I’m wondering about a few things

A few thoughts:• Where are the small tokens and instances of community pride in Winchester/Winsted? I have yet to see a Winchester shirt or coffee mug, standard community items in most towns. I am part of this town, I’m proud of it, and we need to promote it, both in little ways and big.• What’s with the incredibly low voter turnout for the town budget referendum? I mean, given the strong feelings and contentiousness of the proposed budget, how is it only a little more than 10 percent of the voters felt the need to contribute to the direction of the town? The referendum was posted on signs downtown and announced prominently in area newspapers. Absentee ballots were aof-town for the holiday weekend. Hey, if you are willing to let such a small percentage guide our future, stay home — but don’t complain after the fact.• Why are people so negative? Is the attitude driven by the ability to hide anonymously behind Internet message boards? I challenge anyone posting on such boards to attach your name to your comments and information. Issues need to be discussed, and viewpoints need to be presented, but let’s be civil in our discourse. Sometimes I think we fall into the partisan rhetoric bred at the federal level. Town government is about our neighbors and community. It should be about building relationships and bridges, not winning and losing.I have a set of miniature autos on my desk at Town Hall representing the characters from the Pixar movie “Cars.” I recommend that all of you watch that movie (preferably before “Cars 2” is released and most likely destroys the brand). Beyond the neat animation and cute characters, recognize the theme of the story: Our small towns truly suffered with the new-found mobility of the automobile. To paraphrase, we used to drive to have a good time; now we drive to make good time. Radiator Springs revitalized itself, so let’s see what we can do for Winsted.Here’s a way to start: Shop locally whenever you can. Ask yourself, “Can I buy it in town?” First, with the price of gasoline, you may save money by not traveling to other towns. Second, consider the long-term impact of your decision to purchase elsewhere. If (and that is a significant “if”) the local stores carry items for just a few dollars more, consider that added cost as the “community tax.” That tax is strictly voluntary — if you’d rather buy the hammer in Torrington rather than the Winsted hardware store, go right ahead. In a few years, when your local stores begin to shutter themselves and neighborhood shopkeepers disappear, you will then wonder, “Where did the old Winsted go?”Here’s an interesting observation about the economy. When I left Michigan, the voters in that state had just thrown the Democrats out of office after several years of failure. Apparently, before I got here, Connecticut voters threw out the Republicans for the same reason. You know, maybe the economy is bigger than political parties. Maybe we need to focus on electing leaders with ideas and vision, rather than those with party connections. Interesting concept, but probably not likely to happen if we only have low voter turnouts, right?I have been invited to the monthly community dinner at the United Methodist Church on June 23. I’ve been asked to share with the audience some insights as to what a town manager does and to offer my perspective on my first several weeks in my adopted state and town. If you would like me to share similar thoughts with your group or perhaps discuss a more specific issue, please contact me. I enjoy speaking to interested groups.I will get to experience my first Laurel Festival this weekend. I look forward to the town showing itself off again with all of the wonderful people and supportive organizations and businesses. How about some positive comments and gratitude for the volunteers that make this annual event such a success? Thank you, Laurel City commissioners.Have a great weekend. As usual, comments are always welcome. Dale Martin is the town manager in Winchester.

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