Tough decisions lay ahead

By Deb McCaslin, Chief Publisher Not all decisions are easy. That’s a given. Some are even darn right tough. The community of Anselmo is facing one of those crossroads. The Andersons Corporation is building a major grain load-out facility on State Highway 2 east of the community. The land has recently been annexed and the company offers a welcome economic boom to the area, as well as an additional marketing venue for our local corn growers. Here’s the dilemma ... how to route the anticipated truck traffic, and there will be a lot of it, into the facility safely, and without creating a huge economic burden on all parties involved, including Anderson’s. Anderson’s anticipate that 80-90 percent of the grain trucks will journey in via Highway 2. The facility sits north of Highway 2, and north of the train tracks. Burlington Northern is hinting, in a not-too-subtle fashion, that they believe the crossing as it exists today will be dangerous. A truck simply cannot fit between the tracks and the stop sign. This is one of those situations where it is easy for someone sitting in a corporate headquarters somewhere else to say ... no problem, close the crossing. Not so easy. When a crossing is closed, does it make that section of track safer? ... Yes. When a crossing is closed does it make it easier for BNSF to care for that particular lay of the land? ... Yes. Does it make it quieter, (no whistles)? ... Yes. Is it more economical for the railroad, less maintenance? ... Yes. Do we as consumers have to acknowledge that a safety issue with crossing as it sits today? ... Yes, we do. Do we still have the right to want it to stay open, and be equally fearful of the consequences should close? ... Absolutely. In our neck of the woods, we live by north and south of the tracks. The train divides our towns and serves as a guide post. They forged their way through our countryside in 1887. The railroad predated the highway, not the other way around. When a crossing is blocked (notice I said blocked, not closed) we talk in terms of inconvenience and time delays. We talk about how scary it would be if the fire trucks, and or ambulance crews couldn’t reach our homes if they were isolated on the other side of the tracks. We also talk about the value of minutes when an emergency occurs. This crossing by the Anderson facility means a lot to the citizens of the greater Anselmo community. It’s their road to the cemetery. It hold the importance of time for the emergency responders. There are not a lot of other options. For the Andersons it means being able to fulfill a business plan when other options don’t exist ... alternate patterns send the truck traffic through town onto roads not built for the weight nor the breadth of what’s coming. In town, children ride their bikes, play ball and use the same passageways that the trucks would be forced to use if the crossing were closed. The talk continues. It will be interesting to see which prevails, the pocket book, the intellect or the negotiator. Rotary: members wanted: I’m a proud Rotarian. and have been for nye-on forever. OK for only around 15 years, it just feels like forever. I shed a quiet tear or two when the organization in Broken Bow folded a few years back. I wasn’t ready to let go, so I didn’t. I joined in Burwell, there are some fine folks over in those parts who were willing to let me in. I have to confess, it is a long way to travel so my attendance percentage is questionable at best, but that doesn’t mean I care about the organization any less. Rotary, to me, is a way to be interconnected with this little tiny world of ours. I believe in the motto ... “Service above self.” I believe in the mantra ... “Making a difference, one family, one child at a time.” The organization has given so much. Through Rotary and one of the organizations it sponsors, Alliance for Smiles, I’ve had the privilege of traveling overseas and walking down streets few tourists tend to trod. I’ve had the opportunity to place a child back into his mother’s arms after his cleft palette was repaired. I’ve seen the eyes of his family when they stare into his face and see a future. I’ve seen a teenager break into tears when they looked into a mirror for the first time after horrific scars of failed surgeries were tucked back in. I’ve been humbled by their humility, and given thanks repeatedly for living where we live, where drinking water and basic human rights are a given. Rotary is about making a difference. This next week, April 14 to be exact, some area Rotarians will be at Huckleberry’s Hideout at noon for lunch if you are hungry, and then again for a Business After Hours from 5-7 p.m. to share a few words about the organization, its projects and answer any questions. Please consider this an open invitation. For more information don’t hesitate to ask ... or Paul Stec at socpstec@gmail.