Sound the trumpet, we’re announcing another change to the ACN, and we’re not the only ones excited about it. Madison and Benson Metschke are also excited to introduce our new addition.
On the Opinion page of the ACN newspaper is Pun Fun, and it not only pays tribute to their dad, Nate, but it also is designed to involve youth in our publication.
I’ve wanted to include an editorial cartoon for some time, but I’ve been hesitant because they could be considered too conservative, too liberal or just plain too political. Instead, I wanted something that would be funny for everyone and something people looked forward to each week.
Before we purchased this newspaper, we started printing the ACN Week In Review. The first couple of weeks included a joke of the week, courtesy of my buddy, Nate Metschke. He loved that we were starting the Week In Review and insisted we include a joke. When we bought the newspaper, Nate told me to somehow include something funny, but we never figured out how.
Margie Mortensen and I were talking last week about my desire — and hesitance — in adding an editorial cartoon. She suggested Pun Fun, and from there, the ideas started flowing. We decided to print a weekly pun and dedicate the new section to Nate. Margie drew the fantastic tribute image of Nate.
We know this project won’t be easy to make happen every week, so we are recruiting local youth to draw a cartoon to accompany the weekly pun. We plan to enlist the help of the six schools in Antelope County — and adult artists — to provide a drawing or sometimes multiple drawings to be included with the pun.
The first two drawings are very special to us because they come from Madison and Benson Metschke. This week Benson submitted one having to do with football since Sunday is the Super Bowl, and his dad was crazy about the NFL. You’ll notice “Benson” on the jersey. That’s because Nate claimed he and Darcy named their son after Bengals running back Cedric Benson. Nate gave Benson a jersey when he was around age 2.
Next week is close to Valentine’s Day, so Madison has a special drawing planned that not only includes a Valentine message, but incorporates music since Nate was the Neligh-Oakdale band teacher. We already have the drawing, and you’ll love it.
Both kids picked out their own puns and matched their drawing to the joke. Honestly, I can’t imagine a better way to kick off this new feature, and I can almost hear Nate’s laugh as he reads both puns. He’d be proud his children are carrying on his legacy.
These drawings will only be available in our print edition. They are also to promote literacy and reading. Besides, cutting them out of the newspaper will be much better for the scrapbook anyway. You can subscribe here for $37 and even pay online. That's just 71 cents per week.
The ACN staff is excited to open Pun Fun up to other youth — and adults — as well. If you know someone who would like to draw a picture, let us know. We plan to contact the schools and hope this turns into a community collaboration.
If you are a teacher, we’d like to have no more than three drawings per pun. For example, with a class of 15 students, pick out five puns and separate your class into groups of three. We’ll publish all three drawings per pun.
Our next available Pun Fun date is February 13 with lots of open dates after that. Send us an email at email@example.com or call 402-887-4000 for your dates. The pun is up to you, and it must be family friendly.
Most of all, have fun with it. I know Nate would.
I’ve always called our publications a work in progress, and I truly believe that. We don’t make changes for the sake of making them; we make changes to improve.
We introduced a change last week and have several more changes in this week’s newspaper. And more will be coming.
Sometimes changes stem from your ideas. Take the weather, for example. At the request of a reader, we started publishing a weekly weather report with temperatures, precipitation and wind. I’ve heard from several others who enjoy the new feature.
I’m hoping one of this week’s changes is also a hit. Drum roll please . . . We are proud to introduce Steph The Chef! In all seriousness, we really are so excited to be bringing a weekly recipe column from Stephanie Wanek of Neligh, who is the best chef and baker I have ever met.
We plan to run Steph The Chef weekly, but there may be a few weeks here and there when she takes time off. After all, she has a fall wedding to plan in between her volunteer duties and work at ESU 8.
Steph’s first column couldn’t have started any tastier than with her French onion soup. This is one of my absolute favorite foods she prepares, and I do request it from her once a year. Check it out on Page 9 and give it a try. Trust me — it’s a five-star recipe, and you will impress your family or friends with this one.
I know you'd love to get this column online for free, but it's only available in print because your $37 per year subscription helps keep us in business. You can even pay online here. This may be a shameless plug, but if we don't have subscribers, then you won't have local news even online. That's 71 cents a week to help keep you informed of local news -- and we do appreciate your subscription!
Also new, we started putting a list of public notices on the front page. I heard from several readers who said they saw it right away and appreciated the quick skim of what notices were inside. They had a chuckle over the Two Gasholes LLC liquor renewal. In case you didn’t know, that’s Dusty’s in Orchard.
Legal notices are an important aspect of being a newspaper, and we proudly are the legal newspaper for five communities, schools, county, state, power company, etc. We hope putting a list on the front page makes it just a little more convenient for you to see what legal notices are inside the paper and are of interest to you.
We have a few more changes that we will be implementing in the coming weeks. I have a fantastic staff who is full of ideas, and we’re blessed with readers who aren’t afraid to share theirs either.
