Thursday, December 31, 2009


"Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. " Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Quote of the Day

"If life has taught me anything, it is that the spirit is stronger than the body. The Superhero comes from within." -- Robert Joy playing Stephen Hawking in Superhero Movie.

State Legislature Short Session Expected to be Active

January 6th will be the day the State Legislature will convene for Nebraska’s short session. State Senators are already gearing up for what looks to be an active session. Aside from the budget topping the agenda, senators are also preparing for discussion on several other issues. A few Nebraska lawmakers say they support legislation making liquor-license holders liable for serving intoxicated customers who leave their establishments and hurt themselves or others. One lawmaker has plans to introduce a proposal for a so-called dram shop law. Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege says Nebraska is behind the times and he believes such legislation is needed. In a pre-session survey of state senators, 13 of the 49 said they don't support imposing such liabilities. Fifteen others were unsure. Five, counting Carlson, said they support it. Sixteen others didn't participate. State Sen. John Harms of Scottsbluff wants police to be able to stop and ticket people who are texting while driving. Harms plans to introduce a bill during the 2010 legislative session that would outlaw texting by anyone who is driving at the time. He wants it to be a primary offense rather than a second offense. With a secondary offense, the driver must first be stopped for another traffic offense such as speeding. As of Jan. 1 there will be 19 states where it is illegal to text while driving.

H1N1 Vaccinations Now Available To All

South Heartland District Health Department is now able to offer H1N1 vaccinations to the general public. Previously they were only able to vaccinate people who are at higher risk of complications from influenza. The vaccine will be available by shot to anyone 6 months of age and older or in nasal mist form to healthy people ages 2 to 49 The H1N1 vaccination will be made available free of charge at the following locations:
Adams County Fairgrounds, from 3:30-8 p.m. Wednesday, December 30
Clay County Health Department
Nelson Clinic, 4-7 p.m. Jan. 4
Blue Hill Clinic, Blue Hil
Webster County Community Hospital & Clinic

A Nebraskan's View

Tuesday, December 29, 2009 MISUNDERSTANDINGS IN THE HEALTH CARE BILL CONFUSE THE PUBLIC by Ben Nelson It’s unfortunate that a provision in the health care bill that will help Nebraska taxpayers and eventually taxpayers in all states picked up an unfair nickname – “The Cornhusker Kickback” -- because it is definitely not a kickback that came in exchange for my vote. Partisan misnomers like this are designed to confuse the public about an important issue. The provision makes the federal government live up to its responsibilities and quit passing unfunded federal mandates down to the states. This is something I’ve been fighting since I was governor. When the federal government requires the states to do something the federal government should pay for it, not the states. Nebraska Leads the Way This is a matter of basic fairness in which Nebraska is leading the way. Already, two other states, Vermont and Massachusetts, are included and senators from other states, inspired by the Nebraska example against unfunded federal mandates, have begun talking about including their states as well before it takes effect in 2017. I talked about this during negotiations; a provision to allow states to opt in or opt out as they chose but the Congressional Budget Office was unable to get figures to the majority leader in time for it to enter discussions. It was understood that it could be fixed during conference to ap-ply to other states. What It Means to Nebraska Studies estimate that the expansion could cover an additional 83,000 to 106,000 Nebraskans when Medicaid income eligibility levels become effective in 2014. Governor Heineman is concerned about the extra cost to Nebraska which he said would be $45 million by 2019. On December 16th he wrote to me saying that "the state of Nebraska cannot afford an unfunded mandate and uncontrolled spending of this magnitude.” I took the governor’s concerns to the Senate majority leader who then added a provision extending federal payment for Nebraska’s new Medicaid enrollees and the rest is history. The issue only became controversial when partisans who wanted to derail health care reform for political reasons entered the picture. When that happened I wrote back to the governor on December 20th saying that I would ask that the provision be removed if that was his desire. I haven’t heard back. Not a Deal Breaker This would not have prevented me from voting for the bill. Deal breakers that would have prevented me from voting for it were if there would have been a public insurance option, which there isn’t, or if the bill would have allowed federal funding for abortions, which it does not. I truly believe that a competitive health care system will lower costs and provide better health care for the American people without increasing taxes on the middle class or increasing the deficit. Change is never easy...but change is what is needed in America’s health care system today. Ask someone whose been denied insurance because of a pre existing condition or someone who can no longer afford insurance because of huge premium increases each year. This is why I supported this legislation.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


"Yet we have this assurance: Those who belong to God shall live again. Their bodies shall rise again! Those who dwell in the dust shall awake and sing for joy! For God's light of life, will fall like dew upon them!" Isaiah 26:19 TLB

Monday, December 28, 2009

Loren Lyman Waterbury

Blue Hill resident Loren Lyman Waterbury 89, died Sunday, December 27, 2009, at his home. Services are 10:30 am thursday, December 31, 2009, at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Blue Hill with Pastor Dan Cosson officiatiing. Burial lwith military rites by A.L. Shirley Post #176 of Blue Hill will be in blue Hill Cemetery at Blue Hill. Visitatioon is 1-8 p.m. today, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Merten-Butler Mortuary in Blue Hill and one hour prior to services Thursday at the Church. Memorials may be given to St. Paul Lutheran Church or A.L. Shirley Post # 176. Loren was born on July 12, 1920 to Oscar and Hedwig (Buschow) Waterbury at Blue Hill, Ne. He was a lifelong member of St. Paul Lutheran Church of Blue Hill, where he was baptized on August 15, 1920, and confirmed on March 25, 1934. He was united in marriage to Alice E. Kumke on May 14, 1944. To this union four children were born. He served in the United States Army from July 27, 1944 to December 29, 1945. After leaving the army he farmed in the Blue Hill area until his retirement in 1983. He and his wife Alice then moved into Blue Hill where he lived until his death. Alice preceded him in death on August 24, 1984, after a long battle with breast cancer. He is survived by three daughters, Carol Williams of Kearney, Ne, Patricia Siemers and her husband Orlin of Hastings, Ne, Bonita Matousek and her husband Mick of Brooklings, OR; son, Keith and his wife Susie of Blue Hill, NE; three sisters, Eleanor Flessner, Francis Nitzel, Doris Solko all of Omaha, NE; 11 grand children; 12 great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Alice ; and son in law, Wendell Williams. Loren enjoyed the simple things of life. He loved working with and spending time with family and friends. he was proud of his military service to his country and was a member of the American Legion and the VFW. In his later years he enjoyed driving around looking at the cropps, tending to the fish at the pond and having a drink or two with friends. he will be missed by family and friends.

Vernon A. Meyer

Blue Hill resident Vernon A. Meyer, 89, died Sunday, December 27, at Mary Lanning Hospital in Hastings. Services are 2:30 p.m. Thursday, December 31, 2009, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Blue Hill with the Rev. James Witt officiating. Burial will be in Trinity Lutheran Cemetery at Blue Hill. Visitation is 9 a.m. to 8p.m. Wednesday at Merten-Butler Mortuary in Blue Hill and one hour prior to services Thursday at the Church. Memorials may be given to Trinity Lutheran Church or Heartland Lutheran High School. Vernon was born November 24, 1920 to Albert J. and Helena P. (Bangert) Meyer at Blue Hill, Ne. He married Phyllis E. Seeman on March 25, at Blue Hill, NE. He farmed and raised registered Hereford cattle his entire life. He was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church and the American Hereford Association. He is survived by his wife, Phyllis of Blue Hill, NE; one daughter Eileen Penrose and her fiance Lee Saathoff of Hastings; two sons, David and his wife Madeline, and Jim and his wife Denece both of Blue Hill,, NE; Son-in-law Mark Liess of Grand Island, NE; sister Ella Dupertuis and her husband Larry of Redwood City, CA; 12 grandchildren; 14 great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents; daughter, Mary Liess; sister, Erma Dauvendick; brothers, Arthur and the Rev. Walter Meyer.

