Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Mayor's "Christmas Message" for 2009

Christmas is a religious holiday. It's also a government holiday in this land of religious freedom and separation of church and state. And it's a big commercial event in which any spiritual or religious meaning tends to get swamped in stuff. In this context how can the Mayor's "Christmas Message" be anything more than a perfunctory formality - I have to write it; you don't have to read it?

Well, let's start with this...My religious up-bringing was determined by a legal contract. My Swedish Methodist father somehow managed to fall in love with my Italian Catholic mother and the only way she could continue to receive the sacraments was for them to sign an agreement that their children would be raised Catholic.

So my brother and I went to Mass every Sunday and Catechism on Saturdays but with no religious or spiritual guidance at home...ever. Once, the nuns encouraged me to bring my father into the fold and I discovered how hard it had been for him to sign that agreement. (His father, two uncles and two brothers were all Methodist ministers.)

Christmases, which we celebrated with my mother's family on Christmas Eve, were noisy marathons of discussion and arguments, amid large volumes of food and presents. Around hour three an in-law would make predictably offensive comments about the Pope and eventually a contingent would troop off to Midnight Mass. It was food, family and stuff - no Baby Jesus, Wise Men, light in the darkness...

But one year someone brought a stranger, a person not well known to any of us but stranded for the holiday. I can't remember who it was but that person, by his or her mere presence, transformed the event. Instead of just blending in, they became the center of interest. My disputant relatives became curious, sensitive, and generous with their attention. The happening was so successful it was repeated the next year and soon was an unofficial part of our Christmases and clearly the most meaningful for everyone.

I often wondered how my intense, argumentative relatives found such tenderness for people they didn't even know. And it was a quiet Christmas miracle that this brought out the finest qualities in our guests, some of whom over the years became part of the family. In reflecting back, I wonder if it had to do with my mother's family being immigrants who knew first hand what it was like to be far from home in an unfamiliar place.

This was how 'the spirit' crept into my Christmas. There was no sermon, no doctrinal or Constitutional dispute; and the food and gifts became a setting for something very human, real and touching. I think all of us here in Ashland, in our compassionate and generous instincts, especially at this time of year, can find each other and help bind our community together.

And so - in this particular sense - may I wish you all, "Merry Christmas!"?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cold Weather Helpful Hints from Ashland Fire

As we've seen recently, temperatures can drop below freezing at any time, Ashland residents should take precautions now to prevent their pipes from freezing. When unprotected water lines are exposed to freezing temperatures for several hours, the water in the pipes also freezes. As water freezes, it expands and can cause pipes to crack or split, which can lead to significant leaks that may cause extensive water loss and substantial property damage. This is true with domestic water supply, fire sprinkler piping, and irrigation piping.

Ashland Fire and Rescue offers these tips to help prevent their pipes from freezing:

• Keep kitchen and bath pipes exposed to warm air by leaving cabinet doors open during periods of extreme cold.
• Don’t turn the thermostat too low or off when leaving for work or extended absences. Keep the temperature set at a normal nighttime setting.
• Locate the master water shut-off valve, label it, and make sure everyone in the family knows where it is.
• If residents are going to be gone from their homes for any length of time, shut off the water supply at the main valve; then turn on faucets and flush the toilets to drain the pipes. Drained water can be collected and used to water house plants or other domestic uses.

• Disconnect and drain all outdoor hoses. Detaching the hose allows water to drain from the pipe.
• Protect faucets with insulated covers available at hardware and building supply stores.
• Winterize irrigation systems by draining and shutting off water supplies.
• Close all windows and doors near water lines, including garage doors.
• Caulk around pipes where they enter the house.
• Close foundation vents and seal cracks in the basement, crawl spaces or along outside walls.
• Wrap pipes in unheated areas with weatherproof insulation. Don’t leave any gaps.
• Use heat tape to wrap pipes. Consult a professional if necessary.

John Karns, Fire Chief

Monday, December 14, 2009

Employee Giving Campaign

As you may or may not be aware, each year City employees give countless hours of their own personal time volunteering in a wide variety of non-profit organizations, church groups, youth sports teams, and other local community organizations. In addition to those volunteer hours, from mid-November to mid-December the City employees hold a Giving Campaign where a committee of employees pick a few local charities and raise funds to help those organizations. The final days of our current Giving Campaign are winding down this week and we are currently on-pace to not only exceed last year's giving but to double the total amount given!

