as published in the Blytheville Courier News on Thursday, February 4, 2016
By TOM HENRY
Sometimes a person’s quick wit isn’t funny at all, in fact, sometimes it is down right proof of ignorance and quite offensive.
Mr. Blant Hurt, a “businessman and resident of Jonesboro” and respected writer opined an opinion piece in the Feb. 2 edition of the Jonesboro Sun entitled “Our Sun King Mayor.”
In his column, his considerable wit and pithiness exemplifies how adroit he can be with his pen. He tells how in 1915 Jonesboro “town fathers touted Jonesboro as ‘The Best Town on Earth'” and how he believes that today Jonesboro can truly fulfill that goal. That’s all fine and dandy, however, one statement within his column shows his ignorance, is highly offensive and it is that to which I respond.
The column appears to be a response to Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin’s recent “state of the city” presentation. His comments echo the talking points of Perrin’s presentation, high-fiving on all the positive points such as economic growth, new construction and city awards. However, when it comes to addressing the negatives that Jonesboro and hence Mayor Perrin is facing, Hurt takes far too much liberty, speaking from ignorance and points a narrow, judgmental finger toward Blytheville as a scapegoat.
He writes, “Indeed, most of the problems Jonesboro faces are hardly of Mayor Perrin’s making. It’s not his fault that the rate of economic growth in the United States hasn’t cracked 3 percent in the last 10 years. Or that Blytheville has imploded (some have quipped that all criminals are moving over here because ‘there’s nothing left in Blytheville to steal.’)”
Wow! Are you kidding me?!?
Clearly, Mr. Hurt is ignorant to the fact that actually it is Blytheville that is the “best town on earth.”
We have some of the best people on the planet and we are far more generous and compassionate than is Jonesboro.
How can I say that?
Because recently I lived for six years in Jonesboro while I completed graduate school at Arkansas State University. [Go Red Wolves!!]
Also, he is clearly ignorant of the fact that Blytheville has not imploded. In fact, not only have we not imploded…. we are EXPLODING!!
Exploding with new businesses and new growth…new jobs and new hope…new successes and new plans.
While there are many issues we’re have having to face, Blytheville and its people are healthy and certainly making positive strides.
We have been selected as a Volunteer City of the Year by the State of Arkansas for three of the last four years. That shows that there is kindness, service, community, and generosity in our city.
Numerous people are making investments in our city, both financially and personally. That would not be happening if our fair city had imploded and was dead.
While it is true that Jonesboro is a retail mecca, their leaders have expressed jealousy over our industrial base. While we make industrial products, they sell us food or consumer goods. While we have drainage issues and potholes, Blytheville is not one giant parking lot during rush hour, like Jonesboro is.
What does the highly offensive statement that “all criminals are moving over here because there is nothing left in Blytheville to steal” really mean? Maybe if criminals are moving to Jonesboro and away from Blytheville it is because we have had enough and we, along with state and federal agencies, have said it will no longer be tolerated.
Also, to say there is nothing else over here to steal, would imply that we are a dustbowl of desolation…nothing but tumbleweed or a dried up trash heap. Are you serious Mr. Hurt? Have you even been to Blytheville?
Also, how can you brag that Jonesboro’s crime rate dropped 14 percent in 2015 and a few paragraphs later insist that Jonesboro and Mayor Perrin’s problems are because “all criminals are moving over here because there is nothing left in Blytheville to steal?”
I’m not going to ask that Blytheville, who obviously has nothing worth stealing, stop taking their money to Jonesboro steakhouses or other businesses in retaliation of his comments. But I AM going to personally challenge Mr. Hurt to come visit Blytheville. I’ll give you a tour of all that is right with our hometown. Be prepared to stay for a while though, because it will be a long day.