Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Voice of Bayards Police Department

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with Bayard’s Police Force. (I received a verbal invitation sans any warrant or handcuffs.) I had the pleasure to witness their firearms and bean bag training course, and to accompany them to the City Dump for target practice.

Officer Stan Tavenner, the Less-Lethal Impact Munitions Instructor Certified led the session

When one thinks about firearm training, it’s easy to think of a made-for-TV setting with action and tough man-talk. Target practice would be the reincarnation of the ‘Gunfight at OK Corral.”

However, at target practice they shot bean-bags, not live ammunition.

In all phases of the training I witnessed sober-minded responsibility. The training focused on saving lives; the assailants, bystanders, and themselves.

I listened to them discuss different situations they may encounter while on duty. I watched body language and listened to the tone of their voices. Through those showcases, I understood the situations they mentioned were viable and serious. If not handled appropriately, they could result in serious injury or loss of life.

At target practice I witnessed cohesiveness and concentration. Individually, they stood about 20 yards from the target and called out, “This is the Police. Stop, now, or I’ll shoot.” They each pumped three rounds of less-lethal beanbags into a target. Afterwards, together, they looked at the holes the not-as-lethal ammunition put in the target, and discussed shot patterns.

Police Chief Douglass handed me one of the beanbags, “They come out of the shotgun at 184 mph. They’ll stop you.”

Still, some scoff and say, “This is Bayard, Nebraska and violence doesn’t happen here.” 
Unfortunately, though, violence does rear its ugly head in the Bayard’s of the world. When it does, don’t you want well-trained-level-headed Law Enforcement Officers handling the situation?

The attitude of Bayard’s Law Enforcement Officers; that’s the point Bayard’s citizens should glean from this article.

During the training I heard no macho bravado. Our Police Force is a nucleus of mature, experienced, and dedicated individuals. They’re married, they probably kiss their wives when they leave for work, some have children, some are veterans, they have future family plans, and they more-than-likely have retirement accounts.

They want to go home after their shift. As you, they want to live to enjoy the fruits of their retirement accounts.

But they wear badges, carry guns, and drive City vehicles with the word POLICE on the side. This makes them a target; this involves them in any fracas that arises in Bayard, or vicinity.

After spending the afternoon with them, and have them patiently answer my questions, I know they respect those they serve. The safety of Bayard’s residents is their main concern. These five officers take their jobs seriously, and they’re proud of what they do and how they do it.

They understand that oftentimes their reactions are spontaneous; there’s no time to think right, wrong, or indifferent. They’re Bayard’s finest, they sense the immense responsibility behind their badge, and they care more for your safety than their own.

The voice of Bayard’s Police Department is “middle C.” The ‘C’ that stands for care, concern, consideration, companionship, and camaraderie, and they’re in the middle of anything that threatens their ‘Cs.’ 

Support them.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Value of Humor

In his opening monologue at the high school library, Barry Carlson told Bayard’s Public School staff that “It’s all in your mind and don’t plan for good or better; plan for awesome.”

Then he spent the next hour, or so, letting his audience experience the value of humor, which, in this case, amounted to old fashioned, gut-level, unashamed belly guffaws. Throughout the room peals of laughter energized positive feelings and the blissful perceptions humor brings.

The troubles and stress of a new school year…forgotten; the strain of being a new teacher in a new school system… forgotten. It was time to laugh.

Moving about the front of the room Carlson talked, and his voice reverberated truth. “People feel younger when they laugh. Did you know the average child laughs 200 – 400 times per week, while an adult laughs 20 – 40 times per week?”

You could sense people mulling that statement through the chasms of their mind.

Changing one train of humor for another Carlson explained, “We don’t stop laughing as we get older, we get older because we don’t laugh.”

He paused to let that reflection sink in as he switched trains. “I played football in high school, and my senior year we didn’t win a game. You know why? The quarterback stuttered and the center was ticklish.”

He stopped to let that picture form in the psyche of his listeners’. Then, with the rest of us, he laughed at its absurdity. He knew he had his audience in the palm of his hand, like soft putty, to mold any way he chose.

Words of wisdom poured from his well-rehearsed routine. “Your sixth sense is a sense of humor so let your attitude define your humor.

“Has your life brought joy into someone’s life, and vice versa?

“It’s hard to worry and have fun, and it’s hard to have fun when worrying.

“Positive attitudes and humor go hand-in-hand.”

The statements were food for thought seasoned with laughs.

His closing statement said it all. “Here’s to the holidays, all 365 of them.”

Barry Carlson’s remarks were to Bayard Nebraska educators, but what would happen to our lives, and the lives of the ones we live with, if everyone put this article on the refrigerator and read it every morning?

Monday, August 1, 2016

Whattya Mean I Talk to Myself?

