By Mayor Jim Forthofer
Last week, our heroic middle school teachers took their students on the annual town walk. They visit the water plant, police department, downtown merchants and…the Mayor’s office among other places. EVERY group asks me the same question, “What is your favorite thing about being mayor?” I always say, “You are.” And mean it.
The four waves of fourth graders who packed into my office this year had some good questions. Here are a few.
Kids: Why is your office so small?
Mayor: I didn’t think it was small until 30 of you packed in here to visit me. I didn’t think it was so humid either.
Kids: What do you do?
Mayor: (trick question) Number one is to keep everyone in town safe. Make sure the police, fire and ambulance people have what they need. Make sure the water we drink is safe. And, I make sure the taxpayers’ money is spent the best way possible. Not wasted.
Kids: Can I be Mayor?
Mayor: In only 8 years, you all can run for Council or Mayor or serve on a board. You should. Sometimes, not enough people get involved in helping the residents. Until then, you can still do things for the people of Vermilion. If you see trash on the sidewalk, pick it up and put in the garbage. If your parents’ say it’s ok, you can help your neighbors with their lawns or snow or whatever. It all counts.
Kids: Why do you have a picture on your wall of a man in a hole?
Mayor: That is a man from the water distribution department. He is in a hole fixing a water main break. It is six degrees BELOW zero outside. I have that picture so we remember the hard nasty work some City workers do to keep our city going. Like the people who work in the place that processes everything we flush down the toilet (collective ‘ewwww!”).
Kids: Do we have homeless shelters?
Mayor: The City doesn’t manage a homeless shelter. The local churches and service organizations will help people in Vermilion who need a bed and food.
Kids: Do you pay taxes? My Dad said I should tell you he pays too many taxes.
Mayor: Yes. I pay taxes.
Mayor: (changing the subject) Where do your parents work?
Kids: I think my Dad works at Cedar Point. My Mom works at the place with the big windows by Rite Aid. My Mom works in an office where they talk about fish.
So, let me take a second for one of those “teachable moments.” Where DO Vermilionites work? According to Finance Director Amy Hendricks, a 2017 RITA report tells us of the following payroll filings.
Cities where most Vermilionites work:
Avon Lake -186
Winners of the long distance commute:
The kids don’t need to be told twice when their time in my office is up. They are usually off to Granny Joe’s or Brummers for something more exciting than talking about taxes and civil service. But I am happy these citizens came to visit. Besides sticky fingerprints, they always leave me looking up an answer or two to questions I should know for next time.