Monday, December 30, 2013

OSHA Shouldn’t Go Against the Grain

Nebraska’s vast horizon where blue sky meets rolling farmland is occasionally interrupted by towering silos that stand as proud reminders of Nebraska’s rich agricultural heritage. No doubt, grain bins and family farms go together like the State Fair and 4-H. 
So, you can imagine the surprise by one of Nebraska’s family farms when the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) showed up and declared their grain bins separate from their farming operation. Their surprise was two-fold. First, everyone who has spent any time on a farm knows that grain storage is not only a normal, but an essential, part of many farm operations. Secondly, OSHA had no business setting foot on that farm because the law prohibits OSHA from enforcing regulations on small farms, specifically farms with fewer than 10 employees – this farm had just three.
It has been this way since 1976, when Congress first passed the small farms exemption. So while farms have been exempt from OSHA regulations for more than 35 years and grain storage has been a part of farming for generations, the agency has decided to ignore history and distort definitions to do an end-run around the law.
And here’s the kicker. That regulatory overreach came with a $132,000 fine for that Nebraska family.
This latest example of wrongful regulatory overreach further reinforces suspicions by the agriculture community that the Obama Administration is singling out America’s ag producers. I often hear from farmers and ranchers who must deal with agencies like EPA and OSHA going around the legal process by creatively interpreting the law or setting their own rules to expand their jurisdiction.  Of course farmers and ranchers care about safety.  And a safe working environment is especially important to small farmers and ranchers, whose families are often the only ones on the payroll.
I recently called on the Department of Labor, OSHA’s parent agency, to halt all activity in conflict with the long-held congressional direction regarding small, family owned farms and to send a clear signal that America’s ag producers are not going to be unfairly targeted.  It’s time they stop the irony of claiming these farmers and ranchers are in the wrong, when in reality, OSHA is the one violating the law.
OSHA and other regulators need to stand with America’s ag producers rather than standing in their way.
The negative impacts of this latest overreach and the broad implications for our ag producers is clear. The way OSHA is doing it speaks to an even larger issue. This Administration is in hot pursuit of an overly aggressive regulatory agenda. An agenda that is being pursued outside of the legal process that allows for Congressional review and public comment, and outside of the law itself.
I’m going to continue working to ensure Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers can operate free from unnecessary and unlawful obstacles brought on by Washington bureaucrats – and to keep an ever-watchful eye on this Administration’s pursuit of an all-encompassing, costly regulatory agenda
Please join us at the Red Cloud Opera House tonight - December 30 for a meet and greet with Sen. Tom Carlson who is running for Governor. Your support will be appreciated.


Sen. Mike Johanns

It’s hard to believe another year has passed as your United States Senator. I want to thank you again for the privilege to serve our great state and also thank all who took the time to write, email, call and meet with me in person throughout 2013. From all 93 counties, your voices have been a guiding force for me in the Senate.
There was a lot of action in Washington this year, but fewer things made a bigger splash than the abysmal performance of Obamacare.  I held a number of health care roundtables in 2013, and the resounding message from both patients and doctors in our state is that the law is doing more harm than good. These sentiments are strongly echoed on the webpage I launched for you to share Obamacare stories. I continue to believe that full repeal of Obamacare is the best option, but in the meantime, I have introduced and sponsored a number of bills to ease the law’s heavy burdens on American families and small businesses. My legislation to repeal the law’s new restrictions on health savings accounts (HSA) and flexible savings accounts (FSA) passed unanimously in the Senate in March and would allow families to plan for health care costs with the flexibility they’ve always enjoyed without the heavy hand of government getting in the way.
In Nebraska, sound ag policy has been another priority. Our farmers and ranchers are the backbone of our economy, and as a member of the Senate Ag Committee, I continue to seek ways to help them – and by extension our state – thrive and grow. I’ve been actively engaged in the current farm bill process, championing market and trade-friendly policies that would give our farmers and ranchers the best framework to ensure success in a global market. A long-term, five-year farm bill is currently being negotiated between the House and Senate, and I’m confident a final bill will be unveiled in January.
I continue to fight to protect farmers and ranchers from the Administration’s aggressive regulatory agenda. Most recently, I called on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to back off its assault on small, family-run farms. OSHA ignored Congressional direction exempting small farms from its regulations and is attempting to stick a Holt County farm with more than $130,000 in fines.
Housing finance reform is another important measure I’ve been working on this year. This summer, I joined a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing a bill to reform the broken system. Our bill would replace government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which now finance a majority of mortgages, with a privately capitalized system that keeps the market moving while ensuring taxpayers are never again on the hook for future bailouts. Since introducing our bill, the House has also moved forward on this issue and President Obama has signaled support for our plan. I’m pleased to see this effort gaining traction in Washington.
Of all my duties as a legislator, nothing brings me more joy than recognizing Nebraskans for their accomplishments. This year I nominated the Blue Hill heroes for the “Citizens Service Before Self Honors,” for courageously risking their own lives to rescue children from a burning bus. And, I helped make sure two Nebraska veterans received the honors they deserved. Vietnam veteran David Lehn had been waiting almost three years for medals earned during two tours in Vietnam with the U.S. Navy and the family of World War II veteran Joe Alberico, who was killed in action, was denied issuance of medals 70 years ago despite having all the paperwork. Helping with these issues was nothing short of a privilege.
I also recognized the Nisly family of Beaver Crossing as 2013 ‘Angels in Adoption.’ Over the past two decades, the Nislys selflessly opened their home to foster children, 9 of which they’ve adopted as their own.  A tenth is in the process of being adopted.
I hope recognizing and honoring these selfless acts of love and bravery reminds everyone what is possible when we open our hearts to others.
We dealt with many important issues this year, and I invite you to visit my website at for a full report. I expect another full year ahead and look forward to hearing from you in 2014.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Blue Hill Basketball results. Blue Hill wins Two.

In  the Axtell Holiday Tournament Blue Hill lady bobcats were up against the Arcadia/Loup City girls.  They were able to defeat the opponents soundly with a score of 59 to 18.  Top scorers for Blue Hill was MacKenzie Willicot with 16 points followed closely by Maci Coffey with 15 points and Adrienne Lipker with 12.  The girls now have a 5 -1 Record.

The boys first game of the tournament was also against the Arcadia/Loup City team.  At the end of four quarters of play the score was tied at 45 each.  But in overtime play Blue Hill was only able to put one point on the board while Arcadia/Loup city put up 15 points.  Final Score 46 to 60.  Saturday Dec. 28, the boys were back to play Meridian and won with a score of 48 to 26. Their record is now 2-5. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Farmers and Ranchers Cow/Calf College at USMARC January 28, 2014

     The annual Farmers and Ranchers Cow/Calf College “Partners in Progress – Beef Seminar” will be held at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center and Great Plains Veterinary Education Center near Clay Center on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 with registration, coffee and donuts starting at 9:00 a.m. The program will start at 9:45 a.m. and will run until approximately 4:00 p.m. The seminar is geared toward beef producers with an emphasis on cow/calf enterprises, but should be of interest to feedlot operations and anyone involved in beef production or education. This program is sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension and the Farmers and Ranchers College. 

