Artful delights at SEMO

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Southeast Missouri State University symphony orchestra, under the direction of Sara Edgerton, again gave an almost sold-out audience an evening of musical excitement last week. This, coupled with the exceptional narration of the "Lincoln Symphony" by Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, acknowledged by a longstanding ovation, helped us to briefly escape some of the recent economic news of the day.

The acoustics are so good in the Bedell Hall at the River Campus (some say better than the Powell Hall in St. Louis) that one can enjoy the wide range of the instruments' clarity and tone. Good work by the sound crew.

The week before SEMO's performing arts team entertained us with the professionally directed, acted, danced, sung, set and costumed Broadway musical "Sweet Charity" with an excellent orchestra.

Special kudos to the excellent performance of the two student lead actors who stepped in with only two-and-a-half weeks of practice. They surely made (along with the rest of the cast) faculty director Kenn Stilson and vocal director Judith Farris proud.

The following is an excerpt from a newspaper industry newsletter paying tribute to Rust Communications chief operating officer Wally Lage, who recently stepped down after three years as president of a major newspaper purchasing group.

A salute to Wally Lage's leadership: For the past three years, Wally Lage served as an outstanding president of PAGE. I have known Wally for about 20 years when he was first elected to the PAGE Cooperative board of directors. He is fiercely supportive of preserving privately owned newspaper companies, and in his leadership position with PAGE he has helped small and large independent companies survive and thrive on a playing field dominated by publicly traded giants -- both newspapers and suppliers.

During his tenure as president of PAGE, he led the board in making several major decisions affecting the future of PAGE and its ongoing service to his fellow member-owners of the cooperative. In 2006, PAGE partnered with Cox Newsprint Supply to form the industry's largest newsprint buying entity -- bringing added savings and rebates to the PAGE membership. In the same year, he directed PAGE's equity investment in The Job Network, which provides a nationwide employment advertising opportunity for small- and medium-size newspaper companies to offer to their customers. In 2007, Wally was very supportive in presenting a formal, comprehensive strategic planning session for the PAGE board of directors, which identified short-term ad long-term strategic initiatives for PAGE to continue to maximize its assistance to its members in the challenging, ever-changing newspaper/media landscape.

Wally Lage has been a sincere, enthusiastic and enlightened leader in his service to PAGE and its members, as well as being very supportive of the PAGE staff--with whom he visited at least once each year.

In spite of losing several newspaper companies to acquisition by outside companies as well as to other PAGE members, growth in membership, purchasing volumes and suppliers during Wally's tenure was significant:

* Growth in number of newspaper corporations -- from 257 to 270

* Cumulative purchasing volume through the cooperative in the past three years -- $873,587,000

* Added 49 preferred PAGE suppliers offering special PAGE pricing, now totaling 139 suppliers

The membership of PAGE owes Wally Lage a big hand for his strong leadership over the past three years. Of course, as immediate past president, Wally continues his PAGE service by chairing the executive Committee while also serving on the succession, compensation, newsprint and supplier evaluation committees. -- Chuck Berry, PAGE CEO and one of the original founders

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. -- Winston Churchill, quoted in the Orange County (Calif.) Register

Some say that Thomas Jefferson was one of the wisest men in the history of our nation. Some quotes from Jefferson:

* When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we will become as corrupt as Europe.

* The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.

* It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.

* I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

* My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.

* No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.

* The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

Gary Rust is chairman of Rust Communications.

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