Saturday, May 31, 2008


Whatever happened to debate?
There are always going to be differences of opinion, and often that is a good thing.
It just seems our culture has gone to the point of divisiveness, seeking power or to be right, at the cost of progress.
It's the same in politics at every level.
At the presidential level. Hillary and Obama are fighting for the dem. nomination. DO we hear debate about issues that affect us?
No, we are hearing about shenanigans over old votes in Florida and Michigan, and who said what and who is associated with who.

At the local level. It is about the same. There are the "3 amigos" and the "other two guys" (We need a name for them too.) There are issues in Ark City. But, we are not hearing discussion about issues that need dealing with.
We are hearing about how bad which side is and who is doing what that they shouldn't etc.

It is part of the local negativity. But also, I think it is a reflection of our culture, both locally and nationally. We as a people are not interested in progress. We just want power.
THIS is the problem.
The CM staying or leaving, the 3 amigos, windows ... whatever, is not the problem.
The problem is that there are few people with vision to rise above politics and lead.

There will always be issues to debate and differences of opinion. I think we should step back and ask how any of the debates are moving us forward.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Rules and reflections

Some people have crossed the line of civility, and so, I have felt the need to delete posts.
Hate to do that, but think about it. What if an anonymous person said that you were stealing, or engaging in some other illegal activity? Immoral activity?
How fair is that? It isn't.

Don't give me that free speech excuse either. The purpose of free speech is to allow freedom of expression, it is not to allow you to take anonymous potshots at anyone you wish.
If you don't like it, start your own blog and do as you wish.

I am not going to edit posts however. If your post says someone is engaged in illegal and or immoral activity, it will be deleted. Period.

We can have meaningful discussions here. Bitching and moaning about everything is not meaningful to anyone but the person who is doing it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

ironic / fanning the flames

Here is a link to the story from last night's Yankton S.D., city commission meeting.

One interesting - ironic note - is that also at the meeting they entered into an agreement to work on a tax increment finance district for a mall.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

city manager

Just got word from South Dakota.
Doug Russell has been hired as the Yankton, S.D. city manager. He starts July 7.
About $12,000 more per year, and a commission that is excited to have him.
Our loss.

Monday, May 26, 2008

another newspaper question

Every now and then we get these salesmen that come through and want to sell us new comic strips, and other features. Of course, we would have to drop something to add theirs.

Just curious as to what people actually read and like, or don't like.
What comics do you like. Are there some that you just don't like?
Do you even know whether we have a comics page?

Several of the classic cartoonists have died, and they are giving us reruns or having someone else do the cartoon, which leads some of us to think they should be discontinued.
These are strips like Blondie, Peanuts, Gasoline Alley, Wizard of Id, and such.

What about the astrology?
What about bridge?
What about those little puzzles like Sudoko?

Do they make a difference to you? Would having them or not having them make a difference as to whether you got the paper or not.

I know several of you are just online readers ... its not likely we will start running comic strips on our web site.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

ark city softball

The Arkansas City High School softball team won third in the state today in Wichita.
After a 3 hour delay, the team played a 9-inning marathon and lost 1-0 in the semifinals.
The team came back and won the third place game 4-3.
Congrats to the girls

Friday, May 23, 2008

ark city softball wins

the ark city softball team won its opening round game at the state tournament in wichita tonight by a score of 10-2.
You can read about it in the Traveler tomorrow.

Saturday they play at 10 a.m. in a semi final game.

A win will put them in the finals at 1 p.m., while a loss would put them in the third place game at noon.

The park is near the airport.
Take 235 like you were going to the airport. Take Kellogg towards the Airport.
Take Ridge Road north.
The park is a mile or so up the road on your right.

city manager update

Doug Russell has not left. He is in his office doing city manager type stuff at this very moment, at 9:30 a.m.
He said he is an applicant for another job, but as of right now, he has not left or given a resignation.
Said he would not be making any announcement, or that none is planned as of this morning.

city manager

we should have something about 9 or 9:30.
Im just guessing, but if he has not resigned by then, it will probably be Tuesday, unless of course, he does not get the job.

