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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Now & Again: Time to step up

Monday, November 7, 2005

I often hear complaints about how Cherokee doesn't have any jobs available to help people stay in the community. Although there may be jobs available, they are often ones that don't provide a living wage. I also hear, once in awhile, about how Cherokee doesn't have anything to do.

Sometimes people mistakenly think that the city government has control over bringing businesses, with jobs to offer, into Cherokee. In reality the city government does not have control over bringing businesses into Cherokee.

However, the city government does have control over what might draw businesses with jobs into Cherokee. Many times what keeps businesses away is the lack of building space available. If someone with vision and a lot of money wanted to fill that need, they could stand to make more money.

Instead of concentrating on what Cherokee doesn't have, let us concentrate on what Cherokee does have. I will give you some clues. Since I have had the opportunity to live in many places throughout my life, I feel I am qualified to give my opinion. Some day I will walk you through all the places I've lived and visited.

Cherokee offers small town living with larger town amenities. That means that our children are being raised in a community where they are safe and free to go the pool or the library, and play outside with their friends without fear of something really super horrible happening to them. Yet we have small and large retailers who offer most of what we need and want. We have fast food joints, restaurants, a multiplex movie theater, a daily newspaper, and a radio station.

We live in a gorgeous valley filled with trees, rivers, and creeks. This provides an abundance of natural resources that can and should be promoted. My favorite part of Cherokee is the tree lined streets that give a certain feeling of coziness. It's not the cold harsh suburbs where all the houses are the same with nothing but pavement and grass.

People in this community are friendly, giving, and supportive. They are down to earth and for the most part honest. The town is big enough were not everyone knows each other but it is small enough that it feels that way. We also have a multitude of community organizations for all ages and interests, along with many churches for a variety of faiths.

The city has a beautiful library with a great collection of items and services. The pool project is worth doing no matter what anyone else thinks. I have every confidence in the fundraising efforts to make the project a reality, as is, without scaling it back. After all, we did manage to build a community college campus in this town, which is yet another asset and how much did that cost again?

It is my opinion, but I feel we have a great school district with dedicated teachers who aren't afraid to try new programs to encourage life long learning. They work with what they have and do what they can to get what they need.

I don't ever remember living in a community where the youth had the initiative to step forward and do what they could to help others, such as the recent efforts to help hurricane victims. What does that tell you about the integrity of the people living here?

Our medical community has come a long way in the last 10 years and it continually improves, which will ultimately also increase the value of living in Cherokee.

We have the unique designation of a Historical and Cultural District, run with that, play it up. What better way to create our own jobs and destinies? My point is why do we need businesses to come and bring jobs with them when we can turn Cherokee into a place of destination for visitors, thereby creating our own jobs and maintaining our small town way of life.

I will give you a great example of a place where this has worked and still works today.

Nearly twenty years ago I vividly remember riding in the back of our family pick up truck with my sister, we were cruising the country side around a small town north of Kansas City, Mo. My dad had just been stationed at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan. right across the river. He wasn't about to have us live in Leavenworth, Kan.

We pulled into this little podunk town, going down a hill, we were on Main Street. A mere two blocks long with gravel instead of pavement and three old men sitting on a board bench watching the day go by. I remember my sister and I looked at each other and I said, "I don't want to live here, do you?" My sister wrinkled up her nose and said, "No." Needless to say my parents thought it was great and we ended up renting a house out in the country which turned out to be better than living in town. Later when my parents bought a small farm a little closer to town, one of those old men became our neighbor and a dear old friend, Jug, was the name he went by.

Anyway to bring you to my point, in the five short years I called Weston, Mo. my hometown, the tiny little town of about 1,500 people, paved Main Street, built a brand new library, restored old Civil War (ante-bellum) buildings, and played up their new found reputation as the antique town (because every other store on Main Street and then some were antique stores), and they remodeled the school that held all grades K-12.

Earlier this summer I was trying to find the Weston Chronicle newspaper online in hopes of finding the obituary of another dear old family friend. Although I never did find the obit I did find the Weston, Mo. web site. To my surprise the little old town is doing quite well.

The people of the community have developed their niche of antique stores, wineries, and restaurants to the point that it drives the rich and restless from Kansas City, on both sides of the river, right into their pocket books. It also helps that it is home to McCormicks Distillery and Jesse James and his gang ran through the area on a regular basis.

The best part is, the people in the community are able to maintain their beloved small town way of life that is so attractive to visitors. Now, when you think of that scenario, then think about how much more Cherokee has to offer, you have to ask yourself what you could do to be a part of the solution.

People will always have something to complain or whine about, but unless they are willing to be a part of the solution, their opinions should maybe be taken with a grain of salt. Those that are part of the solution, the ones with the vision and gumption to take action to make Cherokee a better place are the ones that should be commended because they have stepped up.