Why do we live in Winters?
Why do we live in Winters? A cascade of thoughts and reasons come to my mind when I consider that question. Even in a diverse community most of us share some very core values. We want to feel secure; we want a sense of belonging; we want a place to safely raise happy children; we want a job that affords us a decent living; we want affordable housing; we want a quiet place to which we can retire and we want a place to worship.
More often than not, the benefits of our small, rural community far outweigh the challenges. We are able to send our children to a school that is safe and has strong traditions. It is not uncommon for a child to have the same teacher or principal that one of their parents had. These educators are often long time members of the community dedicated to our youth.
Law enforcement in Winters works tirelessly keeping us safe. These officers live beside us making the choice to raise their own families here. The fire department is made up of volunteers who have given years of their time being available 24 hours a day. They are not compensated. They have seen things civilians probably should not have had to see. They do it because they care.
An appointment with a physician is most likely obtained the same day it is needed. The clinic is staffed with professionals who are compassionate and competent. A trip to the local hospital for bloodwork, x-rays and a number of other tests is a pleasant in and out experience often accomplished in less than 30 minutes.
Most of us drive less than 10 minutes to work. We are greeted at the coffee shops and burrito stands by people we know who are genuinely glad to see us. At lunch the wait staff is likely to know what you are going to order as soon as they see you.
Our neighbors rejoice with us when there is a new life on the way, walk with us when we grieve a loss and celebrate with us during all the in between. Graduations, Quinceanera celebrations, athletic events, stock shows, family reunions, hunting and farming fill our calendars.
For all of the grace I am also acutely aware of the challenges. Rural communities often have aging infrastructures and a static tax base. Taxing entities often make difficult choices with limited resources. It is important to have as much community input as possible when it is time to prioritize. City councils, school boards, hospital and water districts all should represent the goals and priorities of the citizens. Responsibility goes hand in hand with that representation. The taxing entities don’t define the community-the citizens do. Please consider sitting on a board or committee. Contribute in open meeting, and volunteer your time to community events. Attend council and board meetings, vote at every election. Educate yourself on how your local government works. Constructive input and civic participation is vital to the success of our community. Criticism for the sake of criticism is not simply unhelpful but is corrosive.
I am blessed to live here. I am open to ideas for progress and improvement. Thank you to all of you who do things big and small that make this the place we call home.