Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice is ready to move on to 2021.
But he started things off by delivering the traditional State of the County address last week at the Douglas County Board of Commissioners’ first meeting of the year.
Boice started his address with the COVID-19 pandemic. He recalled that early on, a report from the Centers for Disease Control suggested Douglas County would be the fourth hardest hit in the country.
The report pointed to factors such as the county’s aging population and access to health care.
But Boice said that hasn’t happened, and several of the last few weeks the county has had the lowest cases per population of COVID-19 for counties its size.
“For me, that’s really the state of the county for 2020,” he said.
It’s a testimony to the work of county government. But it’s also a testimony to the efforts of the people of Douglas County who are trying to manage the pandemic, he said.
He said he understands there are a lot of different opinions about the pandemic.
“But at the end of the day, the challenge we’ve had is to try to keep our citizens and our business community both healthy,” he said.
He said the county’s unique public health model has turned out to be perfect for handling the pandemic. Practice efforts like drive-thru flu clinics also helped prepare the county for a situation like this one, he said.
He said the reverse Veteran’s Day Parade, in which the audience drove through while parade entrants remained stationary, was another big win.
“I think that was absolutely fantastic,” he said.
Boice also spoke about another 2020 tragedy, the Archie Creek Fire that destroyed 109 homes.
He recalled that many families lost everything they had. He also recalled seeing entire school gymnasiums filled to the ceiling with donations.
“Whenever these tragedies happen, it just reminds me of how blessed we are to live where we live. The citizens do pull together and do some things that are quite amazing, and the generosity that exists in these times, to me, is overwhelming,” he said.
Boice also touted the accomplishments of individual departments.
He mentioned parks improvements like the renovation of Umpqua Dunes Campground’s south loop, a new playground at Chief Miwaleta Park, and a remodel at Windy Cove Campground B at the coast.
And he praised the conversion of a maintenance shop into a cafe and gift shop at the Umpqua Lighthouse Museum. It was a transformation that anyone who had seen it before wouldn’t think was possible, he said.
Boice praised Building Facilities Director Dave Palmer for getting a new Christmas tree planted on the Douglas County Courthouse front lawn, as well as the work of several other departments.
But he also said he wanted to keep his comments short.
“2020 wasn’t that great of a year and I don’t want to linger on it any longer. I’m over it and I’m ready for 2021,” he said.