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Leadership keeps shifting in Arkwright

Musings from the Hill

Jan. 1, 2020. One o’clock at the Arkwright Town Hall. The room was packed with smiling faces. There was so much to look forward to as five town officials were sworn in for the first time.

Oh, sure. There was trepidation as well. Aren’t we all somewhat afraid of what’s new? But each knew the others — and the community — were there to offer support and encouragement. I certainly don’t know them all though they are my neighbors. I look forward to meeting more — and remembering more of those I have.

People had somewhat differing goals in mind for I spoke to one woman who was adamant there’d be no insulting from any of the board to any who wished to speak. Yes, people, it did get tat bad. Me? I expect transparency, no whispering or dealing behind one’s back. Just a chance to know what’s going on in my little neck of the woods.

One of the two remaining board members who had not had to run for re-election was very much in attendance and seemed to welcome he newcomers cordially. I expect to see that continue. One former board member (though I didn’t see him there) proudly claimed he’d served for over a quarter of a century. Arkwright may have seemed like a personal fiefdom to some but, really, isn’t that far too long to be running anything?

Newcomers facing new experiences. They’ll need our backing. I’ll certainly do my share. Let’s give them six months for starters.

I did hear one say, “Twenty-twenty — doesn’t that mean perfect eyesight?” Not perfect here but let’s hope it’s close.

Jan. 13 saw a large and jubilant crowd present to welcome the new board. “It’s been a long time coming,” I heard with definite relief. I was terribly impressed with how organized they seemed with so much already accomplished. I did hear “We’ve only been doing this for two weeks; give us time.” An awful lot has been done in the first thirteen days.

Second formal meeting occurred on Feb. 10. These people are already overworked with so much that has to be done. The two remaining “old” members have separated from the new, obviously expecting things to continue as they had in the past. Wrong. Repairing the terrible roads come first now; the town hall will be repaired, not rebuilt. The “formers” also left them with bills for things that didn’t (or won’t) happen: property to be purchases (not in Arkwright) for a solar farm and the plans already ordered for the hall. Budgets are squeezed before things even get going. But road repairs (and decent equipment, also lacking) will be a priority.

These meetings will be recorded in video. Sharp and clear with speakers identified (somebody is doing a terribly impressive job there) so transparency will be a must. Good behavior required for — and by — all. It’s good.

By March I admit some of my hopes are being dashed. The incumbents, though very much outnumbered by the new slate, insist on having their way, rather rudely I felt. Not every word is terribly polite. But, that said, a neighbor stood when the meeting was over to speak to the crowd, saying she was so impressed with the decorum. Nobody was cut off and everybody was listened to in full and with respect. Even that is a remarkable change from days of yore.

With so very much else, COVID-19 threw a monkey wrench into a great many plans. Masks were present for a specially called meeting to make final arrangements for the drastically needed repairs on Ball Road. I was saddened to hear over and over those terrible words: “We’ve never done it that way before” from the two incumbents. Nothing wrong with moving into the future, or at least the present.

As near as I’ve been able to learn, the May meeting simply never occurred because of rumors abut a member’s exposure to the pandemic.

Events prevented my attending the June-Zoom meeting but I gather Supervisor Ted Wightman resigned. He’s accepted a new position which will require even more of his time. Chris Jackson will be deputy supervisor through the November elections. Town Clerk Wendy Lord also announced her intention to resign.

So many unexpected changes. So many new challenges. I feel confident with time things will be back on track and all will be running smoothly.

It’s a good place full of good people.

Susan Crossett has lived in Arkwright for more than 20 years. A lifetime of writing led to these columns as well as two novels. Her Reason for Being was published in 2008 with Love in Three Acts following in 2014. Both novels are now available at Lakewood’s Off the Beaten Path bookstore. Information on all the Musings, her books and the author may be found at Susancrossett.com.

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