FREE FALLING

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BOB WOELK
Every day, I read the Opinion Line in the Wichita Eagle newspaper, and I am always amazed at the diversity of thoughts presented by readers.

The brief opinions are presented in pure anonymity, which often leads to some pure animosity. I assume the Eagle staff does at least some editing before the quips are printed.

Perhaps the most interesting facet of this impromptu readers’ poll is how two people can see the same issue in two completely different ways. One writer will share his or her utter disgust at the job the Wichita mayor is doing, for example, while the next reader will laud the performance of the city leader.

We in Hillsboro and Marion County often face the same sort of thinking. It is only natural that, when viewing some issue of importance, perspective means everything.

What would an opinion line look like if it ran in the Free Press? Probably something like this:

— Our downtown makeover looks outstanding. Congratulations to everyone involved in making this project a reality.

— What kind of idiots designed the downtown area? The street lamps look like something from a “Jack the Ripper” movie. And it’s way too bright downtown.

— The West Nile virus is a huge problem in Kansas, including Marion County. The state health department is covering up just how serious this issue has become. We’ll never know how many of us are infected and might be carriers.

— Only one person has officially died in Kansas from West Nile virus. It’s not a big threat to anyone. Cats, on the other hand, are a big problem. They are taking over the streets and yards, and there appears to be no way to stop them.

— Hillsboro High School’s football team is struggling. Though the Trojans are 1-1, they have been forced to use young, inexperienced players at many key positions.

— The first several games of a high school football season don’t mean anything. With the current playoff system, the Trojans can go winless until district play begins and still secure a playoff spot. It’s good to see the young players in action, and Friday night’s win over Nickerson showed what an improving bunch of underclassmen can do.

— The Hillsboro school district’s policy of not allowing any school activities on Sundays and Wednesday evenings is essential to creating some family and church time for its students. Every other day of the week is filled with school-related events. We need some down time for the kids.

— USD 410’s policy of no school activities on Sundays and Wednesday nights is archaic and, in some cases, hurts the district. For example, a couple of years ago, the basketball team needed to make up a sub-state tournament game on Sunday to allow for more preparation time for the state tournament. But our boys weren’t allowed to play. The policy makes us look like hicks in the eyes of other communities.

— All this recent rainfall has really been a bummer. Farmers can’t get their fields ready for fall planting, and it’s actually too late to help fall crops. Where was the precipitation when we needed it?

— Haven’t the September rains been wonderful? Yards are recovering, ponds are filling and everyone has a renewed sense of hope. The precipitation couldn’t have come at a better time.

— What’s wrong with young people today? They are self-centered, spoiled, rap-music blaring, long-haired delinquents with the attention span of a gerbil. It used to be teenagers were respectful of their elders. Kids today have it made.

— Aren’t today’s teens amazing? They spend the day in the classroom learning subject matter that hadn’t even been discovered when we were in school. Then they go and work jobs carrying groceries, flipping burgers and milking cows. Many of today’s youth are working harder than ever before and getting less parental support than ever before.

— Shop at home. If people don’t purchase groceries, gas, clothes and services in their hometown, those very businesses may cease to exist. Then, there will be no choice but to travel 30 miles one way to buy even essential products and services. If things cost a little more in Marion County, go ahead and pay it. And be glad you have a chance to boost the local economy and lower taxes.

— Local merchants expect everyone to shop in town, but where is their loyalty to their hometowns when we have to pay 30 percent more to buy locally? Even with the price of gas, small-town residents come out ahead by buying from the big chain stores.

— Why do newspapers require letters to the editor be signed before reader opinions will be printed? Editors could get a much clearer picture of what’s on readers’ minds if letters would be printed without signatures.

— All letters to the editor need to be signed. If not, there is no accountability or responsibility to the truth. Writers could say anything they wanted, including make libelous statements. If a reader doesn’t feel strongly enough his or her opinion to sign it, the letter doesn’t deserve to be run.

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