As we look back on 2020, let’s forget about the buffoonery that occurred on Capitol Hill. Washington and national politics make for great theater, but Huntington County had a historic year in many senses, which outshines any national dysfunction.
Our hard-working frontline workers helped our community persevere through a global health crisis that will, unfortunately, continue to cause issues in the year ahead. Their selfless acts were countless. They never succumbed to the fear that gripped the nation. We are talking about health care workers, first responders, truckers, grocery clerks, government workers and people in the service industries – just to name a few.
Many took on new routines to keep our community running. When not much was known about the novel coronavirus, they returned from their shifts and immediately stripped down, threw their clothes in the washer, jumped in the shower, locked themselves in their rooms and returned to their essential posts the next day. They sacrificed a lot to keep Huntington County going, and their new routines likely saved countless lives in the process.
We still have a long way to go in this fight to protect the vulnerable, but we have faith that our citizens will continue to do the right thing and heed the calls from health professionals without needing the government to mandate the right things to do. We must follow CDC guidelines, but doing the right thing includes continuing to educate the people who wish to ignore the serious threat that this virus poses to our physical and economic health.
Speaking of economic health, Huntington County entrepreneurs took the bull by its horns this year. Our paper chronicled the opening of numerous businesses amidst an economic crisis as our neighbors threw caution to the wind and decided to take their future in their own hands.
Downtown Huntington opened numerous businesses during the height of this pandemic. The UB Block spurred entrepreneurship that we hope will carry on into the new year ahead.
Husband and wife Rachel and Joe Zham breathed new life into the former Church of the Nazarene building, located at 45 Etna Ave., this year, giving dozens of local entrepreneurs a space to showcase their artwork, wares and passion. Former Mayor Brooks Fetters brought a bike shop back to Huntington in the building, as well, adding even more retail options for locals on the south side of the Little River.
Co-owners Sara Wilcox and Ronda Smelser didn’t hesitate to open HomeCraft in the heart of Huntington, bringing responsibly-sourced, responsibly-produced and hand-picked artisanal items to a building built in 1844, located at 400 Jefferson St. Similar to Whimzy, their shop focused on locally-produced items, like handmade lamps made right here within city limits, but they also imported items from across the globe to add some culture and flair to the downtown scene.
Huntington also saw big gains in its local art scene.
Local artist and muralist America Carrillo used her brushes to bring color and positive energy to downtown facades that were in need of attention. Now, they command our attention. Her art and passion will now inspire other artists to pursue their dreams. She plans to paint a mural in every state, and we hope her ambition helps inspire our community to set lofty goals and pursue things that may seem unattainable.
We don’t have enough space to share all of the success stories in Huntington County due to limited space, but one thing is undeniable: our community stepped up to the plate.
It has not been an easy year to say the least, but our entire community united in a common cause to revitalize the place we call home. People of all backgrounds, political leanings and upbringings persevered, despite all odds. This is what we will remember about 2020.
Here’s to keeping that momentum going forward, and to a happy new year.