BETWEEN THE LINES - Is that the worst we can do?

Monday, November 26, 2001

I have to smile, Storm Lake. As I look around this season, the greatest controversy in our town seems to be whether our nice new road should be four lanes or three lanes.

The loudest debate in our City Hall is over how we will go about making safer and improved railroad crossings. The biggest philosophical struggle is whether our future pool and future rec center should happen together or separate. The hottest environmental subject is how we as a community will contribute to preservation of our beautiful lake. Over in Alta, the biggest challenge is deciding whether a progressive school addition should or should not have a gym along with it.

I'm not suggesting that these issues aren't hot stuff for those most directly involved, but I will say that if those are the best we can do for community controversy, Storm Lake is in pretty fortunate shape.

As issues and debates go, new roads, pools, rec centers, rail crossing improvements, dredging and school improvement are decent ones to have, as opposed to, say, racial hatred, pollution, rampant unemployment, neighborhood blight, and perhaps the very worst of them all - apathy.

Storm Lake has always been one to face its issues head on and in the open. Because we have dealt with many potential problems at a time when other towns were denying they existed, we took our image lumps, but we today have the advantage of debating largely win-win situations.

That doesn't mean that we don't have other problems. There is a need for more discussion in housing, how to diversify the job market and boost wages, and how to keep our downtown shopping village vibrant. Every one of those discussions is happening openly right now.

It is easy to get caught up in the noise of the debates, and forget that what we are looking at in every single one of the issues mentioned here is actually progress.

In disagreement, we simply have different shades of approaching the same goal - making Storm Lake the best community in which to grow up, raise a family, make a career, or retire.

If that's conflict and controversy, we'll take it.

We should appreciate the fact that if these are our problems, they are pretty good problems to have. They will keep us humble, keep us thinking, keep us talking - while other places are being ripped apart by uglier social issues they should have addressed years ago.

Sounds funny, but I think we should be quite thankful for the "problems" we have.