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“Yes, I can help” or “No, it’s not my problem”— which would you choose?

Feb 08, 2017 02:42PM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Dan Snarr

Growing up, I was fortunate enough to have a neighbor by the name of Lowell Bennion. He became a mentor to me and taught me to always take the high road of service, compassion, kindness and mercy and to do all the good deeds I could for others. John Wesley said, “do all the good you can, for all the people you can, for as long as you can.” Service is the one thing that has brought me the greatest joy in my life,much more than any material thing ever has.

Both a column in a local paper and a segment in a recent newscast brought up the subject of me being reprimanded for plowing my street in Murray on Christmas Day. Normally, I never worry about our street being plowed. Murray does an excellent job. Like I said on the newscast, we have what I believe are some of the best employees you’ll ever find — hardworking and dedicated. 

However, there are unique situations (when it has snowed on holidays or because a significant amount has fallen) when additional assistance might be viewed as helpful if not necessary. I believe we should always step up and assist when the opportunity presents itself. For good or bad, I’ve always responded with “yes, I can help.” 

I hope the examples below will provide some food for thought.

Situation 1: I’ve plowed and salted our street and several others with my own equipment on my own time during the 37 years I’ve lived in Murray to help my neighbors better negotiate slick roads after major storms. Sometimes, my office would receive complaints from citizens indicating that their streets (usually cul-de-sacs and dead-ends) had not been plowed a necessary second or third time. I found it a pleasure to utilize my equipment to address their concerns and plow their roads while simultaneously providing relief to those drivers who needed a break from their 14- to 16-hour non-stop plowing efforts.

Situation 2: On a Saturday morning, I was able to utilize my backhoe (not the city’s) to remove the snow from a major thoroughfare in Murray so that friends and family would have a place to park after the funeral while attending a gathering at the deceased person’s home. 

Situation 3:  When Costco employees were utilizing the old county fairgrounds parking lot during Christmas, I was asked to plow the hill and the parking lot on a few occasions and was happy to do so. 

Situation 4: Sometimes during major storm events that would occur early in November, limbs and branches would break off the trees in my neighborhood. I would take my truck and trailer and pick them up and take them to the dump.

Situation 5: I saw a car blow a tire and bend a rim on Third West above my industrial park after hitting a large hole. I went and obtained three five-gallon buckets of road base and did a temporary fill until it could be permanently patched. 

Situation 6: When a code enforcement officer notified me that he was uncomfortable citing a 90-year old woman for lack of weed control on her property, I advised him that I would handle it personally. For the next couple of years, I sprayed and mowed the weeds at no cost to the elderly owner. Thereafter, a good neighbor resolved the weed issue by suggesting a community garden be planted on the site. I also enjoyed spraying weeds throughout the city in other areas when I saw the need to do so.

Here is some advice I’ve learned to follow in situations where I don’t have all the facts: ask and assess before you accuse. You’ll find in most situations it’s better to commend then condemn. Often, if not always, you’ll eventually learn that the person in question had only a desire to help, not harm.

When I was mayor, I learned the following: today’s problems left unaddressed could become tomorrow’s catastrophes.


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