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RIP Dennis

Leader Publishing Company lay to rest one of our employees today. Dennis Miller was more than a co-worker, he was our friend. He almost always had a smile upon his face. If he wasn’t smiling it was because he was contemplating something. He was a fixer.

If we needed a plumber, we called Dennis first. If we needed computer help, we called Dennis. If we needed an electrician, we called Dennis. Although Nancy, the owner of LPC, frowned upon this practice. She was afraid he would either (a) electrocute himself or (b) burn the building down. But she often gave in and let him handle the minor jobs.

Dennis not only helped us at work but oftentimes would come to our houses to help with minor repairs. He enjoyed solving the problem.

When I first started at LPC, 17 years ago, I saw Dennis as a printing specialist. He ran all the smaller printing presses and he had an eye for perfection. I found out later that he had not been at LPC much longer than I had but he was a seasoned professional.

Later down the road, he became Production Manager, a title he hesitated at first to take but one, I believe, he became proud of. When we started using color photos in The Salem Leader and The Salem Democrat, his eye for detail became evident. He insisted on producing a product that he was proud of. A product we all could be proud of.

At one time Dennis owned and flew his own airplane. I loved hearing stories of how he and his wife, Carol, would fly to Pigeon Forge just to eat dinner. I especially loved the story of him flying our then production manager, Walter, to pick up a piece of equipment. I got the feeling from hearing Dennis laugh during the tale that Walter was opposed to flight turbulence and possibly never flew again after that experience.

Dennis and Carol loved to fish and would often take a week’s vacation to travel to see family, camp and fish. He always came back with stories of their adventures. I also helped contribute to his fish obsession by sharing …   More

Celebrate Elvis

I’m a little too young (I like saying that) to remember the Elvis craze. He died in 1977 when I was only eleven. But it would be impossible to grow up without knowing someone who loved the man and the legend.

For me that person would be my Aunt Carolyn. It was from her that I learned about his movie career because on his birthday or anniversary of his death or maybe both she could be found in front of the television watching an Elvis movie marathon.

I consider his movies cheesy but you have to look at the times…also at the movie theatre was Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon movies, oftentimes being box-office smashes. Both genres featured good times and lots of singing. I have to admit that even though I don’t consider the Elvis movies cinema masterpieces, I enjoy watching them.

Many people remember the day Elvis died and how it affected them and their loved ones. Lots of tears were shed at his passing, which is kind of ironic since a lot of tears were shed also in his early years as girls fell in love with him.

Whereas the Beatles represented a wholesomeness, Elvis brought with him a little taste of bad boy with his flailing and gyrating. His elaborate lifestyle also gained him attention and that can be witnessed to this day by simply visiting Graceland. His appeal is one that spans the generations and shows no signs of waning.

This year, August 16, marks the 40th anniversary of his death and Leader Publishing Company has decided to commemorate this event with a special keepsake booklet. It features stories about Graceland and introduces the new guesthouse that you can stay in at Graceland; stories about his Army days; lavish wardrobe and family life. Photos of Elvis including family photos are also included.

The books will be on sale in our office for $5. There will be a limited supply so if you are an Elvis fan, better get your copy today.

If you have memories of Elvis, please feel free to share them on our Facebook page, …   More

You cut your hair?

You know those mom moments when you are hustling and busy and paying attention, but not really paying attention? Then, something happens and you play back everything in your mind and realize that it was there, you just missed it?

That was my weekend.

Trying to get three kids ready to leave the house is an experience. Making sure everyone has brushed their hair, is completely clothed (in something appropriate for the public) and has shoes on takes a good amount of time in my house.

Saturday we were getting ready to head out for the day. My husband was taking our 8 year old on a mountain bike ride and the other two and I were going to do some shopping. I was braiding my daughter’s hair to keep it out of her face, when my 3 year old comes up with a handful of something that resembled feathers and smiled at me. I said, “What is that?” She said, “Feathers from the green pillows on the couch.” Hmmm, ok. Not happy she is pulling feathers out of the pillow, but no time to deal with it now.

