Another View: Auburn mayor’s message for 2013

By: Kevin Hanley, mayor of Auburn
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In the early days of the Gold Rush, the area that would eventually become Auburn was initially called the North Fork Dry Diggings and Woods Dry Diggings. As the name “dry diggings” indicates, the prospectors faced a big problem. As the blistering heat of the summer of 1848 left the smaller streams bone dry, the miners faced the arduous task of physically transporting by wooden wheel barrel and other inefficient methods the dirt from the dry diggings to a larger water source to separate the gravel from the gold.
What did they do to solve this problem? The miners formed teams to build wooden flumes and miner’s ditches to bring the water they needed to the dry diggings to, as they put it, “find the color.”
By working together, they increased the chance of prospering together. They worked together to build homes, stores, livery stations, a post office, churches, civic organizations, a city government, the Hook and Ladder Company and the first telegraph company in California. Auburn became the county seat and the cross roads of the Gold Rush.
By 1851, $800,000 to a million dollars of gold dust a week was put on stagecoaches in Auburn and transported to Sacramento and San Francisco.
Teamwork created Auburn and has sustained our small historic town for over 163 years through the Great Depression, World Wars, and the Great Recession of 2009 and 2010. Although we are blessed by the natural beauty of the rolling hills of oak and pine and the confluence of the American River, I believe that teamwork is the real Auburn Advantage.
We will need the Auburn Advantage of robust and creative teamwork in order to meet the challenges of 2013. The federal and state governments have raised taxes and will raise taxes even further, which will impact Auburn’s economy and jobs. The state government has already released 40,000 state prisoners and the Legislature will seek to further limit the autonomy of local governments like the City of Auburn.
I’m optimistic about Auburn’s future because I have faith in three facts.
It’s a fact that my City Council colleagues – Dr. Bill Kirby, Bridget Powers, Keith Nesbitt and Mike Holmes – all bring into the arena a wealth of experience, special areas of expertise, and a passion to improve the quality of life for residents in Auburn. When we work together, when we think and act Auburn first, we get excellent results.
It’s a fact that city staff are smart problem-solvers who treat residents and business owners with respect and fairness and often go beyond the call of duty.
It’s a fact that we have the most energetic and dedicated group of Auburn residents who volunteer and business owners that make this small town an incredibly enjoyable place to live.
With teamwork, we will meet the challenges of 2013. We will be opened-minded, creative and determined to improve public safety, create more jobs, wealth, a walkable community, pave more roads, be fiscally responsible, and expand our outdoor recreational opportunities in the American River Canyon.
In 1849, a settler got up in a meeting and recited the poem “Sweet Auburn” by Oliver Goldsmith. The early settlers were inspired not only by the words of the poem and by what they had accomplished in a short time and by what Auburn could be in the future. I believe that I speak for the entire City Council when I say that when we walk in town and talk to residents, we too feel inspired by the dedication of all those in our community who work to preserve and strengthen this one-of-a-kind place that we call Auburn.
Kevin Hanley serves as the mayor of Auburn.