Fern Marie Baird 1910-2009

Blue Hill resident Fern M. (Jenny) Baird, 99, died Saturday, December 26, 2009, at Blue Hill Care Center in Blue Hill. Services are 11 a.m. Wednesday, December 30, 2009, at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Blue Hill with Pastor Dan Cosson officiating. Private interment will be in Blue Hill Cemetery. Visitation is 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Merten-Butler Mortuary in Blue Hill. Memorials may be given to Blue Hill Community Foundation. Fern Marie (Jenny) Baird was born October 23,1910 to Rudolpoh G. and Marie (Gigax) Jenny on the family farm in rural Platte County near Leigh, Nebraska. She was baptized November 24, 1910 and confirmed April 13, 1924 at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church near Leigh, Nebraska. She attended Platte County District 48 School and graduated from Leigh High School in 1927. On December 28, 1939 she married Ralph F. Baird of Omaha. Their marriage was blessed with three children, Dan, Ruth and James. They lived in Gorden and Hastings, Nebraska, before moving to Blue Hill in 1945. She was a legal secretary for her husband in the Baird Law office. Mrs. Baird was a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Blue Hill, St. Paul's Women of Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and served as church organist for many years. A devoted wife, mother and grandmother, she loved music and was an avid gardener and sports enthusiast. She and her husband traveled extensively throughout the world and spent many winters living in Chandler, Arizona. Her husband died Sepptember 21, 1991. Mrs. Baird moved to Blue Hill Care Center in February 1992, following a disabling stroke. She was sustained throughout nearly 18 years in long term care by her unwavering faith, her loving family and many dear friends. She was an inspiration to all who knew her. Survivors include her daughter, Ruth (Jerry) Koepke of Blue Hill; her son Jim Baird of Clay Center, Nebraska; her daughter-in-law, Janice Baird also of Clay Center; three sisters Ruth Copley of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Eunice Beran of Schuyler, Nebraska and Mildred Metzger of Camano Island, Washington; seven grandchildren, Greg (Kay) Baird of Grand Island, NE, Susan (Loren) Griess of Sutton, NE, Jennifer (Wade) Fleischer of Glenvil, NE, Dave (Penny) Koepke of Scottsdale, AZ, John (Becky) Koepke of Tempe, AZ, Molly (Ben) Dilsaver of Lincoln, Ne, and James (Lisa) Baird of Golden Co.; 14 great grandchildren, Brett, Grant, Emily, Allison, Elizabeth, Katherine, Hannah, Daniel, Zachery, William, Vivienne, Matheson, Danielle and Kate; other relatives and many friends. She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Ralph; her son Dan; her daughter-in-law, Karen; her sister, Edna, and three brothers Arthur, Wilbur and Rudolph, Jr.

Quote of the Day

"I guess it's hard for people who are so used to things the way they are - even if they're bad - to change. 'Cause they kind of give up. And when they do, everybody kind of loses." -- Trevor McKenney played by Haley Joel Osment in the 2000 film Pay It Forward.

Open Forum

The Open Forum is your chance to say something, report breaking news or ask a question -- on any issue. Any topic is fair game, although Blue Hill Today's comment policies still apply. (see bottom of left hand column.) Our first Open Forum, from last week, had 8 comments including; local service man sends Christmas greetings, the health care debate, a birth announcement, quotes from Parker Griffith and Adrian Smith, Christmas eve church services, the Mayor, and trash disposal. Go ahead and sound off on anything. We are listening. A new Open Forum link will be re-posted every Monday (or there abouts) to keep it towards the top of the recent posts. Of course, your completed news article, news information, story idea, or suggestions to improve this site can still be sent to Blue Hill Today by e-mailing us at

Sunday, December 27, 2009

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Dave Wademan rang the Trinity Lutheran Church's Chappel Bell this afternoon as three more residents of Blue Hill passed on to their heavenly home. The Bell rang this afternoon for Vernon Meyer, Loren Waterbury and Fern Baird who all passed away today. The loss of these friends brings the number of deaths of Blue Hill residents in December to seven including Leonard Johnson, Carole Henkel, Edward Wademan and Melvin Seeman. Blue Hill lost former resident Leola Wiest this month also. Our prayers are with these eight families.

2009 Winter Blizzard ReCap

The Christmas Blizzard of 2009 will be one blizzard which won't soon be forgotten and will draw memories of raging blizzards of years past. For 18 to 24 hours, a large part of south central Nebraska and extreme northern Kansas was blasted with 30 to 60 mph winds, visibilities less than 1/2 mile and frequent "white-out" conditions. Winds dropped off dramatically by dawn Saturday, December 26th, although still gusted to 35 mph. A total of 7.8 inches of snow fell at the Central Nebraska Regional Airport at Grand Island on Christmas Day. That broke the previous record of 3.0 inches of snow set back in 1941. So, Christmas 2009 goes down as the "snowiest" Christmas on record for Grand Island. The snow melted down to 0.51 inches of water, which was also a new record. The old record for liquid precipitation was 0.20 inches in 1941. Hastings joined the record club as well, and measured 9.2 inches of the National Weather Service Office north of town. That broke the previous record of 9.0 inches of snow back in 1945. A total of 0.58" of liquid equivalent precipitation was measured. However, that was not enough to break a record. Of course, its the wind that makes a blizzard, not the snow. The strongest winds occurred during the daylight hours on Christmas Day and into the early evening. Sustained winds were near 40 mph at times with gusts to 60 mph.

Quote of the Day

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves." ~ President Abraham Lincoln

Bobcats Collect All-Academic Honors

Blue Hill High School Students were recently honored as members of the NSAA Academic All-State teams by the Nebraska Schools Activities Association (NSAA) for academic and activity achievement. Blue Hill's honorees include Cross country: Phillip Berger, Lindsey Hansen; Football: Thomas Ostdiek, Taylor Premer; Play production: Erin Kinley, Danielle Wallace; Softball: Jill Beavers, Emily Hubl; Volleyball: Kristin Kohmetscher and Desirae Kohmetscher. Each school is limited to two nominations per activity. Honorees must be varsity members or organizational leader of their activity and must maintain at least a 3.7 on a 4.0 scale or a 93 percent on a 100 percent scale. Congratualtions Bobcats!!!

Governor's Column

Get to Know the Division of Veterans Homes By Governor Dave Heineman December 23, 2009 Dear Fellow Nebraskans: Providing quality care and services for Nebraska’s veterans is the top priority of the Division of Veterans Homes. Nebraska operates four homes in communities across the state providing a comfortable place for many of our national heroes to call home. Located in Bellevue, Grand Island, Norfolk, and Scottsbluff, these four facilities are home to approximately 540 veterans and their spouses. They are home to veterans who have served in nearly every U.S. conflict since World War II. Ensuring that veterans are living well is the commitment of the staff, administrators at each home and Director John Hilgert. These homes provide opportunities for veterans to live their lives to the fullest with specialized services tailored to fit their needs. Services range from recreational opportunities for those needing little assistance to physical therapy and skilled nursing care for those with Alzheimer’s. Caring for Nebraska veterans’ dates back more than a century when the Grand Island Veterans’ Home, first opened in 1887. It remains the largest veterans home in the state with approximately 200 residents. The newest veterans’ home is the Eastern Nebraska Veterans’ Home in Bellevue, which opened in 2007. Personnel from Offutt Air Force Base helped move veterans into their new home. The Bellevue home was designed around a central courtyard with four units that accommodate the different needs of veterans. Residents benefit from the support and involvement of Nebraska’s veterans organizations, which donate time, money and companionship to help veterans maintain a connection to the community. Each home also benefits from the support of the surrounding community. Volunteers and family veterans help with special projects that improve the grounds and services of residents. The foundation for the Norfolk Veterans’ Home is raising funds for the Heroes Park, which will provide an outdoor garden space accessible to veterans, their families and visitors to enjoy. This year, the Western Nebraska Veterans’ Home Foundation received donations from service organizations, banks and other private donors to help restore a pond that is a favorite spot for veterans. Our veterans home staff helps ensure that our veterans are well cared for. I know from my visits to our veterans homes that the staff considers it a privilege to support and care for the individuals who helped preserve freedom for their families and our nation. Our medical personnel, staff and volunteers provide quality services for our veterans and their families. From quality of life issues to medical care, ratings for each home have been strong for several years now. Surveys from 2008 showed that 96 percent of veterans thought their living environment was comfortable and that more than 90 percent would recommend their veterans home to others. Admission to Nebraska’s veterans homes is determined by an independent board made up of representatives of veterans organizations in the state. Application information is available on the division’s website,, or by contacting a local county veteran service officer for assistance. In Nebraska, we value the sacrifices made by our veterans. Providing the best care available is one important way we pay tribute to our veterans, and I appreciate the services that our four veterans homes provide to the men and women who have defended our country.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


"Don't knock the weather. Nine tenths of the people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once in a while" Kim Hubbard

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Blizzard of 2009

This picture of Blue Hill Main street was taken 12-25-2009 about 12:20 p.m. there were five pickups parked in front of the Senior community center but they are not visible in this pictue through the whiteout conditions, the visibilty got even worse as the day progressed. The Winds were up to gusts of 60 miles per hour. Because of the high winds roads crews made no efforts to clean the streets or rural roads in Webster County. There was only a little new snow accumulation before dark but more may be here by morning.
Residents of the whole south central area of Nebraska are being urged to remain at home and wait out the storm. As far east as Lincoln there are reports of closed roads and near impossible traveling conditions. Portions of interstate 80 have been closed. From the tri cities area to the Iowa border weather warnings have been issued. No large accumulation of new snow is forecast but the high winds are causing white outs. Around 10 pm significant snow fall was recorded in the Hastings area. Residents are urged to stay off the roads as much as possible through tomorrow monring.

