Tuesday, July 18, 2017

No action taken on councilman’s fireworks complaints

Managing Editor/The Ozarks Almanac

Councilman Kelly Long tried again Monday night to cut down the number of days people can shoot fireworks in the city limits, but he didn’t have enough help from  other councilmen to get the job done.
“Independence Day is the fourth of July,” Long said. “Why allow it (discharge of fireworks) on July 1, 2, 3 or 5?”
Long, Ward 3 representative, has in past years tried to persuade council members to diminish the days of celebration, owing to complaints from his constituents, in particular one neighbor who goes to work at 3 a.m. weekdays.
“As my neighbor pointed out to me, July the fifth is not Independence Day,” Long said. “It (was) Wednesday.” And Wednesday was a workday for most working men and women in Rolla like the neighbor.
Long said other holidays are not extended with nuisance celebrations.
“I took my children trick-or-treating on Halloween,” he said.  That is Oct. 31, not Oct.28, 29, 30 and Nov. 1, 2 or 3.
Using sales tax figures and industry spending figures, Long presented a case that, at most, just 1,890 people bought fireworks in Rolla during the selling days allowed by city code, June 30, July 1-7.
The city code, specifically Chapter14 allows the discharge of fireworks on July 1-5.
Long said he would be willing to allow it on July 3 as well as July 4, but he indicated he wouldn’t stop there. Although he emphasized that he does not want anyone to think that he is completely opposed to discharging fireworks, he said, “My goal is to celebrate the Fourth of July on July 4 from 9 a.m. to midnight.”
There was some push-back from the mayor and other councilmen.
“People enjoy it,” said Mayor Lou Magdits IV about the discharging of fireworks on and around the fourth day of July.
Councilman J.D. Williams, Ward 5, noted that the purpose of allowing the sale of fireworks after the holiday itself is to get rid of stock inventory.
And Councilman Don Morris, Ward 4, said the sellers collect sales tax that is remitted to the city.
Councilman Long said he received complaints, in addition to his working neighbor, from pet owners and combat service veterans.
“One veteran told me that he can go to Lions Club to see the display and it doesn’t bother him,” Long said. That’s because the display is staged and the discharges are expected. The intermittent, unexpected and relentless explosions, especially at night, are disturbing to the veteran.
Regarding sales taxes collected, Long said the amount of taxes is relatively minor.
Councilman Jonathan Hines, Ward 1, said that although fireworks fans discharge the explosives for five days of the year, “there are 360 days they don’t.” He indicated that he could live with that.
But Long continued, and entered a motion to limit the sale of fireworks to July 1-4 and the discharge of them to July 3-4.
Councilman Matthew Crowell, in the discussion after the motion was entered, asked if it might be more logical to limit the sale of high-decibel fireworks rather than all of the explosives. That led to a discussion of the need for additional manpower to go into the various vendors’ tents and selling places--there were apparently six of them--and check each item.
That was judged too time-consuming and expensive.
The motion failed.
Long then attempted another motion, limiting the sale to June 30-July 5. That, too, failed to pass.
In other council action or discussion:
* The council held a public hearing and heard first reading of an ordinance that would rezone some lots from C-1 to C-3 between Faulkner and Rucker avenues, east of Bishop Avenue (U.S. 63) and south of Black Street. The rezoning would allow for the construction of an “enhanced Sonic drive-in,” said Steve Flowers, city codes enforcement officer, who presented the request from Sonic owners to the council.
Final reading and a vote will take place at the next council meeting, the first Monday of August.
* On a related ordinance proposal, first reading was heard on the vacating of Faulkner Avenue for 100-plus feet to tie in the lots fronted by Bishop Avenue with those fronted by Faulkner. This would allow a future replatting of the lots into one lot so the main building, a storage shed, a playground and volleyball court can be constructed without being separated by a street or crossing lot lots. The preliminary site plan puts a building squarely on what is now Faulkner Avenue.
* The council set aside the final reading of an ordinance to allow an agreement with the College Hills West Sewer District,
* A Complete Streets Policy was approved.
* First reading and final readings were heard and an ordinance was passed to authorize and agreement with the Missouri Department of Transportation to amend the airport business plan.
* First reading was heard of an ordinance to limit parking on 11th Street between Jimmy Johns and Infuze Credit Unit.
* Fire Chief Ron Smith presented a city Life Saving Award to firefighters Dillon Barnes and Dalton Hayes for saving the life of Kent Summers at Route 66 Summerfest.

Editor’s Note: watch for more details about the council meeting here at the Ozarks Almanac/Ozarks Chronicle this week and in the first issue of the Phelps County Focus newspaper, which will be published Aug. 2.

Get up, look up early every morning

I wish I had a good camera, for I would like to take a picture of the morning sky from time to time.
Today, for instance, when I let the poodles out at 4:45, I wanted to take a picture of the moon and Venus against the eastern sky that was starting to show some blue. Unfortunately, my Tracfone, while good for pictures in bright sunlight, does not do well in the twilight.
Here is a link to Earth and Sky's excellent website.
The sky changes throughout the year, of course, so I use that website frequently, as well as other resources, to keep track of what is going on.
If you get up early, as I do, step outside and take a look upwards.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Sonic seeks property rezoning for new restaurant