There are two other finalists who are also pretty good, and one of them has local connections or family or something.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Russell and reality

We had the story today about city manager Doug Russell being a finalist for the city manager job in Yankton, S.D. 
Rumors are flying already. But as of 3 p.m. today, Russell has not turned in his resignation and he has not yet been offered the job.
That's not to say it won't happen though.

We talked with Russell this morning on his cell phone. He is out of town. Plans to be back in the morning and said he would meet with us - the paper - at 8:30 in the a.m.
That does have an ominous sound to it. Usually he just says "Call me tomorrow."
He was driving when he was talking with us so couldn't talk much.

But the city folks at Yankton, S.D. told us this morning that they have not yet made a decision. They really like Russell, but they like the other two as well.  They plan to make an announcement Tuesday at their city commission meeting. However, i am sure there are negotiations happening now, and the candidates may know where they stand now.

We will let you know in the morning if he has resigned by then.
Check out our web site or here.

That's the truth as of this moment.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

skateboarders and flowers

Ok, it's my turn to complain.
My wife takes care of some of the flower gardens around town. One of them is at the library. She puts a lot of work into them. There's some of our own money involved too. She takes no shortcuts when it comes to plants.

Anyways, some of the skateboarder kids are messing up her work. At first they were picking a flower every now and then. That wasn't such a big deal. Now they are pulling plants out of the ground and destroying them.

How do i know its the skateboarder kids?
Well, ever since they have been using the Traveler parking lot, the flowers have been getting damaged. Pre-skateboarders it was really rare for a plant to get messed with. Since then its getting worse and worse. I saw some of them yesterday messing around over there by the library.

I know its just flowers, but there is a lot of work going into that and it is for the good of the community. Its also discouraging to her to see her work carelessly torn up.

Im also going to be carrying my camera more. Ill try to get some pictures of them. They are also defacing - carving into - the benches by the library. I know those kids have been trying to get organized and get their own park. Messing with the editor's wife's flower garden is not a good way to get media support for such an effort.

Ok, thats my rant for this morning.

The city had a very short meeting last night. Did all the stuff we said they were going to do.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


City work session was long but fairly interesting. Not much on the agenda for tonight, but there's a lot of things cooking.
Coming down the pike is a proposal for a one-cent sales tax. This would go to voters next year perhaps, or maybe even the spring of next year.
This could be the next controversy coming our way. I still say a sales tax is the most fair tax. Everyone pays, and those who have more to spend pay more, and those who have less to spend pay less.
Basically half would go to the city and half would go to the hospital to help pay for a new hospital. That would be about $750,000 each for each year for 10 years. You have to have a cap on it at some point, which could either be a certain number of years or a certain amount of money.

They are discussing whether it would be better for each entitiy to seek its own sales tax - a half a cent each - or to go in together for a vote.

This is all part of the budgeting process.
They are trying to stay within their means, and to even cut taxes if they can.
But you still have infrastructure needs.
If they did the sales tax it would be for street repair. That seems to be a top priority of the commission.

The sales tax is still in the "thinking" stage. We're not really even close to having an actual proposal, and even when we get to that point, there has to be a general vote.

The windows thing is still in the works.
The planning or zoning board will get it the first of june. So it could be back before the commission for its second meeting in June or in July.

Monday, May 19, 2008

city meeting

Here is what is on the agenda for the city commission this week.
Today at 5:30 is the work session. They will likely be talking budget some. Things like how much money to give to what is a big issue. Tuesday at 7 is the regular meeting. The budget won't be on there for a couple months.
There is no specific agenda for the worksession.
Tuesday's agenda is as follows.

1. Consider proclamation designating May 18-24, 2008 as National Public Works Week in Arkansas City.

2. Consider resolution approving and authorizing the Strother Field Commission to accept a grant offer from the Federal Aviation Administration for construction of drainage improvements.

3. Consider resolution reversing alley vacation for a portion of alley between 7th & 8th streets north of Madison Avenue.

