Becoming a first responder used to be a ticket into the middle class.  The work is thrilling at times, terribly sad on other days but also fulfilling.  Why?  Because you were making a difference.  If you look at the Facebook post above, you’ll notice the Twin Falls Fire Department has openings.  And the police department, the state police, the county sheriff, paramedics…  The list is a long one and it’s the same all across the state and country.

You can now make the same money or more starting work on a production line.  You’ll see fewer dead children, murdered spouses, or charred homes.  You’ll probably have fewer nightmares and no need to be treated for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  You may get holidays and weekends off.

But here’s the thing.  If your house is burning or some thug is breaking in, you still expect someone to come to the rescue.  Right now, in many parts of the state, the first response is in triage.

There’s really only one solution.  We’re going to have to pay people more money to protect and defend us.  The choices are you’re on your own or you can pay more in taxes.  Or some other government service gets cut.

I saw a novel idea in a Kootenai County newspaper.  A deputy explained we can’t longer fund the first response on property taxes.  He believes the state must dig into its own sales or income tax revenue and share some of the money with local and county governments.

Twin Falls Mayor Ruth Pierce told me there are a lot of people in line for the state tax revenue.  She’s spot on!  Just remember, the government's first mission should be your safety.  And legislators’ homes burn the same as any other house.

LOOK: Here are the best lake towns to live in

Many of the included towns jump out at the casual observer as popular summer-rental spots--the Ozarks' Branson, Missouri, or Arizona's Lake Havasu--it might surprise you to dive deeper into some quality-of-life offerings beyond the beach and vacation homes. You'll likely pick up some knowledge from a wide range of Americana: one of the last remaining 1950s-style drive-ins in the Midwest; a Florida town that started as a Civil War veteran retirement area; an island boasting some of the country's top public schools and wealth-earners right in the middle of a lake between Seattle and Bellevue; and even a California town containing much more than Johnny Cash's prison blues.

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