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GRAVES: Mitchell is on a tear

By Joe Graves

Mitchell Schools Superintendent

When President Eisenhower nominated Charles Wilson, CEO of General Motors, to be secretary of defense, critics raised the concern that Wilson would never be able to make a decision in his newly proposed role that was adverse to the interests of GM. Thus, in the congressional hearings to consider the nomination, Wilson was asked if he thought he would be able to do what is best for the country even if it wasn't best for the company he had led. Wilson assured his interrogators that he could but added that he couldn't think of any situation in which that would be necessary "because for years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa."

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Predictably, Wilson was thereafter vilified for the arrogance of big business.

And perhaps his critics were at least partially right. I can certainly think of some situations in which the best interests of GM would not necessarily be identical with those of the country at large in the midst of the Cold War. Then again, I also suspect that most of the time, the interests of the two would be congruent.

Regardless, I like the Wilson quote because I have always felt that the interests of a school district and the county and city in which it is located are pretty close to identical. So, yes, I'll say it: What's good for Mitchell is good for the Mitchell School District.

And right now things are pretty darned good.

Thus, I will say about our community what I have said before: Mitchell is a great place to live and work and one with enormous potential but all too often we, as a community, don't seem to notice that fact. Additionally, we are sometime so busy with internecine squabbles and vilification of one another that we don't capitalize on new opportunities for community improvement and expansion.

And, yes, this is my business because I am a proud Mitchell-ite and because what is good for Mitchell and Davison County is good for the Mitchell Schools, with which I am also proud to be associated.

So buck up! Some incredible things are going in our city and county right now. To name just a few:

• Dakota Wesleyan University continues its campus renaissance with the new Glenda K. Corrigan Health Science Center, a beautiful and cutting edge facility.

• Mitchell Technical Institute has put the finishing touches on its new interstate campus with the completion and occupation of the Trades Center, was named No. 22 of the top 50 community colleges in the nation, was recognized as one of the 97 best colleges in the nation to work for by the Chronicle of Higher Education, continues to enjoy a graduate placement rate of 98 percent, a placement rate within their field of 93 percent, and starting wages as high as $30 per hour. Understanding all this, it should come as no surprise that MTI will almost certainly enjoy record enrollment numbers this fall. (Good thing that second set of student apartments was completed, through private sector cooperation, or we'd have no place to go with all these new students.)

• Speaking of which, a recent economic study of our community which demonstrated a dramatic lack of housing was met by the private sector with the under-construction or planned-construction of around 325 apartment units, a process assisted both by the city of Mitchell and Davison County.

• The City of Mitchell has -- with the help of the hockey association -- added a second ice rink, will soon begin construction on a major library addition, and advanced both the Corn Palace renovation and the new city hall project, the latter tasks having flummoxed the city fathers and mothers for years.

• The manufacturing industry has added significant numbers of jobs and would expand even more dramatically if it could find and hire new employees with the skill and training needed for the work.

• Our agricultural community, blessed with rains and good weather at a time when many feared extreme drought, could bring a wonderful harvest to the bins in the fall.

Undoubtedly, there are myriad other events and processes and development which herald continued great times ahead for the Corn Palace City.

"So what?" some will ask. "What does it matter if so many things are going so well in our community but we continue to consistently dwell on the downsides, if we continue to allow those Agnew called the 'nattering nabobs of negativism' to be the focus of our attention?"

I'll tell you what. Such unfounded and unhelpful criticism -- some of which might best be described as denigration and malice disguised as constructive criticism -- gives our community a black eye and suggests to others that Mitchell is not a good place to move to or to bring business to. It also hurts our ability to make the next positive moves in our community. Why pursue the next quality of life improvement or the next business investment if what it consistently earns you is public scorn and ridicule? Finally, it's fundamentally inaccurate. And it is inaccurate in such a way as to diminish the perceived quality of life in Mitchell for those who call it home.

One should always seek accuracy and truth. And the truth is that in Mitchell things are not just going well. Mitchell is on a tear. Mitchell is booming economically -- in stark contrast with much of the rest of the country -- while simultaneously enhancing the quality of life for its residents. And for that the accurate response is not gloom and doom or harsh invective, but gratitude.

Because if you want to be happy, be grateful. Especially when there is so much to be grateful for.