I’m a fan of The Gazette and have read my community paper for as long as I can remember. The journalistic quality continues to be top notch, and while I don’t always agree with the editorial board, it’s typically a read and a shrug if I don’t agree. Then I move on with my day.
All was great with my consistent reading habit until a few weeks ago when I read the Feb. 4 editorial about the State of the City address. The editorial started OK but then veered and highlighted one word that City Manager Mark Freitag uttered and stuck in someone’s craw: “booming.”
The editorial board of our community paper railed a bit about the word and pointed out the pieces that aren’t typically talked about in a presentation about progress in our community. That’s fair. Unemployment is low, but the quality of employment can be debated. That’s fair. Poverty rates and homelessness are things that hamper too many of our residents. Check. I understand that.
What the editorial board failed to mention was the work our community leaders and volunteers are doing to address the issues. Our city doesn’t have a “human services” department, yet our city manager partnered with several organizations to come up with a plan to address some of the concerns. The parking lot for the homeless offered by the city isn’t the ultimate solution, but it’s something that wouldn’t be available if it weren’t for our leaders taking a chance.
Unemployment is low. That could be a deterrent when companies are looking to locate in our region. Yet, our leaders continue to look for and land family-sustaining jobs in our region. The Amazon fulfillment center in Beloit is an example that will benefit Rock County employees. Employees will have more options, and employers will need to step up to retain quality workers.
“Booming”—10 years ago I would have belly laughed at the word. No way in the world was Janesville or this region anything close to booming. “Bust” may have been spoken.
Yet, it’s because of strong leadership and incredible and passionate volunteers that I believe “booming” can be used to describe Janesville today. Some communities limp along. Janesville has been anything but limping. It’s sprinting and maybe too fast of a sprint for those who’ve seen the decades of slow growth.
Booming, sprinting, vibrant, leading: Mr. Freitag could have used any of these words. It really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. It’s not perfect, but I am looking to see additional progress in the decades to come.
There. Now I can continue with my regular reading habits.