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OC Future Committee shares ‘rest of story’ from recent research

OC Future Committee shares ‘rest of story’ from recent research
By TIM BRADY
Special to The Messenger
As the late Paul Harvey would have famously said, “And now, for the rest of the story,” especially when it involved grass-roots efforts all across America.
Such is the Obion County Future Committee and its final tally of votes from its first survey.
Ballots kept coming into The Messenger even toward the end of summer, and as was apparent with the first round of votes, people who took time to write down their opinions had very good ideas for improving our area’s livability.
Doctors, small business owners, truckers, lawyers, students and retirees with grandchildren — and the grandchildren, too, in some instances — filled out survey forms and wrote comments on the back or mailed letters with more ideas. Results will be emailed to Future Committee chairman Bo Pate, who is currently serving our country in Kuwait.
Members hope to have at least one project launched by the time he returns late next summer to his baby daughter (who will be a year old then), and his proud wife, Holly Watkins Pate.
Many of those replying also said they would be willing to put in time and effort to get their ideas off the drawing board and into reality. Final results stayed the same, with a shopping mall being the most popular upgrade for the area, a music festival in second place and boosting local tourism a strong third place. Community build-up for small business came in fourth, while a YMCA/family recreation center edged out a mega travel center by 10 votes for fifth place.
Here are some more of the best ideas and suggestions:
An anonymous thinker wrote, “Just some brain storm ideas” (no particular order):
• Move Discovery Park to empty Goodyear plant (remodel to fit DP);
• Put medical/cancer re-search facility in Goodyear plant (will attract good doctors);
• Outlet mall in Goodyear plant w/indoor water park;
• Amusement park similar to Opryland (in Nashville). 
Lee Ann James reminded all that the build-up for local tourism should include the new airport extension, while Jim Bondurant voted for “Music! Music! Music!!” Another musical idea came from Linda St. Clair, who suggested a karaoke weekend.
Many voters commented on the “eyesore” presented by the old Reelfoot Packing plant, which Messenger readers will note has recently been front-page news as efforts to deal with the problem have begun.
John V. Nicks weighed in with very strong arguments for the mega travel center. “We need jobs; that means business that will support jobs for more people. Most of the things and ideas listed (on the survey sheet) are not long-term jobs ideas. As to shopping malls, we have that; plus people need a job to have money to spend at a mall. Truck stops create jobs as well as bring in more places (food vendors, parts vendors, etc.). A truck stop will be better since we are on truck routes. If you check, there is not anything on the road that is a quick and easy turn-off and back onto the road. A truck stop/mega travel center will be a plus when I-69 opens.”
There was another anonymous mention of a big dream for the future, specifically located in Union City — an indoor swimming pool. This would make the pool useable year round and also foster such things as arthritis-relief swim classes for older people and beginning swimming classes for the tadpole set.
Finally, Reuben Kendall really did some brainstorming. A couple of voters had suggested a liquor store, but here’s something to think about: “A local brewery and bakery. These two go together and could provide a source of our beer and quality bread that would be more accessible and affordable than otherwise. This would also be a local attraction for people from nearby cities, regions, etc.”
And he added another idea that wasn’t on the survey: “Community Gardens would be nice to see. These would take more individual volunteer work, but they could provide a source of fresh food and possibly even income via the farmer’s markets for those who raise enough to sell. If an apple orchard was installed for cider apples, local cider could also be a source of income and/or publicity for the community.”
Looks like the Victory Gardeners, begun just weeks before the “Strolling in the City” event in August, were thinking along the same line. This group has already begun three community gardens, one at Union City Housing Community Center, one in a formerly vacant lot on Exchange Street between the First Baptist Church and St. James’ Episcopal Church and a third area which is due to be planted this coming spring at the East Gate Village Apartments. You can find this group now on their Facebook page, at http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/VictoryGardners/  People and ideas welcome.
The Obion County Future Committee is just in its infancy as a grassroots organization, so watch for more of its efforts in the near future.
The next brainstorming session to take the top three ideas to the next level is being planned for early 2012. To become a part of the northwest Tennessee future, join us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ObionCFC/  — to our future and beyond.
Editor’s note: Tim Brady, a Kenton resident, co-owns Write Up the Road Publishing with his wife, Terri.
Published in The Messenger 11.1.11

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