Friday, September 28, 2007

In the same lifeboat

The Castle Rock Fire demonstrated how strongly connected communities are in the Wood River Valley, both geographically and economically. Even though the cities have different names and different personalities, all inhabit the same lifeboat.

Not only did the fire damage businesses up and down the valley when it turned off the spigot that delivers tourist dollars, it disrupted workers and their families.

The threat to Ketchum was a threat to all. Fire coordinators knew that unhindered, the fire could have traveled to Hailey, Sun Valley or points north.

Threats to the north valley economy work the same way: A threat to the north is a threat to the south.

The lack of affordable community workforce housing is one of today's major threats to the local economy. It's left jobs going begging, businesses struggling and workers juggling to make ends meet.

Nonetheless, Hailey Mayor Susan McBryant asked a question last week that she's asked before: "Do we (Hailey) need to provide affordable housing for the entire valley?"

The answer: Maybe. And so what if it does? No one in their right mind would ask whether the north county should provide jobs for people who live in the south county.

Valley leaders need to break down community barriers, not build them. In a valley this small, it's crazy to act as though the cities exist on separate planets.

Local elections are coming up fast. Voters should look for candidates who will unite the valley, not foolishly divide it.

Housing is everyone's problem, and it will take everyone to solve it.

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