Iíve never been happier personally or professionally than I have been living in Carroll County for the last (almost) eight years. This is a wonderful place to live, with a quality of life that you donít find in some other parts of the state.
More and more people, it seems, are discovering Carroll County just like I did, with county assessor Jeannie Davidson telling the county quorum court recently that folks moving here from out of state are buying up properties at premium prices. Thatís driving home values up ó which is a great thing for homeowners. Itís also driving property taxes up, however, and thatís not such a great thing. Call it the price of prosperity.
Iím all in favor of economic growth for Berryville and all of Carroll County. But I also recognize that part of what makes this area so special is its small-town feel. I enjoy going out to lunch or to the post office and running into people I know on a first-name basis. The more our county grows, the more uncommon that will become.
Of course, there are some obstacles to attracting more industry here. Affordable rental housing is extremely scarce. Finding a local doctor who accepts new patients can be challenging, although that issue is improving. Maybe the biggest obstacle is transportation. Thereís no navigable waterway here. No railroad. And no interstate. That means moving goods in and out of Carroll County is more costly and less convenient than in some other places ó although that hasnít seemed to faze Tyson Foods.
As noted in a front-page story in this weekís paper, internet access is also a potential stumbling block in attracting new industry, although itís one that city and county officials are focused on alleviating. Working from home is becoming more and more common in our society, and some companies make it an option in order to help attract quality employees, but it requires a reliable and cost-effective internet connection.
My dear wife works mostly from home. That means that when our internet connection starts to sputter, as it did one night last week, itís more than just a minor annoyance. For me, it means that I canít watch TV ó streaming beats the snot out of cable, if you havenít figured that out ó but for her, it means that she might miss a Zoom call in the morning that she canít afford to miss. Sheís had to drive to the home office in Rogers once already because she couldnít connect from home. Hopefully, that wonít become a pattern.
Clearly, there are some growing pains that come along with prosperity. But I have faith that our city and county leaders will manage those issues effectively. We might get some new neighbors and our tax bill might go up, but weíll hold on to that small-town feeling that makes this such a special place.