County needs better connectivity

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By The Staff

Why is it that Henry County can't attract new businesses, so there can be local jobs for local people?

According to the Ky Deskbook of Economic Statistics, 59 percent of Henry County's workforce is employed out of the county, and 46.3 percent of them travel more than 30 minutes to get to their job destinations.

The cost of living is going up daily, due largely to the gas crisis. The spending power of a paycheck is dwindling, but just how much of it is going to the increased cost of just getting to work?

I shudder at the thought of trying to figure how many gallons of gas that amounts to. Thousands, easily, when you add the number of trips out of the county for other errands, such as shopping and medical needs. Probably just as much, if not more, is used to bring services into the county from elsewhere.

Why are we concentrating so much on attracting more housing, with no way to sustain them? New businesses will provide local jobs and generate more tax dollars, while saving our nation's resources, protecting our environment and lessening our expenses. Money saved is as good as money earned.

We want to preserve our rural landscape and lifestyle. We want to protect wildlife and our environment. We want to cherish our history. We want to raise and educate our children here... but then they have to leave to seek a career elsewhere.

Henry County is in the lower percentile of the entire state in communication technology, with most of its residents (an estimated 83 percent) still unable to get high-speed internet connection or reliable wireless phone service. Telecommuting is almost out of the question in these rural parts, so forget about saving gas and protecting the environment from toxic emissions. Most online jobs and educational opportunities require high-speed internet.

We're lagging far behind on reliable, consistent coverage for wireless phone service as well. How can we expect new businesses to come here when we can't offer the technology they need?

Even unreliable wireless service is not available in most areas of the county. But to some people that may not seem important unless a storm knocks out the power lines or there's an accident or other emergency and help can't be reached. Our emergency services are adequate to quickly dispatch an ambulance or fire truck, but only if the caller can get a signal to reach them.

In the early decades of this century, there were a lot of angry people when they brought those ugly utility poles and lines in to disrupt the landscape. But can you imagine life without telephones and utilities? Can you imagine being without wireless technology, like television, radio and cell phones?

Some older Americans can remember when phone service was not available to everyone. Then they put up more poles. Nowadays, more and more people are giving up their "landline" phones for wireless "cell phones" which can be used almost everywhere (except rural Henry County).

But of course, all this depends on more cell towers to accommodate the increasing number of people who rely on them and the increasing demand for new wireless technologies. The concept is pretty much the same as our ancestors faced: If you want more phones and utility services, you need poles; if you want wireless technology, you need towers. Does Henry County want to live in the past or step up to the 21st century?

Joyce Branscum