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Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Garage sale seemed like a good idea
Published: Thursday, August 28th, 2014

When I came up with the great plan to have a garage sale in August, I didn’t understand why my parents were hesitant to the idea. We get rid of some stuff and make some money — where’s the negative in that? I look back to eight weeks ago and realize how naive I really was. No wonder my poor mother didn’t have the heart to tell me the truth.

When we started putting our stuff together for the garage sale, Mom and I had a plan: go room by room and separate your things into piles, one for the garage sale, another for keeps and a third for “on the fence.” The plan went accordingly for the first few weeks, that is, until it came time to work in my closet. I’m still not sure which pile was larger, my “keeps” or “on the fence.” And let’s not even talk about the shoes.



Thursday, August 28th, 2014

What did we learn from Ferguson, Mo.?
Published: Thursday, August 28th, 2014

In the days and weeks following the shooting death of an unarmed 18-year-old black man by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., we have seen an unbelievable series of events culminating in nighttime protesting and looting by members of the mostly-black community and some distant “criminal tourists” who just wanted to raise hell.

The ruckus all started because of so-called eye witness accounts that had officer Darren Wilson shooting victim Michael Brown, even though the nearly 300-pound teenager had his hands raised in the surrender mode. We found this story hard to believe from the get-go. Why would a six-year veteran of the police force risk his career and his future by shooting to death an unarmed person in broad daylight with people all around?



Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Trapped in a social media existence
Published: Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Remember the golden years? Circa 1994 for example?

Our phone messages came by phone. You know, that device that hung on the wall or sat on the desk. If we were in a car going from one place to another, the next time we would take or make a phone call would be whenever we stopped and got to an actual phone.

At the newspaper office our news items came in by the phone, over the front counter or in the mail. I wonder if any paper today gets anything from anybody that way. When I tagged along on high school band trips, I wrote my column in longhand (on paper with a pen!), then found a fax machine on which to send it back to the office!



Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Military police state becoming more evident
Published: Thursday, August 21st, 2014

It is disturbing to watch scenes like those coming from Ferguson, Mo., last week where there were five nights of rioting due to unrest over a black 18-year-old being shot by a white police officer. The young man reportedly was unarmed and shot several times by the police officer.

When local police show up in black or camouflaged SWAT military garb from head to toe, backed up by surplus armored military equipment, it seems to incite an already angry crowd of demonstrators. People gathering on the street no longer feel safe in practicing their freedom to peacefully assemble, which is guaranteed in the Constitution.



Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Time to start planning now for 75th Rally
Published: Thursday, August 14th, 2014

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in 2015 could be an absolute horror show. All indications are pointing to a Rally the likes of which the Black Hills have never seen next year, as the Rally celebrates its 75th anniversary. Typically, the significant anniversaries of the Rally—or really any event, for that matter—brings a larger number of visitors to that event. Such will be the case next year, when those in the know are speculating that over a million bikers could invade the Black Hills.



Thursday, August 14th, 2014

I’m ready for some football
Published: Thursday, August 14th, 2014

I can’t tell you how giddy I was to watch the Hall of Fame Game when it was played last week in Canton, Ohio. Even though football is pretty much a year-around event anymore with the draft, combine, OTAs, etc., the first preseason game truly signals to me that football season is upon us. Six months after the Seattle Seahawks raised the Lombardi Trophy, it’s NFL time again, and Iâ��couldn’t be happier.

And it’s not just the NFLâ��that is getting things underway. All across the nation, college teams are beginning their fall camps and high school teams are beginning as well. It’s the time of year when every team is filled with hope, thinking it’s a contender for its respective championship. Yes, even my Oakland Raiders have hope in early August.



Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Journalists speak their own language
Published: Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Kate, my daughter-in-law who recently joined the Chronicle staff, mentioned that she is having to learn a whole new lingo here at the newspaper.

I remember when we lived in Hot Springs I ordered a birthday cake to observe Charley’s 40th birthday and invited some of his friends to stop by the newspaper to help him celebrate. As they started going  through the line, I realized I didn’t have a knife, so I said I would grab a pica pole to cut the cake. One of them exclaimed, “Pica pole! That sounds nasty!”

It dawned on me that not everyone knows what a pica pole is and it’s no surprise that my daughter-in-law is having to learn a whole new language. Newspapers use pica poles instead of rulers to measure picas, a precise printing measure in which there are six picas in an inch and 12 points in a pica.



Thursday, August 7th, 2014

74th rally not as soft as expected here
Published: Thursday, August 7th, 2014

In anticipation of next year’s big 75th anniversary of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, many observers are expecting this year’s rally to be a little soft compared to what is called a normal year. This is understandable considering most rally goers will be saving up so they will be assured of attending the historic 75th celebration next year.

Judging by what we have seen in the first few days in the Hill City and Custer areas, this 74th rally is anything but soft. Motels and restaurants and main streets appear to be busy and crowded with motorcycles everywhere in the Southern Hills. Hill City has again blocked off its main street to motorcycles only and Custer has the regular center lanes of Mount Rushmore Road designated for motorcycle-only parking for three blocks.



