I am getting so excited about the future of the Times. We have a great crew here and planning our way to leaving COVID-19 behind. What a crazy year, right? I love that the sun is shining, we get to go outside, and families are starting to come together again.
I want to take this time to thank everyone who has supported us this year. It’s been tough, but with the new vision here at the Times, we weathered it well. The shutdowns gave me time to ponder who we were as a media and where we are going.
I found out something very interesting. Print is still hot! People are still reading the paper and the feedback we have been getting is from every generation of readers. It’s absolutely amazing. What I am looking to do is marry the print to digital. There will be something for every type of reader. If you want to sit down and enjoy an afternoon of stories, games, and just getting up to date with the community, there will be a great colorful print paper for you. If you like to read on your phone or computer, you can sign up for our digital format at pleasanthillview.com. We are going to start giving you skimmers some important information with short reads.
Here at the Times, we realize how important video is becoming when it comes to communication. We have a complete studio setup and are working on perfecting our interviews, podcasts, and other video spots. Our audience will be able to go on our website or future app and be able to get to know their community intimately through video.
We really hope our readers help spread the word about what we are doing down here at the Times. The more people who support us in subscriptions and ads, the more we can grow in our community and print will stay a thriving staple!
Maybe you can buy your neighbors subscriptions, or if you have a business of some kind, call our advertising manager.
We can also use news tips! We love getting calls and having people stop by to give us ideas for stories. Someone told me about a bus in a tree that I need to investigate. I am on it! Let us know if you have anything interesting! Do you have a story to tell? We would love to hear it!
Do you like to blog? We are starting blogging on our website. Of course, the articles are approved by our editing department first, but wouldn’t it be great to know what is formally in the thoughts of our residents? This is much different than reading comments on social media, these would be real articles by our neighbors.
Well, I hope you are enjoying the Times! We love serving our community!
I really enjoy having a smartphone. I do remember the days when we didn’t have them and we also didn’t have computers. Our number one way of interacting with other people was face to face. I do love that with a SmartPhone, I get to instantly talk to my family and keep up with work from the comfort of home. There are so many perks that those that have a Smart Phone could not imagine being without this luxury. The handiness of having a mobile phone does come with pitfalls and sometimes I feel that we do not take these seriously enough. I feel that having these phones are coming between us and learning, our civic duties, and overall social skill levels.
First, let’s talk about phones in the classroom. I remember when my children were first getting their phones. I would not allow them to bring them to school. They were a distraction at home, so I worried about how much more distracting they could be when in a classroom. I do understand that each teacher gets to dictate whether there are phones in the classroom, but I wonder if they should be in the classrooms at all. The kids have chrome books and if they leave their phones in their lockers, they can pick them up after school and call who they need. Parents can always call the office and leave notes for their kids or call them to the office if they need to relay information that is important. I can’t imagine the ADD kid with a room full of kids with smartphones.
Second, although it feels good to give money on a Facebook app from the comfort of our phones to fund an organization, and I am sure the organization appreciates it, it is no substitute for face-to-face giving. Social media seems to be taking the place of sitting during a sermon and worshipping alongside other people, or volunteering at the VFW and serving pancakes, or donating time and goods to a local food pantry. It seems that we are gradually losing the opportunity to personally show honor to those that deserve it in our community. Sometimes I wonder if this is why it is so easy to tear each other down on social media. Are we really involved with each other? Do we talk face to face? Do we really know our community and how much we should honor them?
Lastly, social skills seem to be dwindling and social anxiety seems to be on the upward spiral. After living life online for a while with the bold comments, who wouldn’t be nervous about seeing other people? Learning face-to-face interaction like anything else takes practice. Hiding behind a phone or computer or even zoom meetings does not take the place of learning those small signals people send with their facial muscles or hand gestures, or just learning the way they move. There is just something about having a person in the same room.
Maybe I am wrong in many ways, but I do feel that there is something to this worth talking about and investigating. What about you? What do you think?
