Listen. Do you hear it? A robin chirrs from its perch on a nearby branch. In response, a blue jay jeers from its nest. A squirrel scampers through leaves. Where humans retreat, if only temporarily, nature fills the void. Such is the soundtrack of spring in Leelanau County during the time of the coronavirus—the pandemic that has ravaged the world, infected millions, killed hundreds of thousands, scared us all, forced us to distance ourselves from one another, and brought our economy to its knees.

The bustle of late-May and the annual race toward Memorial Day weekend are obvious at businesses in Glen Arbor. Of course, there is NOTHING normal about this holiday weekend—the typical start to the tourism season in Leelanau County. The state, the nation, and the world remain on virtual lockdown—and yet, restaurants and bars in Northern Michigan were suddenly given the exclusive green light by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Monday to reopen today. No one knows how busy—or not—this Memorial Day weekend will be.

Since most Leelanau County businesses remain closed to diners, shoppers and pedestrians, we at the Glen Arbor Sun are forced to rethink how, where, and perhaps when, to publish and distribute our print editions once the season begins in mid-May. We invite our readers to offer their feedback and answer the following questions.

Tourists and owners of vacation homes here could conclude that rural northwest Michigan is a safer place to be than in a densely populated metro area during the coronavirus pandemic. But that conclusion is a dangerous one. Here in the Grand Traverse region—as with rural areas across the United States—Munson Medical Center is woefully unprepared to accept a deluge of infected COVID-19 patients.

Here’s a comprehensive (and growing) list of schools, businesses and organizations in Leelanau County that are stepping up or changing their practices to help people during this unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic. (We’ll update this list, so please let us know who else deserves to be included.)

The Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department completed contact investigation for the first positive COVID-19 case in Leelanau County and determined that, based on the individual’s activities, the risk to the public is very low.

During this season of giving, we reached out to Rick Reece—a Maple City native and member of Coach Don Miller’s 1977 Glen Lake state basketball championship team—who nearly 20 years ago founded Village Focus International, which empowers communities in Laos. Reece lives in Laos with his Lao wife Nalin (whom he married in 2001 at a ceremony at Old Settlers Park in Burdickville). They have two children, Alan and Annabella.

Leelanau County voters have an opportunity when we vote on Tuesday, Nov. 5, to support children between the ages of 0-5 and their hard-working families—and to make a statement that this County welcomes young families to live and thrive here, to send their children to our schools, and eventually to populate our depleted workforce.

Among the biggest stories of 2019 has been attempts by dollar stores to gain a foothold in Leelanau County. Zoning regulations and citizen opposition in Kasson Township stopped a bid in Maple City this spring; then Empire instituted a 6-month moratorium on new commercial development on July 17 to prevent a contractor that works with Dollar General from purchasing land in the village.

The topic of housing in Leelanau County––and the lack of affordable housing––is one that seems to come up often for those who live here. Among my peers––entrepreneurs and workers in their late-20s to early-30s––housing discussions are often filled with a bit of discouragement.