Signs of the times

The marquee sign for Blue Ridge Muse went up Wednesday -- the first one signifying the various businesses in The Village Green.  Others are slated for installation Thursday.

Owners of the Village Green concept too often faced a recalcitrant -- and some might say backward thinking -- Floyd Town Council reluctant to approve the designs for the project. Some council members say they fear the town will become a tourist destination (my God...imagine that). After much haggling, approval finally came but progress seldom comes easy as each step forward appears to require two steps back.

The marquee sign for Blue Ridge Muse went up Wednesday — the first one signifying the various businesses in The Village Green.  Others are slated for installation Thursday.

Owners of the Village Green concept too often faced a recalcitrant — and some might say backward thinking — Floyd Town Council reluctant to approve the designs for the project. Some council members say they fear the town will become a tourist destination (my God…imagine that). After much haggling, approval finally came but progress seldom comes easy as each step forward appears to require two steps back.


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23 Responses

  1. I’ve waited a while before weighing back in on this debate because I wanted some time to think about it and also to digest what was said here. I also sent Jeff B. an email and hoped he would respond. He hasn’t so I guess this is the place to revisit it.

    It is obvious that a future resident of Floyd County is pissed off at the reception he received here when he added his opinion to my original post about the attitudes of the Floyd Town Council regarding tourism.

    Were residents of Floyd County too harsh on Jeff? That’s a subjective call but it does raise the question of what can, and does, happen when a debate turns harsh or the level of criticism ramps up. I’m not the right one to judge when a debate turns too harsh because my debate style is rough and tumble and I don’t take offense when the other side dishes it out.  I can see why someone might be upset at the tone displayed in some of the posts here and it illustrates the need to make sure that all points of view are welcomed and treated with respect.  The need to show respect works both ways. Jeff got a harsh reception from some and he came back with a chip on his shoulder and it escalated from there.

    But the issues that Floyd faces cannot be solved with rancor or a superior attitude from either side of the debate. Everyone has something of value to offer in a public forum and it is important that we hear them out without cavalier dismissal or an assumption that they speak from an uninformed position.

    Jeff, if you feel you were treated harshly here, you have my apology as the operator of this web site. We welcome opinions from all perspectives and I hope you understand that comments posted here come from passion for preserving the unique quality of life that is Floyd County and not from any personal animosity.

    I’m sorry you chose to depart in anger (or to depart at all). This site exists to be a forum for discussion and news and it works best when all points of view are represented.

  2. I’m not sure where Jeff is coming from with his defense of the antics of our town council but it is a place he should avoid in the future.

    The businesses that now form Floyd’s economic base depend on the tourists who come visit our little piece of heaven: the new Floyd Hotel, Oddfellas, Winter Sun, Bell Gallery and others, including your attractive shop.

    When I drive into Floyd, I am greeted by a glut of offensive neon: Family Dollar, Dollar General, that god-awful sign that Mike Turman and Doug Phillips put up in front of their building. The Phillips-Turman sign is in town limits. Where was the Town Council when that monstrosity went up? Oh, I fogot. That’s Doug Phillips and Mike Turman: The rules don’t apply.

    The only thing consistent about our local governments are their inconsistencies…along with the small minds that support their questionable activities.

  3. As a soon to be land-owner in Floyd County, I very much appreciate the feedback from those who commented on my post. I’ve learned a lot from those comments – my perception of Floyd comes from the Floyd Press, not from any place else. Having said that, I am coming from Miami, FL and I have seen what “boosterism” and uncontrolled immigration does to a once-great place to live. I am leaving the place I was born and raised because I can’t tolerate the declining quality of life any longer.

    I wasn’t aware that the Town Council was of the same mind-set as so many other places, but I guess I am not surprised. To set the record straight, though, I have stayed at the Hotel Floyd twice so far, am a member and supporter of the Jacksonville Center, have had a life-long interest in the arts, and am very pleased with the recent improvements in the area.

    If folks want the recent good changes to continue, then they need to either run for office or support those who think like they do. I am constantly surprised at how little civic involvement occurs any place in this country – it seems as though given the opportunity to make a difference, folks would rather watch TV or complain!

    I’ve fought more than my share of zoning battles here, and the neighbors rarely help, so I’ve been there and done that. I hope there are more folks in Floyd County who appreciate what they have and are willing to fight for it.

    Thanks again to everyone for their comments!

    Jeff B.

  4. Jeff, it’s best to learn a bit more about an area before making value judgments. I’m a native Floyd Countian and it takes a lifetime to fully understand this place.

    The Floyd Press is not really much of a mirror into our community although the news coverage has improved greatly since Doug retired, came home, and began writing for them. He offers a much better glimpse into life in this community through Blue Ridge Muse. This is where I come for the real news on what is happening here.

    Floyd has a long, flawed history of taking good ideas and killing them through over-conservative timidity or just plain stupidity. I know downtown merchants who have sunk everything they have into a bet on Floyd’s future only to see it endangered by the Town Council’s nickel and dime attitudes. We almost lost the grant for revitalization of the downtown business district because one council member worried about risking $100,000 as the town’s share while he had no problems asking the business people to risk far more.

    I suggest you get to know Floyd before issuing warnings. This is a county of good people who care deeply about their community. It is always best to speak from a platform of knowledge and not one built on misinformation.

  5. Let me offer some advice to newcomer Jeff: Please do not come into our county and act like you know more about what is best for us until you have had a chance to at least learn where the bodies are buried.

    Over the years we’ve had too many newcomers become instant experts on what Floyd does nor does not need. We can always use help but it needs to be informed help and not shoot-for-the-hip advice.

