Sunday, May 31, 2015

Clair Duval April 11, 1924 to May 30 2015

Clair Duval the 5th of 8 children born April 11, 1924 to Earl and Sarah (Hansen) Duval at Bladen, Nebraska.  He departed this life on Saturday, May 30, 2015 at Hastings, Nebraska.
Clair graduated from Bladen High School with the class of 1941.    Clair was united in marriage to Bonnie Mae Lewis on September 17, 1946 at Smith Center, Kansas.  This union was blessed with the birth of two children a son and a daughter.  Clair and Bonnie Mae made their home for seven years in Hamilton County, then moved to their home and raised their family on the farm south of Bladen.
Clair had attended the Bladen United Methodist Church; a volunteer fireman in Bladen; a school board member; had served both on the 4-H council and the Webster County Fair board; had been a long time 4-H leader and was on the Plainview cemetery board.
Clair always enjoyed visiting with his friends, but most cherished being Grandpa and Great Grandpa.
He is preceded in death by his parents, wife Bonnie; brothers: Marian, Kenneth and Earl "Bud"; sisters: Opal Offner, Marjorie Skrdlant; brothers-in-law: Joe Offner, Irvin Skrdlant and Calvin Henne and son-in-law Gaylen Vance.
Survivors include his son James Duval and wife Kathy of Hastings, Nebraska; daughter Shirley Ewing and husband Jeff of Bladen, Nebraska; sisters: Bonnie Lovejoy and husband Kenneth of Red Cloud; Hazel Henne of Bridgeport, Nebraska; sister-in-law Pearl Duval of Holdredge, Nebraska; grandchildren: Chad and Sherrie Duval; Amy and Cliff Carlson; Brian and Mary Vance; Jay and Ella Vance; step grandchildren: Ben and Kathy Ewing, Katie and Scott Hoyt, Hallie and Phillip Hamilton, and Alex, Laura, Annie Peterson.; great grandchildren: Bailey, Anna, Brett and Adam Vance; Ethan and Lilly Vance; Kelty, Jack, Will and Josh Duval, Heath and Hannah Carlson and a step great grandchildren: Angelaura Ewing, Azlynn, Hannah, Tauren Woodward, and Seamus Hoyt. ; other relatives and his many friends.
Funeral services will be held Friday 10:30 a.m., June 5, 2015 at the Bladen United Methodist Church with Pastor Dan Albers officiating.  Interment will be at the Plainview Cemetery, Bladen, Nebraska.
Visitation will be held Thursday and Friday, 8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. at the Williams Funeral Home in Red Cloud.
Williams Funeral Home
241 West 4th Avenue
Red Cloud, Nebraska  68970

Friday, May 29, 2015

Lawmakers override veto; young immigrant driver’s licenses approved

Qualifying young immigrants can be permitted to drive in Nebraska following a successful veto override May 28.
Introduced by Omaha Sen. Jeremy Nordquist, LB623 allows Nebraska residents of driving age who are covered by the federal Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to secure a driver’s license or state identification card.
Senators passed the bill May 21 on a 34-9 vote, but Gov. Pete Ricketts vetoed it May 27.
In his veto message to the Legislature, Ricketts said the bill would grant too many illegal immigrants privileges. Under LB623, Ricketts said, any immigrant with approved deferred action status could be issued a driver’s licenses and state identification card.
“The bill is wrong on principle and the bill is overly broad,” Ricketts wrote.
Nordquist offered a motion to override the governor’s veto, saying that pending federal programs to extend deferred status to adult illegal immigrants will be litigated for years.
“It is extremely unlikely it will move forward,” Nordquist said, adding that the only people who will be affected by the bill are current DACA recipients.
“There are thousands of bright, young, educated immigrant youth in our state who are in need of the legal right to drive,” Nordquist said. “It’s time to remove a barrier to the success of these kids and also the success of our economy and our community.”
Sen. Mike Groene of North Platte agreed with the governor’s assessment of the bill, saying that it would give driving privileges to all of the state’s illegal immigrants with deferred status. If the measure was narrowed to benefit only DACA recipients, Groene said, he would support it.
“Let’s come back with an accurate bill,” Groene said. “Let’s see what the courts do and let’s do it right.”
Hastings Sen. Les Seiler supported the motion to override the veto. Denying driver’s licenses to young immigrants who have become doctors and lawyers in Nebraska creates an absurd and embarrassing situation, he said.
“You mean to tell me we will authorize a license to a person to practice medicine in the state of Nebraska but they can’t drive a car?” Seiler said. “What kind of mentality is that?”
Administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the DACA program is designed to protect from deportation individuals who were brought into the country illegally as children. Those who meet DACA guidelines are eligible for a work permit and may request deferred action for two years, subject to renewal.
To qualify for the program residents must have:
• lived in the U.S. continuously since June 15, 2007;
• been no older than 31 as of June 15, 2012;
• entered the country prior to their 16th birthday;
• attended school, earned a diploma or general education certificate or been honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces; and
• not been convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanors.
Under LB623, DACA recipients will be required to relinquish a state driver’s license or identification card if their lawful status is revoked by the federal government.
Lawmakers voted 34-10 to override the governor’s veto. Thirty votes were needed.


