Local News

News director looks at numbers

(Jacque Rocole comments on 2011 year-in-review stats in her column “My Thoughts Exactly”)

In checking numbers for the annual year-in-review issues, some stats tend to jump out to me. Some seem to border on excessive, but there they are as I count my way through the 12 issues of this newspaper.

For example, the number of drivers receiving traffic citations was well over 1,200 for 2011. That’s an average of 100 drivers each month and for our area it seems like quite a lot to me. I suppose when you include the weigh scale, maybe it isn’t. The total I came up with does not reflect the number of citations issued, but indicates how many drivers received tickets. If you include the number of citations since some drivers receive multiple traffic tickets, the total would most likely be over 2,000.

Traffic accidents were down in 2011 from 2010, but only by two. In 2010 there were 78 reported accidents in Thayer County, while in 2011 there were 76. In my opinion that number seems high as well since it means accidents occur on average, more than once a week around here during a 12-month period. Nearly half of them are blamed on deer, but I highly recommend being a defensive driver under these conditions.

Marriage license applications were also down in 2011 with 26 registrations this year compared to 31 for 2010. It was also reported last year that the marriage/divorce ratio is now at 50 percent, meaning half of all marriages fail, or if you’re an optimist, half of all marriages succeed.

As always, local emergency volunteers stepped up to the place by increasing participation from 227 people in 2010 to 250 in 2011. Kudos to those unique individuals who share their time, knowledge and strength to keep the county safe. October proved to be a banner month for local firefighters as there were 14 field fires from the 1st to the 12th of the month due to extremely dry conditions. Harvest was in full swing and sparks from machinery coupled with strong winds fueled fires that destroyed crops and equipment.

And finally, even though this isn’t a stat from our local area, I couldn’t help but notice how many college bowl games there are – a staggering 35 at last count. It used to be that bowl games featured only the top college football teams, but now it takes 70 teams to fill the slate, so teams with losing records are often allowed to play. The actual games are more a show of how much revenue they bring to participating programs instead of who is the best team.

Corporations control the number of bowl games by sponsoring them for advertising purposes (Capital One bowl, Chick-fil-A bowl, GoDaddy.com bowl, Little Caesars bowl), and as long as the money behind the product creates the game, bowls will continue to be numerous. Otherwise, the only way to bring the bowl back to its original intent of deciding who the best collegiate football team is would be to allow college football programs to accept corporate sponsorships. But are we sure we really want to go there? How does the Nebraska Dorothy Lynch Spreaders sound, or maybe the UNL ConAgra Tillers? Nebraska Runza Stuffers? Valentino Slicers? We’d probably have to give up the red and white uniforms, too…

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