By Ken DeLaat
Know what a Green Belt is?
No, not a vodka gimlet nor your St Patrick's Day accessory that cannot be worn any other day (and probably shouldn’t ever be worn).
It’s an area designated as protected. Land that is to remain undeveloped and perhaps returned to its natural state. A Greenbelt can be part of a the zoning ordinance in municipalities particularly around lakes and other waterways.
That’s perhaps a simplistic explanation since attempting to come to a conclusion as to what it is as well as whether or not it was needed brought over 60 people to the Brooks Township hall Monday night.
The Brooks Township Planning Commission held a public hearing on various actions moving forward, including removing the ordinance known as the Green Belt. Most who attended lived on Brooks Lake and several others lived on Hess Lake and they were there to listen and to be heard. To learn about the ordinance that will likely no longer have a place in the township books and to educate others on what it might mean. To express their concerns and hopefully be reassured about those concerns.
The Planning Commission listened and reacted to queries that were presented. Some exchanges were more passionate than others. There was praise for the Commission from a few folks, mostly those who have had experience on such boards and understand the difficulty in working for so many bosses as one does when assuming public service.
And witnessing how the meeting unfolded I came away impressed with what I saw happening. There were a wide variety of opinions ranging from those who are adamant about the ordinance remaining in place to those who were equally resolute in their desire to have it removed as well as folks who seemed to lean one way or the other and some who came with no preconceived opinion.
Rumors that have prowled the pages of social media were given a voice and the board as well as other citizens provided information and opinions in hopes of dispelling them and from a couple of voices the motives of the Planning folks as well as those of the Township Board were questioned.
And this was all done in a manner befitting our democratic process.
Certainly there were people who voiced distrust for PC members and elected officials. There should be. Our history with those in government at all levels has instilled a suspicious nature toward people on ‘the inside’ and it is an entirely appropriate response to question motives because that’s what we are supposed to do in this country. It’s not personal it’s business.The business of being an involved citizen.
And the commission as well as Township Supervisor Cory Nelson who spoke with citizens after the meeting listened to their constituents and responded.
I cover the County Commission meetings that are held twice a month in our county seat, White Cloud. Outside of department heads other elected officials and maybe someone there to make a presentation (or maybe someone who has wandered in by mistake) it’s me and maybe one or two others, though often none at all.
I get it. I never attended one before beginning to report on them but it still strikes me as a bit unsettling. I guess because it feels incomplete when no public comment is made, no questions are voiced and no disagreement is registered. I’m certain this makes for a smooth meeting for the commish folks but it feels a bit lacking in terms of process.
My attendance at other city and township meetings is generally driven by controversy so there tends to be bigger crowds and sometimes a few unruly individuals can put a bit of a blemish on the proceedings, but more often than not cooler heads prevail especially when folks are seeking clarity.
And Monday's crowd along with the Planning Commission members sought to capture that clarity.
Not all went home happy and that’s ok. Some will continue to distrust and remain vigilant and that is also ok. Some may have left with more questions than they possessed when they came and others may have gotten the information they were seeking.
But the process itself was admirable..
At one point a board member made the comment “he works for us” in reference to the Zoning Administrator. The audience member who posed the original question replied. “No he doesn’t. He works for me and everyone here.’ and the crowd burst into applause with the commission members, including the gentleman who had unintentionally misspoken, nodding in agreement and smiling at the reaction.
This is how it should work. A meaningful dialogue with a dollop or two of candor and even occasional humor
In the end the Planning Commission voted to take out the ordinance an action that will be decided on by the Township Board at their next meeting
I don’t know what will come of this. Like I said some will be cheesed off and some will rejoice regardless of the decision because that’s who we are. We disagree. We’re a nation who are supposed to work toward solutions, to compromise and to give our vote to those we trust to represent us.
And if we don't trust them?
We have public forums to help foster accountability and elections to make changes when necessary.
While D.C and Lansing are teeming with ‘Ins’ who seem to have long lost touch with any ability to value anything beyond party loyalty and a rather pathetic desperation to remain in office there is still a place in this remarkable country for the type of interaction that took place Monday.
The meeting might have veered a bit off the tracks of how public hearings are scheduled to proceed by engaging in dialogue with those who had questions to be sure….
But in doing so the PC served the community each of its members call home in the best possible manner.
Nicely done, Brooks Township.