4. Consider ordinance rezoning property at 815 W. Madison from I-1 to I-3 as recommended by Planning Commission.

5. Consider ordinance rezoning property at 400 block of W. Pierce from I-1 to A as recommended by Planning Commission.
6. Consider ordinance rezoning property at 1001 E. Kansas from B-2 to I-2 as recommended by Planning Commission.

7. Consider ordinance authorizing a minor subdivision for property at 5756 322nd Rd., as recommended by Planning Commission.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


We are working on our yearly progress edition. Its the bane - er a tradition - of small town newspapers.
We are doing stories about people who have made a difference in Arkansas City.

I would like to invite readers - and even internet readers - to participate. If you know of someone who would make a good story, let us know. OR, if you like, you can write a story about someone and what they are doing.

This is for the newspaper, so its not "anythings goes." Regular journalistic procedures would have to be followed, such as attribution of sources, no libel, name calling or opinion. It also cannot be done anonymously, if you want to write.
No guarantees, but, if you want to give it a shot, let me know and ill give you further guidelines.
If we use them, we will pay our normal freelance fee.


Friday, May 16, 2008

What about democracy ?

I really don't want to get the gay marriage issue going, but I did want to talk about something related.

Yesterday the California Supreme Court struck down a law banning gay marriage. This ban was approved by voters by a huge margin. The court basically told voters that their vote didn't count.

There are a few issues here and I think it would be good to think about them separately.
First of course there is the gay isssue itself. Whether it is good and natural, or an aberration. Second is the marriage issue.
Third is the issue of whether judges should be revoking issues passed by voters.
I would like to talk about the third issue. That is what concerns me more.

What is next?
Does this set a precedent for any supreme court to reverse the results of any election?
Is this not a pure example of judges having too much power and creating law?
The answer to both is yes. Basically they have cleared the way for any judge to reverse the results of any election at any time.
Does the will of the people not mean anything?

To me this is really dangerous. The gay issue, and gay marriage, are political issues. But Judges revoking elections is basically destroying democracy. and THAT is a true threat to our country, i believe.

Freedom of speech could well be next. Freedom to own property, freedom to do what you want, live where you want to live.
I am a bit outraged, but not because of the gay issue. Because judges have reversed the results of an election.

The ban on gay marriage is not really so much against gay people, as it just defines what marriage is. I think a culture has a right to do that, but that isn't the real issue here.
We shouldn't be so distracted by the gay issue that we miss the fact that our freedom is in danger. The danger is not gay marriage, the danger is activists judges reversing elections.

They say our vote matters. California supreme court says otherwise.
More I think about this the more upset im getting. Gonna write my congressman and everyone else i can think of.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Its good to know why people are here.
you guys - and gals - who read this do to an extent control it.
The readers control where the discussions go.
Maybe I shouldn't but I have tended to measure how much it is being read by how many comments there are. There may not be a relation there.

I see it as both the spreading of news and discussing of issues, which is opinion.
I dont really see it as the same thing as the newspaper. I do put a lot more opinion in here than I would in the newspaper. I still take the paper more seriously, or think of it as "real" journalism, while this is ... still something else.

There are more controversial issues coming up with the city. They are getting ready to discuss budget. This commission is still in the tax cutting mode - which means cutting expenses.

The philosophical issue is - are they there to save money or are they there to work on quality of life even if it means spending.
You can guess what most of the commission thinks.
Some feel that the city should only be involved in core services - streets, law enforcement, water and sewer.

This should heat up in the next couple weeks.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

ark city softball

Arkansas City High School softball team won big tonight.
They are headed to the state tournament.
The score was 11-1 when I left, and they were in the bottom of the last inning, so barring an amazing comeback, the Lady Bulldogs should have won.
There was a pretty good crowd.
Im glad we passed the school bond issue.
This team has won two straight state titles, and their facilities are ... pathetic, and that is being nice.
But it is better than it was a couple years ago.
But still, the kids deserve better than this.

Now ive stayed away from controversial topics, and no one is commenting. , Or i should say almost no one.

