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Betsy’s Corner: What makes our town tick?

Tick Tock Tick Tock – the grandfather clock in the front hall reminds me what time it is. Our clock is over 200 years old but it still works. I don’t need an Apple watch. The days, weeks and months, and even the years go by faster and faster as the kids grow up. Days of toddlers, babysitters, diapers and endless laundry and food preparation soon morph into elementary science projects, sports competitions and dance recitals. It is life as a parent in a small town in America – typical in the cycles and possibly unique in its values and traditions. The 21st Century is a digital age with less face-to-face contact.

Long Meddowe Days gets people out and we see faces that hibernated all winter. Family life ticks like clockwork in a town such as ours and is similar to the way it has been for ages. Technology has changed for sure, but kids still bike and walk to school in a safe system of neighborhood roads. Lets keep it that way despite traffic problems that seem to be getting worse. Tuesday is garbage night as I wheel out the can to the street. Wednesday the lawn is mowed, Thursday is the day the Longmeadow News is delivered and Friday is when The Reminder paper arrives in a blue plastic bag in our driveway. Yet, news is constant with the Internet. The weeks pass. Spring seems to be slow to warm this year as almost every day we experience endless rain. The azaleas and tulips have passed, but all the flowers are happy this season.

I wonder what makes this place tick? I think its family values. Town meetings often test the patience of the people in town. This traditional process is particular to New England, and always seems antiquated and slow; the opposite of efficient. People showed up in coats and even parkas with wool hats as the temperature outside fell into the 40s on the evening of May 14. Other years we used to sweat in the old gym. Many folks left the meeting around 9 pm after the money for the Wolf Swamp Fields was allocated after a power point presentation and a very long discussion. The town supported the plan but someone better re-think that parking lot. It is a recipe for disaster as it abuts several fields that will have balls and kids interfering with it. Children’s safety is of the utmost importance. This plan is not safe at all.

The long list of “Finance Department Approved” CPA grants were passed in a blink of the eye and they became grouped together for a single opportunity to raise our yellow voting cards. Almost everyone said yes to those important grants. Thank you! The hours ticked by and I did not return home until almost 10:30. I really do think that 3.5 hours for a town meeting is too long for most people. I agree that the condition of our playing fields has not been admirable for ages and downright embarrassing, but it took up too much time! Even though I stayed past my expectations I missed articles on the warrant I was very interested in. Why do we need to have 42 items on the agenda? I do not think it’s wise to have a two-night meeting as it was in 2016, but really can we come up with a reasonable solution? Someone should be thinking outside the box by now. Remember it is the 21st Century and things move faster these days.

Changes come slowly to a town rich in history. Homes from the 1700s still face the Town Green. Progress is in the eyes of the beholder. It’s a slow evolution with a few steps ahead every year and then a few steps behind. Progress is painful. Why change anything? If it’s good enough for our ancestors it’s good enough for us. Maybe its time to change how things get done around here. The town election is coming up within a week from now. Next Tuesday, June 11, you will have an opportunity to vote for The School Committee candidates and Selectboard candidates. Make your choices wisely. Think before you vote. Get advice. Talk it over. I think in the day and age of social media and the speedy Internet we can make our meetings more efficient and our town website more user-friendly. Make suggestions! Speak up and make your vote count! The elected officials need to know what makes this place tick and they take the pulse of the town based on the resident’s voices.