County Commissioner Gary Herbert recently said that dealing with growth is the most important task local leaders face.
If a person stops and thinks about it, that only makes sense. But most of us never stop and think about it.Not until I became a reporter did I stop and think much about it. But now that it's my job to keep up with what's going on in Utah County, I've noticed how much growth really does affect our lives.
In fact, everyday I see, hear and experience something that reminds me.
I see businesses and industry connecting one city to another. Fields that were once known for their excellent pheasant hunting are now known for their excellent job hunting.
Trying to find a parking place in downtown Provo reminds me that it won't be long until parking terraces and walking several blocks to work are facts of life.
Almost daily I hear screeching tires and clashing metal outside my office window. These sounds remind me that Utah County drivers are not adjusting to the now-common traffic congestion on University Avenue. The days of driving 40 mph down University Avenue and making every green light are over. Those who try it today will find someone's rear bumper waiting for them about 20 cars from the next intersection.
And just wait until the new NuSkin building opens. Then we'll be talking big-city traffic problems.
In Orem I now see shopping centers on the corner of every major intersection - signs of a city trying to establish a tax base to keep pace with its budget, a by-product of growth.
At County Commission meetings I hear about overcrowded jails, lack of housing, banning truck traffic in Provo Canyon and building event centers to seat 9,000 people. Did commissioners in the 1970s have to worry about problems like these?
At most city council meetings I hear how citizens need to separate recyclable items from their garbage and how composting is the "in" thing. Ten years ago, nobody had to do their part to save the world.
In court on Fridays, I see more child sexual abuse cases in one day than former county attorney Arnold Roylance prosecuted in one year. Evidence that the non-human population is increasing as fast as the human population.
If all county residents, politicians included, would open their eyes, ears and minds, we would all see that growth is inevitable and there's no reason to fight it. But there's plenty of reason to deal with it.
(Jim Rayburn, Springville, is a staff writer in the Deseret News' Utah County bureau.)