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Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014
Even Nebraska lottery winners are level-headed folk (12/26/14)
Keep a level head and you'll do well. It has served folks like football legend Tom Osborne, investment icon Warren Buffett and numerous other Nebraska leaders very well over the years. Even when it comes to behaviour many of us view as foolish -- playing the lottery -- Nebraskans tend toward level-headedness...
Is it time for a general holiday reboot? (12/23/14)
Happy Festivus! It's time to erect the aluminum pole, for airing grievances and exhibiting feats of strength. The faux fest was popularized by a 1997 Seinfeld episode, but actually was invented by the father of one of the show's writers, who created it in February 1966 as a celebration of his first date with his future wife. ...
Missing pets still a mystery, but keep yours from being next (12/22/14)
Staff and volunteers at the McCook Humane Society know a lot about missing pets, but that's usually because they are on the receiving end of them. What's different this time is that the dogs aren't wating at the shelter on South Street in McCook to be returned to their owners...
Lessons learned from incidents with Korea, Cuba (12/18/14)
It was quite a day in international relations, but what are the lessons? First, there was the surprise announcement that the United States and Cuba would swap prisoners and begin the process of normalizing relations that have been frozen since Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, punctuated by the Bay of Pigs disaster, Cuban Missile Crisis and U.S. sponsored attempts on the dictator's life...
Nebraska's most underutilized natural resource (12/17/14)
Quick, name some of our region's top natural resources. Water? Yes, we're sitting on one of the largest freshwater resources in the world, the Ogallala Aquifer. It's the source of consternation and conflict, declining at the shallow edges and the focus of opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, which skirts the aquifer to the northeast...
Don't let scam artists rob you of Christmas joy (12/16/14)
More and more of us do more and more of our business over the Internet, and it's not all buying baubles from China -- we're now able to order a pizza across town or refill a prescription using a smart phone app. That means more of our money is zipping around as digital data and an increasing number of criminals are following the footsteps of Willie Sutton, who, asked why he robbed banks, supposedly answered "because that's where the money is."...
Make sure Santa's gifts are safe this year (12/15/14)
You can almost feel the level of activity building up to a Christmas Day crescendo, followed by another, smaller peak on New Years Eve and Day -- a quiet minute is a rare commodity in the waning days of December. Holidays are a great time for spending time with family and friends, but not for a trip to the emergency room...
Study shows potential for wind energy (12/12/14)
There are plenty of economic and bureaucratic obstacles to be overcome in the long term, but Nebraska's wind energy industry has immediate potential for even short-term expansion. The Wind Coalition is pointing to results from an official report released today by the Nebraska Power Review Board, which commissioned a study by the Brattle Group as aresult of passage of LB 1115 last legislative session...
Smart phones, medical data raise questions (12/11/14)
Back in the analog age, we would have been amazed to know the amount of computing power most of us carry around in our pockets and purses today. Digital capabilities that would have taken a railroad box car to ship in the 1950s can now be clipped to your belt or, increasingly, strapped to your wrist in the latest wearable technology...
Carbon monoxide can be pernicious killer (12/10/14)
Nebraska's weather can be unforgiving if you find yourself out in it unprotected, but the alternative can be just as dangerous if your heating equipment isn't up to snuff. Unfortunately, that's too often the case, and it's getting worse, according to the Nebraska Poison Center, which reports a 24 percent increase in carbon monoxide calls so far this year compared to last year...
Microscopic life plays big role in staying healthy (12/10/14)
Germs: They're everywhere. From the common cold to Ebola, we're pretty much at the mercy of our microscopic companions. The flu virus is especially devious -- because of haphazard replication of its DNA, new strains are appearing all the time. Flu vaccines that have to be prepared months in advance are sometimes effective against the strains that actually appear, and sometimes not...
Nebraskans keep up giving tradition (12/08/14)
We just experienced the seasonal celebration when we're supposed to give thanks for all our blessings, and we're now knee-deep in preparing for what is supposed to be a day for giving -- although most of us tend get a little more excited what we might receive rather than what we're giving...
Immigrants more important share of citizenry (12/05/14)
Today's young adults -- millennials age 18-34 -- are less likely to have been married than their counterparts from 1980 and are more likely to live in poverty despite being more likely to have a college degree. Oh, and they're more likely to speak with a foreign accent, having been born somewhere other than the United States...