“Throw it away. Don’t do that,” I said. “We have to go.”

She turns and heads toward the trash can. I notice she has her small scissors in her hands, but I didn’t think much about it. She is always cutting up paper and working on craft things in her play area.

We get everyone loaded up and head out the door for a day of family fun. Halfway to our destination, which is about an hour away, my oldeset says, “Oh my gosh! Did you cut your hair? It looks like you have bangs.”

I turn around to see who she is looking at and I see it myself.

Bangs. On my youngest child. The same child who just had scissors in her hands.

“What?” I said. “Those weren’t feathers were they?”

Her eyes get big and she grins and shakes her head vigorously.

Then, I bust out laughing. Because guess what? Those bangs actually look awesome!

I quickly got it under control as my husband looks at me from the driver’s seat, wondering what in the world is …   More

Football preview

It’s finally here. With the start of the week on Monday, official practice for the fall sports season opened along with it. Yes that means football! In the spirit of the start of practice I will be giving my thoughts on the upcoming season.

There will of course be some major questions surrounding all three teams this year. I’ll start with the defending county champs in West Washington.

The Senators will have some big holes to fill all across the board. They lose Quarterback Michael Sizemore, most of their receiving corps, many lineman, and their entire starting secondary. But perhaps no bigger shoes to fill than all world player Landon McPheeters. He will leave a gaping hole not just on offense running the ball, but on defense. He made up a lot of tackles on the defense. They return running back Jacob Farris who was McPheeters back up for two seasons. He will step in and ease the pain of losing their bell cow. Nick Marrs will also step in as the new signal caller. He is a good athlete and a bit bigger than Sizemore was. Marrs will be able to do some damage with his legs.

It will be interesting to see how they fare in the PLAC. Mitchell should be good again. Paoli will be improved I think. If they are going to come away with a third straight PLAC title, it will be tough I think.

Salem too will have some questions and holes to fill. Like West Washington they lose their signal caller in perhaps the biggest hole to fill. Seth Hobson is heading to continue his football career at Indiana Wesleyan and leaving gigantic shoes to fill. Brandon Corbin will do his best to step in and try and be Salem’s new Superman. The Lions also lost several lineman on both sides of the ball, as well as some in the secondary. They do return fullback Kory Akers, as well as Primetime Top 25 player Evan Brishaber at receiver. He is also joined by Clayton Ratts returning at wide out. They will all help make the transition for Corbin easier.

I expect the MSC to be a …   More

What an adventurous summer!

Summer vacation fun is quickly coming to a close and I honestly can say it was the fastest summer break I can remember!

I always start summer break at our house with a bucket list. It seems so often we have these grand ideas and then the summer comes and goes and it just gets away from us.

This year, however, we had plans already set in place, so a bucket list was not necessary!

Our family was lucky enough to go on a couple of adventures this year and boy, did we make some amazing memories! It’s funny how when you’re planning out your summer, you are excited for the adventure, but after spending two of the four weeks of July traveling, we are happy to be home, getting ready for the start of a new school year.

We loaded up and took our three daughters out west at the end of June, visiting Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone Park. We hit four new states for all of us on the way out: Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Montana. They were all beautiful and adventurous!

My husband and I love the outdoors and knew we would make a trip like this some day. When a good friend told us he was getting married in Colorado in July, we knew we had to make the most of the adventure.

We are a tent camping family, so we decided to pack our camping supplies, bikes, etc., and enjoy the national parks on our trip and we have no regrets about that decision!

Being limited on time, I feel like the trip was more of a “get a taste of all these places and choose where to come back later!” We only stayed a day at most places, which wasn’t nearly enough to see everything!

We loved the rock formations of the Badlands and being able to say they “camped in the Badlands” is something the girls think is pretty cool. We loved the wild animals at Yellowstone and even got a cool video as we passed a bison climbing up the mountainside. The girls also can now say they climbed a mountain after climbing to the top of Mount Washburn with their …   More

Who thinks you are special?

