By Tony Rayl

Down at Pioneer Headquarters, we have noticed from time to time in our “Flashback” feature that history does seem to repeat itself.

For example, it is not unusual, if we are having a particularly rainy period, to read in Flashback that same was occurring some 40 or 50 years ago. The same during a drought. Perhaps weather patterns tend to repeat themselves over time, despite climate change.

However, sometimes it is more than just weather-related coincidences.

This week’s Flashback is particularly full of news repeating itself.

For example, 60 years ago the local school board was considering putting a bond issue before the public in order to build a new stand-alone gymnasium. The cost would be $195,000. The voters did end up passing that bond issue, the end result being what is now affectionately known as The Pit.

High school gymnasiums cost considerably more than $195,000 these days, particularly one as awesomely cool as The Pit. It would cost millions.

As one might have noticed in this week’s edition, the local school board is considering putting a bond issue before the public again 60 years later. (There have been many others in the interim.) Yes, the gymnasium is part of the equation, but this time district leaders are wanting to do enough to extend The Pit’s life well beyond 60 years. The fancier upgrades from the failed effort two years ago seemingly are being pushed aside in an effort to bring down the costs. The main focus seems to be on making the facility safer and more accessible for the spectators. Even the simplest upgrades undoubtedly will cost more than $195,000.

The bond issue for The Pit came at a time when irrigation was just taking hold. It likely was an optimistic period. Six decades later, the irrigation way-of-life is under attack after all these years of mining the aquifer, and many ag producers probably feel the current commodity prices are more like what they were in 1958 than most would like to see. (In fact, the wheat price 50 years ago was $1.30, and corn was $1.06, so prices are a little better today even with the tough ag economy, but inputs are way more also. I am not an economist, so I have no idea what a $1.06 for corn in 1968 would equate to in today’s money.)

It’s a tough sell, a bond issue. However, it seems there is a concerted effort to bring down the price tag considerably from what was was sought two years ago. I have been to Wiggins twice in the past week, and will be there again early Saturday, where I have witnessed a school construction project made possible by a bond issue of well above $30 million passed in 2016, when our’s was being defeated by a narrow margin.

It will be interesting to see where this latest bond issue effort goes, but it needs to be seriously considered. A major component of it will be enhanced educational opportunities for our youth, not athletics, and it’s not going to get any cheaper if we want to keep waiting for the inevitable.

Keep an open mind and let’s see where this goes.

In the Flashback from 50 years ago, is a mention of a German immigrant, Gertrude Colberg, who had been told by the authorities that she can indeed stay in the United States.

Well, what do you know, here we are 50 years later and the immigration status of some local resident are in doubt, just like it was for Mrs. Colberg. Of course, back then we are talking about a German woman living in a community flush with people of German ancestry, so no doubt there was widespread support for her.

Five decades later we are talking about “Dreamers” — people brought here by their parents, mostly from Mexico, who came here through, well, unconventional methods, or shall we say, not through the proper channels. We’re talking about people who have lived here most of their lives. Do they feel like they are Americans? I don’t know; we will have to ask them. Do they want to stay here? Most likely, but again would have to ask. Do they still frequently speak Spanish? Yeah, but so what? German immigrants spoke German in the United States for at least a generation or two, as did any other European immigrants, or those from anywhere in which English is not the official language.

In fact, it is kind of too bad we have lost so many of the “mother” tongues. Somehow education in the U.S. made the wrong choice long ago not to teach foreign languages beginning in early grades. Now we have people from many different countries that can speak multiple languages, while most Americans can barely speak English anymore.

(What is this infatuation with shortening every word possible? It seems like any word that has more than two syllables has to be reduced to one. It does not take that long to say the whole word. It’s not that tough to write out the full word, the exception probably being texting, where a “u’ suffices for “you” and a “r” works fine for “are.” Hey, it’s tough for me to type on those touch screens.)

Flashback shows that trash rates were going up 20 years ago. Well, guess what, some city utility rates likely will be increased this year. Just like 20 years ago, though, Yuma still has some of the most competitive utility rates in the region. People hate seeing that in print, because somehow that should remain a secret, but Yuma is an awesome place for utility rate living, and will continue to be even if some of them go up a bit.

I really didn’t want to finish on defending the city’s utility rates (Curse you, city leaders! The press is here to keep you in line!), but that’s just the way it has to be. However, we do need to find out more about this electrical rate class and rules change (see Public Notices on page 14) just to confirm it is not a rate increase.

Anyway, deadline — and the Green Monster — are calling, so gotta go.


Rayl can be reached at