Take opportunities when they present themselves

Our City
 A.F. Mayor Marc Beitia

 Life lessons seem to come so often at the most inopportune time. I was fishing with my friend Al two weeks ago when that most inopportune time inflicted itself on him. We had been fishing on and off for the previous five days with what I must say was a respectable degree of success given that the hatches were off, the skies were blue and clear, and for the most part the winds were down. For those of you who fly-fish, you know what we were doing. I had asked Al previously if he had checked and changed his tippet and leader. His response was consistent, “Why?” I borrowed my answer from Forrest Gump and his box of chocolates.

I think that is what I have enjoyed most about the past 13 months. The only thing I know for sure is that tomorrow won’t be the same as today, but I am never sure what I am going to get. When folks ask me how it is going my response is generally to say, “It’s not boring.”

With four projects in the works and the regular day to day requirements of helping our city provide services to its citizens, it is definitely not boring. The downtown project is proceeding well. I had a chance to stop into one of our local businesses yesterday, August 21. While talking to the owners, they reflected on how many people have been in and out particularly early in the project complaining about the inconvenience and mess. Getting questions like, “Why are they doing this, or not doing that?” Or, more simply, “Aren’t you mad about all this?” The owner’s response was to say, “No, I am not mad, I had a voice in the process and the project.” I appreciate that response very much for a number of reasons.

In an effort to be more efficient and speed up the process of the Downtown project, DePatco has changed their work schedule to include two crews, each of which are working four 12-hour days per week. One crew works Monday through Thursday and the other works Wednesday through Saturday. In talking to Chad early last week, he explained that before, the two crews often worked into each other and one would have to stop and wait for the other to clear the area — inefficient. Beginning this week the water main and services will be installed on the 200 block of Roosevelt and between Harrison and Roosevelt on Tyhee. With the new work schedule, DePatco hopes to make up the days they are behind in the coming weeks. Things seem to be picking up. There will be no construction meeting on August 29. The weekly construction meeting will resume on September 5 and be moved from 10 a.m. to 4 o’clock in the afternoon to accommodate my day job.

Speaking of which, I am looking forward to seeing all my students back in the classroom and back in the full swing of learning and FFA activities. Congratulation to last year’s staff and the district administration for their very impressive achievement of being recognized as a Five Star high school. After attending our first AFHS leadership meeting last Monday and being introduced to all the new teachers at last Wednesday’s mentor/mentee meeting, I am very excited about the year ahead of us. Jeff, Katie, Lori, Leo and John, I will miss you each immensely. I will say unequivocally that each of you made life changing differences not only in the students here at American Falls but to many of us as your peers and partners in education. I wish you each the very best in what is before you.

As I write this Thursday morning, the footings have been poured for the skate park and the elements have been shipped from Los Angeles and are due to arrive within a week. The Safe Routes project is nearly done and should be ready near the start of school.

The wastewater treatment plant is ahead of schedule and on budget. It is about 80 percent complete. I cannot give enough praise to the folks at RSCI Construction, Keller and Associates Engineering and Superintendent Pete Cortez and plant operator Scott Dalling for their efforts on behalf of the city. Working with folks like these, folks who work together toward a common goal with the singular purpose of providing the very best product and service possible, makes my current position enjoyable. Because of these efforts, the city has been able to save and appropriate enough funding to construct a new building to provide space for equipment maintenance, testing facilities and a lab, storage space, and covered parking for our larger trucks and equipment. The Aug. 14 issue of The Power County Press noted in the city council article on the front page that the city had been authorized by the USDA to use up to $750,000 in loans, $400,000 in grants and $125,000 of wastewater capital improvement funds for the facility. Now when you add all that up, it is a pretty big “chunk of change.”

Yesterday, I received a note after a meeting I was having taken by one of the gals up front from a former city elected official, asking if we plan to build the Taj Mahal and if that was really necessary. One of the things I have learned in education and with my time at the city is that when you are successful writing a grant or acquiring funding of any kind you had best put it to the best possible use because you don’t know what tomorrow will bring, let alone next month or next year. You plan and build for the future when you can. I learned the life lesson long ago that tomorrow is promised to no one.

I was unable to respond to the message left for me, as no phone number or time to call was left with it; but I was assured the person would be in touch with me. What I can tell you is that the council did approve the construction of a new maintenance facility and lab and that it is needed at the wastewater treatment plant. Will the Taj Mahal be built? No. But a facility will be built that will meet the city’s needs for the next 20-30 years; it is the prudent thing to do while we can.

Right after my meeting with the folks from Progressive Farm Safety and my FFA Chapter President and Vice-President, and having just read the note taken by the gal up front, I get a call from Beechnut Nelson and he wants to meet. I said come on down. Now I don’t know Mr. Nelson beyond waving to him in passing, but what I do know is that he has been a stalwart member of our community for damn near forever. So in light of the message I just received I am beyond curious as to what he would like to discuss in person. I met him at the front desk and walked with him back to my office, where he placed a picture of the Willow Bay Marina from July of 2002 on my desk. As the retired field man for the county waterways committee but still a member of the same, he wanted to join the efforts started by Brent Cutler. He was excited about what is being done by the “Friends of the East Beach” group and wants to help carry those efforts forward at the boat launch. Another great example of someone who continues to give back to this place we choose to call home, and this week’s “Good Neighbor.” Is there a lesson in there somewhere? Being a teacher I think there is.

Al’s lesson and the box of chocolates became very profound in a way that only someone who has been there and done that can appreciate. The waters we were fishing are known to hold very big fish. Fish that rival and at times surpass even our native steelhead. Al found out the answer to his “why” question about 15 minutes into a battle with a rainbow on 1X tippet that I have only seen the likes of once before, less than a mile from where we were fishing. The water became wader deep and the fish had to be turned when as you have deduced everything came apart for Al. Or at least the improved clinch knot that attached the 1X material to the fly did.

Take the opportunities that present themselves when they present themselves. You don’t know from moment to moment, day to day or fish to fish what you will get. Worse yet, if you will ever get that same opportunity again whether it is a maintenance shop and lab or the fish of a lifetime, neither is promised to anyone unless it is in the net.

Until next week…


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