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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

On The Hardship That Is Dickenson County

Kilo and I have been sifting through census and demographic data lately trying to determine just how bad economic conditions are in Dickenson County, Virginia. Bad is a fair description. Very bad is even closer.

Someone who can give us a first-hand account - because he lives there - is Brian Patton. He has joined in and is of the opinion that it is high time for a change in local leadership:
Kilo and Jerry are both right about one thing, though, we have to start doing more in Dickenson County or face the inevitable consequences facing the county.

The good news is that I think folks here in the county are starting to realize something has to change and I would bet they will effect that change by electing a new
Board of Supervisors the first chance they get. (link)
What caught my attention, when reading his reaction to our exchange, was a response from a contributor to the comments section of Brian's weblog (apologies to Brian for brazenly lifting this from his wonderfully entertaining weblog and to "Southwest Virginia" for my requoting him or her here):
I (and my entire family since the Revolution) live in Dickenson County. Now I technically reside in Richmond, but I still “go home” when I travel to Southwest VA. I and a lot of people from the area don’t count in the college graduate and income stats for the county because we have left the area in search of jobs that pay more than minimum wage. If I could send my taxes to there instead of Richmond I would. I know that isn’t something easily measured but I want to point out that the so called “brain drain” contributes to the low depressing stats for our county.
That's really what all the statistical analysis of employment data and unemployment figures comes down to. The answer is not in the percentage of people who are working in the county but in the number of people who haven't packed their bags yet and moved out (more on that here). Dickenson County - and much of Southwest Virginia - are rapidly being abandoned by our best and brightest because they cannot find a future here. Of all the counties that make up the region, the exodus may be most prevalent in Dickenson, where there are lamentably few career opportunities.

Brian's right. It is past time for a change. He wants to start at the county level. I can't argue with that. But I see a more sweeping need for change. All the bums that have been on our payroll and who have done nothing to stem the tide of economic collapse in Southwest Virginia need to resign in disgrace. All of them.