This week, I decided to give everyone in Pleasant Hill, Harrisonville, Peculiar, and Raymore a complimentary newspaper. The Times usually does a saturation a couple of times a year, but due to COVID were not able to do one last year. I wasn't sure whether to do one quite yet since we are not out of the woods with the pandemic, but I thought more people in Cass County would like to know we are around and maybe you have been living in Pleasant Hill and don't know you have a paper. We have a wonderful staff here at the Times. It's a historic paper dating back to 1901 and under a different name back in the 1800s. I have a passion for media and thought I would get involved in helping local news stay alive.
The pandemic wreaked havoc on local weeklies across the nation, and in our own area. I have to admit, I was considering closing last June and I had only owned the paper a few months. Coming in as a new owner, making changes was already difficult, but to have the pandemic at the same time was just crazy. We were all brought to our knees financially and emotionally as were many businesses, but in the end, I decided to weather it and see what happens. To me, it is really important to have local journalists digging deeper into the stories of government, business, and people. The local paper also reflects the character of the town and somehow helps to bring people together.
A professor at the University of North Carolina’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media, Penny Abernathy said, “And when you lose a small daily or a weekly, you lose the journalist who was gonna show up at your school board meeting, your planning board meeting, your county commissioner meeting,” she said. Communities lose transparency and accountability. Then, she said, research shows that taxes go up and voter participation goes down. (The coronavirus has closed more than 60 local newsrooms across America. And counting. - Poynter)
The Pleasant Hill Times covers State news, Cass County, Pleasant Hill, and sometimes we will even reach other cities in the county. We want to keep you informed with accurate information about your community. Thanks for your support and feel free to come in and say "hi"!
Well, here we are a year later when COVID hit us hard. I remember the day the shutdown happened and how panic went through the veins of every American citizen. I had just bought the paper in January and was learning how to publish a paper. Everything just shut down all at once. There were no phone calls, no visitors, and every business came to a screeching halt. If you were a business owner that week, it threw you into survival mode. Just like the body shuts down into a coma, so did our small businesses. Staffs were downsized, budgets were cut, and we all wondered if we were going to survive the next day.
I love how the community jumped in to help as much as they could. Donations were taken, innovation happened, and a new way of doing business progressed to bring in funding to pay the bills. I am not sure we understand how much we all have lived through. At first, I tried to ignore it and just move forward, but the waves of discord in the U.S. and even in our own community were difficult to avoid. If anything, we learned a bit about ourselves. At least I hope. I know I learned that I was more resilient than I thought I was and my ability to creatively do business was a gift I had. I also learned the hard way how to be a boss. I think this was the most difficult lesson and I am still learning.
It definitely feels like a war out there and I am hoping to bring our small town paper to victory. Someone asked me why I bother to go through what I go through. To be honest, I guess I don't have to do this, but it is something that I feel I am supposed to do in this season whether it is difficult or not. I don't know if the paper will ultimately survive COVID or even me, but I will give it all that is within me to serve Pleasant Hill with a solid news source for its own community covering city council, Cass County Commissioners, state news, local news, and we will even give you some creative meals to serve your friends and family.
The Pleasant Hill Times goes back to 1901 and that's just when the name change happened with a new owner. This paper dates back to the 1800s. Pleasant Hill has something very special here and I am honored to lead it to a thriving place. Thank you so much for your support over the last year. It's been difficult and I appreciate the staff members that were along for the journey. They worked hard and endured much.
I think we are definitely living in a new world. We have all changed. I hope those changes are for the better.
Someone mentioned to me last week that they thought that there was a loss in being civic-minded in our society. We contemplated why things were the way they were and how we can get the heart of being civic back to the next generation. I see being civic-minded as the glue that holds our community together. It's the people in our community that care about the leadership of our government and our business community. The people that help keep the VFW running for our vets, the Chamber for our businesses, and more. What are the consequences of not taking care of our key organizations? This conversation really made me think about this question.
I wonder if we are too busy and distracted. In the last 10 to 15 years, the smartphone has developed into a tool that we use that seems to use up most of our day and attention. Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, Facebook, and now many more are using our monthly budgets and binge time. When my children were growing up, they couldn't have a phone until they were driving, but now we give our children phones from early elementary years. I am not sure we have thought this through. It seems safer and more convenient. Everyone loves to have quick access to our children, but at what cost? We as a society have been sucked into the hole of entertainment and are beginning to forget how to be physically involved in our own community. At least this is my guess on why we have unplugged from being civic-minded.