     This year’s theme will center on celebrations of two very note-worthy events. The U.S. MARC is celebrating its 50th Anniversary and UNL Extension is celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Smith Lever Act and Extension at UNL. Of course there are other topics of interest to cattlemen as well. There is no cost for the event and the public is cordially invited to attend. It does include a noon meal which means that early registration is necessary to reserve a plate. The seminar features internationally recognized speakers and is designed to provide information that should help cattlemen in planning for the upcoming year or educate the public in topics and issues involving the beef industry.

     The “Cow/Calf College” will kick off with Dr. John Pollak, Director of USMARC and Dr. Dale Groteluschen who will give a welcome and a quick overview of their respective facilities. This will be followed by a special presentation by Dr. Pollak on: “USDA-MARC – Fifty Years of History". He will be followed by Dr. Ronnie Green, NU Vice President and IANR Harlan Vice Chancellor, who will give his thoughts on “Innovating the Beef Industry: Living in 2013 but Thinking in 2050”. Beef producers will be able to look at beef production history and peer into the future in one setting. These presentations will be followed by a special recognition for a long time Beef Quality Assurance leader, Dr. Dee Griffin by the Nebraska BQA director and Farmers & Ranchers College.

     Lunch will be provided and will be handled with a rotation system during two noon sessions featuring Doug Straight NE Beef Council Director of Industry Relations and Rob Ehrich, NE Beef Quality Assurance Director who will team up to give a presentation on: “A New Direction - Nebraska Beef Check-off & BQA Programs” in one session. Also in the rotation will be a special presentation by Dr. Chuck Hibberd, UNL Dean of Extension, who will kick of the celebration of the Smith Lever Act and UNL Extension with ”UNL Extension:100 Years Young and Just Getting Started!!!” Attendees will also get to sample some Nebraska Extension Centennial ice cream and MARC 50th Anniversary cake to help celebrate the two special occasions.

     The afternoon session will be kicked off by Dr. Terry Klopfenstein, UNL Animal Science -Professor Emeritus in Ruminant Nutrition, who will treat producers to his discussion of: “Cows, Corn and Ethanol –The Golden Triangle” He will be followed by Dr. Jerry Volesky, UNL Range & Forage Systems Specialist at WCREC, who will give his take on the “Range and Pasture Drought Recovery”. There is no doubt that most beef producers are worried about how the last two year’s drought has affected grass and forage production These two presentations should help beef producers look at feed resource alternatives and management suggestions for recovering from the drought.

     All presenters will then join on stage to pull everything together, give their final thoughts and considerations and then avail themselves for a coffee-shop style panel discussion during which cattlemen can ask questions and get answers on topic questions that came to them during the day’s sessions. A chance for some excellent door prizes will be awarded to those that stay for the entire event.

     Any beef producer or other interested individual should pre-register by noon on Friday, January 24th, 2014, at the UNL Extension Office at 621 North Cedar, Red Cloud, NE 68930 or call (402) 746-3417 to insure a seat, lunch, and proceedings for the day. Walk-ins are accepted, but may not get a lunch. You may also email your registration to Dewey Lienemann at:  Further information may be found at the Webster County UNL Extension site at: . 


Duane Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator
     It is hard to believe that we are past Christmas and the year 2013 is behind us. Is it just me or do the months and the years slip by faster each year? Oh I know that there are still a lot of office parties and most likely family Christmas’ to be held yet, especially the extended family Christmas get-togethers that are held after the immediate family Christmas around the family tree and the traditional coming of Santa Claus for kids – large and small. I look forward each year to the Lienemann clan gathering where most of my siblings and many of their children gather to reminisce, talk, eat good food, watch football and eventually exchange gifts. I come from a large family (nine of us still surviving) and then consider the kids and grandkids – you can admittedly call it “semi-organized chaos” --- uhh Christmas, or a combination of holidays.  
     My parents did their very best to provide for us, and Santa always came even if the resources were sparse. It was really more about being together and celebrating the birth of the Christ Child for us. The family all attended Church services and of course the Christmas Program. Especially before our grandparents passed on, we all had to say our parts in the program before we could open our presents. I would bet that would sound familiar to a lot of you. A family prayer before we ate together was a tradition – usually the common prayer that came originally from Germany. “Come Lord Jesus be thou our guest, let thy gifts to us be blessed! Amen.” When I was in Germany a few year back I heard the same prayer only in Ostfrieslandish (Plattduetsch).  It goes something like this: “Komm Herr Jesus sei du unser Gast und lass deine Geschenke uns selig sein. Amen” I also found out that there was a second verse. I had no idea, as we only used the first. That verse goes: “And may our souls by thee be fed, ever on the living bread. Amen.” I will spare you the German version on that.
     The point is that sometimes we don’t seem as thankful for the “gifts” that we have today. I watch young people tear into one present after another, seldom taking time to really appreciate their gifts. I think that sometimes we, even as adults, may not fully appreciate the real gifts that we have, the people around us, the people that love us, the country in which we live and the wonderful bounty that God has provided us. I think too of the blessings of healing that goes with the spirit of this season. Our family has been hit with cancer, as have many others, and this time of year becomes increasingly important for all of us. I found some information in my readings this week that seemed appropriate as we think of all the trappings of this Holiday season and in particular for me today a plant with some unusual cancer healing properties --- Mistletoe!
      You knew that mistletoe may be good for securing a smooch during the holidays, but did you know that it may also be an effective aid against certain types of cancer? A semi-parasitic plant, mistletoe grows on a variety of common trees including apple, oak, elm and pine. As a traditional medicine, mistletoe was used by the Druids and the ancient Greeks, and was widely regarded as something of a cure-all. The plant has been used for centuries in European herbalism for treating epilepsy, hypertension, headaches, menopausal symptoms, infertility, arthritis and rheumatism.
       Since the 1920s, mistletoe has also been studied for its applications in treating various forms of cancer, especially solid tumors. For people undergoing cancer treatments, the widely studied plant is often used as a complementary-based therapy. In Europe, mistletoe preparations are regularly prescribed for various types of cancers as its extract demonstrates anti-cancer activity when used against cancerous cells in the lab. It’s been said that mistletoe extract enhances immune function, which increases the production of the immune cells. When administered as a form of therapy for cancer, the extracts are given by injection under the skin, into a vein or directly into a tumor. The anti-cancer activity of mistletoe may be influenced by the host plant. Mistletoe growing on an apple tree, for example, may have a somewhat different chemical composition than mistletoe growing on an elm. However, there does not seem to be any definitive research on which type of extract is preferable for which types of cancer.
     Human clinical studies on mistletoe and cancer have been conducted in Europe, primarily in Germany. In a number of studies, mistletoe has demonstrated efficacy against cancer. However, critics in the United States regard these studies as either too small or improperly designed. At present time, two research groups have "investigational new drug" approval to conduct studies on the use of mistletoe extract for cancer. Their studies may further the cause of this treatment in the U.S. However, at this time, the FDA does not recognize the use of mistletoe to treat any form of cancer, and injectable mistletoe extracts cannot be sold in the U.S.
      In one study conducted between 1993 and 2000, researchers examined the use of a mistletoe extract (Iscador) in 800 patients with colorectal cancer. They were all treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Researchers found the patients treated with Iscador had fewer adverse events, better symptom relief and improved disease-free survival compared to patients who did not receive the mistletoe extract as adjuvant therapy. This finding concurs with other research, that mistletoe therapy reduces the discomfort and undesirable symptoms of other traditional therapies, such as chemotherapy.     
     Studies have been done on a mistletoe extract (Helixor A) in conjunction with the chemotherapeutic drug “Gemcitabine” in patients with advanced solid tumors. In the study, the combination of the two showed low toxicity and health benefits in almost half the patients. In this case, mistletoe demonstrated its value as an adjuvant, helping to modify the chemotherapy. Who would have known? I just thought it was for a good excuse to get a Holiday kiss. Happy New Year everyone!!

