggressive action to protect our communities is the most important thing we can do to mitigate further spread of COVID-19,” said Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “If we do this now, we can make sure our hospitals and healthcare workers are prepared to take care of the sickest people. It is crucial that people do the right thing by staying home and staying safe.”

Executive Order 2020-21 prohibits all businesses and operations from requiring workers to leave their homes, unless those workers are necessary to sustain or protect life or to conduct minimum basic operations. Businesses and operations are to designate the workers that meet those criteria, and must adopt social distancing practices and other mitigation measures to protect workers and patrons in the performance of that necessary in-person work.

The order also closed state park campgrounds, overnight lodging facilities and shelters, effective now through at least April 13. State parks and recreation areas will remain open to provide residents with opportunities to get outdoors, provided all visitors adhere to the requirement for proper social distancing – at least 6 feet between yourself and another person – in all areas of the parks.

In a statement Tuesday morning, Oceana County Sheriff Craig Mast said it is the intention of the Oceana County Sheriff’s Office to followWhitmer’s executive order to assist in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

“As of March 23, 2020, we asked the courts to release a number of inmates from our facility,” Mast said. “The majority of the inmates released were considered at-risk by our medical director, and the remainder were non-violent offenders. Creating room in our jail will allow for inmate isolation if necessary. We are trying to protect our jail inmate population and staff as best we can from this virus.”

Mast also said the sheriff’s office is continuing to operate as normal as it can given the circumstances. “We are still operating at full staff and will continue to serve the citizens if they have needs. We are not turning a blind eye to crime. We still have our deputies patrolling 24/7. We are hopeful that none of our staff become affected by this virus and are taking precautions just like everyone else.

“With the executive order issued March 23, 2020, many are asking what they can and cannot do. If citizens have work-related questions, they should contact their employer, as they are ultimately responsible,” Mast said. “Aside from employment questions, we are simply asking people to do their part in this crisis. We anticipate receiving complaints about violations of the executive order. It is law enforcement’s understanding that these complaints will be investigated and turned over to the Office of the Michigan Attorney General.

“We live in a community that so many can only visit once a year while on vacation,” Mast said. “This is an opportunity for us to enjoy many of the outdoor venues we have in our county, and a little fresh air is good for all of us.”

If citizens have questions regarding the executive order specifics they may call the Governor’s constituent services at (517) 335-7858.

All Oceana County Buildings will remain closed until April 13. People needing assistance can call the main number at 873-4835. The March 26 board of commissioners meeting also was canceled along with the April 2 county planning commission meeting and the April 2 parks and recreation. The county {span} Transfer Station will remain open during its regular business hours and days through April 11. {/span}

MSU Extension offices also will be closed, but staff will be working remotely. People can call the office main telephone number at 231-873-2129 and leave a message. Staff will check messages as often as the can. People can also contact staff members directly through email as listed: General Office/Support Staff: Toni VanBergen vanberg2@msu.edu; Kathy Walicki walicki@msu.edu; 4-H Program Coordinator Sarah Schaner schaner4@msu.edu; Vegetable Educator: Ben Werling werlingb@msu.edu; Tree Fruit Educator Dave Jones jones412@msu.edu; District Director James Kelly kellyj56@msu.edu.

Effective immediately in the Village of Pentwater, all water turn ons have been suspended until April 13. Please visit Village of Pentwater for further details. Many other local closures and changes have been put into place and were subject to change. They include the following:

MSU Extension opens online programing

During unprecedented disruptions to daily life, Michigan State University Extension has created a suite of online resources and programming, available on demand through its new Remote Learning and Resources online space. For traditional in-person programming affected by social distancing recommendations, MSU Extension is modifying and transitioning this programming to a digital space.

The Remote Learning and Resources online space is a one-stop-shop for MSU Extension’s digital offerings and educational materials related to the current circumstances. Among the resources featured on the site are:

A listing of all MSU Extension virtual events — from family yoga sessions to lunch-and-learns for equine enthusiasts

A collection of free educational resources for parents and caregivers to keep children engaged in learning throughout the school break

Online learning opportunities for adults who may want to continue their own lifelong learning

A series of resources to help individuals stay healthy and active during social distancing

A variety of educational articles related to topics such as dealing with family stress, talking to children about novel coronavirus and managing finances

As the response to the novel coronavirus pandemic evolves, MSU Extension will continue to add and curate digital resources to support individuals, businesses, communities and families in these challenging times.

