Civic duty done

Yesterday morning I had jury duty over in Lawrence.  There were about twenty of us that day.  I haven’t been into Lawrence before at all, but it’s not very far away, so the drive was easy.  When we all came in around 9, they told us they had 16 cases pending for the courts that day.  At 1, the judge came in to tell us that all the cases had plead out, so we were done for the day.  Massachusetts has a one day or one trial system for jury service, so having sat in a room for four hours, I am now done for three years.  I made it home just in time to see E. before she left for work.

In the evening, Georgetown had its town meeting.  I walked over to the middle/high school with my Finnish walking poles in the evening.  There were a number of issues on the meeting warrant that passed without any problem, but there were two matters that called for a lot of discussion.  The first was a proposal to buy a permanent conservation easement on the last operating farm in town, which would require the land to either be farmed or kept in a farmable condition.  There was some heated debate between people on one side arguing for the importance of preserving working farmland in the town and people on the other side saying that it’s too much money to spend when the town isn’t actually acquiring any land.  The best line of the night was one older lady who stood up and said: “This is costing us the same amount of money we already voted to spend on a new dump truck, so stop saying it’s too much money.”  I think the clinching moment was when the current landowner stood up to speak.  He said (to paraphrase): “My wife and I have farmed that land for forty-five years and we’re both now over seventy.  When we’re gone, we want to make sure that the land will stay a farm and not get turned into a subdivision.”  After all of that, the vote passed by a huge margin.

The second big issue was covering the school athletic fields with artificial turf.  I went into the meeting fairly skeptical about the idea but I was convinced by the arguments.  The artificial turf will be a lot cheaper to maintain, it won’t have to be fertilized which means no run-off into local streams, and it will make the fields much more usable.  I was surprised to hear that a lot of Georgetown High School “home” games have to be played in other nearby towns because the fields are not usable.  While I don’t have any particular attachment to high school sports, it would be nice to have people staying in town on Friday and Saturday nights, going to local restaurants or ordering from the local pizza places.

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