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Changes: They are a coming

“Because your whole world can change in 24 hours.”
That phrase is proclaimed by a radio broadcaster at the beginning of the 1994 movie “The Paper.” And at the end too.
I’m not going to ruin the 109 minutes in the middle of the flick, but I can promise you that the lives of many of the actors do, in fact, change.
On a local front, vast changes also can occur in 24 hours. Best example: I photographed short-sleeved, tank-topped student-athletes wearing shorts for the Sylvania Telephone’s spring sports preview section on Feb. 11. The next day it snowed the most our county has seen since 1973.
Most alterations on a multiple-person level, however, take more than 24 hours. Sometimes it is 24 months. Sometimes 24 years. Sometimes even 240 years.
On Feb. 4, I penned a column that got individuals riled up. The literary piece urged our elected officials at the state and federal levels to send assistance to our quaint community even though a collection of our local board members seem to dismiss our obvious need for economic development – retail, industry or otherwise.
After the published mini-manifesto hit the streets, some Screven County citizens stealthily slid up to my side, tapped me on the shoulder and with their best church-mouse quiet voice stated “I liked what you wrote.” You see, in this community voicing such opinions might get you drawn and quartered in town square. The Sylvania Telephone did receive some letters to the editor on the subject and, as of yet, no wooden gallows have been constructed next to the historic cannons in Sylvania’s downtown park.
As for other side, I heard, by way of people who overheard conversations or off-handed comments, that their impression was – “He doesn’t understand.” You see, those business professionals who became non-movers and non-shakers as local board members are not the type of humans who walk up and inform a newspaper editor he’s an ignoramus and they assuredly do not scribble off their signature on a letter to the editor with “Hey, editor, you are a nimrod.”
They for some reason believe I don’t have them on my obstructor radar.
For those who say I do not comprehend well, I, like most of the community, would like to become a member of the informed bunch. We all are willing to listen, but you have to say something for us to hear you.
A few people elected to boards in Screven County will say in public that they are all for bringing in business, but unfortunately do not act on those words. They have their own slice of the pie and do not see the need to bring in additional business or industry.
Joyfully, we do elect some board members who seek progress. Sadly though, we also elect individuals to office who only run for the seats because their fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers ran successful campaigns for those posts in past years.
A month ago, I gave you more than a wake-up call. It was more like a full injection into your bloodstream of energy drinks Red Bull, Rockstar and Starbucks Grande Coffee swirled into a potent cocktail with a couple of caffeine talents tossed in for good measure. For a few moments I firmly held your attention.
Now I have regained control.
Not all of our board members are worth their weight in gold, but it certainly is time to buff off the tarnish because we need you – all of you, board members and all the citizenry.
Since my get-with-the-program column was printed, pleasant changes have occurred. Some grassroots and splinter groupings of already established boards have formed. Also, locals have created partnerships with other residents to seek better representation from current and future board members.
The city council even plans to amend its charter to give the chamber of commerce executive director more freedom to corral retail business for Sylvania.
Do I claim that my ability to type out words in a comprehensive fashion caused this sudden interest in lassoing development of any kind? Absolutely not. I do, however, believe it motivated individuals to put this movement on booster rockets.
Next month guests will be invited to come and explore the possibilities of Screven County. For the promotion to be a success, it will take the total support of the Screven County Chamber of Commerce, Screven County Commissioners, City of Sylvania, Downtown Development Authority, Better Hometown, Development Authority of Screven County, Screven County Board of Education, Screven County Hospital, Airport Authority, local businesses and the remaining residents of our county too.
Although the full event agenda has not been confirmed, one thing is confirmed – this April 21-22 event is incredibly important.
We all can do our part. Possibilities include another American flag unfurled along Main Street; a hanging basket of blooming flowers on a front porch; a well-swept “Welcome” mat on a door step; and a freshly cut front yard.
Since the visit will be the week before our annual American Cancer Society Relay For Life, coat the town in a shade of purple.
The easiest way to say this folks is make the motto “Sylvania, a nice place to visit and a better place to live” a reality.
I know those who dashed off their opines in the form of Sylvania Telephone letters to the editor, while the others bent my ear away from the “public” will do what they can to provide a classic profile of the county’s superb grandeur. As for the others, however, they may need a little to a lot of coaxing.
If you see a board member, any board member, mention to them that you love this community. Tell them you want this county to keep its neighborly personality, but prosper from the economic booms in Bulloch, Burke and Effingham counties.
We don’t know who will visit our community in April. We don’t know what connections these guests will have to others. We don’t know if this event will spawn an immediate impact or a latter one.
But what we do know is we have a close-knit population who has a tremendous concern for the families who live within the corners of this county. We want our children to continue to be raised in a loving environment with job opportunities available for them if they so desire to return home empowered with a college education.
Screven County, we not only need to make this happen – we must make this happen. Prepare now for our potential visitors. Let’s showcase all the fine points of Sylvania, Hiltonia, Newington, Oliver and Rocky Ford.
The visitors who come April 21 and 22 will be instrumental in the future of our county “because your whole world can change in 24 hours.”

Enoch Autry is the publisher-editor of the Sylvania Telephone.