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Thursday, July 31, 2014
Who's really to blame in the prison sentencing scandal? (07/30/14)
We've been following the Veterans Administration scandal and written about it here a couple of times, but a new controversy that seems to have common components hits closer to home. Some Veterans Administration officials are accused of gaming the system, for example, by collecting bonuses for improving service to veterans by instructing lower level employees to keep appointment lists off the books to make waiting times look much better than they actually were...
State Fair promising 'A Bumper Crop of Fun' (07/29/14)
Did you enjoy the Red Willow County Fair? How about the fair nearest your home town, already past, going on this week or coming up soon? We'll bet they generate memories to carry through the long winter into next summer's celebration season. But let's not move on just yet...
How your morning wake-up drink, immigration crisis are related (07/28/14)
There are no simple answers to the immigration crisis, and that's in part because it's not a simple problem. The U.S. Senate is complicating things more, politicizing both immigration and aid to Israel with one fell swoop -- Democrats adding $225 million to deal with immigration in a bill to give Israel more funding to rebuild its dwindling supply if Iron Dome anti-missiles, used to defend against Hamas attacks...
Tragic events don't mean we have to change our plans (07/25/14)
Did we mention, "when it rains, it pours'? We pulled out that cliché in this space Thursday in regard to hailstorm repairs. Unfortunately, it applies to other, more serious topics this week as well. Plane crashes are one example -- on Thursday, an Air Algerie airliner went down in Africa...
Don't be victim of fly-by-night roof contractors (07/24/14)
When it rains it pours, but sometimes it hails. That was the case recently, and neighborhoods are buzzing with activity, first as adjusters take a look at property damage, then as crews make repairs. The recent hailstorm was not as damaging as storms of recent years, although because a second storm came up unexpectedly, a lot of car dealerships were caught off guard and are now offering hail-damaged bargains...
Teen HGH doping not worth the risk (07/23/14)
It won't be long now, football fans. Yes, we've enjoyed baseball season, and the World Cup was a pleasant distraction, but we all know what the real sport is. In Nebraska, NU volleyball and, to a lesser extent, basketball, have made themselves felt, but Big Red means football...
Whatever you drive, keep your seatbelt buckled (07/22/14)
Three people were sent to the hospital, one of them transported to an out-of-town hospital, following a horrible accident Monday evening, involving an SUV and a car. We've noticed several local accidents, some of them inside town at relatively slow speeds, where tall vehicles, most of them SUVs, have rolled as a result of the collision...
How Mexican meth made it into our area (07/21/14)
Ogallala celebrates its past as a rip-roarin' cattle town of the late 1800s, with monuments and tourist attractions. It earned its claim to fame after the railroad reached what would become Ogallala in 1867, the closest point for Texas beef to reach transportation to the hungry East...
Grassroots idea grows to feed 3 billion people (07/18/14)
Driving through freshly harvested fields of wheat, thriving fields of corn and soybeans and it's hard to believe that there is hunger anywhere in the world. This year, especially, our Golden Plains are producing an abundance of food -- at least the majority of fields, those that didn't receive hail -- and there is no reason some of it can't get to people who would otherwise starve...
Expanded gambling, whatever the form, remains a bad idea (07/16/14)
We can't remember the specifics, but there was surely a comedy sketch somewhere during the early days of videotape about two guys watching a football game between their two favorite teams. One remark leads to another, resulting in a wager over the outcome of the contest. The clock runs out, money changes hands and, of course, the audience laughs when the pair turn out to have been watching a videotape...
Cellphone ethics involves more than rude behavior (07/15/14)
Next time you're out with a group of friends, here's a game that will make the evening more enjoyable and just might pick up your tab. Everyone takes out their cell phones, stack them in the center of the table, and waits. The first person to grab their phone from the stack picks up the bill...
Alternative energy a hard sell in Nebraska (07/14/14)
The Keystone XL pipeline has been drawing the attention of activists over the past few years, and, as a purely public power state, our reliance on coal and aging nuclear power plans have raised environmental concerns, but selling Nebraskans on alternative energy may be an uphill battle, despite a strong ethanol industry...
