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Appearances don't speak to the heart of Johnson Countians

Have you ever heard the phrase, “out with the old, in with the new”? I’ve been wondering for years whether or not the powers that be in Johnson County truly understand that concept. It seems we have a signage issue. And it’s only getting worse.
Recently, the stretch of Highway 421 that passes by Mountain City Elementary got a new speed limit. I’m thankful the limit was raised from 15 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour, because let’s face it, some cars idle faster than 15 mph and 421 is a highway. I’m also thankful that the overhead flashing lights with the previous speed limit was removed. What fails my understanding is why the “End 15 MPH Zone” signs remain, adding additional clutter to an already cluttered area. It also may confuse drivers that are unfamiliar with the area leading and confusion on the highway never leads anywhere good.
There are all manner of misplaced signs throughout Johnson County. While Mountain City seems to be the most frequent offender, I’m not sure I’ve been to any part of Johnson County where I haven’t seen this transgression. There are several signs (or at least what remains of them) for businesses that haven’t been operational in years. There are misspelled signs. There are broken signs. There are signs that violate their very purpose because you can no longer read them.
The sign problem really illuminates a larger issue throughout the county when it comes to keeping up appearances. I realize that Johnson County is poverty stricken but being poor isn’t an excuse to be a slob. I’ll never understand why new buildings are built directly in front of old buildings to serve the same purpose. If a new building was needed, why not demolish the old building? While I understand that takes additional effort, wouldn’t the payoff be worth it? I certainly think a county with so much breathtaking scenery to offer shouldn’t block it with dilapidated buildings and pointless signs.
I won’t pass judgment about the reason this problem exists. But unfortunately, others won’t show the same consideration. Johnson County is actively trying to promote a tourism industry. What do you think out-of-towners will see when they drive 421 through Mountain City? Do you think they’ll see an eco-friendly town that welcomes outdoor adventurists? Or will they see a town that has given up? The appearance certainly doesn’t speak to the heart of the Johnson Countians I have come to know and love.
What I see after getting to know the good people of Johnson County is a community of hard-working, family oriented individuals that take great pride in the land we call home. My only hope is that more is done to convey the vibrancy of its people to others. Because the way I see it, Johnson County has two options –clean up the mess and watch the progress it brings or disregard the mess and watch it continue to deteriorate.