Thursday, July 31st, 2014

A new forest rising from ashes
Published: Thursday, July 31st, 2014

I hesitate to take long drives through the forest this time of year. It can be relaxing and wonderful. It can also be disturbing.  Bear Mountain Lookout tower is a famous Forest Service landmark in the Southern Black Hills. From the catwalk around the outside, Steve Mauck and other dedicated lookouts can watch the forest for miles and miles, usually catching the first signs of smoke that signal initial attack forces they have a fire.



Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Gov. Perry right to send National Guard to border
Published: Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Somebody had to do something about the sudden influx of illegal immigrant children across the southern border of the United States. That somebody is Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a former presidential candidate. Now he is being criticized by the likes of the New York Times saying the 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to be sent to the border between the Lone Star State and Mexico would lack both training and federal oversight.

Rubbish. Perry knows what he is doing, unlike the president and his close trusted advisors who live in a bubble. The president had a golden opportunity to see for himself what was going on with these thousands of young immigrant children from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico flowing over our porous southern border. He was on another of his fund-raising missions to Texas recently when he found himself a few hundred miles from the border chaos. He chose instead to shoot an evening of pool.



Thursday, July 24th, 2014

You don’t know what you got...
Published: Thursday, July 24th, 2014

There is a ballad by the metal band Cinderella released in 1988 that goes something like, “You Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone).” I would say that pretty much sums up the situation with the retirement of long-time city-county animal control officer Geney Ziolkowski the first of this year.

For some 20 years Geney took care of all kinds of stray animals on her North 8th Street property near the Mickelson Trail. She lived right there on the premises with her husband, Mark, and the dogs and cats and other critters that were brought to her for safekeeping until their owners claimed them.



Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Gold Discovery Days has events for everyone
Published: Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Residents and visitors alike seem to really enjoy all the events offered by the Custer Area Chamber of Commerce and Gold Discovery Days Committee members this coming weekend. After all, this is the grandaddy of them all when it comes to annual community celebrations in Custer County.

Besides all the activities going on, topped by the big parade Saturday morning through downtown Custer, there are all the various Custer High School class reunions happening throughout the town. It’s a time for renewing old acquaintances and making new ones.



Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Getting used to ‘home’
Published: Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Before I made the Big Move out here to join Josh, my husband, he kept saying, “It’s different here. You’ll just have to see for yourself.” No matter how many times he tried to prepare me for those differences, it just was not sinking in 

At a recent interview, we chatted about some of those differences here in Custer. The interviewees, both also transplants to the area, said they developed a little saying: “T.I.C ” — “This is Custer,” their quick and cute way of saying yes, things are different here! I want to steal it and use it myself.



Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Lack of foresight led to animal control mess
Published: Thursday, July 17th, 2014

As the county and city continue to slog through what to do with the animal control situation in Custer County, one thing has been made clear—both entities were woefully unprepared for the day when former animal control officer Geney Ziolkowski retired.

Ziolkowski, like all of us, grew old and decided it’s time to retire. When she retired, she took the only place in the county that is set up to house stray animals, and also took the rug out from under both the city and the county, which since her retirement have been scrambling to decide what to do in her absence. At times it has been a mess and a circular discussion and, much to his chagrin, Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler’s certified law enforcement officers have been spending a lot of time playing dog catcher instead of working on real crime. It’s a situation that all parties need to resolve quickly. This has dragged on long enough. It was mid-November when Ziolkowski sent emails to both the city and the county, letting them know that, for health reasons, she was retiring as animal control officer as of the new year. That was eight months ago.



Thursday, July 10th, 2014

The show must always go on
Published: Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Kudos to all involved in making last weekend’s Independence Day celebration the biggest and best in the history of Custer and, in our opinion, the best Independence Day weekend in the Black Hills, and possibly in the state. From the Custer Area Chamber of Commerce staff to the city staff, from the Custer Area Arts Council to the scores of volunteers who worked at the children’s fair, Custer once again proved it comes together like no other to roll out the red carpet for guests and locals alike. There was something for everybody to do for three solid days in Custer, and that’s in no small part due to the dedication and work of too many people to name in this space.



Thursday, July 10th, 2014

The return of the native son
Published: Thursday, July 10th, 2014

One of my brothers recently said that the most stressful thing a man can do is start a new career. I wholeheartedly agree. Add to that: moving 1,300 miles away, selling your house and buying another house. My wife, Kate, has recently joined me in Custer.  Everything is new for her as well, and she’s pregnant with our first child.

I asked Kate to keep an eye on me for a few days after I drove across the country. I thought the trip in the Uhaul™ truck may have had some negative consequences. Yes, 1,300 miles in a 34-foot-long, noisy and vibrating moving truck ladened with a houseful of belongings, with no air conditioning, no cruise control (and no horn) can certainly change a man. 



Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Celebrate the 4th in style in Custer County
Published: Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

You won’t have to go far to celebrate the July 4th weekend in Custer County. Downtown Custer will play host to the annual Old Time Country Fourth Celebration sponsored by the Custer Area Chamber of Commerce.

