Craig During a recent discussion with the Editorial Board, Dr. Joseph Petrone, Moffat County School District superintendent, relayed an interesting conversation he had with a local patron.
When Petrone described lofty goals for school district programs and students, the patron responded with something akin to, “We’re just Craig.”
Thankfully, Petrone’s response was in conflict with the person to whom he was speaking.
In essence, the first-year superintendent said, “No, we’re not. We’re bigger than that.”
Petrone’s recollection of the story, and particularly his response to the patron, was refreshing.
It’s an attitude of low expectations, or contentment, summed up by the person Petrone was speaking with, that Editorial Board members believe holds Craig and Moffat County back from becoming something better.
It’s an attitude of get what you can and what’s easy rather than what’s bold, what you want and what’s possible.
For example, it’s troubling in our community that a recent high school graduate can leave school and join the work force with a high-paying job at one of the local mines.
What incentive does a student have to perform well in school and pursue other opportunities outside our area when the prospect of a good job and the salary to pay for a new vehicle and home are so easily available? And better still, why hasn’t someone — a parent, teacher or friend — imparted on that student a vision of something better?
Don’t misunderstand the board: We’re not knocking the mines or the value they have to our community. They are a tremendous benefactor to residents.
What we’re saying is this: a student who doesn’t pursue opportunities other than the mines most likely will look back one day on his or her life and wonder if there was something else out there had they considered a future beyond Moffat County’s borders.
And should our local energy industry go belly up, what happens to that student who doesn’t have an education or skill set to fall back on?
Answer: they struggle to find a job as good as what they had, given that opportunities in the only area they’ve ever known are slim or even nonexistent.
The same sentiments exist in our community’s economic development front.
Rather than implement aggressive business incentives and recruitment strategies, our governing bodies stick with a tired party line about incentives being unfair to current businesses,and how governments should not get involved with private industry, essentially handcuffing our economic development agencies in town.
That’s an OK belief system to hold, if you want to stay the same year after year.
Unfortunately, communities can’t stay the same; they either grow, diversify and expand, or stagnate and die off a little bit at a time until the bust comes.
Business incentives have been proven to be tremendous economic catalysts, revitalizing dormant communities in many cases, and diversifying economies, which is something Craig and Moffat County desperately needs.
However, this additional example of small thinking prevents our community from getting a chance to see whether incentives would work here.
Until our community gets rid of that antiquated belief system, we’re just Craig, and on many different levels, we never will live up to the unbelievable potential that exists here.
And on that end, Editorial Board members agree with what Dr. Petrone said. No, we’re not. We’re bigger than that.