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Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Audit throws spotlight on state tourism expenditures (05/04/16)
Our current slogan is "Visit Nebraska. Visit Nice." but the Nebraska Tourism Commission is not so sure some of the agency's spending is "nice." Meeting in one of the state's top attractions, the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, the commission went into a closed session Tuesday after reviewing an audit that disclosed a number of questionable expenses...
McCook has long history of public-private development efforts (05/02/16)
A posting on the popular Facebook page, "Remember When in McCook, Nebraska" shows that economic development has been part of our town since the beginning. "How We Build a New City In The Far West and Offer Rare Chances for the Artisan, Tradesman & Speculator" reads the headline on a notice in the McCook Weekly Tribune of Jan. 31, 1884...
Plenty of good reasons to plant a tree on Arbor Day (04/29/16)
Trees were a rare commodity in the early days of Nebraska, a situation J. Sterling Morton sought to rectify through his efforts in Nebraska City, planting many rare varieties and heirloom apple trees around his 52-room mansion styled after the White House, now in Arbor Lodge State Historical Park...
Bison assuming rightful place as American symbol (04/28/16)
The suggestion by East Coast scholars Frank and Deborah Popper that the Plains be turned back into a "Buffalo Commons" raised the hackles of Southwest Nebraska residents, to the point that an annual event was named the Buffalo Commons Storytelling Festival in defiance...
Voters face important decision on future of McCook (04/27/16)
Voting against the economic development program on the May 10 ballot won't lower city sales taxes, but neither will it spell the end of economic development. In 2015, voters approved combining and extending the 11⁄2-cent sales tax until 2033, but voted against continued funding of the McCook Economic Development Program...
Firearm education needed (04/26/16)
Playing cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians used to be a harmless part of growing up in America. Not any more. It's not just because of political correctness, where a child can be suspended for chewing a Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun, or the post-Columbine or Sandy Hook Elementary world...
More of us convinced politics, public talk increasingly rude (04/25/16)
If you feel like political discourse has degenerated to the level of a playground argument, you're not alone. That's especially true in the Republican race, where nothing has been out of bounds, to the appearance of candidates' wives to the size of a candidate's hands or genitalia or a moderator's menstrual cycle...
Civil forfeiture law helps keep authorities honest (04/22/16)
Cops and courts are there to keep the rest of us honest, but who keeps them in line? In this case, it's the Nebraska Legislature, which passed LB 1106, and Gov. Pete Ricketts, who signed the bill Tuesday to reduce the opportunity for abuse of due process and private property rights through civil forfeiture...
Towns coast-to-coast banking on 2017 solar eclipse (04/21/16)
Montana is the "Big Sky Country," but Nebraskans enjoy a big sky of their own, uncluttered by mountains or clouded by city lights over much of the state. That's one of the reasons we've enjoyed bringing you Vernon Whetstone's "What's Up?" column every Wednesday, pointing out the beautiful and interesting details of the night sky...
Mid-Plains system ranks high in use of technology (04/20/16)
Sometimes smaller is better. That's especially true when it comes time to adapting to changing technology. The Mid Plains Community College system is proving that, according to the Center for Digital Education's annual survey. The survey, now in its 11th year, analyzes how community colleges improve services through innovative technology such as online courses and mobile environments, mobile apps, secure platforms and wireless networks...
'Infrastructure bank' has statewide, local potential (04/19/16)
Red Willow County doesn't have any bridges in dire need of repair, and a four-lane highway from McCook to North Platte isn't in the plan, but a bill signed by Gov. Pete Ricketts paves the way for those types of improvements elsewhere in the state. LB960 creates an "infrastructure bank" to provide a framework for infrastructure improvement that should be considered for similar efforts at all levels of government...
Gentle rain, yes, but Mother Nature is still in control (04/18/16)
McCook's Barnett Park was still closed today because of heavy rainfall over the weekend, but a drive down South Street offers just a taste of the view that greeted residents during the infamous 1935 Republican River flood. That disaster's not likely to be repeated, thanks dams along the river and modern communications, but that doesn't mean Mother Nature is no longer capable of flexing her muscles...
