Trying something a little different this week, only a little. In the past this space was whatever happened to be on my mind. That still remains, but let’s not kid ourselves: The newspaper’s on my mind, and, to put a finer point on it, covering Van Buren County is on my mind. Heck, it’s pretty much what takes up most of my thinking.


And with that, stories are generated. I’m pretty sure you already knew that, but there’s, in effect, stories behind the stories. What the place was like to get those stories, what the room was like, the mood. I’m going to work on talking about that a little more in the time to come, give a little background on “stuff,” for lack of a better term.


With that:


Animal shelter: My wife and I have a dog, it’s a small dog, it’s all we care to handle. I don’t envy Lori Treat and her staff having to wrestle with however many dogs that nobody else wants. When her and I started talking last week, however, the additional burden of having to defend from the slings and arrows of attacks on the shelter, the shelter program, was obviously frustrating to her.


There’s something that happens in social media that we don’t get in the rest of the world, in newspapers or television, or certainly in personal conversation. So let’s not blame anyone, but at the same time let’s take a minute and acknowledge that calling social media conversation a “conversation” is maybe not the best term.


There’s a name for it, and I’ll be darned if I can remember the name, but when people participate in these social media back-and-forths they tend to, in time, form two camps, the ones who are all the way to one side of the issue, and the ones who are all the way to the other. You can see it. Watch something with two choices, groups will form, Choice A or Choice B and they will, as the “conversation” unfolds, become more and more strident about not only why they are correct, but why their opposite is incorrect.


And, best part, it doesn’t matter what the topic: Ice cream flavors, political affiliations, wear white after Labor Day, it’s always A versus B, end of the day.


And Treat is caught up in this, these guys versus those guys. You can tell she’s frustrated and it’s important enough to warrant getting top-of-the-page treatment.


Cops: I’m glad there’s cops, heck we all are. We’re glad there’s cops for a lot of reasons, nation of laws, law and order, sure, but other reasons.


I stopped by the Clinton Police to see what was going on as we were getting ready for this issue and came across the story of Eric Koonce and the choking stranger. It’s funny, it’s one of those stories which are interesting, which show public service, and which would not be on a police report or any other public record.


Here’s the thing: Just as Koonce and I finished chatting a call came in from dispatch, somebody have a problem with somebody else, and Koonce was out the door and on his way to - I presume - defuse the situation.


And speaking of cops: The state trooper, then the Damascus cop, then the deputies, and the knuckleheads full of stolen cars and drugs that put the two in jail. I’m always struck how this isn’t like some big urban environment, these guys were chasing down people onto dirt roads and into fields as they tried to run, and it’s not like help was just right there.


But they did it, of course, departments worked with departments and a couple of knuckleheads are in jail.


Shirley: I always like going out to Shirley. There’s a charm there, and the people are nice. I, like a lot of other people there, really want the old buildings to get fixed up. Improvements are coming, and the repaving for a lot of the downtown roads is a nice note.


And working on other stuff. A couple of city council meetings this week, and fairness versus budget is always at issue in such affairs.