August 13, 2015 I received an email from our local Chamber of Commerce asking all members to get involved and call MoDot; as the state wanted to hear what we had to say about a problem at an intersection of two state highways. It seems the fourway stop was a problem for traffic, especially 18 wheelers on the east/west highway. The north/south highway basically headed south into the sparsely populated rural county, and north bound headed into town. In the years I've lived here, I'd never seen or heard of any serious accident at that particular intersection. The detail I found significant in this entire mess was the fact, the problematic four way stop had been put into place July 7, 2015. A solution was needed for this recently created problem!
So, as a vocal citizen and business person, I made the phone call. Naturally, it went to voicemail, but I left a message; and did receive a call back. This is where the handwriting on the wall became clear. Immediately I began hearing that it was the business folk who wanted this four way stop. I asked which business folk, as there is one grocery store, two restaurants and a handful of flea markets. Several business have shuttered in the past few years. She seemed disinterested in my question, but moved right to the "programming pitch" for a round about. Here we have a town of about 2,000 people, with no stoplights and only one four way stop in the city limits and suddenly we need a round about? I made the mistake of voicing a couple of simple questions. "So, the state is proposing to fix a problem they just created last month? In the entire department of transportation, nobody could have seen this coming?" With that she said there would be a meeting in October to address this problem and asked for my email address. I gave it to her and she thanked me for my interest. Meanwhile a red flag waved in my head as to the probability of being contacted about the meeting.
Upon checking my email, to my surprise there was an email from her, confirming my email address and the simple line stating "I'd be getting an invite when the date was set." I felt like a cynical jerk. That was August 14, 2015. There's been much road work on 60 Highway spanning a significant number of miles that has been black asphalt with no center yellow line or white lane markings. For anyone familiar with the lay of the land in the Ozarks, just like "Hooterville," there are lots of curves! September spilled into October in celebration of the High Holy Days, and I checked my emails regularly, but hadn't received anything. I took a government employee at her word . . . By late last week, with all the construction, and having learned who the business was regarding the desire for the four way stop, I thought perhaps the meeting had been postponed.
The business involved in the four way stop to begin with, was none other than Walmart. Walmart wanted the town to invest in changing the flow of traffic. This would amount to nothing more than putting themselves out of business, I guess, so there was apparent resistance. The state came to Walmart's assistance, then Walmart vacillated on the plan. Since I now had a bit more information, I thought I'd just drop a short email making enquiry as to the date of the meeting. That email was dated October 23, 2015. I heard nothing until the morning of October 27, 2015. As it turns out, the meeting has already taken place and the round about was agreed upon. She suggested that it was my lack of awareness that caused me to miss it, as they had given it more publicity than usual. As I read her email, I was so thankful to have saved all the correspondence.
I sent a short reply with her original email. Within minutes she "took full responsibility" and even offered to come apologize in person, citing some reason she'd not filed the email properly. Blah, blah, blah . . . yata, yata. She even suggested that if any of us were unhappy, perhaps another meeting could be scheduled at a later date. We had a couple of exchanges and then I got spunky.
I sent one last email telling her, I was a member of the press and had intended to cover the meeting, but as it turns out, I'd just have to write an article about missing the meeting. I can honestly say, I believe being heard by our government on any level is merely a choreographed delusion perpetrated on we the people. I know "the powers that be" will do what they please and I don't have enough money to have a voice, but I do have a few regrets. I regret ignoring the red flag in the phone conversation and I definitely regret the feeling of self-degradation over my cynicism. My greatest regret, after all these years of seeing the reality and even blogging about it, is the stupidity I feel for actually taking a government worker at their word!
When he speaketh fair, believe him not . . . a Proverb of Holy Scripture
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