As Rusk County residents prepare for another year, there’s a variety of perspectives on what 2013 has in store.
It is likely a reflection of my personality that, as much as I love the holidays, I’ve always found them bittersweet… and as I get older, it is truer than ever.
Things you can’t see can kill you. Every year, thousands of people in the United States die from an invisible killer – carbon monoxide. A colorless, odorless gas, carbon monoxide is deadly to both humans and animals, because it displaces oxygen in the blood.
Henderson Fire Department Chief Rusty Chote said as temperatures drop in the winter, the number of reported carbon monoxide poisoning incidents increases.
“Every year, people turn on their gas heaters to keep warm,” Chote said. “If there is a blue flame it’s a good sign that it’s burning properly. A yellow flame is not good. We recommend that everyone have their heating units checked yearly by a licensed repairman,” he said. “This is to ensure the safest operation of the unit.”
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 200 people die every year from carbon monoxide fumes produced by fuel-burning appliances – ranges, furnaces, water heaters, etc.
“Gas heaters that are not connected or operating properly can produce deadly CO gases,” Chote said. “Burning charcoal inside homes, garages, vehicles or tents claims many other lives, studies show […] others die from CO produced by leaving cars running in closed, attached garages of homes.
As a nation we all watched, with horror and disgust, news reports of a horrific act of violence against an elementary school filled with defenseless children.
While every act of murder ought to provoke outrage, there’s something especially condemnable about the murder of children. I think there’s a reason for that.
More than a thousand miles separate Newtown, Conn. from Rusk County, but tremors from the shootings at an elementary school remain palpable.
“I think the shock of it has faded, but it’ll be a long time before the images fade away,” said Henderson native Karen Cooper. “Seeing those kids being led out by their teachers, seeing how scared they all were, and seeing the grieving family members […] it’s something that stays with you, like 9/11 or other tragedies like that, I don’t think you ever really get over it.”
In the moments following the first news of the shootings, area residents took to social media and their smartphones to find out more and to share what they had learned.
A well-dressed and well-spoken elder gentleman paid me a visit a few days ago, said he was troubled by something that appeared in this newspaper. His problem was with the abbreviation of Christmas as “Xmas.”
I responded that I appreciated his concern, moreover I wanted to assure him that there was certainly no effort by me or any of the HDN staff to censor our Lord’s rightful title or any wish to minimize the significance of this season. Speaking purely as a newspaperman, Xmas just fits the headlines better. But, to paraphrase the legendary American raconteur Paul Harvey, there’s actually a lot more to the story.
With a zero tolerance approach from local law enforcement and increasingly steep sentences from jurors, Rusk County is taking a hard line against driving while intoxicated.
“There’s no excuse for it, especially in this day and age, to be on the road if you’ve been drinking,” said Henderson native Johnny Rousseau, who served on a jury in a DWI case earlier this year. “In this day and age of smart phones and texting, it’s so easy to reach someone if you need a ride if you’ve been drinking […] there’s absolutely no reason to drive drunk, unless you just don’t care or think you can get away with it.”
But local authorities say getting away with it is not easy in Rusk County.