Be sure to check out Patriot Nations exhibit

    If you don’t know much about the history of U.S. military service by Native Americans, then you have a great opportunity to education yourself over the next month by stopping by Recklein Auditorium in Cuba and seeing the Smithsonian exhibit “Patriot Nations: Native Americans in Our Nation’s Armed Forces” that is currently on display.

    The Crawford County Library District officially opened “Patriot Nations” on Monday and it will be at Recklein through February 7. The traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian is sponsored by the Missouri Humanities Council and made possible by the generous support of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. It is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    Members of the news media got a sneak peek at the exhibit last Friday and it was clear that unless you are well-versed in your little-known American history, the information it provides will be an eye-opener. And, it won’t take too long to get through the 16-panel display, unless there is a big crowd on hand. There will be, however, some additional video presentations that were not shown to the media (a good reason for me to return).
    If you visit the exhibit you will learn how Native American servicemen and women served to protect and defend the United States, through a series of engaging and historic photographs and narrative. The exhibition documents 250 years of Native peoples’ contributions in U.S. military history.
    Find a little time in your schedule before February 7 to check out this special exhibit.

Easy to wrongly spend other people’s money
    Residents in Steelville should be upset, and taxpayers everywhere should take notice when your elected officials spending your money without following proper procedures. Alderman Terry Beckham, who now wants to be mayor, says taking issue with improper spending is “making a mountain out of a molehill,” but he needs to understand one clear thing: there shouldn’t even be a molehill when it comes to spending the taxpayers’ money.
    It was revealed recently, thanks to a bit of investigating by another Steelville City Council member, Amanda Sherrill, that the city has not always been following its own ordinances or state requirements for making purchases. According to city ordinance, purchases over $1,500 require approval from the city council, and any purchases over $5,000 require three quotes (bids) for the item.
    Beckham, however, claimed that if an item being purchased had been included in the approved city budget, then council approval was not needed. He’s wrong!
    A city budget is a plan to spend money. It is not explicit authorization to do so without oversight. Most importantly, however, a budget does not give city employees, aldermen, or the mayor the right to spend the taxpayers’ money without trying to secure the best prices possible. Bids should be sought on every item purchased, regardless of the price.
    Of course, that does not mean the lowest bid has to be taken. Often there are legitimate reasons to accept higher bids. When that is done, extensive documentation should be made not only in the council minutes, but also in the city’s financial records.
    It’s easy to say that government should be run like a business, but that simply is not and cannot be the case. Business owners can do whatever they like with their own business, no needs for bids, contracts, or many other things that govern how taxpayer-funded entities must operate. It’s easy to decide how to spend your own money, but it must be hard to spend taxpayers’ money because if it is not, then it becomes too easy to wrongly spend it.

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