Sunday, January 31, 2010

February Birthdays

Feb. 1. Lee Kumke Sherri Lynn Feb. 2. Dale Myers, Rebecca Kearney Feb. 4. Seth Wengler Feb. 5. Marlys Kort, John Meyer, Charles Hoit Feb. 6. Joe Hubl, Brooke Schmidt, Doris Martin, Brenda Trumble Feb. 7. Craig Strasburg, Linda Waechter Feb. 8. Dick Schmidt Feb. 10. Dewey Lienemann, Lee Wright Feb. 15. Tom Schmidt, Sarah Weddingfeld, Fred Hesman, Rochelle A. Seeman, Cassie Henderson Feb. 16. Mary Tenhoff, Evart Barton Feb. 17. Duane Delay Feb. 18. Marcia Woods Feb. 20. Lloyd Post, Elaine Soucie Feb. 22. Margie VanBoening, Dennis Henderson, Todd Meents, Sylvia Alber Feb. 26. Verlin Rose Feb. 27. Sue Toepher, Rose Kelley Feb. 28. Brenda Piel, Jean Krueger, Nila Gartner, Bonnie Stertz

State Legislature

Over 500 Bills and Resolutions have been introduced in the first few days of the Second Session of the 101st Legislature. These proposals range from a change in the provisions relationg to Presidential electors to congratulating Ponca on their Class C-2 State Football Championship (booo). The entire list of introduced bills and resolutions can be accessed by clicking on the link below. Highlighted below are what we think are some of the most noteworthy bills and resolutions that will be discussed this session. The full text of the introduced copy can be accessed by clicking on the Bill number. LB693 -- Allows forgein (out of state) insurers to provide health insurance in Nebraska. LB747 -- Permits the killing of mountain lions and other prederatory animals in defense of self or property. LB777 -- Changes the provisions relating to Presidential electors to make Nebraska a winner-take-all system like 48 other states. LB796 -- Impose a $.05 per gallon fuel tax for use to complete the Sate Expressway System. LB985 -- Adopts the Nebraska Charitable Poker Act to allow non-profit organization to hold poker fundraisers. CR296CA -- A constitutional amendement to authorize the Nebraska Charitable Poker Act. LB1068 -- Adopt the Rural Tourism Development Act which would provide low interest loans to agri-touism businesses. LB1102 -- Authorize the licensing and regulating of wagering on "historic" horse races. LR277CA -- Constitutional Amendment to allow for paramutual wagering on horse races at satallite wagering facilities. LB1104 -- Eliminate a scheduled raise for judges. LR278CA -- Constitutional Amendemnt to set slaries for some Constitutional Officers to include Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of Sate, Attorney General, State Treasurer and more. LR284CA -- Constitutional Amendment to abolish the office of State Treasurer. LR295CA -- Constitutional Amendment to authorize the use of bonds by non-profit organizations for capital campaigns. LR299CA -- Constitutional Amendment to provide for no more than three Community College Areas (currently six). LR292 -- A resolution to memorialize the U.S. Congress to adhere to the principles of federalism in accord with the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Many of these proposals will die in committee. Many more will not pass the vote of the State Legislature. Of the Constitutional Amendments that do, they will still need to be presented to the voters this spring. Let us know what other bills or resolutions you feel are noteworthy or voice your support or opposition to any of these measures.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Open Fields and Waters Program

The Open Fields and Waters Program is a statewide, two-year pilot program of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Its focus is to expand hunter and angler access to private lands. At the end of the two-year cycle, the program will be evaluated as to whether it should be continued and how it might be improved. Browse through or download the brochure (pdf) Purpose of the Program The program was created as a component of the Commission's Recruitment, Development and Retention (RDR) plan, which seeks to increase the participation of hunters and anglers in Nebraska. The number of hunters and anglers in Nebraska has been in decline for years. The RDR plan is an effort to ensure that the state's rich outdoor heritage is passed on to future generations. The motivation for the Open Fields and Waters Program is to attract new or inactive hunters and anglers, especially into activities with expanding opportunities, such as deer and spring turkey hunting.

Benefits to Landowners --Receive payments on a per-acre basis for land or water enrolled. --Protection under the Nebraska Recreation Liability Act for allowing access. --Hunters and anglers would be provided walk-in access. No vehicles are allowed, except on trails specified by the landowner. --Help ensure Nebraska's rich outdoor heritage by allowing expanded hunting and fishing opportunities. --Play a role in conservation by providing a means to control problematic wildlife populations. --Signs will be posted on enrolled lands by Commission staff. --All enrolled lands will be published in an atlas. --Encourage hunting and fishing, which will lead to increased conservation funding and actions.

NE GOP State Central Committee

The Nebraska Republican Party's State Central Committee met on Saturday, January 30 at McCook Community College in McCook, Nebraska. District Caucuses were held at 8:00 am with the full assembly meeting at 9:15 am. Father Gary Brethour led the assemby in the Prayer of Archbishop Carroll (cousin of John Carroll signer of both the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution) and North Platte Mayor, led the assemby in the Pleadge of Allegiance. Jerry Vapp provided welcoming remarks and Lt. Governor Rick Sheehey delivered the keynote address. Oral reports were heard from the party Treasurer, Rod Krogh, party Chairman, Mark Fahleson, 1st district chair Tim O'Dell, 2nd district chair, John Seiler, and 3rd district chair, Craig Safranek. A video report was received from Congressman Adrian Smith and written reports came from National Committeeman, Pete Ricketts, the Nebraska Federation of Young Republicans, Attorney General, Jon Bruning, the Nebraska Federation of Women Republicans, and Tony Fulton, Tom Nesbitt and Don Stenberg, all Republican candidates for the office of Sstate Treasurer. At a previous meeting, the committee had resolved to support change to a winner-take-all system for the Electoral College. Members were made aware of Nebraska Legislative Bill 777 which would do just that and were asked to express their support to their State Legislator. By a two thirds majority, the committee approved an amendment to the state Republican Party Constitution to add four additional members to the Executive Committee. The measure would make the County Chairman of Douglas, Lancaster and Sarpy counties as permanent members of committee. Due to size and strength of Republican representation, the third district was awarded one additional representative on the Executive Committee. The State Central Committee also approved a resolution to support a raise for our state legislators from the current $12,000 a year to $22,000 IF the measure were to appear on a statewide ballot this spring. By a two thirds majority, the committee also approved the committees right to endorse candidates in both the primary and general election with a two-thirds vote of the State Central Committee or a majority vote of the General Assembly. A resolution to support the strengthening of the integrity of our election system was passed in defense of the Democratics partie initiatives to weaken its integrity with same day voter registration. I welcome your comments on any subject. State Central Committee Member Jesse Alber

