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Jay's Interest: July 2017

Buckle up kids…we’re going two pages this month….

As you know, I TRY to keep this column light and fluffy, but we need to have a serious conversation. I
had LOTS of feedback regarding the topic of our school system in last month’s newsletter, and in light
of the recent votes in Griswold and Red Oak to spend $10 million and $20 million respectively on
facilities, I thought I would go one step further and give you my unsolicited opinion (I’ve realized all of
my opinions are unsolicited) on what I think needs to happen in our district before it’s too late,
because if you haven’t noticed, we’re getting lapped right now by the districts around us, and it’s only
going to get worse.

Let me start by saying this: In a perfect world, we should have one building that houses K-12 and call it
good. Not one person reading this can argue with the economies of scale that are achieved by having
everything under one roof. Now, we all know that isn’t going to happen in this district, for a multitude
of reasons, and we just have to deal with that. Red Oak has multiple buildings, Glenwood has multiple
buildings, Riverside has multiple buildings. The concept can work. Where we failed a few years ago is
that our high school should have been placed at the Nishna Valley campus and the elementary school
should have been put in Malvern. Why?? Because the Valley campus is the central location in the
district for high school students to drive to, and Malvern has the housing and business district to
attract young families with small children. Unfortunately, most of the parents in these young families
work to the west, while our school district makes them bus their kids to the east. There is a simple
reason why Griswold is closing its elementary schools in Elliott and Lewis and moving them to Griswold
– so they can build and sell more houses in Griswold to commuters working in Omaha. Malvern has
the housing necessary to keep the district populated, but if we keep asking parents to bus their young
children 7 miles east, we are wasting our time. We only see the families that move here, but you
would be shocked to know how many families haven’t moved here (I’m talking about Malvern) due to
the location of the elementary school. One of the first things I did when I came to the bank was expand
our hours because we weren’t open long enough for students to get here after school. Why did I do
that?? Because businesses have to cater to consumers, not the other way around. Our school is a
business – parents are consumers. Right now, our school district is basically saying ‘we want your little
kids, but you parents are going to have to put some effort into it’. And when these parents have
MULTIPLE other options with better facilities (F-M, Treynor, Glenwood, Red Oak, Riverside) that work
better for them in their daily lives, those parents are going to exercise their right to say ‘sorry, your
way doesn’t work for us’.

So what would I do?? I would send 9-12 to Valley and play all football (artificial turf), baseball and softball
games there, as well as track meets (all-weather track). I would then formulate the most awesome Arts,
Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Vocational Agriculture/Farm to Home/Culinary campus in the
state of Iowa. I’d find a benefactor to put their name on this Magnet school (yes, I’ve already had those
conversations because, for anyone who knows me, I don’t sit around and overthink things) and watch the
open-enrollment figures disappear. I would turn the Malvern campus into a youth sports mecca with little
league baseball fields and a soccer complex, all with artificial turf. Like I said last month, you either commit
to staying in the game, or get the heck out. This isn’t something that PPEL can handle…This is a $10 million
minimum investment. I don’t know the exact figure, but I assume we lose $600,000 due to open
enrolment EVERY SINGLE YEAR. That money is going to the districts around us. At what point do we say
enough is enough and fight back??

Last week I was doing some late-night golfing at our beautiful golf course – 8:30 p.m. is my favorite time to
golf because I usually have the entire course to myself and it’s the perfect time to clear my head before
getting the kids to bed and starting the daily chaos all over again 12 hours later. Unfortunately, on this
particular evening, there were still 4 golfers on the course and they just happened to be playing the hole
adjacent to where my drives SHOULD be landing. For those of you who don’t know me well, one of my
major pet peeves is having to yell ‘fore’ while golfing because there is nothing worse than having to warn
others that their lives are in peril because you can’t hit a ball straight after 40 years of practice. So after
yelling the dreaded word (with an additional swear word thrown in for effect) I angrily swung my driver
one-handed at the ground (because it’s usually the tee’s fault) and hit myself so hard in my nether region
that I literally fell to the ground. Now at this point I had two things going through my head: I just lost
$100k because there was nobody there to videotape it, and would I ever go to the bathroom unassisted
again. To make matters worse, the bad thing about golf is that there is no way to hide behind an errant
shot – at some point you have to make the walk of shame to go find the golf ball (or balls in this case) that
minutes earlier were hurling through the air sideways at 4 unsuspecting young men. When I arrived and
realized that 3 of them were customers of mine, I immediately stood up straight (not easy) and went about
the business of searching for balls (pun completely intended). Now this is probably where the story should
come to a merciful conclusion…but unfortunately when I hopped back into my golf cart to begin my search
for the nearest ice pack, my battery-powered golf cart apparently decided to become an accomplice to the
evening’s follies and went completely dead. Yes, I probably should have asked the 4 golfers standing 30
feet from me to help me, but at this point I felt that the only way to properly punish myself for the
previous 15 minutes of complete humiliation was to push the cart to the top of hill by myself so I could
then utilize our course’s elevation changes and coast down to the clubhouse, where my wife and kids,
totally oblivious to what had just taken place, came and took me home.

And Finally, I recently read that more than 2 billion people consume insects on a regular basis because they
are high in protein, easy to find, and pretty much free. Some of the most popular insects eaten include
beetles, butterflies, moths, bees, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, crickets and locusts, or basically everything
that I pay Larry Koger to kill at my house on a monthly basis. As you know, I’m an idea man, so if I was
Orkin, I’d start a new “Forkin’ with Orkin” line of microwave dishes. You’d have the Caterpillar Casserole,
the Stinkbug Soufflé, the Grasshopper Goulash, and what I’m sure would be my personal favorite, the
Cricket Crème Brule.

Have a great Independence Day!!!


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