Questionable spending returns with revival of congressional earmarks (04/14/16)
Congressional candidates make all sorts of promises to win elections, then find out how little power they actually have once they arrive in Washington. As a result, they do what they can, where they can, usually by using earmarks. One example is the tax code, which is so loaded with special exemptions and incentives that just reading it is a lifetime occupation...
Even atheists benefit from religious attitudes (04/13/16)
Highly religious people are happier than others, according to a new Pew Research survey. However, even those who call themselves "religious unaffiliated" value religious attitudes. The unaffiliated group listed criteria for a moral life that might sound familiar to religious folk:...
Numbers shed light on IRS taxpaying process (04/12/16)
You've got an extra weekend to pay your taxes this year, provided you have to pay. April 15 is the traditional tax day, but Friday is Emancipation Day in Washington D.C., so IRS employees get the day off. Most of us wish taxpayers could have an Emancipation Day of our own...
NSAA schools forced to deal with controversy (04/11/16)
Nebraska isn't in danger of losing any major sporting events, thanks to a Nebraska School Activities Association vote last week. North Carolina is risking that, and has already lost events like a Bruce Springsteen concert over what critics are calling its "anti-LGBT bathroom bill" which prohibits transgendered people from using their choice in public restrooms, and also eliminates anti-discrimination protections...
POW Recognition Day reminder of vital sacrifices (04/08/16)
Something important will be missing at next month's Memorial Day services in Memorial Park Cemetery in McCook. We could always count on Willis Jones, fit and trim in his World War II Army Air Force uniform, standing at attention while taps played. Jones, who passed away in October, was taken prisoner when his B-17 was shot down on his 26th mission over Germany, spending 13 months as a prisoner of war...
Is that cupcake really worth an hour of running? (04/07/16)
In his book, "The Tipping Point," Malcom Gladwell contended that small changes can make a big change in society. Cleaning up graffiti helped New York lower crime rates, he claimed, by reducing the chaotic atmosphere that seems to tolerate crime. When a few Manhattan hipsters began wearing them, the Hush Puppies brand was revived, strictly by word-of-mouth. A college was able to boost visits to its campus clinic exponentially, simply by including a map on a brochure...
Cyber criminals finding success in lower profile (04/06/16)
Major hackers like those involved with the Panama Papers, Anonymous or WikiLeaks get all the attention, but others are cashing in by keeping a lower profile. These hackers do it by infecting computer networks to make them inaccessible, then selling the owners the cure...
Panama Papers provide roadmap to hidden assets (04/04/16)
"Follow the money" was the advice "Deep Throat" gave to Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, investigating the Watergate break-in that eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. If they were doing their job with today's access to the Internet, Woodward and Bernstein might have found a lot of that money headed overseas...
Health Department enlists Hollywood to get points across (04/01/16)
The people at the Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department are enlisting the entertainment professionals in Hollywood to get its message across. They still have a Website, news releases and brochures, but nobody beats Julia Roberts or Dustin Hoffman for keeping people's attention...
Farmers, ranchers step up to help southern neighbors (03/30/16)
Nebraskans are known for helping out their neighbors -- turning out to harvest crops for a family with a death or illness, working cattle, generally being neighborly. Sometimes there are quite a few miles between them and the neighbors in need. That's the case with the Anderson Creek Fire, a record-setting blaze that has burned across nearly 400,000 acres of land, destroying fences, livestock, outbuildings and other property in the process. ...
Too many of us taking too many opioid painkillers (03/29/16)
Thanks to our location near Colorado, the subject of legalized marijuana for recreational or medical use is the most common topic of drug-related conversation in Southwest Nebraska. But a much more potent class of chemicals, in the form of opium-derived legal and illegal drugs, is worthy of discussion...
Nebraska needs to keep energy options open (03/28/16)
At the risk of using an Easter metaphor a day too late, we'd say Nebraska is putting most of its eggs in one basket when it comes to energy. A bill to make it easier for private developers to build renewable energy facilities in Nebraska failed to make it out of committee this legislative session, so our state will continue to depend on coal for the majority of its electricity...
Candy's not key part of Easter (03/25/16)
A popular cartoon shows two chocolate Easter bunnies. One, which has its tail bit off, says "My butt hurts!" The other, missing its ears, says "What?" If you're like most Americans, the first one belongs to you. Eighty-nine percent of us eat the ears first, 6 percent start with the feet and 5 percent with the tail...
