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From Sandi Hopper

By Staff | Nov 23, 2011

Dear Editor,

I was surprised to see a complaint by a native daughter about our local fire department in Shirley. Uncanny when a member of a patriarchal family is discriminated against in the anticipated rental of the only building in town still open which is large enough to accommodate a social event.

The ironies here are numerous. First, the shunned renter is from the same family which held the fire department and all its assets and amenities to be used as their own private social club, car wash, gas station, pool hall, tool shop, and teen hangout for almost two decades. Rent fees were ignored for family members, rentals were denied to outsiders, keys were passed out which were never returned.

Second, perceived outsiders here include natives who have left Shirley and then returned and also any of those whose surname puts them outside the perimeters of the current ruling clan.

As far as being a “tight-knit” community, I would venture to offer the alternate term, “armor-plated”. Again, a distinction based on birthplace and surname. We had an actual Community Building at our disposal for larger group events which certain locals felt compelled to boycott out of viable operation because the wrong people wanted to participate.

As to the cost of renting said fire hall: I seem to remember that there was a liability insurance consideration in not allowing the public to use a State funded facility for private use. Or maybe that was just the excuse because it still seemed to be rented to acceptable applicants.

I personally sought an increase in the rental fee to $25 when I was an officer of the SVFD, which would have then as now generously covered the cost of any utilities used during an event. I would have expected keys to the building to be returned as well. The measure failed.

The few bad apples here have made it uncomfortable for most of the rest of us for a long time but I still feel empathy for anyone who has been surprised to suddenly find themselves in the wrong barrel.

And if the rest of you “tight-knit” folks would like to actually support your community, why not start by attending the town meeting at the church on Schoolhouse Hill [6:30 PM, Nov. 29] to help save your post office.

Sandi Hopper

Past President, Shirley Community Club, former Secy/Treas, SVFD, and former box holder at the Shirley P.O.