Today, the 18th of May is Saturday. Additionally it is the day of the Annual Elks Roundup Parade. It's a rite of Spring in Kellogg, and rain or shine, it is a signal that Summer is right around the corner. Today I, and a few of my golfers got to ride on a firetruck to celebrate and recognize our recent State 3A Championship, Kaceelyn Pouttu's 4th consecutive Individual Title, and our boys had a pretty successful season too. I'd like to thank the Fire Dept. and Chief Dale Costa for letting our teams ride on a firetruck in the parade. We were honored to get to do that. Nonetheless, the whole parade experience, as well as walking through uptown Kellogg before and after the parade, really got me thinking.
Now, before I start, I need to establish a few things. I'm not judging anyone in this post, but merely making some observations. I have friends and family all over Kellogg and the Silver Valley. Ultimately I realize that behind every situation is a person or group of people that are most likely doing the best they can with the limited resources available. Also, I know the economy is in the tank, and I know the economy in the Silver Valley is even worse. Regardless, there are a few things that really give me concern regarding my home town.
As I walked up McKinley and then Main St. before the parade today, I was really taken aback at the amount of debris, weeds, and junk that lined the streets. It was really obvious and a tad embarrassing actually. Now, remember, my post is not meant to be judgmental, as I know city resources are surely limited. But would it be overly difficult for each business owner uptown to take a push broom and spruce up the street in front of their business(es) and maybe even get the adjacent spots as well? Some business even had huge chunks of metal and wood right out on the main sidewalk in front of their storefronts. Again, not judging, as I probably don't know the circumstances, but if everybody chipped in a little bit of work, it would go a long way.
The next thing that struck me was how unsightly the empty storefronts on Main and McKinley were. Yes, I know the economy is not good. I know sustaining a successful, profitable business is difficult now days. But do the owners of these buildings even care anymore? I understand times are tough, and finding businesses to rent/lease is as difficult as it has ever been, but I think if you own a building, regardless of whether or not it is occupied, you should be responsible for keeping it clean and attractive looking. Peeling paint, grimy, cracked windows, weeds, and dilapidated storefronts are such an eyesore. Again, it's not only embarrassing, but also a primary reason for not attracting businesses to the uptown area. It seems like there are plenty of codes, ordinances, and requirements for everything else, but are these building owners required to maintain a certain level of condition? Can't we do better?
The next thing I noticed was the attendance and participation at the City Park at the end of the parade. No the weather wasn't perfect, rather it was cool, and a little wet. But the atmosphere was not very festive, at least in my opinion. Nothing made me want to get my family and stay and enjoy the festivities. On another note, I realize that there were other events happening in the Silver Valley, such as a Shriner's ATV Benefit Ride. That's great, but couldn't these events be coordinated better so people could participate in both? Maybe not, and no I don't want to volunteer to address this issue. But I'd highly recommend people take a trip East about 12 miles on I90 and check out tiny Wallace Idaho. Same economy, less people, but the streets are clean, buildings are attractive, atmosphere is welcoming, and when they have an event, it is always well done and well attended. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit envious of their ability to do these things.
I've lived in this great town my whole life. I certainly don't have all the answers. I also realize that times are tough. But as I drive around I can't help but wonder, "can't we do better?" and "don't we want better for our town?" I know the economy is never going to be the way it was during the Bunker Hill days, but I believe things can improve. People are tired and worn out. I know there is a group that is actively trying to address a lot of these issues to attract businesses to Kellogg. I also realize that Silver Mountain is once again for sale. Who knows what will mean. And yes, my place of employment is asking for another facilities levy, to hopefully address similar issues throughout our buildings and grounds. I know people are already sacrificing and paying more taxes as these areas increase in need. There are so many challenges around us, the tasks seem all but impossible. But I think that if people would work together, instead of tearing each other apart online, and people would stop finding axes to grind around every decision, event, and election, things would improve.
Things may not begin to thrive immediately, but cleaning up and sprucing things up could go a long way in restoring some pride and even new businesses in the area. But then again, maybe not. Maybe things are as good as they are going to get. Personally, I'm proud to get to live here, where I grew up, but it hurts to see such struggle everywhere. I would like to see things improve, and why not start with the little things?