Todayís front page features renderings of a possible future use for the site of the existing derelict Center Theater building in downtown Franklin.

While funding sources remain undefined, and definite start and end dates are unscheduled, thatís the kind of motivation and ambition I like to see.

If we all put aside the veil that causes us to see St. Mary Parish as just our personal environment, and view it as something that other people might want to experience, weíll go a long way injecting some life back into this tired old community.

Kudos to the city for taking the first steps, even if the finish line is a long way off. All journeys begin with but a single step.

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I would still like to see a coat of paint put on the pavilion at Parc sur la Teche and that rough-and-tumble fence at the Blevins Building replaced with something historic district-approved before this Aprilís Bear Festival, so we can put on our best face to visitors from all over the nation who will be attending an award-winning event.

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A moment of silence, please, for the late Ernie Ladd. I couldnít say enough about Mr. Laddís accomplishments and have any room remaining on this page. He was a giant of a man, not just in stature, but in good works. Neaíse.

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What we all have to do in St. Mary Parish is put aside the notions we have about our own homes.

Certainly most of us canít see the forest for the trees. Imagine this: Youíve probably had the experience of riding in a car with someone else, going down the roads you travel every day, but since youíre not driving, you notice things you didnít before. Thereís a lesson in that. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in driving Ė in just staying between the shoulder and the yellow lines, we donít notice whatís just off the peripheral.

Government gets too wrapped up sometimes in doing chores. Taking care of the status quo. Thatís not necessarily a bad thing. Itís correct to keep the moving parts well oiled, perform the required maintenance, prime and paint.

But when government gets to where it is self-justifying, it has forgotten to look off the shoulder at the peripheral.

We can applaud ourselves and pat ourselves on the back for maintaining the status quo, but we need to think outside the box, this oddly shaped box called St. Mary Parish.

Itís more than keeping things going: Itís making it grow. Growth, it was once believed around here, would mean sacrifice. Thereís a certain amount of truth in that. But when we had all our eggs in one basket, we paid dearly for the cracked shells.

Doesnít it seem odd to anyone that in half a century those around us have prospered by leaps and bounds yet here we have no inertia whatsoever, except that which it takes to maintain equilibrium?

What are the root causes of that? Inability to see and think outside the box is one. Thatís why it takes people from outside to come in and see the potential here, and mold it. Thereís also the unwillingness to change. We on the one hand want to be prosperous, everybody have money in their pockets, but we still want that Mayberry charm of a small community. It never occurs to us that we can have both, if we have vision and ambition.

Think outside the box. How many times have we been told, "You donít know what youíve got here," and those who said it have been completely right, because after hearing those words we prance merrily along on our way, the words having gone in one ear and right out the other? Opportunity has not only been staring us in the face, itís kicked us in the shin a few times, and we still havenít got it.

Certainly you have to provide infrastructure to make visions come true, and weíve done fairly well with that. But listen, folks, there ainít no car manufacturing plant coming. There ainít no more pies in the sky. If weíre going to make it, weíre going to have to quit waiting for big miracles and work our little behinds off on achieving a whole lot of small ones. They have a tendency to add up.

All facets of government need to think outside the box here. Half a century of being passed up is enough. People need to be working together instead of fighting like school children, protecting their own political turf and worrying about the next election all the time. People with vision and impetus need to step up to the plate and get elected and then resist the entropy of the chaos they find within the system once they get in there.

We donít know what weíve got here, but we could, if weíd just take the earplugs out and the blindfolds off. In the end, we in St. Mary Parish tend to be our own worst enemies.