By Sherry Graham
We recently ran a story about the upcoming My School Color Run to benefit the Emma Graham Scholarship Fund. Emma’s mother Sherry Graham graciously offers this wonderful piece to encourage as many runners, walkers and strollers to consider joining in the fun for a great cause.
How do you get an old lady with a serious aversion to public exercise off the couch?
The combined forces of My School Color Run, graciously supported by Gena Dietz and the NMS Running club, and the Emma Graham Scholarship through the Fremont Area Community Foundation. I am ready to run and walk and have a good time with my friends.
I even have a tutu this year.
My daughter Emma was a top 10 Freshman and I was a newly hired teacher’s aide, when she was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2010. From the moment I made a late night panic call to the first staff member I had in my phone until today I have experienced Lion Pride to its fullest. I think the entire community came out to support our family.
At the time there were gifts of time, food, gas cards, thousands of cards, money, being on the homecoming court, a personal jazz band performance, being the grand marshal in the Logging Fest parade and countless visits that made Emma’s illness the best it could be. An administrator in our schools used to say “Whatever Emma wants….”and I think that summed up the outpouring of love our community lavished on our family. I felt like I didn’t lose a daughter, the town gained one.
Emma planned to attend college, but life had different plans. We started a scholarship in 2013 in her honor. Higher education is important but it is difficult and expensive. This is our family’s way of showing we believe in the power of potential.
NMS Running Club had its start in 2013 as well. That year the members celebrated their hard work at the end of the year with a fun run to earn some money for the scholarship so they invited all their friends to join them. A girl told me she was running for Emma, I told her the scholarship is for her and her classmates. That first year we had 6 runners I think, but it brought a lot of people out to show their support. That first scholarship was $500. We’ve both grown since then. It’s not just a few friends, the Color Run enables lots of friends to come out to show their Lion Pride.
Today our scholarship is $1,000, with the goal of increasing that amount until it covers a semester’s worth of books, then a semester, then who knows... Personally, I’d love to see a full ride scholarship come from our little community.
Come join us for the Color Run September 17, 2:00 at Newaygo Middle School as we celebrate community and love of running.
Love of wearing paint is optional.
Let’s get off the couch.
By Megan Wirts
This is it, the day that many of us have been waiting for and others have been dreading.
The first day of school is upon us! WOOHOO!!!! I’m a little bit excited, but I also feel like this summer flew right by and there wasn’t enough. It’s happening whether we like it or not though. The backpacks are packed, lunches have been made and small people all over the county went to bed early and woke up to head off to the land of learning.
While I am ready to break out the champagne and start the day with a mimosa to celebrate, it will feel a little bittersweet. My babies are both in middle school this year! That means in 4 years they will both be in high school and in 5 years my oldest will be off to college!
PLEASE STOP TIME RIGHT NOW, I AM NOT READY FOR THIS!
How is it that just a few minutes ago they were squishy little toddlers constantly by my side and now they are these independent, almost fully-grown humans? Some days I feel like we have all the time in the world, while other times it feels like time is slipping through my fingers. It almost makes me feel guilty for wishing for bedtime to come faster when they were smaller or for wanting to gouge out my eyes if I had to watch one more episode of Thomas the Train with them.
Even though the thought of my small people growing up and leaving me brings me to tears and makes my heart ache, I can’t wait to see what they will do with their lives. Don’t let me get ahead of myself here though, I can save the waterworks for a few years. First, they need to get through middle school.
I don’t know many people that would say middle school was the greatest time in their lives, even those that enjoyed it. Middle school is a time when some of the most intense changes happen to us, our emotions and hormones are out of control and the pressures to fit in and do well in school can feel overwhelming. Watching my children go through all of this while trying to parent them in a way that isn’t going to cause permanent damage can be challenging.
All I can do is my best and sometimes that best is telling them tales of my own awkwardness, embarrassment and cringe worthy moments. Like the time I wore white jeans to school and peed my pants. It was during the last hour of the day and I had to go so bad because I didn’t have time to go between classes (who has time to go between classes!).
My teacher wouldn’t let me leave, he figured I could hold it, but I couldn’t and left a puddle on my seat. It was mortifying! After that, he always let me use the bathroom when I asked (which sometimes I did use to my advantage) and I never wore white jeans again.
