Friday, December 31, 2010

I'm wary of transplants moving to Missouri

Rich city people moving to small towns and the country: This is something I'm pretty sure the Rolla City Council and the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce would like to encourage here.

It sounds good, bringing in new money, but after reading this article on the Wall Street Journal website, The New American Gentry, I'm definitely wary of transplants.

Here's an excerpt:

Affluent retirees and other high-income types have descended on these remote areas, creating new demand for amenities like interior-design stores, spas and organic markets. For many communities, it's the biggest change since the interstate highway system came barreling through in the 1960s and 1970s.
With the Internet allowing people to work from almost anywhere, the distinction between first and second homes has become blurred. Many people are buying retirement property while they're still employed. Millions of soon-to-retire baby boomers, say demographers, will propel this trend for years to come.
"What we're seeing is a class colonization," says Peter Nelson, an associate professor of geography at Middlebury College and an expert on rural migration. "It really represents a shift in the nature of the economy from a resource-extraction economy to an aesthetic-based economy."
Such change can create social tensions, as longtime residents are either driven away because they can no longer afford housing or are forced to adapt to new careers.

Manmade global warming is real

This is New Year's Eve. It should be cold outside, perhaps even frigid. There ought to be leftover snow. We ought to be bracing ourselves for a blizzard right after the first of the year. Instead, it is 59 degrees on my front porch in Rolla, 61 degrees at the Rolla National Airport.

This is global warming.

Moreover, it is manmade global warming.

Yes, I am a convert, and I'll tell you why. Bear with me. I'm going to take you on a circuitous route, but my logic, as always, is impeccable.

I figured it out this morning while watching a news channel. The commentators were talking about what government must do to create jobs. There were clips from the past two years of the president talking about what he is going to do to create jobs. The new Republican governor of Florida was talking about what he plans to do to create jobs. Everyone, including the newly elected Republican governor, believes the answer to job creation is government.

On a local level, Rolla city government has created a plan to increase shopping activity through tax subsidies. We're going to get a new retail department store (construction is set to begin in the spring) and the development will be paid for with sales and real estate taxes.

All of us are looking to government for solutions. Everyone in America, even those of us in traditionally conservative small Ozarks towns, now turns to the government for guidance.

Like the European socialists, we Americans have come to believe the government has the answers.

That makes most of us progressives, liberals, socialistic Democrats. We may think of ourselves as conservatives or Republicans, but we're really a bunch of left-leaners because we look to the government for direction in our lives.

Now I'm not pointing any fingers; I'm in there with the rest of you. There are few true conservatives left, and that's the cause of climate change.

Around the world and around the United States, there are billions of Democrats, progressives, liberals, socialists, communists and left-leaning moderate conservative Republicans.

And each one of us farts at least once a day. In my case, it's way more than that, but even if you only let go with one little pffffft or even a silent but deadly one, you are part of the manmade global warming problem.

Did I say problem? I meant to say catastrophe, because that's what the president says.

We can't blame this on the true-blue conservatives. For years, liberals have described the real conservatives as "tight asses," so we can't blame methane gas pollution on them.

No, folks, the problem is all of us left-leaning gas-expellers. There are too many of us doing what we do, so we are causing global warming.

When you are ready to relent and admit, as I have today, that you are part of the problem, then and only then can government really find a solution for us.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

The Birth of Jesus
Luke 2
1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered. 2 This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, 5 to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough—because there was no room for them at the inn.
The Shepherds and the Angels
8 In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: 11 today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. 12 This will be the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: 14 Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors!
15 When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
16 They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the feeding trough. 17 After seeing [them], they reported the message they were told about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard, just as they had been told.

Holman Christian Standard Bible

Friday, December 24, 2010

All I ever talk about is the weather

We got up at 4 a.m. and there was snow on the ground and in the air. I cleared off the car and left for work after fortifying myself with plenty of coffee. I had no trouble getting out of the driveway. The street had not been plowed, and it was slippery. That should have been a warning to me, but I was intent on getting to work. Missing work due to weather would be unmanly, I thought.

I made it onto the interstate, and I knew immediately this would not be a manly day. There was little westbound traffic at 5:30 a.m.; it's usually pretty busy. The surface was slushy and the car kept slipping around. I crept to Newburg and headed back home. The eastbound lanes and traffic were even worse. An 18-wheeler passed me and threw slop all over the car. I crawled back to Rolla and was glad to get into the driveway and back inside the house. Not very manly, I know, but that's the way it goes.

I stuck a tape measure in the snow about 6:30 and it sunk down 2.5 inches. The snow was still coming down fast. It's nearly 8:30 now and the snow is still falling although not as thickly.

My wife is not too happy about having a white Christmas. My, how she has changed after being in Missouri for 8 years. She was disappointed that the Ozarks had a white Christmas in 2002, while we were in Texas visiting her family. She was rhapsodic about the first significant snowfall she experienced that winter. Over the years, though, she has liked snow and Missouri winters less and less. I think the January 2007 ice storm was the last straw for her. She isn't excited at all about a white Christmas tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Latest weather update

It's a balmy 13.1 degrees on the front porch this morning, up from 1.7 degree yesterday. Delaine said just before sunrise it dropped to -0.3. The highest temperature she noticed yesterday was 17.0.

That means, of course,we still have on the ground the snow and ice we awoke to find Sunday morning. I just about slipped and fell last night on a sheet of ice in the Kroger parking lot.

Church was called off Sunday. I found out after I drove out there, discovered an empty parking lot, came home, checked my e-mail and found a notice that services for the day had been called off. I should have checked the mail first. I e-mailed my deacon back with my phone number, so this won't happen again.

It's supposed to get up to 27 degrees degree. I see the weather forecaster is calling for ice pellets Wednesday, but it's supposed to be partly cloudy and highs in the mid-30s on Friday and Saturday.

The Old Farmer's Almanac says Dec. 10-15 is supposed to be sunny and mild while Dec. 16-21 is supposed to be rain turning to snow, then sunny and cold. For Christmas, Dec. 22-16, the Old Farmer predicts sunny, then rain and mild. The year will end with sunny weather turning colder. This is according to the almanac with the yellow cover and the hole in the corner so you can hang it on a nail in the outhouse and read during those balmy winter days. The Montgomery Ward catalog on the floor is for another purpose.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Weather update

I measured 0.20 inch in my rain gauge this evening.
The temperature was 44 and dropped to 34 in an hour.
It is 16 degrees now.
And it is windy. There is a light, dry snow swirling designs in the streets.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas countdown: Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow ...

... well, not really.

But here's Ferlin Husky (a native Missourian) and Patsy Cline singing a song that doesn't say a thing about Christmas, yet it's considered a Christmas song.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Predicting the winter with woolybears and seeds

R.D. Hohenfeldt

A few weeks ago as I walked across the church parking lot, I looked down and saw a woolybear. He was black from front tip to back end.

I shuddered.

If you, too, are a hillbilly, you know why.

That wooly little worm (yes, I know, it is actually a caterpillar) predicts the
winter weather. The larger the band of brown, the milder the winter. If there’s no band of brown, well, then (gulp, deep breath, muttered cursings perhaps), there’s no mild winter in the woolybear’s weather forecast.

An all-black woolyworm, or woolybear, or caterpillar, means we’re in for a long, cold winter, with plenty of precipitation. In Missouri, that means sleet, a rain-sleet mix, freezing rain, ice/icing and snow.

I kept my eyes open for woolybears every Sunday for confirmation of that prediction. I usually see quite a few every fall, but for some reason I saw only one more. It was on the church sidewalk, and I took a picture of it. It had a fairly wide band of brown around its middle.

What a relief.

