This week’s column will serve as my card of thanks.
Words aren’t enough to express those many thank yous, but I’ll try to do my best in this prose to my 15 other members of the Seymour C.A.R.E. (Community Action to Represent Education) Committee, all of whom carried the load to ensure passage of last Tuesday’s school-tax levy.
I’ll introduce each of them.
The committee included Beverly Barlow, Grady Bennett, Mary Carpenter, Nick Collins, Nadine Crisp, Shawn Crump, Hillary Gintz, Charlie Haywood, Ross and Carrie Ipock, Delilah Johnson, Dean and Evelyn Rowe, Sheila Sturdefant, Julie Thomas and myself.
To give a brief history, Steve Richards, new superintendent of the Seymour R-II School District, came to me early last fall and asked what could be done to pass a school levy.
My answer was simple.
“You need a community effort,” I responded.
In essence, I told him that he shouldn’t push the cart.
Neither should his school board.
“It’s understood that you and your board are for this,” were my words to him. “You’re the group that put the issue on the ballot.”
Instead, I said the sales pitch had to be delivered by a community committee of trusted residents.
Richards and the school board let me build that group.
Every person I asked to be a member of it except one accepted.
When the group fi rst met at my offi ce two months ago, it wasn’t certain we were in favor of all facets of the levy. So, instead of talking about passage, we quizzed Richards so we could truly understand the need. We asked him not to give us
“superintendent speak.” Instead, we sought clear answers we could share with the school’s patrons when we were asked.
That meeting lasted nearly three hours.
Collectively, we saw the need.
Then everyone went to work.
All 15 of the names you see above worked their tails off for Seymour’s school — its children and its staff.
All 15 of them did things like building Halloween candy bags, building props for events, cooking fish, folding nearly 3,000 brochures and handing out those brochures.
They braved cold temperatures. Bussed tables. Cooked desserts. Started conversations in all types of settings.
They chipped in money so we could fund this cause. In turn, several businesses and individuals stepped up to help in that regard.
They gave up time with their families to attend events.
They spoke in favor of the levy to folks who initially didn’t support it.
At times, they debated when our committee met. That’s part of the process when 16 people get together and try to determine a collective game plan.
In the end, everyone was on the same page.
We all wanted the same thing.
A better school for Seymour’s children.
Without the committee’s efforts, this levy wouldn’t have passed. It took that extra effort to get it to the finish line.
For that, I sincerely say thanks to all 15 members of the committee.
You made this happen.
* * * * * *
Reading time, five minutes:
• Free High Prairie.
Nine votes against the levy, three for it?
• Speaking of the aforementioned committee, one member needs your prayers.
Last Thursday evening, Charlie Haywood fell on the steps between his house and garage.
And he was badly banged up.
Fortunately, Charlie had his phone handy and called Bob Crump for help, who subsequently called his son, Shawn, and they did the rest in terms of getting Charlie to Mercy Hospital in Springfield.
The damage was a banged-up hip that required surgery early Sunday. Years ago, Charlie had a new hip, but in the fall last week, damage was done where his hip and leg connected, so surgery was required.
Anyone who knows Charlie knows that there is a better public servant in Seymour. Frankly, it’s hard to find a cause or group he doesn’t support, and he supports those causes by taking on vital roles in each of them.
If you get a chance, send those prayers.
He could use them.
• The day before last Tuesday’s election, several residents in Seymour received a letter.
Not one they were anticipating.
The letter went to residents of several in-town duplexes.
All were renters of units owned by the letter writer(s).
Sent by the owners and signed by one of them, the letter essentially coerced them to vote against the 75-cent school levy, noting that if the levy passed, their rents may have to be increased.
The exact line said, “And the proposed school tax increase to be voted on on November 5th, we may have to raise rents a little bit. We’re not trying to influence your vote in any way, but just as homeowners have to made a decision on how the increase will affect them, so do renters.”
Not trying to influence their vote?
Then what the heck was the purpose of the letter?
Two of their renters brought the letters by my office.
Both told me they voted for the levy.
I chose not to publish the letter or share the names of the duplex owners, but I will note that the difference between the duplex owners and their tenants is as dramatic as night and day.
Tax records are public. When I looked up the projected tax increase of units owned by the letter writers, I found it varied between $5 and $9 a month per duplex. When divided by two units per duplex, that’s an extra cost of between $30 and about $55 per year.
Their tenants, on the other hand, likely are living day to day, week to week, month to month. A substantial raise of their rent might mean they no longer can afford to pay that rent.
Food for thought.
• Next week’s newspaper will include a feature story on Guy Gerard, the new branch director of the Seymour YMCA on East Center Avenue.
Guy is ... well, a great guy.
His wife, Tami, is a super person, too.
They live in Seymour on the east edge of town and were valuable volunteers earlier this year at the annual Seymour Apple Festival.
You can’t miss Guy, as he’s about 6’8”, by my estimation.
But when you’re 5’8” like me, everyone is tall.
He’s exactly what the local YMCA needed.
A classy, experienced, friendly, mature and professional leader.
Kudos to Chad Watson, the CEO of the Ozarks Family YMCA, for spotting this local talent and plucking him.
• Quick note for your calendars, Tiger sports fans.
Basketball practice at the high school has started.
Later this month, our Seymour boys’ and girls’ squads will kick off their 2019-20 campaigns.
The boys’ opener is Friday, Nov. 22, against Chadwick.
The girls’ opener is Monday, Nov. 25, versus Forsyth.
Both are home games.
See you there.
Dan Wehmer is the Citizen’s editor, publisher and owner. He can be reached at 417-935-2257 or via e-mail at email@example.com.