I've had lots of ideas for my latest blog. I've thought about dental care, obesity, zoonotic diseases (diseases both humans and animals share) and even the death of a pet. But I need to speak my mind about our backward little community. I'm not a politician and I hardly ever listen to the news. But we need to open our eyes, minds, hearts and even our wallets.
I was born in McCook, grew up here, graduated high school here and I've noticed a few things. One of the saying I heard a lot of in high school was that we were the biggest exports McCook had. How many of our children graduate here, leave to go to college and never return? Have you ever wondered why they don't come back? Could it be that they are over educated/qualified for most of the jobs we offer them? They can't work in food service, retail, construction or repair forever. We are a college town, lets act more like it! Also, it seems to me that McCook is very much a retirement town. So that means we export our young adults and when the elderly expire McCook's future will be that of a ghost town. Several people that live here get none or little respect. These people would be outsiders (those not born within city limits; including my mother), and farmers (we are a rural community after all, what are we thinking?). Tell me, how is our community supposed to grow when we discourage new businesses from coming into town?
We pride ourselves with several delusions of grandeur. We have a college. The Kiplinger arena was a stroke of genius. Do you know how many cowboys come for rodeos and cuttings? These people stay in our hotels, eat at our restaurants, shop in our businesses, maybe even take in a movie while they are here. There really isn't much for entertainment and those that try to have an entertainment business like go-carts or roller skating don't seem to make it more than 3 years. How many people visit the Norris home annually? Lets face it our tourist crowd is nil. We are halfway between interstates 70 and 80 and have a nice highway  that travels between the two of them. If we don't encourage new businesses, we won't get that interstate bypass that state is thinking about building through here. The interstate bypass could bring a lot of energy to this stagnant town. We now have Frontier Technologies just up that very same highway with NCTA (a part of the University of Nebraska). Frontier Technologies could bring a lot of energy to the surrounding area. There was a guy in high school that had a T-shirt that read 'where in the hell is McCook Nebraska'. I've been to Omaha and Lincoln and people have no clue where McCook is. Hell, they don't know where North Platte is either but at least they are growing. We have many politically minded former residents that have made their way to way to Lincoln/Washington DC but they haven't helped their hometown much with their income that is substantially larger that my own. Couldn't they donate some of that money to help their hometown grow?
How many businesses have we lost this year? How many houses are for sale because their owners have moved elsewhere for better paying jobs? How many businesses have wanted/needed to expand but nobody would loan them the money because it was too risky? Hey guys! Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained!
I reviewed the college class list that came in the mail. I was thinking about taking a few odd classes this fall. I was disappointed to find they weren't here but in North Platte. There isn't any way I could work full time and go to North Platte that often.
How many of us would like to have wages somewhere close to the national average? The national average for a Veterinary Technician in 2004 was $23980 per year. I haven't come close to that even with nearly 12 years experience. How about the human medicine equivalent of an LPN? In 2004 the average was $33970, 10 grand more! Shall we compare DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) and MD Medical Doctor - General Practioner)? The average income for a DVM was $66590 and MD's received $156000. That would be 100 grand more. They have the equal amount of years in college and debt in student loans but it takes them twice as long to pay off those student loans. We can't possibly get a graduate veterinarian to move out here because the veterinarians here are paid less than the national average and their businesses are lucky to be in the black at the end of the year. They are excellent at penny pinching.
Which makes me wonder why we have six veterinarians in a county with a population of 11000. If the pharmacists can figure it out and merge two pharmacies, then why can't the veterinarians merge their clinics together into a regional veterinary medical center? There are more benefits to a regional veterinary medical center than there are negatives. We could rotate evening emergency calls, not have to buy duplicate expensive diagnostic equipment, have better diagnostic equipment to make better, more accurate, quicker [than sending to a consultant] diagnosis. Clients could take their pet/livestock to the vet of their choice and not have to wait three weeks for an appointment.
I am happy to hear the chamber of commerce has made it possible for the smaller businesses to join. This gives them a possibility to make them a larger business. Now if only we could get someone on the fair board to be a part of either the chamber, the EDC and/or the city council.
Southwest Nebraska and McCook was once a railroad boom area and that has been lost. I don't mean we need to get the size of Denver or Omaha but somewhere large enough to get an Applebee's or Olive Garden. Somewhere I can earn more, have money to replace the old windows in my old house and remodel my kitchen because I can't fit a coffee pot between the upper and lower cabinets. Where I can work and do state of the art medicine, where people can pay their bills at the time of service instead of six months later. It aint utopia but it sounds better than were we are presently.