We do not need to begin by underscoring how unprecedented and uncertain of a time we are in. The people at the City of Sisters — the Council members, committee members, staff — empathize with the challenges and frustrations that our community is dealing with in a variety of ways. We are doing what we can, while acknowledging that we do not have health experts or emergency response managers on staff. Last week, the City participated in countless meetings and conversations with all levels of public partners — local special districts, County, State, and Federal — to coordinate and align efforts.

The City has already taken numerous steps to protect the health and welfare of staff and community members. We closed City Hall to the public, canceled all board and committee meetings, and declared a state of emergency providing flexibility to respond more quickly to a rapidly changing situation.

The state of emergency declaration was not made to cause alarm, in fact just the opposite. It was a calm and calculated decision based on the information available and our responsibilities at the forefront of our minds. It allows us to take many actions, and we do not yet know whether or to what extent they may be needed. We will continue to work with the best and most timely information from the most credible sources. City Council members and staff are in frequent communication, and Council meetings will continue via teleconference.

This dynamic situation is like building an airplane in flight. There is no manual for how to make every decision or address every consequence. You, loved ones, neighbors, and community members are already or may be impacted from a health or economic perspective or worse both. Instead of looking to the past or future, we must exercise courage and vigilance in each moment. This is truly a test of character individually and collectively. Fortunately, as evidenced in the recent Sisters Country Vision work, this community knows how to band together to solve problems and move forward.

The City is prioritizing essential services that it is solely responsible for: primarily water and wastewater. We see no cause for concern regarding those services and we have prepared contingencies. Beyond those, we are striving to maintain almost all other services at normal levels albeit in an adjusted way. We were assured by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office that our law enforcement will continue at current levels. Although we closed City Hall to the public last week, staff that can are telecommuting, working on a staggered schedule, or exercising social distancing within City Hall.

City and county governments have been consulted on some of the State’s measures, while some we have learned of through the media. This is a changing environment we are all sorting through together each day.

The messages last week and continuing through the weekend from community members offering resources or looking to help coordinate efforts are inspiring and a testament to the compassion within Sisters Country. We must be in this moment for each other and work collaboratively to provide resources for those most in need.

If you have questions, resources, or just need someone to talk to briefly, please contact City Hall at 541-323-5205 or www.ci.sisters.or.us/contact. It will take time for new programs and resources to be organized. We are monitoring County, State, and Federal actions along those lines, and exploring what we can do within our community with partners such as Sisters Country Economic Development and Sisters Chamber of Commerce. Although we will not have all of the answers – we will answer the call and do our best to provide assistance.

The City website will be updated frequently with City, County, State, and Federal information related to the Coronavirus: Sisters Coronavirus.