Colorado extends long tradition with legalized marijuana (07/10/14)
A certain ritual used to be part of every 18-year-old's life in certain parts of Southwest Nebraska -- a trip to Julesburg, Colorado, to partake of beer with 3.2 percent alcohol, legal for young people of that age. We don't know whatever happened to the 3.2 beer ritual, but a new one has appeared to take its place...
Think twice about selling that old smartphone (07/09/14)
We all need to clean out the closets once in a while, and garage sales -- like the community-wide garage sale planned for McCook's Crazy Days next week -- are a good way to accomplish that task. Unfortunately for the compulsive collectors among us, that's also a good way to fill the closets back up, but that's another problem entirely...
Too many baby boomers have weight problems (07/08/14)
Huey Lewis and the News sang about it in 1986: "I like my bands in business suits, I watch them on TV "I'm working out most every day and watching what I eat "They tell me that it's good for me, but I don't even care "I know that it's crazy "I know that it's nowhere...
Subdivision roads issue only part of equation (07/07/14)
County commissioner Earl McNutt's prediction about maintaining roads in rural subdivisions seems to be coming true. McNutt was out-voted a couple of weeks ago when commissioners decided 2-1 to begin maintaining three roads in the Calabria subdivision, despite his warning that other rural private subdivisions would ask for the same treatment...
Local solution to a worldwide plastics problem? (07/02/14)
"I just want to say one word to you -- just one word -- 'plastics.'" The generation that followed that pronouncement in 1967's "The Graduate" certainly took that advice to heart. Today plastics are everywhere, from the wad of shopping bags in the pantry to the tiny beads in toothpaste, to industrial pellets and detergent bottles...
How about a week when we all just get along? (07/01/14)
Most of us are looking forward to a long weekend, thanks to Independence Day falling on a Friday -- and our sympathy and gratitude to those who do have to work that day, providing services the rest of us depend on, holiday or no. America's main summer holiday is a good time to enjoy the outdoors (we're hoping for good weather) and get together with family and friends...
Fourth of July commotion not popular with pets (06/30/14)
It seems to be the year for big animals to sell fireworks. A giant inflatable gorilla beckons buyers on North U.S. 83, a huge bald eagle dares B Street drivers not to pull in for seasonal incendiaries and various, odd dancing characters do their bit at other stands...
'Safer' fireworks substitute creates its own hazard (06/26/14)
It was only a year ago when we were talking about banning fireworks altogether because conditions were so dry. It will take a long time to recharge the ground moisture, but without even adding in all of the overnight precipitation, we've received almost three-quarters of an inch more precipitation than normal for the year, 11.63 inches of moisture...
Lessons on life from the eye of a photographer (06/24/14)
Say what you will about the social media, but nothing in history has allowed so many people to share their ideas with so many people so effortlessly. A post by our astronomy columnist, Vernon Whetstone, caught our eye on Facebook this week. A former professional photographer, he recalled a seminar where the presenter offered some sage advice:...
Returning sanity to public's view of food supply (06/23/14)
A prudish gentleman seated in a neighborhood diner inquired about the daily special. "Beef tongue," he was informed. "Oh, I could never eat something that had been in an animal's mouth!" he replied. "Give me a couple of scrambled eggs instead!"...
Overall climate more effective than targeted business incentives (06/20/14)
It's like a nuclear standoff, one official observes; "Unless everyone stands down, we've got to compete." State Sen. Galen Hadley of Kearney was refering to the Nebraska Advantage Act, which offers businesses tax breaks for creating new jobs. The only problem is, the law doesn't include a mechanism for determining whether it works...
Native American mascots placed in the spotlight (06/19/14)
These words are being written on a 5-year-old Macintosh computer, using 4-year-old software, the image eventually finding its way onto a 50-year-old press to be distributed around the southwest corner of an 150-year-old state. The technology is functional and well-taken care of despite its age, but someone was needed to invent it, get it working, and restore it to working order when something inevitably goes wrong. (Keeping the state in order is a question for another time.)...
New partnership will help meet demand for techs (06/18/14)
These words are being written on a 5-year-old Macintosh computer, using 4-year-old software, the image eventually finding its way onto a 50-year-old press to be distributed around the southwest corner of an 150-year-old state. The technology is functional and well-taken care of despite its age, but someone was needed to invent it, get it working, and restore it to working order when something inevitably goes wrong. (Keeping the state in order is a question for another time.)...
