So what’s going to happen in Clay County at 12:01 Monday morning when the newest Executive Orders for management of the COVID-19 Pandemic go into effect in Kansas and how will it affect me?  That is the most frequently asked question this week.  We’ve been working hard to study the orders that have been released. The public address by Governor Kelly on Thursday evening gave all of us the intent of the plan and some details of how that will be done.

The intent is to keep Kansan’s safe during this very real and very scary threat by a new virus that has already sickened or killed millions around the globe. The “At a Glance” document at the link at the end of this post will give you the bare details of how each of the 4 Phases of the plan will work. You can find the full plan at

Our local planning team knew the intent of the coming plan, but did not have the details until Thursday night.  We spent time at our daily meeting on Friday discussing the plan received from the Governor on Thursday night and how it applies to Clay County. Counties can issue local plans that are more restrictive than the state plan, but can not lessen any of the state plan’s restrictions.

For Phase One of this plan, Clay County will follow the state plan. Listed businesses can reopen as long as they follow the Industry Specific guidance that is also available on the website. Things like self service food and drink will not happen in Phase One. Other things, like eat in dining, may return if the business owner is comfortable that they can comply with the guidance. The focus from here on will be on social distancing, gathering size and increased cleaning and hygiene by all members of the community.

Some businesses will choose to open because they can easily accomplish the restrictions for their industry. Others will choose to remain closed or choose to offer limited service because they are not comfortable with opening yet. That is their choice.  Please respect the decisions made by our local businesses. We have had the opportunity to have many discussions with them during this emergency and we know their main concern is our community’s safety and survival. That concern overrides their concern for their own livelihood in most cases. They all want to do the right thing.

As we travel through the next few months of this pandemic, please be understanding and patient. Show grace. Be kind.  None of us have ever had to do this before. We are learning step by step. We are all in this together and we are lucky to live in a place that puts the needs of others at least equal to our own.

-- Clay County Emergency Manager Pam Kemp

Clay Center

-- The Topeka Capital-Journal

Football team steps up last week to help distribute food

One of the most inspiring things I heard last week was the report that the high school football team helped do the manual labor of providing the food distribution in the community last week.

Some are lamenting the lost experiences those young people endured this year when school was cancelled, especially for the seniors. Prom was scheduled last night. It was cancelled due to the pandemic we are in.

I think if we look beyond the short term ache of missing that event, we might see that these young people have stepped up to the greater good in spite of their personal disappointment.

I find that inspiring.

To see a need in your community, shake off your sadness and volunteer to help shows more character and life skill than most would expect from a group of teenagers.

I think it is an amazing testament to our community’s students.

So, well done Tiger Football! And well done coaches and parents for raising young men of character. That will go with them into their futures. In much better ways than what was missed ever could.

In addition to the community food distribution, did you know that USD-379 Clay County Schools has distributed over 26,330 meals to Clay County families since they started their meal distribution project? And that is not a current number, that is the approximate number the superintendent gave us at one of our EOC meetings this week. It is more by now and will continue through the scheduled school year!

And did you know that those meals are free! Both free to the family that picks them up and to the USD? The USD is reimbursed for providing the meals. It is not costing them out of budget to provide the meals.

Thank you to the USD-379 administration and staff for making this project work in Clay County during this hard time. It is so very appreciated!

-- Clay County Emergency Manger Pam Kemp