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New Beginnings–Editorial for January 3, 2018

Editorial for January 3, 2018

New Beginnings

“Happy New Year” is a wish for others that has morphed over the years into a greeting. When you say it to someone, you’re telling them that you’re wish for them happiness in the new year that follows the winter solstice and the Christian holiday season. In that spirit, Sabrina and I wish each of you a “Happy New Year”!

I can’t say that I’m glad to see 2017 end. By all accounts, 2017 was a good year. It was prosperous for merchants who sell things out of inventory and on credit. That’s good for the short run, but worrisome for the future. It was a really good year for car dealers. Folks don’t seem to worry about prices. It’s the payment they bargain for. As long as the payments can be stretched to where the amount fits into the budget, no one worries about the price.

Here’s a prediction on that one. What’s going to happen to the finance industry over that mentality of stretching car payments out over 60 or 72 or even 84 months is going to make the S&L crisis look like nothing. When lenders got too liberal with home loans and allowed borrows to go too far out on the limb, the industry crashed. Well, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Just a prediction. The automotive industry is a mainstay of the US economy like no other country in history. Cars are us. We love ‘em. It’s a symbol of American prosperity. Economists say there’s nothing wrong with being way in debt for expensive cars. It drives the economy, but they add, “Just make the numbers work and always have at least one in the driveway that’s paid for.”

I’ve car-shopped all over the five state region. The Fort Smith/River Valley area has the best deals. Anywhere within half-hour of here is where you find the bargains. The gulf coast hurricane drove prices up in Texas. Interest due on inventory drove prices up in Northwest Arkansas. Corporate ownership has ruined the market in Central Arkansas. Buy a car here. You’ll save. That’s not marketing. It’s math.

Folks in small businesses that sell gasoline have a complex view of 2017. They sold more gas than ever. Made less money on it. Usually when gas prices fall, folks go inside and buy premium priced soft drinks and snacks. Not necessarily so this year.

Real estate has been interesting this year. There are almost no lots left in Greenwood. That immediately drove prices up in the parts of southeast Fort Smith (developments along south Massard Road) where those homes would have been built in Greenwood until last year when Greenwood ran out of subdivision lots.

Here’s another prediction. Trouble will emerge for developers in the Greenwood school district where James Fork has the water distribution rights and there’s no sewer. Even more trouble is going to face the Greenwood city council over the issue of running sewer to potential development where Greenwood can’t sell water. Annexation will have to rear its ugly head again. There’s one simple solution to that. Greenwood has a “Checkmate” move to make in that game and had better make it soon. More to follow.

That big water tower looming over the horizon on Rye Hill is  there for a reason. Fort Smith has plans (I’ve seen them) for sewer lines all the way to Bear Hollow Road. There’s something to think about. Greenwood can’t develop where it can’t run sewer. Can’t grow without annexation, can’t annex without a court battle, can’t enjoy the benefits of subdivision expansion without both. Oh boy. That just drove the real estate prices up again on Rye Hill where sewer can be run from Fort Smith, water from James Fork and where will those kids go to school?

That’s going to get interesting too. Fort Smith will make another push soon to build a new high school out on the south side (they’ll then have “Northside”, “Southside” and “Greenwoodside” where the motto will be “Almost In/Should Have Been In Greenwood” where it’s more convenient to live and send your kids to school there than to carry them to Greenwood each morning. We’ll have “Bulldogs”, “Grizzlies”, “Mavericks” and “Developers” as mascots.

When the “Road” came over the hill connecting southeast Fort Smith/Barling/Massard to south Sebastian County, we did a story about how it would change certain things in Greenwood. I harken back to, re-read and re-recommend Barington as a book providing insight into Greenwood’s past. It’s a 1945 Simon & Schuster publication by Greenwood native (with jenny Lind ancestors) Edward Tatum Wallace about turn of the century Greenwood. He tells about how paving “the road” between Greenwood and Fort Smith forever changed things hereabouts. Stores closed (three grocers on the Greenwood square). Schools expanded. Folks moved to Greenwood from Fort Smith just get out of town. Even more folks moved from Greenwood to Fort Smith just to get out of poverty.

History teaches us that “thinking locally”, “shopping locally” means more than just Greenwood. It means the entire River Valley that Greenwood is dependent upon since they paved that first road.

“Vision without execution is just hallucination”-I’d really like to take credit for that quote, but it think it’s actually Leonardo da Vinci. It applies to whatever is coming our way next in Greenwood.

Once each century something happens that forever alters life for our end of the county. It takes vision to make the best of change as it’s coming toward us. Here’s a “Happy New Year” to you with the hope and a prayer that leadership, level headedness and community mindedness (and that means shopping locally) will make the best out of the next big changes that just might come in 2018 and might be in the best interest of Greenwood, Arkansas, where I remain,

Yours for a kinder tomorrow,

Kenneth Lawton Edwards, editor

 

 

 

New things to come

 

New Year’s Dissolutions

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PSG Pharmacy