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Observations made as a result of our current election

NIAGARA, Wis. — No, this is not 2000 … but in some respects, it feels that way. That was the year that Florida’s voting machines held up the count, and we seemed to wait forever to find out whether George W. Bush or Al Gore would lead the country. Images of poll workers staring cross-eyed at each ballot to determine whether it was a “hanging chad” or just a “dimple” still dance in my memory. And the Supreme Court intervened. In the end, Al Gore conceded the election, and the rest, as they say, is history.

As I write this column today — a day past my deadline — we are still without a definitive result to our national election. We had all been warned well in advance of Nov. 3 that we would not, as a nation, know the results of this election in as timely a manner as we would like or to which we have become accustomed. While I am not surprised, it is still a bit disconcerting, especially given the myriad of issues that need to be addressed. But I also believe that many lessons can be learned as a result of election 2020.

First, our democracy exists despite the many efforts to thwart it before and since election day. We have had to come to terms with false reports of ballots gone awry in the mail, efforts in many states to make voting more difficult, disappearing ballot-collection boxes and the boisterous claims of a sitting president that the very process that has, indeed, always made America great is now suddenly corrupt and cannot be believed. I have seen a lot of history in my 69 years, but that is a first!

Second, despite every effort to squelch the vote, American citizens turned out in record numbers to exercise the right guaranteed to every American. We have a voice that will not be muted. We come from a brave history of ancestors who fought long and hard to win that right when the Constitution that granted it to many left them behind. And, now that those votes have been cast, they unequivocally deserve to be counted, no matter how long it takes.

Third, maybe it is time to have a core set of national voting regulations aimed at avoiding what we are experiencing this year. National standards that set a start date for voting, an end date for ballots to be cast, acceptable methods for voting, standardized procedures for counting ballots and the establishment of the number of polling places based upon a region’s population would be a good starting point. This standardization would offer acceptable options, from which each state could select, that would best meet the needs of their population. And, most important, the standards should be aimed at making it as easy as possible for American citizens to exercise their right to vote.

It is difficult for most of us, living in our lovely rural area, to even relate to how difficult it is for many Americans to just get to their polling place. Then, because our population is not as dense as urban areas, we cannot fathom standing in line for hours on end to cast our ballot. Given how long the lines were at many polling places and the obstacles faced by many, it gave me great pleasure to see Mother Nature smiling down on us with sunny skies and warm, dry air. I choose to believe that is a good omen for the final result of the ballot counting.

Speaking of ballot counting … God bless the poll workers! They give hours of their time making sure the voting proceeds in an orderly fashion. And they spend many more hours counting ballots — not hiding them or disposing of them — under the watchful eyes of bipartisan observers. They have an important role, and they take it seriously. And this year, due to COVID, they risked their own health to do that job.

Finally, we can all look at this election as an exercise in patience. Granted, we Americans are not a patient people by nature. But this time in our history demands patience from each of us; patience to let the democratic process work itself through as our founding fathers designed it.

I receive a daily newsletter titled The Morning, written by journalist David Leonhardt of The New York Times. This morning’s newsletter bearing the headline, “The President Versus Democracy” is worth sharing with you here. Leonhardt writes …

“This is a dark and dangerous moment for American democracy. A sitting president has spent months telling lies about non-existent voter fraud. Now that his re-election bid is in deep trouble — but with the outcome still uncertain — he has unleashed a new torrent of falsehoods claiming that the other side cheated. He has demanded the Supreme Court intervene to decide the election in his favor.

“His supporters are staging protests in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania meant to interfere with legitimate vote counting. … The worst democratic outcome — in which judges appointed by the president’s political party intervene to overrule the apparent will of voters — seems likely to be avoided. The Supreme Court has shown no signs of halting vote counts, and Joe Biden’s leads in the decisive states may end up being large enough to avoid the election hinging on the sort of ballot-counting minutiae that decided the 2000 results in Florida.

“But President Trump’s actions are still causing significant damage. They undermine his supporters’ faith in the country’s government. They also undermine the credibility of the United States around the world. And they force election officials, journalists and social-media platforms to choose between telling the truth and sounding nonpartisan; it is impossible to do both about Trump’s election claims.

“In the simplest terms, the president of the United States is attacking American democracy in an effort to remain in office.”

President Trump’s behavior regarding this election actually brought to mind a memory of our oldest son’s behavior when he was in kindergarten. I had always helped him put on his snowmobile suit and winter boots so we could get him to the bus stop on time — or to wherever else we needed to be. He now found himself one member of a kindergarten class of 32. One teacher could not possibly help all students get ready for recess so each child was on his or her own. Our son struggled valiantly, but by the time he had finally dressed himself and was ready to go outside and play for a while, recess was over. Needless to say, he was supremely frustrated. As all of the kids were coming inside, our son stood up and screamed, “I declare a second recess for all kindergartners!” He soon learned that was not the way things worked in kindergarten — or in life. We cannot simply declare the way we want things to go and have them happen that way.

