ANALYSIS: It's First and Ten for the Home Team. What will the Outcome be?

Updated 1 year ago by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
ANALYSIS: It's First and Ten for the Home Team. What will the Outcome be?
Photo: City of Huntington


Money does not purchase happiness. It's a component, but it helps.

Everyone has heard this "saying," and there's divisions among Huntington residents --- some shout the positive win of America's Best Community like MU's former championship football teams; others criticize turning a positive into a negative; some foresee the positive win as a rose amidst  the challenges; and, others, seemingly have their eyes narrowly focused on the prize and ignore (momentarily) the realities.

Praise for the team members range from "everything you touch turns to gold" to concerns by former city councilman and city charter board member, Tom McCallister, asking  why will an independent entity (foundation) controls the spending and not (in his opinion) Huntington City Council as contained in the City Charter.

Responses have mostly either recognized praise for the win or expressed congratulations, yet politely asked about fixing other recognized problems be it the opioid crisis which increases crime or the city's fiscal issues mostly demonstrated by police, fire , infrastructure and fees.

A few misunderstand the contest concept advocating that the funds should be spent on other priorities, which is disallowed by entry rules.


The America's Best Communities started with 300 entrants which were pared down by the Weather Channel. CoBank, DISH, and Frontier Communications to an Elite Eight. All the finalists presented plans for solving a portion of the woes in their cities. Huntington's plan has four objectives: (1) rejuvenate the Highlawn area through city, university, state, federal and private investment; (2) better the Fairfield Corridor between Marshall University and Cabell Huntington Hospital; (3) makeover a portion of Central City to better capitalize on its rep for antiquities; (4) achieve gigabit broadband internet connections which will set a Silicon Valley inspired standard for transacting business over the now essential internet.

Contest sponsors paid travel expenses for contestants.

Vince Gill stated in awarding the prize that the winner is "poised to become a gateway for revitalization in their region. Its plan will transform distressed neighborhoods where the old manufacturing economy has declined, into hubs for advanced manufacturing, innovative spaces, entrepreneurial incubators, healthcare businesses and green community improvements. On behalf of Frontier Communications, CoBank, DISH and the Weather Channel, it is my pleasure to award the $3 million dollar prize to Huntington , West Virginia .... " 


To illustrate, I've purposefully for this article chosen a selection of anonymous social media postings.  I've used alphabetic letters for identities, along with a (Ms.) when the comment comes from a  woman. 

Where do you stand?


Ms. A:  Hooray for Huntington!!!!! The revitalization plan that was presented is amazing! Here's to making our city even better! Thank you to the mayor and everyone who worked so hard to make sure we got this $$$$!

Mr. B:  Amazing news! So proud to live in Huntington. Congratulations, and thank you to all of you who worked so hard for this

Ms. C: This will have a positive impact on all surrounding areas. Congrats to all!

Ms. D: Great job to all!! I'm in the process of reading through the comprehensive plan you submitted (wow, what went into this!). I suggest those neigh-Sayers do the same before throwing out criticism. It's about revitalization not current perfection.

Mr. E: Though I haven't seen the other cities' proposals, I know first-hand my hometown absolutely deserved to win. This is a step in the right direction and the funds are going to areas that desperately need it. The folks who worked on this project deserve immense praise (or a year's worth of Tudor's biscuits). Three million in the bank!

Mr. F: Congratulations. Well done team.

Mr. G: So proud of you, Huntington!!! Mazel tov, Mayor!!

Ms. H: What a joke! What about all the lay offs , budget crisis, drugs etc, etc, etc! And we are proud of this???

Mr. I: Liberals only told what they wanted to...not the true picture!

Ms. J: Typically the people complaining are part of the problem.

Mr. K: Why on earth are some of you cheering against your own city? I'll never understand why so many Huntingtonians are so eager to root against anything positive for Huntington.

Mr. L: You guys need to take your negative selves someplace else. This award is the result of a lot of hard work and vision for where this city is going and will be a launching pad for even greater achievement development.



These  responses to the winning of the competition represent the intensity of the opinionated. No, nothing scientifically generated. Genuine grassroots First Amendment protected speech. Read on, please.

In one thread , a relative of a Hometown positive $3 million dollar writer expressed a more pragmatic, pessimistic and realistic opinion:


Ms. M: I think instead of $3 million, Huntington would be better off if people here (and elsewhere for that matter) would quit deluding themselves by thinking that the city is perfect and doesn't have any glaring issues that direly need to be addressed. This is one of the many problems I've had with it for several years and why I ultimately gave up on it. You can't throw money at everything and expect stuff  to magically fix itself.


