Opinion

Maybe it is time for another look

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

There was a wonderful letter to the editor in last Thursday’s Gazette. A gentleman from California had gotten off our Amtrak and spent 48 hours in our 48th county here in McCook. He obviously enjoyed his visit. Worth the read if you missed it.

Your old columnist has been pondering a bit about the upcoming vote on the prospect of financing a new swimming pool and ballpark. From the inquiries that I’ve made and listening to the tempo of the rhetoric, it appears that the bond issue will pass by a big margin. Then the thought came up “What other bond issue are we already paying on?” Aha the “new” Red Willow County Jail, which a majority voted for, still has another ten years to go before it is paid off free and clear. Ten years, 2032.

Now the Jail is being paid off solely by property taxes by all who pay such taxes, that is you and me, who own real estate and other eligible property in Red Willow County. The majority of the voters in Red Willow County said yes on the issue and I have no idea what percentage of those voters do actually pay property taxes.

Then when the new bond issue passes all who buy sales-taxed items in the City of McCook will be paying for it. Again only a percentage (small?) of those who have to pay will be eligible to vote yay or nay on the issue. That is our system and that is how it works.

After the votes are counted it looks to be a sure thing that our new sheriff will be Kevin Darling. Kevin is well-known and well-thought-of in this area. It is interesting that the gentleman a Sheriff’s Deputy originally filed to run against Darling but has already resigned from the force and departed the scene even though his name will still be on the ballot. The retirement of another Deputy Sheriff that will only leave Sheriff Darling as the sole member of his new department. Obviously, Kevin will be hiring new people to help him patrol the whole county and oversee our county jail.

That need to hire deputies might be interesting. Governor Ricketts had to raise the wages of the state jail system as the whole system was running really short of jailers. The increase in wages system-wide was effective in hiring new personnel to do the job but of course, there are increased costs system-wide involved which were somewhat offset by a decrease in overtime costs. How this county will cope will be interesting to watch.

Then the question came to my mind “Why do we need two police forces in our county of some 18,000 persons?” Why not dissolve the McCook police force and have the Sheriff’s department do the entire law enforcement duties city and county-wide?

The concept is not unusual as that is the pattern in most of the low-population counties in our mostly rural State of Nebraska. Look around, Cambridge, Arapahoe, Curtis, Maywood, Danbury, Hayes Center, Indianola, Palisade, Grant, all served only by the sheriff in the county in which they live. I think the nearest towns that have their own police departments are Imperial, Holdrege and North Platte. Still, if it works for all those counties with solely a sheriff’s department it can work for us here in Red Willow County. There should be considerable cost savings by eliminating one office, the Chief of Police position, and changing the dispatch system but then the entire burden would be on Red Willow County property taxpayers.

Big celebrations coming up this weekend. Halloween, parade, trick or treating is on Monday but both Saturday and Sunday have plenty to do. One that I’ve not seen before in this area is the Dia de Los Muertos or in our brand of English celebration of the dead. It will be held Saturday the 29th in and lobby of the Keystone and the new Norris Alley from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. Look for the flyers.

Grannie Annie and I are familiar with the celebration from experiencing the same in San Antonio, Texas and Merced, Calif., thanks to travels in Uncle Sam’s Air Force. There is a large population of Hispanic people there that gather in the cemeteries to picnic and spend the day near the graves of departed family members. The celebration is not sad or solemn as we do on Memorial Day in our tradition. Instead, it is more a celebration of life. All sorts of activities take place: games, music folk dancing, art, face painting food and other things that people enjoy doing together. It is a happy time and reinforces the good memories of those that have gone before. See you there.

That is the way I saw it.

Dick Trail

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  • You are comparing the policing needs of Danbury to McCook? I'd like you to illustrate the monetary savings in your next column. Let's pretend you are still an elected official. It is a passion; you've written about it before. Convince us. I don't think you can.

    -- Posted by hulapopper on Tue, Oct 25, 2022, at 11:10 AM
  • Hulappoper, when I lived in Indianola we had a cop. Guys that lived there. hoe much does it cost?

    -- Posted by greb on Wed, Oct 26, 2022, at 3:08 AM
  • Hulappoper, when I lived in Indianola we had a cop. Guys that lived there. How much does it cost?

    -- Posted by greb on Wed, Oct 26, 2022, at 3:08 AM
  • Not positive we ever voted on the new jail.

    -- Posted by dennis on Wed, Oct 26, 2022, at 7:15 PM
  • Abolishing the McCook police force is really not a good idea. McCook has at least twice the population of any of those places mentioned that rely on sheriffs.

    -- Posted by fmh on Thu, Oct 27, 2022, at 10:27 AM
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