Tobacco taxes not a reliable source of revenue (03/24/16)
One of the the frustrations healthcare providers endure is knowing that many of the problems they treat are self-inflicted. Lack of exercise, poor diet and other lifestyle choices ultimately send many of us to the hospital or the morgue. It's tempting, therefore, to tax those poor lifestyle choices, both to make alternatives more attractive and, in this day of "universal" healthcare, to pay for the treatment required...
Drug, food stamp law strikes reasonable balance (03/23/16)
Giving food stamps to drug dealers only enables them to keep on breaking the law. Keeping food stamps from people convicted of drug felonies is only kicking them when they're down, and putting more pressure on local food pantries. For now, the Nebraska Legislature is taking the first position...
Only time will tell whether TIF vote right for McCook (03/22/16)
Let's hope current presidential candidates and other political figures take the lead from participants in Monday night's discussion of the controversial Holiday Inn Express TIF project before the McCook City Council. City officials admitted to losing some sleep over the decision of whether to grant $1.4 million in tax increment financing assistance to the $8.8 million, four-story project, but it sets a good precedent...
Construction zones require extra caution (03/21/16)
It's the time of year when the ravages of winter make themselves apparent on the surfaces of our streets and highways. City and state crews and contractors are already out repairing potholes and preparing for heavy summer construction projects. The projects are an inconvenience to drivers, but they're definitely preferable to the alternative -- the slow decay of one of our most important infrastructures...
Keep a lookout, seek help for gambling issues (03/18/16)
Gov. Pete Ricketts is helping throw the spotlight on a disease the government helps facilitate. While the state lottery generates millions of dollars for worthwhile programs, the fact some of those dollars go toward treating a disease it helps create should be a clue...
Irish Americans have many reasons to be a proud people (03/17/16)
"If I hear one more Irish stereotype, I'm going to put down this beer and beat somebody up!" St. Patrick's Day is a day we put any prejudice aside and all become Irish, not just the 10 percent of Americans who claim Irish ancestry. We don't blame them for being proud, the Irish have made a long list of contributions to modern society...
Garland deserves fair, bipartisan up-or-down vote (03/16/16)
Republicans have vowed to stall any nomination President Obama puts forth to replace Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia, but they'll have a hard time justifying opposition Merrick Garland, who the president was expected to nominate this morning. There are no qualifications spelled out to be a Supreme Court justice -- not even a law degree -- but one would be hard-pressed to find someone more qualified than Merrick Garland...
Broken cars one thing, broken tax system another (03/15/16)
In general, modern cars are more reliable than ever, lasting hundreds of thousands of miles with reasonable maintenance and provided drivers don't get in an accident. Drive any car long enough, and something's going to wear out, probably at the most inconvenient time, and need to be repaired...
Distractions create perfect storm of lost productivity (03/14/16)
It's a perfect storm when it comes to lost productivity. This might not be the most engaging space in the newspaper, but if you find your mind drifting today, you can probably blame it on the sleep you lost over the weekend. The time change has more serious consequences; a study of mining injuries across the U.S. showed a spike in workplace injuries of nearly 6 percent on the Monday following the shift to daylight saving time...
Increased heart attack risk part of time change (03/11/16)
McCook Fire Chief Marc Harpham told the City Council he was concerned about the number of ambulance calls for heart attacks, and the relatively young age of the victims. He might not have an explanation for the problem, but he might want to keep extra personnel on alert next week...
Millennials, gas prices, car sales complicated brew (03/10/16)
As is often the case, we've got good news and bad news. First the bad news: the price of gasoline is going up. Now the good news: the price of gasoline is going up. Ethanol-blend is pushing $2 a gallon again, thanks to the rebounding price of crude oil, up $5 a barrel since January, combed with seasonal refinery maintenance and switchover to summer blend fuels...
State joins in sympathy for Nelson family loss (03/09/16)
Our sincere condolences to former Sen. Ben Nelson and his family on the death of his daughter, Sarah Nelson, 46, at her home in Palm Springs, Calif. She had been on and off crutches in recent days following ankle surgery, and was home alone when she struck her head in a fall...
