Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Leaving fiscal court the other day, I had a thought. A bit of an epiphany, if you will, in the silliest sense of the term. What I realized is that, in RPG terms, Carter County is leveling up.
See, I play a lot of video games. (Or rather, I did before I became a father and started a newspaper.) My favorite type is the role-playing game, or RPG. These games vary in genre and setting. But one thing they all have in common is leveling up your character and getting better gear. A level 35 weapon almost always does more damage than a level 30 weapon. But while you can still wield your level 25 sword and wear your level 20 armor when you’re at level 30, you can’t move into that sweet level 35 armor set you found until you hit level 35.
Once you level up, though, what do you do with the gear you’ve been using? This often depends on how much money your character has. In World of Warcraft, I knew folks who would use real world cash to buy in-game gold. This meant they could buy bank space to store items. Some would hold onto every full armor set they collected, no matter how useless it was as actual gear at their current level.
This was not me. I was never rich – in real life or in game. When I got better gear, I sold my old gear. Sometimes, when I really liked a piece, I’d vacillate and buy it back from the vendor. Then it would sit in my bank until I needed the space, the gold I could get out of it, or the emotional attachment had dulled enough for me to let it go.
Carter County is following the same sort of pattern when it comes to the road equipment they are purchasing. As the county “levels up” and has the ability to do more and better road maintenance, they are getting better gear. As a result they are selling off the old gear they’ve outgrown, and they’re doing it fast.
Every year now, with this new “power leveling” option they’ve gotten through the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACO), they are moving out the old gear, holding onto select items that still benefit them at their current level of productivity, and replacing the old gear with new gear that’s better suited to the way they are growing – or, in gaming terms, to their class, spec and play style.
It’s honestly exciting to see, and when you couch that growth in gaming terms the slow, steady progress the county is making becomes obvious. They’re still not one of these counties with unlimited storage space and a big budget, who can afford to hold onto old items that only rarely provide any practical benefit. But the county is definitely leveling up. Soon enough, they’ll be tackling bigger tasks, and taking on monstrous jobs.
Keep your eyes peeled, and you might see something epic from them in your neck of the woods soon.
Jeremy D. Wells can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org