Monday, May 26, 2008

It’s Been a Full, Instructive Week

By Terry E. Cohen, Council Member

Memorial Day is a time to remember those who serve and have served our country, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and to commemorate their service with gratitude. Friday, my children and I had the privilege of attending the ribbon cutting for the new American Legion Post on Jersey Road. This was a long-awaited celebration, one long-delayed, with many veterans having passed on while it came to fruition. In her blessing of the building, Brenda Hughey-Jones said that “a dream delayed was not a dream denied” – so true as so many came together to see that dream realized.

Earlier that day, the kids and I stopped by the Salisbury Police Department station for its open house in celebration of its 110th anniversary. Rebecca and Aaron enjoyed getting to see the flashing lights up close, to sit in a police car and to speak on the handset. I enjoyed getting to meet some officers whose names I had yet to put with faces, plus seeing some familiar ones. Having experienced crime at our own home, knowing the issues we face in Salisbury, I am especially grateful for the service of the men and women of our police department.

Still earlier on Friday, I watched the Field Day assembly at Pinehurst Elementary School (my son in kindergarten was one of the “readers” onstage, so I got the extra perk of a “proud parent” moment). The dedication and caring of the faculty, staff and administration at Pinehurst never ceases to amaze me. Pinehurst was once a high-achievement neighborhood school, but as the times and the neighborhood changed, it is now a Title 1 school providing much to a wide mix of children’s needs, including its special education for physically and developmentally handicapped children.

When I took part with both children in the school talent show earlier in the week, I was delighted to see a packed house and overwhelmed by the children’s and parents’ incredible enthusiasm for every child and every family performing. Even a couple of days later when I walked through the hallways, children were high-fiving and complimenting my family’s “Yankee Doodle Dandy” performance. The spirit and supportiveness in that school is a testament to what can be accomplished.

There were other wonderful examples of what Salisbury is and can be this past week. On Tuesday, it was an honor for me to participate in the observance of EMS Week, held at the new firehouse. Christopher O’Barsky was chosen by his peers as EMS Service person of the Year. EMS members face some of the toughest situations any of us can imagine, from the horror of mangled bodies to the risk of deadly infection to carrying out their duties while distraught family are nearby. While not every response has a happy ending, many do and knowing first-hand from several occasions the swift response these men and women typically give, I thank them for their service on both a personal and representative level.

Finally, Wednesday night saw the citizens of Salisbury, both city- and county-side speaking out about the Fiscal Year 2009 Budget. Many suggestions were made concerning cuts and refocusing our priorities to better serve our citizens, taxpayers and ratepayers. There were even bits of Salisbury’s history woven into comments. I learn something valuable every time citizens speak, whether pro or con on an issue.

Even a few seemingly harshly worded comments I received last year about the zoo were valuable. Rather than harbor any ill feelings toward those citizens, I learned from those comments that I did not effectively communicate what my positions and goals for the zoo were. It is my job to do better.

This is why I love Salisbury – the people. Diverse in backgrounds, needs and viewpoints, they make up a wonderful fabric of life. We have areas of our city tapestry that are looking a bit worse for the wear, so we all need to contribute our threads to weaving them strong again. I believe we have great potential, and I agree with many who spoke that we, as a city, need to take a better direction and refocus our priorities. I ran for and was elected to office for that purpose and put the citizens’ voice into constructive action.

Please join me in that commitment. If ever there was a week that showed what committed people can accomplish, this past week was a fine example. To all, a happy, safe and commemorative Memorial Day, and I look forward to rolling up our sleeves together.