Duane A. Lienemann

     There is so much that we could discuss this week with everything that is coming down the pike with the barrage of regulations hitting just before Memorial Day and then this week’s announcement of the WOTUS ruling. I think however we need to take a good look at our area wheat fields and I don’t mean a windshield tour. Because if you used that management tool, you may be in some trouble. Let us this week take a look at what I mean.
     While this rain is absolutely welcome, and has really helped our grass in pastures, corn and beans that are trying to get a start and even the lawns out there that have been just as dry we are also seeing some adverse effects. If you drive by most any wheat field you can’t help but notice that it has a weird color to it, much too early for turning in its natural form. But if you walk through the wheat you will notice that Stripe rust has exploded in in the past 3-7 days in this part of the State due to that rain and cooler weather. We had reports earlier, but those were spotty and were for the most part on more susceptible varieties. Now we are talking pretty much carte blanche in most fields across South Central Nebraska. 
     Dr. Stephen Wegulo, Nebraska Extension Plant Pathologist, made a trip out our way this week and looked at wheat fields in southern Nebraska along the Highway 4 corridor (about 20 miles north of the Kansas border) from southeast to southwest.  He indicated that the incidence of stripe rust was 100% in all fields that were not sprayed and severity was very high in fields with susceptible varieties (>75% and close to 100% in a couple of fields that he looked at - that is, the entire foliage in the whole field, not just some leaves).  He also indicated that the growth stage ranged from flowering to beginning of ripening. According to Dr. Wegulo, many fields looked spectacularly yellow due to stripe rust. I will second that observation as it is what I am seeing and what farmers all across the region are reporting. If you walk through the fields your shoes/boots turn a pretty orange color – or not so pretty if you are the owner of the wheat field.  Unfortunately for the wheat, weather conditions continue to be favorable to the disease. Other diseases were completely overshadowed by stripe rust.  Dr. Wegulo did see one head with Fusarium head blight in a state variety trial in the southeast. I am expecting to see much more here.      What are my Options? I first suggest reading more from Dr. Wegulo at  as there is some very good information there. I also thought Jenny Reese, Clay Co. Extension Educator had some good advice for our producers.  “We’ve been warning about stripe rust and scab for several weeks, yet there are many fields that are just heading and/or flowering right now while others are in soft-dough. Wheat is at such a variety of stages in the area. Rain has also increased our risk for Fusarium Head Blight (head scab). Here are some ideas that you may want to consider. 1) Do nothing and see what you get.  If your wheat is past flowering, fungicide application is not an option as all fungicides would be off-label. 2) If your wheat is headed and beginning to flower, you could still consider a fungicide application of Caramba or Prosaro.  Both are labeled for headed and flowering wheat.  There’s a 30 day pre-harvest restriction for both.  Rainfast varies from ¼ hour to 2 hours or when dry depending on environmental conditions.  Both fungicides can help prevent scab and control rust on the plant.  However, research has shown that best scab prevention occurs when wheat is headed and 30% of the plants are in the beginning flower stage.  Application within 5 days of these criteria still showed positive results.  Research showed that application before or after this time period greatly reduced effectiveness of preventing scab. And - 3) Consider haying it.” 
     Bale the Wheat: The third suggestion really hit a note with me as I was particularly interested in one area farmer’s question of – “With this late stage and severity of the rust, can I put this down with a windrower and bale it for cow hay?” I had my thoughts on that, but decided to see what others thought. Dr. Bruce Anderson, Extension Forage Specialist also was part of the discussion on this and dedicated a part of his “Hay & Forage Minutes for June 1 through 5” to this very topic of haying the infected wheat. He has shared the following:  “Wheat fields are turning yellow prematurely across southern Nebraska and into adjoining areas.  According to plant pathologists, stripe rust is the culprit.  Now what can you do?”
     “Stripe rust can be a devastating disease on wheat and other cereals.  It can become widespread on susceptible varieties that have not been sprayed with appropriate fungicides during prolonged periods of wet weather like we have experienced lately. When the upper most leaf, the flag leaf, becomes heavily infected, grain yield losses can exceed 30 percent.  Sometimes adequate grain production may not be feasible.  So other options need to be considered.
     Baling hay or chopping silage are two potential options.  Rust pustules are not toxic to cattle although sometimes the spores can irritate respiration.  It can be difficult to make good silage, though.  Rusty leaves dry out rapidly so it can be hard to get the best moisture content for silage packing and fermentation. Usually it is best to harvest rusty wheat hay just before heading to retain reasonable forage quality.  As plants mature further, quality can decline rapidly.  Digestibility of rust affected cells is much lower than that of normal cells.  Fortunately, protein doesn’t seem to be affected greatly.  Properly made hay should not deteriorate in the bale due to the rust any more than normal.
     Be sure to have the forage tested before feeding.  It is likely that nutrient concentration will differ from typical wheat hay so testing will help in developing rations. Also consider the impact of removing the wheat residue.  Adequate residue helps retain soil moisture, boosting yield of your next crop. There never are good choices when problems like this develop.  All you can do is weigh your options and chose what is best for you.” There certainly may be hope for feed at least! Good Luck!

