Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Politics in a Small Town

Meeting Mayor Roy

I finally had the chance to meet the Mayor and attend a City Council Meeting.  The lift was broken when I first took a support letter and a letter about attending a meeting/meeting the mayor to the city office.  Fortunately, they were able to come outside so I could hand deliver my letter.  When I got around to deciding to attend a meeting, it was still broken.  So, I could not attend the meeting that day, but they would move the next meeting to an accessible location so I could attend.  Well, the lift was fixed before the meeting so it was able to be held in the city council meeting room.

I was excited to get to meet the mayor before the meeting and have the chance for a photo op.  I had the opportunity to share about Ms. Wheelchair Kansas, what my platform is all about, and what opportunities I will have this year.  I offered to be available to help them determine what changes need to be made for things to be wheelchair accessible.  We discussed the different entities and who is responsible for accessibility in what areas--city council, county commissioners, fair board, store owners, private homeowners, etc.  This is all still relatively new to me and I am figuring it out as I go along.  I would love WaKeeney to be known as an accessible town.  It's a good thing I gathered resources and met people at Ms. Wheelchair America who can help me figure that all out.  I can't wait for us to learn together and meet the needs of all.

After my presentation time, I stayed for the rest of the meeting and learned a bit about small town politics.  Even if the council members disagreed with each other, they remained polite for the most part.  :)  The new council members are spending their time researching all the council policies and by-laws.  I am thrilled to know that there are those who care about this small town and want to work hard and educate themselves to govern it correctly.   I found out they are currently building a new picnic area in the park.  They even came down to show me the catalog with the accessible picnic tables they had chosen.  Yes, Mayor Roy, my family will be using those.  :)

I will probably not make it to every meeting, but I plan to attend more in the future.  This town is important to me and I would love accessibility to be a consideration of all decisions.

Thankful thoughts for the day:
Sleep Number Bed
New bed sheets
Finding a long enough necklace chain
New friends

"Gratitude is something of which none of us can give too much.  For on the smiles, the thanks we give, our little gestures of appreciation, our neighbors build their philosophy of life."
                                                                             A. J. Cronin


I attended a City Council meeting again after returning from Ms. Wheelchair America.  We discussed the information I had gathered from MWA and what could/should be done in WaKeeney to make it more accessible.  We discussed curb cuts and the need for safe wheelchair access from downtown to both schools and the hospital.  There are current curb cuts along the route between downtown and the grade school.  The curb cuts stop on the way to the high school after you pass the library.  The area around the high school and football field is accessible, but there needs to be safe wheelchair access on the way to the high school.  There was some discussion about sidewalks missing or being impassible and maintenance being the property owner's responsibility.    There was some discussion about how someone is currently researching grant money for sidewalks and if that is available using the grant money to make the main streets to the high school and hospital accessible.  There was also some discussion about the possibility of adding a bike lane to some roads.  I don't know what the final decision will be or what is feasible in this town, but I will keep you updated.  I'm just thankful they were so polite and willing to cheerfully work with me on this issue.

I stayed again after me presentation, and can say some of the politeness went out the window.  There was no yelling, screaming, or name calling, but the room was pretty tense.  I can only hope the tension comes from the council members passion to govern this city correctly and do what is best for this town and its citizens.  I have every confidence that they will work out their differences and come to conclusions that are in the best interest of WaKeeney.

I will probably not make it to every meeting, but I do still plan to attend more in the future.  It will take more than a tense meeting to scare me away.  This town is important to me and I would love accessibility to be a consideration of all decisions.  (When you see the new street signs, pay attention to how much more visible they are to all and especially those with visual impairments)

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