Each week, I comb through the Clay Today archives to compile This Week In History. Not only is my research, in part, a trip down memory lane, as the cliché goes, it’s a solid look at local modern history.
I lived here and read about at the time, the John Keene, clerk of court, scandal and the ensuing grand jury investigation that took place in the mid-1990s.
I lived here not long after that when the illegal dumping scandal took place that led to both a grand jury and an FBI investigation and a lot of damaged people.
The other day, I stumbled upon a column by Bob Henderson, a previous managing editor. One week about 10 years ago, Bob took to this same space here and offered a forum for the community to come forward and connect.
He said he wanted to hear from readers about the issues that are important to them. As I read it, I thought ‘That sounds familiar.’
I’ve done that too since I’ve been at Clay Today. And, we’ve all heard the cliché that history repeats itself. I have solid proof that it repeats itself.
Two weeks after Bob wrote his column inviting readers to write in and connect, he wrote a follow-up column. He asked simply, ‘Where is everybody?’
Three years ago, and when I began here six years, I could have written the same follow-up column Bob did, but I figured what good is that? I did ponder, for a few days, however, what phenomenon exists that makes people appear to “check out” and no longer participate much less stay informed. Is it the same behavior that makes people choose to not vote during an election? Either way, it smacks of apathy, which is not a healthy or welcoming trait for a community.
This page continues to be the public’s page. The Opinions page is simply that – a place where opinions are shared. Not every opinion shared is going to make everyone happy all of the time. The purpose of the Opinions page is to make people think, and then if needed, have them take action.
And because we are a local paper, we ask that the Letters or Columns or whatever you decide to rush out and not to send in this time, stick to subjects that matter here in Clay County. There is tremendous change slowly taking place in Clay County.
The unemployment rate for Clay County is at an extraordinarily low level (3.3 percent for August 2018, compared to 3.9 percent in August 2017), however, still more than 60 percent of our residents commute outside of the county for jobs. The local housing construction industry is back up and running steadily and there’s this ginormous (yeah, I used a non-word, word) roadway – the First Coast Expressway – under construction that is going to dramatically change our little hamlet forever. No turning back.
With those changes, look for more residents, more traffic, possibly crowded schools, possibly more crime. And with those issues facing us, elected officials who make decisions about roads and building new schools will be forced to wrangle with funding and creative solutions.
So, as you see, there are a tremendous amount of issues to discuss.
And, might I be so bold as to believe a reader will actually take me up on my offer this time, I have a few requests. Again, keep the subject matter local, No. 2, keep it civil. We also maintain the right to edit each letter for grammar and AP Style Book usage.
There was a tremendous amount of nasty behavior that was off-putting to a huge swath of Clay County voters in the run-up to the Aug. 28 primary, please keep that in mind when writing in.
I’ll be waiting, but I’m not placing any bets just yet.