Promote unity, not separation

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Like it or not, this community rises or falls together.

SOMETIME IN DECEMBER, the governor's office through the Department of Administration may make its decision on the Town of Beloit's incorporation proposal.

There are supporters of the plan and others who object. Part of the dispute revolves around how revenue will be shared from the new Alliant Energy Riverside Center. Currently, two-thirds goes to Rock County and one-third to the Town of Beloit. With incorporation into a "Village of Riverside" that ratio would reverse.

There are, of course, a host of other issues, including the various ways neighboring communities interact and could be impacted.

The City of Beloit is on record in opposition, as is Rock County and others. Supporters in the Town of Beloit, however, believe incorporation is the best way to protect residents and assure their future.

OUR THOUGHTS on the matter have been consistent not only since the start of the current debate, but for decades preceding this incorporation plan.

Like it or not, all the pieces of the Beloit community - Beloit, Town of Beloit, even South Beloit and the Town of Turtle - are stuck together tight as gum on a shoe.

There's not a lot the community can do about a state line transecting the landscape. And Turtle is considerably more rural than the Town of Beloit. Even so, we continue to believe there are sensible ways to increase cooperation and the delivery of services with those geographic zones, too.

Particularly in the Town of Beloit's more urbanized areas it's obvious to anyone willing to see that this is, indeed, one community interdependent for the present and the future. We believe the overall community has not been helped by the historic differences - some social, some revenue-related, some political - that lie behind the sense of separateness, if not outright hostility.

After all these years, Lincoln still said it best: "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

NO, WE ARE NOT advocating for full consolidation, though we also do not dimiss the idea out of hand. A forward-looking community should never be afraid to consider bold options.

We are against the municipal equivalent of a divorce, drawing lines that create more separateness than the community already has endured.

Instead, we believe all parts of the community should be talking about how to improve relations, minimize divisions, study and expand cooperative initiatives, including streamlining governmental entities and the delivery of critical public services.

Look around at other successful population centers. You won't find many where disputes and differences among arbitrary political jurisdictions are the natural order of affairs.

It is our firm belief future prosperity and success for the entire region is best served by drawing closer, not by dividing and separating. If, however, the final outcome of the incorporation effort is a new village, we hope leaders on all sides take the need for healing seriously.

And if the outcome is not a new village - our preference - we hope all leaders see that as an opportunity to forge a new relationship that looks forward to unity, not backward to divisions.

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