This past week I ventured to a small country cemetery in Kansas where my grandparents and great grandparents are buried. As I exited a busy blacktop highway and drove down those gravel country roads my mind began to wander. Memories came back to me about my grandparents and the small community in which they lived. I realized I was lucky enough to have fond childhood memories implanted by my grandpa and grandma.
America turned the page toward summer Monday, pausing ever so briefly to honor the men and women who fought and died for our country, while also cherishing the memories of lost loved ones. Memorial Day has become a traditional day of transition, marking the end of another school year and the beginning of summer. It’s a breath of fresh air for many. At its core, however, this day is intended to focus our thoughts on the heroic men and women who have worn a military uniform. The day invites us to remember the cost of making America what it is, while also forcing us to acknowledge that the price is not yet paid in full. In today’s world, perhaps more than any time in history, freedom comes cloaked in uncertainty. News of the day from the Middle East is unsettling, especially for those following ISIS developments who have loved one’s in harm’s way. Our nation still and always will rely on her sons and daughters to defend her liberty.
A drought has occurred in our household. I’m not talking about a household with a lack of water, but a household that has another type of drought. Let’s just call it a “dessert drought” and it was one of my own choosing. I unwittingly mentioned to the betterhalf I was beginning to get a little thick around the middle and it was going to be necessary to cut back a little on the chow. I didn’t realize she included desserts as a part of what I assumed was chow -- you know, that meat and potatoes stuff.
“Welcome to Hamilton County.” That’s the front page greeting on one of the county’s most comprehensive marketing pieces, which is hot off the press this week in the form of an 84-page full-color magazine. The Hamilton County Guide offers guests and prospective newcomers a Reader’s Digest version of a place that’s very special to those who call it home. It will soon be available online as well (auroranewsregister.com) to any and all who want to enjoy a colorful snapshot of our community. There is indeed a lot to offer here in Hamilton County -- great schools, quality health care, top-notch recreational facilities, a diversified economy and a proud, ag-based heritage rooted in some of the best soil and water resources in America. That’s not a sales pitch, but rather a heart-felt sentiment shared by many.
A plan to improve Nebraska’s roads and bridges has hit a roadblock in the form of Gov. Pete Ricketts. The first-year governor made it clear from the get-go that tax relief will be high on his agenda, which is a message anyone who talks Nebraska politics can agree with. Taxes are high in our great state and the heavy property tax burden falls especially hard on rural land owners. There is strong support, however, for a bill that would increase the state’s gas tax by 1-1/2 cents per year for four years, raising an estimated $75 million per year once fully implemented. Dist. 34 rookie Sen. Curt Friesen said he didn’t run for office with a plan to raise taxes, but he supports this particular proposal, and with good reason.
It becomes downright silly what a guy thinks about when it’s time to face the deadline of writing a column. I’m sure some of you would rather I just forget column writing and have the newspaper fill the space with something else. Well, I’m not going to let you off the hook that easy. When the pressure is on, some topic will emerge. This time it happened to be Murphy’s Laws. However, it’s time to now title them “Modern Day Murphy’s Laws, so here goes those modern day squibs. We are told: * It’s impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious. * The chance of the toast falling butter side down is directly proportionate to the cost of the carpet. * In order to get a bank loan you need to prove you don’t really need it. * A Smith & Wesson revolver always beats four aces. * Anything that’s dropped in the bathroom will always fall in the toilet. * The best golf shots always happen when playing alone.
There’s no question I am an avid newspaper reader. I couldn’t help but chuckle when an advertisement in a daily newspaper this past week caught my eye. The advertisement featured a free gourmet dinner at an Italian steakhouse immediately following a free seminar. What was the topic of the seminar? “Stress, hormones and health – the true cause of belly fat.” *** If any community could use a chamber of commerce promoting the positive aspects of its community it would be Aone, Japan. Aone has a population of 638 residents. It’s two-room schoolhouse contains six desks for six elementary students. The middle school has an enrollment of eight. The community’s main street is described as two small general stores and a restaurant. The reporter described the restaurant as a “grimy restaurant” that could make a claim for serving the worst food in Japan.
Seeds are being planted, tassels are turning and there is pomp and emotional circumstance in the air this time of year as we celebrate a season of new beginnings. Graduation season is in full swing now, with Giltner High’s Class of 2015 already having crossed the stage Sunday. Senior honorees from Hampton and High Plains will take center stage Saturday, with Aurora’s commencement exercises on the calendar for the following weekend. Add in all the local ties to college graduations near and far and you get a month full of milestones and memories for our extended community. The News-Register staff feels a shared sense of pride with all the parents, teachers and area communities in Hamilton County, having covered these young people as they grew and blossomed in recent years. Pulling up a front row seat to that coming of age process is in fact one of the highlights of this business.
I was looking for a little change in my life when I reached retirement age. Now that I’ve been in that era for over 10 years, I am discovering longevity is no guarantee that change will occur. Oh sure, there have been some changes, but a change I wanted to take place never happened. I am resigned to face the fact that “once a klutz – always a klutz.” My clumsiness has been a part of my character since youth and I have the battle scars to prove it. It all began when at the age of 3 I fell in a printer’s ink bucket at my dad’s newspaper shop while wearing a brand new sailor suit. Eight stitches to the head came three years later when a car trunk lid release was bumped causing the lid to conk me on the head. Gravel was picked from my knees, elbows, hips and chin in a two-hour doctor’s visit after I stuck my foot in the spokes of a bicycle while riding on the handlebars as a friend and I tried to go down a two-block hill without using the bike’s brakes.
The Aurora City Council’s recent approval of an ordinance that allows taking a design build approach on future construction projects is a positive step forward on the development front. Construction costs can be staggering these days, no matter what the size or scope of the project. Whether planning to build a new swimming pool, tennis courts, road improvements or dig a new municipal water well, there may be a way to save taxpayer dollars by seeking more efficiencies in the actual construction process. City attorney Ross Luzum explained that there is a statutory provision in Nebraska which allows the city to circumvent the bidding process for certain projects. Rather than approve the specs for a project and then seek bids on the total work, the design build approach involves selecting a general contractor, who would then have more flexibility within the project parameters to keep costs down.