Sic transit gloria mundi

McZENA MUSE - Louise Swartzwalder

BELLVILLE, BUTLER — Towns and villages of this size take care of their own.

A couple of things happened over the last two weeks that brought that message home, clearly, quietly and sometimes in a fashion that was hidden.

First, a Clear Fork valley icon passed away on April 26. He was Van Wade, owner of Wade and Gatton Nurseries and known almost worldwide for his work with growing things — in particular hostas.

A flag which says Bellville is a Tree City USA was lowered to half mast.

This was done barely moments after people began to learn of his loss.

Earlier, now two weeks ago, something you could call a “kerfuffle” occurred at the Clear Fork Valley School District board meeting.

You’d think what happens in a school board meeting would be non-controversial, (yawn), boring.

Ordinary things did happen. People got to view new, more polished renderings of the two new school buildings in Butler and Bellville.

Then, the issue of what to do regarding the re-hiring of a coach came up.

It turns out that coach, Steven Bechtel, is hated by some and loved by some.

Bechtel had been varsity basketball coach. According to school superintendent Janice Wyckoff, she had informed him she was not going to renew his contract. She said she was pressured in some fashion, and his issue was put back on the agenda.

The result is the usually one to two hour meeting lasted nearly all evening.

Following the action of the board — (they voted three to two to give him a one-year supplemental contract), the full to the ceiling crowd at the meeting vented. They did it, some wishing to be anonymous. Others said they didn’t care who knew how they felt.

The ones who spoke on the record said they thought people should know the coach had sometimes been a bit too forceful, using improper language.

One resident, Skip Hursh, said he was speaking as a concerned parent, not as a person representing the Boosters Club.

Others said they didn’t care who knew how they felt. One woman who said she wanted to remain anonymous said the whole thing “wasn’t over.”

How does a person who is supposed to be only an observer judge the merit of the items just mentioned?

If you want to be cosmic about it, you could ask what a person wants to be known for, in the end.

A couple of things, to me, are obvious.

Because I have to approach all this from the perspective of a journalist (meaning always neutral) I realize it is sometimes difficult to divorce yourself from what is happening.

Sure, things like the school board meeting mayhem are attractive, even seductive, because they confirm you still have the desire, and the chops, to cover a good story, and hopefully, do it well.

A story like the one on coach Bechtel can take on its own life force. People read that story, or hear about it, maybe by looking at a site on the internet.

One gentleman sent in a letter to the editor, because he wanted people to know he was one of the persons supporting Bechtel.

Others disssected and diagnosed the story, trying to get a feel for the true meaning of what happened in the Clear Fork school district.

It’s probably a good guess no one will ever truly know the full truth about what happened there.

Sometimes I feel it is good to stop, take a breath, and go on.

That opinion was just reinforced by a kind caller, who said she sometimes feels people don’t look at things in a larger, more comprehensive way.

Do people ever think about what they’d like to be remembered for?

That’s not a light question, because the painful, narrow truth is that sometimes people will know only what is written about a person in an obituary.

An obituary does not tell the truth about a person. It is impossible to encapsulate what a person is all about in the length of an average obituary. They can be from four inches, to eight inches, to many more, when they hit a newspaper.

When I lost my father, I decided his resurrection should be something that was celebrated.

In weighing the importance of the two things that recently happened here, I’d say people should be focusing more on the robust contributions of a man like Van Wade.

He was responsible for making much of the downtown area of Bellville bloom.

What is happening in the school district is important, sure.

Everyone’s focus on the building of two new school buildings was hammered a bit by the need to handle the hiring, or not, of one coach.

Some things, in fact most items of that nature, become just dust blown by the wind.


Louise Swartzwalder