Traditionally in our country this week has always been a time of celebration and giving thanks for the gifts we have received and the gathering of families to spend some time together doing the things that have become standard fare. With that in mind, I and the team would like to extend our own thanksgiving messages to the families and friends of Las Animas and Bent County.

With the recent election now completed, we have an especially thankful message to send and to celebrate. These are truly special and exciting times for our community. This is the first time in a great many years that the people on this leadership team can truly say that they have been chosen by their own community to represent them. At a minimum, the process required a petition with at least 25 signatures to be placed on the ballot. This alone means that at least 200 community members began the process by saying they wanted the people they signed for to be their particular leader. The results of the election identified that over 48 percent of the registered voters participated in the process. This is significant in itself because it means that almost half of the registered voters had a chance to have their voices and their messages sent to us, the men and women who now have the opportunity to listen to those voices and develop a plan to do our very best to make sure that you can see that you have been heard. Over the next few weeks we will be gathering together as the leadership team to develop a strategic planning process to ensure that we are all doing what we have heard you say you wanted to see done. This process will also include an opportunity for you to repeat what it is that you have said, and to ensure one more time that we understand what exactly are your desires. By the results of the election, in the case of the largest vote tallied, that means that we should see approximately 620 people at the gathering who each have spoken and want to be heard. If this is true, it will be a truly amazing gathering, and truly one to be thankful for. But what about the other 52 percent (over 620 members) of the family?

To make this point, I will use a comparison to the sports entertainment events that will also be a big part of the Thanksgiving Day celebrations. Undoubtedly, there will be a football game going on, and this is the perfect sport to use. Everyone knows that on the field are two halves of a team, the offense and the defense. Each side will contribute somewhat equally to the playing of the game and the result of the game will depend greatly on both of the halves. On the sidelines will be the coaching staff, and somewhere on the bench will be the players who make up the specialties. Each of these groups are responsible for a particular part of the win or loss of the game. Also in the stadium, and on the couches of the living rooms around the country are the fans, who also play a huge part. So how does this relate to our community and our leadership team, you may be asking yourself.

What if the team only brought half of their players, for example, no defense? Or what if the coaching team was new and didn't truly know the players and how to best use them to run the plays? What if the specialty team, lets say the kick return team, just decided to do things their own way without input from the rest of the team? Or just as important, what if only half of the fans came to the game, or even turned it on at home. This would truly make for an eventful game I would believe. Very few people could even believe that any game could ever occur in this manner, but in the game of local community governance, this is exactly what is happening. We had 48 percent of the registered voters of this city return their ballots and have their say. This could mean that the remaining 52 percent had one of many positions on the play of this event. It could mean that they don't care one way or another; it could mean that they don't have faith in the teams who are playing; it could mean that they have complete faith in them; they also could be perfectly content with ignoring the game completely and doing other things; or it could mean that they believe that someone else will do their part and everything will work out OK. As you can imagine, any one of these beliefs could be devastating to a football game and even more to our community's future, but remarkably this is the place we find ourselves at this very moment.

To close, let's just say the coin toss has come out in our favor, the ball is on the kicking tee, and the game is about to begin. Are you ready to play, watch, or just ignore and wait for the news to report what happened? All I can say is, you have the best coaching team we could field and an outstanding team of specialties waiting for their chance to play, the ball is in your hands and the clock is running.