REED CITY -- The crowd was small, but the opinions were strong at the Reed City Town Hall meeting, hosted by Mayor Trevor Guiles, May 13.

About ten local citizens and small business owners attended and shared their opinions on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's executive orders and the need for the city to begin opening back up.

Guiles told those in attendance that the purpose of the meeting was to hear the people's concerns and take them back to the city council.

"We have a limited amount we can do as the council of Reed City, but we want to do what we can for the betterment of Reed City and its citizens," Guiles said. "We want to hear you opinions on the situation, where we are now, and where we should go in the future. Maybe we can facilitate sharing you opinions with the legislators and the governor."

Local resident Jackie Young asked if the mayor and city council could possibly do what Newaygo has done, allowing some businesses to open up with restrictions.

"It is my understanding that they have allowed clothing stores, thrift shops, and nail salons to open up," Young said. "Our barber shop here in town has one chair and one barber. There is no reason why she is not able to open up and take care of one customer at a time, while the others wait in their cars. Also, Blown Away Salon could easily have two stylists and two customers at a time, and stay far apart.

"I see no reason why the city and the county can't get on the bandwagon and get things opened up," she continued. "This is killing these small towns."

Heather Hammer, owner of Blown Away Salon said she would love to be able to serve her customers right now, but wants to do it in a safe way.

"We are going to abide by the rules that are given to us," Hammer said. "I believe the governor is trying to keep us safe, and we need to be safe with each other. I have my face covering on now, and you will have to wear one when you come to me. It's going to be a new world for us, but we are ready to get back to work anytime."

Resident Chris Hall said he has worked at the local auto parts store his entire life, and right now they are doing fine, but his concern is for everyone else who can't go about their daily lives.

"I understand that this is serious and people will die," Hall said. "Unfortunately, that is the way the human species evolves. We are dealing with a problem that is affecting a small fraction of society, and it is ridiculous to take away the civil liberties of so many to protect three percent of the population.

"I understand that people want to stay home, because they are afraid, but let the people that aren't afraid to go about their day," he continued. "Let the rest of society get on and eventually we will realize that it is okay to go back to our sporting events, rock and roll shows, and movies."

Reed City Planning Commission chairperson, Dawn Montague told those in attendance that the coronavirus is like nothing we've ever seen before.

"I work in health care, and this is deadly," Montague said. "You might be fine, but you might pick this up in your system and carry it to someone else and not even know it. That is what concerns me. It sometimes takes 14 days before you start showing symptoms, but you are contagious from day one. You expose whoever you come in contact with. That is why we are on lock-down.

It is difficult for some to understand the danger, because there are not that many cases in Osceola County, but it will be moving this way because people are moving when they should be staying home, Montague said.

"I want businesses to open back up, and I want things to get back to normal, but people have to be safe," she added. "You can't just think about yourself, you have to look at the big picture. We don't have that many cases and that tells me people are doing what they are supposed to do. If you look at Mason County where they have a lot of tourism, you see they have a lot more."

Hammer added that she is not ready to open up until there are some rules put in place that specify what is okay and what is not.

"I need someone to say 'here is what is going to happen when you reopen,'" Hammer said. "At that point I will open, but I'm not going to deviate from what has been decided. When this town tells me what I can do, then I will do it. It is not up to one person, it's not just up to Gov. Whitmer, I have a board of cosmotology that I have to listen to, as well."

Reed City city council member Carol Tillotson suggested that people contact their legislators and use the factual information available about cases in the county to support their cause.

"Maybe they can't open up a county where there are more cases, but maybe in our county we could," Tillotson said. "It would be good for them to hear from the people. It is important to be concerned about the economic impact this is having.

"It takes leadership to tell these places 'here are the rules,'" she continued, "There needs to be standardized procedures to follow to get businesses open."

Guiles said the city council can not say when businesses can open because then the city is liable for anything that happens, but they can speak to the legislators and share the concerns with local representatives.

"Even with the limited scope of what we can do, I want you all to be heard," Guiles said. "Maybe if we get enough people proposing to the legislature that we do like some of the other states and open up the areas that are not hot zones, maybe we can open up our county. Maybe they will listen.

"Part of the thought behind this is we want you all to be heard," he said. "Part of the frustration is that people are not being heard, and as mayor, I have tried to remedy that. Last year, I had monthly meetings at area restaurants so people could come and be heard. I want you to be heard, and we will do what we can to assist you. That is all I can promise."

One of the things this pandemic has done, Montague said, is make people realize that we need to get back to supporting local businesses.

"It's hard right now, but once businesses open back up, we need to think about supporting them," she said.

"There are a number of positive things that have happened, as is with any crisis," Guiles added. "I've noticed a lot of people coming together to help one another, pulling together to help their fellow man, and that is wonderful."

Guiles said they will plan to have additional Town Hall meetings, and that hopefully more local business owners will get involved.