I don't think we are a society that doesn't care, I really don't. I believe there is an abundance of compassion. What I wonder is if people have forgotten that compassion is a motivator to actually get things done. The feeling itself helps call us to action. When is the last time we have volunteered for something in our community? One of the projects I might take on is writing an article giving you ideas of how you can get involved. Being civic-minded is an important element to the strength of our community. I am looking forward to looking for areas in town where we can all volunteer.
I just went on vacation with my 16-year-old daughter. She will be 17 in a couple of weeks, and I thought it would be nice to spend some quality time with her before she leaves the nest. She really had her heart set on a beach, so I used my points from my credit card for a trip to Cancun. Going to a different country during COVID and flying was a bit more of a pain.
9/11 left us with TSA monitoring, drug problems left us with interrogations and dogs sniffing our luggage, and now COVID added another layer of feeling like you are being poked and prodded before being able to relax. To come home, we first had to get a COVID test, which we both passed. The day after getting tested, we left to go back home. Our shuttle arrived and we got in with two other people who were both wearing masks. They were horrified that my daughter didn't have a mask on. I told Maggie to put a mask on and reassured the couple that we were just tested and didn't have COVID. They were still nervous and we talked about the pandemic all the way to the airport.
We then get to the airport, checked in on our phones then went to go through TSA. We walked into the large area, weaved around and around and around the ropes that help corral everyone, and found out that we had to fill out this form saying we promise we didn't have COVID. The form was so tiny and the print even tinier, so my daughter filled them both out for us. I watched as older people struggled to fill it out. Then we weaved again through all the ropes to the TSA. "You have to print out your tickets," they said. I was confused as to why Delta had me check in on my phone if when I arrived they want me to print them out but ok.
So, we went back down the escalator to find out where to get our tickets printed. We found a kiosk, and again, my 16 years old maneuvered the digital self serve machine like a pro. We printed them out and we went back up the escalator, weaved around all of the ropes again to the TSA. "You need a stamp on your printed tickets," she said in broken English. Sigh! I wish she would have told me this when she told me to print them out.
So Maggie and I went back down the escalator to get our tickets stamped. We stood in a huge line to check baggage to get a stamp. We didn't have any baggage to check, just carry-on, but still, this is what we were told to do. We were asked a bunch of questions by someone managing the lines, asked to lower our masks to match us with our Passports, and finally made it to the desk to get our tickets stamped.
Then we went back up the escalator, weaved again through all of the ropes, and arrived for the fourth time at the TSA. He made some jokes about our Spanish, taught us a few words, and then we went through.
I was 20 when I took my first flight and it was so much easier. It is definitely a different time in which we live, and maybe I will just stay in Pleasant Hill for a while.
Last week was pretty traumatic for our small town of Pleasant Hill, Missouri. In a moment, two young lives were lost after going over the center line in a car north on 7 Highway at a time when roads were covered with ice and snow. I passed the emergency vehicles on 7 Highway as they raced to the scene.
I went on back to the Times building to wait for information as it came in. I didn't want to disturb those working the accident scene. I guess reporters and other news stations will show up at scenes, but I have never found that to be helpful.
That night, I was working on the website at home when my daughter opened our bedroom door and said, "It was Chloey!" I wasn't sure what she meant at first and then it dawned on me. I put it together. I had seen all of the speculations all over the internet about an accident but had no idea it was fatal.
The shock was all over my daughter's face and all night she was texting her friends, trying to process what had happened. It's been a hard weekend watching her go through the grieving process and I am sure the rest of the girls are feeling the same.
Dan Bucher, owner of the Creamery, and I were communicating by messenger. He was in disbelief. He said that he had just given Reyna a raise. It was tough waiting for information to come in, and it finally did the next morning. I thought about whether or not to put the news on the Times' social media pages. I knew the rest of the world was going to, and that Pleasant Hill should know first from its own community news source.
