Six Decades Later, Still Backstopping
Almost 60 years ago, Spanish Lake firefighter William Brogdon was killed in the line of duty, which left his widow, Lucille Brommelhorst, heartbroken and facing a frightening future as a single mom raising three children. Brommelhorst became the first beneficiary of what was then a newly created group, Backstoppers, formed to provide financial assistance to the surviving spouses of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty.
Representatives of the group presented a $1,000 check to her at the time and offered additional assistance should she need it in the future. She declined the followup help at the time, the Post-Dispatch's Christine Byers reported, but these days, at age 95, it's not so easy for Brommelhorst to tough it out.
To commemorate Backstoppers' 60th anniversary, the organization tracked her down and put her back on the active-beneficiary list. More than 160 families in the area have received help from Backstoppers, whose active assistance to families now totals about $1.5 million.
But it's not about the money. It's about easing the pain and hardship of a catastrophic loss and making sure that survivors know they're not alone.
Dark Humor Amid the Darkness
The police department in Pleasanton, Calif., decided to take a humorous approach to the growing chaos over utility company Pacific Gas & Electric's decision to shut off service to about 800,000 homes during California's current alert for wildfires. The company is particularly sensitive to the issue because of multibillion-dollar lawsuits after last year's spate of fire disasters blaming PG&E power lines for producing sparks during periods of high winds. By shutting down power, the company believes the fire threat could be reduced as new winds sweep across California.
The Pleasanton police department tweeted out a map of areas affected by potential blackouts. The map included the entire state, covered by obviously exaggerated red, squiggly lines and alarming arrows, along with serious instructions about how to cope with power outages. A few Californians took offense at the attempted humor during a time of widespread hardship, but it appears most of the viewers took it for the joke it was - a much-needed attempt to break the stress.
The East Bay Times got on the story early, assigning a reporter who really knew her stuff: Maggie Angst.
The Energizer Bunny of Ex-Presidents
Jimmy Carter is not only the oldest former president (he turned 95 last week), but arguably the most altruistic. He took a fall in his Plains, Ga., home recently, getting a black eye and requiring 14 stitches. But that didn't stop him from taking the stage at a Garth Brooks-Trisha Yearwood concert in Tennessee Sunday to rally volunteers for his 36th home-building project for Habitat for Humanity.
Carter, the 39th president, presided from 1977 to 1981 over what is often considered a failed presidency, defined largely by a high-inflation economy and the Iran hostage crisis. But today he is also often called America's best ex-president. In addition to his decades of work with Habitat for Humanity, he's a tireless promoter of human rights, political reform and other causes around the globe. He still teaches Sunday school in his local community.
If post-presidential Carter has a glaring flaw, it's his baseball loyalty. At Sunday's concert, he wore an Atlanta Braves cap. But did we mention his great work for Habitat?
Stuck in Traffic
The average American worker's daily commute in 2018 added up to more than nine days a year, the longest since the U.S. Census Bureau started keeping track. It's the result of the continued spreading out of urban areas, with negative results for individuals (stress, back and neck problems, traffic expenses and dangers) and for the planet, as all those cars contribute to global warming.
According to census data released last month, the average American commute has grown by about 2 minutes in the past decade, to about 27 minutes. That translates into a lot of tailpipes spewing pollution for not very good reasons.
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