That’s right, we enjoy your letters, emails and visits, so please feel free to make suggestions on how we can improve. After all, we’re a work in progress.
I’m a morning person, so being up at 5 a.m. is a given for me. But I don’t usually text anyone that early.
The only person I’ve ever texted in the early morning hours is my buddy, Nate Metschke, and that’s because in the summers he led the detasseling crew and was usually up and headed to a field at the same time I was starting my day.
Still, texting at 5 a.m. on Christmas Eve seemed a little odd, but I did it anyway. Nate was having surgery that day to remove a cancerous mass from his liver, and I almost always sent him a pun or joke to lighten the mood on tough days.
No one loved puns more than Nate. As a longtime band teacher at Neligh-Oakdale, he slipped in at least three groaners during every holiday or spring concert. No one could make a crowd groan and smile at the same time with a “What do you call a ...” joke like Nate could.
But Monday morning felt different. I couldn’t send a joke, so I typed a short “you got this” message. Then I hit backspace and deleted it. It wasn’t enough this time. I’ve known Nate since high school — we both graduated Class of 1997, him from Chambers and me from Orchard. We went to college together at Midland, though I liked to remind him that I graduated two semesters earlier and beat him done.
His first and only job was at Neligh-Oakdale, where he taught both of my daughters. Nate and I have been close for years, so of course I rubbed it in last September when he turned 40, asking him how it felt it the big 4-0. He said, “A lot like 25.” I’m almost a year in age younger than Nate, so he promised to break in 40 for me, like a good friend would.
I thought about what to text for a couple of minutes. Finally, I told him that he inspires me to be a better person. No matter how tired and sick he felt from the chemotherapy, Nate never let his students see it. He always smiled, asked them about their lives and stayed positive.
In my text, I told him surgery was going to go well and I’d be down to see him when he felt up to having company. Nate was like my brother, so when he told me he had cancer, it was a punch that almost knocked me to the ground. It was nearly a month before he said anything publicly, and I didn’t say a word to anyone other than my husband until he put it out there. Honestly, I didn’t want to say the words out loud.
But the night he confided his sickness, Nate told me he was going to beat it. And he did - he rang that victory bell. But when the cancer came back, it attacked hard and fast. Yet, he again told me he would beat it, and he had a plan.
I typed that his surgeon was going to get all of the cancer and added to my text, “Love ya buddy.” I’m not sure I had ever typed that to him before and l can’t explain why, but I needed to tell him.
Nate and Darcy were almost to the hospital when he received my message, so he replied immediately. His text was seven sentences. Those were the last words my friend ever sent me. It’s funny, we texted and messaged often, but it’s his voice I keep hearing in my head now that he’s gone.
I’ve learned so much from my friend, and he continues to inspire me to be a better person. Still, I could really use one of his trademark texts, lifting my spirits and telling me I’ll get through this. Although I’ll never receive that text from him, I do have memories and a goal of being more like him.
I’m starting today, so . . . What do you call someone who puts everyone else first, can bring an entire community together with just one phrase and is looking down on us all right now while directing a choir of angels?
I joked that this is the 108th day of January, but I’m really not laughing because it’s taking its toll.
The weather isn’t just small talk, it’s a big part of life — and one’s livelihood. The amount of sickness this spring during calving has been outrageous. Animals are sick, and field work is behind.
And then there’s school events . . . or should I say, when will there be school events? The Bloomfield golf team still hasn’t had a meet, and it’s April 18. Anybody know when the last time prom was moved to a Sunday? Kudos to Elgin, though, for keeping the kids safe. We still have two more proms to get through this weekend as another storm moves in.
But those are the obvious reasons we desperately need spring. Looking around, we really need the optimism and for lack of better terms, goodness, that comes with spring. Flowers blooming, the smell of fresh dirt, tractors in the field, green grass — that just makes us feel good.
The power of the sun is more than heat. It has the power to change our attitudes and how we feel and see the day.
Honestly, having snow every week for five months has made me a little testy. I’m a little shorter with our daughters than I normally am. I’m not quite as chipper on the phone, and my tongue is a little quicker than it should be.
I’m generally one who analyzes situations and really thinks about things thoroughly before acting. It’s just my general nature to look at things from many perspectives.
What has changed? The weather. Actually, the weather hasn’t changed, and I believe that is what is affecting me and likely you, too.
Don’t get me wrong, I still see a lot of good in people all over the area. I still see smiles and kindness. But I’ve seen people be a little crabby and testy, too, and I attribute that to the weather taking its toll on all of our moods.
While I understand the why, I’m going to try a little harder not to indulge it — to fight the moodiness that comes with yet another snowstorm and winter storm warning.
Lord knows, I can’t change the weather, but I can change my attitude. Our attitudes and how we treat others is something we all have control over. It’s just time to be a little more understanding of how we are all feeling and not take out our frustrations on one another.
Remember May Day 2017? Yep, we had snow then, too.
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