There was also the time that I wore purple from head to toe and everyone called me Barney the Dinosaur. The color purple was ruined for me. Then there were all the crushes on boys that were unrequited and the memories of middle school dances where the boys stood on one side and the girls on the other nervously giggling. All of us waiting for one of them to get up the courage to ask us to slow dance. Then when they finally did the smell of cologne was so strong that my eyes stung, I went into a coughing fit and had an asthma attack.
Embarrassing things happened to me, mean girls existed and were mean to me, and I wasn’t the most popular but I lived to tell about it.
It wasn’t all bad though. I met my best friend Faune when we were in the 6th grade and we have been friends ever since. I played Mrs. Cratchit in A Christmas Carol in the 7th grade and was bitten by the theater bug right then. I joined my first choir when I was in middle school and fell in love with singing. I discovered some of the greatest loves of my life when I was in middle school and I wouldn’t change a thing about it (except maybe that unfortunate perm I had). I tell them that in time all that awkwardness will be some of the funniest memories and greatest stories to share. If you have a good sense of humor about life, you can get through almost anything. Including the acne filled days of adolescence.
Besides, who wants to peak in middle school, or high school or college for that matter? I tell them not to be concerned with popularity or superficial things. Popularity fades away and the newest iPhone will be old in less than a year. Those things aren’t worth it. My advice to them is to avoid the drama, get your assignments turned in on time, make good friends that like you for who you are, and laugh at those awkward moments.
You have plenty of time to grow up, don’t rush it.
Guest Article: Strive for Less than Five
By Dr. Peggy A. Mathis, Superintendent Newaygo Public Schools
“We cannot get our workers to show up to work on time.”
“I am concerned about our younger generation and their work ethic.”
“What are we going to do about finding employees who will be dedicated to show up when they are scheduled?
These are three statements shared by local employers directly with high school administrators and me on separate occasions in various encounters last school year. Coincidentally, our administrative team had been having some of the same conversations. We did an in-depth data analysis of our attendance and behavior data through our PBIS program. (PBIS stands for Positive Behavior Interventions and Support). When we analyzed the types of discipline issues that occur in our school buildings, a statistical category that kept rising to the top was that our student attendance data was concerning.
Examine the following:
If students aren’t present in school, for any reason, teachers cannot teach and students cannot learn.
Similar to employers who may feel there is lost productivity when employees are absent, our students and teachers experience an equal phenomenon when students are absent. Not only does the student lose out when they are absent from school, but at some point, other students may lose out because the teacher needs to focus on “catching that student up” instead of working with all kids. This is not always a problem but the potential is there for a possible disruption or loss of learning.
Sitting back and lamenting these facts and doing nothing was not an option. Our high school administrative team did some research and got permission to copy a program in another school district. Hence, Strive for Less than Five was born here in Newaygo.
Strive for Less than Five is a positive attendance awareness campaign that has been presented to the staff, the Newaygo City Council, and some area businesses. We want all of our students to work toward minimizing absences from school. We want our students to STRIVE FOR LESS THAN 5 absences per semester for any reason. We know there will be some exceptions with students who have a chronic condition and we will always work to assist students with special circumstances and/or have a tough time with repeated physical illnesses. We know students may occasionally have doctor, dentist, or orthodontic appointments. We know family emergencies come up. We just want to minimize that amount of time lost from school and develop positive habits early and often.
Please don’t confuse this and think that we want kids coming to school who are sick and/or have a fever, for example. We want our students to learn that unless there is a special circumstance, they need to be in school every day, all day. Their learning and others depends on it!
Many adults have jobs. They are expected to show up every day to work. Students have a job. Their #1 job is school. They are expected to show up every day to their job. When adults or students don’t show up for their job, something is lost. School is not just about academics. School is about developing employability skills. Based on what local employers told us, we need to develop a key employability skill of regular, positive attendance. Please help us help all kids Strive for Less Than Five. Encourage students to get to school every day, for the full day, and on time. If every adult in our community sends this message, our kids will learn that is important. Our future depends on it.
By Megan Wirts
I am a bit of a worrier. I always have been. I worry about everything. Things like, ‘Am I getting enough water?’, ‘Are my kids eating enough protein?’, ‘Do I let them watch too much TV?’, ‘Is my dog getting enough exercise?’, ‘Will my kids get into an accident and get hurt?’, ‘Will I get struck by lightning?’, ‘Did I remember to clean out the lint trap in my dryer?’, ‘Is growing out my pixie haircut a mistake?
