This letter was submitted to the Nisqually Valley News for publication and is reprinted here with permission of the autho, unabridged in any way:
To the Editor:
When I got a new job early in 2006 and had to move away from my adopted hometown [Yelm], I kept up on the happenings in and around Yelm through friends, the Internet, and the Nisqually Valley News.
Moving to the land outside of Chicago, IL, I felt almost as if I had stepped from one frying pans fire into another. The rumors and history of cronyism and corruption around here are legendary.
But my faith in the system was unexpectedly restored.
Last Saturday, May 5, I picked up one of the local papers here, the Daily Herald. The headline: NOT WELCOME HERE over a picture of a woman holding a NO WAL-MART sign. Being in a hurry for other things that day, I only read the first few paragraphs of the story on page 1. Heres how it started:
It began with a certified letter.
The village of North Aurora wrote to tell Valerie Shoger the property next door to hers was being rezoned from agricultural to B-2 PUD.
She was curious and confused…
A few days later, a neighbor knocked on the door and showed Shoger a headline answering her question: Wal-Mart.
I read a few more paragraphs that day. When I finally got to the rest of the story on Wednesday (May 9), I discovered there was a vote by the village board scheduled for Monday, May 7.
With that date already passed, and expecting the worst from my experience in Yelm, I called Mrs. Shoger to offer my assistance in whatever way I could, to help keep Wal-Mart from moving in. After a couple of minutes of general discussion, learning that the certified letter had arrived this past March, and relating my Yelm experience, I volunteered to help.
Havent you read the papers? she asked.
No, just Saturdays, I replied.
After we finished talking, I picked up Wednesdays Kane County Chronicle. Still on the front page, Wal-Mart evaluates next move was the headline, with North Aurora trustees reject it after protests as the sub-head.
According to the story, Trustees voted, 5-1, against the proposed annexation and zoning for a 203,819-square-foot Supercenter on 28 acres…A full-service grocery store would have been part of the store.
Wow! Who would have thought? The people who were elected to represent the will of the people actually did just that!
Even though Wal-Mart had done its homework Mrs. Shoger said they wouldnt even do their final presentation (two hours worth that night) unless the board was ready to vote the Village trustees decided not to be swayed. They looked at the whole picture and saw better ways to use that land than for Wal-Mart.
My hat goes off to those trustees for their decision.
Would that the elected officials of Yelm had the courage to listen to their constituents and take a stand.
Perhaps this is also part of the difference between these two situations:
Yelm officials are the Councilmembers, whereas the North Aurora officials are Trustees. As such, they are entrusted by the community to act for their greater good. The Yelm Councilmembers act on behalf of the City, and it seems as though that may or may not include the people that live there.
I would ask the elected officials of my adopted hometown to keep the communitys trust by acting not just to increase the size of the coffers, but to use the funds that arrive there righteously.
The system can work. Its up to the people to be sure it does.
Mrs. Shoger has assured me that she will now be attending the Trustees meeting every Monday evening.
The people of Yelm, Rainier, Tenino, and Roy can do the same. Yelm, Rainier, and Tenino meet the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month; Roy meets the second and fourth Mondays.
If you dont like the way your elected officials are doing things, get yourself elected in their place. This year, Yelm has four council seats available, Rainier has three, Tenino has three plus Mayor, and Roy has three.
Filing week runs from June 4 through 8, though you can file by mail as early as May 18.
We have the greatest country with the best system available we just get to make it work right.
PO Box 252
St. Charles, Illinois
work: (630) 444-7619
home: (630) 377-1629
Yelm’s Wal-Mart is expected to open in July.