Small Towns Matter

Mural Parking Lot in Wilmington Ohio


While I don’t think everyone believes this: there’s a lot of good that comes from a small community. There is some comfort knowing that many will make an effort when things are not going well. And, in a small community everyone knows when things are not going well. We talk.

We talk at MacDonald’s, we talk after church, we talk at the barber shop and we talk at the grocery. We know when others are hurting or needing support. We know when there is joy and happiness, too.

There is resilience and affirmation that comes from growing up in a small community. You can’t get away with very much, a lot of what happens in middle school flakes off in high school, but some of it does stick. The adults who are role models take that responsibility seriously. They want you to grow up and believe in yourself. They want you to become a role model –this is their greatest reward.

It is good to know that while we have differences, most of us agree to disagree and move on…in a small community, it’s okay to be a Democrat that votes Republican or vice-versa for the right candidate. In fact, that’s expected. Many times, differences are really just a smidgeon one side to the left or right of the middle. More often, real arguments erupt over progress. Change is the hardest thing in a small community.

I have seen this small community pick itself up many times when it was kicked down the steps, when it didn’t get the state funding or when the big company decided it was time to cut and run. I have seen folks pitch in to build houses, pay for groceries and share in Thanksgiving.

Now, there are things that this small community needs to face: we have a growing drug problem. Too many people are hooked and it’s killing everyone, not just the addicted. We have a mental health problem—depression is sucking the joy out of our people. We have a teen pregnancy problem. There are too many kids raising babies, and too many grandparents raising kids and babies. This is small community reality time.

We have to get up and face these just like we have in the past. We are strong and we have the ability to beat down these adversaries—drugs, mental health and teen pregnancy.

We have named it and it’s go time.

There was some really bad news that came out of the Clinton County health assessment last week: Clinton County has a deadly drug problem. We are more depressed. And some stuff stayed the same: we are leading in teen pregnancy and cancer is our most fatal disease. The health assessment was done by an organization, Professional Research Consultants, that has come to our county before—they compare our numbers to both a state and national criteria. Our community needs to fight back on some of its most pressing problems the way we did when DHL left town.

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