I am a lifelong resident of Harlem, one who not only "grew up there," but who still resides there. I took interest in Barry Paschal's column and the editorial in Sunday's News-Times.
You must be talking about another place than where I currently live. To use the word "isolated" makes it sound as if our end of the county is in rural Alaska. While I understand the point you are trying to make about cost of services provided, and you might be correct, the word seems to contradict what I see when I drive around the majority of the area surrounding town. Areas that are truly "isolated" are practically nonexistent anymore.
Also, the "poor, poor, pitiful me" reference was uncalled for. I, for one, try to spend my money in Columbia County every chance I get. Much of that money is spent at business establishments in Evans, Martinez and Grovetown that do not exist in Harlem. I think I understand the value of reducing our property taxes through the sales tax credit and helping our county grow.
During the past several years, we have (gotten) new, more progressive leadership in Harlem that is trying very hard to make improvements to the city. Several have been made in the past few years and more are coming.
Our city is more than 130 years old, and at that age some revitalization must take place. Most of this is being done through community block grants and other funding sources that do not cost the residents of Columbia County who reside out of our city limits a dime from county funds. A few very small projects have been financed by the discretionary fund of the commissioner serving District 4, but this is a minority of the funding by far.
Your choice of words only serves to project an image of rich vs. poor in Columbia County, which I feel has been overplayed to the maximum. If I was a reader of your paper who had never ventured to our end of the county, or had not been here in the past 5-10 years, I would certainly not waste a Sunday afternoon drive just to see for myself what is going on in the county based upon your editorial comments. Or if I owned a business looking to expand, I would never consider a business investment in Harlem based upon the picture you paint.
John W. Neal
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