Pilot Guest Editorial

Thursday, May 29, 2003

An opportune moment for SL

Storm Lake "City Beautiful" and Buena Vista County (small towns and Ag Business Central) is where I grew up on a family farm production business. I was small town educated and I am proud of these facts.

I grew up in the 1970s when the agriculture economy was exceptionally good - commodity prices were good, land values stable and strong, inflation was becoming a problem. In the 1980s when I came out of college the ag economy was exceptionally tough - commodity prices poor, land values weakened and decreased, deflation was a problem.

Today the ag economy for all of its ups and downs is fairly good and stable. Guarded optimism is the norm. Storm Lake has seen some retailers come and go - lost a major employer in Hygrade and regained a major employer in IBP, now Tyson Foods, and overall has done well.

I see Storm Lake and B.V. County at a crossroads today with so much potential in creating more career and job opportunities and overall quality of life. It has a family- friendly community atmosphere for all generations and stages of life.

With the proposed state park systems new for Storm Lake as a statewide and area tourist and weekend vacation attraction including the campgrounds, the walkway around the lake, and possibly the Harbor House and Cobblestone facilities with new landscaping and remodeling, you put Storm Lake on the state map in a big way.

The community assets of having a vibrant and strong downtown, excellent selection of churches, a first rate regional medical center with a new Women's Health Center and many medical specialists, along with B.V. University's first-rate science and business facilities. are more than most countyseat towns can boast statewide already. Storm Lake is underrated for its excellent newspapers, banks and financial institutions, agribusiness, retail and recreational facilities.

Storm Lake is a town and community in a positive progressive growth stage but it needs young people to keep stepping forward, participating and serving and taking leadership responsibilities for short periods of time, giving more of the long-time leaders a break and chance to catch their breath and to support new leaders as they step back into their homes, family businesses and church activities.

The challenge for Storm Lake is to keep training, educating, helping young people gain leadership and responsibility skills as the town needs many hands and feet to continue the traditions of growth, cooperation, mutual respect and community development.

The young people who propose an indoor pool and waterworks, or Okoboji style recreation park, need to be heard and given a chance to process their ideas and dream projects to see which can be practical, feasible and agreeable to the majority of the community, and what the public will support on a consistent basis. All projects have a cost and need to be supported well to pay for themselves in a reasonable period of time.

In the 1980s where the economy was real tough, survival was the name of the game. Even on the farm all major projects stayed on the drawing board until the economics became favorable.

Today we have low interest rates, a steady but slow growing economy, people looking for work opportunities, conditions perfect for community planning and development efforts.

Seize the Day. Storm Lakers and B.V. County can be proud and full of self respect and self esteem. Folks recognize the problems, challenges and opportunities in a practical way and look for better ways and solutions to build their community.

We have American troops returning from successful military operations in liberating two countries from vicious dictatorship-type of oppressive governments.

Iraq and Afghanistan people have more opportunities and freedoms today than they've had in decades or centuries. Hopefully they can convert these new freedoms and opportunities into better quality homes, businesses, family and community life. We welcome our American heroes home and back into our communities. One of the best ways we can show our patriotism and American pride besides flying the flag, observing Memorial and Veterans Day, is to build better family-friendly and safe, progressive communities.

As we worship God on Sunday and enjoy our Saturday family day, we have five workdays to build and enjoy our communities and I am proud of hometowns of Newell and Storm Lake in B.V. County and the surrounding towns including Albert City, Alta, Sioux Rapids, and all the rest of your progressive, growth-ready, family-friendly attitudes.

Postscript - Storm Lake newspapers are very fortunate to have had guest opinion writers like retired pastor Clarence Richardson, former state senator Arne Waldstein, and a retired legislator and teacher, Russell Eddie. People such as these are local role models to me for their unselfish service to the communities of Storm Lake and the B.V. County area. Congratulations also to Chris Nolte for his efforts in building cooperation in the Storm Lake area for economic development. Here's hoping the new Chamber of Commerce/ SLADC director will continue the optimistic and progressive attitude.

Brad Smith is a resident of rural Storm Lake.