Pinedale 2020 and beyond

With each new year, I like to take time to look back, consider all my blessings, inventory the year and judge what has gone well and what has not. I also take time to look forward, making sure that my mind and strength focus on what’s important so that the tyranny of the urgent does not crowd them out. I have had the privilege of being Pinedale’s mayor for the past 18 months and I wanted to say thank you to the many people who have made my job enjoyable and have contributed to Pinedale’s growth. I also want to share my excitement about our town and where we are headed. My first thanks go to our Town Council. I’ve had the honor to serve with many on the Town Council since 2013; it is enjoyable and energizing to serve with leaders who are genuinely committed to Pinedale’s well-being and who work well together as a team, despite our differences. Secondly, thank you to an outstanding town staff. We have an incredible team of motivated and talented people who serve on and on, getting the job done and making Pinedale a better place to live. It has been a busy 18 months with some major issues, but even with the many urgent matters demanding our time and energy, the staff and elected officials have kept their eyes on the important matters on the horizon. I do not believe that the average Pinedale citizen truly understands how much work and sacrifice go into running our town, and our staff works hard every day of every week caring for us. Next, I’d like to thank the many citizens who serve on our boards and commissions; there are too many to list in a short editorial like this, but your time and “invisible” work makes a significant difference and helps us at the Town Council level when formal action has to take place. And finally, thank you to the other elected boards in the county. The levels of cooperation between us – state legislators, county commissioners, SCSD No. 1, Marbleton, Big Piney, SCRHCD, etc. – have made some significant changes in our town and our county, proving that there are far more things that unite us than divide us. In the past year we have seen one of our greatest resources, Fremont Lake, come under attack and then vindicated on a local, state and national level – overwhelmingly demonstrating that our water is outstanding. I’m so proud of and privileged to work with a team (local and state) whose labors protected not only our source of clean drinking water but a significant recreational and ecological resource. Sublette County is transitioning from one of the least digitally connected regions in the United States to a gigabyte community with fiber optic service in our business corridors by this summer. And although it’s been a long time coming, we will soon have a critical access hospital that will provide a whole new level of medical care for all our citizens. This in turn will assure many visitors that when staying in Pinedale, their health and welfare is still protected, increasing the number of stays and days of their stay here. As part of that growth, this summer we will begin phased construction on a new ball field complex that will not only offer fields for our children to play on, but make it possible for us to host regional games of softball, baseball and soccer opening a whole new avenue of “sports-tourism” to our community. Our new dump-and-fill station will be constructed this summer, finally offering residents and guests a centralized place to service their campers and RVs, once again increasing stopovers and business within our local economy. Pinedale’s Ralph Wenz Airport will see significant upgrades over the next two years with more than $13 million of grants from state and federal agencies. These improvements will open doors to more private aircraft to visit and base here, and eventually create the possibility of charter and regional aircraft services down the road. And all in all, we continue to see the number of summer and winter visitors increase and we all benefit from the amazing concerts, festivals, plays and events that add to Pinedale’s quality of life. There is such an incredible amount of creativity and industry in our town. Thank you to each of you who work to make our town and our life here better. As I said, I am excited about our future together. But the capital and economic improvements alone will not make our town great; it is incumbent upon us as residents to work well with one another. We must continue to work through the difficult obstacles (internal and external), and while entropy and chaos are natural, unity and community require hard work. Civility, patience, seeking one another’s wellbeing, laughing with those that laugh and weeping with those who weep – these are the characteristics that will make our town (and county) greater. I know that there remain many issues that we as a town and I as mayor can improve upon, but I believe we would do well at the outset of a new year to recognize that things are going well for us here. So long as we can continue to work well together, respectfully discuss our differences and accept that we can remain faithful and yet disagree, Pinedale has a good future ahead of it. “If it’s half as good as the half we’ve known, here’s Hail! to the rest of the road.” [S. Vanauken]