Goodbye for Now
March 27, 2013 (click here for earlier columns)
Peter D. Elder
Village of Webster Mayor
You and I have journeyed many places through these columns over the last three years. I remember approaching that first column (which was about quarterly billing in the water department) without having the slightest idea if anyone would ever read it. Carol Klem and I had talked about the idea that a Mayor’s column be placed opposite her “Village Focus” in the Herald. We would complement each other: she would write about specific people and events, and I would write about Village government related subjects. That plan almost worked, but I couldn’t just stick to every other week and I found that Village government offered too limited a landscape to mine for informing our community about the Village.
Almost immediately, I began to know that you did indeed read the column because I would be stopped in Hegedorns or along Main Street about it. My wife, Pam, would mention that someone asked her at Webster Cleaners about the column that week. It provided that first question for conversation many times: “what did you think of what I wrote in the column last week?” It allowed me to draw out even more positive comments about the Village. It allowed me to get to know each of you better.
What I wrote about, over and over again, was how good and generous so many of you are. From those of you that volunteer to help in our parks (like the lady who for years nurtured the roses in Veterans Memorial Park or the huge effort the Webster Baptist Church made in Wilmorite Park) to those business that help put on our festivals through the Business Improvement District (special mention here of Tom Spoonhower and Robin Whittaker), we are blessed with events like the Jazz Festival, Garden Tour, Trick or Treat Trail, White Christmas, Friday night Concerts or Movies in the Park.
I had to share with you the work of our Planning and Zoning Boards, the Historical Preservation Commission, the Parks and Recreation Committee, the Senior and Disabled Committee and the Citizens Advisory Committee. The Village Band was also a prominent topic, being one of the oldest and best municipally sponsored bands in Upstate New York. It is too easy to forget the impact these groups have. Many times, they are the first view residents have of Village government and they represent us well.
Backing up the huge volunteer efforts are our exceptional employees. Each year as we entered the budget process you and I had a conversation about taxes and services that transcended the newspaper and became a topic along the sidewalk, in my driveway, or at Village Hall. We talked about the exceptional staff, about our Clerks, the Treasurer, the Building Inspector, and the Superintendent of Public Works. As the year waned, I shared the long hours in DPW with the snowplowing, seasonal reminders, water main relining, wellfield operations. You have a great group of Village employees working your behalf. For myself, I thank Jake and Dorothea, Jamie and Will, Carol and Ann Marie, Norma and Fritz, John and Fred and all of the great staff in DPW, the sewer department, and the water department for everything they do. Village government is small - truly a team effort. It was a privilege to be part of the team.
Village government was a topic we shared with regards to increasing citizen access, with personnel changes, with increasing Board oversight and with water. These were the hardest times for the Village Board, the longest and latest meetings. They were our best moments. The five Board members worked through some thorny issues to find good solutions. I never felt prouder to work with Dave, Christine, Jude and Al.
There are larger circles as well. They involve Joint Meetings, Economic Development Meetings, fundraisers and dinners. Of all those people, though, I thank Glen Cooke the most because his efforts have yielded grant money for the Village that has and will help our community.
There were two columns I wrote about that gave me particular pride: one was the marriage of Brandon and Tiffany Montgomery and the other about the flag John Huther, a veteran, gave us to fly at special occasions. Maybe little things, but maybe those are the cobblestones that joined by the mortar of a good community make strong and lasting structures. That is what we have here in the Village of Webster.
It has been an honor to serve you, the residents of this Village. It is a community worth serving and preserving. I can’t see my ties to the Village unbinding anytime soon. You will surely hear from me again.
May God bless you and keep you.