When reporter Kim Steele decided to write the story about Daniel Braden, a 58-year-old Kingman resident and veteran with an ailing dog, everyone in the newsroom knew it was going to have a happy ending.
For the record, Braden lives from disability check to disability check and takes great comfort from Pebbles and his other dog, both 11-year-old dachshunds. Over the past few months, a tumor had developed on Pebbles and had eventually grown to the size of a softball.
Braden's problem is that he couldn't afford the surgery the dog needed.
My own perspective on the story isn't complex. I knew if Kim captured in her story half of the emotion of a heart-broken man and the dog he loved, enough people would be moved to contribute so that professional care for Pebbles could be paid for. And don't kid yourself, that could be a lot of money.
I'm aware veterinarians donate services all the time (and they don't brag about it, lest they be swamped by people asking for more), and it doesn't disturb me that none came forward if Braden contacted them. At Pebbles' age, a complete recovery could be followed by death of natural causes a few weeks later - if indeed the dog is fit enough to undergo surgery and to survive it.
That's why Kim's first story about Pebbles did not assign blame - with the exception of Braden's inability to care for his pet as much as he wanted to, there was no blame.
And certainly no one who cares for animals professionally was at fault. Braden offered nontraditional payment that wasn't accepted. That's it.
Pebbles will be seeing a veterinarian on Thursday. As anticipated, Kingmanites again showed they have big hearts to make that possible. Let's pray that what ails Mr. Braden's four-legged friend can be cured so Pebbles can go home, so that one happy ending follows another.
It was the week before Christmas and all through the house, everybody was stirring because my daughter was going into labor.
I was standing in the driveway after putting some necessity in the car, bemused at the hectic behavior of the other adults while I was, of course, calm and collected. I took a break from congratulating myself for being so cool under pressure to call the boss and let her know I might be late for work the next day.
"Hey, uh, uh, daughter baby," I smoothly explained the situation to the publisher. "Bullhead hospital, late work, holidays OK schedule." Then I dropped the phone.
Since my daughter teaches in Bullhead City, that's where most of the doctors in her insurance plan work. And that's why we were traveling through Golden Valley when the "ding ding, ding ding" alarm went off to let us know air pressure was low in one of the tires.
By now you know everyone else in the car panicked while I was the picture of cool. I called Golden Valley buddy Butch Meriwether and, after a conversation remarkably similar to the one I had with the publisher a few minutes earlier, Butch agreed to follow us to the hospital and take over the transportation duties if one off my tires failed. Thanks, Butch.
The contractions were five minutes apart when we arrived. Three hours later Harrison Michael Walter took his first breath.
Christmas really did come early this year.
The Made in Kingman stories sprinkled through the holiday editions of the Miner arrived with no fanfare, much less an introduction. Some history:
Last spring we were batting around ideas for something new to present to readers, and someone at the table mentioned that the industrial park at the airport never received enough coverage. Someone else mentioned the range of business activity out there, mostly manufacturing, and then it popped out of someone's mouth: Made in Kingman.
What we ended up with, eventually, was a dozen stories about stuff made in Kingman, and not necessarily at the airport. And after some starts and stops, we finally decided the best time for them to grace the pages of the Miner happened to be the holidays.
Nothing says "Merry Christmas" quite like 1.6 million pounds of surfactant, as readers of the story on Luseaux Laboratories well know. A surfactant is "a substance that tends to reduce the surface tension of a liquid in which it is dissolved," and it's one of many products manufactured by Luseaux, one of those open secrets at the airport, one I'd never heard of until reading the excellent story by Kim Steele.
We've also featured Black Bridge Brewery, Stetson Winery and American Woodmark so far, and the series continues Monday with The Clock Man and West Coast Netting with more to follow.
The stories, to me, are just another reason to be proud of a place we call home. I hope you enjoy the stories as much as we did producing them.