The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or may not reflect the views of UNL or Nebraska Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, Nebraska Extension Educator for Webster County in Red Cloud, (402) 746-3417 or email to: or go to the website at: 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

South Central Spring Livestock Judging Clinic & Contest June 3

South Central Spring Livestock Judging Clinic & Contest June 3
Webster County Fairgrounds – Bladen, NE

     The South Central Spring Livestock Judging Clinic and Contest is scheduled for Wednesday – June 3, 2015 at the Webster County Fairgrounds in Bladen, NE. This event is designed for area youth to improve their basic livestock evaluation/selection skills and provide a good foundation for all youth interested in livestock. It will be conducted by Bradley Bennett, UNL Livestock Judging Team Coach assisted by area UNL Extension Educators and Staff.  

     Activities in the livestock judging clinic will include:  Evaluation Factors; Terminology; Oral Reasons Format; and will include a practice session.  The competitive livestock judging classes will include market and breeding classes of beef, sheep and meat goats, plus a market class of swine. The clinic and contest will be open to all youth, ages 8 -18, as well as adults. Parents, leaders and advisors are encouraged to attend all of the day’s events. 

     Age divisions are as follows: Adult-19 years & older; Senior - 14-18 years old; Junior-13 years & under as of January 1, 2015. Teams will consist of 3 or 4 members in the same age division.  They can be from the same club, chapter and/or county. Flyers and registration forms are available from your local UNL Extension Office or contact the Webster County UNL Extension at 402-746-3417 or on the web at .  Pre-registration is requested, but not required. There is a small cost for teams or individual judges to participate.

     The clinic starts with registration from 8:15-9:00 am with the clinic starting at 9:00 and going until 10:30 am. The judging contest will run from 10:30-12:00, followed by lunch. There will be a lunch stand on the fairgrounds. Reasons will be taken from 12:30-1:30 pm followed by the official placing and discussion of classes from 1:30-2:00 pm followed directly with results and awards. Trophies will be presented to the Top overall individual in each youth division.  Rosettes will be present to top teams in each division.  Ribbons will be awarded to all participants. Concessions will be available at the fairgrounds.

          The clinic and judging contest is cooperative sponsored by UNL Extension in Webster and surrounding Counties; UNL Livestock Judging Team; Harlan County Cattlemen; and South Central Nebraska Cattlemen. For more information, contact: Bradley Bennett, UNL Livestock Judging Coach @ UNL Animal Science, 402-472-8834, email at:;  Dewey Lienemann @ Webster County UNL Extension, 402-746-3417, email at; or Steve Landon @ Adams County UNL Extension, 402-461-7209, email; or contact any UNL Extension offices. You can also obtain forms and information at

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Fisher Responds to Obama Release of WOTUS Rule