Quote of the Day

The angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. -- 2nd Chapter of Luke

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Straight from the Horse's Mouth

Duane A. Lienemann, UNL Extension Educator, Webster County December 26, 2009 Edition Can the year 2009 really be about over? I just got used to writing 2009 and now I will have to learn how to put down 2010. I for one am glad that this previous year is about done. This has got to go down as one of the strangest years that I can remember based on the weather, precipitation, cooler than usual weather, crops, pastures, politics, etc. You name it, we had it this year. Last year started in our area with a definite lack of snow and that seemed to be an omen for the rest of the year with the rains following the same pattern as the snow. At least it appears we are in better shape this year with the snow. I know, I like everyone else, don’t necessarily like the snow – other than for a White Christmas, but I look at it as moisture and believe me we need all we can get to replenish our subsoil moisture profile. If winter snow brings spring rains – bring it on! It has at least given me a chance to use my 2-stage snow-blower that I didn’t get to use the last couple of years. After a little priming it really did work and it beats the heck out of the old grain scoop! This year also brought more attention to agriculture and particularly animal agriculture that anyone would have anticipated. Unfortunately a lot of it was negative attention. One only has to mention the words or acronyms like PETA, HSUS, Prop 2, EPA, Vegan, Environmentalist, Global Warming, Carbon, Greenhouse Gas, Cap & Trade, Particulates, Clean Air/Water Act, Animal Rights, Antibiotics, and even Atrazine to name just a few, and you can become overwhelmed if not nauseous. I have done my best to try to keep up with all of this, but one column a week does not give the latitude to explain, let alone educate on these issues. It comes down to individuals to keep up on the very things that can negatively affect your life, business and even bottom line. Fortunately there are several organizations that have been started that helps offset some of the negativity that for some reason has barraged our very way of life. Through all of this, there are actually some bright spots that have appeared that I wanted to center on with this writing. There are actually some good things concerning agriculture that has been on the news lately, unfortunately however it may not have made the evening news or major airwaves. The one that really caught my attention is a recent talk that was given on agriculture on probably one of the last persons you would think of, Bill Gates. That’s right the founder/owner of Microsoft. It turns out that Gates was a big fan and follower of Dr. Norman Borlaug, the Nobel Prize–winning plant scientist who probably did more than anyone in history to fight hunger. Gates commented that “He is a genuine hero, and his story should make us optimistic about the future.” Borlaug, 95, died this past September. Gates was invited to deliver the keynote address in his honor at this year’s World Food Prize Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa, the annual conference where the prize founded by Borlaug is awarded. Gate’s take-home message from the symposium was that we must use agricultural technology to feed humanity, improve the environment and reduce the incidence of disease. That message has been delivered by many before, of course, but this time the message came from a powerful, yet benevolent voice and probably the world’s wealthiest man. Gates has indicated a high degree of interest in helping fund a new green revolution, and he’s telling the world it should be “greener than the first.” I can tell you one thing. This makes it a lot easier for me to buy Microsoft products! Through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, hundreds of millions of dollars have been targeted toward health and food programs for some of the poorest people in the world. But Gates’ vision is even greater. In his first major address on agriculture, Gates called on governments, researchers, environmentalists and others to “set aside old visions and join forces” to help millions of farmers. He also announced a $120 million package of agriculture-related grants to nine institutions around the world. Now here is the part that really caught my attention. Pay attention to what he says. According to Gates, “Environmentalists are standing in the way of feeding humanity through their opposition to biotechnology, farm chemicals and nitrogen fertilizer.” He argues that the “ideological wedge” between groups who disregard environmental concerns and groups who discount productivity gains could thwart major breakthroughs that are within reach because it’s a false choice, and it’s dangerous for the field. It blocks important advances. It breeds hostility among people who need to work together. And it makes it hard to launch a comprehensive program to help poor farmers. “The fact is, we need both productivity and sustainability — and there is no reason we can’t have both.” Gates said the environment can benefit from increased productivity because when productivity is too low, people start farming on grazing land, cutting down forests, using any new acreage they can. When productivity is high, people can farm on less land. The world needs to develop crops that can grow in the world’s harshest conditions and survive drought and floods, while producing higher yields. He called on research companies to use technology they’ve developed for big agriculture and adapt it for the needs of small farmers. He also called on food companies to use their buying power to create markets for small farmers. All I can say is WOW! With his visibility, personal wealth and commitment to combating disease and hunger, Gates has just become modern agriculture’s greatest proponent. Let’s make sure the world hears his message. The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or may not reflect the views of UNL or UNL Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, UNL Extension Educator for Webster County in Red Cloud, (402) 746-3417 or email to: or go to the website at:

Bobcats Named All-Tribland

Four Blue Hill Bobcat football players have been selected to the 2009 All- Tribune 11-Man Team. On the offensive side Ath - Chad Hastings was selected. Chad is a senior at Blue Hill. For the Defense DL Nathan Faimon, Sr, LB Riley Bonifas, Sr. and P Matt Thramer, Jr. were selected. Blue Hill team members who received honorable mention were Thomas Ostdiek, Jared Krueger, Kurt Burken, Brock Kumke and Kelly Faimon. Thramer led all punters in the Tribland area with 33 punts for a 41 yard average. Ostdiek stood ninth on the areas receiving list with 18 catches for 356 yards and 6 TDs despite missings several games due to illness and injury. The All Tribune teams are selected based on the following criteria; 1. The coaches' ranks of their own players; 2. Ballots submitted by area coaches ranking the area's best players; 3. All-Conference and other honors received; 4. Statistical information; 5. Observations by Hastings Tribune staff members.

Quote of the Day

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulders; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." -- Isaiah 9:6

Pawnee City, Red Cloud, and Union step up to the NCIP Leadership Development Challenge

December 21, 2009 (Lincoln, NE) The communities of Pawnee City, Red Cloud and Union have been selected to participate in the Nebraska Community Improvement Program (NCIP) Leadership Development Challenge NCIP is a program offered through the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. The NCIP Leadership Development Challenge offers curriculum to help communities build on their current leadershiip and volunteerism levels. Materials include a communty-based leadership module, a community analysis/planning module, case studies focused on economic development, housing, health, education and government; and a capstone project for each community that;s submitted to DED and evaluated for potential implementation funding. "The LDC brought all age groups together to share our lives for six months with an end result of coompletion of two worthwhile capstone projects." said Bernie Cunningham from Petersburg, the pilot community for the Leadership Development Challenge. "Mostly we benefitted fromour shared experience of seeing the value in all generations helping to develop our leadership skills for the future." Pawnee City's (pop.864) citizens participate inmore than 15 community and civic organizations with all ages working on projects. Many community leaders serve in several organizations at a time in one or more capacities, and few qualified leaders tend to run for city council or other ositions. Therefore the community wants to encourage more citizens to step into leadership positions. The community is active in hosting town hall meetings, conducting surveys and involving citizens and business owners in future planning. With some help, leaders can learn how to better establish riorities, involve more volunteers and use resources more wisely. For information, contact Alan Richard at 402-852-2887 or There are currently many outstanding volunteers and leaders in Red Cloud (pop. 960), however the goal is to recruit younger, equally energetic citizens to grow this current base and eventually take their places. There are many active organizations, and it is believed that LDC training could helpbetter coordinate projects and establish more specific goals, such as brick street repair, maintenance and growth of the Cather Foundation, pursuit of historic preservation projects and new business recruitment, among others. For information, contact Barbara Sprague at 402-746-3606 or Union's (pop.256) current level of citizen participation is low, but growing during the past few months. The village has an active park board that sponsors activities and fundraisers, two active churches, and a group of motivated citizens who are interested in effecting change. The Village Board includes one chairperson and four trustees- none who had any prior community or organizatgional leadership experience. Through mostly inexperienced, all are motivated and receptive to new ideas. The village also lacks any community planning process and would greatly benefit from implementing one. When it celebrated its centennial in 1987, the village united to host the successful event, so the capacity is there. For information, contact Mindy Chapman at 402-890-8287 or Leadersip Development Challenge is currently in an open application cycle for communities eligible for USDA Rural and Community Development initiative funds throught the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. This includes the following Communities: Ainsworth, Alexandria, Bassett, Bloomfield, Blue Hill, Brock, Coleridge, Cook, Creighton, Crofton, Deshler, Edgar, Falls City, Geneva, Guide Rock, Hartington, Hebron, Humbolt, Johnstown, Laurel, Long Pine, Lorton, Milligan, Niobrara, Ohiowa, Osmond, Pawnee City, Peru, Plainview, Red Cloud, Springview, Superior and Talmage. For information about NCIP and/or NCIP Leadership Development Challenge contact Christina Bartels at 800-426-6505 or

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Glen Larsen Retiring

Glen Larsen, the 72 year old superintendent of Blue Hill Public Schools has decided to retire, again. Larsen took the position of superintendent of Blue Hill Public schools after his first retirement, he had served 20 years as the superintendent of Adams Central Schools. Larsen has been involved with education for 46 years. Larsen said he plans to spend more time with his six children, 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Dale Harrifeld, president of the Blue Hill board of education, said the board was pleased with the progress Larsen made while at the school and were sad to see him go. The Blue Hill School board of education will now have the task of finding a replacement for Larsen who held the position since July of 2006.

