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Letter to the editor: Differing statistics about guns found

I want to respond to Fred Moulton’s claims in his Letter to the Editor in the March 3 Tribune because it bothers me when the truth is mangled so completely. I searched the Internet for the “World Murder Statistics compiled by the World Health Organization” and found the chart he used. It appeared on several conservative websites, but his information appears to be old, and the conclusions based on the chart are false. The statistics he used placed the United States in the 110th position among the world’s countries in intentional homicides (which include gun homicides and homicides caused by other means). A more recent chart that I found on Wikipedia placed the United States at 95th. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate)

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Friday 10/27/2017
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Friday 09/29/2017
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Tuesday 03/14/2017
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Friday 09/09/2016
Sept. 10: ‘The horse ain’t dead’
Posted: September 09, 2016

Normally, I ignore Mr. Neyer’s rantings for the blustery grandstanding statements that they are, but just in case some people are tempted to believe the tripe that he wrote in Wednesday’s Tribune, I want to refute it.

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Sept. 7: Beating a dead horse
Posted: September 09, 2016

How much longer will the Chanute Tribune and city staff beat the dead horse of fiber to the home? I would ask, “How many times does the canard of its profitability have to be refuted?” However, that is answered by one of my Undeniable Truths of Government, “The dumber the idea, the more likely government will fund it.”

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Friday 07/22/2016
Stranger Things happen on Netflix series
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Letters to the editor
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Peck good man with conservative values

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Wednesday 07/06/2016
Letter to the editor - July 6
Posted: July 06, 2016

King Sam Brownback and his Cohorts

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Tuesday 06/28/2016
Letters to the editor
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Executive orders not appreciated

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Friday 06/24/2016
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Posted: June 24, 2016

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Friday 04/15/2016
Letters to the editor
Posted: April 15, 2016

Year review of City Commission

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Friday 03/25/2016
Batman vs. Superman flawed but enjoyable
Posted: March 25, 2016

Joshua Vail

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Tuesday 03/22/2016
Christian high ground
Updated: March 22, 2016 - 4:37 pm


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Friday 03/04/2016
Letter to the editor: Time to put words into action
Posted: March 04, 2016

I have followed Senator Jeff King’s political updates in the Chanute Tribune. Sen. King is talented and has won or been appointed to numerous committees in the Legislature in addition to serving as Vice President of the Senate.  His resume is impressive and he wields considerable influence as one of the leaders of the Legislature. His columns display a unique ability to pen soothing and reassuring words about the continuing financial crisis in Kansas.

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Monday 01/18/2016
Letter to the editor: ‘I repeat: Tri-Valley is not closing’
Posted: January 18, 2016

This letter is to clarify an article that appeared on the front page of the Tribune on Saturday entitled “State-ordered efficiency audit suggests closing of Tri-Valley.” I have been asked by hundreds of people if we are closing and the answer is no, Tri-Valley is not closing. I repeat, Tri-Valley is not closing. Tri-Valley has been in existence for over forty years and the plan is to be here for many more.

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Friday 11/20/2015
Limiting encryption won’t prevent terrorism
Updated: November 20, 2015 - 7:09 pm

Last week, a series of terrorist attacks carried out by ISIS struck Paris, France, killing hundreds of people. In the wake of those attacks, several US government officials have been calling for greater powers in order to prevent future attacks. 

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View from Main Street: Syrian refugees and others who are moving
Updated: November 20, 2015 - 6:38 pm

I have trouble taking certain people seriously, particularly the self-appointed foreign policy experts on Facebook who publicly offer bold opinions on what our country should do with Syrian refugees. I suspect that most of these people couldn’t even tell me which countries border Syria without looking it up on Wikipedia. Anyone that unqualified to know what is really going on probably shouldn’t be so quick to pass judgment on the people fleeing that country to seek a better life.

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Tuesday 11/17/2015
View from Main Street: Popping the protests against President Pringle
Updated: November 17, 2015 - 6:31 pm

It’s easy for readers to dismiss major news that doesn’t affect them, anyone they know, or anyone from the town where they live. Case in point, the news articles about and television footage of racially-based protests at the University of Missouri and several other major colleges last week. People who don’t live in those states, or have kids in those colleges, can look at these protests and feel comfortable that the complaints being leveled really have nothing to do with them.

