To the editor:
It is no secret that our students are now being housed in containers which viewed from any distance could be confused with storage pods except for the absence of the big letters on the outside of the real Pods. This situation was not brought about by a fire or other sudden unavoidable catastrophe. It is the result of many years accumulation of closing eyes to the needs of our most vulnerable citizens in favor of savoring the flavor of the almighty dollar reflected in our celebrated low tax rate.
Our town history reflects that we were one of the first if not the very first of the Rhode Island towns to build with stones from the fields and volunteer labor the very first high school as well as elementary school to provide our children a better future than those of their parents who toiled at the farms, fisheries and kitchens of the wealthy. The sacrifices of our caring forefathers enable all of us who are parents and grandparents today to enjoy the quality of life attributable to the education they provided.
There is no magic formula to achieving the lowest tax rate in any city or town . All it takes is to eliminate or minimize the monies spent on educating the children or providing for the elderly. Little Compton has done an outstanding job of doing both during the 52 years that I have lived here. Since this town has been governed by a single political party during all but two of those years. it is reasonable to conclude that the current state of the children and elderly has been and still is the will of the town leaders as is the desire to create a haven for those affluent enough to enjoy all of the physical beauty of our town at a minimal out of pocket cost unencumbered by the concerns of the less fortunate that has drawn so many from so far.
I recall seeing a headline in a New york newspaper several years ago which announced that “The Hamptons are out and Little Compton RI is in” which I’m sure gave birth shortly thereafter to the term Skewks amongst the townies gathered at the local eateries and bistros. I do not attribute the sad state of affairs of our children and elderly to the so-called “skewks” or to the truly wealthy among us since my experience over 32 years of dealing with them as a member and officer of the now practically defunct Volunteer Fire Department or during my two years as a police constable proved them to be not only very generous and compassionate to the citizenry and even provided seniors funds for busing when the voters at the Financial Town Meeting, led by the Galloping Grinches, attacked the school budget with a vengeance and voted nothing for senior busing.
Some 25 or so years ago I was approached by a caring friend who enlisted my help to try and get some help from the town for an elderly recent widow in dire need of transportation who had no relatives in town, was unable to drive and had no means of obtaining food or medicines for herself. I enlisted the aid of a family relative who worked for the school department driving buses. After attending many meetings of the Town Council and the School Committee, the town provided funds to the School Department which, in turn, provided a “Shopping Bus for Seniors. The planning, scheduling and budget monitoring was left exclusively to a group of volunteer seniors known as the Senior Citizen’s Club.
While no written restrictions or directions from the Town Council were ever provided to the seniors, it was verbally made clear that should any funds budgeted remain at the end of the budget year, they could be used for recreational trips to destinations of their choice. This magnanimous gesture of allowing seniors to enjoy leftovers if they were available was the only form of funding earmarked for senior services beyond the actual cost of the so-called shopping bus ever provided to the senior population by local tax dollars.
The scenario does not differ much from the one told me by one of the sweetest elderly ladies it has ever been my privilege to call a neighbor who would describe the madam of the household where she was a cook reminding her and the other domestic help who ate their meals in the kitchen not to let the cream from the milk stop in the kitchen on it’s way to the dining room.
But those were the good days compared to what the 794 seniors who live in town and comprise the largest percentage of the population of any community in the state which also has the largest senior population in the nation today.
The current senior busing budget, number 9 in the budget, provides not one red cent for any senior recreational trips nor are there any other funds to be appropriated at the Financial Town Meeting that provide any other form of services for seniors. Quite different, however, from the $16,549 being provided in article #58 for civic recreation to cover costs of using the gym and ballfield by those young and healthy enough to shoot hoops and swing a baseball bat.
The saddest part of the whole mess is that we now have a greater number of seniors in town than ever before including a recent senior widow who has no family in town and is handicapped and unable to drive a vehicle so cannot even get to the shopping bus or a meal site or receive Meals on Wheels which were recently discontinued in Little Compton when the federally funded Aggregate Meal Site was also discontinued.
I reported this situation to a member of our town council shortly after her becoming a widow about a month ago and was told he’d look into it. She is still begging her friends and neighbors for transportation as recently as today. But I guess all that will be solved when and if we we get a grant from the state which is broke and all our local transportation problems will be solved . Meanwhile; if you are a senior in need of or entitled to the services provided under the Senior Citizens Act of 1965 and live in Little Compton — beg louder or ask Tiverton to provide the services as 18 of us are already doing. As appears to be the norm, Tiverton Pays while Little Compton Plays. Yes
Tiverton has a high tax problem but does an outstanding job of caring for its children and elderly. You get what you pay for only if someone cares enough.
Little Compton RI