I remember Chloey. She was a fun, charismatic, and joyful spirit. She called me "mom" a couple of times and joked that she was going to move in. It is hard to believe her life was snatched away so young, and our prayers go out to the family and to all her friends. Now, we as a community have to pick up the pieces and figure out how to help these youngsters process their loss and find a way to remember their friends that meant so much to them.
I will always remember how wonderful it was to see the community come together to raise funds for the families. The hearts are warm in Pleasant Hill. This community is special and I wouldn't want to live anywhere else in the world.
Finding things to do for Valentine's day was challenging this year. Bob and I usually go out on the town or do something special, but this year just had a different feel. This past year, I have spent many Wednesdays having lunch at No Worries Saloon on Cedar, and over time made many friends. A few weeks ago, we were brainstorming something we could do for fun. So we beyond the middle-aged group of nuts decided to rent a party bus, which was much like the OATS bus with the words "party bus" painted on it.
On Sunday, at 2 pm, fourteen of us piled in this bus and had three locations we were going to visit. Our first stop was a place in East Lynn called Fuglys. It is an old church that was renovated and made into a bar. At first, I was like, a church made into a bar? Isn't that wrong in some way? Then, when walking in, there were families sitting at the tables eating lunch and friends playing pool. It was a nice place to be and we made friends with other patrons quickly. Bob and I ordered their potato skins and a glass of wine and felt the cozy warm feeling of the bar with some good friends.
Next, we traveled down the frosty back roads to the Frog Pond in Peculiar. Another great hole in the wall full of loyal, friendly people from another small town. In this bar, we were given our own room to sit or move around as we liked. We sat and visited, talked about family, COVID, and just life.
The last bar was in Belton, it was called Brewbakers. This bar was huge but didn't have very many people in it on Sunday. Maybe it was because it was in a bigger town, but it definitely didn't have the same cozy, friendly feel as the other two, so we all decided to go back to Fuglys to top off our night.
Friends, a bus, and a few country good old fashioned bars with country music and good old fashioned fun. It was a good Valentine's day and it was good to get out with friends that we love so much.
I talk to people all of the time about the future of Pleasant Hill. Some say they would love to see it have some bigger and better stores and conveniences and others just want it to stay a small town. I say, why can't we have both? Growth is inevitable, I mean, you can't stop people from continuing to move here and moving that population number up on the sign coming into town. It is going to happen. This is an opportunity to decide what our long term vision is for Pleasant Hill.
If we have the right planning, we can decide now what it will look like with 20,000 or 40,000 people instead of just letting it happen to us. We can make a plan, and try to keep that small-town feel downtown. It all takes a bit of planning and deciding.
I grew up in Olathe Kansas and when my family first moved there it was a small town. It wasn't as small as Pleasant Hill, but small enough where it was still quaint. Now, to me, it is one big ugly city that houses manufacturing buildings and companies. The main drag is crowded and hard to navigate and takes half an hour to get from one side of town to the other. I sure don't want Pleasant Hill to become something like Olathe.
We can decide what kind of industry we want to attract, how our streets and roads will be expanded, and figure out alternative routes. Where do we want our new schools, businesses, and are we going to keep everything downtown.
It will take some forward-thinking and being open-minded, but we can decide now who we will be in 20 years and in 30 years.
I watched an old movie last night called Mirage with Gregory Peck. The story was about a man who apparently had amnesia, but knew something he shouldn't and was being chased by some guy with money and power. I love Gregory Peck and was fully engaged in the storyline. This morning, I started to think about the movie and my mind started to make a comparison to it and what goes on in the world today. Now, I am going to ruin the movie for you, so if you want to watch it before reading on, reader beware; I am going to spoil it for you.
This movie ends in the evil getting his due, and wouldn't it be great if real life always worked out like that. Peck's character really wanted to help with world peace, and he was working for a man that he thought had the influence and the mission that lined up with getting to that goal. Something foul happened and caused him to have amnesia, and he is just trying to figure things out. Throughout the film, people that were working for the bad guy would try to convince him he wasn't who he really was, while also trying to get information from him. During his amnesia episodes, he was also confused and muddled in his mind.
