One of the longer-standing issues in this area of New York state is the demographic shift that’s been happening over the past thirty years. The absolute population numbers have been declining, and the remaining population is trending older. My county is a good example, with median age of 53, and our school population, if put into one district, would still be considered a small school district. Those figures, along with some other factors, have led to a serious problem for the local economy.
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Over the past several months the news has been full of stories about police violence and protests against it. Ferguson, and Michael Brown. Cleveland and Tamir Rice. New York and Eric Garner. There have been protests around the country, and a lot of discussion about not just police racism, but racism in society as a whole. We can point to the amount of use of deadly force by police around the country, often as a first resort, not a last. The protests and discussions have finally made it clear that “Things aren’t right,” even though they haven’t been all along. People are fed up, and they have every right to be. The protests are a first step. They’ve called attention to the problem, made it clear that it’s not just a “fringe issue,” and that action is required.
Monday morning in Webster NY, a village to the east of Rochester, a house fire was reported. Firefighters responded, and walked into a trap, resulting in two deaths and two seriously wounded. The shooter killed himself after SWAT units responded, but in the delay, several other houses caught fire. Two families lost their loved ones, and others were homeless for the holiday. What makes this resonate so much is not just that they were firefighters. They were volunteer firefighters, and it’s something that strikes a major chord with rural areas.