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Saturday 11/14/2015
View from Main Street: Measuring Chanute's sense of humor
Updated: November 14, 2015 - 7:22 am

A recent column I wrote apparently included a confession to a serious crime. At least, that’s what I was told by a frequent hate-emailer and self-proclaimed local legal expert. This individual objected to my claim that I once married a woman just so we could procure cheaper plane tickets from the airline for which I was working at the time.

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Tuesday 11/10/2015
View from Main Street: County government needs extra citizen attention
Updated: November 10, 2015 - 6:10 pm

Quite a few local residents have faithfully attended City Commission meetings during my time covering the news here in Chanute. Some of them were chronic complainers looking for something to grouse about, but plenty of these people genuinely engaged with local politicians to attempt to make their community a better place to live.

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Friday 11/06/2015
View from Main Street: City still has its back to the wall
Updated: November 06, 2015 - 6:07 pm

Yet another downtown Chanute bar is now a vacant lot with the demolition of the Southside Tavern this week. Even though this beloved historic landmark is gone, the discussion of what to do with its western wall won’t be ending anytime soon. There is another locally-owned building that is attached to the same slowly-deteriorating wall, and that owner might want to be compensated by the city in a similar way as the co-owners of the Southside were. This means that local residents will still be regularly treated to the fun-filled spectacle of some our esteemed City Commissioners, who have repeatedly offered to give away the wall – while the City Manager and attorneys insist that the city doesn’t actually own it.

I don’t know exactly how a city that doesn’t own a wall can treat it with chemicals, hang signs about Octave Chanute on it, and offer to give it away. 

When I’ve watched Commissioners try to give away the wall that they apparently don’t own, it reminded me of something that happened to me when I traveled to England in my twenties.

Back then, I was working in baggage claim for TWA airlines at the St. Louis airport, and was looking for a way to use my discounted-flights benefit to impress the girl I was dating at the time. I discovered that these flight benefits also extended to my spouse, so we decided to get married in order to go on cooler dates. Clearly, this was the most rational basis for a marriage ever.

One of the places we most wanted to use our cheap plane tickets was England, and we weren’t going to let a little thing like lack of money for lodging and other expenses stop us from planning such a trip. Going to a foreign country with no real money to spend there or rational plan to make any money there is one of those ideas that could only possible sound good to someone in their twenties.

That is exactly what we did, which is how I ended up standing in a train tunnel in the town of Basingstoke. It’s a mid-size city that’s about an hour south of London, and my wife and I were in the train tunnel there seeking shelter from a storm while seeking a cheap way to get to where we actually wanted to go. There were other people in the tunnel that night, and I ended up talking to this 13 year-old kid named Trevor. He was enamored with anything American, very immersed in our pop culture, and he asked me plenty of questions about it.

To save time trying to explain to English people where exactly in the United States St. Louis or Missouri is, my wife and I started telling people we were from Chicago since that city is in the same general region and has a little more worldwide name recognition. Trevor was excited when we told him this, and loudly asked if we knew Jerry Springer.

Then, he asked me if I had found a place to stay in town, and I honestly answered that we hadn’t. He told knew of a good place where my wife and I could sleep comfortably and stay dry, and that he would be happy to take us both there. Not having any other options, we followed him through the town to a residential neighborhood with a van sitting outside of a house. Trevor said we were invited to sleep in this van for as long as we wanted, to stay warm and dry.

We profusely thanked him and proceeded to make ourselves at home in these unique accommodations, and get some much-needed sleep.

Some rustling outside the van woke me up the next morning, and I peeked out the windows to see a guy standing in his bathrobe, puttering around his yard to pick up his morning paper. He must have seen me staring out the window, because he walked towards the van and forcefully opened its door. He demanded to know who we were and what we were doing on his property.

I stammered, “Trevor said we could stay here.”

He looked really confused by this and replied, “Who the hell is Trevor?”

Apparently, despite my mistaken impression that this van was in the yard of Trevor’s family, the kid really had no claim to it at all. He was being generous with stuff that didn’t actually belong with him.

Luckily, the van’s owner took our unauthorized trespassing on his property with more grace and humor than I would show the City Commissioners if they offered me the deed to a wall that they claim that they don’t own. Still, it’s disturbing to see some of our elected officials behave in exactly the same way as a 13 year-old English kid.

