Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

Sen. Mike Johanns
This past year has been filled with many important policy debates, legislative accomplishments, and exciting new developments for Nebraska. I want to take a moment to highlight some of these events and reflect upon the year.
By far the most pressing issue facing our nation is the economy. We must continue to find ways to help businesses grow so they can create jobs. We also cannot address our economic challenges without addressing the nation’s runaway debt. Our current $16 trillion debt has ballooned to such a serious situation where each taxpayer would owe $142,000 just to get us back to even. Congress must find a long-term solution to tackle our nation’s debt and deficit. I remain committed to dealing with this problem in a bipartisan way during 2013.
Dealing with our nation’s debt hasn’t been the only challenge this year. Drought has plagued our state. I am pleased USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack responded swiftly to my calls for action on the drought. The dry conditions also sparked wildfires. In all, nearly 400,000 acres burned across Nebraska, displacing many and causing significant damage. I am thankful for all the volunteer firefighters and individuals who worked around the clock to help neighbors in need.
The drought added pressure to update our nation’s farm policy and I was proud of the work done in the Senate to pass a fiscally responsible farm bill. As a member of the Senate Ag committee, I sought to ensure the bill strengthened our ag community and preserved important tools such as crop insurance. The House of Representatives has not passed its bill, but work is still being done to enact new farm policy.
This was also a big year for Offutt Air Force Base. The Department of Defense (DoD) announced a contract to begin construction for a new command and control facility for STRATCOM. I encouraged my colleagues to move the contract forward and I will continue to monitor its progress. DoD and STRATCOM also announced a new collaboration with the University of Nebraska to establish a University Affiliated Research Center (UARC), one of only a select-few in the nation. This partnership presents new opportunities in defense-related research.
One of the great honors I have in the Senate is to be a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. It’s important we ensure our service members receive the support they deserve, which is why I was pleased to introduce, the HIRE at Home Act, included in the defense authorization bill. This measure streamlines job certification for soldiers returning home from war. Too often, it is difficult for our veterans to receive state certifications to do the same job in the private sector that they did while overseas and this legislation helps alleviate this problem. I also championed several measures to better coordinate services for our veterans.
Sometimes what we stop in Washington is as important as what we start with new legislation. I blew the whistle on many misguided EPA regulations, ranging from farm dust to aerial surveillance. I also helped convince the Department of Labor that it’s okay for teenagers to work on farms.
We tackled many important issues this year, and I invite you to visit for a full report. I also encourage you to stay connected; your insight is greatly valued and appreciated. Thank you again for the honor of allowing me to serve you in the United States Senate. It’s a responsibility I take very seriously. Stephanie and I wish you a very happy New Year and hope to see you soon. God Bless.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Bobcats outscore Eustis-Farnam in Holiday Tournament

Thursday evening, December 27th both the boys and girls Blue Hill basketball teams were in Axtel participating in the Axtell Holiday Tournament.
In girls play the Bobcats defeated Eustis-Farnam by a score of 47 to 31.
The Boys Basketball team won their game against Eustis-Farnam by a score of 58 to 33.

Friday December 28,   Blue Hill Boys played Spaulding/Spaulding Academy and were defeated 85 to 59. 
In  girls action the score was Blue Hill 35 Axtell 28 in a game that went into overtime.

Honor Nebraska Service men and Women

My fellow Nebraskans,
As we continue to celebrate the Holiday Season and the coming New Year, it’s fitting that we keep our Nebraska service men and women in our hearts and prayers, especially those who are currently deployed.
One of the most important reminders from the past 11 years since Sept. 11, 2001, is that as a nation and a state we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to our military service members and their families for the role they continue to play in protecting our nation and upholding the principles that we, as Americans, hold most dear.
I would like all of us to remember the more than 50 Nebraska Army and Air National Guard men and women who are spending this holiday season deployed in locations around the globe, including Afghanistan, as well as the 12 members of the Nebraska National Guard’s Afghan Agribusiness Development Team No. 4 who will soon be joining them when they mobilize for duty in early January.
As a veteran and as the Commander-in-Chief of the Nebraska National Guard, I know the sacrifices that our service members, their families, and their employers make to ensure that we continue to support our nation’s continuing commitments around the globe. They come to us from many walks of life, yet they are united by an uncommon commitment to the principles of patriotism, selfless service and professionalism that have long been hallmarks of American military service.
These are not new commitments, but rather the continuation of a nearly 400-year tradition that has been the trademark of National Guard service since the founding of the first American militia unit by the Massachusetts Bay Colony on December 13, 1636.
It is this commitment to the welfare of neighbors, communities, state and nation that that has been the bedrock of our Nebraska National Guard since it was founded by Territorial Governor Thomas B. Cuming on December 23, 1854, and saw our Nebraska National Guardsmen through their honorable service in the American Civil War, the jungles of the Philippines, the trenches of World War I, the hedgerows of Normandy and the snowy forests of the Ardennes during World War II, the deserts of Iraq, and mountainous terrain of Afghanistan.
Simply put, we as a state and nation could not accomplish the tasks that we must without the services and sacrifices of these dedicated Nebraskans. Over the past decade, thousands of Nebraska National Guards personnel have deployed into harm’s way to such troubled locations as Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo. Recent state emergencies including the historic flooding of 2011 and historic wildfires of 2012 have also required outstanding commitments by the men and women of our Nebraska National Guard.
This week, as we take comfort and joy in gathering with our friends and families to celebrate this holiday season, let us each in our own way take a moment to offer gratitude for these brave Nebraska men and women who continue to serve on the frontlines around the globe in support of our great state and nation.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Today's Bit of Humor

It was the day after Christmas at a church in San Francisco. Pastor Mike was looking at the nativity scene outside when he noticed the baby Jesus was missing from the figures.

Immediately, Pastor Mike turned towards the church to call the police. But as he was about to do so, he saw little Jimmy with a red wagon, and in the wagon was the figure of the little infant, Jesus.

Pastor Mike walked up to Jimmy and said, "Well, Jimmy, where did you get the little infant?"Jimmy replied, "I got him from the church."

"And why did you take him?"

With a sheepish smile, Jimmy said, "Well, about a week before Christmas I prayed to little Lord Jesus. I told him if he would bring me a red wagon for Christmas, I would give him a ride around the block in it."


Duane A. Lienemann,
 UNL Extension Educator, Webster County
December 27, 2012 Edition