I could go on and on. It can be annoying and sometimes overwhelming, but I do my best to relax and let those worries go. I remind myself that I am doing my best and some things I have absolutely no control over, and that’s okay.
Even though I do my best not to worry, I still worry, and my latest and newest worry has been about this eclipse that happened on Monday. Seriously you guys, for weeks I have been paranoid that one of my children or my husband will look up at the sky and go blind. My son was on a camping trip with his grandparents, which meant I wouldn’t be there to be one of those helicopter mothers hovering about, making sure that he wasn’t looking directly at the sun. And my husband was driving home from work during the eclipse. What if he glanced up and the sun caught his eye and OMG, now my husband is blind!! AHHH!!
In the days leading up to the big day, I was constantly reminding everyone to protect their eyes. I would call or text my mom every day to remind her not to let my child go blind and to “please make sure he wears the glasses I sent with him and don’t let him take them off.”, and “if he goes blind I will never forgive you!” Sorry Mom, I trust you to take my son all over the state of Michigan but I barely trusted you to keep his eyes safe during the eclipse and he had certified eclipse glasses.
Those eclipse glasses were one hot commodity in the days leading up to the big day. I saw many posts on Facebook from procrastinators wondering where they could find some. It seemed the entire world was sold out. A friend of mine that is a librarian said that she had people offering her large sums of money for just one pair. I like to imagine sweet little librarians meeting frazzled mothers in a dark alley under the cover of night to make their exchange.
I suppose one advantage of being terrified that your children might go blind is that I was extra prepared and purchased my glasses over a month in advance. Then there was the fear of accidentally having bought knock offs that were in fact unsafe and would not protect you from certain blindness. After looking over the list of reputable providers and NASA certified glasses, I felt 98% confident that my glasses wouldn’t burn our retinas causing irreversible damage. There was still 2% of me that was freaking out on the inside though.
Even after all the warnings about not staring at the sun without proper glasses or a welding mask or one of those homemade eclipse viewers, I saw no less than three people that I follow on social media say that they hurt their eyes looking directly at it. These are actual adult human beings! Here I was worried about impulsive children looking at it, but instead they were adults! For a moment, I thought they were making a joke, but later I found out that they did in fact stare at the sun because they “just didn’t believe the warnings were real”. They thought people were overreacting and all the fear was “fake news”. Well, guess what, we weren’t overreacting and now you are probably blind because you didn’t want to listen.
Fortunately, neither of my children, my husband or myself went blind on Monday. The glasses I bought worked and we shared them with all our neighbors that didn’t get their hands on some of those precious glasses thus becoming the heroes of the neighborhood.
Although, I’m sure after I belted out Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart at the top of my lungs sufficiently embarrassing my teenage daughter she probably wished she could go blind to never have to see her mother make a spectacle of herself again.
Thankfully, she didn’t and come 2024 I will be doing an encore performance.
By Ken DeLaat
Man, who’d a thunk it, huh?
As one who recalls its boom in popularity during the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s I’m a bit surprised it has taken this long and yet sometimes wondered if we would ever reach this point.
Because here we are folks on the brink of what is a sea change when it comes to pot right? Several local entities are considering having marijuana produced within their boundaries now that the legislature has o.k.’d it
I mean, look, there’s a lot of rhetoric out there and during times like these when it has somehow become high fashion to be so inflexible and cocksure of oneself that dialogue is doomed, few people encountered are neutral about anything.
And the more schismatic the discussion gets the more both sides become blind to any sense of objectivity.
When the ability to even make an attempt to understand those who might disagree becomes marginalized it all gets separated into a ‘them and us’ mentality, an action that has never proved to advance humankind in any manner whatsoever.
But back to grass.
Some are attempting to spin it into no big deal but, truth?
It’s a big deal. I mean a Big Deal.
Not to say it’s a good thing or a bad thing. You know, maybe like nearly everything else we have access to, it’s a little or some or a lot of both? Folks might argue their side…. I mean they will argue their side….and generally it doesn’t take long before the discussion (loosely referenced) segues from vehement to vicious - particularly on social media that bastion of ennui influenced bad behavior.
But truth is, weed has been here a really long time, right? There was a proliferation of its availability after the first law allowing it to be used and grown for medical purposes. As of 2016 there were nearly 1300 card carriers in Newaygo County and almost 250 caretakers (growers). These are the licensed and card possessing folks so one can assume there are many other growers and users not on the official rolls
And from here it doesn’t seem altogether likely the folks are coming in with the kind of investment they’re making to be limited to medical use since the movement to put recreational use on the ballot is rolling full steam ahead for ‘18 or ‘20.