Feeling effects of international events in our area (06/16/14)
When old newspaper people used to get together, one would insult another by charging that his publication was "addicted to Afghanistan." It wasn't an altogether inaccurated allegation; it's always easier to fill space with news transmitted from afar via the wire services. That's why papers like this one emphasize local stories as much as possible -- no one in Afghanistan is especially interested in McCook goings-on -- unless it happens to be a service member from here, for one example...
One more reason you should protect yourself from mosquitoes (06/13/14)
Not many of us worry much about West Nile Virus, which first hit Nebraska in 2002, despite the fact it causes a few deaths and a few hundred clinical infections in the state every year. Still, it's a good idea to take precautions to do everything we can to prevent being infected, which occurs only by being bitten by a female mosquito carrying the virus...
Coffee may be good for you (06/12/14)
Visit your dentist regularly. Brush and floss your teeth properly. Avoid sugary foods. Oh, and drink plenty of black coffee. Wait, what? That's what a new study, "Antibacterial effect of coffee: calcium concentration in a culture containing teeth/biofilm exposed to Coffea Canephora Aqueous extract" seems to indicate...
Too many old, recalled tires are on the road (06/11/14)
What do a gallon of milk and a set of tires have in common? Neither one should be used after the expiration date. Actually, only the milk has an official expiration date, but some experts think the tires should, too. In 2013, GM began recommending in its owner manuals that tires should be replaced after six years regardless of tread wear, and Ford and Lincoln have followed suit...
Higher wages, entry-level jobs and the Turing test (06/10/14)
What's a fair wage? That depends on whom you ask, of course; minimum wage workers never think they earn enough, and employers always worry about staying in business while dealing with red tape and mandates like the Affordable Care Act, not to mention competition...
Welcome rain fails to put damper on weekend activities (06/09/14)
Was it the best of both worlds, or a pleasant compromise? We'll probably find somebody complaining about the rains, but they'll be vastly outnumbered by those of us who are grateful for long-overdue precipitation. Friday's horse race at the John Mullen Pro-Am had to be called for lightning on the 17th hole, but finished up Saturday morning...
D-Day numbers tell their tale (06/06/14)
With America now attempting to wind down its longest-lasting war, attention is focused on a single soldier who may or may not have been a deserter, in exchange for five captives who definitely were terrorists. As we debate the implications of the exchange of those six individuals, a look at the raw, nameless numbers from the D-Day invasion, occurring 70 years ago today, can bring things into perspective...
Rural areas should keep eye on net neutrality (06/05/14)
Did Native Americans argue about who got the best smoke signals? Some of them attacked encroaching Europeans building a better system, a telegraph line alongside the tracks used by the Iron Horse. Businesses and individuals who sent messages via the telegram were supposed to get equal treatment, whether it was birthday greetings for one of the Rockefellers or word of the sinking of the Titanic...
Bad times make good marriages? (06/04/14)
People who went through Tuesday's storm in other parts of the state probably don't believe the old adage that "every cloud has a silver lining." At least one credit expert thinks it is true, however, if we're talking about the 2008 recession. Bad financial times apparently caused more couples to take steps to have good marriages, Becky Frost of Experian Consumer Services told CNNMoney...
Do we face environmental or economic ruin? (06/03/14)
Nebraskans have traditionally enjoyed some of the lowest electrical costs in the nation, due, in part to its status, along with Alaska, as a totally "public power" state. That means the people who run the electrical systems answer not to investors looking to make a profit, but to customers who want to pay as little as possible for their energy...
Rural crime prevention is a team sport (06/02/14)
One of the beauties of rural life is the solitude it offers for those who prefer their peace and quiet. Unfortunately, that solitude offers opportunity for those who want to use that isolation to enrich themselves at the expense of unsuspecting rural residents...
Sunscreen advice still good today (05/30/14)
A 1997 Chicago Tribune column by Mary Schmich lamented that "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young." It included an admonishment to "wear your sunscreen," and spawned a popular song ostensibly offering the same advice to graduates as a way to live a happier life and avoid common frustrations...
Surveillance networks have two sides (05/29/14)
George Orwell probably never thought of each of us carrying a networked computer that could keep track of our every word and move, but he knew Big Brother would have loved one. NSA leaker Edward Snowden told NBCs' Brian Williams that the government can use your cell phone or computer to take photos, checking your Internet activity, emails and recording your phone conversations, even if your device is turned off...