As I write this today, the countdown to my favorite day is one week. When I think back to my very first day of school, I remember the excitement of standing at the end of the driveway with my Flintstone lunchbox. I couldn’t wait to get on the big yellow bus and get to my school. Since then, every single “first day” of school has had the same excitement.

For me, school was (is) a magical place. My elementary teachers had strong and wonderfully expressive voices. Each day, after lunch and recess, we were treated to a chapter of a book. Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Charlotte’s Web, Old Yeller and where the Red Fern Grows were all books I heard one chapter at a time. My teacher would settle us at our desks, turn off the lights, and we were encouraged to put our heads down while she read one chapter. We always pleaded for one more page. I never wanted that time to end. And to this day, when I get close to the ending of a really good book, I read just a little more slowly because I don’t want my time to end.

While story-time ended in 6th grade, it was replaced with changing classes, new activities, exploratory courses and newfound freedom. It was a time for growing up and becoming more independent. My very favorite 8th grade teacher taught economics. He was a war veteran and it was rumored that he had gone through some terrible battles. His voice wasn’t very strong, but he stood erect and demanded attention. As he explained the fundamentals of economics, he intertwined stories of being in Europe, both during the war and personal travel. He used his war experiences to help us understand supply and demand. Having grown up in the depression, he had real-life examples of how the economy can impact lives. That year, I learned how one person can change a life forever. He made me long to see places I’d never visited. He helped me understand that life isn’t always fair. He encouraged me to follow my dreams. He became my first …   More

Kid at Heart

Maybe I’m a kid at heart but I absolutely love the newest thing to hit Salem, salemindianarocks. For those of you who don’t know, this is similar to a scavenger hunt in where you find and relocate decorated rocks around town, hopefully posting your finds to the salemindianarocks Facebook page.

If you are so inclined, you are also invited to paint and hide your own rocks. I have seen rocks decorated on all spectrums, from near professional renditions to rocks painted with a more abstract approach. All are beautiful and fun to look for.

I noticed the other day that a new form of decorating is trying to get started. It is a quilt design where the rock is divided into squares and as it is found, one square gets decorated thus making it similar to a quilt when all the squares are filled. I’m anxious to find one of those.

I found a rock outside the Leader office the other day and was so excited that I brought it in and shared it with my co-workers. We, of course, took a selfie with the rock that was gold with a heart on one side and a peace sign on the other and posted it to the website.

My son said we looked ridiculous and maybe we did but it was a fun ending to the workday. It was rehid that very evening.

This activity is the brainchild of Crystal Davis and her fiancé, Rowan Brough. They stumbled across the idea while in Louisville. She said finding the rock and rehiding it put a smile on their faces when they were going through a tough time and with all the negativity in the world she wanted a way to put a smile on others’ faces.

I hope that the activity continues and doesn’t slow down. It is truly a fun way to engage not just children but an entire family. The world needs more of that.

What a great activity for kids of all ages, encouraging creativity and getting them outside and being active. Community pride is also prevalent. Lots of people are getting into the act. I invite you to join the fun, if you haven’t already.

  More

How Salem schools handle disciplinary issues

A brief explanation of how schools approach severe behavior incidents:

If we suspect a student of any criminal activity, we notify police.  The police determine if the actions are unlawful or not. If the action is not unlawful (according to police), we try to determine if the behavior was committed on school grounds, during an offsite school activity or to or from school. If it does, school discipline rules apply.

The only time a school can discipline a student for behavior (including a social media posting) that occurs on their own time is when it disrupts the educational process (if we evacuated the school, went on lock down, etc.) or they are an athlete or in a co-curricular activity (band, choir, club). Disciplinary action is then restricted to that activity because activities are considered a privilege, not a right, and students understand if they misbehave anywhere they can lose a privilege.

