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Wind-swept memories of Hurricane Katrina



Ten years ago today, I woke up at 6 a.m. and I knew it was going to be a bad day.    In fact, everyone in a 200-mile radius of me was also preparing for a really bad day. But just how bad it was going to get, few could imagine.

The weathercaster on the television was already announcing that Hurricane Katrina had made landfall in southeastern Louisiana as a Category 3 hurricane. It must have weakened slightly overnight as the last I had heard before leaving my work at the Hattiesburg, Miss., American the night before was that it was still a massive Category 4 storm.

Regardless, it was one of the most destructive natural disasters this country had ever endured.

Fortunately, the electric was still working at my house north of Hattiesburg, but that wouldn’t last through my morning shower.

By the time Examiner subscribers read this piece over their morning coffee today, the winds would already have been starting to howl 100 miles inland in the village where I lived with my significant other at the time, Jennifer. 

It was certainly a difficult day as we lost one service after another — electricity and television followed by water service and eventually, both land and cellular telephone communication came to a halt.

The massive winds of the storm tore a hole in the roof of our house that allowed rain to pour into the eastern half of the home and we spent most of the day moving our furniture toward the center of the house as the waterfalls in the bedrooms grew in size.

Last Updated on Friday, 28 August 2015

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Early symptoms of election fever setting in



From a local special election that has been questioned for its cost to taxpayers, the introduction of a full slate of candidates for local offices to the first debate of the 2016 presidential election cycle, this week has been a flurry of election-related activity that has reawakened the political junkie in me from a three-year slumber.

Special election

At the local level, probably the most whispered about issue this week was the approximately $35,000 spent to put on Tuesday’s special election to pass a 0.25-mill levy for the Logan County Historical Society.

With only 1,053 voters, or a measly 3.6 percent of Logan County’s total registered voters, the election cost more than $33 per voter to put on. 

The August election was called because paperwork filed by the historical society to place the levy on the May ballot was submitted to the Logan County Commissioners’ Office in a timely fashion, but did not make it from that office to the Logan County Board of Elections in time to meet the February deadline.

Last Updated on Friday, 07 August 2015

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Opening a bridge to the past

sue pitts

The bridge is opening! The bridge is opening!

Yes, I am a little excited. Actually, exhausted! It’s been a very long — sometimes unbearable — wait since news came more than a year ago that I and my generation would again get to walk across the Sandy Beach Bridge — the icon of our youth.

And now it’s here. Today is the day we get to travel back in time.

Last Updated on Saturday, 23 August 2014

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A little touch of awe in the daily grind



Sometimes I forget how fortunate we are to live in a place like Logan County.

A citified gentleman originally from Harlem who now lives in Columbus recently commented to me that if he were able to spend a week in Logan County, he would spend his time fasting and communing with God and nature.

It is an awesome place, he said.

And he was not using “awesome” in that worn out way I once used as a teenager and now try to avoid entirely. He was truly struck by the immensity of nature and history we Logan County residents often take for granted.

I was struck by a similar sense of awe just this weekend as I sat on the walls of Piatt Castle Mac-O-Chee and listened to its caretaker discuss how limestone from the nearby quarry was used to build nearly every facet of the castle’s walls from the massive stone exteriors to the plaster interior walls and fresco paintings.

Looking up at the sea of limestone and listening to ducks quacking on the nearby pond made me appreciate our little corner of the world.

Then on Monday, I read a column by a man from Napoleon who had written that he picked up a copy of the Bellefontaine Examiner on a trip through the area but didn’t find any nuggets to share with readers of the North West Signal.

I was a little hurt at first that he didn’t find anything of value to report on from our neck of the woods.

In an email to the author, I noted that Bellefontaine’s very cornerstone was once the spring that Shawnee war chief Blue Jacket drank from and that pioneer Simon Kenton loved this place so much he and his wife Margaret chose to spend their final years here enjoying the mint that still grows around the former site of their cabin.

We were a booming railroad town, I wrote, a community integrally tied to transportation and we recently celebrated the opening of a new museum that highlights this rich contribution to society.

There is much more to Logan County than the fact that Campbell Hill is the highest point in the state, I wrote.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 August 2014

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Dads: Be worthy of the love we’re getting this weekend

Nate Owen


My wife asked me the following question this week, more than once: “What do you want for Father’s Day?”