Maybe if it was a team of immigrant religious people who didn't want to clean up their building, that would get people going.

more girls athletics

It's good to see that there are people out there who appreciate womens athletics.
here is a link to a news story about a female athlete in texas. Pretty impressive story.
If you cant click on it, just copy and paste it into your browser.

The Ark City High School softball team is pretty impressive too.
This is something that is really positive and the city should be proud of.
I think this year has been especially impressive.
For years they have been good and have won two straight state titles.
But after last season their coach of many years retired and they lost most of their starting lineup.
For most teams that would mean a rebuilding year.
Not for the Lady Bulldogs though. They just reloaded and kept winning. A lot of that is due to the good youth programs that someone mentioned yesterday. Also there is tradition and expectation.
Teams that go in expecting to win usually do, and teams that go in expecting to lose, usually lose.
There's a lesson for Arkansas City there.

Playoffs start this week, they are the top seed in their region and have a really good chance to get to the state tournament.
If you get there, anything can happen.

They will be hosting some playoff games this week. Let's get out there and show some support.

Monday, May 12, 2008

softball - women's sports

Why do you think it is that women's sports are not as popular as men's sports?
Probably 30 years ago women's sports were not as well developed and were not as entertaining. Remember the old phrase "you've come a long way baby."
They really have.

I went to the big-12 softball championship tournament Saturday in Oklahoma City. I swear this isn't another post about how cool Oklahoma is ok:) .

Anyways, it turned out to be a really hot day. Great time for summer to show up. But it was still fun. Just about any sports is fun to watch when it is played at a high level. They are almost too good though. The pitchers were great so it was really hard to get many hits so that cut down on the action a bit.

I got turned on to fast-pitch softball when in was in South Carolina. I covered a great high school team. They won four state titles in five years, and the one year they didn't they lost in the finals. I think over that period they lost less than 10 games. It was pretty incredible. Watching them, I saw how the game could be played and really, its a lot more fun than baseball.
The women throw a underhand pitch which is a more natural motion. A good college pitcher throws 80-90 mph balls, which is almost as fast as baseball players throw at that level.
It is a fast paced game.

Ark City High School has a great softball program. They have won two straight state titles, and are doing very well this year.

There were not a whole lot of people there. There usually isn't for women's sports.
Now i know some will say I only like womens sports because they are a lot of young women in great physical condition. I'm sure some women watch men's sports for the same reason. But that isn't it. I really am a sports fan, that's the bottom line.
They really can play.

Spring sports are not as big as other season's anyway, but I do think women's sports are growing and should be taken more seriously.

At one point Oklahoma State was playing Texas and they were playing at the "small" field, that did not have as much seating as the main stadium. It was packed. At the main stadium, Nebraska and Texas Tech were playing, and it was nearly empty.
I couldn't help but wonder - since this was in Oklahoma City, not far from Norman - if this was an intentional slight. Just trying to keep the rivalry going:)

OSU had a terribly heartbreaking loss to Texas. Bottom of the last inning, one out to go, a soft grounder comes to the pitcher, who walks over toward first and flips the ball to first - easy out and the game is over right?
Nope. The first baseman dropped the ball. Just plain dropped it and in the confusion a runner from second scores to tie the game. Everyone in the stadium except the first baseman and the runner from Texas on second thought the game was over.
They went into extra innings and Texas won. It was the first baseman's first error of the season.
(women's sports or not, im not politically correct and am going to use correct sports terminology. The player at first is the first baseman! not the first basewoman.) Whether she is a he or he is a she or whatever.

Does anyone else out there like women's sports?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

clear as a window

I guess I could have been more clear.
But they did do a major shift between Monday and Tuesday.

Some people just like to criticize and will find fault with anything.
Its a beautiful day today. So tell me what is wrong with it while im out enjoying it.
I am thinking about moderating comments. Is there any reason that those of us who are interested in being progressive about the town should have to listen to the boo birds?

Anyway. This thing might work.
From this point forward, all windows that have to be replaced must be replaced with glass - or a hard transparent substance. Or they can be filled in to look like the rest of the building.

