Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Summer Fun Just Around the Bend

A host of summer activities will dot the local landscape over the next several months. Here is a short list of just some of the events on this summers horizon. Check back to this article often as it will be updated with new events as they come in. Every Friday, KAM Raceway, Hastings, NE - Go-kart races. Hot laps start at 7:40 p.m. and racing begins at 8:00 p.m. Admission is $5, 12 and under free. Check Schedule Every Saturday, Mid-Nebraska Speedway, Doniphan, NE - Regular Racing featuring Grand National Late Models, I.M.C.A. Modifieds, I.M.C.A. Hobby Stocks, Happy Hornets. Racing at: 7:30 p.m. Check Schedule July 2-8, Franklin County Fair, Franklin, NE July 9-12, Clay County Fair, Clay Center, NE July 10-12, "Major League Book Sale", City Auditorium, Hastings, NE - Hastings Public Library Annual Used Book Sale. booksale July 11, Summer Extravaganza, downtown, Hastings, NE - sidewalk sales featuring car show and shine, taekwondo demonstrations, games, food and other activities, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 402-461-8413 or visit www.hastingsdowntown.com. July 11, Free movie, "Grease", downtown, Hastings, NE - Downtown park, east side of Eakes, 8:30 p.m. downtownhastings July 11 & 12, Antique Collector's Show, Dyers Park, Ayr, NE -- Gates open at 7:00 am, $5 admission, 10 and under free. Presented by Platte Valley Antique Machinery Association, Inc. See Flyer July 11, Campbell Road Ralley, Campbell, NE - Registration at 1:30 p.m. Road Rally at 2:00 p.m. Bingo 2-4, Jump-a-roo, Little Tuggers Pedal Tractors ages 4-12 TBA, Dunking Booth 5-8, Barbecue 5:30 - 8, Beer Garden 6 - 12:30, Raffle Prizes and Road Rally winners 8, Free Dance 8:30 - 12:30. July 11, Republican River Tank Float, Red Cloud, NE - Registration at 10:00 a.m., Start at 1:00 p.m., Starts 4 miles west of Red Cloud and 1 mile south on Road 800. July 13 & 14, Nuckolls County Fair & Rodeo, Nelson, NE - 7:30 pm July 18 & 19, Coors Light 3 Man Scramble, Southern Hills Golf Course, Hastings, NE - Tee times 7:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. bot hdays. $300 entry fee per team. Prime Rib Dinner Saturday 6 - 7:30. Calcutta Saturday 8 p.m. Skins game, flag prizes and beer specials. July 16 - 18, Webster County Fair & Rodeo, Bladen, NE - See full schedule. July 18-23, Kearney County Fair, Minden NE July 22-26, Adams County Fairfest, Hastings, NE - Entertainment. July 24 & 25, Q125 Celebration, Lawrence, NE - See Flyer. August 2, Citywide Garage Sale, City Auditorium, Hastings, NE - 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. August 9, Deweese Fall Festival, Deweese, NE - BBQ, Street Dance, Beer Garden and Demolition Derby. August 7-9, Street Car Days, Red Cloud, NE - Golf, softball, soap box derby, parade, swimming, bingo, children's theater and more. August 14-16, Kool Aid Days, Hastings, NE - Boat races, bicycle tour, volkswalk, farmer's market, child ID, parade, trolley, kool aid drinking contest, live entertainment, mini railroad, Car Show, model rockets, flying disc golf and more. see brochure. August 22 - September 1, Nebraska State Fair, State Fair Park, Lincoln, NE - see Standard Schedule. August 23, Juniata Fire Department Annual Car Show, Juniata, NE - Location : Downtown Juniata Juniata NE 68955 402 751 2690 www.juniatafd.com Additional Info : Entry Fee $10 Send To Jeff Wills First 10 Entries Receive A Free T -Shirt Send Name Address And Car Make & Model To Jeff Wills 404 N. Blue River Ave Juniata NE 68955 [Before July 23 2009] August 29, Kiwanis 4 Person Golf Scramble, Elks Golf Course, Hastings, NE - $75 per person / $300 per team. Cash payout and numerous flag prizes. Contact Ken Pitz at 402-463-6813. September 4-6, Oregon Trails Rodeo, Adams County Fairgrounds, Hastings, NE - see info.

Boosters Set to Scramble

The Blue Hill Athletic Booster Club will be hosting a 2 person scramble golf tournament on Sunday, July 19, 2009. Registration begins at 12:00 noon at the Blue Hill Municipal Golf Course. Entry fee is $50 per team and includes 18 holes of golf and a smoked pork chop dinner. Flag prizes will be awarded. For more information or to pre-register call Terry Jordening at 756-3399 / 756 - 4399 or Jeff Coffey at 756 - 4160.

Blue Hill 4th of July Festival

Come celebrate Independence Day in Blue Hill. Thanks to the Blue Hill Community Club for coordinating all of these great activities. Click the arrow in the upper right hand corner to enlarge the flyer. These wonderful events are dependent upon the generous donations of community members like yourself. Please contact a member of the Blue Hill Community Club if you would like to make a donation.

Congressman's Column by Adrian Smith

Freedom and Liberty are Not Free As we approach Independence Day, I encourage you to reflect for a moment about the cost of living. I'm not talking about gas prices - though the price at the pump right now is hitting families in Nebraska and across the country - or how much it costs to see a movie or buy groceries or purchase a house. I'm talking about the true cost of living in freedom, the cost of living in a democracy. The way of life Americans are accustomed to - our constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms - wasn't free. Let us not forget those patriots who paid with their lives and livelihood to earn our democracy. In the generations since, millions more have paid with their lives. For many areas of the globe, however, freedom and democracy are ideals not yet realized. The other day, I did an online search for the terms "crackdown" and "democracy." I had more than 1.7 million hits. Think about it. How much does it "cost" to live in China, right now? How much does it "cost" to live in North Korea? Even as I write, crowds are protesting in the streets of Iran. Peaceful demonstrators in the United States are perfectly within their legal rights and protected by the First Amendment. In Iran, however, protestors risk jail, beatings, even their lives for speaking out against their government. In recent days, members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, militia and other security forces in riot gear have been heavily deployed across Tehran, preventing any gatherings and ordering people to keep moving. Images of protests being violently broken up and even turning deadly have shocked the world. Diplomats were expelled from the country and reporters were placed under house arrest. Protestors resorted to using online services to give and receive updates as to what was happening on the streets. The President recently suggested these demonstrations should not become a referendum on America, that we shouldn't be making this about the United States. I disagree. If there is any country I wish Iran was looking to, it is the United States. Our country should be held as an example of freedom and democracy to the world. During the confusing days following the first election of President George W. Bush, I was overseas. Nearly everyone I talked to was amazed our country could have such a situation occurring without riots or bloodshed. I'm proud our nation was founded on the idea that each of us has the freedom and the right to succeed or fail on our own merits. Unfortunately, there now is a congressional agenda dedicated to imposing Washington bureaucracy into our health care, our businesses - like auto dealerships - and our education, and leveling higher taxes on energy. Time after time, we've seen those who turn to bigger government for all the answers take direct aim at the core ideals on which our nation was founded. For some reason, there are those who don't realize at the heart of every great success story is personal responsibility, not government dependency. The true cost of living in freedom can be measured in many ways. This Independence Day, let us remember those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms and those who are risking their lives for democracy denied.

