What does a tricycle, garbage can and a plumber’s truck all have in common? The items have all been victims of my carelessness when backing a car out of our garage. Actually, I forgot those little incidents until recently. That’s when the betterhalf – who seemingly never forgets my little miscues – repeated each of them in detail just after I told her I had a little incident exiting her car from the garage. I put my misdeed bluntly to her. “I backed over your bike with your car when coming out of the garage,” I said.
Emotions are still high this week in the High Plains community, where the Storm did something no other team has been able to do since the school consolidated 15 years ago. Though many High Plains teams have made the state playoffs in various sports, including last year’s oh-so-close runner-up finish in boys basketball, this was the first team to win a state championship. That’s a very big deal for the kids, coaches, parents and fans, an accomplishment all will be able to think back on years from now and say “2015 was the year we were state champs.” Time after time you hear coaches and players say it’s the relationships that last, not necessarily the memory of wins and losses. That’s so true, yet there is also something very special about hoisting a state championship trophy and what that means to a community. It represents a stake in the ground, a priceless moment in time, and a testament to this group’s talent, teamwork and dedication.
The sunshine is invigorating this week, in more ways than one. Like many of you, I am thoroughly enjoying the springlike weather and a chance to get outside and enjoy some sun. As a journalist, I am also celebrating Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote dialogue about the importance of open government and celebrate the freedom of information in our democracy. Why should that matter to me, you might ask? In the modern age of technology we live in, the concept of openness in governmental affairs, at all levels, has never been more important than it is today. It does matter. Our government, by design, is intended to be of the people, for the people and by the people. Transparency in what our elected officials are doing on our behalf is critical at all levels, but as we know from recent events in Washington citizens aren’t always told the whole story.
A few weeks ago we had the opportunity (I guess opportunity) to take the back roads across Kansas on a return trip to Aurora. I enjoy driving the less traveled back roads particularly after a couple of days of a monotonous interstate highway that sports nothing other than comparing rest stops and mile markers. Those back roads give a guy lots of time to do some daydreaming and questioning just how many of those small towns will survive into the next century. I am irritated when I pass through those communities the state has elected to put up the marker at the edge of town “ID’ing” the community without informing me of the population of that community.
“Cataract” is a word that is familiar to the majority of senior citizens. A few months ago the betterhalf became very familiar with not only the word “cataract,” but the word “surgery” as well. This past week the betterhalf completed her second successful cataract surgery and now her future looks much brighter. As she marvels about brighter colors and I assume the old line from a laundry detergent advertisement that claimed “whiter whites” also holds true. As for me, I was a witness to the third generation of having a family member undergo cataract surgery and was amazed just how much had changed from the day I visited with my grandfather after he underwent the knife. My grandfather attempted to visit from his hospital bed with a sandbag on each side of his head to prevent head movement. He was flat on his back for nearly a week before leaving the hospital. Then he was doomed to wear glasses that framed thick lenses resembling the bottom of glass pop bottles.
Two proud sports programs will have new mentors next season at Aurora High School and Husky fans should feel good about the pending transition on both the gridiron and wrestling mat. Our community has been blessed over the years to have some outstanding teachers and coaches working with our youth, and that it most certainly true with Randy Huebert and Bill Wofford. Those two men have helped raise the bar for their respective programs, all the while doing things right to help young people gain confidence in themselves and learn valuable life lessons that last long after the glory days of high school competition are over. We congratulate both men on a job well done and wish them the best in their future endeavors -- Wofford in retirement and Huebert at Papillion LaVista.
The Aurora Area Chamber & Development works with its members each year to look forward and embrace change, thus the organization took some of its own advice last week with a new-look format for its annual awards banquet. Steeped in tradition that goes back for as long as many area business owners can remember, the customary January event has featured some outstanding speakers, combined with a sit-down meal and ceremony recognizing the community’s service award winners. This year, in an attempt to shorten the program, try something new and hopefully attract some of the community’s newer members, the event had a whole different look and feel.
After both my parents died I was cleaning out an old filing cabinet that was kept in the corner of their basement. That is when I realized just how much my parents “gave up” to make my childhood worry free. Income tax statements found in that cabinet reflected finances that had to be described as “tight” at best. Problems such as WWII rationing of sugar, tires and household finances were never discussed in my presence. But, I’m sure those topics were brought up frequently between mom and dad. Still I enjoyed my most wanted gifts under the Christmas tree and birthday presents along with mom’s sugar-laced angel food birthday cakes. In my childhood eyes life was good and my parents made sure it stayed that way. Now today I look back and realize my parents went without many things to give me a carefree childhood.
The concept of renovating and adding on to the Hamilton County Law Enforcement Center appears headed for public bid again, only this time with a realistic expectation that the much-needed upgrade will come at a significant cost, much higher than initially projected. County commissioners have been talking about this endeavor for a long time now, having come to indisputable conclusion long ago that doing nothing is no longer an option. The county board is unanimous on that point. The Aurora City Council has endorsed the plan as well, offering to pay up to 40 percent of the cost, without knowing exactly what that will be. And in fact, we’ve heard no vocal opposition regarding the core plan to build additional working space and a create safer working environment.
Learning a second language is common for the students of today. During my high school days the common second language taught was Latin with a few larger schools also offering Spanish, German, or French. As for me, I jumped on Spanish – not necessarily because I believed it would be more useful -- but because I was told by some college acquaintances that Spanish was the easiest to learn and I would probably be required to enroll in a foreign language course when I went to college.