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Protecting small town feel crucial for future of county

“Here we are now, 

entertain us” – Nirvana

Rarely in a single survey do you see two paths so clearly defined as with the  743 responses to the community survey that is part of the Comprehensive Plan Update. 

In one place the public said what they most like about Pickens is our small town feel and then what they most wanted to see are more entertainment, shopping, restaurant and career opportunities.

The vision if the views were combined would be a plan to merge Andy Griffith’s Mayberry with Atlantic City.

Facilitators from the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission said that 100 responses from a community the size of Pickens is what they normally see -- the response  here was seven times that. It’s admirable that so many people voiced their two-cents-worth and understandably there were diverging views. 

There were also many who likely hold a subtler view that gets distorted in survey results – we like the small town, but need a few more restaurants and places to work.

We encourage those seeking more entertainment/shopping/growth as the highest priorities for our Comprehensive Plan Update to reconsider.

The pro-entertainment advocates are no small group. “Lack of entertainment for all ages” was the top gripe about the county, followed by the related response of “lack of local stores and restaurants” as another area that needs improvement.

The first problem we have with mixing business and government planning is those who seek more growth force bureaucrats to overstep their place. Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution does it indicate the government has any business entertaining people. The idea of governments providing entertainment went out of fashion when the Roman Empire collapsed under the weight of too many events at the coliseum. Those hoping the government will provide entertainment should find new hobbies.

We would further argue that the idea that government needs to develop stores and restaurants is also a tenuous proposition. Businesses are solely the decision of entrepreneurs with capital looking to make investments.

It is government’s duty to provide solid infrastructure, good roads and police and fire protection so that the businesses can open and thrive. 

That being said, if the city of Jasper created tax abatements or incentives to get entrepreneurs to choose Jasper over the surrounding areas, it  would be money well spent, particularly if it filled some of the empty buildings. 

Following the old wisdom that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, we encourage our community to follow the second path chosen on the survey – maintain and enhance the pleasant small town atmosphere here.

We are already doing well at this as Pickens County is a great community to call home. Rather than trying to become something we are not, let’s polish our image and improve what we already are.

Like guys who put on hipster clothes to impress friends, going in a new direction is hard, especially when this community has a very pleasant button down image that works for many of the residents.

Eventually we may find that marketing this community as a quiet peaceful place to live is also a successful business model for those who want to see growth. Attract people by touting our great community and some, but hopefully not too much, commercial growth will follow.

For those still hoping the government will create entertainment, we would point out  Atlanta is a short drive away or perhaps they should take up bird-watching.