July 24, 2013 | LXXIII, No. 17

Change is already happening; get on board

Jess Shut Up

One of the unique attributes of the Coulee is that when you return to this area after a long departure, it appears that nothing has changed. It is the same as when you left. I have heard this hundreds of times from people who have left this area after high school and returned as adults. I think that is kind of a cool way too look at our area. On the other hand, that can also have costly retributions as well. I think we could find a balance of growth and keep the small town atmosphere, if we all come together and work for a common goal of an economic environment that benefits all that live here and visit.

Things are changing. For one, when I used to drive the fire truck in the parade I knew 75 percent of the people along the parade route. Now, I’m lucky if I know half. I have run into people that I thought were just visiting, only to find out that they have been living here for five years or longer.

New blood is coming to the coulee but not all are staying. Why? Well a lot of reasons are given by these commuters going elsewhere to work and dwell. But the outstanding number-one answer for leaving is that there is nothing here for kids and spouses. As a matter of fact, the largest employer in the area says the reason for such high turnover and for their number-one candidates for a hire is lack of shopping and being so far from larger cities. Now we can’t do anything about the latter, but we can do other things to cultivate a desirable place to move your family.

Other changes, well, we already have a new hospital, we will have a new school very soon. A few new businesses have popped up, and at least three new eating establishments have or will sprout up shortly. We have a Disk Golf Course at North Dam Park and a Roller Derby Team now calls us home. We also will have new faces in key positions around the community, and a growing community outcry for more change continues to echo within the granite walls that surround us. A community block party has started, and I encourage others in their own neighborhoods to do the same. The Chamber of Commerce and the Ridge Riders have taken the position of growing and changing and have been successful so far.

So what can the average Joe do? Well to start with, try to shop locally as much as possible. Even if it means spending a little more than we would driving somewhere else. Welcome newcomers, make them feel at home. Volunteer. I know that can be a dirty word to some of you; you have had bad experiences, but I would ask you to reconsider.

Give these groups another chance. It’s the only way to give longevity to some of these programs and activities. When they disappear for lack of involvement it can be a heart breaking sight. The biggest thing is to use your voice. If you don’t like something or want to see something happen, make it known. Write letters to the editor, go to council and school board meetings, visit with business owners, come to a chamber of commerce meeting. There is much that can be done.

I’m sorry if this sounds like a rant from someone who’s frustrated or mad; it’s not. But I have grown up here and I see the potential that is sometimes put on the back shelf for a pure lack of willingness to change. I love the coulee and I cherish each of its residents. I just don’t want to take the back seat on a trip that has all the potential of being a success and make our beloved area better just to realize that someone needed to be up front and navigating.

Let’s make the Grand Coulee Dam Area a more desirable place for us and others. Embrace it and grow it into something awesome.

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