Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dogs AVailable for Adoption

These dogs are available at the North Platte Animal Shelter, 1402 N. Sycamore. Hours: 1-5:30 pm, M-F

This beautiful brindle pit female came to the shelter as a stray. If you've ever heard the expression of the tail wagging the dog, that fits this gal. When her tail wags, get out ot the way because her whole body shakes and wiggles. She took treats very gently when offered some. REMEMBER: The Responsi-BULL spay and neuter program continues through August. She can be spayed for $25 or perhaps less than that.

This Weimaraner/Doberman X is a real beauty. It's scared of the strange noises and smells at the shelter. Look at those eyes - they are pleading for someone to make everything OK.

Doreen is an energetic Black Lab. All she needs is some TLC and a good family to care for her. She's been at the shelter for a while. Please consider Doreen if you are looking for a good dog.

Meet Butterscotch, a female Corgi/heeler X. She's 4-6 months old. She was surrendered on Monday afternoon, so she is available for adoption immediately. She is an outdoor dog and is good with kids.

Tank is an intact male Corgi/heeler X, about a year old. He is an outdoor dog (which means he's not house trained - if you want him as an indoor dog, you'll need to house train him) and he's good with kids. He was surrendered Monday afternoon so he's available immediately for adoption.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Small Town That Could

UPDATE: Jan. 31 - 9:30 a.m.
AINSWORTH IS IN SIXTH PLACE with 344,735 votes.
Keep the momentum going!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The "Middle of Nowhere" town is showing that it is a town that can!

Ainsworth - my hometown - is known as "The Middle of Nowhere" (the source of the nickname is a story for another day).

Ainsworth has a population of 1,862 according to the 2000 census, and is located in north-central Nebraska in the starkly beautiful and unique Sandhills. It's roughly 150 miles to any city of 25,000 or larger. So, the moniker "in the middle of nowhere" is pretty much right on target.

However, if you've been following the Reader's Digest competition "We Hear You America," where communities are vying for dollars for their community, you know Ainsworth is currently at No. 7 with 291,584 votes mid-morning today, Jan. 29. (A 1:30 p.m. check showed the vote at nearly 9,000 more!)

I have lived in North Platte for more than 23 years. This is the community that is officially called Rail City USA, and is the site of the largest railroad diversion yard in THE WORLD. It has a wonderful Golden Spike tourist center to show off the railyards to its best advantage and a three-day railroad celebration, "Railfest."

The community hosts a 10-day Nebraskaland Days statewide celebration every June. The community boasts it's the site of the first spectator rodeo, hosted by Buffalo Bill on the Fourth of July in the late 1800s.

Perhaps most importantly, it is the home of the WW II Canteen, a famous era in which more than 6 MILLION service men and women were served snacks during brief stops at the Union Pacific Depot (remember, this was a time when sugar, gas, rubber for tires, and numerous other things, were rationed). Hundreds of volunteers came from many miles away to help with this effort. The Veterans' Memorial is more than a memorial - the quality of the sculptures is more like an art exhibit.

In the Reader's Digest We Hear You America competition, North Platte is No. 72 with 13,979 votes. A few weeks ago, North Platte was No. 29.


Trying to figure out why Ainsworth is doing so well and North Platte is falling further and further behind, I looked up each town in the top 10. I found something I thought rather interesting about the population (as of the 2000 census). Here are the results:

1. Grand Marais, Michigan - an unincorporated village
2. Fairbury, Illinois - population 3,968
3. Albion, Michigan - population 9,144
4. Saint Johns, Michigan - population 7,485
5. Genoa, Nebraska - population 981
6. Jacksonville, Illinois - population 18,940
7. Ainsworth, Nebraska - population 1,862
8. Globe, Arizona - population 7,486
9. Asheboro, N.C., population 21,672
10. Miles City, Montana - population 8,487

I find it fascinating that with the exception of Jacksonville and Asheboro, all of the other communities in the top 10 are very small.

What does it mean? I'm not sure, but here are a few guesses I developed. First, it's easier to organize a small group than a huge group. But that doesn't totally hold true because some of the towns are moving ahead by the thousands every day, so the small towns are working with large numbers, too. Second, larger towns and cities may have full-time grant writers who can apply for funds that way rather than a drawn-out competition. Third, large communities and cities may find it easier to raise taxes for needed developments such as additions to libraries and swimming pools, than do the work to compete. And, fourth, small towns probably have more community spirit and cohesiveness than cities.


