June 4, 2020
For some people Monday was a special day but most people were unaware that it was special. Instead struggled with the new norm of social distancing, face masks and closed or at least changed businesses. Our city cousins added racial unrest concerns.
On Monday a friend of this newspaper passed along the following letter she had received through her membership in the United Methodist Church. The letter was signed by Ruby Thelander. The sender didn’t know if Ruby is related to the Superior Thelanders and neither do I. But that doesn’t matter for I suspect we all have city friends and relatives who are somehow caught in the current turmoil.
“Thanks for your prayers for my family in Minnesota. Emily calls every evening to update me. As you know, Justin works for the governor and has to walk a thin line between the group he represents, the Black community, and the government. He has been staying out of the streets both because of his job and his family. They live in Richfield, so it is a little distant from the rioting. However, the boys’ daycare is close to the police station that was burned the first night. So, Em has been housing some of the folks who have youngsters with her boys in that group. Stressful and tiring, but they are a close group and the children enjoy each other.
“Justin and Burke helped board up the windows of the daycare the first night and so far the people have not been on their street, so they are hopeful it stays that way. And the news that the real rioters are outsiders is true. The people who live there and are the families that Em and Justin work with are the ones who are staying home with their families and praying.
“Amy and Burke are closer to the south section where the action is, but so far it has not been on their street, and hopefully it will not get that far north. Of course we are all tense and glued to the television. Justin was supposed to be on television with the governor earlier this week, but a group of religious leaders spoke first and evidently bored the television station who switched to commentators before he got on.
“Thanks so much for your prayers.They certainly need them now. Love, Ruby”
During the current pandemic, newspapers are classified as an essential service. We are expected to maintain our publication schedule and our employees are expected to do their jobs. Our jobs are harder. Many of the events we normally report about aren’t being held this year and personal contact without our readers and news sources is discouraged.
Reporters have news beats. As a Reporting II student at Kansas State University I was assigned to the music beat. If you know me, you know, if it is possible, I know even less about music than I do about sports. But the music beat was superb. Every Monday morning I called on Mrs. Ward, the music department secretary. She knew I was coming and had prepared a list of suggested stories. Perhaps the band was preparing for a concert or the K-State Singers were leaving on a tour. From her list I knew who I should contact that week.
Thanks to Mrs. Ward, I never ran out of story ideas.
This newspaper needs lots of people like Mrs. Ward. We need them through out our circulation area. This week, for example, we expect to publish three pictures taken by one of our subscribers that give a small glimpse into how the pandemic has made for a new normal.
Over the years this newspaper has had both longterm employees and longterm contributors. Jim Miller has voluntarily contributed pictures for nearly 40 years. The late Evelyn Honeycutt was a correspondent for more than 50 years. The late Blanche Bargen and Irene Barfknecht both worked here for more than 50 years. The late Herb Atkins was officially on the payroll for 47 years but long after his retirement he continued to help with special projects. Though retired, he stopped in nearly every week while the press was running. Though he “officially” retired after 34 years with The Express Howard Crilly, the former editor, was at his desk regularly for more than 50 years.
Many of us have found journalism to be a rewarding profession. As journalists we enjoy preserving the past by reporting on what has happened and helping people navigate the future by reporting on what is happening and what is expected to happen. How we do this continues to change.
At this time when many people in our nation are unemployed, this newspaper is looking for help. Both voluntary contributors like Kerma Crouse who is preserving her home county’s history on the pages of this newspaper and salaried people to handle the day-to-day work.
But enough about this newspaper. I have gotten sidetracked. That’s pretty easy for me to do. Ask me a simple question and I am apt to take off telling a story that may or may not relate to the question.
Much of what I have just written, doesn’t pertain to this week’s column topic which is National Weather Radio Awareness Day. So I better shift gears and at least mention this week’s topic,
The special day was Monday but if you were like most of us working in the newspaper office on Monday, you failed to recognize the day. That wasn’t the case with the newspaper’s friends in the National Weather Service office at Hastings for they observed Monday as “National Weather Radio Awareness Day.” They would have liked for us to some way recognize the day.
While I didn’t observe the day, weather radio has long been a part of my life.
I acquired my first emergency frequency radio more than 45 years ago. It was crystal controlled with programed channels. I could listen to only one frequency at a time but among those frequencies was one for the Concordia weather bureau. Seldom did a day pass that I didn’t listen to the weather report. During stormy periods I set near the radio so I switch from channel to channel and hopefully monitor current reports from weather observers near by areas as well as those working at the weather bureau.
The weather radios I have today are a vast improvement over the first. Most days they are quietly in the background and speak only when asked. But when there is threatening weather or other emergencies in the area, the radios are like pagers. They automatically respond and broadcast alerts for the areas I have selected.
There is one in the newspaper office, I have two at home, one on the main floor and one in basement.
With the radios always on, I can go about my business without keeping a close tab on the weather. When an alert is issued, the radio springs to life, sounds a shrill tone and then broadcasts the message.
Because of my interest in news, I have my radios programed for several counties but that isn’t necessary. I could program them for a smaller area and thus hear the ear splitting squeal less often.
Since I receive the alerts for multiple counties, the radio at times can be hard on my sleep but it all balances out. Other times I can sleep soundly without worrying about the weather for I know if a storm is approaching the radio will warn me.
And no longer do I have to hope I can receive a signal from Concordia. The weather service now has a transmitter site near the former town of Smyrna in south central Nuckolls County.