I was out of town last week when Dr. Mendenhall died and didn't have a chance to read the praises about his civic work here until the weekend. It was very fitting however that in my recent journeys I had been constantly searching for what was the difference between Nevada and many of the other county-seat towns I was passing through.
When I got home and drove down the residential street to the medical clinic I suddenly realized what the big difference was. It wasn't the abundance of well-kept historical homes, because many other nearby towns can boast of that also. It wasn't the friendliness of the pedestrians and other drivers. Most of our neighbors share that trait. It wasn't even the number of trees and flower beds. No, no town can beat the beauty of the residential streets in the northern part of Butler for their stately trees which will soon be showing their colors.
The difference was the streets, curbs and sidewalks. The wide, well paved and neatly curbed streets are like practical, efficient and durable frames which allow the beauty of the neighborhoods to shine. Well-kept street and traffic signs proclaim that this is a town that is proud of its past, its present and is looking to the future.
I had not realized until I read the tributes that Dr. Ben Mendenhall was one of the main forces behind this achievement. I was very grateful that I was able to know this about this friendly helpful man. I wish I had known it earlier to express my gratitude to him personally.
I knew Ruth Mendenhall much better than I knew the doctor, but I was well aware that both of these people were big assets to our community. However I didn't know the specific part about the streets. I'm sure he would say that there were many others who needed to share the credit, but from the reports I read it seems that he was the guiding force behind the projects for many years.
We live in the country on a crushed rock road. I am very happy that we have the crushed rock. I remember many summers when even in a dry spell we would sometime dread to have a cloudburst because we might get stuck in the mud on the way home.
We don't pay city taxes, but we do use those fine streets in town often to do our business, to attend church, for social reasons and to buy our groceries and most anything else we purchase. Hopefully our patronage will help pay a small portion of the costs.
There are many good things about Nevada that I am proud of. I could list the schools, the churches, the library, the Bushwhacker Museum, the restored homes, the old State Hospital campus that has blossomed into so many beneficial things for our area, and certainly Cottey College, the parks, and our beautiful square and courthouse.
Each of these things is shown off to the best advantage by the street system which is constantly being improved upon with new things added (such as the current sidewalk projects).
I would like to thank all of those people who are still with us who have worked along with Dr. Mendenhall to give us this advantage. I am sorry I didn't get the chance to thank him. But each time I go to town I will surely remember him with fondness.