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) released the following statement after the announcement today of final regulations by the Obama administration, which would expand federal government control over states’ water resources:
“This rule is an attack on the people of Nebraska. Through this unprecedented overreach, the federal government will now extend their control over our state’s water resources and burden our families with costly permit requirements. Make no mistake – this is a blatant attempt to expand the federal government’s control. This rule will have far-reaching consequences and hurt Nebraska families, communities, and businesses.
“Nebraskans are good stewards of our natural resources and protect our water at the state and local level. The Obama administration’s new regulation implies that Washington bureaucrats know better than the people of our state. This rule is reckless and unwarranted, and I will work tirelessly to stop this expansion of federal control.”
In April, Senator Fischer joined a bipartisan group of her colleagues to introduce a new bill that would prevent this joint rule from the Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA, originally known as the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) and now renamed by the administration as the “Clean Water Rule,” from taking effect. The legislation, S. 1140 – The Federal Water Quality Protection Act, would direct the administration to issue a revised proposal that would set clear limits on federal regulation of water, require consultation with states and impacted stakeholders, and ensure that a thorough economic analysis is conducted.
Senator Fischer has led a number of efforts in the Senate to enhance public input on the rule, including a March field hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee she chaired in Lincoln. She has repeatedly urged EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to scrap the rule altogether, and has also cosponsored legislation to withdraw the proposed regulation.
Click here to view the text of
S. 1140 – The Federal Water Quality Protection Act. 

South Central Hosts Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition Summer Grazing Tour

     Mark your calendars for the Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition (NGLC) –Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) – UNL Extension joint Summer Grazing Tour scheduled for June 16, 2015 in South Central Nebraska. The tour starts with registration beginning at 7:30 am at the Webster County Fairgrounds near Bladen, Nebraska. The participants will then combine rides to carpool to the points of interest of the tour. Stops are highlighted below:
     Jim and Betty Choquette, Upland, NE: Jim and Betty have been effectively grazing native range and cover crops for many years and this tour stop will feature much to be learned about soil, water, grass and cattle. Soil concepts will include irrigated cover crops to enhance soil health, cover crops to winter calves economically, temperature and moisture differences in soil between tall reseeded grass and short grasses and soil organic matter differences. Water concepts will feature the use of portable tanks, Cobett tanks and both portable water lines and chiseling in underground lines for winter use. Grass features include number of acres and varieties of grasses reseeded, pasture farming and Eastern Gama grass. Cattle discussion on rotational grazing, grazing year round, and genetic selection for easy fleshing cattle (how to get by without feeding cows) and cattle that fit Jim’s motto “ Cows that work for me; I don’t work for the cows”.
     Green Cover Seed, Bladen, NE: Green Cover Seed is one of the leading suppliers of cover crop seed mixes in Nebraska and surrounding states.  Owners, Keith and Brian Berns, have been experimenting with cover crops since 2008 and work with hundreds of producers who are using cover crops to improve the health of their soil and provide supplemental grazing for livestock herds.  Demonstration plots of both cool and warm season cover crop species and mixes will be viewed and evaluated as to the potential for grazing.
     Cover Crop Grazing Panel Discussion, Bladen, NE: Come listen to two Nebraska cover crop grazers including Lanny Greenhalgh (Guide Rock) who grazes cover crops for growing cattle, bull development and to enhance the cow herd AI program and Wayne Rasmussen (Plainview) who has been finishing grass fed cattle for about ten years with a strong desire to take care of the land and animals and provide a healthy product for the consumer.
     US Fish and Wildlife Service Wetlands Grazing Demonstration, Campbell, NE: Jensen Waterfowl Production Area is a 468-acre Rainwater Basin wetland managed through prescribed fire, grazing, mechanical and chemical activities. The areas are managed for the benefit of migratory water birds, in particular ducks, geese, and whooping cranes, which are endangered. In dry years, this area is pumped in the spring to provide habitat during spring migration.
     Willa Cather Memorial Prairie, Red Cloud, NE: The Willa Cather Memorial Prairie is a botanical treasure consisting of 612 acres of never-been-plowed native prairie. Members of the Willa Cather Prairie Committee will be present to tell the story of restoring this prairie to where it was when Nebraska’s great author Willa Cather gathered background for her famous stories that sprang from Red Cloud and Webster County in south central Nebraska. You will get a chance to walk across the prairie, view cattle that are grazing the land, and  learn about  responsible grazing practices and the inclusion of controlled burning to limit invasive shrubs, to promote warm season native grasses, and to re-establish natural springs that provide crucial habitat for grassland birds, amphibians, and small mammals. 
     Pre-registration: Registration will include a small fee, which may be paid at the door, which includes a noon lunch and then an evening steak fry provided by the South Central Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association. As a result, pre-registration is required for meal counts by contacting the UNL Extension Office in Webster County (402-746-3417) by Friday, June 12. You can also contact Webster County Extension Ag Educator, Dewey Lienemann @ 402-469-0357 (cell) or email .   

