Jerry's Jottings: Ten years ago, would I have come back? by Jerry Fleagle, Hoover Association · Op-Ed · April 12, 2013
One thing I have already discovered since coming to West Branch is if I mention a thought to Greg Norfleet, he is going to follow it up with a question and challenge! (Just like a good newspaper editor should!)
We were having lunch a few weeks after I started my new position as Executive Director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Association, when I made the comment that I didn’t know eight to 10 years ago, if offered the opportunity I got this winter to return to West Branch, that I would have. Greg called me later that afternoon, and said that’s something I need to share.
Let me preface the comment by saying I think that’s how far West Branch has come!
All communities have ebbs and flows. From my point of view, I think West Branch is poised for its next burst of greatness. Here are some things that helped “bring me back”:
• This community has leaders willing to step up and lead. Things are getting accomplished. Look up and down Main Street, and you see buildings getting renovated. Lots of storefronts are filling up, although we still have room for more. And when the demand exceeds supply, you will see even more restoration, renovation and building. But it takes support from the local community. Local businesses will, and have to, work hard to earn the business.
• I am impressed by how well people in the community are working together on projects. One project I am involved with is Hoover’s Hometown Days, Aug. 2 & 3. There have already been several committee meetings, and a lot of planning and work has already been done behind the scenes. And there are a lot of civic organizations and groups working to raise money for some good causes.
• The mindset is different now than how I viewed it 10 years ago. People can still disagree, but it’s important to pull together. People and leaders are talking about what and how things need to be done, instead of focusing on why something can’t or shouldn’t be done.
The community has needs that will need to be met, somehow, some way for West Branch to progress. Public Library space is cramped. More recreation opportunities need to be created as families become more aware about health and wellness. More residential development will bring more families to West Branch, bringing growth to the schools, and, along with it, challenges.
How will we, as a community, catch a big vision, and make it a reality?
Exciting stuff! I look forward to participating in these projects! How about you?