By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Community leaders hold second COVID-19 meeting

Several more community leaders joined in a second online meeting about responses to the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday, and agreed to hold the meetings twice a week for the foreseeable future.

County Commissioner Casey Kulla has been supplying a viewing link on his Facebook page. He also invited questions from the audience.

On Wednesday, organizers, including Kulla and Dayton Mayor Beth Wytoski, were joined by Miriam Vargas Corona, executive director of Unidos Bridging Community, a county nonprofit organization that works to integrate Latino residents into the county; state Rep. David Gomberg, whose district includes the West Valley; and Sen. Jeff Merkley’s staff member Stacy Jochimsen.

Others included Dayton city councilor Rosalba Sandoval-Perez; Interim Dayton School Superintendent Brian Recht; Newberg School Superintendent Joe Morelock; McMinnville Mayor Scott Hill; Willamina Mayor Ila Skyberg; Abisha Stone, the county’s business retention consultant; and Gioia Goodrum and Shannon Buckmaster, directors of the McMinnville and Chehalem Valley chambers of commerce.

Both Vargas Corona and Sandoval-Perez made all their remarks in Spanish, in an effort to convey more information to Spanish-speaking members of the community.

Morelock spoke in English, but translated his remarks into Spanish as well.

Each gave statements about now their communities are responding to the crisis.

Jochimsen noted Merkeley’s office is heavily involved in assisting Oregonians trying to get home from overseas, and urged anyone in need of assistance to contact Merkley’s office.

Yamhill County Sheriff Tim Svenson said the jail population has been reduced from an average of around 190 to about 70 and the department is changing some arresting policies to keep from infecting inmates.

Deputies trying to “keep the peace” may be somewhat less aggressive about minor infractions, for the time being, as they try to maintain social distancing.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to be part of the solution,” Svenson said.

Both Recht and Morelock said they are working on educational materials to their students, to maintain their studies while schools are closed, as well as providing meals. Secondary school students will be able to pick up their packets in Dayton at staggered times, Recht said.

Morelock said his district is also working to secure materials for internet connection to those families that need them, and planning to host a Red Cross blood drive at Newberg High School.

Skyberg urged Willamina residents to order takeout from local restaurants when possible, to help them survive the shutdown.

Wytoski said Dayton is introducing a new program in which residents who collect $25 in receipts from Dayton businesses, such as takeout from restaurants, can get $15 off their utility bills. Residents may obtain the discount up to three times, she said.

She said her own children were surprised and delighted by a recent delivery of breakfast burritos.

“I really encourage other small communities to … help the residents help the businesses,” Wytoski said.

Speaking on behalf of the board of YCAP, the Community Action Partnership, which she chairs, Wytoski said that agency is attempting to add more staple foods in food boxes, and to help move homeless people off the streets and into shelters, particularly those most vulnerable to the COVID-19 disease.

Shelters are remaining open, and practicing social distancing, Wytoski said, and in some cases, people are being put up in motels.



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