By Travis Smola
Schoolcraft village council member Sy Spears and his family are trying to make the best of a bad situation during the COVID-19 shutdown.
Under Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order, the family business, Personal Touch Lawncare can’t operate right now.
“That’s definitely the biggest concern,” Spears said. “It’s a concern for my family, but more because we’ve got 15 other people with families who rely on us to get working. We’ve been in communication with them and they understand. It’s just tough.”
Spears and his parents have also been in contact with bankers trying to figure out a way to navigate the choppy economic waters caused by the pandemic. It hasn’t been easy because of the ever-evolving nature of the situation. The small business loan system has proven to be a headache.
“There really has not been much help or direction. You reach out to the banks and they kind of have their feeling and interpretation of it, and then the next day, wording has changed,” Spears said. “That’s been weird, but also kind of frustrating.”
Spears said the winter didn’t help them out this year. The company didn’t do as much snow plowing as it normally does. In fact, it had started to do some spring cleanup and landscaping projects early when the virus hit.
“If this was last year or the year before, I don’t know that it would be as big of an issue for most stuff because it was cold and wet this time last year,” Spears said. “It’s been so nice that people are already out mowing their lawn and stuff like that.”
He also noted that there will likely be a need for lawn care soon because many of their contracts are with apartment complexes and businesses that don’t own a lawn mower.
“After a month, some of these places, they’re going to have some pretty tall grass,” he said.
Spears has also seen his village duties impacted. The last in-person meeting was after the first social distancing guidelines were put in place. It was only 15 minutes long and covered just the essentials.
“We decided no new items would be discussed on the agenda,” Spears said. “It was just approving the minutes of the last meeting and approving things that had already been kind of in motion.”
The Village Council is now looking into options to hold its meetings remotely as many branches of government have had to do in recent weeks.
Spears said one unintended positive side effect of the pandemic has been spending more time at home with his family. One big challenge has been to keep his three children busy.
When the kids aren’t doing schoolwork, they’re keeping busy with art projects and YouTube videos. One big hit has been online tours of museums and zoos.
Spears said they’ve also made a point to get outside and just go for family walks around town.
“The kids bring chalk with them, so as we walk by a friend’s house, we’ll leave little chalk messages,” Spears said.
He said another unintended side effect of this new way of life has been the chance to reconnect with those he loves.
“As not nice as it is, not having baseball, softball, all that stuff, it has been kind of nice just being able to reconnect with your family and not just be on the go, go, go,” Spears said.