Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Is There Such A Thing As A Homeless Goose?

By Steve Stackenwalt

Occasionally there is an issue in town that divides our citizens. Some issues can be so divisive as to pit neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother and even mother against son (still love you, Mom). The question at the heart of this debate is, “What do we do with all the geese at Laing Lake?”

The problems with this type of debate can be many. First of all, none of us have enough information to make a completely informed decision and even the information available is uncertain. Secondly, different sources present conflicting facts depending on their feelings and agenda. Third, how we interpret information is subject to our own preconceived opinions. And finally, when we are talking about a living creature - especially one that is so beautiful - it can be hard to separate science from Disney.

With that in mind, and to help facilitate the debate, I’ve decided to post this article and a couple polls on our blog. You will be able to comment anonymously, as long as the comments are within our guidelines for publishing - in other words, please don’t be rude! Our polls will ask how you feel about the geese and what you think we should do with them.

And against the advice of people that care about me, I’m going to give my opinion about the geese - in the form of a series of questions. Now don’t hold it against me, as it’s just my opinion and I am still open to other views and respectful of other opinions.

1.    What would you do if a pair of geese decided to live in your backyard? Feed them or ask them to leave?

2.    What would you do if a dozen geese decided to live in your backyard? Feed them or ask them leave?

3.    What would you do if your dozen geese invited their goose buddies to dinner; they ate all your food, and then all took a poop on your patio and in your kids’ wading pool? Then after that, they showed their appreciation for your hospitality by keeping you up all night with their honking – which only got louder as you scolded them – and then ran at you hissing as you drowsily took out the morning garbage in your untied rope and fuzzy slippers – which, by the way, were now covered in goose poop.  Would you live with the noise, the poop, and the contempt and continue to feed them or ask them leave?

4.    If you decided you had too many geese, how many would you ask to leave and how would you decide who should go? Keep the women and children (I know it’s hens and goslings)? Let them decide? Ask them all to go? Keep mates only as to not break up a loving couple? Which leads to the next question …

5.    Why do geese mate for life? Human-like loyalty and love (like Mother Goose or Charlotte’s Web) or instinctive survival of the species?

6.    Once you figured out who’s leaving, how would you get them to go? Wave at them with an open hand and softly say, “Shoo geese. Shoo.” or chase them with a broom, as you get a bit more vocal in hopes that your volume and angry tone might be enough to coax them to leave?

7.    Once you realize you can’t reason with a goose, what would you do next? Starve them (good luck), scare them (how do you do that) or shoot them (be ready to duck – excuse the pun)?

Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy geese just as much as the next guy. But I realize that we aren’t talking about Amelia and Emily from the AristoCats. Understandably, there are times when we humans are obligated to protect other creatures in order to promote the survival of a species or to help fix an ecosystem we may have screwed up. But I just can’t see letting a few thousand geese contaminate our lake and poop on every square inch of our park, all because we don’t want to hurt their feelings.

Ideally, we could simply limit the number of geese that call Laing Lake home. I’m not sure how that will work, but I am sure that the ones that end up leaving will not hold a grudge and will probably not end up homeless.
As always, thank you for reading and subscribing!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

On The Horizon

By J. D. Cox, City Manager

I have been in my position now for a little over a month and have enjoyed Alliance immensely.   I have been swept away by the incredible hospitality and welcoming that has been shown to me.  It is abundantly clear to me that a huge asset of our community is the warm and welcoming way of Alliance.  In fact, it is to the extent, that I believe it is also something that needs to be revisited and emphasized in future community marketing campaigns.

When I started, there were many projects already in the works.  I am working now to pick up those projects and carry on with them.   Some of those include: the financing of the improvements to the (electrical) Cody substation, the completion of the audit, the hiring of an accounting supervisor, and the facilitation of new commercial business construction.

Some of the other projects that are currently pending and await attention include: addressing museum and city facility fees, hiring a human resources manager, and naming and use of the dog park.

Still there are other major projects that will to require substantial time and attention in the future and include: Downtown revitalization and streetscape, economic development, reliable electric service, highway 385 expansion project, marketing and branding of our community, creating an Emergency Operations Center, fostering cooperation and maximizing of efficiencies between the City, Box Butte County and Alliance Public Schools, and investigate and explore other avenues of economic success.

