Sunday, March 02, 2008

Queen City Woes Pile Up

Plaintalker is leaving the Muhlenberg coverage to others except to say the nation’s health care system took a turn for the worse when the doctor-patient relationship became tainted by big pharma, health insurance company investors and other factors long before the latest wave of immigrants arrived. The state’s charity care policies are obviously flawed as well. However, it is beyond the intended scope of this hyperlocal blog to take on such large topics.

On the local level, I took some donations to the Nearly New shop Friday and it made me think of the ways the hospital closing will affect Plainfield beyond the loss of acute care. The shop’s proceeds go to Muhlenberg, but it also allows people of limited means to get nice clothing and household items at low cost. I have also been told that seniors can get nutritious meals at low cost in the hospital’s cafeteria. These are among the subtle losses to the community that people will begin to experience along with the more dramatic ones.

Add to the bad news about Muhlenberg the revelation of a 4 percent school tax increase, a 6.5 percent municipal tax increase and the promise of higher county taxes and it’s no wonder that people are nervous. Why has the school district enrollment dropped 16 percent over the past three years? Will we ever get a new middle school? Questions abound.

Meanwhile, the City Council will meet on Monday and Wednesday of next week. The Wednesday meeting will conflict with the Board of Adjustment. The school board will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday for a special 2008-09 “Preliminary Budget Business Meeting” in the high school library. There will not be a Planning Board meeting next Thursday, it will be held March 13 instead.

The mayor will meet with seniors at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the center, 305 East Front Street.

Change is in the air in Plainfield, not in a good way. Those of us with gardens look forward more than usual to seeing the cheery spring flowers come up. The wheel of the year rolls on despite human miseries, and the new season can’t help but bring us hope.

--Bernice Paglia


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