Update for 3/12/2021
The state continues to make progress in fighting the Covid-19 virus. More re-openings are on the horizon. Vaccinations continue. We will be looking at our policies for in-person meetings, use of Town Hall, and the travel policy for town employees. Unfortunately, Joel Barlow High School was forced to go virtual on March 4. Our per 100,000 rate for the two weeks ending March 6 edged back up to 15.2, reminding us that even as more are vaccinated we must still be vigilant.
All of the town’s budgets have been presented to the Board of Finance, which continues to review them. The next step in the budget process is to post the budget summary on the town website for comment, followed by the public hearing on the budget which will occur at SSES on Monday, March 22.
There will be some limitation on the number of people present due to Covid, but the hearing will also be broadcast to the public. More to come on that later. The following night, Tuesday, March 23 there will be a special town meeting. There are 5 questions to be considered. You will find the questions and relevant background on the town website. Feel free to contact my office with questions. After the special town meeting, the questions will be put to a machine vote at SSES on March 30, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Last night, the Selectmen participated in a wonderful virtual presentation to the newest members of our community. We tried to explain the functioning of our town, our wonderful resources, and how people could become involved in town activities from sports to boards and commissions. I was impressed by the attendance.
I have also fielded a number of questions about the dog park. The number of people attending has increased significantly. One suggestion for dealing with this was to put up signage prohibiting use of the park by non-Easton residents. I have received opinions for and against this. I would invite more comments directed to me or to Park and Rec.
A big topic for many in the town this week is the discussion of issues regarding race, inequality, systemic racism, social justice, and our role in educating our children. The debate is continuing throughout town. At this time I have only one comment to make, which I think is appropriate for my First Selectman post. If there was any thought that racism is NOT an issue in Easton, I believe the events of this week have made it abundantly clear that this IS a significant concern.
Neither the formation of the Easton Diversity and Inclusion Task Force nor the resolution declaring racism a public health crisis created new divisions in the thoughts of Eastonites. Given the ferociousness of the debate, these issues must have existed below the surface for much longer than since last summer. Remember that back in 2016 the vote in the presidential election in Easton was almost 50/50. I think it is good that this matter is being debated in public. As I said around the 2020 election, I believe that we can have good, honest, civil debate in this town and that is healthy. I expect nothing less from our citizens.
Related to this, the Easton Diversity and Inclusion Task Force met last night and elected new leadership. They chose co-chairs, one from each party. Although some have pointed to difficulties in this task force moving forward, this is a big step in the right direction. I also see it as validating my faith in our ability to work cooperatively in town.
The 1.9 trillion dollar American Rescue Plan passed by Congress and signed by the President will provide funds to many towns, including Easton. We are still studying how these funds will be distributed and under what circumstances. I hesitate to offer any specifics at this time, but should have more information soon.
Hopefully this week was not just a tease, but the true beginning of spring. Don’t forget to turn your clocks ahead Saturday night.
Have a great weekend,