Blue Hill Looses Twice to GICC

Monday evening the Blue Hill girls basketball team lost to Grand Island Central Catholic girls by a score of 32 to 26 playing in Grand Island. Madison Coffey led the scoring for Blue Hill with 14 points, Alyssa Willicot scored nine points and did well rebounding. The girls have a 1-5 record for this season. The Blue Hill boys team lost to Grand Island Central Catholic team by a score of 69 to 34. Chad Hastings led Blue Hill with nine points. Kyle Mans and Riley Bonifas each put up six points for the Bobcats. The Class C-1 Crusaders have a 6-0 season, while the Bobcats are at 4-2. Both the boys and girls play again on Dec. 29 against Wood River when they attend the Sandy Creek Holiday Tournament.

Weatherman promises a White Christmas!

According to the National Weather Service out of Hastings, Nebraska, Blue Hill is in for an all white Christmas Holiday. We saw freezing rain this morning and snow in the late morning which continues to fall through early afternoon. Forecasters are saying snow is likely tonight, December 23 (90% chance) with wind gusts as high as 40 miles per hour and a new accumulation of an inch possible. On Christmas eve, snow likely again, with the temps down in the teens by 5 p.m. and with areas with wind gusts as high as 45 mph. They also forecast an 80% chance of more precipitation. Thursday night the forecast is about the same, more snow, more wind, more cold, wind chill values down to -13. Christmas day blizzard conditions are expected with a high of 17 degrees and wind gusts as high as 40 mph and 60 % chance of more snow. For the latest weather warnings, check with the national Weather service.

Open Forum

Blue Hill Today is initiatiating a new section to our Blog. The Open Forum is your chance to say something, report breaking news or ask a question -- on any issue. Any topic is fair game, although Blue Hill Today's comment policies still apply. (see bottom of left hand column.) Some experts say western culture is losing the spirit of community that once thrived in institutions including churches and community clubs. Sociologist Ray Oldenburg states that people need three places: 1) the home, 2) the office, and, 3) the community hangout or gathering place. With this philosophy in mind, please consider this Blue Hill's community online hangout. Go ahead and sound off. We are listening. A new Open Forum link will be re-posted every Monday (or there abouts) to keep it towards the top of the recent posts. Of course, your completed news article, news information, story idea, or suggestions to improve this site can still be sent to Blue Hill Today by e-mailing us at

Quote of the Day

"Some businessmen are saying this could be the greatest Christmas ever. I always thought that the first one was. " -- Art Fettig

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Quote of the Day

"I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts." --Will Rogers, politacal humorist.

Senator's Column

by Mike Johanns
December 21, 2009 Looking Forward to 2010 Dear Nebraskans, I'm not sure I could have picked a more intense year to become a member of the U.S. Senate. In 2009, we saw our country enter an economic recession; our government bailout Wall Street; our military recommit to our efforts in Afghanistan; and our citizens, businesses, hospitals, and public officials make their voices heard regarding proposed health care reform.
I hit the ground running in January, and am pleased to report to you that I have been fully engaged. It seems hard to believe now, but back in April the Senate had not yet delved into the thick of the health care reform debate, and I was troubled at the possibility of cap-and-trade legislation being rushed through the Senate. The value of bipartisanship was eminent as I was able to ensure cap-and-trade would be robustly debated in the full light of transparency, not quietly passed as a part of the budget process. When ACORN made headlines this summer, I worked to stop your tax dollars from funding the fraudulent activity of ACORN employees. On other fronts, several of my proposals yielded more funding and benefits for our military veterans and the National Special Olympics Games in 2010. On health care, I held town halls across the state and personally read thousands of your letters and messages. Earlier this month, I wrote a letter requesting analysis from the President's own Department of Health and Human Services. The results proved what I've been saying all along: the Senate health care bill is too costly, increases overall costs instead of decreasing them, and is just plain bad policy for Nebraska and our country.
Despite the challenges that lay ahead, I see great hope for our country in 2010 and beyond. I have seen remarkable and inspiring things from my fellow Nebraskans over the last year. At the town hall meetings I hosted across the state, I was inspired by the passion and breadth of knowledge exhibited by Nebraskans who attended out of concern for the future of our country. It was gratifying to see how the Internet-especially my web site and YouTube-creates such an immediate and direct channel between citizens and their public officials. In seconds, a curious Nebraskan can access my entire database of floor speeches, press releases, weekly columns, and information on the issues and equally as quickly send me their thoughts and opinions. These tools allow Nebraskans and citizens across the country to have their voices heard and drive debate like never before.
In the coming year, I encourage you to take advantage of these great tools to help me serve you and represent you. I read your emails and letters, and I carry the concerns and cares of Nebraskans with me to meetings, hearings and the Senate floor every day. With a pen or an Internet connection, you have a hand on our country's steering wheel and a voice in determining which path it takes. I urge you not to take this opportunity lightly, as we face ever-growing and more complicated challenges in the year ahead.
Have a very Merry Christmas, and may God Bless you in 2010.

A Nebraskan's View

Monday, December 21, 2009 THE SILICON PRAIRIE: NEBRASKA'S HIGH TECH REPUTATION CONTINUES TO GROWby Ben Nelson Robots being developed in Nebraska will play a role in NASA’s future manned missions into space. These robots won’t be playing just any role, either. They’ll be playing a life saving role for astronauts. Taxpayers invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to train an astronaut and it costs hundreds of millions of dollars to launch and carry out space missions which are getting longer and longer in duration. As missions get longer, it is critical to be prepared for instances when an astronaut could have a life threatening medical emergency. During a mission, it is not possible to go to the local hospital. Through tele-surgery, mini surgical robots can be used to perform life-saving diagnosis and treatment without jeopardizing completion of the mission if an astronaut falls ill or is injured. Exciting News for NebraskaDevelopment of these surgical robots is exciting not only for America’s space program; it utilizes an expertise at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and the University of Nebraska Medical Center to create cutting edge surgical tools and techniques. It’s made possible through $2.7 million in federal funds that have been earmarked for UNL and UNMC in a project called Supporting Surgical Options in Space. UNMC and UNL will use the funds they requested to design, simulate, and test miniature in vivo robots to support surgery during long-duration space missions. Through tele-surgery, the mini surgical robots will have the ability to cut, clamp, cauterize, and suture inside the abdominal cavity. If NASA sends a crew up for a relatively long mission and one of the astronauts has an emergency medical event, there are two choices: end the mission early or address the problem in space. It makes sense to invest in a way that will allow the crew to assess the situation medically, determine if an immediate return is necessary and also be able to administer treatment. Spreading the InvestmentMost Nebraskans would probably agree that it makes sense to spread the investment around. Why should the funds remain in Washington or go only to institutions of higher education on the coasts when UNL and UNMC are more than capable of developing these robots? It’s not the first time NASA has expressed support of Nebraska’s ability to help their program.This fall, NASA awarded UNMC $750,000 for further research on this technology. Additionally, in 2006 NASA invited UNMC to participate in the NEEMO 9 Mission in which UNMC demonstrated the technology to NASA astronauts and received a positive evaluation. Federal Funding Transparency As is my standard practice when Nebraskans ask for my support in obtaining an earmark for a worthwhile project, there is complete transparency. This project has been listed on my website since it was requested last May for people to comment on and has gone through the hearing process before being passed by the Senate by a vote of 71 to 28. This is really good news for Nebraskans entering high tech fields who would like to be educated closer to home. They won’t have to leave the state for Silicon Valley; medical and engineering students will be able to stay closer to home learning at institutions in Nebraska which has a growing reputation as the Silicon Prairie.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide–open–heart that thinks of others first. The birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history, because it has meant the pouring into a sick world the healing medicine of love which has transformed all manner of hearts for almost two thousand years... Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart." -- George Matthew Adams in The Christmas Heart.

