Jackson County is complicated. It has nine incorporated towns, three different school systems, around 10 rural fire departments that set their own tax rates, dozens of small agencies and is part of a number of regional groups that plan for everything from agriculture to trash.
Add to that the large geographic size of the county and its transitional nature, which falls somewhere between rural and suburban, and you have one complicated recipe. If Jackson County were soup, it would be goulash.
So it takes some special efforts from the various leaders in the county to forge anything close to a united relationship. At times, that relationship has been closer than at others. Petty infighting, jealousy and turf-protecting always threaten to untie the political and social fabric of such a complex county.
But over the last couple of years, the fights have been less and the sense of unanimity stronger.
That has been in large part due to one man who has, in a very short time, become a major uniting influence on the county’s otherwise fractious political landscape.
From hard work and his sheer force of personality, Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce President Shane Short has knitted together a variety of competing interests at a time when the financial pressure of the recession might have otherwise sent deep political and economic fault lines across the county.
For his work in helping keep Jackson County united during difficult economic times and his high profile leadership role in 2010, Short is The Herald’s Newsmaker of the Year.