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Familiarity can be dangerous

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Familiarity can be dangerous

John Mellencamp’s song, Small Town, is now 30 years old. It’s strange to think that I’ve spent more than half that time as a coach, teacher, minister, friend, and family member here in this “small town.”

I’ve sung it many times myself, “I can breathe in a small town.” And this town, with all of its “big sky,” as a friend of mine says, is still a great place to live, work, and play.

But I’ve seen it all in a small town.” That’s a line one could hear in any town USA. More recently in this town, some have felt emboldened to proclaim that line in protest. We’ve become a community of division, dishonesty, suspicion, and spite. Indeed, we need unity, integrity, togetherness, and support. That is why school board elections are so important.

As a business owner, I know that the longer one is a client of mine, the less they know about what I do. Whether familiarity or comfort, I need to remind them often of the scope of my practice for the same reason I tell my wife and kids that I love them. Familiarity can become dangerous. Being comfortable with personnel and systems and objects so woven into our daily routine can make most things invisible. It takes a wise friend to uncover the blind spots—lack of skill for a position, ineffective procedures, or character trumped by convenience.

We are a community standing at a precipice where the “sky is big” but the bottom is one misstep away. Having consistent, balanced, and engaged leadership, better financial focus, and community centeredness through true collaboration are critical. I believe Heidi Reed represents these commitments. Returning to the “glory days” is always a mirage. Instead, let’s create something strong and pioneering, the basis for building an educational legacy for years to come. That is something worth voting for, and maybe one day worth writing a song about.

In the chorus Mellencamp says, “I cannot forget the people who love me.” This small town would do well to join that chorus, and remember Heidi Reed on Election Day.

Chad Wight, Courtland Township

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Ray Winnie
Kent County Credit Union


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