Better together, or better apart?

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As Town of Beloit shifts gears toward incorporation, citizens should think hard.

TWO NEWS ITEMS over the past week provide reminders that though this is one inter-dependent community, it presents unique challenges.

The City of South Beloit celebrated its 100th birthday with a variety of programs, including a well-received parade and the big annual corn boil staged by the South Beloit Fire Department.

The Town of Beloit began its incorporation petition drive, and also created an online survey asking citizens to weigh in on what to call a new village if that plan goes through. The choices: Village of River Oaks, Village of Turner, Village of Blackhawk, Village of North Beloit, and an option for survey-takers to suggest their own name.

WE'VE SAID IT BEFORE: When a bird flies over this is one urban community, home to somewhere in the range of 55,000 souls who live, work and play together. The bird will see no lines separating the people.

Yet those lines exist, sometimes to the community's overall detriment.

Obviously, not much can be done about that state line - although there's an old tale that, originally, Beloit was supposed to be part of Illinois. Now and then, it seems folks in Madison still believe it.

Be that as it may, the state line has existed longer than any living memory. Even so, we've always thought fully creative cooperation might find more and better ways to effectively deliver services while controlling costs. There are places in this country where things like public safety, sewer and water and other services are delivered regionally.

South Beloit has been cooperative. The recent opening of Nature at the Confluence is a perfect example. Even more could be done in the future, we believe, to bring the community closer despite the unfortunate reality of that arbitrary state line.

A MORE PRESSING concern revolves around the Town of Beloit's movement toward full incorporation. The plan could just as accurately be called a divorce.

There's nothing good about incorporation when measured by the yardstick of the larger contiguous community. Coupled with the state line to the south, incorporation would solidify the image of Beloit as a separated jigsaw puzzle of a community rather than a cohesive unit.

Truth is, it's more than just an image. In many ways the split governmental jurisdictions act in ways not conducive to overall growth and success, and incorporation comes with the possibility of making that situation worse.

One is reminded of the biblical references echoed in Lincoln's words, that "a house divided against itself cannot stand."

No, it's not civil war. But neither is this an experience of close common interest propelled forward by like-minded people and leadership.

AS THE TOWN OF BELOIT moves in this direction, we would ask citizens of the community to think long and hard before committing to such a course. Long-range - like it or not - all of our futures are intertwined. Thus, the question: Is this community better off promoting togetherness and commonality, or embracing division and separatism?

And that, we submit, is a question that answers itself.

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