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You’re new around here, aren’t you?

COVID Notebook

So far everyone seems to be getting along pretty well, but the grumbling is already beginning as people who live here full time are coming up against a large and rapid influx of part-time residents seeking refuge at their homes here, as well as renters who might or might not be familiar with the Northwest Corner and its traditions.

This helpful guide can perhaps help us all live together happily for what might turn into several months of quarantine.

Government

In case you’re truly new here, we are in Litchfield County in a region known as the Northwest Corner of Connecticut. With nearby New York and Massachusetts we are known as the Tri-state region.

The Lakeville Journal covers the six towns of the shared Region One School District, which has six elementary schools and one high school, all of which are closed for now. To learn about how students here are coping and learning, look for stories on our town pages and on our website at www.tricornernews.com.

The six towns that we cover are the six towns of the school district: Canaan (which is mostly known as Falls Village; we can explain that another time but not now), Cornwall, Kent, North Canaan (which is mostly known as Canaan; we’ll explain that another time), Salisbury and Sharon.

Salisbury has five villages: Lakeville, Salisbury, Amesville, Lime Rock and Taconic. Cornwall is made up of Cornwall Village, Cornwall Bridge (which refers to the concrete bridge on Route 4) and West Cornwall (which you enter via the historic and scenic Covered Bridge).

Each town has its own town hall. The town halls are closed to the public for now, but they all have websites so it’s very helpful to go online and find out some essentials about your town and what COVID-19 precautions each is taking.

Emergency services

Almost without exception, the emergency services workers in your town are volunteers. They are very happy to help in an emergency and if you think there might be a fire starting in your house or a medical emergency, they would much rather have you call 911 and summon them sooner rather than later, before things get worse.

On the other hand, call responsibly: These people are getting out of bed or leaving their jobs or children to come to your aid.

Don’t be shocked when you call or go by the firehouse or ambulance garage and no one is there; they are at home, with their emergency pagers on.

Also, at this moment, there are new protocols they have to follow to be sure that everyone stays safe from COVID-19 infection. Things might take a little longer than usual.

Please be patient, kind and respectful and if they’ve helped you out, please remember to make a donation. They all get some town funding but they mostly pay their own costs through fundraising.  You need their help. They need your help.

Police

Thirteen towns in the Northwest Corner of Connecticut are served by the Connecticut State Police at Troop B in North Canaan. Five of the six Lakeville Journal towns are in Troop B; Kent is served by Troop L.

The barracks in North Canaan remains open for now, although in theory the police stations are not supposed to be open to the public during the quarantine; but if you’re in danger and need a refuge, at least for now you can still go to the barracks on Route 7, and you can of course call 911.

The individual towns do not have their own police forces, although three towns (Kent, North Canaan and Salisbury) has a resident state trooper who is dedicated to their town on a part-time basis.

Trash

Trash disposal is a big complicated problem in Connecticut. Each town has its own transfer station; trash is brought there and transferred to the state-owned trash-to-energy plant in Hartford. Towns pay to dispose of bulk garbage by the pound; for that reason it’s important to recycle as you’re instructed to do at your town transfer station; and whenever possible to remove wet, heavy food garbage and put it in your compost.

In most towns, you must buy a transfer station sticker, even if a hauler takes your trash. Check your town’s website for details.

The streets and roads

Many people are coping with the quarantine by taking long walks or cycling trips on the area’s scenic country roads.

It’s important to remember that the roads are only there to carry vehicles, such as trucks and cars and ambulances. While bicycles and pedestrians are all welcome to use the roads, keep in mind that you need to keep the centers of the roads open for vehicles. Don’t walk four abreast with a dog and a baby stroller; it’s dangerous. Cars and trucks often come very quickly around the curves on these narrow back roads. And please, if a vehicle comes along a road, you must move to get out of the way.

Conversely, motorists need to be sensitive to the fact that newcomers to the area are out walking and biking on the roads. Travel at the speed limit. And remember it’s the law in our state that you must leave 3 feet of space when you pass a cyclist on the road. To learn more about how cyclists, pedestrians and motorists can co-exist on the roads, go to www.portal.ct.gov/DOT/Commissions/Share-the-Road-CT/Share-the-Road-CT.

Grocery stores

The newcomers to the area are being blamed for  the grocery hoarding even though full-time residents are probably just as much to blame.

Locals are unhappy that weekend residents seem to be coming to grocery stores on Friday and cleaning out the shelves.

They’re also concerned that people are buying in bulk at stores that are not traditionally “large lot” stores.

Everyone will eventually get their pantries stocked and things will calm down.

In the meantime, remember that many local restaurants have refrigerators full of fresh meat and produce and they would love to cook it for you or make a “cook it yourself” kit; buying from your favorite restaurant will help ensure that it will survive the quarantine.

Keep calm and carry on

The “keep calm” meme that we’re all sick of by now does seem to apply to our lives now. Keep calm. Carry on.

Don’t hoard groceries. Support local businesses that are trying to stay open to serve you; buy gift certificates.

Be kind. Be respectful. If you’re new to the area, remember that the people who live here full time are real humans with real lives, not background players in a sitcom television show.

And as Cornwall First Selectman Gordon Ridgway said in a letter to residents of his town, this is a time when it’s best not to go back and forth between two residences, potentially bringing the coronavirus with you.

“If people have two houses, please decide to stay put in one and not commute back and forth.”

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