Public perception not always best market regulation (12/04/14)
Natural market forces are always preferable to government control of the economy, but they sometimes fly in the face of logic. The "pink slime" flap of a few years ago is one example -- after a television network "exposé" of the way "finely textured meat" was produced, the industry basically collapsed, closing factories, throwing thousands out of work and wasting nutritious food that formerly was added to beef products to reduce the fat content...
Medicaid expansion or no, fair, equitable system needed (12/03/14)
Red Willow County is being used as an example of what can happen to people without health insurance. Nebraska Appleseed testified Tuesday before a legislative committee examining the effects of our state's decision not to participate in Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act...
Body cameras could help separate fact from fiction (12/02/14)
You can't watch a television commercial or visit YouTube without seeing video of someone sky diving, skateboarding, skiing, surfing or scuba diving, usually as a vehicle for selling a sports drink or beer. The advent of the GoPro camcorder, not to mention video-capable smartphones, means more and more of our lives are being captured on videotape...
Use common sense to stay safe this holiday season (11/28/14)
Once you get your Black Friday shopping done, you'll need somewhere to put the presents. It's a happy time of year, but not if that Christmas tree and those outdoor lights happen to start a fire. Year after year, we hear just such tragic stories. According to the National Fire Protection Association, from 2007 through 2011, U.S. ...
Red Willow County's first Thanksgiving (11/26/14)
Our thanks to the Nebraska State Historical Society for providing the following: Thanksgiving in 1896 was celebrated on November 26, and editor F. M. Kimmell of the McCook Tribune took advantage of the holiday to reflect on Red Willow County's recent past. "I wonder if any one has thought of this month being the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first settling of the county," he wrote in the Tribune on November 27, 1896...
Reconciliation effort, leadership needed in Missouri (11/25/14)
President Obama was considering whether to visit Ferguson, Missouri, today while he's in Chicago to promote his executive order on immigration. "We are a nation built on the rule of law, so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury's to make," the president said after the grand jury decided not to indict a white police officer who shot and killed a black teenager last summer...
Latest water agreements step in right direction (11/24/14)
The dispute is far from over, but common sense seems to have prevailed in the most recent activity concerning the Republican River. Colorado and Nebraska entities have responded to downstream demands for water by converting groundwater into surface water, through augmentation projects Colorado's North Fork Republican River project, Rock Creek by the Upper Republican Natural Resources District and N-CORPE the Middle, Upper, Twin Platte and Lower NRDs...
All things considered, local shopping is a bargain (11/21/14)
UPS, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service are busier than ever delivering packages as Internet shopping become easier and more popular. That package comes at the cost of knowing that anyone with a Wifi connection and a credit card can buy the same thing. And, with the knowledge that the dollars spent go into the pocket of some Internet billionaire or the Chinese government, which owns the factory where the gift was produced...
Quit smoking, enjoy benefits immediately (11/20/14)
Talk about smoking these days, and the subject is probably cannabis, not nicotiana tabacum solanaceae more commonly known as tobacco. If you use the latter, however, we hope you will give consideration to today's event, the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout...
Hydrogen cars are becoming closer to reality (11/18/14)
The car will cost $57,600 and Toyota plans to sell only 700 of them over the next couple of years. They won't be all that cheap to operate and you'll be lucky to find a fuel station -- there are only a couple dozen of them in the world. Still, after years of talk, it was exciting to hear that the first production hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is going on the market...
McCook influences continue to be felt in major national events (11/17/14)
In February, we wrote about the disproportionate role McCook has played in national events by being home to four governors and two senators, but a closer look at current events expands that influence even farther. The House passed legislation Friday to advance the Keystone XL pipeline, and the Senate is poised to do so Tuesday (in a maneuver by Democrats to prop up Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana's runoff chances), and President Obama seems likely to veto the bill when it reaches his desk...
Serious issues put discipline to ultimate test (11/14/14)
In case you don't think self-discipline is an issue in this country, check out today's news about how the lack thereof has serious consequences. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel wants to spend billions of dollars to fix the system in charge of our nuclear weapons, but it's not entirely clear to us how simply throwing money at a problem can solve leadership lapses, security flaws and sagging morale...