I would also to invite everyone to join me in congratulating and supporting our new interim Community Development Director, Aaron Smith, who has graciously accepted the challenges and eagerly looks forward to assisting the community’s further development.

In addition to all of these important projects, one of the most vital initiatives that lies before us is the visioning of the future of Alliance.   What do we wish for Alliance to look like in 10 years?  This will be addressed at a future date.

At the end of the day, with all of these nice things that we enjoy, the single most important thing that we can all do is to treat one another and visitors to our community  as best as we possibly can with that trademark Alliance friendliness.

We have so many assets and positives in the community, that one needs not look far – great parks, awesome facilities, a warm downtown area, good businesses, all sorts of transportation options – rail, air and now even the prospect of major Highway 385 improvements to boot.

Yes, my first month here has been wonderful.  I am looking forward to the remainder of my family from Neodesha, KS, to join me a little this summer.   My wife Tonya, our son Collin (14), and our daughter Cali (17) will be coming to Alliance after school is completed in May.  In addition, our older daughter Kierstyn will be home from college and will join us this summer in Alliance.  Both Collin and Cali are looking forward to be Alliance High School students next year and I am excited for them all to also experience this great community!

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Cure For The Winter Blues

By Steve Stackenwalt

Last week, as I shivered into work a little before 8:00 a.m., I asked my office cronies to help me think of something positive about the bitter cold of winter. John Weare quickly offered up the fact that there are much fewer annoying bugs in winter. Good point! I actually felt a little better, as I my mind quickly flashed to memories of slapping mosquitoes, swatting flies, squishing spiders and protecting my little girls from inevitable daily bee attack.
About this time of year, most of us begin to feel the winter blues. The ice-cold mornings, window scraping, snow shoveling, late sunrises and early sunsets start to take their toll. Homes begin to feel like prisons, as we are trapped inside, living in survival mode as we wait for the slightest hint of warmth and sunshine. And the more kids you are ‘doing time’ with, the more you long to escape to the outdoors – or at least help them escape.
So, in hopes of bringing a little emotional warmth to what we can be sure will be lot more cold days, I will share with everyone the top ten positive things about winter I have found. I will also post these on our blog at, so you can vote on your favorite and even add your own.
1.     You can store various food items and beverages in your garage – or porch if you don’t have dogs (or bears)
2.     Winter holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years
3.     Warm, comfort food like pies and soups and hot drinks like cider and cocoa
4.      Baggy clothes that hide the extra weight you put on during those holidays by eating warm, comfort foods and drinks
5.      When you are cold, you can always add more clothes, but when you’re hot, you can only take so much off – legally
6.      Winter sports like skiing, ice fishing, and hunting
7.      You don’t have to cut grass, trim bushes or rake leaves
8.      For the ladies, you don’t have to shave your legs as often (husbands my choose to comment on blog about this one)
9.     Many of us sleep better in the winter, as the hibernation instinct kicks in
10.   Finally… snowmen, sledding, warm fires, sparkling trees, snowball fights, gentle snowfalls and of course the one we all know and love, “We can sure use the moisture!”
Stay warm and enjoy the blessings of the seasons!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Should We Have To Pay To Visit Our Museums?

Last Thursday’s Alliance Times-Herald reported on a public discussion concerning the idea that the city should charge for entry to Sallow’s Military Museum and the Knight Museum & Sandhills Center.

Now I haven’t researched any annual visitor reports, I don’t know all the costs involved and I wasn’t able to attend the public meeting last week.  So initially, my lack of knowledge caused me to hesitate before sharing my opinion.
I thought about calling Becci at the Knight Museum or Ted at Sallows, to ask them a few questions and get a feel for what they thought about the idea of an entrance fee.  Then I could reread our article and talk to the reporter covering the story.  I might even be able to contact the city and get some more information from them.  Surely my available resources would allow me to present a more intelligent and informed opinion. 

Well, not only do I not have time to do all that, but I’ve also come to realize that an opinion doesn’t always have to be so qualified.  People don’t have to be experts to take part in a discussion.  Often a raw, gut feeling is just as important as a deep analysis or a politically correct speech.  After a long election season, I’ve had more than my fill of that.  And after all, I’m not trying to convince anyone to agree with me.  I’m simply sharing my thoughts with the hope that others might be inspired to form their own opinions.  Perhaps some will get involved by writing a letter to the editor, commenting on the blog or even by calling one of the museums to let them know how they feel.  And maybe, just maybe, we can limit the number of people that don’t say a word until it’s time to complain. 