   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, December 26, 2013

Bruning Calls for Accountability in Target Data Breach

LINCOLN – Attorney General Bruning  announced Nebraska joined with other state attorneys general to gather information on the recent Target data breach. 
“Nebraskans shouldn’t suffer financial fallout from a retailer’s lack of security and oversight,” said Bruning. “Last year, our office helped draft and support LB 61 to add a layer of accountability when consumer information is compromised by data breaches. If that legislation had passed, Target would be required to provide information about Nebraskans affected by this event. With approximately 40 million Americans affected, this breach is exactly why LB 61 was created. Companies must be held accountable for protecting consumer information.” 
Introduced in January 2013 by State Senator John Murante of Gretna, LB 61 requires businesses to notify the Attorney General’s Office of data breaches involving Nebraskans. The bill was in review by the Nebraska Legislature Judiciary Committee when the body adjourned sine die in June. #

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Bruning Issues Consumer Alert" Nebraska Target Shoppers Should Review Bank and Cred Statements for Unauthorized Activity

LINCOLN – Attorney General Bruning released the following statement regarding the recent data breach reported by Target. The data breach is reported to have affected up to 40 million people who used credit or debit cards to pay for purchases in Target stores this year between November 27 and December 15. 
“Data breaches may leave Nebraskans vulnerable to identity theft,” said Bruning. “Nebraskans who believe their information may have been compromised should review their bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized activity. As always, report any unauthorized charges to your card issuers immediately, notify credit bureaus in writing and file a report with law enforcement. For more information or to file a complaint, call our Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 727-6432 or file a complaint online at” 
Nebraskans are eligible for one free credit report annually from each of the three largest credit bureaus at
More information on the Target data breach can be found here.
Luke 2:12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Blue Hill Boys Basketball Results

12/05/13@ KenesawD23-32L48-54 36 
12/06/13Doniphan-TrumbullC23-11L45-88 39 
12/12/13SuperiorC21-54W55-34 41 
12/14/13Hastings St. CeciliaC24-22L47-72 36 
12/19/13@ Wood RiverC13-22L47-60 38

Johanns Leads 42 Senators in Bipartisan Letter on Osha's Illegal Regulatory Actions

NEbraska's  U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns   led an effort with 42 of his Senate colleagues, from both sides of the aisle, in requesting the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) immediately stop their unlawful regulation of family farms. The senators also direct OSHA to issue updated guidance correcting their misinterpretation of current law. The request was made in a joint letter to Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who oversees OSHA.
As Johanns has said since raising the issue on the Senate floor earlier this week, “This is the latest attempt by the Administration to expand their regulatory reach by making an end-run around Congress and the American people. OSHA is out of line here, not our hard working ag producers. I am going to work to ensure OSHA – and the rest of the Administration – plays by the rules. This letter is a strong first step and I appreciate the support of my colleagues.”
Since 1976, Congress has exempted small, family-run farms from OSHA regulations, but in a 2011 memo OSHA asserted that on-farm grain storage and handling was not part of farm operations. The memo essentially expanded OSHA’s regulatory scope to nearly every farm in the country without going through the established rule making process that allows Congressional review and public comment, in defiance of the law.
In addition to Johanns, the letter is signed by U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), John Thune (R-S.D.), David Vitter (R-La.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
A copy of the senators’ bipartisan letter is below:
December 20, 2013

The Honorable Thomas E. Perez
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20210

Dear Secretary Perez:

We write to you regarding reports that regulators at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have begun taking regulatory actions against farms that are specifically exempted by Congress from regulatory enforcement conducted by OSHA. Since 1976, Congress has included specific language in appropriations bills prohibiting OSHA from using appropriated funds to apply requirements under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1976 to farming operations with 10 or fewer employees.

It has come to our attention that OSHA is now interpreting this provision so narrowly that virtually every grain farm in the country would be subject to OSHA regulations.  OSHA’s interpretation defies the intent of Congress in exempting farming operations from the standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

In viewing a farm’s “grain bin operation” as somehow distinct from its farming operation, OSHA is creating an artificial distinction in an apparent effort to circumvent the Congressional prohibition on regulating farms.  The use of grain bins is an integral part of farming operations.  Without grain bins, farmers must sell corn and soybeans immediately after harvest, when prices are usually low.  Storing grain in bins is thus a fundamental aspect of farming.  Any farm that employs 10 or fewer employees and used grain bins only for storage prior to marketing should be exempt, as required by law, from OSHA regulations.

A memo issued by the Director of Enforcement Programs on June 28, 2011, stated that “many of these small farm employers mistakenly assume that the Appropriations Rider precludes OSHA from conducting enforcement activities regardless of the type of operations performed on the farm.”  The memo declares that all activities under SIC 072—including drying and fumigating grain—are subject to all OSHA requirements (the memo did not even mention grain storage).  There are many farms that have grain dryers on-farm to address wet harvest conditions or fumigate grain to prevent pests from ruining a crop prior to marketing.  These are basic, common, and responsible farming activities that OSHA has arbitrarily decided are non-exempt.

Worker safety is an important concern for all of us—including the many farmers who probably know better than OSHA regulators how to keep themselves and their employees safe on farms.  If the Administration believes that OSHA should be able to enforce its regulations on farms, it should make that case to Congress rather than twisting the law in the service of bureaucratic mission creep.  Until then, Congress has spoken clearly and we sincerely hope that you will support America’s farmers and respect the intent of Congress by reining in OSHA.

