We don’t have a forest, we just have a lot of trees.

Commentary/ Fred Arnold, Publisher (The Belleville Telescope)

We don’t have a forest,we just have a lot of trees.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Can’t see the forest for the trees.” But what
exactly does that mean?

It could have a few meaning depending on one’s perspective. But by and large I think the most common meaning is: we can’t see something because that certain something is in fact right in front of us…good or bad.

To an extent that very phrase is applicable to the people in and around Belleville regarding our community. Last week I had a conversation with Melinda Pierson director of Belleville’s Chamber and Main Street Program. We talked about a lot of things. Among them included her thanks for the Telescope’s positive attitude toward the community and support of the growth and activities that are going on here. Happy to oblige, that’s our job and truthfully how we as a newspaper feel.

Our discussion did take, however, a somewhat brief darker side. There are people in Belleville who “just don’t get it.” They complain, grouse, cajole and generally are negative about our city. It gets very tiresome to hear: “We’re just a dying little town with nothing going on.”


As I have penned numerous times before in this space, there are a lot of great things going on in Belleville and Republic County. Growth in the business and industrial sector. Increased sales tax revenues. Spikes in home sales and more younger people with families either moving to town, or returning here to live after years away.

So how do you combat the nay-sayers? Both Melinda and I agree the answer lies in education. Keep promoting our community. Keep showing people the many good things that are going on here. Tell people that this is a great place to live, work, raise a family or to retire. If we are positive long enough and often enough maybe some people will “get it.” Either that or they will keep their negative attitudes to themselves.

No this isn’t Belleville of the 1960s, 70s or 80s. Hardly any community anywhere resembles what they did 30, 40 or more years ago. We are all, however, different. I’d like to think that Belleville has risen from its economic lowpoint of 20 years ago. We have morphed. There is a resurgence going on here, we have people who believe in this community and the greater area.

From a personal standpoint if I did not believe this I would not have returned to Belleville nearly fi ve years ago to purchase the Telescope, nor would I have invested large sums of money in rebuilding what was once one of the top non-daily newspapers in the state of Kansas. Staff and management have been successful in our efforts. The Telescope is again among the top 10 largest paid circulation newspapers in the Sunfl ower state. Staff is growing, Revenues are higher. And we are expanding. This is a source of great pride for me.

Can’t see the forest for the trees, we say? Well that forest has been there all along. We just have to look hard enough to see it.