Essential reporting in volatile times.

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The COVID-19 dominoes keep falling, and it’s not a pretty sight.

Last week, an article by The Herald-Dispatch reporter Fred Pace noted that hotel-motel tax revenues were down in the second quarter of this year because travel was greatly reduced by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Convention and visitors bureaus throughout the area had to redo their business plans for the remainder of the year in response to the funding reductions.

In Sunday’s edition of The Herald-Dispatch, reporter Courtney Hessler noted that the 419 volunteer fire departments in West Virginia welcomed the $10,000 allotment each received from the state to help make up for the lack of donations the departments had incurred and to cover costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chris Burger, chief of the Culloden Volunteer Fire Department, said the $10,000 was more than enough to help pull the department out of the hole caused by the virus, which arrived in the midst of the volunteers’ fundraising season.

Andrew Frazier, deputy chief of the Barboursville Volunteer Fire Department said while the department is thankful for the money, it falls short of helping the department break even.

“It allows us to be able to re-evaluate some of the things in our budget. We might be able to purchase things a little earlier, whether it be a couple new sets of more fire gear or other firefighting equipment or extraction equipment,” he said. “Even though it doesn’t bridge the gap, it does help tremendously.”

Also in Sunday’s newspaper was a report by Luke Creasy that the famous Pumpkin House in Ceredo is taking a year’s hiatus because of the pandemic.

“We don’t want to do anything, as well intended as it might be, that will contribute to spreading the virus and endangering visitors or residents,” said Ric Griffith, who owns the house that normally is decorated with thousands of jack-o-lanterns each October and draws thousands of visitors to town.

Griffith announced his decision when the Ceredo-Kenova AutumnFest Board of Directors voted to cancel the 2020 event, which included the Pumpkin House. Griffith said the cancellation won’t put an end to the storied tradition, and he plans for the display to make a full return in 2021.

“This isn’t the end of it, just necessary precaution,” he said. “Hopefully things will allow us to bring it back next year, and it will be bigger and crazier than ever before.”

“Wait ’til next year” was the chant of the long-suffering fans of the Brooklyn Dodgers, whose teams won five National League pennants in the 1940s and 1950s but couldn’t get past the crosstown New York Yankees in the World Series until 1955. It’s become the expectation of many people in the Tri-State as event after event is canceled because of the virus. The fall seasons for high school and college sports could be next.

As Brooklyn Dodgers fans can tell you, their long wait for glory was rewarded when the Dodgers left Brooklyn for Los Angeles at the beginning of the 1958 season.

We don’t know yet how the pandemic this year will affect life next year. It has, though, forced us to re-examine what’s really important or, in the words of health officials, essential.

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