Please send all questions, comments, hate mail, marriage proposals or offers to give me things that don’t actually belong to you to brian@chanute.com


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Friday 10/30/2015
View from Main Street: Casey Casper's side of the story‏
Updated: October 30, 2015 - 11:34 pm

Criminal defense attorneys advise their clients to avoid talking to the media, which is why I was surprised to see Casey Casper walk into the Tribune office last week in advance of his scheduled preliminary hearing.

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Friday 10/23/2015
View from Main Street: Flawed legislation unfit for a King‏
Updated: October 23, 2015 - 5:56 pm

It always amuses me when those who express grave concerns about the government controlling the lives of citizens turn around to advocate legislation that calls on the government to do exactly that. This is why I read with great interest a column in our newspaper last weekend by Republican State Senator Jeff King, touting legislation that he wrote in 2013 that requires drug testing for welfare recipients.

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Friday 10/16/2015
View from Main Street: Consumers key to regional development‏
Updated: October 16, 2015 - 5:58 pm


One of my favorite pastimes is applying for high-profile jobs for which I have no qualifications, knowing that there is no way I will ever get hired. I have noticed that Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump and Ben Carson seem to have a very similar hobby these days.

 I like the self-discovery that comes through the job application process, the cheap attention from Human Resource professionals, and the opportunity to give sarcastic and inappropriate answers during job interviews.

 Luckily for me, there are plenty of high-profile open positions around this region these days. Most recently, I have been tempted to apply for job of Executive Director of the Chanute Regional Development Authority. I know that Murray McGee left very big shoes to fill in this position, and I certainly wasn’t interested in it when I saw him in action, doing things for which I have no skill at all. He was regularly called upon to flatter and butter-up businessmen, finesse politicians, and keep such wheeling-and-dealing discreet. As someone who tends to be a little too honest for my own good, those are three things that I probably wouldn’t be very good at doing.

 Plus, I've always been a little confused by the subtle differences in the mission statements between this weird trinity of Chanute business organizations - Main Street Chanute, the Chamber of Commerce, and CRDA. It often seems difficult for citizens (and even City Commissioners) to determine which group is supposed to handle which aspect of promoting the Chanute business community. Whenever I ask people who belong to these groups about this, they get the same confused and annoyed expression on their face as my childhood Sunday School teacher had when I asked her what exactly the Holy Ghost did all day.

 Still, I gained interest in the position as head of the CRDA when I heard that the organization decided to pay McGee $25 an hour to act as a consultant by Skype, email and phone, even after he left and got another gig. Being able to leave for another job, and still get paid by the old job for doing far less actual work, seems like a pretty good deal – if you’re the one getting paid.

 I can’t help but wonder how McGee’s new employers feel about this setup. It must seem a little bit like being in a romantic relationship with someone who is a little too cozy with one of their exes, which probably isn’t a great sign for the future of the current relationship.

 I wish that I had this kind of option available at some of the jobs that I’ve left in my life. I experienced much discontent while making fries at Arby’s when I was a teenager. If the management there had given me the option to leave and still would pay me to talk about that job on the phone or the computer, I probably would have taken them up on that. Communicating with people electronically is much easier than having to deal with them in person.

 With this kind of perk being publicly announced, it’s no wonder that even the Chanute Recreation Commission now makes statements about wanting to be involved with economic development. If all one has to do to make money in this field is to Skype, answer emails, and take phone calls in between working their day job, I suddenly feel qualified for the position.

 I already attend all of their meetings and the city’s meetings anyway, so I wouldn’t have to worry about a CRDA Executive Director gig interfering with my daily schedule.

 As far as ideas that I would have on how to actually lead the CRDA, I would just directly send the message to Chanute citizens that they have more to do with keeping and attracting businesses here than any community organization does.

 Businesses in a community like Chanute depend on the support of local consumers to keep their doors open. The loyalty and patronage of customers in our town inject money into these local establishments, helping them compete and provide a greater array of products and services. These locally-owned businesses offer jobs and tax revenues to the community, as well as giving customers access to various goods and services that enrich the qualities of our lives. A population that regularly spent its money at such local establishments would be very attractive to business people looking to relocate.

So if regional development is something this area is truly interested in, we could all stand to spend a little less time at the huge department store that is going to send most of its profits to Arkansas, and instead support those businesses who will keep their profits more localized. Maybe we could take note of which local businesses donate to local fundraisers, help out at food drives, or sponsor youth sports teams, and give these businesses some support.