South Central Livestock Exposition June 5-6

Webster County Fairgrounds, Bladen, NE

     The 4-H Junior Leaders of Webster County have announced that they will be sponsoring a South Central Nebraska Livestock Exposition that will be held in Bladen at the Webster County Fairgrounds on Saturday, June 6. The Exposition is a progressive show for market and breeding beef, market and breeding sheep and for market goats. There will also be showmanship classes in each species. The show is open to all 4-H and/or FFA exhibitors who are in good standing within their respective club or chapter and state association. A flyer and entry form is available at 

      Potential exhibitors may take advantage of an early entry fee which will be assessed if registrations are received by June 1. Webster County 4-H and FFA exhibitor will enjoy a discounted early entry fees. Exhibitors may register on the day of the show at the regular registration fee. Fees can be sent with early registration or may be paid on site on June 5 & 6, with checks payable to: Webster County Junior Leaders. 

     The preparations for the show will start with early check-in on Friday evening, June 5. All beef, sheep and goat exhibits may be checked in, registration confirmed, and market beef weighed between 6:00-9:00 pm, June 5. Late arriving beef may check in from 7:00-8:00 am, June 6. Beef exhibits will be accepted until 8:00 am, Saturday morning, June 6, and must be on the grounds and checked and weighed-in prior to that time. No beef entries will be accepted after 8:00 am, Saturday morning. Late arriving sheep and goat entries will be checked in and/or weighed between 8:00 and 10:00 am, June 6. No sheep or goat entries will be accepted after 10:00 am on June 6. All entries with the exception of breeding stock must have a current FFA or 4-H tag. All does, ewes and intact goat or sheep males must also have a scrapies tag in addition to their identification tag. There is a registration fee for each animal with early registrations by June 1 receiving a discount.

     The Exposition will start with the 4-H and FFA Open Beef show at 9:00 am, with the sheep and goat shows following directly after conclusion of the beef show. Rosettes and/or ribbons will be awarded to all exhibits. Added purse is available with cash prizes to be awarded to the top exhibits in each species. Special cash premiums will be awarded to the top exhibits in each species shown by Webster County exhibitors.

     For more information and entries, please contact any of the Webster County 4-H Young Leaders or Carol Kumke (Jr. Leader director, at  Flyers, rules and entry forms are also available from the Webster County UNL Extension Office in Red Cloud at 402-746-3417 or on the web at You may also email Dewey Lienemann (UNL Extension Educator for Webster County) at

     The public is cordially invited to attend this multi-state South Central Nebraska Livestock Exposition progress show and see some of the best animals in the country go head-to-head.  

Melodrama set on the Little Blue to debut in June as part of HC’s Summerstage

Hastings, Neb. – Boo the villain! Cheer the hero! Throw popcorn! And learn from the travails of poor Mabel Winthrop, turned out in the cold through the nefarious dealings of a polished villain. Follow her from the farm to the evils of the big city and back to the Old Nebraska Home and a final victory over evil as the Hastings College Department of Theatre Summerstage presents “The Old Nebraska Home, or Dirty Deeds on the Little Blue: An Old-Fashioned Melodrama.”
Adapted from “The Old New Hampshire Home” by Frank Dumont, performances are scheduled for June 12-13, 19-20 at 7:30 p.m. and June 14, 21 at 2:00 p.m. in Scott Studio Theatre (806. N. Turner Ave.) The box office will be open Monday-Friday from noon-5 p.m., from June 8-19 and can be reached at or 402.461.7380. Tickets will be $10 for general admission and $7 for seniors, students and children.
Now in its third year, Summerstage provides local students and community members the opportunity to participate in additional theater experiences including creating set pieces, working backstage and acting.
Hastings College Department of Theatre Summerstage presents, ““The Old Nebraska Home, or Dirty Deeds on the Little Blue: An Old-Fashioned Melodrama”
Jessica Brock from Hastings, Nebraska - MABEL WINTHROP, Farmer Winthrop’s daughter
Patrick Crawford from Hastings, Nebraska - FARMER WINTHROP, A rugged Nebraska farmer
Cheyenne Knehans from Riverton, Nebraska - ZELDA WATKINS, A country girl “up to snuff” and not a bit green
Megan Lee from Hastings, Nebraska - MRS. WINTHROP, The Farmer’s wife
Nate Mohlman from Blue Hill, Nebraska - OLIVER STANHOPE, A young blacksmith, in love with Mabel
Jessie Neuhart from Hastings, Nebraska - MUFFINS, A young lady with a mind of her own and not afraid to speak it
Sarah Nottage-Tacey from Hastings, Nebraska – RUBY LA RUE, a “business woman” in league with Van Dusen
Zach Oehm from Hastings, Nebraska - EDWARD VAN DUSEN, A polished villain, secretly married to Mabel
Emma Parrish from Sterling, Colorado - TILLY, Her maiden aunt
Nathaniel Sass from Hastings, Nebraska - MICKY MARTIN, A traveling tinker
Collin Spilnek from Hastings, Nebraska - MAX FENSTER, A glazier
Directed by Jim Fritzler, Chair of the Hastings College Theatre Department
Designed by Annette M. Vargas, Assistant Professor of Theatre, Hastings College
Costumes by Margaret Marsh, Adjunct Professor, Hastings College
Stage Manager - Jordan Samuelson from Kearney, Nebraska
Founded in 1882, Hastings College is a private, four-year liberal arts institution located in Hastings, Nebraska, that focuses on student academic and extracurricular achievement. With more than 60 majors in 32 areas of study and 13 pre-professional programs, Hastings College has been named among “America’s Best National Liberal Arts Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report, a “Best in the Midwest” by The Princeton Review and a “Best Buy in College Education” by Barron’s. Visit for more.


