This is a contrast to past years when I was sometimes the only person in the room besides those at the long table - which included the five council members, the city clerk, the mayor, the city administrator (a position the city no longer has) and the city attorney (who no longer attends every meeting).
The high attendance represents a high interest level, a good thing, although the high interest is primarily generated by controversy, a good thing from the standpoint of selling papers but basically a negative.
There remain unresolved issues that keep people's attention. One frustrating unresolved issue is the question of how much Ron Strickland received in compensation for his removal as city administrator. As far as I'm concerned, it isn't a major issue but the public was told the settlement terms would be announced in open session.
The public should not have been told this because it is a personnel matter not to be discussed in open session, according to the Cherokee city attorney. I was told informally that a settlement has been reached but there will not be a check for Ron Strickland appearing on the list of bills approved. The list of bills is published as part of the minutes of meeting, a legal notice in the paper.
When I asked how a settlement amount could be paid without the check appearing on the list of bills, I was referred to the city attorney, who was also in the dark at the time as to how this could be accomplished.
Personally, I don't care what the amount is. No matter what the amount, we would have had an editorial about putting the matter behind us. As far as I'm concerned, I've put the matter behind me but for some people, the statement that the settlement terms would become public knowledge is regarded as a broken promise that will remain an open sore.
Even positive news has many people looking for the problems lurking in the shadows.
A company has agreed to build seven spec homes in the Doherty Addition as part of an agreement granting the company the right to develop and sell all 32 lots currently belonging to the city.
Some people question what would happen if the houses, with an estimated cost of $120,000 to $140,000 each, won't sell or what would happen if the company fails after excavation work is completed, leaving holes in the ground.
As long as we're asking 'what if' questions, what if a tornado rips through the Doherty Addition or what if one or more of the major employers in town closes its doors or, even worse, what if a nuclear war wipes out the entire human race with a devastating effect on the housing market.
In fairness to those with concerns, the development company, Partners Management Group, is a new company without a track record in doing this type of project. But the city is putting up no money for the project. Partners Management is putting up money and has no reason for taking a financial risk without the belief that the project will succeed.
That is no guarantee of success but when you consider the fact that there have been only seven houses built in the Doherty Addition in over a decade and the fact that no houses have been built there, or anywhere else in Cherokee, in 2006, then it seems we have no choice but to let this company undertake this ambitious project with our best wishes and appreciation.