LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Scenic byways not so scenic

Spring is here and Jefferson County is so beautiful — except where the roadsides have been devastated by some sort of new brush trimming method. It makes the roadsides look like a war zone. So much for scenic byways. I hate to see the countryside, that is so beautiful, marred by such ugliness. Can anything be done to curb this probably cost-effective but extremely disturbing practice?

Melissa Manning
Harpers Ferry

 

Jefferson a good destination

Successful local businesses are a benefit to our entire county. They help preserve the way of life that Jefferson County has celebrated for over a century.
Jefferson County boasts a bevy of locally owned, unique businesses that would be the envy of neighboring counties and states. Supporting these businesses by expanding the base from which they draw is a key and easy way to spur economic development throughout our area. We neighbor some of the wealthiest and most densely populated areas in the nation. By enticing visitors from the areas around D.C. and Baltimore and beyond to extend their visits to Jefferson County, we enable our businesses to thrive while preserving our farms, historic towns and rural character.
That isn’t to say that it would be easy to suddenly have Jefferson County jump to the forefront of Washingtonians’ mind when they’re planning an excursion. Too often people will come to visit the Hollywood Casino or Harpers Ferry National Park or The Contemporary American Theater Festival and will not venture beyond those popular attractions. Yet there are hundreds of other locations within the county that I am convinced would be of genuine interest to those visitors. However, we have consistently failed to present a cohesive, unified image that would appeal to those visitors.
So what’s the missing ingredient? How do we make Jefferson County the area’s premier destination for authentic experiences? How can we grow our local economy and create new jobs without sacrificing the lifestyle that we all hold so dear? Cooperation, co-marketing and dedicating ourselves to ensuring that every visitor has a delightful, memorable and fun experience that will make them want to come back and tell their friends about it. Taking on this challenge is a three-step solution.
First, create a program that establishes a recognizable brand for the entire county. Second, ensure that this program incentivizes visitors to expand their horizons within the county and extend their stay. Finally, incentivize businesses to act as ambassadors for our area to visitors. By addressing each of these three actions we can realize the ‘virtuous cycle’ that supports our existing businesses, creates more jobs, increases tax revenue, and spurs entrepreneurship in the county. Programs like this have been successful in places like Nebraska and British Columbia; however they only work when the network of businesses, events and locations is large enough to make a visit worthwhile.
It is a big goal, but I believe that it is achievable and that is the vision and purpose behind Jefferson Journey’s Visitor Inquisitor Passport Program and I invite you to come learn how you can be a part of this renaissance.
On Monday, May 6, Jefferson Journeys will hold a Public Information Session for business owners, event planners, residents and government leaders interested in learning more about the new Visitor Inquisitor Passport Program. The event will be held at the Old Opera House in Charles Town and will begin at 7 p.m. with light refreshments.
Business owners and interested citizens are invited to RSVP for the Public Information Session via email to info@visitorinquisitor.com by May 3.
Kevin C. Long
Jefferson Journeys LLC
Charles Town
Gay Scouts deserve equality

Next month, the Boy Scouts of America will consider a proposal to end its policy of discrimination against gay Scouts. As a parent and active Boy Scout volunteer, I very much would like to see the Shenandoah Area Council strongly stand on the side of equality.
Our last three U.S. Presidents have prohibited discrimination in federal employment. More than 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies explicitly protect gay and lesbian employees from discrimination. And gay and lesbian service members now serve openly in our U.S. Armed Forces. But the current national policy doesn’t just allow Boy Scout troops to exclude gay people — it requires it.
Lord Baden-Powell, founder of Scouting, once said “There is no teaching to compare with example.” The Shenandoah Area Council, which serves the Scouts in our community, should set a clear example for its members and other councils that values of being “helpful, friendly, courteous, and kind,” mean welcoming and including all people regardless of sexual orientation.
If they take the lead and help end this discriminatory rule, they will have my strong support.

Judy York
Scouts for Equality
Shepherdstown

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