Caldwell: Communities’ greatest assets are often intangible

Published 12:47 am Sunday, October 30, 2016

In what has been a whirlwind two weeks, I’ve met lots of amazing residents from Winchester and Clark County, asking many of them one simple question: What makes this community great?

It would be an understatement to say the list of answers has been extensive and diverse.

Great people. Strong businesses. A vibrant downtown on the rebound. Amazing natural resources. Excellent geographical location. Tremendous public services. Proud heritage.

Just to name a few.

All these certainly appear to be true, and the list goes on and on.

After my short time here, I think the thing that really makes the area stand out is the one element that sort of encapsulates all these answers — community pride.

It is truly impressive and not something to be taken for granted.

Someone who didn’t know the region might look at a map and say Winchester is basically a suburb of Lexington, but those who live here are quick to explain that isn’t true at all.

It didn’t take me long to see Winchester and Clark County have their own identity and great civic pride. This comes through in almost every way.

Mayor Ed Burtner serves the role of small-town mayor perfectly, proudly talking about the people and the businesses, understanding his job is to essentially be the community’s biggest cheerleader. His passion comes through as truly genuine when he offers an ear-to-ear smile and says, “I love being mayor!”

Countless citizens have told me I can’t miss community staples like the Pioneer Festival, the Beer Cheese Trail, the Showcase and others.

Even at last week’s Meet the Candidates event, the pride showed through in every race. Voters essentially have at least two good choices in every contest, and we all know sometimes that is far from the case. (Regardless of which side of the political aisle you sit on, this is where you can insert your best presidential joke.)

Overcoming apathy is the biggest challenge facing many communities and, ultimately, our entire nation. Far too many people simply want to sit on the sidelines and complain rather than getting involved so they can be part of the solution.

Thankfully, Winchester and Clark County appear to be ahead of the curve in this regard and has already overcome the biggest obstacle — getting people to care.

Is the community perfect? Of course not. Find me one that is.

At the end of the day, this all adds up to a bright future for the community where the only limits are the ones we choose.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Winchester Sun and Winchester Living magazine. He can be reached at 859-759-0095 or by email at mike.caldwell@winchestersun.com.