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a final rule establishing general regulations for improving the traceability of U.S. livestock moving interstate. The final rule is designed to give the United States a flexible, effective animal disease traceability system for livestock moving interstate, without undue burdens for ranchers and U.S. livestock businesses. The rule is supposed to meet the diverse needs of the countryside where states can develop systems for tracking animals that work best for them and their producers, while addressing any gaps in overall disease response efforts.
Over the past several years, USDA has had listening sessions across American with farmers and ranchers, working collaboratively to establish a system of tools and safeguards that will help the USDA target when and where animal diseases occur, and help us respond quickly. Under the final rule, unless specifically exempted, livestock moved interstate would have to be officially identified and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection or other documentation, such as owner-shipper statements or brand certificates. The new rules do allow for flexibility in documentation and identification for interstate commerce, but they do not require all livestock to be identified except those moving interstate. They also do not dictate the format for recordkeeping or a specific type of tag.
After considering the public comments received, the final rule ended up having several differences from the proposed rule originally issued this past August 2011 and the will be published December 28 in the Federal Register. These include: Accepting the use of brands, tattoos and brand registration as official identification when accepted by the shipping and receiving States or Tribes; Permanently maintaining the use of back tags as an alternative to official ear tags for cattle and bison moved directly to slaughter; and accepting movement documentation other than an Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (ICVI) for all ages and classes of cattle when accepted by the shipping and receiving States or Tribes. It will also clarify that all livestock moved interstate to a custom slaughter facility are exempt from the regulations and exempting chicks moved interstate from a hatchery from the official identification requirements.
Specifically ear tags can be used, but won't be required under the new rules and actually offers producers flexibility in identifying cattle. Essentially, livestock producers will be able to use long-standing identification tools including tattoos and brands to identify cattle, and paperwork can be simplified too. Brands will be recognized when accompanied by an official brand inspection certificate as means of official identification for cattle. If a state will accept specific paperwork on an animal (not necessarily the Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection) that is accepted under these new rules as well.
The rule’s traceability requirements focus primarily on breeding cattle. Most beef cattle under 18 months of age, for example, are exempt, meaning calves and feeder cattle, which make up the bulk of cattle entering commerce, will not need official identification, at least for now (unless they are moved interstate for shows, exhibitions, rodeos, or recreational event) are exempt from the official identification requirement in this rule. These specific traceability requirements for this group will be addressed in separate rulemaking, allowing APHIS to work closely with industry to ensure the effective implementation of the identification requirements. Specific details and Q&A can be found in a “USDA Fact Sheet on Traceability” online by going to:   
This new traceability rule will help track animals in case of a disease outbreak without creating a new more cumbersome recordkeeping system on top of what many producers already use for interstate commerce. Animal disease traceability, or knowing where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they've been, and when, is very important to ensure a rapid response when animal disease events take place. An efficient and accurate animal disease traceability system helps reduce the number of animals involved in an investigation, reduces the time needed to respond, and decreases the cost to producers and the government. This effort will also help with establishing and re-establishing export to other countries who have indicated they won’t buy US meat unless the carcass is traceable and can be verified. Quite honestly I believe that the world is looking for more of a cookie cutter approach to animal identification and traceability, but the USDA and livestock industry partners are working towards a different avenue, which they believe will meet traceability needs while reducing what could be costly impact on producers. This new Federal traceability rule takes effect on February 26, 2013.
Globally, trade partners have been calling on the United States to implement tougher animal traceability rules - a push that started about nine years ago at this time with the discovery of the first U.S. cow infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy. The USDA feels this new rule will meet global trade partners' requirements. The “cow that ruined Christmas” 9 years ago was actually a case of atypical BSE and the beef industry and our state and Federal government had a quick, focused and appropriate response. It was a big kick to the gut at the time, but we worked through it and beef exports are strong today and most importing countries remain confident in our capacities. This traceability rule could add greater depth in global markets and desirability of American beef. It seems we have been going thought this drama of National Animal Identification System (NAIS), Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), Beef Cattle Verification Programs (BCVP), etc. forever. I hope this will bring the final touches to one of the most contentious era of the beef industry!

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:

Monday, December 24, 2012

Julia Pavelka June 6, 1918 to December 22, 2012

Julia Pavelka, 94, of Lawrence, Nebraska died Saturday, December 22, 2012 at Good Samaritan Village-Perkins Pavillion in Hastings, Nebraska.
A Rosary was held Wednesday evening and mass was held Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 10:30 at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Lawrence, Nebraska with Father Loras Grell officiating.  Burial was at Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery in Lawrence, Nebraska.
Memorials can be directed to Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
Julia was born on June 6, 1918 to B G. and Eva (Hubl) Mazour in rural Lawrence, Nebraska.
She graduated from Lawrence high School in 1935 and was Valedictorian of her class. 
Julia Mazour and  Joseph William Pavelka, Jr. were married in Lawrence Nebraska on April 25, 1938..   Joseph and Julia farmed near Spring Ranch in Clay County until 1977 when they moved to Lawrence.
Julia was a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church and Sacred Heart Altar Society.
She is survived by three daughters, Joanne, and her husband Glen Beyke of Lincoln,  Dolores, and her husband, Clarence Kimminau of Hastings, and Marilyn and her husband, Tom Karmazin of Lincoln, Nebraska; two sons Edward and his wife, Diane Pavelka and Kenneth and wife Janice Pavelka both of Glenvil.  She is survived by seventeen (17)  grandchildren and  thirty two (32) great-grandchildren.  She is also survived by one sister-in-law, Lillian (Howard) Brockman.
Julia was preceded in death by her parents, husband and two brothers, Bill and George Mazour. 


Here to Help

Sen. Mike Johanns

December 24, 2012


It’s an honor to represent Nebraskans in the United States Senate and legislating is an important part of my job that I take very seriously. But there is a lesser-known aspect of my job right here at home that can be an important resource for Nebraskans: helping those who need assistance with a federal agency.
Throughout my four years in the Senate, my office has assisted hundreds of Nebraskans seeking help with the federal government. Too often, the federal process can be cumbersome and confusing, which is where my office can help. My staff experts specialize in working with federal agencies, and are here to help ensure you are receiving the assistance you need.
Whether you’re having problems with a visa application, obtaining veterans’ benefits or receiving social security checks, my constituent services representatives are ready to help guide you in the right direction.
Earlier this year, a veteran contacted me after not being reimbursed for a trip to the emergency room that should have been covered by his veterans’ health care plan. After researching laws and regulations surrounding Veterans’ Affairs (VA) responsibilities of payment, we were able to ensure the gentleman was reimbursed for his bills. The issue prompted the VA to reassess its processes to prevent similar challenges for veterans in the future.
I also recently assisted an airline pilot who relies on flying for his agricultural business. He was having trouble renewing his license with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), so he sought my office out for help. In 24 hours, we were able to connect the pilot with the proper administrative staff to ensure his license was renewed in enough time that it did not interfere with his work, which could have severely hurt his business’s bottom line.
Also this year, a high school senior learned his social security number had wrongfully dubbed him as deceased when he was refused a car loan and denied college scholarship applications. Without financial assistance, his dreams of enrolling in a local college to become an auto mechanic could have been shattered. Through the assistance of my office, he was able to contact the proper agencies and rectify the issue. I’m pleased that today he has both purchased a new car and is enrolled in college classes.
I don’t take lightly my duties as your United States Senator, and helping Nebraskans when they experience difficulty with our federal government is extremely rewarding. I know navigating federal bureaucracies can be difficult and time consuming, and I’m happy to help in any way I can. I hope you’ll consider contacting my office should you encounter a road block when dealing with a federal agency. You can reach my office at (402) 476-1400, or visit my website at

Sunday, December 23, 2012


This letter to the editor appeared in a newspaper over 100 years ago and many still enjoy reading it today.  Just in case you are one of them here is Virginia answer to,  Is there a Santa Claus.

Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says "If you see it in The Sun it's so." Please tell me the truth. Is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O'Hanlon
115 West Ninety-fifth Street

Virginia, your little friends are wrong.
They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age.
They do not believe except  they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.
All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.
Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.
There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies!
You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove?
Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus.
The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.
Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there.
Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart.
Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood

Saturday, December 22, 2012

State Offices Closed Dec. 24


(Lincoln, Neb.) Gov. Dave Heineman announces that state buildings will be closed and employees will be granted a day of leave on Monday, Dec. 24 as a result of an executive order signed today by President Obama.
State offices will be closed for the Christmas holiday on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 24 – 25.
State law provides that whenever the President gives federal employees paid time off, the State of Nebraska shall grant the same benefit to state employees. Exceptions may include law enforcement, security, military and employees engaged in other essential functions.