Friday, though, I opened up a bunch of persimmon seeds, and the news was not a

Now, the Ozarks hillbilly folklore is that when you cut open a persimmon seed, you’ll see a knife, fork or spoon. The fork tells you the winter will be so cold it will cut through you like a knife. A spoon tells you the winter will keep you busy shoveling snow. A fork tells you that you’ll have a moderate winter with not a lot of shoveling.

Weather predicting with persimmon seeds is not easy. Cleaning all the pap off the seeds is a chore in itself. Slicing open the seeds is dangerous and can be damaging if you aren’t careful. I’m partial to a Kobalt folding knife, available at Lowe’s, and I slip a new blade into it every couple of days so it is always sharp. Cutting the seed so you go through the center of the germ and obtain a recognizable shape is difficult. I cut through a handful of seeds without damaging myself and got shapes that bore no resemblance to anything.

I did, however, get three that looked like flatware. Two of them definitely looked like spoons. One looked like a butter knife, or maybe a spatula. So I found three persimmon predictors: two warning of snow, one of sharp cold.

Another predictor, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, says we’re going to have a drier than normal winter in Missouri, but also a colder than normal winter.

Between the woolybears, the persimmon seeds and The Old Farmer’s Almanac, I don’t know what to think. If anyone can offer some insight, I’d be happy to hear it.

Christmas countdown: Jerry Reed's version

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Christmas countdown: Bon Jovi's version

Meet Jesus at the Phelps County Cowboy Church

If you feel the Lord calling you, and you've been thinking about going to church, yet you can't bring yourself to go into one, let me recommend an alternative: The Phelps County Cowboy Church.
This congregation meets in a horse sale barn, the Rolla Horse Auction located north of St. James on Highway 68. No need to dress up if you don't feel like; lots of folks come straight from work, and I don't mean office work.
The music is provided by a country vocalist with a country combo and back-up singers. The preacher is the sale barn owner, and he preaches a solid, biblical, sincere sermon about Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior.
Lots of people go to the Phelps County Cowboy Church on Thursday nights and to their home church on Sundays. Lots of people consider Phelps County Cowboy Church their home church.
If you have a home church, as I do, why not pray for the Phelps County Cowboy Church and attend from time to time?
If you don't have a home church, why not worship with the Cowboy Church regularly?
It's a good place to go to start building a relationship with Jesus.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday weather update

It's Black Friday, and I'm off work, thanks to knowing a little something about American history.

A few weeks ago at the morning meeting of the associates, the boss threw out a trivia question and said anyone who knew the answer would get Black Friday off. The question: What two U.S. presidents died on the Fourth of July, 50 years after the signing of the document. The answer: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson died first at Monticello in Virginia. Adams died later in the day at his farm outside Quincy, Mass. He thought Jefferson was still alive, so his dying words were something like, "Thank God, Jefferson still lives."

Now, it isn't a paid day off; I had to use a vacation day, but that's all right.

I'll have to go in this afternoon and evening for my other job, because I have a lot to do.

I sat down merely to write a weather update and got off-track. That happens to me a lot nowadays.

The weather in Rolla: 20 degrees, bright and clear.

Christmas countdown: Music starts on radio

While Delaine was working hard in the kitchen yesterday morning, I flipped on the radio and started twisting the dial to find something good to hear. The dial was on KMST, down at 88.5 FM; I usually listen to Morning Edition so I can keep up with what's going in the world of secularism and liberalism, plus I like the music on KMST. On Thanksgiving Day, I thought I'd move over to the Christian station, 106.3 FM, to hear something inspirational. I got sidetracked somewhere around 104 with Christmas music. I figured they would play a song and then I'd move onto 106.3.

The station, and I don't what it is or where it comes from because there was never any station identification, played non-stop Christmas music while Delaine cooked. When we got back home yesterday evening, it was still playing Christmas music. I turned it on this morning, more Christmas music.

I like Christmas music, but I like traditional Christmas music done by traditional Christmas singers and musicians, people like Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Andy Williams, Ferrante and Teicher, the Harry Simeone Chorale and the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Modern singers and musicians have figured out multiple ways to mess up a good Christmas song. The only time I like to hear a messed-up Christmas song is when it's meant to be a novelty. For instance, there's a swining version of Away in the Manger that cracked me up the first and only time I ever heard it. I thought it was Frank Sinatra singing about "that little cat Jesus asleep on the hay." I did a little more research and I think it is a guy named Bob Francis and the version is called "That Swingin' Christmas." I am looking for a copy of it at a reasonable price; Delaine found it on Amazon for $40, but that's way too much for me.

Now I like that tune because it's over the top and it is meant to be over the top. I'm not a big Harry Connick Jr. Christmas music fan, because when he "swings" a Christmas song, he's doing it sincerely, not as a novelty.

But that's just my old stick-in-the-mud personality at work.

Here's where I listen to Christmas music:'s Christmas stations

There are scores of stations to pick on Live365, so if one of them starts playing crap you don't like, you can switch to another staton.

On Pandora, you "seed" the station with songs and artists you like, and then the computer starts picking music it thinks you'll like. If you don't like a song, you give it a thumbs-down; it stops playing that song and will never play it again. You can eventually fine-tune a station so it will play only music you like.

Here's a good ol' Christmas song for you:

Heritage Boys singing gospel music

The Heritage Boys sang out at Macedonia Baptist Church north of Rolla Sunday night. We had a Thanksgiving Dinner at 5 and then they sang at 6:30. Afterwards, refreshments were served, so there was plenty of eating, as well as good music.

Here's a snippet of a song. They have great harmony, good song selection and some funny stage banter. It was a mighty fine evening.

We had a bluegrass summer series of concerts. Maybe the pastor and deacons will approve having a gospel quartet series for the fall and winter.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Final weather update for Thanksgiving Day 2010

I just emptied the rain gauge of another 0.40 inch, so that makes the day's total 3.05 inches in this Rolla neighborhood for Thanksgiving Day 2010. The front porch temperature: 27 degrees. Here are some pictures from our daughter and son-in-law's place south of Rolla today:

Another weather update

Well, good grief, it's 12:24 p.m. and the rain/sleet mix has stopped. Now it is spitting snow along with the sleet.

My Texas wife is not happy. "Sleet on the ground and snow falling," she said. "Yippee, skippee."

The weather has kept us home. We planned on going to see my parents; my sister and her family drove up last night to be with them, so at least they're not by themselves.

Our daughter and son-in-law stayed in Rolla, too, instead of going up to Grandma and Grandpa's. Delaine has been cooking up a Thanksgiving so we're going over to eat with them and our grandson.

This is what happens in a state with oddball weather. Young people and transplants to Missouri, neither of which have any weather memories, think Missouri has mild weather. Well, it can be mild. It can also be harsh. Sometimes we have balmy Thanksgivings, sometimes we have rain, sleet and snow--with a glaze of ice on the roads, which is what I'm sure is going to happen towards dark.

The Old Farmers Almanac has predicted this winter in Missouri will be drier than normal and colder than normal. I agree with the cold prediction; I'm not so sure about the dryness. The first woolybear I found was completely black; no brown band at all. That ought to tell you something.

I think I'll open up some persimmon seeds this afternoon and see what I find.

Man arrested on several active warrants

From a press release received today:

On November 24, 2010, at approximately 10:23pm Pulaski County deputies
located and arrested a suspect wanted on several active warrants. The suspect
was located at 22975 Strate Lane , Laquey , Missouri .

The suspect
was Jessie Allan Mitchell, age 20, of 27730 Spokane , Laquey , Missouri .
Mitchell was wanted on an active felony warrant for probation violation and had
one warrant from another county.