Governor's Column by Dave Heineman

June 26, 2009 UNMC Leading the Way Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in a ceremony to mark the opening of the second research tower at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Over the past decade, UNMC has grown remarkably, with more than $300 million in capital projects either finished or under construction. These have been funded almost entirely through private donations. Behind this growth is UNMC Chancellor Harold M. Maurer, M.D., and his capable team. When Hal became chancellor of UNMC, he indicated that campus research growth would be his legacy, and what a legacy he has built. In a decade, the annual research support to UNMC medical scientists has grown from approximately $30 million to more than $82 million. Medical research is important for many reasons. The most obvious is the advances that are made to cure and treat devastating diseases. At UNMC, scientists are focused on the causes and potential treatments for numerous types of cancer, neurological disorders, infectious diseases and many other maladies. Since the Durham Research Center was built in 2003, UNMC scientists have made great strides in determining how to deliver drugs across the blood brain barrier, which protects our brain from dangerous infections and disease. The barrier also inhibits medications that are important to treating brain-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Scientists in the second research tower -- the Durham Research Center II -- are conducting research on diseases which impact the lungs, the liver or the GI tract. The building, which includes a new home for the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory, also features one of the top research teams in the country studying staph infections and other serious bacterial infections. That brings me to the second reason medical research is vital to the state of Nebraska -- job creation. The U.S. Department of Commerce has determined that for every $1 million in research funding that is brought into the state, 32 jobs are created. Thus, UNMC’s $82 million research enterprise supports more than 2,600 jobs, at the Medical Center and throughout Nebraska. That’s a tremendous net-gain for our state. UNMC’s attention to research provides Nebraska’s citizens with the opportunities to participate in clinical trials and receive the latest, most cutting edge treatments. These opportunities would not have been possible without the wonderful philanthropists who have invested their resources in UNMC. The late Chuck Durham understood the promise of medical research, and he helped persuade others to invest in UNMC and our collective future. Several donors have since stepped forward, providing gifts for a beautiful medical education building, a four-story hospital addition, and other projects yet to be completed – a geriatrics center, a public health facility and a nursing college expansion. These projects are examples of private-public partnerships that are absolutely vital to Nebraska. The University of Nebraska Medical Center is a Nebraska gem. UNMC is making a difference in people’s lives. Thanks to Chancellor Maurer and his outstanding team, UNMC is a world-class facility doing extraordinary research to cure devastating diseases.

A Nebraskan's View by Senator Ben Nelson

Monday, June 29, 2009 INDEPENDENCE DAY HONORS FOR THOSE WHO ASSURE OUR INDEPENDENCE The makeup of the military has seen dramatic changes over the years. No longer does it consist primarily of single men. The majority of men and women in today’s all volunteer force are married and have families. More than half of the nearly 3 million members of regular and reserve components of the military are married. In Nebraska, there are more than 15,000 families of regular and reserve components of the military. 7,500 regular and 7,700 reserves. Many of these families have children. There are more than 1.8 million children between the ages of birth and 23 who are dependents of regular and reserve military families. Most of the children of regular military are under the age of 5 while most children of reserve members are between 6 and 14. Families Serve Along Side Service Members Americans understand that military families serve their country just as surely as the one in uniform does. We, as a country, must ensure that all the needs of military dependent children are being met, for children of members of both the regular and reserve components. Military families often face unique challenges and difficulties that are inherent to military life, including long separations from loved ones, the repetitive demands of frequent deployments, and frequent uprooting of community ties resulting from moves to bases across the country and overseas. Thousands of military family members have taken on volunteer responsibilities to assist units and members of the Armed Forces who have been deployed. They support family readiness groups, help military spouses meet the demands of a single parent during a deployment, or provide a shoulder to cry on or the comfort of understanding. Family Support is Crucial In talking with spouses from throughout Nebraska, I know how important it is to them that they have base and community support and that they are reached out to once their service member is deployed. We in Congress have tried to do our part to help, and have made family support programs and initiatives a priority. Independence Day Honors As Americans celebrate Independence Day it is important for all of us to celebrate and honor those who assure our independence; those who wear the uniform and their families. That’s why earlier this year the Senate approved a resolution I co-sponsored to designate the year 2009 as the Year of the Military Family. It is my hope that this resolution increases awareness of the great sacrifices military families make and inspires Americans everywhere to express their appreciation and renew their commitment to honoring military family members who bravely serve this nation alongside their service members.