We would ask that you direct OSHA to take the following three steps to alleviate this concern.  First, OSHA should cease all actions predicated on this interpretation, which is inconsistent with Congressional intent.  It is important that OSHA also issue guidance correcting this misinterpretation of the law.  We suggest consulting with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and organizations representing farmers to assist with this guidance.  Finally, we ask that OSHA provide a list and description of regulatory actions taken against farms with incorrectly categorized non-farming activities and 10 or fewer employees since the June 2011 memo.  Given the nearly four decades of Congressional prohibition of OSHA enforcement against farms, this should be a simple request to fulfil.

We would appreciate your response by February 1, 2014, to include a copy of the corrected guidance, the data regarding enforcement actions on farms, and confirmation that OSHA will cease such enforcement.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Blue HIll 58 Wood River29

The Blue Hill girls basketball team soundly defeated wood River on the Wood River court Thursday, Dec. 19.
The game started off slow but picked up as the girls were able to outscore their opponents for a 58 to 29 victory.
 The girls now have a record of four wins and one loss, the loss coming from Hastings St. Cecilia on Dec. 14 with a score of 32 - 45. 
The girls will next see action at the Axtell Holiday Tournament on December 27-28.  The brackets have not been released.  TBD.
The next scheduled game will be on January 6th at Grand Island Central Catholic.  Grand Island CC C1 team has a 2-5 record. 

Washington Report: Optimism for the New Year

Rep. Adrian Smith

During the holiday season we gather with family and friends to celebrate our many blessings, remember the past, and look forward to the future.  This year, it would be easy to be pessimistic about the future of our country.  Our nation and our government face many challenges.  However, President Reagan’s Christmas Address in 1981 reminds us of the many great obstacles we have overcome before. 
In the spirit of President Reagan, I believe our nation’s best days are ahead of us.  I remain grateful to our men and women in uniform and their families for defending our freedom, which makes us the greatest nation on Earth.  I wish all Nebraskans a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.
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.

Once, 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.

Member of Congress


The Webster County Board of Commissioners met at 8:30 am on Tuesday, December 17th for a regular business meeting. Board Members present were Dan Shipman, Trevor Karr, Justin Armstrong and JoAnn Reiher. Commissioner Buschow was absent.
Motion was made by Shipman, second by Armstrong to approve the minutes of the regular business meeting on December 3rd. Voting to approve the minutes: Shipman, Armstrong and Reiher. Karr abstained. Buschow was absent.
The Board received a request for Tax Exemption for the Webster County Food Pantry’s 1998 Dodge Ram 150 used to pick up food donated to the program. Motion was made by Karr, second by Armstrong to approve the exemption. All Members present voted in approval.
 The Board discussed the setting of all elected officials salaries in Webster County for the 2015-2019 term of office. Assessor Sonja Krueger and Deb Klingenberger were also present. The Board spoke to Sheriff Schmitz via telephone. The Board studied salaries and benefit packages from other counties that closely match Webster in valuation and population. They also reviewed and discussed responsibilities of each elected official. 
At 9:55 am, Keith Buschow joined the meeting. 
The Board agreed to postpone until the next meeting, discussion on allowing County Commissioners to operate county equipment or motor vehicles.
At 11:00 am, the Board held a bid letting for a 3-span concrete bridge west of Bladen.
Tim Farmer of Speece-Lewis Engineers and the Highway Superintendent Linda Grummert were present.
Four contractors were present for the bids ranging from $572,131 to $827,709. At 11:10 am, the Board held a bid letting for the construction of a triple box culvert west of Bladen. Six contractors were present for the bids ranging from $181,050 to $349,067. After review of the bids, motion was made by Armstrong, second by Shipman to award the bid for the concrete bridge to  Commercial Contractors with a bid of $572,131 and the triple-box culvert to K2 Construction with a bid of $181,050. Upon roll call vote, all Members voted in favor of the motion. With Highway Superintendent Grummert and Tim Farmer present, discussion was continued on roads and bridges.  Superintendent Grummert has filed an extension for the completion date of the Bus Barn. The original completion date was December 31, 2013. She is extending it to January 7, 2014. She is to inspect the driveway at the east entrance of the building. It is compacted gravel, which was part of the bid, and she feels it should be concrete.
Discussion resumed on setting the salaries for elected officials during the 2015-2019 term of office. Motion was made by Shipman, second by Reiher to adopt Resolution 58-2013 : 
            BE IT RESOLVED, That the annual base salary of the elected officers for County Assessor, County Attorney, County Clerk and County Treasurer shall be set $40,180.00 each for the year 2015. The annual base salary of the County Sheriff shall be set $45,115.00 for the year 2015.
 The annual base salary for each County Commissioner shall be set $16,072.00 for the year 2015.       BE IT RESOLVED, That the above listed salaries shall be adjusted for cost of living with a 2.5% increase above the previous year’s annual salary for each of the three years; 2016, 2017 and 2018.       BE IT RESOLVED, That the County Board Chairman shall receive an additional $50.00 per month for the responsibilities and duties placed upon the Board Chairman.    
  The County Sheriff shall receive an additional $400.00 per month for the responsibilities and duties of Chief Jailer and holding of prisoners.        
All Members voted to adopt Resolution 58-2013.
   The following claims were approved for payment:  
 Wages for 44 salaried employees: $96,253.00
GENERAL FUND Tricia Allen  expense $    295.63
 Ameritas Life Ins retire     4638.37
 Anderson,Brewster counsel     1168.50
Nebr Admin Servic fees       119.40
Ask Supply Co.  supply      351.85
BluCross/BluShld  health    16452.13
Blue Hill Leader  publish      278.01
Cherie Bonifas  expense       15.82
Roger Burken  expense       28.25
CPI    supply      970.34
CPI    fuel      1534.84
Julene Degener  mowing      220.00
Dell Marketing   supply      169.98
Doubletree Hotel  lodging     1729.00
Social Security  Fica      5058.56
Eakes Office   supply      204.91
First Concord   health      193.86
First Concord   fees       175.00
Fleetpride   health      711.53
Grainger   repairs      205.50
 Greeley Co Clerk  copy        40.60
Guide Rock St Bnk health      515.00
Hall Co Jail  housing     3392.29
Kelsey Herz  expense        7.68
Jack’s   service     1500.00
Jared Auto Expert repairs     1802.81
JEO Consulting   fees       295.00
Kenny’s Lumber   supply     1999.99
Deb Klingenberger expense       20.00
Lorie Koertner  expense       82.67
 Peggy Kohmetscher expense       28.25
Sonja L Krueger  expense       68.68
Madison National  life        22.05
Jerry McDole  counsel     2221.25
NACO    dues      1103.99
Nebr Telecom   longdist      122.16
Physicians Lab   corner     1075.00
Red Cloud Chief  publish      251.42
SLEBC    health      319.50
WC Dental Fund  premium     3031.00
Joe Strickland  expense        7.91
US Postmaster  postage     1000.00
Web Co Hospital  testing       60.00
WC Imprest Acct  fee        11.00
 Wex Bank   fuel       373.45
Robert Willicott  contract      820.00
Ameritas Life Ins retire     1905.28
BluCross/BluShld  health     7868.41
Blue Hill Leader  publish       35.00
Bostock Welding   repairs       50.00
Century Lumber   supply      138.30
 CPI    fuel      1609.35
Country Corner  fuel       411.69
Doubletree Hotel  lodging      190.00
 Social Security  Fica      2159.36
Elkhorn Bank   graders    34376.82
Fastenal    repairs       14.79
Fleetpride   repairs       33.46
Garrett Enterpris tires      1583.90
Linda Grummert  expense       21.71
J & A Auto Supply tools       196.20
Kenny’s Lumber   repairs      155.94
Lawson Products   supply      208.16
 Martha Meyers  expense       66.54
Nebr DMV   misc        20.00
Nebr Machinery   repairs      466.47
Nebr Telecom   longdist       68.99
Newman Traffic   signs      1555.00
Olson Enterprises  fuel      6607.16
Platte Valley Com repairs      496.50
Red Cloud Chief  publish       40.50
WC Dental Fund  premium      961.00
South Central PPD utility     2125.23
Speece-Lewis   fees      3750.00
Superior Medical  medic        99.00
Timm’s Service  fuel      1783.80
WC Sheriff Dept  misc        10.00
Wiarcom Inc  supply      319.60
Caroll Schriner  misc      4200.00
Speece-Lewis   fees      2253.73
Kory Bumgardner   dental     1585.60
Timothy Lebsack  dental       60.00
Martin G Tilley   dental      589.60
WC Dental Clinic  dental      307.00
Adams Co Court  hearing      407.00
Health/Human Ser  st home       90.00
WC Transport’n  handibus     1389.00
Blue Hill Leader  publish      104.40
Speece-Lewis   fees     17442.33
Ameritas Life Ins retire      128.33
BluCross/BluShld  health      715.31
Social Security  Fica       145.45
Great Plains Com  phone        46.01
Nebr Telecom   long dist        2.81
WC Dental Fund  premium      111.00
Bound Tree Med  supply       42.76
CPI    fuel       227.16   
Being no further business, Chairman Buschow adjourned the meeting at 12:45 pm. The next regular business meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 7, 2014. A current agenda and complete minutes are on file in the County Clerk’s Office.  
 Dated this 17 th day of December, 2013.      
Webster County Board of Commissioners     
ATTEST: Deb Klingenberger                                   Administrative Assistant                                   Office of Webster County Clerk