Veterans pay price for VA cooking bookds (05/28/14)
The scandal at the Veterans Administration reveals a couple of problems with the way organizations work, and how some techniques for improving them can actually have the opposite effect. The first is the tendency is "just go along to get along." Most of us want to do our job well and not create friction with our co-workers, but sometimes we need to make waves to avoid disaster...
Another tragic reminder to stay involved (05/27/14)
There was something for everyone in Friday night's tragedy near the University of California, Santa Barbara that left seven people dead, including the attacker, and seven others wounded. Gun control advocates will note that Elliot Rodger, a troubled college student who was able to convince authorities he was of no danger to himself or others, was found with three handguns, all purchased legally, with hundreds of rounds of ammunition in his car after he shot three victims and himself...
McCook military legacy in spotlight for Memorial Day (05/23/14)
It's hard to believe now, but many of us used to grow tired of hearing war stories from our fathers. For children of World War II parents, those stories are fast becoming a precious commodity. Even stories from Korea and Vietnam are nothing to be taken for granted...
Memorial Day starts 100 days of driving danger (05/22/14)
We're all looking forward to Memorial Day, the traditional first day of summer, a time to remember those who have sacrificed their all for us, a day to spend extra time with family and friends. But not everyone is looking forward to a good time. Officials know that Memorial Day is also the start of the 100 most dangerous days for teen drivers...
News from VA, ER front bode ill for Obamacare (05/21/14)
The whole health care issue comes down to one issue: Who pays? One of the major selling points of the Affordable Care Act was that, by covering more people, we could reduce the number of people who resorted to expensive emergency room visits for otherwise routine medical care...
One more reason to get kids to bed on time (05/20/14)
It's always hard to get kids to go to bed when it's still daylight outside at 9 p.m., but there is a reason other than they'll wake up grumpy. Eventually, they may wake up lumpy, according to a new study that linked childhood obesity to chronic sleep deprivation during infancy and early childhood...
Let's help kids have a fun, safe summer vacation (05/19/14)
School's out for summer -- almost; just ask a kid who hasn't graduated yet and may be counting down the hours until the final dismissal of the year. It's time to enjoy the outdoors, take part in baseball, softball and soccer, plan a family vacation or head to the lake. There are summertime jobs for older kids, and all of us adjust our daily activities in tune with the calendar...
Two-wheeled transportation has benefits (05/16/14)
It's a little too late for readers to take part in today's Bike to Work Day, and that means of transportation just isn't practical for many of us. That doesn't mean we shouldn't think about using it on other days, climbing aboard on our days off. It's not unusual to see someone loading up a bike at the local big-box store, and a visit to the local bike shop where dozens of two-wheelers await repair is evidence that bicycling is as popular as ever. ...
New facility frees cancer patients from hours of travel (05/15/14)
Nothing's as sobering as hearing that you have cancer, but it's not the death sentence it was in years past. American Cancer Society statistics show the death rate from cancer in the United States has declined steadily over the past 20 years. The cancer death rate for men and women, which peaked in 1991, had dropped 20 percent by 2010, the most recent year for which data is available...
Changing political cast of characters good, whatever the cause (05/14/14)
We've editorialized against term limits as a waste of experience and institutional memory, and nothing that occurred in Tuesday's election has changed our minds. Term limits were passed mainly to remove Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers from his decades-long position, but worked only until he was eligible again -- while his replacement experienced personal problems with gambling...
Nonpartisan bloc gains importance (05/13/14)
When you walked into the polls today, the person ahead of you in line probably belonged to the same political party as you. But maybe not. A check of the registered voters at various precincts in Red Willow County provides an enlightening snapshot of the political leanings of various neighborhoods...
Don't let details keep you from casting your vote (05/12/14)
Elections are a vital part of our system of government, but it's unfortunate when they deteriorate into the late mud-slinging attacks that have marked the final days going into tomorrow's vote. While we may be tired of the negativity, it's important that we don't let that stop us from writing off our responsibilities entirely...
