• Miner Queries: Will we let job seekers be scrooged?

     Last Wednesday, word came from Washington that the Congressional committee negotiating a federal budget had reached a deal, thus avoiding another government shutdown.  Hallelujah!

    Like most compromises, this deal makes no one happy.  Radical right conservatives were unhappy the sequester and deficit reduction were scaled back.  Progressives, myself included, were unhappy it raises no new revenue.

  • The Time Capsule: A lutefisk letter just in time for Christmas

     Letters are great, even when they arrive seven months late. It was back in May when this column solicited a local lutefisk story.  Mr. James Grotenhuis, an Express subscriber who spends his winters in a warmer place, responded. The letter, though, didn’t reach me until a few days ago. It has a Christmas theme, so in that regard the timing is good.  

    Grotenhuis disclosed that he was introduced to lutefisk in 1950. Being a relatively normal young man, he found it awful.  

  • What's Going On: Disputed hospital bill shows difference between right, required

     A communication breakdown has resulted in Mills County officials doing what’s legal instead of what’s right, which in the long run, will cost Montgomery County taxpayers. 

    That’s how I would analyze last week’s Red Oak Express story that revealed Mills County inmates are no longer welcome at the local Iron Bar Hotel, a.k.a., the Montgomery County Law Enforcement Center. 

  • The Time Capsule: A highway patrolman by any other name

     My wife and I were traveling in a southern state when we encountered a road sign telling us the bridge we were approaching was named for a state trooper who died in the line of duty.  

  • What's Going On: Stanton’s water tower must be saved, no excuses allowed

     I’ve been called a lot of things in 20 years of writing columns.

    Subtle is never one of them and this column will do nothing to change that. 

    So let me get straight to the point: Stanton’s coffee pot water tower must be saved, no matter what.  

    There is no discussion or debate regarding this. Just as concisely, there are no acceptable excuses not to save it. 

    All that remains is the how and when. 

  • Miner Queries: Do we understand what gratitude requires?

     Just over a year ago, I was writing about The Hunger Games and how this futuristic morality tale reflects our own cruel and unequal society.  At the time, presidential candidate Mitt Romney had just written off 47 percent of Americans, labeling them as lazy and irresponsible.

  • The Time Capsule: Column writing: To quit or not to quit?

     Every now and then I think about giving up this column, then put the thought aside and do something else. This morning I took an additional step, drawing a line dividing a page in half.  

    In the left column I listed the reasons for quitting. In the right were reasons to continue. Being born with a negative outlook, I started with the left. 

  • What's Going On: Why Thanksgiving will survive, despite stores and their sales

    It was capitalism out of control. 

    TVs, toys, even blenders were sold. 

    Employees worked on a sacred day, 

    a time for families to rest and play. 

    They said retailers were filled with greed,

    as they profited from consumer’s need. 

    But the stores opened and sales were made, 

    as buyers gave the notion a passing grade.

  • Outside the Box: Blame the bully, not the bullied

     Football is a demanding game, emotionally and physically; even more so is that true in the National Football League. So when reports surfaced recently that a Miami Dolphin lineman had so bullied a teammate as to result in that player leaving the team to seek counseling, I wasn’t surprised by much of the responses I heard.

    Most of the commentary revolved around the idea they couldn’t wrap their mind around a full grown man being bullied and an NFL player to boot. 

  • The Time Capsule: What was Willard’s tie to the ax murders?

     She was once the most notorious woman in Montgomery County.  Her name was on the front page of newspapers across the Midwest, reporters hounded her  and throngs of people strained to get a glimpse.  

    A few days ago I paid her a visit. Alice Willard, having died in 1921, doesn’t get a lot of company.  The stone is plain, bearing only her name and the year of birth and death. She remains, in that solitary grave, a figure of intrigue.