Mike Noordewier: On a ‘worst list’? Not our Valley

Turlock Columbia OakdaleFebruary 1, 2014 

When I came to the Valley over 20 years ago from the Bay Area to attend California State University, Stanislaus, one of the first questions I found myself asking was “What is there to do here?”

Most answered optimistically, replying how great it was here in the Valley, how much there was to do. We were at the center of the universe, they said, an hour and a half from the mountains or the beach; hunting and fishing were even closer. It seemed as if I had moved into paradise. At the very least, there appeared to be a deep-seated love for the Valley my new friends called home.

Now we have made another list of “The Worst Places to Live.” And now when I ask people about the Valley, there is a more pessimistic outlook: no jobs, no opportunity, no development, and every place you want to be is an hour and a half away.

I realize this sentiment has been brewing far longer than the latest appearance on another list, but I think it is important to reflect on how many positive things are happening in the community. I see incredible people doing incredible things every day. Yes, we have some issues, but nothing we can’t overcome. I believe we need smart growth that will lead to more jobs, which will allow our children to succeed. We can attract more doctors, better leaders and provide a better, more-focused education.

There is still so much to do, but there has already been so much done. I think most of us would agree that whoever could put Modesto on a list of “one of the worst places to live” has probably never been here.

Coleman is a Turlock resident who volunteers with several organizations and enjoys writing. Haratani, a retired Riverbank teacher, had his first job on George & Mako Kiyois' farm in Salida. Noordewier lives in Oakdale and is the CEO of United Sign Systems.

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