Times like these

A recent conversation with a friend led to our talking about life in Van Buren County and what, ultimately, made it unique.

First the bad news: There isn’t much money ‘round here. We know, dear reader, you know this; we know you are living with this reality. Others have pointed out that the county revenues - impacted by the loss of light industry and the rollback of natural gas extraction - the latter which cushioned the county while the rest of America was dealing with the 2007 recession - are down around Delta levels.

We, frankly, haven’t had the time to explore that assertion in great detail, but it sounds about right. The last census had us close to Delta levels, and money (see: natural gas) has left the county since those numbers were generated. Moreso: We go to the meetings, we see the budgets, we hear the concerns, and yes, money’s tight, no doubt.

And to be clear: It’s not dismal, it’s not end of the world or anything, but it is tight. Okay? (Don’t panic about something you read in an editorial.)

Because now the good news: Said friend pointed out what made this county unique compared to those in the Delta, where poverty is across generations. Here, friend said, was the difference: Van Buren County people remained hopeful, Van Buren County people were willing to work together.

He didn’t say this next part, but might as well have said it to sum it up: Nobody in Van Buren County - nobody worth talking about anyway - has given up.

And yeah yeah, another rah-rah editorial, but the facts are the facts: We, after all, go to the meetings, we see the budgets, we hear the concerns, all that, but we also hear the responses, we also see the work, the planning and, most of all, the forward vision.

And speaking of rah-rah this is as good a point as any to mention the hotel going in at Fairfield Bay, this is as good a time to mention the growing emphasis - and work - at growing tourism in the county, the result of people taking advantage of what’s available and doing what they can with it.

Just to be clear, that sign on 65 south going into Choctaw? That didn’t just happen. The mayor of Clinton and the school resource officer were in the ground welding on the silly thing to get it up there. The property owner agreed that it was good for the county and worked out the permission to put the sign there.

And it’s not like three people put up the sign (at one point we even held a bubble level while some bracket alignment was worked out - an incredibly minor contribution, granted, but proof editorialists do more than type … on occasion).

And we’re going to be that as well, here in the ink-splattered space of newsroom Van Buren County, we’re going to pitch in.

Oh sure, it’d be easy enough to fall in line with the rest of the howling torch-and-pitchfork crowd, offended by whatever decision was made lately, very easy. But that’s all it would be: Easy. Nobody said doing the right thing was easy; nobody said voting “No” on a budget request led to a “rah-rah.”

But everybody said - everybody who matters - that we’re going to keep rowing this boat toward the shore and rough seas are just part of the program. (Protip: The best way to deal with rough seas is to relax. You might get bumped around a little bit, but it’s not like you’re going to out-muscle the ocean. Also, salted crackers help keep your stomach still.)

Enjoy Archey Fest. It’s going to be a hot weekend so don’t forget to hydrate.

James 1: 2-18 (ESV)

Testing of Your Faith

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.