Atmore residents need to clean up their act

Published 3:31 am Monday, June 5, 2006

By Staff
Letter to the Editor
After I had been in Atmore about a year, a local journalist asked me if there was anything about the town that I had found disappointing. At the time, I answered no.
Recently, I have discovered something that disappoints me, not about Atmore, but some of Atmore's citizens. The 2006 Leadership Atmore class chose as its project a concerted community effort to clean up our town. They did a wonderful job of coordinating a lot of people to get out on a Saturday and pick up trash on the roadsides. Since Jan and I were going to be out of town the Saturday of the cleanup, we volunteered to pick up the trash on Forest Hill Drive on the Saturday before, and there was plenty. We were astounded to see the amount of litter on the roadside the next morning, less than 24 hours after our cleanup.
The fact that so many people care so little about the appearance of their town is disappointing. Whether it is intentionally throwing something out the window or having it blow out of a truck bed, it is not caring if you litter the roadside and the way the town looks.
When I first arrived in Atmore, I heard people bemoaning the fact that Vanity Fair and K Mart had closed. Often I heard them say "they" need to do something about getting more good paying jobs in Atmore. Those people did not realize that "they" is all of us. Economic development is more about a clean community, friendly citizens, and quality education than elaborate presentations, glad-handing, and tax incentives. Executives making a decision whether to locate a business in Atmore will ride around and get an impression of our town. The trash on the side of the road will tell them volumes about what the citizens of Atmore think of their town.
Our local Realtors will tell you about the importance of curb appeal in selling a house. Often the buyer has eliminated a property from contention before they ever get out of the car. In attracting new businesses and industry to Atmore, the first objective is to get on the consideration list, and the second objective is to prevent being eliminated. Let's don't get ourselves eliminated because we look like we don't care about our town.
Remember, we are all economic developers, and we only get one chance to make a first impression. And often in economic development, that's the only impression you get to make.
Atmore is picking up.
Shep Marsh

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