Merriam-Webster (a resource I’d highly recommend to the quick-draw types) defines the word "community" thusly:

"1: a unified body of individuals: as a: state, commonwealth b: the people with common interests living in a particular area; broadly : the area itself <the problems of a large community> c: an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location d: a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society a community of retired persons> e: a group linked by a common policy f: a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests the international community> g: a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society the academic community> 2: society at large3 a: joint ownership or participation community of goods> b: common character : likeness community of interests> c: social activity : fellowship d: a social state or condition"

The word "community" does not necessarily describe a certain city, subdivision or district. It means all of the geographic, cultural, linguistic and social area in which we reside, and in this use, means western St. Mary Parish.

As it happens, I was speaking Wednesday of a "community" and as a community and the government of a community, we’re guilty of having little vision here, and those individuals who do demonstrate 20/20 clarity and occasional clairvoyance have to yell really loud to get any attention.

It started off, a couple years ago, when I realized that I was failing in my own vision. I realized that I needed to become a one-man cheering section for this community. Nobody else was doing it. It is too easy to condemn but forget to compliment.

Unfortunately I’ve also learned it’s also very easy to forget a dozen past accolades and attaboys when one lousy complaint comes along, isn’t it?

This column has served as cheerleader far, far more often than it has responded as critic. Cheerleader of this community and it’s component elements, time and again.

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Just for conversation’s sake, let’s see what events we’ve lost in this community (please review the definition above) over the last decade or two:

– Barbue Festival

– Alligator Festival (dang, I miss the sauce picante the Lukes used to make!)

– Garfish Festival (ditto the sauce picante!)

– Bucktown

– St. Mary Arts Festival (remember that one?)

Granted, some of these events degraded into drunken melees which caused more problems than they were worth. But the two newcomers, Bear Festival and Harvest Moon Festival, have addressed those problems and while relative upstarts, show signs of becoming suitable, family-oriented replacements for those of yesteryear.

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By the way, in terms of compliments, we here at the Banner had to do the Curley Shuffle to get things rolling on publicity for this weekend’s Bayou Teche Bear Festival. An ominous silence regarding pre-publicity brought us down to the wire Monday and we decided that for the good of the community we’d have to start rattling some cages.

Many thanks to Paul Davidson and Delores Stewart for helping us get what we needed to put together what I think was a pretty good package of publicity for the occasion. Our Michelle Baker did an exemplary job of putting most of it together and deserves a medal or something, but since there’s no medal I know of for "Bear Festival Publicity Exemplary Service" she’ll just have to be satisfied with a public accolade.

The Fifth Bayou Teche Bear Festival promises to be just great. Please come out and have a good time. We may be small now, but with the right support – and nurturing – we’ll grow into our feet before too long, I’m sure.

If we can only keep things 20/20.

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Met a new couple in town this week. They purchased a home here and are moving in from another state.

I wish you could see what I saw. The excitement and enthusiasm for this area in their eyes. It’s contagious, it’s infectious. Just listening to them, I can make myself see our little community through eyes that aren’t jaded by a lifetime of living here. See it for what it really is, ignoring what my perceptions are.

Vision.

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The agenda is out for this month’s Louisiana Gaming Commission meeting.

Sure enough, moving the Amelia Belle to Baton Rouge and bringing the boat up there down here is not one of the items the board will consider.

Does the term "the old bait and switch" mean anything to anybody?