Thursday, July 2, 2009

Being an Active Citizen - 7-1-09 Editor's Column

As many residents and readers are aware, it was recently passed by the village board that burning in Mahomet would be banned beginning August 1, earning any residents inside the village limits a fine should they not adhere to the new ordinance.

However, in talking with local residents, it seems that some people are only now realizing that the burn ordinance in Mahomet is changing and are asking questions about why it is being changed and what will be done to offset these changes when they finally take effect.

To be honest, I was somewhat confused that such a hot topic would be so unknown to so many residents.

For example, the leaf burning issue has been a focus of numerous stories in the Citizen over the last few months, detailing the potential changes, potential alternatives and when the next phase of the discussion will be.

Often times, there were listings of when the next village meeting would be and what would be discussed.

Those I spoke to told me of people who were upset that the changes happened under their noses and that they didn’t have a say in the matter.

So what does that mean about the way we should be approaching new issues that require public input?

It means that we should take note of the meetings that will be heald to discuss the potential changes that could come to the village. It means asking questions of village officials about what they might have heard or asking them to clarify something we might have heard. It means checking with the newspaper to see what press has been published about the issue to ensure that we know the latest details.

There is a lot more to being a citizen than simply living somewhere, paying local taxes and cheering on the local sports team. It’s also about being informed on the issues that are important to the town and the people that not only live here, but work here and send their children to school here.

We should all be so fortunate to live in a community that wants our input on changes that may affect the way that we do things in our daily lives. We have neighbors with strong opinions on and a great amount of knowledge when it comes to local issues. We have the paper that focuses on local events.

If ever you find yourself in the position of not knowing what is happening in the village and want to know how you can become more involved, do the active thing and ask. After all, you can’t give your input if you don’t take the time to find out what is going on.

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