Mitchell is currently being held
in the Pulaski County Jail pending a probation hearing and the posting of bond
on the out of county warrant.

Man arrested after smearing something in woman's face

From a press release received today:

On November 25, 2010, a female victim came to the Pulaski County Sheriff’s
Office and reported that she had gone to a residence to visit with a male
friend. She was admitted to the residence but a second female who was with her
had the door slammed in her face. The male suspect immediately asked her if she
wanted a drink and she said no and began to walk to the door. The male suspect
then grabbed her from behind, pulled her hair to restrain her and then smeared a
brown substance on her face. The male suspect had then unlocked the door and
shoved her out of the residence.

The male suspect was located at 3:39am on 11-25-2010, and taken into custody. He was transported to the Pulaski County Jail. A statement of probable cause was sent to the Pulaski County Prosecutor requesting charges for this incident.

At this time the male suspect remains in the Pulaski County Jail on a 24-hour hold.

Pulaski County Sheriff's website updated

From a press release received today:

Pulaski County Sheriff J. B. King would like to announce that the official
website of the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office is now back on line after an
extensive revision of the website contents. The new site features a home page
with six additional links to other websites. The home page also contains the
active buttons for the other sections of the new webpage.

The other
sections of the new site are the jail section which features photographs of the
jail and a listing of the daily inmate roster complete with case numbers for all
inmates. The next section is the sex offenders section which lists all of the
registered Pulaski County sex offenders by their specific town within Pulaski
County . The site also has a civil process section which gives the requirements
for civil and criminal process service along with instructions and the contact
numbers for the civil process division.

The new website also
features a small news section and a list of the most wanted Pulaski County
fugitives along with a tip line. In addition there is an extensive section on
the concealed carry of weapons. The site lists requirements, costs, and has an
additional computer link to the Missouri Attorney General’s website for the
latest information on the states that do or do not honor a Missouri CCW

The new website also has a small section that details the
history of the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office shoulder patch. Every section has
the complete contact information for the employee’s who work in that

The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office website was first
established and paid for by Pulaski County Sheriff J. B. King several years ago.
The new revision was completed primarily through the work of Deputy Pamela
Sherrell from the criminal division.

Quote by Sheriff King; “Our
revised website is up and running. It is bright, colorful and full of
information. You may travel throughout the site by the click of a button. I
would like to thank Deputy Pam Sherrell for her hard work on this project. I
believe that she has produced a quality product that the citizens of Pulaski
County will enjoy and find very useful.”

Thanksgiving Day weather update

At 10:30 this morning I dumped the rain gauge. It was 2.65 inches. The temperature was 36 degrees.

It's noon now, and the rain is still falling. It is mixed with sleet. The temperature is 33 degrees.

Happy Thanksgiving Day

Have a Happy Thanksgiving Day today. Enjoy the family togetherness, the big meal and the football and basketball games on TV.

But sometime today, perhaps several times today, remember to give thanks to the Lord, for He came in the flesh to die for us and rose again that we might have eternal life with Him.

He gives us many blessings, and we thank Him for every one of them, but most of all we thank Him for the gift of eternal life with Him.

Psalm 69 (New International Version):

29 But as for me, afflicted and in pain—
may your salvation, God, protect

30 I will praise God’s name in song
and glorify him with

31 This will please the LORD more than an ox,
than a bull with its horns and hooves.

Psalm 95:1-2:

1 Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of
our salvation.

2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol
him with music and song.

3 For the LORD is the great God,
the great
King above all gods.

Psalm 100:4:

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
thanks to him and praise his name.

I Corinthians 10:15-17:

15 I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.

16 Is
not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the
blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body
of Christ?

17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body,
for we all share the one loaf.

Ephesians 5:3-5:

3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any
kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.

4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which
are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

5 For of this you can be
sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any
inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Philippians 4:5-7:

5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

6 Do not be
anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with
thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

7 And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in
Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:16-17:

16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish
one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit,
singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

17 And whatever you do,
whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks
to God the Father through him.

Here's one of the songs we sang at church Sunday:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cold and ice expected on Thanksgiving Day

I just dumped 0.80 inch out of my rain gauge. I hear thunder and see lightning.
It is 63 degrees on the front porch.

The weather forecast is calling for a drop in temperature starting at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving Day with ice pellets dropping and glazing on the roads. By 9 p.m., it is supposed to be 13 degrees. That is going to mess up our plans to go to my Mama and Daddy's for turkey.

We'll wait and see what the morning looks like, but we might just wait until Saturday to go see them. It is supposed to be clear and warm this weekend.

Obama remembers God this Thanksgiving

President Barack Obama has issued his 2010 Thanksgiving Day proclamation. Giving thanks means someone receives that gratitude, and this year the president decided that special someone is God. I have highlighted Obama's personal references to the Almighty in the 2010 proclamation.
This is quite different from his 2009 "Godless" proclamation, which I have attached to the bottom. You can see that last year the president made no personal reference to God; the only reference to the Almighty was in a quotation of George Washington.
Well, I don't blame him at all. I've had a pretty rough year myself, so I think my thoughts and attention are on the Lord God Almighty more this year than they were last year. Obama has had an even rougher year than I have, so I would expect to see and hear him pay more attention to God.

A beloved American tradition, Thanksgiving Day offers us the opportunity to focus our thoughts on the grace that has been extended to our people and our country. This spirit brought together the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe -- who had been living and thriving around Plymouth, Massachusetts for thousands of years -- in an autumn harvest feast centuries ago. This Thanksgiving Day, we reflect on the compassion and contributions of Native Americans, whose skill in agriculture helped the early colonists survive, and whose rich culture continues to add to our Nation's heritage. We also pause our normal pursuits on this day and join in a spirit of fellowship and gratitude for the year's bounties and blessings.

Thanksgiving Day is a time each year, dating back to our founding, when we lay aside the troubles and disagreements of the day and bow our heads in humble recognition of the providence bestowed upon our Nation. Amidst the uncertainty of a fledgling experiment in democracy, President George Washington declared the first Thanksgiving in America, recounting the blessings of tranquility, union, and plenty that shined upon our young country. In the dark days of the Civil War when the fate of our Union was in doubt, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a Thanksgiving Day, calling for "the Almighty hand" to heal and restore our Nation.

In confronting the challenges of our day, we must draw strength from the resolve of previous generations who faced their own struggles and take comfort in knowing a brighter day has always dawned on our great land. As we stand at the close of one year and look to the promise of the next, we lift up our hearts in gratitude to God for our many blessings, for one another, and for our Nation. This Thanksgiving Day, we remember that the freedoms and security we enjoy as Americans are protected by the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces. These patriots are willing to lay down their lives in our defense, and they and their families deserve our profound gratitude for their service and sacrifice.

This harvest season, we are also reminded of those experiencing the pangs of hunger or the hardship of economic insecurity. Let us return the kindness and generosity we have seen throughout the year by helping our fellow citizens weather the storms of our day.

As Americans gather for the time-honored Thanksgiving Day meal, let us rejoice in the abundance that graces our tables, in the simple gifts that mark our days, in the loved ones who enrich our lives, and in the gifts of a gracious God. Let us recall that our forebears met their challenges with hope and an unfailing spirit, and let us resolve to do the same.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 25, 2010, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all the people of the United States to come together -- whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors -- to give thanks for all we have received in the past year, to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and to share our bounty with others.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-third day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.



What began as a harvest celebration between European settlers and indigenous communities nearly four centuries ago has become our cherished tradition of Thanksgiving. This day's roots are intertwined with those of our Nation, and its history traces the American narrative.

