The city is going through a dry spell with committee volunteers. The Tree Commission had to cancel a meeting recently for lack of a forum, and there are 19 empty seats on the various boards and panels. These groups make recommendations to the planning commission and city council on anything from airport fees to cutting trees.




The ebb in membership is exactly the sort of thing some like to latch onto and use to bolster their point that division in Ashland has gone so far that it's driving out good people who are working for free to help this city.




Convenient story, but simply not true.




There were 12 vacancies when the Tidings first ran a story on the subject (Aug. 14). Since then, that number has been whittled down to 10: Three empty seats each on the Forest Lands and the Tree commissions, two on the Housing Commission, and single vacancies on the Traffic Safety and Citizen's Budget panels. Out of 19 commissions and committees, with 105 total seats, 14 groups are 100 percent full. More than 100 seats, 10 empty.




And the most important group of all &

the City Council &

is never in search of warm bodies to fill its 6 hot seats.




Mayor Morrison, with a long view of the situation, is right on the money when he says, "It's cyclic."




There is a natural, unpredictable ebb and flow to committee vacancy rates and no one can safely attribute a momentary slump to a larger trend.




And never forget that Ashland in a slump is still better than most cities at full strength. There is a volunteer spirit here that is strong, and shows no sign of flagging.




It would be an easy thing to chalk up a slump in volunteerism to a growing division and strife between Ashlanders with opposing views.




But this town has always been a place where different opinions can bash up against each other. That hasn't changed.




Or perhaps the lag could blamed it on changing demographics. But people who move to Ashland don't just show up and slowly change into Ashlanders. They were born Ashlanders who just took a little while to get here.




To apply for a committee see the City Of Ashland Web page /Page.asp?NavID=9128.