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February 19, 2002

A roomful of folks met the other morning to talk about whatís good and what needs fixing here in Perry. About 25 men and women, some of the leaders of this community, came up with a list of ideas, short term and long term goals, as requested by the Perry Chamber of Commerce. All the points are laudable, and the best part is they are doable.

The purpose of the assembly was to outline a program for the Chamber this year and beyond under the direction of the newly elected C-C president, Rick Tearney. Sharing in the responsibility for getting things done is the chamber staff, composed of Carolyn Briegge, executive director, and administrative assistant Kaylee Martens, along with the groupís board of directors. Many of the objectives named at the session are not new; some of them have been cussed and discussed for years without a solution. Solving the problems they identified will not happen overnight, either. But at least they came up with a laundry list of changes that need to be made quickly along with a collection of dreams that may take generations to achieve. The important thing is, all of the ideas were laid out in an atmosphere of congenial objectivity. Comments from the group were frank and, for the most part, to the point. But everyoneís comments were discussed by the entire group.

Iíve been to meetings like this before and perhaps you have, too. The fact that they are even held shows the concern of people of this community about the stability and the future of Perry and all of Noble county. The time spent in weighing our condition is not wasted as long as some positive action results. If our flaws and beauty marks were weighed but nothing happened, it would be easy to dismiss the value of such seminars. That does not mean the Chamber of Commerce has the sole responsibility for developing a plan of action and putting it into effect. The Chamber is limited in what it can do by the constraints of time and manpower. The proof of the value of this assembly will be determined by the outcome of everyoneís efforts, and that includes you and me.

Do you want to see a more beautiful Perry? Then organize neighborhood committees and police up the trash Ė plastic cups, soft drink cans and bottles, paper napkins and so forth Ė that now litters just about every street in town. Or do the picking up by yourself. Do merchants want to develop a better image? Instruct clerks to greet potential shoppers who come through the front door, showing them a cheerful face and a sincere offer to help. Prove to them that itís smart to shop Perry first. Donít encourage buyers to pay sales taxes in other communities when they could help build Perry by buying at home. You get the idea. Be a booster, not a knocker.

Thatís enough from the soapbox today. Itís hard not to get worked up when you notice that we are in a changing economy and that help is needed. Donít blame the condition on Ditch Witch. Yes, thereís a lull in the market right now but that company is rock-solid and it will continue to serve as this areaís premier employer for many years to come. Just have faith and take the time to do what you can to keep Perry and Noble county moving forward. The Chamber of Commerce rightfully asks each of us to do his or her part. That organization cannot possibly do it alone.