Downtown requires quality government

Last week I attended a meeting in Charleston about how things were going for our Downtown PKB program. We, and several other communities, visited with representatives from the National Main Street program on the effectiveness of support coming from the West Virginia Department of Commerce. Overall, it was a candid and productive time.

In visiting with other attendees, I discovered most West Virginia downtown programs receive the majority of their financial support from a government entity. Downtown PKB does not. While I think that’s a positive thing, I also understand the challenges of that fact.

It can occasionally be difficult for local government to effectively work with private organizations because of the necessary regulations that come with the use of public funds. Good local government must consider the needs of all of its citizens. But so should private businesses.

It is my opinion successful local government can only come from a community that considers the needs of all its neighbors and not from those who only promote their own personal, self-serving agendas. It’s good business to consider our neighbors’ needs.

It is my observation that many communities don’t have the advantages that we have in Parkersburg. We are fortunate to have several community-minded businesses that effectively work with dedicated elected government officials. And, as a whole, we are blessed to have caring and committed local government.

The first obligation of Downtown PKB must be to create a revitalized downtown that benefits everyone in the community. The good news in this obligation is this is also the first responsibility of local government.

Effective downtown revitalization depends on the business community having a good relationship with local government. But for local government to be effective, it must be the responsibility of all individuals in the community.

As we move into the political season of the next few years, I encourage everyone to do their part to become informed so we can all create effective local government. Good government comes from informed citizens. By the way, bad government comes from the uninformed.

My mother worked for the city government in our hometown. She’s been gone for 10 years now, but her words still ring in my ears. She regularly told me that in this country, people usually got the government they deserved. I have come to realize how true that statement is.

We are all responsible for electing the best people to our leadership. We will get what we collectively deserve. Here’s a sobering truth; if I vote for my own personal agenda, I will create all of the consequences that come with it. True, good citizenship requires a thoughtful, informed electorate.

The next time someone tells you that it’s bad manners to discuss religion or politics in a social setting, don’t believe them. Bad manners come from being disrespectful to others in any discussion.

And you can’t be informed if you don’t engage in discussion.

Come see me. I’ll be in the lounge. We can discuss religion or politics.

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Cecil Childress is general manager of the Blennerhassett Hotel and chairman of Downtown PKB.