Managing Editor

Rolla City Council Monday night will hear the first reading of an ordinance to rezone three lots and half of another, all between Faulkner and Rucker Avenues mid-block between Black Street and Highway 72.
Owners of Sonic have asked for the rezoning from C-1 (neighborhood business district) to C-3 (highway commercial district) zoning.
In addition, the Sonic owners have asked for a portion of Faulkner Avenue to be vacated, so the three lots in the area to be rezoned can be joined to lots between Faulkner Avenue and Bishop Avenue (U.S. 63), to make way for a new and expanded Sonic restaurant.
“The current Sonic would be closed,” Michael Calkins, a part-owner of the local Sonic franchise, told The Ozarks Chronicle/Ozarks Almanac after the Rolla Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Tuesday afternoon. “We plan on more parking bays, a drive-through and a playground.”
Calkins said the plan is to make the restaurant a “destination spot.” He said the expanded restaurant would, for instance, be a place to hold children’s birthday parties.
Asked if there is a timeline for the project, Calkins said, “It all depends on what happens next.”
What happens next will be decided by the Rolla City Council on the rezoning and the street vacating. That will likely take at least two council meetings.
The council will take up the commission’s approval of the rezoning request at the Monday night meeting, but council policy is to hear only the first reading (except in emergency situations) to give the public time to hear about impending ordinance changes and offer opinions to their ward councilmen. That means final reading and a vote on the rezoning change won’t take place until the meeting on the first Monday night in August.
There will be a public hearing on the rezoning change at the Monday night meeting. It is likely that the public hearing at the council meeting will be a lot like the public hearing at the commission meeting, with neighbors offering no opposition to the rezoning but questioning the need and the fairness of the vacating of the street.
City Codes Enforcement Officer Steve Flowers presented the requests to the commission, a task that usually fell to the community development director. John Petersen retired from that position at the end of June, so Flowers will fill in until a successor is hired.
Flowers noted that D.L. Rogers Corp., of  Grapevine, Texas, a suburb of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex,  was the primary applicant for the rezoning and the vacating.of the street.
The legal description of the area to be rezoned is Lots 3, 5 and 6 of Block 7 of Cowan’s Addition and the west half of Lot 4 of Block 7 of Cowan’s Addition.
Flowers said there are some buildings on those lots currently; they will be demolished. He said the vacating of the street will not include placing a curb across the street. The Rolla Fire and Rescue Department has asked that no curb or obstruction be placed there that would make it difficult for emergency vehicles to enter.
The site consists of 0.88 acre, excluding the street right-of-way that could be vacated. That is 34,397 square feet. The main building will be 1,817 square feet, There will be a 256 detached storage building. The rest of the property will hold landscaped areas, 57 parking spaces, a 1,500-square-foot playground and a 2,250-square-foot volleyball court, according to the current site plan.
There was no opposition to the rezoning from the audience during the public hearing. Some members of the audience asked about expanding the rezoning to all the lots between Faulkner and Rucker avenues on the west and east and Black Street and Missouri 72 on the north and south.
Flowers explained that the people with a vested interest in the other lots had not applied for the rezoning, and commission Chairman Don Brown briefly outlined the procedure obtaining a rezoning.
What concerns a couple of the neighbors is the closing of that short section of Faulkner Avenue. Tom Lin and Sundra Lin, owners of a lot between the property in question on the south and Zane’s Tires on the north, both spoke to the commission.
They explained that they plan on building a business on their lot, which fronts Bishop Avenue and has Faulkner Avenue on its other side. Tom Lin noted that customers of whatever business they build will have to turn north only, going to Black Street if the Sonic vacating is granted. If that request is not given, customers could turn south and go to Missouri 72 (where they would have to turn west only, due to an esplanade dividing the traffic.
Sundra Lin questioned the fairness of closing the street, noting that leaving the street open will help all of the driving public while closing it will help only the owner of the property, the Sonic franchisees.
Commissioner William Lindgren asked Flowers if the city would be reimbursed by Sonic for vacating the public right-of-way. Commission Chairman Brown interjected that he remembered no remuneration for any vacating of any street.
Lindgren said that it was his opinion the commission should go ahead and follow Flowers’s recommendation that they approve the vacating of the street to “put it in a larger forum.” That is what they did with only Commissioner Monte Shields voting against the approval.
Approval by the commission, an advisory body, is actually a recommendation that the council approve the measure.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

It has been a hot day here.
Right now at 8:33, it is 82 degrees on the front porch. High on that porch was 91.7. Relative humidity is 61 percent.
From the NOAA Co-Op weather station over at the Missouri S&T campus, here is the Rolla weather data for the 24 hour period ending at 7:30 this morning, July 9, 2017.

Maximum Temperature:                                                              90° F

Minimum Temperature:                                                               69° F

Present Temperature:                                                                 73° F

Precipitation:                                                                               0.00"

Precipitation for the year:                                                            30.27"

Precipitation for the month:                                                         3.80"

Snowfall/Frozen Precipitation:                                                     0.0"

Snowfall/Frozen Precipitation for the 2017-18 season:               0.0"

Snowfall/Frozen Precipitation for the year:                                  2.6"

Snowfall/Frozen Precipitation for the month:                               0.0"

Relative humidity:                                                                         72%

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Council approves Buehler Park master plan

