I took a couple of hours on one fairly nice afternoon this week and drove around the community I call home. To tell the truth, I was looking for eyesores. Not that I'm attracted to eyesores mind you, I just wanted to look with fresh eyes on our community and see perhaps what a newcomer or visitor might see.
In some areas of Sikeston, the windshield tour was disgusting. In other areas, as you would imagine, the homes and yards and properties were immaculate - a welcome mat for the entire world to see. There were countless neighbors out in their yards - pruning, mowing, clipping, hauling with reckless abandon.
And last Saturday, I made six trips to the compost area of Sikeston along with a steady stream of other residents - hauling off the leaves and limbs that, in my case, have piled up through time and bad weather. It was refreshing to see so many people on an early Saturday morning, smiling as they made their properties and our community a better place to live.
But back to those problem properties. As I journeyed through the less-traveled streets of Sikeston, I say dozens upon dozens of houses that were eyesores by any definition. Abandoned vehicles along with all forms of debris scattered and littered yards. In countless cases, junk piled up on the porches and front yards. The back yards were worse.
So here's my question. Why would someone - anyone - live in those conditions? It doesn't really take money to remove or eliminate these eyesores. Our community sponsors spring and fall clean-up days and allows citizens to discard virtually anything that has accumulated over time. It takes minimal effort and no cost whatsoever. So why do these eyesores remain despite the best efforts of the community?
I really need an answer to this question. And I'm being serious here. Why would someone live on a property in the conditions I witnessed this week? And you can do the same exercise yourself just by taking the time to drive around. I can understand if someone is physically unable to remove some of the debris. But I know that is not the case in far too many cases.
Here's what happens. Most of those who truly care rarely drive outside of their neighborhood or at least not the neighborhoods that I'm discussing. And since many residents don't actually see these eyesores, it becomes less of a community problem. But just because you don't see it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. And it certainly doesn't mean it is not harming the image and pride of our community.
Try calling your city council representative and asking them to help clean up our town. If we put sufficient pressure, surely some change will come.
I've said it many times before. When business and industry come to town, they aren't stupid. They tour our community and quite often, drive the streets we would not direct them toward. And when they see what I saw, chances are they will choose to locate elsewhere.
Given these eyesores, sometimes you can't blame them.
But that has got to change. Unfortunately, if we wait on those who ruin this community to change, progress will never happen. We must rely on the proud Sikestonians to pressure the others to bring about this important and simple change.
And it must start today!