Doing the right thing is not always the easy way!
This is just a guess, but it's possible that Youngsville's town administrator, Phillip Cordeiro, learned one of life's ironic lessons recently.
The lesson is that the better you do your job, the more difficult the choices you have to make become.
At a time when all we hear is that recruiting and keeping law enforcement officers gets more difficult by the day, Cordeiro managed to get some 60 applications for the police chief's job in Youngsville recently.
Great job. Deserves accolades.
And then he was able, with a lot of input from others apparently, to narrow it down to two top-notch applicants.
That probably makes his final decision -- expected to be announced any day -- even more difficult.
But it's difficult to feel sorry for him. After all, he made his decision difficult by apparently doing things right, including -- maybe, especially -- by giving the community a chance to meet the top two applicants for police chief in advance and provide their recommendations.
Plus, if you believe Franklin Times ace reporter Carey Johnson, who has met and gotten to know all these folks, Cordeiro is in a situation where he probably has no wrong choice to make but, instead, has an opportunity to select as chief the man he believes will be the best fit for the department and the town.
Still, it's a tough choice, but any manager who can first get 60 applications for such a difficult job and then narrow it down to two great choices, will be able to handle it.
It may be a bit stressful -- but that's why Cordeiro gets the big bucks, has a nice, new office and accepted the responsibility in the first place.
From our vantage point, the way Youngsville handled this situation, especially introducing the finalists to the community BEFORE a final decision was made, is a textbook example of how this process should be handled by all communities, large or small. And that goes for positions other than chief of police as well.
But the reason this open, transparent process stands out so much is that, by comparison, it's just about the opposite of the way such decisions are usually made. More often than not, these decisions are made in secret, backroom deals that don't serve the public and don't contribute to the public's confidence.
Good job, Mr. Cordeiro, and while we may not feel sorry for you because of how difficult you made your own decision, rest assured that you did it the right way -- and we trust that the outcome, over the long run, will confirm that analysis.
More to the point, we hope that your technique of holding a far-ranging applicant search and giving the public a say in the final selection process will become the norm, not the exception here in Franklin County.
First, a confession. I had my doubts last spring when the town of Louisburg decided to buy a house on South Elm Street that, to be very kind, had been neglected and unloved for a very long time.
Even an old house lover like me wondered if the structure could be saved -- or, if it was even worth saving.
To be fair, the town didn't know either -- and noted that it would evaluate the building and decide whether to tear it down or try to put it to some productive use.
To me, that sounded a lot like a death sentence for the house because tearing old houses down is often seen as "easier" than reworking them and government usually takes the easy way out.
Fast forward to last week. I was down at Louisburg Town Hall bugging Town Administrator Jonathan Franklin about something else when he offered to give me a quick look at the house.
Since it was a balmy 99 degrees outside -- with the humidity to match -- I said what the heck and, risking heat stroke, we walked over to the almost completed house which will soon become a law office.
Franklin explained on the short walk over that the town's experts had discovered that the "bones" of the early 20th Century house were pretty good and quickly decided that it should be kept as a key component of Elm Street, which is just a block west of Main Street.
So, the decision was made to save it, Franklin said, adding that there was some structural work needed to reinforce the downstairs floors, the electrical and plumbing systems had to be completely upgraded, a new roof was necessary, the floors needed refinishing -- and even the old wooden windows were deemed worth saving.
Best of all, Franklin said, virtually all of the work was done by local contractors and local workmen, keeping the money circulating in the community, unlike what happened when another government division tackled building restoration/rehab projects in recent years.
The house is almost, but not quite, done and although it was hotter than a two-dollar pistol during our tour, I was impressed.
The town managed to save or replicate the baseboards, door and window trims and refinished the floors so they looked great.
When the town bought the house, it had been divided up into apartments but those dividing walls were removed and the house restored to what it must have looked like when it was relatively new.
The outside has now been painted a period-appropriate blue and the grounds are being landscaped, including the addition of a new brick retaining wall along South Elm Street.
