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Everyone must contribute / August 28, 2013

Dear Viewpoint:

When I read the recent editorial by Tom McLaughlin (The View From Here, Aug. 21), I felt I had to put my two cents in. The article talked about what can be done to revitalize the towns in our area. This is an important issue.

To set the record straight, the Clarksville Hydroplane Challenge power boat races ran for 7 years when we revived them. I served as the President of the Clarksville Economic Development Association, otherwise known as CEDA during that time. CEDA was and is made up of a very small group of people who put a lot of work into organizing this event. Mr. McLaughlin’s comment that the races stopped because “it finally became too expensive and complex and fell by the wayside” is partially correct.

The primary reason the races were discontinued was due to politics within the American Power Boat Association (APBA). They are the sanctioning body of this event and control the race schedule. They did not feel that our event was important enough to reserve an established race date with us each year. After 7 years of racing on the first weekend in October, they gave our race date to another location. The members of CEDA felt that the APBA should have worked with them to maintain the races on the established date.

Organizing the races was a year long project and required raising about $40,000 each year to run the event. If it was a good year, CEDA would break even on the event. With the APBA scheduling other events to run the same weekend, there would have been very few boats and not enough in each class for the drivers to earn points. Therefore, the drivers would not come to our event. Rather than put on a poor show with very few boats and disappointing our audience, we felt it was better to cancel the event.

That being said, I totally agree with Tom McLaughlin that the area towns need to look at many different options to attract visitors and businesses to our area. One of the difficulties with trying to organize events is that there always seems to be too few people willing to help out. CEDA like many other organizations has always struggled with that. I have had many people ask me why the races stopped and if we were ever going to bring them back. When you ask those same people if they would like to help, they quickly say they don’t have time, don’t live here, etc.

You do not have to be a member of a specific organization, church, committee, government entity, etc. to get involved. If you are a member of the community or visit here and enjoy being here and want to see the area survive and prosper, people need to get involved. One thing we hear all the time is that there is nothing to do here, except lake related activities. There is nothing for our young people to do. If you have children, grandchildren or are concerned about the youth in Mecklenburg County, it is time to help out.

There is a good core group of people in the area that do volunteer their time for events and activities but it seems to be the same people who are involved. Instead of sitting back and waiting for someone else to get things done, people need to step up and help out. Everyone has a talent of some kind that would make a valuable contribution.

The Dixie Youth tournaments brought a lot of people to Clarksville this year, as did Lakefest. Chase City has its annual motorcycle rally; Boydton has several different events as does South Hill and South Boston. It is not just about these events bringing people to town to spend money while they are here. There are other benefits. You never know if someone among all those people is looking for a place to relocate a business that could bring jobs to the area. Visitors often fall in love with this area and purchase or build homes here, all of which contributes to the local economy.

If you feel that you like things as they are and don’t want things to change or more people to come to the area, ask yourself a few questions. Do you want your children and grandchildren to stay in the area? What will their options be when they are ready to go out on their own? Will there be jobs here for them and a future with a chance to prosper?

We need jobs, good schools, welcoming communities and county and local boards that are willing to work to achieve those things. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes all of us to improve our communities. It does not matter what your religion is, your politics, your race or your talents. Everyone has something valuable to contribute and a responsibility to their neighbors and friends to help. Find out what you can do to help. Please don’t expect someone else to take care of it.

Carol A. Brown

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