Friday, January 29, 2010

Straight From the Horse's Mouth

Duane A. Lienemann, UNL Extension Educator, Webster County January 29, 2010 Edition It has been awhile since I discussed the actions of two of my least favorite groups - HSUS and PETA, or for that matter a whole plethora of organizations whom have placed agriculture and particular animal agriculture directly in their crosshairs. I have been watching these groups and have been amazed at all of their shenanigans, but have held off writing about them until I watched Nightline earlier this week, when they took aim at the dairy industry with their “Got Milk? Got Ethics? Animal Rights v. U.S. Dairy Industry” piece that they ran. That got my attention, my blood pressure spiked. I first was angry at ABC and Nightline who ran it. I then shifted my displeasure to the people who brought this out via stealth and with supposed undercover videos. They were instigated and produced by the animal rights group, Mercy for Animals, which is really a Vegan promoting group who have routinely stalked and filmed several livestock production and processing firms, and unfortunately always in an unflattering way. This ABC nightline show is now fueling a debate over the need for new laws to regulate the treatment of American dairy cows. They are doing exactly what they have set out to do. I suggest if you missed Nightline that you go to the Mercy for Animals website and view the video that is stirring up the controversy. You can find it at: , but be prepare. When I thought it all out, I was even more angry and distressed that a farm, knowing full well the environment we live in today, allowed this to happen. Although most of the film was set at common events in dairies of docking tails, electric dehorning of calves, pulling calves away from their mothers, etc. All things that we know about and accept as normal, it also showed some less than sensitive action by farm workers. We must in animal agriculture not give these people the ammunition with which they can shoot at us. Of course the high majority of people involved with animal production do it right, but it is that very small minority that gives us the bad rap. We have got to eliminate all those things that make us out to be the villains, and then communicate effectively why we do some of the management practices that we do and why we do them. If we leave it to our distracters the only story that is going to be told is that conveyed by groups like this. In the defense of the owner he did say, “We have a history of firing people who have mistreated animals because that is not where we belong.” But the makers of the film came right back with the analogy of –“Which of course also means: They have a history of hiring people who mistreat animals.” The Mercy for Animals video also contains a chilling segment in which an employee brags at length about the abuse he has inflicted onto the cows. The founder of the group, Nathan Runkle, told ABC: “Every single time that we send investigators undercover into America’s factory farms, they emerge with startling evidence of animal cruelty and neglect.” It is no wonder we have an uphill battle. I have not forgotten about HSUS and PETA. Let’s start with HSUS. Here is another reason we have to really be on our guard. It’s almost unbelievable- but a Vermont lawmaker has introduced a bill that would authorize that “An inspector who is a representative of a the Humane Society of the United States, a state based-domiciled humane society, or similar organization approved by rule of the secretary, shall be present to observe a slaughterer, packer, or stockyard operator when engaged in the practice of bleeding or slaughtering livestock.” What groups like HSUS are trying to do in Vermont as well as other states, represents an important turning point in their crusade to enact animal welfare reforms. I have warned that to expect more from the group in efforts similar to the potentially disastrous Prop 2 legislation in California and other key agricultural states. It could be that Minnesota will become the next battleground between the animal agriculture industry and the Humane Society of the United States. A recent overture from the HSUS to meet with the Minnesota Farm Bureau is a pattern that could very well end in compromises by the state’s animal agriculture industry. The fact that they’re coming into Minnesota worries me, just one more state, one more step to reeking havoc on animal agriculture all across our nation. Recent legislative and policy victories for HSUS in California, Maine, Michigan, Colorado, Arizona, Florida, Washington and pushes in Ohio easily could be replicated in Minnesota and then who is next? Ballot initiatives can be introduced in 24 states and Nebraska is considered as one of the most vulnerable! Now, this really gets to me. Two weeks ago there was a cataclysmic earthquake in Haiti where hundreds of thousands of people have died and left homeless and in a world of hurt. While most Americans are focused on helping the families now living in tent cities, trying to avoid falling rubble while locating lost loved ones, the HSUS is once again trying to monopolize on the emotions of Americans to raise money for their own agenda. In a letter sent out to their 10 million supporters, HSUS is seeking monetary support to help the animals in Haiti. Give me a break. It’s my understanding that HSUS is all about the liberation of animals and the abolishment of animal agriculture. Misplaced animals without humans to provide adequate food, water and shelter, isn’t that what their main mission would accomplish? Who do they think they are kidding? Unfortunately, I think they are duping a lot of well-intentioned individuals. I hope that one day their manipulation will be exposed to the world, and it’s up to us to spread the word. I have just begun on this topic. I will continue this discussion next week. You can’t believe what else they have been up to! 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:

County Consolidation Proposed

The Legislatures Planning Committee would be tasked with developing a county consolidation plan for Nebraska under a bill heard Jan. 22 by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. LB826, introduced by Omaha Sen. Rich Pahls, would require the Planning Committee to work with county officials and residents to develope a plan to reduce the number of counties to approximately 30 by 2018. There are currently 93 counties in Nebraska. Fewer conties and more online services likely would result in more efficient local government, Pahls said, adding that the Nebraska constitution requires that any consolidation proposal be subject voter approval in each affected county. "My goal with LB826 is to get us started, " he said. "(it) does not say how we are going to accomplish the goal; it begins the process." Richard Goodban of Lincoln testified in support of the bill. There should be criteria required for a county designation, he said, such as a minimum population, a minimum level of service provision or the ability to host a county fair. Larry Dix, executive director of the Nebraska Association of County Officials, opposed the bill, saying there are way s of increasing efficiency at the county level other than reducing the number of counties. Consolidation of services is becoming more common, he said, and is occurring both within and between counties. In 13 Nebraska counties the county clerk also serves as the clerk of the district court, the assessor, the election commission, and the register of deeds, Dix said. Interlocal agreements between counties also save money, he siad, citing the example of Keith County, which dispatches E-911 calls for seven other counties. "It doesn't always make the headlines, " Dix said, " but I think consolidation of services will continue to happen." The committee took no immediate action on the bill.

Deer Hunting Expansion Considered

A bill designed to curb the states growing deer population was heard by the Natural Resources committee Jan 27. LB836, introduced by Omaha Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh, would permit landowners and their immediate families to hunt deer on their farmland without regard to season bag and possession limits. The state Game and Parks Commission also would establish biennial deer hunting season under the bill. The bill would permit the use of spotlights when hunting deer and establish a refundable tax credit of $25 per deer taken by other hunters on a landowners property. The tax credit would be offered to person who own at least 40 acres. Lautenbaugh said the swelling deer population is a threat to motorists' safety, adding that deer were the reported cause of 12,000 accidents last year. Lautenbugh said the bill's provisions are needed to help farmers protect their crops from damage caused by overabundant deer, "If you're involved in agricultural produciton, you have the right to defend your property. You have the right to defend you livelihood." he said. Robert Schoen of Beatrice testified in support of the bill. He said he lost his son to a motorcycle accident with a deer in 1996, at which point there were 250,000 deer in the state. Today, the state is estimated to 375,000 to 380,000 deer. he said. Schoen recommended that hunters be required to tag an antlerless deer first. Otherwise, he said they concentrate on trophy bucks and neglect the does, which contributes to the animals over population. Representing the Game and Parks Commission, Jeff Hoffman testified in opposition to the bill. He said the commission is working to limit the population of deer on a regional and land owner basis. Deer seasons and depredation permits are available, he said, adding that hunters are the best tool for deer population control. Hoffman said other states have adopted programs to encourage the targeting of does over bucks with mixed results. "The jury is still out on whether it is a good system or not," Hoffman said, saying some states later repealed their programs. Janice Spicha, representing the Nebraska Bowhunters Association, also testified in opposition. The deer population belongs to all Nebraskans, not just landowners, she said. The best way to control deer numbers is to increse hunters" access to land, she said. "Hunter access is very poor in this state, compared to other states," Spicha said, adding that hunter mentor programs struggle to find landowners who permit hunting. The committee took no immediate action on the bill.

SCCA Bull Bonanza in Blue Hill February 6

If you want to see bulls on main street and do not want to travel to Pamploma, then you can simply travel to Blue Hill on Saturday, February 6. No they will not be running down the street - but instead safely confined in pens. The South Central Cattlemen Association is holding their second annual Bull Bonanza on main street of Blue Hill, NE. Pens of bulls will line main street featuring consignments of bulls from cattlemen from across the south central Nebraska region. Display times will be from 10:30 a.m. through 3:30 p.m. The Bull Bonanza will provide an opportunity for area cattlemen to showcase their bulls! It also provides the opportunity for the public and potential bull buyers, from south central Nebraska and beyond, to view a very nice selection of area raised bulls of various breeds and ages. They can also visit with the cattlemen about their breeding/genetics program and their cattle, and listen to speakers on topics concerning the beef industry. The speakers include: Dr. Matt Spangler, UNL Extension Beef Genetics Specialist, who will be the keynote speaker at 12:30 p.m. and will discuss “Sire Selection.” Also on hand will be Larry Rowden and Neal Mertens of ABS Global who will be introducing the new ABS Global territory representative. It is a nice venue to have representation of the best beef genetics in the area all in one place so you can go from pen to pen and analyze the breeding and production potential of each bull. You can just come and look, talk to the cattlemen and of course if you find the “right one”, the bulls are for sale. The season for selecting next year’s bull is upon us and this is a great opportunity to get a head start. It will also be interesting for 4-H and FFA youth and the public to see the genetics that are available in south central Nebraska all in one place and talk to the cattlemen and families that raise them. The bonus will be hearing from Nebraska experts in beef sire selections. There is still time if interested cattlemen would like to consign their bulls to the event. A registration form and entry fee is required. For questions or more information please call: Jamie Watts @ 402-984-0177 or Amber Illingworth @ 402-469-2952 or you may contact the Webster County UNL Extension office in Red Cloud (402-746-3417) or email if you would like a flyer and registration form.


"Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas?" Joseph Stalin

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Quote of the Day

''I have wondered at times about what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress." --Ronald Reagan

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Quote of the Day

"UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." -Dr Seuss

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Senator's Column

January 25, 2010 Time is Now to Reverse Increasing Debt Burdens Dear Nebraskans, In 2009, the U.S. government accrued a record $1.4 trillion in debt - three times as much as the previous record set in 2008. The federal government has spent so far beyond its means that we have once again reached the debt ceiling, a Congress-mandated cap on how high a tab the Treasury can run. For the third time since last January, the Senate finds itself in the unenviable position of having to raise the debt ceiling yet again to compensate for our bloated government spending. The Senate will vote this week on a ceiling increase that would enable the Treasury to borrow another $1.9 trillion, for a total debt limit of $14.29 trillion. If it passes, the debt limit will have increased by a whopping 35 percent since President Obama took office only one year ago. The Administration has chosen to blame much of its woes on the past, yet with another debt limit increase, it is no longer credible to pin the nation's fiscal imbalances on past actions. When discussing much smaller debt limit increases in 2006, even then-Senator Obama, declared that raising the debt limit shifts "the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren," and called it "a failure of leadership." Washington needs to move beyond pointing fingers. It is imperative that everyone - the President and Congress, Democrats and Republicans - begin looking to the future. If we do not start taking fiscal responsibility seriously, America will have no choice but to forfeit its role as a strong and noble leader throughout the world. It is a common misconception that our current trend of massive borrowing can continue forever with no negative consequences. It is dangerous and naïve to assume that because nothing bad has happened yet, nothing ever will. In no other walks of life would our current borrowing behavior be deemed responsible or even acceptable. If you are on the edge of bankruptcy, you don't take out another huge loan to buy a Ferrari. Yet Congress is now looking to buy that Ferrari. When you refuse to pay back what you've borrowed, eventually those you borrowed from show up looking to get it back. The United States emerged from the rubble of World War II as the undisputed economic leader throughout the world. We've taken great pride in this status, crowning our parents and grandparents as the "Greatest Generation." We cannot take for granted the gift they have given us. If we do not curb our reckless borrowing, we will spend away our position of global leadership. Indeed, by the end of this year, America's debt will exceed the limit allowed by the European Union. Think about that contrast: a half century after leading Europe out of its postwar depression, the United States would not financially qualify to be a part of the European community. This is a cold reality to face, but we can, and must, begin taking steps to prevent it. It starts with putting our foot down on the debt ceiling. Fiscal responsibility can no longer be a political catchphrase, it must be our purpose.

Josephine P. Hill

Blue Hill resident Josephine P. Hill, 96, died Sunday, Jan 24, 2010, at Blue Hill Care Center in Blue Hill. Services are 11 a.m. Thursday at First Baptist Church in Mason City with Pastor John Lewis officiating. Burial will be at Mason City Cemetery. Visitation is 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday with family present from 4-7 p.m. at Merten-Butler Mortury in Blue Hill and one hour prior to services Thursday at the church. Memorials may be given to the American Heart Association. Josephine was born Dec. 16, 1913, to Joseph and Clara (Lyzhoft) Wilson at Mead, Neb. She married Raymond Hill on June 29, 1940 at Kansas City, Kansas. She graduated from Kearney State College with a masters degree. She moved to Hastings in 1967, and worked at Central Community College as a business instructor until she retired. She had been at the Blue Hill Care Center since July 16, 2007. She is survived by one son, Paul B Hill of Chicago Heights, Ill; one daughter Linda Hill, of Orangeburg, S.C.; and one son-in-law, Lyle Kohmetscher of Lawrence, Nebraska. She was preceded in death by her jparents; husband; one daughter, Carole Kohmetscher; and two sisters.

Monday, January 25, 2010

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 four Open Forums have had 24 comments including; the Mass. Senate vote, subpoena's, County Commisioners give themselve's a pay raise, bobcat basketball, citizen of the year, Haiti, good samaratins, child safety, tax deductions for pet owners, parking and personal property, academic achievement of local alum, 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

Congressman's Column

The Way Ahead on Health Care On Tuesday, January 19th, America saw an upset of astounding proportions. Scott Brown's election victory in the Massachusetts Senate race changed the political landscape in many ways - most notably the future of the proposed government takeover of health care. Brown's election changes the math in the Senate, bringing the number of Republican Senators to 41. Until that point, Senate Democrats held 60 seats - a supermajority which could defeat any filibuster attempt by Senate Republicans. The bill had been moved on nearly party-line votes in both the Senate and the House. Without the luxury of a filibuster-proof majority, the controversial health care bill, which until last week's election was on a fast-track, now faces an uncertain future. Some have called for an incremental approach to health care reform, or even scrapping the entire process and starting over. Let's be clear: the American people do not want a government takeover of health care. Jamming this legislation through would create even more animosity in an American public already expressing their displeasure with the lack of transparency and accountability coming out of Washington. The House of Representatives should never function as a rubber stamp to the Senate, especially on such an important issue. The Senate bill runs more than 2,700 pages, cuts Medicare by $470 billion, adds $518 billion in new taxes, and $26 billion in new federal mandates imposed on the individual states - many of which are struggling with their own fiscal crises. The idea of simply passing this bill with the hopes of fixing it at a later point would be the height of folly. A vote of this magnitude should be a bipartisan effort, not negotiated in order to meet an arbitrary deadline. Rushing this measure - which spends money our nation doesn't have, opens the door for taxpayer-funded abortions, and leads the way for a one-size-fits-all rationing of care by putting Washington bureaucrats between patients and their doctors - is not good for our nation and is not good for Nebraska. Simply put: this is not the way to go. I hope the Majority party listens to the message from last Tuesday and works with Republicans on reasonable health care reforms. Let me share once again a few commonsense measures I support. One way to lower the cost of health insurance without increasing the size of government is to let the American people purchase health insurance across state lines the same way we buy auto insurance. We also should look at reasonable medical malpractice reform which would focus on lowering costs. I also support enacting genuine legal reform which cuts down frivolous lawsuits, and passing bills which give small businesses the freedom to join together to buy health insurance at lower rates and to shop across state lines for insurance in order to find the best deal - similar to options already available to most large businesses and federal workers. I also support expanding health savings accounts to provide additional flexibility to small businesses. The crystal ball is very cloudy when it comes to the next steps on health care. What is clear is this bill is not what Americans want and it is not what we need.

Governor's Column

A Vision for Strengthening Education By Governor Dave Heineman January 25, 2010 Dear Fellow Nebraskans: Nebraska was among 40 states to recently submit an application to the U.S. Department of Education for a portion of the federal Race to the Top funding available to help states advance academic learning. Nebraska’s proposal was developed by my office along with Commissioner of Education, Dr. Roger Breed, and his staff. We worked closely with superintendents, teachers, parents, school board members, and others in developing our proposal. It outlined projects that fit within our long range vision for strengthening education in Nebraska. Nebraska has a more coordinated group working together on education issues than ever before. The Nebraska P-16 Initiative is one coalition involving business and education leaders and policy makers who are helping address a number of goals for improving education. We are making progress. In mid-January, the State Board of Education and I approved the first update to Nebraska’s high school graduation requirements in more than 25 years. The changes strengthen core curriculum requirements so that every Nebraska high school student graduating completes a more rigorous curriculum with a minimum of four years of English and three years of math, science and social studies. Updating graduation requirements ensures that by the 2014-15 school year, every school district will meet this standard. The new requirements urge school districts set higher, more rigorous expectations for students. Nebraska’s Race to the Top proposal was drafted to help make progress on a number of education priorities that include: helping Nebraska students reach higher levels of academic achievement, dramatically reducing learning gaps, and ensuring more of our students graduate from high school and attend college in Nebraska. One idea outlined in our Race to the Top application is to create a Nebraska Virtual High School. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has an excellent independent study program that we hope to build on by creating a more interactive and dynamic online menu of classes ranging from foreign languages to advanced math and science courses. A virtual high school could help engage students who learn better outside the classroom, in addition to helping students ready to move at a faster pace by providing access to advanced placement and college-level courses. The first phase of Race to the Top funding will be announced in April. In the meantime, I want to encourage teachers, parents and education leaders across the state to consider the opportunities available today to transform our schools and provide a better education to Nebraska students. One example is that while the demands placed on students have changed dramatically in the past 100 years, our American education system continues to rely upon a century-old school calendar. Examining ways to change school schedules and calendars in order to give students more learning time is a worthy endeavor. Other areas for reform include: seeking to involve parents in school and classroom learning, lowering student truancy rates, providing college students with a shorter path to graduation, and redirecting resources to make student achievement a top funding priority. I want to thank everyone who worked on Nebraska’s Race to the Top application. Strengthening education will improve the opportunities available to our students, while also creating more economic opportunities for our state. With the changes taking place in technology, communications and the ability to do business in countries around the world, now is the time to build an education system that meets the needs of modern students competing in this modern world.

