Commentary

Wed
07
Oct

Pope Francis’ visit to U.S. struck a positive chord

Pope Francis’ visit to America drew amazing crowds at each of his stops. Amazing was his positive reception and the spirit he carried with him.
After witnessing some news coverage of his speeches and TV cameras panning the crowds, I was suddenly struck with something that was missing when large crowds of people generally converge. While crowds numbered in the thousands, I noticed the absence of any spectators clamoring for attention by holding protest signs concerning local, national and international issues. Even when Pope Francis addressed Congress there was no jeering from the audience in the balcony. That all had to be a rarity, and that rarity was sure refreshing to my eyes and ears.
***

Wed
30
Sep

Changing times

The times they are a changin’ these days on Aurora’s economic front.
Some changes are good, some downright disheartening, reflecting the rapid pace of change in our society.
On the positive side, there are signs of growth and expansion all around our community in a wide range of businesses. A diverse commercial base is healthy for any community, which is why Aurora has worked hard over the years to recruit, support, and help grow business and industry in several unrelated sectors. Though this community’s economic engine is strongly tied to its ag-based roots, such job diversity is vital.

Wed
30
Sep

Pay as you go still the best way to fund roads

The State of Nebraska is trying to figure out a way to complete a highway expressway plan that was implemented at least a decade ago and has left some areas with no expressways or other areas in the state with incomplete expressways. One that has caught recent attention because of incompletion is the expressway from Norfolk to Omaha.
The state says it is short of funds to complete not only that expressway, but many roadways in Nebraska and the already 6 cents increase in gas taxes over the next four years is not the sole answer for completion.

Wed
23
Sep

Driver beware

We recognize National Farm Safety and Health Week this exciting time of year, kicking off a busy and potentially dangerous harvest season.
Bringing in the bounty from area fields is a rewarding yet stressful phase of ag production, ripe with opportunity for injuries if we’re not paying close attention. A little reminder, no matter how many times we’ve been through this annual fall ritual, can be helpful.
The rate of fatalities in agriculture continues to decline, but still remains the highest of any industry sector, according to preliminary data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, recently released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These figures are especially relevant during harvest season, as farmers put in long hours under the stress of weather delays, equipment breakdowns, and high operating costs. Indeed, there is an added stress factor this year knowing that commodity prices aren’t where they need to be.

Wed
23
Sep

Calfornia wildfires char memories

The rolling hills looked vaguely familiar in the news last week, though they were covered with flames and clouded in a smoky haze.
Fire is raging through Northern California these days, fueled by high winds, drought conditions and mile after mile of unprotected brush and timber. That part of the world is known as fire country, but this year it’s going up in smoke like never before. At last report, five people have been found dead.
The gut-wrenching video of flames roaring through the rural communities around Clear Lake took me back in time about 27 years when I once called that area home. It seems like a lifetime ago that I listed California as my home address, first in the town of Clearlake and later in a hillside home overlooking the lake in Kelseyville. Those were good times, especially for a young, Midwest lad ready to explore the coastal region and City by the Bay every chance I got.

Wed
23
Sep

Winters in Nebraska a hard sell to snowbirds

The betterhalf and I were among retirees in Minnesota this past week and most of the Minnesotans were preparing to head for winter homes in Arizona or Florida. As they expounded on heading south for the winter one of the couples inquired, “Where do you winter?” We quickly replied, “Nebraska.”
It was worth the expression we saw on several faces as we described our winters in Nebraska and what they were missing if they didn’t winter with us. Surprisingly they turned down our offer.

Wed
16
Sep

Close to home

Fun in the sun is now, officially, just a short cast away from Aurora.
After years of planning and more than $1.3 million in improvements, the Pioneer Trails Recreation Area is open for business, offering a wonderful, local outlet for area residents who love the great outdoors. Who among us doesn’t count themselves in that category?
Which means the new lake, located less than two miles northeast of town, could and should get lots of traffic in the years ahead. Finding time to break away and get to the nearest lake will no longer be a reason not to go off the grid and enjoy some peace and quiet.

Wed
16
Sep

Seat, perspective, change for home Big Red games

When Nebraska football games come around I begin to feel like the guy in the movie “Driving Miss Daisy.” The betterhalf is a strong Husker fan. She is a stronger fan than me and a week ago proved my point.
The opening season game was predicted to be played on the hottest day of the week and I am not a hot weather fan (pardon the pun). No matter what the weather, the betterhalf had no intention of missing a Husker game, even after I told her to find someone who wanted to sit in that hot stadium with her and I would relinquish my ticket to a him or a her.
My offer brought her immediate reaction which I see has no reason to be repeated other than to say, “I went to the ballgame under limited protest.”

Wed
09
Sep

Unsustainable

What to do about rising Nebraska property taxes?
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, particularly for area farmers. It’s a dilemma that’s been talked about for years, and should be high on the agenda again when Nebraska lawmakers convene in January for the 2016 session.
Here in Hamilton County, for example, the funding formula for too many taxing entities banks heavily on what has become an annual, expected rise in property valuations. There has been substantial new growth in recent years, which is a blessing many regions of the state and nation do not enjoy, though a majority of the increase can be attributed to rising ag land values.

Wed
09
Sep

Law enforcement jobs may soon be hard to fill

I wonder in a few years if the biggest threat to law enforcement will be finding individuals who will want to have a career in law enforcement. According to national reports, large metro area police forces are finding it difficult to meet new recruit quotas.
Cases are increasing where law officers are being sued by arrested criminals and law breakers who claim discrimination or unfair treatment. Forgotten is the fact that the arrested party was endangering citizens by violating laws; threatening (and at times succeeding to kill) law officers with a deadly weapon; or refusing to obey an officer’s command. In all fairness there has been evidence in some cases where excessive force has been used and it should be legally brought to light and eradicated. However, we must also remember if law and order is going to prevail, officers should not be browbeaten or intimidated when doing their duty.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Commentary