Senators override veto; death penalty repealed

Lawmakers abolished capital punishment in Nebraska following a narrowly successful veto override May 27.
LB268, introduced by Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers, replaces death penalty provisions with a life sentence. The bill applies to 10 inmates currently serving capital punishment sentences at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution. An 11th death row inmate, Michael Ryan, died in prison of natural causes May 24. He had been on death row since 1986.
The bill was passed by the Legislature May 20 on a 32-15 vote, but Gov. Pete Ricketts vetoed it May 26.
Chambers offered a motion to override the governor’s veto, saying the repeal finally would lift the “cloud of darkness” over the state caused by the use of capital punishment.
“This will be a shining moment for the Nebraska Legislature,” Chambers said. “I am hoping that we will be that motive force in this country that will ultimately result in the abolition of state killing.”
The effort to end capital punishment in Nebraska has been a career-long effort of Chambers’ since 1973.
In his veto message to the Legislature, Ricketts said repealing the death penalty is counter to the beliefs of an overwhelming majority of Nebraskans who support it as an important public safety tool. The death penalty is necessary to provide justice to the families of victims of especially heinous and violent crimes, Ricketts said.
“Your decision will determine whether the families of victims of ten murderers on Nebraska’s death row will ever receive the justice they deserve,” Ricketts wrote, “which was meted out by a very deliberate and cautious judicial process in each of their cases.”
In her support of the motion to override the veto, Bellevue Sen. Sue Crawford disputed the claim that the death penalty is good for victims’ families. In states without the death penalty, she said, studies show that victims’ families fare better psychologically than those in death penalty states because they do not have to relive the crimes throughout the offenders’ lengthy appeals process.
“The death penalty does not bring closure and healing,” Crawford said.
Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln said the state should set an example based on justice, not vengeance. Justice can be provided with a life sentence, he said in support of repealing the death penalty.
“If we give the state the right to take a life, then what kind of message does that send to our society?” Morfeld said.
Norfolk Sen. Jim Scheer was in favor of retaining the death penalty. Those convicted of heinous, premeditated murder deserve the ultimate punishment, he said.
“I believe there is a time and a place for the death penalty in Nebraska,” he said.
Omaha Sen. Beau McCoy agreed, saying that without the death penalty, the lives of murder victims are devalued by a lack of justice.
“I’ll always rise to defend the death penalty as the ultimate punishment for those who have committed the worst crimes possible against their fellow Nebraskans,” McCoy said.
Sen. Colby Coash of Lincoln said that Nebraska’s prolonged inability to procure the chemicals needed to carry out executions shows that capital punishment is no longer a viable way to punish the state’s worst criminals.
“The taxpayers have not gotten their bang for their buck for almost 20 years. This program is broken,” he said. “When are we going to admit that we have a broken system that will not work?”
Bellevue Sen. Tommy Garrett also supported the override motion. He said the justice system is too flawed to give the state the power to kill its citizens, so the death penalty is not worth the risk.
“I can think of no greater injustice than government taking the life of an innocent man or woman,” Garrett said.
The measure removes the Class I felony penalty designation from the state criminal code and makes first degree murder a Class IA felony punishable by life imprisonment. According to statute, a murder is considered a first degree offense if done purposely with deliberate and premeditated malice in the attempt of a first degree sexual assault, arson, robbery, kidnapping, hijacking, burglary or poisoning.
The bill does not prevent a sentencing court from ordering restitution or alter the authority of the state Department of Correctional Services to determine appropriate measures for incarceration of an offender.
Senators voted 30-19 to override the governor’s veto. Thirty votes were needed.

