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home : the villager : the villager August 27, 2015

12/27/2011 1:39:00 PM
New challenges for a new year
Mel CopenPresidentBig Park Coordinating Council
Mel Copen


Big Park Coordinating Council

I thought the December issue of the Villager would contain my last letter as President of the Big Park Council. But fate intervened.

Actually my tenure is not up until Dec. 31, and the new President has asked that I torture you all one more time.

The new President is really not “new.” Carolyn Fisher is well known to most everyone in the Village, for her work with the Library, the Big Park Community School, the Big Park Council and many other organizations.

Additionally, she served as President of the Council a decade ago. She will be joined by Paul Jankovsky, as Vice President, Kathy Huffstetler as Treasurer and Tom Graham, who will continue as Recording and Corresponding Secretary. I will round out the Executive Board, as Immediate Past President.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the outgoing officers: Dave Norton who did a magnificent job as Vice President and electronic wizard extraordinaire – handling all of our computer-related tasks; Mark Mumaw, who, as treasurer, kept on a fiscally sound path, and Dorothy O’Brien, as Immediate Past President, who was a fountain of knowledge about community affairs; and of course, Tom Graham, who will continue on in his role as Secretary.

Other, unsung heroes, include the committee chairs, most of whom will be continuing in their roles: Art Toensmeier with the Planning and Zoning Committee; John Gillam in Transportation, and Jay Markle with Youth and Recreation. There are also the task force chairs: Craig Dible on Council Policies, Dorothy O’Brien (once again) on Redistricting, Don Beard on Nominations and Gail Simpson on Weed Abatement; and of course, all the people who served on those committees and task forces, including those who participated (and continue to do so) in the Vision effort.

Additionally, there are many individuals who serve in liaison roles with various organizations such as the Forest Service, the State Parks, the Verde Valley Regional Economic Organization, the Wastewater Improvement District, the Red Rock Road Enhancement Maintenance District, the Community Issues Committee, the Intergovernmental Dialog Group, the Verde Valley Master Regional Tails group, the Verde Valley Transportation Planning Organization, the Village Library, and the list goes on.

What we do? Many of you who are reading this probably are not aware of the complexity of relationships and issues with which the council deals. The council represents your interests with the County and serves as a forum to identify important issues and help crystallize action.

It has no formal governmental authorities but is strictly a volunteer organization. Everyone who serves does so out of a sense of commitment to “community.”

The Council’s tiny budget (a bit over $3,000/year) comes from dues paid by each of its 26 member organizations.

Even though the list of volunteers is large, it is tiny compared to the population of the entire community. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, “seldom have so few done so much for so many with so little.”

My magic wand – continued. I’ve often thought about what we could do if each of the 6,000+ property owners in the Big Park Community would contribute say $20 per year to the Council.

Those funds would allow us to seek grants, improve communications and give us a running start on turning some of the exiting ideas that are emerging from the Vision effort into reality. There’s a challenge – no one would miss this small amount, but how can we make it happen?

I want to end on a somewhat philosophical note. The human aging process can often be compared to that of fine vintage wines. The labels may fade and get a bit frayed with the passage of time and the bottles may gather dust, but the contents get better and better as time moves on. The analogy seems to have a few hiccups however, particularly as we accumulate more aches and pains.

Some of the pains are real while other probably relate to the fact that things aren’t done the way they used to be. What ever happened to the good old days? We find ourselves occasionally longing for days of past glory and the physical prowess (real or imagined) that seems to diminish with each passing year.

Societies, on the other hand, have the potential for constant growth and improvement in every aspect, as each generation passes the baton on to the next.

Just like a relay race, as the current runners are expending their last bursts of energy, new runners are ready to add to the energy pool and carry the race forward. Ideally, each generation learns from and builds upon the efforts of the past. And progress is limited only by the knowledge, motivation and imagination of each successive level.

Somehow, in recent years, as a nation, we seem to have lost the way. The future should be a time of excitement and progress – new challenges and new satisfactions. But more people than not now look at the future with skepticism and worry.

Yet the potential has never been greater. The key to getting back on the path is in choosing leaders with vision and empathy, people who understand the world that surrounds us and how to make it respond, and above all, people who exemplify traits of honesty, integrity and a willingness to make necessary trade-offs (read that as sacrifices).

The selection of those leaders is in our hands.

As the sign on the VOCA tennis courts says: the snowflake is one of nature’s most fragile creations, but look what happens when they stick together.

I hope that 2012 will be a wonderful year for you and those you love and that it will meet or exceed your expectations in every way. I also hope that it will be a turn-around year for our nation, where faith and confidence are restored and our grandchildren can look forward to the future with the same bright optimism that we had at their age.

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