Reader's View

Pete Bardunias, in his matching mask, keeping the display up to date at the Clifton Park Visitor Center at the Exit 9 Rest Area on the Northway.

A contentious nationwide election was held last week with emotions running high on both sides and upwards of 70 million voters coming forth for each candidate. Emotions ran high on both sides and the aftermath is sure to be felt for a long time.

It’s easy to become fixated on events and issues being splashed all over the news, while overlooking the very real circumstances that impact us locally. Economic forces generated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the onset of colder weather are taking their toll on local businesses, and some have already been shuttered. Some area businesses have closed temporarily while others have shut their doors permanently. And the invisible menace of the coronavirus is again being felt.

As cases climb, hospitalizations mount, and sadly, more have succumbed to its effects.

We are in a difficult situation, trying to strike a balance between safety and economy, between protecting the lives and ensuring the livelihoods of the citizens of our community. Bad decisions, as well- intentioned as they may be, may cost lives.

I am very sensitive to this issue since my executive role at the Chamber and active participation in the community often creates questions of, “is this safe?” I am a heart attack survivor (2006), am somewhat immunocompromised due to prescription medications, and definitely not the skinniest person in the room.

It’s a bit nerve-wracking to have been the lead person keeping the Clifton Park Visitor Center display in the Exit 9 Rest Area operational since March in place of our normal staff of (mostly) retirees. Every person who walks into that Center is a potential carrier of COVID-19, yet they might be a customer for our struggling small business community. Make no mistake, those customers are really needed right now. But we must be ever-vigilant and careful to keep family and friends safe during this public health crisis.

Each November, a special day (this year it’s Nov. 28) is designated as Small Business Saturday. This event, originated by American Express, draws attention to the many local businesses right in our midst that employ our family members, provide needed services and products, and toil, often at considerable risk both physically and financially, to feed their own families.

I have always been somewhat lukewarm to the idea of setting aside one day for small business, because to me it should be Small Business Everyday. Your local and regional chamber of commerce has hundreds of member businesses and nonprofits right here in southern Saratoga County that deserve our support.

Please consider them when making purchasing decisions, and let’s weather the COVID storm ... together.

— Pete Bardunias is Sr. Vice President, Community Advancement, Capital Region Chamber

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