The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 27, 2011

Garen McMillian, guest columnist: Joplin’s future depends on decisions we make today

Special to The Globe

JOPLIN, Mo. — The future of Joplin. It’s a statement that’s been spoken more in the past two months than in the past 100 years combined. There’s no explanation needed. We all know why we’re concerned about the future of Joplin.

What you may not realize is that “the future of Joplin” is, in large part, dependent upon the decisions we make right now. If you stop and think about it, the decisions that we are making as a community today have never before been so laden with responsibility — not just for us, but for our children.

On Tuesday it will be time to make yet another decision. The Joplin Parks and Stormwater Tax renewal will be the only item on the ballot, and all Jasper County votes will be cast at Northpark Mall. Newton County polling places will be Calvary Baptist Church, 600 E. 50th St., for the Staples 27 precinct; Fairview Baptist Church, 4330 S. Joplin Ave., for Staples 21; and Park Plaza Christian Church, 3220 S. Indiana Ave., for the Staples East precinct.

Tuesday will mark your first opportunity as a voter since the May 22 tornado to make a difference in the future of Joplin.

When you vote “yes” on Tuesday, you’re telling the world that you are in favor of continuing Joplin’s progress. The tax is a quarter-cent sales tax which is being renewed. Voting “yes” will not raise your taxes.

By voting “yes,” you will be affirming that it is a good idea to finish the Joplin Athletic Complex, to build new trails, and to establish an off-leash dog park — among other projects. A “yes” also means that you are in favor of continuing the reduction of the flooding that has plagued Joplin for decades.

Back in February, Missouri Life magazine named Joplin as the state’s top town. This was not an accident. Joplin reached the top of the list by being proactive over the past decade. While we’ve experienced our fair share of challenging situations in 2011, it’s time to again define our circumstances — and not let the circumstances define us.

You, too, can help define our circumstances by spreading the word to everyone you know about the importance of voting on Tuesday. A simple majority is needed to pass the renewal of the tax.

It is all too easy to get caught up in what needs to be done today, and to neglect thinking about the future of Joplin. Let’s hold each other accountable to take a few minutes out of our day on Tuesday to celebrate our wonderful community’s accomplishments — and to again define our own circumstances.

Garen McMillian is a financial adviser at Wells Fargo Advisors. He lives in Joplin.