Housing rental, purchase not always clear-cut (11/13/14)
It's the American dream, but it isn't always a sweet dream, according to a research firm. Owning one's own home has historically been a good idea, particularly if the numbers are right. According to HeroWallet, a workforce optimization and research firm, for more and more people, particularly with younger workers, the numbers show it's better to rent than to buy...
Should we all be required to spend time in public service? (11/11/14)
Today we honor those who have risked and even given their lives in the service of our country. For the past few decades, they have all been volunteers, chosing to enlist in one of the branches of the military in exchange for experience, promised benefits, and, at least, the satisfaction that they have done the right thing...
Veterans deserve a leg-up when it comes to jobs (11/10/14)
In hindsight, Americans felt guilty about the way Vietnam vets were treated upon their return from that unpopular war. Perhaps we've overcompensated for that disgrace by assigning the "hero" label to almost anyone who wears a uniform. In other ways, however, we still fall short in honoring those who have sacrificed the best years of their lives -- and risked those lives -- in the service of their fellow citizens...
Marijuana, gay marriage not sure things (11/07/14)
Gay marriage and legalized marijuana are the wave of the future, right? Well, maybe or maybe not. And it's not just because of the results of Tuesday's mid-term election. Since the Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, a number of state bans on gay marriage have been struck down...
Conservatives have their work cut out for them (11/06/14)
There's no time to horse around for fiscal conservatives who have been champing at the bit to "rein in government spending." Republicans have control of the legislative branch of government, and some would say they control another, the Supreme Court, as well. President Obama has vowed to work with the new congress, but that hasn't happened since Obamacare was passed, and it's hard to see how putting Republicans in charge of the Senate will make him more receptive to the idea...
Don't let SAD give you the winter blues (11/05/14)
If you're feeling blue today, it may be because your candidate didn't do so well on election day. On the other hand, it might just be because we're headed into the winter months, after an especially pleasant late summer and fall. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real condition, and here are some symptoms:...
More attention than usual for a mid-term vote (11/04/14)
For a mid-term election, today's vote is drawing more than the usual amount of attention. Legislative District 44 voters are choosing between two candidates from the upper stretches of the Republican River basin and Natural Resources District, after McCook Mayor Dennis Berry was defeated in the primary. That left Middle Republican NRD voters short of a choice they think might offer our irrigators better representation in Lincoln...
Bloody Sunday leading up to dangerous driving season (11/03/14)
There was a home Cornhusker game, hunting season is under way and the weather was unusually nice for the first weekend of November. For whatever reason, it was a bloody Sunday on Nebraska highways. We noticed a number of Facebook entries concerning an Interstate accident that blocked traffic for a time, and an Associated Press story gave the details: Witnesses said a tire fell off a car, which then crossed the median and struck the back of a semitrailer...
Let's make a busy Halloween night a safe one, too (10/31/14)
Halloween will be different in McCook tonight, with the Bison in a football playoff game in town and, no, no one has officially decided to move trick-or-treating to Saturday night as some rumors have contended. Church youth groups are collecting food for the McCook Pantry, and we encourage everyone to do what they can to meet that growing need...
Rolling out new supersize crash test dummies (10/30/14)
Before you help yourself to your kids' Halloween candy, you might want to consider new risks. Yes, you should check any candy your children receive to make sure it's safe, but it's probably OK. No, what we're talking about are the health and safety risks all those sugary calories carry with them...
Parents might like lecture, homework swap (10/29/14)
Public schools get more than their share of criticism, what with "common core" and other "innovations" raising the hackles of parents who prefer traditional subjects taught in traditional ways. But we recently heard of an innovation that we think many parents will embrace with open arms, especially those with experience battling with kids to do their homework...
Survey measures stress, laughter as parts of parenthood (10/27/14)
It's the worst job in the world. It's the best job in the world. When it comes down to it, being a parent is all about living. According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, 45.1 percent of adults with children at home say they experience greater stress as a result -- as opposed to 36.8 percent who don't live with children...
Conservatives get most of their news from fewer sources (10/24/14)
If you think America has become too polarized, you might not have to look as far as Washington to find the reason. You might check the buttons on your remote control to see which ones are worn out. We were a lot more homogonized when everyone tuned in to the 5:30 p.m. news to see what Walter Cronkite had to say about the Vietnam war or the Watergate scandal...
