Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Hearing... But Not Listening" - A Guest Post from Mike Stegall

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I had an interesting conversation with a good lady friend of mine the other day. It reminded me of how hard it is to get through to people on some subjects. This lady, who is a wonderful, smart person whom I respect, started talking about the sales tax hike the State has advanced. We talked about it a little bit, and then she said that high taxes is why Darke County has lost so many businesses in the last 3 years.

SAY WHAT? I asked her what businesses and she replied that I should tell her what businesses had come into the County, and how many had gone bankrupt!

REALLY? So, I explained the tremendous growth that we have experienced, and the continued expansion going on in the County. I do not know how many I named, maybe 6 or 7 off the top of my head, plus all the expansion from our manufacturers. I did not hear a reply back from her.

What gets me though is the fact that for 3 years, myself, the Partnering 4 Progress group, and the C.I.C., have constantly touted how much growth we have experienced in the County, and how many articles in the Advocate and Early Bird, Facebook posts, photos, Darke Journal entries, etc. we have put out about the growth. I would think that everyone would know by now. Heck, Darke County has even been in National papers Like the Wall Street Journal, and on television, locally and nationally! I am sure she had to have heard of it, but she really wasn't listening to it. It did not fit her concepts.

That is the problem. All of us hear things every day. Some of it is pure rumor, some of it true, and some a combination. We hear it, but are we listening? In my position as Commissioner, I hear an awful lot. Some of it is complete lunacy, some of it scary, some of it true. I hear it, and I try to listen to it. Don’t get me wrong, I can be as guilty as the next person sometimes. I make mistakes too, but all in all, I listen. I listen because I want to learn. That way, if I hear something, I can research the truth of it or not. Listening has become a lost art. We all hear, but do listen, absorb it, and research it? Most things we hear are easily checked for accuracy. We hear it, but it is just easier to accept it, truth or lie. It takes too much time to check out things. We hear it, but we don’t listen. And that leads to what we see too much of; misinformation and bad feelings about our surroundings.

I swear I cannot count how many times I have heard people say, or write, that there are no jobs in our area, while we have been screaming about needing qualified workers because we have a shortage!! You hear us, but are you listening? People hear all the time that we need to replace several school buildings with just one K-8 building. Superintendant Fries has gone all out to answer EVERY question that has been asked of him. You have heard him, but are you listening? The evidence and explanations have been laid out before all of us, but are we listening to it? We are told this is needed, fed facts, told to go here and there to check out what has been said. We have heard all this, have the ability to research it, but do we listen to it? It really is easier just to say no, isn’t it?

Being a responsible citizen takes effort. Finding out how our money will be spent is too time consuming, too hard, and not worth the trouble, right? Yeah, you hear the stats, the facts, the arguments, but do you actually listen to them? Marv Stammen , former president of Second National bank, along with his wife Millie, have written an excellent opinion on the importance of schools and economic development in County News online, and the Daily Advocate. It is a must read for those who think schools do not impact our development efforts. Marv knows, he is a vital member of economic development in the County. Will you listen? Marc Saluk, the Economic Development Director, also wrote an article on the same subject, and you can find it on the Greenville Strong website. Will you listen?

This election is important. This levy vote will determine a lot: growth, efficiency, pride, and money. Are you listening? To most of you, the money part is all that matters. So,to those of you planning on voting no please listen to this: If you want to save money in the long run, (yes SAVE MONEY!) if you want Greenville to grow, and if you want to show some community pride, vote for the levy. It is that simple. If you are actually listening, research what I said about saving money. Don’t just hear it, listen to it, and act upon it. Don’t take my word for it, listen and then go learn. Don’t just keeping saying “No new taxes, No new school”. As I said once before to someone,“ Is that all you got, just no new taxes?” If that is all you can argue, you have no grounds to stand on. No facts, no reasons, nothing. Hear what is being said by the other side, listen to it, really listen, then go research it. That way you will be an informed, and responsible voter.

An informed voter is a responsible citizen. It is my belief that once you listen, research the facts, and weigh the evidence, you will change your mind and vote for the levy. And there is nothing wrong with changing your mind, once you LISTEN and not just hear.

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