Monday, January 09, 2006

Column 65 - The Case for Optimism

The Case for Optimism

New Years is supposed to be a time of optimism – we look back over the past year’s successes and failures, and look forward to a better year to come based on what we learned from the year just ended. Some years optimism is more of a challenge than others, but we do our best.

One thing we can learn from 05, I think, is to appreciate the individuals who step up to make the community a better place. In 2005 we lost Jack Cooke and Harold Tiller, to name two without whom Incline would have been infinitely poorer. Hopefully 2006 will see others step up to the plate of the level of selfless community service that these two embodied, and our town will be the richer for it.

In 2005 we saw what I like to think was the end of the myth of apathy in Incline. At the Incline Vision Town Meeting in November 300 people from all sectors of the community turned out on a holiday weekend to create the future of Incline Village/Crystal Bay, and then followed through on that by participating in task forces to make that vision a reality. In 2006 we can look forward to that work moving forward and to all of us having the opportunity to shape the future of our community.

2005 saw what I think is a real turnaround in how TRPA relates to its constituents around the lake. The agency still has its problems and its glitches, but Executive Director John Singlaub has made an outstanding start toward changing the culture of TRPA – culture change is gradual and takes time, but as one who held no brief for TRPA over the years I am optimistic that we will see major fruits of John’s efforts in 2006, so I’m optimistic.

This past year saw the IVGID Board and staff take on some tough issues including bringing the golf course professional staff up to the level of our new golf course, dealing with use of the courses during the off-season, taking steps to create a new cross-country ski area, and an awful lot more that the community barely notices, but without which we would not have the smooth-running infrastructure that makes living here much so great. IVGID Board Chair Gene Brockman and Executive Director Bill Horn have shown that they are more committed to learning and progressing than they are to being right about their positions, a marked contrast to some of the Board Chairs and ED’s I’ve seen since I moved here, and that makes me more than optimistic about 2006.

I had the pleasure during 2005 of interacting with the We the People program at Incline High School and seeing first hand what Milt Hyams and his team have been doing that has had them in national competition year after year, and it gave me great hope and pride in our Incline schools. As long as we have teachers like Milt and programs like We the People, I’m optimistic about 2006 and beyond.

Also this year, though it’s not something I care to do a lot of, I got to experience at close range the services of our local hospital and its nurses and doctors, another cause to be optimistic about 2006.

Our local safety services – the Washoe County Sheriff’s substation and the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District were tested in 2005 as they are every year, and the NLTFPD came under yet another siege by those who can’t see beyond the dollar signs, but we would be a much poorer community without the work of Greg Lubbe, Jim Linardos and their teams. With safety and protection like this, how could we not be optimistic about 2006?

And finally, since I write these columns as a volunteer, I’m free to give Mary Jurkonis, Erin Roth, and the Bonanza a pat on the back for being one of the outstanding community newspapers. Mary won a Jefferson Award in 2005, and it was well-deserved. Adlai Stevenson said “The free press is the mother of all our liberties and of our progress under liberty,” and with a paper like the Bonanza, we have reason to be both proud and optimistic.

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