The toll the COVID-19 pandemic has had on daily life, both in terms of lives lost and economic damage, is well known and not up for debate.

However, as has happened throughout the history of civilization, it is during these times when change, and even innovation if we're lucky, take place.

So it has been been locally, at least as far as change goes. Some have witnessed the limitations caused by the pandemic and instead of wishing things could go back to normal, they've taken initiatives to adapt, and possibly make improvements.

The Henry County commissioners have been conducting meetings via Zoom, as well as through an audio-only feature that was used during the early days of the pandemic.

In this way, they could still conduct the people's business while also allowing the people to bear witness, if they so desired.

So, too, has Napoleon City Council. From the onset, the city set up a web link to allow residents or other interested parties to virtually attend the meetings, again if they choose to do so.

For the last couple of council meetings, there has actually been a couple of visitors sitting in on the meeting, other than myself, that normally may not be there. That doesn't sound like much, but it's a couple more than usually make the normal meetings, unless there is an issue of contention up for debate.

The city has not yet announced how long it intends to continue this practice, though surely it will be for the near foreseeable future.

The commissioners, on the other hand, are using some of the federal money through the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Stability (CARES) Act to make improvements to its website that will eventually allow the board to stream its meetings full-time, allowing anyone who wants to do so to be able to attend those meetings for themselves.

During a recent interview, a political candidate told me he would install a video monitoring system to help county and city dispatchers work together to provide better service during emergency calls to 9-1-1.

He added he thought of the idea from all the video meetings taking place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local service organizations made several donations to public emergency responders to protect them and those they deal with on a regular basis, including ultraviolet sanitizing lights for ambulances.

Henry County is also using the funds from the CARES Act to make a number of other improvements in and around county offices, as was noted in a front page article in Thursday's Northwest Signal.

Space is being utilized to further protect employees and others from future health outbreaks, as well as security measures.

Now, some may question whether this money needs to be spent for these issues and that's understandable.

However, it should be noted if the money is not spent, it gets sent back to the state for those officials to do with as they please. Given the amount of scrutiny that's been flying their way, really in the last decade or so, much less during the pandemic, it seems to me people would be relieved their local officials are putting the money to good use, rather than sending it back to Columbus.

At any rate, these are not simply frivolous spending sprees. The money is being used to address problems, or situations, that should have had answers already.

I mean, why haven't local municipalities and government entities been streaming their meetings or allowing virtual attendance before now? Certainly the technology is there.

Napoleon has cameras set up in the council chambers already from which police dispatchers can keep an eye on what is going on in case of trouble, and the city records the meetings for future use.

Finding solutions to our problems is what American ingenuity is all about. It's something we used to celebrate in this country, but that has largely been replaced, at least on a national level, by bickering and grandstanding.

The sooner we get back to solving problems the better off we'll all be in the long run.

Email comments to briank@northwestsignal.net

I started at the Northwest Signal in 1994 and became editor in 2004. I graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1994.

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