Today, we recall President George Washington, who proclaimed our first national day of public thanksgiving to be observed "by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God," and President Abraham Lincoln, who established our annual Thanksgiving Day to help mend a fractured Nation in the midst of civil war. We also recognize the contributions of Native Americans, who helped the early colonists survive their first harsh winter and continue to strengthen our Nation. From our earliest days of independence, and in times of tragedy and triumph, Americans have come together to celebrate Thanksgiving.

As Americans, we hail from every part of the world. While we observe traditions from every culture, Thanksgiving Day is a unique national tradition we all share. Its spirit binds us together as one people, each of us thankful for our common blessings.

As we gather once again among loved ones, let us also reach out to our neighbors and fellow citizens in need of a helping hand. This is a time for us to renew our bonds with one another, and we can fulfill that commitment by serving our communities and our Nation throughout the year. In doing so, we pay tribute to our country's men and women in uniform who set an example of service that inspires us all. Let us be guided by the legacy of those who have fought for the freedoms for which we give thanks, and be worthy heirs to the noble tradition of goodwill shown on this day.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 26, 2009, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all the people of the United States to come together, whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place where family, friends and neighbors may gather, with gratitude for all we have received in the past year; to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own; and to share our bounty with others.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Brilliant colors: “in Memorium” concert enriches audience

A strong choice of music with plenty of brilliant tonal colors made Saturday night’s “In Memorium” concert what every concert should be, entertaining, edifying and illuminating.
Much of the evening honored veterans, but there were other musical memorials, too, by the Rolla Wind Ensemble and the Rolla Community Choir in their first-ever concert, which was sponsored by Arts Rolla.
One particularly strong performance was “I Am,” by Andrew Boysen Jr. The title comes from a poem by an Iowa high school band musician who was killed in car crash. Boysen was commissioned to write the music and he wrote it as an affirmation of life rather than an elegy. This was a rich piece of music done well by the Wind Ensemble.
Another piece of richness was “Inchon,” by Robert W. Smith. written about the Korean War battle. Particularly interesting was the stationing of young musicians with drum heads around the sanctuary of the First Presbyterian Church, the concert venue, to add the sounds of machine gun and artillery fire and helicopters in flight. This piece included an alto-flute and ocean drums.
Another rich orchestration was “American Elegy,” by Frank Ticheli, written as a commemoration of the Columbine High School massacre of 12 students and 1 teacher by two disturbed students. Ticheli said the music, at least much of it, came to him in a dream.
Those three selections were the highlights for this reviewer, but that shouldn’t be construed to mean the other selections were second-rate. On the contrary, the whole evening was strong in every way.
It started off with “Star! by Stephen Melillo, which was an arrangement of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
I was so thrilled that the Wind Ensemble included a John Philip Sousa march, “George Washington Bicentennial March.” Some folks shun Sousa and that’s a shame.
The Rolla Community Choir joined the Wind Ensemble for “Star!” and for “The Mansions of the Lord,” which was sung at President Reagan’s funeral, and “Song for the Unsung Hero.”
The Wind Ensemble included a crowd favorite, “Armed Forces Salute,” Bob Lowden’s medley arrangement of the songs of the military services. Veterans stood when their branch’s song was played.
The evening closed with the choir and ensemble together on “God of Our Fathers,” arranged by Claude T. Smith.
It was truly a pleasing evening. The printed program noted that John Francis of KMST recorded the concert. I don’t know if that means it will be aired; I hope so.
Musical director Craig D. French, choir director Jeff Sandquist and all the singers and musicians gave us an emotionally enriching evening, and I thank them.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Worship service at Macedonia Baptist

We had a good discussion in Sunday School out at Macedonia Baptist Church this morning; we have been going through Ephesians this quarter.
The worship service began with the baptism of a lad who accepted Jesus as his Savior a couple of weeks ago.
Our call to worship was "The Family of God."
In the announcements, we learned that on Sunday, Nov. 28, we'll have the Hanging of the Green during the morning service. (I called it Hanging of the Greens for years and then someone asked me if we were hanging turnip, mustard and collard out at the church.)
Mark your calendar for these events, too:
Dec. 12--Children's Christmas Program during the morning service.
Dec. 19--Adult Choir Christmas Cantata during the morning service.
Dec. 22--Candlelight and Praise Service, 6:30.
The three hymns we sang were "Count Your Blessings," "We Gather Together," and "Great Is Thy Faithfulness."
Special music sung by nine boys in the Fales family was "Amazing Grace."
Pastor Dave Scudder's sermon today was "The Life That Causes Unbelievers to Glorify God in a Hostile World."His text was I Peter 2:11-17. In these verses, Peter urges born-again believers to:
1. Live honorably among the lost in the world.
2. Submit to human authority.
3. Don't use your freedom in Christ to conceal evil.
The hymn of invitation was "Only Trust Him."

Here is a version of "Great Is Thy Faithfulness":

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Small businesses need you as a customer

American Express, which is a humongous business, is supporting a concept called Small Business Saturday.

Here in Rolla and in small towns across the Ozarks, people with a little bit of money like to go to St. Louis or Kansas City or Springfield or Columbia/Jefferson City to shop, especially around Christmas. That leaves our hometown businesses out in the cold.

But who do you think people turn to first when they want a donation of money or merchandise for their raffle, door prizes, big giveaways, etc.?

If you're a small-town Missourian, support your hometown small businesses. One way to start is to participate in Small Business Saturday.

I'm always bitterly amused at transplants to Southern Missouri who come here looking for Mayberry. They leave California, New York, etc., looking for Small Town America where land and houses are cheap, people are friendly and towns are safe. Then they complain that the town doesn't have "serious shopping" opportunities, and they take their money off to one of the cities.

Then these stupid transplants can't figure out why some small businesses must close and there are empty buildings downtown.

Missouri natives can be just as stupid, so I ought not single out the transplants.

If you want your community to be successful, you have to support it. That includes spending your money locally.

Get your bird feeders filled--if they aren't already

I've got a lot to do today. Rather, my wife has got a lot for me to do today.
One thing I'm sure she will approve of my doing is putting up a couple more bird feeders, filling them and the feeders that are already up, finding the bird bath heater and getting everything ready for cold weather.
We try to feed birds year-round. I'm not saying I'm diligent in keeping the feeders filled during the summer, but I try. I try harder during the winter.
We enjoy looking at birds, reading about them, studying them.
Here's a little exercise you might be interested in if you are like us:

New guide helps birders play The Match Game

Even if you think you aren't interested in birds, take a look at that link.
Now, back to work.

Friday, November 12, 2010

City slickers don't need to be armed in the woods

One day this past week, there was a letter to the editor in The Rolla Daily News that just about made me cry. A woman described how she found her granddaughter's beloved horse, Grey, standing in a field, dying from a shot in the gut.
She suspected the shot was fired by a novice hunter, for she found the dying horse on the first day of youth firearms season. Some young hunter, accompanied by a parent, apparently thought the horse was a deer and shot it.
Was it someone from the city? Was it someone from around here who was not careful?
Who knows?
These foolish mistakes happen. It especially hurts when the animal is a youngster's pet.
I talked to some of my buddies at work about it. They all figured it was somebody from St. Louis who came down here to hunt. They all had horror stories.
One ol' boy said he and his uncle were working outside the uncle's barn one day when a guy in camo came up and asked for help in getting deer out of a creek. The hunter said he had shot the deer; it ran into the creek and died.
The two Ozarkians went along with him to the creek where my friend said, "I didn't see a deer, but I saw my uncle's dead bull."
The hunter didn't believe them. He said, "Well, it's got antlers. It must be a deer."
My friend said he took the guy's rifle away from him, told him those were horns, not antlers, and called the law.
Another friend said he heard--and he swears the story is true--that a city slicker showed up at a deer check-in station, back before everything went computerized. He told the Conservation agent he had a deer in the back of his pickup.
The agent went, looked and said, "That isn't a deer. That's a mule!"
"Yeah," the hunter from the city said. "I know. It's a mule deer."
My friend is serious as a heart attack when he claims that story is true. It probably is.
City slickers shouldn't get out in the woods of Southern Missouri, or anywhere else, with rifles or shotguns.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Kohl's--Part 3: The next logical step

This past Monday night, the Rolla City Council approved the tax increment financing ordinance that was needed to step up the negotiations with Kohl's Corporation and, perhaps, ultimately bring a Kohl's department store to Rolla.