Snow Closes Blue Hill area Roads, and School Classes

This is a picture of a county road maintainer clearing the snow drifts south and east of Blue Hill. 
The first snow storm of the Winter hit the Blue Hill area Wednesday.  The moisture began to fall about noon and by late afternoon the area was blanketed with a white layer of snow.  High winds whipped the wet snow into drifts.  Snow plows were out early Thursday morning but not in time for the schools to open, they first notified students that they would have a late start but were forced to amend that and close for the day.  County roads workers put in a long day Thursday and another long day Friday getting the roads open so residents could get to school and work. 
The weather service in Hastings recommended that people stay off the roads unless travel was absolutely necessary.  Some Blue Hill residents who work in Hastings called it a day and came home early Wednesday.  By 3pm.Wednesday  highway 281 was already icy and the white out conditions made driving hazardous.  Numerous vehicles were in the ditches between Hastings and Blue Hill. Thursday the roads were very icy and could only be navigated with caution.  The clear weather conditions Thursday and Friday melted the packed snow and ice some, but by Saturday afternoon the highway was finally cleared of ice.
The road conditions contributed to an accident on highway 4  a couple miles west of Rosemont when a semi truck ended up on its side trying to avoid a collision while workers were trying to get a car out of the snow at an intersection. 
County gravel roads, remain snow packed and icy and drivers are urged to use care to prevent complications.
This picture shows the drift of snow on County Line road just North of Blue Hill.

Washington Report. Pray for our Country this Holiday Season

Rep. Adrian Smith
 Last week, our nation experienced an incomprehensible national tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims whose lives were cut short, and our hearts break for their families and loved ones, as well as the entire community of Newtown, Connecticut.
In the aftermath of this senseless attack, words like those offered by President Ronald Reagan in his 1981 Christmas address remind us our nation has faced and overcome hardships and tragedies through unity. There will be time for policy debates in the weeks ahead, but now let us reflect on President Reagan’s timeless and uplifting message.
Merry Christmas and have a safe and happy holiday season.

President Ronald Reagan
Radio Address to the Nation
December 23, 1981
Tonight, in millions of American homes, the glow of the Christmas tree is a reflection of the love Jesus taught us. Like the shepherds and wise men of that first Christmas, we Americans have always tried to follow a higher light, a star, if you will. At lonely campfire vigils along the frontier, in the darkest days of the Great Depression, through war and peace, the twin beacons of faith and freedom have brightened the American sky. At times our footsteps may have faltered, but trusting in God's help, we've never lost our way.
Like the
National Christmas Tree, our country is a living, growing thing planted in rich American soil. Only our devoted care can bring it to full flower. So, let this holiday season be for us a time of rededication. Even as we rejoice, however, let us remember that for some Americans, this will not be as happy a Christmas as it should be. I know a little of what they feel. I remember one Christmas Eve during the Great Depression, my father opening what he thought was a Christmas greeting. It was a notice that he no longer had a job. Over the past year, we've begun the long, hard work of economic recovery. Our goal is an America in which every citizen who needs and wants a job can get a job.
A few months before he took up residence in this house, one of my predecessors, John Kennedy, tried to sum up the temper of the times with a quote from an author closely tied to Christmas, Charles Dickens. We were living, he said, in the best of times and the worst of times. Well, in some ways that's even more true today. The world is full of peril, as well as promise. Too many of its people, even now, live in the shadow of want and tyranny.

earlier in this century, an evil influence threatened that the lights were going out all over the world. Let the light of millions of candles in American homes give notice that the light of freedom is not going to be extinguished. We are blessed with a freedom and abundance denied to so many. Let those candles remind us that these blessings bring with them a solid obligation, an obligation to the God who guides us, an obligation to the heritage of liberty and dignity handed down to us by our forefathers and an obligation to the children of the world, whose future will be shaped by the way we live our lives today.
Christmas means so much because of one special child. But Christmas also reminds us that all children are special, that they are gifts from God, gifts beyond price that mean more than any presents money can buy. In their love and laughter, in our hopes for their future lies the true meaning of Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Always the Season of Giving

Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
As we prepare to celebrate the season of giving and spending time with friends and family, I want to highlight some of the efforts made by state workers this year who have also chosen to give back to their communities. This is a time when many of us donate to our favorite charities or volunteer time to make the holidays brighter for someone else.
Every year, the Nebraska State Employees Charitable Giving campaign gives employees wherever they work the opportunity to donate to a network of charitable organizations across the state. Participating employees can make cash or check donations or set aside a portion of their earnings to organizations across Nebraska.
This year, more than 4,000 workers contributed to the Nebraska State Employees Charitable Giving campaign. They raised over $531,000 for charities across the state – a 20% increase from last year’s efforts. For the last three years, the State of Nebraska has been the largest donor for the Lincoln and Lancaster County United Way, and this is the first time the State Campaign has raised over $500,000. The money donated by state workers makes up an important portion of funding for many of these groups.
For the last three years, the State of Nebraska has been recognized as the number one overall campaign by the Lincoln and Lancaster County United Way and has also received additional honors including recognition for leadership giving. Since 2003, the State’s campaign has raised more than 3.5 million dollars to support more than 400 charitable organizations throughout Nebraska. This year’s 20% increase is in part attributed to some large increases in agency donations.
In addition to what employees give throughout the year, many departments have developed their own traditions of giving during the holidays.
For more than 25 years, the Nebraska National Guard has been extensively involved with the Operation Santa program in Lincoln. The Lincoln office of the Department of Roads has packed up boxes of clothes, coats, personal care items, and food and delivered donations to a capital city shelter for the past 20 years.
Each year, the Office of the Chief Information Officer sponsors a Holiday Giving Project. This year, the planning committee chose the local chapter of the Salvation Army as their benefactor. They fulfilled the wishes of 51 local children including toys and clothing.  In addition, they collected items for the homeless on the streets to include blankets and winter clothing.  Through their ‘Jean-Day’ sales and collection buckets, the agency also raised almost $2,000 in cash.
For the past five years, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture staff has adopted a family in need to provide presents and items that will make for a memorable holiday. The staff graciously donated items on the family’s wish list. The gifts are then wrapped and delivered to the families in time for Christmas.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s new Hunters Helping the Hungry program works with charitable organizations to distribute deer meat to Nebraskans in need. Hunters donate the deer to contracted processors and the entire program is entirely funded by cash donations.
These are a few examples of how State of Nebraska workers give back. There are also countless examples of kindness and thoughtfulness on display in schools, offices and families across our state at this time of year.
Nebraskans are very giving and very caring people. To all those who have taken time to make the holiday season brighter for someone else in our state, thank you for your generosity.
Merry Christmas, happy holidays and best wishes for a great 2013.

Johanns Nominates Blue Hill Heroes for Service Award


WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.)  announced his nomination of Phil Petr and Ron Meyer of Blue Hill for the national Citizen Service Before Self Honors award. During September’s tragic school bus accident in rural Webster County, Petr and Meyer bravely entered the burning bus, rescuing five children.
“As we continue to mourn for those we lost, we also remember that if not for Ron and Phil, the tragedy would have been much worse,” Johanns said. “Though certainly not the only ones who acted bravely – first responders also provided lifesaving assistance - special recognition is owed to average citizens who happen upon horrific scenes and do heroic things. It’s an honor to call them fellow Nebraskans, and a privilege to nominate them for this award.”
Each year, the Citizen Service Before Self award honors three Americans for their extraordinary acts of bravery and heroism. To be considered for the award, nominees must have made a difference in the lives of others through a singular extraordinary act of heroism or continued commitment to putting others first. The three finalists will be awarded on March 25, 2013, in conjunction with National Medal of Honor day.
Shortly after the accident, Johanns honored Ron and Phil for their bravery on the Senate floor. Video is available HERE. A transcript is available HERE.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Today's Bit of Humor

On Christmas morning a woman told her husband, “I just dreamed that you gave me a beautiful diamond necklace.
What do you think it means?”
“You’ll know tonight,” he said.
That evening just before opening presents, the husband came home with a small package and gave it to his wife.
Delighted, she opened it only to find a book entitled “The Meaning of Dreams.”