When what’s on top thins and what’s in the middle thickens, we blame it on age. But when someone tells us we talk to ourselves, we usually respond with a dignified denial.  

But, unfortunately, it’s part of the cycle. It goes along with the mysterious out of nowhere aches and pains, the wrinkles, and the perplexing lapses of memory. Then, as if to put a lid on it all, the talking to ourselves syndrome stalks us, especially if we live alone.

That’s ok, though, I’ll bet there’s a study somewhere, by some super scientist, who’s found that when we talk to ourselves, with anything that’s handy, we’re talking to a grown-up rendition of our early-childhood imaginary friend. Remember, the one we confided in that never told anyone what we said? (That type person is definitely imaginary.)

Anyway, with whatever, talking to ourselves is easy, natural, and comfortable. God created a world full of things we can talk to. For example, we talk to our pets. Whether it’s a dog, cat, fish, bird, worm, or whatever, we often talk to them about things other than their potty time or chow. 

Moreover, studies show some plants grow better when we talk to them, both inside and outside varieties. (If you talk to plants, please don’t talk to dandelions. They do well enough on their own.)

Nevertheless, I admit to having two roommates I talk to; my “C” friends. One is “MC”, which stands for “My Cat,” and the other is my computer, whose many names are generally not fit for publication. 
For me, my computer is strictly a “yes sir,” “no sir,” “it’s your way” relationship. However, if I had invented them, I’d have made sure they could spell and punctuate sentences.

MC responds to me with meows, purrs, and occasional pfffts. Like most cats, the meows and purrs are positive and the pfffts aren’t. Thus we’re on the same wavelength, and she gets fed.

However, I occasionally, frequently talk to myself through them. Like asking the computer why it forgot a comma, or MC if it’s time we go to bed.

When I realize I’m talking to an inanimate object, or a cat, I throw back my shoulders and defiantly pffft that “I’m the only one around here who’s intelligent enough to carry on a conversation with me, through them.”

A Perspective: The Morrill County Fair

A reliable indicator to the number of split-screens it takes to watch the Morrill County Fair unfold depends on how many whys you went in the first place.

Personally, I needed one split screen. I watched wascally wabbits on one and on the other I witnessed the ominous results of sending three polite little pigs to the market without a chaperone to bring them home.

The young participants in the rabbit arena gently, but firmly, held their rabbits somewhat still as they recounted their hares family tree. Also, each showman gave a four-sided, i.e. front, rear, and both sides, display of their rabbit that included all features and perfections or imperfections.

While holding a nervous rabbit relatively quiet, the dissertations were nervously expounded with eye-to-eye contact between the speaker and the judge. Even with distractions from the rabbit, the crowd, and their anxiety, each participant did well. After each presentation the judge asked a question that tested the participants overall knowledge about rabbits.

Overall, the arena where the participants discussed the wares of their hares was relatively quiet. In my opinion this meant extra pressure on the show person because their every move and word was under scrutiny.

After the show they received their plaques and ribbons to well-deserved applause.

On the other screen I watched the hogs do their thing, which was the polar opposite of the rabbit show. Grunting and squealing the hogs were herded into the arena. Cleared of the serenity of the rabbit show, the hogs turned it into their own personal place of pandemonium.

The object: Each participator steered their overloaded with poundage creature past the judge. To direct these devoid-of-manners-flat-nosed creations the guides used fiber glass batons.

The picture: An undersized pathfinder led their oversized hog past the judge with the hog between them and the judge. This was so the judge had an unobstructed view of the hog. He called the process a “ham sandwich” because there were two humans on the outside and the hog in the middle.

More interesting was the way they simply tapped the hog with the baton to get it to respond. If the hog stuck its snout into the dirt, the guide would tap the hog under its chin to get it to lift its head. To get it to turn right, or left, the guide would tap it on the respective shoulder.

If the hog stopped they’d tap it on its buttocks.

I stared in wonder as this process worked, not always with precision but it worked. I fantasized a young trainer one-on-one with his or hers hog in a pen somewhere in the country. I’m sure the trainer had a flip-chart to show the hog how to respond. After the presentation and tryout, the trainer and hog would have a question and answer session to make sure both understood the script.

They were ready for the fair.

As an important passing point of interest, adult males were in the arena with the hogs and kids for a protective presence should one or two of the hogs get ornery. The young hog attendants were never left on their own.

The hog display ended with the awarding of plaques and ribbons.

Two aspects of the rabbit and hog show impressed me: First, for the rabbit show, is the time involved memorizing presentations, and, for the hog show, finding a comfort level of walking next to a cantankerous hog.

The second, regardless of individual success, the majority of the kids will return next year with hearts again full of positive expectations.