Congressman's Column

Christmas Greetings I want to take this week's column to wish all Nebraskans a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. During this time of year, our thoughts go out to the men and women in harm's way who defend our freedoms and the freedoms of people they have never met. In his radio address to the nation on Christmas Eve 1983, President Ronald Reagan spoke eloquently about the sacrifices our men and women in uniform have made for our country. I have included portions of his speech below. Merry Christmas and have a safe and happy holiday season. Radio Address to the Nation on Christmas December 24, 1983 President Ronald Reagan My fellow Americans: Like so many of your homes, the White House is brimming with greens, colorful decorations, and a tree trimmed and ready for Christmas day. And when Nancy and I look out from our upstairs windows, we can see the National Christmas Tree standing in majestic beauty. Its lights fill the air with a spirit of love, hope, and joy from the heart of America... Christmas is also a time to remember the treasures of our own history. We remember one Christmas in particular, 1776, our first year as a nation. The Revolutionary War had been going badly. But George Washington's faith, courage, and leadership would turn the tide of history our way. On Christmas night he led a band of ragged soldiers across the Delaware River through driving snow to a victory that saved the cause of independence. It's said that their route of march was stained by bloody footprints, but their spirit never faltered and their will could not be crushed. The image of George Washington kneeling in prayer in the snow is one of the most famous in American history. He personified a people who knew it was not enough to depend on their own courage and goodness; they must also seek help from God, their Father and Preserver. In a few hours, families and friends across America will join together in caroling parties and Christmas Eve services. Together, we'll renew that spirit of faith, peace, and giving which has always marked the character of our people. In our moments of quiet reflection I know we will remember our fellow citizens who may be lonely and in need tonight. ...Let us remember the families who maintain a watch for their missing in action. And, yes, let us remember all those who are persecuted inside the Soviet bloc-not because they commit a crime, but because they love God in their hearts and want the freedom to celebrate Hanukkah or worship the Christ Child. And because faith for us is not an empty word, we invoke the power of prayer to spread the spirit of peace. We ask protection for our soldiers who are guarding peace tonight-from frigid outposts in Alaska and the Korean demilitarized zone to the shores of Lebanon. One Lebanese mother told us that her little girl had only attended school 2 of the last eight years. Now, she said, because of our presence there her daughter can live a normal life. With patience and firmness we can help bring peace to that strife-torn region and make our own lives more secure. The Christmas spirit of peace, hope, and love is the spirit Americans carry with them all year round, everywhere we go. As long as we do, we need never be afraid, because trusting in God is the one sure answer to all the problems we face. Till next week, thanks for listening, God bless you, and Merry Christmas.

Governor's Column

Online Services By Governor Dave Heineman Dec 18, 2009 Dear Fellow Nebraskans: Providing services that help residents and businesses access the services they need is a central part of Nebraska’s digital online strategy. The state website,, provides a vast array of information and online services, which offer added convenience for users and help state agencies work more efficiently. The convenience, added security and shorter turnaround time for processing tax refunds have helped make e-filing with the Department of Revenue one of the most popular online services. More than 1.2 million tax returns and payments were received via the department’s e-filing systems, or 71 percent of all individual income tax returns, which gives Nebraska one of the highest e-filing rates in the country. Another popular service is the Department of Roads 511 portal featuring information on road conditions, weather and travel information. Nearly 60 cameras positioned along Interstate 80 and other highways across the state provide real-time images of road conditions across the state. Averaging 400 visits a day in good weather, the 511 page logs 50,000 or more visits a day during severe weather and a total of more than 700,000 visits this year. Online applications for hunting and fishing permits through the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission are also some of the most-used online services. More than 350,000 permits were sold online in 2008, and more than 410,000 permits have been purchased so far this year. Other favorites include the option to order birth certificates online through the Department of Health and Human Services, and renewing vehicle registrations through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). With more than 18,000 birth certificates issued and nearly 32,000 online vehicle renewals processed in 2009, offering these services online is one way to save citizens from making a special trip to a state or county office. Nebraska is leader in introducing new online services each year. The DMV was the first state to offer drivers with a suspended license the option to reinstate it online instead of traveling to a DMV office. More than 17,000 requests have been fulfilled this year. This was the first year all state agencies used a new web program to submit budget requests. It eliminated the need to print, assemble, and transport 30,000 pages of budget documents each year. Assembling budget reports and requests automatically helped Nebraska be the first state to provide true transparency by making all state agency budget requests available online. I want to invite anyone to use the ‘Idea Box’ on the site to share their suggestions for new online services. One idea submitted was to help seniors view and navigate the state website, which led to the ‘Wired Seniors’ link. Web developers worked with the user and others to test various layouts with larger text and greater contrast until the right combination was found. This is an example of the valuable feedback that is helping build a better, more useful menu of online services for Nebraska citizens.


December 19, 2009 – Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson made the following remarks at a press conference this morning announcing his support for the Senate health care bill, which will reduce costs, expand access, and improve health care for all Nebraskans: “Change is never easy...but change is what is needed in America today. And that is why I intend to vote for cloture… and vote for health care reform. On the floor of the Senate, in town hall meetings throughout our states, and in one-on-one meetings with our constituents, we have all heard heart wrenching stories of people who are left behind, or forced into bankruptcy, or caught in the grip of a health care system that just doesn’t work as well as it should. While each of my colleagues may differ on how to fix the system, I know of no member who suggests the current system is satisfactory; I know of no member who doesn’t think we need to change our health care system. Where we differ—and I say so with great respect to all my colleagues—is in the way we fix our health care system. I believe in the free marketplace as the foundation of our economy and as the primary force that should drive our health care system. That is why I opposed the public option and yet supported the market exchanges. I truly believe that a competitive health care system will lower costs and provide better health care for the American people. Having said that, I also recognize the legitimate role of government, and the need for governmental regulation…to address the shortcomings of the free market system and the need to reach out and help those who need a helping hand. That is why I support the very significant insurance reforms that are a part of this bill and the subsidies provided to lower-income Americans so they to will have access to affordable and quality health care. This legislation is good for our country and good for Nebraska. I would like to touch on the issue of abortion. As you know, I have strongly held views on the subject and I have fought hard to prevent tax dollars from being used to subsidize abortions. I believe we have accomplished that goal. I have also fought hard to protect the right of states to regulate the kind of insurance that is offered, and to provide health insurance options in every state that do not provide coverage for abortion. I know this is hard for some of my colleagues to accept. And I appreciate their right to disagree. But I would not have voted for this bill without these provisions. I would like to acknowledge the administration. Perhaps most remarkable of all has been the leadership of our Majority Leader, Senator Reid. To craft this landmark legislation, shepherd it through the legislative process, deal with the many competing interests associated with this legislation, and acquire the necessary votes to end the filibuster is an accomplishment of historic proportions. I truly believe this legislation will stand the test of time and will be noted as one of the major reforms of the 21st century; much like social security, Medicare, and civil rights legislation were milestones of the 20th century. Because of Senator Reid’s dedication and hard work, the lives of tens of millions of Americans will be improved, lives will be saved, and our health care system will once again reflect the better nature of our country. I would like to take a moment to talk about something that will likely fall on deaf ears. The debate about health care has been passionate, and I believe good for our country. From the far right to the extreme left, the American people have voiced their opinion. That is good; that is part of our democracy. What has been disheartening about this debate are the reckless and ludicrous claims that have been hurled at one another--from both sides--in the heat of the debate. Opponents of this legislation are not less patriotic or insensitive to the health care crisis we face in America. Supporters would not be standing here today if for a moment they thought this legislation would cause harm to the American people. Yet if you turn on the television or read some of the statements coming from both sides of this debate you would think otherwise. The quality of this debate has not always measured up to the quality of the American people. We can do better. There is still much work to be done before this legislation becomes reality. In the weeks ahead I look forward to working my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make it an even better bill. Less as a threat, and more of a promise – let me be clear. This cloture vote is based on a full understanding that there will be a limited conference between the Senate and House. If there are material changes in the conference report to this bill that adversely affect this agreement, I reserve the right to vote against the next cloture vote. Let me repeat: if the conference report has material changes to this agreement, I am reserving the right to vote against cloture. Change is sometimes hard. Certainly the passage of this legislation has been a struggle. Yet when all is said and done and health care reform has become a reality, I am convinced we will look back at this moment in American history and proudly take note that it was worth the effort.”