Company proves profits, humanity can go hand-in-hand (03/08/16)
With self-proclaimed democratic socialist Bernie Sanders winning votes, including Nebraska's Democratic caucus, Americans are taking a new look at the basic tenets of our society. Sanders has struck a nerve, thanks to outrage over Wall Street abuses and bank bailouts, and the perception that a disproportionate amount of wealth finds its way to the top 1 percent at the expense of a shrinking middle class...
Learning lessons of history from surprising sources (03/07/16)
ISIS is doomed to failure, according to one expert, who should know. None other than Osama Bin Laden warned his followers that creating an Islamic state too soon would be a disaster, according to letters captured in the raid on the compound in Pakistan where he was killed in 2011...
Choosing next POTUS no trivial decision (03/04/16)
Have you made up your mind who to vote for in this year's presidential primary and general election? Do you consider yourself an informed voter? Try today's quiz: (1) This candidate wanted to be an astronaut as a child -- even wrote to NASA -- and admittedly can't carry a tune...
Start now to get ready for loss of an hour's sleep (03/03/16)
We've mounted the anti-daylight-saving-time soapbox many times in the past, and while there's little chance we'll be relieved of the semi-annual misery anytime soon, we have more than a week to get our biological clocks ready for a forced reset. Ask most people what daylight saving time is for, and they'll say it benefits farmers. ...
Imported pot 'treats' threat to kids, dogs (03/02/16)
One thing about bringing "legal" marijuana back from Colorado. Don't. Just don't. For one, it's no longer legal once you cross the state line For another, it's an edible marijuana product, you could be placing your family and pets in medical danger as well as yourself in legal jeopardy...
150th celebration offers chance to share in success (03/01/16)
If we weren't already convinced we live in a great state, there were a couple of national stories within the last few days that should finish the job. For one, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, always ranked as one of the best, was approved to receive elephants imported from drought-ravaged regions in Africa. No small accomplishment in light of the current political climate...
Don't let that tax refund burn a hole in your pocket (02/29/16)
We noticed at least one car dealership offering special deals for shoppers who have tax refunds to spend on a new car, and that's a good idea, especially if it will reduce or eliminate the loan you have to take out to buy the car. Tax refunds are significant for most of us, with the average taxpayer receiving a refund of nearly $3,000 last year, according to NerdWallet.com...
May 'pit bulls' really aren't, according to study (02/26/16)
It's all too common a story. A pit bull attacks someone, maiming or even killing them, and has to be put down. The breed has such a bad reputation that some municipalities have banned the breed -- It is illegal in Miami-Dade County, Florida, to own or keep "American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers" or "any other dog that substantially conforms to any of these breeds' characteristics" according to Miami-Dade County Animal Services...
Meth fight likely to be a long one (02/25/16)
CODE, WING, FBI and some other cooperative law enforcement agencies with acronyms for names were involved in a year-long investigation that led to the indictment of 63 people throughout South Central and Southwest Nebraska and Northeast Colorado. Kansas wasn't included in the U.S. Attorney's news release Wednesday, but we've noticed a lot of methamphetamine arrests around Northwest Kansas in recent weeks as well, and it's doubtful drug dealers worry about state lines...
Study: Losing money is best incentive for exercise (02/24/16)
Now that Mother Nature is teasing us with spring-like weather it's a good time to renew that New Year's resolution about getting more exercise. Fitbit-type exercise trackers are becoming more and more common, recording our waking and sleeping, counting steps and even posting our accomplishments or failures on the Internet...
Spring time great time for birdwatchers (02/22/16)
Photographers are dusting off their telephoto lenses or lusting after new ones as the annual sandhill crane migration begins. We do see a few sandhill cranes in Southwest Nebraska -- as well as a rare whooper or two on occasion -- but we're more likely to get a drive-by look from Interstate 80 on trips to Lincoln or Omaha...
Apple taking important stand on personal liberty (02/19/16)
Suppose you go to the store and buy a lock box. As you check out, you notice it comes with three keys. You get two of them, the clerk explains, but the other one goes to the government. You might be a little nervous about keeping your cash or birth certificates in that box, regardless of how much you trusted the government...
