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June 27, 2000

Life in the Big City isn't what it used to be, apparently. The bright lights and some of the other so-called advantages of living in the metropolis seem to be losing their glitter and growing dimmer each year. Consider the recent past. When I hear about ruthless rioters demolishing private property and rampaging unchecked through the streets, thereby putting honest and decent citizens at peril, it makes me utter a silent prayer of thanks for a snug place in a small but secure town like ours. No doubt the residents of Los Angeles and New York would be glad to trade places with us after the recent demonstrations of wilding and hooliganism on their streets. We'd be glad to welcome some of them here, but not their street gangs and other crazies.

The Big City will continue to be a choice place for brief stopovers in spite of the recent incidents. Their museums, theaters, concert halls and other cultural spots will continue to lure audiences like oases in the desert, and their restaurants, hotels, financial centers and the like will continue to be the hub for vast areas. But live there? No thanks.

See where the mayor and our city councillors have approved a record budget of more than $20 million for the 2000-01 fiscal year. That's a whopper, but as his honor pointed out that includes some $10 million for the city's water improvement project, and that will be totally financed by the sales tax increase that we approved in a special election last month. Otherwise, the new municipal budget is in line with the normal rate of increase you'd expect in a small city that is slowly, but surely, growing.

Speaking of that sales tax election, its positive outcome will provide us with a long-term solution to the annual shortage of water during the hottest summer months. Tapping into the large resources of Stillwater's Lake McMurtry should end the summer water rationing we've come to expect each year. Approval of that proposition has caused a lot of rejoicing in our town. Wheels are already turning on many critical projects in the community. All of them are badly needed but passage of the water issue was basic to each undertaking. Without adequate water, a community of any size is doomed to extinction.

Perry citizens have demonstrated many times that they will approve financing of municipal or school projects if they are shown clearly that a need for them exists. In the case of our water woes, there was no viable, inexpensive solution. So, we have approved the building of a pipeline from Perry's CCC Lake to Lake McMurtry (a distance of some 13 miles), building elevated storage towers, new lines to serve customers and increasing the water treatment plant capacity. That's what the sales tax increase will finance. The proposition passed by a vote of 897-148 and that wide margin demonstrates the population's faith in our mayor and council. The new tax increase (11/4 percent) will take effect on July 1.

If there is a disturbing aspect, it must be this. Why do so many voters fail to take a stand? The total vote on the water project was 1,043. According to Helen Webb, clerk of the Noble county election board, the city of Perry has approximately 3,031 active voters. By "active," she means voters who have participated in recent elections. If the "inactive" number is included, we have a total of 3,984 who could have rendered a verdict. Mrs. Webb explains that both categories may include some rural Perry area residents, who were not eligible to vote on this matter. If you consider only the lower figure, 3,031, it still indicates that only about one-third of the eligible voters took the trouble to express themselves on the crucial water proposition. Where were the others? Did they just assume the issue would be approved without their vote? You have to wonder.