DANVILLE, Va. — As Virginia’s economy slowly emerges from COVID-19 lockdown, some officials in Gov. Northam’s camp are now wondering if the city of Danville was ever open for business, reports confirmed Friday.
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The governor’s office first learned of the situation after receiving a puzzling phone call from Danville mayor Easton Lynn inquiring about Northam’s statewide closure of nonessential businesses. Dennis Pate, a member of the governor’s staff, who took the call first assumed the mayor was asking about resources under the CARES Act. Pate was initially confused by Lynn’s questions about differentiating between essential and nonessential business.
“We finally just asked the mayor to send us a list of business and we could help him determine if each was essential or non-essential,” Pate explained. “He gave us four. One was Walmart, and another was an AutoZone.”
As the conversation progressed it became clear that nothing has been open in Danville for decades, which, according to Pate, led to an inquiry on what the residents of Danville do all day.
“They seem to exist in this sort of economically depressed Brigadoon that’s filled with Confederate flags,” Pate said. “We’re admittedly a bit embarrassed as we kind of forgot the city existed. But to be fair, it’s a really out of the way place to visit. Maybe we can build a direct highway to the town next year or something.”
Lynn, a lifelong resident of the town before becoming mayor, also noted that the town hasn’t changed much over the years.
“Not much has changed really. It’s looked a bit like the apocalypse since I was knee-high to a grasshopper,” Lynn continued,. “Other than the Sip n Stop and the hardware store, ain’t much going on. The Walmart came in some years back and that made a fuss.”
Despite a history of hard luck, Lynn said he’s still proud of his city and cited the beautiful views of the Dan River and it’s lack of traffic as his favorite things.