as published in the Blytheville Courier News on Monday, May 2, 2016
By TOM HENRY
Infrastructure maintenance is to a city what vitamins and cholesterol medicine is to a body. It costs money and there is typically no visible sign of their benefit unless something goes wrong!
The arteries of a city must flow just as surely as the arteries of a man’s body. Just like a person with 90 percent blockage in his/her coronary arteries, when sewer pipes leak under a street, eventually the road will come down and the city’s health, commerce, traffic and life can come to a stop.
Just like when a person begins to experience neuropathy in their central nervous system due to diabetes or high blood pressure, when a city’s telecommunications or public utility infrastructure deteriorates due to age and neglect, signals get crossed, mixed or dropped.
Just like when a person’s airways tighten and constrict making the demand more than the airways can handle, when a city’s streets deteriorate and/or when traffic patterns increase significantly, the personal, industrial and commercial transportation avenues choke and fail to meet the needs of life.
It is finally time to pay the piper. Like it or not, we must seek the advice of and eventually pay for specialists to clear our city’s arteries, combat the city’s neuropathy and open our city’s airways (metaphorically). That will all be very expensive, just like medical specialists are. But there is more. We must begin to take our medicines!
When a person has heart bypass surgery to clear the arteries, life is extended but there must also be a radical, drastic change of lifestyle. So, to continue the metaphor, likewise we must change the way we do preventative maintenance in Blytheville. We must stop smoking, start exercising, take our medicines and get regular checkups.
So, how do we do that? We do that by implementing an extensive, strategic plan for continued infrastructure maintenance and improvement. We stop patching what we really need to fix. We bring in experts to design a coordinated, proactive plan that stays ahead of infrastructure problems instead merely reacting to every emergency once they arrive. We also monitor for problems before they become disasters.
All of this is going to take money and a lot of it. Unfortunately, at this time the city doesn’t have enough money. But once again, we return to the same argument I have been making for months…prioritize needs and wants and start cutting wants. Sorry folks, we just have to.
Take the money that we have been spending on wants and make sure we have enough for our needs. I know that there are a lot of people that will get angry at this, and many of them are really good friends of mine, but it is common sense to take care of health, safety, welfare and business before we concentrate on entertainment or dessert. If we can’t afford our medicine, we shouldn’t be eating out, must less pigging out on a Royal Caribbean Cruise.
Philosophically I believe that the government should not be doing most of the things that it is currently involved in. Governments were created to do for individuals what they can’t do for themselves. It is excessively difficult for citizens of the delta to build their own individual sewage systems, or telecommunication systems and satellites, or militaries, so the government must do that for us. But we are more than able to build our own commercial golf courses, meetings halls, water-parks, green spaces, basketball courts, swimming pools, and etcetera.
Therefore, until all citizens of Blytheville have neighborhoods that drain properly and sewer pipes that flow properly and modern telephone/television/internet fiber-optics and equal fire/police/medical coverage and streets that don’t buckle and jar a driver so badly that their fillings fall out of their teeth, we shouldn’t be coddling the few that wish to be entertained…regardless of the type of entertainment.
I can imagine the response of some that would take issue with my comments and insist that businesses won’t come to Blytheville if there isn’t a championship golf course or a water-park or a community center to keep them entertained. I’d quickly point out that they wouldn’t come if our city has 19th century frontier communications/public utility/transportation infrastructure either. How can we hope to produce computer chips if we can’t flush our toilets? How can we hope to create products if we can’t drain water? How can we hope to create jobs and wealth if we can’t drive to work on our streets? It’s time to take our medicines!