Listen up city slickers
‘Code of the West’ offers tips on rural LIFE
By PAT MURPHY
Express Staff Writer
Add Blaine County to a growing list of Western
counties producing a pamphlet for residents with the catchy title "Code
of the West," which is a knockoff of novelist Zane Grey’s romantic
characterization of frontier life and hardy individualism in the untamed
But this pamphlet doesn’t deal with the cowboy
culture that Grey (1875-1939) celebrated in dozens of novels. Instead,
it discusses the nitty gritty of 21st century living in the West—or,
as the title page explains, "A Guide to Rural Living in Blaine
Blaine County Commission Chairman Dennis
Wright authored the local pamphlet as well as personally hand-stapling
the 12-page, 5 inch by 8 inch, cream-colored pamphlet.
Free copies are available at the Old Blaine
County Courthouse in Hailey. Wright also hopes to expand distribution
to real estate brokerage offices and perhaps to public libraries.
He is quick to credit the genesis of the
pamphlet to another Western county commissioner, John Clarke, of Larimer
County, Colo. In fact, Clark’s original idea has since spread to Gunnison
County, Colo.; Chelan County, Wash.; Gallatin County, Mont.; Franklin
County, Wash.; and Willow Creek, Albert, Canada. Each version has been
rewritten for local conditions.
Like most other versions, Wright’s Blaine
County "Code of the West" is designed to acquaint newcomers—especially
so-called former big city residents—with the vagaries of life outside
of cities in unincorporated areas where services are scantier and sometimes
"The message," Wright says, "is
to think before you buy. Be aware of what it would be like next to an
alfalfa field and the sound of sprinklers in the middle of the night."
Wright recalls in the pamphlet introduction
a Southern California couple who bought a home in Blaine County a half
mile from the end of pavement and four miles from town. When they discovered
the county didn’t plow snow all the way to their driveway, they sold
the home without moving in.
The pamphlet is divided by subjects: road
access, utilities, characteristics of property, Mother Nature, nearby
agriculture and required permits.
Typical of advice and cautions included in
Wright’s "Code of the West":
- County costs are kept down
by willingness of people to forgo some services that urban families
regard as necessities. "Rural counties survive on volunteerism."
- Parents may need to drive children
to school and not expect door-to-door bus service.
- Rural residents probably will need
to drill their own wells and install septic tanks in the absence of
- Noxious weeds are a landowner’s
responsibility and must be eradicated.
- Living near nature is idyllic, but
"wildlife you may encounter could wreak havoc on your lifestyle."
- Nearby farmers work long hours,
and their tractors and bailers, spray airplanes and herd animals can
be an unexpected experience.
As a final word, Wright writes:
"It is our sincere hope that your choice
to live in Blaine County will be a positive experience. We want people
to read this and then question their expectations and ask again of themselves
if this is the life they want to live."
He also recommends that newcomers learn about
the area’s historic and early settlers by reading materials available
at the Hailey and Ketchum libraries, the Bellevue Historical Society
and Blaine County Museum.