Note to Eddie Marks, Bob Antonucci, and Virginia Valiela: I am grateful (and you should be too) that your long and distinguished service to Falmouth was in the Pre-Putnam era. If Selectman Brent Putnam had his druthers, the Edward Marks House would just be an office building, the Robert Antonucci Field House would be only a gym, and the Virginia Valiela Water Conservation Garden would simply be a bunch of plants in front of Town Hall. His proposed policy on naming things, like buildings, benches, and meeting rooms, featured a provision that required a potential honoree to be in the Big Selectmen's' Room in the sky (dead) for at least five years before enjoying the honor.
Imagine telling Lily-esque Falmouth Philanthropists Jim and Ruth Clark, "Thanks for your generous $10,000,000 donation for the new oncology center, but we're going to name it the Sippewissett Center while you're still with us." On Monday, his colleagues had the good sense to strike that provision during a discussion on the policy which means there is still hope for the George Calise bike path extension, the Dick Kendall Senior Center and the Andy Dufresne public bathroom in Falmouth Heights.
Speaking of good sense and the Selectmen, they showed a little more in their discussion with several local churches in approving a request to set up a small table and offer prayer to those seeking it. Before you pen a letter reminding me of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution, my recollection of civics class is that our founding fathers frowned on a state-sponsored religion, but didn't opine on volunteers offering prayers on a beach, public or private. I'm not a member of any of the churches planning to offer a prayer to anyone who wants (or needs) one, but if I happen upon the kind and generous folks at Old Silver Beach before the summer is up, I'll probably ask for a little consideration and thank the volunteers for their willingness to make Falmouth just a bit better, prayer by volunteer prayer. I think Thomas Jefferson would be happy with that, too.
On the subject of volunteers, I'd love to see someone from Cape Cod Healthcare offer kudos to the countless volunteers and generous donors that have made the Community Health Center (formerly the Cape Cod Free Clinic) so successful. I'm sure that new hospital helmsman Dr. Richard Salluzzo and his team have done yeoman's work in bringing Cape Cod Healthcare from a $25 million loss to a $3 million surplus in a year, but someone should look at the value of the free care provided by the CHC and how that has impacted the hospitals' bottom line. Simply put, every dollar of free care provided by the CHC is a dollar of free care not impacting the bottom line of Cape Cod Healthcare. That's got to be worth at least a passing thanks to the CHC.
And speaking of saving dollars on the bottom line, I took a brief trip with the family to Philadelphia last weekend to visit former Falmouthite, FHS classmate and gifted musician Mike Marotta that made me think of the upcoming special Town Meeting next month to address an expected half-million dollar shortfall in state and local revenues. We stayed in Collingswood NJ, a short trip over the Ben Franklin Bridge to Philly. I noticed that gas in New Jersey was about thirty cents cheaper per gallon than in Pennsylvania, due to state and local taxes. I naturally bought my gas (and a couple of bottles of water and candy bars) in Jersey. If Town Meeting approves a hike in local meals taxes that is not approved by surrounding towns, won't some of our restaurateurs suffer the same fate as the Philly gas merchants? More to follow on that one in the coming weeks.
Finally on the subject of Philly and gas, I can now say that I have eaten a genuine Philly cheese steak. Next to running up the steps where Rocky Balboa celebrated his newfound confidence, that was the highlight of my trip - even with the meals tax.
This column is reprinted from the Falmouth Enterprise.