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I started visiting Fries/Galax back in 1976 when friends had moved there. It was a very quaint and peaceful town with several medium to small businesses and a factory that kept many of the residents employed and provided for their families with jobs. On a recent visit though I learned how the town council had refused to allow a garment or leather manufacture set up business and how they had also refused to allow a Budweiser brewing or distribution center. What in the world are these people afraid of? This is not the 1950's folks c'mon, your community is flat out dieing and those in charge are doing nothing but promoting it's further disappearence into oblivion!
The truth of the matter is, is that Fries is slowly eroding and disappearing. While there are some residents still living there, many have opted to move to Hillsville, Galax or other towns who provide employment to their taxpaying citizens and retail businesses where they can purchase much needed items. The way business in Fries is being handled now, it won't be long before much of the town's history simply disappears into another faded memory of days gone by and nothing more than black and white pictures in someones scrap book.
I distinctly remember a rousing display of July 4th fireworks, parades, many local stores with pies and baked goods by local residents being sold, hand made quilts, a mill, car repair centers.....almost all of which are now gone. The mindset that if you allow a garment manufacture to open up business and that it will create sexual deviants or a Budweiser brewing/distribution center is going to create alcoholics is absurd and a very 1950's paranoid state of mind. There already exists those type of people within your community (as it is every where else also) and these businesses are neither going to promote or remove that behavior regardless of how much you try to control what types of businesses come into the community. What they WILL do though is provide jobs to taxpaying residents and secure a future for a once great town. I can understand in part, the towns elected officials attempting to keep the image of Fries as a peaceful, friendly, god-fearing town but when your residents are leaving and there is no businesses to keep them there where do you think they're going to go? Elsewhere, because you're leaving them no other choice which is what's happening.
I sincerely love the town of Fries and I hate to see it fade into the history books as just another one of the American towns that "once was". It's about time some of the leadership in Fries got their proverbial heads out of their rearends and started thinking about the towns future instead of simply trying to keep living in it's past! You can continue on the road to deny the town it's growth and it's residents jobs but all your doing in the ends is creating the eventual and guaranteed demise of Fries for everyone.
All you need do is drive downtown and see what remains. It's about as close to a deserted western type ghost town as I ever want to be in and it speaks volumes about how poorly thought out and lazy the current leadership is. Every year there is less and less reason to even go to Fries. Perhaps the new Senior Retirement/Hospice Community business looks good on paper but I can go anywhere to die quite frankly. You know it is possible to both keep your heritage and history as well as build a succesful town? It doesn't have to be a one or the other type of decision unless you have leaders who make it that way and right now the results absolutely speak for themselves!
And before anyone goes jumping to any incorrect conclusions, I have no vested interest or ties whatsoever to either of these businesses. I am a person though who likes to vacation and live where I don't have to drive 15-20 miles one way to get groceries or medicine and right now I'm afraid Fries is honestly becoming a whole lot less attractive for anyone.