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I want to thank everyone that reads Henderson County Now and listens to our Henderson County Now Radio podcasts. We are so lucky to live in a country that allows us the freedom to communicate ideas and opinions. Here are my top 5 thoughts on current state of the county.

1. We are in dire need of genuine leadership. Not the leaders that tell us what to do or continue to do the same thing that has not been effective for a generation or more, but visionaries that see where we need to be in 50 years and build coalitions to get there. We live in an amazing county that has so many positives; time to put our community in gear instead of revving in neutral.

2. Our communication among one another must continue to be open and honest. Beating each other down because we have different viewpoints will not move the ball forward. We can agree to disagree without raising our voices, name calling or insulting one another. Just because I disagree with you does not mean we are enemies – it simply means that I have a different viewpoint. Most people don’t like conflict. I get it. I didn’t go to law school because I wanted to fight people, I went because I wanted to help people. Let’s remove the hate rhetoric in Henderson County because we have the power to do so.

3. We can’t grow economically until we actually have the infrastructure to support it. Roads and bridges are wonderful, but schools and housing are higher up on the food chain for executives looking to start or move their businesses. I believe there were less than a dozen permits for new houses in Athens last year. Really? We have to work with developers to build new housing and we have to bite the bullet on education and spend whatever it takes to make our schools exemplary. I know some will say you can’t buy your way up and I agree to a certain extent. Our problem is not overspending. Our problem is that as a community we don’t put enough emphasis on the importance of education.

4. When I hear that more than a third of our children in this county live under the poverty level I get physically ill. Many will say it is not the role of government to provide for those will less means. We have a lot of churches and lot of well minded volunteers and we still have a huge problem. If it’s going to be the private sector that resolves this issue, great. However, it’s my opinion that our local government must acknowledge the issue and work internally as well as within the private sector to make sure our local kids are not hungry and learn how to break the poverty cycle.

5. We’re wasting a lot of resources on dealing with our drug problems. Obviously warehousing drug addicts is not the answer. How can we continue to sideline this issue and think only law enforcement has the power to do anything about the hit we take in our county for being known as a druggie community? I read recently where over 70 percent of those incarcerated in state jails admit drug usage. Treatment is the answer and has to be made a priority.

These opinions are mine and mine alone. They are not the opinions of Henderson County Now.