2020: The Year That Never Was: This is the title of Jane Murray’s new book. It certainly felt like that to the Syracuse Royalty of 2020. Their scholarship pageant, postponed until August, held outside in the blistering evening heat, with everyone wearing masks and looking directly into the setting sun, was something to be endured. The Syracuse Royalty serves as ambassadors of the city at many events. Sadly, all of those events were cancelled last year. With nothing sponsored by the city during COVID-19, these young women were resourceful. Miss Syracuse 2020, Chloe Arnell, told me she organized groups of friends to visit eateries and then promoted those businesses through Facebook posts. Miss Teen Syracuse, Haley Barrett, shared that she still served within the NDCTC Youth Council, helping other youth weather the storm.
This year, I have selected one government agency, two members of the city staff, and one local businessman to receive the Key to the City of Syracuse.
First, I’d like to recognize the Davis County Health Department, led by Director Brian Hatch. During the height of the pandemic, the health department met with county commissioners and mayors once a week to keep us updated in the progress made against the virus. These updates contained charts that explained the current infection rates, ICU beds available, and direction from the state board of health. We were allowed to counsel with one another on next steps. I know that our city was always in attendance at these briefings and helped us develop a management tool that kept pace with the pandemic.
Some of our local businesses were ordered to close for about six weeks in April and May of 2020. Steven Marshal, the city’s Administrative Services Director worked with Councilmembers Lisa Bingham and Jordan Savage to survey those businesses and help many obtain zero interest loans for three years. With Federal money, which came later, these loans were converted to grants, and multiple rounds of grants were provided to struggling businesses. This process involved hundreds of hours of work, on top of Steve’s heavy load, in compiling an annual budget for 2021.
Working with Ryan Rentmeister, president of the North Davis Chamber in 2020, Noah Steele, our Community and Economic Development Director surveyed local businesses and provided them with personal protective equipment for their employees. This PPE was provided to local businesses at no charge. Ryan took the distribution of this material upon himself, with the help of Noah.
So, the year that never was was remarkable. Thank goodness the women of the 2020 Syracuse Royalty were prepared and willing to step into the arena and lead. To these four recipients of the Key to the City, I tip my hat to you. You and others like you are the reason we love our town. God bless!
Mayor Mike Gailey