'Nebraska Nice' harnesses state's greatest asset (05/09/14)
Social media hasn't been kind, and you'd never guess it by some of the current political campaigns, but the Nebraska Tourism Commission did get one thing right: the friendliness of Nebraska's people is the state's greatest asset. That's the conclusion reached after months and $75,000 worth of research, three online surveys of visitors, potential visitors, residents and community/visitor industry stakeholders...
Healthy eating habits start at home (05/08/14)
You can lead a kid to healthy food, but you can't make him eat it. Schools are experiencing the old "horse" adage as they attempt to comply with healthy lunch regulations championed by first lady Michelle Obama. Starting next year, pasta and other grain products in schools will have to be whole-grain rich, or more than half whole grain -- that includes rolls, biscuits, pizza crust, tortillas and even grits...
Study raises alarm bells over diabetes (05/06/14)
We all know it's not healthy to sit around and not get exercise. Back in the day, the culprit was watching television. Today, it's playing video games or chatting electronically with our friends. There's more at stake than just the poor self-esteem that comes from being overweight, although that's bad enough. ...
Local twisters add perspective to state's last F5 (05/05/14)
May 5 may be Cinco de Mayo, but for residents of certain areas in east central Nebraska, today's the 50th anniversary of the one of the worst tornadoes Nebraska has ever experienced. The last F5, measured by the old Fujita Scale, tornado reported in the state killed two people on a farm about three miles northwest of Bradshaw, injured 20 near Harvard and hurt others near Hastings and rural areas. More than 40 farmsteads were damaged and over 100 head of livestock were killed...
Marijuana money a growing problem in Colorado (05/02/14)
Follow the money. Deep throat's advice from "All The President's Men" holds true today, even if the money involved is from a quasi-legal source. The recreational marijuana business is booming in Colorado -- just ask the state revenue department, which is expected to bring in an extra $40 million this year if trends continue. That comes from the regular 2.9 percent sales tax, a retail marijuana excise tax and local taxes that can total more than 20 percent...
Nature's most deadly killer? You might be surprised (05/01/14)
It's May Day and it won't be long until we reach the first official holiday of summer -- Memorial Day, 25 days from today. It's fun to go to a new vacation destination, near or far, but it's always a good idea to keep possible dangers in mind. Toward that end, Microsoft billionaire and Warren Buffett bridge partner Bill Gates recently blogged about the animals most dangerous to humans, listing them in order of people killed each year...
More ammunition for opponents of death penalty (04/30/14)
Death penalty opponents will have a field day with Tuesday's botched execution in Oklahoma. Clayton Lockett's vein "blew out," lethal drugs weren't delivered properly, he writhed in pain, uttered "something's wrong," curtains were drawn so witnesses couldn't tell what was happening and the physician ordered a halt to the execution...
Invest in your future, self, but do some research first (04/29/14)
It's a time of anticipation and trepidation, but fortunately, this year's college graduates facing the "real world" can feel a little more confident than those in years past that there's a job out there, somewhere, waiting for them. CareerBuilder found from a survey of 2,138 hiring managers and human resources professionals in various kinds and sizes of industries that 57 percent said they planned to hire new college graduates this year, up from 53 percent last year and 44 percent four years ago.. ...
A reminder to be ready for the next storm (04/28/14)
At least two tornadoes were confirmed in Nebraska and a string of storms killed 18 people in three states, according to accounts available this morning. Meanwhile, wind gusts as high as 70 mph were expected in Southwest Nebraska today and snow heavy enough to obscure visibility and hamper travel was expected in Northwest Nebraska...
All eyes on vote by Northwestern football players (04/25/14)
Athletes, coaches, administrators, agents and fans are watching Northwestern University with fear and trepidation today, even though the results of the secret-ballot vote by Northwestern's football players to join a union won't be known for some time...
Seek, follow recommendations on vaccinations (04/24/14)
Medicine has made great strides over the past decades, with polio virtually eliminated in the United States and "normal" childhood diseases such as measles, mumps and chicken pox increasing reduced to oddities. Unfortunately, misinformation and other factors have caused parents to delay vaccinations or refuse them altogether, resulting in resurgence in preventable diseases. Measles, for example, have turned up in parts of California, and Ohio children are contracting mumps...
Local implications likely in tax case from N-CORPE (04/23/14)
They say agriculture is the only industry where producers buy raw material at retail and sell finished products at wholesale. Does that include water, the most vital component? And, does the "factory" involved in the production deserve to be taxed, even when its output is going to be drastically reduced?...
