As a reporter, school board and village board meetings hardly top my list of favorite news to cover. In fact, I consider covering meetings, “the chores” of the job.
With that said, one of my favorite nights yet in my journalism career, ironically, occurred during a recent school board meeting at Bureau Valley School.
The night started out dark and rainy, like a horror movie, as I pushed myself out the front door to my car. I knew a winter storm was on its way to the area, but I didn’t take note on just how quick and nasty it was.
Halfway between Princeton and Manlius, the wind picked-up; the rain turned to sleet; the sleet turned to snow. The closer I got to the school, the more adventurous my drive got as I pushed through snow, ice and what seemed to be tornado-like winds.
When I got to my destination, parked my car and got out, I found myself ankle deep in snow. I had left my boots back home and had chosen to wear flats with no socks; Bad choice on my end.
When the meeting was called to order, a motion to enter into closed session was approved by the board, and a large group of students, teachers and community members were forced to wait in the lobby of the administration office.
With three different parents on the list to voice their issues in a closed session, I figured the wait would be a long one, but I never imagined it would take two hours to deliberate the issues.
An hour into the wait, the weather outside refused to settle, and the lights in the crowded lobby began to flicker, causing a stir with the impatient group. The flickering continued in one section of the building until the lights failed altogether, and emergency backup lights were activated.
The aura got a little creepier as printers in the building turned off and on with the power, and a stove in the break room of the building continuously beeped loudly as the power came and went.
Another hour passed by, as the crowd dwindled down to half its size. It became evident the school board wasn’t going to give up on their meeting.
When they finally reconvened and the crowd filed back into the board room for open session, we found the room lit by only two backup lights.
We quietly filed into our seats in almost complete darkness. I looked around the room, squinting to make out who was sitting where. Some of the audience had their cell phones in hand, trying to provide light to follow their meeting agendas.
The board room’s ambiance was stranger than strange, and one to never forget. The board never skipped a beat as they continued regular business as if there was no blizzard banging on the windows of the board room, and as if there was never a power outage in the building. The audience sat in almost complete darkness as they listened to the board approve their bills, their new hires, their consent agenda, proclaimed the week FFA Week and discussed the district’s dwindling finances.
I must say that if every board meeting would be as exciting as this meeting, they possibly would make my list of favorite things to cover.
I’ll never forget the strange night in Bureau Valley. And now when people ask what my most exciting story I’ve ever covered is ... well, let’s just say I’ve got a new experience to add to my list. Thanks, Bureau Valley!
Bureau County Republican Staff Writer Goldie Currie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.