Wednesday, October 31, 2007

domestic abuse

I went to the program on domestic abuse last night at Cowley, which was put on by Safe Homes. Safe Homes is a place for battered women to go.
The program was moving and makes one think.
There are many forms of abuse, and the abusive type quality seems to get passed on generation to generation.

There were several characters who told stories of abuse.

One talked about how she was surprised to find that her son was being abusive toward his girl friend. Then she recounted how her husband had been abusive to her and she realized that her son HAD been raised that way.

It is also hard to understand why people in abusive situations do not leave, and why they even cover for their abusive spouse.

The reason is that their self esteem gets so battered down that they no longer think they can function on their own. They are too scared to leave. They may also become convinced that they deserve the treatment they get, or that it is normal.

I have had a few instances at the paper where women have called trying to keep their husband's name out of the paper for domestic abuse. Some will say it didn't really happen , it was a misunderstanding, or whatever.
One said if it came out, it would look like her husband didn't love her, and she kept assuring me that he did truly love her. I felt bad over that one, the desperation in her voice, the fear even over the phone, was obvious. He probably blamed her for it, and she probably accepted the blame.
I still put their names in.

The answer of course, is to get out, to leave ... period.
But thats easier said than done. It could be like trying to leave drugs behind. If you are not addicted you wonder why they cant just lay it down. Unless you are addicted, you don't understand why they "cant." They can, but it is very difficult.

Also at the program last night, it was pointed out that men are also victims at times.
There is also a thing called "toddling" where both parties are abusive toward each other. That makes law enforcement even tougher, but some are starting to differentiate and arrest both parties when both are abusive.

The hardest thing is to get the abused person to press charges and testify in court. Fear and intimidation are hard to overcome. Abusive people also are good at finding ways to get to a person.

There is also the embarrassment which makes some unwilling to report the situation.

If you know someone in that situation, try to get them to leave, and try to be supportive.

Prayer can also help.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Arkalalah is in full swing. It's always a great time of year, and a fun festival.
I like festivals and go to lots of them in the area. I have not been to many in Oklahoma, so maybe I'll get to some of them.

But now we are in Arkalalah. The food vendors are my favorite part of the festival. This week we will eat just about every meal down there, and then some.

Part of that is the lack of variety here during the year. When Arkalalah comes there are just more choices. We are getting more choices in eating here, it's getting better, but the lack of eating choices is always a drawback in a small town.

Local businesses are also taking advantage, with Grinderman and Gambino's Pizza getting in on the food frenzy. Grinderman has some really cool chocolate items during Arkalalah. Their chocolate and caremel covered apples are pretty amazing, and Gambino's is offering pizza by the slice. I'd like to see Gambino's do that all the time.

Today and tomorrow are the big days. Today is the kid's parade, which is always cool. It's my favorite parade. Ive never been much for night parades, and the big parade is ... well, big. Either the paper or my church always has a float, and ive been in the big parade a few times. I have not actually watched the big parade in a few years. This year i'll get to see it.

Tonight of course is the coronation. IT is interesting how they pick the queen. People at the event vote, which is interesting. But there are only so many seats available and it has an air of secrecy about it - whether thats true or not is a different matter - but that is my impression.
It would be fun if it were more public, and more of the public was involved. Not sure how to do that.

I don't mean that as a negative at all. The selection of the Arkalalah queen is a long standing tradition and has worked well.

Getting back to the food, I am sure I will eat myself silly over the next couple of days. There is the eating competition, but i'm not going near there.

Did notice in the brochure that has the schedule that the beer garden is called a "refreshment" garden, and that there is no mention of beer at all. It does mention Ale and I assume that doesn't mean Ginger.

I have noticed on this blog that most people read it Monday through Friday, and that Monday and Friday get the most visitors. Also it is interesting that very few people read it on Saturday and Sunday.

As a result of that, I am going to be sure to post on Mondays and Fridays, and not worry about posting over the weekend.

So everyone have a fun Arkalalah. I'll be back on Monday.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

More on the concert

We're about to get over the concert. I was so tired when it was over I could hardly think. We are catching our breath and gettng our feet back under ourselves. "We" being members of the committee.

I was amazed at how well it went, and I really am thankful to all the people and groups that helped it happen, and to the people who showed up.

We definitely want to do it again next year.

One question is when we should have it. It is kinda neat having it connected to Arkalalah, but the weather is so questionalble. We could have it earlier in the year, but we dont want it at the same time as the Walnut Valley Festival.
It would probably need to be either early September or early October.

So what do you all think?
Should we keep it loosely connected to Arkalalah, or should we try to have it earlier and have a better chance at nicer weather.