So, here’s the first thoughts that crossed my mind when I heard about this possibility months ago and when I read our article last week.

Our citizens have put their blood, sweat, tears and hearts into creating and maintaining these wonderful museums for years.  Volunteers have given thousands of hours to help defer the costs and keep these facilities beautiful and inviting.  Every family has paid taxes for years to help build and maintain these museums.  Hundreds of fundraisers have been held and countless donations have been accepted.  And now, after all the money, all the hard work and all the sacrifice, we may have to pay to walk in the doors.

How would this affect our lower-income families?  How hard would it be for parents to say no to their kids when they want to enjoy our museums like the other kids?  And, what about the tourists we try so hard to attract?  One of the reasons we built these facilities was to show pride in our town and our people.  Do we really want to charge visitors to experience our pride? 

What if it was determined that the parks cost too much to water?  Would we need an annual park sticker?  What if our library needed a new roof?  Would we suddenly be charged a nickel to checkout a book?  What if our fountain was in need of repair?  Would tossing coins in the water no longer be a spontaneous gesture, but a required action to help pay for repairs? 

Probably not, considering these treasured amenities have been built and continue to be maintained by the community through our taxes, our fundraising efforts and our diligent, self-sacrificing army of volunteers.

Surely there are other places the city could cut back or other ways we can fund these facilities.

Your turn!  On November 18th, Museum Director Becci Thomas will present information regarding this idea to the City Council.  To have your ideas heard and/or opinions considered, contact Sallows Military Museum at 762-2385, the Knight Museum and Sandhills Center at 762-2384 or email

Have a great week and be sure to visit your local museums – and donate if you can!

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Letter From A Local Veteran

To all may fellow Vet’s and their Spouses:

I just want to say thanks for all you have done. I wish I could attend the annual Alliance Public Schools Salute to Veterans program that will take place Sunday, November 7 at 2 p.m. at the Alliance High Gym, but I have to work. My thoughts will be with you on this special day and I pray that all people in a America will do the same were ever they are.

And for all who might not really approve of the current world situation - it is your right as an American to do so, but remember you had a Father/Mother, Grandparents, etc. that did serve the country proudly to make the USA the best place in the world to live in for all for us.

Thanks again!

BM1 (SW) John M. Murphy
US Navy Ret. 1983-2004

No Time To Waste

Submitted by Sue Murphy

I was introduced to this site and was fascinated with voices speaking to real feelings related to Alliance. Even though I have tried I feel isolated living here. I grew up in the area and left,but decided this was where I wanted to raise my child, build a life, and retire with my husband and just be content. I have those memories of opportunities of being elsewhere but I am here and now. Tell me what you love about our community. Share with me what makes this town tic. Help me to redefine my gut instinct to move back. I have met amazing people here. They aren't only friendly they are intelligent, gifted, hard working people. I am going to begin today by telling myself and those I meet in my travel's that I live in the best kept secret in America. Will you help me see, feel and truly believe that? My time is valuable I don't want to waste anymore time looking for somewhere else. Sue

Sunday, October 31, 2010

New Policy

Due to the overwhelming amount of potentially libelous comments on the blog, we have decided to require that people include their names with their comments.  We understand that this will reduce the comments to near zero, but we feel this policy is in everyone's best interest.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Press Release from City of Alliance

City Calls In State To Investigate Finance Department: Staff of the City of Alliance, have discovered irregularities in the Finance Department. On Friday, October 22, 2010, the Interim City Manager, with the approval of the City Council, requested the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office to authorize the Nebraska State Patrol to investigate the irregularities including charges on a City credit card.  Assistance of the Nebraska State Auditor’s Office was requested to review City financial records.  Employees of the Nebraska State Patrol and the Nebraska State Auditor’s Office were in Alliance to begin their investigation.  The City of Alliance has no further comment until the investigations are complete.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What Do You Want To See In The ATH?

