The Baldwin County Commission conducted its second work session Thursday evening, a move the board made in an effort to stay abreast of operations and meeting agenda items and to further the level of transparency in county government. Thus far, the commission work sessions have focused on several key issues including the Oconee Regional Medical Center, the county landfill, water issues and county financials.
A smattering of local residents have also been in attendance, including this week’s meeting where commissioners weighed a resolution supporting hospital officials borrowing up to $30 million to refinance existing bond debt.
The future of the local hospital and the course of action the county takes are vitally important to every resident in Baldwin County. Yet, it’s not the only key issue Baldwin County faces in the near future, there are a number of others — in education and in city government as well. Local elected officials are charged with carrying out the duties of office and that includes staying in tune with the constituency.
While having a community presence may not be the primary factor in this decision or any others county officials make in the future, a community that makes its impact known at work sessions or regularly scheduled meetings of this kind is a community that ideally makes local elected officials take notice of its constituents’ voice.
There is no greater way to have input and a voice in the decisions elected officials make than by speaking up and staying informed — before the key decisions are made — not after the results are established and the votes are determined.
There are few things in government more powerful than an informed public, and the best way to stay abreast on the issues is to have a presence when they are discussed. This isn’t just true for county commission; it’s also true for the local school board, city council or in any form of government at the local level.
An uninformed public is a dangerous thing. A knowledgeable public wields power in the decision-making process, there to ask the questions that need to be asked and to charge those in authority with responding and delivering. Not knowing and turning a blind eye is a clear dismissal of that power, opening the door to whatever consequences and decisions that are made.
The community must not wield its power and lesson its impact. Having a say and utilizing the community’s voice is vital to the betterment of Baldwin County — and it still matters.