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Across The Lake

Covering meetings of the school board is never a choice assignment for a reporter. One reason is that being a member of the board is one of the least desirable positions for an elected official, drawing as it does a plethora of criticism and suggestion and little, if any, appreciation. It also tends to make even thinner the skin of board members, especially as they tend to stay in office too long.

That was evident at the last meeting. There was a question about revisions to the school policy book. The questioner never did get a direct answer, the issue is a sort of tense one because of the obvious determination by the chairman that it is their business despite an existing policy to the contrary. Even board member Grant Mistic was confused -- but so was this reporter.

There was more confusion about enrollment. Attendance is down about 26 students from a year ago. Challenging school staff to explain why, board members seemed surprised to be reminded that kindergarten has 16 fewer youngsters than a year ago. Looking around, the board might also have noticed that former member Mark Sparby resigned from the board when he took a new job in North Dakota, taking three students in his family along when he moved there.

Those three would account for some of the one-third of the students who left Blackduck because of families moving out of the district. Economic issues bringing about those moves were the largest single cause of the decrease in student numbers. Another, smaller, number left to take courses not offered here.

Meanwhile, the board has settled on Josh Ziegler as the new school business manager. The decision was made at a meeting of the board where he was offered the position at a salary of $42,500. It was at the same board meeting that member Randy Lange moved to levy the maximum amount possible for next year's taxes. The other new member, Rachel Larson, seconded his motion.

Our youngest recently had occasion to visit Denver. While there, she met with a couple of her friends for dinner at the Brown Palace Hotel's Ship's Tavern. (She said the waiters looked the same as they did 20 years ago, probably wondering if she and her friends looked the same to the waiters.) I think it was one of those friends who had us all laughing, back in their high school days at Columbine High.

The classmate came over one night, with a complaint we sort of understood, saying about the father of another of their friends, "You know the things your parents say to you once a week or at least once a month, and he just said a whole bunch of 'em all in a row." While we laughed at it, we also wondered how long it had been since we'd done the same thing ourselves.

Slogans have become so important in what we buy, what we eat, how we live. A year from now, we'll be exhausted from hearing those telling us how to vote, for whom to vote and how we'll be damned if we don't vote. We'll have lived in the meantime through months of well-chosen phrases, not all of them as direct as the Denver firm suggesting as temperatures started to drop, "Winterize your fig leaf now."

Around Blackduck, a lot of folks hope to be hearing not 'good' but 'great.' Making the town a place where families can enjoy being here, and telling others that Blackduck is a great--- not just good, but a great -- place for families.

Thoughts while drying the dishes... Don't know if they're still using it, but the Bismarck-Mandan Chambers in North Dakota had a great slogan idea some years ago, harking back to the Battle of the Big Horn. Just a simple, "Stay where Custer should have."