Students, sponsors making important investment in future (02/18/16)
Your life depends on agriculture. In Nebraska, especially, your livelihood and your life itself depend on producing food from the earth itself. Five pages in today's edition celebrate FFA and the Future Business Leaders of America. It's a happy marriage between education and enterprise, raising up tomorrow's agricultural producers and business people who will make sure those products reach the people who need them...
North Highway 83 development taking off (02/17/16)
There have been some fits and starts over the years, but now North Highway 83 development seems to be taking off. New signs and outdoor inventory indicate that the Tractor Supply Co. is nearly ready to open in Westview Plaza, helping make the area a vibrant business center for McCook, with groceries, fast food, movies, videogames and clothing within walking distance, and Lewis Motor Sports' new building adding to the excitement...
Tougher laws or not, texting while driving bad ideas (02/16/16)
You've probably seen that Volkswagen commercial with a theater full of young people who are distracted by a text while watching a driving scene, to look up to see the car had crashed. "Mobile use is now the leading cause of death behind the wheel," flashes the message on the screen. "A reminder to keep your eyes on the road."...
Traveling south? Take some extra precautions this year (02/15/16)
It's hard to feel sorry for someone who lives in Hawaii, but we understand their anxiety over mosquito-borne illnesses. Besides, some of us might like to visit the 50th state in the near future. Hawaii Gov. David Ige has declared a state of emergency over a dengue fever outbreak on the Big Island, where there have been 250 confirmed cases, as well as the approaching Zika virus...
Democratic socialism already part of American life (02/11/16)
Imagine you went into a coma in 1986. It was morning in America, Ronald Reagan was in the White House, and the Evil Empire was only a few years from collapse with the end of the Soviet Union. Now that you've miraculously regained consciousness, someone named Barack Hussein Obama is ready to complete his second term as president of the United States and the leading candidates to replace him are a boastful billionaire and a 74-year-old man who proudly describes himself as a democratic socialist...
Ruling gives state some breathing room (02/10/16)
State officials are lauding a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision to delay President Obama's Clean Power Plan until legal challenges are resolved. Nebraska joined 29 states and state agencies in challenging the rule, which would have a major impact on our electric bills because of the state's high dependence on coal for power generation...
Relay For Life set for Cambridge (02/09/16)
We have seen many changes take place in politics and our economy. However one constant is that many people are battling cancer and many others are supporting their loved ones each and every day. These realities make dollars donated and hours volunteered to the American Cancer Society in Furnas and Red Willow Counties so important...
Search committees should keep public involved in the process (02/09/16)
The public's business must be done in public. That's especially true when it comes to selecting leadership for major institutions like the University of Nebraska. However, a hearing on LB1109 Wednesday will help decide whether our state actually believes in open government...
Super Bowl week not so super for problem gamblers (02/04/16)
Only a small part of the action will be on the field when the Carolina Panthers take the field against the Denver Broncos Sunday. The rest will be scattered around the world -- an estimated $4.2 billion in betting in the United States, some of it in legal casinos, but most of it illegal. Worldwide, bets of $10 billion or more will rest on the outcome fo the game...
Marie Coffey's legacy reaches far beyond her music (02/03/16)
Psalms 150 says, "Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord."...
Use caution as storm approaches (02/01/16)
It doesn't seem like it should be necessary to remind folks what it takes to survive a winter storm, but they've been relatively rare in Southwest Nebraska in recent years. For folks who may have moved here from warmer climes, and the rest of us who may need to have our memories refreshed, Col. Bradley Rice, Superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol, urges everyone to keep up with the latest travel information by using 511, Nebraska's Advanced Traveler Information System...
Running late? You'll have to find a more creative excuse (01/29/16)
If predictions turn out like they often do, a possible snowstorm set to arrive early next week will turn out to be a "disappointment." If a significant amount of snow does fall, there will be no shortage of excuses for people who are late to work "I got stuck in the snow" may get you by when you arrive for work late, but it won't earn you a place on this year's list of Most Outrageous Excuses for Being Late to Work from CareerBuilder.com...
Flawed research (01/28/16)
I felt the need to offer some analysis on the governor and his research institute's flawed assertions that formed the basis for Wednesday's Gazette editorial. The Governor and the Platte Institute have seemed to have gotten it quite wrong with their characterization of the Arkansas private option Medicaid model. The Stephen Group, an independent research firm who studied the Arkansas model, concluded it has been a large success...
