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We love this place

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Last week I wrote of failed opportunities in this community. I also received a lot of flak from disgusted readers on the online blog version maintained by the Gazette. All of those bloggers of course demonstrated their courage by remaining anonymous. I do like the positive comments however, anonymous or not. Today though I write of things done right!

The Kiplinger Arena is a real jewel and draws participants with Western interests from far and wide. There is activity there literally every day of the year, a positive economic engine for this area. Interestingly it was built over many objections from the past city manager and at least one council member who forecast "horse turds" floating in the street gutters. Doesn't happen!

The "new" YMCA building was a community funded project put together by a task force of volunteers. It is a huge source of healthful community activity and houses such diverse activities as a dynamic Head Start school activity. It also hosts the swimming and diving activities for the adjacent high school

Community leader giant, Gazette Publisher Harry Strunk, aided by Don Thompson and a host of other community leaders had the vision and did the leg work that caused the creation of large flood control dams and associated irrigation projects along the Republican River and its tributaries. Here we are living in the center of the "Great American Desert" and yet have water recreation, boating and good fishing on our lakes all within a few miles drive. The result of their dream is communities and major agriculture production areas free from the potential ravages of periodic flooding all with a bonus of higher yielding crops from irrigation.

The original building on the fairgrounds that housed the Senior Center was a project put together by non-elected volunteers. Again the Community Center and 4-H building at the Fairgrounds are used daily and resulted from the visions of non-elected persons.

We live in a community of churches from all sorts of Christian beliefs. Beautiful buildings, dynamic congregations reaching out to fulfill the needs of the faithful and non-believers alike. Two major congregations host thriving thrift stores. The Methodists, aided by other local organizations, do a weekly "feed the flock" free meal outreach that averages about 100+ persons a week free and welcome to all comers. Each fall a volunteer organization does a "coat closet" to provide warm clothing free to anyone with a need -- no questions asked. The Toy Box volunteers work year round to provide toys for children in need at Christmas. There is a dynamic giving food bank available to the needy. Homeless? Unknown in this area because an entity called MID steps forth to care for any that have found themselves in dire straits.

Is there a trend here? So many of the things that make this a great community in which to live are not the products of local government. They are given to us by persons who have a dream, who see a need and have the enterprise and initiative to carry their projects to fruition. It isn't the local government that has provided the impetuses and all too often it is the local government that puts obstacles in the way.

Now local government also does many things well. This is a safe community, safe for children by the hundreds to go all over town to trick or treat as we saw Halloween evening. Our daughter Moira lives in Tulsa. She and her two pre-teen children visited recently. She commented that she felt easy letting her two children walk unescorted to Kelly Park and to the swimming pool by themselves, an activity that she would refrain in her own upscale community at home in Oklahoma.

Tennis courts and baseball/softball complexes provide safe and healthful activities for our youth. We have a world-class golf course that draws players far and wide as well as a huge number of local regulars. We have a great walking trail, many playgrounds, and parks -- all places that people can exercise and enjoy in perfect safety. No organized gangs, little criminal activity as sadly is all too often found in larger cities.

Our streets and alleys are nearly all paved and well cared for by our city staff. Sadly, though, the sidewalks are a little too neglected to suit me and seem to be an area that is long neglected by the powers that be. Our sewer and trash collection system works well. We are blessed with a plentiful and safe water supply. A recent effort cleaned up and made the highway entrances to the city much more attractive. And the airport! Although mis-named, it is busy with general aviation, a fixed wing air ambulance available 24/7 and it is served by a feeder airline.

Our schools are among the best anywhere. A real jewel in our crown is the local college, the first junior college in the State of Nebraska. One only has to walk through the campus to note the names on the buildings and realize that the majority were built from donations from persons in the community. Just announced is a half-million locally-funded grant to help in the building of a large activity building that will also serve as a community center.

McCook has a dynamic collection of specialty shops "on the bricks." The Bieroc is a highlight with a bakery, coffee shop (only the truth is spoken daily therein) and regularly attracts name entertainment one would expect to find only in a larger venue. We do an area-wide storytelling festival and annually celebrate Heritage Days. We also have a large "box store" that draws customers from a large area. We are blessed with a wide variety of restaurants ranging from fast food to a high-class supper club.

