• Last modified 585 days ago (June 10, 2020)


A little bit of knowledge . . .

It is, as they say, a dangerous thing. Whether it’s not knowing exactly how our in-county neighbors contracted COVID-19 weeks ago or exactly why Marion’s power seems to keep failing, we all have only a few bits of knowledge and a much larger quantity of theories.

Having decided to declare this column a COVID-free zone this week, after spending so many weeks talking about the virus, we’re forced to worry about other things we have only limited information about.

From what we’ve been able to glean, Marion’s repeated power failures definitely are not the fault of work crews at the county’s new Taj Mahal for trash.

What seems more likely is that various temporary fixes have ended up being a little too temporary — lack of waterproof cabling when the area flooded, a loose connector that would seem likely to fail only if not properly installed.

We can go the conspiracy theory route and speculate that an aluminum connector may have been used on copper wires, which as any aficionado of home improvement shows knows is a no-no.

Whatever the case, it doesn’t take an armchair electrician to figure out that power failures and especially brownouts like the one last week can greatly increase the cost of doing business here.

It’s not only the cost of not doing business. It’s also the cost of having equipment damaged or having to install uninterruptible power supplies or generators to prevent that.

We also don’t have enough information in our minds to determine whether it was justified to, at a time when everyone and everything non-governmental is strapped for money, buy a $100,000 bus for school sports and activities.

Those are hardly the essentials of an education, and at a time like this, focusing on the essentials rather than niceties might be appropriate, even if the bus being replaced was decrepit and hard to return. Maybe it wasn’t that necessary in the first place.

We just don’t have enough information to know for sure what to do about it — just like we don’t know what to do with a perennial source of amusement at this time of year: the outpouring of budget requests from bureaucrats who line up at the taxpayer-funded trough, salivating at the thought of new budgets and new spending.

Given this year’s economic disaster, we be so bold as to suggest a hiring, purchasing, and pay freeze for all government agencies until the economy gets completely back to normal.

We don’t make that recommendation lightly, and it most definitely isn’t an observation from the cheap seats. Yours truly doesn’t receive a cent from this newspaper. He is 100% a government employee, so he’d be just as affected as all other government workers.

Then again, he’s a college professor. And you know how impractical college professors tend to be.

Among the other things we don’t understand is why Marion doesn’t have a real chamber of commerce — the type of group that allows multiple businesses to pool their resources and financially support activities that boost business and tourism and promote the general welfare of the entire community.

We’re also worried what kind of traffic signs and signals the state wants at the Canada road and Old 56 — what’s now called Nighthawk and 190th. Will the speed route between Marion and Hillsboro ever be the same if so?

We wonder why Chase County doesn’t have enough ambulances to respond quickly to emergencies in Cedar Point, forcing Marion County to graciously but vainly fill in for such calls.

We wonder why, with all the high-tech equipment we’ve been paying for to pinpoint callers’ locations, our emergency crews weren’t able to find a caller in Florence in an era in which Google regularly sends complete recaps of every single place we’ve visited and exactly how we got there.

We’ve given up on trying to understand both wind firm lawsuits, which now seem to be costing the city as well as the county, and Facebook, which pretends not to filter things when improper comments spread but in reality is constantly shifting what everyone sees, blocking some posts while elevating others according to a super-secret algorithm it won’t talk about.

Too many questions. Too few answers. And what answers we get are so often incomplete that we completely misunderstand the question. A crematorium in Marion? What’s that all about? Maybe it’s just to make us long for the good old days of worrying only about landfills and casinos.

Then again, we’ve been trying for nearly three months to figure out what should be a much simpler matter — why a raccoon in our temporary backyard keeps trying to raid squirrel food despite being repeatedly rebuffed by squirted water and shouted threats that require us to interrupt our sleep multiple times nightly.

Just how steadfast and dedicated are racoons, anyway? Maybe instead of devoting their time to scheming ways to scrounge peanuts they need to be enlisted in a campaign to get enough information to answer some of the other questions we face.

They couldn’t do worse than we have.

— Eric Meyer

Last modified June 10, 2020