Managing Editor

With nary a no vote, the Rolla City Council Wednesday night approved a resolution affirming its support of the Buehler Park  Master Plan that includes a dog park.
No roll call vote was cast on the resolution, but the room was quiet when Mayor Lou Magdits IV called for opposing votes.
Eleven councilmen were present. Missing was Ward 3 Councilman David Schott, who in previous meetings had posed questions about building a dog park in Buehler Park. Schott would have been there if the council had met on its regular night, Monday, but the council reset the meeting because some members had indicated a desire to take a long Independence Day holiday weekend; Schott had rearranged his schedule, taking off Wednesday for a trip rather than Monday, thinking the council meeting would be held on its regular schedule.
Instead, he sent a letter that was read by Mayor Magdits prior to the vote. In that letter, he said the Buehler Park site makes perfect sense if the purpose of the dog park is to show hospitality to travelers who stop in Rolla to rest and eat. A different site, one with more available property and nearer to residential areas, would make perfect sense if the purpose of the dog park is to serve local residents and taxpayers.
Schott acknowledged that both purposes have benefits.
The dog park is one improvement proposed in the master plan for the 3.2-acre park on the west side of the city near where the Westside Marketplace will be built.
A few other improvements are new playground equipment, bathrooms, water line, electric upgrades for the pavilion, fence along Kingshighway and walking trail around the park.
In other business or discussion:
* The council heard about a plan to turn Pine Street into one one-way lane with angled parking spaces on both sides. Currently it has two one-way lanes with parallel parking spaces on both sides. City Administrator John Butz said the Rolla Downtown Business Association members like the idea, and he asked council members to think about the change.
* The annual city audit report was presented by Tammy Alsop, representing Hochschild, Bloom & Co. LLC, CPAs. Alsop said the audit shows the financial statements to be accurate and the auditors gave the city the highest ranking for its records.
* By an 11-1 vote, the council approved an ordinance on plugging of existing wells. Councilman John Meusch, Ward 4, voted against it.
* Unanimously, the council approved an ordinance to disallow parking on the short stretch of Elm Street between IHOP and Breaktime, which are on US 63.
* Also unanimously, the council approved an ordinance allowing a contract with the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission for the construction of handicapped walkways.
* No action was taken, but the council heard a report from Nell Davis, a Missouri University of Science and Technology student who is an intern for the Public Works Department, on a Complete Streets Policy. The council will take time to study the policy before voting, possibly at the next meeting this month.
* First reading of an ordinance was heard that if approved would set up an agreement between the city and the College Hills West Sewer District.
* Heard on first and passed on final reading was an ordinance allowing a contract with McConnell and Associations for tennis court improvements. The council took similar action last meeting, but City Counselor Carolyn Buschjost further reviewed the documents, found she had questions and made changes that both the company and the city agreed to support.
* Mayor Magdits appointed, and the council ratified, the following people: Monte Shields to another term on the Planning and Zoning Commission; Dr. Janece Martin to another term on the P&Z commission, and Terry Harris to the Tax Increment Finance Commission.
*Mayor Magdits noted the Transportation Development District Board had met earlier in the day and had authorized distribution of money, including reimbursement to the city for certain actions previously taken.

Monday, June 19, 2017

It takes a lot of scrubbing to get shed of poison ivy

Here is another hillbilly poem based on my real life as an Ozarker.
Despite our poor soil, we grow a lot of brush and that includes a lot of poison ivy. The only thing good I can say about it is that it is colorful when the leaves change in the fall.
In summer, though, it makes me miserable. Usually, when I get a case of it, I go to the doctor and get a shot or a series of pills to take. My wife says those medicines are hard on my insides, so she took over when I got a case of the ivy this summer.
The misery inspired me to versify up this gem, that I hope you enjoy.

Been clearing brush from fence rows over at my place
and now I’ve got poison ivy on my arms, legs and face.
And that stuff makes my skin crawl and itch,
and when I say itch, I mean like a son of, uh--which
brings up the treatment figured out by my wife,
an earth mother-type, who’s loved herbs all her life,
so much that she went to college, you see,
and worked hard enough to earn a master’s degree
in agriculture, with a horticulture focus.
Now she’s working some folk medicine hocus-pocus
on me. She prescribed scrubbing with soap,
yes, Dawn dish soap, and that will work, I hope,
to cut the acid of the ivy oil. Plus, she says, pine tar
soap will also work, so she gave me a bar
of that stuff and another one made from jewel weed,
and, in a bow to modern medicine, Benedryl, with my nightly feed.
She also found in her medicine bag jewel weed spray
that she claimed would soothe my skin night and day.
Well, it all seemed to work, it sure cut down the itching
so maybe there’s something to her herbal treatment witching.
Now the truth has dawned on me like turning on a lamp. It
is clear as day to me now: I married Granny Clampett!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

It is good to spend the morning in Psalms

I spent the morning in Psalms.
This quarter, my Sunday School class is going through that book, studying selected chapters, and today we were in Psalm 23, which may be the most familiar chapter because it is used in funerals frequently, maybe in every Christian funeral.
"The Lord is my Shepherd ..." is the way it starts, and one of the old guys in the class asked if any of us had raised sheep. One ole boy said he had, and the teacher asked him to tell about raising sheep and relate it to the text we were studying.
Marvin, that's his name, said that sheep are docile, gentle -- and stupid.
"They're just like people in a lot of ways," he said. Sheep will not let the shepherd lead them most of the time and they act like they know better. He told about how his barnyard was so muddy that he placed sheets of plywood outside the barn door, trying to cover up the mud. He had enough sheets except for one spot.
He managed to get all the sheep out the door and across the muddy barnyard on the plywood and out to the pasture.
"But there was one old ewe," he said, and that old ewe thought she knew better. She refused to follow Marvin; instead, she head right across the area that was uncovered and sloshed around in the mud.
Marvin said, "Sheep think they know it all. I do not miss sheep."
The guy who asked the original question said, "And it says here that the Lord is OUR shepherd. Think about that while thinking about what Marvin just told u about sheep."
We all got quiet, thinking about how stupid sheep are and how frustrating they are, then we thought about how our Shepherd, Jesus Christ, must see us. Yet, he still loves us and died for us to remove the stain of our sin so we could avoid His wrath toward sin. Pretty mind-boggling. The word awesome is way over-used, but it really describes Him.
In the worship service, the pastor used Psalm 1, which has six verses, to talk about relationships of children and parents. It was a Fathers Day sermon, titled "Love, Spelled T-I-M-E."
He said little children are Trusting, Imitators, Moldable and Energetic.
Pareents are supposed to Treasure, Instruct, Model a life of integrity for and Encourage their children.
This relationship takes time, and the pastor said parents must spend time reading and meditating on the written word of God, learning for themselves so they can instruct, mold and channel the kids' energy in righteous ways, not riotous ways, as described in the sermon text.
For our songs, we sang "The Family of God," which we do every Sunday while walking around the sanctuary/auditorium and shaking hands with folks; "This Is My Father's World" and "Faith of Our Fathres." The invitation hymn was "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus."
We had a responsive reading about love worked in there, too.
It was a good morning of Bible study, worship and praise.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Now that was a strong case of faith

