By Dennis L. Morgan
It’s become a story that seems to be the same. Once every 10 years the U.S. Census data shows us what we have been seeing with our eyes, how the population in rural parts of this state are declining.
This time, as reported in this newspaper and in others across the state, Nebraska’s population is growing, but not around here. The Census report shows that, in the past 10 years, approximately 10 percent of the county’s population, last recorded in 2000, are no longer living here. Statewide, the population has increased by five percent. As has been the case in past years, the areas where population has increased is along the major cities of the Interstate 80 corridor. Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island and Kearney all show population increases. It’s a safe bet, particularly if you live in the eastern end of the state, along the I-80 corridor, population has increased. Elsewhere, people are moving away and not coming back.
It’s a major disappointment for everyone from the governor’s office down to the residents of the smallest villages.
Despite all the efforts of the politicians in Lincoln, there appears to be nothing which can be done to prevent the people drain from rural Nebraska. No matter how much the rural lifestyle is celebrated in words and pictures, few people are heeding the message.
Many communities have economic development boards established to help bring businesses and jobs to rural Nebraska. Other communities pursue other means to attract industry and jobs. Efforts are underway to harness the wind here to create jobs. Efforts have been successful, as can be witnessed by the rapid rise of wind turbines between Raeville and Petersburg. Another wind project is targeting southern Antelope County. Not as far along as Laredo Ridge, Prairie Breeze, if it comes to fruition, should be an economic boost to this area.
Will it bring more jobs? Will it boost the economic vitality of the area? All these questions and more we hope to have answers to, in time.
Whether it be Governor Dave Heineman down to the mayor of our smallest towns, efforts need to be made to try and stem population loss by any means necessary to ensure the survival of the rural lifestyle which we cherish. Local efforts to start up new businesses need to be supported wherever possible. One thing is for certain, it nothing if said and nothing is done, jobs will dry up and people will leave to find a way of life elsewhere.
It’s something all of us need to be concerned about. All of us need to be willing to work to find an answer. The future for of communities is at stake.
As a rule I don’t like to engage in politics. Each person is entitled to their own beliefs about how our democracy should operate. After all, we live in the greatest country in the world. The ‘land of the free’ is not just words, but a creed which we all, no matter the political affiliation, believe in.
But, if I may, let me share a few thoughts about the recent election.
The voice of the people has spoken loud and clear. GOP gains in the House of Representatives were at historic proportions. The Senate, still in the control of the Democratic Party, is now a Chamber where, if anything is to get accomplished, both parties must work together.
When it comes to politics, the phrase ‘work together’ is an oxymoron. Neither side has shown a willingness to work together on anything meaningful for more years than I care to remember. There have been few times in my lifetime where a clear consensus, across party lines, has been reached.
Something has to change, and it has to change soon. Voices of reason need to understand the will of the people. No more is the electorate willing to sit back and watch the men and women elected to serve do nothing of consequence, only to be rewarded with another term in office. If they don’t, then two years from now there will be another ‘bloodbath’ at the polls.
You and I deserve more than sound bites from the men and women we elect to serve. They may not always agree with the electorate, but they no longer can ignore the will of the masses.
Government needs to work for us, not the other way around.
On Saturday night, Kansas played the Huskers at Memorial Stadium. The game was not broadcast on ESPN, FOX or ABC, but it was put on pay-per-view for persons wiling to pay the necessary fee.
NU Athletic Director Tom Osborne should reconsider these pay-per-view games in November. There’s no reason why fans willing to pay top dollar to sit in the stands, should have to sit in inclement weather when the game could have been played in the afternoon on a sun-splashed field. Just as many people will order pay-per-view if the game starts at 1 p.m. or 2:30 p.m., they will if the game starts at 6 p.m. or later.
There used to be a time, not that long ago, when all Husker home games started at 1:30 p.m. I’m not calling for night games to be discontinued. On the contrary, in September and October, night games are a joy to attend. However, November is another story. If there’s a way that the game can be played in the afternoon, Osborne and everyone at NU should do everything possible to make it happen.