Emmett, or Emmettville as it was originally dubbed, was a quaint little town in central Idaho, home to 6,000 souls, plus or minus; and it was where Kevin and Natalie Hale worked, played, loved, and lived. It wasn’t too far off from Boise and most folks were either the good church going type, or drunks. Like so many small towns, it had its perks and it had its drawbacks. The Wal-Mart hadn’t moved in yet, and there was no Freddie’s, so the mom and pop shops still lined the streets, reminiscent of earlier times. Many of them sat vacant these days, but that was just a part of a downturn economy. The only places that thrived during times like these were the bars. People had trouble keeping food on the table, but there was always money to drink, oh yes. They would go into the pubs and complain about being broke in one breath, and then, just put it on my tab, with the next.
It would come back eventually. They say more millionaires are made during an economic downturn than at any other time. Still, it wasn’t always easy to make a living in Emmett, and jobs were scarce. A large biomass processing facility was slated to open in town, which would provide at least one hundred men full time jobs, not to mention all the temporary jobs in the construction of it. It was just the shot in the arm Emmett needed.
Kevin Hale had won the contract to build it, and that’s when he and Natalie pulled up roots, and moved to Emmett. They were both excited to make a fresh start, but mostly just excited to be gainfully employed again. Kevin would be busy as the general contractor at the biomass facility, and Natalie had found a job at a place called, Bolts-Inc. It was mostly secretarial type work, but she was glad to have it and the people there seemed nice enough. That’s what really makes or breaks a job anyhow. You could have the crappiest job in the world, but if you worked with good people, then it just wasn’t so bad and vice versa. She’d had good jobs too, gone bad from working with sour apples. She was hopeful, but time would tell as it always does.
Springtime came early that year, and Kevin’s crew broke ground on the biomass facility in late March. There hadn’t been so much activity in Emmett since the old Boise Cascade plant had closed down years earlier, and people were excited. But come April, the investors pulled the plug on the whole deal. The EPA had become a sore thumb, so they just pulled up stakes, and moved the operation to someplace in Montana instead. Kevin still had the job if he wanted to relocate, but they had just signed a one year lease on a place. He didn’t think they could bear the moving costs again, even if they could afford to break the lease, so Emmett was home for now. Surely Kevin could pick up a few jobs here and there. And Natalie had her job which seemed all right, or at least it did at first. Much like dating, after a few months, the masks fall off.
Copyright © Rusty Henrichsen, 2013