Sheridan, Montana in the Ruby Valley of Southwest Montana USED to be a very nice place to live.
When I first discovered it in 2004, I’d become so weary of living in cities that I couldn’t wait to depart from Missoula and relocate happily with a few truck loads of furniture and tools, clothes, etc…
The main reason for relocating to Sheridan at the time was I’d been hired by the public school system to be there “Head of Maintenance”. Without that job waiting for me, I wouldn’t have attempted to live in Sheridan. Even with that job, the pay was barely enough to tolerate the cost of living, which was fairly congruent with almost anywhere else in the state. To be brief, the pay was LOW, but I had a good benefit package. It was do-able.
The population in 2004 was between 900 and 1,000 people. Horses, tractors, and ranch vehicles graced the dirt streets, and life was pleasingly slow, “sleepy” even. Moreover, I’d never seen, let alone lived with, so many and varied species of wildlife, most times right outside the window, right in the yard. Beautiful. Sheridan was a “sportsman’s paradise”, I wrote to a friend back in Missoula, where I’d moved from.
After 50 years of living mostly in major population centers, slowing down to the pace and lifestyle of Sheridan, Montana back then was truly like dying and going to “heaven”. I never missed the higher salaries and other perks that jobs in major cities provided in earlier stages of life. The trade-off for living in this beautiful mountain community was lower pay, slower pace of life, and quiet, blessed quiet. Crime was practically non-existent back then in 2004, and the only siren(s) a body ever heard was the daily 12:00noon sounding, and perhaps once or twice throughout any given year, maybe an ambulance roaring by as they transported someone who had injured themselves, to a larger hospital, like the one in Dillon, or Butte, or in the worst cases, Bozeman (which is another, nightmarish, “paradise lost” story). Life was a sleepy, beautiful dream back then, and I wanted for nothing more.
14 years have passed since then.
It’s the second quarter of 2018 now, and that “beautiful dream” is fading quickly. Day by day, month by month, year by year refugees who are fleeing the cities in search of “better” life have somehow discovered this little mountain community, and are flocking here in droves.
It wouldn’t be so bad IF they could leave their city-fied lifestyles, thinking, greed, and attitudes in whatever population hell they came from, and acclimated to life here, as it has been for over a hundred years. However, that does not happen. The refugees come in all colors and beliefs, but the main belief is that they THINK they need just as much money as they had where they came from. They can’t understand that living here requires a trade-off. They are not, apparently, willing to slow down on the highways and in the town’s dirt streets.
They “want it all”. They want to live in this mountain (former) paradise, AND have their money, and have their former frenzied lifestyles. They, collectively, seem to be oblivious to the havoc, and enormous stresses their presence in Sheridan foists on us long time residents, residents who came here to get away from the very type of human ills they now bring here, daily.
Those in city and county government are all in favor of the exploding population in the Ruby Valley, and in Sheridan, in particular. Sure! The store owners are all too wiling to accept their business! $$$ Money! Yea! More money.
Those who are in the higher socioeconomic bracket(s) around here just sell their properties in the town proper, and move higher up the mountains, and farther away from the melee as it builds ($$$ Money!). THEY can get away from the riff-raff, the rising crime, the morons with their un-muffled diesel trucks as they ignore the 25 mph speed limits in town, and roar through with little or no regard for the people who live there.
How does “Paradise” die?
It dies just like the way I’m describing in this blog.
So, if you are reading this, and you happen to be one of the recent refugees from the major population centers in the USA, including Bozeman and Missoula, I’m asking you to acclimate to what life here in the Ruby Valley already IS, and slow down, think of your neighbors rights as well as your own, and settle in for what can be a good life for everyone who lives here. And, if you’re not willing to do that, please go somewhere else, and soon.