Letter to the Editor: Results from community opinion
I am writing to express my appreciation to Huntington City for allowing me the opportunity to speak in city council meeting, to express my thoughts and feelings, and to provide you with the results of my survey. I also appreciate each of you for the service that you render to the city. I understand politics and understand how challenging and frustrating it is at times. It does not matter the outcome of the decisions, there are always a few that are upset at the outcome even if the outcome is in the best interest of the community.
I am told of the story of two brothers who started cleaning irrigation ditches and the canals for the local farmers. As we all know, this was a task that never ended. These two brothers went about their work providing a reliable service to the local farmers and made it possible for the water to flow to the farmers fields and livestock.
As with all jobs, the weeks turned into months and the months into years. I can only imagine the joy these two brothers felt when they purchased their very first piece of machinery thus, easing their backs and providing an even better service for their customers. As I look back into the history of this story and hear the many memories and stories, I am amazed at the success these two brothers achieved. These two brothers had a dream and they set goals to accomplish their dream. Their goals continued to change and with these changes came even bigger dreams. I know that if anyone would have told these brothers, their first day on the job, that they would be employing hundreds of people, they themselves probably would have had a good chuckle as they looked at the shovels over their shoulders. Most people who are reading this know who these two brothers are and the awesome company they developed, two brothers are the founders of Nielson's Construction.
I am also reminded of a lady that cut hair from her home. Somehow, she was able to get the neighborhood kids to respect her beauty salon. Often times, the kids would sit in her hair dryer chairs, placing the dryer over their heads. Those in the salon simply thought these kids were just being funny, but little did they know the childhood imagination was hard at work, or play. These kids were on one of the biggest missions ever and that hair dryer was the best astronaut helmet around. All the children knew when their mission was fulfilled. That was when the owner of the salon left her client in the chair, for a brief moment, walked over to the dryer and said "that is all", turning off the hair dryer and removing the astronaut helmet from their head.
This same lady pioneered a dream and it too started out small. This dream started under a carport and grew to take over the garden in their backyard. It soon became bigger than their garden plot and started taking over the entire backyard. There were many late hours spent in that backyard and again the neighborhood kids were a part of this development. The best job for these little ones was to fill the pots full of rich dark planting soil, not too full, but enough for the sake of planting. Knowing what I know now, the hardest task was to have these kids be consistent in the tasks they were performing. I know it was more work allowing these neighborhood kids to help than it was to send them home and have the adults do all the work.
They built a greenhouse in their back yard and, just as a plant grows, this business began to take root. It became so big that the owners had to move its location altogether. Again, as I look at the history of this story I am amazed with the power of a dream or even a mere thought. If you were to tell this lady, while she was bringing in her first bag of planting soil, that her dream would affect hundreds of people she probably would have said, that would be nice.
I think of how much beauty has come from this lady's dream and how the homes, towns, and especially the cemeteries continue to be decorated year after year. We all have an awesome responsibility to carry out and continue in the success of our forebearers ensuring that their dreams stay alive.
We all have our own dreams and goals, but there is one dream that we are all participants in, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. That dream is that of our community, Emery County, more specifically Huntington.
The one dream each of us have in common is our community. We can continue to build and strengthen our community or we can turn our back on it and do everything in our power to break it apart.
It is my hope that every member of the community, as an individual, will step up to help build and strengthen one another thus, strengthening the community as a whole. When communities are in harmony they can accomplish anything, but when they are divided they will accomplish nothing.
Some who read this will say how can a community ever be in harmony? My response to that is, if you are in a leadership position it is your responsibility and your charge to accomplish this. You are the spokesperson for the community. You represent the people and carry out the peoples' desires. That is the reason they elected you. That is why you have been appointed to your leadership position.
I have spoken to several former Emery County / Huntington residents and several visitors to the area. These visitors only had a brief experience and are not able to judge fully. Of these individuals, there are two that I would like to give some background on. These individuals have traveled all over the world and are originally from another country. They have a child that lives in Emery County and they go to Emery County to visit their child. They are learning more and more about Emery County and what it represents.
I have spoken to more than one 100 individuals residing in Emery County. The majority of these individuals were residents of Huntington. Their ages ranged from 17-88 years old.
In speaking to these individuals, I asked each of them the following questions:
- If you were to try and convince someone to move to and live in Huntington, or Emery County, what would be the three main selling points?
- If you were to try and convince someone to never move to or live in Huntington, or Emery County, what would be the three main selling points?
- When you think of a place to raise your own family, do you plan to stay or return to Huntington / Emery County to raise your family? If yes, why? If no, why?
- What keeps you from moving from Huntington / Emery County?
- When you look back at the changes Huntington / Emery County has gone through, how do you feel about the changes that have taken place?
I received a very shocking response, even from the residents of Huntington. Of all these responses, there were some great points made for each stance and some comments were more shocking than others. I decided to continue my survey to the Iron County area and ask the residents these same questions.
In my research, I found that the success or failure depends on the residents of the community. Also, how those elected officials communicate and carry out the life sustaining tasks that develop or sustain a healthy community.
Iron County is different altogether. I found that Parowan was the first town in the Southern Utah area. Cedar City and Enoch were next and St. George followed after.
For the St. George area, there are many long time residents who commented they cannot believe the growth that has taken place. They are not quite sure how it happened and cannot give a specific date in which the growth took place. They said it was as if it happened over night and they could not stop it if they tried.
They commented they have lost their little community and lost the main part of good old home. Each expressed their true emotion when they told stories of the day when you knew everyone, now you're lucky to bump into someone you know while out grocery shopping.
For the Cedar City area, some major growth has begun and the people are beginning to divide amongst themselves. Cedar City has a mayor who is donating his mayors salary into the development of the city. He is donating his time while in office. He has done some amazing things for the growth of Cedar City and has brought in some big time corporations. In doing so, it has killed some mom and pop shops, but it has been better for the development of the community. These corporations have provided more employment, taxes, and morale for the community. The only problem is the voice of the people. Many long term residents watched the growth of St. George and want no part of it. They want to stop it before it is too late.
For Parowan, this is a place that is as if time has stopped altogether. The residents of Parowan want no growth. They are happy how it is and do not want to lose the feeling of good old home, where you know everybody and everybody knows you. The residents are loyal to one another. If someone needs something done and they know of a person, in Parowan, that does that trade or has that skill, they will call them because they are from Parowan. This is the only town I have found that supports its own people, by shopping locally, even to the point they will pay more due to the fact that they know it will all come around.
I relay these stories to you for the sole purpose that there are many different types of communities. All are a success in their own way and all have their own pit falls. I hope we can remember the roots of our Huntington / Emery County community and maintain a community that is a happy people, willing to support one another.
The dreams of individuals and business ideas may seem crazy at times. Especially, when you hear the business plan for the first time. You may think how can this better our community. I would pose two questions.
1- Where would Huntington / Emery County be if those two brothers did not pursue their dream?
2- Where would Huntington / Emery County be if those two brothers were not allowed to pursue their dream?
I would only ask that you allow individuals to chase their dreams and hear what they have to say. The best leader is a good listener. Hear what your residents have to say. If they are not attending their city meetings then there is a problem. That problem is you are not hearing the voice of the people. I know you can not force them to attend, but I would encourage you to extend sincere invitations for all to attend.
Every city meeting that I have attended in Cedar City, there is only standing room. The city had to start holding two meetings on the same topics, allowing all to attend.
I am grateful for the community in which I was raised and will forever hold those memories within my heart.