It is with hesitation I write this letter because it’s hard to criticize something I’m directly involved in – yet here I sit, a member of the Clinton City Council, writing about a deficiency in our city that needs to be remedied.
There is a distinct inequity when it comes to how resources are applied in the city. And it isn’t necessarily because anyone is bad – it’s because 1) there’s never enough money to go around and 2) government is made up of regular ol’ humans who are driven by their own passions, agendas and biases.
Over the past few years the City of Clinton has spent a lot of money on park improvements, on promoting the town for tourism to drive traffic to local businesses. We donate to help build local events. We spend money on many great and needful things. And much of that is "free" money. If a government body says, "I will give you $200,000 to improve your park system" you don’t say no — you say thank you because you need it. You need it because you live in a rural area that doesn’t have a lot of money, that doesn’t have a lot of opportunity for children. You need it because it will improve your community.
And, yes, every time one of those grants has come up I have voted for it, because of the value it adds to our city, the community and the dollars it brings in for tourism which we desperately need to promote.
But at the same time, the key is balance and this is where we fail. We absolutely cannot spend a quarter of a million dollars on a park improvement or give a $12,500 sales tax rebate to a new manufacturing company and then tell small business owners they get nothing. Or worse than nothing – as we give to tourism, as we give to big business we simultaneously ask small business to pay more than ever before.
It’s not right. And, for me, it’s not conscionable.
I am a hometown girl and I worked in the downtown after I graduated from CHS at a time when we had recovered from the flood and when business was booming. I walked across the street from the hardware store and had lunch at the Ozark Café. Every store was full, people were milling the streets and every shop was full. You know how it was. Most everyone who reads this letter knows because you were here with me.
It doesn’t matter how we got where we are today. What matters is where we go from here. For years, dedicated members of this community have tried to revitalize the downtown. They have worked tirelessly trying new things. We do not suffer from a lack of effort. The citizens of this town have a passion that amazes and inspires me. They are loyal and fierce about their home. And yet lately I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say they are tired, that they feel like giving up, that they feel like they don’t make a difference, that nothing works.
What I want to say is one person can make a difference. YOU can make a difference. What we lack is cohesion, a holistic vision. Now, when our energy flags, is the time to rise up and push to get our second wind. Or third, or fifth, or twelfth. However many it takes. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by pulling together right now and fighting for our town, fighting for ourselves, fighting to make our voices heard and for the dreams we have for our children and our grandchildren.
It is time to rally. Right now, the Chamber of Commerce is mobilizing to ramp up for a new year with a new director, if they can get some funding help from the City. Right now, a new volunteer group, CBRA, (Clinton Business Revitalization Association) is forming and they are fired up to make improvements to the downtown. Fellow Council Member Gayla Bradley and I are making plans and looking for funding that will help aid both of these groups’ efforts. The momentum is building and the time to make this happen is now.
Gone are the days when big business, when the arrival of a factory will save us. All trends in economic development indicate that what will save us is tourism and small business. We need to take a look at the dollars we spend to encourage growth in small business and create incentives for people to start new businesses or improve and expand existing businesses. The responsibility is on all of us – through City support, through open-minded and inventive business management and through the support of citizens willing to volunteer and shop local.
We need to talk to each other in productive ways, in supportive and uplifting ways that will get things done. Attend meetings, call your city council members, ask your JPs to continue to support and encourage their county-wide efforts that work in tandem to ours. Find out what you can do to help by calling the Chamber or CBRA.
Changes are coming to downtown and soon we will have stories of the glory of revitalization and I would love for you to be able to say you were part of it.
Clinton City Council Member
We would like to commend Clinton City Councilwomen Gayla Bradley and Wendy Russ for their heartfelt dedication to forwarding pro-business actions at the council meeting held Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. Though Russ’s motion with a second by Bradley to repeal the "sign ordinance"protested by dozens of local business owners was voted down, Bradley and Russ did the right thing.
We also appreciate the new volunteer organization — the Clinton Business & Revitalization Association — that has formed to help add extra energy to the ongoing efforts of many people and organizations for beautifying our downtown Clinton business district. We have volunteered to help by pulling weeds, planting flowers and painting storefronts.
It is inspiring to see so many of our friends and neighbors, organizations and leaders coming together in support of the vision we all hold dear for our community, working together in cooperation.
"Many hands make light work." May we all together and forever prosper in peace.
Jaimie R. Spence
Roni L. Spence
They act as if they are from an unknown, undiscovered planet that produces beings that are void of empathy; in my opinion, that would be that part of Congress responsible for having the U.S. government shut down. Out of this group, some are claiming to be born-again Christians. It seems these types of born-again Christians are takers rather than givers; helping the poor and needy does not seem to be any part of their agenda. However, giving tax breaks to the wealthy while demonizing the Affordable Care Act has been on the front and center of the Tea Party’s efforts to push back on the majority voice in this country; they behave as if they should punish the voters that voted President Obama in for a second term. That punishment comes in the forms of sequestration, the government shutdown, and the threat not to raise the debt ceiling. Not only is this behavior destroying the heart of the Republican Party, it could push the U.S. government into total chaos. It is my notion that the Tea Party (The Selfish Party) may have faulty wiring that is lacking of having feelings for others with lesser means; if that is so, sensible Republicans are needed to rise up with courage and stand with Democrats to bring our government back to that time when we believed in reasonable compromise.