Regardless of the fact that Mr. Aiken had his tongue planted firmly in his cheek for his editorial entitled “What Sublette County Needs Is a Monorail”, there was certainly a recognizable undertone of disdain for some of the choices made by our local governments and the facilities that exist in Sublette County. And while the prevailing wisdom says that you never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel, I think Mr. Aiken’s editorial deserves comment.
There’s no doubt that the local revenues (generated primarily by mineral wealth) in Sublette County are substantial compared to other communities in Wyoming and the rest of the country. But this wealth comes at a price. Anyone who doesn’t have their head in the sand knows Pinedale has changed drastically over the last ten years. I know this and I’ve only lived here for a year. These changes have affected the real estate market, the schools, local governments, local businesses, and as Mr. Aiken pointed out, our air quality. And these challenges will continue into the future.
But when challenges present themselves you have two primary choices. You can accept the conditions as they exist, or you can accept the responsibility for changing them. From my perspective, our elected officials have taken the responsibility for changing them. And I think for the better. No, it hasn’t been a smooth process and there have been differences. Not everyone agreed with the expenditures that resulted in the facilities mention by Mr. Aiken, I understand that. You don’t have to live here long to know that Sublette County residents aren’t afraid to give you their opinion and if you put twenty of us in a room, you’re likely to get nineteen different opinions. But that’s local government and sausage is being made.
Based on his comments, Mr. Aiken seems to believe the costs for the PAC, Flicks-n-Pins, the Ice Arena, and the County Fairgrounds exceed their value. And I think you could easily add the library and the skateboard park to this list. But to me they represent what’s best about Sublette County, and our communities. To illustrate this, I ask you to consider what all of these facilities have in common (other than a price tag that offends some people). They are, at least in my mind, primarily designed to serve families and bring people together. And for the record, I appreciate that.
If you had an opportunity to attend the Million Minutes reading celebration at the PAC this past weekend you saw not only a celebration of reading achievement, but a celebration of a community that comes together better than any in which I have ever lived, regardless of our distinct differences. And it wouldn’t have been what it was without that “gaudy swimming pool”. And the Sublette County Fair wouldn’t be what it is without the fairgrounds. And ask any devoted ice skater or hockey player what life would be like in Sublette County without the Ice Arena. And try to imagine a Halloween without the PAC Haunted House.
I’ve lived in communities without these kinds of facilities. And the editorials in the newspapers aren’t about the tax dollars spent on these kinds of facilities; they’re on how to find the money to build them…and how to provide more recreational opportunities for kids and for families. So as a recent Sublette County gatecrasher, and on behalf of myself and my family, I say thank you to everyone who was a part of seeing these facilities built. They make Sublette County a great place to live, work and raise a family.