Still another health risk worse than Ebola (10/23/14)
One of the ironies of the ebola "crisis" is that Americans have become more aware of the relative risks of more common diseases such as influenza. In fact, by some reports, more people are better prepared to prevent flu infection, through vaccination, handwashing and other measures, as a result of the ebola scare...
Putting virus outbreaks in perspective (10/22/14)
Diseases have been prominent on the Gazette's front page in recent days, from Tuesday's story about Community Hospital's preparations to deal with Ebola, to the confirmation of the enterovirus to a death associated with the West Nile virus. Ebola victims die a horrible death, and while there officially have been about 5,000 deaths among fewer than 10,000 cases, worldwide, the vast majority of them in Africa, some believe the actual numbers are much higher...
World agriculture has new tool for better efficiency (10/21/14)
We've been keeping an eye on the nascent agricultural drone industry and are convinced it has a bright future once regulatory roadblocks are overcome. The technology allows a farmer to "scout" every field as often as desired, spotting problems with irrigation systems, finding specific spots with infestations or lacking nutrients, or myriad other issues...
'Tis the season for inappropriate costumes, toys (10/20/14)
Free enterprise keeps our country running, but it also keeps commentators on the job as it pushes the boundaries of good taste. Halloween has turned into one of the year's biggest holidays when it comes to retail sales, so it's not surprising when companies go a little overboard to try to land their piece of the pie...
Cellular phones no longer a luxury to be taxed as such (10/17/14)
Remember the "luxury tax"? The idea is understandable -- anyone who can afford luxury items like furs, cars, yachts, private jets and jewelry probably won't bat an eye at a few extra dollars. Congress bought the argument, enacting such a tax in 1991, signed into law by President George H.W. Bush...
News events undermine CDC confidence (10/16/14)
We're told repeatedly that Americans don't have anything to fear from Ebola, but recent events haven't done anything to engender public confidence. Because she took a flight, at last 100 airline passengers are now at risk of contracting Ebola. While space-suited workers prepared to load the latest patient onto a private plane bound for Atlanda, an unidentified man walking with the group, carrying a clip board and dressed in shirt sleeves, handling a container and hazmat trash bag from one of the workers in full-protective gear and later boarding the flight.. ...
Minden may bring sales tax to bear on water repair issues (10/10/14)
Minden residents sometimes can't tell whether they've flushed the toilet or not. Tests show the water is safe to drink, but city officials are getting tired of people bringing in photos and samples of water ranging from yellow, to red and brown. It stains clothes and, in parts of town, barely dribbles out of the faucet...
Turkey trauma (10/09/14)
As a busy mom, Hubby and I don't get the chance to spend a lot of alone time together so when we do, I look forward to it. Last Friday, he and I had to go to some mandatory all-day meetings out of town for our jobs, and it worked out just so, that we would be traveling just the two of us the day. ...
New Events Center name is fitting tribute to generous family (10/09/14)
The MCC Events Center is a clean, no-nonsense modern facility that quietly goes about the business of supporting McCook Community College and the students it prepares for the future. It's only fitting that it now bears the name of Peter and Dolores Graff, who have quietly gone about the business of improving the community they and their family call home...
Even green energy can have its costs (10/08/14)
Not everybody is completely sold on green energy, judging by comments made by neighbors to a proposed wind farm in Southwest Nebraska. "I think it's going to negatively impact our property values," neighbor Larry Chapman said at a Hallam Village Board meeting Monday. "I don't oppose the project, but I don't want one (wind turbine) that's close to my house. Nobody's going to want to buy that acreage."...
Electricity shares blame, credit in household fires (10/07/14)
Too often, when authorities make a news report following a fire, "electrical" is listed as a suspected cause. It's true that electricity can cause destruction when it's not confined to the proper circuits -- or occurs in the wild, such as the bolt of lightning that ripped the bark from a tree on West 10th Street Sunday evening...
Casting votes best way to honor forebears (10/06/14)
It's popular to be patriotic on the Fourth of July, Veterans Day and Memorial Day, and to honor those who have served and are serving in the military, but too many of us don't take advantage of the most appropriate way to honor those who have won us our freedoms...
Are lifestyle changes key to victory over Alzheimer's? (10/03/14)
It's too early to say they've found a cure, but there's reason to hope scientists are on to something when it comes to Alzheimer's disease. At the very least, research begun by UCLA scientists should be expanded to many more test subjects. The California team subjected 10 Alzheimer's patients to a personized regimen including a comprehensive diet change, brain stimulation, exercise, sleep optimization, specific drugs and vitamins and other steps affecting brain chemistry...