Monday, June 29, 2009

June City Council Minutes

CITY OF BLUE HILL REGULAR MEETING JUNE 9, 2009 A meeting of the City Council of Blue Hill, Nebraska was held on June 9, 2009 at 7:30 PM at City Hall. Notices of the meeting were given in advance to the Mayor and City Council members. Availability of the agenda was given in advance. All proceedings were taken while the meeting was open to the public. Notices were posted at the Post Office, City Hall and the Community Senior Center. Mayor Keri Schunk called the meeting to order and informed all present that a current copy of the Open Meeting Act is posted on the west wall as you enter the meeting room. On Roll Call: Mayor Keri Schunk, President Mark Petska, Jesse Alber and Doris Hartman. Absent: John Schwab and Andy Alber. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all present. Mayor Schunk welcomed the visitors to the meeting. It was moved by Hartman, seconded by Petska to approve the minutes of the May 12, 2009 regular City Council meeting as submitted and published. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; J.Alber, Petska and Hartman. Absent: Schwab and A.Alber. The treasurer’s report for May 2009 was reviewed by the Council. It was moved by Petska, seconded by Hartman to place the report on file for audit. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; Petska, Hartman and J.Alber. Absent: A.Alber and Schwab. The bills were presented to the Council for review and approval. Motion was made by Petska, seconded by Hartman to pay bills as presented. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; J.Alber, Petska, and Hartman. Absent: Schwab and A.Alber. BILLS General Fund Great Plains One-Call 8.91, Petty Cash 3.20, Seiler & Parker 310.00, Woodward’s Disposal 841.99, L/C (5-09) 249.93 Street Fund Century Lumber .64, City of Blue Hill 133.43, Contryman Assoc. 950.00, Farm Plan 302.00, Farmers Coop. Assoc. 59.09, Grainger, 396.36, Rose Equipment Inc. 731.01, The Island Supply Co. 254.74, Watson Signs 199.50, Vontz Paving 125,736.22, PR & Ins. (5-09)4,064.23 Water Fund Blue Hill Leader 15.30, City of Blue Hill 1,230.21, Contryman Assoc. 1,400.00, Farmers Coop. Assoc. 37.79, NDEQ 17,008.15, NE Public Health Laboratory 37.00, Petty Cash 3.26, PR & Ins. (5-09) 4,108.81 Electric Fund Am. Legion Post 176 17.00, Blue Hill Leader 165.24, Carey’s pest Control 47.92, CB’s Electric 143.88, Century Lumber Center 21.08, City of Blue Hill 1,693.31, Contryman Assoc. 2,150.00, Dutton-Lainson Co. 2,808.49, Eakes 19.17, Farmers Coop. Assoc. 113.39, GTMC 335.37, Hall’s Oil 742.00, Harold K. Scholz 36.91, Kriz Davis 354.15, Liberty Flag & Specialty Co. 87.95, MEAN 13,681.88, Paramount 133.25, Petty Cash 170.19, Roger Stone 250.00, Source Gas 25.51, Thramer’s 4.46, Dept. of Energy 9,911.07, Dept. of Revenue (EFT) 3,401.14, PR & Ins. (5-09) 11,921.43 Sewer Fund City of Blue Hill 297.16, Contryman Assoc. 150.00, Farmers Coop Assoc. 58.46, Municipal Service & Supply 164.52, Municipal Supply 1,790.30, Russell Willems 6.00, USA Blue Book 63.82, PR & Ins. (5-09) 1,507.29 Disposal Service Fund Woodward’s 5,279.25 Recreation and Amusement Fund Alan Witte 113.10, Blue Hill Leader 90.00, Cash-Wa Candy 145.82, Century Lumber 358.52, City of Blue Hill 113.93, Contryman Assoc. 200.00, Fairfield Coop 1.82, GTMC 70.71, Hall’s Oil 1,562.63, In The Swim 95.94, NAPA 14.88, Sunset Spa & Supply 1,520.50, Thramer’s 16.08, PR & Ins. (5-09) 2,121.00 Parks Fund Big G Stores 19.52, Bladen Sand & Gravel 362.70, Century Lumber 198.27, City of Blue Hill 111.67, Contryman Assoc. 100.00, CPI 269.74, Farmers Coop 4.58, Hi-Line Motors 40.00, Practice Sports 2,257.84, PR & Ins. 7,238.23 Rental Fund Barton Pipe & Rod 17.90, Carey’s Pest Control 28.50, Cash-Wa Candy 13.34, City of Blue Hill 377.42, Contryman Assoc 50.00, GTMC 55.65, Malouf & Assoc. 70.15, Paramount 138.80, Thramer’s 10.15, PR (5-09) 388.40 Golf Course Fund Carey’s Pest Control 45.00 Payroll Fund AFLAC 116.65, Ameritas Life Ins. 228.30, Assurant Health 3,559.69 Cemetery Fund Century Lumber 25.79, CPI 269.74, Earl May 53.16, Farmers Coop Assn. 80.36 Jeff Kennedy, owner of property at 413 West Lancaster in Blue Hill, was present to update the Council on the progress of updating this property and inform them of his projected completion date. Stuart Kerr was present to discuss the city’s current utility deposit return policy. Mayor Keri Schunk opened the hearing for the proposed amended boundaries to the Well Head Protection Plan at 8:05 P.M. for public comment. Mayor Schunk closed the hearing at 8:09 P.M. as there was no discussion. Motion was made by Petska, seconded by Hartman to adopt Ordinance No. 621 approving the amended boundaries to Blue Hill’s Well Head Protection Plan. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; Hartman, Petska, and J.Alber. Absent: A.Alber and Schwab. (Ordinance No. 621 at end of minutes) Webster County Sheriff Troy Schmitz was unable to attend the meeting due to a previously scheduled commitment. Mayor Schunk sent Sheriff Schmitz a letter containing questions and concerns from the City Council and residents of Blue Hill. In his absence Sheriff Schmitz provided a reply to the questions and concerns, in which copies were supplied for all in attendance. Included in the discussion of these responses, options were discussed of offering some type of incentive to have a deputy live in Blue Hill. Brad Vontz of Vontz Paving Inc. was present, as per the Council’s request, to discuss the unfinished items of the Street Project. Brad Vontz stated that the curb & gutter and asphalt surfacing was complete on Otoe Street and he is ready to move to the next item of the project, Walnut Street between York and Seward, which is to be completed by August 15, 2009. In regards to the portion of the project regarding York Street between Sycamore St. and Liberty St., the Council requested Mr. Vontz submit a cost estimate and projected completion date. Vontz Paving Inc. also submitted a pay request for approval in the amount of $125,736.22. Following review of the itemized pay request, motion was made by Petska, seconded by Hartman to pay bill as submitted. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; Petska, J.Alber and Hartman. Absent: A.Alber and Schwab. Motion was made by J.Alber, seconded by Petska, to table review/possible action of electric rates and utility deposits until the July Council meeting. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; J.Alber, Petska, and Hartman. Absent: Schwab and A.Alber. Mayor Keri Schunk shared with the Councilmembers information she received on grant opportunities for civic, cultural and convention centers. Mayor Schunk offered to e-mail the details to the Council members for review. Other items in regard to the C/S/C discussed were: having the janitors clean the carpet in front meeting area, Gary Stertz, City Manager, reported the repairs he completed in restrooms, the Boy Scouts have been given the approval to paint if necessary, and the present mop and rug service. Motion made by J.Alber, seconded by Petska, to discontinue rug service and stay with the mop service only. Prices for purchasing rugs will be obtained and reported at the July meeting. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; Hartman, Petska and J.Alber. Absent: A.Alber and Schwab. It was moved by J.Alber, seconded by Hartman to notify Carey’s Pest Control the City would like to reduce the spraying service to six months (April through September) instead of all year round. Prices for this service for 6 months of the year are to be reported at the July meeting. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; Hartman, Petska, and J.Alber. Absent: A.Alber and Schwab. Following discussion of publishing City Council minutes, J.Alber moved to discontinue publishing minutes in the Blue Hill Leader – motion died for lack of second. Motion made by Petska, seconded by J.Alber to publish an abbreviated version of the minutes in the Blue Hill Leader. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; Hartman, Petska and J.Alber. Absent: Schwab and A.Alber. Mayor Keri Schunk submitted the following names for replacements/vacancies on Boards and Committees for 2009: Housing Authority -- Doris Hartman to replace Keri Schunk, Parks -- Leslie Frazier to fill vacancy, C/S/C Advisory -- LaRae Schunk, City at Large; Jamie Reiman, School Board; Elaine Goodrich, Senior at Large; Tim Thramer, City at Large; Troy Stickels, Rural at Large, Standing Committees -- Doris Hartman to replace Keri Schunk, Health Board -- Marissa L’ Heureaux to replace Brad Adams. Motion made by J.Alber, seconded by Petska to approve the above recommendations as submitted. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; Hartman, Petska, and J.Alber. Absent: Schwab and A.Alber. Building Permit #3, submitted by Shirley Wademan, and #4 submitted by Ken Kendall were reviewed for approval. The Planning Commission did not meet on these permits. Motion was made by Hartman, seconded by J.Alber to approve the above building permits as submitted. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; Hartman, Petska, and J.Alber. Absent: A.Alber and Schwab. Following discussion of illegally parked vehicles, City Clerk, Karen Kumke, was instructed to send a letter to 504 S. Ash Street and Councilmember J.Alber volunteered to handle a situation at 406 West Gage Street. The annual report for year ending March 31, 2008, for the Housing Authority of the City of Blue Hill, was provided for review by the Mayor and Council. The current Personnel Policy for city employees was reviewed. It was decided to update the Personnel Policy and job descriptions for the different positions of employment with the City of Blue Hill. This topic will be reviewed and discussed in greater detail at the July regular City Council meeting. Mayor Schunk provided a sample job description for lifeguards for review. Gary Stertz, City Manager, had no report. It was moved by J.Alber, seconded by Petska to adjourn until the next regular meeting scheduled for July 14, 2009. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; Hartman, Petska, and J.Alber. Absent: A.Alber and Schwab. ORDINANCE NO. 621 AN ORDINANCE FOR THE CITY OF BLUE HILL, NEBRASKA, TO CHAPTER 1, ARTICLE 1 OF THE BLUE HILL CITY CODE, BY AMENDING THE SECTION DESIGNATING A WELLHEAD PROTECTION AREA. Section 1. Definitions. Wellhead Protection Area means the surface and subsurface area surrounding a water well or well field, supplying a public water system, through which contaminants are reasonably likely to move toward and reach such water or well field. Section 2. The City Board designates a Wellhead Protection Area for the purpose of protecting the public water supply system. The boundaries of this amended Wellhead Protection Area are W ½ of Section 33, SE 1/4 Section 33 and the SW 1/4 of Section 28, Township 5 North, Range 10 West, Adams County; All of Section 4, SW 1/4 of Section 3, W 1/2 of the NW 1/4 Section 3, NE 1/4 of Section 9, E 1/2 of the NW 1/4 Section 9, E 1/2 SE 1/4 of Section 9, All of Section 10 and All of Section 15, Township 4 North, Range 10 West, Webster County. Section 3. Any other ordinance or section passed and approved prior to the passage, approval and publication of this ordinance and in conflict herewith, is hereby repealed. Section 4. This ordinance shall take effect and be in full force from and after its passage, approval, and publication by law. PASSED AND APPROVED THIS 9th DAY OF June, 2009.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Crashin in Edgar

Three local driver's placed on June 13, 2009, at the Edgar American Legion Demolition Derby. Rookie Driver, Casey VanBoening placed second, Scott Kort finished fourth, and Mike Dack finished 10th. Twenty five drivers put their iron and entry fees up for a chance to win their share of over $2,500 in prize money.

NSAA Releases Fall Sports Schedules

The Nebraska Schools Activities Association has released fall prep football schedules and partial volleyball schedules. Blue Hill Football 09/04/09 Cambridge 09/11/09 @ Cross County (Stromsburg) 09/18/09 Southwest (Indianola) 09/25/09 @ Thayer Central (Hebron) 10/02/09 Superior 10/09/09 @ Fullerton 10/16/09 @ Sandy Creek 10/23/09 Sutton *Playoff dates not yet released. Blue Hill Volleyball 09/03/09 Doniphan-Trumbull 09/03/09 Wood River 09/08/09 @ Silver Lake 09/10/09 @Brunning Davenport 09/10/09 Franklin (@BD) 09/19/09 Alma (@WR) 09/19/09 @Wood River 09/24/09 Shelton (@RC) 09/24/09 @Red Cloud *Additional games, tournaments and playoffs yet to be released. Blue Hill Softball *Schedule not yet released.

