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May 1, 2011

Posted Friday, May 6, 2011, at 2:07 PM

For all of you who have read Mark Twain's HUCKLEBERRY FINN and for those of you who have not there is a passage worth noting today. Jim is a slave who has run away from his Missouri owner, and Huck has just run away from life. They are rafting down the Mississippi River with the general intent to strike the Ohio River, and Jim can head north for freedom and hopefully make enough money to buy his family out of slavery. They are looking for the Ohio River and know that it joins the Mississippi River at Cairo, Illinois. They are running the raft at night to avoid people and Jim shouts, "There she is Huck, there's the old Cairo!"

If you want to see Cairo, you might be too late. The amount of rainfall in the last two weeks is little short of amazing, and the big rivers are near historic levels. Cairo was ordered to evacuate Saturday night. Cairo was once thought destined to be one of the major cities on the North American continent. There used to be over 60,000 people living there. The population is now less than 3,000.

Small towns and cities are not guaranteed to grow and survive. Cairo is a frightening example of decline. It is a fascinating place to visit with a rich history which includes almost everyone of consequence from our 19th Century past. It is only about sixty miles away and is very much a part of where we live.

So what? I have said before that small town rural America is in a fight to survive. Cairo is a picture of what can happen if you lose that fight. If you want Malden to survive and prosper, then get in the fight and offer your abilities to your hometown. We can use them.

Malden began its annual budget process last Monday night. The Malden City Council Budget Committee chaired by Ronnie Dell met at the city hall. We attempted to read our crystal ball and decide what our revenue would be for the 2011-2012 budget year beginning July 1, 2011. We got some good news from Betty Qualls, director of the Malden Nutrition Center. She told us that the Southeast Missouri Area Agency on Aging will increase its funding to the Malden Center from $109,000 to $145,000. The funding level has been static for the last several years. The City of Malden is the local sponsor for the nutrition center.

The nutrition center news added $36,000 to our bottom line to work with. This past Thursday we received the renewal for Malden's group medical insurance. There will be an 11.4% increase. Malden currently pays $25,000 a month for employee medical insurance. The increase is about $34,000 a year. Your uncle gives and your insurance company takes away.

I mentioned these two financial items just to give some indication of what your city council is attempting to deal with. On the whole I believe Malden is in good shape financially. We have a larger monetary reserve than we have had in my previous years as mayor. We have, as always, people staking a claim on a piece of that monetary pie.

All of this circles back to my asking for your talents and abilities as a citizen of Malden. Please volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. Volunteer for the fire department, the police reserve, or to help clean up our town; join a civic group, participate in school activities, or just show up at public meetings and give us your opinion. We will spend your money, and we will spend it wisely or foolishly depending on your point of view. You wonder when people in Cairo quit caring about their town or if events just overwhelmed them. Good, strong, smart people built this community, and we can be as good. Pray and hope for Cairo, Illinois. They have a marvelous library.

The financial report is as follows:

April 22, 2011

Balance $1,397,354.14

Revenues $100,616.92
Expenses $168,860.58
April 29, 2011

Balance $1,329,110.48



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