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"Does that bother you?"

Updated: Mar 28

Good evening, dear friends, we meet again. Coming back to Bramwell is like coming home to family you haven’t seen in forever or slipping into a warm candlelit bath after a long, hard day. I say this because, whilst away, my heart aches to return and when I am here my cup overflows. Oh, how I wish those that take this place for granted would see with unfettered eyes the wonders of this place. If everyone could view Bramwell through my lenses, prideful egos, struggles for power, and hidden agendas would all subside and we could all join, if even at times inharmoniously and tenuously, but ever diligently pursuing the mark that we could never achieve, but all long for, which is Bramwell in perfection. We are all guilty of it, if even in the smallest capacity. I am not unrealistic and I know we are all flawed humans in our own rite, myself notwithstanding. Humans are naturally selfish creatures and we struggle with our own passions and pursuits, our pride causes us to fall or fuels our motivations, but in the end, I believe, however naively, that we all hope to bring out the best in Bramwell and what I witnessed Monday evening was sadly not Bramwell’s best.

I beheld with my own eyes, someone who might have good intentions, but is either in so far over their head, struggling with hurt so deeply-seeded in their heart, or for whatever inexplicable reason I won’t speculate, verbally lash out in so unbefitting the public office in which they hold, that although I was on the receiving end of this bitter diatribe, I do not feel anger or resentment as you would expect. I feel nothing, but utter sadness and empathy. How can you live in such a magical place and harbor such hate in your being? I am genuinely grieved for your soul and for whatever part I played or currently play, I can only say that although I do not apologize for recording events as I have witnessed them, I am sincerely sorry that your actions and words have been brought to light in such a manner, that rather than accepting responsibility for your actions, you view accountability as a means of exacerbating your wounds instead of a reproof to amend your behavior, as was certainly my intention.

I won’t do as you asked and quote you by name, because my objective was never to call out your personal character, but to hold you to the higher standards of your position and office and regrettably, I cannot even “make sure it's good” when I quote you because you have yet to say anything of intrinsic value that would increase my esteem of you. You can hardly complain of being quoted on a public forum as it was you, and not myself, who chose to run for a public office. My aspiration is that you improve upon experience and in the future, perhaps we can, as mature women in Christ, come together and learn to address each other, if not with cordiality, but at the very least, without malice. My only defense is to say that communication is a two-way street and since the very first time I have ever spoken to you (which you may not even recall) you have given me the impression that you are not exactly approachable and after two year's acquaintance, that first impression has remained unchanged.

If I have piqued your interest readers and you are currently asking yourself, “What on earth happened at the Bramwell town council meeting?” I can only say this is my shameless plug that should you be so inclined, it would behoove you to attend the meetings in future and experience them for yourself. They are certainly less expensive, but slightly more entertaining than an HBO subscription. But, if I have now failed at what I could never hope to achieve, the insurmountable task of not boring you dear friends to tears or wasting your precious time, I will attempt to recount the events of last night, pardon my witticisms and sardonic asides, in as few words as I can reasonably muster.

March 13th, promptly at 7:02PM the Bramwell town council meeting was called to order, notably missing our “Treasurer” and one other council member. With March being Women’s History Month, the Mayor opened the meeting with a small tidbit about the women of Bramwell, mentioning Mrs. Belcher who operated a boarding house here in town. I truly do enjoy these little nuggets of history which may, in fact, be the entirety of what I do enjoy from the mayor.

Passing over financial statements, the last meeting’s minutes were approved with one amendment, namely that the money being applied to the rewiring of Town Hall was to come from a certain fund. As I was at the last town council meeting, I dispute the veracity of this fund being mentioned in that meeting. In my hometown, one of our former school board members is facing felony indictment charges for this exact same thing, more to the point, for illegally tampering with county records, but we will table that matter and its similarities to the present circumstance.

The police and fire department reports were presented, in a more professional manner than the previous reports I have heretofore witnessed and humbly congratulate both representatives on the brief and concise, but informative nature in which they were delivered, however begrudgingly. On another note, we want to thank the concerted efforts of both departments in the part they played in collecting and disposing of 7,860 pounds of refuse, not including 27 syringes and 54 tires. A representative from the Bramwell Volunteer Fire Department humbly reminded those in attendance that from March 1st through May 31st, “No person shall during ANY such fire season, except between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. prevailing time, set on fire or cause to be set on fire any forest land, or any grass, grain, stubble, slash, debris, or other inflammable materials. Any fire set during this time shall be extinguished prior to 7:00 a.m. prevailing time. Such prohibition of fires between 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. prevailing time shall not be construed to include (1) small fires set for the purpose of food preparation, or providing light or warmth around which all grass, brush, stubble, or other debris has been removed for a distance of ten feet from the fire, and (2) burning which may be conducted at any time when the ground surrounding the burning site is covered by one inch or more of snow.”

The other item of note was the need for the fire department to replace their portable and in-vehicle radios as the current radios no longer have replacement parts for their repair and upkeep.

Next, the board voted on Bramwell being included in the class-action lawsuit against TEVA, also known as TEVA Pharmaceuticals, for opioid-related claims. The motion made, seconded and voted on was passed without much ceremony.

The handicap ramps installed over the last month by the West Virginia Division of Highways was soon afterwards discussed with the proviso that the corresponding railings have yet to be installed, but over 30 wheelchair ramps were placed within town limits and in my opinion only serve to highlight evermore the current state of disrepair and ruin which serve as our dismal excuse for sidewalks.

