Going behind the headlines in Sarpy County and Ralston

Reporter's Notebook shares the thoughts of the staff of the Bellevue Leader, Papillion Times, Gretna Breeze, Ralston Recorder and In The Game. Our staff invites you to join us as we explore a new way to connect with our readers, communicate our passions and cover our local communities. This blog represents the personal opinions of the individual staff members who contribute posts and does not reflect the view of our newspapers.
Klinker: Don’t forget to remember

Klinker: Don’t forget to remember


The excavation of a mass grave believed to contain the remains of people executed during the Spanish Civil War. The excavation of a mass grave believed to contain the remains of people executed during the Spanish Civil War.


It strikes me as ironic that a ruling last week in the European Union’s highest court of law on a person’s “right to be forgotten,” stems from a case out of Spain.

In essence, what the European Court of Justice said is that when it comes a person’s comings and goings andAdam Klinker romances and crimes, such things need not be perpetuated forever in the online universe. Basically, a person has the right not to have a random Googling of their name result in a whole screed of dirty laundry.

Fair enough.

But that the case comes from Spain, where a generation or two or three of institutional forgetting has passed in the wake of the Francoist years, was particularly curious.

Spain’s 1930s Civil War has largely been forgotten, along with the lionshare of its victims. Franco scrubbed the slate clean in his nigh 40-year dictatorship, doing his best to make sure that those who wound up on the wrong side of history would never have a history told.

These victims, which included the poet Federico Garcia Lorca and tens of thousands of other nameless persons, ended up in mass graves. In the wake of Franco’s victory, more victims were pulled from their homes at night and never heard from again. These are people who I doubt would have invoked a right to be forgotten.

And the victimization does not begin and end with the dictator’s bloodlust. Still thousands more perished as martyrs for their faith, politics, work or art — on both sides of the ledger.

Forgetting is an all too human evolutionary characteristic and, in the ECJ ruling, perhaps a blessed one. But in the case of Spain’s earlier amnesia, there remains an unfortunate lacuna.

By May 22, 2014 0 comments Read More
Toni: Meet Editta

Toni: Meet Editta

I have worked here for over a year now and I’ve wanted to get aToni plant for my desk for some time now, but I never could figure out the best plant for an office environment and I wasn’t sure how big of a plant to get.

There were just too many factors and it was just too much pressure to figure it out, so I never ended up getting one.

Until now, that is.

But I didn’t buy this plant. I got my plant, Editta is her name, from a co-worker.

She’s an African Violet and she’s pretty stinkin’ picky.

She doesn’t want to mess up her leaves, so she’d rather drink from the bottom of her pot than the top. She prefers room temperature water. It mustn’t be too hot, or too cold.

She likes indirect indoor lighting and she does not like to be touched.

She’d prefer for us humans to just let her be.

I’ve had her for a couple weeks now. She was in pretty rough shape when she was handed over to me, and I’m convinced I can nurse her back to health.

I’ll keep you posted.IMG_0891

By May 22, 2014 0 comments Read More
Head Bags: A History

Head Bags: A History

“Do not despise these small beginnings” -Zechariah 4:10


One of my largest achievements in my short time here at our community newspapers is being a founding father of head bags. In fact, I was one of the very first baggers.

Due to an unofficial company Christmas outing, we had a set of bean bags in the office: five blue and five yellow. At first, these were part of the popular sand bag, also known as cornhole, where one tries to get the bags to land on a board or in a small hole on said board.

This, however, made me quite bored, so I grabbed a bag and chucked it at the head of Eric Taylor.

And, as they say, the rest was history.

“Hey, throw that again,” Taylor said with a puppyish excitement. And so I did.

I became the first bagger, Eric the first header, and thus the game of landing bags on top of bags with nothing but your head was born.

The story of head bags is far from over, tune in Monday afternoon for a video demonstration of the greatest game yet to be discovered.

By May 9, 2014 0 comments Read More
Klinker: Using our heads

Klinker: Using our heads

head bags

We’ve invented a new game here at the Leader/Recorder/Times office.

It’s called head bags. And it involves everything that two-word phrase entails.

Basically, one player stands two to three feet away from the other player, seated. The standing player (the bagger) proceeds to soft-toss beanbags at the forehead of the seated player (the header).Adam Klinker The bag then falls to the floor.

The object is to land the bags on top of one another. Each bag touching will score points.