Gov. Heineman Reminds Nebraskans to Leave Flags at Half-Staff until Sunday, Per Presidential OrderGov. Heineman Reminds Nebraskans to Leave Flags at Half-Staff until Sunday, Per Presidential OrderGov. Heineman Reminds Nebraskans to Leave Flags at Half-Staff until Sunday, Per Presidential Order


(Lincoln, Neb.) Gov. Heineman is reminding Nebraskans to fly U.S. and Nebraska flags at half-staff pursuant to President Obama’s proclamation regarding the passing of Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye, President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate.
Flags are to remain at half-staff until sunset on Sunday, December 23, which is the day of the Senator’s his interment.

Barbara J. Strasburg, June 12, 1937December 18, 2012

Barbara J. Strasburg, 75, Ayr, died Tuesday December 18, 2012 at St. Francis Medical Center in Grand Island.  Services were held Saturday, December 22, at 10 a.m. at the United Methodist church in Blue Hill, with Ken Zimmerman officiating.  Burial was held in Blue Valley Cemetery in Ayr.  Memorials can be directed to Blue Hill United Methodist Church.
Barbara was born on June 12, 1937 to Gene and Katherine (Kaiser) Bundy at Ashland.  She graduated from Ashland High School in 1954.  She married Wayne K. Strasburg on Aril 19, 1959 at Ashland.
She was a member of the United Methodist Church in Blue Hill and various card clubs.  She worked cleaning the Blue Hill Medical Clinic and the United States Post Office in Blue Hill for many years.
She is survived by her husband, Wayne of Ayr; two sons, Mark Strasburg, and his wife Dee, of Ayr, and Craig Strasburg of Hastings, her daughter Kay and her husband Byron Jorgensen of Hastings; five grand children,  Kailey, Devin, Sydney, Lacoln and Austin Strasburg and a great grandson, Mason Strasburg.
She was preceded in death by her parents and three sisters. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Smith and Terry Seek Farm Bill in Fiscal Cliff Package


Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) requesting the inclusion of farm policy in any year-end legislative package considered by the House of Representatives.  Smith’s letter also was signed by Congressman Lee Terry (R-NE).
“As negotiations to resolve the fiscal cliff continue, I hope farm policy will be included as part of a larger deal,” said Smith.  “While agriculture remains one of the lone bright spots in the economy, farmers and ranchers continue to struggle with severe weather and uncertain public policy.  By responsibly addressing the fiscal cliff and the Farm Bill, Congress can provide certainty to producers and taxpayers as they plan for the coming year.”
Click here to view a PDF version of Smith’s letter.  


Duane A. Lienemann,
 UNL Extension Educator, Webster County
December 20, 2012 Edition

As I write this column, we are just one day away from the “End of the World” as supposedly predicted by the Mayan calendar and even Nostradamus. This has caught the interest of many people, and even my grandkids are aware of this prediction. I would like to spend a little time on this topic and perhaps a little history. The ancient Mayans developed a calendar, known as the Long Count Calendar, which is based on the number of days that have elapsed since a religious (in this case historical) point of beginning. Because it has the nature of a linear calendar, their Long Count Calendar was able to be extended either forward or backward in time to refer to any date. The point is that there is a "Great Period" of 13 b'ak'tuns (5125 years) that ends on December 21, 2012. I found it interesting that the story actually started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians centuries ago, was headed toward Earth. This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012 and linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the winter solstice in 2012 -- hence the predicted doomsday date of December 21, 2012 and if you need to be accurate, at 11:11 UTC (coordinated universal time).
The story of this planet will collide with ours is just one prediction. There are notions that the Earth’s poles will reverse, or solar flares will wreak havoc on our environment, or perhaps there will be an interaction between Earth and the black hole called Sagittarius-A, at the center of the galaxy will occur. I believe there was a movie made on the end of the earth involving a large meteor or comet that was destined to ram the earth. Another suggestion is that Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Mars will all come into alignment and that the resulting gravitational pull will spell the doom of our earth. Others believe that this perhaps might be the beginning of the apocalypse or Tribulation as suggested in the Bible. Others point to what is going on in the Middle East (Iran, Syria, Israel, etc.), while still others point to the economic troubles across the world and even our nation as we seem to be facing the so-called fiscal cliff or even “climate change” as proof.
One thing is for sure, the Mayan prediction has really taken a life of its own and it seems everyone is at least curious about what may happen. Actually I don’t think the Maya ever said that there would be an apocalypse on that particular date—and even if they did, there’d be no reason in my mind to believe them. I really believe that we will all live to see another day, so don’t put off your Christmas shopping or your credit card payments. Just to be on the safe side, however, I haven’t done my Christmas shopping yet. How about you? Forget the Maya predictions. How about Christmas?
If we make it through the “End of the World”, then we should have smooth sailing into a special time of the year. Most family Christmas’ will be celebrated as this column reaches our local newspapers. Presents will be opened, children with wide eyes, weary Santa’s helpers will be ready for a reprieve, and stores will be ready for the post-Christmas sales. Some people will forego the 12 days of Christmas and take down their trees and decorations and many others will be sitting in front of their televisions for a plethora of college football bowl games. Maybe we have forgotten what makes it special.
Maybe it is the name. Did you ever wonder where the name "Christmas" comes from? I found that it actually comes from the Latin "Christes Masse" or Christ's Mass. This grew out of the Roman Catholic feast day by that name in the first century AD. You will find that "Christmas" is not found in the Bible, nor is it a prescribed scriptural holy day. So if it is not the name that makes Christmas important! So what really makes Christmas, or if you prefer – “Holidays”, so special?
Is it Santa Claus and his reindeer? Is it the Christmas tree? Is it mistletoe or Yule logs? Is it candy canes and bowls of nuts and candy? Is it the food and drink? Is it the Christmas cards? Maybe it is the spirit of giving. Unfortunately, many will agree that this practice has gotten somewhat out of hand. To many, Christmas is over commercialized. The "spirit of indulgence" has become the rule, with credit card bills to prove it. Christmas has been said to be the “Merchant’s Delight” or perhaps “Store Clerk’s Despair”. Not to mention the post-Christmas return or post-Christmas sales that can rival Black Friday’s rat race! It is estimated that around $10 billion will likely be spent in America this Christmas for over 1 billion gifts, plus $150 million worth of wrapping paper, not to mention scotch tape, ribbon and bows. Don't forget the food in homes and restaurant or the alcohol that will be bought and consumed between Christmas and New Year's Day.
Take away the name, Santa and reindeer, the tree, mistletoe, Yule logs, cards and all the commercialization, and what do you have left? Some would say, "Just one big headache!" And they would be partially right, because when it comes right down to it, for many, December 25th is just an excuse to have a party, spend money they don't have or could use elsewhere, overeat and perhaps simply to take time off work. For others however it can be a time for loneliness, fear, despondency and emotional stress. It can be a lot of things to a lot of people, but to me it is special for another reason. To me it is special when family and friends can spend time together, especially if they are scattered in different locations the rest of the year. It is special to watch the wonder and delight of little children when they see dazzling Christmas lights or tear open those magical presents. It is special when we can make Christmas a bit more special for people who are less fortunate. It is special when we enjoy the music of Christmas. It is special to enjoy everything I mentioned above, that are associated with the season. But for me, what makes Christmas so compelling is the real reason for the season!