The other day while driving home from work, I saw a case of extreme faith.
It was on old Route 66, coming into Rolla from the west.
I drive to work in St. Robert on Interstate 44 early in the morning when there is little traffic, but I come home in mid-afternoon on Historic Route 66 to avoid the out-of-staters and the locals in the big pick-ups, all of whom are in a hurry.
Historic Route 66 is a nice, peaceful drive. I have to get off it and back on the interstate briefly to get across the Little Piney Creek at Arlington. I get back on the interestate at the exit with a name, Jerome Dixon, and then get off at the exit with another great name, Sugar Tree.
Then I head east on old 66, travel through Doolittle, named for the World War II aviator for some reason that I know not why, and then into Rolla. It was right in there on that portion that they call Martin Spring Drive that I witnessed the extreme faith.
From a distance I saw a figure on the side of the road, my side. As I neared, I saw it was a man walking. At least he was walking on the correct side of the road, although at that point there is a sidewalk, so I don't know why he wasn't on it. There are businesses on this stretch, and many driveways that draw traffic and dump traffic back out onto Old 66. The peaceful old Mother Road becomes pretty hectic up in this stretch.
Then as I got nearer, I noticed his head was down and his arms were up at chest level
As I drove past him, I saw that he was a Millennial Snowflake wearing a backpack and holding a cellphone in his hands and his eyes fixed on the little screen. He wsa obviously thumbing a message, completely unaware of the traffic passing by him.
A young man, likely one of the young scientists in our scientific community that is home to Missouri's technological university that promotes itself as on a par with MIT, he probably does not believe in God and pooh-poohs putting all his trust in anything but science. He might claim to have no faith.
But I believe what I witnessed was pure, unadulterated faith. Faith in the wrong things, himself, me as a safe driver, other motorists following the traffic laws, but faith nonetheless.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Wildlife adapts to extreme weather, so don't worry about the animals

We have really been having some weather in our part of the state this week.I missed a day of work at my day job Monday, because I couldn't get to it. The Gasconade River and the Little Piney Creek had covered the interstate over at Jerome and Arlington, so I couldn't get to my job in Pulaski County.

I work at a big-box home improvement store as a manual laborer, so I worked at the sister store in Rolla, closer to my place, on Tuesday and Wednesday, returning to the St. Robert store today.

One of the cats that hang around here  broke the rain gauge before the big storm started, so I don't know how much rain we got here at our place total. I finally had a chance to put a new gauge up yesterday, and I know that that from 6:30 p.m. Wednesday until it quit raining today, we received 1 5/8 inches. All this water causes problems for humans, but it also can hinder wildlife. Don't worry too much about the animals, though. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, wildlife is well adapted to the weather, no matter how extreme. Here's some more from MDC:

Regarding wildlife and flooding, MDC Furbearer Biologist Laura Conlee explained most wild animals move to higher ground when areas begin to flood.

“Many species have the ability to move to higher ground and can avoid flooding and high waters,” she said. “Although there are likely to be localized negative impacts, wildlife populations generally recover over time from these types of extreme natural events.”

MDC Deer Biologist Barb Keller echoed the same message.

“Deer and elk are pretty resilient to these types of events because they’re mobile, and in most cases, move to high ground as flood waters rise,” Keller explained. “Deer and elk are also strong swimmers and are occasionally sighted swimming across rivers as large as the Mississippi and Missouri.”

Keller added that deer fawns and elk calves would certainly be more vulnerable to extreme weather events such as flooding, but the peak timing for elk calving and deer fawning is still a few weeks away.

"Anytime we have a big rainfall event during spring, it’s never a good thing for turkey nesting success," said MDC Turkey Biologist Jason Isabelle.

“That being said, this spring’s flooding does not necessarily mean that we’re in for a poor hatch this year,” Isabelle said. “Weather over the next 4-6 weeks will still have a big influence on the success of this year’s hatch.”

Missouri fish are well adapted to flooding and MDC Fisheries Division Chief Brian Canaday noted the state’s fish populations are resilient.

“During floods, some fish move long distances, while others find refuge in local habitat such as root wads, logs, boulders, and flooded back waters,” he said.

Canaday added that fishing in Missouri will continue to be good.

“Your favorite fishing spot may look different after the flood, but the fish are still there and fishing will still be good in Missouri’s lakes, rivers, and streams,” he said.

As waters recede over the next few days, MDC staff will continue to assess impacts of flooding at MDC facilities, conservation areas, hatcheries, and accesses.

Before visiting conservation areas around state, check the MDC website for area closures due to flooding under CHECK FOR CLOSINGS at mdc.mo.gov.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Changing lives out here in flyover country

Out here in the middle of no where, or as we like to say, the middle of everywhere, there is some life-changing science going on.
The Missouri University of Science and Technology is a news-making school, and there is more good news coming out of that campus now.
Here's a recent announcement about a new technology that uses glass to heal wounds. That's right, glass to heal wounds.

