CYNTHIANA, Ky. (LEX 18) — One year ago, Harrison County was ground zero for COVID-19 in Kentucky.
The county experienced the first outbreak and even the first school shutdown. On March 9, 2020, the headline on the Cynthiana Democrat was 'Don't Panic.'
Despite the message from the newspaper, Tomi Clifford with the Cynthiana Tourism Commission and county Chamber of Commerce did panic last March.
"I did at first. I did for about a week. I was very nervous about what the future held," said Clifford.
After dining rooms and retailers were forced to close, restaurant and shop owners did retain some optimism as customers stuck at home supported local.
"You know, after a while, the curbside trend faded out, and I had to figure out a way to make more money," said Josh Jenkins.
So Jenkins signed up for training classes and learned a new skill in the kitchen.
"Well, there was no place to get homemade donuts, so it was a venture that someone needed to start and I saw the need for it," said Jenkins, who owns JJ's, a bakery and restaurant in Cynthiana.
Once he started producing what he calls "squarenuts," Jenkins found another need within the community and expanded kitchen operating hours past midnight.
"There's no place in town for anyone to eat and we deliver straight to the third shift facilities. Anyone who works third shift we deliver to them," said Jenkins.
"They've (business owners) been very creative. I mean, they've been very creative. Everybody kind of rallied together as a community, even the businesses worked together to kind of help each other stay open," said Clifford.
The tourism commission installed signs across the downtown streets pointing people toward landmarks, one of which is Rohs Opera House.
The historic theater just resumed showing first-run movies. On Tuesday night, the theater will host the 2021 Community Impact Awards.
This weekend, there will be a spring Open House to invite people to visit shops and restaurants around town.
"Well we're open for business, that's for sure," said Clifford. "They're coming back. We're ready."