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:  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Strengthening Rural Hospitals

Rep. Adrian Smith

I have the honor of representing Nebraska’s Third District, which is one of the largest and most rural districts in the country. I love rural America, but oftentimes Congress and bureaucratic agencies in Washington make decisions without fully considering how laws, rules, and regulations will affect rural populations differently from other Americans.

For example, rural Americans tend to have greater challenges accessing quality health care because hospitals and physicians are more concentrated in urban areas. To see a specialist, rural Americans often have to wait longer or travel outside of their community.
Further complicating access to care in rural communities, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency which administers Medicare, is working to more strictly enforce a rule, which would require a physician’s presence and supervision over nearly all routine procedures administered in hospitals. This rule not only is unnecessary, but also may limit access to basic services for rural communities, especially at critical access hospitals – small, remote facilities providing 24-hour hospital care. Nebraska’s Third District, with 48, leads the nation in critical access hospitals.
Critical access hospitals provide frontline care in underserved areas, frequently with very few physicians on staff. Because of the limited availability of rural providers, these small, rural hospitals historically have been given more flexibility to comply with the physician supervision rule, but are still required by CMS to have a physician on-call and available within 30 minutes at all times. Strict enforcement of this rule, which CMS intends to begin in 2014, could result in requiring a physician to be present for small, routine procedures which are regularly performed by nurses and other medical professionals. While this requirement is less of a challenge for large hospitals, it can be very problematic in areas with few doctors.
In response to public outcry, CMS agreed to allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to oversee certain services, and the agency delayed enforcement of the rule at critical access hospitals. CMS is now in the process of deciding which procedures will require physician supervision and which will not, based on recommendations from an expert advisory panel. Unfortunately, CMS already has rejected several of the panel’s recommendations. Patients and local budgets would be better served by allowing experts to make these decisions at a local level.
Physicians, nurses, and additional staff in rural facilities are highly experienced in managing care, and failure to allow practitioners the necessary discretion may inhibit proper service and discourage physicians from taking jobs in rural areas.
Because of the importance of access to care in rural communities, I sent a letter to Acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. In the letter I expressed my concern about the effect of stricter physician supervision requirements on rural health care. I am pleased 16 of my colleagues – Democrats and Republicans – joined me in signing this letter, and I hope CMS will continue allowing practitioners the discretion and flexibility they need to manage care for their patients.
Ensuring access to health care in Nebraska’s rural communities is a top priority for me. As a member of the Committee on Ways and Means, which has jurisdiction over Medicare, and as Co-chair of the Congressional Rural Caucus, I will continue to promote increased access to vital health care services.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Today's Bit of Humor

Mail your packages early so the post office can lose them in time for Christmas.
Johnny Carson

Wrestler Team takes 4th in Dorchester D. Club tournament Saturday

The Warcats, Blue Hill/ Red Cloud wrestling team took fourth place in the Dorchester D Club wrestling tourmament held Saturday December 15th. 
Senior Levi Vogler wrestling at 113# took 4th place
Junior Dalton James wrestling at 132# also came in 4th
Freshman   138#, James Fuller got a 2nd place.
Freshman Mitch Krueger, 145# also brought home a 2nd at 145#, while senior Tanner Rupprecht also 145#  earned the 1st place medal.
Freshman Dillon Buschow got 4th place in the 152# bracket with senior Dillon Shannon picking up the 2nd place in the 152# division.
Wrestling at 170#, senior Garrett Sharp took 1st place defeating in his final opponent  of the tournament, Evan Sisel of East Butler in just 27 seconds .   
The WarCats will see action again at the Filmore Central Holiday Tournament scheduled to be held December 29th.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Duane A. Lienemann,
UNL Extension Educator, Webster County
December 14, 2012 Edition

It won’t be long and the buzz in the co-ops, coffee shops and local watering holes will be the packet that many farmers and ranchers will receive in the next week or two – and perhaps some have already received it. This packet is from the US Department of Agriculture and will contain the 2012 Census of Agriculture. I am sure that a lot of our agriculture producers in Nebraska are very much aware of the fact that this important survey is about to be taken, and I would like to put a plug in for the importance of each and every producer to fill it out and to do so accurately.
Whether they know it or not, farmers and ranchers in Nebraska have an opportunity to make a positive impact on their communities by participating in the 2012 Census of Agriculture. Conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the Census is a complete count of all U.S. farms, ranches and those who operate them. They call on farmers and ranchers to share their stories, ask questions and talk to their fellow producers about this critical effort. Individually, your answers to the Census can help grow your farm future; shape farm programs; and boost services for you, your community and your industry. For you that don’t take the time or energy to read, I have a suggestion. Simply go to   and watch a video explaining it.
The Ag Census, which documents agricultural statistics for every county in the nation, takes place only every five years. The Census looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income, expenditures, and other topics. Producers are asked about crops grown in 2012, livestock or livestock products sold and animal inventories on hand at the end of the year. Data collected is used by federal, state and local governments, land-grant universities, agribusinesses, grower associations, lenders and many others. The census helps guide agricultural and rural policy, environmental and conservation programs, land-use planning, business investment and other decision making. Community planners use it to target needed services to rural residents and the input is very important when making decisions on schools and education. Companies and cooperatives can use the information to determine the locations of facilities that will serve agricultural producers. Often legislators use the information when shaping farm policies and programs which affects the farmer.
Census data will provide information that will be used to benefit farmers, not be used against them. They can use the data to help make critical decisions about their operations. The entire land-grant university system, including UNL, relies on ag census data to prioritize its work. The research, academic and extension programs that land grant colleges like UNL conduct, extends to communities throughout the state, and yes --the county-level. Data helps decide which programs to offer and which to expand. I think even more importantly to me as an extension educator is that the so-called “formula funds” from the federal government for research and extension also are dependent on the ag census data.
Oh, I know - I have heard my own father years ago complain about “that darn government wanting to know my business” or “I just don’t have the time for this --and they will use it against me anyway.” I further know that these sentiments and some other rather colorful renditions of the same thing are common in a lot of the farmers and ranchers that I know. But I am asking that all of you, who receive the survey throughout Nebraska, please take the time and effort to help make it the accurate and useful tool that it is meant to be. The Census is the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every county in the nation. It is a critical tool that gives producers and our rural communities a voice to influence decisions shaping the future of their community, industry and even their own operations.
It tickles me whenever I hear people talk about their response to surveys, and in particular - census queries. All kinds of responses are usually discussed, and perhaps cussed, and I would imagine that some even hit the “circular file” ---or as some say “file 13”. I know that people view the government as snooping, or it is none of their business, and the ever popular – “they will use it to affect the markets, and I’ll be damn if I give that data to them!” I am fully aware of those time worn arguments. I hope that is not the case here and people really do take the time to fill them out, and do so accurately, as these instruments are very important to we in rural America in the real scope of things. I ask that you don’t do the circular file, file 13, or leave it on the table or your pickup dash. Accurate and complete data helps us all in the long run.
When it’s all said and done, it's important -- indeed, required by law -- that forms be completed and returned by Feb. 4, 2013, regardless of the size of a producer's operation. Producers may use a secure website to do it on line instead of by pencil. If they prefer they can go to  , for an online Census, or simply fill out and return their forms by mail. Federal law not only requires that all agricultural producers to participate in the Census, it also requires that NASS keeps all individual information confidential! That information cannot be used against you - under law!
The Census of Agriculture is agriculture's voice, agriculture's future, agriculture's responsibility. With those things in mind, I hope all of those individuals who receive envelopes won’t just let them set on their kitchen tables, desks or perhaps pickup dashboard, but will maybe look at them a little differently. Take the time and quality effort to make a difference in providing data that affects us all. After all, the Census is your voice, your future and your responsibility.

