Jen Austin is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of St. George News. She is a talk radio host on the Perspectives Morning Show with Bryan Hyde on Fox News Radio 1450 AM each weekday morning. The opinions stated in this article are solely hers and not those of St. George News.
I once had a listener call in to the show and, to summarize, tell me “Don’t move to Southern Utah if you are just going to complain about it.” I was on our Fox News talk show expressing my frustration that July 24th is celebrated more grandly here than July 4th.
The caller seemed upset, not so much with my views on the holidays but that I had moved to Southern Utah only to complain about it. I see his point of view. I’ve seen this sentiment shared through the county in various other areas, as well. People being told, “If you don’t like it, get out.”
But haven’t we all felt that way before? When someone complains that Utah should have stricter gun laws, I find myself thinking, “Don’t try to change it. Move to California.” When someone complains about the marriage laws, I think, “Then move to New York.”
I moved to Utah, and especially Southern Utah, because it’s the greatest place in the world. (I said that on the radio and had a guy accuse me of being naïve, and too “small town” with no real experience in the world. He’s from Las Vegas. A place I would never raise my children.)
I’m not from Southern Utah, but I am proud to call it home. As a prior military member, I have traveled and lived in more states than most people. I spent a couple years trying to get rid of the “hick” accent I picked up while living in both Texas and Arkansas. I’ve lived in Virginia and attended the inauguration of President Barak Obama. I’ve lived in Portland and cities bigger than our entire county.
I’ve met people of all different cultures and lifestyles and, as I’ve said before, lived in many places where being naïve was simply not an option. I have members of my family who are from a number of different countries and became U.S. citizens because they love America.
And with all that experience, I chose to live in Washington County because it is the best place to call home and raise my children. I know it’s not perfect. I think the City of St. George needs to loosen its regulations on small businesses and I don’t believe they have the right to inject religious beliefs into the city code (such as the dance ordinance which states dancing will not be held on Sundays).
That being said, I completely agree with things that boost the city, such as the carousel – which was paid for in a special fund by those who pay taxes in the downtown area. My kids love the carousel and I think those things are a good addition to the city. I wouldn’t mind if it was privatized either; I just don’t see the big deal either way.
I grew up in a “small town” like St. George. As kids, we rode our bikes on the street and we played with everyone in the neighborhood without a second thought. I was a non-Mormon in a very LDS town and there were times when I had to face the “I can’t play with you because you are not Mormon.” I remember my father being very angry and wishing for more diversity in our little town.
He got his wish.
As we began to grow up, so did our town until it wasn’t small anymore. A few dance clubs came and went, but the teens and young adults caused so many issues with the police that it was shut down. Restaurants and movie theaters popped up everywhere. The small town began to grow at the edges and the downtown began to die. The city seemed to double in size with people and new businesses, and so did the crime. That “once small town” is no longer a place where my children could ride their bikes up and down the street without fear of something happening to them.
Now this is pretty standard throughout society, but there are still areas where you can drive down the road and people working in their yards will wave to you even if they don’t know you; areas where your kids can play without fear of being kidnapped.
Those places still remain in Washington County and I ask you, do you really want to change that? Because you can’t have growth and change without crime. They go hand-in-hand, like it or not.
I hear complaints of the “good ole boys” in St. George and I heard about it right after I moved here. But I honestly believe it’s a good saying without a lot of backing. St. George doesn’t have a lot of jobs so getting a job is hard. Period.
If you think there’s a group of men running this whole town, then how did a single mom (simply being a single mom has a bad label I’ve noticed, even after I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) start her own company and land a job with one of the best companies in the county and get her voice on air every morning? It was my dedication and experience, and my willingness to work hard. It was not because I knew a Gubler or an Ence, or any other family that is being named in this special club.
Where I come from, three very powerful and rich men will prevent you from working in that town if you cross them. I know who they are; everyone in that area knows who they are.
I don’t think that is the case here. Maybe that puts me in the minority, but our problems have more to do with the economy and the housing bust, people’s greed and get-rich-quick schemes, than a group known as “the good ole boys.” I’m not saying they don’t exist, I’m saying they don’t have the power and control everyone wants to say they do. They are a scapegoat when times are tough.
As for the Mormon church, you are going to find things you don’t like everywhere you go. Living in the south, I certainly felt the pressures from the Baptist church.
The LDS church does not run this county. Many members of the church are leaders in the county, but so are non-members. And I am not going to blame a church when the people of that faith are acting in ways I don’t agree with.
If there are problems in this county, I’m willing to stand with you to find solutions. But I won’t join you in finger pointing and name-calling.
Copyright 2011 St. George News. This material may not be published or rewritten without written consent.