Blue Hill Baseball End Season

The Blue Hill age 7 & 8 year old coach pitch boys baseball team finished their season this past Saturday (July 20) with a third place finish in the Mid-Rivers tournament in Blue Hill. Blue Hill dropped their semi-final game against Kenesaw before defeating Lawrence in extra innings in the consolation game. Kenesaw defeated Roseland to claim the Championship. Coaches of the 7 & 8s are Kurt Illif & Tom Schmidt. ************************************************************************************* The Blue Hill age 9 & 10 year old coach pitch boys baseball team finished their season on Friday night in the Mid-River's tournament with a loss to Hildreth. Blue Hill had won a play in bracket game on Tuesday, July 23 before their first round loss. Other first round games included; Campbell over Franklin, Juniata over Roseland, and Lawrence over Kenesaw. The final four met in Campbell today to wrap up the tournament. Campbell fell to Hildreth and Juniata fell to Lawrence in semi-final action. Campbell then defeated Juniata to claim third place. Hildreth defeated Lawrence in the championship game. Bracketing for the Mid-Rivers tournament this year was randomly assigned rather than seeding the bracket based upon season records. Blue Hill came in to the tournament with a 6-3 record. They finish the season 7-4.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Class of ’79 to Celebrate 30 Years

The Blue Hill graduating class of 1979 will be holding their 30 year class reunion in conjunction with this years 4th of July Festivities. The class will be enjoying the BBQ held by the Blue Hill C/S/C and will also be participating in the annual 4th of July parade. For more details e-mail Hilarie Alber Haack at haackfam@tds.net

Congressman's Column by Adrian Smith

Rising Fuel Costs Hurt Our Economic Engine Earlier this year, I warned my colleagues in Congress that inaction on energy - even when prices are low - would leave our economy vulnerable in the long-term. Yet as I write this gasoline prices have climbed for seven full weeks - making 49 straight days families, farmers, ranchers, and small businesses have had their pocketbooks stretched even further during this time of economic uncertainty. Gasoline prices have risen at an unprecedented pace this year, pushing the average pump price in Nebraska to $2.69 a gallon. In Grand Island, prices ranged from $2.58 to $2.65. In Tryon, consumers paid $2.78. Gothenburg drivers paid $2.54 for unleaded while those in Lexington paid $2.65 and Scottsbluff and Alliance drivers both saw $2.58 a gallon for regular at their local gas stations. Since early January, the nationwide average price of a gallon of regular gasoline has climbed from $1.68 to $2.64, up 56 percent according to the United States Department of Energy. Just this month alone, the price of a gallon of regular unleaded climbed 38 cents. With fuel costs soaring still faster in other parts of the United States - and the memory of $4.00 a gallon gasoline still lingering in many minds from last summer - the steep increase of the price at the pump is a serious threat to our nation's economic recovery. For the impact increasing fuel prices can have on our economy, one need look no further than to our nation's truck drivers, who transport food and other products on behalf of agriculture producers and small businesses across the country. In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, the American Trucking Association's First Vice-Chairman Tommy Hodges criticized the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R.2454), legislation currently making its way through Congress which threatens to significantly increase fuel costs and jeopardizes the economic viability of trucking companies. Hodges pointed out American truck fleets are extremely sensitive to rapidly shifting operating costs given their thin operating margins. Leaving truck drivers exposed to sudden and dramatic fuel prices would not only mean higher costs for the trucking industry, but also higher price tags for fuel, food, and other products for consumers. At a time when costs of living are steadily inching upward and people across the country are struggling to make ends meet, higher fuel prices is a headache middle class families don't need. Washington shouldn't be making it worse by rushing through national energy legislation imposing enormous taxes and restrictions on energy use - placing an especially heavy burden on rural America and our nation's agriculture producers. Recently I have co-sponsored the American Energy Act, legislation which represents the fastest route to a cleaner environment, lower energy costs, and more American jobs. The legislation would increase environmentally-safe American energy production, promote the use of alternative fuels which will reduce carbon emissions - such as nuclear, clean-coal, and renewable energy technologies - and encourage increased efficiencies and cutting edge technologies to maximize America's energy potential. As Americans pay more and more at the pump every day, isn't it time for Congress to move away from plans which will make everything from gasoline to electricity to food more costly?

Senator's Column by Senator Mike Johanns

June 22, 2009 Rushed Health Care Proposals Fall Far Short Dear Nebraskans, Americans need true health care reform, and members of Congress agree that this issue must be addressed. The Administration has promised several things: everyone will have access to health care; everyone will get to keep their insurance plan if they want; and the government will be responsible with taxpayers' money. The President has also repeatedly promised that while he is President there will be no increase in taxes for the middle class. Any plan that falls short of these goals is highly inadequate and does not give the American people solutions they deserve. Recently, two Senate committees came forward with preliminary proposals. So how do the proposals stack up with the promises of the Administration? Does everyone get access to health care? Does everyone who wants to keep their plan get to do so? Finally, is the government being responsible with your money? The two draft proposals analyzed by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) were produced by the Senate Finance Committee and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The first draft of the Finance Committee's plan would cost $1.6 trillion, but has not been finalized. The HELP bill would cost more than $1 trillion over ten years, and that excludes the cost of a government-run option. According to CBO, this plan would only insure an additional 16 million people at a cost of $62,000 per person, and would still leave 30 million uninsured. CBO also projects that under the current proposals, 15 million people would lose their employer-sponsored insurance. The independent Lewin Group estimates that number could be as high as 119 million when the public plan is included. Furthermore, neither committee has suggested how we would pay for these plans. Will proponents suggest raising taxes? Increase our already bloated debt? Neither plan has an answer for this. Neither plan fulfills any of the President's health care promises. That's not even addressing the issue of the President's promise not to raise taxes on the middle class. These proposals fall far short of real solutions. The two preliminary proposals are not what Americans need. It is our responsibility to actually solve the problem instead of pushing a half-analyzed bill through the process. Rushing complex legislation just to finish by the August recess doesn't make sense. As the adage goes, it is better to do the research to get it right the first time, instead of getting it wrong expeditiously. Nothing is more important than the health and safety of millions of American families.

Municipal Pool to Offer Swimming Lessons

Lifeguards at the Blue Hill Municipal Pool will be offering public swimming lessons Monday through Friday mornings from June 29 to July 10. Cost for the lessons is $5 per child with a season pass or $10 per child without a pass. All lessons will be for approximately half an hour. Class times are as follows: Level 6: 9:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. Level 5: 9:30 a.m.- 10:00 a.m. Level 4: 10:00 a.m.- 10:30 a.m. Level 3: 10:30 a.m.- 11:00 a.m. Level 2: 11:00 a.m.- 11:30 a.m. Level 1: 11:30 a.m.- 12:00 noon Parents should call the Blue Hill Municipal Pool at 402-756-2911 for further information or to register their swimmer.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Elvis Sightings Around the Hill

Elvis tribute artist and America's Got Talent star, Joseph Hall of Lincoln, Nebraska has announced several show dates and locations in the Blue Hill area. Included are Grand Island, Nebraska on Saturday, June 27 at Northwest High School, Hastings, Nebraska on Saturday, July 18 at Vincent Michael's Nightclub, and Lawrence, Nebraska on Saturday, July 25 at the Lawrence/Nelson Elementary Gymnasium. Hall's appearance in Lawrence will be a part of that town's Q125 Celebration and will be sponsored by the local Knights of Columbus. More information is available from Don Kathman at (402) 756-7056. Tickets are available at Farmer's and Merchant Bank in Lawrence and Nelson and at the Nelson Food Center in Nelson.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Minutes of May Blue Hill City Council Meeting