Thursday, December 19, 2013


Sen. Deb Fischer

I was raised to keep my promises, and throughout my first year as a United States Senator, I’ve worked hard to do just that. I came to Washington ready to get to work on Nebraskans’ priorities, such as getting our nation’s fiscal house in order, strengthening middle class families and communities, and ensuring we keep our promises to military service members.

Despite my frustration with the political games that often hold back progress, I am encouraged by opportunities in which we have been able to get things done.

For example, I’ve been working with both Nebraskans and my fellow lawmakers to cut the red tape and address overregulation, which holds back economic growth. I asked Nebraskans to identify specific federal regulations hurting their businesses. One common problem I heard about was a misguided new rule for on-farm fuel tanks. I was pleased the Senate adopted my amendment to directly address this and bring needed regulatory relief.

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I helped write policies to ensure our men and women in uniform have the resources they need to fulfill their missions. I’ve also offered measures to end sexual assault in the military. After visiting with Nebraskans serving in the Middle East and speaking with many of our state’s veterans, I’ve never felt more proud and thankful for the bravery and service of these men and women who sacrifice every day for our safety and freedom.

Another priority of mine has been making sure our communities have a 21st century communications infrastructure. The Senate approved a bipartisan amendment I introduced to promote access to broadband services. After working with my colleagues to address call completion problems, I was grateful the FCC announced an effort to resolve this challenge for both rural and urban areas.

While there are many issues where I’ve been able to work with my Democrat colleagues, major disagreements persist regarding the role of government and federal spending. Our national debt surpassed $17 trillion this year, a sad milestone. To address our fiscal crisis, which is also a national security crisis, I’m supporting responsible fiscal policies to cut spending and reduce our debt. In January, I was proud to cosponsor a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Nebraska is legally required to balance its budget, and there is no reason the federal government shouldn’t do the same.

To take on government waste, I introduced a bill to save $890,000 of taxpayers’ money that is literally wasted on nothing but empty grant accounts. I also cosponsored legislation to limit spending on expensive portraits of government officials. I will continue to look for waste in government spending and work to eliminate it.

An issue undeniably on the minds of business owners and millions of Americans this year has been the President’s failed healthcare law. Scrapping Obamacare has been a focus of mine since I arrived in the Senate, and I cosponsored legislation to fully repeal it. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, the law went into effect. Its disastrous rollout was predictable, but what is worse is its effect on hardworking middle class Americans and their families.

More than 7,000 Nebraskans have contacted me with concerns about Obamacare. In Washington, I’ve shared their stories of cancelled plans, sticker shock costs, and lost access to their current doctors. The list of broken promises resulting from this law seems endless, and I remain fully committed to repealing and replacing it with patient-centered, common sense reforms.

I am honored to serve you in the United States Senate every day and I appreciate your ongoing input. I look forward to continuing my efforts to advance the interests of Nebraskans in Washington as we confront the great challenges faced by our nation.

Bruce and I wish all Nebraskans a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season. May it be filled with peace, joy, and hope for the new year.


Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator

     We are getting very close to a very special time for kids – young and old. Parents and grandparents alike are undoubtedly doing that last minute shopping or wrapping feverishly for the early family Christmas or perhaps an “office” party. We all have a tendency to say “Santa Claus is coming to town!” Our grandkids unfortunately have reached the age where they think they know who Santa Claus really is….we may have one young one that is not quite sure but he could be playing his parents or grandparents. One thing that is nice, and most important in my mind, is that they all know the reason for this season, and are well grounded in the traditional Christmas, even though they are growing up in an environment that is more “politically correct!” They do still seem to enjoy the prospect of what that big jolly ole Elf may bring them as they look under the tree for what he may have brought them! I can almost hear the clatter of hoofs up on the rooftop!
     Some of my friends think I make a good Santa Claus. I suppose it is my girth or perhaps my nose, or hearty laugh. I do on occasion hit some friends and family homes, doing my best to emulate St. Nick. You should see the wonder in those young kid’s eyes and even the parents who have no idea who is under that suit. And yes,  I do deliver some coal. I do get all kinds of questions from the young kids when they get over the shock of Santa walking in. Believe it or not, most of them have to do with reindeer.  So let’s  explore Santa’s reindeer--who are of course vital to delivering those gifts.       
     First, a little nostalgia - did you know that it was 34 years ago that the song “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” came out?  Now that just doesn’t seem possible, but I have found that time does pass us by very quickly. Several years ago I highlighted some work done by Glenn Selk, former Nebraskan now at Oklahoma State University, who provided some interesting facts about reindeer that got a lot of comments at that time. I felt, in light of that, it would be fun to revisit that article. The piece was named ”Just How Do Santa's Reindeer Get the Job Done?” and the content is as follows.
     Have you ever wondered how Santa's reindeer can make that monumental journey on Christmas Eve?  Let's look into some key facts about reindeer that may help us understand how they get Ole St. Nick on his appointed rounds over the world. First of all, historians report that reindeer have been domesticated by humans for over 5000 years.  Since Santa himself is no spring chicken, we can assume that they have worked together for quite a while.  They should not have any trouble finding their way around.  There is no need to worry about them getting lost.   
     We do know that reindeer are ruminants.  They are like cattle in this regard.  They have four compartments to their stomach.  Of course Santa gets them full up with hay before he leaves the North Pole, so they should have plenty of feed stored in the four compartments to make it all around the globe.  Also, cattle nutritionists have known for years that hay digests more slowly than grain, therefore the big meal that the reindeer eat before the journey should last even longer.  Or just like your mom says "It'll stick to their ribs!".  
     As for drinking water that should be no problem whatsoever.  In their homeland the water is all frozen so they are used to getting the moisture they need by eating snow.  So as the sleigh is parked on snowy rooftops in cold weather cities, the reindeer can take on the moisture they need if they get thirsty.  
     How do they keep warm while flying around on Christmas Eve?  The fur that they have is very thick and can hold a lot of air.  The "blanket" of insulation combining fur and air helps keep them warm in even the coldest of climates.  Plus flying around Christmas night in many areas of the world that are warmer than they have at home should not be a problem.  
      How do they fly?  Well that’s a tougher question, and we really do not have that one completely answered.  However, let’s look at what we do know about them. Reindeer are amazingly fast runners on the ground.  A newborn baby reindeer at one day of age can out run the fastest person on earth.  By the time that they are fully grown it is hard to tell what speeds that they could reach. 
     Next remember those huge antlers.  Antlers of adult male reindeer can be as much as 4 feet long!  Just think about it.  Each reindeer has 2 sets; that’s 8 feet of antlers and with eight reindeer (or nine if we count Rudolph on foggy nights) that is 64 to 72 feet of total antler span. A typical small airplane only has about 20 - 30 feet of wingspan.  Certainly it seems feasible that those eight reindeer, running that fast, with all that antler span, could indeed get off the ground.  
      There are a couple of myths about reindeer that we should clear up.  You have probably heard the poem that says that they have tiny reindeer feet.  Actually they have a very wide large hoof that they use at home to dig through the snow to find grass and moss to eat.  You've got to think that those wide hooves would come in handy for sliding to rather sudden stops on the small landing sites that Santa has to work with on Christmas Eve.  And you've probably heard the song about “up on the house top click, click, click”.  Well it is true that reindeer do make a clicking sound as they walk.  They have a tendon that snaps over a bone joint and makes a clicking sound on every step. These are just a few facts about Santa's Reindeer.  Maybe this will help us understand that age-old mystery that occurs every Christmas Eve.  
     Here is wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas! May you all keep your eyes to the sky watching for those reindeer, and please remember the “Real Reason for this Season” with the same fervor as children. When it comes down to it --all of our traditions and celebrations are in respect and honor to the Christ child born in a manger over 20 centuries ago.
   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: 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Johanns Opposes Raising Spending Caps


 U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today opposed a budget that amends the Budget Control Act to bring federal spending for the next two years back over a trillion dollars.
“This proposal simply raises more money to spend more money,” Johanns said. “I don’t object to replacing the sequester cuts so long as the alternative includes targeted cuts that address waste or fraud, or achieves long-term savings through structural changes. Unfortunately, this agreement does not meet that standard. It’s going to require difficult decisions, but that’s the only way we are going to dig ourselves out of our $17 trillion debt.”
The bill advanced by a vote of 67-33.
The budget legislation would increase the legal spending caps signed into law in 2011, bringing spending to more than a trillion dollars annually. While the bill does not raise taxes, it does increase numerous fees and the spending cuts do not take effect for years. Some of the cuts, like the reductions to Medicare provider payments, are unlikely to be implemented in 10 years, as outlined, once again leading to a greater deficit.

Gov. Heineman Comments on Signing Good Time Change


 Late Monday, Gov. Dave Heineman signed rules and regulations related to the Department of Correctional Services and the administration of “good time” credit. Good time credit, which reduces the time inmates spend behind bars, is automatically given to inmates under current state law.
Beginning Dec. 21, the new rule allows for corrections officials to take away twice as much good time for misbehavior, including assaults on prison guards and other prisoners. The new maximum penalty allows for up to two years, instead of one year, of good time loss for inmates.
Gov. Heineman stated, “I have done what I can administratively, it is now time for the Legislature to reform the good time law to ensure that the most violent criminals have to earn good time rather than receive it automatically, as required by current law. This is no time to be soft on crime.”

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Quote of the Day

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same." ~ Ronald Reagan

Hawkettes beat Bobcats 45-32

Saturday December 14 the Lady Blue Hill Bobcats met the St. Cecilia Hawkettes on the  Blue Hill  court.  The Hawkettes were able to out score Blue Hill with a final score of 45 to 32.  This was the first loss of the season for Blue Hill and brings the St. Celilia record to 4 - 0. 
12/05/13@ KenesawD21-23W67-15  
12/14/13Hastings St. CeciliaC23-01   L  45 - 32
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem.