This applies to the downtown too. They were not real clear about that Tuesday night, so Im sorry if i didnt get that just right. The replacing windows with glass from this point forward also applies to the downtown area immediately. It becomes official whenever the legal ad comes out in the paper, probably this week.

The new twist is that they plan to rezone the downtown area so that tin and plywood will not be acceptable.
I think the city has a plan that it is giving the planning commission - or at least suggestions - .
It is not like the planning commission is going to be starting from scratch.

The city commission can also reject it and send it back to them.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

music update

i have updated the music festival blog,
go there for the latest, the link is to the right

close that window

the commission passed an ordinance last night, but it wasn't exactly what we were expecting.
the ordinance will require that windows be secured - meaning you cant just hang up tin so that birds and other pests can get in.
it requires that windows that are replaced must be replaced with glass. so it addresses going forward, but not so much going backwards.

the curve ball was the taking the downtown historical area out of the ordinance. this will eventually be seen as a bright move - though it may take some time.
instead of putting that in the ordinance, they are making it a zoning issue. they can re-zone it to require glass - or transparent - material in window openings.

they wont say it publicly, but they thought the ordinance might get a legal challenge, so city attorney Tamara Niles believes this is the best way to circumvent a lawsuit. this is a case of the best defense being a good offense.
it puts it under state statutes governing zoning, which will give it more power and make it harder to get around.
they say it will take a couple months to get it going. it has to go through some hearings and such before it comes back to the commission to be enacted.

there are still some questions i need to ask, but at the meeting the commissioners seemed pleased with it.

they had a private meeting (executive session) for 20 minutes in the middle of the meeting to make the final decision.

it will be interesting to see what happens now.

but lets give it some time people. its taken arkansas city 50 years to get to a certain state, it may take some time to get it turned around.
at least they are trying to do something.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

more windows

City commissioners are set to pass their windows ordinance.
They're planning on voting for it tonight at their meeting.

Downtown building owners didnt come up with an alternative plan, so they are moving forward. There are some minor revisions. It will apply to the whole city and people will have a year to get it done, so it wont change the town overnight.

Basically it will outlaw boarding up windows.
There are some exceptions and there are means for applying for a special exception.

The biggest objection from downtown building owners is that they do not want someone telling them what to do.

I do believe strongly in individual rights, but i also believe in individual responsibility.
Also, we "are" the city. The city represents us. So if "the city" tells you to clean up your yard, its really all your neighbors telling you to clean up your yard.
Some people don't take care of their stuff, so we have to have minimum standards for that reason.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

saturday, windows

We had in the paper this morning that the building owners have quit meeting. They are not going to give the city an alternative measure.
So now the city will have the option of passing its ordinance.
Mell Kuhn is the new mayor and he says he wants to pass it, so we will see.
They change mayors every year.

Should be interesting meetings this week.

Now is the time for the main street association to get started.
Will anyone be brave enough to get it going?

Friday, May 2, 2008

city commission

Here is whats on the city agenda for Tuesday's meeting. They will be talking about this and more at the worksession Monday night.
Note, No. 6, about the windows ordinance.
Building owners have been meeting privately. Meaning no public allowed, or media, or even the paper's owners who own a building downtown.

1. Proclamation declaring May 11 – 17, 2008 as Police Week, and May 15, 2008 as Peace Officers Memorial Day in Arkansas City, Kansas.
2. Proclamation declaring May 10, 2008 as NALC National Food Drive Day in Arkansas City.
3. Proclamation declaring May 2008 as Older Americans Month in Arkansas City.
4. Proclamation declaring May 4 - 11, 2008 as Music Week in Arkansas City.
5. Hold hearing and consider ordinance authorizing economic development tax exemption for Creekstone Farms.
6. Receive report from window committee and consider proposed ordinance regulating window replacement.
7. Consider resolution authorizing acceptance of property from USD#470.
8. Consider resolution authorizing conditional use permit at 618 W. Cedar; Owner: Linda Watson.
9. Consider resolution authorizing design contract for W. Madison Avenue KLINK project.