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Tribune Staff

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Northwest College photography students capture brilliant autumn colors in Yellowstone National Park during the photo department's annual outdoor trip last weekend. Tribune photo by Kevin Kinzley

The Powell Valley Healthcare Board hopes to have a new chief executive officer onboard in a few weeks.

The board interviewed two candidates for the position last week, and board members hope to announce their choice during their monthly meeting Monday.

Folks with unused prescription drugs in their home are being encouraged to dispose of them on Saturday, which is “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.”

Police departments across the country, including those in Powell, Cody and Lovell, are collecting unneeded medications between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in an effort to ensure the potentially dangerous materials aren't misused.

The past year was not a good one for The Merc, and the board of directors is looking at ways to improve operations.

Stockholders at the annual meeting last week learned that the sales between July and December, 2009 were significantly lower than the same period in 2008, and they remained flat through the remainder of the fiscal year ending June 30, according to Ron Blevins, chairman of The Merc's Board of Directors.

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Allison Hart (8), Sandrina Hunsel (15) and Gianesi Tarafa (12) celebrate with teammates Valerie Lesu (left) and Randi McInerney (right) after scoring a point during Tuesday night volleyball action against Dawson Community College. Tribune photo by Randal Horobik

Women post sixth win

The Northwest College women's volleyball team remained unbeaten at home this season with a 25-19, 25-9, 25-10 victory over Dawson Community College on Tuesday night. Despite the lopsided nature of the score, the win did not fully impress Trapper head coach Flavia Siqueira.

Three Prantes receive taekwondo's top belt

Five and a half years ago, Jacob Prante was listening as some of his friends talked about taekwondo. It sounded fun, so he decided to give it a try.

Roughly six months later, his younger brother Tucker tired of sitting on the sidelines watching Jacob and decided to get involved in classes as well. About half a year later, the pair approached their mother, Vickie, with a challenge.

Women's squad blanked by nationally-ranked foes

The Northwest College men's soccer team stepped back onto the pitch after an 11-day layoff to post a 4-1 non-conference victory over North Idaho on Saturday. The win improves the men's team to 3-1-2 overall this season.

Gavin LaFollette scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season as part of the Trappers' offensive assault. Lakeland Florida's Legofi Crawford added a goal and an assist as Northwest struck for two first-half goals to take a 2-1 lead at intermission. The Trappers added two more goals after the midgame break.

Adrian Elicero and Matheus Vasconcelus netted the other two goals for the Trappers. Zach O'Dell was credited with an assist on one of the plays.

The week was a far different affair for the Trapper women, who played their home-opener against then-No. 11 Laramie County Community College, falling by a 5-0 count. Two days later, the squad took the field against then-No. 14 North Idaho, falling by a 3-0 count.

In both contests, the Trappers were simply unable to sustain any sort of offensive possession for an extended period of time against their nationally-ranked opponents. LCCC scored twice in the first half and three times after intermission while limiting Northwest to just three total shots on goal in the contest.

Saturday's contest against North Idaho was more a tale of two halves. The Trappers played North Idaho level for the first half of soccer, but a red card issued late in the first half forced Northwest to play the entire second half a player down.

The result, predictably, was a completely different feel to the second half. North Idaho scored just minutes after the resumption of play and added a second goal to their tally shortly thereafter. The team's final goal of the afternoon came on a penalty kick after an inadvertant hand ball in the box.

Much like the LCCC game, the Trappers were unable to take the pressure off their back row defenders by mounting an offensive charge in the second half.

The Trapper women slid to 1-4-1 on the season with the losses.

Both Northwest College soccer teams return to action this weekend with a pair of games. The teams play return contests at North Idaho. The squads will turn around 24 hours later to take on the University of Idaho men's and women's club teams. All four games will take place in Couer D'Alene on the North Idaho campus.

I've received considerable positive feedback about my last column, “God and politics.” A large number of people have told me they agree with what I said.

Such compliments are appreciated, but I'm also happy to receive negative feedback, such as the letter we published last week, “Traditional values are decency and hard work,” criticizing my position. Such criticism is good, keeping me on my toes and providing an excuse to write another column.

Most of the points made in the letter were valid, but debatable, and they deserve serious comment and discussion.