As I have explained in previous "That's What I Think" columns, Kohl's--Part 1 and Kohl's--Part 2, this seems to me to be a new way of drawing retail business to a community.

It used to be that communities would give incentives to manufacturing companies. Communities like Rolla would waive property taxes, cut the price for electricity, offer cheap (or free) land and buildings just to get a company to put a factory in the town and put some people to work.

The politicians have exported our factories to China or other foreign countries, and cities looking for ways to put people to work are scrambling for retail stores. One city councilman, Louis Magdits, was quoted in the Rolla Daily News about how hopeful he was that the city could bring Kohl's Corporation's 120 jobs to Rolla.

The possibility of Kohl's here is about shopping for most residents, but it's about jobs for at least one councilman.

So why not go all the way? With Kohl's, we're dipping our toes into the lake of public funding of private business. If offering a major subsidy to Kohl's is the right thing to do to bring jobs to Rolla, why not try something even bigger? Let's just go ahead and jump head first into that public-private lake. Why not ask the voters to approve a bond issue to build a shopping mall and fund it with sales tax receipts and property tax rebates just like we're doing for Kohl's?

The city would have to line up tenants for the mall before construction would start, to assure having sales tax. I don't know if that's possible, but it's something to think about as we search for more retail jobs and more options for shopping.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunday's special music at church

Here's the song Pastor Dave sang at Macedonia Baptist Church this morning, I Will Pilot Thee:

No, that isn't a recording of Pastor Dave. It's an old recording of the same song.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kohl's--Part 2: Assuring us of the right to shop

Rolla’s elected officials and the city staff members they hire often show their ability to solve problems and work toward goals creatively.

Such is the case with the Kohl’s financing plan that was recommended by the TIF Commission to the Rolla City Council Oct. 4.

Recapping, here’s the deal: Kohl’s says it needs $7,695,500 to develop a property for a store. The Fortune 500 company has asked the city to subsidize that by $3,300,000. In essence, Kohl’s will lend the city that money, and asks that it be repaid over a term of 23 years, although it could be paid back sooner.

Kohl’s wants only 6 percent interest, so the cost will be another mere $3.2 million.

To pay the principal and interest, which could be as much as $6.5 million, the city will use a combinaton of sales tax generated by the new store, plus the real estate tax on the property Kohl’s wants, which is next to Lowe’s and is visible from the interstate.

As you might expect, this arrangement startles the sensibilities of an old coot like me. I’m accustomed to thinking private businesses identify markets into which they want to expand, then risk some money to build a store and then work hard to make it profitable, all the while paying taxes that help finance the construction and maintenance of streets that lead to the store, assure police and fire protection of the store’s investment and educate children of the community, some of whom might work there.

Having a national company come into the communty and demand to be helped financially, then lend the money to the city so that financial help can be extended, then charge interest on that loan all makes this old hillbilly’s head spin and jaw slacken.

Moreover, I suppose the Kohl’s store also will charge as much as the market will bear for its goods, so shoppers will be paying taxes that will go to Kohl’s, as well as paying prices that will go to Kohl’s.

Don’t mistake my confusion for negativity, though.

I’ve done some research and some questioning and some listening and I’ve learned the vast majority of Rolla residents are eager to shell out that money for Kohl’s.They want it now.

Kohl’s supporters have assured me that we need a Kohl’s store for these beneficial reasons:

1. It will keep people from traveling to St. Louis to shop. With a Kohl’s here,
there will never be a need to drive up to a mall. Money will stay in Rolla.

2. It will attract people from surrounding communities to shop in Rolla. With a
Kohl’s here, those people who had been driving to St. Louis will always drive to
Rolla instead. Money will flow to Rolla.

3. Having a Kohl’s here will attract other national chain stores to Rolla, and national chains are more important than homegrown local businesses because they have name recognition and will attract new residents here so that our population wlll grow and we can attract even more national chain stores for quality shopping.

4. Having a Kohl’s here will give our community a sense of pride, something we sorely lack now because “there’s nothing here.” With Kohl’s here, we’ll finally know that our city is special.

These four benefits have been communicated to me by others; I did not think them
up myself, so please do not give me the credit or the blame. These were told to me by people
who say they’re willing to pay any price to bring a Kohl’s store to Rolla.

And that willingness of Rolla residents to sacrifice and pay any price to obtain important new shopping opportunities is important to consider, honor and respect. It is why I wholeheartedly support the financing plan. I welcome the new economic age. I hope the City Council will move quickly to set in motion whatever it takes to bring Kohl’s to Rolla.

This plan will protect people’s right to shop.--RDH

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tommy tugs at the heart

Here's another good ad from Tommy Sowers. It says very little, but it carries a lot of emotional impact, and that's all that really matters in an election. Voters don't use their heads when they vote, they use their feelings.

I think voters will feel like voting for Tommy when they see this one because in the ad he's clearly a country boy, who has access to a lot of manure to put in his pick-up truck. Everybody loves a farm boy who works so hard that his truck is usually dirty.

The pictures of Jo Ann Emerson that he uses in this ad are unflattering and make her look like a hag. No one wants a hag in Washington.

And firing off a round at the end of the ad will also stir the emotions of gun lovers throughout the Eighth District.

I still think he has a good chance of winning, although I'm not so confident about him as I was when I made an earlier prediction that he would win. I'm not going to rescind that prediction YET, for I think the electorate is in an anti-incumbent mood, not just an anti-Democrat mood.

The series of four debates will make a difference. WHAT he says doesn't matter. What matters is HOW he says it, how he LOOKS and SOUNDS while saying it, compared to how Mrs. Emerson looks and sounds. The first debate will be held at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau tonight.

I wonder if he'll park his truckload of manure in front of the lecture hall?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Celebrating with a drum

These young people were in the Celebration of Nations parade and also in the International Idol contest.

The drummer electrified the crowd.

I want a camel ...

... instead of a goat, now that I've seen camels up close in the Celebration of Nations parade and festival.

That big celebration of our diversity and multi-cultural community was held today. Thanks to Missouri S & T for the event.

What I really liked most about the day were the camels.

I've wanted a goat or two in my backyard for several years, but my wife won't let me get one, so two is out of the question.

The city probably won't let me have a camel--unless I can convince the authorities that my camel is a large dog.

I like the looks of camels. They are quite haughty looking. Very condescending, don't you agree.

Here are two of them in a parade being led by handlers.

Do they have camel races in the Middle East, as we have horse races here? It looks like riding them, especially at a fast pace, would be uncomfortable for a jockey.

I recall reading that back in the 19th Century, someone tried to bring camels to the Southwest U.S. to use as pack animals and cavalry mounts. It didn't work out. Probably because riding them was uncomfortable.

Here's another one in the parade:

Very haughty, indeed, don't you think?

Here they are resting after the parade:

And, here is my lovely wife petting one of the camels:

Sometimes I like to think about Jesus as Johnny Cash...

