Let's 'work with the situation'

  • Gerry Rankin

    Paul Larmer

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

Gerry Rankin moved from Salt Lake City to Big Water, Utah, pop. 350, more than six years ago. When she isn't teaching at the town's only school, she is the mayor of the town, which lies just a few miles west of Lake Powell. Until recently, Big Water was known primarily as the town through which Andalex Coal Co. wanted to bring out coal from its proposed mine on the nearby Kaiparowits Plateau.

Gerry Rankin: "The biggest worry we have here is keeping our kids from saying the "F" word. There's no knives or guns in the schools, and we don't have any street gangs. We don't even have streets.

"We had high hopes for Andalex. Not that most people wanted to see us become a big city. Most moved here to get away from that. The (mining and trucking) jobs would have been good, but having one coal truck come right by this school every seven minutes would have been a problem.

"We don't have an abundance of commercial activity. Our convenience/gas store burned last summer and reopened a mile away, with no gas tanks. The restaurant is temporarily closed. This is a rough time of year. From May to October, there's lots of tourists attracted to Lake Powell. But Arizona gets most of the Lake Powell business because they've developed their shoreline. Boat storage is our biggest commercial enterprise.

"I've written (Interior Secretary Bruce) Babbitt, President Bill Clinton and the BLM asking that we be involved with planning for the monument. I feel it's better to work with the situation as we find it."

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