In the meantime folks are chiming in from both sides.. A Merrill Township Community Watch program saw some angry words exchanged, the County Commissioners, though not involved in any decision making capacity on the subject, discussed it when Commissioner Vern Willett made a motion to have the board go on record to oppose it and Mr. Willett also scolded the Newaygo City Council at their meeting after they passed ordinances related to licensing a facility, saying they had betrayed their city. Other townships and cities in the county have weighed in as well with supporters and detractors voicing opinions on allowing these businesses to come in.
We get it, it’s red hot and unlikely to cool down soon.
And the product in question?
Of course it’s not all for medicinal use. One would be naive to think that, but it isn’t just all folks wanting to get buzzed for fun either. There are people who absolutely benefit from its use.
Adding employment to the debate can soften the stance of many. While pot has spent decades reviled in many corners primarily due its illegal status the promise of good paying jobs is often the carrot associated with a controversial issue.
Sometimes those promises made to gain entry are broken. Doesn’t mean it’s true all the time and nevertheless there will be some jobs and perhaps most will pay a living wage.
And again, it is always, always about the money. Especially when someone says it’s not about the money.
And there’s a lot of money behind this.
The tales of Cannabis Apocalypse emanating from sources about states who have legalized it beyond medical use are no more true on a widespread scale than the stories that life in these states has improved to a near Nirvana (Buddhist, not rock band) level. There is no one true defining description that encapsulates the situation. It depends so much on what you bring into it. Your personal perspective based on values, beliefs, experience, etc.
So what will happen here?
Pot is on track to be recreational here in the near future.
It will probably be fairly expensive so other purchasing options will likely still be around
More folks will perhaps try it and some will continue to use it.
Efforts will continue to keep it out of the hands of youth.
And people will continue to argue its merits and deficits.
Just like in the other states that have processed through this.
But once the train has left the station there’s little or no chance of seeing it rolled back.
If you give it some thought, tobacco would never be legal if it was somehow ‘invented’ today. It has few if any benefits, is highly addictive and there is a definite and well defined link between its use and chronic diseases and premature death. It is also known to cause harm to the fetus in pregnant women and creates a public health hazard with second hand smoke.
But it remains legal and allowed to be manufactured in great quantities as well as covertly marketed to youth to ensure new generations of customers.
Well, there’s jobs involved and of course it’s something people still want.
And there is a lot of money behind it.
As for marijuana?
1. Overall it is found in most legitimate research to be less harmful than tobacco and most other drugs including the legal recreational drug alcohol. If there were the number of tragic events associated with marijuana as there are with alcohol even the most ardent adherents of its legalization might pause.
2. It’s promising jobs.
3. It is for certain going to be grown somewhere nearby.
But remember, the decisions being made on this are not about whether it’s right or wrong, good or bad, a wonder drug or a bane on society.
It’s about the money.
Bank on it.
By Megan Wirts
I used to love roller coasters.What am I saying, I still do, I just can’t enjoy them like I used to.
There are many things I have had to give up since being diagnosed with dystonia, a neurological movement disorder. A great career, driving, some of my independence, cable television, shopping for fun…to name a few. Riding rollercoasters is also one of them. I miss it. The thrill of hearing the click, click, click as it ascends to the top of the first big hill, your heart racing, and the rush of adrenaline that you feel as it releases and you are suddenly flying towards the ground. AHHHHH!!!
It appears that I have passed on the rollercoaster love gene to my children and I refuse to let dystonia rule our lives completely, so we took the kids to Michigan’s Adventure last week.
If you are unfamiliar with it, Michigan’s Adventure is an amusement park located in Muskegon, MI. It has 250 acres of thrill rides and water slides. When I was a little girl it was called Deer Park Fun Land (yes, I’m showing my age here) and has since evolved into the largest amusement park in Michigan. As a kid, my family and I would spend at least one day there each year. My goal would be to ride every single ride at least once before the day was through, back then it was possible since there weren’t nearly as many attractions. If it wasn’t a busy day at the park I could ride all the rides over and over again until it felt like I was either going to pass out or puke.
Ahh those were the days.
