Adjusting to the new norm

As people continue to practice social distancing, the quiet town of Kemmerer has been even quieter, with empty streets and many closed businesses. (GAZETTE PHOTO/Michelle Tibbetts)

KEMMERER  Social distancing is now a common term that has now left its mark on our nation and our little town. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a complete upheaval in daily routines. The shutdown of the schools, many businesses and city offices have forced most residents to make changes in their lives.

It may be difficult to stay positive under all the stress of these ever-changing conditions and restrictions. How can we get through this? Stay informed with the latest updates and, if you can, stay home. Staying home may have its challenges, juggling all of one’s various responsibilities in a single place. Some may have to share this space with others. The community is coming together and offering solutions by supporting one another as we journey into uncharted territory fighting the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“As a healthcare worker and having multiple family members as healthcare workers,” said local registered nurse Tammy Krell, “I am concerned, and we are all trying to keep positive. We are taking every precaution we can to take care of our own health. We are staying in once we get home as much as possible and washing our hands a lot. I am blessed to be living in a community [where people] are caring for each other. I have received calls asking me if they can do anything for my family. This is so comforting and helps keep us positive through this time of unknown.”

Here’s how a few other folks are dealing with social distancing and self-quarantines in our community.

“Social distancing is a great way to take advantage of spending quality time with our family,” said Sarah Hooks, a Kemmerer mother of two children, ages 8 and 4. “And [it’s] the best time to make new habits and learn new skills. As a parent with a long day ahead, I get up early enough to do my devotion while drinking my coffee and also a quick workout to get pumped up and fire start my day!

“I’m taking this opportunity to teach my kids home economics,” Hooks continued. “Everyday, I set new things for them to learn. They help me with house chores like load the laundry, dishwasher, fold clothes and putting it away. We build forts in the living room, play hide and seek. We also read together and even play board games.”

She also points out that it’s important to take care of ourselves.

“We all know as a mom we need time for ourselves to reset,” Hooks said. “I set a time in a day where the kids will have a quiet time. They stay in their room to play quietly, read or even nap. It’s not easy to stay put and be inside all the time, but if we can manage our time and not stress out about it, plan our week ahead, I believe we can survive this all together. We just need to stay positive, pray and trust that this will pass.”

Many feel lucky to be in Kemmerer, with so many outdoor trails and resources available. Recharge and take a break from being inside by getting out in nature. If you can take a walk or go for a hike in the snow, it can help you refresh and be lucid in the moment in a stress-free environment.

Donna Hinton and her family are doing just that.

“We are a family of four and sometimes five,” Hinton said. “We are doing good so far —  going on walks when we can, trying several ideas on social media for entertaining my 5-year-old granddaughter. I retired in January, so I am loving  staying home. I am trying to do grocery shopping once a week and that has worked out pretty good, but sometimes you just run out of things. Today my grandson is loving plowing the snow.”

The Despain family is making things work, too.

“We’re doing good, just trying to keep the kids calm and busy,” said Heidi Despain, a mother of three.  “It’s really hard for them to not go out and see friends or hang out, hard to help them understand that because they aren’t sick. Eliza is a senior this year, and she is really worried about these final months.  Will she have her prom? Will they walk to get their diploma? How will this affect her college plans? So many things that she’s waited years for are up in the air. I feel so bad for her and all of our seniors. It’s so stressful for them — just been difficult adjusting to the new norm. We’ve absolutely spent more time together doing games, puzzles, talking. The kids have each kind of taken on some new hobbies — artwork, baking, organizing, really trying to stay distracted and busy.”

Holly Sudonick, a retired postal worker said, “Well I am defiantly staying home and washing my hands more. I have been the calm for my family. They have been worried about their jobs, the fear of getting sick and not finding what they need at the grocery store. It’s not been easy. I encourage them to remain positive and stick together. This will pass.”

Many community members are sharing food supplies and getting crafty with resources. Our only local grocery store has been doing its best to stay stocked. With the order to close all dine-in restaurants, many local businesses are struggling to stay afloat. Some have had to close the doors while some are still operating with to-go orders and delivery options.

Kemmerer business owner Kathy Ferrarini said, “It started shortly after Valentine’s weekend. We noticed people were aware and staying away. Once we started takeout, people were relieved to have options. Some will just not risk coming, but others just go with the flow. People are definitely careful, as they should be.”

My mother always taught me to look for the silver lining in a bad situation. We will all get through this and come out better in the end if we support each other and remain as positive as possible. Help by staying home and being diligent with following the recommended restrictions. While we stay home, read books, rest, do yoga, learn something new, listen to a friend, call a relative, pray, dance and laugh. We will heal from this and we will all learn better ways of doing things. Look at the positive and help lift up the ones who are struggling. Help your neighbor and keep washing your hands.

The Kemmerer mayor and city council issued the following press release to help address some concerns:

As we previously announced through our community alert system and on Facebook, we have locked down Kemmerer City Hall since March 18, until further notice. We did this because we want to do our part to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and we want to keep our staff healthy in order for them to continue to serve you effectively and efficiently.

Even though our front doors are locked, we wanted to be clear that all departments continue to operate and that we are here to serve you.  In order to help us serve you more effectively during this temporary lockout, please note the following:

• We will still be conducting business by phone, fax, e-mail, and mail as follows:

Phone 307-828-2350; fax 307-828-2355; email [email protected]; mail:  220 State Highway 233, Kemmerer WY 83101

• We will continue to process phone payments by credit/debit card.  Note that the processing fee can’t be waived because it is charged by our card processor.

• We ask that you not pay in cash and recommend check or money order as an alternative.  You can either mail payments to us or put them in the night drop box at the City Hall front door.

• Dog license processing will be suspended during this closure.

We have been very impressed with how our community has rallied together during this difficult time. We appreciate your continued cooperation in following the direction of our federal, state, and local government and health authorities, and we will do the same. We encourage you to patronize our local businesses to the extent allowed by Gov. Gordon’s recent directive. We urge you to follow common sense approaches in your purchases preparations, and interactions with other community members.

Our citizens’ and residents’ and our employees’ safety are of the utmost importance to us.  Thank you for your patience, understanding, and support during these uncertain times. 


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