They learn that rewards are related to the amount of excrement they step in and clean, and clean again, from their shoes.

Congrats to all and thank you for displaying your handiwork. The pleasure was mine and I look forward to seeing most of you again next year.



Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Senior Olympics visit Chimney Rock Villa

The value of an Olympic-style event is in the eye of the beholder. It may be the National Junior Olympics, the Summer or Winter Olympics, the Special Olympics, or Bayard’s own Senior Olympics at the Villa…

After a few days to digest the Fourth of July barbecue, consumed under the protective shade of the shelter outside the Villa, last Friday the residents were ripe and ready for the serious fun that is the Senior Olympics.

In designated areas, inside and outside the Villa, contestants found events that tested their athletic prowess.

Inside, like a bookend, on one end of the room contestants found a miniature bowling lane with an air-filled bowling ball and human pinsetters. On the other end, like another bookend, wickedly competitive contests of bean bag toss ensued. Haphazardly tossing a bean bag in any direction would not suffice. The destination for the bean bag was a mat on the floor with specific landing spots marked with points from one to four.

Who’d rack up the highest score?

Then, too, strategically placed in the middle of the outer wall of that room contestants were challenged with a Velcro dart-board, and a Velcro covered ball. Wherever the ball the contestant threw stuck on the dart-board, they scored points.  

Moreover, to not let contestants lose their verve, at all events well-trained overseers chased any errant throws and returned the ball to the participant for a ‘do over.’

When the waves of warmth beckoned participants outside the building, they followed their sense of sunlight where they found more modes of entertainment.

Under the aforementioned shelter they found a basketball hoop with a senior-sized basketball. 

Sometimes their shot would swish threw the net, at other times it banked off the backboard, and sometimes the ball would miss everything. When a contestant missed they’d grimace, but they walked away with a grin signaling they loved every minute of their Senior Olympic experience.

In front of the Villa plastic horseshoes spurred their patience as they cajoled ‘leaners’ to fall onto the stake. Nevertheless, when their dander’s reached the boiling point they were only a few feet from a good ol’ fashioned water gun fight, with real, wet, water. One distraction: Contestants soon realized the water guns were not above squirting anyone within a close proximity, including Villa employees.

Screams, pleadings, and guffaws rose above the objective of staying dry, but they treasured ever drop of water that fell from their nose, or chin. Childhood knows no age limits.

This Senior Olympics was a ‘come as you are’ event. Some showed up in a wheelchair, others with a walker, or cane. Likewise, some walked with their own ‘senior shuffle.’ No matter the mode of transportation it was not a hindrance to having fun. If a contestant had to sit, or hold on to their transportation with one hand while the other hand threw a ball or beanbag, the rules permitted it.

Also, the extravaganza included those sitting on the sidelines. With free admittance the stands were filled close to capacity. The fans weren’t raucous but joined in the fun. You see, not every child plays every game; sometimes they sit and absorb the freely flowing atmosphere in the vicinity. It may carry them to a time and place only they understand.

Thanks to Villa employees, and the volunteer help, that made this event possible. I hope you looked deep into the eyes of the residents, if you didn’t you missed the unearthing of decades old memories.    



Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Thoughts from God's Offering Plate

On Sundays they pass me down the rows,
Sometimes it takes awhile for me to empty.
Calloused hands, pointed nails, and tiny fingers reach in,
inquiring eyes watch the scene unfold.
Requests hang over the edge of my tray,
unnoticed, some slip off and fall to the floor, forgotten.

My procession concluded for the week,
a deacon sets me aside.
I want to listen to sanctuary speak and song,
but murmurs from my tray interfere.
Rather than plead for sacred silence,
I listen to what the offerings offered.

I heard of pain: physical, financial, and emotional,
personal pleas from hurting hearts.
After years on the job I understand,
God’s offering plate is not to fill, but to empty.
While on earth the God-man Jesus emptied Himself, for us.
While on earth do we empty ourselves, for others?

Monday, June 20, 2016

By My Stripes You are Healed

I’m sure there are better ways to spend Good Friday,
But I’m not sure what it would be.
As sin I’m worthy of every bruise, every stripe,
Through me, every transgression nailed to a tree.
But elevated, as I AM, I see into eternity;
Through Me you’re spotless and pure.

My hands pinned to a tree, the first time in forever
My Father’s not there; not close to Me.
I cry out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Silence: He’s left me alone on this forsaken tree.
But elevated, as I Am, I see into eternity;
Through Me your blameless and free.

It’s now the ninth hour; My time is near.
They’ve divided My tunic; the last earthly tie.
Father, I thirst for what We once had;
 I want to come home; where again we’ll be One.
But elevated, as I Am, I see into eternity;

Through Me we’re together with the rest of Our clan.