...loving people and making them feel better, surrounded by 12 disciples who look, talk, sing and act like (well, to a point, anyway) Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams Sr., Tom T. Hall, Charley Pride, Alan Jackson, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Bill Monroe, Lefty Frizzell,
...and, of course, the evil betrayer, Kenny Chesney.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Kohl's --Part I: What has happened to captalism?

First, let’s look at some key numbers and hope they don’t make our heads swim.

$7,695,500 is the amount Kohl’s says it needs to spend to develop a property in Rolla. I suppose that means they’re going to use that money to buy land, build a store building, lay down a parking lot, put up lights and plant a landscape.

$3,300,000 is the amount Kohl’s wants the City of Rolla to kick in as a subsidy.

23 years is the length of time Kohl’s has given the taxpayers to come up with that $3.3 million.

6 percent is the interest rate Kohl’s will charge the taxpayers as we work to make the payments on that $3.3 million .

And finally, approximately $3,200,000 is the amount of interest we’ll pay over the course of 23 years as we pay back that $3.3 million.

That means we'll pay Kohl's $6.5 million over 23 years.

Is your head swimming? Have your eyes rolled back in your head yet?

I felt like my eyes were doing just that at the Oct. 4 TIF Commission meeting, as new revelation after new revelation unfolded during the public hearing.

Bear with me as I try to explain this to the best of my ability and understanding.

Kohl’s, a Fortune 500 company, wants to expand and make more money for its shareholders, as any good American capitalist company should. To do that, it is asking the city government of Rolla to subsidize its investment. That sounds like the opposite of capitalism.

I learned some things at the public hearing.

Chester Kojro, who lives north of Doolittle so his opinion likely won’t be heeded since he’s an out-of-towner, asked a good question, I thought.

“What is the cost of land aquisition?” he asked, and we learned that it is $1.1 million.

Kojro then followed up with questions about the current owner, the previous owner, previous prices for that land and the real estate agent.

“Who’s making how much money on this land?” Kojro asked. “Taxpayers are going to pay so somebody can make a killing.”

The commissioners didn’t have the answers to that, or wouldn’t say if they knew.

Bob Stewart, who has lived here for more than 50 years and said he has seen businesses come and go, asked, “Why do we need to subsidize them to compete with what we already have?”

There was no answer from the commissioners.

Pamela K. Grow, who described herself as a 20-plus year resident, asked how the subsidy of Kohl’s could be construed as fair. She also opened up a can of worms when she asked about what she perceived as the waiving of the real estate tax for Kohl’s.

Mark Grimm, special counsel for the city, explained that in addition to capturing 50 percent of the sales tax it generations, Kohl’s will also capture 100 percent of the new real property tax. He explained that it works this way:

The property, currently undeveloped, has an assessed valuation. After the Kohl’s-City of Rolla partnership develops the land, it will be reassessed by Phelps County Assessor Kevin Ramussen.
Kohl’s will pay real estate taxes each year based on that new assessed valuation, but it will get back every dollar over the amount of tax based on the old assessed valuation, that is, the assessed valuation for the undeveloped land. that arrangement will continue through the term of the agreement, all 23 years if necessary.

That money--half the sales tax and all the new real estate tax, as mentioned--will be used to pay the city’s $3.3 million obligation, plus the interest.

Ah, the interest. I didn’t know the city would be paying interest, until Councilman Gary Hicks asked how much the interest rate would be.

It turns out the interest rate will be 6 percent, about $3.2 million.

So, the city could pay $6.5 million to Kohl’s over the next 23 years.

In a nutshell, here’s essentially how this business arrangement is going to work, as I see it.

Kohl’s, using the law allowing TIF, has dangled a golden plum before the city. To get that prize, though, the city must pay for it. Kohl’s is willing to lend the money to the city, at interest. The city seems eager to accept this agreement because it believes it can “pay the money back” to Kohl’s with new sales tax money and new real estate tax proceeds. It won’t really cost us anything, because it’s a win-win situation, as our civic leaders like to tell us.

Most Rolla residents, very likely you, dear reader, agree with the city leaders and will be glad to see tax money used to bring more shopping (who can be against shopping?) to Rolla.

I wonder what local businesses who built their stores themselves think about this. I wonder what future Rolla businesses will expect.

I wonder what has happened to American capitalism.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ninety-nine percent of Muslims are peaceful people

There are 1.5 BILLION Muslims in the world today.

I've been assured by the media that the vast majority of them are peaceful people who do not want to kill Jews and Christians. According to the media, they all believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

In fact, I've heard that 99 percent of them are just like me. I worship God Incarnate, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who died to save me from the penalty of my sins and rose again. He ascended into heaven but will return someday. Now, you don't have to believe the way I do. You can worship a fireplug as far as I'm concerned, and you can proselytize and get other people to worship fireplugs, because we are free moral agents. I think you'll go to hell if you worship a fireplug but that's your right. It's also your right to refuse to trust in Jesus, and I support your right of refusal. I think your refusal to believe in our Savior and Lord will send you to hell, but that's an issue between you and God. I believe others have the right to worship God in their own way even though it is not the right way. The media and the progressives tell me 99 percent of the Muslims would agree with me.

That means a mere 1 percent of Muslims are radicals who would support terrorism. One percent of 1.5 BILLION is 15 MILLION. Fifteen million: That's almost as many Southern Baptists as there are in the world, and many of you think there are too many Southern Baptists.

Now let's assume that 99 percent of those 15 million Muslim supporters of terrorism are people who would only cheer for TV cameras if a terrorist flew a passenger jet into a tall building in the United States. Let's figure that a mere 1 percent of them would actually be willing to conduct terrorist activities, like strapping on bombs and blowing themselves up. That computers to 150,000 crazies.

If 150,000 Muslim crazies got the word from an imam to go to the United States and spread out, we'd have 3,000 per state. We've got 114 counties in Missouri, so that would give us 26 Islamic nutjobs right here in Phelps County.

Do you think one of them might be able to find the Missouri S & T nuclear reactor building?

Sleep well, there's not a thing to worry about.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday sermon in song

I'm pretty sure I have posted this before, but it's my favorite Elvis gospel song, and I like all Elvis gospel songs. I'm pretty sure I'll post it again sometime.

I hope Elvis trusted in Jesus and is in heaven.

Are there too many Southern Baptists in the world?

There are 16.3 million Southern Baptists in the world today, and many of them will be worshipping our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ this morning in congregational gatherings around the globe.

Some will gather in palatial temples like that huge building I drove by in Springfield in July; I think it said Second Baptist on the sign. If Second Baptist has a building like that, I wonder what First Baptist has?

Some will gather in poorer conditions; I have a friend who is a former missionary who told me recently that one congregation meets regularly in Africa under a tree; the worshippers walk for hours to get to the tree because they love praise Jesus and learn about Him.

I'll be in a comfortable little country church house, Macedonia Baptist, just a few miles north of Rolla.

Do you think there are too many Southern Baptists in today's world? Some people think so. Even some evangelicals think there are too many Southern Baptists. I was reading on an evangelical forum recently where a fellow said the Southern Baptist Convention is a cult, because we tend to be conservative in our theology. We believe in what progressives, postmodernists and "enlightened" evangelicals consider foolishness, such creation, the miracles of Jesus, the inspiration of scripture and atonement through the blood sacrifice of Jesus the Messiah.

We conservatives believe Jesus offers the only way to eternal life. The progressives, etc. call Southern Baptists "exclusionists" or "exclusivists." That's why they say Southern Baptists are a cult, perhaps even a dangerous cult.

