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An Inaugural Year and Lots of Help

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January 8, 2012 by Frances Hime

Writing about by my first year as mayor is difficult, especially accomplishments. Those who work with me are probably the ones who should be writing about the accomplishments. They have had to deal with more than their fair share of uncertainties. What does a new mayor want? When is something going to happen and what will it be? Along the way, there have been challenges to all of us and, while new to me, they were old hat to employees.

January was the beginning of accomplishments and lessons learned. What does a mayor do when there is an ice storm? I didn’t have a clue and it was embarrassing. Fortunately, my cell phone proved itself an educational tool by receiving critiques and updates, but not from the employees. The four men who take care of our streets moved quickly and arrived at work before day break. They weren’t about to waste time educating a new Mayor. At the end of the day they accomplished more than expected. There were also volunteers who worked hard to help clear limbs from streets and neighbors’ driveways. Lesson number one, people achieve a great deal with less when they ride on the same bus.

In February, we got snow. Lots of it! By then, I had learned to relax and be ready for the phone calls. I learned that plowing snow with anything less than a snowplow is a tediously slow process and what we needed was better equipment. The right tools for the job.

During the May rains, I watched our street crews clear roads, make repairs and deal with the constant question, “When are you going to fix my street? In retrospect, how did four men with limited equipment take care of our City? I have no idea but I’m grateful they were able to do what they did. Lesson number three, we need to plan for uncertainties.

City Administration employees also have their own challenges. Most of their tools, computers, printers, fax machines, and copiers, are very old. The software are equally old and incompatible with many new applications. Plus, no personnel to create the database necessary to record the many documents the City collects. Lesson four, we need to update technology, along with new policies and procedures, to help us work smarter.

According to the Washington County Tax Collector, our gross sales tax revenues are way down. That means tougher decisions in 2012 and 2013. West Fork must improve its operations and create a business community. That will require an investment of dollars plus the commitment of those willing to recognize and respond to the challenge. I’m looking forward to the next three years, and the challenges and lessons ahead. If we are all ​on the same bus headed in the right direction, we can accomplish a great deal.​

West Fork Mayor Francis Hime

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