Grumblings and the flag and falling gas prices<BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;

Shopping at home is the battle cry ... and should be considered. Meanwhile, keep those flags flying ....
Shop at home when you can
   We recently agreed to place the preprinted flyer of a very deserving local group in the Central Oregonian at no charge. It was for a cause that was important to get the message to everyone in the community.
   However, the way this organization handled our goodwill gesture rekindled a reoccurring problem we see happen over and over in our community. In this case, the organization got us to distribute their information free of charge, then they went out of town, I assume in an effort to save money, to have the fliers printed.
   In addition to my duties of editor and publisher of the Central Oregonian I also act as the manager of the Central Oregon Press. It is one of the largest commercial printing operations in Central Oregon. We print everything from newspapers to business cards and nearly everything in between. When this organization took their printing job out of town, without even asking me to bid on that job, I was upset and disappointed. I also think it is important to note that the price of the print job was significantly higher than we would have charged, plus the other printer charged more than the quoted price. Also, the out of town printer did not meet the agreed upon deadline.
   My tirade may seem like sour grapes at this point, but I am using it to make a point: We have several hundred businesses in our community that are besieged with requests to donate money and goods to local clubs, charities and organizations. There are requests to buy tickets, advertising, sponsorships and all sorts of goods in the name of fund raising. I've spoken with some business people who say it's not uncommon to get five or six such requests daily.
   As much as they can, these Crook County businesses give and give and give. But, just like I became frustrated when the organization took their printing business out of town, all our local businesses have exactly the same thing happen to them over and over. They are asked to give -- and they do -- and then we don't give our business back to them.
   Granted, Crook County may not have the selection of goods and services that are available in Deschutes County, but the businesses here work extremely hard and invest millions of dollars annually to provide local consumers with a good selection, fair pricing and ever improving facilities.
   When was the last time one of the big box stores, shopping center merchants, national chains, or for that matter any of the Deschutes County businesses donated to your group, club or organization. (Yes, I know it does happen occasionally.)
   This is not to say we shouldn't be able to shop out of town, but we should give our local merchants a chance at our business before we leave town. You'll be pleasantly surprised by the wonderful selection of new businesses that are cropping up, the great selection of merchandise available and that prices are often less than they are 35 miles down the road.
   And on another topic:
It's a matter of patriotism
   Remember how, as soon as Thanksgiving is over, the shopping begins? And one of the first things that shows up with the Christmas music is how everyone begins to be nice to everyone. Smiles and no road rage, not even in the parking lot. About the same thing happened a very short time after the terrible terrorist attack on America, Sept. 11.
   American flags sprouted everywhere there was a flagpole and many places where no flag pole existed. Patriotism was at the highest peak many of the younger generation had ever experienced. Emotions ran high, but everywhere, people shared. They shared the pain of not knowing what had happened, why it had happened and what was going to happen next.
   We still don't have answers, but we still have our flags and our patriotism. As our President Bush (whether we voted for him or not, he is our leader, and doing a good job of it) prepares us for war, people are beginning to look deep inside themselves, trying to decide how they feel about it.
   Whatever a person's beliefs are, we aren't going to be asked to vote on it ... all we can do is support our leaders. And keep up our patriotic fervor.
   That's what this is about, not letting that flag-waving patriotism fade away as the Christmas feeling does a few minutes, after midnight December 25. One way to keep the pride to be an American' feeling alive can take place tomorrow evening. The Crook County Cowboys are a football team to be proud of, the are going onto the field with a 3-1 record this season.
   On top of that, it is Homecoming. What better time to start all the festivities off with a chorus or two of the national anthem? Remember when every sporting event started with that? And every day of school started with a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance?
   I suppose it's too much to ask for the pledge, but the national anthem is as important as all the flags that are flying from radio antennas.