Commentary

Tue
02
Sep

News-Register goes all in with new-look e-Edition, website

Technology has changed our world in wonderful ways on several fronts, including the means in which we get our information. Indeed the pace of change has picked up exponentially, creating a challenge for those of us in the news business who gather and share information on the local scene.
The News-Register took a step forward in that regard last week, debuting a new website that has all sorts of news bells and whistles. Former publisher Butch Furse planted a steak in the digital realm with the paper’s first website way back in 1995 (light years ago on the World Wide Web timeframe) and we’ve updated it several times since then.
The latest change is substantial, both in the way it looks and the different methods readers and viewers are now able to find out what’s happening in Hamilton County, America.

Tue
02
Sep

No matter how bad your day is, someone has it worse

It’s easy, if we’re not careful, to get down on ourselves when we face some difficult challenges in our lives. However, have you noticed no matter what difficulty we face, someone seems to have faced something that was even more difficult?
A prime example of that was found in the pages of the Fergus Falls (MN) Daily Journal a few weeks ago when a story reported the death of Bryan “Lefty” Anderson, age 57.
“There was never a cloud in Bryan’s life. It was always a rainbow,” a friend said. For Bryan, he had every right to have those rainbows clouded over because he faced challenge after challenge throughout his 57 years and still maintained a positive attitude of “Life is good.” I can’t help wondering how many of us could continue with that attitude when confronted with his lifetime of challenges.

Tue
26
Aug

Unsustainable

Hamilton County’s valuation increased by a staggering $603 million this year, continuing a troubling trend that doesn’t add up for long-term financial stability.
Though in some ways the increase in valuation reflects $26 million worth of new, positive growth, the lion’s share ($577 million) of the 2014 increase can be attributed to state-mandated adjustments in ag land values. With land selling for $12,000-$13,000 per acre, as we’ve seen over the last couple of years, the county assessor had no choice but to up the taxable value of farmland throughout the county.
Times have been good for agriculture in recent years, no doubt about it.
Danger lurks, however, when those values rise too far, too fast, without a corresponding link to the land’s ability to generate additional income. With input costs on the rise and corn currently selling for $3.50 a bushel, adding 27 percent to farmers’ property tax bills will be a painful blow.

Tue
26
Aug

‘Smart’ technology too much in the bathroom

Sometimes I get the feeling this old world is determined to pass me by. Now I’m not talking about personal values and moral issues. I’m talking about those physical things that surround me in my effort to stay in tune with what’s going on today, but will change tomorrow.
It’s no secret that technology is my culprit and my nemesis. Over the years I’ve fallen behind to a bevy of changes and then seem to catch up only to find I am behind again. Slow reflexes could be the cause. However, the betterhalf has attributed my dilemma to my own stubbornness and resistance to something new.

Wed
20
Aug

New beginnings

It’s like cracking open a new book for the very first time.
Crisp pages.
Fresh material.
Anxious eyes ready to dive in and see what lies in the pages beyond.
The first week of school is upon us, with 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 somewhere in between, these are exciting, memorable times.
It’s even starting to feel a bit like fall, though somewhat prematurely. We’ve not heard many complaints about the cooler temperatures and start of another school year, except for perhaps a few farmers hoping for another heat wave to help finish out this year’s late crop.

Wed
20
Aug

Dogs weigh in on heated team mascot name debate

It appears the National Football League is in a hubbub over the Washington Redskins proceeding through this season being called “The Redskins.” One protesting Minnesota Viking fan is organizing a boycott of the game between the Vikings and the Redskins.
The betterhalf and I have talked about the subject and quite frankly have no problem with a team called the Redskins anymore than we put the tag of the Vikings 11, or the Oakland Raiders, baseball’s Angels, Braves and Pirates. As we discussed the issue we looked back to our high school days when our alma mater was tagged the “Blue Devils.” Both of us chuckled and wondered just how much longer our old Blue Devils could still play in high school sports without a protest.

Sun
10
Aug

Senior housing project a win/win deal

And now, in the words of the late Paul Harvey, for the rest of the story.
I commented in this space last week about a Catch 22 challenge facing Aurora, Hamilton County and much of our great state of Nebraska. Having one of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates at 3.5 percent is both a blessing and a curse, I noted, because of the difficulty in creates for local business and industry to find, hire and hold on to quality employees. Part of that challenge, I added, is directly related to having affordable housing for a growing workforce.
Before that editorial had even hit the news rack, however, I received an e-mail which put the issue in a different context. This week’s front page story on the latest Cottage Park senior housing development therefore deserves additional comment.

Wed
30
Jul

Catch 22

State officials reported last week that housing and local employment issues resemble the proverbial debate: which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Answering that question is no joke as it relates to economic development. Local businesses and industries need workers to maintain and expand their operations, though the workforce they are trying to recruit needs available housing before they can say yes to a job offer.
So, which one should a proactive community focus on? Expanding the workforce, or creating more housing? We need to do both, is the short answer, and these days we need them simultaneously. It’s a Catch 22 challenge that seems to be getting progressively worse here in Hamilton County and across our entire state, which is both enjoying and battling the impact of 3.5 percent unemployment.

Wed
30
Jul

Butch's column

It’s no secret, particularly to the Aurora Library staff, that my betterhalf is an avid reader. She reads her books the old fashioned way turning paper page after paper page, or she goes tech on me and keeps her nose in her Kindle.
Recently I caught her at the computer and asked her what she was doing. She told me she was updating her list of  “must read books” by adding those new issues to her list that still contained, I assume, the top 10’s of 2012. Then betterhalf told me she liked to read the most recently published books rather than the “old” ones. Her last statement puzzled me. But, that was nothing new. A lot of her statements over the years have puzzled me.
In my mind the question still remained, “Why would it make any difference when a book was published for a woman or anyone for that matter, who enjoys reading?”

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