Letters to the Editor – Jan. 9

Letter to the Editor,

The trading of the current fairgrounds seems to be an issue that has come up and I would like to give my point of view for those who have asked and others who wonder how I feel. As a fair board member, I was given the opportunity to go to Casper for three days to attend meetings, seminars and view entertainment that is available for fairs to book. I must say though, the highlight for me, was a tour of their fairground facilities and the opportunity to talk to the man who runs and maintains that facility. We learned so much and came home with some good insight and ideas. He was able to answer a lot of questions and give some good ideas of what they had learned and mistakes they had made. We learned what works and what doesn’t. We also had the time to talk to other fair board members about what they were facing and what worked and did not work for them. I am still excited about what I saw and learned, but, with the idea of implementing these ideas on our present site. We know we have some buildings that need torn down and other issues need addressed but we want to do it with an overall goal of a great facility that is more efficient and user friendly at the present location. We saw buildings that were multifunctional and all had the same idea, this would work great for us. Our facility is not just for the fair. It is available all year long and used for other functions as well, and with that, its current location is ideal. It is close and in walking distance to town. People who go there for activities also go uptown and do business. Parents let their kids ride their bikes down to the fair grounds and feel that they are safe in doing so. It would be wonderful if we had the money to completely start with a new facility on the same land but this is the real world where that does not happen very often. Sometimes less is more.

The City has made an offer to the commissioners to trade 18 acres they have down by the ball field for the 16 acres that the fairgrounds now occupy. They said we could move the buildings if we wanted or rebuild. These buildings were never intended to be moved and I doubt they would survive a move. The City, nor the school want to use the land east of town for a football field, sighting a safety factor as the reason. Everyone knows these 18 acres is swamp ground and I doubt we could build on it, let alone move existing buildings onto it. They said they were concerned about the truck traffic that goes through the port of entry if they put their football field in that location. Where was that concern when they built the present school on 585. It has traffic that travels faster than at the port. Kathy Lenz, representing the City, said the City has no money and is not willing to do anything to rebuild the fairground facilities. They just want to trade. Jim Hadley stated the County doesn’t have any money either for rebuilding, so where does that leave us? Kathy did say however, that there might be grants and loans available. This is still money that comes from you and me as tax payers. It is not a free handout and would have to be repaid. Our current fair grounds are paid for. All we need to do is keep a goal in mind and build and grow accordingly. What about the pond? Would that not be a safety concern? This week I read in the paper where the City was going to address the pond but doesn’t say how. I attended the special school board meeting and found it quite interesting. Lots of comments were made, one of which was, “why was a football field not taken into consideration before you started to build the grade school on that spot?” “Are we even going to have a football team?” and the answer by one gentleman: “we hope so, sometime.” The school is already over budget but although concerned, one school board member said “it’s only money.” It was pointed out that raising the mill levy is one way of paying for this. The state will pay for some of these expenses but not all. I am not denying anyone a new school. I just wonder why build a school in a place where you already know you don’t have room for a football field. I do hope the commissioners won’t take facilities and land that is already paid for and trade it for acres that can’t be built on, is outside of town, and with no money available to rebuild anything. Moving this facility will limit who uses it. Right now this area can be used for a multitude of uses, is close to town, accessible, and above all has been there for a long time and put there for just the reasons I stated. I would urge everyone to contact the commissioners and voice your opinion. I was if favor of having an appraisal of the current fair facilities done, so that the City has an idea of what it is worth and what they are asking. I would hate to see the tradition of our fair and facilities be moved. Updated and improved, yes, but given time this can be done on what we have. I am not against change, I just feel some things should not be changed. There was a committee appointed at the last commissioners  meeting to review the appraisal findings and I am one on that committee. I will go with an open mind but when both the City and the County state they don’t have any money to rebuild the fairgrounds in a different location, where does that leave us???

Judy Hutchinson

Editor,

As I read the 75 year ago in “Peek at the Past” Dec. 21, 1938 of Mrs. Earl Franklin’s death, in the Dec. 19, 2013 issue of the Times, it brought back memories of this tragic event in our community.

The Franklin children and the Proctor kids, which I was one of them, attended the Rocky Crossing School at Ewing, Wyoming taught by Alice Hauber.

It was stated in the write-up there were three children left to mourn their mother’s passing. This is not correct. There were seven children that survived, ranging in ages from probably, 12 years to a baby. Edward, Merton, Goldie Mae, James, Elbert (his twin Delbert was deceased) Melvin and Marie.

At this time of year we had been busy practicing and looking forward to our annual country school Christmas program, put on for our parents and the neighborhood. What should have been a happy time, it was a very sad time for the Franklin Family and the entire community. Instead of attending our program, the Franklin Family were planning a memorial for their mother and wife.

There wasn’t much for resources in the community or other help, in today’s standards. We were all poor. With the size of this family, things were pretty bleak. The neighborhood came together and helped what they could, along with others outside our area. My friend, Daisy Dennis, said she remembers her mother, wife of Sheriff Bill Blakeman, getting together boxes of clothing for the family. My Uncle Bill Seig, Crook County School Superintendent, brought out supplies for them. No amount of help could replace a mother and wife.

James was in the first grade, as I was, he didn’t come back to school after Christmas that year, the three older children did. A two and a half mile walk to school with not much for winter wraps, would probably constitute child abuse nowadays.

