Ripley Publishing Company, Inc.

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Pandemic changes way of life

Although school has been canceled for Ripley County students at least through May 1, that hasn’t stopped the big yellow school buses from rolling out. They aren’t picking up students, but rather dropping off much needed breakfast and lunch food. This is appreciated by many families, as one lady said, ”They even brought enough for my little one”, a child not yet enrolled in the South Ripley School system.

COVID-19 has touched Ripley County personally now with cases reported by the local health department. All Ripley County salons are ordered closed per Ripley County Health Officer David J. Welsh, M.D. This is the time to stay home if you possibly can, and call your neighbors, or the elderly to make sure they are doing ok. Some people are making the situation better for others by doing the following: There is carry-out at most restaurants, or the drive through is open. It has been mandated to have the dining rooms closed at all food establishments.
Free Internet service

During these uncertain times, the best in people does come out. Enhanced Telecommunications Corporation (ETC), went into action last week and now have ‘parking lot’ hotspots, providing free public internet access from your vehicle. There are currently six parking lots in the ETC service territory where free internet access is available: Versailles Church of Christ, Sunman Community Park, New Point Community Center, both the Bike Park and Liberty Park in Batesville and Decatur County Fairgrounds.

Additional hotspots opening soon include St. John’s Lutheran Church in Napoleon and St. Michael Church in Brookville. More may potentially open depending on the need. “The coronavirus has created an increased demand for internet access,” said ETC Marketing Manager Anita Fledderman. “As more individuals are working from home and students are e-learning, these free internet-access locations are intended to help meet that demand. These hotspots should be particularly helpful for areas where internet access is lacking.”

These temporary hotspots are intended for use from the parking lots only, according to Fledderman. Entrance inside any building is not allowed. To access internet on most devices, go to Settings, search for Wi-Fi options, and select ETC Complimentary Hotspot. All spots are open during daylight hours; even hours may vary by location. Call ETC at 866-ETC-4YOU.
REMC responds

According to Barry Lauber, director of marketing for the local REMC, they are working in compliance with local, state, and federal mandates and directives. He said the line department has one third of the crews stationed at home and the remainder reporting to work where they are in two man crews maintaining a safe distance from each other. Line department is responding to outages and emergencies only – other work is suspended until further notice.

Lauber noted that both the Osgood and Aurora offices are closed to the public. The drive thru windows and Smarthub are ways to pay bills, report power outages, billing data, etc. “Office personnel who have internet access are working from home to provide essential services to the members. A limited number of employees are reporting to work in the offices, also maintaining safe distances from each other.”
Dillsboro responds

The Town of Dillsboro has partnered with SEI Communications to bring free wifi to the Dillsboro Town Hall. You will be able to access free wifi from anywhere in the town hall parking lot. Just pull-in and your access to “Dillsboro Guest” will be available 24/7. This service will be available through the end of the school year 2019-2020.

Governor Holcomb’s response at end of day March 19. “I talk to Hoosiers border to border, from different walks of life, and this has rocked their world, understandable. It has changed everything. And I want them to know, that’s why I want to be in constant communication. The Lt. Governor and I want to know what the individual challenge is…what the barrier is, whether it’s unemployment or questions about where my kid’s going to eat – we want to help them solve that problem. And with millions of Hoosiers in the same boat, we got to look out for each other.”

Some of those actions include: extending Indiana’s state of emergency by another 30 days when it expires on April 5; all of Indiana’s K-12 schools will remain closed through May, 1 including non-public schools. This is a direct state order; the deadline to pay your state income taxes will be extended from April 15 to July 15 to align with new federal dates, and penalties will be waived for 60 days for property taxes paid after May 11.

Other directives include: providers of essential utilities are prohibited from discontinuing services during the public health emergency; small businesses can apply for disaster loans through the Small Business Administration to overcome temporary revenue losses; the State will interpret Indiana’s unemployment laws to the broadest extent possible to cover Hoosiers who are out of work because of COVID-19, no residential eviction proceedings or foreclosure actions may be initiated during the public health emergency; insurers must institute a 60-day moratorium on policy cancellations for non-payment of premiums; late fees will be waived for several driver’s licenses and identification card renewals, vehicle registrations, titles, and certain other transactions.
Social Security

“I want you to hear directly from me how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our services,” noted Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security. “The first thing you should know is that we continue to pay benefits. Be aware that scammers may try to trick you into thinking the pandemic is stopping your Society Security payments, but that is not true. Don’t be fooled,” he cautioned the public.
All local social security offices will offer phone service only at this time. The offices are closed to the public. If you need help from social security you can use their online services at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices. You can apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits online. You can access www.socialsecurity.gov/ask to ask questions.

If you already have an in-office appointment scheduled, you will receive a call to handle your appointment over the phone instead. SS employees will not threaten you or ask for any form of payment. You can call the National number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). There are any automated service options you can use without waiting to speak with a phone representative.

Message from the general manager: We will strive to keep you updated as much as possible as we publish two weekly newspapers- the Osgood Journal and The Versailles Republican. Things are happening fast – meaning they also are changing fast. We will try to give you the pertinent tips and information to make your life easier during this uncharted territory in our world right now. If you know of someone who is helping their neighbor, whether it be a business like some of the above, or an individual, we would love to hear from you. We want to stay connected with our readers throughout this crisis. You can call 812-689-6364 to the main office, Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or email wburnett@ripleynews.com.