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You call them elitists, we call them neighbors

March 26, 2010
Ben Jenkins

Spring has sprung in Rugby, and, as last week's letter to the editor ("We need a solid commitment to...the 21st Century") shows, one strange birdie has survived the winter and emerged with all its plumage on display. This bird isn't the Robin or Meadow Lark, but the "Town Scold". Birdwatchers will easily recognize this noisy animal by its self-important strut and a distinctive warble that sounds like Coke bottles running through a garbage disposal. Like Chicken Little, it cries: "The sky is falling!" But don't believe it just yet.

Among the many, many faults the letter-writer finds with Rugby is our community's lack of leadership for "the 21st century." According to the Town Scold, we simple North Dakotans just can't seem to get anything right around here. Does he have a point? After all, Rugby isn't perfect. We'd all like to see "21st century" projects come to our community.

But we already have, haven't we? High-tech infrastructure came to town last summer with fiber-optic connectivity, for example. And green energy projects such as our area windmills are a step beyond many communities nationwide. The Town Scold believes (like the National Geographic article of last year) that Rugby, and our North Dakota towns, are sunk in graft, disintegration and ruin. Quite the contrary.

Further, the Town Scold alerts us to a panicked mass exodus of citizens leaving Rugby. He says a quick look at the Tribune's classifieds will show "a large number" of houses for sale and "at least a dozen apartments" vacant. In fact, the March 20, 2010, Tribune classified ads feature two local houses for sale and a total of six local properties for rent. Should we panic yet?

Who does the Town Scold blame for Rugby's recent apocalypse? It seems "the Rugby elitists" are at fault. Who are they? He doesn't say.

One silly example he gives is that the city and county rent offices for their law enforcement personnel.

Another perspective might suggest that these offices (which include ample space for 911 operators, interrogation rooms and evidence storage) indicate a bold "21st century" plan like the ones the Town Scold demands.

You see, with the Bureau of Criminal Investigations, the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, the Rugby Police, 911 Dispatchers, Parole and Probation and even the Border Patrol all working out of the same area, these organizations are able to pool their resources and information and to respond with increased thoroughness and rapidity to our community's needs. Many thanks to, among others, Chief Coca, Craig Zachmeier, and Sheriff Matt Lunde for all they do on our behalf. I would call that "21st century leadership".

What about the "elitist" leaders, though? The truth is that in Rugby we have many community leaders-the Lions Club, the Eagles, the Sons of Norway, the Chamber of Commerce, judges, attorneys, HAMC board members, library supporters, school board members, pastors, priests, music boosters, firefighters, County Commissioners, the City Council, charitable givers, teachers, parents-far too many people to mention. The fact is, MOST of us have taken or will take part in the governance and operation of Rugby and Pierce County government and/or community organizations.

Note to the Town Scold: We don't call our leaders "elitists", we call them our neighbors, and we're grateful for them.

Jenkins is a

Rugby resident.

 
 

 

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