Making time for meetings
May 15, 2019
A common frustration, expressed from town to town, is the inconvenient scheduling of public meetings. Whether on social media, over lunch or in conversation at the post office, the complaint is almost always the same: I would make that meeting if it didn’t already have something going on.
I get it. What’s more, my family gets it.
At the Saratoga Sun, we cover six communities and five schools with only two reporters and one editor. Our schedules are filled with meetings.
Just in Saratoga we have the Saratoga Town Council on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m., the Saratoga Planning Commission on the 2nd Tuesday of every month at 5:30 p.m., the Carbon County Impact Joint Powers Board (CCIJPB) on the 2nd Wednesday of every month at 6 p.m.—the same day and time as the Healthcare Sustainability Project Subcommittee (HSPS)—and the Upper Platte River Solid Waste Disposal District (UPRSWDD) on the 1st Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m., alternating between Saratoga and Encampment.
The Saratoga Airport Board was meeting on the 2nd Wednesday of every month at 1 p.m., but it remains to be seen when that board will meet once appointments are made.
Over in the south end of the Valley, the Riverside Town Council meets on the 2nd Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. and the Encampment Town Council meets on the same day at 7 p.m. That’s not even including the Sierra Madre Joint Powers Board, which meets on the same day and time as the CCIJPB or the Encampment Planning Commission, which meets on the same day and time as the UPRSWDD, if there is business to conduct.
In the north end of eastern Carbon County, the Hanna Town Council meets on the 2nd Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m., the Medicine Bow Town Council meets on the 2nd Monday of every month at 7 p.m. and the Elk Mountain Town Council meets on the 2nd Monday of every month at 6:30 p.m.
The Carbon County School District No. 2 Board of Trustees, meanwhile, meet on the 3rd Monday of every month at 4 p.m. at rotating locations throughout the district. The South Central Wyoming Emergency Medical Services board also rotate their meetings throughout their district, meeting on the 2nd Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m.
Fortunately, I don’t have to cover all of these. Mike Armstrong now covers the Encampment and Riverside Town Council meetings. He also covers those meetings in northeastern Carbon County and we split the school board meetings. My editor, Keith McLendon, covers the HSPS meetings. That still leaves about seven meetings each month, counting both Saratoga Town Council meetings, along with whatever else happens to come up each week.
While I spend time at these meetings, some of them lasting at least two hours, my wife, Telitha, and my son, Jareth, operate around my schedule. There are many times where I come home from a meeting and Jareth is already in bed, asleep. Just as often, if not more, dinner is on the table or in the fridge, shrink wrapped and waiting for me. Such, apparently, is the life of a reporter and his family.
I was told the other night that, while I was at a meeting, Jareth had said “I miss my daddy” and began to cry. My own dad sat with my son and calmed him down. Still, this isn’t the first time that I’ve either heard about Jareth saying “I miss my daddy” or have him tell me himself with a hug as I prepare to depart for a meeting. It’s tempting, at times, to forego whatever work-related obligations I have at that moment and stay home.
On top of attending those meetings, no small amount of my weekend is spent listening to recordings and working on articles. This, also, means less time involved with my family as Telitha and Jareth, again, work around my schedule. While I take what time I can away from the laptop, I try to get as much done as I can during the weekend so that my Monday will be that much less hectic as I attempt to meet my deadline.
To be clear, I know that it is my job to attend these meetings and report on them for the readers of the Sun. Going to these meetings, and then writing about them, often means prioritizing things, often at the expense of time with family. If you are truly concerned about what is going on at any of these meetings, it means taking the time and making it a priority.
Or, you can read about it in the Saratoga Sun.