Craig Press Editorial Board: There’s so much to be hopeful for

You’ve heard people say it. Maybe you’ve said it yourself.

“Craig is dying.”

Coal is on the way out, or so we have every reason to presume. And with it go hundreds of great jobs and, one supposes, the family members of those who once worked in them.

It’s a depressing thought, to be sure. And it’s not completely unreasonable to suppose it’s true.

But is it?

None of us knows the future. But all of us can see the abundant resources that make this place we all love so special.

Craig isn’t special because of the coal industry. As precious and valuable and exceptional as coal has been to Craig and Moffat County over the generations, and as much as we rightly mourn its death sentence, this place was great before coal came, and there’s every reason to believe it will be great after it’s gone.

To be clear, that isn’t to say that Craig isn’t special because of the men and women who are employed by the coal industry. Quite the opposite, in fact. Craig’s unique goodness is due in very large part to those folks. Ask almost anyone what makes Craig a great place to live, and practically all will say the same thing: the people. Well, the men and women of coal are the people.

We are right to be worried for them. We worry they will see the train barreling down the tracks and, as any reasonable person would, they’ll get out of the way — and out of this place.

These talented and hard-working folks — those who are still of working age and desire — need something. And, in that we need those folks, we, too, need something. We need something to keep them here, making vital and spectacular this home we all share.

We don’t know at this moment what that will be. We hear rumors or maybe more than rumors of potential inroads being made by industries that make some sense to make that quote-unquote “just transition.” But we don’t know for sure what’s coming right now.

All we can do is hope. But we’ve gotta say, we’ve got an awful lot of cause for an awful lot of hope, don’t we?

Look around. This place is chock-full of assets that should give any number of positive possibilities a reason to come to pass.

We’ve got the highways. We’ve got the space. We’ve got the river, the mountains, the rails. We’ve got the community college. We’ve got the hospital. We’ve got relatively safe, clean streets. We’ve got beautiful city parks and amenities and a city that’s actively working to attract new enterprise to town. We’ve got a school district that’s planning for the future. We’ve got great businesses and services.

And more than anything, we’ve got the people.

Nothing’s guaranteed in business, but imagine considering a location that’s got all that, plus a highly skilled, experienced, reliable workforce of hundreds who are all about to be considering their professional future? That sounds like a good bet.

Things are changing, it’s true. But in every loss is the chance for gain. And it takes that kind of optimism to see what’s right in front of us.

Take the old bank. It’s closing. It’d be easy to stand at Yampa and Victory and look east toward its soon-to-be-vacated building and think, “Yup, another Craig institution on the way out. Things sure look dismal.”

But how easy is it to broaden your view a bit, even just enough to look west and see all the great financial institutions that remain committed to Craig — and so much more reason for hope besides?

For one thing, if you’re standing on that corner, you’re standing on a beautiful, brand-new city sidewalk (unless you’re on the southwest corner, in which case, humor us and imagine you’re standing there just a couple of weeks into the future). You might be standing on the northwest corner, where this very bank in question used to be located, and you might see that multiple good businesses have filled that space, just like we should hope others might come to fill the outgoing institution’s then-former digs.

We won’t belabor the image, but there’s so much to be optimistic about, and we encourage you — even challenge you — to look for those reasons for hope and to fan those flames.

Craig isn’t dying. We’d submit that it’s just going through an exhilarating metamorphosis — the kind that only comes along maybe once in a city’s lifetime.

Let’s be grateful for what we have today, especially as current circumstances hammer home the reality of how fleeting that can be. Let’s be conscious of what we had in the past and find ways to learn from it. And let’s be hopeful for a great future — but more than that, let’s assume it’s coming, and then work hard and together to make it happen.

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