To move county forward, it’s important to get in step

To move county forward, it’s important to get in step

Posted: Friday, September 28, 2012 8:02 pm
By: By David Critchlow Jr.

We’re in this together.
United we stand; divided we fall.
Why can’t we all just get along?
There are plenty more lines like that, but I think you get the point and I think all of them ring true for Union City, and Obion County right now.
I’m a Union Citian, which makes me an Obion Countian. I’ve always thought it was ridiculous when I’ve heard the us-against-them mentality from either side, with some claiming “city people” think they’re better than the “county people” and something similarly silly from the other perspective.
First of all, Union City is a community; it just happens to be the biggest community in the county. Wanna see what a city looks like? Try going to Memphis or Nashville or, on a much larger scale, go to New York City or Chicago. Those are cities.
We’re a blip on the national population radar hidden away in rural northwest Tennessee. However, that doesn’t mean we’re invisible.
Through the years, many companies have found Obion County. Did it happen because some corporate bigwig threw a dart at a map and then decided to locate here? No, of course it was nothing that random. It happened because we had people working together with a common goal — the betterment of Obion County. One person or single community didn’t bring Kohler here — or Goodyear or Tyson or any other number of companies through the years.
Sure, there may have been a point man who made the recruitment presentation, but there was always a support team behind him.
As a reporter, I remember taking part in an industrial recruiting trip to Springdale, Ark., for Tyson Foods. Former industrial recruiter David Hamilton was the point man, but he was far from alone in making the pitch for Obion County. The late county executive Norris Cranford, former Union City manager Don Thornton and the late businessman Buzz Tanner made the trip, but there were plenty of others involved in seeking — and eventually securing — the Tyson Foods expansion project for Obion County.
As was the case then, there should not be a competition between communities in Obion County (except sports, of course, which is a topic for another column). I would be thrilled for an industry to locate in Rives, just as I would for it to locate in Troy, Samburg, Hornbeak, Obion, Woodland Mills, South Fulton, Union City or Kenton. Why? Because, since we’re in competition for projects with Jackson, Memphis, Nashville and every other city and community in Tennessee, we don’t need to be squabbling among ourselves.
We had a great run with Goodyear of 40-plus years, but they’re gone, unfortunately. Tyson has been here 15 years and is an excellent corporate neighbor that we hope stays for decades to come.
But what do we do now?
Recently, staff reporter Kevin Bowden wrote a call-to-arms column in which he urged Obion County to take charge of its future. I concur and add that either our leaders need to put an end to the intra-county bickering or we need to find a new set of leaders whose goal is working together for our county’s collective benefit.
Don’t get me wrong, we have some fine folks who serve us in an oftentimes thankless job with minimal pay; however, we need for our leaders to set aside their differences and work as one, which appears to be easier said than done right now.
What would parents do if faced with a similar situation with children? Probably send them to their room and tell them not to come out until they have their disagreement resolved.
But we’re talking about grown women and men, of course, so let’s hope no one has to be sent to their room or the principal’s office to find an amicable resolution.
In the end, there’s no avoiding the fact Union City and Obion County are linked economically, with each benefiting from the other.
We’re all in this together and, as the old expression goes, “Let’s not cut off our nose to spite our face.” We all benefit from having each other around.
David Critchlow Jr. may be contacted by email at dgc@ucmessenger.com.

Published in The Messenger 9.28.12

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