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Monday, August 27, 2007

Don't miss this charity race

Our Walworth County fair has a reputation as one of the best in the country, and people from far and wide make their annual pilgrimage for the six-day run over Labor Day weekend.

There's always plenty to see, but there's added excitement in getting a chance to participate.

That's certainly true for the many 4-H members whose fair projects consume them throughout the year.

Although the official opening of the fair is still three days away, the Walworth County Fairgrounds in Elkhorn have been in high-fair mode for at least two weeks now.

Junior participants kicked off this year's judging Aug. 13 with the arts categories.

By last Wednesday, cats were earning their stripes at the 4-H cat show and Thursday the dogs had their turn. (Look for the next edition of the Thursday Week for our coverage of dog agility.)

There's more fair than can fit in a six-day run. By the time fair marshals Mark and Mary Stinebrink and John and Marian McClellen snip the ribbon at 10 a.m. Wednesday, it will be a race to get everything in by the end of the day Labor Day Monday.

This is my year to be a participant rather than a spectator.

I've been invited to ride in the Celebrity for Charity Harness race Saturday, Sept. 1 during the fair at 1:30 p.m. on the track in front of the grandstand.

I'm taking it that they're using the term "celebrity" loosely. We don't have real celebrities around here-people who are famous for being famous.

Instead, Sue Pruessing, fair marketing and public relations manager, has put together a group of people whose names at least should be recognizable.

The winner of the race will have $1,000 donated to the charity of his or her choice, with lesser amounts going to each of the other charities.

I've chosen the Time is Now, whose column we run each Sunday in The Week. This local organization has found a way to help people in need who have nowhere else to turn.

Also in the race will be:

-- Sheila Reiff, Walworth County's clerk of circuit court, who will be racing for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, dedicated to curing breast cancer.

-- Reggie Michaels of WSLD radio, who will be racing to raise money for Walworth County food pantries.

-- Dr. Deana Courier, a family practice physician, whose charity is the Agape House in Walworth.

-- David Graves, Walworth County's sheriff, whose winnings will go to the local American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

But this is my column, so I'm hoping readers will show up to cheer on my horse.

Like I did at first, you're probably wondering if the participants will actually take the reins and race-now that would be something to see, wouldn't it.

I've been assured however, that we'll just be passengers on a two-seater as we make our way around the track.

There's more than a blue ribbon at stake at this event, so no matter the outcome, our communities will be the real winners.

If you're planning on a visit to the fair Saturday, be sure to wander by the grandstand at 1:30 p.m. to catch the action.

ooo


Post continued HERE

Thursday, August 16, 2007

No news is bad news

When letters, phone calls and e-mails start coming in Monday morning, we know we've done our job to get people reading the paper.

I'll take any kind of feedback over no feedback at all.

Here are excerpts of a few of the comments we've received in the last few weeks:

First, in the previous post on this blog, there have been several reader posts about the United States' involvement in Afghanistan. I wrote in in the post accompanying our story on Lt. Col. John Loomer of Delavan that even if you didn't agree with his assertion that the United States shouldn't be pulling out, his voice deserves to be heard because he'd actually been there.

That elicited this comment from an anonymous poster, "Regardless of any good being done, it is outweighed by the fact that it is an illegal war which is bankrupting our country.

"We need to mind our own business, bring our troops home and take care of our own problems. You can expect more bridge collapses and terror attacks because we have left our country unprotected and destroyed our military."

A post signed by Bradley Geyer asserts that, "The Bush administration had plans ready to attack Afghanistan prior to September 11, 2001. They just needed an excuse."

Speaking of Sept. 11, our letters to the editor have made it to Texas apparently, where Michael Benninger of Fort Worth e-mailed to say he agreed with Bernie Dalsey's guest opinion of a few weeks ago.

Dalsey is one of several regular letter writers alleging the government's conspiracy in the Sept. 11 attacks. In Benninger's letter (read his entire letter on 7A in the Sunday, Aug. 19, 2007 print edition), he writes that the reason the government's role in Sept. 11 hasn't been reported is that the mainstream media are in on it, too.

The other obvious reason is that there is no real evidence that the government was behind the attacks. There's no journalist that I know who would sit on a story like that.

The other point is that citizens should question their government.

On that point, I totally agree. The public shares as much blame as any politician or journalist for abetting the rush toward war. Perhaps if the average citizen was as critical of our national leaders as they are of their local politicians, our country wouldn't be in the current mess in Iraq that it is.

Here's another national issue with local fallout: The raid at Whitewater's Star Packaging that was either an immigration raid or a false identity theft raid, depending on who you talk to.

Our stories last week on a rally marking the one-year anniversary of the raid prompted Dan Emelity of Elkhorn to write that he agreed that our immigration system needs revamping. (read his entire letter on 7A in the Sunday, Aug. 19, 2007 print edition.)

"The sooner the better," he wrote. "However, the answer to a broken system is not to cheat, lie and break American laws.

"The articles presented only the human side of the illegal immigrants. That's fine but totally incomplete and unbalanced."

I replied that we're guilty of the accusation that we tend to focus to a certain degree on the human side of the story.

As a weekly newspaper, we don't cover the depth and complexity of the immigration issue. We leave that to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

When the issue affects people here in Walworth County however, we feel we can make a contribution to the national debate by reporting issues and incidents here in Walworth County.

As for the time we spend on "the human side," we include that because it's the best way to draw readers from all points of view into the story. If people don't read it, we've accomplished nothing.

We also published video of the Whitewater rally on our Web site and posted the clip on YouTube.

Comments there took a decidedly unsympathetic tone, such as, "Why would they be separated from their children? Wouldn't they take their children with them?"

Or, "The Bible also says obey your country's laws. You're breaking ours. Go back home."

Finally, an anonymous letter writer has had just about enough of David Malsch, who writes our movie reviews in the Thursday edition of The Week.

We don't run political columnists in The Week because we just don't have the space to present the diversity of political views that can be found among the residents of Walworth County. We don't run editorials for the same reason.

What we hope to do is add to the political discourse by presenting relative and factual information. The opinions that readers attach to those stories is up to them.

In any case, considering Malsch has given five-star reviews to the last two Michael Moore films, I'm thinking his political leanings aren't too hard to figure out.

The anonymous letter writer, who colorfully refers to Malsch as "David bin Laden," wrote in a one-page tiny-type letter, "For an eternity, I have hoped to read just one, single movie review in The Week that does not contain the anti-American hate speech of your movie reviewer David bin Laden.

"I have lately accepted having to end each article feeling upset by the reminder that every newspaper from New York to Walworth County is run by the left-wing minority.

"I even thought there was a culmination of sorts when bin Laden was able to squiggle in another great bash of President Bush in a review of the Simpson's.

"You, Mr. Plutchak," he continues, "should be ashamed-absolutely, positively ashamed-to allow this in the movie review section of your paper."

Objections noted, and I've passed along the complete letter to Malsch. But mostly, I'm glad that, like it our hate it, readers keep on reading.


Post continued HERE

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