Written by by Don Ratzlaff Tuesday, 11 January 2000 18:00Though I’m a “lifer” in this community, I can’t say I’ve ever felt an intense sense of rivalry or bitterness Though I’m a “lifer” in this community, I can’t say I’ve ever felt an intense sense of rivalry or bitterness toward neighboring towns in Marion County—nor an air of superiority either, for that matter. During my high school years in Hillsboro, we regularly played teams from neighboring schools in the Marion, Peabody and Centre districts. Sure, I wanted to beat them, but no more so than any other teams we played. I mention this only because I’ve never understood—and, frankly, sometimes not believed—the stories of supposed rancor between towns in Marion County. Maybe it’s a generational thing. Without question, during the brief history of this newspaper we have discovered that we in Marion County hold far more values in common than we have differences that should keep us apart. Now more than ever we have one overriding value that should force us to break through to new levels of relationship: our survival as viable rural communities. Interviews with Hillsboro Mayor Delores Dalke last week and USD 410 Supt. Gordon Mohn this week have both touched on reasons for our communities in Marion County to break down whatever barriers still exist and work more closely together for mutually beneficial solutions to the challenges we share. Health care tops the “urgency” list. If the hospitals in Hillsboro and Marion—and the communities that support them—don’t take significant strides toward cooperation and possibly even merger, it’s more than conceivable that we could lose them both and be without the kind of local health-care options we now take for granted—and that others who might consider moving to our cities absolutely require. Last week Mayor Dalke mentioned about economic cooperation between our towns, and this week Supt. Mohn suggests between the lines that our educational future may be more intertwined than we care to consider. Rivalries between neighboring towns is a death trap in this age of rapid change. Cooperation and innovation may be the only viable future we have.