One of the signs you're living in a small town

While researching Sen. Lawrence Jacobsen's life for The Record-Courier, I was able to find both his birth announcement and his graduation announcement on the front page of the paper.

Anyone who wanted to stroll through the newspaper's pages over the past 85 years could learn about Jake's life, family and achievements, and those of his friends and classmates.

As a politician, his life tended to be more open than most, but it is not unusual to find the comings and goings of folks whose lives were far quieter.

That's because the newspaper that served this Valley was part of its life. We strive for that kind of coverage today, but increased population and a desire for anonymity reduces what was once a torrent to a trickle. We are still here to tell people's stories, their births, victories, sorrows and deaths, but the number of folks willing to share that information with us is diminishing even as the number of people living here increases.

Jake was a member of a generation whose life was well chronicled, not because he was famous, which he was, but because he was from here.

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We haven't had any large vegetable stories yet this summer, but 15-year Valley resident Tom Stapp did say he has a very large wasp nest in his tree, which was home to some very large wasps.

The nest is located about 30 feet from the ground in a pine tree on the Gardnerville Ranchos resident's property.

"I've never seen anything like it," he said.

I sent Shannon over to take a photo of the nest, which Tom said is a real work of nature's art.

Tom brought in one of the wasps he'd killed on his way to the Cooperative Extension to identify it. While he didn't see it in the wasp bugshot book, both he and our Publisher Janet Geary were able to find it on the Web.

The wasp in question appears to be a bald-faced hornet, which according to several sources is native to North America (check) and eats flies and bugs.

The hornets are actually wasps, cousins to our ubiquitous yellow jackets.

"I will probably let it grow through the summer, being as it's not bothering anyone and maybe see if the school district wants to get it in the winter," Tom said.

He is still waiting to hear from the state entomologist to confirm the identification.

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In other bug news, reader Alicia Powers has found a scorpion in her Gardnerville garage and is wondering how dangerous they are.

"I've lived here 2 1/2 years," she wrote in an e-mail. "This is the second one I think I've seen (both small) but the first one inside."

My long personal experience with the scorpion started when I was a boy in Las Vegas and my dad got stung by one hiding in a glove. The sting swelled up pretty good and my dad said it hurt, but it wasn't life threatening and he was back to leaving his gloves outside again in no time.

I've always lumped them with black widows and rattlesnakes as something you should kill on sight if you can't avoid.

According to the University of California, Berkeley Museum of Paleontology, scorpions are the oldest arachnids and like to hide under rocks during the day. There are Arizona scorpions whose stings can cause death. But for the most part they are the least of your worries. I've only seen at most a couple in the entire time I've lived in Northern Nevada and both those were in Dayton.

I've never heard of a cat or a dog being hurt by a scorpion, but I had a cat that liked to hurt scorpions.

n Kurt Hildebrand is editor of The Record-Courier. Reach him at or 782-5121, ext. 215.


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