After you vote in the poll to the left, feel free to comment here about options not in the poll or expand on options in the poll.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Vendor Permits, Licensing, And Occupational Tax Codes

Excerpts from an article by DENICE ABY, Times-Herald Writer

ALLIANCE — Residents of Alliance often see vendors set up at various places who sell all manner of goods, including fruit and vegetables, clothing, jewelry, and household goods or furnishings.
The Alliance Municipal Code outlines specific regulations in regard to the buying, selling and distribution of goods and services, to a large extent outlining specific fees charged to peddlers and solicitors, and states that the administration of an occupation tax is to be levied on these certain merchants.
While the code has specific definitions of the terms peddler and solicitor, it does not specifically define the term “transient merchant,” and it includes exemptions for buying, selling, or soliciting of goods by cooperation associations, religious and charitable purposes, and the sales of goods or services to established merchants, or the sale of farm or garden products, or manufactured articles, grown or raised in Nebraska.

For the complete story, read the October 16, 2010 Alliance Times-Herald.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

From "Have An Idea For A Topic"

Anonymous said...

I have been contemplating two titles for a piece: Asleep Behind the Wheel or Polite Politics. It really is driven by recent experiences with three women close to me totally opposite yet common in the approach they take with current event's. My closest confidant is always saying "Well what are you really going to do about it anyway?" Second says "all you can really do is pray about it." Third person's approach to issue's is censorship "I find the news depressing so we only watch select documentary's and uplifting movies, we don't watch the news." I want to laugh and cry at the same time. It is their choice but from my perspective I function on getting through life being informed and having a plan, a goal, I have always used survival skills to get to where I am now. Not entitlement programs. The point of these titles are pushed by what my child was coming home telling me about conversations in class among teacher's and peers. A child in college who announced her political affiliation who can vote and has no idea what her party is doing or stands for. She didn't know that Snoopy, felon's, and deceased voted in the last election. And defiantly could care less. I am passionate about where our country is going because I have children. What is their lives going to be, will they find work? Why do I as a parent have to pay for my child's healthcare until they are 26. (Shake my head, eye roll, and laugh- is this responsible?) I have a parent who told me 7 years ago "well changes in Social Security aren't going to affect me." It is now because second year no cost of living increase and she is hurting, the decision whether to eat or put gas in her car. Question? If Jay Leno showed up in town doing the 'Jay Walk' would we as a community be able to answer mundane political questions correctly? What do you think?

Friday, October 8, 2010

My Ideal Newspaper!

Describe here what your ideal Alliance Times-Herald would look like.  What would it include?  What would it not include?  How about the layout?  The design?  You can even talk about distribution and cost. 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

School Board Request City To Forgive Building Fees On New Building

From "Have An Idea For A Topic", Anonymous said...
The School Board asking the City of Alliance to forgive the building fees for the new performing arts center should be a topic of discussion. I am all for the performing arts center, but disagree with asking others to forgive legitimate fees. What benefits are there for the city to forgive its fees?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

From our "Ask Questions Here!" section

Anonymous said...
I am so curious as to why our "Alliance Times Herald" does NOT even put a score of our Jr./Varsity or Freshman Volleyball games in the paper, little lone their own article of their game? They are in high school and work hard to get nothing at all from our LOCAL news! I've noticed our area newspapers even put articles of their middle school sports events..We do have a sports page and I feel when there is local sports going on in town, they should all get some recognition.
Anonymous said...
I often wonder that too. There are always sports going on locally but they choose to put in a bunch of national stuff. I would rather see more local. It would probably boost paper sales too!! Especially with pictures. I have to say sometimes they do a really really good job and then other times it's like why??
Steve Stackenwalt, GM-ATH said...
Thank you for commenting about our sports coverage. Because we are a small daily newspaper, we are only able to afford one full-time sports reporter. This reporter must cover six fall varsity teams with all their games, meets and matches, keep on top of the regional college sports teams, go through the national sports news, photograph and layout the sports pages. We do our best to report the scores, publish some photos and write some stories for the JV, Freshman, Middle School and St. Agnes, but with multiple sports for each of those, that adds another 20 plus teams to follow. It just isn't possible. Most of the coverage you desire is left to the coaches of those teams and unfortunately, they aren't all great about getting us information. This is something we will work on though. And we will continue to try even harder to cover more of what our readers want to see. If parents or other spectators wish to forward photos and/or scores, we would be happy to consider them for publication. Thanks again for commenting!