Murch: Now that summer is in full swing …

We’ve survived another week and now the fun hits Alpena:

The Brown Trout Festival officially kicked off yesterday and the small boat harbor will be the place to be. At some point during the week most people in Alpena will have stopped by to either enjoy the entertainment, watch the fish be weighed, or just visit with friends.

Another thing that stands out, too, is that downtown is alive much later in the evening than the rest of the year. There are people out and about – driving, walking, riding bikes – and the town has a feel of activity. I don’t know if the businesses that are open later see much of an increase in customer traffic, but I would guess they see something extra.

Talk about a week of weather. Hot and somewhat humid most of the days, then came Friday. Sun then rain, sun then rain, sun …. You get the point. It was nice to drive by Starlite Beach and Thomson Park and see lots of people using the beach and swimming this week, too.

Last week I blogged about not understanding the fascination with the George Zimmerman trial and why it was followed when it wasn’t all that unique (see and look for Pardon me, but under Blogs for my reasoning). I thought perhaps it would have legs a day or two after the verdict, but it’s still getting major play all over the place. It’s almost like the news that affects most of us doesn’t carry much weight with the news-consuming public. I can’t imagine the coverage if Lindsay Lohan ever kills one of the Kardashians.

Walmart takes a lot of heat from a lot of people, but I think Washington, D.C., might just have swung a lot of public opinion in Walmart’s favor with its attempts to raise the city’s minimum wage to $12.50 an hour, but with tons of exceptions. It seems the only business that would be affected would be Walmart.

From The Economist:

“The council seems eager to test this hypothesis. On July 10th it passed a bill requiring retailers with at least $1 billion in annual sales and stores of more than 75,000 square feet to pay their workers $12.50 an hour-over 50 percent more than the city’s minimum wage of $8.25, which is already a dollar above the federal rate.

“The bill did not mention Walmart by name, but it might as well have. It does not apply to Walmart’s unionised rivals, such as Giant and Safeway. And it does not apply to existing stores for four years. That leaves only Walmart, which had planned to open six new stores in the District.”

I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist (or in this case an economist) to figure out that if you plan on pushing Walmart into this, one of two things is going to happen. Either the retailer is going to say “Forget about it” and not build the six new stores, or the prices will be higher at those stores – probably significantly higher – and no one will go there.

The thing that is amazing is one of the city council members said D.C. doesn’t need the retailers, the retailers need D.C. This is a city that has a higher unemployment rate than the national avearage and the average income for its residents is much lower than the national average. Those folks need jobs and reasonably priced goods.

In the newsroom someone is always mentioning something they read that is basically a meaningless tidbit, but interesting nonetheless. This week I stumbled upon one I thought was kind of interesting. Papua New Guinea, which is just north of Australia for the geographically challenged, has 841 different recognized languages. Only 11 of them are believed to not have any living people who speak them. That’s still 830 different languages spoken in the country, which only has a little over 7 million people.

It’s hard to believe that high school football starts play in six weeks. If ever there is a sign of the end of summer, it’s the start of high school sports. We’re on the clock, so make sure to make the most of the rest of summer.

Steve Murch can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5686. Follow Steve on Twitter at sm_alpenanews. Read his blog, Pardon, Me But … at