There’s no time like now to be prepared

There's no time like now to be prepared
We're all familiar with the story of Noah and the ark.

Most of us first learn of it while we are quite young, in Sunday School. With child-like wonder, we colored pictures and read a simplified version of the biblical account of how God selected Noah, a man "righteous in his generation," and instructed him to build an ark and take on board his family and representatives of all the animals and birds.

Noah knew something big was about to happen. Did he have doubts about the future? One can easily speculate that he did.

He was smart enough, though, to know that despite those doubts, he had to do something. He knew he had to be prepared.

He didn't drag his feet. He didn't respond by calling a meeting of his family and neighbors to gather public input. He took action.

That may explain why the good Lord called on him to begin with.

The last thing we are about to suggest is that there is anything holy about the Vermillion City Council. As good townsfolk, we should all pray that they be granted wisdom from above, because they certainly need it.

The problem is they keep making unwise choices.

The lastest city council kerfuffle occurred near the end of Monday's meeting, when aldermen were faced with a resolution to "welcome and support the economic development that will follow the construction and operation of Hyperion Energy Center to our area and to encourage our citizens to ask questions about all facets of this project."

Alderman Mary Edelen introduced this resolution. Mayor Dan Christopherson, and fellow aldermen Jere Chapman and Roger Jeck reacted with an all-too familiar air of panic.

From the mayor, we repeatedly heard Monday his familiar mantra. The city can't take action on something this controversial without input from the public. Translation: Let's not do anything, and couch our inaction in terms that sound good to citizens (especially voters) so there's no way citizens can become upset with us.

What the mayor and certain members of the city council forget time and time and time again is we elected them to office to do our business.

Aw shucks, it's nice that you like to listen to us, too. But there are times to listen. And there are times to act.

Monday night was time to do the latter.

The city council really doesn't need a long, drawn-out listening session on Monday's night's resolution.

Such a measure, as Edelen pointed out (her years of service in the South Dakota Legislature have taught her a thing or two about parliamentary procedure) is an internal document within a governing body. There's certainly nothing secret about it.

A resolution is not like an ordinance or other ruling that is going to have a direct affect on the citizenry.

It won't raise taxes.

It won't reduce services currently being offered by our fine municipality.

It won't fill a pothole or replace an outdated piece of infrastructure.

It's important, however, for the Vermillion City Council to at least demonstrate to the public that they are aware that 1) Hyperion, if built in our backyard, will be one of the biggest construction projects ever undertaken in the nation, and 2) steps are being taken for the city to be prepared for that.

The city council could have easily done that Monday by simply following the example set by our two previous mayors, who at times like this reacted with wisdom rather than fear.

When faced with an important issue like Monday's resolution, Mayor Bill Radigan and Mayor Roger Kozak usually would assign one of the council's committees to study it, rather than have it simply languish in some dusty file, hoping it would just go away.

Other nearby communities have recognized the potential impact of the proposed refinery. Yankton, Beresford, North Sioux City and Hawarden, IA have all noted that yes, they need to be prepared. They have either passed resolutions similar to the one introduced by Edelen, or have begun strategic planning for how to best deal with the economic and social issues Hyperion may bring.

Vermillion? We're going to gather public input. And when we're done doing that, we won't be any closer to being prepared for Hyperion.

Noah knew something big was about to happen and he took action.

It's time Vermillion follows his example. Otherwise, we may not even have the lumber cut for our ark when the rain begins.

The Vermillion Plain Talk editorials reflect the opinion of Plain Talk editor David Lias. You may contact him at

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