A Nebraskan's View

Monday, January 25, 2010
If you can read one thing into the recent election in Massachusetts it is that America needs bipartisanship now more than ever to create jobs, boost our economy, clean up our environment and to fix a national health care system that 70 percent of Nebraskans want fixed, according to a recent newspaper poll.
People are disappointed that there’s not more bipartisanship, I am too, and have been from the very beginning. I’m the one who said we should have 65 votes for any major piece of health care reform legislation, and then had ads run against me by members of my own party.
A Wakeup Call The Massachusetts vote should be a wakeup call for Washington. Republicans now have 41 votes in the Senate, Democrats and Independents have 59. The 60/40 split that took us too far down the road to partisan gamesmanship is history.
Now maybe we can get on with the business of the country. The vote should end the situation where one side thinks it doesn’t need the other, and the other thinks there’s no need to work together for the good of the nation.
Enough Blame for Both Parties Republicans have a responsibility—and had it in the past—to engage, not sit on the sidelines. And Democrats have a responsibility to make a renewed effort to work across the political aisle. Both parties have a responsibility and an obligation to work together now. It remains to be seen whether or not that will happen.
I believe that means that bipartisanship should be the word of the day. Bipartisanship will bring people together all across our country. Bipartisanship will deliver progress for the American people. Working across the aisle is the way in which we get that done. I’ve done that over my 9 years in the Senate and before that as governor of Nebraska. This past year it has been difficult or even impossible.
Continue Working for Bipartisanship But I will continue listening to the 70 percent of Nebraskans who want health reform. It’s certainly no surprise that such a large number of Nebraskans want things to change. 220,000 Nebraskans don’t have health insurance and all other Nebraskans are paying more and more each year for health care.
I will continue reaching across the aisle as I’ve always done to develop bipartisan health reform that works for Nebraskans. I will work for bipartisanship every chance I get, and I believe that bipartisanship is the only way forward for Congress to deliver for the American people.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


"Without justice courage is weak." Benjamin Franklin

Private Pesticide Applicator Training in Webster County

A valid certification is needed to allow the purchase and use of restricted use pesticides on the farm. Producers will therefore need to attend a training session for initial certification, or to renew their certification for another three years. This applies if they received a letter from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, haven’t held a PSEP card, or if their card has expired. Producers that received a bar-coded letter from the NDA should bring it to the meeting that you choose to go to. The UNL Extension in Webster County will present several sessions where producers or ag workers may re-certify or extend pesticide certification. Dewey Lienemann, UNL Extension Educator, will be doing the Private Pesticide Applicator training at three sites in Webster County. They are as follows: Blue Hill - at the Community Center on January 27 starting at 7:00 pm; Bladen - at the Fire Hall on March 3, starting at 9:00 am; and Red Cloud - at the Webster County Museum Exhibit Hall on March 24, starting at 1:00 pm. Producers should plan to spend about two and ½ to three hours to certify or re-certify. A $30 materials fee will be charged for attending the session. Producers should plan to arrive 10 minutes early to register and pick up their material. Basic information that will be covered in the private applicator training meetings include: protective clothing, equipment and safety; reading pesticide labels and mixing herbicides; update on new pesticide laws, and regulations; record keeping agreements and forms; fumigation procedures for grain and rodents; records and pesticide application reporting; pesticide and container storage, disposal, & bio-security; pesticide drift management, nozzles, wind, and compass use; Worker Protection Standards; and new information that affects production agriculture, integrated pest management and/or pesticide application. Attendees will get the current pesticide information guide, hand-outs and other materials, and the new UNL 2010 Guide for Weed Management in Nebraska. There are of course other trainings across the state. Please contact our office in Red Cloud if you are not sure if you are certified, or if you need further information on the classes described in this news release or for other classes that are available in other counties. You may go to for information on applicator status or training sessions. Producers may also take the class through a self-study method. Please contact Dewey Lienemann at the Webster County Extension office in Red Cloud at (402) 746-3417 or via his cell phone at (402) 469-0357 or email at for questions or for more information.

Congressman's Column

Our Highest Priority? Just a few weeks ago, the terrorist plot to bring down Northwest Airlines Flight 253 was thwarted by a combination of luck and vigilance on the part of everyday citizens. This incident aboard an international flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day combined with the assassination of seven CIA officers in Afghanistan by a double-agent just before the New Year are stark reminders the war on terror continues. Terrorists still have innocent people in their sights and the will to follow through on their murderous intents. The challenge those tasked with defending our nation and our people is as simple as it is unsettling: terrorists only have to do everything right once, while those who defend our nation have to get it right every time. This threat does not exist in any one nation or have a single face - it is global, multi-faceted and constantly evolving. It seeks out ungoverned spots around the globe from which to operate - places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. I have traveled to many of these areas, and have just returned from the Middle East where I was able to discuss terrorism with the leaders of Israel, Egypt and Turkey. The challenges are immense, but the safety and security of Americans depends on Congress and the White House making the right decisions. Both parties recognize the stakes. However, this is about much more than an expanding no-fly list or an increasingly cumbersome security line. We need to take a hard look at exactly what went wrong and how to actively prevent future attacks. We should remove legal and bureaucratic barriers which have raised significant obstacles for the U.S. military and intelligence communities in aggressively pursuing those who have joined or assisted terrorist groups. Congress also should pass H.R. 2294, the Keep Terrorists Out of America Act, a commonsense bill which would prevent terrorists from being brought to American soil. The measure, of which I am a cosponsor, would require the President notify Congress 60 days before a transfer or release of a Guantanamo Bay detainee. This measure also would require states to consent to any release or transfer of an enemy combatant into their state. For instance, this bill would help stop the misguided plan to put Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other terrorists on trial in downtown Manhattan. Bringing dangerous terrorists to U.S. soil does not make our country safer; rather if terrorists are brought to our country to be tried in U.S. courts, they would seek to manipulate the rights provided by the very Constitution they seek to destroy. The Keep Terrorists Out of America Act also will help ensure we are treating terrorists as war criminals, not as petty criminals warranting law enforcement actions. Recent events demonstrate the threat to our nation is not a structured organization. The terrorists who hate our freedom do not have membership cards or a central authority. However, they do share the common goal of harming U.S. interests at home and abroad. It has been more than eight years since September 11, 2001, and threats still exist. The American people should not have to rely on luck to stop terrorist attacks. They deserve a government which is working together on all levels to keep our homeland safe.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

News From Your Community College

Honor Roll Central Community College has announced the names of full-time students who earned spots on the President’s and Dean’s honor lists for the 2009 fall semester. The students were enrolled at one or more CCC locations, which include the Columbus, Grand Island and Hastings campuses; Holdrege, Kearney and Lexington centers; and learning centers in about 60 central Nebraska towns. Students on the President’s Honor List earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average while students on the Dean’s Honor List earned a GPA between 3.5 and 3.99. ncluded on the President's Honor list are Rachel Berns, Stephanie Berns and Melissa Grigg all of Bladen. On the Dean's Honor List are Denise Kelley and Page Kohmetscher of Blue Hill. CPR Classes Central Community College-Hastings will offer the following CPR classes in the Platte Building: – "Heartsaver CPR and First Aid," from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 5 and Feb. 12. The cost is $60. – "Health Care Provider CPR," from 5 to 10 p.m. on Feb. 10. The cost is $42. – "Health Care Provider CPR Renewal," from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 15. The cost is $37. Preregistration is required to reserve a space. For more information or to preregister, contact the CCC Extended Learning Services Office at (402) 461-2487; toll-free at 1-877-222-0780, ext. 2487; or by e-mail at Class descriptions can be found at Use "Hastings CPR" as the keyword search term. Quilting Class A "Quilting with Rita" class will be offered from 7 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 16, Feb. 23, March 2 and March 9 in the Platte Building at Central Community College-Hastings. The class, "Sixteen Patch Stars," will be taught by Rita Jaworski. She will show students how to use rotary cutting and speed piecing techniques to turn a fabric choice, coordinating neutral fabric and scrappy strips into a wonderful quilt. The class is open to beginners with a little experience and intermediate level piecers. Preregistration is required at least a week in advance. The cost is $33. Students will receive a materials list upon preregistration, and they must bring their own sewing machine to class. For more information or to preregister, contact Hastings Community Education Coordinator Susan Rinker at (402) 461-2431; toll-free at 1-877-222-0780, ext. 2431; or by e-mail at


