Ever notice when driving through another community, it looks well-kept – signs current and painted, trash picked up, landscaping trim, businesses painted and tidy store fronts, welcome signs at entrances to town? The visual message is, people who live here care.

Or maybe you don't notice at all, because it’s bland and faded. Perhaps there are eyesores, such as rotten fencing, high weeds, many closed and run-down store fronts. Nothing is appealing, which indicates a passerby should or would want to stop. No one here cares enough to paint, clean up or welcome visitors.

Which is Stilwell? Westville? Or Watts?

Currently, all three communities are taking measures to improve the curb appeal of their towns by cleaning up trash, tearing down derelict buildings, paving sidewalks and streets, creating parks, adding street lights, updating signage, and making more plans for additional improvements.

All of Adair County is beginning to look like someone cares, and volunteers and those in leadership – including those teaching and mentoring youth about giving back and making a difference – are to be recognized for their outstanding contributions.

Making a community appealing, clean and spruced up is good for everyone. It makes people feel good, invites people to come and stay, shop and eat, so it enhances economic development. It encourages people to open a business here, move here, maybe invest in a home and become part of a school community.

Improving a town is much more than planting flowers, but didn’t the flower boxes downtown look nice for the Strawberry Festival – and still do? And won’t the blooming landscape in front of the Community Building make it pretty?

Infrastructure is important, economic development essential, but so are the small touches that say, “Welcome; we care!”