Editorial: Pandemic brings out the best in Bristol

Posted 3/4/21

Bristol residents are in good hands these days — which is noteworthy, since “these days” are some of the worst days in anyone’s lifetime.

The pandemic is approaching its …

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Editorial: Pandemic brings out the best in Bristol

Posted

Bristol residents are in good hands these days — which is noteworthy, since “these days” are some of the worst days in anyone’s lifetime.

The pandemic is approaching its one-year anniversary locally, and so much of what would have been considered absurd a year ago, is commonplace today. The pace of change, and the levels of anxiety in this community, have been comparable to what would be experienced in a world war. Through it all, the Town of Bristol has been both a leader and a steadying force.

At every checkpoint along the way, Bristol has performed at exemplary levels. In the beginning, it set the standard for supporting the local business community. It acted swiftly to bolster the restaurant industry, approving outdoor dining applications and funneling money or supplies to the cause.

It also set the standard for communication, using social media, traditional media and all available channels to reach residents. Town Administrator Steven Contente has used video messages to talk to people, clearly and directly, to answer questions and provide guidance.

It was the first town to reopen its Town Hall safely. Some still remain closed today.

It bifurcated its police force, creating two distinct departments; should one face an outbreak, the other could have stepped in and provided leadership without missing a beat.

It was the best town at managing the first wave of public vaccinations; its communication to residents and early registration process were clear, simple and effective.

Its senior services team has been steadfast and devoted to its community, with meals, visits and wishes lifting spirits for some of this town’s most frail residents.

It is also no coincidence that Bristol has been the hub for so many Covid response efforts. Its Quinta Gamelin Community Center was the site of a regional vaccination program for first-responders from throughout the East Bay. Firefighters and police officers from neighboring towns came to Bristol to be trained and to be vaccinated. Bristol’s public safety team led the program.

It opened one of the first asymptomatic testing sites, using the Town Beach parking lot to create a stress-free, quick and remarkably organized experience for thousands of people.

All this is possible because Bristol has an outstanding set of municipal leaders. Mr. Contente has been exceptional, but his colleagues have as well. Fire Chief Michael DeMello is at the center of so many good things in Bristol. A master of logistics and planning, he has been the glue in so many of these operations.

Significantly, the leadership does not stop at the top. Bristol’s public safety teams are loaded with talented people, lieutenants and team leaders, EMS volunteers and rank officers, who are experienced, courteous and passionate public servants. They have been equally exceptional.

The past year has done its best to bring out the worst in everyone. The Town of Bristol has responded with its best.

2021 by East Bay Newspapers

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Meet our staff
Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.