Well, there's no need to worry about us, for although there are more than 16 million Southern Baptists, the biggest part of them are BINOs, Baptists In Name Only. They don't go to church regularly, don't read the Bible, don't really know what they believe. The chances of a Southern Baptist brainwashing your child is microscopic.

So breathe easy.

Monday, September 20, 2010

More thoughts on paying Kohl's to build a store here

A few days ago I wrote a brief essay on the Almanac about Rolla leaders' eagerness to pay $1.5 million in tax money to a Fortune 500 retailer, Kohl's, to build a department store here. I bemoaned the fact that American capitalism has become so fragile that big businesses must almost always have taxpayer support to start or expand into new markets. We really are a democratic socialist republic and it isn't necessarily because progressives/liberals/Democrats want it that way; it's the conservatives, mainly businessmen, who have their hands in the taxpayers' pockets, too.

Chester Kojro, a regular Almanac reader, wrote to me and told me that I had missed the point. I think he is right, so I'm going to share his letter:

Dear RD,

You missed the real point of Rolla City Council's

Kohl's can build a store within a certain budget
(good business practice) but the Rolla site exceeds that by about $1.5 MILLION,
hence the need for a discount arrangement, in this case a TIF.

is glad to pay the money to make the deal happen. Whether money is up
front or deferred, end result is the same.

So who really
profits here? The real estate owner who is gouging with ridiculously
overpriced land. He gets the money up front, regardless of whatever
happens with Kohl's and other Rolla businesses. The land is being sold
at an exorbitant price and Rolla City Council is paying it!

Chester Kojro
Rolla, MO

I don't know why I didn't think about the land price being high. That was one of the red flags that went up for me when the city oligarchy started talking about blighted property and tax payments when TIF (tax increment financing) started in Rolla years ago.

At the time, I asked city officials what I thought were tough questions about what kind of legal mechanisms are in place to keep municipalities from paying too much for land. I asked how taxpayers could be assured that there wasn't some kind of collusion going on between landowners, real estate companies and the city government to move property at a higher price than it should, all with the taxpayers' support. I never got an answer.

I wasn't the only one with such questions. At the first TIF commission meeting, I recall Gerald Pietsch talking about that very subject. At the time, the city wanted to get ahold of the property at the corner of 63 and 72. That property was for sale, but the owner had put such a high price on it that it wasn't selling. Pietsch said that was one of the problems that would always have to be watched by the TIF commission; he warned that TIF could be used by landowners to get a price that that the market would not bear.

Now, having said all that, I'll say this: I don't think the taxpayers care.

I've talked to a few people on my rounds about town, and they're all hopeful the city government will do whatever it takes to bring Kohl's to Rolla. These consumers tell me we need the additional jobs and we need the construction investment. They tell me we need to build a department store to show other potential investors that Rolla is on the move. Most of all, they tell me, we need the shopping.

In the argument of tax subsidy vs. shopping, shopping wins hands-down in Rolla.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Back in the newsroom, believe it or not

When I left the staff of the Rolla Daily News in December 2004, I never thought I'd be a newspaperman again. I thought I was going to be a magazine owner with a successful Ozarks magazine, but in its third year of publication, The Ozarks Chronicle began languishing. When my part-time job in retail become a full-time job, I shut down the monthly publication and devoted all my attention to my full-time job, which I thoroughly enjoy.
On Friday, Aug. 27, the opening date of high school football season, I went to the RDN to get a copy of Dave Roberts's annual football special section. Dave was there, and I sat down and had a talk with him, reliving the old days. I met many of the people who work there. I liked them, and I felt comfortable in the newsroom. I started missing writing for a daily paper.
A week later, I e-mailed the publisher, Floyd Jernigan, and told him I'd like to work 20-25 hours a week. Fortunately, he got my e-mail when he was working on the new budget. I went in and talked to him and to his editor, DawnDee Bostwick. They hired me, and I worked 25 hours last week.
Last week I wrote four stories, took a whole bunch of pictures, rewrote press releases, proofread several pages. I think I'll have a couple of bylines in the Monday paper. I hope so. I feel like I did when I was a cub reporter, waiting for my first byline.
A lot has changed in the nearly six years that have passed since I walked out of the newsroom for what I thought would be the last time. Publications have trouble competing with the internet, and there's talk that some of the nation's largest papers are either going to close or go to an all-digital format.
Community newspapers like the RDN are surviving because they provide news that isn't available regularly and reliably anywhere else. I'm looking forward to setting that news before you for many years to come.
My main job, my priority, will be my retail job, but I'll continue to write, shoot pictures and do whatever other assignment my newspaper bosses give me to do.
If you have an idea for a story for the paper, send me an e-mail and I'll consider it.
I'm very accessible. You can reach me at or on Facebook at You can tweet me at Of course, you can also write a letter to me in care of the RDN at P.O. Box 808, Rolla, MO 65402. You can even call me at 573 364-2468 in the late afternoon and evening.
I like to write all kinds of stories as long as they are the truth.--RDH

Friday, September 17, 2010

Multi-billion-dollar company needs your tax money

Admittedly, I was aghast when I read in The Rolla Daily News Tuesday that the Rolla city fathers desperately want to pay as much as $1.5 million to Kohl’s, a national retail chain, to build a department store here.

Knowing the city fathers collect their money from taxpayers, my first thought was, “They’re collecting way too much of our money. They’ve got so much cash they’re trying to waste $1.5 million on purpose. Maybe they ought to quit accepting so much annual payment in lieu of taxes from RMU; that way, they won’t have money to waste, my utility rates will diminish and that damnable ‘service availability’ charge can be removed from my light bill. If the city government and RMU would let the taxpayers keep more money, we would spend it in Rolla stores and help develop this economy.”

Yes, this planned transfer of money from hard-working taxpayers to Kohl’s, which ranks 135th on the Fortune 500 list of top American companies, offended me. After all, Kohl’s had revenues of $17.178 billion (that’s BILLION) last year. Why should the taxpayers in little ol’ Rolla help a huge company like that excavate the land, build a building, put up light poles, lay down a parking lot and paint stripes?

Even though the projected development cost is a huge sum, $8.5 million, that is a drop in the bucket compared to the $991 million the company profited last year.That transfer of funds seemed to me to be an example of the “redistribution of wealth” that we’ve been hearing about since President Obama took office. I’ve heard the president wants to tax the heck out of rich people to pay for health insurance for poor people; some people say that’s called socialism. The Rolla City Council wants to give local taxes to a rich corporation, so that must be a case of reverse socialism. Or so it seemed to me.

It’s a lot different from 20 or so years ago when municipalities were willing to help pay for land development to bring in factories and put people to work in manufacturing jobs. Now we’re willing to pay hundreds of thousands, over a million, to bring in a place to buy clothes and shoes, even though we already have stores offering those goods.

I don’t know what in the sam hill has happened to American capitalism. Do you? Is the economy so fragile that companies can’t risk a little bit of their money to expand? Or maybe they’ve discovered municipalities are so desperate for development they’re willing to give away the treasury just to get a little bit of economic activity.

These are the thoughts that were going through my head as I was reading the story in Tuesday’s paper. Then, I read a little further, talked to some folks and thought about this situation and it makes sense.The city will pay this $1.5 million to Kohl’s based on the amount of sales tax the store generates. I don’t know what percentage of that amount will be turned over by the city, but Kohl’s has given the city 23 years to come up with the money. That’s very generous, don’t you think?

It’s likely, it seems to me, that some of the sales tax Kohl’s generates will be at the expense of other similar stores, but I suppose the city dads have thought of that.

The key point to remember is this payment of $1.5 million to Kohl’s will come from the store’s sales tax. Only shoppers will pay it. If you don’t shop at Kohl’s, you won’t pay it. I’m off that tax hook. I can’t stand the thought of paying a multi-billion-dollar corporation to come to Rolla, so I likely won’t spend any money there, at least until the $1.5 million is paid by others.

