5. Promote cooperation
A county without merged government does not have to be a county with competing authorities. The three local governments - city, county and school district - should be working together, not dominating one another. But in the past year, there have been many instances of one trying to one-up another over a particular issue: the proposed break-up of the joint planning commission; the vicious dog ordinance, which the city approved but makes use of the county dog shelter; and industrial recruitment, which the county also helps pay for but does not receive any payroll taxes from unless the the business is located outside the city limits.
For government to work in the best interests of constituents, each sector must be concerned about how its actions affect the others.
For example, if the city approves the development of a subdivision that has 800 children, the school board will be forced to build a new school as soon as possible, which ultimately costs school district taxpayers. Or if the county recruits a new industry and the city annexes it, the county doesn't get any payroll revenue.
The beginning of the new year looks positive, with new leaders of the school district, city and county proposing a public forum to gather input from citizens and challenges and possible solutions facing all of us, and a joint meeting planned by the city commission and county magistrates.
We hope this cooperative approach continues throughout the terms of our new leaders.
6. Fight drug addiction
A series the Sun published last year on drug overdose deaths in Clark County opened the eyes of many people to the problem of substance abuse here. About the same time, a new faith-based coalition was mobilizing to wage a war on drugs and help addicts.
It was encouraging to see hundreds of concerned citizens take part in a rally last fall to call attention to this issue. Teenagers, elders, former addicts and mothers of victims let it be known that they intend to take back their neighborhoods and rescue those in bondage.
All of us, including our public officials, police officers, prosecutors, pastors and medical professionals, need to get behind this effort. Let's establish a treatment facility, create neighborhood watches, form counseling groups, offer rewards for the arrest of drug dealers. Do whatever it takes within the law to end this scourge and save those we love.
7. Grow businesses
City and county officials deserve credit for bringing Sekisui, a Japanese manufacturing firm, to the Winchester Industrial Park, and trying to recruit a training facility for the National Guard, FEMA and other entities.
We need to continue efforts to attract such large employers, but we also should try to keep the ones we have, such as Martek and Winchester Farms Dairy, by providing the public services they need.
It is small businesses, however, that create most jobs, and we should make more of an effort to grow that sector.
One thing Winchester needs is a fine restaurant that has a room with seating capacity for banquets and business conventions. Either the Opera House or the former Mrs. B's Restaurant would be a good location downtown, and areas near the interstate offer other good possibilities.
We could also use more retail, both downtown and on the Bypass. Especially, we need to recruit businesses that support our agricultural industry, such as farm implement companies and produce markets.
Expanding the community college, attracting high-tech businesses and establishing an office park are other possibilities we should pursue.
Industry is desirable, but we need to have a broader vision of economic development.
We have much to offer in Winchester and Clark County. Let's not sell ourselves short.