Letters to the editor

Citizen concerned about future of Peabody

To the Editor:

In the past few weeks I have read a number of things in this publication that I found personally disturbing.

It began with the announcement of falling enrollment and loss of positions in our school system.

Then there was the municipal court report and all of those tickets issued to passers-by on the highway. While our police officers lay in wait to issue tickets, the town is regularly being vandalized and damage occurs on both public and private property. This isn't exactly the "Welcome Wagon."

This week having read the accounts of both the Peabody City Council meeting and the meeting between Main Street and the council I was appalled.

I was not present at either meeting. I wish I had been. My husband is a former council member and mayor and I'm well aware of the difficulty surrounding those positions at any given time, but most particularly in the present circumstances.

I myself have served on the Main Street board, as a committee chairman, and committee member. I was present at the meetings when we were first introduced to the Main Street concept many years ago.

One of the reasons I did not attend the recent meeting regarding Main Street is my own mixed feelings about the appropriateness of that program at this time.

I could go on and on to explain that issue, but just let me say that Main Street, if done according to the state and national organization's requirements is a large bureaucracy. If you fill the required number of board seats, committee chairs, and committee members you can be looking at a group of 40 to 50 people.

In a community our size this was a difficult even in the early days of the program. At this time it's nearly impossible and not only do you need that many people but, you need the right people in those positions.

Many people have tried to get the wheels moving again. I commend everyone who has made the effort.

We have had numerous directors over the years and they all tried as well. The director's position has been looked at and revamped numerous times. It is still a nearly impossible task. Burn-out has been the major reason that directors have left the job; many after only a couple of years.

This brings me to the reason for this letter: I was quite disturbed to read a quote in the (newspaper's) council report regarding Shane Marler's loyalty to Peabody and thus his fitness for the position.

Anyone who has ever seen Shane in action at a Main Street benefit auction or most recently at the Peabody Community Quilt Project auction in October knows how hard he is willing to work for this community.

When he revs it up and turns it on he creates an energy and excitement that is hard to match. When he believes in it, he can sell it. Isn't that what a Main Street director is supposed to do; sell the Main Street concept and sell your community to outsiders?

Yes, I understand he serves in a very public capacity in another community just down the road, but I rather think that his sense of "community" runs much larger than either of these small towns at opposite ends of a county road. He is extremely bright, incredibly talented, and willing to direct his energies to this task.

How lucky could we be to have him, if only for a short period of time? It is my personal belief that we should embrace this opportunity and see what might happen.

The future of our town and Main Street is uncertain. The difficult issues seem to mount almost daily.

Are we ready to quit? Can that really be an option? We are not alone in the problems that we face, but we have to solve them ourselves.

As Shreves Avery, in a recent guest editorial, stated, "We have to stand together." We don't have time to berate each other because we disagree. That is just so much more negativity and won't get us moving in any direction that we want to go.

If anything is to change, more people must get involved. We are all very busy people, but this town has always been supported by "very busy people."

If you have any time to give or serve or support, we need you!

Susie Schmidt