I was still curious about what Ainsworth - and other small communities in the top 10 - were doing right.

I called the Ainsworth Area Chamber a few days ago to see if I could find out what they were doing to keep climbing in the top 10.

I visited with Deb Banzhof (who moved to Ainsworth from the Eustis area). She is the senior administrative assistant at the North Central Development Center in Ainsworth.

It comes down to sending out many, many e-mails to former residents and acquaintances, involving everyone in the community, and sending out reminder e-mails daily, Deb said, even on weekends.

The radio station in Ainsworth gives reminders, the Norfolk Daily News wrote an article about Ainsworth in the competition, and residents encourage each other.

Deb said it is the topic of conversation in the town. No matter where you go, people are asking each other "What place are we today?" even if they aren't acquainted.

People also realize the need for improvements to the community, she said.

For instance, the swimming pool is the same one where my kids took swimming lessons and spent most of their free time in the summer. My oldest is in his 50s now, so that gives you some idea of the pool's age. It needs to be replaced.

"It will take five years to raise funds to get matching funds (for the pool)," Deb said.

Winning money in the competition will be a huge boost to that effort.

Perhaps the best thing to come from the competition is the publicity.

"Our name is getting out there," Deb said. "It's good publicity. (People can see) we're a community working together."

The voting ends Feb. 7. Don't be surprised if some of the ratings change in last-minute voting surges.

To vote, go to and type in your community's zip code or name.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

'Papa's Angels' - a review

I know it's a little strange to write a review of a play when there is only one performance left, but I was so saddened by what I saw tonight(Saturday, Nov. 27), that I felt I had to do something.

I estimated the Neville Center for Performing Arts was perhaps a third filled tonight. How discouraging!

The weather couldn't have been better, so what's the problem?

It's not a big-name, well-known show - at least to most of us. "Seussical," the first production of the 2010-2011 season, is a hard act to follow. "Papa's Angels" doesn't have well-known songs in it.

So, that's what it doesn't have. Here's what is DOES have: A tender story of the Jenkins family who live near Highlands, N.C., in 1935. Grins and Sharon Jenkins have five children. The story begins by showing a loving, close-knit family - which includes Grammy - full of joy and music.

Tragedy tears at the soul of the family and one wonders if the family unit will be able to survive.

Indeed, the family does survive but only after some tense and heart-wrenching moments.

Did you like "The Waltons" on TV? Then I think you would like this production. So much of the play seems reminiscent of "The Waltons."

North Platte is so fortunate to have a talented and dedicated theater group. The talent in North Platte and the area is amazing. How sad that after weeks of study and rehearsals, the actors have to perform to such small audiences!

If you have a couple hours or so this afternoon (Sunday, Nov. 28), please consider seeing this play.

The play is at 2 p.m. in the Neville Center for Performing Arts, Fifth & Dewey. I'm sure there will be seats available so just show up at the theater 20 or 30 minutes ahead of time to buy your tickets.

When the play is over and the performers come forward for the curtain call, clap loudly for them. In fact, give them a standing ovation. We did Saturday night.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The AHA Moment

Almost every Christmas I have an "Aha moment" where I see the true spirit and meaning of Christmas shining.

Sometimes it's in a play or a song, other times it might be in an act of kindness.

Today I saw it while ringing bells for the Salvation Army in North Platte.

The day was perfect to stand at the southwest door of Walmart. Just a light breeze, a bright sun-filled sky and the temperature was very comfortable with just a light winter coat.

I greeted people with a "Hi! How are you?" and said "Thank you" and "Have a Merry Christmas" to those who stopped by to put a some change or a few dollar bills in the recognizable red bucket with the Salvation Army name on it.

A modestly dressed, short lady, leaning on her cart for support, approached our post. A child - I'm guessing a grandchild, maybe 11 years old or so, but taller than she was - accompanied her.

After receiving some money to put in the bucket, the child reached out to put the money into the "X" slots in the red bucket.

"No," the lady said. "Wait, I want you to think about what you are doing."

"They are collecting money for the Salvation Army. It helps people who may not have food to eat or don't have a good place to sleep.

"When you put the money in the bucket," she continued, "I want you to think about all you have and I want you to put the money into the bucket with gratitude."

The child nodded thoughtfully and reached over to put the money into the red bucket.

"Thank you and have a wonderful Christmas," I told the lady and child.