CITY OF BLUE HILL REGULAR MEETING MAY 12, 2009 A meeting of the City Council of Blue Hill, Nebraska was held on May 12, 2009 at 7:30 PM at City Hall. Notices of the meeting were given in advance to the Mayor and City Council members. Availability of the agenda was given in advance. All proceedings were taken while the meeting was open to the public. Notices were posted at the Post Office, City Hall and the Community Senior Center. Mayor Keri Schunk called the meeting to order and informed all present that a current copy of the Open Meeting Act is posted on the west wall as you enter the meeting room. On Roll Call: Mayor Keri Schunk, President Mark Petska, John Schwab, Jesse Alber, Andy Alber and Doris Hartman. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all present. Mayor Schunk welcomed the visitors to the meeting. It was moved by J.Alber to approve the minutes of the April 14, 2009 regular City Council meeting as submitted and published with the following correction: in the NOTICE OF NONDISCRIMINATION on the new employment application, the words sexual orientation is the only part to omit from the original submitted copy. This was seconded by Schwab. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; Hartman, Petska, Schwab and J.Alber. Abstain: A.Alber. The treasurer’s report for April 2009 was reviewed by the Council. It was moved by J. Alber, seconded by Schwab to place the report on file for audit. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; A. Alber, Petska, Schwab, J.Alber and Hartman. The bills were presented to the Council for review and approval. Motion was made by Hartman, seconded by Petska to pay bills as presented. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; A.Alber, Petska, Hartman, Schwab and J.Alber. BILLS General Fund Great Plains One-Call 11.94, Seiler & Parker 370.00, L/C (4-09) 257.01 Street Fund Century Lumber 13.08, City of Blue Hill 145.41, Cooperative Producers, Inc 20.75, Fairfield CO-OP Fertilizer 28.34, Farmers Coop Association 98.67, Gary Thompson Agency 1128.60, Gene’s Repair & Sales 58.98, Ken & Al’s Service 91.25, South Central State Bank 48222.94, Thramer’s 9.38, PR & Ins. (4-09) 3204.89 Water Fund City of Blue Hill 1398.20, Cooperative Producers, Inc. 20.75, Dutton’s 53.25, Farmers Coop Association 33.82, Gary Thompson Agency 1663.20, Hawkins 150.02, Ken & Al’s Service 91.25, Municipal Supply 2485.38, NE Public Health Laboratory 25.00, Petty Cash 10.46, PR & Ins. (4-09) 2514.58 Electric Fund Blue Hill Leader 57.00, Brandon Meyer 146.13, Carey’s Pest Control 47.92, Century Lumber 9.14, City of Blue Hill 2135.86, Cooperative Producers, Inc. 20.75, Crescent Electric Supply 248.54, Dutton’s 512.05, Farmers Coop Association 101.47, Gary Thompson Agency 2679.20, GTMC 323.99, Karen Kumke 82.03, Ken & Al’s 91.25, Kriz Davis Co. 796.62, League of Nebraska 350.00, MEAN 18826.31, Municipal Supply 994.33, Paramount 167.57, Petty Cash 151.20, Reliable Office Supplies 97.69, Source Gas 91.93, Thramer’s 3.50, Dept. of Energy (WAPA) 8009.92, PR & Ins. (4-09) 8358.41, Dept. of Revenue (EFT) 2956.36, City of BH-Expense Acct. 1000.00 Sewer Fund City of Blue Hill 297.14, Cooperative Producers, Inc. 20.75, Farmers Coop Association 33.82, Gary Thompson Agency 178.20, Ken & Al’s Service 91.25, Thramer’s 6.97, PR & Ins. (4-09) 926.27 Disposal Service Fund Woodward’s Disposal 5273.25 Recreation and Amusement Fund Blue Hill Leader 7.00, Century Lumber Center 4.89, City of Blue Hill 33.74, Fairfield CO-OP Fertilizer 44.61, Gary Thompson Agency 237.60, Petty Cash 1.51, USA Blue Book 61.03, DHHS 100.00, PR & Ins. (4-09) 768.33 Parks Fund Century Lumber Center 44.65, City of Blue Hill 65.92, Gary Thompson Agency 118.80, Spring Ranch Tree Farm 940.00, PR & Ins. (4-09) 535.17 Rental Fund Carey’s Pest Control 28.50, Century Lumber Center 169.97, City of Blue Hill 699.70, Gary Thompson Agency 59.40, GTMC 55.65, Paramount 208.20, Thramer’s 15.79, PR (4-09) 291.30 Golf Course Fund Carey’s Pest control 90.00, Century Lumber Center 43.01, Farmers Coop Association 8.22 Payroll Fund Aflac 66.34, Ameritas Life insurance 228.30, Assurant Health 3559.69, Cemetery Fund Earl May 50.33, Farmers Coop Association 20.82, Karen Kumke 38.23, Paul Kral 62.50, Petty Cash 27.10, Spring Ranch Tree Farm 480.00 A number of residents were present for discussion on the proposed project Bobcat Trail. Questions were raised concerning liability, responsibility of moving sprinklers, safety and maintenance of the trail. Following review of feed-back received and discussion from residents and the City Council, motion was made by J.Alber, seconded by Petska to have City Clerk, Karen Kumke, contact Sinclair Hille Architects to decline the grant opportunity. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; Hartman, A.Alber, Petska, Schwab, J.Alber. Ron Willnerd of Countryman & Associates of Hastings, Nebraska, was present to present the Audit Report for Fiscal Year ending 9-30-08. It was moved by Schwab and seconded by Petska to accept the audit report as presented. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; A.Alber, Petska, Schwab, J.Alber and Hartman. City Clerk Karen Kumke submitted two delinquent utility bills to be written off. It was moved by J.Alber, seconded by Hartman to authorize the auditor to write off the bills in the amount of $145.15. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; A.Alber, Petska, Hartman, J.Alber and Schwab. Because of negative balances, discussion was held on the adjustment of balances of utility funds. As advised by Ron Willnerd and approved by the City Council, as Certificates of Deposits mature, they will be placed in the water and electric funds until a positive balance is reached. Because Jeff Kennedy could not be present, Mayor Schunk moved the agenda item involving discussion of local law enforcement to this point as suggested by Councilmember J.Alber. City Attorney Michelle Oldham reported on the process and feasibility of prosecuting ticketed violations. Councilmembers were given the opportunity to report comments received from the public on the topic of local law enforcement as well as those present for the meeting. Suggestions made were a Neighborhood Watch Program and placement of more surveillance cameras. It was concluded to have Mayor Schunk invite Webster County Sheriff Troy Schmitz to the next City Council meeting to answer questions from Councilmembers and residents. Due to a disturbance at Klancy’s Kafe on April 17, 2009, Councilmember A.Alber read information from the Nebraska Liquor Commission regarding responsibilities of owners of establishments concerning the sale of alcohol to an incapacitated person. Kevin Kort, owner of Klancy’s, reported that since this incident, he has visited with Nebraska Liquor Commission regarding his responsibility as owner and has taken action. Because of a job opportunity, Molly Coffey chose to turn down the position of Assistant Manager. Motion was made by J.Alber, seconded by A.Alber to hire Mara Gilbert as a second assistant manager of Blue Hill Swimming Pool and to have four lifeguards on duty daily, one of which must be a manager or assistant manager. This may be increased when necessary at the discretion of the Manager. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; Petska, Schwab, J.Alber, Hartman, and A.Alber. Following discussion on a request from Carla Weiler-DBA Blue Hill Tavern, for an addition of BEER GARDEN 26’ X 21’ to Liquor License #CK-36019, it was moved by Schwab and seconded by Petska to recommend to the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission to approve the addition of ‘Beer Garden’ to Liquor License #CK-36019 upon approval of the State Liquor Commission and State Fire Marshall. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; Hartman, Petska, Schwab, and A. Alber. Abstain: J.Alber. Deputy Clerk, Christina Fowler, presented information regarding a South Central State Bank debit card to be used by City of Blue Hill employees in place of a reimbursement system. Motion was made by A.Alber, seconded by Petska to open an expense account in the amount of $1,000.00 at SCSB of Blue Hill and authorize the following City Employees use of the account: Gary Stertz, Mark Kumke, Larry Edgar and Karen Kumke. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; A.Alber, Schwab, Petska, J.Alber, and Hartman. Discussion was held on several items concerning the Community Senior Center. Motion was made by Schwab, seconded by Hartman to allocate $1,000.00 towards the purchase of tables and chairs for the C/S/C. Estimation was made that approximately 25-30 chairs and 5 tables could be purchased with this money. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; Hartman, A.Alber, Petska, Schwab and J.Alber. Items of repair discussed will be handled by the City Employees. Future maintenance for the floor in the multi-purpose room will be addressed at budget time. It was decided to leave the phone on at C/S/C. Mayor Schunk furnished flyers about the Clean Air Act of 2008 and it was decided to place one in all City owned buildings. Jeff Kennedy, owner of property at 413 West Lancaster Street in Blue Hill, could not be present because of illness to discuss the condition of his property. The Council requested his presence at the June regular city council meeting. The City Council would like to thank St. Paul Parish Activities Team of Holstein, Nebraska for their donation to the Community Senior Center. In the absence of City Manager Gary Stertz, Utility Foreman Mark Kumke reported on the following items: 1) A list of vehicles in violation of City Code 72.09 was provided for review -motion was made by Schwab, seconded by Petska to have City Clerk, Karen Kumke send a letter to these residents and allow them ten days to correct the violation. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; J.Alber, Schwab, Petska, A.Alber, Hartman. 2) Ditch work by Tim Eiseman residence is completed. 3) Street project on Otoe Street is progressing – upon completion, City Council would like to meet with Vontz Paving to discuss remainder of Street Project. 4) A push mower is being purchased to allow better access for mowing in certain locations. It was moved by J.Alber and seconded by Schwab to adjourn until the next regular meeting scheduled for June 9, 2009. Voting Roll Call: Ayes; Hartman, Schwab, J.Alber, Petska, and A.Alber.

