By CANDY NEAL

cneal@dcherald.com

Dubois County residents, like people across the world, have been very much affected by COVID-19.

A local man would like to have some sort of remembrance of this time and the virus’ impact on the community.

“People are being impacted pretty hard by it,” county resident Chris Waltz said Tuesday evening. “We are losing our elders, brothers and sisters, loved ones to this.”

And he is looking for others to help him.

Waltz is seeking county residents to be a part of the committee to brainstorm ideas.

“I don't really want to do it all by myself. I've never done anything like this,” he said. “So I would appreciate if somebody that has done something similar could step up and either provide some kind of guidance or suggestions.”

He wants to have about six to eight people on the committee. And he wants the members to be from different parts of the Dubois County.

“I think it'd be a good idea to get people from all over the county, to have representation not just from Jasper or not just from Ferdinand, but all over,” he said. “Because this is a countywide thing.”

The committee would come up with a way to recognize and reflect on COVID-19's impact on the county. That reflection would include remembering those who died from the virus and honoring those who had the virus and survived. It would also honor the caregivers and applaud frontline workers who risk getting the virus to help others. It would also acknowledge the impact the virus has had on everyday life.

“It’s a whole different change of lifestyle,” Waltz said. “People are losing jobs and getting hours cut back and. Kids are having to stay home from school. I have been working from home for a year.”

Waltz got the idea after seeing in January a national recognition of COVID-19’s impact on the country. “And I just thought that was pretty important to get out there,” he said, “for people to start thinking about it.”

Waltz presented his idea to the Dubois County Commissioners Monday, to get their support. He explained that this could be an event or a physical memorial.

“A simple event might be with speakers such as doctors, nurses, EMTs, ministers, long-term caregivers, funeral directors, and any frontline workers that were impacted by the people dying or those that survived from COVID-19,” he said. “They could talk about their experiences, offer up prayers and whatnot.”

Or it could be a built memorial, like a “permanent plaque or marker, maybe even mural commemorating the pandemic and its toll on the county, which will likely still be going on later into this year,” Waltz explained. “Names of the deceased or families would not be mentioned for privacy reasons. But we could have family members speak if they wish, too.”

Whether it is a memorial or an event, Waltz hopes the remembrance will be “a healing place for those grieving families left behind that were denied proper closure,” he said.

The commissioners wholeheartedly supported the idea and appreciated that effort would include the entire county and would be nonpartisan.

Along with the volunteers for the committee, Waltz said financial contributions will also be needed. People could donate in memory of a loved one who died from the virus, in honor of someone who survived or to honor a frontline worker. Organizations are also welcome to donate.

“Whatever we do, it’s going to take some amount of money to do,” he said Tuesday. “We would also have to consider the long-term upkeep of a memorial, if needed.”

Waltz is hoping to get the community’s support with this endeavor.

“It was an idea I had,” he said. “I thought I should quit thinking about it and start doing. And this sounds like a good way to start.”

Those who are interested in volunteering or making a financial contribution to this project can contact Waltz at chris.waltz@live.com.