Hello there, hope all is well in your world. Since this is my first column in the Burke County Tribune introductions are in order.

First off I reside in Rapid City, S.D., with my wife Dawn, and our two children, Sierra and Jackson. I have been an instructor in the Athletic Training Education Program at National American University for the past four years, and my wife works as a physical therapy tech. We have lived in Rapid City for about five years now, and really enjoy all that the Black Hills has to offer. There is one problem though; it’s just too far away from my hometown of Lignite.

My parents, Donavon and Joann, are the D and the J of DJ’s Food Center in Lignite. Mom is also a professional photographer. Yes mom, a professional, and Dad has taken lawn care to a whole new level. Have you ever had grass taunt you when you’re mowing it?

My grandparents, who just happen to be my parents' parents, strange how that works out isn’t it, are Helen Ellis and Rose and Ardell Chrest. I feel very fortunate to be a part of such a wonderful family. They are good people, and it will pain me to expose all the dirt on them, but as a columnist I have a job to do. I also feel very fortunate to have grown up in “Up-State” North Dakota, as my mom sometimes refers to it. I may live in Rapid City but my heart prefers to hang out in Burke County with people who know what a slushburger is. Don’t get all misty eyed on me now.

I contacted the tribune after reading that Jodi Benge was retiring her column “Just Jodi” and asked if they would consider letting me give it a go. After an extensive background check they still decided to give me a shot. Thank you. I enjoy writing, and my dad always told me I should make a career out of it. I’m not quitting my job just yet, and if you find that you would rather clean your geese on this column than read it, well you can blame my dad. It’s always the parents' fault, isn’t it?

What can you expect to read about in this column? Good question. It could be about anything, anything except car repair and farm machinery. Those are subjects I know nothing about. Grandpa Ardell tried to teach me to cultivate once, only once. The fence line didn’t stop me, but the broken hitch did. Mechanic work is another thing I really don’t have any business attempting. My brother, Jarvis and Uncle Kevin can attest to that. I’m in charge of holding the trouble light, which gives me time to work on my shadow puppets. I’ll show you my President Reagan shadow some-day. Stunning, it really is.

Anyway, enough rambling. I’m looking forward to hanging out with you every other week. Bye now.

See original printed version of Shadow Puppets.