Powdered alcohol not what our society needs (04/22/14)
With American workers struggling to stay competitive with the world market, why is it we're finding more and more ways to make ourselves less and less productive? As if there weren't enough opportunities to get drunk, a company is now producing a powdered alcohol...
Finding common ground key to preserving Earth (04/21/14)
Most baby boomers were raised with a certain reverence for science. Their parents had just witnessed the invention of the atomic bomb, and the boomers themselves marvels like man's first trip to the moon and technology that links individuals worldwide with handheld computing power -- smart phones -- that would have been the envy of scientists working on the Manhattan Project...
Celebrating season of new, renewed life (04/18/14)
Despite drought conditions, not many of us were all that thrilled to experience last week's snowstorm, especially those who were trying to travel. We could take solace from the fact the April snow wouldn't last long, and we're now being rewarded with lawns that are greening up quickly, bulbs sprouting to break the crust in flower beds and trees have the green tinge that signifies leaves almost ready to appear...
Good news, bad news on property values (04/17/14)
We've got good news and bad news; which would you like to hear first? The good news: if you're an average Nebraska property owner, your property has increased 12.45 percent in value, 29.1 percent if it's agricultural land. The bad news: if you're an average Nebraska property owner, your property has increased 12.45 percent in value, 29.1 percent if it's agricultural land...
Area gardeners are getting into volunteer spirit (04/16/14)
Nearly everything public figures do during the run-up to the primary election is seen as political, but there are some things all sides can agree upon. Outgoing Gov. Dave Heineman and First Lady Sally Ganem are leading one example, encouraging Nebraskans to volunteer during ServeNebraska Week April 20-26...
Skate park project should get go-ahead (04/15/14)
There's been an effort to build a skate park for McCook since at least 2005, and that effort will take a little while longer, thanks to a 4-1 school board vote Monday night against leasing school property to the city for that purpose. Unconfirmed reports are that the City of McCook has an alternative site in mind for the skate park...
Company invents pot vending machine; tobacco, booze next? (04/14/14)
Remember cigarette machines? They used to be a common sight in gas stations and restaurants, but they're about as rare as 45 juke boxes these days. The problem is, they are legal only in establishments where people under 18 are not allowed. A Colorado company is getting around that problem with modern technology, but it's not cigarettes they're dealing with...
Local faith film among mix of popular movies (04/10/14)
Hollywood has discovered that Americans are interested in religious topics, and recent releases are a good example. The Fridley Theater in McCook, for example, is showing "Noah," a controversial adaptation of the Old Testament flood story, and Friday will start showing "God's Not Dead," a story about a college student risking his future to attempt to prove that God is real...
State's central issue headed for a solution? (04/09/14)
Native Americans called our region "flat water" when, after being pushed westward by European settlers in the 18th century, they encountered the Platte River. In 1714, French explorer Etienne de veniard, sieur de Bourgmont -- perhaps his friends called him "Spike," -- adapted the Otoe or Omaha word and called it the "Nebraskier River," a name later applied to the state...
Goodbye, old friend; XP is now an orphan (04/08/14)
Remember Windows 3.1? There was a major hew and cry when Microsoft decided to drop that operating system to issue Windows 95 -- remember that, as well? There hasn't been the uproar this time, but today is the last day the Redmond, Washington, company will issue security updates for the Windown XP operating system on a computer you might just have on your desk right now...
LEAD program provides ag's most important component (04/07/14)
We can have the best agricultural conditions possible, and without one key component, they won't mean a thing. Land and water resources, strong commodity prices and markets, capital and credit, infrastructure -- they're all meaningless unless we have people with vision to take the lead and make things happen...
It will be good to see Capitol completed (04/04/14)
Ninety two years after it was begun, Nebraska's Capitol is poised to be completed. That's despite the best efforts of Gov. Dave Heineman, who saw his veto of $2.5 million for four bronze fountains, one for each of four open-air courtyards, that were part of the original design, overturned...
U.S.-funded Cuban 'Twitter' stale cold-war tactic (04/03/14)
"Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't after you," wrote Joseph Heller in "Catch-22." A little paranoia is understandable in light of revelations about the National Security Agency, and Cuba has a long history of justified suspicion when it comes to its neighbor to the north...