An Electric Power Grab

Sen. Deb Fischer
Over the past few years, electricity rates across Nebraska have been on the rise. With these additional costs come financial burdens to Nebraska families and businesses. But more dramatic increases loom on the horizon due to unprecedented overreach by the federal government.
From Omaha to the Panhandle, and everywhere in between, Nebraskans feel the impact of federal government regulations. This has become more and more evident with the rollout of the Obama administration’s proposed “waters of the United States” rule – a brazen attempt to seize control of our state’s water resources. But regulating rain puddles was not enough. They want to affect your electric bill too.
In 2013, President Obama unveiled his “Climate Action Plan” – a misguided effort to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions. Included in this plan was an executive order directing the EPA to set new emission reduction standards for new and existing power plants. These standards focus on coal-generated power plants, which are the primary source of the electricity you use every day. While the environmental benefits of these rules are theoretical at best, the economic harm they will impose is very real. Without providing immediate, affordable energy alternatives, they are punishing energy providers and the people who rely on them in their daily lives.
The people of Nebraska are proud to be a 100 percent public power state, and we will be disproportionately impacted by President Obama’s takeover of our electricity system. Families and businesses will be forced to pay for costly plant upgrades, higher electricity bills, and more expensive goods and services. Nebraskans are fighting back. Both the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and our state’s public power utilities have submitted public comments to the EPA in opposition to these rules. While I appreciate that Nebraskans have had the opportunity to voice their concerns about this aggressive overreach, I believe that Congress needs to take action as well.
To help aid this effort, I joined West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito to introduce a bipartisan bill known as the Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act (ARENA). The legislation would stop the EPA’s unprecedented electricity system takeover, while restoring state authority to protect ratepayers from rate hikes. ARENA would require federal agencies to submit evidence regarding the feasibility of standards over a proven period of time before setting a technology-based standard for new power plants. It would also hold the EPA accountable. Under this legislation, the EPA would be required to issue state-specific plans that demonstrate how each state could meet emission reduction requirements under the rule. It’s very simple – prove something will work before inflicting harm.
The bill would also restore states’ authority, giving them the option to opt out of requirements that have a demonstrated negative impact on economic growth, the reliability of the electricity system, or electricity ratepayers. Finally, ARENA would prevent the EPA from withholding highway funds from states that don’t meet the agency’s harsh mandates.
Environmental policies can have a direct impact on America’s energy security and our economy. That is why it is crucial that any federal regulations are based on proven science and balanced with economic demand. For that reason, I am proud to support ARENA to protect Nebraska families from the EPA’s proposed takeover of our public power system. This overreach is unnecessary, and with this bill, we can empower states across the nation to help our environment without harming our citizens and our economy.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Jack W. Petska February 6, 1955 - May 23, 2015

Blue Hill resident, Jack W. Petska, 60, passed away Saturday, May 23, 2015 at Mary Lanning
Healthcare, Hastings, Nebraska.
Rosary will be Wednesday, May 27, 2015; 7:30 P.M. at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Blue Hill, Nebraska.  Mass of Christian Burial will be Thursday, May 28, 2015; 10:30 A.M. at Holy Trinity Catholic Church with Father James Schrader officiating.  Burial will be at Ord Cemetery, Friday, May 29, 2015 at 11:30 A.M.  In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Holy Trinity Catholic Church. Visitation will be Wednesday May 27, 2015; 5:00 P.M - 8:00 P.M at Holy Trinity Catholic Church and one hour prior to the service at the church.  

Jack was born February 6, 1955 in Ord, Nebraska to Paul Sr. & Geneva (Benson) Petska. He graduated from the Nebraska School for the Deaf in 1973.  He was employed at Great Plains Packing Company in Hastings before he retired and was a member of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Blue Hill, Nebraska.

Jack was preceded in death by his father, Paul Petska Sr. and sister, Cindy Petska.