A glass-based wound care product that emerged from research by a doctoral student at Missouri University of Science and Technology has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for human use and is now available on the commercial market.
Steve Jung laid the groundwork for the Mirragen Advanced Wound Matrix while earning a master’s degree in ceramic engineering and a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at Missouri S&T. Jung is now chief technology officer at Mo-Sci Corp., a Rolla specialty glass manufacturer that continued the product’s development in collaboration with ETS Wound Care, also of Rolla.
“The recent FDA approval is a significant milestone,” says Chad Lewis, president and CEO of ETS Wound Care, a subsidiary of Engineered Tissue Solutions. “We’re opioneering an entirely new therapeutic option for wound care.”
The Mirragen Advanced Wound Matrix is a wound dressing solely composed of microscopic glass fibers and particles that are absorbed by the body. Both flexible and moldable, the wound dressing can be easily customized, while its fiber structure allows Mirragen to absorb fluid from the wound site and facilitate healing.
Keith Strassner, director of the university’s office of technology transfer and economic development, calls the new wound care product a successful example of the real-world benefits of academic research.
“The Mirragen story perfectly illustrates how federal support of university research can translate into broader economic and social benefits,” he says, noting the early support of Jung’s work by a U.S. Department of Defense grant. “Then, we were able to create a strong partnership with Mo-Sci and transfer the technology to allow the company to make the necessary investments in its commercialization and the regulatory approval process.”

The inventor, Steve Jung, is a Rolla City Council member. Mo-Sci was founded by Dr. Delbert Day, the inventor of glass bead technology that has developed into a number of products. His son, Ted Day, is the Mo-Sci CEO who gave the initial seed money for the newly opened Delbert Day Cancer Institute. Ted was also a member of the hospital board and its chairman. Keith Strassner is ending a 15-year run on the Rolla Board of Education.
The point I am making is that not only is S&T changing lives, its people are important servsnt-leaders in our community.
And this blessed life is nestled here in the Ozarks.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Watching a V of geese flying north

When I stepped off the back porch this morning just after 5, I looked up and saw the sky was clear and the stars were shining, at least in the west, my direction of travel for the next 30 minutes or so to get to my day job. The ground was soggy for we had received a heavy rain overnight.
As I set my travel mug of coffee atop my car, I heard a goose in the sky to the South. I head a couple more calls. We have many resident Canada geese here, and I see them year-round at a couple of parks. Consequently, I didn't think much about it as I fumbled for my keys in my pocket with my right hand and hung onto my dinner bucket and Thermos full of coffee in my other.
Then, the goose conversation picked up and was coming in my direction. I looked up and a beautiful big V of geese glided north directly over me. The motion-activated porch light was still on, and the light from the two bulbs lit up the birds' undersides.
They weren't real high, well above the top of the persimmon tree, but not way up there in the darkness.
They made a beautiful sight, and in my morning prayer on the way to work, I thanked the Lord for the opportunity to see the birds, and I thanked Him for the seasons and His creation.
At work, I was telling some co-workers about the geese when Justin, who produces his own outdoors show for local television, said, "Did you notice that one side of the V was longer than the other?"
"Yeah, why is that?" I asked, expecting a semi-scientific answer from a man I consider an outdoors expert.
"Because one side has more geese in it than the other," he said, grinning.
I laughed. We all laughed and shook our heads. And it wasn't even April Fool's Day.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Some snow fell last night

Here is the Rolla weather data for the 24 hour period ending at 0730, March13, 2017

Maximum Temperature:                                                              47° F

Minimum Temperature:                                                               25° F

Present Temperature:                                                                 35° F

Precipitation:                                                                             0.21"

Precipitation for the year:                                                            3.62"

Precipitation for the month:                                                         1.42"

Snowfall/Frozen Precipitation:                                                     0.7"

Snowfall/Frozen Precipitation for the 2016-17 season:                   3.5"

Snowfall/Frozen Precipitation for the year:                                    2.6"

Snowfall/Frozen Precipitation for the month:                                 0.7"

Relative humidity:                                                                      93%

S.R. Fraley
NWS Co-Op Observer

Saturday, March 11, 2017

I look forward to Sunday School

It is Saturday morning, and the temperature is below freezing. Snow and ice are reportedly on the way. It looks like I might miss Sunday School tomorrow. If it is too bad, they will cancel the service, but if it looks the least bit hazadous, I will stay home and read the Bible and listen to bluegrass gospel.
I hope to get to Sunday School and church service, though, for in many ways and for many reasons, my favorite day of the week is Sunday, and Sunday School is about my favorite hour of the week.
"Adult Men" is the name of the Sunday School class. We are all older adult men. At 63, I think I am the youngest. The others are even more wizened. They are farmers who are still farming or ranching, retired mechanics and other men who have worked, and worked hard. One is a retired engineer who was a general in the National Guard. They are all veterans of the military. They are all patriots. They all love and take care of their families. They all love their church.
To my way of thinking, they are the perfect examples of Christian men. I've run across some teaching and preaching on the Internet, though, that would disqualify them from heaven.
They new Christianity is pacificism, and the new teaching is that anyone who has served in the military has put empire before Jesus. That is error, in my opinion.
Men, and now women, who serve in the military do so to protect liberty, so we can continue to serve Jesus, tell others about him, and preach about Him and his principles and share our interpretation of His principles, even when we are wrong.
Because of people who serve in the military, these new-age teachers have the liberty to preach against the military.
The new preachers and teachers apparently believe they are today's best examples of Christ-like living. I prefer the good men who are in my Sunday School class.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Weather threatens peaches and magnolia

The wind is picking up and the temperature is dropping. There is a freeze wàrning box that popped up on my phone yesterday, and the radio has been warning on every newsbreak that snow could accumulate to 2 inches and there might even be some ice.