It takes reliable workers at all levels to keep things humming (10/02/14)
For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost. For want of a horse the rider was lost. For want of a rider the message was lost. For want of a message the battle was lost. For want of a battle the kingdom was lost. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail...
We should stay vigilant against threats (10/01/14)
The world has enjoyed instantaneous electronic communication since the invention of the Internet, but worldwide air travel has put physical "communication" close behind. In the old days, crossing the ocean took days or weeks, meaning many diseases would have run their course by the time the carriers reached shore. Airline travel has cut transit time to the point that travelers may as well be beamed by Star Trek transporters...
Let's work to reverse rural accident trends (09/30/14)
School consolidation has been a fact of life in rural Nebraska for decades, and while there are budgetary advantages, families pay the price through increased travel, whether by school bus or private car. Unfortunately, that travel can be dangerous and is getting worse in rural Nebraska, according to AAA Nebraska...
Congratulations on another great Heritage Days (09/29/14)
Congratulations to the McCook Area Chamber of Commerce on another successful Heritage Days, which certainly lived up to its theme, according to Executive Director Taci Fawver. "Grow With Us" was the chosen theme for this year's Heritage Days celebration, and in many aspects of the weekend, it fit so well!" she said...
State ranks high when it comes to highways (09/26/14)
Nebraska and its neighbors are often disparaged as "flyover states" when the national political season heats up, but most of us do our traveling on the ground. With that in mind, it's nice to hear we're doing a good job of making that a pleasant experience...
It's shaping up to be a great Heritage Days (09/25/14)
Congratulations to all the honorees for this year's Heritage Days festivities -- Parade Marshalls Howard and Janet Kool, Grand Marshalls brothers Brett and Toby Warren, Honor Family Eugene and Marilyn Anderson, Queen Erica Wood and King Isaac Langan...
Learning safety by playing with dangerous things (09/24/14)
You have to feel for the teachers. Four students were injured, one seriously, when a teacher was pouring methanol onto a table top and igniting it during a chemistry class demonstration Monday at Denver's Science, Math and Arts Academy, a charter high school...
Income not whole story of happiness (09/23/14)
Money can't buy happiness goes the old saying, and it's as true as ever. Or can it? Yes it can, up to a point, if you want to believe a recent study. Let's just hope Washington isn't paying attention. Otherwise, they'd be tempted to impose a 100 percent tax rate above $75,000, the point above which researchers contend we gain no more happiness with each additional dollar...
Food waste not confined to the school lunch line (09/22/14)
From the "you can lead a horse to water" department, there's more frustration on the lunch line as schools see millions of dollars a day of food dumped into the trash because kids refuse to eat it. Of the $12 billion a year the U.S. Department of Agriculture spends on the National School Lunch program, researchers at Cornell and Brigham Young universities estimate some $4 million in food a day is being wasted...
Skills, education best investment for state's workers (09/19/14)
While fast-food workers nationwide are campaigning for $15 an hours, there's a more modest drive under way in Nebraska, a ballot issue to raise the state's minimum wage to $9. Nebraskans for Better Wages released a study in support of the change, saying one out of six workers in the state would receive a raise as a result...
Insurance controversy continues (09/18/14)
Treatment of an Ebola patient in an Omaha hospital reinforces Nebraska's reputation as a state with good medical care, but a dispute between a major health insurance company and one of its largest medical networks stands to undermine that status. An Aug. ...
Ebola, ISIS issue have a familiar ring (09/18/14)
An American aid doctor being treated in Nebraska is expected to recover after receiving an experimental drug and a transfusion from another aid worker who had recovered from Ebola. Before the doctor can be discharged from the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, he must have had two blood tests, 24 hours apart, that are negative for Ebola...
Event offers chance to learn more about dogs, support shelter (09/17/14)
A story on the wire caught our eye this morning, about how a Nebraska breeder had "donated" 26 small dogs to the Grand Island animal shelter. How generous! Despite the questionable wording, turning the dogs over to the shelter was certainly preferable to actions taken by other mysterious breeders, who have chosen to dump dozens of small dogs in the Southwest Nebraska countryside a couple of times in the past few years...
