I have been reading the paper the past several weeks and, needless to say, I am embarrassed at what is going on in the county commissioners’ meetings. Folks who I know from out of the county tease me in good nature about what is being printed about the meetings. We have become the laughing stock of the area. It sure appears that there is a personal vendetta against some people.
I didn’t feel the need to write the paper until I saw the part about our county employees getting a 1.5 percent raise. If you want to take morale to a new low, that is the way to do it. I remember when I was sheriff, this was done. How can I go back to my men and women and tell them that they are worth only that small bit and then try to motivate them to go to their respective jobs and give it all they’ve got. Several of them told me to take that 1.5 percent and "stick it" as it was just a slap in the face.
I didn’t say it, but they were right. I tried to explain to the commissioners at that time that it costs more to keep training new people than it does to pay the ones I had a decent wage. To help you understand, I had to pay two people doing the job of one while in training. This isn’t a job that you can learn in a short time. It takes a lot of hours to train for these kind of jobs.
The dispatchers have the hardest job that I know of. At that time, they had to dispatch, take 911 calls, get all the necessary people to the emergency, put up with additional calls and emergency calls all by themselves. In the meantime, they had to take calls from the scene, usually from a very excited deputy who wanted wreckers, more emergency services as needed and wanted them 10 minutes ago. And, along with that, had to do their prisoner checks each hour.
My point is that you get what you pay for! It is a very, very high-stress job.
When you see a deputy’s car driving down the road some of you think, wow, that is a cushy job. He is doing one of many things. He may be trying to collect personal property taxes from some deadbeat who doesn’t pay them. Those folks don’t answer their door and say, "I am so sorry, I just forgot." Most of them hide from you and don’t answer their door. It takes a lot of extra time trying to outfox them and then you listen to them make excuses and they want more time to pay, etc.
He may also be trying to serve a warrant for failure to appear in court, or he may be trying to serve a notice from court that he is being sued. Sometimes it is an arrest warrant for them to appear in court for several things, including not paying child support. These people don’t want to be found!
Oh, and one of the really nice ones involve a court order for them to sell your property, because the bank is foreclosing on them. This is not a bash at banks, they have a right to do this. A lot of the folks who I had to foreclose were people I had known for a long time. The interest rates were 18 percent and there was no way for them to pay that and keep in business. Some of the property that I had foreclosed on had been in the family for years. Some people actually thought I had a choice whether to sell their property and made threats to my family.
All of this for people who thought that 1.5 percent raise was doing us a big favor. It just stinks.
Extraordinary ambulance staff
Having been a nurse for 27 years in a rural community, I have had the opportunity to interact with many different ambulance services and companies.
On May 9, I had the unfortunate incident of stepping in a hole at the corner of 9th and G streets here in Aurora. My left ankle was twisted beyond belief and to the point that, from my view, I could only see the end of my leg and not my foot. The next thing I knew, a passerby (thank you to whoever you are) had dialed 911 and I was surrounded by the angels of the Hamilton County Ambulance Service.
As you can imagine, I did have excruciating pain, but these very skilled and competent professionals splinted my leg, packed me up and before we took off, they made sure that I would have the least amount of pain necessary on the way to our destination. During the ride, they gave me the utmost tender loving care. They were professionals and they were always thinking of me first in their every task.
This community can be proud of these men and women who get out at any time of the day or night, in any type of weather, and bring health care to those who need it. They are an extraordinary extension of the great healthcare that is available in Aurora and Hamilton County.
