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March 26, 2002

The directors and staff of the Perry Chamber of Commerce recently assembled a group to assist them in developing a broad program of work. I wrote about that in a previous column and several readers supplied positive comments after that. As you might guess, there is no shortage of ideas. Perry is a wonderful town in every way but there are always problems that need to be addressed. Some suggestions along that line are incorporated in a thoughtful menu offered by Elizabeth Willems, whose family were among the early settlers in this community. I thought you would want to see her list and perhaps add a few ideas of your own. Here’s a paraphrased version of Elizabeth’s suggestions:

Sidewalks around the square need ramps for the handicapped. Who has the responsibility for doing that? Is it the city’s job? Maybe the Chamber of Commerce could work with the city in handling this matter.

The way we patch our blacktop streets also needs to be improved. Elizabeth agrees with me that at least some of our city streets should have center lines painted on them. This is especially true on 15th street on the west side of town, now that it has become one of the most-traveled streets in the city. Motorists on 15th street have a special problem at night because of oncoming vehicle lights. In places the street surface drops off dramatically (and dangerously) onto dirt shoulders. Those two-lane streets are not very wide. Painted lines on the edge of the street also would be helpful when drivers face oncoming traffic. We are building really good streets in many parts of town, but for some reason there are no center lines.

The community has just sustained a terrible loss of trees because of the recent ice storm. Elizabeth suggests that new trees should be planted by property owners in every yard or park where a tree once was located. Look at some of the old pictures of this area showing how things were in 1893 at the time of the Cherokee Outlet land run. This was a bald prairie except for some trees that grew along the banks of creeks and streams. Then our ancestors began planting oaks, firs, pines, pecan trees, fruit trees, hackberry trees, elm trees, and many other varieties, and the landscape and environment were greatly improved. Now it’s up to us to replenish the stately, leafy trees that were lost as a result of the ice. Elizabeth recommends blight-resistant elms. Ask your nurseryman or the extension service to recommend something.

Finally, but not the least important, is the problem with newly distributed Perry telephone books. Not the ones issued by Southwestern Bell. (Those are bad enough because the Baby Bell Company crammed too many communities into a single book.) The ones Elizabeth is talking about are those containing only Perry numbers. Generally, it is a very good directory. The listings seem to be complete, but somehow the binding is faulty this year. Many Perry folks have been disappointed to find that the pages are falling out of the cover, one by one. Hopefully, the publisher will make sure the same thing doesn’t happen at the next printing.

Now, what about your ideas? Make them known to Rick Tearney, C-C president, or Carolyn Briegge, executive director. They will appreciate hearing from you directly.