Column | We can’t let fear paralyze us from moving into the future

It was one of the hardest decisions he ever made. It was his parents’ land ever since the Homestead Act of 1862 was passed and offered settlers 160-acre plots of land to take up farming in Oklahoma.

And now it was his and he was feeling like a failure. He had his wife and four children who looked to him for security, and he couldn’t provide for them here any longer.

That frightened him.

He was raised to provide, not only for himself but for his family. He thought he had been doing that. He was beginning to drown in shame when he looked into his family’s eyes.

“Why?” Those eyes seemed to be asking. “Why don’t we have any food or a farm to tend to anymore?”

He only knew it was out of his control, and it made him sick to his stomach that he couldn’t do much about their circumstances.

He was tired of wallowing in his self-pity and knew he had to do something. He couldn’t go another day looking at what the dust had done to his farm.

In March of 1935, Edward Stanley, Kansas City news editor for the Associated Press, labeled it the “Dust Bowl:”

“Spearman and Hansford County have been literaly [sic] in a cloud of dust for the past week. Ever since Friday of last week, there hasn't been a day pass but what the county was beseieged [sic] with a blast of wind and dirt. On rare occasions when the wind did subside for a period of hours, the air has been so filled with dust that the town appeared to be overhung by a fog cloud. Because of this long seige [sic] of dust and every building being filled with it, the air has become stifling to breathe and many people have developed sore throats and dust colds as a result."

Though he hated joining the crowd, he loaded the jalopy. He had to do something and leaving the farm behind, despite how much it ate at him, was what he needed to do. It was what he needed to do for his family.

I have been in, around, or thinking about Kingman since 1974. In all those years, I have never been as amazed about this town as I am right now.

Kingman has an opportunity for economic prosperity in the coming years that only one or two other towns may have coming their way. Our town is going to become a two-interstate town.

If that opportunity isn’t seized upon, Kingman will deserve the reputation it has.

Kingman is called a dirty town. Kingman is called a drug-infested town. Kingman is called a poor town.

Kingman doesn’t have to be any of these things.

The City of Kingman official delegation of Vice Mayor Jen Miles and councilmembers Travis Lingenfelter and David Wayt team up with State Representative Regina Cobb to present Kingman’s request for $20 million in construction funding for the I-11 East Kingman Connection Project to Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday.

Gov. Ducey would be wise to support the project because it’s a new chance for not only Kingman to grow and prosper, but for Arizona as well. Kingman’s contingent arrives at Monday’s presentation with more than just a request for a handout. It’s a legitimate investment request.

The City Council made the bold move of increasing the transaction privilege tax (sales tax) to 3.5 percent to pay for Kingman’s investment. This should show Gov. Ducey Kingman is willing to put its own money in the pot. It was bold because there is a loud voice saying Kingman can’t do this. It’s a loud voice telling its neighbors, its state, and even the world if it was listening that Kingman is a dirty town. Kingman is a drug-infested town. Kingman is a poor town.

Not so fast.

Kingman graduates nearly 1,000 students from its three high schools every year. Shouldn’t we be providing the opportunity for those young adults to walk into more than $10-an-hour jobs? Shouldn’t we be providing new firemen more than $24,000 a year?

Yes we should, and the time is near.

It’s easy to say because we’re going to be a two-interstate town. We can refuse to see the future and not take advantage of what is before us, or we can embrace it and say we want prosperity.

We can leave the Dust Bowl or wallow in the dirt.

I’m jumping into the jalopy.