I’m willing to wait 23 years.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Battle of the Hemp Bales in 1861

On this date in 1861, Confederates under the command of Maj. General Sterling Price began a siege on Lexington, Mo., in a continued effort to run the Union army out of Missouri, an effort that had seen a win in the Battle of Wilson's Creek in the Ozarks in mid-August.

There were two battles in Lexington. The first one is listed as taking place Sept. 13-19.

Here's a summary from the Lexington Area Chamber of Commerce website:
Lexington was the site of two of the largest battles in the western
campaign of the Civil War. The first and most famous, known as the Battle of
Lexington is better known as the Battle of the Hemp Bales. On September 12th,
1861, somewhere between six and ten thousand Missouri National Guardsmen were
led by Major General Sterling Price. Price began a siege against the Federal
military post positioned in the old Masonic College. They were Commanded by
Colonel James A. Mulligan. Price's army mounted an assault on September 18th.
Some of Price's army used hemp bales as moving breastworks while they moved up
the river bluffs and closed in on Mulligan's headquarters. On the third day of
the siege, Mulligan's troops surrendered. The combined ed casualties numbered 73
dead and 270 wounded. The battlefield remains today on the bluffs of the river
in virtually pristine condition and stands as a state park. In an attempt to
crush General Price's headquarters located on Main Street, Mulligan's troops
fired cannonballs from the battlefield. One such cannonball missed the mark and
became lodged in the leftmost pillar of the Courthouse where it remains to this
day. That cannonball has become an iconic symbol for Lexington.

The American Battlefield Protection Program has a page of information that includes this:
Following the victory at Wilson’s Creek, the Confederate Missouri State
Guard, having consolidated forces in the northern and central part of the state,
marched, under the command of Maj. Gen. Sterling Price, on Lexington. Col. James
A. Mulligan commanded the entrenched Union garrison of about 3,500 men. Price’s
men first encountered Union skirmishers on September 13 south of town and pushed
them back into the fortifications. Price, having bottled the Union troops up in
Lexington, decided to await his ammunition wagons, other supplies, and
reinforcements before assaulting the fortifications. By the 18th, Price was
ready and ordered an assault. The Missouri State Guard moved forward amidst
heavy Union artillery fire and pushed the enemy back into their inner works. On
the 19th, the Rebels consolidated their positions, kept the Yankees under heavy
artillery fire and prepared for the final attack. Early on the morning of the
20th, Price’s men advanced behind mobile breastworks, made of hemp, close enough
to take the Union works at the Anderson House in a final rush.

From the Wikipedia: First Battle of Lexington:
On the evening of September 19, soldiers of Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Harris's 2nd Division (State Guard) began using hemp bales seized from nearby warehouses to construct a moveable breastwork facing the Union entrenchment. These bales were all soaked in river water overnight, to render them impervious to any heated rounds fired from the Federal guns. Harris's plan was for his troops to roll the bales up the hill the following day, using them for cover as they advanced close enough to the Union garrison for a final charge. The hemp bale line started in the vicinity of the Anderson house, extending north along the hillside for about 200 yards. In many places the hemp bales were stacked two high to provide additional protection.
Early on the morning of September 20, Harris's men advanced behind his mobile breastworks. As the fighting progressed, State Guardsmen from other divisions joined Harris's men behind the hemp bales, increasing the amount of fire directed toward the Union garrison. Although the Union defenders poured red-hot cannon shot into the advancing bales, their soaking in the Missouri River the previous night had given them the desired immunity to the Federal shells. By early afternoon, the rolling fortification had advanced close enough for the Southerners to take the Union works in a final rush. Mulligan requested surrender terms after noon, and by 2:00 p.m. his men had vacated their trenches and stacked their arms.
Many years later, in his book The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Southern president Jefferson Davis opined that "The expedient of the bales of hemp was a brilliant conception, not unlike that which made Tarik, the Saracen warrior, immortal, and gave his name to the northern pillar of Hercules."

This page on the website is worth visiting for the artwork from Harper's Weekly.

There's a page about the state historic site that doesn't include a whole lot of information, but you should check it if you think you might like to visit Lexington.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Where were you on 9-11-01?

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I was working in the newsroom of the Rolla Daily News. I think we had finished up that day's newspaper and were working on the next day's issue. I recall standing at the layout counter, figuring up how many pages the next day's paper would have and where the ads would go when sports editor Dave Roberts said something like, "Somebody just flew a plane into the World Trade Center."

We'd had a television in the newsroom for a couple of years or more, and we usually had it on MSNBC at that time of the morning because I liked the Don Imus Show. Imus was off the air by then, I think, and there was just a straight news cast going on when the bulletin came on that grabbed Dave's attention and got the rest of us to crowd around the TV set. I sat back down at my desk and started working at my computer instead of at the counter so I could watch and listen to the newscast. I think we eventually turned it over to Fox News Channel which had more coverage from Ground Zero.

We speculated about why a pilot would fly into a skyscraper; perhaps a heart attack or malfunctioning equipment, we thought. Then when we saw a second plane fly into the other tower, we knew that neither crash was by accident. We knew it had to be some foreign power behind it, so we started speculating about who.

Shortly afterwards, our boss, the publisher (since retired) came in and snapped at us to "turn that crap off" or words to that effect. Dave said, "Somebody has flown planes into the World Trade Center; this is news." The boss said something about not letting the workers downstairs in the insert-stuffing room listen to country music, so he wasn't going to let us watch news. Dave Roberts countered with, "You don't seem to understand. We've been attacked. We are at war." The boss grumbled something and went into his office where he turned his own TV on; I don't know if ESPN had anything on at that time or not.

I kept watching the coverage and then saw one building collapse on itself. The debris and ash flowed down the streets like a wall of water down a dry creek channel. "There were still people in that building," I said. "And a bunch of police and firemen went in there. Did they get out before that happened?" I was incredulous and unable to wrap my brain around the enormity of this crime. "I don't think so," Dave said. Both of us remained silent. Soon the other tower collapsed.

I asked the boss if he wanted us to plan a special section for the following day, and he grumbled that it wasn't that big a deal for Rolla, so it didn't warrant a special section. A little while later I got up and left. At that time I was single and my habit was to come in early in the morning to put the paper to bed, then leave and go work out in the gym and then go home and read and take a nap before going back to the newsroom in the middle of the afternoon to continue putting together the next day's paper. I went and completed my workout, watching TV in the cardio room while walking on the treadmill. I went home and fixed lunch. I turned the radio on (didn't have a TV at home) and sat down at the computer to look for more news.

About that time, the phone rang and a reporter told me the boss wanted us to meet at 1:00 to plan out a special section on the attack. I guess someone had called him and told him the implications of the attack, so he finally got his brain wrapped around the enormity of the terrorism, something it was hard for all of us to do. So we all met at 1 and figured out what local people to talk and what stories to tell. I don't recall what the stories were, but Dave, Bill Morrison, plus another reporter and I put together an 8-page section. We talked to people at the university, students and professors. Someone may have talked to veterans. I remember doing a short story about local ham radio operators who were standing by in case any messages were needed to be relayed across the country from Ground Zero survivors to relatives.

That evening I went to a meeting of the university administration and international students, particularly Muslims. Administrators or staff members assured the international students that they were safe here, although some of the international students indicated racist remarks had been thrown their way during the day. The administrators/staff members told the students that they knew none of them could ever be involved in anything so terrible and that the community would understand that students would not be doing anything so hideous.

I found out later that some of the airliner hijackers were university students in Florida.