While there is no way the gym at Duxbury Middle School could comfortably contain every resident in town in it’s uncomfortable metal chairs, those who did attend Saturday’s first session of the 2004 Town Meeting were glad to do their part as citizens. While there is no way the gym at Duxbury Middle School could comfortably contain every resident in town in it’s uncomfortable metal chairs, those who did attend Saturday’s first session of the 2004 Town Meeting were glad to do their part as citizens.

In addition to learning the latest about library accreditation and the “peak” seasons for cremations, attendees of this weekend’s gathering let their voice be heard and shaped the future of Duxbury.

Moulton Road’s John Taft estimates that his appearance Saturday may be his 40th time attending Town Meeting and says it is the obligation of all citizens to do the same.

“I like learning about the government of the town and help determine its direction for a year,” said the 44-year Duxbury resident.

Taft admitted that his least favorite part of Town Meeting is the portion after lunchtime where he said he gets pretty exhausted, but he sticks it out nonetheless.

“I’m always concerned with the whole picture, not one issue,” he said.  “Some people just come for one issue and then leave.”

Richard Reed of Lake Shore Drive was also attending close to his 40th Town Meeting and feels it has a little bit of something for everyone.

“It’s entertaining as well as informative,” said Reed, who’s been a resident since his birth 63 years ago.  “I like the debate, but not the people in the debate who say the same thing over and over again.  There’s a time in the debate where you need to move the question.”

Reed said he’ll keep coming to Town Meeting as long as he can as he hopes to have a voice in keeping those getting older as residents.

“I’d like to stay in town and if we have a ëspend’ attitude completely, I may not be able to,” he said.  “I love it here and I believe in education and the other issues being discussed, but at the same time, I don’t want to be driven out.”

While Reed has been coming to the gatherings for years, Bayberry Lane’s Dana Narlee made Saturday his third town meeting, attending every year he’s lived in town.

“I’d say it’s the number one duty of citizens and I’ve been able to learn about the history of the town being fairly new,” he said.  “I like finding out about the town’s past and past decisions made.”

The downside, said Narlee, is that Town Meeting always seems to come on the most beautiful days when everyone has a million other things to do.

Saturday was also the third Town Meeting for Deb Bowen of King Caesar Road.  Bowen said that she also likes the debate that accompanies each year’s gathering and joining her neighbors to make decisions for the town.

What she does not like, however, is that not everyone in town gets a say because some people, such as her husband, can’t make it that particular day to vote.  From going to a ballot on issues not determined after one day to implementing a lottery for articles so proponents of a particular issue can’t stack attendance in their favor, Bowen said there are some changes she’d like to see made to the town meeting process.

One part of the process that Blodgett Avenue’s Doug and Barbara Bartlett enjoy is the availability of babysitting.  This year, daughters Emma, 5 1/2, and Helen, 7 1/2, spent time with other kids while mom and dad got out and voted, but regrouped for lunch.

“If it wasn’t for the babysitting, the alternative is that one of us doesn’t go or we hire a teenager to watch them which costs more,” said Mr. Bartlett.

Mrs. Bartlett noted the hard seats as a downside for voters, but was optimistic that next year’s Town Meeting at the Performing Arts Center will be not only more comfortable, but have better line of sight to everything going on.

Like their fellow citizens, the Bartletts also feel that taking time out to voice an opinion on the happenings of town is worth showing up.

“It’s rewarding to be able to impact the town’s priorities,” said Mrs. Bartlett.

Susan Taylor of Bay Road certainly made Saturday a priority.   Self-admittedly “hobbling” around on crutches, Taylor said she had an excuse to stay home, but hasn’t missed a Town Meeting since 1970 and wasn’t about to start now.

“I didn’t want to miss anything,” she said.

Husband Jim has a pretty impressive voting record as well.  He’s attended 45 town gatherings and said that he likes the camaraderie of joining with neighbors to vote for or against what he believes in.

“I like to make my own decisions and don’t like to leave it up to others,” he said.

As for those who didn’t attend on Saturday or on Monday, Mrs. Taylor said that they all had their chance to make a difference.

“I can’t imagine anyone daring to complain about something in town if they haven’t sat through Town Meeting,” she said.