Jacy Henk, RN, BSN
The last burrito tells a story
Thinking back to my childhood in Aurora, my brother and I would fight for the last Coca Cola, Frosted Flakes, or the famous Chuck’s Drive Inn BBQs. We could care less about sharing with each other, we were simply inconsiderate and just a couple of selfish siblings. I would like to think our behavior growing up was not normal, but selfishness amongst siblings is probably more common than one would expect. I imagine most parents understand the relationship like my brother and me, and can recall a few stories of “bickering,” as said by our mom. While in our camp this evening, we were happy to see dinner arrive from Forward Operating Base (FOB) Justice. We all noticed the amount of rations (burritos) were limited. This happens sometimes and no one complains since we always appreciate hot chow. Knowing that there are 28 hungry soldiers in our camp, 18 of which are infantry, I waited last to eat since I am an old officer. After all, the young soldiers’ calorie consumption is much more important than mine... especially when we compare waistlines. When chow is limited, this tradition of officers eating last is as old as the US Army. Back to my childhood again, I remember a particularly hot summer day in Aurora where I swam all afternoon in the “new” Parkview Pool, then departed to deliver the Lincoln newspaper to 20 homes bordered by J and M Street, 9th and 12th Street. This one hot day, coupled with all the activity, anyone could develop a great thirst. Parched, I just could not wait to get home where I knew there were several cold bottles of Coke in the refrigerator. Once my paper carrier was empty, while peddling my green Coast-to-Coast bike, I raced for home with the expectation of a cold soda and good burn as the carbonation passed my throat. Walking in the door, I saw my older brother gloating and immediately knew all the soda was gone. As I scooped up some rice and vegetables in our camp’s eating area, I noticed that there was one burrito left. Unlike the old man writing this story, a young officer would think “ah... the soldiers left one for me” -- an appropriately innocent thought for a 23-year old lieutenant. There are many things that civilians do not know about a team of soldiers living in Afghanistan. One of these many things is their remarkable care for each other. In our camp, I watch these fine young soldiers in utter amazement as they are so splendidly selfless. No one tells a soldier to take a plate of food to his battle buddy in a guard tower, it just happens like breathing. I watch how soldiers wrap the food for their partners to be sure it remains warm and not sprinkled with dust on the trip to security post. Details like the plastic flatware, salt, pepper, and cold drink are packaged like a gift at Christmas. I often wonder about competitive and inconsiderate siblings and how their relationships turn out as they grow older -- distant or close? I am sure there have been many studies over years. Well, siblings are not soldiers in a strange country. However, in both groups the surroundings do influence how they treat each other. If only we could share this one evening of observing soldiers with young “bickering” siblings. Going back to the last burrito in the pan -- the soldiers rarely take the last item in the pan, just in case one of their buddies is still hungry. What a neat profession in which to be a member. Thank you for the online newspaper. Monte Yoder Gardez, AFG
Get facts straight on postal reform
The problem with the USPS is the 2006 Postal Reform that mandated the "prefunding" of 75 years worth of future retires health care benefits be paid in 10 years. Just imagine if you had to pay off your entire 30 year mortgage in about four years. Could you do that? There is over $45 billion in that horrendously over-funded account today. The USPS is the only government agency required to this, from a "lame duck" Republican controlled Congress with the outgoing house and senate which then President Bush signed into law. This requires the USPS to pay $5.6 billion each year, which has accounted for 85 percent of the losses since 2006. The USPS in fact for the first half of this current fiscal year the "prefunding" accounts for $6.2 billion of the $6.5 billion red ink.
The USPS has cut over 130,000 jobs over the last five years. It is also delivering "the last mile" of tens of thousands of parcels from UPS and FedEx each day, that is delivered to post offices, and mail processing plants all over the country for our clerks and mail handlers to sort and our carriers to deliver. The USPS has and will continue to adapt to the internet and any other future changes.
The only "snail mail" going on around here is Congress not fixing the mess that it created. The crisis created by the "prefunding" mandate has put the USPS in a panic mode to cut your service. This is not the answer. Congress must act now.
Currently in the House there are two bills with enough co-sponsors to pass both. HR-1351 with 230 co-sponsors addresses the Civil Service Retirement System that was over funded by $50-75 billion. This bill would transfer the overpaid money to the current "prefunding" account to fully fund that account without any taxpayer money.
The second bill, HR-137, all but insures six-day mail service. A recent study by the USPS showed that ending one day of mail service would lead to close to 11 percent mail volume loss, thus posing grave danger to the entire $1.3 trillion mailing industry with 7.5 million private jobs.
Now, why are these bills not on the House floor getting passed, you say? Well, Darrell Issa is the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and he can decide what bills go to the floor, and he has his own bill, HR-2309, which does not even address the mandated prefunding problem. His bill completely dismantles the USPS, and your mail service.
Oh, and did i mention yet that Adrian Smith is on board with Issa’s entire plan, in fact they are best buddies it seems now. I got a letter from him to prove it.
We must act now. call Adrian Smith, tell him to vote no on HR-2309. Tell him that any new postal reform must end the senseless prefunding mandate. Don’t let him also tell you that this is some kind of "bailout." Nothing could be further from the truth. The USPS has not used any taxpayer money for more than 30 years.
