Sensible, not sexy

Aug 11, 2013 By Steven R. Peck

The first project to be funded by the 1 percent sales tax meet basic community needs

Less than one year after Fremont County voters agreed to impose an additional 1 percent sales tax on themselves, the spending is about to begin.

Don't expect anything showy.

At the county level, the first project to make use of the 1 percent money won't be a four-lane tunnel underneath South Pass or a cloverleaf exit ramp for the Wind River Casino.

No, we are going to be fixing a stretch of road that runs to a rest area.

And the first road infrastructure project in Riverton designated for funding through the tax is a comprehensive project to repair potholes, crumbling gutters and broken curbs.

Other municipalities and future county governments are choosing infrastructure projects with a similar lack of "sexiness."

Good thinking.

Speaking purely anecdotally, these types of projects would seem to be a smart move for local governments, as the implementation of the 1 percent fund begins to take shape.

Our letters to the editor columns through the years have been peppered with citizen complaints about potholes and their unwelcome cousins in the curbs and gutters.

Another favorite reader topic is snow removal on city streets or county roads. In the eyes of the public, there often seems to be something lacking in that area.

Ordinary citizens care a lot about the condition of the roadways, and they give high priority to road maintenance and repair. Many times the letters have followed a similar theme, namely, "How come the city can afford to spend money on - fill in the blank - but can't even afford to fix the potholes?"

Now the city, whichever one it might be, can afford to do just that, and it is going to.

Coming to a pothole near you: a repair crew and an asphalt truck.

There are some high-dollar, high-profile, high-concept projects taking shape in other areas. Think of the new Lander Community Center and the Central Wyoming College Health/Science Center. That ought to satisfy our craving for glitz. Meanwhile, we'll shore up the streets too.

We wonder, however, if residents might almost come to miss those unexpected gouges in the pavement that rattle our teeth and test our shock absorbers. Might we find ourselves suffering from the "Nixon Syndrome"?

In 1962, after he had just lost the California governor's race two years after being on the losing side in the presidential election, Richard Nixon spoke bitterly to the California news media.

Continuing on the theme that the press had been against him from the start, Nixon suggested sarcastically that the reporters he despised apparently got their wish, and they might end up being disappointed. In one of the famous lines from American politics, Nixon said, "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore."

So, after the pitted roads are smoothed, the potholes filled, the gutters restored, and the curbs mended, let us all fight the Nixon Syndrome. We will need to find something new to complain about, because, at least for a while, we won't have the potholes to kick around anymore.

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