For these things, and more

It is Thanksgiving, occurring this year in decidedly unsettled circumstances. The economy is in tatters and likely to spiral downward before it gets better. The crisis is worldwide, but is felt in out-of-the-way places like Pagosa Country where local fortunes are inextricably linked to those in distant places. What with widespread anxiety and distress, some might find it difficult this year to find a lot to be thankful for.

It is cliché to note one should be thankful if they are with friends and family, if their health and the health of loved ones is sound. This should be enough, but often it is not.

So, let’s note a few other things for which we can be thankful.

There are some among us who despair over political conditions, at all levels, but there are things to be thankful for in Pagosa Country. Most notable is government that, despite its often perilous turns, is capable of change and, on occasion, of producing quality leaders who produce benefits for constituents.

Recently, Pagosans were notified they will benefit from able leadership provided by the Salazar brothers. U.S. Senator Ken Salazar recently played a major role in securing substantial, unexpected monies for Archuleta County and the local school district. As part of an “Economic Stabilization Act,” the county will receive full funding from the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program for fiscal years 2008-2012 — monies technically due, but not expected; funds greatly needed and appreciated in light of an unprecedented financial crisis. Archuleta School District 50 Joint will receive as much as $450,000 per year in unanticipated revenues between 2009 and 2012 — dollars that will come in handy in recharging reserves. In times like these, we can be thankful for these blessings.

Those of us who care about wise environmental stewardship (while at the same time advocating creative and accountable economic development) can be thankful for two things.

First, the county is moving to tighten regulations for oil and gas drilling operations, with possible impact fees also on the way for the industry. With growth in the industry almost assured, this is a good move. Second, we should give thanks the U.S. Forest Service has put the Wolf Creek Access Environmental Impact Statement on hold until developers of the proposed Village at Wolf Creek submit new or amended applications. While an argument can be made for private property rights and the right to engage in a profit-making development venture, there must be a balance struck between that motive and reasonable regulations and restraints put on growth by government — by the people. That there are indications the developers of this proposed project might scale back plans from the original is also good news, worthy of thanks.

Finally, we can be thankful for a community of concerned citizens here in Pagosa. This concern was in evidence during the recent Thanksgiving Operation Helping Hand activities, and will continue as the community, via Helping Hand and a variety of other, associated local programs prepare to help neighbors in need during the remainder of the holiday season. There are more Pagosans each day facing uncertain and sometimes stressful conditions. No one has a clear answer as to when things will be less worrisome, less of a strain. We are blessed as a community to have concrete efforts made to ease the pressure, to help others through difficult times.

Those in need can still apply for Christmas assistance from Operation Helping Hand until Dec. 4, at the Department of Human Services.

Those wanting to help can make donations to Operation Helping Hand or assist through associated programs should see The SUN and The PREVIEW in coming weeks for details.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and be heartened by these things and more.

Karl Isberg