Call Adrian Smith 308-384-3900 at his Grand Island Office, 308-633-6335 in his Scottsbluff office and 202-225-6435 in Washington DC. Call House Speaker John Boehner at 202-225-0600 in Washington DC, or 513-779-5400 or 513-837-1524 in Ohio, tell him to make Darrell Issa put the two bills, HR-1351 and HR-137, with the co-sponsors to pass, on the House floor for a vote.
In my opinion, this is nothing short of an attack on unions by the far right Republicans, with the USPS, and the American people the hostages. If the USPS is dismantled, the unions will basically fall apart. The USPS is the nation’s second largest employer after Wal-Mart, in the day now of all the "big money Super PACS", big business, corporations, and the extreme wealthy will control our government. We cannot allow this to happen.
Postal reform needs to happen now. As stated before the USPS is in a current panic mode. Do not let them cut your service. Find your real facts at NALC.ORG
Letter carrier, Branch 312 Steward; Nebraska Congressional District 3 Liaison Asst.,
Do the homework before buying dog
Over the past couple of months I have noticed what I believe to be an increase in dogs that have been abandoned in Aurora. They are quite easy to identify -- they are the animals that are usually found walking in the middle of the road, not knowing any better, scared, not sure what to do when an oncoming vehicle approaches. They head for the ditch and watch you pass by. You can see they are confused. They usually are a large breed.
If you are lucky, you may be able to contain the dog or at least keep an eye on their whereabouts as you contact the police on your cell phone and they are picked up and taken tot he animal shelter. Or they can end up in your yard, scared but so friendly. Collars have either been removed or tags ripped off. These are the fortunate ones, the ones that happen to be found. God help those who are too scared to hang around until help can be contacted. How heartbreaking to see a domestic animal run in fear and you never know what happened to that animal.
In the last two weeks, two domestic dogs -- both large breeds, have wandered into our yard. Yesterday it was a beautiful collie that, upon closer inspection, had been abused. We put the dog on a chain in our yard, called the police and gave the poor animal water while waiting. He literally fell to the ground and lapped up the water as we waited. Such a gentle animal that obviously had experienced neglect and eventually was purposely thrown away as a bag of garbage.
I looked up the statistics for the State of Nebraska, as it pertains to the number of dogs that were taken to the animal shelters in 2011. Keep in mind, these were the lucky ones who were not dropped off in the country to fend for themselves or in town when someone moved or just did not care: 8,672 dogs in one year.
It boggles my mind and breaks my heart because this is completely avoidable.
It seems that some people don’t consider the fact that the cute little puppy junior begs for will eventually grow up into an adult animal that may not be a good match for the home. They are loved and coddled for about five months or so, and then junior is bored, the parents don’t care and the poor animal is tossed away.
Very simple steps can be taken to ensure that a breed is a good fit for your home, and it seems that few prospective owners in this town take this time (it’s about five minutes, by the way) or make a simple phone call to the vet clinic.
Is it going to be a large breed? Do you have a fenced-in yard where the dog can be played with and be safe? Will junior or mom and dad remember to feed it and water it? Can you give it the attention it needs and afford the vet care it will need, small or large breed? Do you want the dog to have puppies? Will you take steps to ensure the animal is spayed or neutered if you do not want the dog to have puppies?
Honestly, I feel disgusted that these simple steps I have mentioned even have to be written in this letter. How many dogs have wandered onto my property when I have not been here? How many dogs have wandered onto your property and you did not pick up the phone, called the police and ensured the safety of the animal?
But more importantly, why do people continue to purchase little junior a puppy without thinking first of what comes along with that decision. Toys are quite convenient and a much better option, especially when it is no longer wanted. Toys don’t grow up, need care and when no longer wanted can easily be donated to a child who can use it.
In the grand scheme of things, with all that is going on in the world, this may sound petty. There are things going on that we cannot control, but this is one situation we can control. If you cannot handle an animal, get a bike.
As I finish this letter, I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the animal shelter we are so fortunate to have in Aurora. I want to thank the police department for taking the time to come load these dogs into their cars and simply drive them to the facility where they are at least safe, taken care of and eventually adopted out to families who truly have done their homework and have the animal for all the right reasons... to love and be loved by these wonderful animals.