West Liberty’s Recovery Could Mean Bigger, Better Things

The top story in Sunday's Lexington Herald-Leader was about the rebuilding of West Liberty, which is struggling to rebuild after it was decimated by a tornado back on March 2. The community was recently visited by a leader from Greensburg, Kansas, a similarly-devastated rural town that has rebuilt itself as a model of energy efficiency:

Greensburg still struggles, but its "green" strategy has paid off in spades. Tourists, civic leaders and journalists come to Greensburg from around the world to see 13 public buildings and many homes and businesses that were rebuilt with the latest energy-efficient designs and technology….

"If we had not pursued this strategy," Wallach said, "I don't think the town would still be there."
According to the article, West Liberty has plenty of ideas for coming out of this tragedy better and stronger than before. Energy efficiency is just one part of the  B.E.G.I.N Again strategy, which stands for "Building Entrepreneurial, Green, Innovative, Networked enterprises:"

The plan also offers several ideas for better positioning West Liberty, a former tobacco farming community, in the 21st-century economy. One is capitalizing on nearby Cave Run Lake, the Red River Gorge and hunting and fishing assets to make West Liberty a tourist hub for eco-tourism and outdoor recreation. That would include developing trails and other attractions along the city's lovely Licking River frontage.
 
Other ideas include developing a 21st-century model for rural health care using West Liberty's recently restored hospital; fostering local entrepreneurship; putting a free wireless Internet system downtown, where cellphone coverage is spotty; and trying to develop a world-class data recovery system that could be marketed to companies elsewhere.
It's wonderful to see West Liberty taking charge of its future with excitement after such a devastating disaster, but our towns and counties shouldn't wait until tragedy strikes – whether a tornado or mass layoffs at the coal mine – to follow West Liberty's lead.