Mr. N:  The money was awarded for a plan presented to use the 3mil to improve our community. Not because we're actually the best community. If anything, everyone has a delusion that it's going to pay for narcan... I had jokingly said yesterday that it's going to plug the deficit and buy new cop cars. But, there is a plan for it and I hope it only goes to that prize winning plan. 


Mr. O:  I agree too many  pretentious people see only the good neglecting to balance the negative. It's not like winning a conference championship real feelings and lives at stake.


Ms. M: "The title of it is extremely misleading and is only going to draw criticism. I hope it's well spent,  but I'm not hopeful, given how wisely city government has been handling finances the past few years. Not a good track record to those of us keeping count.

"My primary issue is winning something that implies said city is the best community [in the U.S.].... Maybe we wouldn't need to rely on pity prizes if our elected officials didn't abuse positions of power at the expense of others ... [but] I guess time will tell."



That thread civilly addresses the positive and the negative. Beyond agreeing to disagree, the conclusion supposes that future conduct will determine who is correct.

Officials including Gov. Jim Justice have extended complements for the hard work and visions that reaped the award.

The key is "vision."

Each of the Elite Eight were given seed funds to implement foundations in their proposals. Significantly, the judges determined that Huntington's implementation, presentation, and vision earned first place.

Does this mean that all aspects of the printed and visual presentations will come to pass courtesy of the winnings? Add it up, stadium, hotel(s), industry, environmental clean up, rehabilitation, remodeling... the list goes onward. The answer: NO.

But, the plan making deserves an opportunity. Kinda like a writer flying to Hollywood to pitch his or her story idea to one or more film producers. One may purchase an option , commission a full script, even make a "pilot" or "demo" of the creativity. Afterwards, financiers ( studios, executive producers, networks) may signal additional "green lights" allowing casting and eventually filming. Next, its marketing of the production sending buzz to steer potential viewers into purchasing a ticket at the boxoffice (or a DVD).

Weekly film industry experts and major critics predict which productions will fill more seats (or sell more DVD's). The moviegoing community then decides --- they come, they watch, they react favorably, unfavorably or mixed. And, others choose to not attend.

Warner Bros. received superb reactions from "We Are Marshall" preview audiences. The good word influenced their positioning of the inspirational film in the competitive marketplace. Their decision makers determined that Christmas audiences would love "We Are Marshall," perhaps, it would grow into a mini-"It's a Wonderful Life."

The decision countered without dispute that college football --- except for the bowl games --- had completed it's season. In retrospect, "We are Marshall" would duel "Rocky Balboa," a reboot for the Sylvester Stallone "Rocky" boxing icon franchise. Additionally, Will Smith starring film "Pursuit of Happiness," which told of a single dad fighting for his child, would splinter the intended audience, too.

Large city audiences had forgotten the historic plane crash tragedy. They did not recognize the name "Marshall."

The film --- based on national box office sites like Box Office Mojo or Boxoffice Magazine --- took in $40-$45 million on the big screen. Not a hit. Not a bomb. A moderate break even discernment --- not counting sales for cable , TV, and DVD licensing. 

However, the three weeks spent by the film crews and stars mostly near Marshall University and downtown Huntington brought the MU community together, including some who withdrew after the disaster.

Warner Bros. failed at achieving a blockbuster tentpole iconic hit, but the production impacted in non-financial ways. It triggered the revitalization drive to "save the Keith Albee;" it convinced then Gov. Manchin of the economic multiplier effects of filmmaking; out of state viewers saw the movie and chose Marshall University for their kids to attend; and it's director faced and overcame his then fear of flying.

Applying this analysis in advance to the America's Best Community contest implores that the game clock still runs. The home team and its quarterback have the ball.

During sports games sit at home and in the stands "coaches" voice their commands and thoughts toward coaches, players and the referees.

Lifting an anonymous opinion, a young man stated in addition to congratulations:

"I see a lot of negativity coming from the Huntington community and outsiders, but the  PEOPLE   ARE the problems of Huntington. Be a solution instead of a problem."

Translated: The spotlight of winning and the leveraging of the winnings may motivate investment and support from unknowns. Cheer them to move down the field be it for an upset victory, a tie, or a loss.

Don't identify with sports, the city effectively 'won' the season ending episode of "The Apprentice," "Dancing with the Stars," "Miss America," "Survivor," and/or America's Got Talent.  Can  the newly crowned champ capitalize and  become a recognized  "star?"

Summarily, let this woman state the  balance:

"We have great things happening in our community. Maybe some people don't know about the good things, it depends on who and where you hang out. Every city in the USA has these kinds of problems, but Huntington is trying to do something about it and our people care about their communities. "

Thus, in open minded fairness,  it's  an honor and  step in the direction of forward thinking vision, but repeating a conjecture from above ---  Well, for now,  "I guess time will tell..."  

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