Archive for Wednesday, November 10, 1999

Shouts and Murmurs

Now is the right time to take stock

November 10, 1999

It hurts too much to imagine the events that led to the death of 14-year-old Camille Arfmann whose body was found Monday morning hidden under trash and dirt in a ditch near Oskaloosa.

Camille was an honor student who had planned to spend Friday evening with her church youth group.

After her family reported her missing early Saturday morning, area searches turned up nothing until a Monday morning telephone tip indicated her whereabouts.

Camille died of a gunshot wound.

As friends and family prepare for her funeral, Thomas E. Bledsoe, 25, the brother of Camille's brother-in-law, is being held in the Jefferson County Jail in connection with her death.

As I listened to the news of Camille's death on the radio yesterday morning, I wondered what can we as parents do to ensure that the people our children are with will not harm them?

With Pamela Butler, the 10-year old Kansas City, Kan. girl killed last month, the person charged wth her death was a stranger.

With Camille, the person charged was a relative.

So, we're reminded all too well, once again, how difficult it is to shield our children. We do the best we can and we hope that is enough, but whether the kids are street-wise or not, whether they're surrounded by family and friends or not, there's tragically, sometimes little we can do.

Vigilance is one thing, yet how do you give a child freedom and teach independence while shadowing his or her every move? For Camille Arfmann and Pamela Butler, it is too late. But for our own children, there is still a chance.

Always is the time, and particularly now, to remind children of the importance of taking care of themselves and to talk to them about knowing how to know who they can trust. In short, it is time to take stock.

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  • Thanks to Jean Lenahan for leaving a bag of surprise-lily bulbs at my house. My green thumb didn't work so well this summer, perhaps because of all the rain we received during the spring, and the July drought that followed. I had saved a bushel basket of canna bulbs from the previous summer. The plants popped up, but not a one of them bloomed. Tonganoxie used to have a gardening club does that exist anymore? Some of us novice gardeners could stand advice from those in the know.

I must admit that I lost some of my zest for gardening after someone stole the second gazing ball from my yard in July. After the first one disappeared in June, a friend gave me another one. Just two weeks later, it was gone, too. I know they were just common lawn ornaments, but there's something about seeing nature reflected in a gazing ball that gives a feeling of peace and serenity money can't buy.

In talking to some of those who live in my neighborhood, it seems the incidents of small crimes, such as car burglaries and vandalism, are on the rise. Perhaps it's time for us to come up with some "Neighborhood Watch" groups in Tonganoxie.

You may know that The Mirror has an internet site at www.tonganoxie mirror.com. The site includes a forum where readers may make comments.
I'm curious to learn what issues readers would be interested in working on together as a community.

One new group in town, "Have a Heart," is looking for ways to find homes for stray animals that are dumped in our area, and also to find ways to help people pay for spaying and neutering their pets.

What are some other issues that we, as a community, should be looking at? As our city grows, chances are, problems we face today will be magnified tomorrow.

The times are changing faster than we realize. Three Kansas City billboards caught my attention recently. Two featured Marlboro men, one offering a cigarette to the other. On one, the response was, "No thanks, I've got emphysema." On the other, the response was something like, "No thanks, I'm missing a lung."

And then there's the all-timer a billboard that asks in big, bold print: "Who's the father?" and gives a number to call for DNA testing.
And so, as life continues in our little city and the big town influences continue to advance our way, we must be prepared for the things that follow.

Let us know what issues are important to you, and let this newspaper and our website be a forum for community concerns.

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  • Tonganoxie may have a few skeletons in the closet, so to speak, none that we know of in particular but it's likely they're lurking out there somewhere. But thankfully, all the digging on Fourth Street has yet to uncover any serious mysteries whew we wondered when that strange tunnel (a coal storage area) turned up next to the old bank building at the corner of Fourth and Bury.

Terylan Walker tells us that when her grandmother ran the laundry on east Fourth Street, it was possible to go beneath Fourth Street from a hole-in-the-floor entrance to the basement.

Reminds me of the city of Ellinwood, Kansas. For a small price, tours of the city's original underground downtown are still available. I've walked through the tunnels myself, an interesting place to visit.

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