Emergency preparedness must include pets (09/16/14)
It's heart-warming to see -- and write -- stories about first responders taking care of family pets once they know the people at the fire or accident are taken care of. But, while the firefighters and paramedics do have soft hearts when it comes to cats and dogs, they know there's more to it than that...
New jail is positive addition for McCook (09/15/14)
It's been a long time coming, and the new jail's existence and location were far from unanimous decisions, but congratulations to everyone involved in construction of the new county law enforcement facility. County Commissioner Vesta Dack's symbolic ribbon cutting -- using bolt cutters to sever a link on a pair of leg irons -- frees Red Willow County from the shackles of "farming out" our long-term prisoners to jails in places like Trenton and Curtis...
New tools available to fight crime (09/12/14)
Many Nebraskans take pride in being able to leave their doors unlocked and keys in the ignition of their pickup trucks. They used to, anyway. Unfortunately, there has been an uptick in certain crimes, especially those involving theft of items left in unlocked, unattended vehicles...
Times have changed, but our resolution must not (09/11/14)
We hope you take time to attend tonight's performance of "The Guys," which promises to revive personal memories and emotions all of us felt, even here in mid-America, far from the attacks in New York and Washington. The play will be presented by McCook Community College at 7 p.m. at the Fox Theatre; admission is a free-will donation to the McCook Fire Department...
Heidemann's woes are loss for entire state (09/10/14)
There's good news and bad news from Lincoln, if you have political ambitions. The good news is, there's an opening in the statehouse. The bad news is, it's the office of Nebraska Lieutenant Governor. Lavon Heidemann took that post only 18 months ago, after the Omaha World Herald discovered that Rick Sheehy had been using the state cell phone to make thousands of personal phone calls to four women other than his wife. They had since divorced...
Good news, bad news on latest health concerns (09/09/14)
One of the hazards of sending kids back to school is knowing that they'll probably come home with the latest bug that is making the rounds. That's true again this year, but instead of contracting the common cold, kids in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Colorado are reporting hundreds of children being hospitalized with an unusual strain of summer cold, Enterovirus 68...
Trees hold special place in hearts of Nebraskans (09/03/14)
Nebraska's new marketing slogan, "Visit Nebraska. Visit Nice" has met with some negative reviews, both from Nebraskans who prefer "The Good Life" and from Minnesotans who have long claimed "Minnesota Nice" as their own. But it is true that Nebraskans do tend to be nice, thanks to their neighborly heritage and to the simple fact that there just aren't that many of us, especially places that aren't Lincoln or Omaha...
Let's pay railroads full respect (09/02/14)
Note to team photographers: While it's great to be creative, don't get the railroad involved. The Union Pacific, which sends 50 trains a day across tracks near North Bend, halted them Thursday after railroad workers found the North Bend Central volleyball team was using the tracks as a prop for team photos...
Katrina anniversary important reminder for preparedness (08/29/14)
Nine years ago, New Orleans was going through the nightmare created by Hurricane Katrina, people stranded on roofs and in attics, patients dying in hospitals and rest homes. Despite the backhanded "good job, Brownie" compliment President George W. Bush gave his soon-to-depart FEMA director Michael D. Brown, the administration received heavy criticism for its response to the disaster...
Old auditorium should have been part of original plans (08/27/14)
They say hind sight is 20/20, and with or without the corrective lens of memory, that's usually true. There are many times we wish we would have spoken up when we saw things running off the track, afraid to be nay-sayers "on the wrong side of history."...
Nebraska education maintains reliance on local property taxes (08/26/14)
There were few surprises in a study released Monday about Nebraska's educational funding system, but that doesn't make them any less remarkable. In 1990, Nebraska ranked 49th nationally in state aid to K-12 education. Now, many years and many legislative efforts later, Nebraska ranks ... 49th nationally in Fiscal 2012, the latest year for which figures are available...
Best decisions result from look at scientific evidence (08/25/14)
McCOOK, Neb. -- A local woman escaped injury by fire Sunday morning after she was alerted by her neighbor of smoke coming from her attic. McCook emergency responders arrived at 808 East 4th Street, the home of Lorine Bauguess, just after 7:30 a.m. Sunday to find visible smoke and fire coming from the attic area...