The rules have evolved a little bit, in somewhat the same way rounders became baseball, but the greatest thing you can do is land all five of the bags together, touching.

We call it a Five-Bag Charlie.

Last Monday — after one month playing the game with at least one game played each day — Eric Taylor, bagging, and I, heading (the appropriate term for the seated player’s action) became the first head bag team to land the Five-Bagger.

It doesn’t sound like much of a feat, but head bags is a delicate art and the bags, cruel tools of fate.

Keep reading tomorrow for some of the history of head bags and a video demonstration of how the game is played.

By May 8, 2014 0 comments Read More
Kelsey: Who wore it best?

Kelsey: Who wore it best?

As I’m sure anyone who walks into my apartment can tell you based on my twoKelsey stuffed dressers and one overflowing closet, I love clothes.

With my love for clothing comes a love for seeing a good “who wore it best?” photo. It’s always fun to see when celebrities wind up wearing the same expensive, name-brand clothing as one another. And of course, who doesn’t love to decide who accessorized and wore the outfit better?

Something I’ve  recently found to be more fun, is playing who wore it best with your coworkers.

The gentlemen around the office all have ITG shirts in assorted colors. I love when two of them accidentally wear the same color on the same day. To make this game even better, it’s fun to force ask them to let you take a photo of them together so you can tweet it.

So, what do you think? Who wore it best in these three cases?

By May 2, 2014 0 comments Read More
Eugene: I have decided . . .

Eugene: I have decided . . .

. . . who I’m going to vote for in the GOP Primary for governor, and while I won’t say who it is I will explain how I came to my decision.

I was listening to a radio commercial yesterday in which the candidate for whom I will vote enlightened me about what a scoundrel his leading opponent is. The commercial began with scary and foreboding music, which, quite frankly, was enough right there to settle the thing. Who would vote for a candidate whose reputation is so scurrilous that scary music could be associated with it? If there’s scary music, well, then, he must be a scary guy.

The commercial then informed me that the guy is a hypocritical, backstabbing, conspiratorial meanie who – and this was the piece de resistance – is rich. Stinking rich. If you didn’t already hate rich people, you should now. I just find it unforgivable that rich people who could be doing lots of good in the world instead run around stabbing people in the back and being mean.

I didn’t need to see the television commercial that evening to know I would vote for the guy who did me the inestimable favor of alerting me to this danger confronting the Republic, but it helped. There was the mean backstabber again, all over my television screen, his hypocritical mug displayed in hazy black and white. Black and white. Now, who, I ask, would vote for someone whose character is so execrable that his unsmiling mugshot is rendered in black and white, unlike the brilliant color in which the smiling visage of the guy for whom I will vote was promptly displayed?

Some people think it’s hard to decide between candidates.

I think it’s easy.



By May 2, 2014 0 comments Read More
Klinker: Seersucker Season starts Saturday. Got your suit?

Klinker: Seersucker Season starts Saturday. Got your suit?

The author shows off his jockeying skills in his seersucker — sans jacket. The author shows off his jockeying skills in his seersucker — sans jacket.

The Kentucky Derby will be running its 140th race Saturday.

It’s a big day for the Sport of Kings.

But it also heralds the start of my favorite season—seersucker season.

No slave to fashion, I, I don’t wait until Memorial Day to break out my white, rumpled threads.

The Derby is quite sufficient, thanks very much.

Every Friday after the Run for the Roses—and, if I’m in the mood, other days of the week, too—becomes Seersucker Friday around the newsroom.

Currently, I’m the only participant. And have been for the last five years, but maybe, just maybe, this sartorial expression will become more widespread amongst my colleagues.

I mean, come on.

Who doesn’t want to see Eugene Curtin looking like a gruff, Welsh, Southern, sweet-tea sippin’ dude?

Or Eric Taylor in a nice, pink-striped suit, fanning himself with a straw hat at this summer’s ballgames, exclaiming, “Hot today. Gonna be hot tomorrah. Mercy. So hot today.”?

Well, maybe I won’t hold my breath.

My own affinity for the seersucker (which the etymologists tell me comes from the Sandskrit words for rice pudding and sugar) dates back to my time in the Southern states, where any man worth his rice pudding owned one and wore it, every Sunday, usually.

Every spring, I look forward to dusting off and donning my seersucker.