"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." -- Robert Kennedy

McDole, Schmidt: Disgrace to Selve's and Counties

(Slightly Revised from origional posting) It took a Nuckolls County jury almost a full ten minutes on Friday, January 22, to come back with a “Not Guilty” verdict in the Webster County case of the State of Nebraska vs Andrew Alber on a charge of “Attempted Third Degree Assault.”
Although arguments and examinations proceeded for over eight hours, the lightning speed at which the jury reached its verdict obviously confirms that the prosecution really added nothing of value to the discussion.
 Nuckolls County Attorney, Timothy Schmidt, acting as special prosecutor for Webster County, alleged that Alber had committed the crime by plotting to entice Scott and Jeff Kort onto his property so that he could shoot them, a claim that apparently jurors quickly dismissed.
 Animosity between the Korts and Alber goes back to an October 6, 2007 incident in the Blue Hill Tavern where Scott & Jeff Kort assaulted Mr. Alber. Despite numerous witnesses to the event, Webster County Attorney, Jerry McDole, selected not to charge either Scott or Jeff Kort in the incident.
Alber cried foul and protested with the Nebraska Bar Association.
 Jerry McDole owns agricultural property near Red Cloud that is farmed by Ken Kort, the father of Scott and Jeff Kort (Kort and McDole also own ground in partnership). Alber felt that the failure to prosecute was an obvious show of favoritism on what should have been a slam dunk on a third degree assault charge. McDole should have excluded himself from the prosecution due to a conflict of interest.
 Since the attack was on Mr. Alber, we cannot dismiss Alber's 2006 campaign for Webster County Attorney against McDole, where Alber gathered over 1/3 of the votes as a non-attorney and a write-in candidate, which obviously did no put him in the good graces of Mr. McDole.
Flash forward to January, 2009. On January 9, Scott Kort came to the home of Mr. Alber in the late evening hours causing damage to Mr. Alber’s property and threatening Alber and his family. Alber called law enforcement and remained in his home.
Alber filed for and was granted a restraining order by the District Court.
 Between January 9 and January 23 (and beyond), the Korts continued to harass and attempt to intimidate Alber and his family by circling their home, driving by their farm property, following them around and more.
 On January 23, Alber was flagged down in Blue Hill by Webster County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Martin. Martin reported to Alber that the Korts had alleged that Alber was following them around, calling them on their cell phones and harassing them. Alber told Deputy Martin his side of the story in which he expressed his concern for his family, his frustration with the process, lack of discipline administered by the system to the Korts and his willingness to defend himself if cornered.
On a related side note, Alber’s co-worker, Mike Hall, was verbally assaulted in Klancy’s Kafe and at his home on January 30 by Ken Kort. The incident went on for a considerable amount of time and was observed by many witnesses. Hall was targeted because he was a "friend" of Alber’s. When confronted at Hall's home home by law enforcement, Kort told the Webster County Sheriff's Deputy that he would "just call the County Attorney and get rid of him."
 Now the story can finally transition to the actions of the real criminals in this sordid series of events. Webster County Attorney, Jerry McDole hand selected Nuckolls County Attorney, Timothy Schmidt to serve as special prosecutor for the January 9 incident concerning actions by Scott Kort, January 23 statements by Alber, and January 30 verbal attack by Ken Kort. As Mr. Schmidt failed to take action on Scott Kort’s case, Alber filed and won judgment on a civil suit for damages incurred to his property on January 9. Alber also inquired to both McDole’s and Schmidt’s office as to the criminal progress of Kort’s case. Apparently Alber’s insistence on justice was a bit too much for Schmidt to handle. Mr. Schmidt informed Alber that he had been doing his job for over 30 years and that he didn’t need any help from Alber. Alber responded that his lack of results indicated that he obviously did need some help. So, Mr. Schmidt allows Scott Kort to plead to the reduced charge of disturbing the peace.
Ken Kort was ordered to pay court costs and write an apology letter to Mr. Hall, an apology letter that read, “I’m sorry you were offended.” And Mr. Alber is dragged into court on trumped up charges with no real weight at a cost of thousands of Webster county tax-payer dollars.
 Had the jury taken even an hour to deliberate, one might be able to justify the actions of McDole and Schmidt. But a ten minute deliberation only proved Alber’s accusation that Schmidt was incompetent and unable to effectively discharge his duties and says even less for McDole who had to agree to the case moving forward.
Mr. Schmidt was obviously offended by Alber’s statements and attempted to retaliate by maliciously prosecuting Alber. Because the pride of Mr. Schmidt had been wounded, Webster County tax payers are saddled with the thousands of dollars in court costs to include jury fees, witness fees, formal depositions, special prosecution fees, a court appointed defense attorney, travel costs to Nelson, and much more. Preliminary estimates suggests costs may exceed $15,000. How do you think Mr. Schmidt’s pride is holding up now that he was absolutely disgraced and humiliated in court?
 Alber has indicated his intent to file a formal complaint with the Nebraska Bar Association regarding the actions of these two lawyers.


The Webster County 4-H/FFA Beef weigh-ins will be held January 30 in Red Cloud and January 31 in Blue Hill. Exhibitors wanting to show market steers or market heifers at the Webster County Fair, Nebraska State Fair, and/or Ak-Sar-Ben must identify and weigh in their projects. The beef will be weighed in Red Cloud at the South Central Herd Health Services on Saturday, January 30 from 9:00 am till 11:30 am and in Blue Hill at the Blue Hill Livestock Sale Barn on Sunday, January 31 from 1:30 pm till 4:00 pm. The extension office asks that all exhibitors have your animals identified and tagged by that date if at all possible. Electronic Identification for all beef will be done at each weigh-in. This will be a second tag in addition to the 4-H/FFA tag. EID is voluntary, but highly suggested. They further request that if you put your tags in before weigh-in, that you reserve the one-third of the left ear closest to the head for the EID tag. 4-H tags and market beef affidavits are available from the Extension Office in Red Cloud. FFA tags and affidavits are available from agriculture education instructors including: Melissa Bonifas, at Blue Hill high school; Joe Strickland, at Red Cloud high school; and Dave Barnard at Superior. For those that cannot get the tags or affidavits prior to the weigh-in, they will be available at the weigh-in sites. 4-H exhibitors are reminded that if they intend on going on to State Fair or Ak-Sar-Ben, they must have their beef DNA sampled. There is a $6 per head charge for DNA samples. This will also be done at the weigh-in site for those that so desire. FFA requirements are somewhat different, for instance beef going on to State Fair must either have a Nose Print or EID tag plus their FFA tag. When in doubt, or not sure of their intentions, we suggest that exhibitors make sure their beef are EID’ed, and take a DNA sample (4-H) on your market beef to be on the safe side. Exhibitors do have until March 26 to DNA any beef animal that may go to State Fair or Ak-Sar-Ben. Please note that all other market livestock that may go to the Nebraska State Fair or Ak-Sar-Ben will need to be DNA sampled this year as well. There is a new addition this year. Each exhibitor will need to tell officials at weigh-in if the animal is for the “PB Breed Steer” competition, and also if it is “Bred & Fed” or “Bought & Fed”. There will be clarification on the “Bred & Fed” in this year’s fair-book. Basically that title will mean that – “You or your family owned the cow or heifer, which is the mother of the steer, at the time of the calf’s conception, and that it was born and fed on your farm or place of project care”. Officials will also need to know the place and date of birth of the market beef (Premise ID is ideal). It works best when exhibitors have that information ready for the sheet at weigh-in. In planning for market beef enterprise, exhibitors should try to match the size of the calf that they pick out to match their intent. If it is the intent to “dead-end” the calf at the county fair then exhibitors should figure from January 31 to July 13 for time on feed, which computes to 163 days. Figuring that you want to gain at least 2.5 lbs a day (2.2 is required) then assuming a county fair weight of 1300 lbs, then the biggest calf that you should weigh in on the January 30 or 31 weigh-in would be <900 pounds. If you figure 3 lb. per day ROG, then a 800 lb steer (today’s weight) would be your limit weight. If you plan to hit State Fair with the 1300 pound calf then you have 215 days to feed and at 2.5 #/day then your calf should not weigh much more than 750 on January 30. Incidentally Ak-Sar-ben is 236 days and with the same goal weight you could use a 700 lb. calf. The exhibitor should keep in mind his/her goal weight (most common is 1250-1350 pounds), expected average rate of gain, and the environment (both cold and hot) and the growth potential of their calf in making their decision, and then to keep a 2.2 average daily ROG for steers and 2.0 for heifers. Please contact Dewey Lienemann at the Webster County Extension office in Red Cloud at (402) 746-3417 or via his cell phone at (402) 469-0357 or email at for more information.

Cattleman’s Day and Trade Show

You are cordially invited to attend the South Central Nebraska Cattleman’s Day and Trade Show. The program is developed to serve cow/calf producers. The present economic situation requires cattlemen to be on top of the latest research and technology to keep their operations profitable. This conference should help you find ways to reduce cost while helping to improve your overall profitability. The program will also feature booths or displays by agribusiness organizations. We look forward to your attendance on Monday, January 25 at the Kearney County Fairgrounds in Minden. The program will feature University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Educators and Specialists. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the program will conclude at approximately 3:30 p.m. Speakers will present the following topics as time allows:
  • The Future of Food Safety: How it Affects Cattle Producers – Drew Gaffney, Nebraska Cattlemen.
  • Calving Date Economics – Brian Strauch, UNL Extension Educator.
  • How Size Affects Heifer Development – Randy Saner, UNL Extension Educator.
  • Benefits of and Tips to Achieve a Short Calving Season – Rick Funston, UNL Extension Beef Specialist.
  • Annual Forage Options – Jerry Volesky, UNL Extension Range Specialist.
  • The Value of Corn Stalks vs. Range – Aaron Stalker, UNL Extension Beef Specialist.
  • Ranch Profitability: What are the choices? – Doug Anderson, UNL Extension Educator.
  • Mandatory COOL, Source and Age Verification – Noel Mues, UNL Extension Educator.
  • Utilizing Genomic Information in Sire Selection – Randy Saner, UNL Extension Educator.
Coffee, rolls, lunch and handouts will be provided, courtesy of the sponsors. For purposes of a meal count, please pre-register by calling the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Office in Kearney County 308-832-0645 or email Sponsors include: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, Nebraska Cattlemen and Agribusiness Organizations. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.

