We are 19 days inside the new year and for those of us over 40 it will seem like just a few weeks and we will be hearing Christmas carols again. In just two weeks, candidate filing for Liberty Hill City Council races and the Liberty Hill ISD Board of Trustees positions open.
The world moves fast, faster than it ever has. Liberty Hill and the communities along the Shin Oak Ridge have often alternated between sticking our heads in the sand and hoping things could return to some good old days of past simplicity or rushing headlong pell-mell toward the future without any planning. Both of those strategies have failed this community.
While we flirted with denial that the times were changing, others began making the decisions that will impact our lives and the lives of our children for generations. Today, we must face the cold hard facts that this community cannot turn back the hands of time. We cannot by sheer force of will decide to not participate in the future. The days of a pastoral rural community where neighbors lived next to one another for generations, counted on one another, and loved, fought and married into one another’s families are slipping away. The once largely agricultural economy is fading. Liberty Hill and its neighboring developments and gated communities are demonstrative of a community in flux and in constant change.
With change comes the hardship of adjustment and the difficult task of accepting the inevitable. The way to save the best and most beautiful parts of our community is to plan, plan and plan some more. Just as the ranches and farms were carved out of the rocky ridges here, a bright future demands nothing less of us now.
Last year, voters passed an $85 million school bond proposal to build a new high school and sports complex, and renovate existing campuses. In this hotly debated issue, both sides weighed the future educational needs versus the very real costs of the proposal. In the end, voters leaned narrowly toward change — a decision demonstrative of a community with one foot rooted in economic uncertainty and one eye on the future. Going forward, there needs to be more emerging leadership and more efforts at consensus building.
As our leaders plan for the future, they should begin by listening. Sometimes that’s hard for elected officials and their appointees because they have their own ideas and believe they are right. But this year should be different. The changing times and serious circumstances call for those in charge and those who want to be in charge to listen, then lead. Our leaders need to listen to those impacted and then make solid, centrist decisions that will lead us forward.
Specifically, there are members of the community who say that Liberty Hill isn’t business friendly and that all the rules should be changed so that investors, entrepreneurs and business owners can basically police themselves. Maybe some of their complaints are legitimate? If so, their voices deserve to be heard. When action is required, it should be in the overall best interest of the community. No one wants to stifle business or make it difficult for employers to relocate here with decent paying jobs.
On the other side of the business climate debate there are clear voices warning us that some in this community have conflicts of interest and some are only in business to take everything they can from this community without so much as a forward thought or a plan for the future. We do know that unscrupulous business practices and bad ethical decision making will hurt the community and the economy just as bad as stringent rules that some believe may cost too much.
Leaders should listen to those who want business standards applied equally and fairly. At the same time, they should listen to those who call for transparency.
In fact, somewhere in the middle — between overregulating Liberty Hill’s business community and allowing some kind of no holds barred free for all profiteering scenario is the political middle that most of us know as fair and honest best business practice. That’s where the future lies. That is the ticket to building a successful future for our community.
Liberty Hill is a great community. How we develop our plans for infrastructure, water resources, transportation and jobs will determine what kind of future we have.
Competition from the other, better-organized, better-funded communities is not going to dissipate. Folks from outside will never know about our great schools, our safe community, and our great potential as long as we are fighting and arguing inside the huddle.
Leaders need to present clean hands and clear consciences, then roll up their sleeves and help build a tomorrow that is worthy for future generations.