Frank states he first became interested in joining Latah SWCD while working with
a technician from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service). While working with the
technician to install divided slopes on Frank's fields for erosion control, it was suggested to Frank that he might be
a good candidate to join Latah SWCD's Board of Supervisors. Believing that his area of the county was not sufficiently
represented, Frank pursued the suggestion, and joined Latah SWCD. It turned out to be a good fit, and one that continues after
nearly 30 years.
When asked why he keeps returning to Latah SWCD, Frank paused
for a moment before answering. He then went on to state that he has had concerns that Latah SWCD might drift " too far
to the left", and in the process, disrespect or dishonor the local agricultural heritage-one that was pursuing conservation
long before it became trendy and vogue amongst those of a more urbanized ilk. Quick to point out that he respects many of
the left-leaning ideals, he also states, with a wry grin, "I think it's good to question motives sometimes, and to
play devil's advocate once in a while."
Frank explains that Latah SWCD
has changed greatly since the time he joined. Today's budget is infinitely more complex, and Latah SWCD has to be active
in many more areas than it once did. "It's much less about preserving farming as a livelihood, and geared a lot more
toward environmental issues", Frank explains, "When I began serving Latah SWCD, our main focus at that time was
soil erosion. We wanted to save the soil so future generations would be able to continue farming. Concerns about water quality
were in the early stages, and we kind of linked the two together and worked on things that would help both." Frank states,
"Nowadays we deal with all the natural resources, and our focus is more and more on the environment as a whole,
and not as much about farming anymore."
When asked what he envisioned as
the future for Latah County, Frank stated, simply, "More of the same. More population. More urban and suburban issues.
More development. And more of those danged ranchettes," he said, twisting his face a bit as if the word itself left a
bad taste in his mouth. When asked what his greatest concern was, he indicated that, for him, it would be the continuing loss
of the aesthetics, landscape, and rural agricultural lifestyle. All the things that have endeared this area to him throughout
his lifetime are changing; and changing rapidly. Frank says, flatly, "Too much, too fast." He became slightly animated
when he said he questions the wisdom of some of the county's leadership, citing incidents with the Latah Care Center,
and various decisions made by Latah Planning and Zoning. He wondered aloud if there was a "real plan for the future of
this county." His tone was an undeniable indicator of his concern and devotion to the place through which his entire
life is woven.
When queried as to what he would like his legacy with Latah SWCD
to be, Frank gave a slight blush of modesty, and said, "Ah, heck, I don't know...I guess just that I offered my honest
opinions, and for better or worse, I did the best I could."
Preston is a Resource Conservation Planner for the Latah Soil and Water Conservation District.
Editor's note: Frank, for what it's worth, we think your best has been very, very good
for Latah County. Thank you for all your years of dedicated service.