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February 26, 2012

An engaged community

A week ago, our community reached another exciting milestone that has not been celebrated for years. Hundreds of people came together to contribute to a community vision. The energy in the room was palpable.

Sure, our community has come together in the past, but often in adversity. The Ice Storm demonstrated the power of nature and our need for each other, as did the flooding of Lake Champlain last spring and of our rivers last fall. And, we were united in our indignation when it was decided to discontinue Plattsburgh Air Force Base while lesser bases in more politically powerful regions were spared.

In retrospect, the Air Force Base closure may have been a blessing in disguise. It allowed us to transition into a more sustainable future that was less dependent on federal government largesse.

And, it forced us to take our economic future into our own hands under a shared vision. We are still rebuilding, and our economic trajectory has taken some surprising but productive turns.

The base transition allowed us to convert public infrastructure into private/public partnerships. These are the two legs in the three-legged stool that props up our society.

The third leg, our social infrastructure, is much more interesting and just as essential. We rely on good government to invest in our future so we will have good roads and schools. We must also have faith that private companies know how much they must invest in their enterprises to remain competitive. However, it is our collective job to invest in our social infrastructure.

Last week, Mountain Lake Public Broadcasting brought local leaders and many from the community into its studio and invited the television audience to participate by calling in. The subject was the arts, in general, and completion of the Strand Theatre renovation, in particular.

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