Published October 11, 2011
But only citizenry can make ours a model town
It’s good to see Walterboro get some positive press in a publication outside our community. The front-page story in Sunday’s Post and Courier — complete with a photo taken in Hiott’s Pharmacy showing Mayor Bill Young, Chief of Police Otis Rhodes, former City Councilman Ted Parker and others — bore the headline “Walterboro’s turnaround.” The turnaround, at least in terms of violent crime, is reflected in a 30-percent drop in incidents of that nature in 2010 and a similar trend seems likely for this year.
The story also said that Walterboro “has been working to boost its image and fortunes following a string of shootings and gang violence that drew negative attention to the city in recent years.” That’s true, and credit is due to our city’s government for undertaking the public relations campaign. The city has also been successful in putting together a program involving SLED, the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Commerce and fueled by $1 million in federal grants. That effort has produced some neighborhood revitalization and mentoring and training programs. In addition, the city is undertaking several projects to make our town’s visual attractiveness even more so.
Public relations, image improvement, and other such efforts amount, basically, to “window dressing,” a fundamentally necessary part of successfully doing business. After all, economic development — increasing the wealth of our community — is a major factor in eradicating crime as well as the underlying reasons for the crime, which include poverty and lack of opportunity. And that is a necessary and proper activity of city government.
But city government can do only so much. The citizens must do the rest by becoming engaged in the effort, by thinking in terms of the entire community and doing what is in the community’s best interests.
One of those things, which Mayor Young mentioned in yet another Post and Courier story last Friday, is the willingness of citizens to help our police in investigating crime. The arrests of three people following last week’s shooting at the Druid Hills apartments was due in large part to the detailed accounts given by witnesses, according to Young.
If only we believe in the potential of Walterboro, and act on that belief, our town can become not only a better town, but a model town. Our city government is doing what it can to encourage us to hold that belief. It’s up to the rest of us to seize upon it.