Straight from the Horse's Mouth

My wife and I just got back from the first of our family Christmas celebrations. It isn’t like we have a slew of them to go to, but this one is always special since it involves our children and all of our grandchildren. It is interesting this year in that I have a sneaking feeling that a couple of the older grandkids are now not quite sure about Santa. One thing that is nice, and most important in my mind, is that they know the reason for this season, and are well grounded in the traditional Christmas, even though they are growing up in an environment that is more “politically correct!” Even though I wonder about their belief in a big jolly elf, they do love having Santa bringing those presents and at least pretend they do! However, I would venture to say that, if pressed, they may divulge that they at the very least question Santa and his reindeer and probably the means by which Santa delivers the goodies. Speaking of reindeer, did you know that it was exactly 30 years ago that the song “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” came out? Now that just doesn’t seem possible, but I have found that time does pass us by very quickly. While I am on the reindeer subject, my mind went back a few years ago when I put an article by Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Extension Cattle Reproduction Specialist (and former Nebraskan) on reindeer that got a lot of comments at that time. I felt in light of the season and especially for my grandkids that it would be fun to revisit that article. The piece was named ”Just How Do Santa's Reindeer Get the Job Done?” and the content is as follows. Have you ever wondered how Santa's reindeer can make that monumental journey on Christmas Eve? Let's look into some key facts about reindeer that may help us understand how they get Ole St. Nick on his appointed rounds over the world. First of all, historians report that reindeer have been domesticated by humans for over 5000 years. Since Santa himself is no spring chicken, we can assume that they have worked together for quite awhile. They should not have any trouble finding their way around. There is no need to worry about them getting lost. We do know that reindeer are ruminants. They are like cattle in this regard. They have four compartments to their stomach. Of course Santa gets them full up with hay before he leaves the North Pole, so they should have plenty of feed stored in the four compartments to make it all around the globe. Also, cattle nutritionists have known for years that hay digests more slowly than grain, therefore the big meal that the reindeer eat before the journey should last even longer. Or just like your mom says "It'll stick to their ribs!". As for drinking water that should be no problem whatsoever. In their homeland the water is all frozen so they are used to getting the moisture they need by eating snow. So as the sleigh is parked on snowy rooftops in cold weather cities, the reindeer can take on the moisture they need if they get thirsty. How do they keep warm while flying around on Christmas Eve? The fur that they have is very thick and can hold a lot of air. The "blanket" of insulation combining fur and air helps keep them warm in even the coldest of climates. Plus flying around Christmas night in many areas of the world that are warmer than they have at home should not be a problem. How do they fly? Well that’s a tougher question, and we really do not have that one completely answered. However, let’s look at what we do know about them. Reindeer are amazingly fast runners on the ground. A newborn baby reindeer at one day of age can out run the fastest person on earth. By the time that they are fully grown it is hard to tell what speeds that they could reach. Next remember those huge antlers. Antlers of adult male reindeer can be as much as 4 feet long! Just think about it. Each reindeer has 2 sets; that’s 8 feet of antlers and with eight reindeer (or nine if we count Rudolph on foggy nights) that is 64 to 72 feet of total antler span. A typical small airplane only has about 20 - 30 feet of wingspan. Certainly it seems feasible that those eight reindeer, running that fast, with all that antler span, could indeed get off the ground. There are a couple of myths about reindeer that we should clear up. You have probably heard the poem that says that they have tiny reindeer feet. Actually they have a very wide large hoof that they use at home to dig through the snow to find grass and moss to eat. You've got to think that those wide hooves would come in handy for sliding to rather sudden stops on the small landing sites that Santa has to work with on Christmas Eve. And you've probably heard the song about “up on the house top click, click, click”. Well it is true that reindeer do make a clicking sound as they walk. They have a tendon that snaps over a bone joint and makes a clicking sound on every step. These are just a few facts about Santa's Reindeer. Maybe this will help us understand that age-old mystery that occurs every Christmas Eve. Here is wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May you all keep your eyes to the sky watching for those reindeer, and please do remember the “Real Reason for this Season” with the same fervor as do the young people. The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or may not reflect the views of UNL or UNL Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, UNL Extension Educator for Webster County in Red Cloud, (402) 746-3417 or email to: or go to the website at:

Farmers and Ranchers Cow/Calf College at USMARC January 19

The annual Farmers and Ranchers Cow/Calf College “Partners in Progress – Beef Seminar” will be held at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center and Great Plains Veterinary Education Center near Clay Center on January 19, 2010 with registration, coffee and donuts starting at 9:15 a.m. and going till 9:55 a.m. The program will run from 10:00 a.m. until approximately 3:30 p.m. This program is sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension’s Farmers and Ranchers College and will feature two nationally-known speakers discussing issues and management strategies that can affect the profitability of all beef producers. There is no cost for the event and the public is invited. It does include a noon meal which means that early registration is necessary.
The “Cow/Calf College” will kick off at 10:00 a.m. with a welcome by Dr. John Pollak, Director of USMARC and Dr. Gary Rupp, Director of GPVEC. They will be followed by the key-note speaker, Kit Pharo, from Pharo Cattle Company of Wells, Colorado. His presentation will be segmented throughout the day and is entitled appropriately “Thinking Outside of the Box”. Kit Pharo will challenge beef producers to think outside the box (paradigm) they have put themselves in. He will give some time-tested, no-nonsense information that they can readily and easily put to use. Discussion during the day will include the difference between being production-driven and being profit-driven, emphasizing that the only way for agriculture to be sustainable is for it to be profitable and enjoyable. Kit will also discuss the “Three Keys” to making the most efficient use of your available forage resources including: Planned Rotational Grazing; Matching Your Production Cycle (calving, weaning, etc.) to fit your Available Forage Resources; and Matching Cow Size and Type to fit your Available Forage Resources.
Lunch will be provided and will be rotated in during the noon session. Dr. Brian Faris, Kansas State Extension Meat Goat and Sheep Specialist will engage with the producers during two rotations addressing the possibilities available to beef producers through “Alternative Species Grazing”. He will focus on the advantages of using small ruminants to maximize available resources in a mixed species grazing system. Directly after the lunch and alternative grazing rotations, the afternoon session will once again feature Kit Pharo, continuing his presentation. These sessions will help ranchers put more profit and enjoyment into their business and make their business more sustainable. Dr. Faris and Pharo will then join on stage to pull everything together, give their final thoughts and considerations and then avail themselves for a coffee-shop style panel discussion during which cattlemen can ask questions and get answers on topic questions that came to them during the day’s sessions. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Gary Rupp, Director of the Great Plains Veterinary Education Center.
Any beef producer or other interested individual should pre-register by January 14th, 2010, at the UNL Extension Office at 621 North Cedar, Red Cloud, NE 68930 or call (402) 746-3417 to insure a seat and lunch, however walk-ins are accepted. You may also email your registration to Dewey Lienemann at: Further information may be found at the Webster County UNL Extension site at:
For any attendees or anyone else that is interested, Kit will also hold a Pharo Cattle Company Field Day the following day, Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010 starting at 10 a.m. It will be held at the Ichthys Enterprises headquarters: Located from the intersection of Hwy 78 and County Road N (mile marker 12), 3 miles west, 1 mile south and 1/10 mile east or from Hwy 136 and County Road 1900, 5 miles north and 1/10 mile east. Hwy 78 and 136 intersect 1 mile north of Guide Rock, NE, road N is 6 miles north of that intersection and road 1900 is 3 miles west of that intersection. The field day will feature Kit Pharo, evaluating cows and bulls in an attempt to describe the "perfect" beef animal. Plans are being made to have a “frame score and weight guessing” contest. There will be a question/answer session with Kit. A PCC cow herd is located approximately 10 miles from headquarters and will be available to view after the presentation. To register or for more information, please contact Lanny Greenhalgh at Ichthys Enterprises at phone # 402-257-3788 or email at:

Letter from Congressman's Mom

JoAnn Smith is the mother of Representitives Adrian Smith of Nebraska's third Congressional District. Dear Friends, As most Nebraskans are busy preparing to celebrate the holidays, we are also grieving for what is happening to our country. Democrats are gearing up to vote on a massive 2,000 page health care proposal that will raise our taxes, increase premiums and drive our country further into debt. This is not what Nebraskans want! I am particularly concerned by the effects that this legislation would have on women throughout Nebraska. This proposed government takeover of health care would put a government bureaucrat between wives, mothers, daughters and sisters, and their ability to make their own health care decisions. Even worse, this health care plan would give the force of law to flawed findings of government panels such as the recent U.S. Preventative Service Task Force announcement that women should start routine mammogram screenings at the age of 50 instead of 40. Limiting these tests unnecessarily jeopardizes the health of women and places an unfair burden on those living below the poverty level. Decisions like this are at the very heart of my concern with a government-run health care system and this is unacceptable for Nebraskan women. Unfortunately, the Democrats in Washington are not listening to us and are extremely close to passing this damaging legislation. Someone who can stop this legislation from happening is our very own Senator Ben Nelson! In order to pass this health care bill, the Senate needs 60 votes exactly - unless they receive Senator Nelson's support, they cannot pass this bill. At this critical time in our Nation's history, I ask that every Nebraskan call Senator Nelson and ask him to vote NO on this government-run health care experiment. I, like every American, want to see health care reform, but not like this. Our representatives need to slow down and take a common sense approach to health care. A government-run system is the wrong solution. Please call Senator Nelson at 202-224-6551 and ask him to listen to Nebraskans. Please e-mail a letter to the editor if the phone calls do not work. I know he follows what is printed in the news. Thank you and Merry Christmas. JoAnn Smith

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Quote of the Day

"If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin." -- Samuel Adams, 1776

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." -- G.K. Chesterton

Friday, December 18, 2009

Quote of the Day

Christmas is supposed to be white. Dashing through the snow does make your spirit bright. You put Santa in Speedos and a tank top and you've ruined the whole thing. -Garrison Keillor

