In order to get to know your neighbors, you have to be willing to reach your hand out and be part of the process.
Since 2016 I've been getting to know more about modern Green, Stephenson and Lafayette counties. They aren't the same places I visited when I was a kid. Things have changed, but the hearts of the people have remained the same. And that's the most important part of keeping a community genuine.
David Mosher called me a couple months ago and asked if I would speak to the Monroe Kiwanis Club. I said a quick "yes" and he said the first available date was July 12, which I snapped up.
The Kiwanis met at Turner Hall last Thursday and their meeting started with a fabulous meal -- three entrees including roasted pork -- one of my favorites, several side dishes and the salad bar. After meeting the folks at my table the meeting began with a song followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
The speaker goes last at the meeting and it was fun for me to watch the Kiwanis conduct business. One of their practices is collecting a dollar for members who wish to make announcements. Although stories were told of upcoming medical procedures and topics of a personal nature, it was informative and fun. There was a lot of laughter and I knew this was a great local Kiwanis Club.
When it came time for me to speak I told the Kiwanis the common ground I had with them, as I had been in Key Club in high school. I thanked them for their service to the community and their fellow man. Then I gave them a quick biography of myself and started talking about The Monroe Times, Monroe Shopping News and our websites.
Of particular interest was the newsprint tariff placed on Canadian newsprint that recently caused our newsprint prices to go up 30 percent. It has been the key reason we switched from publishing in print six days a week to two days a week. I explained most people understand the need for us to make this change. It was either raise annual subscription prices to nearly $350 from $175, or reduce the frequency of the paper and reduce the subscription price to under $100. Understanding the financial situation the tariff has put The Monroe Times in, several Kiwanians were kind in saying we made the right decision.
I don't talk about the politics involved in the tariffs that are being experienced now worldwide by our federal leadership. Our nation is polarized and getting involved in a political discussion is simply juggling dynamite. Certainly people have to stand up for their rights and voice their opinions. When it comes to the tariffs, our newspaper printed an editorial against them asking readers to contract their Congressional representative. That's the best we can do without upsetting the whole community. With tariffs now impacting steel, aluminum and most recently, cheese, people are getting a more round picture of what some of these moves are doing to job security, wages and the stability of businesses. It's frightening to be in the cross-hairs.
We had a great question and answer session at the meeting and I felt the community interest of the Kiwanis. We talked about some of their favorite features in the paper, including "Moments in Time" and "Best Friends." I asked those assembled to raise their had if they had been featured in either column and nearly half of those in the room -- among a crowd of 40 -- held their hands high.
I said The Monroe Times as a newspaper is a reflection of the community and the stories and photos on our pages reflect what's happening. We go about our business informing the public and chronicling the history of what's happening here. I said one of the thing that's easy to see among the involvement of the Kiwanis is a love of community and a love for neighbors and family. The Kiwanians have reached out their hands to join with their fellow man.
We're blessed to have a vibrant Kiwanis Club in Monroe and it was my pleasure to be their guest.