Job well done by all

Friday, April 2, 2010

If we didn't already live here, we'd move here.

At least that was the vibe we took from Wednesday's "First Impressions" meeting with the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce and others involved in a recent community assessment project.

Last fall, the Chamber worked with Alliant Energy on a program called "First Impressions." The program offers a structured opportunity for a community to assess the strength and weaknesses of a community similar to theirs, while they do the same for you.

Cherokee was partnered with Atlantic because of the similarities in size and geographic location. Volunteers from Atlantic participated in an unannounced visit to Cherokee last September, becoming "secret shoppers" for a five-hour period to discover what they could about the town and its people.

The program has been successfully used in many states and hundreds of American communities, with Alliant Energy providing the materials and background information for interested communities.

The report at Wednesday's meeting at The Gathering Place in Downtown Cherokee was an interesting, well-done, glowing assessment of Our Town by the Atlantic volunteers.

Yes, they pointed out some of the warts they noticed in Cherokee, including closed businesses, blighted residential areas, and a few potholes, but over all they raved about Cherokee, its business climate, its scenic beauty, and the lovely entrance signage.

All said they felt safe and comfy while walking our streets and all were equally impressed with our merchants and the warmth and friendliness of the people. "Your town feels wholesome," said one.

One of the volunteers, a minister, said she would gladly move here if we had a church of her faith and a parsonage available.

We were extremely impressed with the Atlantic contingent's fervor, public speaking skills, dedication to their task, and how well they embraced and took serious this invaluable assignment to the total benefit of this community.

Among other things, the visitors were in awe of the Bacon Aquatics Center, our educational and health care facilities, and the "vibrant" businesses Downtown and on the South and North U.S. Highwway 59 thoroughfares.

"Don't take what you have here for granted," said one. "Look up when you go outside. Look up and around you and realize what you have here."

We applaud the Chamber and Director Julie Hering Kent for being astute and energetic enough to participate in this program.

We applaud Alliant Energy for stepping to the plate both financially and organizationally to ensure that this unique program serves its purpose.

We applaud Atlantic's wonderful ambassadors Harry and Cathy Ray, Dave and Dolly Bergman, and Russ Joyce for their voluntary involvement in such a worthwhile program.

And, ultimately, we applaud our incomparable friends and neighbors and business community for daily wearing their Sunday Best and wowing the Atlantic "critics."

Cherokee, once again, you did yourself proud.