Michelle Balleck: Channeling fear into momentum | CraigDailyPress.com

Michelle Balleck: Channeling fear into momentum

I had a nice little column written about the history of Labor Day and the importance of honoring the American worker. But then I learned, as we all did, of the news that Tri-State Generation & Transmission plans to retire Unit 1 at Craig Station power plant by the end of 2025.

Understandably, this announcement brings another wave of uncertainty for our whole community and region, none more so than the families affected directly by the decision.

Our community is undoubtedly in a period of significant change. Our major employers’ way of doing business is being challenged, and we’re feeling the effects of legislative action to move toward cleaner energy sources. We are also welcoming new leaders at many of our community’s top institutions and will soon elect governmental officials who will make important decisions that affect our economy’s future.

But change can be a good thing. Let’s look at what’s positive about this decision.

• Tri-State is planning this closure nine years in advance, so its management has the opportunity to work with its employees and our community to minimize the effects of this closure.

• Craig Station’s Units 2 and 3 will continue to operate with additional emissions controls. Nucla Station and New Horizon Mine didn’t fare as well — the power plant will close by 2022 and production at the mine will cease.

• We, the voters, have the opportunity to elect leaders who will fight for our priorities and represent our values.

• Our community’s elected officials and agency heads have been working to diversify our economy for some time. We will continue that charge to find a way to stabilize Craig through this period of change.

Let’s channel all of our anger, fear and anxiety about this decision, and others, into forward momentum for our community. Let this decision be a catalyst for supporting our existing business and working to grow other industries. After all, it’s the American worker who has built this country’s strength.

“The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy,” according to the United State Department of Labor website. “It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom and leadership — the American worker.”

Let’s use that determination again to drive our own local economy forward.

Want to be a part of that movement? The Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership Board of Directors meets from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at the Moffat County Courthouse, 221 West Victory Way. Join us, or give me a call if you have ideas or talents you want to share.

Together, we can do this.

Michelle Balleck is the executive director of Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership and Marianna Raftopoulos Business Success Center. She can be reached at 970-620-4370 or director@cmedp.com.

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