Fridays Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South
Here I am living right outside Madison, Florida, a town of just over 3,000 residents. Last night I went to my first local business meeting. I went because I wanted to tell the local business men and women what a great potential asset our new paved bicycle trail is.
The trail is 13.8 miles long and runs north from Madison to the Georgia State line. It is built on an old railroad grade next to the highway, and it is far enough over that most of it has forest on both sides, with sections that skirt farm fields and pastures filled with cows. It really is a great ride, and yesterday I saw a couple of guys in wheelchairs using it.
As it turned out, the people at the meeting were on top of it, and just about everything I was thinking for the trail was discussed at the meeting. So I guess all my questions about the trail were answered, and the few ideas I had that they didn't, really were not worth mentioning at this time.
The trail was not the only thing talked about. The Chief of the Police Department was there, and a couple of ladies were telling him about teenage kids walking around town with BB guns.
Now get this. The chief was so cool. He told the ladies he would look into it, but he suspected that they were out shooting squirrels. When they told him they both had packs on their backs, that made him even more sure that is what they were doing, and he said the packs were to hold the dead squirrels. He didn't look anything like Sherriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry, but he sure sounded like him.
I learned that some New York State company has signed all the papers, and will be opening the old meat packing plant in the industrial park. They will start out with 50 employees and plan to get up to 150 in about a year. They are only bringing three key employees from up North, and everyone else will be local hires. What a great thing for Madison.
The downtown business people tried getting a State sign out on the freeway, but the State wasn't buying the idea, so they decided that they will look into renting a billboard. Something just to try and catch a few travelers who might like to see our historic town.
It was announced that local people are doing an appreciation lunch for the police and fire department next Thursday, and anyone who wants to can make some deserts and drop them off at the Country Store that morning.
Because of the economy, Madison and really the whole county is hurting, and several businesses have closed. I didn't know what I expected going to this meeting, but the whole thing was a pleasant surprise. You know how at every meeting there are one or two people who just gripe and complain? Well, they missed this meeting. Everyone was pleasant, and polite, and I had a good time.
How many public meetings can you say that about?
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