It’s been awhile since I’ve written a detailed update on Lamar Town Council. Lamar is really a wonderful town, and a great place to live; we’re just experiencing a number of strains that are typical for a small town with an aging population. Even so, Lamar is uniquely poised for a renaissance, given its proximity to I-20 and the major population centers in the region.
That said, there are some systemic problems that are making that renewal more difficult. Progress is being made to address each of these problems in turn, but it’s slow and often piecemeal. That’s no criticism of the fine people who work for the Town—they’re doing quite well—but it’s indicative of the kinds of pressures on time and resources the town is experiencing.
Taking long, contemplative walks is one of life’s simple pleasures. Doing so with a dog, I have discovered, is even more fun, even if it means carrying around a hot, steaming bag of poop part of the time.
For the past week, I’ve been dog sitting my girlfriend’s lovable German Shepherd, Lily. Lily is nearly three-years old, and very well-trained (my girlfriend will tell you otherwise, but she did a good job with Lily). For that reason, we have been walking a lot this past week. Being somewhat inexperienced with dogs, anytime she starts nosing at the door and whimpering, we go for a walk, so we’re probably doing it way more than necessary.
Regardless, taking all these walks has afforded the pup and I several opportunities to see the town. Walking a location, rather than zipping by in a car, gives the walker an intimate understanding of a place. Lily has certainly left her mark—scatologically and otherwise—all over.
After a long school year and a whirlwind trip to Universal Studios, I am finally settling into my summertime schedule. My History of Conservative Thought course did not “make” this summer, as I only had one student enroll (the course really needs a minimum of three students to work well), but my dance card is full enough with lessons and other obligations and engagements.
Next week I’ll be running my first ever “Rock and Roll Camp” at my little school. It will essentially be a condensed version of the Music Ensemble class I run throughout the school year, squeezed into four three-hour days. The plan is to end the final day with a short concert. I’m waiting to hear back on who is enrolled and what kind of instrumentation we have, as that will determine the song selections, but I think it will should be a fun camp.
After that it’s the return of Minecraft Camp, a perennial favorite. At last count I have either ten or eleven campers signed up for that camp, which is quite good. Minecraft Camp is the most lucrative camp of the summer, and accounts for a good chunk of my supplemental income this time of year. I missed out on it last year, as I was very sick, so here’s hoping I’m good to go this summer.
As I recently detailed in the post “Routine Maintenance,” I managed to get my old 2006 Dodge Caravan running again thanks to an $80 battery. I finally hooked up the battery maintainer, too, so hopefully the old girl won’t drain down due to neglect.
After installing that battery, it reminded me of how fun driving a busted up minivan can be. Readers might scoff at that notion, but that van and I share an intimate connection (well, at least I do with it—it can’t really think about who is driving it). After fifteen years, I’ve learned that machine inside and out. Sure, after driving my tiny Nissan it takes some adjustment (I still reach for the gear shifter in the wrong place occasionally, and briefly forget where the lights are), but it’s surprisingly nimble.
Aside from the maintainer, I’ve been taking the van for weekly drives to keep the battery up. My girlfriend and I took it to Lee State Park a few weekends ago, loading our small bit of supplies and her faithful German Shepherd into the cavernous interior. Since then, I’ve only done a few small jaunts with it, with the exception of last Thursday night.
At my second Town of Lamar Council Meeting, my colleagues outvoted me 4-1 to renew Lamar’s mask ordinance for another sixty days. They also shot down my proposal that we reopen council meetings to the public, who can currently only attend online via Facebook Live and Zoom.
That’s precisely what I expected to happen, and I appreciate their reasons: concerns about safety, etc. The big, lingering question—one I can’t get out of my mind—is “when does it end?” At what point are we safe “enough” to remove our masks?
Last week was an exceptionally busy one for yours portly, with a number of duties and responsibilities intersecting at once. I’m sure many readers have noticed this phenomenon, but there is a decidedly cyclical nature to workflow; indeed, it’s almost tidal in the manner it ebbs and flows: I can go for two or three weeks enjoying a fairly placid schedule, only to have a couple of weeks of intense activity. Everything seems to come to a head at the same time.
That’s particularly true in education, a field that is structurally cyclical, with regular intervals of heightened activity baked into the calendar. The third quarter ended Friday, marking the beginning of the end of the school year (fourth quarter—that last, mad dash to summer vacation—starts today). That means last week was a flurry of finalizing grades and writing report card comments.
My school requires unique, individualized comments for every student, and though we teach (on average) fewer students than the typical public school teacher, we’re expected to go above and beyond. Because my colleagues and I were scolded as a group for comments deemed inadequate (for the record, I always write exceptional comments), I decided to double-down and write even more ridiculously detailed comments. Our registrar read through them Friday morning (after I worked furiously and late into the night Thursday to finish them before the weekend) and said, “I felt like I was reading a novella.” Mission accomplished.
That’s all to say that I’m very tired, so I thought this Monday would be a good opportunity to offer some brief updates.
I’ve had my first Lamar Town Council meeting and am slowly learning the ropes of the Town and its needs. I’ve grown up with local government—my father worked in municipal government for thirty-seven years, doing everything from reading water meters to managing human resources, and now is the town administrator for a small town in his semi-retirement—but I’m learning how little I really knew going into it.
As such, I thought I’d share some of my initial reflections, and what I’ve learned so far. Note, I won’t go into anything that’s not public information (to my knowledge, I haven’t learned anything confidential as of yet), but just offer up some of my observations as I’m learning the lay of the land.
That all said, it’s been an overwhelmingly positive start, and I’m excited to dig in, learn as much as possible, and help out however I can.
It’s been an eventful week, so I figured an extra post today running down the posts from the past few days would be worthwhile. Also, I’m a slave to the WordPress daily streak counter, and when I scheduled this morning’s post on Wednesday, WordPress for some reason immediately e-mailed a preview; ergo, I want to make sure I get the daily post streak. Gotta keep the streak alive!
“The Last Day of Freedom?” (Tuesday, 19 January 2021) – Some musings on life under the (then-pending) Biden administration. Contra one anonymous commentator’s claims that I was lying and fearful, a closer reading of this long post indicates that I am optimistic, not about the national government, but about local government and community-building.