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Put your money where your mouth is

Being the local reporter, many people openly share their opinions with me, both negative and positive, on their experiences in the area.

Opinions on schools, the roads, the weather, recreation needs, city services, law enforcement, you name it.

I have had the opportunity to live and visit many places both in this country and around the world. I have seen lovely cities and shabby ones, amazing facilities and infrastructure and those that are run down, strong police presence and none at all. But the one thing that was common was the residents’ commitment to that outcome.

Like anything else in life it’s all about priorities and whether you choose to be proactive or reactive.

After we left Portola, we moved to the Rocklin-Roseville area of Placer County, and following that to a similarly demographic suburb outside of Indianapolis. Both areas had fantastic schools, great fire and police departments, outstanding recreation programs, thriving businesses, and quality infrastructure. Not to say we didn’t have potholes or other nuisances that needed to be handled or the desire of even more services, but those things were usually taken care of as they became the priority.

That being said, it all takes money. Those areas have a significantly larger population than we have in our area and the median income range is also higher, but that is not the only reason.

I have seen towns in the Midwest, smaller than Portola, farther from a major town, like Reno, with beautiful parks, completely mind blowing sports and performing arts facilities at the local school, big fire stations and incentives to attract new businesses.

I have been to two countries in South America. And amidst areas of what we would consider horrible living conditions, the home sites were clean and tidy. Every child was involved in sport or recreation programs, there were highly developed public transit systems and law enforcement was visible.

So I am not convinced that the demographic profile completely dictate the ability to provide a high level of available services as some here would like to state.

I truly think it is all about

Priorities — and not just the priorities of those in governmental power. We as residents have to prioritize and actively pursue those priorities.

Recently a very active community member made the comment to me, “We are great at raising money for taking care of the animals here, but what about the children?”

While the animal people may have need for more, these pages weekly share the challenges faced in our schools, our sheriff’s office, our fire departments, and our towns.

While my nature is not to share challenges without a solution, the only solution I see is to find ways to fund these programs. Many local agencies are doing outstanding jobs at finding grants to support some of the needs. Generous donors are providing funds to help the efforts along, but those things are not consistent or plentiful enough to meet every need or prepare for the growing population trend we are beginning to see in Eastern Plumas County.

As I reach back and do further comparison to the last two cities I lived in, those priorities that took the form of the services I hear so many locals say they desire, were paid for along with my property taxes. District assessments, bonds and other items the voters sought and approved as priorities for the area.

While, I am not one that supports senseless new taxes and governmental waste, I do think we need to find ways to prioritize and subsequently fund the services needed and desired countywide.

So, with many elections around the corner in 2016, it is time to get up, get busy and get involved in making things happen rather than sitting back and complaining about what we “don’t have.” Take stock of what we do and then prioritize those needs and fund them to make them happen.

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