Larry Banman: The right stuff to thrive in Kremmling
Kremmling, CO Colorado
I had lived in Kremmling for about two months. In that time, my family and I had experienced a morning temperature of 62 degrees below zero. The pipes to our house (both incoming and outgoing) had frozen, the vinyl on the seats in my Chevrolet Citation snapped one morning when I got in the car, and all roads out of town were closed one night. I had been told about annual mosquito hordes and had not yet experienced a cool summer evening or the splendor of the fall colors.
And yet, I was hooked. During the month of February 1989 I realized that I had found a place to call home. I was raised in a small rural community in Kansas so was somewhat predisposed to finding something that was similar. Since I left Kansas in 1974, I had been on somewhat of an educational/vocational sojourn. My jobs or school experiences generally lasted about three years as I traveled from Kansas to Missouri to Nebraska to Washington and finally to California. My last stopping point prior to Kremmling had been Gerber, Calif. I had a wife, two small daughters and absolutely no hope of ever accumulating enough money to put a downpayment on a house.
When we arrived in Kremmling, the town was rising out of economic doldrums. Then, as now, there was talk about the town being a bedroom community to supply labor for surrounding resort areas. Agriculture and mining were staples in the local scene, but those industries were constantly changing as technology changes and the economy shifted to a global scale. The local airport is still recognized one of the finest and most accessible in this portion of the state.
Since that February day, it has intrigued me to watch what seems to attract people to Kremmling but, more significantly, what makes them stay. As the former editor of the local paper, I have interviewed hundreds of people and almost always talked about what brought them to Kremmling. That list includes medical professionals, government workers, business owners, people in the field of education and people whose families have been here for generations.
One of the reasons most cited for moving to Kremmling was the abundance of outdoor activities. Fishing, hunting, biking, hiking, skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing are all present in spades. Some of those activities can start from a person’s back porch. “I love the outdoors” was repeated time and again.
To be blunt, the reality is that the vast majority of those people no longer live here. I don’t know what it is about those activities, because I do very little of any of them and excel at none of them, but they apparently don’t hold the allure that was anticipated.
I realize that generalizations are always dangerous and they come with exceptions. In the roles that I have adopted within the community, I have seen numerous people come and go. I have heard their reasons for leaving. Some reasons are based upon family dynamics and economic reality. Medical concerns dictate many of those decisions. Some of what seems to cause people to move is perceived opportunity, or the lack thereof. More than once I have heard the “there is nothing to do” or “I was never accepted in the community” excuses.
The weather is often blamed for the increasingly transient nature of our population. I like to cite the example of the Ute Indians. There is a reason archaeologists have found precious few signs of early year-round habitation in this area. The Utes were smart enough to leave when winter started.
I realize I may be walking on thin ice in this area because I am a relative newcomer to the area. I live here year-round now, but I can see retiring someday in another locale so I can be closer to kids and grandchildren or to return to my beloved home state of Kansas. That being said, I think I know of at least one common thread that characterizes the people who stay here and call this home.
You have to have an independent streak. If you depend upon others to entertain you, to get you involved, to flatter you, to stroke your ego, to make sure you are self-actualized, you may still be waiting. It isn’t that people don’t care or are mean, it’s more like this community expects you to pull your own weight. If you want something done, you better be ready to roll up your shirtsleeves. It’s a place where dirt under your fingernails is a good thing and portrays a positive image.
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