Column: Garage Raccoon – Early Morning Greeting

By: Forrest R. Church, Publisher

Column return? It is too early to promise whether I can knock out a weekly column again. I have tried several times over the past few decades of publishing local news. When we did a survey around 12 years ago, readers indicated that my column ramblings were one of their favorite features. I have no idea why honestly. I consider my life mostly uneventful. But I will admit I used to enjoy reading some other area newspaper columns from their publishers talking about fishing, mowing, politics, watching their grandkids, whatever came to their mind.

My problem? I’m not having a pity party when saying this, but my wife and I have as little free time as anybody we know so another “to do” is just about impossible. On the flip side, typing frustrations in a column is cheaper than therapy, so “thank you for your support”, LOL. I received several notes two weeks ago when publishing my rather large column discussing whether readers really want unbiased news (surrounding being attacked by a few in the midst of the Wauseon School Levy battle), so we will see if this works out each week, every other week, whenever?

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CROSSED MY MIND – I was blessed to have the opportunity to speak at the National Day of Prayer in Montpelier last week. I felt a little rusty, not speaking from behind the pulpit in years, probably pre-covid. One of the three areas that I noted as a need for clergy to lift in prayer is our NW Ohio business district.

From notes: With inflation out of control we live in a very scary time as small business owners. Many rural small businesses have razor thin profit margins. When inflation increases your expenses 10, 20, 30, 40% you have to raise your prices. As an example, we just received notice at The Village Reporter that we may experience a large printing increase, on the tail end of postage increases already incurred, as our print press is spending more than ever on ink and paper. There are endless challenges to small business in good times, it is near impossible to survive in bad economic times. Look at how many weekly newspapers have closed in the area in recent years due to change, even before inflation. Hamilton News, Antwerp Bee Argus, Montpelier Leader, Morenci Observer, Delta Atlas. Look at how many of our local small towns are without grocery stores now. Edon, Pioneer is closing this week, West Unity, Stryker, Fayette.

People of faith, please keep your local businesses in prayer and support them financially when you can. We are at a crossroads within our small towns on whether we will see many mom and pop shops. On a spiritual, mental and physical front our local small business owners are feeling stress and pressure at levels not likely seen before and need all the support they can receive.

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CAUGHT MY EYE – Social media, people laughing when a leader they do not align with politically, tests positive for COVID. I’ve seen this social media laughter shared by people on both sides of the aisle over the last two years. I stand by my comments previously stated that this type of mindset shows the condition of humanity (some). We as Americans should be better than this.

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CROSSED MY MIND – Without organization or discussing the matter ahead of time, speakers from around our nation brought up the subject of mental health / depression issues being faced in our society during National Day of Prayer gatherings last week. Was this coincidence or God putting this on the hearts of many? Few are discussing the outbreak of mental health decline in our population. Studies have shown majority of Americans indicate they do not have one friend they can confide in when facing life’s challenges. It’s a topic to pray for, people of faith.  Beyond prayer who is in your circle that you need to reach out to? Is God putting anyone on your mind reading this post?

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CROSSED MY MIND – A social media post I made last Tuesday. It is election night and I have not been cussed out or threatened yet for publishing unofficial results (people from both sides of the aisle in past history). Much more civilized this May. November may prove different. This was kind of a nice trend. Noting I have had two major threats made against me, the worst when we declared President Obama had defeated Mitt Romney, the call was traced back to a former local business owner. Our line of work can be a bit challenging when people have “kill the messenger” mentality. It is our job to bring forth factual news and we do so, even when we do not like the news ourselves.

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RECENT COMMUNICATION – Hello Forrest, Enjoyed this week’s column. It brought back some memories for me; some things never change in the world of community journalism (reference on whether readers want true unbiased news). – Reader in California

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EXPERIENCE – Interesting afternoon in Fort Wayne last Sunday after church. A four vehicle accident 50 yards from our parked van. I had to pry door open to help a large older gentleman trapped get out then stabilized the neck of 80 year old woman injured in separate vehicle until an off duty nurse arrived (chest pains and appeared broken wrist … air bag injuries). God bless our first responders that deal with this every day, you are true heroes and are not told so enough!

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GRABBED MY EAR – An occasional mouse. Maybe a bat during the Fall. The only household teenager at the moment who never says two words in the morning before school had plenty to say, check that, plenty to scream when a raccoon met him at the garage door last week and sat on top of the step in a stare down competition. I thought it was funny until discovering the varmint knocked a bunch of stuff over including my hanging leaf blower that is busted along with a bunch of paint off the shelf next to my vehicle which by some miracle did not break open giving my vehicle a new exterior look. We thought the critter had left the garage since we left the door open, only to have my wife Casey run into it again in the early a.m. hours after working a double shift to design newspaper pages published last week. Remember earlier in this column when I said “I consider my life mostly uneventful”, I will need to print a retraction. The critter fortunately must have moved the party somewhere else after a second night of having the door cracked open.

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CAUGHT MY EYE – Last week’s Facebook insanity. “Sorry, your business post showing a local ribbon cutting goes against our standards.” Another post I made just two weeks ago on Facebook stated… Since Facebook would not let us boost a post last year at the local newspaper concerning kids selling lemonade at a self made stand to benefit a local police dog getting a safety vest, I kind of hope somebody buys Facebook out next (after Musk bought out Twitter and promised free speech on the platform). Facebook said our post was political (including after I appealed) and even though we spent three months becoming certified to place political ads several years ago, they still said no. Not because of the kids but due to being police related. I wonder if they did this for groups responsible for burning some of our cities to the ground in recent years? They have denied a bunch of our boosts like donations to parks too, but the biggest red flag seems to be pro police matters. I’m all about free speech, even for folks I may not agree with. I have been concerned with censorship by most of the major social media platforms. Hopefully this acquisition of Twitter takes things in a good direction.

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CROSSED MY MIND – Being transparent, I’m a little disappointed in the response to free Mother’s Day Wishes placed last week within The Village Reporter. This was a very popular feature before COVID, we cut the feature during the COVID years as every penny needed watched. I’m not sure if wishes are too personal or why more did not take advantage? We have experienced growth in about all areas of the newspaper in the last twelve months or so, it was a bit of a surprise to see so few take advantage utilizing this feature compared to pre covid years since no other newspaper I have ever seen has provided a similar free service. We will have to evaluate whether to try the feature for Father’s Day like we planned or whether to discontinue for lack of interest.

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Until next week or the next time I can type out some thoughts…

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Do you agree or disagree with me? Have thoughts? Send a note if you like, publisher@thevillagereporter.com.


 

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