It is well past July 1 and I am still contemplating the future of The Eisenthal Report. I announced a hiatus in May shortly after I was elected to the West Brookfield Board of Selectmen. I thought I would be able to make a decision about the future of TER by July 1 - that hasn't happened. I'm still thinking...
While I think about this - at the behest of a respected reader - I've decided to share some of my impressions of life as a Selectman in the Town of West Brookfield.
I have enjoyed my service so far on the Board of Selectmen. My fellow board members - Barry Nadon, Jr. and Tom Long - are civil, dedicated, and public-spirited. We do not agree on all of the issues, but there is a common dedication to the best interests of the Town of West Brookfield.
We have dealt with important issues, such as the final resolution of the budget of the Quaboag Regional School District - to which West Brookfield belongs. Budgetary issues are only going to become more intense in the coming months and years. I feel that I'm beginning to apply my expertise and experience in this area in a concrete way to this set of issues.
We have also dealt with more offbeat issues - which brings me to the title of this piece.
The boat is an abandoned boat that someone left on the side of one of our rural roads. It kind of looks like the S.S. Minnow, sitting there by the side of the road. It is certainly a nuisance at this point - and it could become a hazard. It's been attracting trash - including a full patio set. The Board of Selectmen is going to need to keep tabs on the boat until it is disposed of.
The still is a 1,000 gallon distillation unit - built in the 1970s with money from the federal government for the purpose of producing ethanol for fuel. Not long after I was elected, one of the people involved with this project contacted me. He informed me that under the terms of the federal grant the Town of West Brookfield has an ownership interest in the unit. I began investigating this - I still haven't turned up the grant documents - but I did invite a professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute's Alternative Fuels Project to come to West Brookfield. One Saturday afternoon in June, we went to visit the still. This was an impressive looking machine; it wasn't clear, however, how long it had been since the still had been fired up - or whether it would now operate. At this point, we need to determine what the Town's interest is in this unit before we discuss any investment of time or money in making it operational again.
The beavers are a colony of beavers that have dammed a stream close to one of our roads. Recently, the Board of Selectmen met jointly with the Board of Health to discuss the situation. It is the latter board's responsibility to deal directly with the beavers. However, the Selectmen got involved because of the threat to the road and nearby culverts. The issue is somewhat complicated and sensitive - particularly for the Board of Health. Under Massachusetts law, they can authorize trapping - but not killing - of the beavers. Also, since the beavers are partly on private property, the BOH needs the cooperation of private property owners. This situation is still developing...stay tuned...
The boat, the still, and the beavers are representative of the kind of ground-level, nitty-gritty issues that local officials deal with. I was elected because I talked a lot about finance and personnel issues; I will have plenty of opportunity to address these issues, but the other kinds of issues will take up a good part of my focus. Fortunately, I'm finding both the big picture and nitty-gritty issues to quite engaging and interesting. It will be an interesting three years...