Scarcity in small town America

by | Jun 2, 2008


I was recently hiking in Putnam County, NY, a charming slice of hill country on the Hudson made famous by a musical about a Spelling Bee.  I picked up the Putnam County News and Recorder, an old-fashioned newspaper with old-fashioned  stories like “Sloop Club Strawberry Festival Serves Up Shortcakes and Sails” and “Heritage Funeral Home Allegations Unproven Says Owner”.  But I was struck by the signs of resource scarcity in small (if admittedly liberal, Obama-signs-everywhere) town America.  Here are some article openings from the 21 May edition:

The Putnam County Legislature’s Physical Services Committee implicitly acknowledged the financial impact that rising fuel prices are having on the county when, during its May 13 meeting, it heard a presentation on alternate fuels and ways of reducing the ever-escalating costs of heating the county’s buildings.

Water is perhaps our most precious natural resource. All life is dependent on a supply of clean water. And whether you are an average resident changing the oil in your car or a developer constructing several new houses – you have a legal obligation to ensure that your activities do not jeopardize the quality of water in area streams – and ultimately in the Hudson River. That was the gist of a presentation made at a meeting on May 14 at Cold Spring.

Gasoline continues to be a subject of considerable interest in and around the Village of Cold Spring – and not only because consumers are paying more than four dollars to purchase one gallon of regular at area pumps. At the meeting of the Village Board, Trustees passed a resolution requiring Mayor Anthony Phillips to submit expense claims documenting mileage incurred on Village business in order to be reimbursed.

It’s a sort of Olde Worlde Resilience, I guess.  And good to see.  Although most Putnam residents are probably most concerned about exactly how Olde Worlde their local 1970s-vintage nuclear power station is, especially as it has a “history of problematic performance”.  This week it’ll be testing its 156 emergency sirens – a temporary system, it transpires, while a new one is sorted out.  Reassuring.

UPDATE: for thoughts on why this post makes me look like a fool, look here.

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