Town of Belhaven adjusting to “new reality”

Published 11:25 am Friday, April 3, 2020

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The new way of living has caused many towns and cities across the region to change how they’ve done things for so long. Belhaven is now trying to get used to the new norm.

Town operations are still fully staffed and everyone is continuing to “take care of business like we normally would,” according to Belhaven Town Manager Lynn Davis.

While they are following the guidelines of North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, and many businesses have either closed or found ways to work from home, Davis said the most important aspect of the situation is being communicative with their residents.

“One of our biggest challenges right now is being sure we’re communicating with our citizens and our utility customers letting them know what the latest is, what the rules are, what kind of precautions they need to take, or any changes in their day-to-day activities,” Davis said.

Davis also explained what the town has done to encourage and enforce social distancing.

“The town hall is locked up. We have signs everywhere — you can’t miss them. We’ve used the all-call system and we’ve been using social media to let people know that town hall is open for business, but you need to use the drop box or call ahead and handle your business over the telephone, as much as possible,” Davis said. “We’re also a town that gets people coming in by boat, so we’ve put notifications on our docks so that people know, ‘Welcome to Belhaven, but, the state is under a stay-at-home order right now.’ Then they’ll have a list of all the things that are open, here’s what you can and can’t do, and a list of phone numbers of local businesses they might need to get in touch with while you’re here.”

Town meetings are still currently scheduled to meet soon, but there is some uncertainty on how the meetings will be held.

“At this point we are trying to determine (the details),” Davis said. “I do know we are likely to hold some of our meetings via Zoom or teleconference. What we’re going to do about our council meetings, I’m still unsure about that. But we don’t meet again until the second Monday (of April). So, we’re still a week and a half out, but that doesn’t change the fact there’s a stay at home order right now. We’ll determine how we’re going to proceed, because there’s a lot of talk about public meeting notices about how (to go about the meetings).”

Many businesses have had to change its way of going about things, as well.
“The Library is closed, of course our retail shops are closed for the most part,” Davis said. “Our insurance companies are still open, and all but one of our restaurants is doing take-out now, so they’ve all kind of adapted to this new reality that we’re in. Even our pharmacies, like O’Neals, are telling people to call ahead and then they’ll direct them to the drive-thru pick up, as well.”