Since getting to the house from Elm requires climbing a long series of (new) brick steps, I asked Franklin about handicap accessibility.
He explained that dealing with the elevation differences with a ramp in the front would have been an engineering and construction nightmare, so the town created handicap access from the rear. There is even a new concrete pad at the back of the house-turned-office so that access is relatively easy from the rear of the building.
Honestly, I was impressed, not that me being impressed means much.
But the house is open, offers a world of quality, attractive office space and has been changed from a drag on the downtown area to a potential job-creating asset that also looks great and helps preserve the look of the residential street, even if it's not technically residential.
At least it's cleaned up and a part of Louisburg's historic heritage has been preserved for future generations, a win-win in my book.
Franklin said the building will soon house an attorney's office but since the deal hasn't been finalized, it's better we not say more than that at the moment. Hopefully, when the deal is done, the town or the new owner can hold an open house to allow local folks to see how an eyesore can become a gem in a few short months with a little vision and a lot of hard work.
Others in the works
This project is one of several ongoing improvement projects in Louisburg at the moment, one of which hasn't quite been finalized yet but which is sorely needed and should be announced before the end of the year, maybe earlier.
Another is conversion of the restaurant building that years ago was a Golden Corral but more recently housed a restaurant called Mama's Table.
Recently, the Mayflower Seafood Restaurant folks have leased the building and are beginning to make whatever renovations they need to convert the structure into a seafood restaurant.
That's great news for those of us who love seafood -- and a seafood restaurant is something central Franklin County has needed for years.
If they do a good job and provide a quality product at a reasonable price, my prediction is that they will be very successful right there on the Boulevard and maybe help keep some of those food dollars that are now going elsewhere right here in Franklin County.
We'll keep you posted as this project develops.
It's that time of the year again and, like it or not, it is just about the season when the cold and flu bugs begin to make their presence felt.
Medical professionals at all levels are saying, again, that getting a flu shot is a good idea even if this year's vaccine isn't perfect. While the flu viruses that often lay us low are many and able to change, no vaccine yet found is perfect, but doctors say that a getting a shot is still worth the time and effort because even if doesn't perfectly protect against the flu, it's likely to lessen the severity of it if you're unfortunate enough to become infected.
What's worse is that the predictions are that this year flu season is likely to be bad -- and there are indications that it will (or is!) starting earlier than usual.
And before you say it, let me remind you that the medical experts say that you cannot get the flu from the shot because it uses a dead virus that cannot cause the illness. If you get sick soon after the shot, they say, you probably were exposed to the virus before you got the shot and that the shot didn't have enough time to fire up your immune system completely.
Colds are a different matter altogether since there isn't yet a vaccine that will offer even limited protection.
The best solution, the medical folks say, is to wash your hands regularly with soap and water -- and do your best to avoid people who are sick.
Nothing is perfect, of course, but as your grandmother might have advised, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
If everyone does what they can -- and also uses a good dose of common sense -- maybe we can get through the cold and flu season and live to tell about it!
Even though the weatherman predicted it, I suspect the sudden onset of cooler, more fall-like temperatures last weekend caught many folks by surprise.
It did me, especially when I got up Saturday morning to let the dog out and stepped out on the back porch.
It may have been 61 degrees but compared to what most of last week was like, that felt almost frigid.
Cutting the grass later Saturday afternoon, I began questioning whether shorts and a tee shirt were proper attire, especially as the sun began to set.
But although I prefer hot weather to the other extreme, the cooler weather was certainly a welcome respite from the record-setting heat that roasted us earlier that week.
Besides, it gave me a perfect excuse to put on a pot of chili on Sunday -- and even to have the first fire in the fireplace this fall. Okay, maybe those were overreactions, but a pretty fire and a good book are not bad ways to unwind on a weekend!
There is lots to do and much to enjoy, especially outside before the weather goes from chilly mornings to downright cold.