Tag Archive: Kearney


In my art appreciation class we are studying architecture, and as one of our final assignments we had to drive around town to various addresses and describe the buildings. I have lived in Kearney for almost four years not, and I was seeing many of these homes for the first time. There are a variety of houses that do not fit the cookie cutter mold I expected. I will not go into detail and describe the architecture, because I’m no expert. Instead take a look for yourself. I took pictures of most of the homes with my phone on my tour.

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Homelessness: streamlined

Living homelessness was the goal of the United Way of Kearney’s homelessness awareness event in 2009. That crucial experience is exactly what Kearney needs as the city decides whether or not to open a homeless shelter.

In big cities homelessness is a problem that people must confront every time they are stopped by a panhandler or pass someone sleeping on the streets, but in Kearney the problem is hidden. Our nationally low unemployment leaves most of our population unfamiliar with homelessness, and uncomfortable with the homeless as a result. But our discomfort does not compare to that of someone struggling just to live and eat.

Just how fun is it to be homeless? I sampled it one night, and I do not need seconds.

My fellow UNK exchange student Amanda and I were half way along the 3-hour train ride to the airport in Amsterdam on our way to tour Athens, Venice, and Rome when we hit a roadblock. We had missed the last train from Rotterdam and would be forced to spend the night.

Not having a single person to call for help was a lonely feeling, but not unlike the feeling homeless people experience every night. At 2 a.m. Amanda and I were finally kicked out of the train station. We dressed for the tropical weather we never reached, and it was too late to find any place to spend the night.

The bus stops in front of the train station offered the only windbreak, and a weak one at that. After less than an hour shivering in our shorts and T-shirts we needed a change. We emptied our bags to put on every piece of clothing we packed, and used our towels as blankets. It was about as warm as it was fashionable.

I discovered the real chill in the air that night thanks to the whip of the gray tail of a trench coat. It opened to reveal a faded fanny pack on top of a dirty shirt and pair of pants, topped with a worn fishermen’s cap that hid the face of its wearer. Countless worries flooded my imagination.

Like most Nebraskans, my experiences with the homeless came largely through the TV. On the tube homeless people are either the source of violence or the target, and I did not want to be either. It was passed 3 a.m., I was wearing four T-shirts and a towel, and sleep was not an option.

What would I do if this man demanded the money for my trip? What if he tried to take our possessions? What if he attacked me, or worse Amanda? Could I defend us?

There are more than a few occasions when men in their early 20s feel bold or brave—this was not one. Of the five hours Amanda and I spent outside that train station in Rotterdam not one minute was spent in comfort. Uncertainty and fear were constant and only left when the sun rose and the train carried us away.

Leaving Rotterdam was a relief, but for the man in the trench coat that night may never end. During the day he is harassed by people like us while he struggles to even find a meal or bathroom. At night, he must defend his priceless possessions, like the coat that kept him warm on that chilly night, or the pack where he surely keeps anything of value. At any point he could wake up on the other end of a knife from someone ready to take his life for his faded pack and dreary jacket.

Kearneyites would do well to remember that the feelings of uncertainty and fear they feel around the homeless, are shared by the homeless. The main difference for the homeless is that the fear never ends.

Critics of a Kearney homeless shelter fear an increase in crime, and they are probably right. Inevitably whether for a crime of necessity or otherwise, some homeless person will be arrested. But the price of a broken car window or a stolen I-pod is insignificant compared to the relief a homeless shelter would provide. In fact, given the extreme poverty some people live in, maybe we would all be better off without those I-pods in the first place.

Run with it!

Loper history is teaming with vibrant, passionate, and timeless opinion, and debate. Of those debates that have raged on throughout the school’s history, some have shifted the very core of this Kearney campus, and the students that live here. Shifts in the river of UNK’s history have never been short on causes, but one of the most influential currents at this school has always been the university newspaper.

Who can forget when in its first issue more than 100 years ago the Antlelope editorial board demanded Kearney invest in our youth and train the future teachers of the heartland? Decades later the paper rocked the foundations of the school when, after a particularly one-sided football game against the cornhuskers of Lincoln, its editorial asked, “Is it time to face easier competition?”. And surely no one needs to be reminded of the key role the Antelope played in spurring Mr. Edward R. Murrow to challenge the angry wave of McCarthyism that was sweeping the country in the 1950s.

More recently the Antelope has shifted toward columns instead of editorials, but its opinion pages have lost none of the fire that has been burning for more than a century. In only the last few years a now famous blogger warned the campus of their technology dependency through the Antelope editorial page. The Antelope has challenged the nation as linguistically malnourished, through the writing of a renowned linguist, and even expressed disappointment with the Chief Justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court.

Now is no time to let up. Several topics are ripe for discussion on campus. It is time for the Antelope to make its opinion known.

A topic that is always hot, unlike its food, is Chartwells, which runs campus dining.

Even though someone could blog on this topic for longer than it takes to digest the burgers and chicken sandwiches served in the Commons, I would narrow my topic to what college students learn from buffet style eating. Another offshoot could be pricing, which is outrageous in light of the food quality.

Safe driving conditions is a second potential topic. Perhaps it goes unnoticed, but there are several intersections with limited visibility. Putting new students in uncomfortable driving situations isn’t fair and could be deadly.

Whether opinions about driving or eating find their way into ink, the Antelope is sure to continue its storied role as the center of debate on Kearney’s campus.

ADP Investigation

Thanks to an agreement between the American Democracy Project and the UNK communications department The Antelope will be taking proposals for investigative stories. Though I have not seen the guidelines, I assume the projects will require one or a series of stories on the proposed issue.

Last semester, while I was senior reporter for The Antelope, I tried to take on an investigative project. My topic was the ageless and infinitely gripping, terrifying household adversary, mold.  More specifically I investigated the prevalence of mold in the University Heights Apartments, based on complaints I heard from several classmates.

Even though I was less than pleased with the story I wrote, I did gain some fun experiences. I was denied public information, almost filed my first freedom of information request, received both veiled and explicit though unfounded threats, and got to see a few administrators experience various shades of anger.

Now, I know that may not sound like a great deal of fun, but I had a blast. So, I’m looking for new topics to investigate as part of one of these sponsored investigative projects. As a university, UNK offers a host of interesting topics, from alcohol, drugs and sex, to illegal aliens, to the budget.

But, I’d hate to limit my topics to the ones that seem obvious to me. In my several years working for the paper, I found a number of interesting occurrences that never surface in the papers or even in public discussion. As with my mold story I think we all benefit when some of these more secret situations are aired out in public.

So, I’d like your help. If you have any ideas for a project, that you don’t mind if I take up, or just have something you think should be covered, please let me know. Even if you have an idea you would like to keep for yourself please share it (just let me know you want to claim it).

Writing about uncovered issues can make a difference and lead to change. If you have an issue worthy of an investigative project, I encourage you to pursue the story, or suggest it here for someone else to claim.

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