It's easy to find fault in things - far too easy for most of us. At some point there's probably been something about our town that we don't like or would want to see made better.
But a city councilor's recent comment that Augusta is a "sad tired little town," brought into focus for me that the Augusta I know and love is certainly not sad or tired.
Our community has seen some drastic changes through the years. Some simply due to the changing times and some due to the closure of Mobil refinery. One of the places hardest hit was our downtown business district. The reality is that its never been the same.
Some might even point out that our environment and air quality are better since Mobil left -- both positive changes.
Augusta is alive and well - things are just different.
It's no secret that lately life in our community has had its share of difficulties. We're still on water restriction with no end in sight; the dam/spillway project seems to be dragging on; the economy hasn't bounced back - no matter what the "experts" say; unemployment is a harsh reality for many in our area; prices on everything keep rising; and a few of our city council members have adopted a negative and combative spirit.
I have some questions for the one who recently criticized our little town.
Were you here to witness our community's resilience during and after the 1998 flood? Did you see first-hand those citizens who lost their homes and/or businesses, but still found the strength to pitch in to help their neighbors? Did you spend hours sweeping, mopping, disinfecting and tossing out destroyed items from flooded-out buildings? Did you sit through meetings with FEMA representatives, city officials, county and state officials discussing ways to obtain assistance for Augusta's citizens? Did you comfort the residents who never were able to return to their homes? And did you share in the pride and accomplishment at the recent ground breaking for the new Levy project?
Were you here in 2002 when the Augusta Public Library board, staff members and patrons fought hard to win the community's approval for the wonderful expansion to the library?
Were you here that same year when a group of determined citizens traveled to Topeka to convince the Kansas Main Street organization that Augusta should be a Main Street community? A lot of work and preparation went into that accomplishment.
Have you witnessed all the businesses and individuals who were dedicated and worked so long in preserving and restoring our grand old Augusta Historic Theatre? It remains one of Augusta's crowning jewels and attractions. It takes a group of hardworking supporters to keep it going.
Page 2 of 2 - The Save Our State Street Project resulted in some wonderful improvements and updates for our downtown area. The project was an investment and commitment by business people and others in our downtown. (By the way, there's a video that was produced promoting the SOS program and if you haven't watched it, borrow a copy from someone. There were a lot of comments made by folks on that video about their love for Augusta.)
Were you around to see all the work put into the Augusta Historical Museum? Do you have any idea how much effort and money has been spent in preserving our community's heritage?
Did you follow the Play Park organizers around to all the businesses, clubs, schools, and homes as they collected pennies, dollars and any donations they could solicit in order to build an exceptional park for our children? Did you stand with them that weekend they worked so hard in making it a reality?
Were you one of the citizens who worked for a number of years getting the school bond issue passed? Did you want new schools and improvements for our kids? Were you here to see the voters make that dream happen?
Scores of people, including teachers, businessmen and others, come to our city, to work and raise their families and then choose to retire and stay here. Doesn't that say something for Augusta's quality of life?
Yes, things could always be better, but our community is blessed with a number of residents who work hard in promoting it. And they can tell you that there's a lot of happy, energetic things going on right here in our little town.
Belinda Larsen is the Gazette Editor and can be contacted at email@example.com.