The mayor revisited the Thrasher report on the dam’s hazard classification showing the dam’s designation as Class 1 which are assigned to “dams located where failure may cause loss of human life or major damage to dwellings, commercial or industrial buildings, main railroads, important public utilities, or where a high-risk highway may be affected or damaged. This classification must be used if failure may result in the loss of human life.” Well, that’s a little scary… 🫣

The mayor then brings up the “special budget meeting” that needs to take place between March 7th and March 28th to outline, approve and submit the town’s budget no later than March 28th. It seems a bit odd as the March town council meeting was two days ago on March 13th, 2023. I am sure all of us present at that meeting were thinking the same thing, “Shouldn’t this be on the agenda for this meeting?” The mayor points out that this is essentially the Town Recorder’s commission as “that’s what you took the class for” which is code for, “you are now responsible for the mess we currently call the town budget in the event that this whole budget thing implodes and now I have a scapegoat on which to place all blame when the six past-due audits report their findings and undoubtedly outline the town’s financial discrepancies.” Take heart, Town Recorder, the constituents all recognize these nefarious motives and faithfully trust that you will do a tremendous job at working on the budget.

On March 25th, approximately 80 people attending the HopeWords Conference at the iconic Granada Theater in Bluefield, West Virginia will pay a visit to the sweet town of Bramwell. This conference is being organized by Marie Blackwell of Princeton and will feature authors such as Katherine Paterson renowned for her book Bridge to Terabithia.

At the present, the Bramwell town council has decided to postpone obtaining the Bryant Cemetery located between Pocahontas, Virginia and Bramwell, West Virginia until a site inspection can be completed by the council and other interested town residents. All are invited to inspect the cemetery on Saturday at noon and in the event of inclement weather, the inspection will be rescheduled for Sunday at noon.

The mayor announced that a Memorial Day Concert will be held at the Depot featuring Dave Watkins with the Best of Times Band. The event will be paid for by the town of Bramwell and will be funded out of the state grant money allocated to Bramwell for Fairs and Festivals.

For the Fourth of July celebration, the Bramwell Theatre Corporation is also sponsoring a public concert (most likely at the Depot as well) on Saturday, July 1st with the possibility of an accompanying fireworks display.

Mayor Lou advised the attendees that the town is currently in talks with the Chamber of Commerce of the Two Virginias about the prospect of Bramwell hosting a pepperoni roll festival around Labor Day weekend.

The next segment featured the "public forum" or more aptly, the segment where members of the public have requested permission in advance to address the council and our first spokesperson was Betty Goins from the Bramwell Theatre Corporation regarding a few action items for consideration. The Bramwell Theatre Corporation presented the wish to paint the light poles on Main Street which was quickly voted on and accepted. The following items will be suspended at present: the addition of a clock on Main Street as yet there is no planned location for said clock, a welcome and ATV directional sign on Main Street and lastly, the replacement of the awnings on the Main Street storefronts. The latter came into question as to who actually owns the awnings and who in reality needs to grant permission for their replacement, in which case, the mayor advised she will look into her records regarding awning ownership and inform Betty of her findings.

Next, given permission to address the council was Jackie Shahan once again bringing up her concerns originally voiced back at the November session regarding the cancellation (and hopefully their resulting automatic rescheduling) of town council meetings. As this is her second request, we hope to see this as an agenda item at next month's town council meeting. Mrs. Shahan addressed her ongoing apprehensions regarding town animal control, bringing up a new growing disquietude regarding the treatment and possible cruelty to animals, specifically animals left out for long periods of time without adequate shelter, food, water and/or human companionship or exercise. Naturally, all of us animal-loving enthusiasts in attendance silently, but stolidly support you there Mrs. Shahan. It was at this juncture of the meeting that one Councilwoman felt the need (although no names were ever mentioned) to defend her position on animal control and preemptively address allegations of animal cruelty, presumably against herself. Continuing in this thread of self-destruction, she managed to address yours truly and seemingly expressed a desire to be hooked up to a "microphone and have a full conversation." However, I'm not masochistic enough to put myself through the torture of attempting that fruitless and unproductive endeavor. Ms. Councilwoman addressed another town member present, bafflingly offended by the audacity of this resident to film the meeting and somewhere in midst of this temper tantrum, Ms. Councilwoman was asked by a concerned citizen, "Does that bother you?"

On the subject of the council's intentions of addressing the increasing animal control or again, the lack thereof, the Town Recorder advised that the current ordinance in question is not signed and as far as she is concerned has not seen any documentation in the 2004 meetings' minutes that would suggest it is a valid ordinance at all. The mayor pronounced that she will have the town clerk look into it.

As the meeting drew to a close, one member of the Bramwell Volunteer Fire Department presented the possibility of the town allowing an organized camping trip at the Reservoir for the local youth, most likely during June and/or July. The mayor briefly acknowledged the request, explaining the subject will be revisited in upcoming sessions.

The meeting was unceremoniously adjourned at 7:43PM and we all gave witness as the offended party stomped out of the room. It is there, to your ponderings, I leave you dear friend. I humbly thank you for taking the time to sift through the chaos of these ramblings in my pursuit to keep you up-to-date on all things Bramwell. Adieu.

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