Living in Lake County is not for the weak of heart. I have received a number of calls, texts and emails from friends and family asking if we are out of harm’s way with the Pawnee Fire. Questions ranging from “Are you ok?” to “Is the fire under control?” seem to be at the top of the list. At some point I’ll be asked, “Lake County is always on fire, why do you live there?”

As they have done with Lake County’s previous fires, within hours of the Pawnee Fire gaining momentum and threatening Spring Valley homes, the local Moose Lodge was accepting evacuees. The high school in Lower Lake was also set up as a shelter for people and animals to escape the fire. Lake County has been through this before, we know how to take care of our own.

“Lake County is always on fire, why do you live there?”

Last month’s tragic fire that destroyed one of our county’s landmark businesses, Hardester’s Market in Middletown, was a huge blow to the county. Hardester’s was a beacon of hope for victims of the Valley Fire in October of 2015. By reopening quickly during the Valley Fire, they were able to give the community a sense of normalcy while their lives were being tossed and turned like a ride at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Now, with the loss of their Middletown store, it’s the community’s turn to pay it forward. Taking the drive from distant parts of the county to shop at the two remaining Hardester’s Markets may be a drop in the bucket of their recovery but Lake County has been through this before, we know how to take care of our own.

“Lake County is always on fire, why do you live there?”

I used to feel certain that a column of smoke on the horizon was going to be doused fairly quickly. Now, every fire is a potential disaster. Wind, fuel, location of the fire and available resources run through my head at even a glimpse of smoke. Then on to my Smartphone to check social media updates. Friends, co-workers, strangers and even that grumpy old neighbor that never smiles reaching out to offer help to anyone in need. This is our community taking care of our own. So how did I answer that last question,

“Lake County is always on fire, why do you live there?”

Do you really have to ask?

 

Joe Casteel

2018 President, Lake County Chamber of Commerce
Owner, North Bay Merchant Services

Joe Casteel is a 20 year veteran of the Electronic Payment industry and moved his business to Lake County in 2006. A proud member of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce and current President, Joe and his wife Jacie have called Lake County their home since 2001.