By VERNON ROBISON
Living in a small town which is subject to a distant urban government, it is easy for us to always see our glass as half empty. When speaking of Clark County, of course, we have a lot to complain about. And complain about it we do. Rest assured, the folks in the local communities aren’t generally prone to just suffer in silence about things.
But that is because it has been so frustrating for so long. With Clark County government increasingly preoccupied with big urban problems, our rural needs and wishes are overlooked and set aside for later. Complex urban rules are thoughtlessly applied to our communities, making it nearly impossible to build, develop or do anything here. We have long been underserved in our business sector, compared to other communities our size in areas allowing for more local governance. The chief reason for this is simply the overwhelming complexities of doing business in urban Clark County. Even the simplest of home improvement tasks are made excruciatingly difficult with the voluminous and impertinent county code in the way.
Whether its adding on a porch, erecting an exterior outbuilding, or even installing a simple water heater, the bureaucratic process often defies all common sense and practicality; never mind the overwhelming prospect of actually building a home for one’s family. And in the urgent area of flood control, we have watched vitally important projects sit on the ten-year plan for thirty and forty years. Meanwhile folks homes get flooded regularly every time it rains hard in Lincoln County. Lacing through all of this is the overarching frustration of knowing that our voices as voters, and thus our ability to effect any change, is a mere drop in the bucket compared with the vast urban ocean of residents to our south.
But all of this doesn’t necessarily mean that we are without representation. If we are going to be honest and fair, we have seen our County Commissioner go to bat for us and fight fiercely for our rural needs in recent years. All this despite limited political support and amid a never ending torrent of complaints from us, the local residents.
To be blunt, if Moapa Valley votes alone had decided the day, Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick would not still be serving on the board of commissioners. In the 2016 election for the District B seat, Kirkpatrick only received 46 percent of the vote from Moapa Valley precincts, though she went on to easily win the district-wide election with 57 percent of the vote.
Despite the thin local support, Kirkpatrick has worked tirelessly; in her quiet, unassuming way; to forward unique Moapa Valley interests. She has revitalized the Overton Community Center, brought funding to the community for public art projects, forced a productive open dialog between the BLM and local utilities, and even cleared out vegetation and debris from the river in flood prone areas of Warm Springs and south of Overton. These are just to name a few of her accomplishments on our behalf..
Perhaps the greatest, and most visible, example of Kirkpatrick’s tenacious fight for the Moapa Valley community has been evident just over the past eight months or so. Somehow the Commissioner has been able to pry open the vault that had previously hoarded the community’s allotment of state gas tax funds.
She has actually got the county to spend that money for its stated purpose in our communities. This has brought about a sudden explosion of local paving projects this year. No less than half a dozen roads have been paved in our communities. That may well be more than we have seen done in the whole decade before this!
The paving projects have been evenly and fairly spread throughout our communities from the vital Henrie Road project in Moapa (which even included a pedestrian/cycling path alongside it), all the way down to Lewis Ave. south of Overton. Most of these paving projects had been sitting on the communities’ priority lists for decades; approved and re-approved by our town boards year after year, with nothing ever having been done about them. It was quite an accomplishment for Kirkpatrick to finally check them off the lists.
Of course, despite all of this, its still easy for local folks to see the glass as half empty. After all do these things solve all of our problems? No. Is there still a lot left for Moapa Valley residents to desire? Of course. Did the fulfillment of these projects make everyone happy? No. Is there more paving still needed? Definitely.
There is always more to do, or more that “could have been done.” In our civic positions as ‘Monday morning quarterbacks’, it is easy to criticize the choices that were made and the actions that were taken. But the main point to remember is that, after decades of very little action, something was actually done! And that was due to the representation of Commissioner Kirkpatrick.
In the final analysis, we can say what we will about the inefficiencies and frustrations of Clark County government and its contradictory codes. We can bitterly mourn the great cultural divide that exists between the urban and rural sectors in Clark County and how unfair it is. We can cry all the day long about how our rural glass is always left half empty. But when all is said and done, we have to admit that Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick has been diligent and fair in her treatment of Moapa Valley.
She has taken the time to learn about us. She has listened to us and heard what we have had to say. She has spoken to us with respect and has not criticized or belittled us for the things that are important to us. And she has then gone to battle for us in the urban halls of power and won some key victories on our behalf.
In general, Marilyn Kirkpatrick has represented the rural communities of Moapa Valley very well on the County Commission. She has managed to do so with dignity, grace and a deep respect for our people, our communities and our unique rural way of life. That is quite an accomplishment!
When we have that kind of representation from our County Commissioner, no matter what rural inequities we may face, we still have to step back and admit that our glass is definitely half full.