High Desert Hoofbeats: Dec. 19, 2019

high desert hoofbeats
 “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a classic Christmas movie, filmed in 1946. Directed by the legendary Frank Capra, it starred James Stewart and Gloria Grahame. Public domain photo

We all struggle with having to take time out of our lives when we’d rather be doing something else.

That theme was apparent as I watched the famed Christmas movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” last evening. At every juncture when George Bailey wanted to do something he wanted to do—take a tour of Europe or go to college or remain a bachelor—life handed him cards that he didn’t want to play. However, in the universal scope of “what is best,” the hand he received was the perfect hand. For if he’d not lived his life in the way that he did, the world around him would have been very different, and possibly things would have turned for the worse.

Our community is facing some big transitions right now. Some ways of doing business are changing. Some people are changing jobs, while others are retiring. These folks have all contributed valuable assets to help with how our busy little town is gaining the global spotlight.

The change of government movement in Grand County has been an uncomfortable episode for what is going on two years. What started as a bill in our state’s house of representatives has made it so that our current seven-member commission is not legal. It divided our community, caused distrust and ill will. It cost time and energy that might have been better spent on pressing budgetary and growth issues.

Be that as it may, we now have the second iteration of a proposal that voters can weigh in on (hopefully) next year. In the long run, it may be better than the form of government that our populace has continued to endorse for years and years. One can only hope…

Amidst this turmoil, longtime county council administrator Ruth Dillon announced she would be retiring. I applaud her for that. She has been a steady hand at the county courthouse, transparent, upbeat and competent. I hate to see her go, but she deserves a break. I’m sure there have been many times over the years when Ruth has wanted to be doing something else.

We learned this week that Chris Baird, who has worn many hats around the courthouse from council member to clerk, has been selected to take Dillon’s place. Although he’s officially been our uncontested clerk/auditor for less than a year, it seems he’d rather be doing something else. He’d rather be the council administrator. After all, the job pays more and it delves into the myriad facets of how our local government runs.

The county is plagued with daunting challenges right now, mainly fiscal. Baird has the savvy and time to do the job justice, but I have to admit that I’m curious about the dozens of other applicants that were passed over. Maybe it’s in the cards for one of them to be our clerk/auditor down the road.

Over at the Park Service, Kate Cannon has announced her retirement as superintendent of the southeast group of parks and monuments. Good on Kate. She’s got to be worn out from seeing the ever-escalating tourist numbers—especially at Arches—and trying to protect our beloved natural jewels from being loved to death.

She’s spent untold hours conniving ways to spread the love, devising traffic plans and reservation ideas that have been met with the consternation of business interests. She’s been in the hot seat in person, directing traffic on busy weekends and getting in the trenches to help her staff and inform the public. The challenges are great. While it may come as a disappointment that her plan for mitigating traffic and parking jams has not been adopted, she must know that it is paving the way for a future system that does handle the hordes while preserving the magic of our natural wonders.

I’m sure there have been many times over the years when Kate and others like her would have rather been doing something else. But their absence would have made for a lesser community. I hope her knowledge and passion will help to guide what unfolds on the lands that have made Moab such a fun and famous destination.

Elected and appointed officials may look at their careers and wonder if it has been worth it. Moab’s popularity has caused exasperation among so many of us who live here, whether it be land managers, county managers, or small business managers and their employees. I’ve got to believe that each one of us has played an important role in how our community chugs along, even if there have been times when we would rather have been doing something else.