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  • Last modified 2284 days ago (June 21, 2012)

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What’s the point, anyway?

If life’s a beach, why does it have to be closed — or, at least, its enjoyment heavily discouraged — by toxic blue-green algae?

Such thoughts ran through the head of this particular father, already spending his vacation working, as he celebrated Fathers’ Day by sweating, with the help of a kind former colleague and her husband, doing home cleanup and repair.

Things ought to be easier.

A thousand pieces of a Coors Light bottle, discarded by a party or parties unknown, occupied a position of dishonor in the center of a front sidewalk.

At work, air conditioning filters hadn’t been changed in a year and a half, no contractor seemed to want to undertake a much-needed painting project, and no one seemed eager to accept responsibility for repairing a driveway approach so damaged by trucks’ shortcuts to make deliveries at other businesses that it last week flattened an employee’s tires.

The news of the week wasn’t any better. The best scenario for a Family Dollar store to open its doors here (and even if it does, it won’t advertise in the local newspaper) appears to depend on local investors, rather than distant wheeler-dealers, putting up $1 million to develop the site.

People who could do such things — and did 15 years ago with the September Apartments complex and, to a lesser extent later, with Kingfisher’s Inn — still are waiting to get their money back from those efforts. They aren’t exactly lining up to build a store that, 10 years from now, at lease’s end, could be the subject of a future PRIDE committee’s discussions about what sort of flower to paint on its empty windows.

Government isn’t faring better. Yes, it now has a plan, stretching to 2015, for making road repairs needed today. But because it can’t afford to tap into a state-of-the-art radio system installed by the state and forgot to worry about having enough land to put up its own antenna, has to consign Florence emergency workers to using personal cell phones as the only reliable source of emergency communication.

Because the federal government thinks Marion might be the next New Orleans should a Katrina-like storm come our way, most available city money for the next year will be devoted to dike inspection.

Although a current PRIDE committee has great ideas for improving the appearance — and, therefore, retail viability of — downtown, the only members of the public attending its second consecutive public forum on the topic this week worked for this newspaper.

Meanwhile, after devoting half a page of this paper to pointing out such things as broken down semi-trailers parked in residential areas at entryways to the city, the main comments from the public have focused on whether this writer’s cat actually does test her warmed milk by batting her paw into it. (She does.)

Even the local church where this writer’s membership still resides seems less than filled with the Holy Spirit.

Intractable problems require leadership and, more important, planning — neither of which seems to be in oversupply locally. We have to start where we can, do what we can, and make certain everyone else is pulling together or, most assuredly, we’ll fall apart.

The first steps don’t have to be big, but they have to be in the right direction. Pick up the Coors pieces. Attend the PRIDE meeting. Keep pestering the city about broken-down semis.

Dreams never come true unless we dare to dream them. Even cats testing milk seem to understand that.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified June 21, 2012

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