Thursday, April 1, 2010
On the 15th July 1917, John Harris, first settler and Alderman of Oak River died. Alderman Harris was much loved by his community and very powerful, locally and he was also a traditionalist resisting all forms organisation beyond the village level. He saw no need for the villages to interfere with one another.
However, once he had passed on, the council members from the other villages found it far easier to impose their will on a leaderless Oak River population. The problem for the villages was somewhat uncontrolled growth and a complete lack of services.
On 17th October 1917 the communities organised a vote on the topic of government. Three options were put forth. The first was to remain as is, practicing government on an ad hoc basis. The second was to keep village government but have local `Townships' that would rule over a number of villages in the area. The third choice was to have a regional government overseeing everything.
The villages voted separately with 44% of the populace voting for option one, 53% for option 2 and a measly 3% for option three. At a meeting on the 4th November, the townships of Oak River, Dart River, Sarah's Cove, Pelargir, Anduin, Revis Island, Dartmouth, Broadoak and Widdershins Bay were officially founded.
The townships were set out on a rigid square grid as shown below. Some of the townships ended up a bit bizarre it terms of geography, but for fairness it was decided that each township should occupy the same amount of space.
The townships were given legal powers to set their own laws. As the year drew to a close, the townships passed laws enabling them to collect taxes - previously everything was subsidised by the villagers themselves.
However, the councilmen knew that they had to provide more services once they started collecting money. On 27th December 1917 the Township of Dart River called the inhabitants together for a meeting so they could suggest a use for all the revenue.
Let's look in to the meeting to see what is happening.
Thank you, everybody. As you are aware, we've had a voluntary contribution for the upkeep of the power generators and streets for some time now. You're also aware that from now on everyone will have to contribute to the township financially. It's called tax.
Anyway, we have over $226,000 already, most of which dates back to the founding of the villages. What you may not know is that it only cost $407 to pay for power and roads and we're collecting in $1524 under this new tax arrangement.
So, the question is how can we put that money to use to make all of our lives better? We've come up with some ideas ourselves. A school, perhaps? What about a professional fire fighting unit? We've been doing it ourselves until now. Organised policing? What about a centralised water system so that we can get cleaner water or maybe we could look after our health.
What's most important to you? What do you want to see in our town?
Written by Dr Philip Younger at 8:36 PM