A Minute With the Mayor


Mayor Andy Fuston

Mayor Andy Fuston

 

Last week we visited about two important events that would have major implications for Lyons in 2014.  The first was the local elections and the second was the potential school merger.  I have given both a good deal of thought over the past several weeks.  I feel now is as good a time as any to share my heart with you on each subject.

The one keeping me awake the most lately is whether or not to run for a third term as mayor of this wonderful community.  I have really enjoyed the past seven years serving as mayor.  I actually can’t believe we are nearing the end of my second term already.  With that being said, I have struggled with the decision of running again because life just seems to be getting busier and busier.  I wanted to make sure I was able to devote enough time and energy to help the community continue moving forward.  I believe I can.  Therefore I have decided to put my hat in the ring one more time.  The council has done some amazing things and I feel I have more to contribute to the cause as mayor.  If I’m blessed to be elected for another term, I will give all that I can to Lyons and support initiatives to best position us for the future.

Now, on to the one taking a great deal of space in my mind and heart–the school consolidation talks.  First, I think it is important to acknowledge that our school board does a wonderful, amazing job. Their jobs are hard enough, but when you throw in possible consolidation talks it becomes even harder.  It’s a courageous thing they are doing by opening up a conversation about what the future could possibly look like for Lyons Decatur Northeast.  I have to also say as a school board, their jobs are to direct the district to do what they feel is best for the district and the children of that district.  I believe their hearts are paved with nothing but good intentions and applaud them for caring enough to look at these hard choices.

As mayor, I believe my job is to advocate for Lyons and its future.  I believe that I would not be doing my job if I sat quietly on the sidelines while this issue ran its course. That being said, I have grave concerns about what the loss of our high school would mean for the future of Lyons.  I believe a loss of this magnitude would have a devastating effect on our ability to attract new families to our community, would have a negative impact on our economy and would threaten even our ability to maintain and keep an elementary school in town.  We all have seen the effects our neighboring communities have experienced with the loss of their schools.  Lyons, as a small, rural community, strives every day to maintain what it has built.  The loss of our high school would make what is a challenge today a struggle to survive tomorrow.  I believe we have worked too hard, sacrificed too much and reinvested in ourselves too greatly to not work to keep our school district intact.  I understand our enrollment numbers present the district with a real challenge.  But I believe we can take other steps to shore up our school district rather than eliminate it altogether.  This issue is not just a school district issue–it is a community issue.  The school is a major piece of the fabric of our community. Without it, even part of it, a hole so large will be created that I’m not sure we could ever repair it.  I, as mayor, see no upside to this possible consolidation for the community of Lyons.

That being said, we as community members have an obligation and responsibility to help maintain a vibrant school system.  We have to put energy and resources into creating a community that is attractive to new families with children.  A two-million dollar investment in a new community pool tells me this community understands that.  It is willing to commit to the future of this community.  There are people in this community dreaming big about housing opportunities, business expansions and new businesses opportunities.  The people of Lyons are committed to our future and the future of Lyons-Decatur Northeast.  I believe the school board is, too.  But we will struggle even more to turn those dreams into realities without a local K-12 school system.  We as community members must continue to work together to strengthen our community so our school district can stay strong as well.

Finally, I understand my views on the consolidation talks could have a direct impact on my chances to be re-elected in November.  I can live with that.  I’m falling on the side of keeping our district intact and doing baby steps, if needed, (co-opting sports, teacher sharing, administration sharing, on-line classes, etc.) to keep it viable instead of taking the full plunge into consolidation.  I know there will be roadblocks along the way but this board is very capable to maneuver through them.  I see it being what is best for the community as a whole.  In the end, I understand the pebble is important but it is the ripples it causes in the water that have lasting effects.  We have to be very aware of the ripples a consolidated school system will have on the future of this town.  I, for one, am not seeing ripples as much as I’m seeing a possible tsunami.  Enough for now.  Thanks for listening and for your understanding.  Take care and talk to you soon.

About katcountryhub
I am a graduate of Northeast Community College with a degree in journalism. I am married to Jeff Gilliland. We have two grown children, Justin and Whitney and four grandchildren, Grayce, Grayhm, Charli and Penelope. I will be covering Lyons, Decatur, Bancroft and Rosalie and am hoping to expand my horizons as time progresses!

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