Events kick off at 10 a.m. to 6 pm. for the Arts and Crafts Fair on the grounds of the 1881 Courthouse Museum Thursday, July 3. Also on July 3 from noon to 3 p.m. there will be the Children’s Fair which is free and open to the public.

From noon to 3 p.m. there will be live music on stage at Way Park.  A hot dog eating contest is set for 2 p.m. in Way Park.



Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

July 4 is all about making memories
Published: Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

The Fourth of July is one of the best holidays, if not my all-time favorite. The food, the fireworks, the history — it’s all great. But for me and my family, it’s our memories that make the holiday so wonderful.

I don’t remember the first time my family and I celebrated Independence Day, obviously since I was only a 9 month old, but I assume we had a cookout. (And I’m sure those Gerber smashed peas were lovely, Mom.) I do, however, remember, the first time I saw fireworks. 



Thursday, June 26th, 2014

How dumb do they think we are?
Published: Thursday, June 26th, 2014

So, let’s get this straight. Ex-IRS official Lois Lerner refused to answer questions from a Congressional committee looking into her tax exempt division’s alleged foot-dragging for tax exempt approval for certain conservative groups, especially those affiliated with the Tea Party. After saying she had done nothing wrong, Lerner plead the Fifth Amendment before the committee and refused to testify. If she had nothing to hide, why did she not testify?

Now we have learned that Lerner’s emails requested by the committee are not available because the hard drive on her computer has been recycled, along with many others in her department. “We’ve been informed that the hard drive has been thrown away, said Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the Finance Committee.



Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Rainbows among my clouds
Published: Thursday, June 26th, 2014

There are days when the first mistake I make in the morning is turning on the television set. That can be depressing, even on a gorgeous summer morning.

The same is undoubtedly true when it comes to Facebook and any other social media to which one is addicted. Many of the things some of my “friends” post are downright sickening, if not incorrect, stupid, disheartening and irresponsible.

But I might be missing something, you know?



Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Eerie similarities between Vietnam and Iraq wars
Published: Thursday, June 19th, 2014

News coming out of Iraq is not good. Islamic Sunni extremists are taking over cities that U.S. troops fought and died to secure. Reports are that this same group of extremists is heading for the nation’s capital city of Baghdad, also liberated by U.S. troops years ago. There doesn’t seem to be anything anyone can do to stop them.

Members of the Iraqi army are taking off their uniforms and hiding them and getting rid of their rifles, lest they be identified and gathered up by the oncoming militants and summarily executed. In the process, much of the $14 billion in military equipment left in Iraq when the last of American troops pulled out Dec. 18, 2011, has been taken over by the advancing rebel forces.



Thursday, June 19th, 2014

With summer comes fire season
Published: Thursday, June 19th, 2014

The Forest Service budget for firefighting is already $470 million over the target for the year and we haven’t even really gotten started. Senior fire planners in Custer say the Black Hills National Forest is going to treat 3,000 acres this year with fuels money, money used to fight fire in advance. At that rate it will be 400 years before we can treat the forest to thin the forest and reduce fuels. 

Timber sales take care of the bigger trees on 30,000 acres each year, meaning we can do things in four decades if we can figure out how to manage the new growth after timber sales.  Ten thousand new trees per acre is not extraordinary.  What a marvelous place we live. This island in the plains grows trees so fast you can almost watch it happen.



Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Let’s secure U.S.-Mexican border
Published: Thursday, June 12th, 2014

We can’t be the only ones wondering why in the world the U.S. is not securing its southern border with Mexico. Recent events in the Obama administration’s lengthy list of scandals and controversies have caused us to take our eye off the important immigration-problem ball.

In just the last few weeks, there has been an influx of young, unaccompanied minors crossing the Texas border illegally, pushing the U.S. immigration system to its breaking point. 



Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Love the hugs, but I’m not 40
Published: Thursday, June 12th, 2014

The chickens finally came home to roost.

After years of torturing my coworkers with an endless spree of practical jokes and pranks, a few of them got me back in a big way a couple of weeks ago, by putting an ad in the paper. For those of you who didn’t see it (and judging by the responses it got, there aren’t many out there who haven’t), the ad contained a picture of me looking forlorn (I don’t recall having this taken) with the declaration that I needed a hug, because I was turning 40 Sunday, May 25, which actually is my birthday.



Thursday, June 5th, 2014

I’m learning to never say never
Published: Thursday, June 5th, 2014

It was a dark day for Charley and I when our youngest son, Joshua, left home for Bowling Green, Ohio. It was Dec. 24, 1997. He had met a girl on the internet and said he was in love with her and wanted to be with her. 

He had spent one year in college at McCook, Neb., with the intent of going into graphic design and journalism. He had already taken college classes in art and writing while in high school and had gotten A’s in both subjects. Nevertheless, when he moved to Ohio, he worked in the food service industry for 16 years, which I suppose is reasonable since he likes food and is a great cook.

He and Kate were married 10 years ago under the trees in our yard just outside of Custer on a perfect July day. The reception was held on our deck with a full moon shining down on them.



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