West Shore College

Effective Friday, March 20, any remaining face-to-face West Shore Community College instruction has been suspended through April 5. Online academic instruction will continue until the end of the semester. With an appointment, support services will continue to be offered to students on an emergency basis only. No family members will be admitted to the college’s buildings if an appointment is granted and appropriate measures will be enforced to protect the health of students and college employees. Many of the college staff are working remotely and there are limited services in many of the college’s departments. Students should call ahead to determine if the services they need are available. Currently, all of the college’s buildings are closed to the public through March 30. Online research resources can be accessed by viewing the library website. The college has installed free Wi-Fi access, for public use, in parking lots near the Tech Center, Arts and Sciences Center and Recreation Center.

Pentwater Chamber events

The Pentwater Chamber of Commerce has made the decision to cancel Easter on the Green (April 11) and Business After Hours for April and May. Brews & Beats has been rescheduled from May 2 to Sept. 5. At this time all other events will remain as scheduled.

St. Joseph fish dinners

St. Joseph Church Weare announced Monday that it had canceled its remaining Lenten fish dinners.

Adventists cancel church services, activities

The Seventh Day Adventist Church in Shelby is keeping with the state’s recommendations is canceling all activities until April 11. That includes supper club and church services.

Stay home. Stay safe. Save lives.

Stay Home. Stay Safe. Save Lives. Link to www.michigan.gov/coronavirusTo combat the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan, Governor Whitmer signed the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order. For at least the next three weeks, all Michigan businesses and operations must temporarily suspend in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life, and all Michiganders must stay in their homes unless they’re a part of that critical infrastructure workforce, engaged in an outdoor activity, or performing tasks necessary to the health and safety of themselves or their family, like going to the hospital or grocery store.

You can:

Go to the grocery store or pick up take-out food.

Go to the pharmacy to pick up a needed prescription.

Engage in outdoor activities like walking, hiking, running, biking.

Go to the hospital or secure any care necessary to address a medical emergency or to preserve your health or the health of a loved one.

Fill your car with gas.

Return to Michigan to a home or place of residence from outside the State.

Leave the State for a home or residence elsewhere.

Walk your pets and take them to the veterinarian for needed medical care.

You may not

Leave the home to work unless your employer designates you as a critical infrastructure worker.

Participate in any public gatherings.

Visit someone in the hospital, nursing home, or other residential care facilities (with limited exceptions).

Go to the mall or to restaurants.

Businesses that remain open for in-person work must take agressive steps to minimize the virus’ spread. They must:

Promote remote work to the fullest extent possible.

Restrict the number of workers present in-person on the job.

Keep employees at least six feet from one another to the maximum extent possible and enabling social distancing for customers who are standing in line.

Any other social distancing practices and mitigation measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

For those who have questions about the state’s actions to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, please call the COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-535-6136 between 8 a.m. — 5 p.m. daily.

Eating out means eating out
 John Cavanagh  / 

Did we ever dream we’d see the day when a killer virus swept through the globe, cities and communities shut down, quarantines were in order, and practically all the businesses closed their doors? Once upon a time that would have been an unthinkable prospect, a nightmare fantasy from, perhaps, one of those futuristic books or movies.

But suddenly it’s a reality. Throughout Michigan and a number of other states, the order has gone out: stay at home. Unless you must partake of essential services, or unless you’re employed by one of those services, do not go out. If you need to walk the dog, or just take a walk, period, do it alone. Keep at least six feet away from others. Sanitize any surface with which you come in contact. Keep washing your hands and don’t touch your face. Remember, your actions impact not only you but your family, your friends, your entire community.

Many businesses in the country are feeling the impact of these dire directives. And among those hardest hit are restaurants and other food establishments. Many have closed completely. Others have transitioned to take-out only. They’re trying their hardest to cope—to go from one day to the next, paring down, trying new things, struggling to keep going until “all this is over.” Just when that may be is entirely unknown. Weeks? Months? According to the starkest prediction, a year?

How are our local restaurants faring? What are they doing to stay afloat for the short term? The Herald-Journal surveyed some of them. Here are their stories.

• Soup of the Day Cafe

213 E. Main St. in Hart

When Ruthann Woods Curtis was forced to close her popular cafe, Soup of the Day, offering, like all other local eateries, take-out only, it was a blow.

“I’ve got a mortgage,” she says. “I’ve got rent. I’ve got employees. With zero income, I’m not sure what to do. But then, no one knows what to do.”

She did know what to do, though. At least when it came to those who depend on free school lunches.

“When Hart Schools closed, so did the free lunches. Shelby schools were still providing them, and to some other communities as well. But there was no one stepping in to fill the void here. So I decided to use this opportunity to make free lunches for the children of Hart.”

Curtis put the word out on Facebook, and received “an incredible response.” Donations poured in as soon as her post went up.