I know that plenty of us spend time out of town, experiencing richer restaurant and shopping options that are available within a two-hour drive. I would advise that people here who care about the future of this community and want to expand options here do that a little less often, and offer support to businesses that operate here to provide the lifeblood of our community. If we did that a little more, our region could develop more organically and more successfully, without needing to either hold poorly-attended meetings or pay former employees to Skype.



 Please send all questions, comments, hate mail, marriage proposals, job offers, or invitations to apply to other high-profile community positions to brian@chanute.com


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Tuesday 10/13/2015
View from Main Street: We could still be Royals
Updated: October 14, 2015 - 11:26 am

I moved to Chanute four years ago from St. Louis, a city in which a high percentage of local conversations revolve around the fortunes of the local professional team. Whether the Cardinals are winning and losing, who is hitting, who is injured, when and why the manager should be fired are all discussed with total strangers; it’s much like the way people in most cities greet each other with talk of the weather. I worked in offices in St. Louis on days when the Cardinals were involved in big high-stakes games, and saw how little work actually got done by employees following every hit, strikeout, twist and turn.

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Friday 10/09/2015
View from Main Street: Last call at Benchwarmers‏
Updated: October 10, 2015 - 10:53 am

Plenty of people have asked me about how I feel about Benchwarmers closing since I’ve spent as much time there over the last four years as anyone who wasn’t getting paid to be there. Benchwarmers was one of the first places I went when I moved to Chanute, and I was there at the bar on the last night that it was open. It struck me as a very popular and well-run place at first. Over time, I witnessed a gradual decline and the various attempts to bring it back to where it once was.

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Tuesday 10/06/2015
View from Main Street: Biblesta stirs churchgoing memories
Updated: October 06, 2015 - 6:00 pm

Surprisingly, the St. NFL church that I attend every Sunday in the fall and winter was not invited to participate in this year’s Biblesta parade. The organizers of that event must have lost the phone number and email address.

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Tuesday 09/29/2015
View from Main Street: Protecting ourselves from zombie attack‏
Updated: September 29, 2015 - 6:06 pm

People in our community might be too dazed from the overabundance of sun, beer, and funnel cakes at last weekend’s Artist Alley festivities to notice, but October is apparently a very important month in our state now. Much-esteemed Kansas Governor Sam Brownback will be signing an official proclamation this morning, designating October as “Zombie Preparedness Month.”

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Friday 09/25/2015
View from Main Street: Artist Alley and decal ideas show Chanute's creativity
Updated: September 25, 2015 - 11:21 pm

In September, the football season starts, the heat and humidity gets a little less oppressive and miserable, and we have all of our best community gatherings. This is by far the best month of the year to be in Chanute.

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Tuesday 09/22/2015
View from Main Street: Shivering me timbers on pirate pilgrimmage‏
Updated: September 22, 2015 - 6:03 pm

Like all reputable religious institutions, the local St. NFL church that I attend throughout the fall and winter places a great emphasis on holiday activities. Some of the important celebrations that we try to use as an excuse to avoid work responsibilities are obvious, as much reverence is placed on Super Bowl Sunday and the first day of the NFL draft.

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Friday 09/18/2015
View from Main Street: In decals, I don't trust‏
Updated: September 18, 2015 - 5:38 pm

When Chanute was thrust into the national spotlight by the removal of a painting of Jesus from the local middle school, it should have been an important civics lesson for the community. It provided an illustrative example about how the Constitution works, the importance of the separation between church and state, and why taxpayer-supported institutions should be welcoming to people of all backgrounds and all faiths.

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Tuesday 09/15/2015
View from Main Street: Generously offering help to the county
Updated: September 15, 2015 - 5:29 pm

When someone leaves a job, their former co-workers are often expected to pick up the slack in addition to their regular duties. I have been in this situation before so I know how annoying it can be.

That is why I have felt so bad recently for Neosho County employees. With several people choosing to resign from their jobs at the county, employees are trying to do all that needs to be done under some very trying circumstances. Since I spend plenty of time talking to county employees during the long executive sessions at fun-filled five-hour County Commission meetings, I see all the extra work that these people are doing. The general state of morale in the county seems pretty low, and having these jobs vacant for long is not going to help.