Well, there go this summer's peaches. And there go the blossoms on my wife's magnolia tree.

Oh, well, better luck, perhaps with next year's Missouri weather.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Is Hobby Lobby coming to Rolla?

I've heard before that Hobby Lobby was coming to Rolla. I remember a few years ago, it was supposedly going in at the old Forum Plaza shopping center, in what was once the JCPenney store, followed by a Goody's store and finally, I think, a furniture store. That building has been torn down and a new, larger supermarket is there -- not a Hobby Lobby.
Early last week, I heard  from a pretty good source that Hobby Lobby was buying, or has bought, or is thinking about buying, the Kmart building. As I'm sure you've heard, Kmart is closing stores across the country.

I think this time, there is credence in the source's tip.

I don't have sufficient credible sourcing to submit a story to the editor of the local paper, but this being my personal blog, I don't feel I must have documentation. This is just a conversation between us. I'm just passing along what I heard, and you can make your own decision.

At the open house the city held last week about the blasting that will be going on for about four months to prepare the ground for the Westside Marketplace, I asked the developer about Hobby Lobby and why it was not going into that new shopping center.

He said Hobby Lobby likes to go into existing structures. "You mean like our Kmart building?" I said. He said, "That would be the kind of building they would look for, and I think your Kmart is either closed or going to be closed, so, yes, that would be a possibility."

He did not have any inside inforrmation about the veracity of the news tip I had received, but his description of the "fit" for the company and the soon-to-be-empty building added credence, as far as I was concerned.

Then just a little while ago, my wife said a friend told her that when she (the friend) went shopping at Kmart today, the check-out girl said, "Well, this place is going to become a Hobby Lobby."

That did it for me. Check-out girls know more than managers about business. I figured as soon as I heard it that the die is cast and we are going to have a Hobby Lobby in Rolla by late summer, early fall, definitely in time for Christmas shopping.

I'm not too thrilled by that. Hobby Lobby will harm at least two locally owned businesses that I can think of, maybe three, maybe even four or five.

But the push in Rolla is for chain-owned stores, not locally owned stores. That's the trend not only here, but in every Ozarks town, it seems. Rolla is a shadow of its former self, in terms of locally owned businesses that give a community character. But, I will also say that I work for a big-box chain store during the day, and I love it. Obviously, then, I am double-minded on this issue.

All I can offer is this: If we are going to get a Hobby Lobby, please continue to do business with the locally owned stores where your neighbors have invested in the commuunity, and pay taxes to support local services.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Local university chancellor looking for a new and better job

So far, the news that Missouri University of Science & Technology chancellor Cheryl Schrader has been looking for a job has not been in the local paper, the Rolla Daily News.
She is one of three final candidates for the job as president of Wright State University in Ohio.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch posted this to its website back on Feb. 9: Missouri S&T chancellor named finalist for university president post in Ohio.
The Dayton, Ohio, Daily News posted this to its website back on Feb. 7: Wright State names third, final presidential candidate to visit campus.
On Feb. 10, the Dayton website printed brief bios of the three candidates for the job: Wright State could choose next president next week. In that report, I learned for the first time that Chancellor Schrader had been arrested (though never charged) for driving under the influence back in 2009 in Idaho. That's a serious charge, but the authorities didn't think enough of it to follow up, and her performance since has been exemplary, so I don't judge her on it.
I do wonder, though, why she wants to leave S&T. I have always heard that S&T is second only to MIT in engineering education. Even though a president's position is higher than a chancellor's position, it seems to me that she is taking a step down in campus prestige. I guess she knows what she is doing better than I.

Japanese investors buy our town's newspaper

Our town's newspaper is now owned by some rich Japanese.
According to news reports out there in cyberspace, SoftBank, a Tokyo investment company, has bought Fortress Investment Group, a New York private equity firm.
Fortress Investment Group owns Gatehouse Media, which is also called New Media Investment Group (a name that showed up after Gatehouse went bankrupt a few years ago). Gatehouse/New Media Investment Group owns the Rolla Daily News, the Waynesville/St. Robert Daily Guide and the Camdenton Lake Sun. It also owned the St. James Leader Journal, but it closed that paper in 2016.
Here's how the Boston Herald website covered the story: Massachusetts papers in 3.3B deal.
If you open up that link, you'll see how Boston University journalism professor Lou Ureneck assessed the situation for the newpapers:
The value of Gatehouse is a tiny, tiny fraction of the values (of) these companies. My sense is that it’s going to be more of the same: extremely lean news budgets and an emphasis on improving profit margins by reducing the number of reporters and editors.
I would be shocked if there was any reinvestment in these organizations as a consequence of this ownership change. … If Fortress remains in the driver’s seat with Gatehouse Media, we’ll see this continued policy of squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.
Maybe this is why my hours—I work as a part-time local government reporter for the Rolla Daily News—were cut from 20 to 14 per week this week.
As with everything nowadays, this financial transaction has been linked to President Donald Trump by the bigwig, fancy-pants news media. Here's a report on the Boston Business Journals website, Japanese firm to buy Gatehouse parent company for 3.3 billion.
What a hoot!
I came to work full-time for the Rolla Daily News way back in the previous century on Aug. 1, 1984. My title at that time was "assistant city editor" and I worked for Stephen E. Sowers, who was the combination city editor and managing editor. He was in charge of the news/editorial side of the paper. His two brothers handled advertising and business. They and their mother owned the paper, which was started by Edward Sowers, the patriarch of the family. Mr. Sowers had passed away a couple of years before I went to work at the paper.
Then a couple or three years later the Sowers family sold the paper to American Publishing Co., which was part of a Canadian operation called Hollinger, which was owned by Conrad Black, a rich British lord or baron or some other kind of hobknobber.
Over the years, the company changed from American Publishing to Liberty Group Publishing to Gatehouse. Through all of those names, the company has been kind of a dairy operation, I think, more about milking cash from the herd of cash cows across the country than with reporting news.
Back in the days of the Sowers family ownership, some townspeople (not all, of course) complained about the family, especially my boss, Steve. The complainers said the community newspaper needed a new owner. They got a series of new owners, so I hope the townspeople are happy. I suspect, though, that a lot of the old-timers are wishing for the days of Steve and the Sowers family.
When I left my full-time job at the paper in December 2004, I wrote my final column and thanked Steve and the Sowers family. I referred to the then-current owners as a bunch of piss ants. I went back to work part-time in September 2010 and am still hanging on at 14 hours a week. I'll keep my opinions about all this to myself, though you are free to draw your own inferences.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Weather update

