By Don Rush

By the time you all read this, the 33rd annual Clarkston Community Awards banquet will be just another event that is over and done with, only to be recalled by honorees and those who read about it in their local newspaper.  (Yeah, I got an award — Biz Dude of The Year — and here are some of the thoughts I shared about local business to those in attendance at the Clarkston Community Church.)

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It’s true, I thought my life of fame and recognition peaked in 1981 when I was voted by classmates at Clarkston High School as Class Clown. So, I was sorta’ surprised to learn this year I had been nominated for and then chosen as Business Person of The Year. Thank you. (And, for those who nominated me, your check is in the mail.)

Nothing says you’re a community leader like having your face cut & pasted into a cartoon depicting you as monkey being led by the grinder.

You know, in the 33 years I’ve been in the community newspaper business, sharing my pithy commentary and unassailable logic, I’ve been called stupid, mean, homophobic, narcissistic, self-centered, a sexist, yellow journalist, misogynist, been cut and pasted into a cartoon as a monkey to an organ grinder that was taped on our front door and called fat . . .
. . . I’m glad Clarkston still appreciates these qualities in her sons and daughters . . .

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Yeah, that’s me in the middle, looking — well, puzzled like normal.

Did you know one of our goals at your community newspaper is to get each and every kid who goes to school here in our pages at least once before they graduate? The first time my mug appeared in the ever-lovin’ Clarkston News was in March 1972. I was in the third grade at Bailey Lake Elementary. The stupid look on my face is kinda’ how I have made it through life.

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I started working for a real paycheck in the 7th-grade, delivering The Oakland Press to my neighbors in the ghettos of Clarkston, in the township near Walters Lake. By high school I moved up to cleaning up after concert-goers at Pine Knob. Good times. To help pay my college tuition, I worked summers at Lakeview Cemetery and man, I dug that job! Even though I as young, I had a lot of people beneath me. It also gave me insight to where our community secrets are buried.

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Running your community newspaper is a great honor, I’ve always thought this. Nobody else in the entire universe reports more on your community than your community newspaper — unless, of course you consider the running commentary you find on social media as “news.” As long as we can, local sports, local news, wedding announcements, birth, obituaries and other items of interest you can’t read anywhere else will always be in our pages.
I believe a community with it’s own community newspaper is a better community. A better-informed community. A more involved community. I think of community newspapers as the “glue” that binds a community together. We are not just cheerleaders promoting the positive; we are also a leader who helps start public policy debate.
A community newspaper like this one also fosters a sense of community with calls to action.
Also, a community newspaper encourages local economic growth. Now, why is that important, you may be asking yourself. I like to think of this newspaper as a match-maker — weekly we introduce readers to business owners.
Why is it important area residents support area business? One, they often provide entry-level jobs for our kids, setting the stage for our youth to be productive members of society. These entry-level jobs, while low paying, help kids understand what life is like in the real world.
Local brick and mortar businesses also pay more in taxes to schools. Homestead properties — through their property taxes — are taxed at about 6 mils for schools. Commercial properties (including rentals and vacation properties) are dinged at a rate three times higher than ma and pa — 18 mills.
Imagine, if you will, what would happen to your home’s property taxes should local business wither up and blow away because locals shop elsewhere.
Local brick and mortar businesses are also the businesses who donate to your kids’ local charity drives, support school team endeavors and little league programs. Local business owners give back to your community!
How much do you think social media websites, the Amazons and mega corporations of the world you now shop (over the locals) invest back into your community? Do you think they even care about your community, or just about taking local dollars out of your pockets to line their already deep pockets in Seattle, or Little Rock or wherever that ain’t here?

Nate Neiman of Nemain’s Family Market shared with me a new program some school kids way up in northern Michigan started — it is only one line, and as 2018 Biz Dude of the Year, I leave this thought with you: Support local, so local lasts.

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