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January 19, 2012

In These Otsego Hills: Goals of the past and goals of the future

We have long subscribed to the concept that we are always more successful if we, number one, set a goal and then, number two, meet it. And this was our thinking when we decided before Christmas to watch at least part of every college football bowl game. It was perhaps an odd, if not completely nonsensical, goal. But it was a goal. And we were almost successful. Unfortunately, we thought, having consulted our list of bowl games which we found on the Internet, that the Independence Bowl was on at 8 p.m. on Dec. 26. Alas it was actually on at 5 p.m. and we missed it completely. Nonetheless, we did see some of all of the rest of the games. And we will admit, it was not always an easy task.

On Dec. 31, there were two games that over lapped time wise and two other games that were on at the exact same time. However, the real problem came on Jan. 2 when four bowl games, all featuring Big Ten teams, were on at the same time. We followed two on the television and the other two on the iPad. We quickly became confused about not only what the scores were but who was playing whom.

We rather doubt that we will set this particular goal for ourselves again. We have put it into the “once in a lifetime” category. And now we need to move on to others things, which means trying to develop an appreciation for college basketball. Alas, unlike football, we do not understand basketball. We once asked a good friend who played basketball in college to explain it to us.

We did not find the explanation, which consisted of the fact that the goal was to get the ball in the basket, overly helpful. Nonetheless, we are willing to forge ahead and see if we can make sense of it. And while working on an appreciation of basketball is high on our list, so is continuing our morning reading program.

We must say that we were somewhat worried about how the winter season might affect our desire to spend time each morning enjoying the backyard view as we merrily read away. But now that we have received what we consider to be real winter weather, we are delighted to realize that  the winter landscape is everybit as delightful as the other seasons. And we have discovered that a polar fleece coat we made last year, and wore only once as someone told us it looked like a NASCAR race flag, actually makes a wonderful housecoat to curl up in during our morning readings.

Of course, while we greatly enjoy meeting our personal goals, we also have broader goals, like continuing to write this column, for the year ahead. And while there is little doubt that the column has changed over the years, we still try maintain a sense of humor while musing over the comings and goings of the village. And while we try to keep abreast of what is going on, we must admit that we find it more difficult each year. As usual there are many issues swirling around. However, as we consider them, we have come to the conclusion that a fair number of them can be considered to be under one much bigger umbrella, namely the economy. And we think it is fair to say that the economy is not where most would like it to be.

We firmly believe that living here has never been cheap. But now there are times when we wonder if living here is even possible. Obviously, given the drop in overall population, not to mention school population, there are a number of people who have already moved on. And we fear that exodus will continue if there is no solution to the financial drawbacks of living here.

Of course, we suspect that there are many suggestions out there for improving the economy. And we suspect that for each suggestion, there is some sort of a barrier holding back the viability of the suggestion.

So we have to wonder if the place to start might not be to take a look at the potential barriers to improving economic viability. And, in discussing this with friends, the  point was made that for thearea to grow, the cost of living here has to compare favorably to other locations.

In part, we suspect that the recently enacted two percent property tax cap was an attempt on the part of the state to start controlling costs at the local level. However, if the recent news regarding the county property taxes is any indication, that legislation is not proving to work in the manner most people were lead to believe it would. And that leads us to muse about the possible unintended consequences of legislation and the effect that those consequences might have on the overall economic well being of an area.

Likewise, we think there would need to be a healthy job market, the lack of which is probably directly related to the declining population.

As was recently pointed out to us, the population of the village has dropped in the last 30 years from something just over 2,600 to something less than 1,900. And that fact alone makes it much more difficult for those of us still here. But it seems unrealistic to expect people to stay here if there is a less than healthy job market. All in all we suspect that finding solutions to maintain a viable economy will not be easy. But we suspect that 2012 is the year in which headway on the economy must be made. And finally, we still have the goal of sharing amusing tidbits we receive via e-mail from family and friends. To that end, we would like to share the following “Prayer for 2012:” Dear God:

For 2012, all I ask for is a big fat bank account and a slim body. Please do not mix up the two like you did last year. Amen

PLEASE NOTE: Comments regarding this column may be made by mail at 105 Pioneer Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326, by telephone at 547-8124 or by email at cellsworth1@stny.rr.com

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