Improvements require involvement

Published 1:36 pm Thursday, February 23, 2023

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Lowndes County is a rural area, boasting long stretches of farmland and just under 10,000 residents. Like people in most rural counties, residents there face needs and challenges, sometimes experiencing the lack of services and amenities enjoyed by citizens of more urban areas.

The lack of reliable broadband service is a concern for many people living and working in Lowndes County. Some report slow internet at a high cost, others agree they have no available internet service at all.

Utility providers, like Hayneville Telephone, are working toward solutions and during the process, community organization, state agencies, and local officials are exploring what services are available, whether initiatives are already in the works, and what additional efforts are needed.

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And, while leaders and providers work toward solutions, the involvement of community members are a vital part of the effort.

The Town of White Hall hosted an information gathering meeting for Alabama Department of Community Affairs (ADECA) to discover broadband service needs and resources. Providers, elected officials, community organizations, and citizens were called to the table, to learn and to share information.

Only 11 Lowndes County residents attended.

Gaps in local healthcare is a topic of discussion at almost every community organization meeting held in the county. The Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce and the County Commission work to address the area’s lack of healthcare providers and reliable ambulance service at every public meeting.

Toward that end, the Chamber sponsored a mayor’s meeting to allow town representatives to hear the challenges and opportunities around forming a healthcare authority which could, once formed, coordination grant funding to open a rural healthcare clinic complete with dialysis and ambulance service.

The meeting was open to the public, but only one mayor and no area citizens participated.

Broadband and healthcare are great needs within Lowndes County and there are others. Citizens may feel there is little they can do to improve outcomes, but they are vital to reaching community goals.

Every citizen can attend town council and County Commission meetings. Each can also hold elected officials accountable toward progress by calling, writing, or visiting leaders and attending meetings to ask questions and hear what is being done.

Citizens have the right, and the responsibility, to impact outcomes by being engaged, holding leaders accountable, and sharing information.

The American proverb, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” is accurate. Without citizens being involved, initiatives for improvement rarely make it to fruition. We cannot sit idly by and complain. Instead, we should all play our part in bringing much-needed improvements to our area.

The Lowndes County Commission meets next on Feb. 27 in the Charles Smith Annex Building at 6:30 p.m.

The Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce gathers next on March 10 in Mary Bell’s Restaurant at 8 a.m.

Both meetings are free and open to the public.