Mason County News
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Keeping Fences Mended
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 • Posted August 31, 2011

In his poem, "Mending Wall," poet Robert Frost noted that "Good fences make good neighbors." In our modern times, it would seem to be sage advice rather than an observation.In one part of the county, people fear another attempt to build power lines to carry wind energy to population centers of the state. In another, it is those same power generating windmills that are the issue. And, in several areas of the county, it is proposed sand plants that are causing concern.The various issues of the different parts of the county may be new; but, the idea behind the conflicts are age-old.Mason County suffered one of the bloodiest battles in the state when ethnic differences in how farming and ranching should be handled boiled over into a range war. The Germans liked the open range and pasture, while the Irish and English erected fences and partitioned the land.The expansion of the western frontier time and again saw conflicts between people with conflicting ideals. Cattle owners fought with farmers over the use of resources, and the way they should be shared. Actual wars were fought by communities that wanted water to be used for agricultural purposes while others wanted it for industrial or civic uses. Countries fight wars over control of natural resources, so why should it be surprising that neighbors would have disagreements of a similar nature?I am worried at current situations in Mason County. Some people have sold their land to various developers, or signed development contracts. Meanwhile, those folks who did not sell or sign agreements remain, worried about what will happen to their resources and their quality of life. Friction is inevitable.However, with the exception of folks who have taken their new-found income and moved elsewhere, most of us have to find a way to continue getting along. We still have to go to church together, still attend football games, still share duties with various fund-raising events.Politically, we've learned how to overlook our differences and find common ground. This situation requires even more of a "leap of faith" to get along, as the changes being wrought are more immediate and physical. Add to this tension the ongoing drought covering the entire state and many people find themselves already at a boiling point in their tempers.I don't have any perfect advice for how we are to do this. I would simply offer that we have to work as hard as we can to remain friends and neighbors. We know that we will not be able to agree on many of the issues; but, we know that we must do what we can to remain a community. That means putting aside our differences at times. It also means not allowing ourselves to become emotionally entangled in the outcome of these various situations, though that will be extremely difficult.One of the things that all of us are attempting to do, no matter what side we are on, is to survive. I would offer that survival is meaningless if we are all at each other's throats. We have to remember that we are family, neighbors and friends, and when the final decisions are made on these many issues, it is imperative that we still find the ability to maintain those relationships.

It’s all just my opinion.

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