Straight From The Horse's Mouth

Duane A. Lienemann, UNL Extension Educator, Webster County January 22, 2010 Edition I started talking in last weeks column about what I think is going to be a real challenge for us in the upcoming weeks and maybe months. It is a three letter word that I would imagine will eventually bring out some 4 letter words when it is all said and done. That word is mud! I think we will continue on that topic this week. I spent most of the column last week talking about the effects on nutrition. That is indeed important, however there are other considerations. In addition to the effects of this weather on nutrient availability, mud can affect feeding behavior. Let’s see how. The use of temporary feeding sites during winter and early spring months to supply feed and/or water to livestock is a common management practice with livestock producers. It is also common to have a lot or small pasture designated as a “calving area”. When selecting a location, producers need to be aware of the impacts of these sites on both environmental and animal performance. The growth performance of animals can be greatly affected if sites are improperly selected and managed. Lots and feeding areas can turn into muddy areas very rapidly after moisture events with high animal activity. Muddy areas create a suction effect on the legs and hooves of cattle. This makes it hard for cattle to move around feeders, and they stand still instead. Four to 8 inches of mud can decrease intake by 4 to 8% and slow gains by 14%. Belly-deep mud can reduce intake by 30%. It is extremely important to control mud accumulation so that it does not affect feeding behavior. It may also be tempting to skip some feedings because of challenges with muddy feed storage and feeding areas. For cattle on limit-fed rations, where they are hand fed daily, skipping feedings could lead to digestive upset when feeds are reintroduced to cattle. Skipped feedings also mean less total intake of these rations over time, which will lower performance of fat cattle, stocker feeders and even cow/calf herds which could effect calving. If cattle are in the stalk fields, producers should be also cognizant of potential damage from cattle hooves is particularly noticeable during muddy periods. Normally cattle on fields don’t create enough problems on stalks to be concerned about, but these conditions may warrant some thought. The same goes for any grassland or “sacrifice area” that may be utilized to hold the cattle. Trampling creates even muddier conditions and of course damage is often worst in areas where cattle loaf or congregate such as windbreak or near water and feeding areas. If this is the case, then I suggest that then when feeding hay, that producers should start towards the back of the area and work towards the front to keep mud from blocking area access. Also consider moving your feeding area and especially the bale feeder rings. New feeding area helps spread out the problem rather than intensify it. Pasture or lot damage expands to new areas each time your hay or feeding areas are moved. Although pasture, lot, and field damage is largely unavoidable during very wet periods, use of feeding pads, lanes for moving cattle, and rotation of sites, all can help limit this damage and potential pit falls. You may also want to consider what you are going to do for calving season. Some producers have started, but most calving is still ahead of us. This particular time frame always provides some challenges each year and this year we may have those challenges intensified. Most southern Nebraska cow herds calve during the mid winter – early spring time frame. It is important to watch for calves being born in remaining snow drifts and yes of course those mud holes. If temperatures drop during wet conditions, calves are at increased risk for hypothermia and it does not take long for a calf to perish. You may want to line up a calf “hot box” or some provision for warming any calves in this dilemma. Providing calving areas that are relatively dry, free from manure build-up, and with windbreaks if at all possible, and most importantly- some dry bedding like wheat straw. In isolated instances, calves may become trapped or even trampled into mud, especially around big round bale feeder rings. Close observation of cattle is critical to identify these situations. One of the biggest things that I worry about is that muddy areas with heavy manure concentrations often have heavy loads of disease causing organisms such as bacteria. Instances of calf scours, naval ill, and foot rot can be increased during these conditions. Consult a veterinarian for advice on disease prevention and treatment. Be sure to treat calf navals at birth with an iodine solution and watch closely for signs of infection. Treat sick calves promptly and keep colostrum on hand. I have also seen cattle drink from muddy pools of surface water that harbor infectious pathogens. To try to keep this from happening with temporary fencing that will keep cattle out of low-lying areas. Provide fresh, clean water supplies to cattle at all times. Extreme cases, where temporary fencing and intensive rotation are necessary, may require additional water sources. Consider using a tank truck or temporary water lines. Good clean water is essential for animal health. Calves from spring-calving herds usually have been weaned and many are still in lots. Stress from excessively cold and wet/muddy conditions adds to the challenges that calves face at weaning. Calf health and performance can be affected by this. If you haven’t weaned yet, be sure to use low-stress weaning methods. With early weaned or just weaned calves it is always important to use appropriate vaccination and parasite control strategies, and high-quality feeds and forages for weaned calves. To protect cattle health and ensure acceptable performance, observe cattle closely and take needed steps to improve the production environment during excessively cold, wet and muddy conditions. 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:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Governor's Column

Three Priorities for 2010 By Governor Dave Heineman January 15, 2010 Dear Fellow Nebraskans: As we enter a new decade, we have the opportunity to reflect on accomplishments made in the last few years and take our first steps toward new endeavors. In my State of the State address, I said that we have worked hard these past few years to position Nebraska as an attractive place to live and do business. My focus for the coming year is to prepare our state to take advantage of new opportunities by focusing on three priorities: growing Nebraska’s economy, strengthening education and developing an even more efficient state government. Growing our economy means an every day focus on job creation. Our efforts to modernize Nebraska’s economic incentive programs, to lower taxes, and to limit the growth of state spending by investing in priority areas have resulted in a stronger, more stable economy. We responded to the national economic slowdown by seizing the opportunity to make Nebraska more competitive by reducing spending. Many states responded by raising income or sales taxes. We did not. As a result, Nebraska’s financial health is stronger than most of our peers across America. A second area of focus involves strengthening education. The Nebraska P-16 Initiative is helping our state make progress on a number of education-related goals. We started 2010 by making the first update to Nebraska’s high school graduation requirements since 1984 by strengthening core curriculum requirements. The class of 2015 will be the first to graduate with every student having taken a more rigorous series of classes that include four years of English and three years of math, science and social studies. We have also developed a proposal to create a Nebraska Virtual High School, which will be included in the state’s Race to the Top application being submitted to the U.S. Department of Education. The virtual high school will provide a more dynamic and interactive way for students to learn and provide students across the state the access to a wider range of classes from foreign languages to advanced math and science courses. Today’s jobs require stronger academic skills than was true 20 years ago. In order to prepare students for the modern workplace, we need to transform our education system from preschool all the way through college. As good as Nebraska’s schools are today, they must be even better in the future. The road to prosperity for our state and for our students is a good education. The third area involves using technology to reform the delivery of government services in order to become more productive and more efficient. This year we will complete the building of our statewide radio network to enable interoperable communications among local, state and federal first responders. Additionally, we will continue to reform the way the state provides government services by focusing on making them more accessible and convenient for our businesses and residents. Technology has allowed us to transform the way we do business by making services available online through More than 200 online services are available today to help us deliver improved services to the citizens of Nebraska. I will continue to focus on growing our economy through new job creation, strengthening Nebraska’s education system so our students can compete in the 21st Century economy; and developing a more efficient government through greater use of technology. While 2010 will be a challenging year for Nebraska and all states, it is essential that we continue to position Nebraska for future growth. Our roadmap is clear and I am confident the year ahead will provide us with new opportunities to move forward.

A Nebraskan's View

by Senator Ben Nelson Tuesday, January 19, 2010 HEALTH BILL CONTROLS COSTS There is no doubt that the Senate Health Care Reform bill has caused controversy with attacks coming from both sides. Some think it goes too far, others think it doesn’t go far enough. Like is so often the case, there are many in the middle who have contacted me and are pleased we are doing something because they understand that the system needs to be repaired. Among those who have contacted me are some of the 220,000 Nebraskans who don’t have health insurance, which includes people who can’t get insurance because of a pre-existing condition. Saves Billions of Dollars Others who’ve contacted me are worried about escalating premiums that all but wipe out their pay raises, if they got a pay raise. For them, it needs to be pointed out that the bill saves us money. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill will save $132 billion over the first 10 years and as much as $1.3 trillion over the second 10 years until 2029. It lowers costs because it is fully paid for and includes $447 billion returned to middle class Americans in tax credits to help make insurance more affordable.Changing the Way to Cover the Uninsured Today Nebraskans pay about 15 percent more for insurance to cover the costs when the uninsured seek medical treatment they can’t pay for at clinics and emergency rooms. This cost shifting will dramatically drop, reducing premium increases for all Nebraskans. Nebraska’s small businesses will have access to a new Small Business Health Options Program. They can pool together for better insurance coverage, and they will receive tax credits to help them cover employees. Tax Credits for Small Business Currently 70% of Nebraska small businesses cannot afford or do not have access to health insurance. Small business health insurance tax credits will make health insurance more affordable for an estimated 33,000 Nebraska small businesses. The Secretary of Health and Human Services will be able to test various different payment structures designed to foster patient-centered care, improve quality, and slow the rate of Medicare cost growth. Nebraska has a model for that at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln. The bill provides grants for doctors serving in rural areas so people living in rural Nebraska will continue to have access to treatment. The bill offers tax relief for health professionals participating in state-funded student loan repayment programs. It creates the same tax exemption used for the federal loan repayment program for state-funded programs not eligible under current federal guidelines. This will help doctors and nurses serve in rural areas. It moves toward closing the Medicare Part D doughnut hole, saving thousands in medicine costs for 48,000 Nebraskans. The Senate bill permits states to join together to allow private insurance to be purchased across state lines, which is a big deal that will improve competitiveness. It requires the Office of Personnel Management to negotiate contracts, just like they do for the various private health plans available to Members of Congress offered by insurance companies such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Like great legislation of the past, including Social Security, Medicare, and Civil Rights, history will likely show that health care reform was the right thing to do.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. . . Every step toward the goal of Justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Letter from Congressman Smith