Every vote will count in race for sheriff (04/02/14)
Campaign signs are sprouting around town like tulips and daffodils as four contenders seek votes to replace retiring Red Willow County Sheriff Gene Mahon. The four candidates hope to catch the eyes -- and votes -- of residents in the May 6 primary. They've got their job cut out for them...
Musings while driving (04/01/14)
It was six o'clock in the morning. I was headed east out of town well before sun up. It was McCook but could have been anywhere in Southwest Nebraska. The clouds were absent, no moon, just stars and the wind hadn't kicked back up -- yet. It is a time to exercise the mind, solve the world's problems, think of what to write and rejoice in a life well lived. Quiet time hard to find in today's hustle bustle; thinking time that I miss from solitary hours on the tractor when I used to farm...
Let's keep local celebration for local celebrities (04/01/14)
We've always been impressed with McCook's community spirit, and the way volunteers are always willing to put out extra effort to make events a success. Such was the case with another success story, the Lorrie Morgan concert to benefit the new oncology center at Community Hospital...
Carbs replace fats as evil part of diet (03/31/14)
Remember the fat-free fad? Fat was evil, we were told; stay away from butter, bacon, meat, eggs, nuts and avocados, and you'll reduce your risk of heart disease. Food manufacturers responded by creating "fat-free" cookies, pudding and even cheese -- but some of their offerings tasted so terrible, they resorted to adding carbohydrates to make their products palatable enough to sell...
Readers respond on local issues (03/28/14)
Open Forum letters are always welcome within guidelines, but not all readers take the time to chase down pen, paper, envelope and stamp to submit their opinions to these pages. We're turning this column over to a sampling of this week's reader comments on various topics:...
Check out pitfalls before taking out reverse mortgage (03/27/14)
We've all seen them, a distinguished pitchman -- perhaps a former U.S. Senator and television actor -- urging seniors to cash in on the value of their homes in order to have a comfortable retirement, or maybe even splurge a little. It's a definite option for someone whose short of cash but does own their home...
Millennials face issue issues similar to Depression years (03/26/14)
Quick, what do today's 20-somethings have in common with their grandparents? They may be worse off than their parents. According to the Pew Research Center, millennials -- those born anywhere from the late 1980s to about 2000, are facing economic realities foreign to every generation born since the Great Depression...
STEM courses are key to our economic future (03/25/14)
"But how am I ever going to use this in life!?" Many a parent has heard that lament, or uttered the cry himself, while in the throes of completing a science homework assignment Science, technology, engineering and math -- they don't call them the "hard" sciences for nothing. Unlike other so-called sciences, social and political come to mind, STEM courses have clear-cut answers to difficult answers, rarely open to interpretation...
What will you do the next time a twister appears? (03/25/14)
Be prepared. It's the old Boy Scout motto, but it's good advice whatever your age or gender. We do what we can to prepare for whatever eventuality, whether it's buckling up in our car, locking the door at night, or buying health, life and property insurance...
Protecting sources, free speech vital for all U.S. citizens (03/21/14)
We've noticed a few news stories that are of concern to those of us in the news business, but citizens of all stripes should listen up. Free speech and protecting sources -- a key part of open government -- are at stake in the latest examples. Although he's not involved in news gathering, any reporter who has agreed to keep a source confidential can sympathize with a retired Florida detective, who was sentenced to two weeks in jail for contempt of court...
Big numbers illustrate state's biggest industry (03/20/14)
They say money doesn't grow on trees, but arborists, Christmas tree farmers, plant nursery owners and the Nebraska Nut Growers Association, might beg to differ. In fact, money DOES grow on trees, fields and feedlots in Nebraska, or at least the products that turn into cash for Nebraska's agriculture industry and the businesses that support or benefit from it, which are nearly all of them...
Bad news about American retirement (03/19/14)
How much do you have put away for retirement? A million dollars? Five hundred thousand? Five hundred dollars? If you're like a third of Americans, the final answer is closer to the truth. About 36 percent of workers have less than a thousand dollars in savings and investments that could be used for retirement, not counting their home or defined benefit plans such as traditional pensions (increasingly rare)...