That is why I am generously offering my services as a new undesignated county employee, who could be plugged into any of these open positions. I could be put into any county job and work until a suitable replacement is found.

I have a long history of applying for jobs for which I have no real qualifications. In the past, I have applied for Chanute City Manager, PR professional for local utilities, and film adviser for the local Substance Abuse Task Force. None of these entities saw fit to hire me for these important tasks. Whoever makes the hiring decisions for them must have lost my telephone number and email address.

I have never sought employment with the county though, which is odd considering all of the hours I spend with those Commissioners every week. Sitting through these long weekly meetings already makes me feel like I am at the whim of County Commissioners. I may as well take some money in addition to letting them take so much my time.

Some of the open jobs in the county right now are in the county clerk and treasurer offices, as well as the noxious weed and environmental safety department, and the County Appraiser. I may lack the specific education and training that would be necessary to hold these positions, but not knowing a lot about what county employees actually do on a day-to-day basis would make me fit in pretty well at Commission meetings.

I feel I would do a decent job at pretending I know what I’m doing. My skill at looking at a computer screen like I’m concerned about something whenever a boss walks by would serve me well in any office position. I can also count money, use a calculator, and occasionally say sarcastically nice things about Commissioners.

The county appraiser’s job might be slightly more complicated, as I have no real expertise in how property value is determined. However, I am pretty good at guessing the prices of items when I watch the “The Price is Right.” If a property value was particularly difficult to determine, I would just do what our last appraiser did: hire some out-of-state company to do my job for me, and let them take all the blame if anyone disputes the assessment. My expertise at delegating responsibility and blaming things on others would serve me very well in this position.

I don’t have much relevant experience at dealing with environmental safety, although I’m pretty sure I once bought some noxious weed in the parking lot of a Phish concert. The way I see it, interviewing local politicians likely requires exactly the same skills as handling toxic materials.

I also have a long list of leadership positions at the newspaper, on barroom trivia teams, in the local cigar society, and at the local denomination of the St. NFL church. 

I could use my talents to compose many entertaining government memos and reports to be read aloud at Commission meetings. Providing these kinds of services to the county would surely make hiring me for this job worth the money.

I would only charge the county $34,999 a month to fill this role. While that may seem high to most taxpayers, this amount is actually less than the total in legal bills that County Commissioners didn’t even seem to notice that they were paying until recently. Our county could evidently afford to shell out this kind of money for a while without anyone actually noticing that it was gone.  

If the Commissioners didn’t want to pay this in cash, I would also accept payments in forms that they might have more appreciation for like frequent biscuits-and-gravy breakfasts or gift cards to Hooters. I assume I wouldn’t be able to accept a county credit card payment.

The County Commissioners know where I can be reached whenever they want to sensibly offer me this job, but they may want to hurry up. With the lack of leadership that county employees have seen as of late, there will surely be more open county positions soon that need someone like me to fill them.

Please send all questions, comments, hate mail, marriage proposals or invitations to put me in cushy government positions that I am in no way qualified for to brian@chanute.com


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Tuesday 09/08/2015
View from Main Street: Rivalry marches towards obscenity‏
Updated: September 08, 2015 - 4:49 pm

When I was covering sports for the Chanute Tribune, I intentionally never picked sides in the intense rivalry between Kansas and Kansas State. Now that my sports loyalties are no longer a professional issue, I have a slight bit of sympathy for Kansas in football and Kansas State in basketball just because I would rather see underdogs win than heavy favorites. Still, I enjoy watching from afar the battle between fans of these schools. 

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Saturday 09/05/2015
View from Main Street: Making local politics more like football‏
Updated: September 05, 2015 - 7:39 pm

I attend church at St. NFL every Sunday during fall and winter. This year, I've started playing fantasy football with a distinguished group of fellow congregants. Fantasy football involves picking a group of professional football players and using the statistics they produce in any given week to try to overpower the group of players picked by someone else. It is an effective way to make casual fans of the game research and memorize statistics, and to pay more attention to what is happening on the field in games we wouldn't ordinarily care about.

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Tuesday 09/01/2015
Letters to the editor
Posted: September 01, 2015

It’s only taxpayer money

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View from Main Street: Critiquing courtroom fashion‏‏
Updated: September 02, 2015 - 12:04 am

Sometimes, when I am sitting in a courtroom as part of my reporting duties, I look at what the defendants facing the judge are wearing. 

