Rocky Pond Xmas = Economic Development

Rocky Pond Christmas Lights founder thanks volunteers

The Belleville Telescope – Letter to the Editor
Jan. 6, 2014
Dear editor:
I was excited to come home from school during Christmas break to see my friends and check out the lights at Rocky Pond. I am also very pleased to see the new Rocky Pond Christmas tradition continue. As the former leader (I donated the project to the Chamber of Commerce back in June), I know exactly what a big undertaking it is, and I know that there are never enough volunteers or enough money. In spite of these setbacks, I know that the few very dedicated core crew worked tirelessly to not only keep what had been started just three years ago in 2010, but to add many beautiful pieces for 2013 and make sure this new tradition continues to serve God and the community at large.

The many new pieces and the repositioning of existing pieces made for an entirely fresh display which I visited five times during my short visit. I hope that more people come forward this Summer to start work early on Rocky Pond Christmas 2014. There is literally something for everyone to do. Something magical happens when people see good things happening. People’s attitudes start to change. They begin to feel pride in their town, they tell their friends, they send photos, they share on Facebook and internet blogs.

There are so many things to be proud of in Belleville. Just since November, 2007 (the year I moved here from Nashville), the Blair Theater has opened, the vacant buildings downtown are almost all fi lled now, two new churches have been successfully planted, a Nebraska Christian radio station installed a local repeater,
The Telescope created the annual Republic County Tourism Guide, there are bigger racing events, a new bar, three new restaurants, new sewer system, new sidewalk at the park, ball fields, new owner to the bowling alley, new city websites, more businesses have websites, more hits when one searches for “Belleville, KS” on Google and You-Tube, RCHS band marched in Chicago, there are Christmas lights at Rocky Pond, on the Courthouse lawn, a lighted Christmas parade, the star on the elevator is lighted again, and…my goodness there isn’t enough room to name all the great changes in the last few years!

The important thing to remember is that it takes dreamers and their ideas, and the courage to implement them in spite of perceived odds and the negative words of the naysayers. I doubt that the general public is aware that someone who opens a business or starts a charitable project is usually risking everything he or she has. Endless hours, investing their last dollar, or even borrowing money to try to make a dream become reality. It is imperative that the public maintains a positive attitude and supports those things people have dared to create. Indeed the very survival of Belleville as a town in the long term relies upon a continuous flow of risk-takers and people to support their efforts both emotionally and financially. Please, shop at your local stores. Say encouraging things to the owners and employees. Make positive comments on the social networks such as Facebook, and let people know what’s so great about your town. Donate generously to the churches, schools and charities. Stand up for your police, fire and EMT employees. Attend and contribute to the city council meetings. Be a force for good. You will be surprised how many of those seeds you’ve sown will turn into a growing wave of hometown pride, tourism dollars and even new residents to one of the most affordable, beautiful, and friendly places to live in the country.

G. Tom Tsao

Those aren’t just holiday lights, they are commerce

Fred Arnold Publisher – The Belleville Telescope

Did you go out to Rocky Pond in Belleville this year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s? What did you see?

Perhaps you saw Santa. Maybe a snowman or two. Perhaps you were enthralled by one or more of the many holiday light displays that adorned the park. Now, what did you really see? Yes, that is a loaded question. Of course you saw the many displays that were created, installed and manned by countless numbers of volunteers. And yes you certainly saw something that was awe inspiring; truly a sight to behold. But one of the things you saw and probably didn’t realize was economic development.

That’s correct. Economic development. The thousands of twinkling lights and carefully crafted displays were economic development. This thought was brought to mind after a discussion I had with Telescope advertising manager Susan Bartels. Susan, who resides in Fairbury, came down to Belleville one night during the Christmas season to drive through Rocky Pod and view the lights. She says she has never seen them before. While in Belleville they ate supper at a local restaurant, toured Rocky Pond, went to The Blair Theatre and caught a movie, then stopped at a gas station for fuel and a drink on the way out of town. By all accounts she figured she spent nearly a hundred dollars in town that night. That $100 is money that went directly into the pockets of local merchants. New money. Found money. Fresh money. Economic development.

Certainly many local people take the time to view the holiday sites at Rocky Pond each year. But how many out of town people come to our community to see this spectacle and while here either purchase some good or service from a local merchant? Found money. Economic development can come in many forms. We tend to think of it most often as a result of expansion of an existing or location of a new business to town. But that isn’t always the case.

Every time we as a community host an event that has the potential to draw people from outside our community to town, we have an opportunity to help foster economic development. The Rocky Pond holiday lighting display is proof positive of this.

Kudos to the people and organizations who make this event happen. This is a good, positive event to build on for the future.