Editorials and columns

Collaboration encouraging, tax talk discouraging

Is it possible for national GOP lawmakers and Democrats to actually work together on something? It’s premature to assume that to be the case, but, at least this week, a glimmer of hope could be seen at the White House after congressional Democrat leaders and President Donald Trump, with ...

What’s wrong? Is outrage really so dead?

Come Heller high water ... ∫ Years after Watergate, President Nixon astonished the world when he told interviewer David Frost that “when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” The idea is ludicrous, right? If true, that would mean we live in a kingdom, not a ...

Time to take off that holiday weight

When the temperature reaches a balmy 48 degrees and folks shed their parkas to stand in line at Dairy Queen, you know spring has reached northern Michigan. With warmer temperatures, we discover that, beneath layers of winter clothes, we added layers to ourselves. Santa gave us his belly, Cupid ...

Changing the face of beauty

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We have all heard that old saying, which first appeared in that form in an 1878 book titled “Molly Bawn,” written by Irish writer, Margaret Wolfe Hungerford. A book review referred to the main character like this: “Molly Bawn is so beautiful, so ...

A prayer for journalists

Thursday was the National Day of Prayer. Alpena News Editor/Publisher Bill Speer, former Lifestyles editor Diane Speer, and Managing Editor Justin A. Hinkley offered the following prayer during Alpena’s celebration of the occasion on the steps of City Hall. Let us pray. Father in heaven, ...

ORVs versus agricultural use

Off-road vehicle laws are a set of laws people know exist, but don’t necessarily know all the specifics of, myself included. I received the following in a letter: “My brother recently bought a John Deere Gator ORV. It’s equipped with a crush-proof cab, plus all the safety accessories. ...

Lawmakers should answer snow day questions

Alpena Public Schools Superintendent John VanWagoner doesn’t need any distractions right now. He is focused on Tuesday’s bond request for the district, and is making last-minute appearances to any group that will offer him a 10-minute platform. And, trust us, he has made many, many of ...

A legislative fix that could help more families

Unnecessary paperwork—or fear—should not keep parents from being able to put food on the table. Michigan parents who apply for food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or who apply for a child care subsidy are required to cooperate with child support ...

Kudos, Alcona County, for mental health training

“Understanding can overcome any situation, however mysterious or insurmountable it may appear to be.” — Norman Vincent Peale The U.S. Department of Justice, in a 2017 paper, estimated that mental health issues are five times as common among men and women in jails or prisons as they ...

Searching for a soothing center

I may have run across the cause of the twisted relationship between Alpena Township and the city: their boundary line. Have you ever looked at a map of the city? If you haven’t, you should. Note especially the northern boundary, where the irregularity becomes pronounced. It’s so ...

Leave the cute ones be

It’s a beautiful spring day in Northeast Michigan. You’re out in the woods to soak in the natural beauty that makes this region such a great place to live, when you stumble upon a small, spotted fawn curled up in a thick of grass. There appears to be no doe around watching over the little ...

A lukewarm endorsement of APS’ bond proposal

On May 7, Alpena Public Schools will ask voters for permission to sell up to $63 million in bonds to raise money for facility repairs, renovations, remodels and upgrades, with a focus on improving school security measures. The bonds would be repaid over 25 years through increased property ...

Opening day of trout season like Christmas

For many of us, today is like Christmas morning. Today is the opening day of trout season in Michigan, and, for those of us crazy enough to wade into streams swollen with melted snow runoff, the experience is both exhilarating and electrifying. I can trace my trout roots to Bull Run in ...

Giving Jesus the helm

Spring is such a glorious time of the year. All of outdoors awakens to shake off its winter attire. Green, grassy splotches emerge, cheery birds chat among themselves, and southerly breezes tease of warmer weather to come. Once the river ice melts and the runoff slows, we unhook our canoe ...

Protect those who protect you: Move over

Our police officers protect us from harm by making sure motorists aren’t speeding or driving recklessly on our streets. Our tow truck drivers protect us from harm by making sure damaged or otherwise immobile vehicles are cleared from the roadway so that we can travel safely. Our utility ...

Why journalists sometimes go off the record

First, a word of advice to anyone who might find themselves being interviewed by a reporter on a sensitive or controversial matter: “Off the record” is a two-way verbal contract that must be struck before the interview begins. More than once in my career, I’ve had the displeasure of ...

Conservation District urges oak wilt prevention

Is there anything better than springtime in the north woods? Walking wooded trails with the spring sun shining through miles of forest canopy around me is the favorite part of my job (especially before the bugs come out). Even just driving around, you see the pastel colors of baby leaves ...

Observational musings by Andy Heller

Come Heller high water … ∫ Bryant Gumbel’s show on HBO took a critical look at the so-far largely empty promises made by the Ilitch family in redeveloping a swath of downtown Detroit. When they built Little Caesar’s Arena, they got $324 million from Michigan taxpayers, money that was ...

Having a brother with autism is awesome

When you think of April, you probably think of April Fools’ Day, spring (hopefully), Easter, or Passover, if you’re like my family and celebrate that. But, to me and my family, one other thing makes April special: Autism Awareness Month. Autism Awareness Month is used to promote ...

Whitmer, GOP: Get us out of neutral on budget

Not surprisingly it appears Michigan residents will be stuck in neutral for awhile regarding any new solution to repairing Michigan roads and bridges. The state Senate transportation budget subcommittee this week removed Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s 45-cent gas tax hike from her proposed roads ...