This newspaper strives to ensure that our readers are kept informed about local government matters, and that requires us to point out when local leaders are making mistakes and/are are not holding themselves accountable to taxpayers.
But that is not our only obligation.
Our readers also deserve to know when local government leaders are moving in the right direction, and that’s just what we’ve seen happening in Wayland.
Wayland is one of Floyd County’s smallest cities, but officials there don’t seem to mind. Despite a low budget and the city’s geographical and infrastructure challenges — the same challenges that all local government in Eastern Kentucky face — officials in Wayland are plugging forward with an eye toward future growth, perseverance and, perhaps most importantly, loads of creativity.
All local government leaders in Eastern Kentucky should take note of Wayland’s tenacity.
This community is currently heading projects funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, but those grants weren’t easily achieved.
One of projects we reported on this week includes converting an eyesore caused by an abandoned coal mine into a tourist attraction, complete with a waterfall and a waterway access for tourists. Wayland officials haven’t yet obtained all the funding they need to complete this project, nor do they know at this time where the funding will come from, but that isn’t stopping them for reaching toward this goal.
Recently, Mayor Jerry Fultz reported that, for the fourth time, he will submit grant application that has already been denied three times on this project. Why? Because he and the commission have a vision, a plan, that they want to complete and they won’t take no for an answer. In Wayland, “no” becomes “maybe.”
Fultz and commissioners Kathy “Suzie” Mills, Chuck Bentley, Michael Caudill and Curtis Lee are planning to build this city up with a focus on improving the region’s health and wellness. It includes the creation of walking tracks, parks, trails, a gym and other attractions that they hope will not only improve the quality of life for people who live in Wayland, but also become something that will attract visitors who want to check out things the city has to offer.
These officials started this plan years ago and they are working toward finishing it, piece-by-piece, grant-by-grant. And, yes, designs for various aspects of this plan are already complete. City officials and visitors are reminded of them each time they come to a city meeting because the artistic renderings are displayed on easels near the city meeting room.
But an eye toward future growth isn’t the only positive thing Wayland has going for it. Of all local government bodies we cover at this newspaper, the Wayland City Commission is one of the most transparent. Any person who enters a Wayland City Commission meeting is welcome to pick up documents that detail the city’s financials and whatever matter is being discussed. City officials provide copies of the agenda and documents related to meeting topics on the meeting table for visitors to pick up.
At every meeting, City Clerk Sharon Anderson reads the city financial reports into the record, detailing funds available and spent and pointing out changes or issues. Other government bodies we cover in Floyd County generally do not announce publicly at the meeting how much they’ve got in the bank or which check went where. They usually just provide these reports to the people voting to approve them without specifically discussing them in the meeting.
We applaud the Wayland City Commission for it efforts to improve the city, its tenacity and creativity and its transparency.
This small city is an excellent example of how local governments should be managed.