Town looks for more ways to educate visitors
Trying to balance the demands of a busy tourism season with meaningful precautions against spreading the coronavirus continues to preoccupy the Winthrop Town Council.
At last week’s Town Council meeting, the topic of how to keep people informed about wearing protective face masks – politely but firmly, without the option of enforcement – came up again, as it has at recent council meetings.
The town has created signs with the language “Howdy Partner, Keep Winthrop Safe, Wear a Mask,” which can be seen in the windows of many downtown businesses. Many of the retail stores had signs indicating that a mask would be required for entry, and provided hand sanitizer, masks or both.
Earlier, Mayor Sally Ranzau passed out 4,000 masks to downtown businesses for distribution to their customers.
Gov. Jay Inslee recently announced a statewide mandate, effective June 26, requiring facial coverings in all indoor and outdoor public places. It appeared that more visitors to Riverside Avenue in Winthrop were wearing masks over the Fourth of July weekend than in previous weeks.
Beginning Tuesday (July 7) of this week, businesses will be required to turn away customers who aren’t wearing face masks. Owners who don’t comply could face fines or closure, or be forced to close down. Exceptions extend to children under 5 and customers with certain medical conditions.
At last week’s council meeting, Ranzau said that her efforts to distribute free masks were “well-received” by downtown businesses. She reiterated that the town will continue to stress “education and information.”
“I’m not sure how we would do any enforcement,” she said. “Education and having masks available are the best options.”
The council returned to an earlier discussion of posting “Burma-Shave” style signs along Highway 20 coming into town. Years ago, Burma-Shave used to post sequential signs with clever messages along highways all over the country.
Ranzau said the town would need to get permission from the Washington State Department of Transportation and affected property owners to make such a plan feasible. She estimated the signs would cost upwards of $800, but that support might be available from the town’s federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds it received.
Councilmember William Kilby said he had talked to some property owners, and one was willing to donate several hundred dollars to help pay for signs. “The hard part is coming up with a clever ditty,” Kilby said.
Another suggestion was that similar signs be posted on the roadside walkway from the Winthrop Barn into downtown. With general support from the council, Ranzau said he would pursue signage options.
In other business, the council agreed to devote $10,500 of its $25,000 in CARES Act funds to support a small business emergency grants program administered by TwispWorks. The seven $1,500 grants must go to businesses within the town limits.
The council also learned that the Visitors Information Center next to Town Hall would open for the summer over the Fourth of July weekend, but visitors not be allowed to go inside the small building. Volunteers at the door will assist visitors in need of assistance.
The council also:
• Re-appointed Molly Starcher to the Planning Commission. Openings remain on the commission, contact Town Hall if interested.
• Re-appointed council member Kirsten Vanderhalf to continue as mayor pro tem when Ranzau is absent.
• Informally approved a plan to relocate a covered wagon that was originally planned for a spot east of town on Highway 20, as a marketing effort to welcome visitors. Kilby said he learned that owners of the Methow River Lodge and Cabins, near the Methow River Bridge, will allow the wagon to be placed on their property. Ranzau said she would require that the town have a written agreement spelling out all the parameters of the wagon’s placement. The antique covered wagon was purchased from Winthrop resident Karen Patterson a few years back.
• Briefly discussed complaints about boardwalk “sandwich board” signage in front of some downtown businesses, because the signs may not be compliant with the town’s Westernization code. Ranzau said the town would not be stringent about enforcing the code as businesses try to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Don’t remember Burma-Shave?
According to the legends of the America.com website, Burma-Shave was a brand of brushless shaving cream that was sold from 1925 to 1966. Burma-Shave sign series appeared from 1925 to 1963 most of the lower 48 states.
“Four or five consecutive billboards would line highways, so they could be read sequentially by motorists driving by,” according to the site. “At their height of popularity, there were 7,000 Burma-Shave signs stretching across America. They became such an icon to these early-day travelers that families eagerly anticipated seeing the rhyming signs along the roadway.”
Here’s one example:
We’re widely read
And often quoted
But it’s shaves
For which we’re noted