“Within an hour, hundreds of dollars were donated,” she reports. “I have enough money now for several weeks’ worth of lunches. It’s wonderful, how people are willing to help.”

The first week, Soup of the Day distributed 280 lunches. The meal usually consists of a breakfast item, like instant oatmeal or Pop Tarts; a juice box; crackers or a granola bar; fruit snacks; and a sandwich or main dish.

“One day I made mac and cheese, with ham and broccoli,” Curtis recalls. “They really loved that. One child told me, ‘That pasta was so good!’ That made me feel so happy.”

Fridays are particularly important, Curtis notes, because many children don’t have enough to eat over the weekend. “I try to give them extra on Fridays. Enough to make the food last.”

Currently, Soup of the Day is closed to the public, but open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for lunch pickup. Curtis and her staff are definitely kept busy. “Today we did 80 lunches,” she notes. “I have help—my daughter, Meghan Peterson, cooks, and Holly Revilla and Becky Bonnville pack the food. People call in ahead and we’ll set the lunches in boxes outside, or bring them to someone’s car if they’re parked out front. That’s for their safety and ours.”

Curtis admits to being “a little surprised” that more of her fellow restauranteurs haven’t offered to pitch in.

“Kristi’s Pour House, next door, did bring me things, like bread and other items,” she acknowledges. “That was really nice of them. But I’d love to see other restaurants step up and help with supplies, or lunch items. Tacos, sandwiches—anything is welcome.”

As she assesses the future of her establishment, Curtis is trying to deal with the uncertainty that the rest of the country is feeling.

“I can only go for so long,” she admits, the strain evident in her voice. ““I don’t know how long I can hold out as far as the restaurant goes. But I’ll do the lunches for the duration. I don’t plan to stop until I run out of money or supplies. Right now the donations have been so generous that I have to spend down what I have. When I need more, I’ll post on Facebook.

“It’s something to do. And it makes me happy. You can see on people’s faces how happy and relieved they are. Kids have to have their lunch. I’m glad to be of help. That’s what we should be doing. Helping people.”

For more information, visit Soup of the Day Café on Facebook or call (231) 301-8338.

The Bakery on the Corner. 69 S. State St. Hart

For years, the Bakery on the Corner—formerly Morat’s—has been a local watering hole, offering a friendly, cozy place for a faithful clientele to gather for coffee, pastries, lunch and friendship. For the moment, that’s all in the past. But the bakery-restaurant is still open for take-out.

“People can still come in,” says owner Chris Dold. “But they can’t stay and linger.”

Dold will, however, be curtailing her regular hours. “With the new governor’s orders, I’m going to close at noon. I can’t pay someone to stay until 3 if no one’s coming in”

So far, Dold has enough customers to keep her doors open. “We’ve had quite a bit of foot traffic. Our lunches are down. But we’re still selling our bread and other baked goods. We’ll still have chili, but it won’t be heated. I can’t have food sitting in a crockpot all day. But people can take it home and heat it up.”

How does the current crisis compare to anything Dold has experienced in the past?

“The only crisis I’ve ever had was when our fryer broke down,” she says. “We were without it for four days, and it really hurt the doughnut business. People really don’t want baked doughnuts. They don’t brown and just look weird!”

People do have to have their doughnuts, though, even—or maybe especially—in a pandemic. Fortunately, the bakery has plenty of those on hand, along with the usual selection of cookies, turnovers and other favorites. There’s also a new item.

“I have a new cookie,” Dold proudly reports. “Salted caramel with toffee. I really like it. But then, that’s my problem. I like my own stuff!”

How does Dold assess the bakery’s future?

“If I can keep my crew to a bare minimum, I hope I can weather the current situation,” she says. “Some income is better than none. I plan to stay open. I’ll skate down to no help—just my husband and my daughter—if I have to. Meanwhile, I’m going to think positive. I’m thankful I’m in the business that I am. People have to eat.”

Especially doughnuts.

For more information, visit The Bakery on the Corner on Facebook or call (231) 873-0000.

Deb’s Café. 225 N. Michigan Ave. Shelby

Deb’s Café has been a Shelby institution for quite a few years now. It’s where people go for breakfast, lunch and a warm, friendly atmosphere. The omelettes are famous, the English muffin and raisin bread a must, and everything is made from scratch.

That was then. This is now. For the present, customers have to forego the camaraderie. But the restaurant is still open for takeout and delivery.

“We have a full menu,” says owner Ted Tanis. “We’re open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. People can order ahead and pick up at our ice cream window. We also deliver to Hart and Shelby, for a $5 charge.”

In his eight years at Deb’s, Tanis admits he’s “never seen anything like this. We’ll keep going depending on how much financial help I can get. Thankfully, all my employees are on unemployment.”

