Some good, some bad in Rugby
Last March, Councilman Jim Hoffert asked me if I could write a letter to the editor that included some things I have found I like about Rugby, and in particular, the Rugby City Council. While I have been busy with successfully lobbying for a major change in our state government, I haven’t forgotten the challenge of Councilman Hoffert.
Finding things I like about Rugby was not hard. First off, I love many of the folks I have met since moving here. I have fallen in love with the values my wife and I share with many of Rugby’s residents. We all cherish the small town safety of our community, and we all want to keep it that way. While we all may worship in our own ways, there is a strong belief in God here. We all have strong spiritual convictions and we allow each other the freedom to choose how to worship. The willingness to help each other is a gift we have here that is sorely missed in the large metropolis my wife and I moved from, and we always have someone willing to help us when we struggle to learn how to live this lovely rural life.
This past winter we found many folks who were there to help each other out simply for the asking. By the same token, we let many know that we, my wife and I, are willing to do the same for any of our neighbors, simply by being asked. One of the most important things we cherish about Rugby, though, is the strong sense of family values that most of us share here.
For me personally, though, I love the many elderly I have met here. My family’s background is in the care of the elderly, as my mother was the administrator/owner of two nursing homes back in South Carolina. When I was growing up, I often spent time with the elderly at her facilities and really loved listening to them talk about their lives. Here in Rugby, our elderly are often out and about, and I truly enjoy talking with them and listening and learning from their vast experience. Sometimes I think we take that for granted here in Rugby, as we have so many of our elderly who maintain their independence in their very late golden years. I am of the opinion that our elderly are as much a treasured asset to our future as our children are. Their experience is an invaluable tool that is often ignored or disregarded in our travels in life.
Finding things I like about the Rugby City Council was a bit harder. As I have watched our elected officials make decisions over the last five years, it has become apparent to me, as well as to some of the folks who have given me the courtesy of listening to my views, that many of our elected and appointed officials don’t think things completely through before making their decisions.
I really enjoy listening to our mayor reminisce about the history of Rugby and how we have some business relationships that date back to before many of us were born. Unfortunately, history has no place in making decisions that need to be made in the best interest of the city. To me that means the citizens and property owners of our city. One of the classic examples of not thinking things through involved Councilman Hoffert and his motion regarding the Hwy. 3 project. As many of you may not know, the City Council had a telephone meeting with the State Highway Department. During that meeting there was an opportunity to have Hwy. 3 through Rugby completely reconstructed. There was a good possibility that complete funding for this project would come from the highway stimulus funds. Councilman Jacobson asked if the city decided to go with the reconstruction plan and it didn’t get complete funding if the city could change its mind and opt for the less expensive project. The answer was yes. This was a no-lose situation for the citizens of Rugby. Instead of taking this huge opportunity to get all of the problems with Hwy 3 repaired, Councilman Hoffert jumped the gun and made a motion to just go with the less expensive minimal repairs to Hwy. 3.
The bad drawback to this poorly-thought-out decision was Councilman Hoffert made this motion knowing full well that Rugby wouldn’t be able to get any additional funding for the next 15 years for Hwy. 3 repairs. His motion passed 3 to 2 with Councilmen Jacobson and Wentz voting against this decision. As we all now know, the highway stimulus funds would have covered the entire project.
While we are on the subject of highway stimulus funding, another poor choice by the mayor was his refusal to allow me to lobby for some funding for our street project. While our mayor was sitting on his haunches, the cities of Fargo and Valley City were getting funding bills out of the delayed bills committees to divert highway stimulus funds to utility line relocation for their property owners. These bills had nothing to do with Fargo and Valley City being two of the 13 largest cities in ND, and anyone telling you that was the reason just isn’t telling the truth. While the mayor may not like me personally, he should have put that aside and did what was best for the community, considering I would have done the lobbying for free.
Another prime example of poor decision making was the recent appointment by the mayor of the former chairman of the NCCRC Board to the Special Assessment Committee. I would really like the mayor to publicly explain why he would appoint the man who led NCCRC down the road to bankruptcy to this most important committee at such a crucial time. These are classic examples of the issues I have with local government. In order for our city to grow, we need to have a stable tax base which includes property taxes and elected officials who don’t act prematurely or foolishly. Continued poor decision making by our elected officials will hamper any future growth we may have as a community.
I also find that there is poor communication between the city/county governments and the citizens. I have some thoughts on why this is such a problem, but I don’t think the paper would print this letter if I expand on that now. I will, however, be happy to offer my thoughts on the subject to anyone that asks.
To sum up Councilman Hoffert’s challenge to me, we, my wife and I, have found many, many things about Rugby that we love and are the only reason we choose to live here. Unfortunately, the local government’s insistence on living in the 1950s isn’t one of them.
Ford is a Rugby property owner.