A Friday evening call to the county offices several weeks ago yielded a surprise.
At 5:15 on a Friday, everyone else was gone, but Commissioner Donald Dell was still around. And he was answering his own phone.
What that says is that he takes his job very seriously.
Now isthe time to say some nice things about the new commissioners. Such athing happens rarely. Note the date.
Nice thing No. 1:
When the state budget cuts hit the Youth Service Bureau, the commissioners made up the cuts to maintain the agency's programs for the remainder of the fiscal year -- $27,500 worth.
The commissioners realize thatit's more cost-effective to pay for Youth Service Bureau programs now than to pick up a more costly tab later. It's like the television ad says, "You can pay me now, or pay me later."
Youth Service Bureau counselors provide crisis intervention and counseling in the schools. The most likely victim
of the threatened cuts would have been the elementary school programs, where the children are perhaps most atrisk. Two counselors, at least, would have bitten the dust.
Reductions in the elementary schools would have had repercussions throughout the system.
When she's not raising money, Tina Rodgers is a middle school counselor. She estimates that one-third to one-half of herclients have been sexually abused.
The commissioners understood that the long-term costs of not providing these services is far greater than the short-term savings the cuts would've achieved. They stepped in.
"Christmas came early," said bureau director George Geise.
Does that mean the commissioners are Santa Claus?
If you would like to be a Santa, too, you can support Youth Service Bureau's work with a donation of any size.
Call 848-2500 for information. Ask forTina.
Nice thing No. 2:
Some people think the only reason somepeople are homeless is that they want to be.
The commissioners, who opened a new shelter for homeless women and children, obviously don't.
Suffice it to say the commissioners stand to make little if any political capital from programs for the homeless: The homeless generally don't vote.
We may conclude that the commissioners set up the new shelter purely because to do so was the right thing.
Imagine. Politicians making decisions on the basis of right and wrong, rather than votes or expediency. Who woulda thunk it?
And the commissioners were innovative, too. They used existing county-owned space andcounty crews whose skills in construction rarely get this kind of challenge. The result is that the job got done, and got done cheap.
Better yet, the whole community got involved. Local flooring companies donated 7,200 square feet of floor covering. A developer donated the kitchen cabinets.
Somehow, 40 beds made their way here from an institution in Pennsylvania. The youth group from St. Benjamin's (Krider's) Lutheran painted the beds. Students from West Middle School scrubbed the mattresses. Don't you love it when a plan comes together?
Lynda Gainor, director at Human Services Programs Inc., the agency that administers the shelter programs, had high praise for the commissioners.
"It's a wondrous thing. It's a miracle," she declared.
The commissioners took the shortest route to get the job done, she pointed out.
From Oct. 4, the day the decision was made, to Nov. 3,the day the shelter opened, the entire project took less than a month.
About 30 new shelter places in less than a month? And more places possible because the needed space is available?
It's a miracle!
If you want to be part of the miracle, call Gainor at 857-2999. The shelter needs lamps and mirrors.
So, somebody said some nice things about the commissioners.
It's a miracle.
Christmas came early.