Several positive efforts are taking place within Tioga County amidst uncertainties of what the near future may bring due to COVID-19, or coronavirus. From volunteers sewing masks to various groups ensuring that youth and others are fed, to local restaurants offering take-out, to messages of hope and support on local signage, communities are coming together during this difficult time.
One particular sign at the Owego Fire Department, and a reassuring comment from our first responders, stands out. It states, “Hometown Strong. We’ll B Ok.”
Another sign at Ice Cream Works, located at 14 George St. in Owego, reads, “Opening Postponed. This Shall Pass.”
Many types of businesses, schools and churches, local government offices and those deemed not essential, and others opting to close on the side of caution, have shut down temporarily.
A number of local churches, such as the First Baptist Church of Owego, located at 228 Main St., posted messages on their outdoor signs. The First Baptist Church sign states, “Sorry, worship service temporarily suspended. Pastor Bill.” Other churches, like the Little Meadows United Methodist Church, are offering live worship services via social media.
Messages of hope appeared on school signs, too. Tioga Hills Elementary in Apalachin posted on their sign, “We Miss You! We Hope to See You Soon! Stay Healthy!”
Some businesses that have closed are offering options. For example, Bostwick Auctions in Candor posted a sign on their door that reads, “Items can still be purchased online,” with directions for customers to view merchandise on-line and arrange pick-up.
One business closed for the interim is the Tioga Theater, located at 208 Main St. The theater’s website states, “This week’s features: There will be no shows until further notice due to the virus and the governor’s mandate.”
The classic movie theater marquee suddenly went dark.
But not for long.
When Linda Laba, owner of Hair Designs & Tanning, located at 36 Lake St. in Owego, saw the theater’s blank marquee for the first time, she remarked, “The marquee just looked so empty.”
Laba was then inspired to call Tioga Theater owner, Terry Coleman, on March 14 and suggested that she pay him a fee to utilize his marquee in order to share an inspirational message. Coleman agreed, and within no time had put up Laba’s message.
The message reads, “Hair Designs says let it grow.”
Laba, who has worked at Hair Designs since 1986 and became owner in 1993, said she hopes other area merchants will reach out to Coleman to add their own messages of hope, inspiration and positivity. In turn, the merchants will be giving back to a fellow business owner. Since her message appeared, Laba said she has heard there is more interest.
“We’re all in the same boat, and we’ve all had to close, and hopefully by doing so will help flatten the curve,” Laba said, adding, “We’re all in this together.”