What Makes a Community Great?


[This is the first in a series of posts about community “greatness”.]

A couple of months back I saw a Facebook (FB) group created that boldly declared – “Let’s Make (insert hometown name) Great Again”!  Needless to say, I could not resist.  After years of work in local government the one “absolute truth” I have learned is that community quality is subjective.

Another truth is that no two (2) communities are the same.  Rather there is a wide range of characteristics that defines each and every community.  I think we would all agree that a community is not “great” if it has extreme poverty, high crime, underfunded schools and absent local leadership.

What is Great?

But let’s look at what makes a community “Great”, “Awesome”, (“insert your own adjective”).  Different age, income and yes (I dare say it) political perspective affects how a person views their community.  For example, a young couple with family plans will most likely put a premium on school and education quality.  Retirees and seniors, who are most likely on some level of “fixed” income, will be concerned about how much it will “cost” to live in their community of choice.  Since, here in Illinois, most of your property tax dollar go to schools (approximately 60 to 80 percent depending upon where you live), retirees and seniors may not be as concerned about funding “excellent” schools.  Not that they don’t value them it is just a practical matter of financial concern.  I realize I am painting with a “broad” brush, and there are exceptions to my generalization.  But I am describing observations I have made over the years which are general in nature.

As I stated above political perspective plays a role as well.  What do I mean by this?  What I have seen is that some citizens want varying degrees of governmental intervention in their community.  For example, in some communities elected officials, residents and businesses support the idea of strict property maintenance codes and aggressive enforcement of those codes.

The conflict is that it costs tax dollars to enforce aggressively codes.  Some folks don’t want the government telling them how to maintain their property.  Others feel that if you don’t keep the community and its neighborhoods looking nice and well-kept it will diminish their property values and ultimately drive families and “invested” folks away.  Ultimately I think there needs to be a balance in this area.  What I mean is that code enforcement is important to maintain a certain base level of community appearance.  Care needs to be given as to how much enforcement costs and some effort to measure the effectiveness of enforcement is needed as well.  Equally important, in my mind, is that compassion needs to be given to those who cannot afford to “wholesale” property improvements.

Next Time: “Community Feel”.


[The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and the author solely and not those of others or organizations that may be stated or inferred in the posting.]
© Ronald R. Searl. 2016

To Spray or Not to Spray – That is the question?????

is (1)Recently I was reading a FB group posting that criticized a Chicago area community for its lack of mosquito spraying (adulticiding). I could not resist. I bit.

After managing a community mosquito abatement program for more than 30 years I felt a need to inject some facts and information into the discussion.  I explained that many Chicago area communities have moved away from abatement programs that emphasize chemical truck spraying to ones that attack the threat at the larvae stage – called larviciding. There are several important elements to this which are beyond the discussion of this post.

There are a couple of primary reasons that truck spraying is no longer emphasized.   First, spraying chemicals into the atmosphere is not environmentally friendly.    Many folks my age recount running behind the spray trucks, as kids, playing in the chemical mist…  Was this healthy?  According to World Health Organization study titled “Pesticides and Their Application” Sixth Edition 2006 (page 11)” all pesticides are toxic to some degree to humans.  However, at the dosage levels used for mosquito control, the risk of ill effects is not great.  But like many environmental factors some people are more apt to different levels of chemical sensitivity than others. Second adulticide chemicals are only airborne for a short time and therefore lose effectiveness rather quickly.   Spray will kill mosquitoes that it comes in contact with but does not “hang” long enough in the air for continual protection.

If you live in a rural area where your community does not abut jurisdictions that also have well thought out and effectively designed abatement programs the nuisance problem is more likely.    There is also the greater potential of mosquito transmitted diseases health risk, Ironically the “floodwater” mosquito is the one that is most noticed by the public as it is a frequent and aggressive bitter.  The vector mosquito is the type that is more dangerous as it tends to carry diseases like West Nile Virus or Encephalitis.

The vector mosquitoes usually appear in the latter part of the summer when is hot and dry- August and September in the Midwest – but can be found earlier too. The best protection against mosquitoes is insect repellent applied as personal protection.  The Illinois Department Public Health recommends insect repellent with between 10 to 25 percent DEET.  DEET was developed in 1946 by the US Army to protect personnel in insect infested areas.

So the the question that one must ask is not: Should we spray or not spray?  The question one should ask is “spray” what?

The answer is clearly “spray” – insect repellent with DEET as “personal protection”.  It is your best line of defense against nuisance and disease vectors!



[The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and the author solely and not those of others or organizations that may be stated or inferred in the posting.]
© Ronald R. Searl. 2015

Searl-Cites and Ronald Searl Blogs have combined.

I have come to realize that retirement is more time consuming than I anticipated.  So much to do and little time to do it.  Therefore I have combined my two (2) blogs Searl-Cites and Ronald R. Searl into one personal blog. It was a bit overwhelming to decide what to post on which site.  I have a number of topics that I want to write about so I am implementing the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle.


(c) Copyright.  Ronald R. Searl 2015

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