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!