I’m from a small town in the Northern Ozarks. I grew up knowing, respecting, helping, comforting my neighbors, and everyone was a neighbor because everyone knew you, your brothers and sisters, your folks, your folks’ folks and all your uncles, aunts and the dozens of cousins. So, I know quite a lot about small-town life and the blessings, joys and responsibilities that come from such a blessed life.

I’m no longer the tow-headed boy with vibrant blue eyes and infinite energy, I’m … I’m just older. I’m not old, but I treasure my small-town sensibilities, sense of civic pride and accountability. Leaders lead in front.  

My wife and I moved to Laurel more than five years ago, well before HGTV was on the scene. What brought us to Laurel will be covered in one of my yet-to-be published million-seller books, but until, just know that God was all over our decision to move to Laurel from Dallas, Texas.  

But my point is this: Laurel is our town now, as it is yours. It’s been wisely said that evil happens when good men fail to act. Good folks of Laurel, please wake up and act. 

My wife and I walk our dogs practically every day. Some walks are longer than others, but we cover a lot of ground. Actually, I walk the dogs; my wife picks up trash along the way.  Armed with our second litter-gitter and two 13-gallon trash bags, if we aren’t joking about bagging soiled baby diapers, broken liquor bottles, discarded lotto tickets, cigarette packs and countless bags of mostly-empty fast-food and drinks, we would probably be fit to be tied.  

OK, I get it … it’s not your trash; you didn’t drop that soda can at the end of your street because that would be wrong, so why should you pick it up? 

Because it is the right thing. 

Are you not embarrassed seeing trash as you stroll through your neighborhoods? 

Where is your civic pride? 

And I’m not just talking about the “lesser” streets. Some of the more egregious finds have been on 5th, 6th and 7th avenues.  

Help your neighbor across the street. Cross over, wave, say hello while you stoop down and pick up trash and their lots. Step out, smell the sweet air as you walk your yard, pick up the stray stick, styrofoam cup, soda can. Do this every day, and maybe lend your neighbor a hand.  

Be a good citizen and love your neighbors as you love yourself. Do we not want only the best for others? We can do this because we are so blessed to live in such a beautiful small town.  

John Clune


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