By Greg Ritchie
Editor’s note: Greg’s Corner is a section where Messenger Reporter Greg Ritchie shares odds and ends from the job and unusual or interesting facts from across the world and across time.
MESSENGER OFFICE – In our over politicized world, it seems sometimes the politicking never ends. The red team, the blue team. We just finish one election and everyone is jockeying for the next one. National politics seem most of the time to be nightmare we can’t escape from – even in the deepest parts of the Piney Woods.
Local elections are different and we have some very important ones right around the corner. It’s ok if you don’t know much about them. I will admit, before I took this job a few months ago, I had never been to a board meeting in my life. I knew enough to know you need a ‘motion’ and a ‘second’, but none of it seemed to play any part in my life. I figured they did good work, but it all seemed designed for a small club all in on the game and knowing the rules. As comedian George Carlin once said, “It’s a big club – and you ain’t in it!”
Covering these meetings (I am now quite the expert on the rules and procedures, thank you very much) I have learned how crucial these boards are to our every day lives. School boards decide what kind of education our children will receive and what kind of people will be teaching them. The hospital board must keep and maintain a working medical alternative for everyone who needs it. The city councils must solve all types of problems from roads to sewers.
As it turns out, the boards are made up by our friends and neighbors. Good people trying to give back a little and leave things better than they found them. Most of these positions are unpaid – and as I can attest – often come with more criticism than praise. This is usually unfair, since many of those who complain about schools, roads and hospitals do so from a couch or a smart phone.
The Messenger is asking the good people of Houston County to become more involved. How many new residents to our area can put a fresh perspective on things? How many retirees with years of knowledge and experience can give a few hours a month of their time to help shape the world of tomorrow? This is our home, this is our life. If not us, who? If not now, when?
If you don’t know how to begin, begin by asking how to begin. Candidacies should be declared from January 18-February 17 with elections in early May. You don’t need a finance campaign team or a spokesperson – invite some friends for coffee and talk to people around you and tell them your ideas. Win or lose, could that be considered a waste of time?
The Houston County Hospital District Board has five positions up for election this year. This is a critical board at a critical time in the county. Our hospital lease is up for another five years and there is still some backroom negotiating going on. This county can scarcely grow or prosper without a critical care facility to see patients locally. How that relationship grows and matures is the work of the hospital board who make sure the county’s taxes are used to keep the hospital in good order.
The Crockett City County Council has two council seats and the mayor’s position open. It is yet to be seen which incumbents will run again. This newspaper has chronicled the city’s successes and challenges as we grow and change and adapt to new realities. Do you think the city is going in the right direction? Yes or no, why not get involved? The city only last week faced a major challenge with the suspension of CEIDC’s activities. Would you have liked to have a say or a vote on that matter?
All of the local school boards have open seats coming up this year. Kennard, Lovelady and Latexo school districts all have two open positions for their boards with Grapeland schools electing three board positions. Crockett ISD will also have an election to reelect or replace two board members. There are other elections, too, in all of the local cities and city councils.
This is not to say any of the incumbents who run for reelection do not deserve another term! This is a call for us to at least care enough to find out. Sometimes it can be lonely in those meetings, making notes and taking a few pictures. I have gotten to know many of these people over the months and I promise you – if you start coming to meetings you will be well received and a certain reporter might even offer you a tasty mint to enjoy while we learn civics together.
So for the good of our homes, taxes, health care, kids – are you really too busy complaining online to not give a little back and get involved? It’s not for everyone, but you won’t know until you try. Even if you did not run for office, sometimes helping out and being informed can be a great feeling and help show how much we all care about our shared future here.
Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]