If the behavior was committed during school time, as previously described, we would give the student their legal Due Process.  Due Process is basically a guarantee that government is treating students fairly. This means we investigate the situation to gather information and we interview the student and any others who may have information about the incident.  Once that is complete and we have evidence a particular student’s behavior was committed during school time, that person is subject to discipline. In cases involving severe behavior, this means being removed from school.  This is typically a suspension, pending expulsion.  From the expulsion hearing, the hearing officer can expel the student for up to a year, return the student to school under probationary terms or a mixture of those two options.  The outcome of a hearing depends on the specifics of the situation.   More

Pies, Pies, Pies

I'm feeling rebellious, y'all.

And because this is my blog and I can, more or less and within reason, do what I want with it, we're going to deviate a bit from our regular programing, but don't worry — the deviation includes both full recipes (no clicking links!) and pie. Three of them, in fact.

In April, Vanessa of V's Gourmet to Go offered a pie-making class at her shop. I would have expected at least one or two people to sign up, but as it turned out, I was the only one who showed interest. Instead of just canceling it, Vanessa suggested she hold a pie-making class just for me. How do you say no to that?

The pies we decided on were key lime (so perfect for spring), French apple tart (perfect for fall) and a chocolate truffle tart (perfect for always). We started with the key lime. This one was the simplest and probably the quickest one to make.

Ingredients:

CRUST

• 1 and 1/2 cups (150g) graham cracker crumbs

(about 10 full sheet graham crackers)

• 6 Tablespoons (87g) unsalted butter, melted

• 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar

FILLING

• 2 cans of condensed milk

• 5 egg yolks

• 1 cup of fresh squeezed key limes

Start with your graham cracker crumbs and mix with melted butter and sugar until it looks like thick, coarse, wet sand. Press this into a dish or pan and slightly up the sides, just like a cheesecake crust. This recipe will fit a standard, 9- or 10-inch pan. Vanessa then took the bottom of a flat measuring cup to make sure the crumbles are tight and compact.

    Then, it's time for the filling, which is probably the easiest of all if you're pretty good at separating egg yolks from whites (if you're not, this gets messy). Vanessa pours the egg into her hands, allowing the white to drain into a bowl placed beneath them. Because I have an aversion to getting slimy stuff all over my hands (or gooey stuff or sticky stuff or … yes, I know, I'm a prissy mess and …   More

See ya next year Alumni Banquet

It’s that time of year again…alumni banquet season. I love this season for the sheer fact of getting together with people whom I may have nothing in common except for the bond of graduating from Salem High School.

I had a great high school experience and I’m sorry for those who did not. I made life lasting friendships and even snagged my husband (even though I didn’t realize it at the time) when he was a mere 15 years old.

This year’s banquet was fun as usual at the “rowdy” table. Years separate those who gather at the back corner table but we still enjoy each other’s company. My group includes fellow 1984 graduates Kelly Newby Coats and Jennifer Weaver Martin and of course, my husband Duane, class of 1985.

Kelly’s sister, Kristy Newby Busher and her group of 1990 graduates usually join us as does her son (noticeably absent this year due to a work commitment in North Dakota) and his friends, her “adopted” children. This year the young ones celebrated their 5-year anniversary of graduating from good ole’ SHS. They were the youngest attendees with the exception of the 2017 classmates and garnered a round of applause from our table. We are trying to instill good alumni banquet etiquette on them.

Also near to the back table are the Hardin siblings, Donna, Linda and Mike. Donna tries to keep order but more often than not finds that a hard task. They were there also this year in support of their nephew, Jared Hardin, who accepted admittance into the alumni association on behalf of the class of 2017. Jared’s dad, Melvin, also class of 1984 and mom, Leann (a West Washington graduate), also came to support their son.

Jamie Richardson, now a celebrity after his stint as emcee during the 2016 alumni banquet, is always in close proximity as was his sister Angie whose daughter is also a member of the 2017 graduating class.

This year I also got to visit with my first boss after college, Mary Kay Fultz. Sometimes the alumni banquet is …   More

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