From the editor: Great to see the people’s officials do the people’s work
I was busy putting together Wednesday’s paper when I heard a pair of sirens screaming up Yampa Avenue.
I sighed. Better find out what’s going on here, I thought. Sure hope everything’s OK.
I shot a text out and heard back that the fire was in town, but no details beside a general location. I don’t always do this, but I thought I’d run over to take a look. We frankly miss stories more often than I’d like, and this felt like an opportunity to make sure that didn’t happen one more time. Might as well get eyes on the subject.
A few minutes later I pulled onto Cottonwood Avenue in the Shadow Mountain subdivision. It’s a trailer park within stone-throwing distance from the hospital, the college and the high school, but it just so happens it’s in unincorporated Moffat County, not Craig.
I was relieved to see it was a small fire already mostly out, and as I watched the emergency personnel do their good work, I chatted with neighbors gathered to watch, speculate and cluck about their frustrations with that property.
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I couldn’t blame them for their ire. The property was an absolute mess, the newly burnt-up shed in the back notwithstanding. Complaints weren’t only directed at the property owners; these neighbors had taken the issue up with the authorities.
Apparently, the county commissioners had said there was nothing they could do.
Boy, these folks didn’t like that.
You get it, of course. This is their home. We live in a society. You expect a certain level of comfort, cleanliness, peace and order no matter where you live. These folks didn’t feel that level was being met, on any one of those counts, and just standing there on the corner of Cottonwood Avenue, I could hardly disagree with them. And they were furious that nobody was willing to do anything about it.
Then the sheriff walked over.
KC Hume is a smart guy, and, from my estimation, perfectly good at his job. Or jobs, I should say — Hume wears a ton of hats, including fire marshal. I haven’t been here long, and while I try to approach public officials with a level of healthy skepticism, nothing Hume’s done in my presence has given me reason to doubt he’s a straight-shooting, honest guy. It’s always possible I’m wrong, and as a journalist it’s important I be on the lookout for that potentiality and not blindly heap praise on an elected officer. But so far, in our dealings with one another, I’ve been more than satisfied that he’s a good dude.
But all those caveats aside, Hume impressed me Tuesday afternoon. What he did while I was about to leave the scene, and what I have reason to believe happened thereafter, is exactly what we should hope for out of the people who sign up to be our public servants.
After telling the neighbors a bit of what was going on, he listened to their frustrations. Then he said, well, I think there’s something I can do. Just before coming over, he’d been taking some cell phone photos of the mess on the property, particularly the impassible driveway that led to multiple dwelling units in the back.
Hume informed the neighbors that he’d just contacted one of the county commissioners and that the two of them would be conducting a walk through of the property that very evening. He explained the limitations that had prevented his various agencies from taking action in the past, but said that it looked like there could very well be options he could explore now.
The sheriff served the people Tuesday. He flexed his official muscle to call over another public servant, and together, I am willing to bet something gets done.
I loved that. Small things are only small if you’re not living inside of them, and this small thing was the whole world to these folks on the corner at the trailer park. You could feel and hear the appreciation of the residents present, and rightfully so.
We don’t get that everywhere. We don’t even always get it here. But I want to point out when it’s done. When a small thing, a little extra effort, a desire to solve a problem for an underrepresented few — when that happens, it deserves to be praised.
So good on you, Sheriff. Thanks for your service to the people — even just these few, specific people living on Cottonwood Avenue — of Moffat County.
Job well done, keep it up, and may this be an example to your fellows.
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Psalms 127:1: Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. (NIV)