Discussion Needed

22 Aug

There is an open discussion which needs to take place here in Hutto. It concerns business, people, the Chamber, city government and the city council. It is a discussion which has been needed for some time but one which has been avoided by almost everyone because we all get way too defensive rather than look at the problems. We don’t need to lay blame. We need to find solutions. Hutto is a wonderful small town trying to grow into a vibrant city, but pretending everything is good and that there aren’t any problems hurts us rather than helps.

Small businesses say the Chamber doesn’t do anything for them so few have joined. The Chamber in turn has asked for ideas and invited people to serve on committees, but gets few takers. This isn’t just a Hutto phenomenon, it is a problem most chambers have. Lets’s be the first to find a solution.

The city council says Hutto is very business friendly but actions say otherwise all too often. Many business owners feel ignored, that their concerns don’t matter. The city for its part has lots of different ways it seeks input and participation, yet in a retreat a while back one council member said that since so many business owners live outside of Hutto and therefor don’t have a vote, their opinions really aren’t important and no one disagreed. I know a number of businesses who have never had the city manager or more than maybe one council person walk into their establishment. Why? Ed is personable and can be quite charming. Members of the council are friendly people, interested in this community and its future. All one has to do is look at the combined effort that brought TSTC and Temple College here to see that.

I remember Ken Love when he was mayor talking about what a wonderful place Hutto was and how he hoped we’d always keep that small town feeling even as we grew. He talked about neighbors helping neighbors and how he enjoyed getting to know new people. The city, the Chamber, the school district, the HEDC , the Downtown Merchants Alliance – – all are talking about a “shop Hutto” program and there is a meeting in September to kick around ideas. Hopefully there will be a lot of them. But hopefully there will also be a major discussion about community, real community, and how we can actually pull together.

To get this important discussion going I am going to publish sincere comments, thoughtful questions and ideas (good and some not so good) that people send me or tell me. I will ask for responses to criticisms and concrete examples of problems. I won’t publish vague statements or anonymous complaints. I am not looking to blame or pillory anyone as that accomplishes nothing. I hope for civil talk, good ideas, real solutions, and an honest discussion.   Some feeling may be hurt, some feathers ruffled. And I am sure as has happened in the past, more than one person will tell me we shouldn’t “air our dirty laundry in public”. Too bad. But if it helps make our community stronger, better, and friendlier, it will be worth it.

Things in Hutto by and large are good, but they could be and should be, outstanding. I look forward to your input over the next several weeks.

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3 Responses to “Discussion Needed”

  1. The Town Messenger 22/08/2011 at 4:19 am #

    Well said, Mahlon. It’s about time someone took this initiative. I sincerely hope it is fruitful and produces some valid and sustainable solutions. Hutto has the potential to develop into a real destination rather than a town people pass through on their way to someplace else.

    As mentioned in an article earlier this year in the Town Messenger, Hutto is still in its adolescence. Part of what happens in this phase is that we learn to stop thinking like a child (“what’s in it for me?”) and begin to understand and embrace our role as a part of the whole – learning to contribute toward the common good.

    Pointing fingers, naming names and blaming people never solved anything. Clear and honest communication around viable ideas and hard work is what gets things done. This is the time. Hutto’s future depends on it.

    ~ Rachael Wilkins

  2. Linda Welch 24/08/2011 at 6:52 pm #

    We are thrilled about being in Hutto, but we would be a lot more thrilled if we didn’t lose telephone service every other month. Last month, we lost phones for a full day because a cable was cut, Embarq said. On Monday, we were without phones again for a full day because “a cable was cut,” said Embarq. They would forward our phones only once “out of courtesy.”
    I don’t know what the city or chamber can do about this, but small businesses need their phones. I think that’s a basic consideration when attracting and keeping businesses. Any suggestions?

  3. Michael J. Smith 26/08/2011 at 2:15 am #

    You hit the nail on the head Mahlon. A large problem we have here in Hutto, and around the Country in general, is apathy. People simply cannot be bothered to become involved in their community on a regular basis, but the second something happens that they don’t like, they get up in arms and demand instant gratification.
    We are a community of almost 20,000 people, yet only 700 can show up to the polls? We yell and scream for change, yet when an opportunity arrives to be that vessel for change, we become “too busy.” We believe that our voice, our vote, and our ideas will go unheard. Until we start putting more into this community than we take, we will constantly have this battle.
    We are constantly plagued with a “what’s in it for me” mentality, and as an entrepreneur I can completely understand that. However, we have to look outside of our own needs and see how we can make our community better ourselves It is this mentality that so often eludes us but will bring about a much better Hutto, if applied.
    Many people say it’s not smart to demean my own voting base, but I will. We are lazy and apathetic; and we can’t keep sitting down and telling ourselves that someone else will do the work for us. I say we, because I am a citizen of Hutto as well, and therefore I, too, must take up this challenge. It is time for us to be the catalyst for our own future. Stop being the “arm-chair quarterback” and get involved.

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