|Being a Nebraskan – border to border|
|May 18, 2012 Jim Headley|
Jim Headley, Gering Citizen Founder
Last weekend I realized that I am connected to both sides of the Cornhusker State.
I travelled completely across the state of Nebraska to attend a graduation ceremony in Mitchell and stayed in my previous hometown of Gering.
In a very large way, I discovered that I really have two places that I call home – South Sioux City and Gering.
Gering is a special place where I founded a newspaper named the Gering Citizen three years ago with a handful of my closest allies. I am proud that the Gering Citizen is turning three years old this week, on May 20.
Creating a newspaper from scratch is not an easy proposition. In fact, it is downright difficult to even attempt let alone do successfully, and yet the Citizen is thriving.
The creation of the Gering Citizen was not done in the hope of making a profit. In fact, it was a dream that ended up costing me a lot of money. The Citizen was founded during the worst newspaper crisis in the history of our nation and money was not the motivation when it was put together.
The Citizen was created so that the people of Gering would not lose their community voice as the “old” newspaper was fading into the sunset.
I’ll be honest, I was terrified to quit my paying job and go out on my own but I had great people at my side talking me into it.
With Lisa and Nina Betz and Jerry Purvis along for the ride, I just knew the Citizen would be a success. We formed a tight group and attempted to make the Citizen into something that would last.
All too often newspapers become little more than a crime blotter or an entity that merely gives readers reports of what happened at the city council or school board meetings.
We did not want the Citizen to be a boring paper that really didn’t matter.
Instead we focused on the arts community and on celebrating the people of this wonderful community.
It seemed to work as the readership of the Citizen grew and grew.
I was concerned that we wouldn’t reach 100 subscribers, let alone the wonderful following that was created and improved by the people of Gering over the first year of the publication.
I am grateful and proud of what the Gering Citizen has become today.
The foundation of the Gering Citizen lies at the foot of the creator of the “other paper” A.B. Wood.
It is no secret that I am a longtime fan of old A.B. and when I saw the “other paper” closing their Gering doors and moving out of town after being there for 122 years, I just could not stomach it.
I believe that A.B. would have been very angry that the large corporation that owned his paper closed down the building he built as the paper’s home and shuffled its publication off to Scottsbluff.
I didn’t sleep at night during the process of the dismantling of that paper’s Gering office as I was that newspaper’s publisher. At the time it felt like Gering was losing its soul and its voice.
So instead of going with the flow, I talked with community leaders and my closest friends and jumped off the bridge to found the Gering Citizen. I always thought it was something reminiscent of when A.B. Wood first came to Gering back in 1887.
I always believed that A.B. would have made the same decision in this situation and I am proud that the Gering Citizen carries on without me.
Now I am more than 500 miles away as I reside in South Sioux City just across the Missouri River from Iowa and South Dakota. It would be difficult to get further away from Gering and still be in the same state.
Our two cities have a lot in common and yet many differences.
Both communities are celebrating their 125th anniversaries this year and both are wonderful places to live. People here are as friendly as the wonderful Geringites I have grown to love.
I feel very lucky that I am at home on both sides of this wonderful state.
Sunday I travelled home, and in that seven hour, 38-minute-long time on the road, I thought a lot about Gering and South Sioux City.
I am lucky to know the people on both ends of Nebraska. I have roots in the Sidney area while my parents grew up just north of North Platte in the Sandhills. This large state is so diverse that few people get the opportunity to really know the people that live on all ends of Nebraska.
Those from the west are not like the people living in the east.
The eastern side of the state has a lot more industry and jobs. It is very different to travel across the boundaries of three states on a daily basis just to get your shopping done or to see people you know. Life is much faster paced than what I experienced in the west.
I am grateful that my roots lie across this great state. There is nowhere on earth that equals Nebraska.
One of the most fitting things on my long seven-and-a-half hour trip home was the end.
As I pulled into South Sioux City, a song that always reminds me of Gering started playing when I crossed the city line. It was John Denver’s Back Home Again.
Here are the lyrics of that song.
There’s a storm across the valley, clouds are rollin’ in
the afternoon is heavy on your shoulders.
There’s a truck out on the four lane, a mile or more away
the whinin’ of his wheels just makes it colder.
He’s an hour away from ridin’ on your prayers up in the sky
and ten days on the road are barely gone.
There’s a fire softly burning; supper’s on the stove
but it’s the light in your eyes that makes him warm.
Hey, it’s good to be back home again
Sometimes this old farm feels like a long lost friend
Yes, ‘n, hey it’s good to be back home again
There’s all the news to tell him: how’d you spend your time?
And what’s the latest thing the neighbors say
and your mother called last Friday; “Sunshine” made her cry
and you felt the baby move just yesterday.
And oh, the time that I can lay this tired old body down
and feel your fingers feather soft upon me
the kisses that I live for, the love that lights my way
the happiness that livin’ with you brings me.
It’s the sweetest thing I know of, just spending time with you
it’s the little things that make a house a home.
Like a fire softly burning and supper on the stove.
And the light in your eyes that makes me warm.
Read more by Jim Headley