Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Good Neighbors and Regional Solutions

We have talked about regional solutions here before. I see it as just an extension of being a good Texas neighbor. Today, in the city council meeting, I saw indications that the city is moving to a more regional, neighborly, approach. First, there was a report on how successful the cities health clinic has been. This facility, which has saved the city, and in turn the taxpayers, considerable money has recently been expanded to include county employees. They also went over the life insurance plan where a better rate was had because of the joint buying power of the city and county together. This is a significant achievement that already is helping in the taxpayers.

Later in the session, the Texas Midwest Community Network made a presentation. This is a regional organization that the city has recently joined. They focus on regional development and awareness. There are, with the addition of San Angelo, 47 cities in this network. This is an organization that San Angelo probably wouldn't have joined in the past. In this network they have no more control than any other member of the network: One city, one member, one vote. It is refreshing to see the city joining an effort to approach economic development and tourism from a much broader perspective. The potential benefits are enormous for the entire region.

The last positive sign is the Hemphill-Wells library project. First, it is probably the best public use the building could be put to. Next it shows a new level of cooperation between the city and county. Add to this the funds and grants, many of them private, that have already been secured and you see an uncommon level of community involvement and enthusiasm. At the rate they are going, the tax dollars required for this project will be remarkably low. An encouraging extension of this is that some leaders in the project are looking at what it would take to expand this to a regional system such as the West Texas Library System.

These are encouraging signs. To be fair, the citizens of San Angelo have historically been good neighbors. It is, however, a sad fact that many times the actions of the city government have not been all that neighborly. It is good that in at least a few cases the government is starting to be as neighborly as the citizens it works for and represents. It's a good start. I am hopeful this will continue into the future.

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