Our readers write

Our readers write

Posted: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 8:01 pm

We need leaders
and not excuses

To The Editor:
I would like to begin this letter with a little background. My family and I have lived in Union City now for over 22 years. My wife, Pam, and I have, with the grace of God, raised three boys, who are now married men who are beginning families of their own.
I know that, most likely, it is the hope and dream of all good parents to see their children grow up, get a good education, find a job locally, marry, have children of their own and become good productive members of society. Well, we have been blessed by God, although not without a good measure of blood, sweat and tears, to watch our boys accomplish the growing up, get a good education, get married and we are now expecting our first grandchild, and become good productive members of society. But for the most part, they just won’t be members of this community due to the lack of opportunity for good-paying jobs and it is this part of our lives that has spurred me to write this letter.
For the record, I worked at the Union City Goodyear plant for just over six years. It was due to my stupidity, and mine alone, that I lost that job. Also, I might add, the actual job I did inside the plant is the only job I have ever had in my life, and those who know me well know that has been more than just a few, that I can say I truly loved. Everything about it. But, this letter is not about Goodyear as a corporation, the local plant as a facility, the union, its members or any of that. This is about apathy and the evidence of it shown by this community and its leaders.
Apathy, as defined by Webster’s, is a lack of interest or concern. It has been with no small amount of interest or diligence that I have read the articles written in The Messenger, especially those written by staff reporter Kevin Bowden, and listened to various news outlets from across the region.
It was the article written by Mr. Bowden on Feb. 11, and his coverage of the news conference hosted by Goodyear at the local Hampton Centré Feb. 10, that actually stirred my interest most. I called Mr. Bowden personally to make sure there had not been a misprint in the article. There was not. He reported that at the meeting, there was one elected official from the county, Benny McGuire, our county mayor, and no elected officials from Union City or any other local municipality. One elected official. Absolutely unbelievable. There were news crews in attendance from as far away as Cape Girardeau, Mo.
I should say at this point the closing of the local Goodyear plant will not have a direct impact on me or my family. However, it will have a direct impact on many friends at church and in the community. I do not wish to even appear insensitive toward anyone losing their job, my whole point is the apathy that is apparent around the community in general and with our elected officials specifically.
The testament to this can be found by simply looking to the comments made by our own mayor the very day the closing was announced. He said, “Some other company looking to expand, hopefully, will realize there is a good work force available.” Then, later, in response to the article reporting no elected city officials in attendance at the news conference, Mayor Terry Hailey said, “The city was not informed of the meeting. If we had been, there would have been several people representing the city there. We regret we missed it, but we didn’t know.” Incredible that people in Cape Girardeau and Paducah knew, but our own city did not.
The mayor is also quoted as saying, “The Goodyear plant is not in the city limits and the city receives no tax money from Goodyear. The city only received a $25,000 donation from Goodyear. That is all we get except utilities.” According to the same article, Goodyear has both a direct and indirect payroll impact of over $184 million annually. Wonder how much of that is spent in Union City? Also, the same article included the direct property tax paid by Goodyear in 2009. Of that tax, over $386,000 is apportioned to the Obion County/Union City school systems.
So, we have a group of elected officials who did not know about a news conference concerning what one official referred to as “an economic nuclear bomb” that was attended by news media from up to and over 100 miles away. The best response was, “We didn’t know and now there will be a good workforce to pick from; we don’t have to worry because we only get utility payments and a donation from Goodyear.”
If this were not so serious, it would be comical. But, this is serious, no one in this entire region will be completely immune to the impact. Some will be more isolated than others, but every single person will be affected. Now is the time for God’s people to pull together, pray like we have never prayed before and remember, God is still on His throne, He is still in charge, He is still in control and not one single bit of this caught Him by surprise. Now is the time for strong leadership, time to stand up and lead, not make excuses, deflect the truth or continue with this pervasive apathetic attitude. The reality is, that should this plant closing come to fruition, it will hurt deeply, but it will not be the end of the world. The Bible reminds us that God’s grace will be sufficient and He will supply all our needs according to His riches. Pam and I have very rarely in almost 30 years together had all our wants filled, but God has miraculously always provided for our needs.
May God bless this country, this state and our community.
Rodney Gregg
Union City

Published in The Messenger 3.9.11

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