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.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

What about Bayard's Grade School

Mr. Matthew McLaughlin is Principal of Bayard’s Grade School, and he’s also a father. So, when he talks about his vision for the grade school I feel he wears bifocals. Below the line in his lens his ideas agree with federal, state, and local education mandates. Above the line, though, I think he envisions the education he wants his, and other children, to experience.

Unfortunately, though, the two systems meet at that line, and sometimes clash.

Regardless, his responsibility rests with the school system, and he understands and responds that way. In a recent interview he talked about his desires for BGS. I listened to his heart fluctuate above and below the line centered in his glasses.

“Overall,” McLaughlin responded,” I’d like to raise the grade schools academic bar but do it within the present class structure. I don’t want to take the traditional route and add classes; especially now with the nationwide teacher’s shortage.”

He enjoys Bayard’s School System because it’s a small school; this makes innovations to the school program easier. His goal is to introduce pre-school and grade school students to Extended Learning Opportunities (ELO).

For example, he’d like to add reading classes to the pre-school program. He said reading is like education, it takes time to perfect and appreciate its value. If a child learns the art of reading at an early age, they have a better chance of fighting off the 160 characters demon.

“Also, he said, “I want to prioritize physical fitness because studies show being physically fit compliments learning. I think art clubs, cooking seminars, and dance classes are good for grade school children.

I’m contemplating introducing gardening to the Pathfinder’s after school program this summer.
“This year we let grade school children help plant trees around the grade school and on Donors Path. 
They enjoyed the experience and learned.”

Mr. McLaughlin’s ‘want list’ for Bayard’s grade school students is long and, as yet, unfulfilled, but it’s all listed under one heading: A well-rounded education for your child.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

About the Community Redevelopment Authority

For years, the citizens of Bayard heard rumors about plans to redirect the path-to-nowhere Bayard travels. Nevertheless, even though deadheaded toward destruction, no one had the gumption to pull Bayard’s rail-switch, which would redirect our communities’ overall complacent attitude.

Ideas remained ideas.

However, through reincarnation, new births, redirected attitudes, and a common denominator of blood, sweat, and tears, the corrosion on Bayard’s “rail switch” is breaking up.

Why? The oil of activity penetrates complacency and prevents it from reproducing.

But, enter a caveat. A lack of community participation could cause Bayard’s burgeoning program of revitalization to derail.

An engineer of Bayard’s pending rebirth is the Community Redevelopment Authority (CRA), and they’re asking Bayard’s citizen’s to help shovel the coal-of-progress into Bayard’s firebox.

The coal-of-progress is community participation.     

Briefly, the CRA plans to have three power-meetings, one with Bayard’s business owners, one with the overall community, and one with Bayard High School juniors and seniors.

The idea behind those ideas is more ideas.

From the meetings, the CRA wants to compile a consensus of thoughts from citizens concerning Bayard’s downtown revitalization. This is a major project that won’t evolve overnight; ideas need to overflow the boxcars of the future-of-Bayard-express.”

Bayard needs the express to stop here and not sardonically blow smoke in our faces as it passes through.

From your point of view, as a citizen of Bayard, what are your suggestions for downtown Bayard to become upscale? What’s needed to make our downtown aesthetically pleasing to those that live here, pass thru, or are tourists?

Maybe new downtown sidewalks, uniform trash cans and benches, or trees on Main Street? Maybe a historic slant based on the Oregon Trial and Chimney Rock? The CRA wants your ideas.

What’s needed for our downtown to have a persona that radiates BAYARD, and not reek it. What’s needed for Bayard’s downtown to attract those who seek a new hometown, or look for a place to start a business?

A downtown that leaves a magnetic Bayard-scent that draws our high school graduates back home, after they finish their education.    

The City of Bayard needs YOUR ideas. They need ideas so they know what kind of funding to seek. 
They need ideas to present the Department of Roads. (Bayard’s Main Street is a State of Nebraska Highway with state rights that go to the front door of businesses; Bayard needs permission from the Department of Roads for downtown revitalization projects.)

The City of Bayard needs to set project priorities, and need bids for those projects. The list goes on and on.

As citizens of Bayard your input is beyond vital.

Your Transcript will inform you of what’s happening and the meeting dates; plus the dates will be posted at the City Office Building. Meetings will happen this summer, soon, so don’t put this information in your caboose. It’s time for Bayard’s engine to take its rightful place as “The Little Engine that Could,” and did.

Read, Read, and Read some More

To one degree or another many things affect people, either positively or negatively.

However, there’s something that affects everyone, which is reading. Whether or not a person can read, or how well they read, affects them throughout their life, no matter their size, sex, or where in these United States they live.

Unfortunately, students often neglect reading over the summer and that’s unfortunate, especially in the beginning years of their education. For a child just learning the nuances of reading, to not read over a summer negatively affects their ability to learn. As a result, when school starts, they have to relearn reading habits before they begin to really learn.

Books are fantastic teaching tools. Even with all the toys, like computers, iPads, tablets, smart, smarter, and smartest phones, and television. Nothing out-teaches a book.

It’s a positive to cuddle in a cozy chair with a book rather than sit anywhere with a computer-type apparatus.

Psychologically, computer-type devices are cold because no matter what’s being read it won’t radiate your emotions like a book.
I’ve been an avid fan of books almost since day one; give me a book and I’m not alone. In my comfy chair the words come alive, and the pages are soft and pliable, like tender emotions.

Put opposite ends of a magnet together and they attract while like ends repel.

It’s the same with a book; the main characters may repulse you, but the author’s well-chosen words bring you into the story. Pretty soon you understand the main characters and are drawn into their lives. You read their thoughts and feelings. You empathize with them.

Because what’s between the covers of a book is psychologically softer than what’s inside any member of the computer family, it’s easier to learn from a book.

Studies show reading a book relaxes, elicits emotions, and exercises your mind.

In a nutshell, that’s why BHS promotes summer reading programs.  Your school also promotes the Bayard libraries summer reading program.

For you as a parent, to promote reading to your child is a gift they’ll thank you for the rest of their lives, whether they realize it or not. You’re helping them learn to learn, and that’s a precious commodity.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Bayard Girl Scouts Crossover Evening

In1912 Juliette “Daisy” Lowe founded the Girl Scouts. Today, the organization has over 2 million members. The Girl Scouts mission is instilling confidence, courage, and character into growing girls.

Girl Scouts begin as Daisies in grades K-1 and Brownies in 2nd and 3rd grades. Fourth and fifth graders are Juniors and 6-8 grades become Cadettes. In high school Girl Scout members are Seniors and Ambassadors.

In the All-Purpose room at the grade school, local Girl Scouts recently participated in their annual bridging ceremony.

The evening’s curriculum included recognition for achievement in the fun and learning experience of the annual cookie sales. Incorporated into this activity is teaching the girls about setting goals, making decisions, managing money, learning people skills and business ethics.

Bayard’s group of over-achieving Girl Scouts learned their lessons well as they sold over 4,000 boxes of cookies. The top sellers received prizes and well-deserved recognition.

Now we know why Flex Fitness is open 24-7.

The main event for the evening of promise and fulfillment was the bridging ceremony. When Girl Scouts complete the requirements of their present level they cross over a symbolic bridge to a new classification. It’s a solemn ceremony highlighted by the joy of accomplishment.

Congratulations to the girls that crossed over, and the proud parents that riveted their attention on the unfolding scene of fulfillment.

The evening concluded with refreshments and plenty of “did see MY daughter!!!