Why this country girl loves the City of Warren
A friend on Facebook teasingly called me that not too long ago.
He's right. I am a country girl. I was born in a large city -- Washington, DC, but I've spent most of my life in small towns.
I love living in the country. I love the quiet solitude. I love the neat little Amish farms. I love the silhouette of a silo on a moonlit night.
So why does this self-confessed country girl write so much about the City of Warren? Why do I care? Why do I think others in our county should care?
Interestingly, these questions come to me from two very different sources. First, from my friends and neighbors out here in the hinterlands -- some of them think I'm a little daft to worry about what happens in Warren. I've also been criticized by Greg Hicks, the law director for Warren, for voicing my opinions about how some things have been handled in the city. He has asked publicly why a person from Farmington would write about Warren. I guess he doesn't think Warren's problems are any of my business. He and my friends are both wrong.
Warren is our county seat. It represents us as a county, and in a way, belongs to all of us as county residents. Every one of us, at one time or another, must visit Warren. Mr. Hicks should want us to visit more than just when we have to. He should realize that the crime and blight and drugs that he is supposed to be working to eliminate keep most from visiting more than is absolutely necessary.
Folks that live outside of Warren need to understand that Warren isn't Vegas -- what happens there doesn't stay there. Those bad guys, up to no good, in the cars with the Michigan plates -- they are showing up on our back roads. That crime and blight and drugs will creep out to the rest of us eventually. It can't be contained. We can't, as a friend has suggested, build a wall along state Route 305.
Another reason I care what happens in Warren is that I have a genuine affection for the city. I know some might shake their heads at that sentiment, but it's true. I look at Courthouse Square and some of the beautiful old homes, and I can see the diamond that was once Warren shining through.
A city is more than its buildings, however, and the real beauty of Warren shows through some of the good people who live and work there. Those same people give me hope that Warren can be revitalized, that it doesnt have to continue to be "Little Detroit." It doesn't have to follow in the footsteps of the real Detroit and become a bankrupt wasteland.
I honestly believe that for every Anthony Iannucci sucking the life out of this city under the pretense of improving it, there is a Paul Clouser putting his heart and soul and money into projects that will ultimately improve this city. For the LaShawn Zieglers, who have added to the troubles by participating in businesses that seem to draw the criminal element, there are honest businessmen like Thom Duma who stay here in spite of the fact that they could probably be more successful somewhere else.
So how can we make the diamond shine again? For starters, those in public service need to remember that they are public servants and dedicate themselves to that. I will give credit here -- there are some who are really trying to improve Warren, but it is hard for them to fight the status quo. The voters in Warren need to recognize this and vote the bad apples out.
We need to support those who are trying to revitalize downtown. Patronize the businesses downtown. Go to the Amp for the concerts. Did you know we have some great museums here?
We need to assist those that are trying to do good for this town -- the Mahoning Valley Hope Center and the Warren Family Mission are organizations that don't rely on tax dollars and are working hard to improve people's lives. I've written about both groups before-they both work with people to help them become useful productive citizens.
I have a friend, a lifelong resident of Warren who, when we talk about the city, often becomes quite cynical. I don't blame him. He has watched his hometown disintegrate before his eyes.
I have noticed something, though. This man is an extremely bright, hardworking guy. He could be very successful anywhere and definitely make more money somewhere else, but he still lives in the neighborhood where he grew up. I've wondered why he stays.
I think that maybe he loves this city, and he sees the diamond just like I do.
Underneath his snark and cynicism, he may just have a little of what we all need to have: hope.
Yoder is a Farmington resident. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org