"Aha!" I thought to myself as they walked into the store, totally unaware of the gift they had given me for the Christmas season.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Another important vote

Ace Hardware in North Platte has six specially decorated Christmas trees inside the store at Parkade Plaza.

Decorated Christmas trees aren't unusual at this time of year, but the difference with these six trees is that they were decorated by six nonprofits in North Platte as fundraisers.

Now it's up to you to help choose the winner by putting your dollars and loose change in the bucket beside the tree you like best. There are big buckets beside the trees and when I looked the other day there wasn't a lot of money in any of the buckets.

These organizations - Rape & Domestic Abuse Program, Lincoln Connection (homeless shelter), Food Pantry, Bridge of Hope, Children's Museum, and the Lincoln County Historical Museum - have needs to be met all year long. They don't get to take a day or a week or a month off; their needs continue every day.

So do me a favor and stop in at Ace Hardware and vote with your money.

However, you'll have another chance to help these organizations. Wednesday, Dec. 1, at 1 p.m., these trees will be auctioned off, with Brad Stickelman as the auctioneer. If you don't have a tree at your office or home yet, here's your chance to have a pretty tree AND help a worthwhile nonprofit.
Lincoln Connection (homeless shelter)

Lincoln County Historical Museum

Food Pantry

Children's Museum

Bridge of Hope


I rarely read my horoscope, mainly because I don't believe in them. I think they are written by people - some may be well-intentioned - to be so general in subject that some part of the horoscope for the day could fit just about anyone's day.

However, on occasion, while I am working the crossword puzzle, I will let my eyes glance to the right a little and read my horoscope for the day.

I only remember one thing mine said for today: I should be careful because money could slip through my fingers. Hmmm, no money, no plans to shop. I should be safe on that one.

On a whim, I stopped at the Westfield SunMart and bought some food. I was chatting with the clerk and took out a dollar bill to pay for my purchase when it was my turn. The customer ahead of me and the clerk and I were talking about a recent fire in North Platte, when the customer told me "you dropped your money."

I looked on the floor and couldn't see my dollar bill, but then looked behind me and it had fluttered a foot or so back of me. As I bent down to pick it up, I had to chuckle. I guess this was one time the horoscope did get it right.

As I chuckled, I explained to the clerk about my horoscope.

"Well, now that I've let money slip through my fingers, I guess I don't have to worry about it for the rest of the day," I told her smugly.

I got out coins to finish paying for my purchase.

I reached out to hand her the 60 cents - two quarters and a dime. A quarter slipped from my hand and landed on the counter.

I'm glad to report I've had no further incidents with money slipping through my fingers. Of course, I haven't bought anything else either.

Monday, October 25, 2010

"Heaven is for Real" - a review

Editor's note: The book is available on and may be available in Christian bookstores within the next week or so.

A little boy, a few weeks shy of his fourth birthday at the time, has given a glimpse into Heaven to answer that age-old question: What is Heaven really like?

Colton Burpo of Imperial was on a roller coaster of being ill, then better, then ill again. By the time he reached Great Plains Regional Medical Center, Colton was in serious condition. Dr. Timothy O'Holleran performed emergency surgery to remove Colton's appendix, which had probably ruptured five days earlier, and had abscessed.

During Colton's surgery, his father, Todd, pastor of Crossroads Wesleyan Church in Imperial, was in a small room in the hospital alternately praying desperately for his son to live and crying out in frustration and anger to the God he so faithfully served.

When Colton's father and mother, Sonja, saw him right after the surgery, Colton looked at his father and said, "Daddy, you know I almost died."

Little did Todd know that was the first glimpse of things to come in the weeks and months ahead.

The book, written by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent, presents glimpses of the mystery of Heaven through Colton's own words. Much of what Colton tried to describe were of things for which he did not yet know the correct words.

Over the next months, Colton tells his father and mother about talking to family members who had died long before Colton was born. He gave details he could have learned through no other means than actually seeing and talking to them.

He doesn't tell his experience all at once, but in bits and pieces, sometimes - no, often - taking his parents by surprise with the depth and passion of his revelations.

Colton's story is amazing and to tell you any more would spoil the book for you.

His story rings true. It's told with the innocence of a child who accepts whole-heartedly with faith that what he experienced is real.

As you read Colton's story, you'll believe also. If you ever had any doubts about God and Jesus and Heaven, you'll dismiss those doubts.

Colton means it - and so will you - when he affirms: Heaven is for Real!