Knowing of your leadership role and your interesting in issues affecting the State of Nebraska, I am writing to update you on recent developments in Congress.
As you may know, on November 7, 2009, the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 220-215. Unfortunately, this legislation would fail to provide American's access to affordable and quality health care at a price tag our nation could afford. Instead, H.R. 3962 would authorize a government takeover of health care, costing taxpayers $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years and would put government bureaucrats between patients and their doctors. Additionally, H.R. 3962 would cost 5.5 million jobs and impose $729.5 billion in new taxes on small businesses.
Unfortunately, the Senate-passed version of this legislation is not any more promising. According to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, in just six years under this legislation the Nebraska Medicaid program will cummulatively grow by nearly $2.5 billion. While the Senate version included an agreement to secure federal funding for the State of Nebraska to extend this coverage, the House version did not, and there is no assurance the assistance will be included in the final bill. Excluding this provision means a $2.5 billion unfunded mandate, the cost of which is passed to Nebraskans through taxes and fees.
You may be interested to know, I voted for a health care alternative which would guarantee access to affordable care regardless of pre-existing conditions or past illnesses, prevent insurers from unjustly canceling a policy or instituting lifetime spending caps, and give small businesses the power to pool together and offer health care at lower prices. In addition, legislation I support would provide incentive payments to states which reduce premiums and their number of uninsured individuals.
By using market-based principles such as reducing costs through limits on medical malpractice lawsuites, expanding health savings accounts, and allowing consumers to buy insurance from out-of-state companies, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office confirmed the bill I support would reduce health care premiums by up to 10 percent and lower the federal budget deficit by $68 billion.
Rest assured as House and Senate leadership begin merging markedly different versions of an overhaul, I will work to ensure affordable health care for all Americans without burdening States and taxpayers.
As always, please feel free to contact me regarding this or any other issue of your concern.

Senator's Column

January 18, 2010 Here to Serve Nebraskans Dear Nebraskans, As the devastation in Haiti weighs heavily on all of our hearts, I commend you for reaching-out to offer support, as Nebraskans always do. I am pleased my office has been able to connect many of you with the appropriate federal agencies responsible for relief coordination. We are also assisting several Nebraska families in the midst of adopting Haitian children, hoping to help bring these children - now in desperate need - together with their new families. The casework we do to bridge gaps and resolve misunderstandings between federal agencies and the people we serve is often some of the most gratifying work we do. When temperatures dipped well below zero in Nebraska, a single mother of a two-year-old reached out for help. Her heat was about to be turned off and her assistance check had been misdirected. We connected her with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, which in turn notified the utility company that a mistake had occurred, and both mother and son stayed warm that night. It is a special honor for me to be able to assist our brave veterans. One young veteran contacted me distraught that he was unable to obtain the paperwork necessary to receive his benefits five months after returning home. My staff did some digging and learned that his last duty station didn't even have his records. But, by the end of the day, this young airman had a scanned copy of his paperwork to the credit of Air Force officials who helped us to connect the dots. In these difficult economic times, we are also helping Nebraskans who've lost their jobs to access unemployment assistance. Whether it's pressing an agency to get paperwork processed or helping Nebraskans understand the forms they need and the filing process, we're here to help. With tax season fast approaching, I want you to know that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will have volunteer tax experts available at locations across the state to provide qualified individuals free assistance with tax returns. For a listing of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites, you may call 1-800-829-1040. These are just a few examples of how we assist Nebraskans. My staff and I are honored to do so. If you need help resolving a problem with the federal government, please don't hesitate to call any of my offices across the state. Contact information is available online at or in the phone book.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ardus M. Hewitt January 20, 1935 to January 16, 2010

Blue Hill resident Ardus M. Hewitt, 74, died Saturday, January 16, 2010 at her home in Blue Hill.
 Services were 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Blue Hill with Pastor Dan Cosson officiating.
Burial was at Blue Hill Cemetery in Blue Hill.

Ardus was born January 20, 1935, to Raymond and Lula (Cox) Lantz at Deadwood, S.D.
She graduated from Deadwood High School in 1952. She married Charles L. Hewitt, Sr. on October 25, 1953, in Midland, Texas.
 They lived in Rapid City, S.D. from December 1953-1973, When they moved to the Denver Colorado area. She retired in December 2000, and they moved to Blue Hill.
She worked as a paralegal for a law firm in Denver. 
She was a member of the Red Hat Society in Blue Hill.
 She is survived by her husband, Charles, Sr. of Blue HIll, Neb., two sons, Charles, Jr. of Blue Hill, Neb. and Raymond of Philadelphia, Pa. Two sisters, Eva Wooley of Rapid City, SD and Janet Johnson of Cuba, NY, two brothers Donnie Lantz and David Lantz of Rapid City, SD; five grand children, Paul, Rhianna, Constance and Nicholas Hewitt, and Stacy Hanzo; two grat grand children, Alexes Hewitt and Tristan Thibodeau.
She was preceded in death by her parents; and two sisters, Carol Ashem and Beverly Lantz.

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 three Open Forums, had 19 comments including; citizen of the year, Haiti, good samaratins, child safety, tax deductions for pet owners, parking and personal property, academic achievement of local alum, 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, January 17, 2010


"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Staright From the Horse's Mouth

Duane A. Lienemann, UNL Extension Educator, Webster County January 16, 2010 Edition The previous open winters have spoiled us with excellent weather (and cattle performance), however this past December 2009 had days that remind us what terms like wind-chill and blizzard are. We will also start to experience what it is like with snow melt and mud, with more reminders to soon be on the way. While we can not change the weather, we can implement some management and production techniques that increase cattle comfort and keep cost of gain figures and cattle losses from increasing. This has the potential to be a big problem for producers this year and we will probably have to utilize a couple of sessions to fully cover this topic. We will need to revisit this topic again next week. Dealing with wet conditions and mud in cattle operations will always be challenging, especially during times like the up coming calving season. Mud makes chores hard to complete and unpleasant to carry out, and makes checking on cows and calves difficult. Muddy areas are dangerous to work in because mud reduces footing for livestock, farmers, and equipment. The ability to move around safely is even more critical when new born calves enter the equation. We are about to enter that season and are likely to see the effect of the snow, wind chill, cold weather and now the mud. The best approach to dealing with mud in a livestock setting is preventing the creation of mud in the first place. Of course with the current state of affairs, we don’t have much control on that. Although we are never able to totally eliminate mud, proper management and some common sense can significantly reduce the amount and duration of muddy conditions we have to deal with in a beef enterprise system. Before we address that however we probably should take a look at how affects performance and why we need to really be aware and proactive when it comes to these conditions. As we talked about in an earlier edition of this column, many environmental factors influence nutrient requirements and the subsequent performance of livestock. The most important variable is probably temperature; however, wind, snow, rain and mud also cause winter stress. Cold is an obvious stress factor that increases an animal’s demand for energy. As this demand for energy (maintenance) increases more feed is used for heat and less is available for maintenance and gain. I see mud as being the enemy of good animal health. Wet situations create stress for livestock; a wet hair coat loses its insulating quality and cattle suffer more cold stress in wet weather than in dry cold. Under dry conditions, the hair is fluffy and has tiny air spaces between each hair, holding a layer of warmer air next to the body. A good clean hair coat can keep cattle warm even when temperatures drop to zero and below. When the hair becomes wet, however, it lies down flatter and loses this insulating layer of air. If cattle must lie in mud, the hair becomes wet, muddy and matted with fecal material and as a result destroys the insulation value of the hair. Cattle chill more readily, and this stress can lead to illness; stress inhibits the immune system and makes cattle more vulnerable to disease. If they must stand in deep mud, this is also a stress. It's harder to keep warm when standing or laying in cold mud. It is estimated that it can increase the maintenance requirement from 7 percent to 30 percent. If cattle have to deal with mud, then their ration should also be improved, to help avoid the consequences that may follow. Research is clear on the negative impacts of muddy conditions on animal performance. Mud can reduce daily gains of animals by 25 to 37% and increased the amount of feed required per pound of gain by 20 to 33%. The NRC reports that small amounts of mud (4 to 8 inches deep) can reduce feed intake of animals by 5 to 15%, while larger amounts of mud (12 to 24 inches deep) can decrease feed intake by up to 15 to 30%. University of Nebraska studies show that loss of gain or even the loss of Body Condition Score (BCS) caused by mud measured during 21 to 39°F were as follows: No mud 0%, Dewclaw deep mud 7%, Shin deep mud 14%, Below hock 21%, Hock deep mud 28%, and Belly deep mud 35%. Those studies also showed that the estimated effect of mud on net energy needed for maintenance requirements (based on lot condition and utilizing a multiplier for NEmb) that an outside lot with frequent deep mud multiplied the net energy requirements by 130%. In an outside lot, well mounded or straw bedded during adverse (chill stress) weather still increased the net energy requirements by 110%. It of course changes dramatically as the temperature and conditions go down. Incidentally in those same conditions, the studies showed that cattle given access to shelter during winter months had increased gain by 15%, and improved feed efficiency by 11 %. The metabolic response to the stimulus of wet & cold involves practically all the systems of the body. The striated muscles shiver, the heart beats faster, breathing becomes deeper, urine flow is increased and the sympathetic and pituitary controlled systems are activated so to elevate biological oxidations (energy expenditure or heat production) in all tissues. The result is an increase in the cow's requirements for energy. Spring calving cows, and particularly heifers, in poor body condition are at risk for calving problems. The result may be lighter, weaker calves at birth, which can lead to a higher death loss, and more susceptibility to things such as scours. Animals in poor condition before calving, provide inferior colostrum and lower milk production. This can lead to lighter weaning weights or fewer pounds of calf to sell. Females that are in less than desirable body condition at calving, are slower to return to estrus, therefore body condition at calving affects the current calf crop (milk production) and next year's calving date (rebreeding date). I think you see the pattern! 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:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Most people think American's are generous because we are rich. The truth is, we are rich because we are generous." Fox News quoting "one corporate executive" on a story about the recovery efforts in Haiti.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Quote of the Day