But the writer inserted an irrational element when he suggested I had been drinking “Obama Kool-Aid.” The implication, of course, is that, because of my liberal leaning, I'm somewhere in left field, probably because I'm intoxicated, or otherwise not quite all there mentally.

I actually found the comment rather humorous, since, when I was a teacher 40 years or so ago, some of my students thought I was hopelessly conservative, despite my vote for George McGovern. And they may have had a point about my conservatism, since I owned a sizable collection of Nixon buttons, which, I am embarrassed to say, I had worn to school in 1960. I was only 16 then and didn't know any better.

Suffice it to say, then, that my political inclinations were evolving well before President Obama was born — an event which did take place in Hawaii, by the way — and anyway, I'm not by nature a hero-worshipper. Even great men, George Washington, for example, are flawed human beings, and that is definitely true of our president. I tend toward seeing both of them as real people rather than the mythical heroes or demonic fiends some make them out to be.

So, when I started to write this column last week, I planned to include a wisecrack about over-indulgence in tea spiked by Sarah Palin, who, it seems to me, has the same effect on some conservative voters that President Obama has on some liberals. But, having listened to a discussion about civility over the weekend, I decided to take a different path.

The fact is, I am not the radical the writer thinks I am. I agree that the government has been fiscally irresponsible, wasteful and bigger than it should be. Neither am I opposed to the work ethic, having been a job-holder ever since I took over a paper route back in 1955, and I am still working, even though I could be retired at my age.

It's important to point out, though, that I am able to work, in part, because of fortunate circumstances. I have found a job that fits my talents and physical abilities, and I remain healthy enough to perform in it. In addition, I have found a boss who doesn't mind employing a guy bordering on geezerhood. Not all people my age are that lucky.

The realization that I am blessed by good fortune is the basis for my liberal view on government aid to people less fortunate than I am. That realization grew out of more than 50 years of working and observing the world, not the result of something I drank or some hero I worshipped.

America's social problems, including unemployment, have complex causes because our society is complex, and an unemployed person can't be simply written off as lazy or lacking a work ethic. A variety of social, economic, political and personal factors are involved. I will take the writer's word for it that he isn't a racist, but it is naive to deny that race or ethnicity plays a role in finding a job. So do gender, sexual orientation, age and even religion.

Even personal assets, such as education and training, may sometimes have a negative effect on employment. I personally know people who have had difficulty because they couldn't find the jobs they were prepared for, but were rejected for lower level jobs because they were “over-qualified.”

But in our political life, complex issues are usually boiled down to simplified slogans, most of them designed to play on people's emotions rather than serious discussion about the causes and solutions of problems.

Demonstrations such as the Beck/Palin event I criticized in my last column are designed around such simplified slogans. The plea for “traditional American values” is as empty and meaningless as the “power to the people” slogans chanted by left-wing anti-war demonstrators a generation ago in the absence of serious discussion of what those concepts mean and how they apply to the events at hand.

Such discussion is not available in the ranting heard from radio commentators or seen in signs waved in anger on the steps of the U.S. Capitol by whatever group is angry this year. Neither can such debate take place when we begin the discussion accusing our opponents of being un-American, crazy or intoxicated with Kool-Aid or spiked tea just because they see the situation from a different perspective than we do.

With that in mind, I invite anyone who takes exception to my positions to respond. I may not like your opinion, and I will try to point out the flaws your thinking, but I won't cast any aspersions on whatever is in your tea cup.

Two weeks ago, when my little sister came from Pennslyvania to visit, I had joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart; down in my heart … tooooo stay.

Well, not really to stay, since Joy and husband John only stayed five days. It wasn't “Joy to the World…” just Joy to Park County.

Oh, how I love song lyrics; unfortunately I can't think of any for her husband John. Few ditties were written with references to a name that's a euphemism for “toilet.”

But as long as Joy has John, John, John, John down in her heart, I'm happy. He's a chatty, jovial chap, but after roughly 3,500 hot miles together in a small car (they're currently tailgating brother Jess and his wife, Marti, on the way to New Mexico), Joy's probably thinking, “Will ya please shut up and quit being so dang jovial?

There wasn't enough time during her rare visit, but I'd always hoped to introduce her to some Cody women I've known over the years. Joy would en-joy meeting Hope Sheets, Love Murray, Faith Holler, and Grace Weaver, who worked with my older sister Wanda when she spent a summer here 25 years ago.