NE AG Jon Brunning Elected NAAG President

June 19, 2009 Colorado Springs, Colo.—Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning was unanimously elected yesterday by the members of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) to become the Association’s 102nd president. “Attorneys general are uniquely situated to lead the way in building a stronger and safer future for our states and our families,” said President Bruning. “Serving as president of NAAG is an honor, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on issues that affect us on both the state and national level.” Elections were held June 17 during NAAG’s 2009 Summer Meeting, June 16-18, in Colorado Springs where nearly 200 participants, including 30 Attorneys General and their key staff, met to discuss critical state legal issues. President Bruning said that his presidential initiative, “Virtual World – Real Crime,” strives to shield children from sexual predators and protect consumers and businesses from fraud. “Predators and scam artists know how to utilize the latest technology to prey on kids and consumers. Real crime runs rampant in the virtual world. I urge my NAAG colleagues to join me and bring emerging trends to the forefront, harness new technology and better combat the crime and corruption that come with it,” said President Bruning. Bruning’s presidential term lasts for one year.

Blue Hill 9 & 10 Boys Begin Tournament Play

The Blue Hill age 9 & 10 Coach Pitch Baseball team began Mid-River League tournament play this evening in Blue Hill. Despite a 6-3 season, the Bobcats opened the tournament with a play-in bracket against Red Cloud at 7:00 p.m. The Blue Hill boys routed Red Cloud in a 12-2 victory that will slots them to play again on Friday, June 26, at 7:00 p.m. against Hildreth. A loss on Friday will end the season for the Bobcats. A win sends them to the Championship Day in Campbell where the final four Mid-River's league teams will meet on Saturday, June 27. Two semi-final games, begin at 10:00 a.m. with a championship game and a consolation game to follow. The 9 & 10s are coached by Tim Streff, Gregg Smith, Stan Rouse and John Schwab. Player's include, Johnny Baumann, Alec Eiseman, Trevor Herrick, Michael Hiller, Trent Karr, Austin Kelley, Tristan Kelley, Adam Krueger, Jim Mackin, Alec Meyer, Trace Ockinga, Logan Reiss, Austin Rose, Kyle Rouse, Matthew Schwab, Joel Smith, and Grant Streff.

Letter from Cogressman Adrian Smith

Knowing of your interest in responsible immigration reform, I am writing to update you on some recent developments. As you may know, E-Verify is an Internet-based system which allows employers to electronically verify the legal status of employees. The 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act, signed into law March 11, 2009(Public Law 111-8), contained a provision to extend the E-Verify program through September 30, 2009. According to recent estimates, approximately 7.7 million illegal immigrants were employed in the U.S. in 2008. Despite a struggling economy and millions of Americans seeking employment, the White House announced last week it would delay for a fourth time the implementation of a rule requiring federal contractors to use E-Verify. (emphasis added) Employers who break the law by hiring illegal immigrants create unfair competition in the labor market and depress wages for all workers. which is why I have joined a number of my colleagues in sending a letter to President Obama and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano opposing their decision to delay E-Verify implementation. Congress has a responsibility to legal workers and American citizens. The proposed 2010 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, which the House of Representatives is scheduled to consider as early as Thursday, June 18th, contains $112 million to operate and improve E-Verify. As a member of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, I am committed to ensuring these funds are used immediately and effectively. Please feel free to contact me in the future if ever I may be of assistance.

Straight from the Horse's Mouth

by Duane A. Lienemann, UNL Extension Educator, Webster County June 20, 2009 Edition My wife tells me that I have to quit reading agricultural news, blogs and internet sites-- or even watching TV and listening to the radio. I guess the shaking of my fist to the ceiling, the cussing out load, and even lecturing to the walls scare her. I guess when I think about it – it scares me too. Good thing the kids have all left the nest – I can about hear their comments on their dad! You would think that I am caught up in the political discussions that occur daily – but it isn’t that at all. It is the daily affronts or outright attacks that I am witnessing on the object of my career passion - agriculture. It is disturbing to me that there is such a “disconnect” and even a downright disdain that has developed over the years. At one time agriculture was held in high esteem and people spoke fondly of their farm or agricultural roots. Perhaps I live in too much in a “Rockwellian” vision of my past and view of what the farming industry and agriculture means to me. I guess we live in a world of “stimulus” today and what is stimulating me is a myriad of things that are continuing or being created that I feel can and will have detrimental effects on our very livelihood in my little piece of the world. I don’t know where I start because there are so many subjects that I could probably write a dissertation on, so I will just take the “skim approach” and hope that if anyone else is interested, they take a look for themselves. Let’s start discussion by talking movies. No I am not much of a movie-goer, but some do get my attention, particularly when they attack agriculture in general and in particular animal agriculture. Back in March, I wrote about a documentary that aired on HBO called, “Death on a Factory Farm”. Of course that was painful, but now there is a new high-budget documentary called “Food Inc.” www.foodincmovie.com which (surprise) comes from the producers of "An Inconvenient Truth”, that is about the "highly mechanized underbelly" of the nation’s food industry which purportedly shows the “evils” of food production. It includes graphic footage of poultry sheds and meat packing plants (some of it shot in secret) and of course a lot of myths and misrepresentations. Guest appearances that you might recognize are controversial “food gurus” Eric Schlosser, author of “Fast Food Nation” and “Chew on This”, and Michael Pollan, author of “Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food”. This film came out this past week and is getting a lot of press and attention, which is not to the benefit of agriculture in my opinion. It is not surprising that it does not leave a good impression or that “Rockwell” image of our agricultural industry. It basically challenges the modern way to produce or food. It is trying to force one segment of our society’s convictions on all of us. I think it is very dangerous to try to force American agriculture to fit into a "right way, our way" concept. Consumers around the world will continue to demand and receive affordable, nutritious foods produced in a sustainable manner by farmers using modern agricultural technologies. Freedom to grow and produce food in the manner farmers' choose is the only way American agriculture will meet future demand. What is discouraging to me is that I have not really seen anything from the ag industry countering this attack via film other than a web site put up by Monsanto www.monsanto.com/foodinc/ Once again we are just sitting, letting this stuff go on without even much of a whimper. Ok now let’s look at another item that is concerning to me. There has been an effort by fringe groups to influence how our young people think. There are books that are in even our local libraries that portray animal agriculture in bad light, and try to discourage young people from eating meat. They even skewer the real story on food production and where our food actually comes from. I actually had one book in hand that my daughter got for me to read to my grandson. It looked innocent enough, but was appalling to me as I started reading it. I had to edit the book as I read it! This and other thinly veiled attacks on agriculture are being done in subtle ways by taking advantage of the impressionable years. Now I hear that schools, even schools in our area, are adopting policies like “Meatless Mondays” in their lunch programs in the name of health, unwittingly falling into the hands of animal rights advocates and environmental fringe groups. Once again, to subtly impact the thinking process of our young people, even right here in Nebraska and Kansas. Former Beatle, Paul McCartney is one of those behind that effort. He's asking fans to go meatless on Mondays, in sort of a modified old-school Lent, in the misguided attempt to slow global warming by reducing emissions of farm animals. He is an outspoken member of HSUS and PETA and is using his fame to accomplish the means of this and other fringe groups. Now I can spend a couple of pages on movie stars, rock stars, even some country stars, TV networks etc. and their attempts to influence our thinking and progress their own agendas, but will save that for later. There are so many things, so little time and paper room. We will also have to wait to discuss other issues that are hot in my mind-- like Cap and Trade Legislation; a possible resurgence of the so called EPA Cow Flatulence Tax; Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA); Prop 2; and now to top it off our 4-H and FFA Exhibitors are being challenged by PETA who insist that they need to have a background check before showing at State Fairs in order to be in full compliance with the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which could be a synonym for “Another Wacky Attempt” to undermine animal agriculture. Gosh I hope they stay away from County Fair – I’m not in the mood for that! Give me a break! 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: dlienemann2@unl.edu