We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Councilman's Column

by Jesse Alber Street Improvements As one of the requirements for receiving state and federal aid for municipal street projects, the city of Blue Hill is required to create an annual 1 & 6 Year Street Plan. Having just completed a major street project, the city's only street improvements for 2010 are some work to York St. by the tennis courts and general maintenance. Streets on the 6 year plan include Williams St. (next to the water tower) for 1/2 block north of York St., York St. from Sycamore to E Railway St. (south of old grade school), E Railway St. from York to Saline (water tower to bus barn), W Railway St. from Saline to Cass (by elevator and sale barn), Gage Street from W Railway to Cherry St. (behind depot), Gage St, from E Railway to Pine (main street), Liberty St. from Nemaha to Saline (lumber yard to county shed), portions of Nemaha St., W Railway from Cass to Greeley St., Greeley Street from W. Railway to Sycamore and Sycamore St. from Greeley to Cass (by L&M Tire). Inclusion on the 1 & 6 Year plan does not guarantee that street work will be done on any of these streets. It is only a plan to address the conditions of these streets when resources permit. Fluoride Congratulations to Larry, Gary & Mark on their excellent care of Blue Hill's Water System. Ralph Naber of the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services attended the January city council meeting to formally award Blue Hill with a Fluoride Award for perfect maintenance and reporting of Fluoride in the city's water. American Reinvestment & Recovery Act Energy Efficiency & Conservation GrantApplications are currently being accepted for funds from the Nebraska Department of Energy made available through federal stimulus programs for energy efficiency and conservation. If awarded, grant funds require a 20% local match. The council expressed interest in apply for these funds and will enlist the aid of grant writing specialists with our city engineer, Olsen & Associates. The council discussed many options for utilizing the funds and forwarded three ideas on to Olsen's for input. The installation of solar panels on the roofs of municipal buildings to include City Hall, the Community Senior Center and the light plant. A complete energy efficiency upgrade of the light plant to include new doors, windows, insulation, HVAC improvements, weatherproofing, energy efficent lights, and more.A complete energy efficiency upgrade of the community senior center to include new doors, windows, insulation, HVAC improvements, plumbing upgrades, weatherproofing, energy efficent lights, Energy Star appliances and more.I believe this grant would provide an oustanding opportunity for the city of Blue Hill regardless of which proposal we pursued. I feel there are about three main concerns in evaluating these three options. First, which providses the best opportunity for Blue Hill to save taxpayers money on decreased energy consumption. Second, which proposals have the best chance of being awarded the grant. And finally, what will be the city's cost in required match, project administration and future maintenance. While we are still hoping for addition input from Olsen's before determining which project to advance, with the information I have now, I support the installation of solar panels. In a normal situation, the cost of solar panels would probably make them economically unrealistic. However if the city's initial costs are only 20% of the norm, the panels have the potential to create enough electricity to pay for themselves relatively quickly. I believe they have the potential to create much more energy than we could save with energy efficiency upgrades to either of these buildings. Although I suspect solar panels would require more future maintenace than energy efficiency remodels, I believe the amount of maintenance would be very minimal. However, if our engineers tell us that they believe the city can realize a better return through energy efficiency upgrades, I still think this grant is a great opportunity for Blue Hill (although not necessarily for America, but that is a different debate). The cost of the Energy that the city purchases from WAPA, MEAN and South Central Public Power continues to rise dramatically. Currently the city consumes somewhere near $80,000 in energy costs each year to run street lights, truck parking, ball diamonds, pool, city hall, community senior center, light plant and more. It is more important than ever to keep our energy consumption as low as possible. Other Business For at least the 10th time since I have been on the city council, I have made the motion to eliminate compensation for the city's elected officials. And for almost as many times, it has died for a lack of a second. Although, I understand the importance of providing compensation to these posts in order to recruit qualified candidates, I really do not believe that a $1,000 a year really makes a difference in candidate recruitment. However, I do believe that the $6,500 saved could be utilized to keep property taxes and utility costs in check while not taking away from other city services. Full time city employees were given a 1% increase in compensation. A new Savin photocopier, fax machine, printer, scanner was added to the office. Although our current copier was only 4 years old, the new machine will offer a huge improvement in office efficiency. Discussion was held on some personnel policy and procedure issues, an unpaid utility bill in excess of $2,000 from Klancy's Kafe, employee training opportunities, insurance quotes, the community senior center and more.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Quote of the Day

Politics is the art of postponing decisions until they are no longer relevant. -- Henri Queuille, The Bureaucrat (1985).

Governor's Column

Get to Know the Division of Public Health By Governor Dave Heineman January 11, 2010 Dear Fellow Nebraskans: One of the key responsibilities of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is to help ensure our state’s nearly 1.8 million people are safe and healthy. This is the mission of the Division of Public Health.The efforts of public health experts over the last century have added 30 years to the life of Nebraskans. In 1900, the average age at death was 48. Today the average life expectancy has reached 78. This is due in part to work to make vaccines available that help us avoid contracting preventable and potentially serious diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, and tetanus. It’s due to educational efforts that encourage Nebraskans to get regular screenings for cancer and other diseases that benefit from early detection. It’s due to continuous surveillance and work to control infectious diseases and food borne illnesses that can quickly sicken large groups of people. It’s due to regulation and enforcement that ensures a well-trained workforce of medical and health care providers.The Division of Public Health is responsible for all of these areas, which requires close collaboration with the range of health care providers, scientists and researchers, federal and local health officials and other public safety experts.In Nebraska, the Public Health staff is responsible for advising businesses on how to comply with the statewide indoor smoking ban, working to address health disparities among minority populations, and developing educational outreach efforts to provide the information that helps Nebraskans live healthier lives. The Division of Public Health ensures the professionals caring for Nebraska residents provide safe, quality care and adhere to the high standards essential to their work by licensing the various practitioners, hospitals and health care facilities, and monitoring services in Nebraska. This ranges from licensing the doctors, dentists and the many professions connected to our health care system, to monitoring drinking water to ensure its safety in our communities, inspecting nursing homes, hospitals and child care centers, and maintaining birth and death records for our state.Led by Dr. Joann Schaefer, who serves as director and Chief Medical Officer for the state, the Division of Public Health also plays an important role in disease surveillance overseeing the testing of the Nebraska Public Health Labs and working with hospitals and local health departments to plan for potential outbreaks and health-related emergencies. The division led the effort to develop mass vaccination plans for Nebraska in the event of a bioterrorism attack, which have been helpful in responding to the current H1N1 pandemic. Because health care providers are on the frontlines of many emergencies, Public Health personnel are a key part of our state emergency response team. Our state emergency plan gives the Chief Medical Officer the responsibility of leading the team responding to H1N1 influenza and other public health emergencies.In addition to her regulatory responsibilities, Dr. Schaefer has made it a personal mission to create a culture of wellness in our state by encouraging Nebraskans to take better care of themselves and their families. By eating properly, getting more rest, exercising regularly and getting regular checkups, we increase our chances of longevity.Our lives are touched every day by public health initiatives, and Nebraskans are healthier and safer because of the excellent work of our public health team.