By now you've probably heard that our community made the pages of the Sacramento Bee last weekend.
There were several things that I found disturbing about the article, starting with the description of Del Norte County. It said that Del Norte County is known for "illicit drugs, salmon fishing and the feared Pelican Bay State Prison."
Really? Is that the top three? I can understand the fishing and prison references, but the illicit drugs? I am not naandiuml;ve to think that illicit drugs aren't a problem here, but is that really how we define our community?
Having been born and raised here I have seen some of the very best
and worst that this community has to offer. Several years ago after
graduating from college my wife and I had to make a decision on where we
wanted to raise our children. We made the decision to move back to
Crescent City and raise our kids, not because there were no other
options as we both had job offers in another city, but because we wanted
our kids be a part of this community.
I understand that Del Norte County has its share of challenges. Drug
abuse, alcoholism, domestic violence, and gambling addictions all take
their toll on our community. But to me, this community is defined by the
people and their acts of kindness that I continue to witness and hear
about time and time again.
It is defined by people like Davy Crockett, who volunteered his own
time and equipment to help clean Crescent City up after the 1964 tsunami
destroyed downtown, reducing the amount of time it took to reopen many
downtown businesses like my family's.
It is defined by the wonderful group of volunteers that gather every
Wednesday evening at the Foursquare Church, providing a hot meal for the
children of this community, as well as food for their soul.
It is defined by people like Karen Ortman and Dawna Bradley who
continue to show up every Thursday to provide local boys the opportunity
to experience the moral, mental and physical growth that Cub Scouts
offers, despite the fact that their own children have long passed the
age for scouting.
And it is defined by people like my son's basketball coach, who
purchased a pair of shoes with his own funds for one of his players, not
because he thought it would make him play better, but simply because he
recognized the kid needed new shoes.
I could go on and on. These are the stories that define this
community for me. Are we going to allow our community to be defined by
our problems, or rather by how we choose to deal with our problems? I
would certainly hope that you chose the latter.
The past weekend offered us the perfect time to start to change the
image that now taints our community. The Jaycees basketball tournament
was in town, a wonderful event that I still remember participating in
during my youth. The event stresses teamwork and sportsmanship and with
more than 50 teams from out of the area, along with all of the
supporting family and friends, each person coming here had the chance to
leave town with a positive impression of our community.
So make sure that you represent the best that you have to offer to
Del Norte's visitors. If we can continue to make positive impressions on
those that we come in contact with then we will eventually start to be
recognized outside of our community for the types of things that make us
proud to be a part of this community.
Rick Young is a Crescent City resident.