Of course, the weather was wonderful. God supplied great weather. I do believe God intervenes at times in our lives. Of course, it could have been that God knew the weather would be nice that day, and nudged us spiritually to set the date for that day. Either way works for me.

One person that needs to be given lots of credit is my partner in this adventure : Telisa Rohr.
She was just the person I needed.
I am good at coming up with ideas, and having faith to keep going no matter what.
My weakness is the details. Often Ill miss some details, and before you know it, im off track and on to something else, and the original idea gets laid by the wayside.

But Telisa is so organized and detail oriented, even her details have details. She is also a dynamo at getting things done.
She gave me the structure I needed, and helped me to focus my efforts on actually doing things instead of just dreaming.

We had a small group that also helped off and on. These people were Monica and Paul HInson, Kim Haggard (sorry if the name's spelled wrong.), Tim Durham, Page Butler... just to name a few.
There were many other volunteers that worked hard and I hope to try to name them all and thank them all personally and publicly as soon as i can.

We hope to soon get organized for next year, and get our committee a little bit more defined.

So, let me know what you think about the timing of the concert.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

the concert

The concert was a blast. Lots of people showed up and had a good time. It was really even better than I had dared to hope.

Some people said there may have been 1000 people there. That may be a bit over-generous, but I do think there were well over 500.

At about 5:45 there were about 10 non-workers there and I was getting just a bit nervous. Soon cars started rolling in, and by 6:15 we had a good crowd and were ready to start the 6 p.m. show.

I definitely was encouraged enough to think I want to do it again next year. Probably a few weeks earlier in the year. It did get rather chilly, even though the weather was about perfect. It is a good thing God is in control of the weather. The forecast didnt look good on Saturday, but the forecast gradually got better. At one point we thought of moving it to a church, which I really didnt want to do.

I really wanted the festival type atmosphere and that is what it was.

The local bands were great. Tim Durham is always good, and I enjoyed the Butler Brothers a lot. I hear them in church every Sunday, but to hear them performing as a band was different, and very nice.

Then came the out of town bands. I had listened to them, but you never know.
But Ashley Reynolds was as good or better than advertised. A very nice young lady with a great voice and an engaging stage presence.
Remedy Drive was good too. When they arrived, a few hours before the show, it was clear that they were tired and they still had to set up and all that. They were true professionals. They sucked it up and put on a great show.

This is what Arkansas City can do. This was the work of a community coming together to make something happen. I did kinda get it started, but it also took on a life of its own and by the time of the show i was totally out of control, which was ok.

So many people helped and had a hand in it.

I hope this will encourage other people in Arkansas City to do similar things.

I was amazed at how smooth it went.

THanks to everyone who had a hand in it, and to everyone who showed up and made it a great show.

There's more to come.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Full speed ahead

The River of Life Music Festival is today at 6 p.m.
Everything is set and ready to go.

We have been sweating out the weather forecast as we anticipated the concert on the river.
The forecast for today and tonight looks excellent at this point.
Should be clear and in the low-60s when the concert starts, and in the mid-50's by the time the show starts.

Saturday morning the forecast was for rain. We had some alternative sites ready, but thankfully we will be able to move ahead with plans.

It has been a wild ride getting to this point. There have been obstacles, but in every case we have had divine intervention to make things work out. You can call it coincidence if you like, but I don't think anyone could be that "lucky."
Timing has been amazing, and things have been provided at just the point needed.

Realize too that this is our first adventure with putting on a concert. We don't even know what may go wrong tonight. Surely something will. We will deal with it as best we can so I hope people will bear with us.

People have asked why it is on the river.
That really is the point of the concert. That field by the levee, by the old meat packing plant on Summit, is a perfect place for outdoor concerts. I Hope to show that it can be done, and hopefully other people will want to do the same thing.

Here is my ulterior motive :)
That we have more musical events there, and many that im not even involved with. Then, after we get that going, maybe we can get some trees and brush cleared out on the other side of the levee, and have a real riverside park.

For 5 years Ive said we need to develop the river areas. We are wasting a tremendous resource by ignoring our rivers. This is the first step.

So come on out tonight and enjoy the show. It's free.

There's something for every age musically speaking.

Friday, October 19, 2007

more commission

After doing a bit more research, it seems my argument is more with the state of Kansas than with Arkansas City's city commission.

Some of the commissioners were a bit upset with yesterday's post. I did say they did nothing wrong. I was just questioning a matter of form. They are saying that they announced that they would put it on the agenda Monday night. I never heard that, even though it did seem headed that way.