New generation can find inspiration from sactifices of the last (01/28/16)
Somewhere in a filing cabinet we've got a blank application packet for NASA's "Journalist in Space" program. If you haven't heard of that, it's because there never was a "Journalist in Space," because the project was shelved after an event 30 years ago this morning...
Uninsured young Nebraskans caught in healthcare dilemma (01/27/16)
Gov. Ricketts vehemently opposes expansion of Nebraska's Medicaid program in line with the Affordable Care Act, saying it places the state budget at unreasonable risk. Rejected three times in three years, expanding Medicaid eligibility would add primarily able-bodied adults to the program, Ricketts said, and adding that he doesn't trust the federal government's promise of matching at least 90 percent of the cost...
Clearer laws could improve state bike rating (01/26/16)
It won't be long until the calls and emails start coming in. So-and-so is raising money for such-and-such a cause, is riding a bicycle from coast to coast and will be in our area. We try to catch up with as many of them as possible to spotlight their worthwhile efforts, but it's a difficult task...
On Facebook, you're either a consumer or a product (01/25/16)
Nobody wants to see all their friends' dirty laundry on social media, but there are better reasons to limit what you share with the world. Ask Sarah Palin, who had her Facebook account hacked in 2008 after she reset her password using information available on ... Facebook...
Eye strains expand with variety of screens (01/22/16)
Most of us who spend much of our day staring at screens have heard of the 20-20-20 rule. It's a simple formula; every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. While you're at it, blink often, stand up and walk around and adjust your computer screen so the words are as easy to read as possible...
Low gas prices have down side for economy (01/21/16)
Lower gas prices have made life easier for many of us in rural America, living many miles from work or the grocery store. But Southwest Nebraskans know better than most the economic cost that accompanies those lower prices, the loss of many jobs and income from oil wells that aren't economic to keep in operation...
Tax return time dangerous for personal info (01/20/16)
It's that time of the year we all dread. Collect the W-2s and other financial records and start filling out your 1040 -- 1040EZ if you're lucky. It can be a dangerous time of year if you're fooled by a scammer -- all that personal information is easy picking for someone who wants to steal your identity if they can only gain your confidence long enough to take it...
Vacations an important part of every job (01/19/16)
By law, workers in Finland are entitled to up to 38 paid days off, and places like Austria, Venezuela, Panama, Oman and Libya require 30. Tiny Andorra requires employers to pay for 44 holidays, Cambodia 47, Colombia, Croatia and Cuba 33, Denmark 34 and Djibouti 35...
Lines blurred on local, world news (01/18/16)
Newspapers tend to categorize news to help readers make sense of the world, and the Gazette gives local stories top priority for the simple reason most of our readers live here. But today's communication and transportation have made it more difficult to categorize stories into the "local," "national" and "world" slots...
How is the air quality in your cabin this winter? (01/15/16)
We've had some unseasonably warm, sunny days, but rest assured we will have some dreary weather before spring arrives. With it will come cabin fever from being cooped up indoors, and worse than that, potential harm from indoor pollution. The Nebraska Poison Center warns that calls concerning carbon monoxide poisonings increased nearly 13 percent last year, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked Nebraska as one of the states with the highest mortality rate from carbon monoxide...
How to pitch in a few bucks and get a sure payoff (01/14/16)
It's fun to dream about what you would have done with a half-billion dollars in Powerball winnings, but for the other 292 million of us, it's back to reality today. After the cars, houses, boats, airplanes or other toys we would buy, most of us thought about the charities we could support...
Every officer's nightmare (01/13/16)
A Penn Township, Pa., constable was serving an eviction notice when the man in the apartment closed the door, and opened it again, aiming a .223-caliber rifle at the officer. Constable Steele, who was in uniform, pulled his .40 caliber duty weapon and fired a single round, striking the subject in his upper left arm...
Soup-R-Bowl great activity for a great cause (01/13/16)
The Rotary Club's inaugural Soup-R-Bowl event Friday sounds like a perfect storm to us. Combine a little exercise, a chance to socialize with our friends and make some new acquaintances, enjoy some delicious soup, visit local businesses and contribute to a worthy cause, and you've got a great way to spend a few hours...