Our foursome of a family along with our favorite neighbor friends made our way to the park on a cooler than normal August afternoon. We kept saying if it had just been 5 degrees warmer it would have been a perfect weather day. Instead, while splashing around in the water park, our lips turned purple and the kids were shivering all while insisting that they really weren’t cold. Ha. I’m not an idiot, I know a cold kid when I see one. It didn’t stop us though; those kids rode all the waterslides they could until hunger won out and we ventured out of the park for our parking lot picnic.
Pro tip: Pack a cooler and a blanket and eat in the parking lot. It will save you tons of money. The only food we purchased in the park was Dippin’ Dots ice cream, which cost us 10 times what they were actually worth, which to me is nothing. I’m not a fan. If I’m going to eat ice cream, I want the real thing. So, if you aren’t looking to spend hundreds of dollars on food, bring your own. Just don’t attempt to smuggle it into the park, they check your bags. Lesson learned.
Then it was time to ride the coasters. This was the first year that everyone was tall enough to ride all the rides. It was an exciting milestone for the smallest two small people and let me tell you they were fearless. The first roller coaster they decided to ride was the Thunderhawk, one of the main attractions in the park. It’s one of those rollercoasters where your feet dangle and flips upside down while going a ridiculously high speed. While I have a great love of roller coasters, it doesn’t mean I don’t get a lot of anxiety seeing my babies fly around without me. As they ran off to get in line, I yelled, “Make sure your buckles are tight and PLEASE DON’T DIE!!!”
Then I sat and I watched and I could hear them screaming and laughing. Nobody was dying. Phew.
When the ride was over and they ran out of the exit, they immediately got right back in line. Apparently, they liked it and the day went on like that until the park closed. Ride after ride, again and again. When your kids love something you loved as a kid, it makes you feel that excitement, joy and love all over again. Even though I can’t ride them, I love seeing my kids ride them even if it does make me fear for their death.
One of our favorite parts of the day was getting one of those old timey dress up photos. The first year that my husband and I went with our kids they were ages 3 and 7, and we thought it would be hilarious to have our daughter dress up like a saloon girl and our son as a little cowboy. I did draw the line when the photographer gave my 7-year-old a bottle of whiskey to hold, I mean I don’t want too many judgey judgersons after me.
After that, every year we return we take another. One year we dressed up like mobster bank robbers with tommy guns and all. This year we went back to the western style and included our friends in the photo. We tried not to think about how many other sweaty bodies might have worn those costumes before us and took one of the most epic family photos ever. Let me tell you our kids know how to give a fierce look. It was totally worth the money and the germs.
I might have not been able to ride all the rides and just watching the kids spin around in the Tilt-A-Whirl made me want to tilt and hurl…..
But it was a fantastic day.
By Ken DeLaat
My father came home from his all expense paid walking tour of Europe in 1945 with a purple heart and the worst kind of memories one can imagine. He had spent that precious time of his youth away from his wife and kids and home helping to destroy a vast machinery of hatred and stop the unspeakable acts carried out by that particular brand of fascism.
They were called Nazis.
The many Americans who fought and the many who died made their sacrifices in part so the despicable people carrying symbols of hatred in a disheartening demonstration of the drawing power of racism at its worst could freely express their twisted opinions as they did in Virginia last weekend.
I get that. First amendment and all.
On hand were self proclaimed White Supremacists who in an unbelievably ironic show of blatant ignorance fail to recognize how they constitute the most pathetic symbols of what they fantasize to be the master race.
They were joined by the obligatory self proclaimed Nazis, a group of cretins identifying with a symbol representing the ultimate in subhuman culture and of course also on hand were those good old garden variety racists who hang on the fringe of normal society like an annoying rash.
And when they all got together, violence erupted.
Really? Who could have possibly called that one?
I know there were counter demonstrators protesting the, uh, message being delivered by this odd group of bedfellows joined together by a common disdain for decency. I would certainly hope so. We can’t idly sit back and tolerate the advocacy of hatred.
I can say from experience there are always counter-demonstrators of some kind. It’s part of the whole thing. Has been since the 60’s and likely long before.
But the demonstrators were locked and loaded and itching for a fight and seized an opportunity to spew their hatred and rage across the land.
Then they had the audacity to publicly thank the Prez for his support.
Because they could.
He had backed off a previous denunciation and delivered a message that baffled and/or enraged nearly everyone on both sides of the aisle.
As it should.