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:

Johanns Statement on EPA’s Farm Dust Ruling

U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today issued the following statement on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) release of a farm dust regulation:

“Despite EPA having taken more than a year, I’m glad ag producers finally have it in writing that an absurd agency recommendation to double down on farm dust has been rejected,” Johanns said.
In 2011, an EPA report recommended regulating dust twice as stringent as current levels, but later reversed that decision. While today’s announcement is a welcome one, it does not prevent EPA from reviewing and revising dust regulations in the future. Johanns has previously introduced legislation to permanently prevent the agency from regulating farm dust, giving farmers and ranchers long-term, legal certainty.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Today's Bit of Humor

While working as a mall Santa, I had many children ask for electric trains. "If you get a train," I would tell each one, "you know your dad is going to want to play with it too. Is that okay?"

The usual answer was a quick yes, but after I asked one boy this question, he became very quiet. Trying to move the conversation along, I asked what else he would like Santa to bring him. He promptly replied, "Another train."

Esther M. Rose Wademan November 13, 1919 tp December 9, 2012

Esther M. Wademan of Blue Hill , died Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012 at Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont, TX.   Services were held in Blue Hill,  Saturday, December 15, at 2 pm,  at Trinity Lutheran Church in Blue Hill with Rev. Joshua Lowe officiating.  Burial was in Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Blue Hill. Memorials can be directed to trinity Lutheran Church.
Esther Marie (Rose) Wademan, daughter of John H.  and Anna (Luitjens) Rose,  was born on a farm south of Rosemont on November 13, 1919.  She attended school at District 37 and graduated from the eighth grade.
She married Albert E.” Iky”  Wademan on May 21, 1938 in Smith Center, KS and they were married for 72 years.

They  farmed on the family farm 4 miles southwest of Blue Hill.
Esther is survived by her three daughters, Phyllis (Don) Heath of Hastings, Donna (Bruce) Drury of Beaumont, TX, Honora (Stanton) Shiller of Chesterfield, MO  and her daughter-in-law,  Roxanne Wademan of Blue Hill.  She is also survived by eight grandchildren  Michael  (Tammy) Drury of Beaumont, TX, Joan, (Paul) Schiesler of Kontze TX, Jonathan (Amy) Drury of Spring, TX, Shauneen Steppuhn of Hastings Ne.  and Tyson(Taren) Wademan of Sutton,Ne,  Craig Schiller of St. Louis, MO.  Brad (Lauren) Schiller of Boston, MA, Todd Schiller of Seattle, WA; eight great grand children,  Ryan (Hannah) Schiesler, Kirk Schiesler, Hannah and Aaron Drury, Hayden Steppuhn, Conner, Macy and Kale Wademan.

Esther  was preceded in death by her parents , husband and beloved  son, Edward (Ed), Seven brothers and one sister. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Today's Bit of Humor

The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn''t for any religious reasons. They couldn''t find three wise men and a virgin.
Jay Leno

Johanns: Weekly Column

Senator Mike Johanns
All too often in Washington, partisan gridlock seems to be the name of the game. But last week, in a reassuring display of will, the Senate put aside its differences to pass important legislation for our men and women in uniform, our veterans and our national security.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes Department of Defense operations, passed in the Senate by a vote of 98-0. The NDAA included some important provisions for Nebraska as well as some bipartisan amendments I offered to help our veterans.
One of these amendments, the Helping Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Return to Employment (HIRE) at Home Act, is designed to remove barriers for returning veterans with ambitions of using their military skills and training for civilian jobs. Many military personnel receive specialized training for work in the harshest of environments, only to find their skills as machinery operators, truck drivers or paramedics, don’t meet certification or licensing requirements back home. The amendment encourages states to consider the specialized military training for some of these jobs as filling all or some of the state certification and licensing requirements, making it easier for veterans to continue similar work in a civilian capacity.
Another amendment, which I introduced with Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), expands housing repair and modification services to veterans through public-private partnerships. The amendment was supported by the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Habitat for Humanity. The Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Veterans Affairs currently assist eligible disabled veterans and service members with housing modifications. However, not all veterans who are disabled or low-income qualify for this program. This amendment attempts to rectify this gap in housing assistance.
In addition to helping our veterans, the NDDA also authorized funding to continue work on the much-needed new command and control facility for Strategic Command (STRATCOM) at Offutt Air Force Base. The NDAA included authorization of $128 million for the ongoing construction of the new STRATCOM facility. This is the second installment for the estimated $525 million project, which has already received $120 million, and must continue to be funded in annual authorizations. The 915,876 square-foot facility will house state-of-the-art computer and information systems that will enhance STRATCOM’s ability to respond to new and complex threats around the globe.
Also, with Cyber Command housed at STRATCOM, I offered a resolution asking the Department of Defense to consult Congress on any recommended unified command changes, in order to provide the proper legislative oversight to this important area of national defense.
The way in which the Senate acted to pass the NDAA is a refreshing reminder that Congress can work in a bipartisan fashion. And it must do so once more before the end of the year to avoid the fiscal cliff and prevent the largest tax hike in American history. I remain optimistic that we can do this for the good of America.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Today's Bit of Humor

To All Employees
From Management
Subject Office conduct during the Christmas season
Effective immediately, employees should keep in mind the following guidelines in compliance with FROLIC (the Federal Revelry Office and Leisure Industry Council).
Running aluminum foil through the paper shredder to make tinsel is discouraged.
Playing Jingle Bells on the push-button phone is forbidden (it runs up an incredible long distance bill)
Work requests are not to be filed under "Bah humbug."
Company cars are not to be used to go over the river and through the woods to Grandma's house.
All fruitcake is to be eaten BEFORE July 25.
Egg nog will NOT be dispensed in vending machines.
In spite of all this, the staff is encouraged to have a Happy Holiday.

Johanns Says Senate Rules Changes Undermine Founders’ Vision


WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today spoke on the Senate floor about the current proposal to change Senate rules in a way that would allow the majority – regardless of which party is in power – to run roughshod over those in the minority. He said the proposed changes would impact all Americans, particularly those that live in rural states like Nebraska.
A full, unofficial, transcript is available HERE. Video of his remarks is available HERE.
To download broadcast quality video of the below excerpts click HERE.
  • “The changes that are being contemplated would significantly impact everyday Americans especially those in rural or less populated states. Take Nebraska, for example. We don't consider ourselves small. We have almost two million people and several Fortune 500 companies. But we also don't like the idea of getting steam rolled by high-population states, for example, California and New York or Illinois.”
  • “If changes are needed, a bipartisan supermajority should approve them, not a simple majority changing the rules to break the rules. … It's often said that those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it. I hope my colleagues will study this history … and decide to abandon this ill-advised, hostile takeover of the United States Senate, this attempt to put a gag on the minority.”
  • “This great institution has evolved into a constant cycle of bringing flawed legislation to the floor, filling the amendment tree to prohibit all amendments, daring the minority party to vote "no" to protect the rights of their constituents. And when they do so, claim that they are filibustering and obstructionists. If we could fix one basic problem, we could return the Senate to its most basic principle of open debate and opportunity for amendments. … And we'd get back in the business of being United States Senators again and working together again.”

Changes for School Lunch Program a "Step in the right direction"

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement on changes to school lunch regulations allowing more meat and grains in meals:
“I appreciate the Department of Agriculture’s decision to allow for more grains and meat in school meals. These changes are a step in the right direction and should be made permanent. However, parents and local officials will need additional flexibility to implement the school lunch program to effectively meet their budgets and the nutritional requirements of their students. These decisions are best made at the local level.”
The new school meal requirements stem from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. This legislation gave USDA the authority to set nutritional standards for all food regularly sold in schools, including cafeterias, school stores and vending machines. The legislation failed to adequately consider budget limitations faced by school lunch providers and provided no credit to schools already taking steps to offer students healthier choices.
In light of the feedback from officials, parents, and students across Nebraska surrounding the implementation of the new meal standards, Smith sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in September. In the letter, Smith asked the department to review the current guidelines; to consider abandoning the bureaucratic and burdensome approach to school meal planning; for local officials to be given more flexibility in implementing the guidelines; and for the USDA to conduct a thorough evaluation of cost and participation rates across the county.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Today's Bit of Humor

A guy bought his wife a beautiful diamond ring for Christmas.
After hearing about this extravagant gift, a friend of his said, "I thought she wanted one of those sporty four-wheel-drive vehicles."
"She did," he replied. "But where was I going to find a fake Jeep?"

Webster County Early Market Beef Weigh-in December 9

4-H and FFA members have undoubtedly already found or will be looking for calves for the early Webster County Market Beef Weigh-in which will be held at the sale barn in Blue Hill (Blue Hill Livestock). The early date is set for Sunday, December 9. Because there will be just one early weigh-in this year it will start about 10:00 am and will go till 3:30 pm. Incidentally the regular weigh-in date is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, January 27 - also in Blue Hill.

4-H and FFA tags must be put in before or at weigh-in to be valid for shows. The UNL Extension office will have the 4-H tags. Exhibitors and parents are reminded that the 4-H/FFA livestock ID/affidavit sheets need to be filled out, with all signatures, prior to/or at weigh-in and are not to be taken home. FFA members will need to get their tags from the FFA advisor in advance of the weigh-in, or the advisor should be in attendance at weigh-in to put them in.
Affidavits may be downloaded from the Web at   or exhibitors may pick one up from their 4-H leader or at the UNL Extension office, and have it ready to go for weigh-in. Webster County will also once again be putting Electronic Identification or EID’s in the ears of all market beef, or exhibitors may use their own farm’s EIDs. Exhibitors who plan to show at either the 2013 Nebraska State Fair and/or Ak-Sar-Ben must have a DNA sample taken and they must be sent in with the ID/affidavit sheet for each animal that may be going. All beef that will be exhibited at the Nebraska State Fair will also need to eventually be tested for BVD-PI.

If any beef exhibitor would like guidance on how to pick out the right size of calf for fair, please contact the Webster County UNL Extension office for suggestions at 402-746-3417 or email You can also find a document on this on our website as listed above.

WarCats Take 2nd in Southern Valley Tournament

The WarCats of BlueHill/RedCloud took second place in the Wrestling tournament held Friday at Southern Valley.  Taking first was South Central Unified.   Fifteen teams participated.
Wrestling for the WarCats and placing in the top four were At 113#  Levi Vogler took 4th,  At 138 # James Fuller took 3rd,  at 145# Tanner Rupprecht took 1st, at 152#  Dillon Shannon took 2nd  and at 170# Garret Sharp took 1st.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

today's bit of Humor

When you stop believing in Santa Claus is when you start getting clothes for Christmas.


Duane A. Lienemann,
UNL Extension Educator, Webster County
December 7, 2012 Edition

In an earlier edition of this column I encouraged people to go on the internet to YouTube to find the Peterson brothers,  three Kansas farm boys who were made instant stars when their video called, “I’m Farming And I Grow it,” -- a parody to the popular song, “I’m Sexy And I Know It,” went viral. I think they are pretty close to 8 million hits on that video. That would be a lot of people hearing about agriculture. However we can get our message out to consumers and a lot of our neighbors and even relatives who are now at least once, and perhaps two or three generations removed from the farm. As a result of their clever agriculture advocacy efforts, this trio was featured on national news outlets such as FOX and The Today Show. You can still the video by going to: .
As I understand it, the brothers are from around Assaria in the Salina, Kansas area. Greg Peterson who is a senior and is an ag journalism major at Kansas State talked his younger brothers, Nathan, 18 (also at Kansas State), and Kendal, 15, into singing and filming a video of the three of them together, rapping their farming mission on their actual farm. Their sister, Laura, helped shoot some of the video. What an amazing story! But they are not done yet. Their creativity is on display again, with another video which has already exceeded 2.2 million hits on YouTube, once again providing agricultural insight, in a creative way, to a segment of our society that greatly needs it. My hat goes off to these young people who know how to Agvocate! I find that our older farmers and ranchers have trouble telling their story, I am glad they are doing it.
Their new video is a parody to the popular hit single song "Gangum Style" by PSY. That is a song and dance that I just can’t understand and in fact get irritated watching it. I guess I really am an “old fogie”. KRVN is more my speed. Forget that song, the Peterson brothers are all about "Farmer Style" with their new YouTube hit. The brothers made their second video over the Thanksgiving break. You can watch their video at:  .
As I mentioned, Greg and Nathan Peterson are both attending college at K-State and, along with their younger brother, were recognized during the halftime of the K-State vs. Texas football game when they were honored for their videos. The brothers have been invited to speak and perform at various multi-state agricultural events. I guess you could consider them as aggie rock stars. You can also find them on Facebook at “Peterson Farm Bros”. As you can guess, I get a charge out of watching youth and particularly agricultural youth and this is just one reason why! Go get’em kids! Keep up the good work.
There are a lot of issues out there that we in agriculture are facing and these young people put a face to farming in a time where there are groups going after us with animal rights/welfare, GMO’s, and regulations to name a few, but I have had my eye for a couple of years now on the antibiotic issue which is really picking up steam. There has been another hit by ABC news on animal agriculture considering bacteria in meat, saying that they have found “Superbugs” or actually antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, on pork cuts according to a study by the Consumer Reports: "What's in that pork? We found antibiotic-resistant bacteria---and traces of a veterinary drug." It seems that this study has several flaws, but is still used.
Big surprise! They found "antibiotic-resistant bacteria." You can find antibiotic-resistant bacteria in your navel and on your bed post. You would not believe how many are under your fingernails. They are everywhere, including in your nose where 1 out of 50 Americans harbor Methicillin Resistant Staph aureus (MRSA), a bug they purposely used in the report. They also found "traces of a veterinary drug" -- as if no one expected that to happen. The reason the FDA has established Maximum Residue Levels, for "veterinary drugs" because it was expected that some would remain at slaughter in some animals. It is considered safe and completely normal. The big splash seems to be the often quoted - "Yersinia enterocolitica was in 69% of the tested pork samples”, which by the way, were too few to provide accurate, science-based conclusions.
They go on to say “It infects about 100,000 Americans a year." Which is really a contrived scare tactic used to make points. Sensationalism sells in their news circle. They forgot to point out that the incidence of Yersinia infections have declined by 52% over the last 10 years. It seems to me that we should be thanking the pork industry, instead of poking them in the eye. By the way, when was the last time you heard of someone falling ill from trichinosis as a result of eating commercial pork? Our pork industry catches heck from many, but they have eliminated this foodborne illness from pork in the U.S. Let’s take a look at a message from a veterinarian at a recent conference that everybody should be aware of.
Dr. Christine Hoang, of the AVMA and an expert on antimicrobial resistance, shed light on the use of antibiotics in livestock during a recent U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance panel discussion. One of the most common criticisms about the use of antibiotics on farms is that it might lead to the creation of resistant human pathogens, such as MRSA and C. difficile. Dr. Hoang stated that these fears are unfounded, because studies have shown that these “superbugs” are not related to farming. “They’re human related resistant infections that are in no way related to antibiotic use in livestock production,” she said. Preventive antibiotic use reduces the transmission of food borne illnesses into our food supply, and there are substantial animal welfare benefits. There is a lot of good information and if anyone wants to learn more about this important issue, I encourage you to view the complete webcast entitled “Antibiotics and Your Food,” on the USFRA website at  . You can also read up on the pork controversy at the same site. Pork chops anyone!

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:

Washington Report: Addressing the Regulatory Cliff

Rep. Adrian Smith
All eyes are now focused on negotiations to resolve the fiscal cliff, which if left unaddressed will result in arbitrary spending cuts and tax rate increases for all earners at the beginning of next year. Arbitrary cuts combined with new increases in tax rates would undermine economic growth and likely send our economy back into recession.
While Congress and the President work through the details of the fiscal cliff, the American people also face the possibility of a regulatory cliff next year due to the Administration’s politically advantageous decision to delay many costly rules until 2013. These rules will create new regulatory burdens which could cause further harm to our economy in the next year and beyond.
For example, in the past few weeks alone, three new regulations for the health care law were proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services. These new rules add to more than 13,000 pages of regulations already imposed by the law, which will result in an estimated 79 million hours of compliance. New health care mandates not only will cost businesses billions of dollars per year in compliance and lost productivity, but also will make quality health care coverage more expensive and less accessible.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations are another major concern for our economy in the coming year. Unfortunately the EPA is not required to consider the economic impact of rules it promulgates, even if there is concern health and living conditions would actually worsen if businesses and individuals are forced into costly compliance. While many regulations were put on hold because of public outcry over their potential damage to the economy, with the November elections behind us, the agency may choose to pursue these rules again.
As is the case with the so called “Ozone Rule,” which was delayed in September 2011. This proposed regulation would seek to further limit emissions from cars, power plants and manufacturers at an estimated cost of more than $90 billion a year. After considerable public opposition, the President asked the EPA to put the rule on hold and to revisit the issue in 2013.
The EPA’s regulatory agenda does not end with the Ozone Rule. Since the President’s reelection the administration is now reconsidering regulating greenhouse gas emissions. This de facto tax dramatically would increase the costs of gasoline and electricity and would disproportionately hurt small operations. I recently signed a House Resolution disapproving of any attempt to establish a carbon tax, and I am a cosponsor of legislation which would prohibit the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases to address climate change. I also voted in favor of legislation to require an analysis and report on the impact of EPA regulations on employment, energy prices, and economic competitiveness, which passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support.
There are also more than 130 unfinished rules under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial laws, most of which could be finalized in 2013. Many of these and other regulations could have a significant impact to the economy, and yet Congress will not have a chance to review these proposals before they are enforced on American families and small businesses.
To address the regulatory cliff and restore congressional oversight and accountability for the regulatory process, I support the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act. This commonsense legislation would require Congressional approval of any new regulation with an annual economic impact of more than $100 million, before it can be enforced on the American people.
Given the current dynamics of Congress, it is unlikely the REINS Act will be signed into law in time to address the flood of new regulations in 2013. However, unless Congress takes responsibility for the regulatory process, the President and executive branch agencies will be free to enact major, burdensome regulations. To restore certainty and reduce barriers to growth, both the fiscal cliff and the regulatory cliff must be addressed.

Reinhold J. Schutte May 10,1922 to December 6,2012

Hastings resident, Reinhold J. Schutte, 90, passed away Thursday, December 6, 2012 at Mary Lanning Healthcare.
Services will be Monday, December 10, 2012; 10:30 A.M. at Christ Lutheran Church, rural Juniata with Pastor Greg Volzke officiating. Burial with military rites with Juniata American Legion will be in Concordia Cemetery, rural Juniata, Nebraska. Memorials may be given to Christ Lutheran School, Concordia Cemetery, Red Cross Disaster Fund, or donor’s choice. Visitation will be Saturday, December 8, 2012; 9:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M., Sunday, December 9, 2012; 1:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M. with family present from 5:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M. at the funeral home, and one hour prior to service at church.

Reinhold was born May 10, 1922 in Eckley, Nebraska to Carl & Marie (Lienenkamper) Schutte. He served in the U.S. Army from June 1944 until July 1946 with George Patton’s 3rd Army in the 87th Infantry Division, Company “I” in the Battle of the Bulge and they were known as “The Golden Acorns”. Reinhold served in three major campaigns, Ardennes, Rhineland, and Europe. He was honored to be able to serve his country. He married Julia A. Rippen on April 16, 1950 at Zion Lutheran Church in Hastings, Nebraska. Reinhold was a lifetime farmer in the Juniata area. He was a member of Christ Lutheran Church, life member American Legion in Juniata, Veterans of Foreign Wars in Hastings, and Disabled American Veterans in Hastings.

Reinhold was preceded in death by his parents; 13 siblings; and granddaughter, Kathryn Ann Schutte.

Survivors include:
Wife: Julia Schutte – Hastings, NE
Children & Spouses: Roma & Everett Koch – Grand Island, NE
Rodney & Cindy Schutte – Juniata, NE
Jeff & Becky Schutte – Hastings, NE
Jay & Sara Schutte – Juniata, NE
Joel Schutte – Hastings, NE
Grandchildren: 15
Great-Grandchildren: 7
Sister: Gerda Wallis – Hayden, ID
Sisters-in-law: 4
Brothers-in-law: 2
Several Nieces, Nephews & numerous friends

Johanns Supports Beneficial Trade Legislation with Russia

U.S. Senator Mike Johanns  issued the following statement after the Senate appproved legislation granting Russia permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status, which allows the U.S. to level the playing field for our exporters and also provides an avenue to resolve trade disputes:

“Trade, particularly with large and growing markets like Russia, is good for Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers and manufacturers,” Johanns said. “American workers have been losing out to other countries when it comes to exports to Russia. This legislation will allow us to level the playing field and gives us another tool to address trade complaints.

“Concerns remain about Russia’s record in the areas of human rights and trade, so we must keep a watchful eye and seize our new, normalized trade relationship as an opportunity to encourage progress on these fronts.”


• Russia officially joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in August, but the United States cannot fully benefit from Russia’s membership without granting them PNTR status, which is not possible without repealing the Cold-War era Jackson-Vanik amendment of the Trade Act of 1974.

• Jackson-Vanik requires the president to deny normal trade relations for countries restricting the freedom of emigration. The president can determine that a country is in compliance with Jackson-Vanik and waive trade restrictions on an annual basis. Presidents have issued waivers for Russia every year since 1992. In spite of presidential waivers, the United States cannot use the WTO’s dispute settlement process with Russia unless Congress permanently removes application of Jackson-Vanik, thus granting Russia PNTR.

• The WTO has been an important tool for the United States to ensure a level playing field for our products on the world market.

• In July, the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees passed legislation granting PNTR status to Russia. The full House of Representatives passed the legislation in November by a vote of 365-43.

Blue Hill defeats Superior in Basketball

 The Lady Bobcats defeated the ladies from Superior thursday night in a close game with a score of 40 to 39.   In Boys action the Blue Hill boys soundly defeated the Superior team with a scocre of 61 to 28.