Requiring basic civics knowledge should be no-brainer (01/12/16)
It's not really fair to judge people by the way they react when a TV crew points a camera at their face and asks questions like "Would you like to congratulate North Korea on their detonation of a hydrogen bomb?" Or, "Do you support Hillary Clinton's proposal to implement Sharia law?"...
A winning strategy for the big lottery (01/11/16)
You're not going to win the lottery, so you may as well stop reading right here and go on to something else. That's absolutely true if you don't buy a ticket in this week's $1.3 billion Powerball drawing, but only infinitesimally less true if you do buy one...
Gun ownership requires a sober, informed decision (01/08/16)
Many Americans are skeptical of President Obama's claim that he respects the 2nd Amendment and has no interest in taking guns away from level-headed, law-abiding citizens who want to use them for self-protection, hunting and recreation, alarmed at his executive actions on background checks and private sales...
Where are you going to spend your 'fuel bonus'? (01/07/16)
You're much more likely to be elected president of the United States than to win Saturday's Powerball drawing -- which will be the largest in history, an estimated $675 million -- but won't keep millions of us from trying our luck. Someone in Lincoln did win a "meager" $1 million in Wednesday night's drawing, but the best way to double your money is still to fold it in half and put it back in your wallet...
Have you run out of things to worry about? (01/06/16)
In case you've run out of things to worry about in 2016, here are a few: Remember Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who says his rights are being violated, and who the government says owes it $1 million in unpaid grazing fees? Well, two of his sons are in Oregon in support of a group that has taken conrol of the federal headquarters of a bird-watcher's paradise, in protest of the mandatory minimum sentense of two ranchers convicted of arson on federal land near their ranch...
High court makes strides toward openness (01/05/16)
The Internet has made vast amounts of information available to the masses, but there has been a disconnect when it comes to official documents. Reporters used to be able to read handwritten "incident reports" in police stations and sheriff's offices, but the advent of computerized record keeping restricted access to the point that those reports are sanitized or altogether unavailable for the press and members of the public...
Colored underwear, grapes and the great possum drop (12/31/15)
No ball drop in downtown McCook tonight, but a lot of us will be watching the big one descend in New York's Times Square via television. More than a million people flock there to watch the annual event, which has taken place every year since 1907, except for a couple during World War II...
Support for freedom of religion depends on religion (12/30/15)
Religious freedom is part of the bedrock of America's system of government, but this year's political rhetoric is straining that system. When it comes to religious freedom for many of us, however, it depends on the religion. According to a poll by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 82 percent said religious liberty is important -- for Christians...
New cooperative paramedicine system common-sense idea (12/29/15)
A charity, a hospital, a clinic and the city are stepping forward to take care of residents who too often fall through the healthcare cracks. Community Paramedicine will see no more than 10 patients a month, 120 a year, but the program, funded by the Community Hospital Health Foundation with partners Community Hospital, McCook Clinic, and the City of McCook, should improve healthcare for certain patients as well as reducing overall costs to the system...
Holiday emphasis continues shift from religious to secular (12/24/15)
Christmas eve and Christmas Day traditionally have the best church attendance of the year, but even those numbers are dropping as Millennials see it more and more of a cultural event and less and less as a Christian holiday. According to Pew Research, 90 percent of Millennials say they they participate in Christmas, but only four in 10 say they do so mainly as a religious holiday, according to a 2013 holiday...
The Grinch who stole the almond bark (12/23/15)
Local holiday bakers have been receiving a big lump of coal in their stockings for the past week, as the entire community seems to be suffering from an almond bark shortage. The candy coating that comes in several flavors is in high demand, as it is a quick and easy sweet addition to pretzels, popcorn, cookies, and candies. This simple item usually gets bottom shelf real estate at groceries, but during the holiday season, it is in center aisle stacked several feet tall...
Wages lower, prices higher for women? (12/23/15)
You've heard about the gender pay gap? The reasons are open to debate, but women generally receive lower pay for the same work -- even Hillary Clinton paid women on her staff 72 cents for every dollar the male employees got in her Senate office. But the disparity doesn't end there, according to the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs...