The temperature here at 4:45 a.m. is 31, although a Springfield television station is reporting our temperature is 27.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Solemn gratitude for Christ's sacrifice

The front of today's church service bulletin.
Although our pastor died a couple of weeks ago, our church met today and joyfully worshipped our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our associate pastor said that we know by faith our Brother Larry is with Jesus in the heavenly realm, worshipping Him there as we were here.
We had our observance of The Lord's Supper, also known by some churches as Holy Communion. We have that ordinance observation (it is not a sacrament for our congregation) quarterly, and at Easter and Christmas.
Our call to worship was "Grace, Love, and Fellowship." Other hymns we sang were "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us" and "The Solid Rock." A women's trio sang "Jesus, at Your Holy Table."
Our associate pastor preached from I Corinthians 11:23-28. It is a passage Paul wrote about the proper observance of The Lord's Supper. The Corinth church members were having rollicking good times for the rich Christians, who brought lavish meals to church and got drunk on the wine, while the poor Christians sat with little or nothing to eat in observance of the Lord's sacrifice of his body and blood.
Paul laid down rules for observing The Lord's Supper with the admonition that you must not do it in an unworthy manner. The whole idea is to do it in remembrance of the Savior, so you must be someone who recognizes your need for His salvation and you have prayed to receive it.
Later, during our actual partaking of the unleavened bread and the grape juice (we are Baptists, so not real wine), the preacher drove home the point that although these are symbols of His body and blood, our partaking of them is serious, and by doing so, we are sharing in His sacrifice for us, somehow. It was a solemn and sobering observance of the Lord's table. We are grateful He has provided a way for us to live with Him for eternity.
We closed by singing "Blest Be the TieThat Binds" and then leaving quietly.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Another round of ice on the way, the weatherman warns

There is another ice storm on the way, according to the weatherman. The National Weather Service says there will be an ice storm north of a line from Pittsburg, Kansas, to Rolla, Missouri. That's us.
Much of what was on the wires and trees melted today, so we hope if we get more ice, the electrical lines will be able to handle it, and so will the tree limbs.
The warning is for tonight and all tomorrow morning.
There was plenty of ice on the river birch at noon, but by nightfall most had melted.

Texas cafe promotes "Peace Through Pancakes"

"Make plenty. They go like hotcakes."
My wife went to visit her people in Texas over Christmas. She came back with gifts, including a box of Kerbey Lane Cafe gingerbread pancake mix. It was minus  one cup of mix, because when nephew Canon, 6, saw her packing the box to bring back home to me he said, "Oh, gingerbread pancakes, that's what I want for breakfast." Of course, he got pancakes the next morning, made by Aunt Dee, who spoils him, and I don't blame her. She knew Uncle R.D. back up in the Missouri Ozarks would not mind sharing.

Those pancakes really hit the spot this morning, the second day of Icemageddon in Southern Missouri. The thermometer with a sensor on my front porch reads 33.9 degrees, so maybe quite a bit of the ice on the power lines will melt and make room for the second wave of freezing rain that is supposedly coming in late tonight to continue until 10 a.m., when my Sunday School class starts. If the weatherman is accurate, I guess I'll be missing church again Sunday. Maybe I'll make up for it with another batch of gingerbread pancakes.

My first gingerbread pancakes ever in my life were served to me for breakfast at the Kerbey Lane Cafe on Kerbey Lane in Austin when I went down to visit Delaine's home state and meet her family. They were fine pancakes, mighty fine.

The story Delaine told was that Kerbey Lane Cafe, located in a renovated old house, was supposedly started years ago by some hippies who grew most of the food themselves on a communal farm outside Austin. I don't know where she heard that story, or maybe she was just pulling my leg, for she is prone to do that. I believed that for years, and I tried from time to time to replicate the gingerbread pancakes here in the kitchen.

Now, I have the official Kerbey Lane Cafe pancake mix, so I can have gingerbread pancakes from time to time until the mix runs out.

As I made the pancakes this morning, I read the package, and it seems to try to promote some kind of hippie ethic on it. "Peace Through Pancakes" is one of the slogans on one side.

What's interesting is that there is a website address on it, and I checked it out. I also found a couple of other articles about Kerbey Lane Cafe, one on The Austin Chronicle site and one on Culture Map Austin.

Here's an article from 2010: The Austin Chronicle.

Here's an article from 2015: Culture Map Austin.

The Austin Chronicle article shows that the restaurant company owners, not hippies and not communal farm dwellers, did indeed try to use locally grown produce and meat for the items on their menu. Reading the newer Culture Map article, I'm not quite sure that is the case with the new management, headed up by the son of the couple that started it.

