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Town residents need to move beyond personal disputes and think about their future.
Monday, August 12, 2013
Boones Mill has managed to attract more than its share of headlines in recent years even as the town’s population has dwindled.
Back in 2007 when the big news was a dispute between police chief Lynn Frith and a former mayor, the town residents were numbered at 285. The following year, as a three-way tie in town council elections was being sorted out with purple plastic eggs drawn from a straw hat, the head count was listed at 280.
The 2010 U.S. census declared the population to be 239, and that is the official number being used in the latest accounts of town theatrics. Frith, who wore three hats as manager, police chief and utilities supervisor, has departed after nearly a quarter century working for the town in Franklin County. The council voted 5-0 to retire him and his hat collection.
No reasons were given, although recriminations have filled that void.
We will not repeat the personality conflicts here. Such drama has too often distracted from larger questions facing the town’s shrinking roster of residents.
Rather than get caught up in the drama, the people of Boones Mill need to pause for a serious assessment of their future. What services are they receiving because of their town’s charter, and are they willing to pay for those benefits?
Mayor Ben Flora told The Roanoke Times’ Duncan Adams last week that the town council may need to hire more than one person to handle Frith’s three previous jobs. In the interim, the mayor and council members will help the clerk stay on top of basic operations. It was unclear how law enforcement would be handled, although the town has an auxiliary officer.
Those decisions renew questions about Boones Mill’s finances just a year after the town raised and lowered various taxes and fees in a scramble to balance its budget.
It’s soul-searching time again for the few souls who still call Boones Mill home.
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