A lot of anger over change circulates among us nowadays. We saw much of it on social media recently over a new Dollar General store near Check at the intersection of U.S. 221 and Daniels Run and the purchase of Floyd Pharmacy by CVS. Lots of predictions of doom and gloom.
Some of the predicted doom was wrong. The new Pharmacy owners continue to sell Floyd County High School Buffaloes hats, shirts and memorabilia, which is not unusual because the CVS stores in Montgomery County sell high school team items too.
Dollar General hopes to build a third Floyd County outlet near Willis if they can iron out differences with the Virginia Department of Transportation on parking lot access issues on an off U.S. 221. Since Dollar General also owns Family Dollar just outside of Floyd on Virginia Rte. 8, we should see four stores from one retail chain operating in the county before long.
Floyd is changing. The quiet sleepy town is evolving. In many ways, it has to do so to survive. Floyd County Supervisors Tuesday night ended a short public meeting with a long closed-door session that included focus on the county’s Economic Development Authority, which tries to bring business to the county. One part of the public meeting included information on changes in the county’s tech center to create new space for smaller offices.
Such change brings public debate. Some see the county’s increased focus on tourism as a good move. Others decry it turning the area into a tourist trap. Busy streets and heavy traffic in Floyd comes from those who visit our county to examine the “country experience.”
Floyd has changed a lot over the last 15 years — much more than in the four decades that preceded it. Much of the change is fed from the past — particularly with a focus on the music culture of Southwestern Virginia. The Friday Night Jamboree is an international music phenomenon that highlights old time and bluegrass music. FloydFest mixes rock, country and other musical icons in a summer event that draws thousands to the site just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Bluegrass and BBQ festival at Chantilly Farm is growing in popularity and recognition. So is Yoga Jam and other celebrations. Floyd County’s agribusiness culture now includes sustainable farming activities, which are on display at the Farmers Market on Saturday mornings on South Locust Street. Music in Linberry Park is a new and expanding series of concerts. The Floyd Country Store offers music on weekday and Saturday night concerts, Sunday jams and Americana Afternoons. Rock, country and more bring crowds to Dogtown Roadhouse. Pine Tavern features concerts at its pavilion. Music can be found at Oak Grove Pavilion at Zion Lutheran Church.
These changes and more bring discussion, debate and sometimes anger. Some welcome the change as part of the county’s evolution. Others say it destroys what is Floyd.
Discussion, we feel, is good. Anger, particularly when focused with threats and insults against others, is harmful. Too often on social media sites like Facebook we see disagreements include violent threats and calls for those who disagree to “go somewhere else.”
When I see that, it saddens me. Floyd was a big part of my childhood. It has been home to generations of my mother’s family. I graduated from Floyd County High School in 1965 and returned here with my wife and partner 39 years later to live here for the rest of our lives. Yet I am sometimes told that “you don’t belong here” and that Amy and I should “get back to wherever you came from.”
That ain’t gonna happen. This is our home. We have good friends here. I have family here. Differences in opinion are part of human nature but it should not be a cause for war. Others may hate but that feeling will not be returned. I can say, with no exceptions, that neither Amy or I hate a single person that we know, have met or have dealt with here in Floyd County or other places where have lived. We may not agree with others but we feel that each are entitled to their opinions. Hate does not exist in our home and it never will.
How others feel about me in particular or us as a couple is their business, not ours. We live with our own beliefs and customs and we do not judge others by theirs. Anger is not an emotion in our lives.
Last week, a Floyd County resident who has disagreed with me in the past and has blasted me on Facebook, agreed to meet for lunch We talked about our differences on issues, on life in the county and our general philosophies. At the end of the lunch, she thanked me.
“You were not what I expected,” she said. “You listened and we talked about our differences without getting mad or shouting. Thank you.”
That, I pray, is the Floyd County way and that, I hope, never changes.