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Marlinton Mayor’s Corner

My perspective last week on small-town living made me want to add something about small town planning this week.

What is small town planning?

The phrase itself reads like an oxymoron.

“Planning” implies control. There are descriptions that always make me smile.

For instance, the numbers vary, but, there are said to be more than 17,300 communities in the United States with populations under 50,000. By many definitions, any town under 50,000 is a small town. But, more realistically, when you realize the population of your home town is fewer in number than a typical graduating class, then, it is a small town.

Honesty should be the essence of small town living and small-town planning. Experience is born from a mix of tradition and common-sense. Both are at their best in small towns. Each represents the balance needed when responding to issues each day and in daily small-town planning.

In small towns, leadership positions may not be of your own choosing. Often, it is thrust upon you by necessity.

If you want to make a difference, leadership happens as you respond to what needs to be done, and it is often work which no one else wants to do.

That does not mean there is ever a question about how others want you to do the work. But, someone has to do the things that get done. Even so, never think yourself a hero. In small towns, leadership positions are only more apt to make you the well-known villain.

The “good news,” in either case is that it makes you a better planner.  

Small towns are defined by a classic contradiction – an eagerness to improve, while gripped by a reluctance to change. But, these qualities are healthier than I originally thought.

Is there politics and infighting?

Of course.

The big cities can’t have all the fun.

But, the loving nostalgia and the compassion for one another runs deeper than any bitter gossip.

Merry Christmas to all.

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