So they were totally in the right. It just seemed to me that it went through too quickly, but according to state law, it wasn't. So it is a bit subjective.

Kansas is very loose in what it allows commissions and other governing bodies to do.

According to state law, governing bodies - such as city commissions - only have to notify the public that there will be a meeting, where and what time. They do not have to have an agenda. They are also not bound by their agenda if they have one.

There are also things they can bring up and pass immediately.
Such as the resolution Monday night.

I just felt there was no opportunity for the public to weigh in, but when its a resolution, there is no requirement to do so.

In many states much more is required. Even for resolutions, they have to have two or three "readings" before an issue can be voted on.
Some states require three readings. In the first "reading" the matter is announced. In the second "reading" there is a public hearing, and it may be voted on in the third reading. (Some states allow the second and third readings to happen at the same meeting) That seems best to me, but that isn't the case in Kansas.

The downside is it takes at least six weeks to get anything passed. The upside is that it allows public input on just about every issue or action.

I wonder if anyone cares about the resolution itself. Does it matter to you if Arkansas City affirms what the state did in declaring English the official language?

Maybe there are other things that could become the "official" item in Arkansas City.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

politics returns

Hello everyone.
It went by so fast we nearly missed it. Tuesday night the city commission passed a resolution saying that English is our official language.

This is one of those hot-button issues that has no substance whatsoever. Nothing changes as a result of the action. The city does provide some information in other languages, but not a lot.

The state, earlier this year, passed the English is the official language bill, becoming the 30th state to do so. What it means is that the state, or cities, do not have to print material in other languages. States or cities "may" still do so if they want.

Still it is more of a symbolic move than anything else.

But what was interesting to me was the way it went down. This measure sneaked in the back door. It was legal, but just barely. It followed the letter of the law, but did not follow the spirit of the law.

The measure was added to the agenda Monday night. That it was going to be voted on was never made public. The paper is supposed to let people know what's on the agenda, and we do, but in this case, we didn't know either.

I was at the meeting Monday and it was not clearly stated that it was going to be added to the agenda. It was talked about some, but I didn't expect to hear it come up Tuesday.

Tuesday, at nearly the end of the meeting, it was brought up and voted on with very little discussion.

The move was symbolic in that it makes people feel like they are protecting the English language. It does reduce some paperwork, which may not be so bad.
There is another symbol here though, that I think is more important.

This commission has prided itself on being open and responsive to the public.
They have done well for the most part.

Sneaking something by is also symbolic of what is wrong with politics.

They did this to avoid a big public debate. You can hardly blame them for that. They didn't want the controversy, but still wanted to get the thing through.

Ive been accused of being a "homer" for the commission, only writing good things. I do try to be positive and present the facts. When I think they are wrong, I'll say that too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

city commission update

Monday night's meeting was long.
But it was a work session, and that is where issues get hammered out.
There was not a whole lot on the agenda, which made time for commissioners to present topics of their own. They took advantage of it. I left just after 10 p.m. - four and a half hours after it started - and they were going into executive session.

Executive session is a nice word for private meeting. There's nothing illegal about them, and there are times when it's probably a legitimate and good idea. If you were negotiating a contract, for instance, you might tip off the person they were negotiating with and give that party an unfair advantage.
So I don't have too much of a complaint.
I don't think the city commission abuses executive session very much. I just have to get on my soapbox about it every now and then.
The law lists a few reasons that a commission MAY have an executive session. The law never says a commission HAS TO have an executive session.

I have been around commissions and boards and such that were much worse than our local commission. Still, its a good idea to put them on notice occasionally that we're at least paying attention.

Last night was interesting though. There were not any big developments, but there were some previews of coming events that could get interesting.

They put off the economic development policies issue so they could hash it out some more. This will give potential developers at relatively simple means of seeing what is available and how to go about getting it. They are planning a special work session to deal with the policies which are about 50 pages worth of material.

Other issues that came up were the canopy or awning at Mozitti's, the quorum debate, hike and bike trail, chickens in town, preserving buldings and several other things.

One philosophical debate that wove its way through several topics is the idea of having set policies and whether or not to give exceptions.

Some feel that there needs to be set policies that you follow no matter what. When you start giving exceptions, you open the door to more exceptions, and soon you don't have a policy any more. Others feel that you should be able to have some flexibility so that you can meet the need of the moment.

How flexible should your policies be?
If you give an exception to one person, how do you justify denying the next person who asks for an exception?

One's philosophical view here affects many issues.

That issue also comes up at the paper. I feel the fewer set policies you have, the better off you are. When you have policies you should follow them, but at times policies can prevent you from doing the right thing.
Sound policies help make sure everyone is treated the same. At the same time, life is rarely a matter of a simple black and white choice.

