2017’s big 10
As I’m writing this, 2017 has but a few days more to flip on the calendar. I’ve already completed my year in review article. While writing the review, I jumped headlong into the deep end of the calendar and it brought back lots of memories of the past year. In short, it’s been a busy year. In no particular order, here’s my big 10 for 2017, as I saw them, in our community:
Water, water, everywhere. The changeover to FATHOM managing utility accounts affected everyone, whether you rent or own your home, have a business or not. Misinformation abounded – that the city no longer provided the water, the city ‘jacked up the rates’ to pay for the new meters, that city workers lost their jobs and were ousted in favor of call center workers. My own pluses: Paying my bill online via ACH; getting an email when a faucet had a steady leak. But when the company president must step in, in person, to resolve basic customer service issues like customers not receiving callbacks or email responses? Hmm.
Violent crime. We saw an uptick in violent crime, like robberies at gunpoint. Some crime came as a trickle-over from Killeen, a number of convenience store and other robberies. There were two murders in our city, and what I find troubling was that those arrested for the murders were young men from our own community. The “tell-Killeen-to-keep-their-thugs-over-there” doesn’t fit. What can we do to fix this? It’s more than the glamorization of thug life. How can we impact young people to show them they have real options for life beyond grabbing a gun and being a thug? Don’t just tell them to “get a job” – see below*.
Retail therapy without leaving town. When I saw the Ross – Dress For Less logo on the Endeavor Real Estate’s marketing website more than two years ago, I was doin’ the happy dance. Not only do we have Ross, but there’s more local shopping options for us in town. Of course, there’s HomeBase, too. I personally would have liked Hobby Lobby, but I’m happy to see the once-vacant property now a busy place. Happy shopper here.
Family violence. It’s here. It’s happening. It’s one of the most listed item on our police department’s daily bulletin. It is an almost-daily occurrence in our city, and that’s only when someone calls the police for help. How many aren’t reported? We have ZERO local agencies IN our community providing services to help combat this. There used to be, I’m told, but now because of “funding” no one provides those services. Where are the anger management and stress management classes for families and parents? How can we intervene for families that have legacies of violence, and stop the cycle and prevent it from starting in young families? There are solutions, but none in our community.
More chicken. It became a bit of a joke this year, when speculating about new businesses coming to our city, we started to say, “I hope it’s not another chicken place.” (We have five.) You know, not all the businesses coming to town will be what everyone wants. People talk about personal freedom to do business as they choose, but with some people it sounds as if we’d like to tell someone “No, we already have five chicken restaurants in our city.” If you don’t like chicken, there are other options. Is it the “city’s fault” we don’t have a steakhouse or other sit-down restaurants? But 700 people applied for roughly 70 jobs at Raising Cane’s. That stuck with me. People want and need jobs and there aren’t enough*.
An (un)happy median. So in 2017 the city was approved for $10 million in funding for the Business 190 median. The reaction has been mixed, from concerned business owners to disgruntled drivers already irritated with the downtown Avenue D curbs looking like concrete decks jutting onto the asphalt. There’s drivers like me, who, every time I see or experience a near collision from an “idiot driver” making a dangerous left turn onto 190 – especially in front of McDonald’s – inwardly can’t wait for a median. There will be no trees on the median – the engineer’s videos are merely conceptual, like a model home with bells and whistles. I challenge all keyboard warriors complaining on social media to instead show up at city council and keep showing up, telling the council what your concerns are about the median and offering solutions. It is not a matter of whether or not the median will happen -- it is part of the regional transportation plan – but a matter of what it will look like. NOW is the time to speak up and present ideas, not after the concrete is poured.
Liquor lane. From one end of Business 190 to the westernmost end of Copperas Cove, those wanting to purchase liquor within the City of Copperas Cove can do so. There are at least five liquor stores opened in 2017, four of them on 190, and at least one convenience store sells liquor. It took several years of hard work for voters to get it on the ballot and pass this change to the city’s ordinance. I’ve watched to see if there would be, like some opponents to the change feared, an increased number of DUI/DWI reports in the city. I have noticed there’ve been a number of them, but I have no total for 2017…not yet. I’ll be watching it
Park improvements. For more than one year, we’ve heard about proposed park improvements and I think we can all agree improvements are long overdue. It looks like things will start happening soon—walking paths and better signage. But, for the love of all that is pleasing and sanitary, PLEASE take care of the bathrooms at City Park. When you have guests at your home, you always make sure the bathroom is fit for someone to stop in at. ‘Nuff said about that.
Small business is alive and well. A number of small, locally owned businesses opened in 2017 and others added another year to their books. Yellow Armadillo Gifts, KCurvy Closet (two thumbs up from this curvy lady), Yongs Oriental Market & Korean Restaurant, the return of Ches’s (hush, if you like Lil Tex better – there’s plenty of room for everyone), and more.
Small business is in danger, sort of. We said goodbye to a number of small businesses this year. One, Cove Feed & Seed, was around for decades. It was the family’s choice to close, but it will be missed. If a buyer had been found, it would have likely stayed open. Other small businesses closed in 2017, not for a lack of trying but for a lack of gaining a foothold in the community and connecting with their customers in an effective, consistent way. Business owners, work smarter, not harder. Best to all of you in 2018!