The concept of building a community center and a new elementary school facility sounds wonderful, unless you’re fighting hard to just make ends meet and feed your family.

If that’s the case, then the prospect of a significant increase in property taxes seems like a hardship the average household would have a difficulty handling, especially during these sluggish economic times.

Unless you’re on the public dole and pretty much guaranteed a salary increase each and every year, times have been rough on the typical American ever since the Great Recession set in. 

Those who receive their paycheck – and accompanying benefits -- thanks to taxpayers rather than a privately owned company (or as an individual working for him or herself), have a tendency to overlook the hardships of the average person because it (a struggling economy) doesn’t affect them as much. They know they’re going to get paid, and paid well, no matter how lousy the economy is, so they’re more than willing to “contribute” additional money for shiny new buildings and all the advantages therein.

But have we reached the saturation point -- at least in Decorah? Folks here have been complaining about ever-increasing property tax payments for many years now, and that, coupled with the rising cost of housing, utilities, fuel, food, health care, etc., has driven some people to the edge of their financial capabilities. Some are ready to throw in the towel.

That’s why the city of Decorah and School District should think long and hard before they decide to trot out a bond issue(s) for a community center and elementary school. 

Granted a recreational/multi-purpose community center would be wonderful, and the idea of constructing a new school seems more logical than paying for costly repairs to both John Cline and West Side schools, but that’s not the issue … at least at this point in time. The real question is whether or not a local family or individual can handle higher taxes.

For today, I think the answer to that is a resounding “no,” and as a result, either – or both – bond issues would have an extremely difficult time passing (especially when a super majority of 60 percent approval is required). Again, both ideas have merit, but local taxpayers aren’t an endless source of funds, and it’s unfair to ask them to sacrifice more and more of their paycheck.

That needs to be remembered as we try and move forward as a community. Decorah has earned a reputation as one of the finest small towns in the entire Midwest, and the fact that it is constantly trying to improve is undoubtedly a major factor in the town’s success. That being said, however, perhaps we should try and “make do” with what we have until the economy is back on solid ground.

We’ve made some significant changes and enhanced our community quite a bit in recent years – despite a lethargic economy -- and that’s to our immense credit as caring citizens, but for right now, enough is enough.

 

Moonlight Graham

I fell in love with the movie “Field of Dreams” the first time I saw it and the fact I’ve watched it many, many times since its debut has only strengthened my fondness for the flick.

The classic line, “Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa,” still resonates with me as strongly as when I heard it the first time.

And while Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones and Ray Liotta are fantastic in the film, the person who stole the show for me was Burt Lancaster in his role as Archie “Moonlight” (Doc) Graham. But then I’m prejudiced.

I’ve been a fan of Burt Lancaster since I was a young lad and saw him in the movie “Trapeze” with Tony Curtis and Gina Lollobrigida. His unmistakable smile and unique laugh hooked me instantly, and I pretty much made it a point to see just about any film he was in.

Some of my favorites are “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” with Kirk Douglas, “The Rainmaker,” “Run Silent Run Deep,” “Judgment at Nuremberg,” “Birdman of Alcatraz,” “Seven Days in May,” “The Train,” and of course “Elmer Gantry,” which garnered Burt an Academy Award.

He died at the age of 80 but to this day he remains one of America’s finest, most-respected actors. His portrayal of Moonlight Graham was charming and spot on – a Burt Lancaster masterpiece.

I miss him a great deal, but he lives through his work and whenever I think of him I try to smile like he did. To the younger generation who seem to prefer movies about Transformers, a man/spider or zombies, I would suggest you check out Burt Lancaster. You’ll be glad you did.

 

It’s a team game

I’ve been following the World Cup with interest, and have cheered on the U.S. team in their attempt to make history.

Put I remain puzzled why “the ultimate team game,” can often be decided by penalty kicks which involve singular players trying to kick past the goalie. Why should a team game come down to the performance of an individual(s)? It doesn’t make sense to me.

It would be like giving basketball teams two overtimes to decide the outcome of a game and then having five players from each team shoot free throws – one person at a time – to determine the winner.

I realize hockey can also resort to a “shootout” method (one player at a time versus the goalie) when teams remain tied after an extra period or two, but I don’t agree with that either.

Play it out – as a team – until a victor emerges.