A grandmother came from Great Falls, Montana and took Melvin, two or three years old, and baby girl Marie to live with her.

A few years later Mr. Franklin married a lady from Sheridan, Wyoming, Mrs. Bolin, with three children, Jim, Jack and Alice. This was a big help in the household and seemed better for the family. Mr. Franklin had done the best he could by keeping the older children together. One memory of Mrs. Bolin I have is the delicious, homemade pineapple ice cream she brought to the school picnics.

Two more children were born into the Franklin family, Lloyd and Doris. Mr. Franklin sawed lumber to provide for his family.

Some of these things I have written might not be as accurate as they should be. After 75 years, the dimmer switch kicks in.

Tiny (Proctor) Bush

Will We Save Our Land?

Why is the Crook County Commission proposing a new Comprehensive Land Use Plan and why now?

Most of us trust our local policies are created by those who will objectively review the facts, consider the input of residents and experts, and make the best decisions on our behalf. But we’ve had a problematic increase over recent years of policies being driven, undisclosed, by conflicts of interests. Of major concern with this new plan is that it removes our local sovereignty. Our County Commission will be mandated to coordinate and follow federal and state regulatory agencies and decisions for their lands, thereby putting the full force of outside environmental regulations and enforcement on local land. This larger and more comprehensive plan is filled with deft wordsmithing that introduces a wide range of potential environmental actions and new regulations; changes interpretations and directives; and restricts use of public and private land and resources within our County.

That’s a heads up for us. Why is this plan now regulating not just government-owned land within Crook County but also repeatedly the use and natural resources affecting privately-owned lands, which make up 77% of our County? Why was acquiring or transferring private land to state or federal government ownership expanded to include involvement of the federal Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies? Why was: “Crook County recognizes its citizens’ inalienable, natural rights to private property, as defined and upheld by the United States Constitution.” removed?

The term “multiple use” in this new plan is the most glaring example of words not meaning what many people think they mean. Its appearance 36 times is clearly an effort to lead us to believe that the County will responsibly regulate land use to allow a variety of interests, including farming and irrigation, ranching and grazing, timber, recreation, energy and economic development.

And indeed, this was the original intent when the Forest Service was created in 1905. President Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot, the first Forest Service chief and regarded as the Father of American conservation, believed in trusteeship of national lands and protecting treasures. They advocated the wise use of natural resources and promoted the principles of multiple use and scientific management. They held that “conservative use of natural resources in no way conflicts with their permanent value” and that natural resources were “for use.”

 

“Without natural resources life itself is impossible. From birth to death, natural resources, transformed for human use, feed, clothe, shelter, and transport us. Upon them we depend for every material necessity, comfort, convenience, and protection in our lives. Without abundant resources prosperity is out of reach.” — Gifford Pinchot.

 

But as environmentalism grew, so did followers of the concept of “preservation,” as advocated by John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club. As opposed to conservationists, preservationists viewed nature as sacred, to be preserved untouched and not to be used. In fact, any use of natural resources was desecration and development was criminal. What followed was a flurry of federal environmental statutes attempting to direct forest service management, including the Multiple-Use-Sustained Yield Act of 1960, Wilderness Preservation Act of 1964, National Environmental Policy Act of 1970, Clean Water Act of 1972, Endangered Species Act of 1973, Forest and Range Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974, and National Forest Management Act of 1976. — All statutes added to this plan to direct County actions.

The effect of these environmental statutes was to obstruct the implementation of “multiple use” as it was originally intended and to shift government agencies towards ecosystem management. It left regulators with conflicting roles, landowners with only lawsuits to preserve their property rights, and put the courts in the de facto position of interpreting legislation and setting environmental policy. The ESA and CWA, in particular, have become the most powerful tools used by environmentalists to bring lawsuits to compel enforcement of restricted use of lands.

“Under current environmental laws individual Americans have been prevented from building homes, plowing fields, filling ditches, felling trees, clearing brush, and repairing fences, all on private land,” according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Many believe that such regulations infringe upon private property rights and violate the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Everyone believes in the importance of protecting wilderness lands and managing resources responsibly, but with “multiple-use” no longer carrying its original intent, a resurgence of support for conservation and traditional wise use management has gained the support of hundreds of groups over the past 30 years. They believe people are the real stewards of the land, not government, as their livelihoods been dependent on the land for generations; that the earth and its life are resilient, rather than fragile and delicate; that humans are not catastrophic to the earth; and hold that the traditional Western worldview is one of progress and optimism.

If this proposed land use plan was genuinely written to reflect the interests of Crook County residents and its stated purpose to protect private property rights, values and keep regulations to a minimum; why doesn’t the plan change the repeated mandates on the Commission to consider “multiple use” and use the more straightforward term “wise use?”

 

“You will see to it that the water, wood, and forage of the reserves are conserved and wisely used for the benefit of the homebuilder first of all, upon whom depends the best permanent use of lands and resources alike. The continued prosperity of the agricultural, lumbering, mining, and live-stock interests is directly dependent upon a permanent and accessible supply of water, wood, and forage, as well as upon the present and future use of these resources under businesslike regulation, enforced with promptness, effectiveness, and common sense. In the management of each reserve local questions will be decided upon local grounds…” — The Use of the National Forest Reserves, U. S. Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot; June 13, 1905.

 

This proposed plan is so problematic, it should be thrown out in its entirety.

Sandy Edgington