From Left Field
By BOB SHRALUKA
It would appear most Decatur residents are reasonably pleased with the Schultz administration and the current city council makeup since there was no pre-July 5 rush of candidates to seek wholesale changes.
Only Democrat Barb Engle, the council's lone at-large member, will be opposed in the fall, by Cam Collier, whom some observers believe the Republican party here is getting in line for a run for mayor in 2015.
So Mayor John Schultz, Clerk-Treasurer Phyllis Whitright, and four other council members — Republicans Ken Meyer and Matt Dyer, Democrats Bill Crone and Charlie Cook — will begin new four-year terms next January.
The mayor continues to say his second term will be his last and he surely believes that at this point. But as he said the other night, Berne Mayor John Minch told him to never use the word "never." Minch, you'll recall, also ran for — and won — one more term after he had said he wouldn't.
There's no reason to argue with what the Schultz Administration and council have accomplished in the past three and a half years. A considerable amount of progress has been made — and is being made — on a number of fronts, in large part because petty politics rarely if ever raises its ugly head. So one is left with people from both parties who work together for the good of their city and its citizens.
A bouquet also should go to every department head and their employees. Working without a raise for not one but two years, the city workers have provided excellent service while at the same time keeping close tabs on costs. Over $600,000 of budgeted funds went unspent last year as the various departments minded their dimes and dollars, making extra effort to keep the city's financial outlook sound in a time of recession and cutbacks.
Thankfully, the mayor and council are rewarding the employees with $1,000 raises next year. As Councilman Dyer said at this week's meeting: "They (city employees) put us in position to do this (provide raises)."
Back to the, uh, er...'stuff'
In reference to the recent words here on Amish horses and what they leave on Decatur streets, a Berne resident called to say, "I've put up with the crap for years. It gets in my tires. I've even had to hose down the street. But what can you do about it? There just doesn't seem to be any answers."
Which seems to be the consensus opinion.
A letter writer, however, had an answer: "The city could scoop it up, as they would scoop up yard waste or fallen branches, and take it to the city dropoff site off Jackson St." Then, the writer goes on to say, a manure pile could accumulate in a designated area and "people would be able to get some for their gardens, just as they scavenge for other things at that site."
The writer concludes: "...overall, the idea is a good one for such a miniscule problem."
A few more thoughts
• Adam Eguia deserves more than a few back-pats and thank-yous for his ongoing efforts to keep alive a city tradition that many communities have been forced to forgo for financial reasons: the Fourth of July fireworks celebration. Meantime, Adam — or someone else — scored a major triumph this year with idea to honor Sgt. Phillip Jenkins and Bob Bombka.
Jenkins, of course, gave his life for his country. Bombka, as has often been said here, was, like Eguia, a major factor in keeping alive the Fourth celebration here. Now his family carries on the TND Fireworks tradition..
• Talk about a busy time. Starting in mid-July we'll have the 4-H Fair and Swiss Days back to back, then soon after will be Decatur's 175th celebration and the Kekionga Festival.
• One of the major accomplishments of the Schultz administration may well be Operation Cleanup. It was designed to "spruce up" the city for the 175th party, but its effects will last far beyond. And it's pleasing to note, as Bill Karbach — who heads up the effort — often points out, that the vast majority of people go along with requests to remove unsightly items, clean up yards, and so on.
As the mayor continues to say, for every person who gripes about being forced to do some cleaning up, "three others are happy," referring to three neighbors.