Any time you can get Love, Hope, Faith, Grace and Joy gathered together, it's a blessed union. No chance of a cat-fight there!

Sadly, I'm rapidly losing Blough women these past few years. Two sisters and Mom left me, leaving only two special “Bloughs gals” in my life: little sister Joy and little dog Trina. Per my dog/human calculations, Trina's a little older; Joy is 52 and Trina is about 9, making her 63. But as we know, today's 63 in dog years is yesterday's 49 in dog years.

Like myself, Joy confounds the aging process — she doesn't look too far removed from her class of '75 homecoming queen photos. My high school girlfriend Diane was runner-up, and since she sent me a Dear John (“Dear Toilet”) letter while I was in Cody that summer, it serves her right being only a lowly attendant to my sister.

Joy looks healthy as a horse; I just wish I could say the same for my other Blough gal. Until two weeks ago, my sweet little Trina dog was the runningest, jumpingest, hole-diggingest little Spaniel that ever lived life to its fullest. But on the horrible afternoon of Saturday, Sept. 11, a perfect storm of fluke, sickening events converged to rock my world.

I lack space to relate how each led directly to the next, but it ended with a carpenter on a job I drove to after changing my Saturday plans, backing over precious little Trina in full view of her doting, lovesick, constant 8-year companion, Trinity.

Her smashed foot would heal eventually, but the tail — cleanly broken at the base where all the nerves control functions — has left her totally incontinent. We're loving her up as best we can at home, but when I try tell her the messes she leaves aren't her fault and everything's OK, her sad eyes say it's not OK. Trinity and I will probably have to say our goodbyes later today.

It will be back to how it was eight years ago with just me and old stud Trinity in the truck now. And with blood, female family, it's only Joy now. As long as John doesn't back over her in some motel parking lot during their trip, Joy and I need to stick together. More phone calls and less negative childhood memories that I'm pretty sure never happened. She still claims that walking up our dirt road to the school bus, I made her lick dirt.

That just doesn't sound like me. I vividly remember always sticking up for her when sister Wanda would tease her. I secretly, but vigilantly watched over Joy when she reached seventh grade. She tearfully told me a bully girl named Sandy Richards picked on her and said her thigh-length hair was “witch hair.” It was I — skinny, peaceful, pimpled sophomore “UnderDoug” — who approached her two older, really tough brothers and made them an offer they chose not to refuse. They called off their little sister, who never bothered Joy again.

So I clearly was more of a hero than a tyrant who would suggest anyone lick dirt off a road. This column is a tribute to Joy and her husband named after a commode, so the next time I get home, I darn well better see this column framed and hanging on their living room wall. If not, as God is my witness, I'll force Joy to drink from the toilet!

Park County was privileged last week to host Jim Leach, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and his nationwide “American Civility Tour.”

Leach, a former Republican congressman, is traveling the country in an effort to change the climate of political debate in this nation, which has become increasingly hateful and destructive over the last generation. That trend has made it increasingly difficult for the country's leadership to make decisions on behalf of the nation.

What is necessary, according to Leach, is civility, which he indicated does not mean simply being polite, nor does it have anything to do with so-called “political correctness.” Rather, it means treating each other with respect, whatever our political differences.

Respecting the other person involves listening to his or her point of view, looking at an issue from that person's perspective and trying to understand why he or she thinks that way. Doing so is more likely to lead to rational discussion of differences rather than arguments filled with name-calling.

Unfortunately, it is all too easy to fall into such arguments, with opponents questioning each other's patriotism, faith or intelligence. Once that begins, reason is abandoned and all hope of resolution of differences is lost.

Today, we are in the middle of a nasty political debate marked by anger and name calling on both sides. Civil debate has been completely abandoned in favor of shouting and negative advertising. Hardly anyone is really listening to the other side.

There really isn't anything new about this. American politics have featured such campaigning since the days of Jefferson and Adams, but it shouldn't be that way. In today's climate, this lack of civility has the potential to paralyze our nation's ability to govern itself.

We should make every effort to be respectful in our political discourse, listening to those with different points of view and trying to understand why they believe as they do, rather than writing them off as evil.

In other words, we urge everyone to be civil.

Page 183 of 231

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