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February 11, 2011


Life on the other side of the microphone

by Deena Winter

So I had my first-ever press conference yesterday. I mean the first press conference in which I’m the one behind the microphone.
During my career as a journalist, I went to more press conferences than I could count. But this time, I didn’t get to stand there and take notes and then think of the right questions to ask.

So, it was weird.

I was very nervous in the days leading up to it, and by Thursday morning my shoulders were in knots from the stress. I’m used to being read, not heard, and do not consider myself a public speaker. My husband, coincidentally, is. He’s an awesome teacher who gets asked to teach young journalists from Texas to South Carolina.

But me? Not so much.

However, I think I did OK. I had the press conference at Rudge Park — which is a park in my neighborhood that has a big pond with no water. It used to be a fishing hole in the summer and ice skating rink in the winter. When I first learned that, I got excited and wanted to spearhead a drive to fill it with water again because I love the idea of kids and families gathering there again. But then the city tore down the old warming house — I guess it was becoming a target for vandals — and when I brought up the idea to my councilman, Jonathan Cook, and the parks director, neither seemed too interested.

Parks Director Lynn Johnson said the city stopped filling the pond with water every year because it cost about $1,000 and some winters it didn’t get cold enough to freeze. He said the city worked with the Irvingdale neighborhood to come up with a plan to take out the stone curbing around the pond and convert the big hole into a big lawn area — but also doesn’t have the money to do that yet.

That frustrates me, and now that I’m no longer a reporter, I have the freedom to do something about it. If the neighborhood wants a big green space, that’s fine, but to me the big empty pond is a sad symbol of the budget problems facing Lincoln.

I don’t understand how the city can afford to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on projects like Antelope Valley and the arena, but can’t afford to put water in a neighborhood pond or keep water flowing in the city’s water fountains on Centennial Mall and near Sunken Gardens.

That empty pond is part of the reason I decided to get involved on a new level, and run for the City Council. It’s great to be bold and embark on ambitious projects like the arena — if we’re willing to pay for them with new taxes — but we’ve also got to figure out how to get back to basics — by properly maintaining streets, fixing bridges and sidewalks and mowing parks. And yes, filling ponds and water fountains with water.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Kris
    Feb 11 2011

    News story on KLKN TV last night about hockey and skating at Oak Lake Park. Reminded me that we used to have a skating pond in our North Lincoln neighborhood as well. Hoping those wonderful, community opportunities that made Lincoln such a great city are not gone forever.

  2. Amethyst
    Feb 11 2011

    Deana is right. It’s the simple things and details that will make us happy to live in Lincoln. We gotten so far away from simple fun that we think we need Justin Bieber to be lifted down from the sky in a little cage to entertain us. The truth is that walking in a park, skating on a pond, going downtown for ice cream or pop corn is enough to make us happy. Riding on a trail, playing Frisbee, throwing and catching a ball in public spaces that are well maintained and safe will make Lincoln healthy

  3. Roberta
    Feb 11 2011

    Also, if you put water in there, ducks may come and people all over the City could bring thier kids there to feed the ducks. I remember doing that as a kid, family pack into the car to go see and feed the ducks. Probably against Health Regulations now.

  4. Ivy Harper
    Feb 11 2011

    Amethyst–What a wonderful description of “happy.”

    Roberta, you’re so right about duck memories. I grew up in Grand Island and one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon was feeding the brown baby ducks at Pier Park.

  5. Jane H Kinsey
    Feb 11 2011

    Go Get’em, Deena. You are right on target.

  6. Marilynn Burbach
    Feb 11 2011

    Great Deena! There has not been real news from CityHall since you “resigned?” from LJS. With you on the city council, maybe your appreciative readers will know what is going on again. I have really missed you.

  7. Roger Yant
    Feb 11 2011

    You are right Deena, go get’em!

  8. The Buck Stops Here, Then We Spend It
    Feb 12 2011

    This story / blog really struck a nerve ! Non-reponsive and disinterested City Directors and ho-hum staff.
    Here’s a dare for you – put out a request to all readers . . . . . . Tell Me Your Story If You Have Approached the City With An Idea or An Offer to Help. You can call and leave a vioce mail and never be called back. You can send an email and never even get an acknowldegement. You can make an automated Action Request and the response translates into non-action.
    Not all City employees or Departments are non-responsive but more than enough have poor cusotmer service and poor public service attitudes.
    Millions for the renovation of the Mayoral Digs. Millions for Antelope Valley. More Millions for the Arena. This certainly is a new interpretation of the saying “The Buck Sops Here” that we heard four years ago.


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