Monday, June 22, 2009

Councilman's Column by Jesse Alber

Time for Penny Pinching I was pleasently suprised by the progress made during the June 9, 2009, Blue Hill City Council Meeting. Over the past few months, I believe the council has taken some very good steps to monitor expenses and revenues for the taxpayers of Blue Hill. Some of the council's penny pinching measures include: 1) Rebidding of the lease for the Adams County farm ground, resulting in a generous increase in revenue for the city's water fund. The new lease is also for a 3 year term. 2) Discontinued publishing of many announcements, resolutions, ordinances, notices and other public notices not required by state law to be published in the newspaper of record. These notices are either posted in three public places or available at City Hall. Beginning this month publication of an abbreviated record of Minutes of city council meetings was also approved. Combined these efforts should save the city over $2,000 a year. Full minutes of city council proceedins will still be available upon request at City Hall. 3) Elimination of rug service for the Community/Senior Center and city buildings. It will be much less expensive for the city to purchase and maintain there own rugs than continue with the service. 4) Reducing pest control services for city facilities from 12 months to the six months over the summer season. 5) Changes implemented in the compensation structure for pool management and staffing proceedures at the pool should help to offset the increase in the minimum wage taking effect this summer. 6) Eliminating the position of Treasure on the City Cementery Board and assigning these responsibilities to the City Clerk's office. All of these measures are relatively small by themselves, but all of these pennies add up. In a time when it is common for elected representatives to ask their constituents to tighten their belts while they waste countless taxpayer dollars, I am quite proud of the council's efforts to reduce even the most modest expenditures. All those pinched pennies can quickly add up. Often times we continue to do things because thats the way they have always been done. With some many big issues on the agenda at recent meetings, it is easy to overlook the little things that really make a big difference. Special aknowledgement should go out to Councilwoman Doris Hartman for her initiative and support of many of these measures.

Congressman's Column by Adrian Smith

House Ag Committee Takes a Look at Cap-and-Trade In April, I asked the House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson to hold a hearing on a national energy tax and its potential harmful impact on agriculture. I am grateful on June 11, he honored my request for the Committee to take a hard look at climate legislation making its way through Congress, commonly referred to as "cap-and-trade." This bill supposedly combats global warming by setting strict limits on carbon dioxide emissions in the United States and requiring businesses to purchase "allowances" for their emissions, and in doing so it imposes enormous taxes and restrictions on energy use - placing an especially heavy burden on rural America and our nation's agriculture producers. To put it simply, this bill is a national energy tax which will disproportionately target rural America and middle class families. Estimates vary, but experts predict under this national energy tax, farm income will drop dramatically because agriculture is an energy-intensive industry. On average, 65 percent of farmers' variable input costs are fuel, electricity, fertilizer, and chemicals. An increase in operating costs could devastate farmers and ranchers. Farm income (after paying all expenses) is expected to drop $8 billion in 2012, $25 billion in 2024, and over $50 billion in 2035. These are decreases of 28 percent, 60 percent, and 94 percent, respectively. Construction costs of farm buildings also will increase by as much as 10 percent by 2034. Additionally, as higher energy prices hit other areas of our economy, farmers and ranchers will pay more for seed, equipment, steel, and other supplies. As the cost of production increases, so will the price of food on the shelves in urban areas. We are not alone. As I write, nearly 50 agriculture groups including the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Farmers and Ranchers, National Corn Growers Association, and the Fertilizer Institute have expressed their opposition to this bill. These groups realize agriculture is a prime target for a national energy tax because higher operating costs could cripple the industry. Whether it's the fuel in the tractor, the fertilizer for the crops or the delivery of food to the grocery store, agriculture uses a great deal of energy throughout production. Although agriculture will be significantly impacted by this legislation, this bill largely ignores our farmers and ranchers. The measure is more than 1,100 pages long and mentions "agriculture" only seven times. Even then, it does not specifically recognize the role agriculture can play in providing carbon offsets, and it does not provide a meaningful way for farmers to participate in carbon credit programs. Some groups have supported this legislation under the assumption agriculture producers would receive credit for cropland management practices, such as conservation or no-till practices which preserve soil carbon by maintaining a ground cover after planting and by reducing soil disturbance compared with traditional cultivation. However, according to recently released information, the Environmental Protection Agency's revised 2009 projections are significantly lower than previous estimates, which were based on agriculture practices of the late 1990s, effectively zeroing out any benefit from soil conservation. I am saddened drafters of this bill have misled those who will be negatively impacted by its adoption. This legislation is one of the most significant this Congress will consider. The bill will span the working lifetime of every young farmer and rancher. It will have a monumental impact on our economy. We must take time to fully understand this impact because it will be far-reaching and felt for generations to come. It is disappointing to me the House Agriculture Committee was not able to make significant changes to this bill. Instead of putting forth a national energy tax which will lead to higher energy prices and tougher times for rural America, we should instead be looking at legislation like the American Energy Act - an "all of the above" plan which will provide energy independence, more American jobs, and a cleaner environment. The bill I support increases our domestic supply of energy by lifting exploration restrictions on ANWR, the Outer Continental Shelf and oil shale in the Mountain West. It renews America's commitment to the environment by encouraging development of renewable energy sources - such as wind, solar, hydropower, nuclear and biomass. The American people deserve better than a national energy tax which will impact rural America the hardest. They deserve an energy policy which helps Americans by protecting our environment, providing affordable energy, and creating jobs.

Governor's Column by Dave Heineman

June 19, 2009 Dear Fellow Nebraskans: We spend a significant amount of time at work each week and the office is increasingly a good place to provide the education and the tools that help each of us develop healthier daily routines. Workplace prevention and wellness efforts have been shown to positively impact productivity and job satisfaction. Last year, we began a program recognizing Nebraska employers that promote wellness. This year, state government is beginning a wellness program to help our workforce lead by example by encouraging state employees to take part in a new wellness plan offered as part of the state benefits package. We wanted to build a plan that would reward employees for maintaining their health and provide an easy way for all employees to obtain the education that can help them lead healthier, more productive lives. We set an aggressive goal of 20 percent enrollment in this first year and we exceeded it with 26 percent of employees signing up. The team developing our wellness program worked extensively with Nebraska businesses that had developed their own workplace wellness programs. Many employers and others in this industry indicated initial enrollment figures of approximately 10 percent are common for new programs. What sets our plan apart from those of other states is pairing a comprehensive health insurance plan designed to encourage wellness and healthy lifestyles with a wellness program, known as WellnessOptions and managed by HealthFitness Corp. They work with Fortune 500 companies to provide services that improve employee health and productivity. The Wellness PPO plan insurance provides 100 percent coverage for yearly checkups, immunizations and many preventative screenings for both men and women. A total of 3,594 workers initially enrolled in the plan, which also offered lower insurance premiums than most of the insurance plans available to state workers. This year, the only requirement for employees enrolled in the Wellness PPO plan is to complete the health survey that is part of WellnessOptions. Those who choose another health insurance plan have the option of taking part in WellnessOptions, and so far an additional 681 employees have completed the survey. Based on individual survey responses, HealthFitness recommends coaching programs that help employees work one-on-one with a coach to improve their general wellness, lower certain health risk factors or better manage an existing chronic condition. Completing one of 20 available coaching programs is one of the ways for employees to qualify for enrollment in the Wellness PPO in the next plan year. The response from state employees has been outstanding. Research indicates that improving employee health can result in health care cost savings and improved productivity. The experience of other Nebraska employers tells us that the key to achieving those long-term gains is consistent participation and improvement. Wellness is a partnership. We want to create a culture of wellness in state offices. Having more of our workforce leading healthier lifestyles will increase productivity, which is good for employees, good for state government and for the people we serve.

Nebraska Environmental Trust's Next Five Year's Funding Category Roundtable Meeting

FRIDAY, JUNE 26TH, 2009 Kearney Holiday Inn and Convention Center 110 2nd Avenue Kearney 68848 9:00 A.M. – 3:15 P.M. The Nebraska Environmental Trust would like to invite you to a roundtable meeting on Friday, June 26th. Registration starts at 9:00 am and the roundtable begins at 9:30 am. at the Kearney Holiday Inn and Convention Center (110 Second Avenue, Kearney) to discuss the Trust’s funding categories for the next five years. Every five years the Trust Board reviews the funding categories and involves the public in developing the funding categories for the next five years. We believe the best people to review the funding categories are those that have an interest in Nebraska’s natural resources, such as yourself. Your participation would be very valuable to us by providing insight and perspective as we establish our funding categories for the next five years. The Trust has funded over 1100 projects and provided over $142 million across the state since 1994. Input from this roundtable will be used by the Trust Board to establish the draft funding categories that will be presented at public meetings in each of the Congressional districts this summer and eventually refined and presented to the Trust Board in November to be voted upon. There is no charge for the summit and a lunch will be provided without charge. Please confirm your participation by calling (402) 471-5409 or e-mail Lori at lori.moore@nebraska.gov by Friday, June 19th, if you have not already contacted her. If you are unable to attend, but know of someone that might be interested, feel free to have them contact us. If you have any suggested funding categories, feel free to provide them to us any time prior to the meeting, otherwise bring them with you. Hope to see you in Kearney.

