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Let’s look around us to see the future

Let’s look around us to see the future
Let’s look around us to see the future
Judy O'Bannon

A couple of weeks ago in this column, I fessed up to being a pack rat, a poor housekeeper and a sentimental social activist. I deduced this by looking around my house. I also suggested that you might find within your own homes, neighborhood and county clues as to your own profile.
Now, I am not a peeping Tom nor the village tidy cop, so I will leave your personal space to you to assess. Remember, there are no right and no wrong answers. Everyone is unique, and your home is your space. This little look around is only an exercise in understanding what we each like, use, need, appreciate or are caught up in.
What I am interested in doing together is looking at our town and county and seeing what they say about our priorities and provisions so that we might purposefully plan what we as a community want to be in the future.
Right off the bat, I see a big dedication to our health and a lifestyle that supports it. What a terrific YMCA, youth athletic program and county hospital we have. I realize a keen commitment to learning and growing as evidenced by our libraries, schools and adult educational programs. We feel nature is important to a good life as shown in our parks, trails and preserved woodlands and rivers. We honor our spiritual life with diverse and active religious institutions. We care about our history and heritage and work to preserve and celebrate them. And we love sports, as demonstrated by the basketball hoops on garages and in fine gymnasiums, as well as baseball and soccer fields filled with kids and parents. In other words, we are fortunate to live in an area with programs and institutions that provide rich and well-rounded opportunities for all of us. Take a bow all who have ever volunteered, served on a board, been an elected official or donated to a cause.
This county is a great place to live and raise a family.
We have institutions, families and neighbors that help teach our kids values and qualities we admire. It takes about $100,000 and thousands of hours by skilled adults to educate a child from kindergarten through high school. And then we send them off to quality colleges and universities. But, at graduation, they look back home and don’t see anyplace for themselves to work. Thus, our biggest export in Harrison County is our people.
What are we missing? There is usually a good reason that a program or amenity is not provided, but maybe we need to re-think whether we would do better in the future if we addressed these issues anew.
The first thing that catches my eye is lack of high-speed and business Internet. An outsider might readily get the idea that we don’t want to be part of the global economy. We could find ourselves left behind in the modern world if we don’t provide a more advanced commercial infrastructure.
If we look around our downtown, we see empty holes where buildings once stood. We haven’t replaced the commercial property next to Dr. Moss’ office or the Conrad building. How do we create an environment that looks inviting, rather than ‘on hold’ or abandoned? Most of the retailers around the square cater to tourists but are often closed on Sundays. Not a very lively place for a young person wanting the stimulation of active people and places.
The third thing that might be perceived is that we don’t want people to be too independent as they age. Most of the senior living facilities are a distance from grocery stores, pharmacies and other residential property where friends might live. Nor is it easy for our children to reach beyond the activities accessible to cars or the school bus for their activities. There are few options for getting around with independence if you don’t drive a car. Walking isn’t encouraged by our infrastructure or our traditions.
It could be assumed from looking at our downtown retail area that we seek only shoppers from outside the county. There aren’t too many practical everyday items sold outside the interstate intersection. In fact, it isn’t easy to live close to the town square without getting into a car to visit friends, go to the doctor, visit a park and, oh well, you get the idea.
It is often assumed that one of the best parts of living in a small town is being close to everything and everyone ‘ wait a minute what have we lost here?
And then we must face up to our lack of adequate new sewer lines to expand our infrastructure. I am still amazed that Keller Manufacturing Co. operated without sewers at their New Salisbury plant. It is a hopeful sign to know that by 2013 that area will have a new basic economic plan funded in Harrison County.
Maybe I have gotten an unrealistic picture of our county and need to take a longer look at it. In fact, let’s all take a longer look at the places we live and decide if we are providing what we want to enable the future we want.

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