Commentary

Wed
30
Aug

Total eclipse offered an array of ‘wow moments’

 For those of us who thought the early publicity and planning for the eclipse was coming on a little strong, we were in for a pleasant surprise. The event provided plenty of “wow moments.”
One post-eclipse report described the eclipse as the singular “wow moment.” But the report ignored what we feel were other “wow moments” of the once-in-99-year total coast to coast eclipse experience that was viewed by Hamilton Countians and their guests.
Of course it’s hard to downplay the total eclipse itself when it turned our backyard into total darkness at mid-day. That “wow moment” even struck our dog Missy when she began sniffing through the grass, whining, and then looking up at darkened midday sky wondering what had messed up her afternoon nap.

Wed
30
Aug

Solar eclipse lives up to its billing with spectacular views

Now that was cool!
After all the hype and hoopla previewing last week’s eclipse I for one was wondering right up until the final hour if in fact the solar show would live up to its billing. It did, in my view, but just in the nick of time.
How utterly disappointing it would have been if those thick clouds blocking the view for many in Central Nebraska would have hovered just a few minutes more. That’s all it would have taken to ruin my experience, as well as the thousands of others gathered at various places around Hamilton County. It would have been a totality bust, making all the hours I and others spent in logistics/event planning meetings over the past year seem like an exercise in futility.

Tue
22
Aug

Drop in valuation totals makes budget process challenging

This week’s news regarding combined property values in Hamilton County sends a jolting message to local officials in charge of setting tax levies: Spending must come down.
A front page story in this week’s edition reports that a decline in ag land values was the primary factor in a $167 million valuation drop. Though the crops in the field look outstanding right now, the reality is that low commodity prices and a sluggish ag sector are rippling their way throughout the local economy.
Total valuation in Hamilton County dropped 5.24 percent in 2017, ending a 10-year run which saw property values skyrocket from $1.09 billion in 2007 to $3.2 billion just a decade later. We knew this day was coming as that pace is simply not sustainable.

Tue
22
Aug

Empty tube found on walk raises questions

The majority of the time when I’m taking my daily walk I have a tendency to keep my head down giving me a limited view of the sidewalk, trail or street. Many times I tag along with the Betterhalf and in that case she walks ahead of me which means I am protected from bumping into something unless she makes a sudden stop. I’ve taken lots of teasing from passersby and am frequently called a “tag-along husband.”
I would like to point out that keeping your head down while walking does have advantages unless of course you’re walking a pathway that has low-lying tree branches overhead. Several times I’ve found a dollar bill and even one time found three 25-cent pieces on a country road in Minnesota lake country. I also must include another advantage -- you don’t step in fresh animal droppings when you walk with your head down.

Tue
22
Aug

When pride becomes a problem

As I begin my third year as a reporter for the Aurora News-Register, I have taken a step back to look at all of the experience I've gained from being a part of so many events that have shaped and molded Hamilton County over that time. A significant number of these events include the various village, city and school board meetings I attend throughout each year that have allowed me to gain perspective on how residents handle pressing issues in their respective communities.
While anybody in my position may have an opinion on the topics being discussed, I try to leave those thoughts at the door when reporting -- just like any good news writer should do. Yet, a recent discussion between my former high school's board members and concerned parents sparked a fire in me due to the blatant disregard for the history of High Plains Community Schools and what that name means to hundreds of individuals who came before it.

Wed
16
Aug

Eagle makes appearance at celebration of life ceremony

 A Nebraska friend of ours recently died and we attended his “Celebration of Life” service at the family’s lakeside home. The outside service was held along the shoreline adjacent to their home.
Sadly the gentleman had just retired a year ago. He and his wife had sold their metro Nebraska home and purchased a year-round home on the lake where he as a child had spent the majority of his summers. Unfortunately his perfect retirement setting was short-lived.
As the celebration of life service came to the conclusive prayer and music, an eagle swooped down from a nearby tree and glided low over seated mourners. The eagle then soared and faded into the distance as it crossed the lake.
After the service our friend’s family commented that the eagle was regular on the property where the deceased would set on his patio and enjoy observing and “conversing” with big bird.

Wed
16
Aug

View of eclipse, size of Monday crowd all depend on weather

Scientists have known for decades that the skies will grow dark over Hamilton County Monday during a rare total solar eclipse, though our view of this spectacle now depends entirely on the weather man. Will we see it or will we not?
It’s sort of ironic, actually, that the stars will line up overhead for this once in 700 years viewing opportunity, putting Aurora and Hamilton County smack dab in the middle of the path of totality. And yet, the weather forecast we watch every other single day of our lives will dictate whether it’s just another cloudy day, perhaps a little darker than most around 1 p.m., or a day people of all ages might remember for the rest of their lives.

Wed
09
Aug

Old age gives one similarities to Rice Krispies cereal

The Betterhalf has indicated to me in the past year I seemed to be more frequently starting the day as a grouch. I tried to explain to her in case she hasn’t noticed when my body moves after a night’s rest, I feel I should be a Rice Krispies’ representative. That is because the first thing she would hear is the sound of my sore knees echoing, “Snap, crackle and pop”.
Well, maybe I do complain to her more than I should. In an apologetic moment I recalled to her the story of a wife and her hard-to-please husband, noting that her husband certainly was more of a grouch than me.
One day the wife was determined to please him. “Darling,” she asked when getting up, “what would you like to have for breakfast?”
“Coffee and toast, grits and sausage, and two eggs -- one scrambled and one fried,” he replied

Wed
09
Aug

Signs of fall are everywhere, whether we are ready or not

Is it just me, or does it feel like fall comes earlier every year?
School bells will start ringing this week, far sooner than I can ever remember. Summer vacations are now a memory, many of them scheduled into a tighter window of opportunity. Even the weather hints that it’s time to turn the page into a new season, with cool mornings feeling more like late September than the usual blazing hot dog days of August.
The first week of school is upon us now, 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 into unfamiliar “empty nest territory,” it’s yet another reminder that the only thing constant in this life is change.
We should embrace it, though sometimes that’s hard to do.

Wed
02
Aug

The jury is still out on the effectiveness of brain games

I’ve always been leery when I purchase something that needs assembling. In fact when the sales clerk tells me it’s so simple that even a child can do it, that’s when my inner-self wants me to say, “Then, let a child do it!”
The same is true when I attempt to play those supposedly brain-training games. Recently, I came across a 192-page book of mind puzzles that was given to me as a gift several years ago. It had been barely opened even when claimed it could build your brain power in just a few minutes a day. As you may have guessed the book of crosswords, word ladders, mazes, cryptograms, Sudoku, etc. had been opened just a few times and held evidence when only a few pages had pencil scratches of my meager attempts. My efforts showed I was not a good candidate for brain training.

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