I went to work Monday morning feeling I had not gotten enough sleep in the previous week, for no good reason.
Then I looked at all the photos taken by people working for your favorite weekly newspaper, and I figured out why I felt tired.
My goal for Hometown Festival Week(s) — similar to my goals in covering the 4th of July Celebration or Platteville Dairy Days or any similar area event — is to get photos of every event that fits under the Hometown Festival umbrella. Two didn’t get in — the UW–Platteville Heartland Festival’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof,” because that might be seen as nepotism given the identity of the actor playing the rabbi’s son, and the Avalon Cinema’s showing of “Heroes Behind the Badge” July 22, because a photo of people watching a film isn’t the most interesting photo.
Complicating matters this year was my being double-scheduled on a few occasions, with Saturday’s Tom Caccia Invitational swimming meet (photo on page 11A) taking place during the Festival of the Arts (photos on page 1B), and a story taking place Sunday during the quilt show at the United Methodist Church (photo on page 8A). Were it not for John Dutcher and various members of my family, Southwest Wisconsin’s largest festival would not have been as well documented in your favorite weekly newspaper. There were also event proximity issues, with the National Guard 229th Engineering Company welcome home and Party in the Park (photos on page 1, 1B and 12B) taking place just before two youth baseball games (sorry, no photos), which complicated things.
Last week’s double scheduling of the previous week’s swim meet and the Hometown Hog Roast meant I missed my 30th high school reunion and my high school’s 50th anniversary. That’s a case of choosing the present (your job and family) over the past (your high school), along with the reality that summer is not long enough in Wisconsin. (As last weekend’s weather demonstrated.) Besides that, my hometown is a place I go to only when absolutely necessary, such as when possessing UW football, basketball or hockey or UW Varsity Band Concert tickets.
Of course, my event fatigue cannot be as deep as those who put on the Hometown Festival, including faces I saw repeatedly over the past week. I don’t believe Platteville Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Kathy Kopp has a clone; it only seems that way. I kept seeing chamber officials Tim Boldt and Tom Sigwarth and other chamber members at the same events too, including the Business After Hours at Benvenuto’s Italian Grill (photo on page 3A), whose opening could be considered one of the most anticipated events in Platteville business history. (And that was before the Happy Hour giveaway.)
What did not help my fatigue was the 3-hour 45-minute long Platteville Common Council meeting in the middle of Hometown Festival Week. (Right after the Southwest Health Center Strawberry Festival, photos on page 1B). You’d think out of respect to those putting on Hometown Festival Week that the council would have rescheduled its meeting outside of the festival. (That’s a suggestion for next year, aldermen.)
I served on a municipal plan commission in between stints in the news media. The mayor who appointed me had a rule about not having meetings run more than two hours, a rule that was violated, I believe, twice in four years. That is a rule the Common Council should adopt, even if it means separating their work sessions into separate meetings. (If for no other reason than out of respect to those asked to speak at the work sessions, including UW–Platteville officials and Platteville Fire Department officers last week.)
Following a full day of work with marathon night meetings seems counterproductive to well-thought-out decisions. The fear of marathon night meetings following full days of work might be one reason the city has difficulty finding people to serve on its 22 committees, boards and commissions.
(Why the Common Council has so many work sessions when it has 22 committees, boards and commissions to handle issues the city faces is a separate question. Why the Common Council doesn’t adapt the Committee of the Whole approach when it appears unwilling to delegate issues to those 22 committees, boards and commissions is another separate question.)
Maybe having a government meeting in the middle of Hometown Festival Week is a touch of hometown civics, similar to the requirement to attend a government meeting to earn the Boy Scouts’ Citizenship in the Community merit badge. On the other hand, anyone who’s attended a Common Council meeting — or worse, a Grant County Board meeting — knows that they’re not really like the Norman Rockwell “Freedom of Speech” painting, as you might be able to tell from this week’s first two Letters page right. Two of the aldermanic candidates in the April election made the comment that they felt that the council micromanages city operations. You might think that two new aldermen might have changed that. You would be mistaken.
Mark Twain defined “true patriotism” as “loyalty to the Nation all the time” and “loyalty to the Government when it deserves it.” To repeat a theme of late, the 229th Welcome Home ceremony began with the Pledge of Allegiance; the Common Council meeting did not, and again no one in the latter group is publicly saying why not.
If it is possible to be patriotic, as Twain defined the term, about a city, maybe that’s what the Hometown Festival (10-day) Week is about — showing off Platteville at its most hospitable and most involved, and saluting service.