Archive for Thursday, February 24, 2005

Newspapers not totally filled with bad news

February 24, 2005

Judging from The Eudora News the past three weeks, it looks as though there is a lot brewing at City Hall these days.
Mayor Ron Connor is leaving us after his term of office, which was one of the many reasons he was presented with the Citizen of the Year Award at the annual Eudora Chamber of Commerce dinner. Good for you, Ron. We will miss your steady hand and thoughtful leadership.
In his remarks to the Chamber, Conner expressed the hope that we would continue to pursue the hiring of another city administrator because of the resignation of Mike Yanez. My thought is who should know better than Ron at this point what is needed to take us into the next few years, which seems critical to positive growth in our community. He has worked with Yanez these past years and brought us through some positive changes that have awakened all of us to the growth that has happened as well as to what will be taking place in the future.
As he said, "I challenge the governing body that will be incoming not to step backwards on this ..." " ... I also challenge the Chamber and the citizens of Eudora to not let them go backwards."
My take on all of this is that we can always look back to see what didn't work in order to make the future a better place but we can't go back -- sometimes we confuse the two.
Let's hope the new mayor and the Council can work together to ensure that as growth is inevitable, compromise is also inevitable and that includes the presence of a city administrator to shoulder the responsibilities that only a full-time professional should be asked to undertake.
A few weeks ago several of my friends and I were discussing and lamenting that every time we pick up a newspaper or a magazine, they seemed filled with bad news. We decided that we should start a newspaper of our own and print only good news. The problem seemed to be where to find the good news.
So often small acts of kindness or charity are swallowed up in the local and national headlines that feature only the seamy side of life, i.e. homicides, corporate and business fraud, and legislation that benefits only the powerful. International news isn't much better as it is filled with the details of war, famine and genocide to name the worst. Each country also appears to have its own brand of crime and corruption as well.
A few days after this conversation I opened my weekly copy of The Eudora News to find two fresh, young faces peering out of the front page of the paper holding thick hanks of hair that had just been cropped from their own thick manes.
These two young ladies, Victoria and Cecilia Lehmann, who are the daughters of Dirk and Roberta Lehmann, had decided to cut their long ponytails and donate them to a foundation called Locks of Love. This organization collects real hair to make hairpieces for children who have lost their own hair because of health reasons such as cancer treatments.
In addition to their own generosity, the girls were motivated to donate their hair because their cousin Madeline Pyle had lost her hair several years ago as she underwent chemotherapy treatment for leukemia.
Madeline, who has been cancer-free for eight years, has been a participant in our local Relay for Life and we are looking forward to seeing her again this year. It is especially heartening to note the thoughtfulness of these two young ladies and to commend them for their generosity and caring.
A few days after this, I found the headline in the daily newspaper, "A Moving Act of Kindness." Fascinated, I read on to find that the trailer park on East 23rd Street in Lawrence, which had been there for as long as I could remember, was being cleared of the trailers that were home to 36 residents. Driving by recently, I noticed the trailers disappearing and wondered where these residents were being relocated and if they were able to find affordable housing in Lawrence.
The story said the owner of the property, Larry Midyett, who also owns a real estate company in Lawrence, had taken it upon himself to offer assistance (finding a new home or assistance in moving) to all of those who were being moved from their homes in order to make way for a new office complex.
Most of the residents who were being displaced evidently had found new lodgings. The article was specifically about those four remaining who were unable to do so for various reasons.
"I don't want to have someone out on the street without a place to live," Midyett said and so he had found new homes for four of the residents and also paid to have those moved who were unable to move themselves.
I think Midyett is also to be commended for taking responsibility for those who were unfortunate to be caught in such a situation.
I also learned of another act of kindness recently. My niece Anne Gowen, a writer for a Washington newspaper, was sent to investigate a problem that had arisen for the owner of a Habitat for Humanity home in the Washington, D.C. area. It seems that while the owner was keeping up with her payments she was unable to keep up with the taxes on the home caused by rising property appraisals in the city.
After Anne's article appeared on the front page of the newspaper, she returned to her desk the following day to find her computer full of e-mails all wishing to be of assistance to the owner of the home -- a single mother with two small children trying to go to school and working two jobs. The outcome of the story is still being told as offers of assistance continue in the form of help with bills, taxes and tuition.
It's refreshing to know there are still many individuals who truly care about the welfare of others and that individual random acts of kindness are repeated each day throughout our world. Good news can still make the headlines.

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