July 8 marked the 10th anniversary of my first Navasota City Council meeting! I know what you’re thinking…”If this lady is celebrating city council meeting attendance, she needs to get a life!” The truth of the matter is I did get a life, and all because I decided to go to that meeting!
Widows and widowers grieve the loss of their spouses in different ways. For me, it was to do things that mine did or would have done. My late husband was a “regular” at Grimes County commissioners court for many years during our Bedias residency until his disease curtailed travel. I suspect he would have attended city council meetings living in Navasota too, but then we would have never left Bedias if he were alive and healthy, and Connie’s Corner wouldn’t exist.
That Monday evening 10 years ago was the first time I set foot in City Hall and, quite frankly, I was dumb as a stump about how city government worked. I had no clue who was at the top of the totem pole, who was the chief and who were the Indians. I might not have come back had it not been for City Manager Brad Stafford. He came over and introduced himself and made me feel welcome. I learned quickly this wasn’t for show or to find out what ax I was there to grind, it was just his way. Thanks to Brad, I came back again, and again and again. He was always available to explain things out of my wheelhouse before and after I started writing for the Examiner.
Speaking of the Examiner, this desire to learn about how the government of my adopted home worked turned into a writing gig that will hit the 10-year mark April 2024. Had I not gone to that meeting 10 years ago, I would probably be hunkered over my Bernina sewing machine in a Muumuu and feeding cats – on second thought, nix the cats – rather than over my computer documenting Navasota history for posterity. That one conscious act of going to a city council meeting has broadened my knowledge base and allowed me the privilege of meeting and interviewing the most creative, fascinating and courageous people I would probably have never met otherwise.
While at the recent July 10 meeting, it dawned on me that probably only four people in the room had attended more city council meetings than me – Bert Miller, Bernie Gessner, Susie Homeyer and Jason Katkoski. The amount and depth of knowledge I’ve accumulated about city government surprises even me sometimes. It’s necessary to understand it to report it but it also softens the blow of things I don’t like, such as utility rate increases. I can’t plead ignorant about how the City funded replacing the aging sewer system under my street a few years ago so now my toilet doesn’t back up.
Very few of the 2013 folks are left. So many new and younger faces! Regime change can be frustrating for my historical memory because I remember the why and why not of many a decision and who voted yea and nay on an issue. Tomorrow may be the future but within 48 hours, it’s history and is worth respecting.
Some folks may still think I need to get a life but I’m in lockstep with Abraham Lincoln on this one.
“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
The City of Navasota has provided quite a ride for the last 10 years and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it!
The column represents the thoughts and opinions of Connie Clements. Opinion columns are NOT the opinion of the Navasota Examiner.
Clements is a freelance reporter for the Navasota Examiner and an award-winning columnist.