In addition to their generous financial contributions, City employees are doing several other charitable campaigns. First of all, they are holding a food drive for the Ashland Emergency Food Bank. If you want to assist in their efforts, please feel free to leave non-perishable contributions in the barrels located in all City Buildings. Second, the Ashland Police Department, located at 1155 East Main Street, is accepting new, unwrapped toys for Toys for Tots. Third, city employees will be giving blood during their annual Blood Drive for the American Red Cross in January of 2010.

City of Ashland employees certainly are not alone in their support of local and national charities. Thank you to everyone who give generously, at this time and throughout the year, to make Ashland, Jackson County, and our world a better place.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Stormy Weather

A few reminders with today's freezing weather:

It is the responsibility of the home and/ or business owner who owns the property directly adjacent to maintain the sidewalk. In other words, the City will not be salting or scraping any sidewalks, except for those in front of City properties.

Here is a link to the order in which streets are plowed or sanded.

We hope you all have a safe winter weekend!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A lively visit and wonderful thank you notes

On Monday, November 23, 2009, third graders from Helman Elementary School came and toured city hall. They spent time with Mayor Stromberg, toured the old jail cell in the building and heard two sentence job decriptions from many city employees. It was great fun having them visit and we hope they enjoyed their visit.

Here are just a handful of the wonderful thank you notes we received from the students:

Dear Mayor
Thank you for taking time to show us around the City Hall. Thanks for taking us in the Jail. You have a lot of humor. is it fun to be the Mayor? I liked learning about Ashland. I am glad we have people to help with the sewer and the electricity and water. You are a great mayor
Sincerely, Habib

Dear Mayor Stromberg,
Thank you for taking time off from your work to spend time with us. It was really nice of you. My favorite thing we did was going into the jail. I also really liked meeting the other people and finding out what there Job's are. I'm really glade we came.
Sincerely, Quinn

Dear Mayor Stromberg,
Thank you for giving up your time so we can come and visit you! I liked all the thing's that we did. you have a great sense of humor and I hope we can come back some time. I liked going in the old jail the best! you are a good helper for the envioroment and a good friend to us. your new friend Gabriel

Dear Mayor Stromberg,
Thank you for having the time for us to come. Thank you also for introducing us to the other People. On the way there we went to Alex's & had hot coco it was good! There was people taking pic's of are class & some made on the new's paper! But I was tired so I diden't have much fun. It was fun going in the jail but now I feel giltty. The jail door looked really real. I loved visting you it was cool.
Thanks again!
Sincerely Hope,

Dear Mayor Stromberg,
Thank you for letting us come to city hall and Thankyou for letting us meet your friends. It was an awesome field trip! I had a really fun time at City Hall. When we went to jail it was so stinky I could have died after a day. I thought your office would be a lot bigger. But I was wrong. It's tiny. I couldn't beleve we set a world record for being the biggest class in your office. I had an awesome time. I hope we can visit again.
Sincerely, Kate

Dear Mayor Stromberg,
Thank you so much for letting us come to the city Hall. I thought going to jail with a mayor was pretty silly! I sure hope that our class will get in the guinness world record book for being the most third graders in a mayors office!

Dear Mayor Stromberg
Thank you for spending time with us. My favorite thing was the jail. How long has it been there?, I also liked the walk around and asking people for two sentences about their job. I can't believe 28 kids fit in your office.
Sincerely Connor

Thank you to all the students for visiting us in City Hall!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A New Introduction

As the Mayor stated in his blog of November 17, this blog will be going through some changes. From here on out Administration will be handling most of the posts, with the occasional "op-ed" piece from the Mayor, City Council, or City Staff Member. The day-to-day posts will be used to keep you informed regarding the current happenings in the City of Ashland and to give you the best possible information we can on issues facing the City Council. The "op-ed" pieces will be used to give perspective on broader issues.

I look forward to this new adventure. If you have any comments, questions, or concerns feel free to comment here (please remember comments are not posted) or give the Administration office a call at 541-488-6002.