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Weekly Columns!

All your favorite weekly columns and letters to the editor- online!

 Editor's Notebook by Bill Blauvelt Country Roads, by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli A Different Slant, by Chuck Mittan Letter to the editor

Editor's Notebook, by Bill Blauvelt
Recent days have held some surprises for those associated with the publication of this newspaper.
In late summer we took the advice offered by the wooly worms and other sources which maybe more or less scientific and decided with the prospect of having a more severe winter this year, we should stock up on supplies.
We were motivated by the fact our freight receiving door opens onto an alley which is notorious for ice build-up.
Once all our orders of plates, chemicals, ink, film and paper arrive, we should be set for several months.
When the newsprint calculations were complete, it appeared we would next need a truck load of paper in March. Most years that would be okay but this year it may not be.
Newsprint mills prefer orders be placed 60 days in advance of delivery, certainly not later than 30 days. The order was placed on time but in September the salesman called to report the mill was having trouble and asked if it would be possible to delay delivery of the load scheduled for Oct. 9. That was agreeable provided delivery was made in October.
The salesman assured us a week's delay was more than adequate and the paper would arrive on Oct. 16.
Last Tuesday the salesman reported all was on schedule and the paper would be arriving about 7 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 16. Plans were made to prepare the warehouse space and have a crew ready to unload that morning.
Last Wednesday a trucking company dispatcher called and asked what our receiving hours were. He advised his driver expected to load on Thursday and would be here to unload late Friday. There were several reasons why thate wasn't good. I called the salesman and was assured there was no way the paper would be here before today, Oct. 16.
About seven a.m. a Friday Rita and I were discussing her plan to go to Osborne that morning to visit her parents. Her forklift driving skills would not be needed that day as the newsprint load was a week away and building repairs started on Thursday would keep us from getting the warehouse ready for the paper.
Then our home telephone rang and our plans changed. Jeff Guilkey, the operator of a business located across the street from the newspaper office was on the phone. My heart skipped a couple beats when I heard Jeff's voice. Why was he calling? Had burglars smashed in the front door of the newspaper office? Was the newspaper plant on fire? Had there been an accident?
I was relieved when he said, "There's a truck driver here who says you are supposed to be unloading his truck."
My relief didn't last long.
The truck was a week early. We weren't ready. With the load delayed until Oct. 16, three carpenters had started a repair project the day before. Their tools were set up in the warehouse and the warehouse door was not operable.
What could we do with a truck load of paper? Perhaps it could be unloaded in the parking lot and moved inside after the warehouse was ready. I checked the weather. It was raining along Highway 36 and the rain might move into South Central Nebraska. The parking lot idea was out.
I called the construction company boss to see if the door could be opened. The workers were not able to resume their work until the paper was unloaded, but they did agree to come over and open the door for us.
I tried to tell the truck driver what was happening but we didn't communicate well and he wasn't understanding me.
I understood him say "You have to unload at once. I have to get to North Carolina today to get my next load. I wanted to go to Chicago but instead I have to go to North Carolina."
I suggested he position his truck in the alley and be ready to start as soon as we were ready.
Instead he pointed to John Druba's trash truck that was slowly moving up the alley collecting trash and said, "My truck not like that. I have big truck. Won't go in alley."
I held firm and insisted there was no hope of unloading until the truck was in the alley, and showed him exactly where his truck had to be be. I tried hand signals to tell him he needed to go up to Fifth Street to turn into the alley. I didn't think he understood.
He got in his truck and drove off. I thought he was mad and wondered if we would see him again. Before long we heard a truck honking and went to look. He was in the alley but afraid to proceed. He didn't think his truck would clear. I stubbornly waved him on. Finally, he eased forward. I'm sure he was surprised when the big rig squeezed through the choke point north of Fourth Street.
At the warehouse door, he looked around and asked, "Where's your crew?" Apparently this old editor, our graphic artist and the editor's wife, didn't to him look like a suitable crew. After I pointed to the three of us and said "We three are it," he said, "I'll help!"
I looked in disbelief at his flip-flop shod feet and wondered if OSHA would accept flip-flops in lieu of steel-toe construction boots.
I climbed into the truck and began removing the blocking that had secured the load. When he joined me in the truck, I saw he was now wearing tennis shoes.
Though he didn't know much about unloading newsprint, he proved to be a quick learner. He watched and learned from what I was doing. I couldn't have asked for a better helper and he was pleased to have the load off before 10 a.m.
His cell phone provider didn't offer service here but we loaned him a phone so he could report to his dispatcher.
The load he thought he was to get in North Carolina turned out to be in Norton. He was so pleased to think he could be loaded and back on his way before the day was out that he bought donuts for the newspaper crew.
He's the first truck driver to ever buy us donuts. We have had drivers ask for $150 in exchange for their help unloading.
I'm sorry we had such trouble communicating. I suspect he had an interesting story to tell.
When I returned to the editor's desk I found Virginia Roe had left for my reading a copy of a column written by Gary Hodgson. Mr. Hodgson wrote about communication and the languages or dialects he spoke. One he described as "cow talk." It was one he said he used most every day. Another he called "sale barn."
He gave several illustrations of the special language.
According to Hodgson, "back tag" is a small oval tag placed on sale animals. Oddly it is glued to either the hip or shoulder not on the back of animals. "Hide, hair and running gear" describe an animal ready to go out and gain weight quickly and economically. A variation of this is "Looks like he was raised by his uncle." Apparently uncles may not be good at raising animals.
Cattle are called "green" not because they are environmentally friendly, but because they are thin fleshed. "Greasy, fleshy or over done" indicates animals with a midline resembling a Sumo wrestler.
Hearing the words "two drafts" in a sale barn doesn't refer to a beverage but to a consignment that will be weighted in two separate groups but sold together.
If an animal enters the sale ring and the auctioneer describes him as having a "little here and a little there," it probably means the critter has several things wrong. That is certainly the case if you are told "Buy 'em and love 'em." Which means you better like him when you buy you bid because he's yours no mater what.
And two words which strike fear in the heart of even the bravest livestock auction employee, "Watch him." At the very moment you hear those words, you had better be climbing the fence because an irate bovine wants to make you a hood ornament.
After reading Hodgon's column, I'm glad we were unloading paper and not buying cattle. I don't think I could have ever explained the terms used by cattlemen.

