One Of Those Weeks

July 24, 2009

Itís been quite the week.
†† It all started off fairly well, but went downhill rapidly. A seemingly simple repair on a major piece of equipment at our sister paper in Morgan City turned into a complete disaster when the part the technician installed proved defective.
†† I wonít bore you with all the newspaper technical brouhaha, but it ended up that the machine had to essentially be rebuilt on site, and finding some of the parts was challenging to say the least.
†† Thatís why you didnít get a Wednesday column from me, because until today, we were taking care of all the pre-press work for our partners over in the big city.
†† So you see, east and west St. Mary Parish can get along after all!
†† During all this, I had to cover a city council meeting and a Historic District Commission meeting, and the talk of the town and beyond was all about water. The city, Baldwin, and Water and Sewer 4 all had water issues of varying degrees and causes. We remain hopeful that the last of these are being addressed.
†† Make no mistake about it, this newspaper has given the city every opportunity to take care of its issues quietly and without embarrassment. But when it comes down to the safety and health and mere convenience of the citizens of Franklin, a line had to be drawn somewhere.
†† I find cause for disappointment in the lack of serious attention given to what was clearly a crisis in the works at the time of the city council meeting. Other than a single question from the council, there was nothing to indicate to the general public that anything was amiss.
†† Most of the week found me getting home tired and cranky. The tech who works on this particular piece of equipment Ė which we also have here Ė and I have become pretty good buds over the years and we tend to get together at dayís end for supper and chewing the rag. Jim lives on the edge of the Texas Hill Country, a place I have on my so-called ďbucket listĒ to visit and fish the Brazos, Guadalupe and Nueces rivers before I go to Happy Hunting Ground, or in my case, Happy Fishing Holes. I assured him heíd have a visitor at some point before that.
†† Things plugged along until Thursday, when finally the equipment was back online and it looked like weíd be back to normal. I went to the Historic District Commission meeting where they briefly discussed an engineering survey conducted on the old Center Theater building. The survey suggested ways to stabilize and preserve the structure.
†† The old theater has been a subject of contention. The city initially had the idea of tearing it down to create an open-air plaza. The commission balked, saying it needed to be preserved. While itís unclear what the cityís intentions are today, early on there was talk of complete demolition. I hope a compromise can be reached.
†† A red-tape battle between the city and its own Historic District Commission would be a logistical nightmare. Should the city make application to the commission and the commission deny the request, the city would have the right to appeal the decision. Unfortunately, the city council is the appeals body for the commissionís decisions. It would seem that a third party, such as district court, would have to rule on the dispute.
†† To override the Historic District Commission would be breaking your own rules, and while Iím not sure or even suggesting this is or will be the cityís intentions, this is just a cautionary message. Such a move would send a message that the city has no respect for its historic district, zoning or other regulations by which every other property owner must abide.
†† Just as a disclaimer, Iím not really invested in what happens to the Center Theater, one way or the other, and donít really have much of an opinion on its fate. What does concern me is the possibility of dismantling city code in the interests of a single subject.
†† So beyond all that, itís been a week. Thatís about all I can say about it. At least it wasnít 100 degrees outside!
†† I do want to welcome Marla Chirdon as the cityís new community development director and Mainstreet manager. Chirdon introduced herself at the council meeting and left an excellent and lasting impression as someone who can really make a difference in that office.
†† You havenít heard me preaching about development much lately. Several people asked me if Iíve given up. Quite the contrary! There are a number of great things going on right now in Franklin and I thought Iíd let it bloom and flourish.
†† And so it has. The Farmerís Market has done well, especially considering it began late in the growing season and in the throes of a horrific drought. The city did a great job with that, and the volunteers who worked along with them are to be strongly commended!
†† There appears to have been a tremendous revival of interest in the two festivals we have here, and many people have come out to participate in planning and redevelopment of both. Kudos to all you folks too! Thatís the way to grow a community, right there.
†† Yíall have a good weekend, hear?