Building relationships is a fun part of the job
Throughout my career, I have believed that the most important aspect of local government management is the ability to build relationships. With those relationships, ideas and projects can develop, consensus can be built over time, and priorities established in a cooperative environment. It is no different here in Winchester, and I have been able to develop some initial relationships with several organizations and people.One of the most recent organizations that I have begun to work with is the Winsted YMCA, and Jay Cohen, the branch director. My first work with the YMCA was my participation in the weight-loss wellness plan during the months of September and October. I was working hard to make the best of the program, and had actually lost a little weight and kept my meal and exercise journal up-to-date. Then things fell apart when the late October snowstorm hit and my schedule was turned upside down.The next project with the YMCA is a class to familiarize residents about automated external defibrillators, or AEDs. These pieces of life-saving equipment are now located in prominent locations and carried in all Winchester police cruisers. You should be aware of where the AEDs are located in places or businesses that you frequently visit. But even if you know where the devices are located, are you comfortable enough with the equipment to use it in an emergency when time is critical? The AEDs are somewhat simple to employ, but a life-saving situation may ratchet the stress.The familiarization workshop is scheduled for February 6 at Town Hall, at 6 p.m. It is free and open to all members of the public. Take an hour to learn more about these devices which can save a life in mere minutes. If you have any questions, please contact me at 860-738-6962 or Jay Cohen at 860-379-0708. To complete some basic life-saving skills, the YMCA will host a future training and certification event for cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) next month. Thanks to Jay and the staff at the Winsted YMCA — their efforts to add to our quality of life are greatly appreciated. I have also tried to get and stay active with the Chamber of Commerce. It was related to me that the town had never had a regular presence at Chamber events, so I have been made to feel very welcome. I have met several area business leaders, but they are predominantly from Torrington more than Winchester. Everyone at the Chamber is cordial and open to working with the town, but my first meetings with the group were characterized by skepticism and plenty of “war stories” about past Winsted shortcomings. We do have a troublesome history to overcome, but working face-to-face with other area leaders is a good start.A more locally-oriented group that I’ve started to work with is the Winsted Merchants Association. This loosely-formed group meets monthly and is led by Dick Labich. The meetings provide a forum to share information to me from the merchants and vice versa. It is a refreshingly open dialogue and I take the business owners’ concerns seriously. A fun aspect related to this group has been the creation of a small business bowling league on Thursday evenings at Laurel Lanes. The February meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 9 at 8 a.m, at the Green Room. For more information, again, please contact me.I have spoken at the Lions Club, the Rotary Club, Gilbert School and the Methodist Church. I’ve worked as a celebrity server for the United Way. I regularly attend the monthly regional meeting of the Litchfield Hills Council of Elected Officials. I try to get to all of the key area events, as well, such as downtown parades, Laurel Festival activities, and events at Whiting Mills (such as Bubbles and Truffles on Feb. 10 to benefit Friends of Main Street and downtown revitalization efforts). Later this month, I will visit Regional Middle School.The groups and events are a wonderful way of keeping my days and nights full. Nearly everyone that I have met is enthusiastic and optimistic about moving the Town forward, but they also recognize that we have significant work to do. Find a group to get involved with and help just a little to build our community. Dale Martin is the town manager of Winchester.