I feel like that when it comes to politics these days. I don't know sometimes if I am coming or going, who I am, or what is the truth. Sometimes, I wonder if people, in general, have amnesia and have forgotten who they are as a nation. And there are upper echelons trying to convince them they are someone different than who they really are. Who do you trust? Who do you listen to? Where can I firmly plant my yes and no? Then, I realized that the tactics used against Peck's character in the movie were very narcissistic in nature, and maybe they are used in politics as well.
I wonder if a group of people can use these tactics in harmony without even realizing they are doing it. Or maybe they are fully aware. Who knows? There are a couple of tactics used by a narcissist that I recognized in the movie. Gaslighting was one of them, and that is a manipulative tactic that can be described in different variations of three words: “That didn’t happen,” “You imagined it." Others I recognized were blanket statements and generalizations. Deliberately misrepresenting your thoughts and feelings to the point of absurdity. Narcissists weave tall tales to reframe what you’re actually saying as a way to make your opinions look absurd or heinous.
It seems that logical conversations do not happen much anymore. It is difficult to even get down to the truth since these tactics are being used on us every day. Many citizens have just given up and don't pay attention anymore, which can lead to people with not so good intentions taking advantage of people. I know I get weary of it, and I am sure that if one person who might be living with a narcissist would get weary of it, it doesn't surprise me that a whole nation could, too.
This week we are celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. and I printed his "I Have a Dream" speech in commemoration. I feel that his words never get old and are always relevant, especially in times like we are living in now. Because of free speech and a platform, Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech was able to be heard even by those that didn't politically agree with it. Free speech was vital to his mission and is vital to any thriving society.
In the past few weeks, we have all heard the stories about social media banning this person or that person or even whole companies claiming they were fact-checking or the users were inciting violence. That very well may have been a good reason and we all have policies for our platforms. When I had a social media platform, I had mine. It's perfectly understandable to want to define who you are as a company, and I believe any company should have the freedom to do so. Here is the problem that I have with the current situation and why I feel that it is very dangerous to our future as citizens.
There are about three companies in the U.S. that have servers that handle the bandwidth needed to have a social media platform as large as Facebook or Twitter. They have built up their wealth and their market and gained power in doing so. There are only a few companies that handle the app stores and have basically cornered that market to the point where smaller companies depend on them for distribution. Competition has become very difficult. The power these companies have to come together and bully smaller companies concerns me deeply. It is almost as if we have a few monarchies in power that are even beginning to influence our government. King William Gates, King Jeffry Bezos, King Mark Zuckerberg, and others have decided what we are going to say, hear, and read, even on other platforms. They have sent out their decree and it is now done. No one will be able to just switch companies, they want to make their company the only decision-maker in the world, and any company not following their lead will be eliminated.
I don't care who you are, how you vote, or your beliefs, if these companies are able to continue to follow this road, there will be a day where there will be something you feel you need to say, and it will be banned. There might even be another Martin Luther King Jr. out there that someday will not be able to have the freedom to say what's on his mind.
This week we decided to change the size of the paper. I am anticipating mixed feelings from the readers. The broadsheet has been around for so many years, and people, in general, like the familiar. It has taken me a year to change it and prepare for this week. Let me share the reasons I made this decision.
Last spring, I took a tour of the facilities at the Sedalia Democrat where our paper is printed. It was amazing. I felt like a little person inside of a printer. They had all of the same colors that we order for our small printer in the office but everything was huge. Seeing how everything worked made it easier for me to communicate with the company that was printing our paper. While I was there, they handed me some samples of what they could print, and this new size was one of them.
I took all those samples back to the office and browsed through them like I was out shopping. There were so many possibilities to be creative, and I love to be creative. Then, I saw this particular size. It was easy to put on a table, it didn't have to be folded to be read or to do a crossword. They offered so much more color in this product, so I thought, "What a treat for the reader!"
My hope is to think about the practical needs of our audience and help them enjoy our paper more. I also hope that we will be able to grow a new audience and expand.
There are other visions that I have for the paper. I would like to launch the Purple Press again where kids of any age from the Pleasant Hill Schools can write for the paper. My long term goal is to start a training center here in the Times; have a Purple Press editor, writers, and train some to use our Adobe InDesign software and to layout their part of the paper. We have our first kid signed up and we will be adding to the list.
