Section highlights ‘progress’

Altoona, other Blair County municipalities and communities in neighboring counties have so much about which to be proud, as evidenced by this year’s People & Progress sections that accompanied Tuesday’s regular Mirror edition.

This region is blessed with myriad businesses striving each day to provide excellent products and services to the customers that they serve. Top-notch employees are in place to ensure that the businesses deliver regarding their employers’ individual missions and priorities.

Meanwhile, health care remains a great source of pride for this area. Altoona and its environs can boast multiple medical assets and an aggressive attitude by medical providers toward further expansion of their services.

Education is one of this region’s brightest stars, not only in terms of the quality of public schools but also the higher-education opportunities that are available here.

Blair and its environs also have many historical sites and tourism and recreational opportunities that remain an envy of other regions.

Amid all of that is the sense of community that exists throughout this region — and within that sense of community, friendliness, a strong work ethic and a strong spirit of cooperation in dealing with challenges and problems that evolve.

It can’t be ignored that, for a community the size of Altoona, more challenges and problems exist than what smaller municipalities generally face, but the Mountain City is working aggressively to address them, as the effort targeting blight demonstrates.

Beginning last September, a newly created 18-member Blight Task Force began the task of drawing up a “comprehensive blight strategy plan” for dealing with that thorny subject. Four meetings were held that focused on anti-blight efforts, resources and progress already made in attacking the problem, plus what is needed to continue and expand the rate of accomplishment.

The task force discussion didn’t ignore issues such as poverty, personal and family motivation, pride and priorities, property values, personal freedom and the potential for resentment stemming from the anti-blight initiative.

But by this month, the task force was convinced about how the city should proceed and how the city might provide guidance for other communities beset with similar problems and challenges.

And, as an article in the March 10 Mirror reported, the task force, having completed its work, turned over the blight-removal mission to a 13-member group dubbed the blight Action Team. According to the article, a city consultant will draw up an action plan for creation of a land bank, for improvements to a home-repair subsidy program and for tightening code enforcement.

Progress from the attack on blight will enable the city to continue to boast that it is moving forward, not backward. As information about the progress is disseminated far beyond this region’s borders, more people and entities can be expected to look to the region — to live, start new businesses or expand some that already exist or pursue educational opportunities.

The People & Progress front page observed that “it will take time to digest all 82 pages in this year’s edition, but we believe it will be worth your time.”

Above all, the information contained in the special sections should instill optimism about the future.

Sure, problems exist here, but all that’s good far outweighs what is not so good.