A sense of local history is important. Strong connections to the past can foster a sense of community togetherness and common ground. However, sometimes adherence to tradition and allegiance to history can needlessly stand in the way of progress.
Thankfully, that did not happen with the expansion of the Prairie Farms dairy facility off Broadway in Anderson.
As you’ll probably recall, the facility’s request in 2010 to expand onto a little more than half an acre of city-owned Shadyside Park caused an uproar among a minority of folks who were opposed, principally, to the expansion’s encroachment onto the sledding hill at the park and onto hallowed ground dedicated to military veterans.
Sledding hills and veterans memorials are important for very different reasons. However, in this case, the business vowed to invest $300,000 in the park, partly to replace the sledding hill. And, truly, the ground earmarked for the expansion did not disturb the veterans memorial.
The Ockomon administration and city officials did the right thing by following through on their commitment to Prairie Farms for the $6 million expansion. If they had not, dairy officials say they would have had to reduce the work force, moving much of the facility’s operations elsewhere.
As it is, Prairie Farms’ expansion is about 85 percent complete, and the company remains firmly rooted in Anderson.
Let’s face it: Our community is in desperate need of jobs, both new ones and retention of the ones we already have. Local government officials must work hand-in-hand with businesses to help them get what they need to maintain a competitive advantage by staying in Anderson.
In this case that happened without significant harm to history or traditions.