Residents have a responsibility to be involved

The last two weeks were frustrating. It

was hard for me to sit and listen to Pinedale

residents openly plead ignorance about ongoing

local events and the Pinedale Town

Council’s zone change process. It was even

more difficult to listen to them insist that

months, maybe even years, of planning

should come to a grinding halt because they

chose not to be informed.

I had an uncle with Down’s syndrome.

With an IQ of about 70, he lived in a group

home and worked full time. He was considered

“stupid” – by definition that means

lacking intelligence or common sense. He

also lacked the ability to learn but still had a

happy and productive life.

I will never call anyone stupid as an insult,

because it is not insulting. Instead, it is

a statement of fact.

Then there is the term “ignorant” – by

definition that means lacking knowledge or

awareness. Ignorant is an insult.

In this day, there is so much knowledge

available to everyone. Public education is

free. The telephone in today’s world has

more computing power than the first three

computers I owned combined.

Whether it’s from a device, free libraries,

newspapers, local classes or active participation

in our community, there are always

opportunities to learn and be active in our


With so much available information, to

be ignorant is a choice. It means a person

chooses to avoid information and knowledge.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “A well-informed

electorate is a prerequisite to democracy.”

He also said apathy will be the

death of democracy.

My weeks of frustration were brightened

last week with a ray of hope from students

who chose to get involved in what must

have been an intimidating atmosphere.

A group of Pinedale Middle School students,

Big Piney High School students and

Kemmerer High School students showed

poise and knowledge of political processes

as they appeared before the Wyoming Legislature’s

Joint Revenue Committee and

testified about the risks and dangers of electronic

nicotine devices.

It wasn’t just testifying. They had studied

in advance and knew the correct procedures

in addressing the chairman. They knew to

keep it short so every word mattered, was

relevant and on point. Then the hard part;

they very knowledgeably answered questions

from the committee members.

The students were followed by testimony

from paid lobbyists representing major

corporations involved in the cigarette and

ENDs industries.

I have to say the students’ testimony

probably carried more weight than that

given by paid lobbyists.

I’m very proud these students cared

enough to speak, took time to study their

facts and the issues, cared enough to become

familiar with the lawmaking process.

I hope they continue to stay involved because

a little care and attention can make a

lot of change. More importantly, it can save

our democracy.

Holly Dabb can be reached at

[email protected]