Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 7, 2016

You just never know

By Bill Gray

By BILL GRAY

Mt. Pleasant News

You never know if the glass is half full or half empty.

Adage or cliché? Or both? Or does it depend on the context?

I could add, “You never know,” couldn’t I?

Who would have predicted that in September in Mt. Pleasant and Henry County that the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion would be no better than the third-most discussed news topic?

Who could imagine a scenario where we aren’t sure where to put our trash next month, yet things are looking up?

Alaniz/MetroGroup is the single largest reason for optimism, though there are other – more subtle -- positive signs for our area as well. Those of you who are able to block out every train horn that sounds in Mt. Pleasant might also have ignored the recent news from this local industry: Along with some innovative partnering with an international “player” in Xerox, the locally based direct mailing giant plans to increase its workforce to about 800 by year’s end.

So when Alaniz purchased and merged MetroGroup into its operations earlier in 2011, how many of us saw a half-empty glass where one industry was going away, and its jobs with it? And yes, it appears there were some initial losses as duplicated positions were eliminated.

But now the leadership of Alaniz/MetroGroup is again emphasizing its 800-goal job that it talked about way back when the merger was announced. Kudos to Randy Seberg and the leadership of the administration and investors of the company for continuing to make a public commitment to expansion.

It’s one thing for company leadership to meet in a boardroom with the doors closed and talk about future ambitions. It’s quite another to engage the community by talking to all of us about goals and plans, and it speaks well for them and for their opinion of us, don’t you agree?

A most positive news item to put on the front page, while other positive signs for Henry County and its communities would be what is NOT on Page One. Cities, counties, school districts and other units of government across Iowa and Illinois have been meeting and making abrupt and radical cuts in spending. Why? The reasons vary, but generally there has been a downturn in tax revenue and cutbacks in state and federal funding.

Many local governments have reacted slowly to changes in funding, and now they have to “pay the piper” (definitely cliché). There have been full-on crises in some cases, where essential services such as police and fire protection, or closing of schools or other sites for services, have taken place.

There have been changes in Henry County, to be sure, but there have not been these types of budget crises. This speaks very well for your administrative folks who work with your tax money in their budgets, and it speaks very well for those school board directors, city council members and county supervisors that you elect to oversee your tax money.

Think about this: The fact that there was no contested races for school board directors out of four districts in Henry County – that’s none, zero, nada (cliché?) – says something about the lack of crises, doesn’t it? I suppose the “glass is half empty” contention would be that we voters aren’t paying enough attention.

But I like to think that enough of us have been, and we’ve just decided to follow the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”