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Covington asks for more local control in post-COVID opening

(WDBJ)
Published: Jun. 15, 2020 at 5:45 PM EDT
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In normal times, the playing fields at the Jackson River Sports Complex would be full of noisy teams.

And downtown Covington, while it's not exactly a ghost town, would be enjoying a hoped-for revitalization.

“We were focusing on a revitalization grant for our Main Street and historic downtown area," said City Manager Krystal Onaitis.

But Main Street is mostly closed by state orders right now, as are the playing fields, something the Covington City Council would like to change.

“You know, we’re just trying to get some life back into the community that has just really been dying as a result of this,” Mayor Tom Sibold said.

“Well, people are getting frustrated," according to Vice Mayor David Crosier. "People are frustrated that the area hasn’t opened back up.”

So city council has reached out to the governor, sending an open letter asking that the state-mandated restrictions be modified for more rural areas like Covington that haven’t seen as much of COVID.

Crosier said, “Everything that was in the letter was written based on comments we get every day.”

“You know, most of these are Mom and Pops on Main Street," explained Sibold. "We don’t have any big box stores down here, we don’t have a lot of major companies on Main Street. It’s Moms and Pops trying to make a living.”

And it’s more than just business. Those empty playing fields bring more than just a break from work.

Visiting teams not only help local stores and restaurants, but bring tax money to the city.

“If we don’t open back up soon, our residents are going to have to absorb a tax increase they can’t afford,” Crosier said.

Making them hope for a positive reaction from the governor soon.

”Yeah," Sibold said, laughing. "Let’s hope and pray he does that tomorrow.”

Copyright 2020 WDBJ7. All rights reserved.

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