My vision for the paper is also to inform you of local politics. Meaning Pleasant Hill, Cass County, and some of Missouri. Most of our elected leaders, if not all of them, that represent our area are Republicans. This doesn't mean that the paper is Republican, it just means that your representatives are. They may send in Op-eds and we may print them. I might have to start a section for politics and put a disclaimer that anything they say may or may not reflect the views of the Times. I am getting some calls saying that we are a Republican paper, but we try our best to give both sides as much as we can.
Having said that, I would love to see more letters to the editor. It is difficult to put a name on an idea or opinion, believe me I know, but it is important that our voices are officially heard. Your representatives subscribe to and read this paper.
Well, it's been one whole year since I bought the Pleasant Hill Times, and what a ride it has been! I have to admit, there was a moment there last spring when I wondered if I had bought a paper just to close it, but we made it through the COVID scare, thanks to the PPP and your support. We did trim down quite a bit and were even considering going down to one paper a month in 2021, but I am convinced that Pleasant Hill just loves its paper too much. So, here we go, for another year!
I have so much planned for 2021. The website will expand and we are putting together our new video studio to bring you more on the news you read in the paper. It will be a marriage of print and digital and we hope that you will come along with us on the journey. You have no idea how excited I am about this project.
Reflecting on 2020, I am grateful. I am grateful for everything I have learned from my staff, our readers, and just life in general. I want to take this moment in my editorial to thank you as readers. You have been so helpful and patient with us as we keep reinventing ourselves as a staff and as a paper through all of COVID. You have been understanding, supportive, and have confirmed that Pleasant Hill is a very special town.
We will adjust in 2021 and one of the items in the paper that I will want to shift a bit is when an elected official writes an op-ed. I do want to bring these to you because these are your representatives. I am planning a section of the paper where these can be read. This doesn't mean we are Republican or Democrat or any other political affiliation. It just means we are reporting what your leaders are saying. We want to encourage you in 2021 to write letters to the editor if you have something to say about what our leaders have written. Let's have a conversation. I feel personally that debate is healthy and fighting is for the immature. Iron can sharpen iron and we can all get to the truth with a good healthy conversation.
So many good things planned for next year and as we close out 2020, let's be grateful for what we learned and how close we have become. As I close out this letter, I want to say that we lost a precious friend, Joyce Slover, this past week. We got to know the Slovers this past year at No Worries on Wednesday afternoons. She was one of the highlights of my year. RIP Joyce Slover.
I received an interesting letter to the editor this week. The request was to print a five-page work that this man created. Of course, I can't print five pages of a letter to the editor, but the back story and content really led me to think about people and our society. I thought it was a great time to talk about how much we know about the people around us. This is the Christmas season, and COVID is still hanging over us. There are those that have been ill, lost loved ones, are cooped up, and some even before COVID were dealing with loneliness and trauma.
Now, I am not talking about needy people who want to leech on you, but I am talking about people that are really hurting. The young kid on the block who doesn't have nurturing parents, or the elderly person whose friends have passed away, or anyone that is just lonely.
I have noticed that in society we can go years driving to work, parking in our garages, and never really know our neighbors. The big Book, Bible, says to love your neighbor. Well, we have given to charity, have been a part of the food drive, but what about that actual neighbor of ours? This is something I have been asking myself lately.
Thanksgiving of 2019, our neighborhood found out that a gravel company wanted to do business right next to us. It was quite a shock, and we all came together to fight them. It was the first time I met some of my neighbors. There are a ton of nice people where I live. We now share life a little bit more and I hope that if any of them are in need, we can all come together to help each other out. Due to COVID, we haven't been mingling too much, but we are aware a bit more of the needs in the community.
I am hoping that in 2021, COVID will pass, and we will be able to actually get together and share some moments in our lives. Be encouraging to one another and know when there are needs. Even a simple wave might do or if someone is sick and needs a meal. There can be micro needs in this world that I know I don't catch unless I am paying attention. Those random acts of kindness are sweet around town, but what if it happened all the time where we reside? I think it would be pretty amazing!