According to statistics released last week, Clearfield County’s unemployment rate rose to 9.6 percent from the previously reported rate of 8.4 percent. These figures don’t include the recent layoffs of 25 Clearfield Hospital Employees. Unfortunately, the situation will probably get much worse before it gets better. What got us into this situation, and how do we fix it?
According to an article in The Progress dated April 29, 2009, Clearfield County Commissioners sent a letter to the state Fish and Boat Commission, asking it to require the Shawville power plant to reduce the temperature of the water it discharges into the river. The letter stated, “The commissioners have received complaints and have seen firsthand the harms caused by this discharge at the Shawville power plant.” When asked by a reporter if it’s possible such a request would cause the plant to close, Commissioner Joan McMillen said, “I highly doubt that would happen.”
Fast forward to the future, and we see that closure of the plant is real, as is the loss of 500 jobs tied directly and indirectly to it. We have forgotten our roots, and the reality is if we don’t mine it, drill it, timber it, or grow it, our area has little else to offer. All other businesses, including grocery stores and service based companies, have a foundation built by natural resources. When we are not permitted to responsibly utilize them, the entire economy of the region suffers.
It’s time for new leadership at the county level. Let’s stop always talking about what we’re against, and creating a vision of what we are for. Let’s stop sending services such as investment advice and insurance sales to businesses in Philadelphia. Ethanol and tourism are not the answer, and if we continue to travel the same path we are on, we will be begging for a landfill to locate here.
Derek A. Walker