{OPED} Loose Ends: The Real West

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MEEKER | “Do you ever get over the blueness of the sky?” is a question that has been asked by more than a few visitors to our house over the years. Most of them are from another section of the country and used to seeing gunmetal grey over their heads. Those of us who have moved to the arid west never get over the quality and quality of blue sky. It is an ever present sight during every season of the year.

The word short timer was used more frequently in the boom days and applied to someone who moved to the community mainly for a job opportunity, but will move on eventually without investing in the community. These past few years the economy and loss of energy related jobs resulted more emphasis being part on promoting this area’s cultural tourism. Whether it be the special events offered throughout the year or the accessibility of the incredible scenery, the White River Valley still attracts a surprising number of newcomers each year.

Moving back to be closer to family in their hometown continues to draw some of the newcomers/old-timers. The family-run ranches and farms are still an important part of the economic health of the valley but quite a few of the original homesteads and acreage has been sold to big corporations so that most of the members of the entire extended family members seek employment off the ranch.

The masthead of the Meeker Herald always made me think about the struggles faced by the original founders of the community, as well as the owners of the newspaper in the late 1800s, the Lyttle family. “Tis a Privilege to Live Here” exhorted the Herald. While these days one will not find many folks who will ever openly admit that they believe that credo, quite a few do say that they are lucky to be able to stay here. Many choose to stay here over the years because they take can continue to take advantage of the a few outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking, fishing, hunting, cross-country skiing, or using their off-road vehicles.

The newest incarnation of the original Meeker Herald in the hands of the Turner family stands by this community, and their recent announcement of moving down the street back into the original building bodes well for the continued success of the Rio Blanco Herald Times. Congratulations to the Turners and the entire staff!

Dolly Viscardi

By DOLLY VISCARDI | Special to the HT