Normalcy emerging

Leslie Silverman

Signs of re-emergence after the COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus, stress are beginning to develop in Keystone and Hill City.


While Keystone town hall and the library remain closed, the board meetings are shifting to a social distancing style once again.


The May 6 meeting will take place in the gymnasium with attendees sitting 6 feet apart for safety. Masks will be available for those who are in need. The public may participate via conference call, as well.


Hill City’s meetings continue to be held at city hall with call-in participation strongly suggested.


More town businesses are beginning to open or see improvement in their business as concerns over the virus diminish nationwide.


“We’ve been open since the first week in March,” says Sandi McLain, owner of Big Thunder Gold Mine in Keystone.


McLain has seen a “huge” drop in business when compared to this same time last year but is hopeful that the season will continue to pick up.


Mark Ostern, who owns the Beef Jerky Outlet in Hill City, one of the few shops that remains open year-round in Hill City, noticed “a little lag” in business due to COVID-19. In spite of this he is confident the store will have a good season. 


Rico’s, a Mexican restaurant offering traditional cooking, opened right as concerns over the virus were beginning to develop.


“We opened right before the pandemic hit,” said owner Liz Simental. “We were purchasing equipment and painting.”


Simental debated closing her doors before ever really getting started but kept “chugging along” despite the extra challenge.


“We managed our money, I absolutely had to get something on Facebook,” she added. “No one wanted to go anywhere. But people were online a lot.”


Simental had the unique idea of making videos on Facebook showing how she makes traditional dishes she serves in her restaurant.


People began trickling in and word of mouth has kept them coming back, Simental said. 


“The weather is nice now and we are working at getting picnic tables out,” she added. Simental also is following strict sanitary guidelines to protect her patrons.


Cream, another newer business that stayed open year-round, had little to do to adapt to the COVID-19 crisis.


“We were fortunate our layout was what it was,” said manager Jeremy Hatch. “We have a widow that we could open and close.”


Serving “portable” foods also helped their business succeed despite the COVID-19 situation.


“The COVID-19 has definitely been challenging but we have been offering carryout, so that has been extremely helpful,” said Alpine Inn owner Moni Matush. “We are excited for things to get back to normal.”


Matush has also had to change the way she conducts business by making adjustments as needed.


“We recommend people give us a call before coming up so we can control the amount of guests showing up at the same time,” she said. “If we have a wait we will take your number and call you when your table is ready. We will try to be very accommodating.” Matush understands virus concerns and wants her guests “to be as comfortable as possible.”


Likely the most hit hard industry has been the arts and entertainment.


The Hill City Arts Council had to end their Open Stage series early and canceled their signature Sculpture in the Hills event slated for mid-June.


The council is using this time to plan for future events and programs.

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