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Newton – a town of resiliency

Published: Thursday, July 17, 2014 3:35 p.m. CDT

“Resilience.” This word has been used to describe Newton for many years now. The primary definition of this word is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.” Clearly, this fits Newton perfectly. But did you know there is another definition of “resilience”? It is “elasticity,” or the ability of an object to change, adapt, mold itself, and yet retain its purpose. What a fantastic concept and how fitting it is for our community as well.  

The first definition fits Newton because it shows the strength of will and commitment that our community has exhibited. Everyone said, “Newton will not die.” In some ways, this first definition is the “why” of Newton’s recovery. I believe the second definition, the ability to change, is the “how” of the recovery.  

How has this happened? The industrial base in Newton has diversified and companies from outside our region have invested here. Local residents have engaged with the wider region for employment, while still living locally. Local businesses have partnered with larger companies for stability and growth, UL and NASCAR come to mind as stellar examples. An emphasis has been placed on cleaning up the community and creating curb appeal. Incentives have been developed to encourage young families to locate here. People have begun to take risks and start new businesses. Studies have been developed to help existing retail businesses grow and identify new retail businesses that would fit here. In short, our community has adapted.

But none of this happened by accident. These initiatives, and the opportunities that followed, were the result of community members working together to build them. The Chamber of Commerce, Newton Development Corporation, Convention and Visitors Bureau, the city, the schools, the hospital, employers big and small, and other community groups all have been involved in the process.

I commend the leaders of our city for their vision, determination and willingness to do the things necessary for Newton to not just survive but to thrive in the future. I commend the Board of Trustees at Skiff Medical Center for their vision, as well. Their commitment to ensuring that Newton has a hospital for the next 90 years, just as it has for the last 90, and their ability to adapt, are the very definition of “resilience.”

Our leaders can’t do it on their own, though. Success will only be achieved if every person in our community does their part. Greet strangers on the street and welcome visitors to our town. Take care of your homes and your neighborhoods. Participate in community organizations and use your time, talents and treasure for the common good. I encourage each and every person reading this article to stop and take a moment to consider the familiar, “Ask not …” phrase from John F. Kennedy. Are you doing something for your community, or are you waiting for your community to do something for you?

For those who know me well, you also know that I believe there is another element to the success of our community and that is the blessing of our Heavenly Father. As our family leaves for a new adventure in Indiana, we feel the hand of God in our decision.   At our departure we say, “Goodbye,” not simply as a gesture of parting, but in its original meaning of “God Be With You.” We also pray this blessing over our community and each of you personally: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

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