Rough road ahead includes local political challenges

        As I allowed myself to become caught up in the flow of patriotism, enthusiasm for the moment and, actually, something else yet to be identified during the past two days of remarkable national significance for Americans as a people, I couldn’t help recalling oddly similar, but different feelings when I first read Tale of Two Cites by Charles Dickens. Author Dickens began Book One, Recalled To Life, Chapter One, The Period with words so profoundly appropriate for today that I reprint them below for those who may have never read them.

     “IT WAS the best of times, it was the worst of time, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going straight to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

     It is impossible to not feel the hope and the dreams of tomorrow by witnessing the inauguration of our new president, yet you can’t help but feel a lonely ache which prompts a sincere prayer that, along with his fellow Americans, he can figure our way out of the dreadful economic and spiritual situation we have created for ourselves. As a nation, we are probably as smart as any nation has ever been on this planet in all of history, yet we have lost our focus, squandered the benefits of our wisdom and bankrupted our past and our future.

     Now we have a new direction with a new leader in whom we place an incredible amount of hope and faith. Though our new direction is one we followed in a similar condition in a previous time,  and we trumpet how we discovered success and salvation once before, I think we all, our new leaders included, feel that same lonely ache as we regroup in what we find is our winter of despair. It is with our devout faith, we will suppress that ache and pull together toward the season of Light.

     As our national leaders are now all officially sworn in and in charge of our futures, we can’t afford not to do our part and to not lose focus on the demands of keeping the home fires burning, so to speak, and making sure the kind of politicians who authored this national mess, aren’t represented in our state, county and city governments. We, in New Albany, have a great opportunity to emulate the nation and erase the slate clean.

     One of the first things a new city government can do is finally draft and pass a comprehensive plan for the City of New Albany. Although our County Supervisors have a few more years before they have to answer to the voters, they should also take heed that the time has come for the County’s comprehensive plan as well. Too much of our money has been spent by both governmental bodies and too much time continues to be wasted.

     Recently, the City of Saltillo’s Mayor Bill Williams announced that their city’s comprehensive plan, though only adopted in 2001, was outdated due to the city’s growth and called for another to be drafted for the future. Mayor Williams said, “This is not the board’s town or the mayor’s town, it’s the people’s town and we want the town to reflect our people.” Although the city has decided to use a non-profit, quasi-governmental organization to work of the comprehensive plan initially, their genuine intent to draft a plan and put it into effect in less than a year is clear. According to observers, Saltillo urgently needs a new plan to keep up with the explosive growth it has experienced.

     With a less explosive growth, New Albany still needs that same direction such a plan provides when our Board of Aldermen address planning issues or land use, giving them a basis for acting in the best interests of the citizens of our city. For the current board and mayor to adopt a true comprehensive plan for New Albany, at this point in time, would be a deliberate insult to the people of this city, who have had no real input at all.

     However, looking on the bright side, a new slate of city officials could, if mandated to do so, salvage our comprehensive plan, perhaps regain some of the money paid down on the plan that seems to never be finished, and actually adopt a real set of directions for the future that will reflect the will of the people.

     Local, county, state and national concerns are now more significantly related than ever before as we move forward with our lives. Education funding will be less and our creative skills will be needed again to provide more than we can afford, unemployment will increase, hurting people and families about which we can do little.

     We can, however, buy those things you need from local businesses, thus keeping money in our economy here at home. That money can save a job in New Albany or Union County. Those who do  not practice keeping money in our own economy, need not complain should their jobs or businesses fail.

     The patriotism and enthusiasm we witnessed on the national level and felt these past few days were punctuated by the ache of wanting our lives to get back to normal here at home, but not knowing exactly where to turn or what to do to get there.  

     That lonely ache we continue to feel is just a reminder that we cannot survive these next several years alone and that we as a community must look forward together, citizens, merchants and politicians.

About Chris Elkins

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