It's always a good time when you have the opportunity to chat with fellow Greene County business people.
Such was the case Thursday night at the Linton-Stockton Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner at the Linton Elks Lodge.
My wife Deb and I always have a great time chatting with people as we work the door taking tickets. When we started doing the task a few years ago I enjoyed putting names with faces of people I didn't know.
Congratulations to this year's award winners -- co-Citizens of the Year Fred Markle and Dale Knots, and Business of the Year Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC. All three are well-deserved.
Fred and Dale are two people you can count on to be there when help is needed, and if anyone at the newspaper ever needs help with a story, both are more than eager to help.
And UDWI REMC stepped up financially in 2009 and helped the Chamber in a major way. They do a lot for the community that goes unnoticed.
There was a theme that kept popping up throughout the evening that I hope people caught.
"A spirit of cooperation."
"A caring community."
"People working together."
"We must all work together."
"We may disagree, but we will all come together in the end."
And the one that caught my attention the most came from Linton Mayor Tom Jones: "I don't think of Linton as 5,774 people, I think of it as a 35,000 community."
What a fantastic statement!
And Jones is correct.
Linton can't think of itself as an island, and neither can Bloomfield, Jasonville, Worthington, Switz City, Lyons, and Newberry. They are the incorporated cities and towns of Greene County, and must all think outside the box.
Taking care of No. 1 is OK, and must still be a priority. But No. 1A is everyone else in the Greene County community.
I've been associated with Greene County since 1983, and there has been some major progress in the spirit of cooperation.
I've witnessed it first-hand when Rust Publishing purchased the Linton Daily Citizen and the Bloomfield Evening World three months later.
And then a year later the papers merged to form the Greene County Daily World. Though we're still the hometown paper, we're the hometown paper of an entire county now.
I don't blame people who wish the old papers were still being published. The LDC and BEW had much smaller coverage areas, focusing on their community most of the time.
Now, it's a county-wide publication.
Hopefully all Greene Countians care enough about their neighbors to read and learn about each other. We all have more in common than people may have thought 25 or 50 years ago.
Fifty years ago being an island community didn't mean financial disaster. In today's tough economic times, strength in numbers is important.
The bottom line, in my humble opinion, is that we must all come together for a common cause: The overall financial health of Greene County. People may disagree on how best to do that, and that's OK. There's nothing wrong with a healthy debate, as long as it doesn't get personal.
Everyone must put their bias toward a community on the back burner and look at the big picture.
Because if we don't, we may be forced to do so by state government and nobody will like the result.
But if we work together and come up with ideas and solutions together, it's still our community.