Here are a few of the stories I enjoyed writing during my four years with The Grand Island Independent
. The Independent
's online archives were wiped out in a redesign in December 2008, so any stories from before that time are text-only PDFs from my files.
• I wrote two stories on a tornado that touched down near Aurora, Neb., in June 2009 -- one written the night of the tornado
and the other the following day
• I wrote
about the FDIC's closing of a bank in Loup City, Neb., in February 2009. As with all FDIC closings, the bank's shutdown was announced shortly before 5 p.m. on a Friday, and the story was written that evening.
• I wrote extensively about an April 2007 fire that destroyed one-quarter of the downtown square of Broken Bow, Neb. The fire started on a Sunday night; my initial story
was written the next day. I wrote two more follow-ups
that week, plus a feature
two weeks later on the fire dangers faced by other small-town downtowns.
• When an group opposing a potential school bond in Ord, Neb., hired a controversial Iowa "bond-buster" in June 2008, I wrote
about his history in Iowa and Minnesota school districts.
• After Nebraska's annual state aid to schools was announced in February 2008, I wrote a story
explaining its impact on smaller districts.
• In December 2006, I wrote
about why Nebraska didn't have more wind power despite the state's significant resources. Then, a year later, I explained
why wind power had begun to take off.
• In November 2008, I wrote
about the Pawnee Nation's first major return to Nebraska since 1875.
• A series I wrote in August 2008 examined challenges faced by central Nebraska's smallest public schools. Part one
delved into districts' difficulties finding qualified teachers, part two
looked at superintendents who oversee multiple districts and part three
showed how small districts were using distance learning to level the playing field with larger ones.
• I wrote a two-part series in October 2007 on small towns' efforts to court young professionals. Part one
looked at towns' problems with having too few young people, and part two
looked at what towns were doing to draw them back.
• In November 2006, five months after the local diocese of the Catholic Church clustered several rural congregations in our area, I examined
the emotional and spiritual toll.
From August 2009 through the time I left in April 2010, I authored a beatblog at The Independent in Grand Island, Neb., called The Scenic Route
. The blog, which covered issues of interest to rural central Nebraska, was the first regularly updated blog at The Independent. Here are a few posts from that blog on the amounts of local school bonds
, the area's hidden tourism treasures
, and crane migration statistics