It’s Friday and my brain is full after a busy week of government stuff.
You know what that means…
— Heard a ton of great suggestions from the county commission goal-setting retreat Wednesday, but my favorite was Commissioner Diana Finegan’s idea for Citrus County to put on a pretty face. Finegan suggested monument-type “welcome to Citrus County” signs that are landscaped, and other ideas to spruce up the place.
Equal to that, though, is her idea of a friendly competition between commissioners to see who can have the nicest district.
She’s not talking about bells and whistles, at least I don’t think so. Rather, let’s clean up. Pick up trash from parking lots and vacant property. Make sure our yards look good.
Every week someone in the Chronicle’s Soundoff is complaining about trashy roads, saying “somebody” needs to clean it up. Look in the mirror if you’re wondering who that somebody is.
Not all of it falls on us. The county needs a program that encourages recycling and proper disposal of waste. Use jail trustys to pick up litter along our roadways. (By the way, there’s a cost to that. The trustys come free but someone needs to keep an eye on ‘em.)
The county and community have had partnerships off and on regarding beautification. The most successful, started 30 years ago, was the Adopt-A-Highway program, which began at the suggestion of a Gospel Island resident who was on vacation out West and saw a small community do it with success.
Boy, did that take off. Community groups throughout Citrus County were “adopting” sections of roadways and heading out there on Saturdays with bags and gloves to clean up the roadsides. The county collected bags of roadside litter for disposal in the landfill.
I know we still have the program today but it’s lost a lot of steam.
You saw me this week giving props to a new county commission that seems laser focused on the tasks at hand. One of those tasks is to engage the community. We shouldn’t sit back and make demands of local government without offering to help.
We’ll have more about this as it progresses.
—What an exciting time to live in Citrus County. Construction of homes, big-name stores and restaurants can make people nervous about growth. I understand that, but let’s put it aside for the moment and see why our community is attracting so much interest.
That didn’t happen by accident. The stewards of this community from all walks of life and background have made Citrus County both their home and passion. As new folks move here from South Florida, New York or California, I encourage them to do the same.
But one thing we can’t be any longer: Cheap. County commissioners over the last 10 years have made tax savings a priority, which is great except it means nothing happens. We survive and not thrive.
When people say, “I moved to Citrus County because it’s so conservative,” what they’re really saying is, “I moved to Citrus County because it’s so cheap to live here.”
That’s a great billboard when you’re hoping for growth. Citrus County has been discovered and, with the Suncoast Parkway, will continue to grow and thrive well into the next decade without being cheap.
Expect lots of conversation about taxes and fees over the next 11 months. Rather than say “no way,” let’s be willing to listen to what these elected leaders come up with.
— I’m on the Citrus County roads a lot and very much enjoy a Cattle Dog’s frozen hot chocolate along the way. Now I have a new favorite: Wawa black/white milkshake.
The problem, and it’s fairly significant, is the closest Wawa is miles from the Just Wright Citrus World Headquarters on the shores of Big Lake Henderson.
So while it’s nice that Chili’s has a new place in Inverness and the Chipotle is coming along, the city hasn’t reached the potential of Crystal River and Lecanto — both have a Wawa.
I’ll be watching my hometown for signs of Wawa. Until then, fortunately, Cattle Dog is a short walk.
Have a great weekend, friends.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.