Country Roads, by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli
"Home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play," is a line from a well-known song written about Kansas years ago. But what about cougars now playing on the ranges of Kansas and Nebraska?
There have been several sightings of long tailed cougars (brown and black) in areas of Kansas and Nebraska. Recently, two black cougars were sighted in Jewell County and reported on Facebook. Certainly, we have a lot of deer for the cougars to hunt, but will the cougars know they are only supposed to kill the local wildlife? There are cattle, calves, sheep and goats out on the "ranges" and they are a farmer's livelihood. What or who will stop the cougars from killing livestock and pets?
It makes me wonder if taking walks in the countryside is safe any more. Hopefully, it continues to be safe, but cougars coming onto "the range," makes one cautious and protective.

A Different Slant, by Chuck Mittan

I wouldn't exactly say I'm jealous or envious of my daughter, Kateri, because that would be weird. I will, however, concede the following points.
At the age of 17, she wrote her first feature length movie script, and it's quite good. Now at 18, she is a freshman in college and firmly fixated on a career as a screenwriter or director, or both, like Quentin Tarantino. Let's hope, unlike, Tarantino, she doesn't begin to think she's so talented she can make meandering three hour westerns with rap music in the score. Oy vey iz mir!
On the other hand, I wrote my first feature length script at the age of 47. Now, at age 54, I have had a reasonable amount of success ­­ and I have some exciting things in the works that I am not allowed to talk about yet ­­ but I am not making a living at it, which has been my goal since I began.
She's majoring in liberal arts, so I hope she is able to forge a career in the film or television industry. Goodness knows she won't be qualified to do much else with that degree. Seriously, though, starting as young as she did and being as good as she already is, if she keeps writing she stands a great chance of becoming a successful filmmaker. And if I'm still floundering, maybe she'll toss some work my way.
Secondly, she gets to experience autumn at arguably the prettiest college campus in the state, nestled among the bluffs that line the Missouri River in southeast Nebraska. I'm aware there are other beautiful spots in Nebraska ­­ Niobrara State Park, Halsey National Forest, the Badlands, to name a few ­­ and I've seen them, but Peru State College and the bluffs that separate the campus from the river valley beat them all this time of year. And I can drive out there to visit her and see it any time I desire this fall, but nothing compares to seeing it every day, just by going outdoors.
Okay, I'm a little jealous. She's a talented writer with her whole life ahead. She's just beginning her turn at what was the most enjoyable time in my life. And she's doing it at the Campus of a Thousand Oaks.
They're not kidding. We counted them.

Letter to the editor

Attention members of Rolling Hills Electric Co-op: Paul Wilson has been approved by the Rolling Hills Board of Trustees as a candidate for District 2. This election will be held in December 2014. At the annual meeting we presented a motion to bring to a vote of the membership a change to the bylaws for term limits of board members. This motion was overwhelmingly approved by members in attendance. The board has not brought this to a vote in the past six months. Is this a stalling action taken by the board? If this motion passes, in the next three years, eight of 10 board members will be removed and the people will be back in control of their co-op.
In the article by Rolling Hills in the Jewell Co. Paper Nov. 28, 2013, the construction work budget for 2014-17 was 15.5 million. Rolling Hills is presently borrowing 17.1 million from Rural Utilities Services. This is a 1.6 million increase. In figures taken directly from the budget of Rolling Hills presented at the annual meeting RHRC debt was 39,652,000. With the additional 17.1 million the debt will be 56,700,000. This increase does not include any cost for the centralized office included in the "Strategic Plan" There are approximately 6,712 members who will be responsible for repaying this debt. Mr. Jackson and the board have said "not to worry that it will be our kids and grandkids that will have to pay it off."
Currently members cannot receive copies of regular board minutes until they are officially approved one month later at the regular board meeting. Last spring Mr. Wilson had to pay $75 to receive copies of past board minutes. We are a co-op and these minutes should be available to us without charge or stipulations attached.
Concerned Members
for a better Rolling Hills