It’s not with a heavy heart, but actually a quite light and airy one, that we bid adieu to the city we’ve called home for the last 13+ years; Longmont, Colorado. But fear not, I still have to work there for a few more years, live close enough to be affected by it, and may once in a while throw some tax dollars its way. Happily I’ll be throwing less toward Boulder County.
Longmont had been on my radar (pun intended as I’m an air traffic controller) for a long time, as had Colorado in general as far back as elementary school. Longmont specifically mainly due to the ATC facility where I’d eventually come to work. Different places pull different people toward them. For my parents it was Hawaii, for me it was Colorado. Getting here wasn’t easy as getting out of the FAA in Southern California back then took nearly an act of God. Transitioning once here also wasn’t easy as we left all of our friends and family behind and knew no one here.
I was given the choice of Salt Lake City or Boston, but held out for this delayed new airport that needed bodies, but they just weren’t sure when. That was Denver International Airport. Realtors pointed us towards Cherry Creek and Boulder, but I think they overestimated what we get paid. Knowing I eventually wanted to end up working in Longmont, we picked a home right in the middle of DIA and Longmont, making the transition 1 year later easy. After four years of commuting we went house shopping in Longmont.
2000 – the move to Longmont
Once our other home sold on the day it hit the market, we had to live in an apartment near Longmont’s Vance Brand Airport while our new home was being built. While I hadn’t flown an airplane in several years, living in such close proximity to the airport once again gave me the flying bug. That bug would lead to all kinds of things during the following 13 years, things I would never had imagined.
A year after moving into our new home, I was able to realize a lifelong dream: owning an airplane of my own. I based it in Longmont, and was immediately hit with one hell of a tax bill from my new city. This tax was not common at most airports, but I knew I would not be getting a refund, so I wanted to make sure the money I and others were paying actually benefited the airport and wasn’t some city slush fund. That was my first foray into local politics, albeit on a pretty small scale.
2002 – birth of Wrongmont
Then the event that would catapult me into local politics and activism but in a much bigger way: While flying my airplane according to all FAA and city rules, some local nutjob farmer decides I should be shot as well as get my license revoked. Apparently he had been terrorizing pilots and skydivers for years, but he picked the wrong person to start a fight with. After finding out that the city was helping this clown with city resources, Wrongmont.Com was born.
Plenty of people within the city, including some that eventually became friends and allies, didn’t know what to make of me at first. I was called left-wing and right-wing, but being a pilot and airplane owner and lover I reminded I actually had two wings – not that I had anything in common with leftists, let’s just get that straight. During those first few years, the website was partly a news agreggator, partly a soapbox, but mostly I’d cover things I didn’t feel the local paper was covering enough of.
There were no sites dedicated to politics in Longmont, only regional sites that would occasionally mention what was going on, but like regional newspapers would only scratch the surface of this 80,000+ and growing city. At this point I wasn’t sure if I was going to do more reporting or activism, and eventually did both as I’d get requests from people to help them out with their causes. I would learn about these causes but rarely stepped into them as I would tell them the best person for that job was the person who was closest to it and knew the most about it – in other words, themselves.
Between 2001 and 2006 most of my attention was towards aviation as I had flown my family in our airplane to all of the lower 48 states. I got to see a lot of airports and their operations. But by 2006 the website was not doing a whole lot. The main battles had been at the airport and its future was more secure than just a few years prior. I’ve never been the type to keep doing something (like blogging) just because, or just to make it look like the site was still active. It was around this time we almost moved out of Longmont. We had just sold our airplane and wanted a different kind of house, while also being free from Boulder County’s ridiculous tax structure.
We were also concerned about the reputation of the high school where our sons would attend, but that turned out to be a non-issue as they both excelled there. We came very close to leaving Longmont, even had an appraisal done on our home and just about put a deposit down on some land for a new home. The company doing our loan was called Countrywide, maybe you’ve heard of them. Something didn’t seem right; the appraisal was curious, and the over 100% loan was equally troubling – we had questions about this company – turns out we weren’t alone and they weren’t long for the world. We decided to stay, which financially was a great decision as the market soon tanked and we would have been upside down for years.
But what occurred between 2000 and late-2006 would pale in comparison to the next half of our residency in Longmont. Big changes were in store, and bigger stages…
(continued in next installation)