Sundays with Mike

KMA Senior Anchor/News Reporter Mike Peterson

(Shenandoah) -- Sitting here in Media Central Shenandoah, bracing for what will be a very difficult week.

In my last two blogs, I discussed some of the things going on in my personal life--namely my youngest daughter's health issues and my father's passing. In today's blog, I provide an update on my daughter's situation, and add my two cents on some other happenings.

Let's get to it:

ANNA UPDATE DEPARTMENT: This is extremely difficult to write, but it's time to cut to the chase: On Tuesday, Anna joins the list of millions of Americans that are amputees. She will undergo surgery at Clarkson Hospital in Omaha to have her right hand and wrist removed. As you'll recall, Anna was diagnosed this summer with spindle cell sarcoma of the hand. Surgeons removed the lump last month. But, ensuing pathology tests indicated not all of the cancer was eradicated. This is despite a month of radiation treatments and chemotherapy.

As Anna's situation has worsened over the past few months, the support from local residents remains strong. In a previous blog, I mentioned the support from the Shenandoah United Methodist Church. Other churches in the community, I'm told, have added Anna to their prayer lists. In addition, Shenandoah High School continues to send its love and support. I cannot say enough for the teachers who have provided meals for our family. Additionally, some of the students have demonstrated their support by signing a giant "get well" sheet for Anna. Those are just a few examples of the assistance our family has received.

Again, this ordeal has been rough on not only Anna, but our entire family. But, it's also reinforced some things I've felt about this region all along: I fell in love with southwest Iowa when I moved here 30 years ago to work at KSIB. And, I knew Shenandoah, itself, was a great community when making the move to KMA almost 20 years ago. My feelings have been verified.

WOE BIG RED DEPARTMENT: In a previous blog, I mentioned that Nebraska football was a major bond between me and my Dad. Unfortunately, Dad passed away without knowing whether Nebraska's football program would ever be successful in the Big 10 Conference. After the past four games, I'm tempted to say I'm glad father left this world without having to experience another downturn in the Huskers' program. However, I do wonder what Dad would think about Scott Frost receiving a two-year contract extension despite a 4-and-6 record this season.

Some may question the timing of the contract extension announcement, given the 37-to-21 loss to Wisconsin Saturday. But I think it's a good move for many reasons:

1) Husker Athletic Director Bill Moos and other school officials see the folly of firing another coach. There were four previous head coaches since Tom Osborne's retirement after the 1997 national championship. I am among those who felt terminating Frank Solich was a huge mistake. Bo Pelini's dismissal, in hindsight, wasn't a great move, either. The constant revolving door of coaches in Lincoln has had its negative effect on recruiting. With Frost, the school's administration is taking the Keith Jackson approach: Woah, Nelly!

2) Keeping Frost sends a message of stability. Granted, an 8-and-14 record the past two seasons may not send four-or-five-star athletes knocking on the doors of Memorial Stadium. But with the administration's backing, recruits will know Frost will be around for a few more years to continue to grow his program. That's something athletes need to know before they choose where to spend their college years.

3) N-U officials are focused on the long term. Those who believed Scott Frost would turn the program over in two short years were unrealistic. This season has demonstrated Frost and his staff still have a lot of work to do in recruiting and player development. Firing Frost and bringing another coach would have meant another rebuilding effort on top of other rebuilding efforts, Hard to develop a program when you're constantly changing its face.

4) Look to Iowa City. I remember the howls from Hawkeye fans after Kirk Ferentz went 4-and-19 in his first two seasons as Iowa's head coach--including those who felt Bob Stoops should have been hired as Hayden Fry's successor, instead. But, eventually, Ferentz' selection won out. Iowa went 7-and-5 in his third season--including a victory over Texas Tech in the 2001 Alamo Bowl (with Creston High legend Kyle McCann as the Hawkeyes' quarterback). Hawkeyes' fans patience was further rewarded with an 11-1 record in 2002, including a trip to the Orange Bowl.

It can be argued that Scott Frost faced a bigger challenge than Ferentz in rebuilding the Huskers. By extending his contract to 2026, Moos and the N-U Athletic Department are paying it forward, and are giving Frost more time to straighten things out in Lincoln. It's my belief Scott Frost is the man to do it. And, when it happens, Dad will have the best seat in the house!

