Different, Though Familiar, Rituals



I wrote last week about the Putnam County 4-H Fair, and its many small-town, even old-timey rituals, including a good hot dog munched outside. I fear this week is far less optimistic. Familiar ritual, yes. But if this, another mass shooting – followed within hours by another – becomes one of the levers that unites us, if only in grief and sad wonder, than we are in a grim state of affairs indeed.

We could, if we chose to, deal with this, break this problem down. Do we need high-capacity magazines? Beyond 10 or 15 rounds? Dealing with that one piece of the problem, just that, would go some distance toward improving things. Alas, I am not optimistic even on that.

And, I’ve written before that if our leaders tolerate and even engage in dog whistles to the racists, then that racist behavior will inevitably, inexorably, become less of an outlier, become more accepted. And so it has.

I have, in my older years, become oddly more optimistic. I’ve embraced the benefits of being relentlessly positive, at least in most cases. Can’t be that here. Just can’t.

Putnam County is said to be close to naming a new tourism director to spearhead the county’s promotional efforts. I hope this occurs quickly, and that county lawmakers put sufficient heft and money into this effort, including this year. Nearby counties, Dutchess, Westchester and Orange, come into this game ready to play. Putnam? Not so much. It’s like we missed the team bus. On the bright side, there’s room for improvement!

Regarding county lawmakers, I know, hindsight, but they seem almost prescient today that tourism promotion was not working as most reasonable people expected it might.

The losses in recent weeks from this fiasco will take many, many months, perhaps even years, to fully recover from. The sooner the county gets started, the better. A good first step would be for the new director and lawmakers to try to patch up relations with hospitality businesses in each area of the county. Each and every area of the county.

I am significantly encouraged that Carmel is taking steps to both improve the poor condition of some of its water supplies and, also, improve the miserable parking situation in the Mahopac area. Both of these issues have been hanging fire and getting worse for some years. Neither will be cheap to solve. But both need solving. The parking situation, in particular, is likely an issue Carmel leaders could have kicked down the road. By which time, it’s possible that the land needed for parking might have been put to some other use, perhaps permanently. Anyway, progress on both fronts.

Until next week when, perhaps, we will have more optimistic things to engage our attention.

Douglas Cunningham is editor of the Putnam County News and Recorder, in Cold Spring, and of the Putnam County Courier. Reach him with complaints or suggestions, and yes, advertising requests, at, or 845-265-2468.

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