Here’s some of what we have heard from concerned citizens over the last two weeks:
“How can they tell me what to do with my land?”
“Why weren’t we involved?”
“This plan is for a few selected people in position to make policy.”
Here are two behind-the-scenes-of-a-newspaper truths we’ll let you in on from all this:
First, we love people coming to us about their community concerns; that’s why we’re here. We want to be Newton County’s information arm, and you are letting us know that’s what you want, too.
The other is that we want you to do something about it. Your concerns are real. This is your county, your land, your home.
The Fourth of July showed us Newton County still has a strong American spirit. The parades, patriotism and fervor all were reminders of this country’s historic strength.
You know what else is American’s historic strength? How this country came to be?
The people spoke out when they needed to. When people thought there was too much government control, foreign or domestic, they fought for change.
And it wasn’t just Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King and other popular historic figures. Chances are it was people of your relations — it has been a little of everyone.
They spoke up, stood their ground or showed up. They didn’t post, Tweet, blog or just second-hand complain.
The information age brought huge quantities of knowledge right to our finger tips. Then it progressed into the new media age, then the social media age. We can now speak up on all the information that is accessible everywhere we go, whenever we want.
But it has seemingly dulled us to just complain to computers, not policy makers.
Newton County, we believe we have a chance to speak up to the policy makers.
Those constructing the 2050 Plan have told us flat out “we want them to participate.”
There are still plenty of drafts left before the 2050 Plan becomes official.
Now, that doesn’t mean all the scary talk of land regulations and uniform structures and government oversight will necessarily go away. But it does mean you can tell Keith Ellis, Kay Lee, Scott Sirotkin and anyone else involved what you think, what you want, what you don’t like. And it may be productive.
There are five public hearings approaching on v1 of the 2050 Plan, the first coming Monday. You know what would be great? If Live Oak Elementary School was overflowing with people at 6:30 p.m.
We’re not writing the plan, so we can’t say for sure that if you voice your concerns and suggestions at these hearings they will be included when the plan goes to the Board of Commissioners probably in 2015, 2016.
But we can without a doubt tell you that if you’re given a chance to show your concerns, as strong as they are, and there is little or no action taken, it is shameful.