One other thought: Moos' actions demonstrate why coaching decisions should be made by athletic and team officials--and not by Twitter trolls, bloggers or sports talk show hosts.

THAT DAY IN DALLAS DEPARTMENT: With Dad's passing, it means I'll begin to observe major milestones and holidays without either of my parents. One of the first big anniversaries is coming up Friday. November 22nd. THAT day in history.

Mom and Dad often told stories of what happened on that day 56 years ago, when President John F. Kennedy was struck down by an assassin's bullet while riding through the streets of Dallas. Dad, for example, was working in the cut at Hormels that day. Like millions of Americans, Mom was at home that afternoon, watching "As The World Turns" when Walter Cronkite broke in with the first alarming bulletins.

One of the heirlooms Mom and Dad passed down to me were the newspaper clippings from JFK's assassination from the Omaha World Herald and the Fremont Tribune, as well as copies of Life and Look Magazines. I hope to hang on to that material as long as I live.

For those not old enough to remember what life in America was like before the assassination, someone posted the entire episode of "American Bandstand" from November 16th, 1963--six days before Dallas--on Youtube. It's a fascinating look at young people dancing only a few days before the world was turned upside down.

ELECTIONS POST MORTEM DEPARTMENT, PART I: I'm usually reticent in commenting or analyzing local issues. But, I do believe that Super Vote I--the first-ever combined municipal and school board elections--lived up to the hype, as well as the title we bestowed upon it. Of a particular interest were the results of two Shenandoah City Council races. Clearly, the voters wanted change in electing Jon Eric Brantner as 2nd ward councilman over incumbent Bob Burchett, and Cindy Arman over incumbent Aaron Green in the at-large council race.

There's no doubt that Brantner and Arman are up to the task. However, residents need to realize that Burchett's and Green's departures mean a loss of experience on the council. Burchett, in fact, first joined the council in 1996. Green, on the other hand, has been a voice of reason at times on the council at times it needed it. I won't go any further on that.

Many candidates who run for office--city councils, board of supervisors, school boards--like using the term "I've lived here all my life" as a reason for electing them. Being a lifelong resident is fine. But, serving on any sort of council or board takes knowledge in government operations and legal ramifications. They need to know how each department functions, and the roles that elect officials play in running government.

Brantner and Arman have a big learning curve ahead of them--including, more importantly, learning Roberts Rule of Order. They will have tremendous shoes to fill. But, based on the election results, they deserve the public's supports and best wishes. And, Burchett and Green deserve a big thanks from residents for serving Shenandoah over the past years.

ELECTIONS POST MORTEM DEPARTMENT, PART II: Please excuse my boasting, but I think you would have been hard-pressed to find any media sourse that did a better job in this region of covering this past month's elections than KMA's news department. There, I said it.

In addition to our "Meet the Candidates" interviews, featuring the contestants in some key mayoral and school board races in the area, KMA News also aired candidates' forms on the Shenandoah School Board and City Council races, as well as live coverage of the Clarinda School Board candidates' forum. Then, there was the special 25-minute program examining the Shenandoah School District's $14.7 million bond issue, followed by a three-part series with information on the referendum.

Granted, it was impossible to touch on every council, mayoral or school board race in the area. But, I'll be darned if we didn't come close. The point of this pompous chest-beating is this: there's been a lot of talk about the future of KMA in the community, in light of the recent ownership change, and at least one high-profile personnel departure. But, rest assured: KMA News will continue to be a major player in the local media for years to come. Period. (Okay, end of chest beating)

And now, onto next year's elections and something called the Iowa Presidential Caucuses. 

ONE MORE THING AND I'M OUT OF HERE: With all the family issues, and the election coverage, there's a lot of other things I need to catch up on.

For example, did Disney launch some sort of new livesteaming service this week, or something? I've been too busy watching the impeachment hearings.

Mike Peterson is senior news anchor/reporter at KMA News. The opinions expressed in this blog are not necessarily those of this station, its management or its ownership.