I know many out there support the guy, but before taking a stand in defense of his response please take a look and a listen to these people who were the leaders of this march. Research them. Look them up on social media and the internet. See what they stand for, what they say about themselves and what they believe.
And if you are not appalled?
Maybe it’s time for some serious self reflection.
Listen, smokescreens aside and media wars be damned, for a guy who is not exactly rolling up big numbers when it comes to approval ratings, and has experienced an erosion of public confidence in his leadership this was an easy one. A slam dunk.
And when you miss it this badly, butchering a golden opportunity to score?
This just ain't your game.
By Ken DeLaat
The above question, spoken aloud and generally in the company of someone else (but not exclusively), has long been my response each time I see abandoned footwear alongside the road.
You know what I mean. The lonely single shoe (or boot) languishing on the shoulder or even sometimes brazenly taking a stand on the median. One might go years without noticing them but once you do….
My moment came during a journey to the South years ago with LSC Lil and a couple we have traveled with extensively over the years.
The trip was in one of those periods that road trips endure from time to time when the scenery has become tedious by virtue of its sheer persistence. At the time I was likely zoned out a bit (no, not driving) and just kind of gaping out the window of the passenger side. It took I believe a couple of sightings before my attention was drawn to the surprising frequency given the object and all. I mean you see tire treads, animal carcasses, and various car parts all the time. In states without deposit laws you also see bottles and cans nearly everywhere.
So I began developing a little schtick whenever another one was discovered.
“Look. A shoe. Just one. By itself. How did it get there? Does it have anything to do with the rumors of alien abduction? Were they tossed from a vehicle or carefully placed in strategic spots across the land to mark possible portals to another dimension? What can it all mean?”
You get the drift. As my monologue continued to take form (and lengthen) the animosity from fellow passengers rose at a parallel clip until a not so polite request to ‘just give it up on the whole shoe thing’.
And so of course when one is asked in those terms to cease and desist and one knows they will be spending a great deal of time with those requesting the action over several days one acquiesces.
However the pique in my interest did not subside. No, in fact it grew as time went on and the discovery of the absolute proliferation of these lone loafers, solitary sneakers and forgotten Florsheims gathered about on the nation’s highways and byways is met with a consistent level of enthusiasm. An enthusiasm not always shared by Ms. Lil, who is my favorite and most consistent road trip companion.
One can imagine that a few decades of frequently hearing about ‘sightings’ might wear a bit on even the most patient of folks. Particularly if you, say, call them at work to report the discovery of a red pump along an entrance ramp and the person is apparently in a meeting of some importance….an event resulting in some ground rules about calls at work about shoes and perhaps notifications of discoveries in general.
Recently a friend and neighbor (who harbors a deep and disturbing resentment toward roosters but that’s for another day) posted on my social media page a reference to the phenomena causing my brain to begin once again pondering the Big Question.
And for some reason all I could think of was Cinderella.
Perhaps the quintessential lost shoe might have been the glass slipper of the girl trying desperately to outrun the clock right?
Could it be perhaps that each of these represent the human desire to achieve our dreams like Cinderella did? Maybe a symbol of our collective desire to become fulfilled? Think of Basketball’s March Madness when the so-called Cinderella teams knock off a couple of the big boys and are labeled such. Do the shoes represent the Impossible Dream? The chance to draw a winning ticket in the lottery of life?
After all how random can it be, right? There have been articles on this occurrence, wikipedia has a reference page on them and facebook and twitter each have pages dedicated to the mystery.
So while others may scoff at my ongoing fascination with orphaned footwear and though attaining a definitive answer to their proliferation may continue to prove as elusive as obtaining straight talk from a politician, the gathering of evidence as to the source of the mystery will remain a personal quest.
These were my thoughts the other day as I was cruising up ‘37 toward White Cloud in the early morning hours.
Then as my mind began to drift toward other areas (as it is known to do) I passed 40th St and on the east side of the road just north of the intersection…….
I think not.
By Megan Wirts
I hate to be the one to say this, but it’s August you guys.
I know, I’m kind of sad too. This year the summer months have just flown by for me. Don’t get me wrong I’m kind of excited about school starting, but I’m also feeling a little bittersweet about it. I just feel like we couldn’t get all of summer into this summer. Some summers are like that, too much going on and not enough sunny days.
August also means school shopping time. I know there are a few of you that finished school shopping before the end of July and more power to you, I’m just not that motivated or organized. Plus, my kids...
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