Keep talking, stay positive

Last week we wrote about an incredibly important issue: The debate over whether people should wear face masks during the current second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, and a local business that has taken an anti-mask stance (although its workers are now wearing masks after being fined for violating the state mandate by the Dutchess County Department of Health). That anti-mask view, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has contributed to the surge of COVID-19 cases during the past 10 months that has killed more than 1,633,037 men, women and children across the globe (as of Tuesday, Dec. 15); has forced entire nations to shut down, the impact of which has trickled down to local communities like ours, closing non-essential businesses, restaurants, salons, movie theaters — not to mention schools — for months on end; stretched hospitals and medical staff so thin that many no longer have any ICU beds available to accept COVID patients; put the lives of front line and emergency workers at risk, as well as the life of every single person who comes in contact with someone not wearing a mask. 

People clearly feel very strongly about the topic, as evidenced by the feedback we’ve seen on our Facebook page as well as other comments on social media in the Millerton community and around the Tri-state region. We’re glad to see people are talking through the issue, and we hope the discussion remains positive and respectful. 

To see what some of our readers have had to say on mask wearing, as well their comments on last week’s front page article and editorial about the issue and how it’s come to a head at Millerton’s Talk of the Towne Deli, check out the letters to the editor on this and the following page.


We’d also like to mention that roughly a week and a half ago, on the weekend of Dec. 5, the NorthEast-Millerton Library’s sign was vandalized. So, too, were signs destroyed at Salisbury Bank & Trust, along with a number of large planters and other minor items belonging to merchants along Main Street. A report was filed with the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office.

The property damage might not have been great, but it was enough. Especially in a year when there have been so many challenges and unexpected and unnecessary expenses to contend with due to the coronavirus pandemic; this really was a low blow.

As Library Director Rhiannon Leo-Jameson explained, the library has had to purchase extra supplies this year, including additional cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE), to keep its workers and its patrons safe, spending what little extra funds it had in its budget. To now find the estimated $1,000 or so it will likely cost to repair the sign that was partially destroyed by the vandals is just one more hardship the library has to endure in a year that’s been particularly tough. Like most other libraries in the area (as well as many other nonprofits, etc.), it hasn’t been able to hold all of its regular fundraisers or normal activities or even have patrons “drop a penny” at the circulation desk throughout the year to contribute to its coffers. 

The Main Street merchants are facing similar challenges; they’ve been closed for so many months they’re barely getting by, and to have to purchase new planters to replace the damaged ones, if they opt to even do so, will be costly. And those planters helped beautify Main Street — they made the village look pretty for residents and attracted visitors, which brought money into the community, and that benefitted everybody. Whoever the vandals are, if they are local, they’re shortsighted. 

As Mayor Debbie Middlebrook said, “I am disappointed that during this very difficult time when we should all be working together, there are those that feel the need to wreak havoc on our community and damage someone else’s property, adding to that property owner’s stress. Shame on them.”

The vandals certainly don’t care very much about this village and they surely don’t have the Christmas spirit. It’s too bad, because Millerton is an amazing community that cares deeply for its residents. 

That’s been proven throughout this pandemic — just read through back issues of The Millerton News or go to to see the stories yourself, from the Oakhurst Diner giving out free meals for months on end to licensed psychologist Paul Gunser offering free virtual therapy to first responders and healthcare providers to The Watershed Center giving away healing broth and free face masks and organizing community relief efforts. 

Millerton leaders, nonprofits, residents and business owners alike have all stepped up at this time of enormous need, and to see vandals strike right now is really unfortunate. We hope they’re caught, and that the perpetrators realize such negative behavior is especially detrimental at a time when people need to be lifted up, not held back.

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