Chronicle Editorial


Small communities shine in Franklin County


Recent efforts by betterment groups in Geneva and Hansell have shown a bright light on the two small towns, and the hard work by these committees is certainly commendable in this day and age.

     Over the past few months, the Hansell Community Betterment Committee (HCBC) and Geneva Community Betterment (GCB) group have initiated efforts to improve amenities throughout their cities. In Hansell, shingles were replaced and repairs were completed on the community center after a group of ladies revived the long-dormant HCBC. The same scenario unfolded just down the road. Seven people joined together and reinvigorated the GCB, and Geneva will now host it’s first citywide event and celebration – dubbed “The Market” – in more than 15 years this weekend. All proceeds will go towards improvements to the bus barn at the old schoolyard.

      It’s impressive to see such a community-first mentality in Geneva, Hansell and other small towns throughout the area. It often seems these enclaves are pushed to the wayside in favor of larger cities when it comes to certain things, but it’s difficult to prioritize time, money and resources when there’s only so much to go around. It’s great that these betterment groups in Hansell and Geneva took the bull by horns to improve their cities on their own initiative.

     Small towns like those that dot the Franklin County countryside are written off far too often by both visitors and local residents alike. They’ve endured great loss over the years – schools have left, commerce has dried up and populations have plummeted. Their “glory days” may be behind them, but that doesn’t mean they’re irrelvant. These small towns provide an excellent place to raise a family within the confines of a tight-knit community that’s safe and welcoming.

     Betterment projects and committee involvement have been fleeting over the years. Both the HCBC and GCB noted that each group saw a marked decline in membership and activity over the past decade, and they both became non-functioning entities over time. These two examples are microcosms of an issue that’s become rather troublesome in small towns like Geneva and Hansell. Populations age, temporary residents move in and out, and the sense of community is gradually lost.

     However, it seems the standard has been shattered here in Franklin County. Both group’s efforts to spearhead change and put their the future of their communities first is a refreshing change of pace that should not go unnoticed. They chose to accentuate the positives and improve their cities instead of feeling sorry for themselves, and that’s commendable. Additional monetary support from organizations like the Community Foundation of Franklin County, Franklin County Tourism and the Greater Franklin County Chamber of Commerce have assisted in getting the HCBC and GCB back on their feet, and it’s great they’ve helped with such noble causes.

     HCBC members could have let the community center slowly decline into disrepair, just like the volunteers on the GCB could have let the organization fade into further obscurity. However, these groups chose to put up a fight. The Hansell Community Center’s new roof looks great, and this weekend’s event in Geneva is poised to bring in hundreds of people to “The Market.” The efforts of these two groups has set the watermark for similar towns, but they have no plans on stopping here. It’s fantastic to see how much these organizations achieved once they put their minds to it. Their successes are lessons in which other small communities should take note.