Three Hospitalized after head-on Collision

Three people were rushed to the hospital after a country road collision near Blue Hill.
 Dylan Buschow and Adam Kearney, both students of Blue Hill,   and a middle–aged man were transferred to Mary Lanning.
Authorities say the 50–year old was pinned in his own car.
Both vehicles were completely destroyed. 
Buschow, who was driving,  reported on facebook that he suffered a broken thumb and was bruised and shaken but doing well.  Kearney said he had injuries that would require a few days of hospitalization but felt he would make a full recovery. 
The head–on collision occurred at the intersection of Marian and Silver Lake.
Both vehicles were totaled in the collision.
Adams County Sheriff Patrol as well as Hastings and Blue Hill Fire Departments were called to the scene.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Duane A. Lienemann,
UNL Extension Educator
     I would be remiss if I did not mention a couple of things that have happened in the life of our daughter, Deanna (Lienemann) Karmazin, these past few weeks. It is not often that I veer off the path and use this column to portray personal items, but I think you might forgive a father for being proud. So I want to give some kudos to the hard work and determination that has always been her hallmark. The Nebraska Agribusiness Club awarded her the as the New Horizon Award honoree. The award was given at the 47th Annual Banquet Honoring Public Service to Agriculture at Hillcrest Country Club in Lincoln, NE in November. I will simply put forward the biography that was part of her award ceremony.
     “Deanna Karmazin has a passion for agricultural education that has guided her 16 year career thus far. From 1996-2011 Deanna served as a UNL Extension Associate in Lancaster County. During her tenure she educated countless students not only in her 4-H activities, but also in programs she developed to educate urban youth about agriculture. Since March of 2011, Deanna has served as the State Director for the Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom program. This role allows her the opportunity to work together with teachers across the state to integrate agriculture literacy into their classrooms. Deanna is a member of LEAD Group XXIX. Deanna and her husband Steve are the parents of twins, Chris and Lauren.”  
     The second event is something that I think could be very important for Nebraska and particularly Nebraska agriculture. It is gratifying to see Deanna taking a lead in this effort.  Let me first lay down a little groundwork. After nearly a year of developing the structure and components of the new Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, it is up and running. The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture is now a non-profit, charitable organization and has been determined as exempt from Federal Income Tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code allowing for tax deductions for gifts. This is a new venture and is where the second event comes into play.
     Now where this becomes exciting for me is that the NFB Foundation for Agriculture board of directors, a group made up of statewide leaders in Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska agriculture, agribusiness and education recently hired Deanna as its new executive director. She has been the state director of the Agriculture in the Classroom program since 2011. Her new position will be largely responsible for the fundraising efforts of the Foundation along with outreach, networking and other development efforts. She officially took the reins of the Foundation on December 1. She is ready to roll!
     I was touched by the words from NFBF President Steve Nelson as he announced the decision and I quote: “Deanna’s experience in agriculture and the non-profit and charitable sector will serve the organization well. She has a strong passion for promoting, protecting and preserving Nebraska agriculture and Nebraska Farm Bureau. Her focus of strengthening the value of agriculture in the state and passing on the agricultural legacy of our members keeps our Foundation on solid ground.” As an educator you always hope your students will develop a passion for agriculture and can have opportunities like this--- It is good to see our South Central Nebraska 4-H and FFA progeny succeed and help make a difference!
     I was honored to attend the sold-out inaugural Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture Fundraiser Dinner in Kearney this past week, and witnessed people involved with agriculture from all across this state step up and participate with donations, bids on live auction and silent auction items that went towards this new effort. They also received a huge boost with a donation from a former effort called the 21st Century Fund. They had a very nice start to their foundation.  I also got to hear her response to her new leadership role: “I am very excited about being a part of the NFB Foundation for Agriculture. This position gives me an opportunity to work hand in hand with our supporters to create legacies that support agriculture programs they care about most, fulfilling our vision of strengthening communities and Nebraska agriculture.”
     Helping protect Nebraska agriculture and the future generations of farm and ranch families will directly depend on our ability to educate children and the non-farm public about how their food is produced through modern day production practices. This is why the heart of success of the Foundation lies directly with its ability to leverage financial resources to achieve its mission which is to generate financial resources and partnerships to build awareness, understanding and a positive public perception of agriculture through education and leadership development. This is a huge step to this goal.
     Financial Support for the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture provides the opportunity for people interested in ag literacy and the legacy we have in agriculture to have a vehicle to help with this mission through: Outright gifts (cash, securities, real estate); Deferred or planned giving (wills and bequests, life insurance, remainder interest); Endowments; Memorial or tributes; Gifts in trust; and with annuities and annuity trusts. What I find fascinating about this thrust is that the Foundation has five pillars: Agriculture in the Classroom; Young Farmers and Ranchers Program; Ag Promotion and Education programs; Leadership Development; and of course--Scholarships and Loans. Individuals can designate which pillar they want to support. Essentially, this new Foundation is charged with streamlining and enhancing fundraising leverage for agriculture literacy in Nebraska. If anyone is interested in the new Agriculture Foundation, you can find it on the internet at: . I hope you will join me in congratulating Deanna Karmazin, and wish her the very best and good luck as she tries to navigate this new voyage in her life.  Oh --- and if you have a few bucks lying around……..Ok, perhaps that was a little shameless!

   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: 
Luke 2:15-16 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger

Friday, December 13, 2013

Doctor Shortage Hurts Rural Nebraska


Rep. Adriam Smith
There is a significant shortage of physicians, particularly primary care physicians, in rural areas which hurts communities in places like Nebraska’s Third District.  There are three or fewer primary care physicians in 45 of the 75 counties in our district.  Eighteen of these counties have no primary care physician at all.  With so few physicians, rural Nebraskans may have to travel farther to see a doctor which can limit access to care.
Part of the reason for this doctor shortage is the challenge of recruiting physicians to rural areas.  Many times, rural health care facilities simply do not have the resources to pay doctors salaries comparable to those at larger hospitals or more populated areas.  While physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and other providers can provide some of the same services as doctors, many of the challenges of drawing physicians to rural areas apply to these professionals as well.
I recently visited one of the more than fifty Critical Access Hospitals in the Third District.  These hospitals are designated as small, remote facilities providing 24-hour care.  This hospital employs only one doctor who is ready to retire, but after more than a year of searching a replacement has not been found.
The hospital administrator estimates it will cost about $200,000 a year to hire a new doctor.  This salary is increasingly unaffordable for the hospital because of costs related to implementing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.  Compliance with the medical records mandate included in the health care law alone will cost this hospital about $1.3 million.  Numerous other mandates in the law will burden the hospital with costs, time, and lost productivity.
These mandates further discourage doctors from working in rural areas.  With fewer physicians and administrative staff, regulations disproportionately affect providers in rural areas more than in larger facilities with more resources and personnel to dedicate to compliance.  Given the choice, it is not difficult to understand why a doctor would prefer to spend more time treating patients and less time filling out paperwork.
Another mandate which could further discourage physicians from taking rural positions are physician supervision regulations.  These rules require a physician’s presence and supervision over nearly all routine procedures administered in hospitals.  While this requirement is less of a challenge for large hospitals, it can be very problematic in areas with few doctors.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) previously delayed enforcement of this rule for Critical Access Hospitals, however, last month the agency announced it would begin to enforce the rule at all hospitals.  This week, I introduced legislation to delay this harmful rule for at least one year for Critical Access Hospitals, and until CMS completes an analysis of the impacts of this regulation.  Physicians, nurses, and ancillary staff in rural facilities are highly experienced in determining the appropriate level of patient care.  They must be given the flexibility to provide affordable and efficient health care.
Rural providers face many challenges without the heavy hand of government.  The more government gets involved in health care, it is more difficult for doctors to do their jobs.  To maintain access to quality care for rural Americans, we must do more to get the federal government out of the way of providers, and find ways to encourage more doctors to seek positions in smaller communities.

