It was dark Monday when I left the Peabody city council meeting, and just as pulled out of town, I spied the glow of a controlled burn off to the southeast. Grassland fires in the dark are spectacular, so I turned off the highway to go take a look.
It was indeed worth the drive down; I’m not so certain it was worth the drive back.
I could’ve retraced my tracks to the highway with no trouble, but instead I chose good ol’ county roads for a more leisurely trek.
What I inconveniently forgot is that if you’re south of Peabody, once you head east from Pawnee Rd. there aren’t any straight shots back up to the highway for seven miles. Ooops.
I thought Remington Rd. would go through. It ended at 70th Rd., and that ended in a deeply-rutted mud pit I wasn’t about to test in my van at night. It took five minutes of tentative, tedious maneuvering on a low-water bridge to turn around and get back to paved 60th Rd.
Next try, Sunflower Rd., which after a rocky, bumpy mile deteriorated into Ridges and Gullies Way. Knowing no one would pass that way for a decade, I reluctantly turned around, drove back to Pawnee Rd., and came home the way normal people do in the dead of night.
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Saturday’s trek to Topeka for Kansas Press Association conference was interesting, if uneventful.
In a departure from the norm, the featured speaker was a veteran of the D-Day invasion in World War II. A freshly-minted young officer when they hit Omaha Beach, he was one of only 17 in his unit of 45 to survive. There was no “Saving Private Ryan” realistic video; just a solitary man who didn’t say a word about it for 50 years, who related his story in a way that touched us all deeply. We couldn’t have stood and clapped for him long enough to give him the due he deserved.
A panel of agriculture experts provided some sobering news: Bountiful wheat harvests aren’t always a good thing. Kansas farmers have planted fewer acres of wheat this year than in any year since 1910. Grain stored in ground bunkers likely won’t sell until sometime next year. Meanwhile, skittish about their U.S. imports with the uncertainty over trade agreements, major customers Mexico and Canada already are exploring options.
On the flip side, I did get the joy of picking up our contest awards, including the one I prize most, first place for news and editorial content. It meant a bit more when we were told that this year’s number of entries hit an 11-year high. We won it two years ago, slipped to second last year, and it’s good to be back on top among the non-daily newspapers in our class.
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Peabody city council is thoughtfully dragging its heels over joining the Marion County Economic Development Corporation, and rightfully so. The Main Street program has been a mainstay for economic development there for a long time. The council wants balance, stakeholder input, and more information before committing $25,000 to the new endeavor. They’re not balking at the idea just yet, but they need more time. Given that the economic development task force took a year to develop MCEDC, one should expect Peabody, Marion, Hillsboro, and anyone else to exercise due diligence as well.
At the same meeting, it was announced that Peabody’s only car wash has closed. Expect to see an abnormally large number of cars in town sporting finger-etched smiley faces and “Wash me!” slogans.
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If you reached this point thinking that I would somehow tie all of these things together in a nice, neat, insightful bow, you’re out of luck. Just like my late-night wanderings, a coherent conclusion is a destination you can’t get to from here.
Check back next week. I’ll look for a good map in the interim.
— david colburn