Apparently, this is a lesson which our sitting president still needs to learn.

________

NURSING HOMES

The usual senior living activity calendars and senior center menus are not being published to avoid confusion. Due to the coronavirus and the vulnerability of the elderly population, daily life in the senior living facilities and senior centers has changed dramatically.

All living facilities have closed their doors to public visitation, and the activity calendars have been modified to allow for one-to-one room visits only and individualized activities to keep residents engaged and active as much as possible while remaining within the health and safety guidelines provided by state health experts.

Group games are being substituted with individualized activities residents can do in their respective rooms. Staff are providing supplies as well as “overhead announcement bingo and trivia” games and “hallway games” that can be played in individual rooms or by sitting within individual room doorways.

YouTube and DVDs are being utilized to provide religious services. A big dose of gratitude and appreciation goes out to all senior care staff for their creativity, caring and perseverance through a difficult situation.

All senior centers also have been closed to any center-based activity. Until they re-open, no information is being published that talks about activities typically available at these centers. While some have reopened with limited seating, meals do continue to be delivered.

Some centers also are preparing meals to be picked up. Menus are printed below for those centers that are either preparing takeout or providing home-delivered meals. Questions can be directed to the individual centers at the numbers listed here.

SENIOR CENTERS

Alpha-Mastodon Center

906-875-3315

Amasa Center

906-822-7284

The Amasa Center is a curbside pick-up-only kitchen for now. Call ahead for Tuesdays through Thursdays. Menu for the week —

Tuesday: Pork roast, Mashed potatoes, carrots, coleslaw

Wednesday: Meatloaf, baked potato, mixed vegetables

Thursday: Lasagna, wax beans, garlic bread

Note: All meals served with milk, bread and butter, fruit and dessert

Breen Center

906-774-5110

Now open with limited seating from noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Menu for the week —

Monday: Beef stir fry, rice, Oriental vegetable blend

Tuesday: Meatballs, gravy, mashed potatoes, carrots

Wednesday: Beef stew, cornbread

Thursday: Baked fish or sausage, potatoes, broccoli

Note: All meals served with a choice of skim milk or juice and fruit

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen

906-875-6709

Crystal Lake Center

Iron Mountain

906-239-0278

Home-delivered meals only. Menu for the week —

Monday: Spaghetti, Italian sausage with marinara sauce, corn, breadstick

Tuesday: Chili, cornbread, pudding

Wednesday: Cheeseburger, tater tots, peas and carrots

Thursday: Cabbage rolls, stewed tomatoes, biscuit

Friday: Big chef salad

Note: All meals served with a choice of skim milk, juice or no beverage

For more information, call Christine McMahon at 906-774-2256

Felch Center

906-246-3559

Now open with limited seating from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. Menu for the week —

Monday: Shrimp pasta, peas

Tuesday: Beef stew, coleslaw, cornbread

Wednesday: Chicken cordon bleu casserole, broccoli, salad

Note: All meals served with skim milk or juice

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County, Wis.

715-528-4890

Director: Tiffany White

Home-delivered meals only. Menu for the week —

Monday: Lasagna rollups, corn, dark green salad, garlic bread, fruit

Tuesday: Hamburger stroganoff, egg noodles, Brussel sprouts, fruit cocktail

Wednesday: Liver and onions or chicken breast, mashed potatoes, broccoli, fruit, pudding

Thursday: Chicken and stuffing bake, squash, green beans medley, fruit pie

Friday: Kielbasa skillet stew, dark green salad, biscuits, fruit

Note: All meals served with whole-grain bread and butter and milk

Fence Center/Town Hall

715-336-2980

For meal reservations, call 855-528-2372

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall

For meal reservations, call 715-528-4261

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Tipler Town Hall

For meal reservations, call 715-674-2320

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora

For meal reservations, call 715-589-4491

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska

906-498-7735

Iron River Center

906-265-6134

Now open with limited seating 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. Home-delivered and/or takeout only on Thursdays. Menu for week —

No menu available this month.

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Meal site manager: Corrie Maule, 715-251-1603

Senior center director: Jill Anderson, 715-251- 4154

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining

906-563-8716

The center will remain closed; however, takeout meals will be prepared for pick up — those picking up must call ahead and wear a mask. Menu for the week —

Monday: Barbecue chicken, potato wedges, coleslaw, glazed carrots, fruit, juice, dessert

Tuesday: Veterans’ Day Dinner – Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, fruit, juice, dessert

Wednesday: Liver or burger and onions, mashed potatoes and gravy, capri blend vegetables, fruit, juice, dessert

Thursday: Cabbage roll bake, stewed tomatoes, biscuit, fruit, juice, dessert

Sagola Center

906-542-3273

Now open with limited seating from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. Menu for the week —

Tuesday: Pork roast, mashed potatoes, Brussel sprouts, salad, fruit

Wednesday: Chicken enchilada, cornbread, coleslaw, fruit

Thursday: Beef stew, peas, salad, biscuits, fruit

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