A variety of stories and items in Tuesday's Falmouth Enterprise created a flood of thoughts and memories in my noggin, enough that they collectively deserve compilation as a hodgepodge review of some of our local goings on...
The passing of longtime Planning Board member Janet Hand deserves note, as her focus on local government simply for the sake of good local government reminded us of why this is a special place - to live, to work, to debate, and to self-govern. Janet had an admirable (and rare these days) ability to say exactly what she felt on a given subject without being distasteful. I can remember an occasion or two (many perhaps) where she would smile at me, wave her finger and say, "I'm very cross with you for your decision," but do so in such an endearing way that a criticism almost became a complement. I hadn't seen Janet in some time, but thought of her nearly every time I took a ride through Davisville and heard her distinctive laugh as I drove by. She was a woman of distinction and a credit to our community.
Speaking of women of distinction, another prominent Falmouthite deserving recognition this week is our Acting Town Manager Heather Harper. Her decision to remain as second in command in the corner office rather than seek the vacant Town Manager's job in recognition of her commitment to her most important constituents - her family - is a rare and admirable display of humility and sound thinking by a person who has her priorities firmly and correctly in place. Having worked with Heather from her very first day in Town Hall, I can second that sentiment as a colleague and friend. The spotlight and standing of the top job and the associated salary can be a powerful lure for any local government professional; whoever is selected will be halfway to success on day one with Heather alongside.
A photo of the old box office at the Highfield Theater under construction brought a smile to my face that was both for the pending replacement of that tired portion of the Beebe's old horse stable, and for memories of my last venture on to the stage with the Falmouth Theater Guild as Mayor Shinn (of course) in the Falmouth Theater Guild's production of "Music Man." This was ten years ago or so, and my daughter Syd and I had a blast with folks like the timeless and ageless Gil Rapoza, FTG stalwarts Matt and Davien Gould, and another Falmouth treasure, costume guru Charlotte Tashiro. When Old Man Winter finally takes leave of us, another group of dedicated and engaging FTG thespians will dazzle us with the do-re-mi resonances of the "Sound of Music." I can't wait - for the new snack bar and the show!
Finally, for all my grumbling about the half a billion dollar price tag and multiple machinations and ponderings on solving our wastewater woes, it's great to see that the issue is moving forward - with the appropriate level of public input and review. Public policymaking is really sausage making of sorts - it can be a bit messy during production, but produces a decent outcome. In this case, much more discussion and deliberation is needed, and the continued input and presence of knowledgeable watchdogs like Ron Smolowitz, Mike McGrath and Ronald Zweig, coupled with the volunteer efforts of local government veterans like Virginia Valiela and Peter Boyer, should make for plenty of flavor in this sausage, but a result that will be good for the community, the environment, and a sustainable future. Half a billion dollars still scares me out of my wits, but my comfort level is growing that we're taking our time to get this massive public works project right.
Ok. Noggin clear. Memories shared.
This column is reprinted from the Falmouth Enterprise.