So those hippies, if ever they were such, have gone all corporate capitalist on us now. Not that I, a far-right conservative, mind that at all, although I hope they still have that commitment to local growers and local food.

The Kerbey Lane empire has grown to seven restaurants in and around Austin, and the goal is to build in other states. They also hope to go national with their pancake mix. It would be nice to be able to go to Aldi, Kroger, Price Chopper or Walmart to find a box of gingerbread pancake mix on cold mornings like we are experiencing this weekend.


Friday, January 13, 2017

"Icemageddon" hits the Ozarks again

This ice-covered feeder was almost empty before I refilled it.
Man, oh man, I hope this ice storm doesn't knock the power out. I've heard it called "Icemageddon," and I'm sure hoping that it doesn't turn out to be as bad as that sounds.

Now, you can read all about the ice storm the National Weather Service has named Jupiter on the internet or in your newspaper. Or you can turn on The Weather Channel or your local TV station. Those sources will tell you a lot more and show you dramatic pictures. I can't add much to that, so I'll just tell you about my day spent watching the ice build up. If you aren't interested, I don't blame you.

My supervisor at my day job called me a little before 6 and told me not to come in because freezing rain was falling, and she worried I might get stranded there in the afternoon. It's 30 miles away in the next county.

Normally, I would have been at work by 6 a.m., but I decided today to wait and go in late after I determined the chances of being stranded. The boss determined that for me.

I've had a full day of doing some of my favorite things: reading, writing, listening to the radio, drinking coffee, talking to my wife, playing with our standard poodles. When you grow up in the hardscrabble Ozarks, it doesn't take much to make you happy.

All morning I would step outside from time to time to check the weather. The rain that started here before 6 a.m. is still falling slowly at 2 p.m., so there is a layer of ice. I went out and replenished the bird feeders, for the birds have been on them all morning. I knocked the ice off the top of one so I could move the latches on the lid.

I measured the thickness of the ice at about 3/8 of an inch. I don't know if that is correct, but it is what I got. Don't consider it official.

I walked around the yard looking at various trees and shurbs. They're all frozen, of course.

I'm just hoping that the ice doesn't do what it did back in January 2007. That knocked our power out here for three nights. Fortunately, we had an office for the magazine we were publishing at that time, so we took an air mattress and spent the nights there, because that building was not affected by the power outage.

After my time outside, my wife and I ate a hot lunch, leftovers from yesterday, a dish of chicken, rice, mushroom soup, peppers, garlic and other tasty vegetables and spices. I added a large side dish of greens seasoned with bacon and a big slap of buttered cornbread. All washed down with strong, hot coffee. Fine, mighty fine.

Not a bad day, and It won't be a bad weekend either, as long as the power doesn't go off.

Look at the ice buildup on our red buckeye bush in the front yard.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Time to start planning your spring, summer and fall gardens

With Christmas over and New Year's Day also past and out of the way, I'm ready to think about gardening.

Well, the truth is I didn't stop thinking about gardening, not even after clearing out my garden beds in the fall.

We've already been getting seed catalogs, so that works to keep me thinking about planting and harvesting, too.

The Ozarks Almanac has a Twitter account (feel free to follow), and one account we follow is Chickens on Camera. (@chickensoncam). That account led us to this page about mapping your summer garden.

That web page is a good starting point to plan your garden. I'd suggest you get a resource from your university extension regarding planting times and days until harvest. Figure out when your last frost date is typically, and you can figure out how to have two, maybe three gardens, a spring garden, summer garden and fall garden.

The Ozarks Almanac had a spring garden that provided us with a lot of fresh greens (see the picture above), followed by a summer garden of tomatoes, beans and a ton of squash and cucumbers.

It was fine, mighty fine eating. We are looking forward to more of the same this year.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A battle, a song and an Ozarks connection

Today is the Eighth of January, and that brings to mind a battle with a bit of an Ozarks connection.
The battle is the Battle of New Orleans that started on Jan. 8, 1815, and brought an end to the War of 1812. The Ozarks connection is a song titled "The Battle of New Orleans," written by an Ozarks schoolteacher to an old fiddle tyne played by Ozarks fiddlers, titled "Eighth of January."
Here's Jimmy Driftwood singing:

Jimmy Driftwood's real name was James Corbitt Morris, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, and he claimed to have written the song in 1936 while he was a teacher. The song was a way to get students interested in history and to teach them the difference between the American Revolution and the War of 1812.
Driftwood recorded his original version in 1958, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, but it did not achieve much airplay, owing to the use of the words "hell" and "damn." He must have been a real Ozarks character to sing a song like that to Arkansas schoolchildren back in the 1930s and 1940s.
Driftwood took an existing fiddle tune, "Eighth of January," that had been written sometime after the battle and was also known as "Jackson's Victory," referring to Gen. Andrew Jackson.
The Library of Congress reports that a couple of ethnographers recorded versions of the fiddle tune played by Oklahoma dust bowl migrant workers in California. It was a popular tune at square dances.

Driftwood, who continued to collect and write songs, eventually became a performer on the Grand Ole Opry, the Ozark Jubilee and the Louisiana Hayride. It was at the Hayride in Shreveport that he met Johnny Horton in 1959. Driftwood toned down the lyrics for Horton who recorded it that year and put it atop the country music chart for over 10 weeks and the pop music chart for six weeks.
It is one of the top 100 Western songs of all time, according to the Western Writers of America.
Jimmy Driftwood led in the founding of the Arkansas Folk Festival and the Ozark Folk Center. He died in 1998.