Lawrence - Blue Hill Scramble

The Lawrence Country Club, home of the Cow Chip Open, and the Blue Hill Golf Association will host a 3 Person Scramble Golf Tournament on Sunday, June 28, 2009. Entry fees will be $60 per team for 18 holes of golf. Golfer's will play the first nine holes at the Lawrence Country Club and the 2nd nine holes at the Blue Hill Municipal Golf Course. The tournament will begin with a shotgun start at 10:00 a.m. at the Lawrence Country Club located on the corner of Highways 74 & 4 just west of Lawrence. Lunch will follow the first nine holes at Lawrence. A 1:00 p.m. shotgun start at the Blue Hill Municipal Golf Course will kick-off the second nine holes. There will be a $1,000 prize for a hole-in-one at either course. Contact a local member of the Blue Hill Golf Association for further information on registering your team.

Senator's Column by Mike Johanns

June 15, 2009 The Problems With Government Health Care Dear Nebraskans, Last week in this column, I presented some facts behind the statistics of the uninsured living in the U.S. I noted that of the 47 million currently without health insurance, there are 12 million who literally have no affordable health care options. I concluded that, before jumping to the rushed decision of overhauling the system, we should first focus on enrolling those who currently have access to an insurance plan, and lowering costs for those who don't. These problems would only be compounded by the expansion of a one-size-fits-all, government-run health care program. For decades, taxpayer-supported programs such as Medicare and Medicaid have provided valuable care to many Americans. Unfortunately, these programs are facing some difficult problems that also must be fixed. Just adding more citizens to these programs would do nothing to confront the problems, and indeed would make them worse. The strain on public health care has already begun to affect all Americans. Medicaid and Medicare currently reimburse doctors and hospitals between 20 and 40 percent below private insurance rates. To make up the difference, those with private plans are being charged more for everything from routine check-ups and co-pays to emergency surgeries. It is estimated that American families with private health coverage pay nearly $89 billion-or $1,800 more per family-just to cover the below-market rates of public programs. In 2004, Medicare's costs began to exceed the amount it was receiving in taxpayer dollars, and it is currently projected to go completely insolvent in 2017. Those enrolled in government health care are feeling the sting too, especially in rural areas. Many people are losing access to their preferred health care providers because an increasing amount of doctors and hospitals have stopped accepting new patients from public health programs. These providers simply can no longer afford to see Medicaid, Medicare, and SCHIP patients at a government discount. In turn, these patients face extreme difficulty finding a doctor as availability decreases. This problem is particularly worrisome in rural areas, where patients must travel long distances for both check-ups and emergencies. While no official Congressional projections have been finalized, it is expected that converting to a public health care system would cost between $1-1.5 trillion. Yet, no one has come forward with a plan for how to pay for such a systemic overhaul. More immediately pressing, we still have not determined how to prevent our current public programs, which already are indirectly subsidized by the private sector, from going bankrupt. These problems cannot be solved by simply creating another public program. It would be irresponsible to expand government's role in the health care system when we are not adequately addressing the current funding shortages. While we absolutely do need to reform our health care system, we must do so responsibly. Creating another unfunded, financially unaccountable government program is just not a common sense approach to this critical issue.

A Nebraskan's View by Senator Ben Nelson

Monday, June 8, 2009 NEBRASKANS CARE ABOUT HEALTH REFORM While I come back to Nebraska every weekend, I took the opportunity this past Memorial Day break to talk to several dozen Nebraskans about health care and hear their priorities for reform. I met with patients and consumers, medical providers and advocates, and businesses struggling to provide insurance for their workers. Each of these folks came from different backgrounds and had unique concerns, but everyone spoke of the need to achieve substantive and effective reforms to bring down health care costs. Nebraskans Want Affordable Coverage Today, more than 85 percent of Nebraskans have health insurance coverage but many continuously struggle to keep up with increasing costs. Many of these individuals have done everything right to make sure they and their families are covered, but their premiums keep eating up more and more of their paycheck. While they were all pleased to hear health insurers won’t any longer deny pre-existing conditions and will guarantee coverage for all, they also asked that we make sure whatever comprehensive plan emerges from Congress does not destabilize the coverage they currently have, or worsen the annual cost increases families face. Businesses Need Relief Almost two-thirds of the non-Medicare (65 and under) population obtains health coverage through their employer, so it is critical that we strengthen that coverage and make sure businesses are not priced out of providing health insurance. Many of the Nebraska businesses I spoke with have already implemented prevention and wellness programs, but continue to see the cost of coverage ratchet up year after year. This impacts their competitiveness and makes it harder for them to meet the moral obligation they feel to provide high quality health care to employees who commit themselves to their jobs. Health Care Strain felt by Providers Across-the-board, I heard from providers who struggled to keep up with demand or from patients who simply couldn’t access care because there aren’t enough qualified doctors, nurses and other medical technicians, especially in rural Nebraska. Many expressed concern about insuring more people through a government-run plan because of low Medicare reimbursement rates. They already create a cost shift when providers are forced to charge non-Medicare patients more just to balance the books. Estimates suggest that 15 percent of Nebraskan’s insurance premiums, when combined with uncompensated care, are due to this cost shift. The President Supported Option We’re trying to find a way to insure 45 million people who don’t have insurance and need to make sure that whatever is done is done right because we probably won’t get a do-over. The final reform plan should take into account the wishes of the many Nebraskans I met with and should not destabilize the insurance that 250 million Americans already have, and it should be focused on bringing down costs. During the campaign, the President said Americans should be able to keep the coverage they have or be able to choose between plans like members of Congress have. I agree. I look forward to seeing the President’s plan and to working with my colleagues in the Senate to make sure health care reform delivers for Nebraskans.

Ten Ways to Ruin a Town

1. Never attend public meetings. Criticize the way “they” do things. 2. Always remind others about the cold winters, hot summers and general tough conditions for those who live here. 3. Complain about the police department, chamber of commerce, community groups, etc. 4. Keep convincing yourself that it’s not important to attend school programs, church services, concerts, ballgames, etc. You won’t be missed. 5. Knock your public officials. Talk about the “kickbacks” that the city council and school board must be getting. 6. Stay away from church. You might attend on Easter or Christmas to reassure yourself that all who attend are hypocrites. 7. Make purchases out of town or through catalogs or Internet sites. These firms will give back a lot to your community. 8. Remind others that your local newspaper is no good and has less local news than out-of-town media. 9. Remember: all kids are delinquents, all businessmen are crooks, and bad remarks about your town are the order of the day. 10. Above all, always be skeptical, cynical and negative about anything designed for the community’s progress and betterment. If any of this sounds like something you do, even occasionally, do something about it. Try helping to build your community. You can make a difference. (This list originally appeared in "101 Ideas on Economic Development" by Cal Clark.)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Blue Hill Today Launches on Blogspot

A new source of news and information for the residents of Blue Hill, Nebraska, and the surrounding area launched today on Blogger. Blue Hill Today can be accessed at http://bluehilltoday.blogspot.com. The site is a free and interactive approach to providing news, events and opinions throughout the community of Blue Hill. Any member of our community may post news and information to the site by e-mailing information to bluehilltoday@hotmail.com. Comments to articles can be posted directly on the site. There is no subscription required to view or post news to the site. The intent of Blue Hill Today is to make the community itself the writers, photographers, editors and publishers of this new news source. No news is too big or too small for Blue Hill Today. There will never be any fees for submission, subscrition, or even advertising on Blue Hill Today. New news can be posted daily. The site also includes links to other local sites with valuable information about our community offering Blue Hill a quick and easy way to connect with our neighbors, our county, our history and our elected representatives. Blogger is a blog publishing system. It was created by Pyra Labs, which was bought by Google in 2003. The service itself is located at www.blogger.com, and blogs that do not publish to their own websites are hosted by Google at subdomains of blogspot.com.