By Sarah Mansheim
It’s New Year’s resolution time! Now is the time of year in which we assess what we would like to change about ourselves in order to be the most productive, attractive, svelte, responsible, happy and fulfilled. We wish to give up cigarettes, lose a few pounds, go to church every Sunday and pay off our credit cards—all good things, to be sure.
But there is a danger in too much self criticism, so I say, let’s look outwards, and think of things others need to change about themselves in the Greenbrier Valley. In that spirit, here are some resolutions I think the counties and municipalities should undertake:
• Let’s figure out snow days once and for all. For Pete’s sake, divide the county so that the west end is one district, and the east end is the other. Or, better yet, make downtown Lewisburg its own district so people who live downtown will stop yammering on my Facebook every time school is cancelled or delayed.
• Speaking of downtown Lewisburg, let’s make it more business friendly. Exorbitant rents make it virtually impossible for fledgling businesses to survive, and with the closing of two long-open businesses, Cooper Gallery and Plaid Eagle Antiques, we have two more empty storefronts. Meanwhile, parking is atrocious, and folks who do want to open businesses spend a ridiculous amount of time and money trying to figure out how to balance their building and renovation needs with the historical society’s stringent rules.
• Let’s invest in other downtowns like Rainelle, White Sulphur Springs and Ronceverte. Ronceverte has recently revealed its comprehensive plan, with great ideas to fill their downtown with shops, apartments and restaurants. The plan includes the development of a wetlands area for Island Park which will help manage flooding, a big reason Ronceverte isn’t flourishing as it should be. All we need is money. Grant writer Doug Hylton has devoted his career to helping municipalities get funding for infrastructure needs. He is a wiz at acquiring money. We just need more.
• So, let’s clone Doug Hylton! I think every town and municipality needs one. Think of all that could be done by people who combine a passion for service and history with the know-how to acquire funding. Sidewalks would be everywhere, and they’d all be leading to a prosperous, affordable downtown.
• Let’s find a way to properly fund the Greenbrier County Animal Shelter. The workers there are hopelessly underpaid, overworked and overwhelmed. The psychological ramifications of operating a kill shelter with limited resources is just terrible for the employees of the shelter, not to mention the animals. The shelter needs more room, more employees, more money. Let’s find it.
With a new county commissioner in place and mayoral elections coming up this spring, I hope to see a big push from our area lawmakers to get Greenbrier County in better shape in the coming year, both physically and fiscally, and spiritually and psychologically.