It's one of those opinionated days (with a nod to the late, great Larry Felser)
Rain, rain go away
Saturday was Almond's day to shine, but that task was made all but impossible by Mother Nature, who saw fit to drop a day-long rain shower on the town. The rain left the annual Almond Day festivities all wet, forcing the cancellation of the parade while leaving other activities water logged.
Not that I have been keeping track, but my recollection is that rain has been a pesky nemesis more times than not on recent Almond Days. Music, food, games, yard sales, and the Almond Fire Department Boot Drive were on the schedule for Saturday — all of them activities that are more enjoyable in dry conditions.
All that wet stuff can't wash away the dedication and hard work of organizers, however. Whether you are stopping by for a history lesson at Hagadorn House Museum, or have a taste for strawberries at the June festival, or are taking in a ballgame at Lions Club Park, you'll be greeted by the friendly, helpful people of Almond.
This is an underrated town. As the gateway to Allegany County, Almond residents take well-deserved pride in presenting a good first impression for visitors. Almond greets visitors with a first-class library, my favorite local 7-Eleven in a three-town radius, and the incredible Almond Dam, Almond Lake and Kanakadea Park (despite its Hornell address).
So Almond will pick itself up, step over the rain puddles, and begin planning for the best Halloween ever.
That was decisive
School boards in Alfred-Almond, Canaseraga and Arkport began the recently concluded merger process almost a year and a half ago. The boards of education, along with merger committee members from each district, attended dozens of meetings, read numerous reports and asked hundreds of questions of experts and consultants.
As important as the merger grunt work was, the process appears to have been handled with the delicate sensitivity that this potentially divisive issue required.
Once the time came to decide on Thursday, the voters in the school districts left no doubts regarding how they feel about merging: Absolutely not.
The tally in Alfred-Almond, where a high school in a combined districts almost certainly would have been located, was 582-134. That means fewer than 2 in 10 voters supported a merger.
Arkport and Canaseraga voters also came out strongly against the merger in the straw poll, 308-210 and 179-135, respectively in each district.
School leaders likely saw the way this was going to go well in advance, but with the current public education environment, especially in low-wealth, high-need districts, they felt obligated to explore every available option.
So these districts are not merging. Even so, the problems plaguing local schools didn't disappear when the polls closed Thursday night. Declining enrollment, limited tax bases, escalating costs and tougher standards will continue to challenge our schools. The voters clearly told leaders that merging is not a viable option. What's less clear is who will come up with the next option and what it will be.
Reversal in Alfred
A couple of months ago, some Alfred village officials were explaining the advantages of passing new laws dealing with people walking around in public with open containers of alcohol and making unnecessary noise in the community. Current ordinances needed updates, officials said.
I wrote in July that at the very least, there was an appearance that the village board was unfairly targeting students with these laws. I was also worried about the wording of the open container law, fearful that enforcement would not take probable cause into enough consideration.
The Board of Trustees scheduled public hearings on the ordinances for last week, but happily those hearings never took place. Mayor Justin Grigg, who was not present when the hearings were scheduled in July, said both measures have been tabled for now. That's great news, and the mayor deserves credit for having the wisdom to kill these bad ideas.
Meanwhile, Alfred police seem to be doing their job adequately without the misguided changes, at least when it comes to drinking alcohol in public. The department arrested some 21 people for open container violations between Aug. 27 and Sept. 4.
Neal Simon is the city editor of the Evening Tribune.