I haven’t yet given a satisfactory answer to that question.

According to many of the commercials on television recently, most fathers must want the latest tech gadget or discount suits and ties.

The concept of gift-giving for Father’s Day strikes me a bit counter-productive.

We share a bank account, my wife and I, and there are many things we’d do and/or buy with the right amount of discretionary income.

Kids, though, come first. How can I possibly ask her to spend our money, hundreds of dollars for some of these gifts being touted for, “Dads and grads,” on something specifically for me, when there’s no shortage of activities our entire family can enjoy?

It seems very important to my wife that I feel appreciated on Father’s Day, and that should tell you all you need to know about the kind of selfless person she is.

So, on this Father’s Day, I think the thing I want most is to make sure that I behave in a way that honors the adoration my family gives me.

And that’s perhaps something each of us paternal influences should consider tomorrow — on the day devoted to honoring the bond between father and child — making certain we are worthy of being called, “Dad.”

Talk is as cheap as the tacky neckties often associated with Father’s Day, and any upwardly mobile male can claim to love his children.

The evidence is in the example we set for our kids.

Last Updated on Saturday, 14 June 2014

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Secrecy has provided no good results for Tri County



Hush ... hush.

That’s the sound coming from the Tri County Community Action offices last week.

It’s the same sound that has been coming from the office for several years and it’s the sound that has the agency at the brink of ceasing to exist as a local social service organization.

The situation, from what I have gathered in the news reporting process thus far, began as a result of secrecy and a lack of accountability in handling the agency’s money.

That escalated to the point that the independent Community Action Organization of Delaware, Madison and Union Counties was called in a year ago to take over Tri County’s weatherization program.

Instead of beginning an open public dialogue at that point, however, the agency and its board went on like it was business as usual. Eventually the state turned over operation of the utilities assistance program to DMU in November.

Still no public conversation.

Hush ... hush.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 August 2014

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Going farmer style with a classic

Among my favorite Christmas books is Clement C. Moore’s classic A Visit From St. Nicholas. I like the story and the rhyme, and I like the pictures in my old copy of the book I  have, although not all of its pages are intact.

Another of my most favorites is O Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, although I have trouble finishing it because I can’t see the words with tears in my eyes. Imagine giving up your most prized possession to have money to buy your husband something for his most prized possession, only to discover he has sold it to have money to buy something to go with your most prized possession, which, alas, now has been sold. True love and sacrifice, for sure.

Thinking about the holiday and the books and stories associated with it gave me an idea of creating one a little more in line with my life and things important to me, who has been married to a farmer for more than three decades.

So, with apologies to Mr. Moore and anyone else who may have penned anything similar, I offer up a farmer’s version of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas:

Last Updated on Monday, 23 December 2013

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What made Byron Scott a great township trustee, also made him noteworthy ‘Examiner’ photographer

NateSmith 2013


To value newspapers in this social media age is to harbor a fond appreciation for history and those who’ve come before.

Today, long after Byron Scott’s retirement as an Examiner photographer, his influence remains. He worked 37 years at this newspaper and his work sets a high bar for those of us carrying the banner today.

He was honored during a surprise gathering staged by his family and peers Tuesday ahead of what was his last meeting following a 28-year stint as trustee in Lake Township.

Mr. Scott was told no one gathered had ever before seen such a show of love and appreciation for a retiring township trustee.

“Me neither,” he told his family, friends and fellow township trustees.

A unique send-off for a one-of-a-kind public servant, to be sure.

Those in attendance shared stories about their relationship with Mr. Scott and the time spent working with him, and soon a theme emerged: His dedication to Lake Township.

“You won’t find anyone more committed to Lake Township than Scotty,” said fellow trustee Jim Wish, invoking Mr. Scott’s long-held nickname.

People were taken aback when Mr. Scott — the guest of honor — was told to get up first to be served his slice of retirement-themed cake, and instead served everyone else in the room first.

The same commitment to community that drove him to contribute as a township trustee for nearly 30 years is also what made Mr. Scott a great photographer and information gatherer.

He was dedicated to sharing the stories of those with whom he lived and worked. As a trustee he worked to help make those same folks’ lot in life a little easier, whether by clearing snow- and ice- covered roads or picking up litter in the township.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013

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