Since Realtor Don Scarborough mentioned at October’s Anson Economic Development Commission meeting that a potential buyer decided against moving to Anson County because of the crime rate, the issue has lingered over those charged with promoting and developing the county.
At many public meetings since then, county officials have questioned where these crime rate statistics are coming from. At last week’s county commissioners meeting, County Manager Lawrence Gatewood asked Sheriff Tommy Allen about the county’s crime, and the sheriff responded that crime is no worse in Anson than any other county of its size. In fact, he said, there hasn’t been a murder his office has investigated in the past three years.
The first result of a quick Internet search of “Anson County, North Carolina crime” shows statistics that are at least five years old. The second option, recordspedia.com, shows Anson second in violent crime and property crimes among similar counties. The other counties shown include Martin (No. 1), Hertford, Montgomery, Currituck, Transylvania, Cherokee, Caswell, Northampton and Ashe. The same site also shows that violent crime was on the rise from 2001 to 2008.
It is possible that potential residents and employers see these numbers and are scared away. And then, the question becomes: “How do we get the word out that Anson County is a great place to live?”
According to at least one citizen, the county-governed board that is supposed to do just that is falling down at the job. Also at the commissioners meeting, Merrie Datin accused the Tourism Development Authority of hoarding money and doing nothing to promote events that would draw people to the county.
The answer to improving Anson’s image is easy in theory, but probably not easy in reality. We as a county must join together and show others that Anson County is more than a place where businesses come to die. The county is more than its crime statistics or unemployment rate. It’s a beautiful place filled with quaint small towns, cozy homes and lots of history.
Yes, there is crime in Anson County. Yes, there are people who are unemployed and even homeless. But what city or town doesn’t have those issues?
It’s Anson’s people who make it so great, and its people need to work together to show that, in the words of last year’s high school graduation theme, “We Are Anson.”