California Conservation Corps

Members of the California Conservation Conservation Corps, plus Taylor Mattison of the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa (back row, second from the left), are among those providing volunteer relief work in flood-ravaged areas of southwest Iowa.

(Shenandoah) -- So much to write about--and so little time!

That's the dilemma I find myself this Sunday morning. Instead of writing this blog Saturday night, I procrastinated as usual, and put this off until the following morning (but, hey, there were two NHL Stanley Cup playoff games on last night, plus the Rockets-Warriors NBA playoff game!). As a result, I've got a short period of time to pull this blog together. And, there's a lot of things I'd like to touch on.

Here we go:

Spirit Lifters Department: There are things happening in this community and this world that make you want to slap your face. Then, there are the moments that remind you that there's still some goodness in this world. Case in point--the volunteers coming to the aid of KMAland flood victims.

I had the pleasure last week of meeting some volunteers who are pitching with cleanup operations in Hamburg. They include the men and women with the California Conservation Corps staying in Shenandoah. Consisting of members from NoCal to SoCal (northern California to southern California, for those of you who don't know the lingo), these intrepid soles have come to southwest Iowa to do what they can to help flood-ravaged areas cope with--say it all together now--the second major flood along the Missouri River in the last decade. In addition to talking with Aaron Bayhon of Stockton, California--projects conservationist with the corps, I also met individuals from Compton, San Bernardino and other areas of California.

There's more than a few reasons why this group is noteworthy. First of all, being a former L.A. area resident, and 1986 Cal State Los Angeles graduate, seeing all these folks from my old home state was heartwarming. I was also struck by the comments made by Bayhon and the other corps members, who said they had never seen damage like that inflicted by the flooding.

Think about that. These are folks from California, which has experienced one disaster after another--wildfires, mudslides, the Sylmar Quake of '71, the Montebello Quake of '87, the Loma Prieta Quake of '89, the Northridge Quake of '94, and too many other earthquakes here to mention. Then, there's man-made disasters like the Watts Riots of 1965, the Rodney King verdict riots of 1992, and the O.J. Simpson verdict of 1995. The fact that these folks were shocked by the flooding in KMAland gives you an indication of this disaster's magnitude.

When I talked to the corps members Tuesday evening, I made sure to thank them for coming all the way from California to help this area recover from the flooding, and how this former SoCal resident was proud of them.

Another shoutout goes to Taylor Mattison, northeast district field coordinator for the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa. Mattison arrived in the area April 2nd and left late last week--making for a one-month stay to help flood recovery efforts. He was extremely helpful with last week's news story on the volunteer groups staying in Shenandoah. He also expressed appreciation for the hospitality provided by residents in Shenandoah and elsewhere during their service in the region.

There are many other groups and individuals who have donated time to aid flood recovery efforts--too many to mention here. Please know that their work is appreciated. Hopefully, the help will keep on coming, as the recovery will take several more months.

9/11 Survivor Department: For those unable to attend Joe Dittmar's presentation Wednesday evening in Stanton, you missed hearing the story of a man who literally lived and walked through hell. A Philadelphia native, Dittmar was attending an insurance executice's meeting on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center's south tower on September 11th, 2001 when terrorists flying hijacked jetliners crashed into both towers on that momentous day in history. Dittmar discussed how a series of decisions helped him evacuate from the south tower before it collapsed following the terrorist attack.

As terrible as that event was, the fact that anybody survived the trade center's destruction--and live to tell about--is still amazing. Many people experiencing wars or tragic events are reticent to talk about it. That's why it's important to hear from individuals like Dittmar. You can't beat living history. In addition, Dittmar's presentation provided food for thought about the decisions you make on a daily basis, and how they may affect you and others, as well as life's priorities.

Thanks to Joe Dittmar for not only his evening presentation, but also his talks to students in Red Oak, Stanton and Griswold. And, many thanks to Montgomery County First Responders and others who made his visit to the area possible.

Cool Shoes Department: While we're handing out kudos this Sunday morning, how about a big hand--or should I say FOOT--to the Shenandoah High School Visual Arts students. In case you missed it, these students created a pair of sneakers that made the top 50 in the Van's Custom Culture Art Shoe Competition. The contest voting ended Friday. We'll keep our fingers--and toes--crossed, hoping the Viz Art Club wins the $75,000 prize.

Come to think of it, I used to create artwork on my sneakers when I was their age, or younger. Back then, however, splashing your shoes with mud wasn't considered a form of art.

Upon Further Review Department: No, this has nothing to do with Derek Martin's sports program heard Monday through Friday mornings at 11:08 on KMA. This has everything to do with the impact video replays are having on college and professional sports. Case in point: yesterday's Kentucky Derby, in which the winning horse, Maximum Security , was disqualified after replays showed he interfered with another horse--nearly causing it to fall. The Churchill Down's steward's decisions came after several minutes of delay.

By all accounts, it looks like the stewards made the right decision. But, is it just me, or are sporting events getting longer because of constant replays? Virtually every major event is impacted by reviews of some sort. Sometimes, the outcome isn't always correct. That's why a major discussion is needed as to whether replays are helping or hurting sports events. No matter how much video evidence is presented, what is witnessed on the screen is always open to an official's interpretation.

Meanwhile, sports events keeping getting longer and longer. And, I don't see the quality of the games improving.

Okay, that's my two cents on things this Sunday. Now, it's off to cover Beto O'Rourke. Here's hoping the stupid severe weather stays away today! Have a great Sunday!

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