Finding the highest point

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I had been on the job barely a month when I took a bumpy ride to the top of Mount Trashmore.

That was five years ago. And Rick Smith’s recent story about the re-closure of landfill Site 1 took me back.

To a newcomer, Mount Trashmore isn’t one of those nuanced aspects of the community that only the locals truly comprehend. It’s a mountain. Hard to miss, even for me. And when you’re trying to understand the territory, it makes sense to find the highest point.

By January 2008, City Council members were skiing on the mountain, speculating on the wide-open possibilities for its future recreational use after several years of settling.

Some local movers and shakers expressed disdain for its snickering, snarky “Trashmore” moniker. Then-City Council member Tom Podzimek floated “Krasna Hora,” or “Beautiful Mountain” in Czech.

This naming business was, of course, a gold mine for a columnist looking for a way to connect with readers, and fill white space with black ink.

So I tossed out “Mount Crunch Berry” and “Mount Odpadky,” that’s garbage in Czech. Reader ideas, both serious and much-less-so, rolled in steady for weeks.

There was “Trashma Hora,” a nice hybrid, and “Treasure Mountain,” the antithesis of one man’s junk. “Mount Sinclair,” “Mount Cedarview” and “Mount Viewpoint” were submitted, along with “Mount Consultant,” a shot at the powers and their pricey, hired outside help.

Nobody endorsed my lofty Crunch Berry tribute. And, in the end, I endorsed keeping its original Mount Trashmore name.

I think the best names are the ones that sprout organically from the citizenry, and it is a mountain of trash. No sugarcoating it.

What we couldn’t see from Trashmore was the future, and the flood. Trivial stuff like naming big old trash piles was washed away and replaced by far more important matters of recovery and rebuilding.

And Trashmore took in a lot more trash — ton upon ton of flood debris. A lot of waterlogged, stinking misery is buried in that hill.

But Trashmore is closing again, hopefully for good, and people are talking about its future. It occurred to me that the debris pile might be a nice place to put some sort of flood remembrance.

But that’s probably not necessary. The pile itself is now the monument, with the river and the city’s core spread out below. People who want to understand what happened can find the highest point.

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