Nebraska High School Graduation Rates Continue to Improve




   Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
One of the goals of Nebraska’s P-16 Initiative (preschool through college) is for every high school in Nebraska to achieve a 90 percent high school graduation rate.
The Department of Education recently announced Nebraska’s statewide graduation rate has improved from 87.6 percent to 88.5 percent. That’s great news. Nebraska has one of the best high school graduation rates in the country.
I want to congratulate our school districts for the increased focus that they put on graduating their students from high school. To succeed in life and in the work place, you need a high school diploma. Additionally, we are encouraging students to obtain either a two year associate’s degree or four year bachelor’s degree depending upon their area of study.
In reviewing Nebraska’s high school graduation rates, we should be very careful about comparing the graduation rates of a Class A school like Millard West with a graduating class of over 500 students with Perkins County with a graduating class of 26 or Anselmo-Merna with a graduating class of 17. That’s why I focus on comparing high schools within their sports classification.
Among Nebraska’s Class A schools, 17 of our 26 high schools have a graduation rate above 85 percent and nine are above 90 percent. In Class B, 23 of our 28 high schools have a graduation rate above 85 percent and 17 are above 90 percent.
In Class C-1, 29 of our 39 high schools are above a 90 percent high school graduation rate and another eight are between 85 to 90 percent. In Class C-2, 31 of our 40 high schools are above 90 percent and all C-2 schools are above 82 percent.
Among smaller schools that we can report on, 54 of our 61 high schools are above the 90 percent high school graduation rate goal and all smaller high schools have a graduation rate above 83 percent.
The graduation rate information for our high schools will be available at my website, by clicking on the icon “columns.”
I also want to emphasize the improvements our school districts have made on Nebraska’s statewide assessments in reading, math and science. I reported on that progress in my November 1 and November 15 weekly columns. I am very pleased that most of our schools are experiencing noticeable improvements in these assessment scores. I want to thank our schools and parents for their increased emphasis on academic achievement.
Class A Graduation Rates (pdf)
Class B Graduation Rates (pdf)
C-1 Graduation Rates (pdf)
C-2 Graduation Rates (pdf)
Smaller Schools Graduation Rates (pdf)

- Dave Heineman
    Governor of Nebraska

The View from Paxton

Senator Deb. Fischer
 Recently I participated in an oversight hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee on domestic renewable fuels. This meeting focused on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to scale back its Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. The RFS currently determines the minimum volume of renewable fuel that must be contained in transportation fuel sold in the United States.
Nebraskans understand the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard. Our state has answered the call to invest in domestic renewable fuel production. Nebraska has 24 active ethanol plants and an annual production capacity of 2.3 billion gallons. These plants represent more than $5 billion in capital investment in the state and provide direct employment for nearly 1,200 Nebraskans.
On a national scale, the RFS enhances domestic energy supplies and reduces our dependence on foreign oil. Adding more than 13 billion gallons of homegrown ethanol to the U.S. fuel supply in 2012 displaced the need for 465 million barrels of foreign oil, which saved our economy $47.2 billion. The RFS also helps to support more than 380,000 American jobs and lower fuel prices for consumers.
During the short time that the RFS has been in place, production – both of the biofuels themselves and the feedstocks for these fuels – has only become more efficient. Nebraska’s farmers have demonstrated an ability to continually produce more while using less land, less water, and less fertilizer.
I was so pleased to welcome fellow Nebraskan Jon Holzfaster, a corn farmer from Paxton, to the EPW hearing exploring the impact of changes to the RFS. Corn, of course, is currently the primary feedstock used for ethanol production. During my time questioning Jon, I asked him about land and water use issues in the production of ethanol. In his response, he directly addressed faulty claims from critics regarding the negative impact of his work on the environment, a matter with which Nebraska farmers are all too familiar. His comments on the subject were powerful, and I’d like to share them with you.
Jon stated, “In agriculture, we’ve been accused of creating dirty air and dirty water, and that … hurts. I breathe that air. I drink that water. I love this town [Washington], but one thing I look forward to is going home and breathing that air and drinking that water. I know that it’s safe.
This Paxton farmer reminded everyone that the land is not only his livelihood; it is also his home. It’s where he’s built a life. These farmers, more than anyone, understand the value of precious natural resources and work hard every day to protect them.
Through innovative technologies and the commitment of hardworking people like Jon Holzfaster, Nebraska’s agriculture sector has been able to produce an abundant supply of food, feed, and fuel in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Nebraskans are blessed with a diverse array of energy resources. The surest way to achieve long-awaited energy independence is by balancing conventional sources of energy, such as coal and natural gas, with renewable sources, such as biofuels. The many stakeholders in our agriculture industry all benefit from lower prices, and increasing the supply of safe, clean energy will help keep costs down for both middle class families and producers.
Thank you for taking part in our democratic process, and I look forward to visiting with you again next week.

Small, Rural Health Facilities Would Suffer Under New Rules

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) issued the following statement after introducing H.R. 3769, to delay enforcement of physician supervision regulations at Critical Access Hospitals:
“While physician supervision requirements are less of a challenge for large hospitals, they can be very problematic in areas with few doctors.  Critical Access Hospitals simply do not have the man power and resources to abide by these arbitrary regulations.  I hope delaying enforcement of these rules, and an analysis of their impact will help regulators understand how destructive these requirements would be for rural providers. 
“Physicians, nurses, and ancillary staff in rural facilities are highly experienced in determining the appropriate level of patient care.  They must be given the flexibility to provide affordable and efficient health care.”
Physician supervision rules require a physician’s presence and supervision over nearly all routine procedures administered in hospitals.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) previously delayed enforcement of this rule for Critical Access Hospitals, however, last month the agency announced it would begin to enforce the rule at all hospitals.
Critical Access Hospitals are designated as small, remote facilities providing 24-hour care.  There are more than fifty Critical Access Hospitals in Nebraska’s Third Congressional District.
Congressman Smith’s legislation would delay this physician supervision rule for at least one year for Critical Access Hospitals, and until CMS completes an analysis of the impacts of this regulation.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Smith Votes Against Budget Proposal


Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) issued the following statement today after voting against H.J. Res. 59, the Murray-Ryan Budget Agreement:
“I appreciate the hard work of Chairman Ryan and Chairwoman Murray to find common ground and consensus.  However, in my opinion, this budget doesn’t achieve enough real deficit reduction to justify lifting spending limits previously agreed to on a bipartisan basis in the Budget Control Act of 2011. 
“The appropriations process is broken, and more work is needed to truly move beyond the budget showdowns of the last several years.  The debate over spending is not over.  We must continue to pursue reforms to entitlement programs to ensure long-term solvency, and to simplify the tax code.”