Commentary

Wed
08
Aug

It’s early August, but signs of changing season are everywhere

Though the calendar says it’s early August, unmistakable signs of fall are in the air as we prepare for yet another school year.
School bells will start ringing this week, and it seems at least to me that date arrives sooner ever year. Summer vacations are now a memory, many of them scheduled into a tighter window of opportunity.
Aurora students begin this year’s learning journey Thursday, with High Plains starting Aug. 14, Hampton Aug. 15 and Giltner Aug. 16. We wish all area students, their families and teachers a wonderful, memorable year ahead in 2018-19.
The first week of school brings a familiar look and feel that reminds us another year of change, learning and opportunity has arrived. Whether your family is embarking on that first magical day of kindergarten, the jump into high school, that quantum leap into college life, or into unfamiliar “empty nest territory,” it’s yet another reminder that the only thing constant in this life is change.

Wed
01
Aug

Be cautious when talking about a woman’s age

Even an old newspaper man makes a smart judgement once in a while. That was evident when cleaning out an old file and found a letter sent to me after the publication of an old picture of a school class published in a 1996 issue. The letter written Jan. 26, 1996 came from a lady who wrote, “I think the date on the picture is wrong. I could not have been in the 4th grade in 1926 – I was only 6 years old then. I’m in the picture, but second from the left instead of on the end of the first row. I think the picture was later than 1926. That lady identified was older than I was: so there is an error . . .”
 We drew a smile in bringing up this incident. We will not identify the letter-writer, or the “older” lady. Today we have no idea if her correction caused any repercussion in 1996. The correction must have been handled tactfully. We have learned, not only in the newspaper business, to be very cautious when someone notes an acquaintance is “older than she is.”
***

Wed
01
Aug

Merging 911 dispatch services a win-win deal for both counties

The decision to merge emergency 911 dispatch services in Hamilton and Merrick counties stands out a classic example of how technology and visionary fiscal planning can combine to create more efficient government services.
As of July 13, anyone dialing 911 throughout the two neighboring counties will be talking to a dispatcher seated at a high-tech communications hub in the Hamilton County Law Enforcement Center. Despite a few early transitional “bumps in the road,” officials say the merger is working well.
When Merrick County officials started thinking out loud in 2016 about farming out their 911 services, Hamilton County Sheriff Kirk Handrup saw an opportunity and ran with it. He’s been a consistent advocate of the plan, to his credit.

Wed
25
Jul

Health studies on coffee, straws can rule our lives

 Just recently a new study was released that told us we could drink up to eight cups of coffee daily and it wasn’t harmful to our health.
We grew up in an era and lived many years of our life believing a previous years-old study that coffee could be harmful to our health if we drank too much coffee. Apparently I was one of the few adults who really didn’t like coffee anyway, so the abstaining from the brew over the years was not a problem . . . and now this “newly released study” has little effect on changing my attitude about coffee. But, I am sure many of those regular coffee drinkers have now increased their coffee consumption a cup or two for “healthy purposes.”
Funny how studies, to a certain degree, can rule our lives whether the study topics cover foods, manufactured products and even our environment.

Wed
25
Jul

County fair a celebration of area’s past, present and future

The calendar says late July, which can only mean one thing -- it’s showtime!
The annual Hamilton County Fair promises to be a feel-good event again this year, the 147th version of what has become a traditional celebration of our ag-based heritage. There is indeed something for everyone, including events as old as the fair itself, combined with a few new activities, by design.
The next few days will culminate months of hard work for 4-H and FFA youth who have been preparing their animals and entries for the fair. Lots of ribbons and trophies will be handed out, but what are even more valuable are the life lessons learned along the way. It takes so much dedication, time and effort to prepare and show these animals and various entries, nurturing a Midwest work ethic that will serve our young people well throughout their lives. It’s worth your time to tour the barns and exhibits, showing support for young folks who represent the next generation of agricultural leaders.

Wed
18
Jul

Times may be simple, clocks not so much

We’re ready to go back to the simple times and ironically “time” is the reason. For days now we’ve operated on Eastern Time, or one-hour ahead of the good old Central Time. The reason? Our not so-wonderful automatic clock that gave us temps, days, dates and of course time, ceased to operate because of weak batteries.    
Several years ago our household advanced from the windup chiming clock to rely on a system of electric clocks. Our tiring of winding clocks was replaced by those electric clocks that several times after a lightning storm would require our room-by-room tour of our household resetting a multitude of blinking dials. Then this advanced thing called an “Atomic Clock” came on the scene.

Wed
18
Jul

Bands on the Bricks creates feel-good atmosphere for all

Two thumbs up to the new Bands on the Bricks concert series unfolding this summer in Aurora.
There was a lot of energy on the downtown square for the debut event and the reaction from the crowd was unanimous. The smiles on the faces of youngsters playing with hoola hoops matched the relaxed expressions of twentysomethings and retired folks alike. Right out of the gate it was clear that this was a good idea for people of all generations.
Max Temple gets much of the credit. The South Dakota-based musician spends a majority of his time now coordinating community concert series through his Annie Creek company. Using his extensive contacts in the music world, Temple is able to bring top-notch entertainment to places like Aurora at a reduced rate, and more importantly gives local residents an opportunity to get together and have some fun.
And that they were!

Wed
11
Jul

Changes on the school front reflect sign of times

Today’s needs for the education of our students are on the fast track. Curriculum, technology, physical facilities, student numbers and safety are all items that once changed every few years and now seem on the public education agenda daily.
Proposed 5-year plans for schools in the Omaha schools to be built or remodeled in the Omaha area were aired recently. While the metro area plans hinged on pupil growth, it was quite evident the task of educating not only for the metro students, but for our rural out-state students is rapidly changing to meet the demands of our rapidly changing world. Here are just a few “then and now” examples we can recall from our old high school days. For example:
We were required two years of science and could “duck” chemistry by taking frosh general science and biology the next year. Today it is reported 70 to 90 percent of high schoolers are enrolled in four years of a science curriculum.

Wed
11
Jul

Wedeking’s vision for Leadership Center continues to grow, evolve

Fifty years after the late Irv Wedeking helped create the vision for a youth ag training facility in Aurora, The Leadership Center celebrates its golden anniversary on a campus that has come to represent so much more to its founders, guests and host community. The 43-acre campus on the east edge of town shines as a pillar of success, giving Aurora and the center’s founders an earned reputation for progressive leadership.
During this golden anniversary year, The Leadership Center is celebrating its proud history while sharing the story of how Mr. Wedeking, Dr. Ted Ward and Norval McCaslin launched this remarkable endeavor. (See related story in this week’s edition) Those three men put up $27,000 of their own money, a huge and risky investment in 1968, to plant a seed that has continued to grow.

Tue
03
Jul

Think F1rst

What does the First Amendment mean to you and how does it affect your life as an American?
That’s a question not often asked in today’s society, but the results of a recent poll which asked young people that very thing was alarming to say the least. According to a civics survey taken by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, four in 10 students couldn’t name even one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.
That’s not good. In fact, it’s shocking to think that a whole new generation of Americans may not understand or appreciate the freedoms that let them do what they want to do, say what they want to say, worship in whatever manner they so choose and in general live in a society founded on principles of freedom.

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