Forward, Franklin

Published 6:49 pm Tuesday, May 21, 2019


Perfection resides on a distant shore, not in the physical realm we call earth! Our existence requires having to deal with imperfections. Dealing with those imperfections prescribes a way of life, the development of a culture and the syncing of a society. What actually makes up a city? When all the dust settles, and when the day has been spent, what actually makes up a city? Citizens make up a city. The governing bodies that oversee city operations are a team voted in by whom? Yes, citizens. So, I think it’s fair to conclude that a city is comprised fundamentally Therefore, a city is often gauged by those who occupy its limits.

Recently, an article published by the USA Today (May 14, 2019) shared that our city, Franklin, was the worst city to reside in throughout the entire Commonwealth. Again, no city is perfect and our city shares issues that warrant our attention. However, our residents still sit on their porches, enjoy beautiful weather, laugh with family, and wave to passersby. You see these are some of the pleasures that still exist in Franklin, Virginia.

A flood ravaged our streets and ultimately became an unwanted guest in our downtown businesses and residences to the tune of 20 feet of water forcing panic and grave concern. How did Franklin deal with that? Citizens got in boats, joined with the National Guard, began food drives, donated money to help families who had to be relocated to shelters and the homes of relatives ultimately insuring survival. I know, because my family was one of those families taken care of by the citizens; the citizens put their lives on the line to rescue my family. Yes, we had to ride in the back of a truck in the pouring rain. Yes, our children were crying. Yes, we were gravely concerned about next steps and where we would reside, but the citizens of Franklin, Virginia, unified and escorted us to safety.

Businesses have either closed permanently or relocated to another city, yet this is not something that is dramatically abnormal. Times change. Seasons change. Companies change. Demographics change. Businesses relocate. Citizens relocate. It happens every day across these great United States of America. It’s true that the aftermath is difficult and downright treacherous. What’s a city to do? When the cards dealt do not indicate a winning hand, what’s a city to do? Exactly what it has always done, SURVIVE! No city is without crime. No city is without unemployment. No city is without poverty. No city is perfect. Franklin is no exception, but if we were to check the city’s survival record, it’s still standing.

Recently, we as a city had to change gears as it pertains to our city’s leadership. Why? It was time for a change. When it’s time for a change, you cannot employ excuses because as I have learned from a mentor, “excuses are the confessions of the uncommitted!” Here in Franklin, we offer no excuses, not as a city because we are committed to the betterment of our city. Our new city manager, Amanda Jarratt, is doing a wonderful job. She works diligently alongside our City Council and ensures facts are presented. Franklin has improved as it should. Our leaders are becoming more educated as it pertains to culture and context. Our previous leaders did as well, but in an ever- evolving society, in order to improve, we must still make revisions.

I happily announce that we are on our way! Paul D. Camp Community College is thriving in our city. Their programs help students prepare to attain employment in a trade or prepare for admission into a four- year university. In addition, their dual credit program is an excellent forum for our “high school” students to graduate with an associate degree! The conversation about Franklin being the worst city to live in just doesn’t elicit the beauty of those who live here. It doesn’t.

Finally, I pastor Celebration Church. Like some other churches, our church works very hard to improve our city, and our church members help make up the beautiful people that live where? Franklin! Again, we have imperfections, but we pray together, stick together and support together. We are rebuilding together believing what the Bible says, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe.It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows His blessing, even life forevermore.” Psalm 133.

Franklin, WE ARE NOT THE WORST! We are Franklin, a community who sits on the Blackwater River, a community who continues to thrive, and a community who refuses to allow ourselves to be branded in a way that does not portray who we are. Be mindful that bad news circulates around the world in a matter of minutes. Readers, I challenge you to do each other a favor, do our community a favor! Please share this! Let’s lead the positive charge and together accomplish the greatness our city has the potential to thrive in! #FranklinForward!

Anthony Rawlings