There's some fodder for a future post.

What do you all think?


Friday, October 12, 2007

local education

We will have a story today about Arkansas City winning a bunch of "awards of excellence" from the state dept. of education.
These are banners schools get for reaching certain goals, such as students being proficient in areas like reading, writing and other subjects.

Arkansas City has won so many of these banners its almost getting to be commonplace.

Education is one area where Arkansas City is doing well. It is something to take pride in.

There is a lot of information available about this at the state web site. Here is the link to the report cards.

From there you can view the report card on the whole state, district by district, and even by school building. It isnt very user-friendly, and is kinda hard to understand, but ... it is there for those of you who want to look.

And here is a link to follow the money. Budget info on any district in the state.

And you know the district is pushing for a large bond issue vote to fix up buildings.
The state did fork over a lot of new money last year, but that just got the district kind of caught up.

I sat through a long presentation on the bond issue at a recent Lions Club meeting. It was interesting and they make a pretty good case.
One thing to note is that a new football facility is not the only thing on the table, and is not even the centerpiece. Replacing heating and cooling units are the biggest expense.

When you say $ 30 - some million, that sounds like a lot of money and it is. But, this will cost the homeowner of a $100,000 house about $75 extra per year on his or her property taxes. The median priced house in Ark City is $54,000, and the extra property taxes would amount to about $36.

This may be a hot button issue, but we do need to get at the facts and decide what we want.

I will say that the athletic facilities here are rather pathetic.

The bond issue will be coming up. Just not sure when. They were going to do it in November, but decided to do it at another time. They felt they needed more time to educate the public - which is political speak for - they were not sure it would pass.

What I would suggest is educating yourself. The above links are a good place to start. Base opinion on fact, not on rumor and other people's opinion.

No one wants to pay more taxes. Taxes are high here. I know they are higher than what we were paying in South Carolina. There politicians lived in fear, knowing that if they raised taxes they would be voted out of office next time they were up.
State taxes are higher here too.
Part of the reason is the population. We had a lot more people there, and there were constantly new people moving in. The tax base was growing by leaps and bounds. The school district where I lived was building a new school about every year. So they had increases in spending every year without raising taxes.

But we don't have that here, with a relatively sparse population and not much growth.
Not sure there is anything we can do about that.

I do wonder though, if there isn't a more fair way to tax than to put it on the property taxes. There are lots of people here who own homes and pay property tax, but dont have kids in schools.

Maybe a sales tax would be better ?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Rights ?

The religion and politics post got a lot of responses, which was good.
I still don't really get the "forcing ones beliefs" thing on people.
It does seem that when it is Christians saying something pubicly, they get that label. But anytime there is a disagreement, usually at least one side wins and one side loses.

Ive said all along that a community has a right to set standards, whatever they may be. I once lived on Hilton Head Island, where the entire city was a covenant type situation. You could not park your car on the street period. Businesses could have only small signs, and no lighting. Was hard to even find McDonalds at night if you didn't already know where it was.

So were they forcing their beliefs?

Everyone has certain rights, but at times rights collide, and you have conflict.

Maybe people have a right to have beer at Arkalalah, and maybe people have a right to not to have to be exposed to it. Its pretty hard to have both at the same time.

What if someone wanted to open a place for naked dancers and dirty books and such on Summit Street. They would have a right to I suppose because that is not illegal. But, why would the community not have a right to say they didn't want it?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The music festival

The music festival I have been working on is coming together nicely. The blog about it has not done so well though. I have just not had time to blog about the festival. Hope to get going on that, but thought I would give the festival a shameless plug here. :)

We finally have the electricity issue resolved. That was perhaps our biggest hurdle. We will be using generators.

The festival itself is 6 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 23. It is in the big field where the old meat packing plant used to be, by the levy. The big field is not being used for anything, but it is part of the city's long range plan for parks and such.

The city has a building there now it uses as a shed. I was glad to see yesterday that they (not sure who "they" are) were cleaning up the piles of dirt and such, and smoothing out the driveway.

People keep asking why we are having it there, but once they get out and see the location, they understand why. It is true there are several other venues, and we may bring in some music to different places around town eventually.
But the point is the location to some extent.

My dream is to have more river access, and to have a true riverfront park. I also want to see more live music. This area is perfect for a music festival.

I hope to have a large music festival here in Arkansas City someday. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither are music festivals. I think we are off to a good start. But we are only starting.

