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Wed, Nov 22, 2017 06:56 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue

Without A Paddle


Small city secrets


ARH
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01/12/2007 - I have no idea when I'll be assigned to cover another city commission meeting in Allen, but I have to admit I enjoyed spending a little time in the small Floyd County city last week.

For me, the brief commission meeting provided a refreshing change of pace. I was the only stranger in the room and everyone else present was on a first-name basis. My status as a stranger didn't last long, as nearly everyone who entered city hall made a point to say "Who are you?" or, "Who is this?" and shake my hand before taking a seat.

There was no printed agenda for the meeting and there were four or five Allen residents on hand who weren't shy about asking questions or offering thinly veiled accusations to city officials. It was obvious some of those questions had nothing to do with the city's business and were more likely based on personal history or disagreements, but, I had to admire the mayor and commission members for handling everything in a matter-of-fact way. I also admired the city residents for having the gumption to ask those questions.

One thing that became apparent during that session is that many people aren't aware they have a right to attend such meetings, or that they can take notes and ask for copies of almost every bit of paperwork that comes before any board. With the exception of executive sessions (closed meetings) dealing with things like property, personnel or pending lawsuits, anyone from anywhere can attend any public meeting, take notes and ask questions. If I was reading them right, Allen's elected officials would be very happy to see more people at their regular monthly meetings.

Unfortunately for Allen's elected officials, however, people at last week's meeting asked for information which is not part of the city's business. For example, one man wanted a list of names for people who receive assistance from a food pantry next to city hall. That food program is administered by a member of the city commission, but is not operated by the city. The man asking for the list of names cited a pretty good reason for the request — that he wanted to make a donation to the cause, but felt it was important to know who was being helped.

After the meeting, someone told me the man's request had nothing to do with a desire to help people. I can't make a judgement call on that, but will say the names of people who get help from a food pantry shouldn't be released. The agency providing the food should make every effort to insure they aren't feeding people who have enough resources to provide for themselves, but the process shouldn't be subject to public review or approval.

A bunch of sickos

I'm working with a bunch of sick people.

If I'm to believe what I'm told, this is a winter tradition among the BSN staff, and we will continue to make each other miserable until sometime this spring.

It sounds like a valid theory, but the problem is none of us seem to have the same symptoms. One person has the "bug" in their sinuses while the next is having difficulty with chest congestion and uncontrollable coughing.

The only common complaint is, we all feel like we've been repeatedly run over by a runaway rock truck. If we are actually sharing the same offending virus or bacteria, doesn't it seem like we would have somewhat similar gripes? The main thing we all seem to have in common is the "just can't get rid of it" syndrome.

My personal theory is that we have two or three different "bugs" circulating among us, and we are developing new problems before the old ones have a chance to clear up. Collectively, we've tried everything from prescription antibiotics to herbal/holistic cures, and nothing seems to be doing the trick.

Making it more difficult, those who haven't been afflicted have started looking at the rest of us with a certain degree of skepticism. A couple of us have talked about coughing into their telephones and sneezing on their computer keyboards just to give them some idea of how rotten this is.

We won't actually do that, however, because we know those people tend to work much harder than we do, and we have no doubts we would have a terrible time trying to put out a newspaper without them.

Besides, there's still plenty of time for the bug to get them the same way it got us.

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