The restaurant has been a passion for his wife, who’s been in the business 45 years.

“Running restaurants has been Deb’s passion all her life,” Tanis reflects. “She always worked for her mother, Shirley Kludy, who owned Lakewinds in Silver Lake and Hart. She absolutely loves cooking, talking to customers and getting compliments.”

Deb’s is known for its homemade fare. “We’re up at 4:30 a.m. and here by 5:30,” says Tanis. “Deb does everything by hand. Cuts the potatoes, bakes the bread, everything. Nothing here comes from a box, or is a commercial product.”

They’ve had to make exceptions, though.

“We can’t make our bread because I can’t get yeast and flour. So we’ve had to go to commercial store bread, which I hate. But we don’t have a choice.”

How has the current situation affected him?’

“I really miss the customers,” he acknowledges sadly. “They are our true friends. They love coming here, and I love meeting people, talking to them, sitting down with them. One elderly lady told me that even when she goes to the bathroom, it smells so good that she’d eat her breakfast in there! We try to keep the atmosphere as homey and comfortable as possible. Hopefully we’ll weather this crisis and it will be that way again soon.”

For more information, visit Deb’s Café on Facebook. To place an order, call (231) 450-4171.

The Antler Bar. 283 S. Hancock St. Pentwater

In congenial Pentwater, the Antler is one of the most congenial of gathering spots for locals and visitors alike. Now, with streets empty and customers reduced to take-out, the restaurant has had to adjust accordingly. Fortunately, however, business has been steady.

“We’re OK,” says bartender/server Tristan Lewandowski. “Business has been picking up. Last night it really picked up. I thought things would really go downhill but to go’s have helped us out a lot.”

The restaurant is still offering a full menu and is open seven days a week, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. for take-out and noon-2 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. for delivery.

“We started doing delivery ourselves,” says Lewandowski. “ We have a $5 delivery charge within the village and $10 outside it.”

What are some of their most popular items?

“Our quesadillas. The chicken wraps. And our soups, of course. They’re all homemade.”

Does Lewandowski think the restaurant will weather the current storm?

“I hope so,” he says. “But if it goes on for a long time, say over a month or a month an a half, I don’t know. I’ll definitely be a little worried if it goes on into the summer. But for now, we’re doing OK.”

For more information, visit The Antler Pentwater on Facebook. To place an order, call (231) 869-2911.

Note: You can help keep our local restaurants going by continuing to order from them or purchasing gift cards.

Weight restrictions lifted
 John Cavanagh

The Oceana County Road Commission lifted seasonal weight and speed restrictions Monday March 23, at 7 a.m.

Extension fruit tree educator to leave
 John Cavanagh

Michigan State University Extention Fruit Tree Educator David Jones announced Monday that he is leaving his position effective April 24.

“Like any big decision in life, this one was extremely complex,” Jones said in a statement. “At the end of the day though, the central reason that everything eventually trickles down to is putting family first. As you all know, my family grew by one last year, and that’s been the greatest blessing that my wife and I could have imagined. However, it has also made us realize that we aren’t OK with our daughter only seeing her grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins a couple of times a year when we can spare the time and funds to make the journey back to Wisconsin. My wife and I both grew up in the same area of Wisconsin, and both of our families still live there.”

District Health Department #10 warns of scams
 John Cavanagh

District Health Department #10 (DHD#10) is urging residents to be aware of scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic happening throughout the country.

Scammers are attempting to sell fake products and are calling individuals posing as health officials and providing false information on testing and treatments.

DHD#10 received reports of a woman calling individuals and identifying herself as a nurse. She claims that the individual has a positive COVID-19 test and is asking for credit card information so that an antibiotic can be sent for treatment.

“It is important for the public to know that DHD#10 would never ask for a credit card or financial information like this, especially with regard to COVID-19,” stated Jeannine Taylor, public information officer for DHD#10. “The scary thing is, some of these scammers actually have personal information about the person they are calling so it makes them more believable. We urge everyone to be very cautious when they answer calls, emails, and social media messages. As a general rule, do not give out personal information unless you know who you are talking to is who they claim to be.”

If an individual believes they are the target of a scam, they may file a scam complaint with the Attorney General’s office. The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection webpage is available as a resource as well as the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Team at 877-765-8388.

As of March 18, DHD#10 has not received word of any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the jurisdiction. However, with increased testing and cases reported in neighboring areas, it was expected that community transmission of the virus will occur.

DHD#10 staff are working constantly to monitor this evolving situation and will continue to provide new information to the community as things change. More information can be found at www.dhd10.org, www.michigan.gov/coronavirus, or www.cdc.com/coronavirus