Can we meet?
Grand County, CO Colorado
Been to any meetings lately?
I don’t know about you but my February date planner looks like a doctor’s appointment book. I haven’t had a meeting-free Tuesday or Wednesday in a month, and I haven’t been attending even half the meetings that are going on out there.
The school crisis has inspired a tidal wave of meetings over the last three weeks … chamber meetings, business-leader meetings, special town board meetings, school board meetings, committees, workshops … you name it. Seems like everyone I talk to has meetings coming out of their ears.
Wherever I go, I hear of the restless husbands who are stuck at home every night watching the kids, wives who haven’t seen their awake husbands in a week, spouses catching up on their loved one’s latest quotes in the paper over coffee while their honey runs out the door … to yet ANOTHER meeting.
Maybe it’s the minus 40 degree temperatures, the perceived conflict, the lack of restful sleep, but never has a beach in Mexico sounded so appealing.
“Don’t let a good crisis go to waste.” That’s been the motto repeated by Winter Park Resort President Gary DeFrange at a number of recent meetings.
Without a doubt, it’s made interesting bedfellows of people I never thought I’d see agreeing to anything. It’s brought together roomfuls of people in unprecedented situations.
Case in point, Wednesday night brought together elected officials and managers of the East Grand Board of Education, Fraser, Winter Park, Granby, Hot Sulphur, Grand Lake and the county, plus involved parents, business community members, nonprofit leaders and chamber of commerce representatives.
As Granby Mayor Jynnifer Pierro told me, she’s known most of the people in that room forever and has been attending mayor-manager meetings for years where Grand County’s town leaders get together to compare notes, discuss plans and share ideas for working together. So, from her perspective, this kind of collaboration is nothing new.
The night before that, I attended a meeting between the towns of Fraser and Winter Park and the Winter Park/Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce at Winter Park Mountain Lodge.
This also wasn’t the first meeting of its kind. The two towns have been getting together at least once a year for maybe a decade to discuss sharing equipment, personnel and departments. Last year, Granby was brought into the fold with a shared building department and the rec district board has joined these meetings from time to time.
Tuesday’s meeting was on the agenda well before the whole school crisis floated to the surface, but the schools are the first topic of conversation at any meeting these days, and the Fraser Valley’s elected officials and business community leaders worked hard to reach a unified front this week … even though not every elected individual on those boards agrees on the ultimate solution to the problem.
The point is, Grand County towns have been working together for years, for better or worse. This school crisis will test those relationships, no doubt. But, the only way to get through this – whatever the ultimate solution – is to remember that West or East, lakes or rivers, trains or boats, skis or snowmobiles, condos or ranches, we are all part of one county. We have to help each other through this whole school thing … even if it doesn’t seem like “my” problem … it could be next time.
It’s been said over and over. Schools are the heart of any community. Good schools have the power to bring people in to the county and keep them here. Those people, in turn, support and build businesses. Successful businesses help towns improve their main streets.
“It’s an upward spiral,” Winter Park Council Member Jimmy Lahrman said.
So, if your calendar doesn’t already look like a doctor’s appointment book, go to one of these school meetings. They are happening from Kremmling to Winter Park, Grand Lake to Granby. Whatever your thoughts, the time to get involved is now.
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