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The Parthenon

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Editorial: America’s Best: A work in progress

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Huntington was awarded the grand-prize in the America’s Best Communities contest Wednesday, a $3 million dollar prize that will be used for urban development improvements throughout the city.

The three-year competition pitted Huntington against 350 other communities across the United States, but Huntington was crowned the victor during an awards ceremony in Denver, Colorado.

While winning an award to improve a city should naturally revitalize a community, some online commenters — even Huntington residents — have argued that the city may not be worthy of the title. People have heard the name of the contest and have immediately lashed out. Posts of “there’s no way,” “how low were the standards” and “if Huntington is the best I’d hate to see the worst.”

Huntington didn’t win for already being the best out there. Mayor Steve Williams and other local leaders recognize that the city has problems. There’s no way to ignore the drug epidemic and crime happening all around us.

The point of this prize is to make the needed improvements. Williams is trying to fix what is broken locally. He’s trying to fight off the opioid epidemic and to fix the budget issues. Local leaders are pushing projects to bring jobs to the area. Williams told WSAZ the projects in development for the city were going to happen whether the city won the award or not, alluding to Huntington’s penchant for handling its problems head on in recent years.

“The nice thing is now we have $3 million to help us along the way,” Williams said.

The city won because the judges see that strides are being made. They believe in the plans that Williams and so many others have for the city. According to West Virginia Public Broadcasting, the Huntington community has identified four areas of focus where the $3 million prize will be spent: renovating old industrial sites in the Highlawn neighborhood, continuing the development of a work incubator at the West Edge factory, revitalizing the Fairfield neighborhood with a Health Innovation Corridor, and increasing broadband access throughout the city.

The America’s Best Communities contest was not about the right now. It was about small towns working toward a better and brighter future. Huntington is working to create a community worthy of truly being called the best.

All in all, the question that remains is, what are those critical of our city doing to make it better? Are they volunteering, helping those in need or suggesting new ideas in city council meetings in hopes of changing the city for the better? Probably not.

Maybe its time for those critical to look at things from a different perspective — we are trying our hardest to really make a difference in a place we love. A community crumbles if its foundation (its people) aren’t linked together in some form of solidarity. Here’s to Huntington and the bright future it has, regardless of online criticisms.

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