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Melvin W. Seeman

Blue Hill resident Melvin W. Seeman, 81, died Tuesday, December 15, 2009, at Mary Lanning Memorial Hospital in Hastings. Services are 2 p.m. Saturday, December 19, 2009, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Blue Hill with the Rev. Joshua Lowe officiating. Burial with military rites by A.L. Shirley Post # 176 will be in Trinity Lutheran Cemetery at Blue Hill. Visitation is 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at Merten-Butler Mortuary in Blue Hill; and one hour prior to the service Saturday at the church. Memorials may be given to Trinity Lutheran Church. Melvin was born October 5, 1928, to William H. and Minnie J. (Siebrass) Seeman on a farm southeast of Blue Hill. He attended rural school District #63 and Trinity Lutheran Parochial School. He graduated from Blue Hill High school in 1945. He served in the Army from 1951-53, during the Korean war. He married Evelyn J. Brezina on June 5, 1955, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Blue Hill, NE. He was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church of which he had been active in the choir, former elder and former Sunday School Superintendent. He served on the Blue Hill Rural Fire Board and Webster County ASCS committee. He farmed his entire life and had also worked for the Assessor's office for a few years. Due to ill health, he resided at Blue Hill Care Center since February 8, 2008. He is survived by his wife, Evelyn, of Blue Hill, NE; four daughters, Pamela (David) Schimke of Phoenix, Az, Peggy (Lee) Orchard of Valparaiso, IN, Janet (Joel) Peterson of Rapid City, SD, and Melinda (Jahn) Grandstaff of Gretna, NE; three sisters, Dolores Keenen of Blue Hill, NE, LaVona (Winston) Henkel of Campbell, NE, and Marilyn (James) Layman of Omaha, NE and 12 grandchildren, Zachary, Adam, Ashley, Courtney and Erin Schimke, Alaina and Lauren Orchard, Eric, Brett and Melissa Peterson, and Kiley and Taylor Grandstaff. He was preceded in death by his parents.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Senator's Column

December 15, 2009 USDA Analysis Confirms Cap-and-Trade Damages Agriculture
by Mike Johanns The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has provided a summary of its latest analysis of the cap-and-trade bill, and we now have a clearer picture of just how much damage the bill would do to agriculture. Several of my Senate colleagues and I requested the analysis in July, and it's taken USDA nearly six months to provide it. While the Senate has yet to be provided a copy of the actual analysis, the USDA testimony confirms we are right to be very worried.
USDA's claim that the legislation will result in a net gain of $22 billion in income for farmers notes that the increase is primarily because skyrocketing input costs significantly decrease production. This will likely drive many producers out of business, leaving whomever is left standing to benefit from higher prices as the overall food supply goes down significantly. The details of USDA's own testimony paint a far more troubling picture.
USDA testified that the costs of fuel, oil, and electricity will increase by about 22 percent. And here's a staggering estimate: the bill drives 59 million acres of cropland and pasture out of production by 2050. With millions of acres coming out of production and energy prices going through the roof, it's not surprising that USDA also predicts a significant decline in farm production. USDA's testimony shows that corn production will decrease by 22 percent, soybean production will drop by 29 percent, beef production will decline by 10 percent, and pork production will sink by 23 percent. This decline in production will threaten our nation's food supply, and is estimated to drive up food prices by as much as five percent.
Yet the Administration supports this bill. How can USDA support a policy that so drastically and negatively impacts agriculture? Hit hardest will be the small and mid-sized family farms like many in Nebraska, many of whom cannot incur the cost increases imposed by this bill. Moreover, the net effect of the House bill is to take 59 million acres out of production as the world's population is projected to increase by 2 billion people. Two billion more mouths to feed, 59 million less American acres from which to feed them, while China, South America, and our other global competitors gobble up the demand.
While our farmers will be sitting on the sidelines, planting productive acres into trees, our global competitors unencumbered by the cap-and-trade dagger will be planting more crops. This is not a vision for American agriculture, it's a death sentence. The Administration-backed cap-and-trade bill passed by the House represents a paradigm shift in the wrong direction for American agriculture. It is a dangerous public policy proposal that would dramatically impact farmers and ranchers, driving many out of business. I find that unacceptable; the Administration needs to go back to the drawing board.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


"The really tough thing about true humility is you can't brag about it." Gene Brown

Lienemann Named as NCEA President

Webster County Extension Agent and Blue Hill resident, Duane Lienemann has been elected to serve a three year Presidential term for the Nebraska Cooperative Extension Association! The NCEA is a professional organization representing extension professionals of the University of Nebraska's cooperative extension. The first year will be served as President Elect, the second year he will be President and the third year he will be Past President. Congratulations Dewey!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Quote of the Day

"I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope and that enables you to laugh at life's realities." -- Dr. Seuss

Governor's Column

VINE Marks 10 Years in Nebraska By Governor Dave Heineman Dec 11, 2009 Dear Fellow Nebraskans: Ten years ago this week, a new service launched in Nebraska aimed at providing peace of mind for the victims of violent crime. Launched in 1999, VINE, which stands for Victim Information and Notification Everyday, alerts Nebraskans to changes in an offender’s custody status 24 hours a day, via telephone or email.
Coordinated by the Nebraska Crime Commission, VINE provides the around-the-clock status of offenders held in a Nebraska Department of Correctional Services facility and county jails throughout the state. The service is free, anonymous and available to crime victims and any concerned citizen.
In the aftermath of a crime, knowing the offender’s whereabouts can be a valuable way to reassure victims as part of their recovery. VINE helps empower victims by giving them important safety information in a fast and convenient way.
During the past decade, use of this technology-based application has been widely adopted across the country. When Nebraska’s VINE program was implemented in 1999, less than 10 states offered this automated service. Today at least 2,300 communities in 46 states offer victim notification services.
Callers to the VINE hotline can talk with operators available 24 hours a day to help new users register, locate an offender or access local victim services. Updates are provided in English and Spanish, with a recent addition of Vietnamese. The menu of VINE’s online and electronic services has expanded as well.
Users can register to receive status updates via email. In addition to registering to be notified in the event of an offender’s release, death, transfer, escape and return to custody after an escape, more specific information is available on Nebraska inmates. It ranges from a pardon or commutation of a sentence, to temporary releases such as furloughs, work release or volunteering with a community program, cancellation of scheduled release, 30-day advance notice of an upcoming parole hearing and any cancellations, as well as the results of parole hearings.
In 2008, there were 4,773 registration requests and an update on inmate status was requested more than 23,000 times in Nebraska. These are requests that otherwise would have gone to jails and county attorneys across the state.
VINE is one example of the many ways state government can provide a valuable service that benefits citizens, while also ensuring better efficiency for our partners at the local and county level.
Victims and other concerned citizens can access the service by calling toll free to (877) 634-8463, or by logging onto the VINE website, available at and entering the offender’s name or identification number.
Each of the thousands of notifications made each year is a person who feels safer because they know the status of a perpetrator. Knowledge is power, and for the victims of crime in Nebraska it provides security and peace of mind.
I want to thank the Nebraska Crime Commission and our many partners in law enforcement and criminal justice systems who are part of the coalition of agencies supporting this worthwhile program.

Congressman's Column

by Adrian Smith Killing the Death Tax It is said the only things certain in life are death and taxes. Somehow the federal government has managed to combine both. The estate tax - commonly referred to as the "death tax" - is a tax on assets transferred following an individual's passing. This tax is a drag on our economy because it taxes capital, the fuel of economic growth. I long have supported a complete and permanent repeal of the death tax because it punishes individuals at their death and, in effect, is a double tax on assets which were already taxed when earned. Recent estimates show a full repeal of the tax would create 1.5 million jobs, increase small business capital by more than $1.6 trillion, increase payrolls by 2.6 percent and expand investment by 3 percent. Yet, with the purported focus on job creation, this Congress and Administration refuse to enact a permanent repeal. Grieving families are faced with a punitive tax which raises only 1 percent of all federal revenue. In fact, estimates show the death tax costs the economy more in lost growth than it raises. The death tax discourages savings and investment in small businesses and family farms, threatening their very existence from one generation to the next. People should be able to pass their earthly assets to family without a call from the IRS. Why should the prosperity Americans accumulate through hard work and innovation be forfeited when their lives come to an end? Just days ago, Congress had the chance to permanently repeal the death tax. Unfortunately, it fell far short despite the fact many of my colleagues and I were willing to work together to find a real solution. Instead, Congress passed a bill which would permanently extend the excessively high tax rate of 45 percent with an un-indexed exemption amount of $3.5 million. At the 45 percent rate, nearly half of the value of farms, ranches and small businesses would be taxed. This measure didn't kill the death tax, didn't set a reasonable rate, didn't provide an appropriate exemption amount, and isn't indexed for inflation. By comparison, let's take a look at the alternative minimum tax (AMT). Like the death tax, the AMT was originally designed to impact a relatively few taxpayers. But like the death tax, the AMT was not indexed for inflation, and now hits 26 million middle-class taxpayers every year. More and more family farms will fall victim to the death tax unless a permanent repeal is enacted. It is a shame Congress chose to employ a gimmick as a Band-Aid rather than solve the underlying problems which could prove devastating to small, family-owned businesses and agriculture producers. Abolition of this harmful tax will help spur economic recovery, put unemployed Americans back to work, and increase the long-term growth potential of the economy. Most importantly, repeal of the death tax would echo what we have been taught for so long: if you work hard, you can pass the fruits of your labor to your children without fear the government will take it away.