One can be born here in a first class hospital, find good jobs during a long productive life, move to retirement living complexes and on to a clean well lighted and caring nursing home to end your days. We even maintain attractive well cared cemeteries for all eternity.

Our major industry is agriculture and we are blessed with a large trade area. A real plus is the ag-associated industry that provides good jobs. Ann and I have been privileged to live all over the United States and traveled the world over but chose to return and call this place home. Sure it is not perfect, but we still think that it is the best place to live in the entire world.

That is the way I saw it.

Dick Trail

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Great way of seeing things! Thanks Dick.

-- Posted by dennis on Tue, Nov 2, 2010, at 1:15 PM

Although I am normally not a fan of yours, you point out some positive things in this column. You should write this way more often. Most of us on here (myself included at times) seem to focus on negative things about our town, council, etc. and it always seems to start with a negative comment after an article or a negative column or letter to the editor. This was a nice change. Hard to write anything negative here. But I am sure someone will find something.

I hope everyone went to the polls today...

-- Posted by bntheredunthat on Tue, Nov 2, 2010, at 2:38 PM

Well said. Dick. I, too, did somewhat as did you, and returned, also. Yes, much has changed, except most of the friendliness still remains, due to way-out-yonder influences of Big City life. Too bad.

Somewhere, back-when, someone made a comment that if you wanted to step back twenty years in time, visit Nebraska, and if you want to go another ten, visit McCook. I'm here to tell you, that 'keeping the pace, with the city life,' is a sure fire loser. There isn't many modern communities left, where parents do not have to worry too much about where their children are.

I echo my 'Ditto,' Dick and my favorite Praise: Yeee-Haaa!!! and AMEN

Thanks for the excellent article.

-- Posted by Navyblue on Tue, Nov 2, 2010, at 8:11 PM

Good job Dick. Although I don't think it's fair to say that the City hasn't done a lot of the things such as build the Kiplinger Arena as I think we know how much trouble it is just to repair the things we have now and have majority approval, I have to say that you hit the nail right on the head when you said McCook is home. I've lived elsewhere but by far McCook IS home.

Again, good work Dick, I liked the article!

-- Posted by Nick Mercy on Tue, Nov 2, 2010, at 9:38 PM

My, my a positive column, how nice for a change.

But I did happen to go down Norris Ave. today and saw that fine bronze statue in front of the Nelson home. Poke!

I then headed to the Senator Ben Nelson Airport.

Poke, Poke!!!!!! LOL.

-- Posted by goarmy67 on Tue, Nov 2, 2010, at 10:02 PM

Nice column Dick, but just a few ideas for future blathering. You have made it clear that you are a champion of the tea party movement. When they come after the farm program, can we expect an article dealing with how much better off we will all be without farm subsidies? I also seem to remember hearing a thing or two about Muslims in your articles, and somewhat labeling an entire religion. The Nazis officers attend Catholic Mass while in uniform, and received communion.In the same no holds barred spirit, after you take on the ugliness of subsidies, would you take on the Catholic church? Come on, I can't be expected to call my friends to read an article like this last one, now can I.

-- Posted by hulapopper on Thu, Nov 4, 2010, at 6:06 AM

I was not born here BUT you know McCook is home and no, even I don't always agree with everything you write..sorry friend, but people need to realize how great it really is here and also how great it is that we can express our opinion like this. You helped keep that for us. Thanks to you and ALL of those that have served!!!

-- Posted by ALL4MCCOOK on Thu, Nov 4, 2010, at 5:52 PM

This was a great article and you made some terrific points about how good it is to live in southwest Nebraska. I left the area several ago to study urban planning. I've learned a lot of things but most surprising (or not so much) is that metropolitan regions are doing everything possible to create main streets and public places that resemble those of communities like McCook, Cambridge, Kearney, etc. I've found that local governments in southwest Nebraska show a great deal of forethought when planning for our utilities, industrial growth, etc. and should be credited for a job well done. Now if only any of these communities could hire a city planner maybe I could return! Thanks for the article,

-- Posted by husker4life on Sun, Dec 19, 2010, at 3:01 AM

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Dick Trail
The Way I Saw It