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Wellington Daily News - Wellington, KS
  • Column: Changing a city's vision

  • The Public Square meeting in Wellington last week is the kind of thing that could help the city reach heights it has never before seen.

    The people who run Public Square do not have answers, but they get people organized so they can figure out what the questions really are.
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  • The Public Square meeting in Wellington last week is the kind of thing that could help the city reach heights it has never before seen.
    The people who run Public Square do not have answers, but they get people organized so they can figure out what the questions really are.
    I have traveled a lot in Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri, and I can tell you Wellington is not a bad town. There are a lot worse, and there are a few that many might consider nicer.
    The real question is what do we want and how do we get there. Getting bigger is not always a good thing. It might be that we want to keep it the same size and just improve quality of life.
    I cant help but think of the sleepy little town of Jonesboro, Tenn., which is where I grew up and near where I went to college.
    Jonesboro was a dirty little town that the four-lane had bypassed years before. It had a couple of old cool looking buildings, but no other redeeming social quality that I could see. I had seen the buildings and didn’t have any reason to go there, and most other people didn’t either.
    I was away working for a few years after college, and when I returned I found that Jonesboro was no more. It was now Jonesborough. I still wasn’t all that impressed, but over about 10 years it was transformed from a wide spot in the road no one cared about to a tourist destination.
    Now a billboard on the four-lane reminds visitors that this is the oldest city in Tennessee, and the oldest city west of the Appalachians. It was also the capital of the state of Franklin, which was a failed attempt at seceeding from North Carolina and becoming the 14th state of the union.
    They also now have the National Story Telling Center, with several related festivals during the year.
    They also make much of famous people from the area. Davy Crockett was born a few miles to the south. Presidents Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson lived in the area and must have stayed there at some time or other.
    It is a town that didn’t even have a hotel in the 70s, and no one thought they needed one. Now people pay $150 a night to stay in a bed and breakfast where Andrew Jackson used to stop for lunch. If you want to stay there, in the downtown area, you better make reservations months in advance.
    The town itself has not gotten much bigger, but there has been some growth on the edges along the four-lane.
    Page 2 of 2 - Other than some cleaning up and decorating, nothing really physically changed  to make Jonesboro into Jonesborough. What changed was the mindset and attitudes of a few people, who had the vision and desire to make things happen.
    Wellington has some things going for it. History is one thing. We have a strong railroad heritage, somewhat of a cattle heritage, and we are in the heart of the “Old West.” Wellington already has a national group - the depression glass folks - with a national headquarters here.
    Maybe becoming a tourist mecca isn’t what we want, but what do we want?
    It might be interesting to see what would happen if a few people caught a vision and made up their minds to make it happen.
    James Jordan is editor at the Wellington Daily News. He may be reached at jjordan@wellingtondailynews.com

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