I met the owner of one of Small Town's largest companies the other day, and he was complaining that he has trouble attracting new employees who are willing to live in this town. They'll take the job he offers, but then they buy a house in Jackson or Perry, parts of Canton north of here where there are better restaurants and better shopping. The schools are better, and the atmosphere isn't so inbred. He was actually making his complaint in the context of a conversation about upgrading our high school. If we had a better high school, he said, people would live here, which would do wonders for our real estate market, our general cash flow and the overall growth of the community. In turn, more businesses would be attracted to the area, which would bring more people and so on.
We all know that it isn't just the schools that send people north on the highway, and we have a long way to go to be appealing to the outside world, but I saw his point. Start with the schools, and the rest will follow.
At first glance, Small Town and its surroundings seems a little claustrophobic to passersby. Not much happens here if you don't look below the surface of fast food chains and moronic comments in the newspaper's 30 Seconds column (godforbid anybody should think those people represent us all!).
Why, just the other day I learned that one of the main characters from the new film "The Big Year," Jack Black's character, is based on a local guy, Greg Miller. I won't go into the details of how that came to be, but it's an interesting story.
And all over the place there is the filming of "Old Fashioned," a romantic comedy written and directed by Rik Swartzwelder. Ever heard of him? Me either, but he has chosen our humble county to shoot his film. There have been several casting calls for extras, and they have already begun shooting at places like the county library, a local florist and a long-standing beer and burger place. Here is the Facebook page that documents the experience.
We also have a surprisingly great performing arts center where I saw Blast! this past weekend, will perform in an orchestra concert this coming Saturday and will see Spamalot next week. It's a hopping place.
We're also just 45 minutes from the guy who released all the exotic animals and then killed himself. We're a short drive to Youngstown, which has been described as the Sphincter of Ohio. And we're trying like heck to get these locals to fork up enough cash to pay for a new high school, with the state kicking in more than $9 million—a one-time offer. Now, who wouldn't want to live here knowing all this about us? Tell me.