    Both the county board of supervisors and the town council put their ignorance on display with each and every meeting and members of both bodies are long time residents. If they don’t yet know the lay of the land how on earth can someone who has not yet moved here figure it out?

    Im sure, Jeff, that you will become a valuable member of our community but I urge you to educate yourself more before taking sides.

  6. This “discussion”, if it can be called that, has shed some valuable light for me on an issue of obvious concern to Floyd Countians. Doug Thompson, the person with the most at stake, has responded in a kind and understanding manner. Several others have written in a manner that suggests that “newcomers” are not welcome in Floyd County. Only one person among those who have contributed to the “discussion” has any idea of who I am, where I am coming from, or what I would like to see happen in the future to Floyd County. I find it utterly fascinating that others can so blithely jump to conclusions about my background, my political beliefs or my intentions. I’ve seen this happen before: during Floyd Fest this past summer and in the brouhaha over Gary Snyder. Fascinating and also very disturbing.

    May I ask a question? Is there a sign ordinance that outlines what is acceptable and what is not? If there is no ordinance, why not? Is anyone working on drawing one up? Complaints about the signage of Family Dollar, Dollar General and the sign by Mike Turman and Doug Phillips are pointless unless some plan of action is being considered to rectify the situation. I would think that those who have a stake in the issue, the businessmen, would have an interest in sitting down and coming to an agreement about what is and is not acceptable. Surely reasonable people would accept reasonable input from concerned citizens in drawing up such an ordinance. In the case of Family Dollar, Subway, and Dollar General, you are dealing with national chains that have uniform national standards for their signage. Those standards are not easy to get changed. Local businessmen, like Mike Turman and Doug Phillips, may be more amenable to discussions about what looks nice and what doesn’t. If the proposed changes are presented in a manner that shows the businessman that more traffic and thus more profit is produced by attractive signage than by ugly signage, then he or she would be foolish not to agree.

    As Doug stated (and he has written several articles for the Floyd Press with the same theme), “citizen involvement is the key”. I heartily agree with that sentiment. Ad hominem attacks on “newcomers” serve no purpose at all. It disappoints me to read such statements. Let’s build a coalition for positive change and avoid alienating potential allies.


    Jeff B.

  7. Jeff:

    I don’t believe anyone here was saying newcomers are not welcome. I do believe there was a concern that it is best for anyone — newcomer, native or long-time resident — to be aware of the factors surrounding an  issue before sounding off on it.

    Floyd Countians are by nature a passionate people who care deeply about the area, the quality of life and that threats that are present in any rural community facing change.

    Some here may have felt you took a position in the debate without a thorough review of all sides of the argument. Someone said it is important to know where the bodies are buried. I’m more in agreement with the premise that it not only is important to know where the bodies are buried but also to know who buried them.

    Floyd is a diverse community and — with that diversity — comes different points of view. Most welcome differing opinions but are wary of instant experts who offer cures without first diagnosing the disease. The response you see comes from past problems.

    As you, and others, have noted the key to the future is citizen involvement, but it must be informed citizens who advocate change. An uninformed citizenry is just as dangerous as a complacent one.

    We have a good track record with welcoming newcomers but first impressions are also lasting ones here. Trust and respect work both ways.

  8. Jeff B. I urge you to reconsider your position here. You accuse us of commenting on your positions without “any idea of who I am, where I am coming from, or what I would like to see happen in the future to Floyd County.” First of all, you posted with just your first name when most who comment here do so with their full names. Secondly, you gave no background on who you were or where you might be coming from…valuable information that would have helped us evaluate the quality of your opinion. Most of us are frequent contributors here and know each other.

    By your own admission, you jumped into the debate without knowing the background of the situation. Is that not the very same error in judgment that you lay on us? No one in this county can offer an informed opinion on an issue if their only source of information is The Floyd Press. You need to know the people, the county and the issues from personal involvement.

    I hold no grudge against newcomers. Many of the problems that face the county are homegrown. Two native Floyd Countians have done more to carve the county up into cookie cutter subdivisions than any outside developer or speculator. The ill-advised decisions of our county government are made by locals, not newcomers. However you need to understand that we put more stock in opinions offered by those who know the area and understand it and not those who base their judgments on snap decisions. Based on what you have posted here I’m sure you will become an active part of the community but I have to agree with others that you need to learn the community before passing value judgments on it.

    Instead of getting defensive, I think you would be better served by considering this a learning experience and profit from it.

  9. Mr. Blakley, Floyd Countians judge people by their actions. Everyone come to us as a blank page and it will be your actions that fill in that page. Don’t make it a bad one.

  10. What zoning? Here is a summary of Floyd County’s zoning strategy: You have the right to live next to a junk yard, trailer park, feed lot or anything else your neighbor wants to do with his land. After all, it’s his land. We don’t have a plan for Floyd’s future, and THAT is the the plan.

  11. First – Doug as always the commentary on your site is great – okay sometimes it “gets out of hand”, but at least there’s passion! I’ve been gone a few weeks and didn’t realize how much I missed all this until I started reading to catch up.

    Jeff (if you’re still out there)- I’m new to Floyd (7 years plus now, and still being treated as an newcomer/outsider by some folks) – and I love this place. I too am from Florida (raised in St. Pete – and then lived in Lakeland), so I know all about the cost of uncontrolled growth and poor zoning to a community. This is a HOT topic here and buttons are easily pushed – so don’t take people’s responses to your statements too personal – yes some may get over zealous, but it’s because they care.

    Just a reminder to the rest of us – these Blog sites are a great way to exercise our “freedom of speech” – it’s okay (and maybe encouraged) to disagree – but don’t be too critical – sometimes it’s hard to discern someone’s true point of view from just their comments….well except Doug’s – I usually get his.

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