Hey, pard, this ain't latteland - City slickers, you have been warned
Chelan County, WA - 1/14/03 -City slickers, you have been warned.
If you're thinking about moving from Seattle or Los Angeles or some other citified place to central Washington's Chelan County, don't expect the cows to smell sweet, or the roads to be paved or your recyclables to be picked up at the curb.
The county has adopted and published the "Code of the West," an informal set of country-living truisms that might help city folks prepare for roughing it as rural residents.
"It's really just a reality check for people who live in an urbanized environment and aspire to live in a remote environment," Buell Hawkins, a Chelan County commissioner who lives in Wenatchee, said yesterday.
"It lets them know what they should expect and, more importantly, what they should not expect."
The Code of the West got its start in Larimer County, Colo., in 1996. Both counties' introduction to the code credits Zane Grey's account of the men and women who valued integrity and self-reliance in their daily lives. Chelan County localized and amended the code, and it's available through the public works and planning departments, as well as on the county Web site.
Chelan County, with a population of about 58,000, was one of the state's fastest-growing, according to the 2000 Census, attracting urban expatriates, retirees and migrant farm workers weary of life on the road.
Blessed with 50-mile-long Lake Chelan, a national recreation area; some stunning views of the Cascade Range, and a lot of wide-open spaces, hundreds of acres of orchards and timber land in the county are sprouting new homes and other development.
One of the most common complaints, Hawkins said, involves roads.
"People come into the area, build a beautiful home, perhaps up a rural, primitive road," he said. "After they've traveled that road for some period of time, they believe that road ought to be just like a road they used to travel in an urbanized area."
Chelan County is already responsible for more than 663 miles of road. It can't afford to take on many new ones, nor do the commissioners believe it's the county's collective responsibility to improve roads just because someone's built a dream home at the end of a dirt lane.
"Many times people will build in a remote area and would like the county to make those improvements and have the cost borne by the people of the county as a whole," Hawkins said. "I don't believe that's fair or equitable."
Dan Wright, 52, who lives in Union Valley, north of Chelan, is one of the people who'd like to see the dirt road to his house better maintained and improved. With about 100 cars on it a day, the road gets dusty or muddy and covered with washboard ruts.
"I guess the main issue that I always look at is if you're living in . . . a rural area, you should at least get the road service that your taxes are paying for," he said.
Still, the former Alaska resident knew exactly what he was getting into when he moved to Union Valley.
"We don't have cable TV, don't have mail service," he said. "We don't have a lot of the services that people downtown just take for granted."
And he believes the county's Code of the West has merit.
"I just think it's common sense," he said.
Ex-Seattleite Dan Howard, the assistant director of the North Central Regional Library, lives in the Forest Ridge development near Mission Ridge ski area. He thinks a guide for former city dwellers is a good idea, given that he has had to learn the hard way about septic systems and the challenges of rural isolation.
"It's about being self-reliant," Howard told The Wenatchee
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