Very few people will be shedding any tears because 2020 is coming to a close. It has been the Titanic of years, as it started with such great promise and unexpectedly struck an iceberg called COVID-19. It has been a disaster of epic proportions in terms of loss of human life, number of grief-stricken families left behind, destruction of jobs and businesses, and the overall negative impact on communities like Decatur and the world.
This has been the deadliest year in U.S. history, with deaths expected to top 3 million for the first time when the tabulation takes place as we close the books on 2020. There has never been a year, in the over half-century that I’ve been at the helm of this newspaper, when death has claimed so many of my life-long friends — some from natural causes and a few from COVID-19. There are a lot of empty chairs around the community’s table that were filled this time last year and I miss seeing and talking with those friends . We lost a lot of good. community-minded people in Decatur and Macon County during 2020.
• WE LOST SOME businesses in Decatur and Macon County due to the restrictions imposed that virtually shut them down. We may lose more because the owners of some that I know are barely hanging on and can’t last much longer.
The downtown offices of this newspaper have been closed to the public and about everybody else, since March 18. Besides myself, only two other people have been inside our business and editorial offices — Janet and Kathryn — who have been working at the newspaper office and at home to help me keep the Tribune going out to our readers each week. Everyone else has been working from home except those who are doing the presswork and trucking of the Tribune to the post office and the newsstands. Needless to point out, it has been awkward, stressful and draining, but my staff, whether working from home or in the office, is dedicated to helping keep the Decatur Tribune rolling off the press every Wednesday. Thanks to their tireless efforts and dedication to their jobs, we haven’t missed a single week, or deadline, in publishing the Tribune during the pandemic of 2020. Thank God.
• ALTHOUGH publishing this newspaper during the pandemic is difficult, my thoughts are with those business owners who depend on indoor sales, walk-in or drive-up customers to continue in business. 2020 has been their worst business nightmare and a lot of the stress I feel these days is from watching those businesses struggle to survive the pandemic.
Believe me, as a business owner of many decades, I understand the time and effort they have put into their businesses over the years and the pressure they feel today. Being blindsided by COVID-19 is something no one could have anticipated this time last year. As we are ready to begin 2021, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but we are still going to be in the tunnel for awhile.
The businesses that will move ahead in 2021 will be those that have adapted, in one way or another, to a new way to market their product or service. As a result, when the pandemic is over, they will be more efficient and profitable in the future. I’m seeing that happen to many businesses in our community. They have become more efficient in a creative way in order to survive. They really had no choice but to fight the present economic battle with different approaches.
• I WON’T MISS 2020, but I do look forward to a better 2021, not only for the physical and economic health of our community, but because when we come out of the pandemic, we will be smarter, healthier, more efficient and creative and will be stronger than we’ve ever been. 2020 has been a year of terrible losses in human life and our economy, but 2021 will be much better if we apply what we’ve experienced and learned from the disaster we’ve been living through. We will have a lot to be thankful for, and much more to build our future on — and I know this community will not only survive, but thrive. Goodbye 2020!
We’ve been looking forward to meeting you.
• STAY SAFE everyone. Here’s hoping for a lot of good news in 2021!