As national politics turns ever more shrill and increasingly more divisive, it may be tempting to just give up on government — and on news about governance.

That would be a mistake, though.

How about viewing government through a smaller lens closer to home? This is a place where people sincerely want the best for their community and work together to get it. At the community level, every voice can be heard, and a helping hand makes a difference.

While nothing is as complex as the federal government, or even state government, there is a lot going on at the local level with elected representatives that may be overlooked.

This year, The Mountaineer has made a concerted effort to cover local fire district operations across the county, just one area where unsung heroes donate a countless number of hours to fighting fires, helping rescue those in distress and managing fire tax districts.

The governing boards include both firefighters and community members, so there is plenty of opportunity for everyone to get involved.

There are plenty of other little-known governing boards in the county that touch every day lives.

Think about those serving on sanitary district governing boards. In Haywood County, both Junaluska and Maggie Valley have separate taxation districts that provide an intricate system that allows residents one less thing to worry about.

Another important governing board is that of the rural electric cooperative, which by its very nature as a cooperative, is governed by its members in a much more direct way than investor-owned utilities.

It is easy to take for granted the fact that someone will show up if there is a fire in a rural community or that the electricity will be there at the flip of a switch or that there’s a system in place where wastewater goes after a sink is drained or a toilet is flushed.

But this doesn’t happen effortlessly. There are plenty of dedicated people working behind the scenes, and there is always room for leaders with ideas and a genuine interest in public service.

While national issues are certainly important and worth paying attention to, the place to make a real difference and make life just a little bit better is in your own back yard.

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