State fair hitting its stride in new, closer location (08/22/14)
"Greater Nebraskans" who live in our end of the state like to joke that our eastern Nebraska friends think the state ends at Grand Island. We probably shouldn't be too harsh on them, our friends from Scottbluff and Chadron probably feel the same about us...
Good test scores only part of complete education (08/21/14)
Critics decry "teaching to the test," but we have yet to see a system, other than a test of some sort, that can determine whether or not a student has learned the required material. By that standard, McCook High School is doing a good job of preparing its graduates, who scored a composite 22.3 in English, math, reading and science on the ACT college entrance examination...
Despite dangers, nonlethal force still preferable when possible (08/20/14)
"Don't taze me bro!" It was a viral video a few years ago, but the ACLU of Nebraska thinks our state's law enforcement agencies are misusing the electronic stun devices. Tasers apply 50,000 volts to the body, incapacitating the subject long enough to be subdued, but sometimes causing death -- the ACLU cites figures showing 540 deaths in the past 13 years, including three in Nebraska...
Careful travel key as school opens again (08/13/14)
Scraps of Fourth of July fireworks probably had to be swept away to clean the pavement so crosswalks could be repainted in preparation for the reopening of school this week. "Time flies like an arrow" according to an old Chinese saying, and we all need to be aware of the changing tempo of life as students return to school...
Combination of causes for a tragic death (08/12/14)
Few deaths have been felt more deeply by more people than that of Robin Williams, who spent his life making other people happy only to fall victim to his own misery. Comedy often sprouts from pain, and if Williams' brilliance as a performer is any indication, the pain must have been very deep indeed...
Dealing with fallout from new FAA rules (08/11/14)
There's more than one way to skin a cat. In the case of air service, rural Nebraskans may be starting to feel a draft. Maintaining air service at small airports like McCook has been a long-term battle, dating back to the deregulation of the airline industry during the Reagan years...
A frightening reminder of the need for vaccinations (08/08/14)
The World Health Organization has declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to be an international public health emergency requiring an all-out effort to combat. Ebola, which inflicts about half its victims with a bleeding, horrible death, has had about 20 outbreaks in central and eastern Africa since it was first identified 1976, but this is the first one that has affected West Africa, emerging in Guinea in March and spreading to Sierra Leone and Liberia...
Officials goaded into action on sentencing flap (08/07/14)
Heads have begun to roll now that the prison sentencing scandal has resulted in a criminal investigation, announced today. Local observers were not surprised when it turned out that higher-ups weren't exactly going out of their way to keep prisoners in an overcrowded correctional system any longer than necessary...
No, 'password' is not a strong enough password (08/06/14)
Who are you? If you've been on the Internet lately, you may now be a Russian hacker, and it's time to change your password to get your identity back. By some estimates, 2 billion people a day log on to the World Wide Web, and, according to a New York Times story quoting a Milwaukee online security firm, Russian hackers have captured some 1.2 billion username and password combinations...
New 'gluten free' labeling goes into effect (08/05/14)
Eggs are bad for you. Tropical oils are terrible. Stick to a low-fat diet. Don't eat any carbohydrates. Eat a lot of protein. Try this special cabbage soup, three times a day. Eggs are good for you. Tropical oils are wonderful. It's tempting to lump the current "gluten free" trend with other fad diets, but it is a very serious issue for those with a particular autoimmune disorder, celiac disease, who have to avoid the tiniest amount of gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye...
Rec facilities good, always room for improvement (08/04/14)
'McCook has all its recreational bases covered' we headlined a story Friday about a recent city survey. We stand by that headline, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. That also doesn't mean there can't be a chicken-or-egg argument made...
Industrial technology important weapon in educational arsenal (08/01/14)
Think back on your education career. How many classes did you take, and how many of them do you use in your daily life? Someone in journalism is lucky -- there is no subject he or she is unlikely to encounter in the course of a media career. But day-to-day skills such as typing, grammar, spelling and composition are the nuts and bolts of the daily work routine...
Child safety, common sense collide in Florida (07/31/14)
Dominic Gainey, 7, rides his bicycle two miles to school every day, passing a fire station, community pool, library, church, public park and daycare along the way. He wanted to go to the park the other day, but his bike had a flat tire, so his mom decided to let him walk the half mile to the playground. As usual, he carried a cell phone so he could check in with his mom...
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...
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