Now the real work begins

Contributing writer

The first week of April has been an exciting one in Marion. It started off with a better voter turnout than we’ve had in recent years and then on Thursday the community center ballroom was filled with people supporting the downtown revitalization project.

A big thanks goes to the Pride committee for its hard work to bring us to this point and to Roger Holter and Margo Yates for getting the word out to be at the meeting. Marion does not have to be a diminishing community, and I believe this past week we made some clear statements that we refuse to be one.

The recent election and the prospect of receiving a grant won’t change things on their own. The community needs to come together and be active to help turn the corner.

As I look at our town there is no doubt that we need to reverse the trend of declining enrollment in the schools. This can be done in a variety of ways: getting families to move here and stay here, expanding existing families — some of you are really doing your part — and promoting our local district. We have great teachers, great facilities, and great programs.

Another thing we need to do is fill up these existing homes within our town and tear down the ones that are empty, uninhabitable, and beyond repair.

We also need to be intentional about economic development. For young families to come here and stay here there have to be jobs available for them. These jobs have to pay living wages that will not rely on the assistance programs to cover gaps in compensation. It is in the interest of every resident to work toward economic development in Marion. It truly will benefit us all.

Right now we have a large number of residents in our city who are paid by tax dollars. This isn’t bad; it just is. Many of those people are capable, hard-working individuals.

For example, when I called the city’s after-hours number to report an electrical problem Friday night, the city crew was already aware of it and working on it. I know what it is like to have a job where your plans can be interrupted without any warning, and I truly appreciate their willingness to get power back on for those of us experiencing a disruption in service.

However, we need an infusion of private sector money that does not rely on our taxes to pay salaries.

I sensed an attitude of hope in our community this past week. It was fun to sense that again; it had been quite some time since that attitude was last present. Elected officials and city employees cannot do this on their own. They need our support and encouragement. Let’s work together as we make Marion better tomorrow than it is today.

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