What now?

The day after the wet/dry vote in our county, I challenged “Keep Blount County Special,” and its supporters, both churches and individuals, on Facebook to answer some questions:

The wet vote in Blount County was successfully voted down by playing on unfounded fear of church members and spending close to $100,000 to advance campaign efforts. Please tell me and the citizens of this county what you plan to do to support the Blount County and Oneonta City School Systems now that you have shot down a chance for them to see an increase in funding through increased sales tax revenues.

How do you intend to help our school systems pay for new textbooks or, better yet, provide students with laptops or tablets instead of textbooks? Many counties are making strides in a one-student-to-one-computer initiative.

What do you intend to do to make sure our schools systems have the opportunity to provide students with: 1) a wider option of electives; 2) chances for technical training and skills development for students who prefer to enter the work force rather than college; and 3) more opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities aimed at keeping our children in school and increasing the rate of graduation of Blount County and Oneonta City Schools?

Do you have a plan of action for community organizations and churches to come together to encourage our citizens and the churches’ congregations to buy locally whenever possible? How are you going to help see that the small businesses we have left get the extra support they need to thrive? What are you going to do to help bring additional businesses into Blount County?

You do not just get to mount a campaign against a growth initiative and increased revenue for our county, then return quietly into the background. What do you plan to do now? We have real issues relating to schools, small businesses, and roads. At one time, Blount County and Oneonta were thriving and moving in the right direction. Now, our businesses are struggling to survive or have died out altogether. Our schools are suffering and this county is falling apart. What do you intend to do to “Keep Blount County Special?”

There seems to be the idea that allowing legal alcohol sales would destroy marriages, cause child abuse, and lead to injury and deaths of children due to drunk driving accidents. All of these evils are already here. Being dry is not going to prevent it. Proper funding could go a long way to establish programs to educate people, to reduce the negative effects of the abuse of alcohol and illegal drugs, and treat those who want to overcome their addictions.

What is SPECIAL about Blount County is that we all are willing to come together to help those in need. Our children are in need of better materials and more opportunity. Our police departments and other emergency response departments are in need of funds for adequate pay and equipment. Our local businesses are in need of support. Our restaurants need to be able to compete with restaurants in surrounding wet areas.

Again, I would like to know, what do you plan to do to Keep Blount County Special?

Melissa Endsley