Mixed message on gambling (03/18/14)
There's plenty to keep your attention this week if you like playing the odds. First, there's the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge, in which you could win a billion dollars if you pick out all the winners in the NCAA basketball bracket. That's only the tip of the iceberg; numerous other brackets are floating around the Internet and American offices, costing employers millions of dollars in lost productivity...
Original mass media takes center stage for Buffalo Commons Storytelling Festival (03/17/14)
How much time do you spend with the media? Television, radio, movies, streaming video -- yes, books and newspapers -- offer more opportunities to be informed, educated and entertained than ever before in history. But no matter how it is delivered, in digital packets, radio waves, fiber optics or printing press, the story remains the most vital component of the whole process...
Text, don't call during times of emergency (03/14/14)
Text messaging has become so common that some of us are annoyed when we are forced to telephone and personally talk to someone who doesn't accept texts. We're waiting for some friends to decide they'll no longer accept voice calls; only texts welcome...
Pay-as-you-go system for roads should be retained (03/13/14)
"Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry." It was good advice when Polonius gave it to his son, Laertes, in William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and it's still good advice for the Legislature today...
Spring weather arrives with pesky allergies (03/12/14)
We've had some late-winter bitter cold, and a couple early spring- or summer-like days. Spring officially arrives next week, but long-time residents know some of the worst winter weather can arrive after the calendar says winter has departed. It will be great to get outside once spring weather arrives, but hidden irritants can make those of us with allergies long for a return to the clear air of cold weather...
Parents provide bad examples on mobile devices (03/11/14)
The McCook school board spent a couple of hours talking about the purchase of iPads for every high school student, a quarter-million-dollar investment for 500 of the ubiquitous tablet computers, before finally approving the plan. There were plenty of good questions, many of them concerns about just how responsible students would be while using the expensive devices with Internet access...
March puts spotlight on colon cancer (03/07/14)
With all debate about what the federal and state governments should do through Obamacare and Medicaid, it's easy to forget that we as individuals bear the most responsibility four our own healthcare. The American Cancer Society is using National Colon Cancer Awareness Month to point out that colorectal cancer is one of only a handful of cancers for which screening is proven to save lives, both by finding and removing polyps before they turn cancerous, and by finding cancers early, when treatment is most likely to be successful.. ...
Get children ready for Daylight Saving Time Sunday morning (03/06/14)
We won't roll out the "daylight-saving-time-is-stupid-and-should-be-abolished" speech again this spring, although we believe the same arguments still hold. But since it's inevitable that we'll have to lose an hour of sleep this Sunday morning, here are some tips to make Monday morning a little more tolerable for infants, toddlers and older children...
Man's good deed lands home on list of meth labs (03/05/14)
Big Brother may be watching, but too often, he just isn't paying attention when it counts. That's especially true when Big Brother doesn't watch where he steps, and tramples his little brothers and sisters in the process. The federal Druge Enforcement Agency finally cleaned up after another agency, the National Clandestine Laboratory Register, but not until after the NCLR had falsely declared an Iowa family's house as a drug lab, and after media had publicized the error...
Finding ways to fulfill need for affordable housing (03/04/14)
Ever wonder what happened to all the "Occupy" people? You remember, the "99 percent" who pitched tents and made themselves a nuisance to protest "social and economic inequality"? Some of them have moved on to a new project to help shelter the homeless, but, never fear, they're still annoying some people in the process...
Energy prices put pressure on family budget (03/03/14)
Temperatures promise to climb into the mid-60s later this week, and propane prices are descending from all-time highs, but Nebraskans are paying the price this month for living in a sometimes-frigid climate. Unfortunately, we may pay the price next summer for living in a sometimes-scorching state as cooling demands push up utility demands as well...
Younger farmers needed to keep ag on track (02/27/14)
After years of declining farm numbers, we've come to expect more of the same. It was a pleasant surprise, then, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Census of Agriculture showed Nebraska bucking the national trend. The report, released every five years, showed that the number of Nebraska farms increased 4.7 percent to 49,969 from 2007 to 2012...
Pet ownership, exercise pay off for California couple (02/26/14)
We've repeatedly used this space to tout the need for exercise, and even promoted the advantages of responsible pet ownership for one's physical and mental health. Both paid off for a California couple, who made the discovery of a lifetime when they were getting some exercise by walking their dog...
McCook Gazette
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