• What's Going On: Express investigation reveals fixable flaws in school’s security

    See something, say something.

    These four simple words should be the mantra for every faculty member in every school in Montgomery County and beyond.

    Lora Top, principal at Southwest Valley Junior High in Villisca, has ingrained that phrase in the minds of her staff and it was never more obvious than when we recently tested her school’s security protocols.

  • The Time Capsule: A grandmother’s secret and a cigar pact

    Sometimes one column leads to another, and such is the case with this one. A couple of days ago, I did a program at the library in Urbandale.  When it was over, a woman named Harriett McConnell approached.  From her purse she produced a newspaper clipping and asked if I remembered. It was an item that appeared in this column two or three months earlier. 

  • What's Going On: Americans duped into thinking we stink

    Abused spouses come from all walks of life. They can be white, black, rich, poor, fat, skinny, college educated or high school drop outs.

    But if there is one thing they share it is this: a low level of self esteem.

    It’s much easier to dominate a spouse after they have been degraded into believing they are worth nothing.

    Americans have become that battered spouse.

    I’m saddened to hear so frequently today a chorus from all corners of society: America is headed down the toilet.

  • Miner Queries: Get the facts: Who’s afraid of Obamacare?

    On Jan. 3, 2008, I registered as a Democrat so I could caucus for then candidate Obama.  During the evening, as voters discussed which candidates to support, I managed to convince a younger Edwards-leaning voter to join the Obama camp.  Our discussion centered on our desire to see healthcare reform instituted. 

  • The Time Capsule: The tale, or hoax, of a 650-year-old rune

    Two stories with a seafaring angle made our news in 1898, and one remains a controversy even today.

    Early that year, the battleship Mainewas sunk, taking the life of a highly-regarded young man from Red Oak.  Numerous twists and turns followed: the rush to war, conquest and annexation, the eventual raising of the  Maine, the recovery of Ensign Merritt’s remains, his second funeral, eventual burial and so on. While the Merritt story spanned several years, it basically ended a century ago.   

  • What's Going On: Missouri legislators embarassing state

    I’m officially getting a divorce from my home state.

    No longer will I claim Missouri as my place of birth. If children can divorce their parents, surely I can abandon a state and that’s exactly what I want to do.

    There’s plenty of reasons to be embarrassed about coming from Missouri: the University of Missouri’s football team, the state’s Southern sympathies during the Civil War, the fact there’s towns called Grubville, Fruitland and Knob Noster.

  • The Time Capsule: September, the month of watermelon theft

    “The hay’s in the barn, boys, let’s go hunting.”

    For the friends of my youth, September was the time to hunt. What we sought leaves me still with a nagging conscience, one I hope to appease by giving some deserving reader a choice Ali Baba; a 20-pounder and nicely shaped. You could be the recipient. 

  • What's Going On: When words fail to provide any comfort

    I spent the Labor Day weekend camping with friends in north Missouri and one of them had a stunning revelation: his son-in-law of 10 plus years had been arrested for molesting his own nine-year-old daughter.

    Shocked doesn’t even begin to describe my reaction. Through his father-in-law, whom I’ve been friends with for more than 20 years, I knew this man well, or at least I thought I did. We had shared many a laugh, watched countless football games and played thousands of hands of cards together.

  • Miner Queries: Immigration reform: If not now, when?

    Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights March on Washington, at which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.  During this period, Dr. King often echoed the question above, attributed to a famous Jewish religious leader during the reign of King Herod.  It’s a question that can be applied equally well to comprehensive immigration reform (CIR).

  • The Time Capsule: Bright moments for a ‘young’ man

    Inside every person growing old is a young one wondering how in the devil this happened.  While the thought is a gloomy one, there are bright moments.  I was fortunate enough to have two of them the same day.