The people of Arkansas City are making this thing happen. People can say what they like about Arkansas City being a negative place, but the support I have received has been nothing short of amazing. There are a lot of positive people in this town, and a lot of people who are willing to support positive activities.

I do have a small web site up about the festival.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Religion and politics

That title should get some attention. The two things you are not supposed to discuss in polite company, religion and politics.

The posts on the beer garden have been interesting, and they made me want to do a whole post on a slightly different issue - the place of religion in the public square.

Some posters have accused religious people of "forcing" their views on others by complaining about the beer garden. Of course, this is always the refrain of many non-religious people.

I used to think it was just propaganda, but I am starting to believe that there are people who would all but ban any religious expression in public. This IS America, where you are supposed to have freedom of speech. It is a sad day when you have to defend freedom of speech for anyone in this country - let alone for people who believe in loving and caring for their fellow man.

You may say I am biased toward religion, but if you raise that objection, I'll just say you are biased against it, so we are back to square one.

The idea of "forcing" ones beliefs on another person is a totally bogus argument. In any debate, some will win and some will lose. That is just the nature of the game.

You must also admit, that if you do something that religious people object to, then you are "forcing" your beliefs on them. You cannot have it both ways. If religious people are "forcing" their views, then you non-religious people are doing the same thing by doing what they find objectionable.

The "Forcing" talk is a smokescreen to avoid talking about the real issue.

A community has a right to set standards.

The real issue with beer gardens - as I understand it, is not the beer itself. It is just the idea that it will be more public and that the city leaders are sponsoring it. People have a right to say they don't like that, and a right to try to change it

Religious people have a right to be part of that debate. Non-religious people do too. Whether they are religious or not should not even be an issue.

Why is it "wrong" in our culture for Christians to object to stuff, but then it is ok for people to object to Christians having freedom of speech? Don't kid yourself, it is a freedom of speech issue.

The moral framework of any society since the beginning of recorded history has come from religion. I would go so far as to say that there is no logical basis for any morality other than religion. In religion you essentially have a "higher power" setting the rules. If you don't have that, then its just whoever has the biggest guns or most money making the rules. There will always be "rules." Even not having rules, is having a rule.

That's not even an endorsement of a specific religion. Just about every culture that has ever existed has had a basic moral code, and the differences are very slight.

Objecting to something is not "forcing" one's views on another person. The person still has a right to do whatever it is if it is legal. Does the objecting person not have a right to not have something forced upon him?

Do people have a "right" to not be exposed to second hand tobacco smoke in a restaurant? Do smokers have a right to smoke in restaurants?

Whether its alcohol, tobacco or anything else, the question is not "forcing" one's beliefs. The issue is whose rights will have the upper hand and whose will have the lower hand.

If one person has a right to smoke or drink, they are infringing on the rights of someone else. If someone has a right to not be exposed to smoking and drinking, they are infringing. I only say that to show the silliness of the "forcing" issue.

I would think we would be better off if we supported the rights of all people to be heard.

Someone once said ... "if you do not understand your opponent's viewpoint, you don't really understand your own."

So let the debates begin.


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

old buildings

There was the usual work at the City Commission's work session meeting Monday. In the middle of the usual material, an interesting discussion broke out about old buildings in town.

Nothing was decided and nothing may be for a while, but, they did bring up the question of preserving our historical buildings in town.

Specifically they talked about the old Pilgrim church, which is by the old high school on Central Avenue.
The building now holds the Vinelife Church, and the people there are doing what they can to keep the place up.

The building itself is a masterpiece of architecture. It has many of the original stained glass windows, which are irreplaceable. But the windows are getting to be in bad shape and in need of serious repair.

It is going to cost over $100,000 to fix it up, and that is to stop the deterioration, of the windows and the building in general.

They dont want to raise taxes to do it, but they do see that something is going to have to be done.

Some old buildings have been left to deterioration, and some old buildings are no longer with us. The old city hall for one, which was somewhere around where the current city hall is. Pictures show it to be a grande building, odo gne that should have been saved.

But it cost money to do that.

This really isn't something "the city" can do. Besides, they'd get ripped for raising taxes to do it.
But this is something the community should do as a matter of pride.

It needs to happen pretty soon though. Buildings do get to the point of no return sometimes.

The old buildings along Summit are in the same condition. The metal coverings over the windows looks bad, but it does at least protect them from the weather.

Owners are not taking care of the buildings and they are deteriorating.

What will Arkansas City do about it?

Will they let their city crumble into dust?

Its really up to the people of the city.

One of the commissioners pointed out that talk is cheap. What is needed is someone with vision and a willingness to work ... and a good amount of money wouldn't hurt.