Monday, December 31, 2007

So Long 2007!

I don’t know how you feel, but I’m glad to see 2008 arrive. Of course covering the news is a little bit different than reading or hearing about it. Reporters have to be objective, but occasionally get to talk about the stories they cover or read to you on the radio.

In putting together an End of the Year Special (“Forged by Fire,” which you can hear on the homepage) I once again got to live through some of the stories I covered. Locally I think the St. Louis Church fire was tops. Although no one was killed in the fire it impacted a lot of people. Sadly a new use for the church was found and it would have been preserved. It was a story that touched the heart for many.

The continuing controversy over the Highway 151 bypass in Fond du Lac was another matter. When the state’s Department of Transportation decided to close four intersections to through traffic along the bypass it had implications for residents as well. Some were more than inconvenienced. They were hit in the pocket book. It left many asking why the state just didn’t do the project right in the first place.

There were others in the state that kept reporters busy and people followed them daily for weeks or months. That included the Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey murder trials. Hilbert freelance photographer Teresa Halbach deserved a long happy life. She didn’t get it. Neither did seven young adults killed in Crandon by an off-duty Sheriff’s officer.

Nationally my thoughts keep going back to the Virginia Tech shootings that left 33 people dead including the shooter. He was an alienated loner, big surprise. Unfortunately the shooting set a new benchmark for violence and school shootings. One I hope will never ever be closely approached.

In sports the Green Bay Packers and Milwaukee Brewers both gave me hope and hours of pleasure. Both teams are young and show promise. For nearly the entire season the Brewers were in the thick of it. The Packers story is still being written, but they surprised many and seeing Brett Favre return to MVP-like form brought smiles to many faces.

What does 2008 hold? For you and your family I hope a lot of promise, some dreams come true and mostly good news!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Naughty and Nice

In keeping with the situation Mr. Scrooge, I present my own Christmas naughty and nice list. I considered a celebrity list, but that would be too easy and way over done. So let’s narrow the focus a little.

Nice: Fond du Lac City Manager Tom Herre who accepted the responsibility of being Honorary Chair of the Fond du Lac Salvation Army’s 1st Annual Community Christmas Dinner. Also, a nod to all those table hosts, volunteers and businesses that will help stage the dinner at the Fond du Lac County Fairgrounds Recreation Building on Friday December 21st.

Naughty: Those who think it’s fun to vandalize outdoors Christmas displays. People put a lot of effort into creating and sharing them with the community. It takes a lot less imagination to destroy than to create.

Nice: The Christmas display in Fond du Lac’s Lakeside Park. Also the decorations area cities put up in their downtowns to brighten the holidays.

Naughty: The people who put their Christmas shopping too far ahead of others. Namely I’m speaking of those who don’t have a disability, but use handicap parking stalls to get closer to the store. Shame on you!

Nice: Those who take extra time to shovel out around fire hydrants next to their homes or the curb cuts on corners. You’re helping out those who already have obstacles or are trying to provide a protective service to others.

Naughty: Those who only look at the Christmas season as an excuse to drink too much or go from party to party. At least do us the favor of not driving drunk to the next party or on your way home.

Nice: Parents who take the time to attend their children’s Christmas functions or share traditions with them. These are life-sized ornaments you can’t hang on a Christmas tree.

Naughty: People who re-gift, giving gifts they received in the past. There are charities that would gladly take your donation.

Nice: Anyone who gives to charity during the holidays when times are tight for everyone. You never know when some day you may need the services of a Salvation Army or United Way agency or others.

Naughty: Christmas “Scrooges.” Those who just can’t get into the Christmas spirit, can’t stand it and don’t care how many people they share that opinion with.

No Christmas season is perfect. Snow doesn’t remain Lilly white. Bills for that gift giving come due. The donation you make to a charity might mean cutting corners elsewhere. The person who irritates you at holiday gatherings probably won’t be visited by three spirits. Take some time to enjoy the season and reflect on why it’s celebrated. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Yes Virginia

Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus. No, this is not some lame attempt to mimic a classic Christmas editorial. The thought here is that occasionally we might be able catch a glimpse of Santa in a mirror at home.

I’m not saying I go out of way to be nice during the holidays, but did something Santa-like the other day. I was at the Post Office in Fond du Lac for some personal business when I spied an older gentleman in his car buried in a snow bank on 1st Street. He tried to pull a U-turn and paid for it when he couldn’t swing it and ended up wedging a wheel on the passenger side into the snow bank.

I’m ashamed to say that no one was stopping to help him, but they were getting their Christmas cards, letters and bills dropped off in the drive-up mailbox. I decided to stop and try and help him. Between the two of us we couldn’t accomplish it, but soon a kind woman stopped and she had a small shovel. We had her climb behind the wheel of the car and were able to lift the front end just enough so that she could rock it backwards and out. He thanked us and we left. It really wasn’t a big deal.

It does however remind me that we should probably help our neighbors more than we do and not assume that someone else is going to be good enough to stop and pitch in. Although the man that needed assistance didn’t bear any resemblance to Santa Claus except for his white hair, no doubt he’s played the kindly old elf to a number of people over the years. Just think how many people passed up the chance to be nice.

Although gifts and cards are great to give and receive during the holidays it’s those small opportunities we have to give something of ourselves that really can make someone’s Christmas special. Of course when it comes to being a better person, unlike the credit cards we use so much during this season, there’s no limit and no expiration date.