Pets important part of family at holiday time (12/22/15)
Who's on your Christmas list? It's the family dog, if you're like a lot of Nebraskans. We're not that extravagant, according to a study by www.TheNosePrint.com, spending an average of $12 per dog, 47th among the 50 states. New Jersey residents spend an average of $30.01 per dog and New Yorkers $29.55. Kentucky spends the least, $8.63...
Deputy's heroics more the rule than the exception (12/18/15)
Crimes and improper behavior by law enforcement officers are often in the news, resulting in everything from in-house investigations to full-blown protest riots. There are "bad eggs," of course, officers who get into the profession for the wrong reason, who let their emotions overrule training and better judgment, accept bribes and accept unethical behavior...
Feds ease off on medical marijuana; recreational next? (12/17/15)
President Obama was once overheard telling the outgoing Russian president that he would have "more flexibility" after his second election. He was referring to a missile treaty, but his administration is apparently now extending that flexibility to marijuana...
Scammers follow holiday shopping money to mobile (12/16/15)
Not that many years ago, ordering Christmas presents over the Internet was a novel idea. This year, shoppers spent $4.45 billion online on Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day, according to information released by the Adobe software company. And it wasn't all done by "traditional" desktop computers...
Military court right place to settle Bergdahl's fate (12/15/15)
There are two sides to every story, but for a soldier in the uniform of his country, the proper place to find the truth is in a court of law. That's where the case of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will be heard at last, and regardless of the outcome, it's a triumph of the rule of law over political expediency or public opinion...
Always two sides to any energy issue (12/14/15)
Some environmentalists lauded results of the Paris Climate Change Conference, although many admitted it didn't go far enough. The voluntary agreement aims to limit the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere in order to reduce the climate change that scientists say has caused 14 of the 15 warmest years in recorded history over the last two decades...
Hackers, leaker put terrorism into perspective (12/11/15)
It's chilling to see videos of ISIS fighters promising to take over the world, but before we allow our government to take away more of our civil rights in exchange for "safety," let's put terrorism in perspective. Yes, you have a better chance of being killed by a terrorist than winning the Powerball grand prize, but the Anonymous "hactivist" group points out that there's a 1 in 20 million chance a terror attack will take your life...
Congress comes together for the good of children (12/10/15)
Congress has taken relentless criticism for its inability to do anything, but when it came to rewriting No Child Left Behind, there was no problem getting all three branches of government to work together. President Obama was expected to sign the bill today, which will change some of the most objectionable aspects of NCLB...
Lawyers, consultants guaranteed winners in Republican River dispute (12/08/15)
YOU may talk o' gin an' beer When you're quartered safe out 'ere, An' you're sent to penny-fights an' Aldershot it; But if it comes to slaughter You will do your work on water, An' you'll lick the bloomin' boots of 'im that's got it. Water is the central issue in courtroom battles over the Republican River Compact, and while Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas seem to be on the path to resolving their conflict, about 150 farmers under the Frenchman Cambridge Irrigation District want to be compensated for water the state ordered to be released in 2013-14 to send downstream to Kansas.. ...
Don't be a victim of a holiday charity scam (12/07/15)
It's the traditional season of giving in the Christian world, but like any good thing, there is always someone ready to take advantage by dishonest means. With television shows and church services tugging at our heart strings, it's sometimes tempting to fork over our hard-earned cash to the first person or organization to give us a good story...
Better prison education system a good investment (12/04/15)
Education is not the final answer for all of our problems, but it is definitely one piece of the puzzle. Prisons have their share of well-educated inmates, but educational opportunities should be a good investment for convicts who are truly trying to turn their lives around...
Let's keep a lookout (12/03/15)
McCook police are always reminding residents to lock their cars and homes, but that's especially important advice this time of the year. Social media posts this morning warn residents of subjects stealing cash and items from cars, and even rifling through a delivery truck while the driver was out delivering a parcel...
Let your smart phone do the nagging (12/03/15)
Many of us spend way too much time on our smart phones, to the point we have symptoms of withdrawal if service is interrupted or we misplace them. We like the system where restaurant dinner guests stack their phones in the middle of the table, and the first one to check their Facebook or read a text picks up the tab...
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