A Nebraskan's View

by Senator Ben Nelson
Monday, December 14, 2009 HOW TO HELP FINANCE THE BUILD UP IN AFGHANISTAN As the war in Afghanistan escalates some have suggested increasing taxes, which I think is a bad idea especially at a time when many Americans are still struggling with the economy. We need to get our fiscal house in order, and be honest about the costs of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, for the time being that means that the wars will continue to contribute to the federal deficit. I have proposed a patriotic and cost-effective way to finance the wars and reduce our dependence on foreign creditors.
War Bonds The US War Bonds Act of 2009 finds a precedent in World War II savings bonds. From May 1, 1941 through December 1945, the War Finance Division and its predecessors were responsible for the sale of nearly $186 billion worth of government securities. Of this, more than $54 billion was in the form of War Savings bonds. Although the times and economic circumstances are significantly different than what we faced in the 1940’s, America’s commitment to protecting freedom and our way of life has not waned.
The commitment to protecting our national security is costly and so far has been a burden shouldered by the men and women in our military and their families. I believe that many Americans if given the opportunity to directly support the effort to protect our national security interest would do so, which is why I have introduced the United States War Bonds Act of 2009.
The Act would authorize the Treasury to issue War Bonds to aid in funding our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. My hope is that we can tap into the same spirit of patriotism and create a sense of participation in the war effort akin to that shown by the greatest generation.
The National Debt As we know all too well, America is deeply in debt. The debt held by the public is more than $7.6 trillion dollars. An equally unsettling fact is that nearly $3.5 trillion – 46 percent – is held by foreign investors. We must get our debt under control, but as we pursue that goal we should also seek a better balance of domestic and foreign creditors.
I don't believe our first instinct should always be a rush to tax. The government has gone to great lengths to address the economic downturn and adding new taxes right now could undermine those efforts. My bill recognizes that now is not the time for additional taxes that can be avoided; but if we’re going to owe a debt to someone, it should be to ourselves.
My legislation will authorize the Treasury to issue and market War Bonds to the American people. Savings bonds are a cost-effective way to reduce our dependence on foreign creditors and create an outlet for Americans to express their patriotism and support for our servicemembers and America’s mission.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


"Having a child is surely the most beautifully irrational act that two people in love can commit." -- Bill Cosby.

Nebraska Counties Designated as Primary Natural Disaster Areas

Jonathan Groveman (202) 720-4178 WASHINGTON, Dec. 10, 2009 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated Buffalo County in Nebraska as a primary natural disaster area due to excessive rain, hail, high winds and flooding that occurred during the period June 6, 2009, and continuing. Farm operators in the counties listed below in Nebraska also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Those counties are: Adams, Dawson, Howard, Phelps, Custer, Hall, Kearney, and Sherman. In a second request, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated Platte County in Nebraska as a primary natural disaster area due to a severe hail storm that occurred Aug. 9, 2009. Farm operators in the counties listed below in Nebraska also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Those counties are Boone, Colfax, Merrick, Polk, Butler, Madison, Nance, and Stanton. In a third request, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated Franklin and Webster counties in Nebraska as primary natural disaster areas due to drought that occurred during the period of Jan. 1, 2009, and continuing. Farm operators in the counties listed below in Nebraska also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Those counties are: Adams, Harlan, Nuckolls, Clay, Kearney, and Phelps. Farm operators in Jewell, Phillips and Smith counties in the adjacent state of Kansas also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. "President Obama and I understand these conditions caused severe damage to these areas and serious harm to farms in Nebraska and we want to help," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "This action will provide help to hundreds of farmers who suffered significant production losses to corn, soybeans, wheat, pumpkins and other crops." All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas Dec. 8, 2009, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity. USDA has also made other programs available to assist farmers and ranchers, including the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), which was approved as part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008; the Emergency Conservation Program; Federal Crop Insurance; and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at: FSA news releases are available on FSA's Web site at: via the "News and Events" link. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272(voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).

Straight From the Horse's Mouth

Duane A. Lienemann, UNL Extension Educator, Webster County December 12, 2009 Edition Every time that I sit down to write this column it seems that the hot topic of the week involves an attack on agriculture and the attacks on animal agriculture really do seem to catch my attention. There is something I could write on that subject every week and this week is no exception with some HSUS activities that are of interest to me. Animal rightists are only one element that we have to worry about in today’s world. Another element is the same extremism that can come from environmentalists. It goes beyond saving some beetle, prairie dog, small minnow or spotted owls. They are very instrumental in many things that effect air, water, and soil - all of which are of course the basics of agriculture. Their lobby is big, strong and affective and has, like their animal rights colleagues, deep pockets. They have really been working at pushing the agenda (many of which seem to start in California) of environment. We know about this with the Clean Air and Water Acts and the earlier worry we had with the so-call “Cow Gas Tax”, which we were told would never happen. Not so fast….this week I just could not overlook the decision that ironically was released on December 7. That date is familiar. Wasn’t that “the day that lives in infamy” with the attack on Pearl Harbor? I hope that isn’t an omen. That decision was made by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and it could in my opinion, have far reaching affects on the agriculture industry. Could we be facing another sneak attack on our nation? The EPA said this past Monday that “Global warming pollution endangered the health and welfare of Americans and must be reduced.” That sounds like just a sentence, but believe me it packs quite a punch. That punch amazingly comes the week before a big international conclave on Global Warming in Copenhagen. Pure happenstance, I wonder! Many environmentalists consider it a move that is timed to signal that the U.S. is serious about joining an international bid to reduce the risks of damaging climate change. Monday's finding means that the EPA will proceed with preparations to regulate producers of greenhouse gas emissions. Those rules could take effect if Congress doesn't pass legislation on GHG. That sounds very close to blackmail to me. Gosh, another happenstance, right at the time of discussion on Cap and Trade. I don’t know about the rest of you, but all of these happenstances bother me. This is especially troubling when you find out that it is declared by the EPA Administrator, who is appointed by the President of the United States, and is supposedly acting by Executive Order from the President. I guess there are several ways you can skin a cat! This finding sets the stage for greenhouse regulation under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and would give the EPA unprecedented control over every sector of the U.S. economy and especially over all segments of agriculture. To be up front, the endangerment finding does not itself regulate GHGs; but unless Congress acts, it sets in motion EPA regulation of GHGs from stationary sources and the setting of new source performance standards for GHGs. The extent to which EPA can change statutory permitting requirements is unclear. Only time will tell how federal courts will address regulation of all sources that emit GHGs in excess of the statutory thresholds or act on the lawsuits that are bound to follow. EPA indicated that it also would be developing an approach to regulate GHGs from hundreds of thousands of small operations, including farms and buildings. According to the National Cattlemen Association, “While agricultural sources are currently generally not required to obtain permits for greenhouse gas emissions, regulation of GHGs under the CAA may for the first time trigger such regulation. Given the fact that America currently has over 2,000,000 farms, it would be virtually impossible to permit a majority of them. It would also impose massive regulatory compliance costs on producers, which could force many operations out of business.” We do not know the total effect of the “Cap and Trade”, but from what I see it, would push the cost of electrical and fuel energy up dramatically. I find it curious as well that with this past week’s finding of hundreds of emails circulating between so-called climate scientists that indicate that there were definite bias in the rendering of “Scientific Data”. I think that it is really premature to issue this kind of finding, especially given that recent controversy surrounding the scientific validity of alleged human contributions to climate change. Regulation of greenhouse gases should be based on science, and it should be thoughtfully considered and voted on by Congress through a democratic process, not dictated by the EPA. This in my eyes is like having the fox in charge of the henhouse! It furthermore should never be politicized. When Congress and EPA were challenged on the “Cow Gas Tax” they said “Congress never intended for the Clean Air Act to be used for greenhouse gas regulation.” Now I would say that in their defense the Act has done a good job of cleaning up pollutants, but in all honesty I doubt that it is adequately equipped to address global climate change. My belief parallels the National Cattlemen’s assertion that “Any attempts to use it for this purpose would be devastating to U.S. agriculture and our American economy.” The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or may not reflect the views of UNL or UNL Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, UNL Extension Educator for Webster County in Red Cloud, (402) 746-3417 or email to: or go to the website at: