Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Johanns, Reed Offer Bill to Repair, Equip Homes of Disabled Vets

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) today introduced bipartisan legislation to help provide suitable housing for veterans in need. The Housing Assistance for Veterans (HAVEN) Act authorizes a competitive, five year pilot program to assist disabled and low-income veterans in need of housing adaptation or home repairs.  The HAVEN Act allows non-profit organizations to apply for federal grants administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help make simple repairs, keeping veterans safe, healthy and out of more costly health care facilities.

“We owe it to those who have sacrificed so much protecting our homeland to ensure they have a safe and accessible home to return to following their tour of service,” Johanns said. “The public-private partnerships created by the HAVEN Act will help address our veterans’ housing needs in an efficient and responsible manner. It’s an important way to say ‘thank you’ to those who have given so much for our country by ensuring their basic needs are met.”
“The HAVEN Act seeks to build successful public-private partnerships to better serve veterans in need of housing assistance,” Reed said. “The HAVEN Act will help more veterans get critical repairs and accessibility modifications so their homes are safer and more accessible.  This is about helping the community come together to help our veterans and giving back to those who have sacrificed to serve our country.  I urge my Senate colleagues to swiftly take up and pass this bipartisan legislation to help all veterans live in safe, healthy homes that meet their needs.”
The HAVEN Act applies to all veterans with disabilities, regardless of whether the disability is related to their service.  Grant recipients are expected to match federal funding to extend the program’s reach.
Examples of renovation and modifications to existing homes under the HAVEN Act could include the installation of wheelchair ramps and bannisters, widening doors, replacing unsafe electrical wiring, removing mold and making other necessary adjustments to existing structures.
The Haven Act is supported by Rebuilding Together, VetsFirst, Vietnam Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Habitat for Humanity, Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans, and the American Legion.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator
     I am finally sitting in my easy chair and reflecting on the past couple of weeks. This was the first time in many years that I didn’t come home feeling sweaty, dirty and dead tired. It is amazing what a difference a few cool days and a little moisture will do, just not for me but fairgoers, exhibitors and even the animals. Perhaps some of it is the wonderful improvements that was made to the fair at the food stand and new, air conditioned exhibit hall. It is also the difference it makes when many volunteers chip in to make the fair what it is. It takes many good hands to make an event like a County Fair come to fruition. So, after months of planning, tons of paperwork and organization, a big part of the summer experience is over -  our County Fair is done. In that rumination, it came to me how gratifying it was to see so many people pull together to make their respective county fairs happen. It is what makes the rural areas what they are.  It is indeed a piece of Americana and a validation of the Midwest work ethic. We are truly blessed in rural Nebraska!
     It doesn’t matter what county you are in or what time of summer it is, county fairs are special.  I know I am not alone appreciating all those that come together to pull off what has become the largest social event of rural America. If you didn’t get a chance to attend your local fair, let me give you my take on it. The old adage says “If you can't smell the livestock, you are not at an authentic county fair.”  But there is so much more, and for me it is the experience for our kids.
     While all the livestock, sounds, smells, lights, static exhibits, competition and events are important aspects of the fair, for me it is mostly about seeing our young people and/or their parents feeding or watering their animals, cleaning the stalls or sitting on show boxes talking about the unusually cool weather or how much rain they finally got.  It is so nice to see those bright, smiling and sunburned faces of those young kids in their 4-H T-shirts, some in cowboy hats, excited for the day and for another adventure at the Fair. One only had to look around to see the flocks of young kids, full of energy, hope and visions of their future leading a lamb, a beef or driving a hog. They may be thinking of a future project to exhibit in the static exhibit hall or maybe even participating in the rodeo when they get older, but for sure – having fun! I hope a good number of people got to take in the Rainbow Classic on the last day of our fair. It just did the heart good to see these young people go to a judge with a pet or borrowed show animal to do their best in showing off their animal and answer the questions brought to them by a judge. This is what it is really about; however, we sometimes forget that it is about the kids!
     I actually had the chance, in between getting ready for the next day’s shows, to take in part of the rodeo each night. I loved what I saw, from the bleachers full of people taking it all in; the smell of kettle corn, the banter and cheers of the audience as they cheered on the rodeo performers and the laughter resulting from the antics of the youth and even adults in the Junior 4-H Leader’s Boot Scramble, or the rodeo clown. But more importantly, I just loved to see the hundreds of young people hanging on the fences, running up, down and around the bleachers of the rodeo arena. Pretend cowboys, future cowboys and cowgirls, and all potential 4-H and FFA exhibitors. I could look it at as job security, but my career is in its waning months, so I look at it a lot more as a bright future for the Webster County fair and many other fairs like it.
     It was not just the youth I observed, I enjoyed seeing and talking with the older folks who walked through the barns and the grounds reminiscing about how it used to be. In the evenings, there are the barbeques and lines of people excited for the night’s entertainment and rodeo.  The racing of engines and clash of metal-to-metal was evidence that you were at the annual demolition derby that is nearby.  On the last day you would have heard the chant of the auctioneer as the fair came ever closer to an end and the big crocodile tears of young exhibitors saying goodbye to their animal friends. These things are what make the fair a special thing to people in rural America. That is what it is all about. That is what makes it real.  
     Now, throw in the lights and sounds of the carnival, the infusion of funnel cakes, 4-H “Yum-Yums”, and the Methodist church pies. This really is a slice of America that persists here amid the grueling heat of summer. “Rockwellion” it may be, but it's something we dare not let go of --because it's so real.  It becomes a big family reunion, with a sense of friendship among people who perhaps haven't seen one another all year. And beneath it all, there lurks the spirit of competition, whether it's for the best sewn dress or the Grand Champion Market Steer! Most important however is the camaraderie.
     I want to congratulate all of our exhibitors, for not only their accomplishments, but also for their demeanor and conduct.  I always hear admiration from the judges. I want to personally thank everyone who is involved with the local county fair.  Not just those at Webster County, but all the county fairs across the country. There are so many volunteers all across our state whose work hard to keep this tradition alive and well. Thank those folks and the local ag society or fair board for all they do. Don’t forget the 4-H and FFA leaders who help guide our youth. I want to give special recognition to Carol, Kelsey and Jessica in our office for their “behind the scenes” heroics!  I for one am proud to be a part of that tradition and am determined to help insure that the Rockwell picture continues.  I cannot even think of summer without the County Fair! I still approach the fair as the wide-eyed kid that saw the championship animals and that big Ferris-wheel at the Franklin County Fair so many years ago!  It is so good to see people pull together to prepare, put on and clean up after another great county fair. That is what it is all about. The county fair is community. It is “Family owned, farm raised and county proud!”

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, July 26, 2013

With the good weather of the summer travel season, you may have noticed increased road construction. Hundreds of improvement projects are underway and more are scheduled to begin yet this summer. The additional road construction is a good reminder that it’s critical to pay attention to road and construction signs, and to be aware work crews are out on our roads.
We will celebrate the completion of some popular highway improvement projects over the next few months. This week, the US-77 Bridge south of Fremont opened to four new lanes of traffic over the Platte River. The Kearney Bypass Interchange will open in August and a new Rulo bridge will open in early September. A new bridge across the Loup River south of Fullerton will open in the middle of September. Interstate 80 from Lincoln S. 56th Street east should reach completion to Waverly in November. Then we’ll have six lanes to handle the traffic from Omaha to Lincoln.
Recently, we also released the latest information on plans for new projects across the state. The Nebraska Department of Roads plans to use highway user dollars to provide the best state highway system possible for all Nebraskans and the traveling public.
The 2014 State Highway System Program shows $431 million in projects that are funded from state and federal highway user taxes and fees. The Local System Program for city streets and county roads totals $312 million and is funded with state, federal and local highway user revenues.
Additionally, this is the first year that the Build Nebraska Act funds will be used in our state. Projects including the Wahoo Bypass, the Kearney Bypass and additional lanes on I-80 in Omaha will aim to ease traffic congestion in the metro areas. Without these funds, we would not have been able to afford these capital improvement projects.
A total of 139 new projects are planned on the State Highway System during fiscal year 2014. Projects throughout the state range in size from small intersection improvements involving lighting and traffic signals to pavement and bridge preservation projects such as joint and crack sealing and bridge repair to large resurfacing and reconstruction projects.
One of the larger projects is a new viaduct over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks south of Hershey that will eliminate up to six hours a day of waiting for train traffic. The removal of certain railroad crossings will ensure the safety of that community.
Additional projects include six miles of asphalt resurfacing and bridge improvements between Danbury and Lebanon in Red Willow County; almost ten miles of asphalt resurfacing and bridge repair on Nebraska Highway 12 east of Niobrara; replacing the concrete pavement on over six miles of Interstate 80 in Cheyenne County; and 13 miles of asphalt resurfacing and bridge repair on Nebraska Highway 12 east of Valentine.
Nebraska is on the move and we want to continue this momentum, ensuring a safe and vital future. Whether you’re traveling a highway, an interstate or making a routine drive, it is essential that you wear your seatbelt or helmet, take extra caution in construction zones, move over for emergency personnel, and obey the posted speed limits to ensure your own safety and that of others.
Additionally, in an effort to increase safety on Nebraska’s roads, I announced this week the availability of a new program to help parents and guardians of teen drivers. The Parent’s Supervised Driving Program is designed to optimize the 50 hours of supervised driving required for Nebraska teens and offers step-by-step instructions for parents to use when teaching their teens to drive. Parents and guardians of teens, play a critical role in helping them develop the habits and skills necessary to be safe and responsible drivers. Safe teen drivers will keep our roads safer, and it will protect one of Nebraska’s greatest resources – our teenagers.

- Dave Heineman
    Governor of Nebraska

Washington Report: Rising Gas Prices Threaten Nebraska's Economy

Rep. Adrian Smith

The price of gas is once again rising in Nebraska and across the nation.  The average price of gasoline in our state now tops $3.60 per gallon, up more than 3 cents from last week.  The price of diesel has jumped to $3.80 per gallon.  These increases not only cause more pain at the pump, but also hurt nearly every part of our economy by increasing transportation costs.

Agriculture is the backbone of our economy in rural Nebraska.  Farmers and ranchers in the Third District have told me how spikes in the price of fuel increase the costs at every stage of production and ultimately hurt consumers.  For example, a farmer in York County explained he uses up to two gallons of fuel per acre for tillage, a third of a gallon of fuel per acre to plant, and about two and a half gallons of fuel per acre to harvest.  He also uses six diesel wells for irrigation, and must use even more fuel to fertilize his crops.  With 1,500 acres of corn, a small uptick in the price of fuel can quickly add up – even before it is transported.

The same farmer says a 50 cent increase in the cost of diesel increases his transportation costs by 10 cents per mile.  He averages 40,000 miles a year hauling corn.  Ultimately, these increases will be paid by end-users such as livestock producers and consumers in the form of higher feed and food costs.  The more hardworking families have to spend on food, fuel, and other essential expenses, the less money they keep from their paychecks to save or spend.

As gas prices go up, the cost of products continues to rise, especially those transported to port.  This could make our agricultural exports less competitive in foreign markets, undermining the success of expanded international trade in recent years.

Despite the serious threat rising gas prices pose to our economy, President Obama did not address this problem in a major speech on the economy this week – likely because the President’s energy proposals would further increase the cost of fuel by limiting American energy production.

We are taking a different approach in the House of Representatives.  We understand generating more American power and fuel from all sources would lower costs.  We are working to enact an all-of-the-above strategy to utilize our vast domestic resources, reduce regulatory obstacles, and take advantage of new drilling techniques.  This strategy could help make our nation energy independent, grow our economy, strengthen national security, and create jobs.  Only then can we lessen the threat of high gas prices to our economy, and ease the pain at the pump.

As always, feel free to forward my e-newsletter to family and friends, or let them know they can sign up to receive updates from my office on my website at:

Member of Congress

Webster County Rodeo Princess 2013

Congrats @[100000830901996:2048:Halee]! I'm so very proud of you!!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Legislative newsletter

As you may know, in January Congress passed and the President signed into law a measure which permanently extended relief for the estate tax, commonly referred to as the death tax. While preventing a return to the 2001 exemption and tax rate levels was an important step, I consistently have advocated for a permanent repeal of the death tax.
Family farms and small businesses support Nebraska's economy and are a way of life in many communities. Yet policies like the death tax run counterproductive to Nebraska's interest by discouraging the next generation of business owners, family farms, and entrepreneurs, whose assets often are transferred at time of death. Tax policy should reflect this reality and encourage economic growth, rather than burden them with unfair taxes.
Because of the importance of this matter, I am once again a proud cosponsor of the Death Tax Repeal Act (H.R. 2429), which would repeal the estate tax and generation-skipping transfer taxes. The bill also would make permanent the maximum 35 percent gift tax rate and a $5 million lifetime gift tax exemption, adjusted for inflation.
Currently, H.R. 2429 has been referred to the Committee on Ways and Means. As a member of this committee, I will continue to promote permanent solutions, such as comprehensive tax and entitlement reform, to ensure economic opportunity and lower tax burdens for American families and small businesses. For more information on this issue or to receive additional legislative updates, please visit www.

Member of Congress


Sen Deb Fischer
Last month, President Obama delivered a speech on climate change during which he announced his plans to increase regulations and impose a costly national tax on affordable energy sources. He intends to enact this proposal through executive action, avoiding Congress and the citizens they represent.  Specifically, the president will authorize the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue new carbon emission standards for existing power plants.
While the President touted his plan as an effort to “do more” to combat climate change, it will actually do more to raise energy costs than reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
These burdensome new requirements placed on businesses will increase fuel and electricity prices and kill jobs across the country.  Hardworking Americans—who will foot the bill when their energy and electricity bills go up—deserve to know exactly how much this new climate change policy will cost.
I agree it is important to examine the science surrounding climate change. I also believe before a problem can be solved, we must understand the nature of the problem itself.  While some blame emissions of carbon dioxide for all kinds of harm—including extreme weather—there are various views even within the scientific community.
Earth scientist and Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Dr. Allison Macfarlane—appointed by President Obama—was asked at a hearing earlier this year what the NRC was doing to prepare for “extreme weather.”  She responded, “I would not call these events extreme.  I would call them normal.  They may be extreme because we have very limited experience on this earth with them, but they are normal events.”
The President’s plan also disregards the fact that the United States is not the primary global emitter of greenhouse gases.  The biggest sources are China and India, two of our top economic competitors. Moreover, America’s share of global greenhouse gas emissions has actually been declining for nearly a decade—from 25 percent in 2000 to 19 percent in 2008.  Meanwhile, China’s emissions have skyrocketed, increasing by 173 percent from 1998 to 2011, and show no signs of slowing down.
This reality raises the question of whether the environmental benefits of the President’s plan are even discernible and importantly, whether they will be worth harming our country’s economy at a time when so many Americans and middle class families are living paycheck to paycheck.
President Obama’s order to the EPA to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants would most adversely impact coal-fired plants.  America has more than 1,000 coal-fired generators at nearly 600 plant locations that generate 40 percent of America’s affordable, reliable energy.
In Nebraska, nearly two-thirds of our state’s electricity is produced from coal-fired plants, which are an integral part of our state’s public power system.  Under the President’s plan, Nebraska’s primary source of electricity would be disproportionately penalized, resulting in increased compliance costs on utilities and rising energy prices for Nebraska families and businesses.
Members of Congress have an important responsibility to exercise oversight of federal policy decisions impacting their constituents.  That is why I am so troubled by the President’s call for unilateral, executive action authorizing EPA to implement these new carbon emission standards without Congressional approval.
I co-sponsored legislation that would require the president to submit his new energy tax proposal for a vote in Congress, rather than enacting it through executive fiat.  The American people have a right to have their voices heard, and that means having their elected representatives weigh in.
Instead of promoting a regulatory regime that will raise energy prices, kill jobs, and hurt our economy, the president should be putting forth energy proposals that face reality.  It’s time to move toward the “all of the above” energy strategy the American people were promised and pursue current opportunities we have here at home to enhance our energy supply and lower prices.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.
Deb Fischer
United States Senator
 The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is accepting recreational trail grant applications for fiscal year 2014 funding.
 The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is a grant program through the Federal Highway Administration that reimburses political subdivisions such as communities, counties and natural resources districts up to 80 percent of project costs for trail acquisition, development, renovation and support facilities.
 Applicants must have the financial means to undertake and maintain the project and all funding should be on hand. This funding source is divided by category: motorized trails (30 percent of funding used for these projects), nonmotorized trails (30 percent) and diversified or shared-use trails (40 percent).
 The application may be downloaded at  or contact Michelle Stryker at 402-471-5425 or for an application packet. Applications should be submitted to Game and Parks or be postmarked by Sept. 6, 2013.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tester, Johanns Build Momentum for Housing Finance Reform

Senators hold hearing to highlight new legislation to protect taxpayers and 30-year mortgage, ensure access for community-based institutions

WASHINGTON – Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) continue to build momentum behind their bipartisan efforts to protect taxpayers by reforming America’s housing finance market.
Tester and Johanns discussed bipartisan legislation they are cosponsoring, The Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act, at a hearing today in their Banking Subcommittee. The hearing examined how their legislation would rebuild the housing finance system so to protect taxpayers and ensure that smaller mortgage originators, such as the community banks and credit unions, continue to play an important role in the lending process.
Tester said, “Community-based institutions play a critical role in our housing market by providing a lifeline for many American homeowners, particularly those in rural America. These institutions know and serve their customers with their unique brand of relationship-based lending, and we must make sure they continue to have equal access to our housing market.” 
Johanns said, “Since taxpayers were forced to bail out lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2008, families across the country are increasingly turning to banks and credit unions in their communities for affordable, accessible, responsible financing options. It’s important that we reform our housing finance market to protect taxpayers, but also ensure that families are left with the option of receiving their mortgages from lenders on Main Street that they know and trust. Our bipartisan legislation does just that.”
Community financial institutions are now providing one-third more mortgages to homeowners – especially in rural markets – than before the financial crisis.  The senators’ hearing focused on the importance of preserving the role of small financial institutions in the housing finance market.
Tester and Johanns’ Banking panel, the Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment, heard testimony from witnesses representing community banks, credit unions and the Federal Home Loan Banks, as well Sandra Thompson, a deputy director with the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
“As we move closer to reforming our nation’s housing finance system, it is important to ensure that community-based lenders are able to fully participate in the new system,” Thompson said.  “Ensuring their participation in the future system is in the public interest, and we stand ready to work with this Committee to see this goal reached.”
In 2008, the government put government-sponsored housing organizations Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in conservatorship, providing a taxpayer-funded backstop to ensure the accessibility and affordability of 30-year fixed-rate mortgages for American families.
As a result, the private mortgage market is struggling and today nearly every loan made in America comes with a government guarantee, leaving taxpayers potentially liable for losses.  Despite this unsustainable situation, there has still been no real reform to the housing finance system since the financial crisis.
The bipartisan reform legislation Tester and Johanns are cosponsoring, which was recently introduced with Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), would wind-down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are tasked with guaranteeing and purchasing home loans.  Replacing Fannie and Freddie would be a new system that strengthens the nation’s housing market by protecting taxpayers, preserving the 30-year fixed rate mortgage, and ensuring that small financial institutions can continue to serve rural communities.
The bill is also co-sponsored by Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).  Full text of the bill is available HERE and a summary is available HERE.

Nebraska DMV to Offer Parent's Supervised Driving Program


Sponsorship supports teen driver education and the role of the parent
(Lincoln, NE)   - Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman announced today the availability of a new program to help parents and guardians of teen drivers. The Parent's Supervised Driving Program is designed to optimize the 50 hours of supervised driving required for Nebraska teens.
"The skills outlined in this guide are meant to help teens learn to be better drivers. It is one of the ways Ford works to help teens," said Steve Kenner, Global Director of Ford's Automotive Safety Office. "In addition to this Program, Ford also offers Driving Skills for Life, which gives teens advanced real world training. Ford also offers MyKey technology, which gives parents options to help encourage safe driving behaviors even when the parents aren't in the car."
"The youth of Nebraska are one of our most valuable resources," Governor Heineman said. "We are excited to be able to provide a program that will assist them in developing good driving skills, and becoming more responsible users of the roadways in our state. I'm confident both the teens and their parents and guardians will benefit greatly from the Program."
The Program is geared toward skill development, and expanding the conditions and time that teens drive with their parents prior to driving independently. The Parent's Supervised Driving Program offers parents guidance on how to approach each supervised driving session as well as how to continue education beyond the required 50 hours of supervised driving. The Program also includes a driving log to help parents and teens track the required driving hours and the skills covered, the time of day and weather conditions during each session.
"Safe drivers mean safer roadways," said Colonel David Sankey, Superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol. "This Program provides another tool for Nebraska teens to help them develop the skills they need to become better drivers and reduce the likelihood of becoming involved in a crash."
"Driving is a privilege and important responsibility," said Rhonda Lahm, Director of the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles. "This program will prepare parents and build their confidence as they expose their teens to driving under various roadway conditions."
The Program is available to parents and teens on multiple platforms, beginning with the printed curriculum that is distributed at DMV offices when the teen receives their learner's permit. Parents and teens are also invited to connect with the Program online and through social media as well as on a soon to be released mobile app that will help parents and teens track their drive times.
Through a public-private partnership with Ford Motor Company, the Nebraska DMV is able to provide this valuable resource to parents of teen drivers at no cost to families or to taxpayers. The sponsorship allows the DMV to address a need and to provide parents with a resource to ensure their teen receives the best experience on the road prior to licensing during the state required 50 hours of supervised driving.
The Parent's Supervised Driving Program encourages parents and teens to drive in a variety of weather conditions and unfamiliar settings, whether it is on more rural roads, in highway, city and heavy traffic routes, and also in a variety of conditions and times of day. Increased experience practicing driving with parents is a key to reducing teen crash rates.
The Program was developed in partnership with Safe Roads Alliance, a not-for-profit advocate for improved highway safety. "Parents are in the best position to assure that their teens become safe, smart drivers," said President of Safe Roads Alliance Jeff Larson. "This program gives them a resource that will help teens make good decisions once they are licensed."
More information on the program and downloads of a PDF or e-reader file can be found at:

Monday, July 22, 2013

Melvin J Wiest July 4, 1920 to July 19, 2013

Hastings resident, Melvin J. Wiest, 93, passed away Friday, July 19, 2013 at Perkins Pavilion, Good Samaritan Society- Hastings Village.
Celebration of Life will be Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 11:00 A.M. at First St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Hastings, Nebraska with Pastor Joel Remmers officiating. Book signing will be Thursday, July 25, 2013 and Friday, July 26, 2013 from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. at Butler Volland Funeral Home. Memorials may be given to the Alzheimer’s Foundation or to the American Cancer Society. Committal Services will be held at the Blue Hill Cemetery, Blue Hill, Nebraska on Saturday at 3:00 P.M.
Melvin was born July 4, 1920 in Blue Hill, Nebraska to Morris and Anna (Goll ) Wiest. He was received into the Lutheran Church by the sacrament of Holy Baptism. After having been duly instructed in the doctrines of the Christian Religion, Melvin was received into full communion with St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Blue Hill, Nebraska by the rite of confirmation on March 25, 1934. Melvin attended Blue Hill High School and graduated in 1938. Following graduation he went to work for the Blue Hill Auto until he enlisted in the Army in 1942. After his honorable discharge in 1947, he returned to Blue Hill where he bought and ran Blue Hill Auto and Chevrolet dealership until he sold it in 1969 and began working for the County Assessor in Adams County. In 1975, Melvin, wife Leola, and family moved to Hastings where Melvin continued to work for Adams County until he retired in 1982. Melvin and Leola were married in October 1954 and had three children, Gary, Pat, and Julie.
Melvin was preceded in death by his parents, wife, Leola in 2009
Survivors include:
Son & Daughter-in-law: Gary & Natalie Wiest – Tampa, FL
Daughters & Son-in-law: Pat Schnegelberger – Olathe, KS
    Julie & Larry Luce – Hastings, NE
Grandchildren & Spouses: Kristen & Greg LeBouton – Denver, CO
    Tyler Wiest – Houston, TX
    Niki Schnegelberger – Olathe, KS
    Justin & Tammy Schnegelberger – Olathe, KS
    Keri Schnegelberger & fiancé, Jimmy Eppler – Olathe, KS
    Kelsy Luce – Hastings, NE
Twin Grandsons: Cody & Corey Luce – Hastings, NE
Great-Grandchildren: Cade Schnegelberger – Olathe, KS
    Kylie Eppler – Olathe, KS

Fisher Cosponsored Bill To Block Costly National Energy Tax

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today announced she has cosponsored a bill to prevent President Obama from bypassing Congress to implement a costly national energy tax, which he proposed last month.  Specifically, the “National Energy Tax Repeal Act” would prohibit the issuance through a Presidential Memorandum of new carbon pollution standards for existing coal-fired power plants.
“The president’s energy tax plan is bad news for Nebraskans. The bottom line is more regulations and higher costs for middle class families, who are already over-taxed and over-regulated. This reasonable legislation simply requires the president to submit his new energy tax proposal for a vote in Congress, rather than enacting it through executive fiat. The American people have a right to have their voices heard, and that means having their elected representatives weigh in,” said Fischer.
On June 25th, President Obama announced that he was issuing a Presidential Memorandum to direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue carbon pollution standard regulations.  The “National Energy Tax Repeal Act” makes clear that such regulations must be directed by Congress and cannot be issued by EPA unless Congress first authorizes it.
This bill introduced by Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) would:
  • Restore Congressional authority by ensuring President Obama cannot circumvent the legislative process and the will of the American people who have opposed his cap-and-trade policies in the past.
  • Block a new national energy tax that, once issued, would increase energy costs for seniors, small business owners, low-income households and families.
  • Protect jobs in an already struggling economy by preventing energy costs from increasing on American families and businesses.
  • Make Congressional intent clear to the public by stating that Congress should act on an affordable clean energy plan, and on protecting communities from severe weather.
Last month, Fischer issued a statement reacting to the President’s proposal to express concern about its negative impact on Nebraskans’ access to affordable, reliable energy and to call on the President to work with members of Congress to pursue bipartisan solutions that will lower energy prices for Americans.

Building a Safe Haven for Heroes

Senator Mike Johanns

Americans can sleep soundly in the comfort of our homes with the peace of mind that the strongest military in the world is standing guard.  Our military men and women volunteer to risk it all so that our country might remain a safe and secure haven for families in Nebraska and across the country.

The security we enjoy comes with a price, and many of our military heroes return to their homes with the visible and unseen scars of battle. The effects of war often pose new challenges for our returning veterans, and sometimes, the home they left is not equipped for new accommodations our heroes now require.
We owe it to those who have sacrificed so much protecting our freedoms at home to ensure they have a safe and accessible home to return to following their tour of service.
Nearly a quarter of America’s 21.4 million veterans live with a disability, and 1.5 million are at risk of becoming homeless. For those veterans who have suffered life-altering injuries, such as amputations or traumatic brain injuries while defending our freedom, reintegrating into civilian life can be difficult, especially when new, often costly accommodations are not present at home.
This week, Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and I introduced legislation to help our disabled and low-income veterans with homes in need of repairs or modifications.  The Housing Assistance for Veterans (or HAVEN) Act fills in gaps in existing programs designed to help disabled servicemembers or veterans who require certain adaptations for their homes such as wheelchair ramps and accessible bathrooms. The bill allows the Veterans Affairs (VA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Departments to share resources, through competitive grants, with organizations dedicated to providing home rehabilitation and modifications for our deserving heroes. These services include simple repairs, such as roof work, plumbing and wiring, as well as installing handrails, handicap-accessible showers and accessible doors and hallways.
Our bipartisan legislation also creates public-private partnerships, leveraging and expanding the abilities of non-profits and volunteers committed to assisting with the housing needs of disabled and low-income veterans. Many organizations, such as Rebuilding Together and Habitat for Humanity, have touched the lives of thousands of retired military families, but with so many veterans in need, these organizations cannot fulfill this mission alone. The HAVEN Act develops a program where nonprofits and veterans service organizations team up with local VA facilities to identify qualifying veterans who are in need of home repairs and modifications.
Ensuring our military heroes have safe and accessible homes after giving so much to provide a secure homeland for all Americans is the least we can do. This legislation takes needed strides to improve the quality of life for veterans, keeping them in their own homes instead of more costly health care facilities. With a growing population of veterans, it is imperative that we make available adequate tools needed to assist in this effort.  A similar bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives, and I am hopeful that Congress can work together to make this proposal a reality in a timely manner. Helping our veterans is a moral responsibility we all share.

Friday, July 19, 2013

German Shorthair Pointer Puppies for sale

These puppies are for Sale.
The litter includes five females and three males.
    lent hunting dogs.

Puppies sleeping in food pan
Father dog
mother dog
 If you are interested in owning one of these excellent hunting companions see
T.A's Kennel
Toby Alber

Taxed Til Death

“Two things in life are certain,” Benjamin Franklin noted, “death and taxes.” Two hundred years later, Franklin’s observation remains as true as ever. During Franklin’s time, however, death itself was not always a taxable event. In the years immediately following the American Revolution, the death, or “estate” tax was levied sporadically – and temporarily – to finance wars throughout the nineteenth century.
The death tax was permanently codified in the Revenue Act of 1916 – the same law that introduced the modern day income tax. It was increased to help finance World War I, but the death tax didn’t go away upon conclusion of the war – and it’s been here to stay ever since.
It seems that the American people are taxed at every turn. Property, sales, income, capital gains, and death are all taxed – to name a few. Nebraskans know all too well that the list goes on, with new taxes emerging to pay for costly government programs like ObamaCare.
But I believe the death tax is especially egregious because it taxes hardworking Americans twice – once when they earn their money, and again when they give it away. Small business owners and family farmers and ranchers – our chief job creators – are hit hardest by the death tax. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that this year alone, 2,400 farms and 2,700 small businesses will be subject to the death tax.
These families invest time, resources, energy, and faith in growing their businesses, farms, and ranches, which many hope to pass on to the next generation. This legacy is undermined, and sometimes prevented all together, by the unfair death tax.
The devastating impact of this tax was dramatized on the silver screen in the 2010 film Secretariat. Many Americans remember the national excitement surrounding the famed racehorse’s Triple Crown victory in 1973 – the first horse to win the historic feat in 25 years. But what few recall is that the racehorse was almost sold off before it ever had the chance to win the trio of races.
Secretariat’s owners, members of the Chenery family, were forced to pay an enormous $6 million estate tax on their family farm upon the death of family patriarch, Christopher Chenery. At a time of grief, the family found itself with an impossible economic decision: they could sell the family farm, which Christopher had lovingly restored, or they could sell their newly trained race-horse, Secretariat, to pay the enormous federal death tax.
But for a shrewd, yet risky, decision to syndicate the thoroughbred, the Chenery family would have lost the countless hours and hard work spent training the horse, not to mention the profits from their investment. Fortunately, the Chenerys’ risk paid off – and Secretariat went on to win, stealing the hearts and capturing the imaginations of Americans from Belmont Stakes to the heartland.
Each year thousands of Americans are forced to make similarly difficult decisions to pay this tax, often during times of grief as they mourn the loss of loved ones. The result is the unraveling of family legacies: 70 percent of family businesses do not survive to the second generation, and 90 percent of family businesses do not survive to the third generation.
I am proud to cosponsor legislation to fully and permanently repeal the death tax. The bill, the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2013 (S. 1183) also lowers the gift tax to 35 percent with a $5 million exemption. The benefits of fully repealing the death tax extend beyond preserving existing family farms and businesses. Former Director of the Congressional Budget Office Douglas Holtz-Eakin has released a study explaining that repealing the death tax would create 1.5 million additional small business jobs. And after years of persistent joblessness, doing away with the death tax would shave almost a percentage point off the unemployment rate.
Repealing the death tax both generates needed economic growth and preserves a legacy of family farms, ranches, and Main Street businesses that color the very fabric of our Nation. Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.
Deb Fischer
United States Senator

Washington Report: Delay of Health Care Mandates Should Apply to All

Earlier this month, the Obama Administration announced it would delay enforcement of the employer mandate – a major component of the President’s 2010 health care law which requires businesses to provide government-approved insurance for their employees or pay a fine.  The delay was justified by the Administration as a way to allow businesses more time to prepare for the burdensome reporting requirements created by the law.
While this is welcome news for businesses, hardworking American families and individuals have not been offered the same relief despite having similar concerns and facing comparable reporting requirements.  I hear from businesses, individuals, school districts, municipalities, and other organizations in Nebraska concerned about the new rules and increasing costs of health care under the new law.  There is no reason a mandate should apply to one group and not another.

Some have also claimed the Administration does not have the authority to delay the employer mandate without the consent of Congress.  In bypassing Congress, the Administration has not only signaled its growing concern about implementation of this flawed law, but also its disregard for the separation of power.

To address these problems, the House of Representatives passed two bills this week; one to approve the delay of the employer mandate, and another to give all Americans the same relief.  If businesses need more time to comply with a burdensome law which is not ready to be implemented, then so do individuals.
The first bill, H.R. 2667, the Authority for Mandate Delay Act would give congressional approval of the Administration’s decision to provide businesses temporary relief from the employer mandate.  While we agree this mandate is not ready and would have disastrous economic consequences if implemented at the end of the year, the President’s decision fits into a larger pattern by the Administration of selective enforcement of the law to meet its legislative and political goals.

The second bill, H.R. 2668, the Fairness for American Families Act would extend the same temporary relief businesses have received to the American people by delaying the individual mandate by one year.  It would be inconsistent to postpone the onerous requirements of the health care law on businesses while hardworking families are still subjected to the individual mandate. 
It also does not make sense to enforce the individual mandate without the employer mandate because qualification for many of the individual subsidies to purchase insurance is dependent on the availability of employer coverage.  If you do not know whether someone has actually been denied employer coverage – how can you know whether or not they actually qualify for a subsidy?  This discrepancy invites massive fraud, waste, and abuse.
These problems are indicative of a poorly structured law which was rushed through Congress with little understanding of its complexity.  Full repeal would be in the best interest of the country, but we do not have the votes in the Senate to realize this goal.  However, I am hopeful the Senate and the President will acknowledge the law’s significant structural problems and agree to delay the individual mandate.  The bills passed by the House this week could ease the growing concerns of the health care law and give Congress the opportunity to find further common ground to implement other reforms to lower costs and expand access to care for all Americans.   

Member of Congress


Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator

     Well, it is upon us. It is County Fair time.  We are, of course, busy with preparations.   By the time this column hits the newspapers we will be right smack in the middle of another Webster County Fair.
 I looked at last year’s edition of this publication.  It brought back  painful memories of a broken hip, arm and heart as I had to miss my 40th Webster County Fair.
 In columns in previous years I have talked about the sights, the sounds, the smells of the fair, and particularly the kids as they show the results of their work with projects such as animals, sewing, cooking and you name it and how addictive that is to me.  It seems that these fairs, livestock shows are in my blood. One thing I have not really talked about, however, is the benefit to local counties, agriculture and to our kids that a fair such as ours provides. I think that most people who have been associated with fairs understand the roots and the reasons, but let’s look at it a little differently.
     As an UNL Extension Educator and long-time ag teacher, a former 4-H and FFA member and livestock exhibitor, a former cattle producer, and even more importantly - the parent of a daughter that loved to show cattle, I am fully aware of the time and effort of a large number of people that work together to make shows, exhibitions and fairs like ours possible. This list of people includes of course the exhibitors and family members, but also breeders, extension staff, 4-H leaders and FFA advisors, award sponsors, ag society, and so many other volunteers working behind the scenes. There are countless hours of time and significant dollars dedicated to the successful completion of a show. So why do we do it?
     I have been around for a long time, but believe it or not, I was not around when the concept of holding expositions and putting on livestock and produce fairs began, but I can speculate that the goals of those involved were relatively simple. Especially at the county level, I am pretty certain that fairs were started as a means to showcase local agricultural production, learn about new technologies, and let folks learn about what was considered the industry standard for a species of animal for that day. I'm sure that some folks were motivated by making a little bit of profit off the event as well! I understand that a lot of trading, buying and selling and even betting went on.
Webster County has a rich history with its County Fair.  You can read about what it used to be by going to . Things, of course, have changed rather dramatically from those earlier years, but much about the fair should not be lost in history.
      I would be remiss not to point out the direct benefits to 4-H and FFA youth that participate in today’s fairs and shows. When it comes down to it youth that participate in junior shows, like we have at our fair, have the opportunity to learn many lessons that can better prepare them for adulthood. Project participation prepares youth who desire to become involved in production agriculture in the future a sound knowledge base to work from when developing their own herd or enterprise. It also prepares young people, who might never become producers, have a background in agriculture as at least half of the people in our area are either directly or indirectly involved in agriculture.  Statewide I believe one out of every three jobs is in agriculture. So it should not be a surprise that I look at the county fair as being a great career builder. 
     Besides learning about animal husbandry, 4-H and FFA programs can provide the opportunity to develop leadership, responsibility, teamwork, ethical decision-making skills, etc. through their participation in livestock shows. Unfortunately, our youth livestock projects and other 4-H/FFA related programs have been successful for so long that they are often taken for granted. I do believe possibly the most important purpose for having fairs and other livestock shows grows in significance with every passing day. These fairs and exhibitions provide animal agriculture with a golden opportunity to better educate an uninformed public about what we produce and the methods we use to accomplish food production. 
     God knows that people are so removed today from their agricultural roots that there is a disconnect with many people, and particularly consumers, and that is not good in an agricultural state like ours. These educational opportunities are available at county, state, and national shows at any time we interact with the non-farm public. Do not assume that just because we have exhibitors and people attending our county fair that everyone understands our production methods and how we care for animals. The public's disconnect that I talked about with production agriculture is growing in rural and urban settings alike. I see the local county fair as a catalyst for educating the public about livestock and agriculture.
     I believe it is the responsibility of every exhibitor, family, farm, or ranch that participates in a show and at county or state fair to tell the public about our positive role in feeding the world. Outside of family functions or acquaintances at school or your job, when will you have a better opportunity to tell the story about how we raise our product? It is easier to tell the story at a show because you have the animal on hand to assist with "show and tell!" Isn’t that a novel idea?
    While animal agriculture in Nebraska and many other states have faced challenges in recent years as to how we do business, the fact of the matter is that our society has always had animal consumption as a part of our diet. How large a part of the public's diet will be derived from animal proteins in the future remains to be seen. There is no doubt in my mind that fairs, like ours and others in this area, can be an important avenue to assist us in our efforts in "animal welfare" and show the public that livestock producers do have the animal's best interests in mind. See you at the fair!

 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: 

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Deb Fischer
Sen. Deb Fischer


Last week, with the Senate out of session for Independence Day, I joined a small group of senators on an official fact-finding mission to the Middle East. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, it is especially important for me to visit with other policy and military leaders in this volatile region, including United States commanders. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) led the congressional delegation, which also included Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Thad Cochran (R-MS), and John Boozman (R-AR).
The first stop of our trip was Incirlik, Turkey, where we visited a Syrian refugee camp maintained by the Turkish government. For two years, the Syrian people have been engaged in a violent civil war that pits a group of rebels – made up of both moderates and extremists – against Bashar Assad, the country’s dictator. Assad has used chemical weapons, ballistic missiles, and heavy artillery in an indiscriminate campaign of terror against the Syrian people, resulting in over 100,000 dead.
As a result of this bloodshed, hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled Syria to neighboring countries, including Turkey and Jordan. All members of the United Nations (U.N.) are required by law to accept refugees and provide them with safe-haven. As signatories to the U.N. charter, both Turkey and Jordan have constructed refugee camps. Remarkably, 15 percent of Jordan’s population is now comprised of refugees.
The “tent-city” I visited appeared well organized and safe, but the living conditions were poor. Dozens of people share single tents, sleeping on the ground and cooking on hotplates. I was moved by their plight and appreciate the efforts of Turkish officials who were trying to improve their situation. While in Turkey, we also had the privilege of having breakfast with U.S. troops serving at the Incirlik Air Base, including some Nebraskans.
It is always a privilege to meet with Nebraska constituents, but it is an even greater honor to spend time with those constituents wearing our Nation’s uniform an ocean away. I expressed to them the thanks of all Nebraskans and assured them of our continued prayers for their safety.
We then travelled to Amman, Jordan, where we met with top officials to discuss regional turmoil. The visit coincided with growing unrest in Egypt and the ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. The Jordanians expressed their strong concerns with Egypt’s growing instability, the ongoing civil war in Syria, and the notable vacuum of United States leadership and influence in the region.
Time after time, there was a clear and consistent message: peace in the region is contingent upon American leadership. The administration’s failed foreign policy of “leading from behind” seems to have caught up to us. I urge the president – our primary voice to the world on foreign policy – to make clear where the United States stands. Our allies need reassurance of our support and our enemies need a reminder of our resolve.
The highlight of the trip was the opportunity to celebrate Independence Day with U.S. troops in Kabul, Afghanistan. Part of my job as a senator is to remind these brave men and women of our support – particularly the Nebraska constituents I met with at Camp Eggers. It was a real honor to share an American-style barbeque with our troops who sacrifice so much to protect the United States’ hard-fought gains in Afghanistan.
While policymakers in Washington debate politics, strategy, and drawdown numbers, it is our service men and women who are charged with implementing the policy. To make informed decisions, it is critical for legislators to visit with our commanders and those on the frontlines. I am thankful for the opportunity to gain such valuable perspective, and I ask for your prayers for all of our service members and their families.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.
Deb Fischer
United States Senator

Attorney General Bruning Investigating “Patent Trolls”

LINCOLN – Today Attorney General Jon Bruning initiated an investigation into whether patent infringement enforcement efforts by Texas law firm Farney Daniels LLP violate Nebraska law. Specifically, if such efforts amount to unfair or deceptive practices, they may violate the Nebraska Consumer Protection Act and the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Farney Daniels LLP has sent multiple letters to Nebraska businesses on behalf of patent trolls threatening lawsuits over patent infringement.  This litigation is costly and destructive to Nebraska consumers and businesses.
 “Patent trolls” are companies that buy groups of patents without intending to develop or market a product. They threaten target companies with lawsuits alleging infringement of the patents they have purchased. Businesses that have used, developed, or sold established technologies are often caught off-guard by such threats.
“‘Patent trolls’ make egregious threats with little or no valid legal purpose to gain fast money,” said Bruning. “It is a top priority of our office to protect Nebraska consumers and businesses from this sort of baseless harassment.”
The Attorney General’s Office is empowered to bring an action in the name of the state against any person to restrain and prevent violations of the Consumer Protection Act and the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act and seek civil penalties against offenders, where appropriate.
A copy of the Cease and Desist Order and Civil Investigative Demand sent to Farney Daniels LLP will be available shortly at

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Nebraska is Second in Pollina's Top 10 Pro-Business States Ranking


(Lincoln, Neb.) Nebraska has been named one of America’s ten most business-friendly states for 2013 by Pollina Corporate Real Estate, Inc., a national leader in corporate site selection based in Park Ridge, Illinois. The ranking is based on independent research conducted by Pollina.
Nebraska ranked second in the nation, only behind Utah. It moved up several spots from its 2012 sixth-place ranking.
“Nebraskans should be very proud of their political leaders and their efforts in developing an economy that other states should envy. Job creation is obviously a top priority for Governor Heineman and the state legislature. With less than one percent of its labor force employed in agriculture, Nebraska is clearly focused on building job opportunities for all of its citizens,” said Brent Pollina, vice president of Pollina Corporate Real Estate, Inc., and co-author of the Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business States study.”
“Nebraska continues to move up in rankings, and we’re proud of our #2 in Pollina’s Top Ten,” said Gov. Heineman. “We still have work to do, but I am pleased with our progress.”
The report gave Nebraska A’s in unemployment rate, right to work, unemployment insurance, business inventory tax, comprehensive tax-new firms, comprehensive tax-mature firms, litigation environment, transportation infrastructure, incentives (nine factors), and marketing/website/response to new and existing employers (four factors). The state received B’s in high school and college completion, and workers’ compensation.
“This is a governor and legislature that ‘gets it’ and they are working hard and smart to develop an economy that will work for the benefit of all Nebraskans. Governor Heineman recognizes that in today’s highly competitive global economy state leadership must work outside of the traditional economic development box if they are to provide Nebraskans with a robust economy. He has formed an economic development team that state residents and businesses should be proud of,” said Pollina.
“Pollina’s #2 ranking for Nebraska solidifies what Nebraska and Nebraskans have to offer,” said Catherine Lang, director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED). “This study is well-respected among the economic development world, and Gov. Heineman, the legislature, DED, and our Nebraska communities continue to work together reviewing and upgrading the factors that make Nebraska’s pro-business climate so attractive for recruiting and retaining growing businesses.”
“In terms of Stage II, Incentives and Economic Development Agency Factors, Nebraska continued its strong showing by placing #5 in this Stage, reflecting the states emphasis on providing the tools necessary for businesses to grow.  In the area of incentive programs, they performed extremely well receiving a Report Card grade of “A” and a rank of #9 in the nation.  In terms Marketing/Website/Response to new and existing employers, Nebraska also performed exceptionally receiving a grade of “A.”  The state’s economic development efforts ranked # 1 tying with Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah. Nebraska’s economic development website is among the top five in the nation,” stated Pollina. 
Considered one of the most, if not the most comprehensive study of its type, the Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business States annual study analyzes and identifies the most effective state governments at creating pro-business environments. The study examines 32 factors controlled by state government, including taxation, human resources, infrastructure, economic incentive programs and state economic development efforts.
Since 2004, the study has been covered by The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, CBS, NBC, CNN and NPR, as well as TV and radio stations, and newspapers across the nation. Several reports consider the Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business States study to be the “Gold Standard” by which all states should be judged.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Implementing a Job Killer

Sen. Mike Johanns


As the clock continues to tick toward the 2014 implementation of President Obama’s health care law, a growing chorus of concern continues to ring out across industries, families and the political spectrum. A broadening swath of Americans is learning more details about how the law will impact their families as well as businesses and jobs. As the shroud of political persuasion is pulled back, Americans aren’t liking what they are seeing.
Public support for the health care law has dwindled as businesses and individuals prepare to comply with new insurance coverage requirements or pay tax penalties.
Many businesses with 50 or more full-time staff, faced with a mandate to provide insurance to all employees, began to cut back hours and postpone adding new positions. In fact, June’s jobs report placed the number of part-time workers at an all-time high. Last month 322,000 more Americans who want full time jobs had to settle for part time work. Companies poised to grow are holding back on adding the 50th employee to avoid what could amount to $40,000 in tax penalties.
Clearly, the employer mandate was already beginning to spell disaster for a needed job market recovery. So just before the Independence Day break, President Obama announced he would postpone implementation of the employer mandate until 2015.
This move takes some pressure off of employers who are working to create more jobs and improve the economy, but it neglects many Americans who are still required to carry health insurance or face a tax penalty. Folks who have insurance will likely see changes in their health coverage and insurance premium increases because of the law—something President Obama explicitly assured would not happen.
Despite the President’s promises that he would reduce health care premiums for families by $2,500 annually, a number of independent studies predict the opposite. In fact, premiums are expected to increase anywhere from 10 to 60 percent for most families at a time when many Americans are still struggling to make ends meet. You deserve relief from the law, just as businesses were given.
Delaying the employer mandate was an important first step to correct the flaws in the law, but we shouldn’t stop there. President Obama should postpone indefinitely not only the employer mandate, but the individual mandate and all aspects of this law to prevent further damage to the economy and protect American businesses and families from new tax penalties and premium hikes.
Even some of its original supporters are uneasy about how it will be implemented, calling the process a “train wreck.” It’s time President Obama listens to these concerns. A true leader is willing to chart a new course when the current path forward turns out to be a dead end.  I hope our President has the courage and wisdom to change course on health care for the sake of American families, jobs and our economy.

Johanns, Senate Republicans Question Secretary Duncan on Education Department’s Role in ObamaCare Implementation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today joined several of his Senate Republican colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan questioning the Department of Education’s involvement in implementing ObamaCare.
“Taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being used to implement this flawed and unpopular law, especially when our children are involved,” Johanns said. “The Department of Education owes it to parents across the country to fully outline how many staffers will be taken away from the Department’s core mission and how much it will cost American families – as well as ensure that this isn’t just a way to put politics in our nation’s classrooms.”
This is one of many agencies outside of the Departments of Health and Human Services and Treasury that, according to recent news reports, intend to promote ObamaCare, an effort outside their missions.
The letter to Duncan was also signed by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.) Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and John Thune (R-S.D.).
The senators’ letter is below:
July 16, 2013
The Honorable Arne Duncan
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, Southwest
Washington, D.C. 20202
Dear Secretary Duncan:
We write to express concern with a recent announcement you made regarding the relationship between the U.S. Department of Education and the implementation of the President’s health care law.  During a recent interview with Lois Romano of POLITICO, you stated that the Department of Education will be assisting with the dissemination of information.  Additionally, you indicated that there is a team at the Department of Education currently helping with implementation. 
While we understand that the effects of the President’s health care law will be felt by parents, teachers, and their families, we are unfamiliar with how the Department of Education’s involvement in implementation will further the mission of educating our nation’s students.  To better understand the statutory authority, cost, and scope of the activities the Department of Education has taken, please provide a detailed response to the following questions:
  1. How much is the Department of Education spending this fiscal year to further the implementation of the President’s health care law, and how much does the Department of Education anticipate spending in each fiscal year from 2014 to 2017?  What specific appropriation accounts and programs are being used?
  2. If the Department of Education is receiving these funds through the Department of Health and Human Services, what instructions were included with this funding and how many Department of Education employees will be dedicated to this effort?
  3. How are the actions by the Department of Education different from those taken by the Department of Health and Human Services?  Have you coordinated with the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure your efforts are not duplicative?
  4. What authority does the Department of Education have to disseminate information and assist with the implementation of the President’s health care law
  5. How do the Department of Education’s activities further the education of our nation’s students?
  6. What specific actions are you asking schools to take without additional federal resources?  How does that not constitute an unfunded mandate?
In addition to these questions, we request that you please provide a detailed plan of your current and future involvement with the implementation of the President’s health care law by July 30, 2013.

LaVerne Francis Ostdiek August 10, 1934 to July 12, 2013

OstdiekLaVerne Francis Ostdiek, 78, of Cheyenne, Wyoming died Friday, July 12, 2013 in Cheyenne.
He was born August 10, 1934 in Hastings, Nebraska.
Verne served in the U.S. Army.
 He moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming  in 1959 where he met and married Saundra in 1960. 
He was a heavy equipment operator, developer, and business man, owning Ostdiek Excavation and Mobile Home Lots.
Verne was a member of Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Centennial Antique Tractor Club, Moose Lodge, and the Eagles.
He enjoyed collecting antique cars and tractors, especially John Deere and Allis-Chalmers.  Recently, he and his wife , Saundra, enjoyed wintering in Mesa, Arizona.
Verne is survived by his wife, Saundra “Sandy” Ostdiek and their four children, Matthew (Sandra) Ostdiek of Jackson, Wyoming, Brenda Roat of Greeley, Colorado, Patricia Ostdiek of Portland, Oregon and Kelley Ostdiek of Denver, Colorado; brother, Ronald (Sharon) Ostdiek of Blue Hill, Nebraska; sister, Delores (James) Morrison; ten grandchildren, Bryan (Karen) Ostdiek, Dylan Ostdiek, Michael, Eric, Brittany, and Aaron Roat, Sostina and Carissa Benavides, and Sydney and Aisha Young.
LaVerne was preceded in death by his parents, Ernest and Loretta (Britten) Ostdiek; brother, Darrell Lee Ostdiek and two grandchildren, Kristy Roat and Jeffrey Roat.
A rosary will be at 6:00 p.m., Thursday at Wiederspahn-Radomsky Chapel.
The funeral liturgy will be 10:00 a.m., Friday at Holy Trinity Catholic Church with Father Kevin Koch as celebrant.  Interment to follow at Cheyenne Memorial Gardens.
Casket bearers will be Dennis Bell, Kenneth Cook, Jim Lieske, Shawn Cook, Gary Himmelberg, and William Ambrosso.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Smith Encourages Nebraskans to Submit Ideas for Entitlement Reform

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) is encouraging residents of Nebraska’s Third District to submit their ideas and comments to reform Medicare and Social Security via email to The new e-mail address is part of an ongoing effort by the House Committee on Ways and Means to engage Americans in the discussion of entitlement reform.
“I support this effort and hope residents of the Third District will choose to get involved in the entitlement reform process by directly submitting their thoughts, ideas, and concerns to the committee,” said Congressman Smith.  "Without reform, these popular programs will collapse.  Public comments will help inform the committee as we seek bipartisan solutions.”
The Ways and Means Subcommittees on Health and Social Security have held a series of bipartisan hearings on entitlement reform. The first proposal related to the future of Social Security and the due dates for feedback on subsequent proposals can be found at:

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Eunice Maxine Pearson July 28, 1933 to July 12, 2013

Eunice M. PearsonEunice Maxine Pearson, the daughter of Eva (Churchill) and Ralph Worley, was born July 28, 1933 southeast of Campbell, Nebraska. She departed this life on Friday, July 12, 2013 at Grand Island, Nebraska at the age of 79 years, 11 months and 14 days.

Eunice received her formal education attending the Hilltop rural school. She was united in marriage with Glen Darrel Pearson on March 9, 1952 at Bladen, Nebraska. Seven children were born to this union. They made their home farming in the Red Cloud and Bladen areas. Glen died from injuries sustained in a farm accident on June 23, 1972. In her later years Eunice moved to Blue Hill to make her home where she attended the United Methodist Church.

In her leisure time she loved to read and work puzzles. Her greatest enjoyment in life was spending time with her family and especially her grandkids. She will be lovingly remembered as a kind and loving mother, grandmother and friend.

Preceding her in death were her parents; her husband; an infant son, Delbert Leroy; and three brothers, Lloyd, Art and Harvey Worley.

Left to treasure her memory are her children, Charles H. Pearson of Red Cloud, Nebraska; Ellen Mae Simpson and husband Conrad of Grand Island, Nebraska; Elaine Marten of Ogallala, Nebraska; Emily A. Zimmerman and husband Leroy of Grand Island; Etta R. Vetter of Grand Island, and Eve Fisbeck and husband Rick of Hastings, Nebraska; 7 grandchildren; 6 great grandchildren; 3 sisters: Naomi Mattison of Kearney, Nebraska; Iva June Beach and husband Clifford of Blue Hill, Nebraska and Doris Dallman and husband Virgil of Franklin, Nebraska; 2 brothers, Lester Worley of Blue Hill and Ivan Dale Worley and wife Bonnie of Hastings, Nebraska; other relatives and friends.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday, 10:30 a.m., July 16, 2013 at the United Methodist Church in Blue Hill, Nebraska with the Rev. Dan Albers officiating. Interment will be at the Harmony Cemetery at Bladen, Nebraska.

Visitation will be held Monday, 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. at the funeral home with the family present from 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. On Tuesday, visitation will be at the church from 8:00 a.m. to service time.

A memorial fund has been established by the family.

Williams Funeral Home
241 West 4th Avenue
Red Cloud, Nebraska 68970

Phone: 402-746-2500

Friday, July 12, 2013

It is time to vist County Fairs.

Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
Summer is a great time to visit fairs and festivals held across our state. Nebraska’s county fairs offer a wonderful opportunity to showcase the best of our state and highlight the agricultural heritage, achievements and talents of Nebraska producers, youth and hobbyists. 
Nebraska is home to over 90 county fairs and festivals that offer a variety of experiences and traditions for families that feature livestock show competitions, demolition derbies and championship rodeo competitions. No matter what your age, there is something for everyone at the county fair, which includes the diverse culture that makes Nebraska unique.
As Governor, I have the opportunity to personally visit many county fairs and the thing that stands out the most about the county fairs I have attended is the participation from our 4-H and FFA youth.  Each year, 4-H provides our young people the opportunity to gain important life skills that help them become productive, capable, responsible and compassionate individuals. In Nebraska, one in three age-eligible youth in all 93 counties participate in 4-H programs - that is over 140,000 young people. By participating in 4-H, our young people gain skills in science, explore career choices, learn about healthy behaviors and understand the importance of agriculture in our state.
Our FFA youth are no different. There are over 6,600 FFA members participating in 148 FFA chapters across the state. Through their involvement in FFA, these young people are truly following the FFA motto of learning to do, doing to learn, earning to live and living to serve.
I continue to be impressed with the citizens of our state. For those participating in county fair events, their determination, dedication and drive learned through fair projects is superb. Young people work on and share projects in a wide range of interests, from rocketry, technology, wildlife, photography, woodworking, and more. Thousands of others invest significant time and energy in learning to care for livestock.
County fairs offer our young people the opportunity to showcase their achievements of the past year, while also offering fairgoers an opportunity to experience family friendly entertainment – from tractor pulls, to pie-baking contests, concerts and musical performances.
If it’s your first visit to a fair, or whether you are a regular participant, I encourage you and your family to visit one of Nebraska’s county fairs and festivals this year. A listing is available online from the Nebraska Association of Fair Managers at
The more than one million people who attend Nebraska’s fairs and festivals each year can attest to the quality of life Nebraska has to offer. Our county fairs and festivals are an opportunity to experience the traditions and culture that make Nebraska a great place to live, work and raise a family.

- Dave Heineman
    Governor of Nebraska


     The 107th Webster County Fair at Bladen, Nebraska is just around the corner. The fair begins on Saturday, July 20 with the annual clean-up. The first of many youth events start at 1:00 pm on clean-up day when 4-H youth bring their favorite recipes for home-made ice cream and will participate in an ice cream roll using duct tape, coffee cans and ice to make ice cream that will then be judged.

     The livestock portion of the fair starts officially at the Rodeo Grounds at the Webster County Fairgrounds in Bladen with the Working Ranch Horse Competition which is set to begin at 7:00 pm on Saturday evening, July 20th and features 4-H and FFA exhibitors working their horse through events that emulates tasks that would be required on a cattle ranch. This event is open to all 4-H and FFA youth across the area. The following morning (Sunday, July 21) the 4-H & FFA Horse Show gets underway with a 9:00 am start time.

     The youth portion of the fair continues through the week with many activities for the youth including the 4-H music contest and fashion show starting at 7:00 pm at the Blue Hill high school gymnasium in Blue Hill on Monday evening July 22. The rest of the week will bring a little different schedule of events than what has been followed in previous years. The following information will help both exhibitors and attendees prepare for the fair.

     There is reserved parking for 4-H and FFA members and parents again this year. Vehicle and camper parking will not be allowed on the rodeo grounds this year and two special lots located east and south of the sheep barn has been set up for camper parking. This area requires passes that can be obtained from the 4-H office at the fairgrounds.  Livestock trailers and vehicles are expected to be parked on the south end of the lot located to the east of the beef barns on the Timm lot which is just north of West Avenue. The overflow will be asked to part on the north end of the lot directly east of the fairgrounds just south of Helen Street.  The south end of that lot is reserved for 4-H & FFA camper trailers. Additional 4-H & FFA camper trailer parking new this year is the west half of the lot just north of Mariel Street and adjacent to the fairgrounds.

     Tuesday, July 23 brings the judging of the home environment, miscellaneous agriculture exhibits, foods, horticulture, photography, and other static exhibits starting that morning, with the 4-H and FFA Poultry and Rabbit show starting at 8:30 am. All other livestock with the exception of 1st year bucket calves and stocker feeders will be checked in and weighed throughout the day. Sheep, goats and hogs will be weighed in and checked in Tuesday morning, with breeding beef checked in at 6:00 pm and market beef weighed in at 7:00 pm that same evening. Please check your Webster County fair premium book for exact times for each species.

     The 4-H/FFA Sheep Show starts at 8:30 am on Wednesday morning, July 24. The 4-H/FFA Meat Goat Show will follow the 4-H and FFA Sheep Show. Once again there will be a “Best Dressed Goat” contest that will be held at the conclusion of the live show.  This should prove to be an entertaining and fun event for exhibitors and spectators alike. The 4-H/FFA Beef Show is split once again this year with the Beef Showmanship event beginning Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 pm. A fan favorite, the 4-H/FFA cat, dog and exotic animal show begins at 4:00 pm in the evening starting with the dog show followed at 7:00 pm with the cat, small and exotic animal show. 

     Thursday, July 25 is a very busy day at the Webster County Fair. It starts at 8:30 am with the 4-H and FFA Swine Show. The swine show includes a breeding gilt class which is separate from the market swine show. The First Year Bucket Calf competition will be held during the day and includes record book review, an interview and a complete bucket calf evaluation and showmanship event. The competition continues on Thursday with the State Fair qualifying Round Robin Showmanship starting at 2:30 pm. At 4:00 pm there will be a special beef fitting demonstration .

     Webster County is famous for the number and especially the quality of its beef exhibits.  This year is no exception. The 4-H/FFA Market and Breeding Beef show will go all day Friday, July 26, starting at 8:30 a.m. with finals of the Webster County Beef Showmanship.  The top two senior and top two intermediate beef showmen will be determined at the Wednesday afternoon show, but will come back on Friday morning to compete for Grand Champion Beef Showman under a different judge.

     Upon crowning of the Grand Champion Beef Showman, the Market Beef competition will begin, including the Grand Champion Market Beef final drive and results of the Beef Carcass contest. The 4-H/FFA Breeding Beef show will begin at 1:00 pm, or ½ hour after the completion of the market beef show, whichever is later, on Friday afternoon.  The breeding beef show will conclude with the crowning of the Grand Champion Webster County Breeding Heifer and then the Supreme Champion Breeding Beef.  

     The annual 4-H & FFA Livestock Premium Auction and special Webster County Youth Foundation activities will be held on Saturday morning, July 27th starting at 9:00 am. Premium on the Grand Champion of each species will each be sold at the beginning of the auction with the opportunity for the buyer to have their picture taken with the animal and exhibitor that they are supporting, and that picture will be given to each of them and forwarded to local newspapers.  The premium auction would then follow the procedures as it has in previous years.

     Saturday afternoon also features a very popular event each year with the Rainbow Classic where pre-4-H youth have a chance to show their pets and sibling’s exhibits in front of a dignitary judge. This fun event will start at 12:30 p.m.  There will be a special guest judge again this year. The last event of the day and the Webster County 4-H and FFA Fair is a fun afternoon of activities for all ages being organized by Red Cloud and Blue Hill FFA Chapters and the Webster County Junior Leaders. The Webster County Junior Leaders will also sponsor a “Boot Scramble” each night before the rodeo with two age groups – 4 to 6 and 7 to 9. New this year will be an “Adult Boot Scramble” on Friday or Saturday evening’s rodeo.

     All exhibits will remain in place throughout the day on Saturday and through Saturday evening so that fair-goers will have a chance to see the exhibits that the youth have worked so diligently on during the year, bring to the fair for competition, and to show the public what they have accomplished. This includes static exhibits at the 4-H Exhibit Hall and the animals from the livestock barns.

      All non-auction exhibits will be released at 11:00 pm on Saturday night or Sunday morning before noon. All leaders, 4-H and FFA youth, parents are expected back at the fairgrounds on Sunday morning (July 28) to load out the market animals on the trucks for the buyers and to participate in the post-fair clean-up day. We ask that everyone grab shovels, brooms and pitchforks and have them ready on Sunday morning and help put the fairgrounds back into its pristine shape and ready for the 108th  edition of the Webster County Fair at Bladen, Nebraska next year. 

     The 4-H and FFA events are just a part of the Webster County Fair.  There are of course Open Class Exhibits, vendors and booths, and Amusement Associates are this year’s Carnival. Tickets are available in advance at local banks, UNL Extension Office & 4-H Fair Office ($20.00 per sheet of 40 tickets or $10/20 tickets ).  Don’t forget the annual great Webster County Rodeo, a main stay since the very early years of the fair.  It will be held at the Webster County Fair Rodeo Arena located on the west half of the fairgrounds. The rodeo kicks off on Thursday, July 25 with a Beef Barbeque at 5:00 pm followed by a watermelon feed, and the Rodeo Princess Contest. The Friday Rodeo is “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” night with a portion of the gate going to fight cancer. It kicks off with a Pork Barbeque at 5:00 pm and ends with a dance with music provided by “West Wind.”  Saturday is the big day with the Demolition Derby starting off at 4:00 pm. Steak lovers will have to get the South Central Cattlemen steak sandwich which will be offered from 4:00 pm until gone.  Registration for the KRVN “Endless Summer” 2013 Camaro will take place between 6 & 8 pm. The rodeo will have its last go-round that night followed by the second night of dancing to “West Wind”. There is a wild cow race each night of the rodeo and a chance to win a special Montana Silver belt buckle.

     For a more complete list of activities or any questions concerning the youth portion of the fair, please contact the Webster County extension office in Red Cloud at 402-746-3417 or check out the web site at:  or look for us on Facebook at “Webster County Fair & Rodeo.”