Our View: Change in tune and tone
According to some newcomers, this is how many are greeted by locals: “You moved to Craig? Why?”
It is often said in terms of surprise, as if people are surprised that others would move to our town.
According to some other newcomers, they are greeted in different ways – ways that make them feel less than welcome. It comes across as “last settler syndrome;” that is, a person moved here and he or she likes it, but he or she doesn’t want anyone else to come and doesn’t treat others with respect.
This is what some of us on the editorial board have heard, seen and, to some extent, experienced (the former, not the latter). If this is the case, we need to change our attitude.
This town has shown it can be very greeting toward guests. One needs look no further than hunting season, when banners across town read, “Welcome Hunters,” or how the town was a gracious host when Ride the Rockies came through.
With the rise of the energy industry and with Wal-Mart – and stores that may follow – coming to town, there are going to be new members to our community.
Do we want people to move here?
If so, what are we doing to ensure buy-in for those who have moved here?
In the editorial board’s opinion, yes, we want newcomers in town for the simple reason that, in most cases, if you’re not growing, you’re dieing. Remember the joke in recent years when Craig’s population was dwindling: “The last one to leave Craig, please turn off the wave pool.”
Given our circumstances with recent development, Craig becoming a ghost town is not likely to happen soon. And if we are to ensure that another bust – which could follow the expected boom – does not kill our community, we need buy-in from those in the energy sectors. We need to encourage that Moffat County become their home, so if a bust does occur, they are invested and want to stay.
Or if a bust doesn’t occur, and they retire, they stay.
But what is our current buy-in? To be frank, on some levels, it’s not good.
For the past several years, we’ve had the lowest-funded school district per pupil in the state (a number that will go up if we have more students enrolled), and we have a hospital that looks more outdated than the middle school.
There also is the perception of a drug problem, which the editorial board believes is due more to the town’s willingness to address the problem head on – and therefore, help the problem go away sooner rather than later – and not hide from it like other cities.
All of these issues, and/or perceptions, can be changed with time. But what about now? What can we do to get buy-in from the newcomers until then?
We can highlight that our school district and hospital have been forward thinking in recent years, and how this community has worked toward beautification, as well as how Colorado Northwest Community College is expanding its curriculum.
Of course, we can point to the great beauties of Moffat County and its wildlife.
But more so than anything else, we can highlight our greatest asset – our people; those who are willing to spend hours helping a neighbor with a project or lookout for our children’s best interests.
Encourage people to get involved with area groups, and help them realize the benefit of having a voice in Craig.
The editorial board encourages those of us who have asked the question, “You moved to Craig? Why?” to take pride in our town.
Let’s forsake the last settler syndrome, and encourage new blood to get involved in our community to help revitalize it.
Let’s change our tune and our tone, so when someone has questions about our town, we can tell them how great it is.
And we can leave them with this question: “Why wouldn’t you want to live in Craig?”
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