Several months ago, my family made a decision; we left a life that we liked for one that we knew we would love. I left my job in Omaha and we moved west to York, the town where my wife and I met as college students.
Among the many reasons for this move was a simple idea that we wanted to raise our two children in a community where we they would be looked out for by their neighbors and learn to do the same for others. I was not fortunate enough to grow up in Nebraska, but in college I quickly fell in love with the state and the old-school values of self-reliance and communities looking out for one another.
Nebraska, and York specifically, became to me a place where strangers would go out of their way to hold doors for me, where neighbors would clear one another’s driveways and not think twice about spending a weekend helping one another with a project. When an opportunity came along to be a part of York again, I could not deny my children that chance to see that there are still places where we look out for our neighbors.
As I write this from my kitchen table on a snowy Tuesday, our beautiful city sits on the cusp of the red zone of the Covid-19 risk dial. From day one, our leaders have told us that we can count on our neighbors to do the right thing, and I do believe that we want to do the right thing and take care of one another, but in an age of so much misinformation it can be difficult to know what that right thing is. We are regularly fed untruths and guesses, and credible sources like Four Corners can often be shouted down by bad actors.
To my neighbors, I sincerely thank you for taking my family in this year. You have made York everything we dreamt it could be, and I am somehow even happier than I was in Omaha. I am proud to be part of this community, and I look forward to many years and even decades here alongside you all. I want to call on us all to show the rest of the nation what makes Nebraska special: No matter what the challenge, we are always in it together.
Wear masks in public. Avoid large gatherings. Keep six feet between yourself and others. If you are exposed, stay home, and help contact tracers identify others who may have been exposed. These are simple measures that cost us nothing, and they could be the difference that saves your neighbor’s job or keeps your friend’s children in school all year. This is a community where farmers think nothing of helping one another with harvest; we can help one another get through this, we just need to do what we always do and love our neighbors.
Jake Owens, York
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