I don’t know about you, but I am anxiously waiting for the conclusion of the national campaign for U.S. president to be over. Only seven weeks to go and that means I only have a short time to campaign for my candidate. And just who is my presidential hopeful? Well, he comes from Cormorant, Minn. He has been re-elected for his second term as mayor of that community and I feel he is more qualified than our two national candidates. He has caused no controversies prior to his re-election. He has not spoken a harsh word about his opponent, although he may at times have thrown a little innocent dirt and dug himself into a hole a few times. If you have not guessed who I am backing in this year’s election it is a dog who has already served Cormorant for one term in the mayor’s office and now begins his second term.
When Colin Kaepernick took a knee last month during the pre-game playing of the national anthem, the NFL star held up a mirror to America. What we saw as individuals, and still see a month later in a growing wave of protest, depends entirely on your perspective. Some people sensed unbelievable disrespect from a man whom they say shouldn’t turn such a symbolic tradition into a political statement. That was my initial reaction, to be honest, but I’ve never been a big Kaepernick fan, or for that matter one who thinks pro athletes and movie stars always use their fame in appropriate ways. Others saw it as a bold show of conviction, reflecting growing unrest on the issues of racial oppression and police brutality. There have been a number of racially divisive and police-related incidents in recent months across our nation, fueling a fire that burns brightly for some, especially in the inner cities. Fortunately, that’s not a reality here in Hamilton County.
Fifteen years later, we still can’t look away. Sunday’s retrospective look back at one of our nation’s darkest hours stirred some painful, familiar memories. The images of Sept. 11, 2001 will forever be etched in our minds, and yet when they appear again, even so many years later, we can’t help but watch and wonder. How and why did something so horrific happen on American soil? How can anyone build up so much intense, zealot-like hatred that they would murder so many innocent people? How will we react, individually and as a nation, when our sense of normal goes up in smoke?
It’s apparent a tidal wave has swept our country. That wave has come in the form of what is now termed social media and the pursuit by citizenry to become informed citizens. The only question that remains is what source of information should be consulted if you want to be an informed citizen and believe me, there are a lot of options. As for me, as a former newspaper publisher, the bulk of my information still comes from newspapers or ink on paper. However, it’s clear that today’s younger generation (those under 50) prefer instant info from mobile or online connections and communicate through Facebook, Twitter, etc. If you have any doubt how the use of mobile devices has spread, we watched at the first Husker night football game a few weeks ago when those in the crowd turned on their iPhone flashlights and lit up the stadium making a statement for their support of the Huskers.
Once I had an occasional day where I felt I was losing my mind. Now it is quite common to have a least one daily incident telling me the old mind is going. At first I thought it was the early stages of dementia, but I don’t think that is the case at all. It’s simply the world has become too complex. And there’s so much to remember that my brain is suffering from overload. After being around for seven-plus decades I am being overburdened by a rapidly changing world fueled by everyday technological changes, instant mass communication and my drive to crowd more conveniences into my individual time frame. Simply put, I’m just overloading my limited brainpower and can’t remember everything.
Hampton village leaders sent a positive message to their community with the recent removal of an abandoned house on Main Street. The message: We have pride in our town and ask those who live here to reflect that pride on their own properties as well. Utilizing its new nuisance abatement ordinance, the village board walked through a delicate legal process that in the end led to the demolition of an abandoned house. Repeated attempts to contact the owner urging action to make the home livable, or at least not a public safety hazard, were unsuccessful, indicating that the condition of the structure would have only continued to deteriorate. This ordinance was not implemented or designed to unnecessarily monitor each and every property, but rather to address problems that were simply not going to go away.
Hamilton County taxpayers, particularly farmers, have a vested interest in a process about to unfold as area taxing entities set their levies and determine tax asking for the coming year. Though attendance is typically light at budget hearings where millions of dollars worth of spending will be authorized, the impact of those decisions hits all of us right smack dab in the pocket book. It’s a big deal, in other words, especially with commodity prices as low as they are. The ripple effect is painfully obvious as a down year in agriculture has a real and dramatic effect on every sector of our economy. Regardless of current commodity prices, the trend in recent years has been for property valuations to go up significantly, levies to drop slightly, and property tax bills to rise. The county’s total valuation went up just 2.9 percent this year, down from 10.5 and 21.2 percent the last two years.
Several events seem to be important to the Betterhalf. Wedding anniversaries, birthdays and Nebraska football season are her top choices and not necessarily in that order. Thus the Betterhalf and I started out the past week with good intentions to head back to Aurora after buttoning up the Minnesota cabin for winter. Of course her number one goal was to be present for Saturday’s NU season opener. Prepping for an early start home we celebrated our 57th wedding anniversary a day early at the lake. From that point on we soon became aware that plans can change and also the wedding vow “better or for worse” sometimes emphasizes “worse.”
It’s like cracking open a new book for the very first time. Crisp pages. Fresh material. Anxious eyes ready to dive in and see what lies in the pages beyond. The first week of school is in the books now, with a familiar look and feel that reminds us another year of change, learning and opportunity has arrived. Whether your family embarked on that first, magical day of kindergarten, the jump into high school, that quantum leap into college life or somewhere in between, these are exciting, memorable times. For school-age kids, it’s time to re-engage with friends, activities, homework and in essence a sense of productive routine. As good as it feels to change gears for a few weeks of summer, the batteries should be recharged now and ready to take on new challenges. Change is constant in today’s world, and the sooner kids learn to adapt and grow with those changes the better off they’ll be.
High school class reunions are over. Current school year is about to start. Many faces of new students and teachers will grace the halls of our local schools. My own old school activities came to mind after I received a call telling me a former high school classmate had died. I am sure a flash of memories caused by a death of a classmate or teacher is quite common for individuals my age. It was just three months ago at our class reunion that we classmates had assisted her with her walker so she could be in our 60th year class reunion picture. At that time I was somewhat shocked how the numbers of my deceased classmates had increased from just five years ago and I was only able to find one of my old teachers in attendance. But oh, did we rehash memories and soon that reminiscing brought lots of smiles and laughter.