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Hill Country Living

A Few Tips  For New And Old Aldies

I really wish you all could know the joy I feel when I wake up on a Tuesday morning to write this column and something actually exciting has happened in Water Valley. The gift of material is almost priceless when it lands upon a columnist in a small country town. One may feel much like Cinderella in the Disney cartoon, when she gets woken up by two blue birds in bonnets and then spontaneously composes and executes a “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” on the spot before getting out of bed. Then she ties her apron on and puts her hair in a pony tail and goes to work.

This local election has been a doozy. I have enjoyed just about every minute of it. For one, there was a pretty substantial shake up on the board of aldermen (a board now more accurately described as Alderpeople… or Aldies, for short.) And I think this is the one, single most effective outcome that could have happened for this town, in terms of starting the wheels in motion for people understanding a bit more about not only how local government works but, specifically, how our local government works. And, more importantly, how that is not necessarily a system that has to be set in stone. Democratic government should be fairly fluid, right? That’s the point of democracy. The acknowledgment and value of humanity’s ebb and flow.

I would love to go on and on about how no one knew where they were supposed to vote and wound up driving around to several places before giving up, how the voting boxes looked like a prop straight out of Tales From the Crypt or a homemade torture device from a Bolivian prison, or how our mis-sized paper ballots had voting squares in a font so small that I wasn’t sure if anyone could read it if they were over the age of 25. I also heard a whole lot about sign placement, post election behavior, rumors of suppressed voting, etc. 

And there are people who will talk about that for a long time until you get hungry and try to listen but all you’re thinking about is getting lunch because you are about to die of starvation. While important, I’m not going to talk about those things because I don’t know enough about them. 

Instead, I’ll reiterate to the new board that lots of people, born and bred Water Vallians and transplants alike, feel like stuff just happens without their opinion, consent or knowledge. They feel the only real public discussions that ever happen are in the editorial section of the Herald. I, for one, am excited to have some Aldies who will speak up but, more importantly, who will let us know when WE can speak up. 

So, here are some easy suggestions to the old Aldies and the new Aldies (and eventually, Nicole Folson): 

1. Get a Facebook page! Update us on when the meetings are and the agenda and the process of getting on the agenda in a timely fashion. Also post a sign at City Hall and put a little announcement in the paper. Communicate with us. 

2. Rearrange that room. Please, turn the chairs so that when one of our citizens has the guts to get up and publically speak for us that they are not met by the backs of your heads. I know the room is small but I know y’all can make it work. This is really just a simple manner of respect. Ask any school teacher how to turn those chairs so everyone can see. She can fix that room for you.

3. Y’all, please communicate with the county more. So many times during the whole trailer park deal I heard from city officials in meetings phrases like “I’m not sure the answer to that, that’s the County.” I am confident that the new Board will know a bit (or admit to knowing a bit more) about what the county is doing, especially when a major town issue directly involves and city/county cross-over development. Maybe the new board would like to invite a county representative to the meeting or vice versa.

4. Talk about the school. I know there is a school board for that but it becomes a major city issue, as well, when town progress is stifled due to people’s view (not necessarily a correct view, but a view nonetheless) of our school system.

There are more things, of course, but I’m 225 words over my limit. Congrats to all the election winners and I look forward to making fun of y’all for the next few years. Don’t forget that the mayoral run-off is next Tuesday, May 16th! Please go vote!

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