Recent events brought out the best – and unfortunately, some of the worst – in Grant County.
On the positive side, hundreds of people packed Trowbridge Pavilion last Saturday night to support Mt. Vernon Mayor Susan Horn, who is fighting brain cancer. The event featured a silent auction packed with items donated willingly by business owners and individuals; the bidding was generous and the donations rolled in.
The scene was emblematic of the way county residents – young and old – share the good times and bad, and support one another with rockjack solidarity. Many in the room came with strong connections – they were relatives, neighbors, co-workers – but everyone was welcomed, and everyone showed they care.
It was the kind of event that makes people proud of the community and glad to live here.
On the flip side, a bicycle touring group encountered a less sanguine face of Grant County earlier this month. To be fair, many residents and businesses welcomed the riders, but a few local folks took it on themselves to harangue and harass the riders, in some cases putting them in danger. It was not the warmest welcome, and certainly not the finest representation of our residents.
As cycling advocate Mike Cosgrove noted in this week’s Eagle, many drivers are angered by groups of cyclists on the highways – and he concedes some riders don’t help by doubling up or riding in the traffic lanes. But there are efforts under way to resolve the conflicts in a proactive, non-violent way.
In the meantime, a 55 mph temper tantrum won’t resolve any driver’s frustrations, but it surely will reflect poorly on the rest of us. If it puts a damper on cycling tourism in the county, that will harm local businesses that could use a few more tourist dollars to stay out of the red.
As August wanes, we could stand to think about these two faces of Grant County and decide which one we want the world to know. Which values we will support, celebrate and reinforce? What will be our hallmark in Grant County – the mean-spirited actions of a few or the sincere efforts by so many to help their neighbors and solve our community’s problems, with open hearts and minds? It shouldn’t be a tough choice. – SC