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Monday 08/31/2015
Jesus-Gate – Why the painting had to be taken down J
Posted: August 31, 2015

Just one week ago, a small piece of Chanute history was removed from one of its public school buildings. The painting of Jesus was donated to Royster Middle School as a memorial to a student who died in 1956 and had hung in the school off and on since then. 

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Friday 08/28/2015
View from Main Street: Flipping the script on Southside demolition‏‏
Updated: August 28, 2015 - 6:00 pm

I was in “Legally Blonde” for about seven seconds, so I am clearly an expert on the movie business. That is why I am surprised that the Chanute City Commission and the Neosho County Commission didn’t consult with me before they each decided to invest $5,000 of alcohol tax funds towards the production of a series of locally produced anti-substance-abuse movies. Since I buy enough alcohol in this county to be one of this fund’s biggest contributors, I should have gotten a vote in how this money was spent.

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Tuesday 08/25/2015
View from Main Street: Jesus picture worth some words‏
Updated: August 25, 2015 - 6:35 pm

When people in Chanute talk to me about Jesus, they are usually trying to convince me to spend my sleepy Sunday mornings and 10 percent of my income at some local church. However, this week I engaged in many discussions about Jesus during which no church invitations were offered. During these, I learned that plenty of local people are upset that a painting of Jesus was recently removed from Royster Middle School.  

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Tuesday 08/18/2015
View from Main Street: Chopping down higher utility rates‏
Updated: August 18, 2015 - 11:21 pm

Packages will occasionally appear on my front porch (addressed to my lovely girlfriend) from various clothing and shoe companies that sell goods online. When I ask my girlfriend about the costs of these apparently important pieces of merchandise, she will give a tortured explanation of how much money the household has saved because of a sale, a special or some magical event that resulted in a markdown. So, instead of having me worry about money actually being spent, she tries to trick me into focusing on perceived savings instead.

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Friday 08/14/2015
View from Main Street: A message about a massage‏
Updated: August 15, 2015 - 7:00 am

I recently paid a woman to beat me up for an hour and I feel good about that decision. This wasn’t some “50 Shades of Grey” scenario, nor was I dumb enough to challenge some famous UFC fighter to a bout. Instead, I received a deep-tissue massage.

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Tuesday 08/11/2015
View from Main Street: Using tax money for movies‏
Updated: August 11, 2015 - 5:39 pm

Since I have heard that underage drinking is a big problem in this area and I did a fair share of drinking as a teenager, I have considered starting one of those “Scared Straight” programs for local young people who have been caught with alcohol. These wayward teenagers would have to accompany me on my regimen of attending lengthy City and County Commission meetings. That should be enough to scare any self-respecting young person into stone-cold sobriety.

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Friday 08/07/2015
View from Main Street: Remembering a great newspaperman
Updated: August 07, 2015 - 5:51 pm

Reading all of the nice words that have been written about Harold Turner upon his death this week has made me hope that there is some mechanism available so newspapers can be read in Heaven. Harold loved being mentioned in the Tribune, and I would hate to think that he would miss this opportunity to read all of this positive press and add new clippings to his beloved scrapbooks.

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Tuesday 08/04/2015
View from Main Street: Celebrating the Blues in Chanute
Updated: August 05, 2015 - 12:59 am

I am so excited about attending Saturday night’s Chanute Blues Blast that it has inspired me to try my hand at writing the lyrics of a locally-relevant blues song. 

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Friday 07/31/2015
View from Main Street: Dissing the Worst Places to Live list‏‏
Updated: July 31, 2015 - 5:41 pm

Unless someone has lived in every single city in this state for a decent length of time, it would be impossible for any individual to make a usable list of the 10 worst Kansas cities to live in. Since no one would be masochistic enough to attempt something like that, there is no reason for such a list to exist.

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Tuesday 07/28/2015
View from Main Street: Navigating through the budget process‏‏
Updated: July 28, 2015 - 10:51 pm

I skipped out on my strenuous work duties for a few days last week to attend my family reunion in Texas.I would rather see endless arguing, petty bickering, and rehashing of past grudges from my relatives than from local elected officials. Plus, at a family reunion, I can witness this verbal ping-pong while enjoying a cold beer. Such refreshments are unfortunately discouraged at the government meetings I attend, although allowing them might boost public attendance and interest.  

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