The City of Huntsville successfully extinguished two major fires this week, bringing an end (at least for now) to its disputes with the Paws and Claws Pet Shelter and the property owners in the Enclave subdivision.

The city’s decisions to pay extra per animal taken to the shelter after a cap of 120 and to continue to maintain roads in the subdivision are necessary steps in the right direction for a city that wants to grow. I wrote last week about how these are little more than growing pains – a city trying to figure out what it’s doing as it seeks to become a bigger part of the northwest Arkansas metropolitan area – and, though it was a bit of an intense staring contest, I’m glad the city blinked first.

The truth is that if the city wants to grow – and I truly believe that many in the city do want to see it grow – then it can’t do that divided. It will need all hands on deck, whether that’s through an amicable relationship with the county’s pet shelter or the new citizens it brought in just a few years ago. We’re set to grow, but we’re still a small town. And in small towns, relationships matter.

With those matters resolved (until September, at least, when it becomes budget season and the city begins to look at what it can commit to the shelter moving forward), it’s time to look ahead and figure out what our priorities should be as a city. Our downtown businesses continue to see less traffic through their doors and through the square, and now that we have a large piece of land for an industrial park, we need a plan for it. I don’t think anyone wants to see it remain an empty field for the next 5-10 years.

The last month has been rough for the city, and it’s safe to say that the last few years have been strenuous for the county. We have a lot of needs here, and I hope to see the city continue to reach out to better our community.

The news industry obviously wasn’t built on commending government officials for doing good things – unfortunately, quite the opposite is true – but I also believe in giving credit where credit is due. Because of that, I’d also like to commend Sen. Bob Ballinger for his vote against Senate Bill 230 on Monday. The bill, filed by Sen. Kim Hammer, would be a significant blow to the freedom of the press, and while we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye,  I was happy to see our senator stand up for those First Amendment-freedoms on Monday.

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