Look inward, think small, protect yourselves and those around you, and support your Crookston community.

    Several times at this week’s meeting of the Crookston Housing and Economic Development Authority Board of Directors, where attendance was lower than normal and everyone sat at least six feet apart, the phrase was uttered:

    “It’s going to get ugly.”

    Right here in Crookston. Maybe not specifically from the virus – let’s hope that’s the case – but more from the response it has made necessary.

    Sure, our entire nation is gripped by the social-distancing mandate which is now starting to look more like a more extreme shelter-in-place scenario in response to the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic. And it’s getting ugly everywhere. The stock market. Overwhelmed health care facilities. The economy taking, with possibly a deep recession coming.

    So there’s talk of federal bailouts, similar to the big bank and auto industry bailouts around a decade ago when the housing boom went bust. The airline industry is clamoring for one in the $50 billion range as of this writing. Yes, let’s give this industry, which loves to buy its own stock back in order to please its investors and boards of directors and give bigger bonuses to its CEOs, billions because people aren’t flying due to COVID-19.

    But enough on that.

    It’s difficult enough to run a successful business in Crookston without having to close your doors to your customers for who knows how long. But that’s what bar and restaurant owners have been mandated to do in Crookston and statewide. It’s what gathering places like the Grand Theatre and our local fitness clubs are being ordered to do.

    No one has ordered that apparel stores close their doors, but Steve Erickson, a city council and CHEDA Board member, said at this week’s CHEDA Board meeting that less than five customers came into his store, Erickson Embroidery and 2nd St. Boutique, on Monday. He said he did some checking around, at places like Wonderful Life Foods nearby, and customer numbers are down, down, down.

    It’s ugly, Erickson said, and it’s going to get uglier for the local business community as the public moves around less and less and subsequently spends less money.

    CHEDA Board member Betty Arvidson, the finance director at RiverView Health, and someone who most who know her would describe her as upbeat and positive, fought back her emotions while talking about RiverView’s response to the virus and difficult decisions that are being made in order to make sure every resource is targeted in the most efficient, effective way possible.

    “Steve’s right,” Arvidson said. “It’s going to get ugly.”

    All we can do is look inward, think small and protect ourselves and those close to us as we try to keep our community as strong as possible through this, yes, “ugly” time.

    But there is hope. There is light. The tunnel might be as black as night for as far as our eyes can see right now, but there will be a glimmer of light, and in the coming weeks and months, that light will get bigger and brighter. We need to support each other now, and then, and beyond.