I’ll even try it on in mid-March and, if it looks like the waistband shrunk over the winter (and it usually does), I’ll go on a crash diet so I’m ready for the Derby.

So here’s to Seersucker Season. Are you in?

By May 2, 2014 0 comments Read More
Klinker: Flap over First Lady in Topeka misses point

Klinker: Flap over First Lady in Topeka misses point

I sympathize with the families of the Class of 2014 of Topeka’s high schools.

The announcement that First Lady Michelle Obama would be delivering the commencement speech for next month’s graduation exercises will now limit seating and rearrange celebrations has put many in a bind.Adam Klinker

It’s an unfortunate statement of where the world has come from the days when Harry Truman could stroll around the streets of Washington without a security detail to the now overweening presence of the Secret Service in the lives of our leaders and the NSA in our business.

That said… Come on, Topeka.

Don’t deprive your children of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The First Lady’s visit is meant to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the landmark ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education that began the long process of school desegregation.

Lest we forget, the Board of Education in the Brown case is, in fact, Topeka’s own board.

Whatever you think of the Obamas, the fact that, 60 years after the President and his wife would have been disallowed entry into some American public schools by dint of their race, they, with their daughters, now live in the White House.

This is not only a moment to celebrate the small step of a high school graduation, but also the immense leap the nation has made.

It’s not a moment singularly about Michelle Obama, it’s not really even singularly about the graduates. It’s about marking time in America and doing so together — black, white, rich, poor — a moment largely unimaginable in 1954.

It is a story that the Class of 2014 of Topeka will tell as long as they have breath.

The rest of us should be telling it, too.

By April 24, 2014 0 comments Read More
Five reasons to pick up our papers

Five reasons to pick up our papers

We’re more than just news, we’re neighbors

Whether it be the Papillion Times, Ralston Recorder, Gretna Breeze or Bellevue Leader, our newspapers provide a real service and value to our communities, but not just because of the news. Here’s five reasons you should pick up any of our fine papers today.

5. We’re involved

While there are certain community events and political activities we cannot engage in, it doesn’t mean we aren’t involved with what goes around our in communities. Whether through churches, community groups, or some times, just for the fun of it, we get involved, and we love it.

4. We’re professionals

Eric Taylor Pro Day – YouTube.

From composing on the computer to performing on the field, we hold ourselves to the highest standards of professionalism we can muster.

3. We’re fun

As the video in No. 4 shows, we balance our professionalism with a good balance of fun. Much like a color photo on a page, a splash of entertainment only makes the black-and-white professionalism more enjoyable for all.

2. We’re informed


Let’s be honest, what kind of a newspaper would we be if we didn’t know what was going on within our communities? Through connecting with local organizations, school districts and municipalities, as well as a wide personal network amongst our staff, there are few things going on within our communities that slip under our radar.

1. We’re at home

Sure, we’re an amalgam of six different cities in two counties, but these are our homes. The majority of us were raised in these cities; some of us either have or are starting to raise children of our own here as well. We eat here, work here, and – if anything on this list shows – we play here. Whether it is attending River Fest in Bellevue to shopping at Gretna’s Nebraska Crossing, and anything and everything in between, we do it. We have roots in these communities as much as our papers do.

By April 16, 2014 0 comments Read More
Kelsey: Assembly serves as good reminder

Kelsey: Assembly serves as good reminder

This morning, the parking lot of Papillion-La Vista South High School was theKelsey scene of a two-car crash.

But don’t worry – it was just  a drill. The exercise was designed to teach nearly 800 of the high school’s students the importance of not being distracted or impaired while driving.

While the mock crash was designed for the students, I think it was a good reminder for drivers of all ages.

When I was in high school, I never thought that I or any of my classmates would be affected by a serious car accident. But on May 31, 2007, we all were.

I spent my morning in a driver’s education session with a handful of other girls from my class. Just before they showed us the gruesome videos of crashes, our session was cut short. We had learned that one of our classmates had died after being in a car accident.

The night before, our classmate Cady was taking a friend home from a movie. As Cady was driving through an intersection, a distracted teen driver crashed into her car.

Since then, Cady’s accident has served as a reminder to me every time I get into my car to put the distratctions aside. Because the phone calls, text messages, emails, snapchats and everything else that my magic little smartphone can do can wait until I reach my destination.

By April 11, 2014 0 comments Read More