    Geneva Petska – Hastings, NE
Brothers & Sister-in-law:      
    Paul W. Petska Jr. – Hastings, NE
    Mark & Rita Petska – Blue Hill, NE
Sister & Brother-in-law:        
    Kim & Greg Beam – Fremont, NE
Nieces & Nephews:               
    Amanda (Adam) Kahrs
    Nathan Petska
    Amelia Petska
    Brianna Beam
    Brennan Beam
    Emma Kahrs
    Stetson Kahrs

Gov. Ricketts' Vetoes Death Penalty Repeal

Urges senators to stand with Nebraskans, on the right side of history

Read the full veto message here. Audio here.
Lincoln – This afternoon, Governor Pete Ricketts vetoed LB268, a bill which would repeal the death penalty in Nebraska. The bill also attempts to repeal the sentences of convicted murderers currently sitting on death row. Governor Ricketts announced his veto at a veto-signing ceremony held at the Nebraska State Capitol at 3:00pm today.
Governor Ricketts was joined at the ceremony by Attorney General Doug Peterson, family members of a victim of the 2002 Norfolk bank shooting, state senators, and members of the law enforcement community.
“Today, I am vetoing LB268 which would repeal the death penalty in Nebraska,” said Governor Pete Ricketts. “Repealing the death penalty sends the wrong message to Nebraskans who overwhelming support capital punishment and look to government to strengthen public safety, not weaken it. Under this bill, there is no guarantee that convicted murderers will stay behind bars for life or not harm other innocent victims.”
“The Legislature’s decision will test whether our state has the prosecutorial tools to manage the ‘worst of the worst’ cases. Their decision will determine whether the families of the victims of ten men on Nebraska’s death row will ever receive the justice meted out by a very deliberate and cautious judicial process in each of their cases. Their decision tests the true meaning of representative government. For these reasons, I urge Nebraskans to contact their senator, and ask them to sustain my veto.”
The Governor also pointed out that life imprisonment, as proposed in LB268, is not a thoughtful compromise because it does not guarantee that a convicted murderer will spend his life behind bars. The case of convicted murderer Laddie Dittrich demonstrates this. Dittrich was sentenced to life imprisonment, yet after serving only 40 years in prison, his sentence was commuted by the Pardons Board. He was then paroled, and shortly thereafter arrested for sexually assaulting a young girl.
“Heinous murderers such as the ten on Nebraska’s death row have surrendered their lives by their own utter disregard for human life,” said Attorney General Peterson. “The state affirms this reality through a sentence of death. The state should not be deprived of its ability to carry out a just sentence.”
“I watched my daughter die over and over again on the security camera footage during the trial and then during the sentencing,” said Vivian Tuttle, mother to 2002 Norfolk bank shooting victim Evonne Tuttle. “The jury said my daughter’s murderer should be put to death, and I believe it is appropriate for justice to be carried out. Senators who vote to override the Governor’s veto of LB268 are preventing justice for my daughter and all of the other families from being carried out.”
“As I have been visiting with senators, I have informed them that the death penalty is an important tool used by prosecutors and law enforcement in tough cases,” said Pierce County Sheriff Rick Eberhardt. “Senators should listen to their county attorneys, juries, as well as judges. Do not second guess their work. This is a matter of local control.”
“The death penalty remains an important tool and protection for Nebraska’s law enforcement community that works firsthand to protect our state against dangerous criminals,” said Brian Petersen of the State Troopers Association of Nebraska (STAN)  in a prepared statement. “The deterrent effect of capital punishment protects lives, including the lives of our state’s men and women who wear blue. Law enforcement put their lives on the line every day, and they deserve every protection our state can provide to them. Repealing the death penalty strips away one of those protections at a time when law enforcement faces greater risks than ever before. STAN urges senators to sustain the Governor’s veto of LB268.”

Friday, May 22, 2015

Honoring Nebraskans’ Service and Sacrifice

Rep. Adrian Smith
Nebraska’s Third District has a long tradition of military service. During the week leading up to Memorial Day, we honored two local heroes from different generations who displayed extraordinary valor and an unyielding commitment to our country.
Captain Dustin Lukasiewicz of Alma was one of six Marines killed in a helicopter crash on May 12th while providing humanitarian aid to earthquake victims in Nepal. He graduated from Wilcox-Hildreth High School and had previously deployed to Afghanistan.  
In addition to being a dedicated Marine, Captain Lukasiewicz was a devoted son, husband and father. He and his wife have one daughter and a second child on the way. When I spoke with Captain Lukasiewicz’s mother this week, she told me how her son went out of his way to give her a call from Nepal on Mother’s Day – just two days before the crash.
During their talk, Captain Lukasiewicz excitedly described a video the Marine Corps had just produced about their mission. The video ends with him stating, “My name is Captain Lukasiewicz, and we stand with Nepal.” His work on behalf of victims across the world and the thoughtful call on his mother’s special day exemplify his devotion to the care of others. Captain Lukasiewicz’s legacy of service is now forever enshrined on screen and will not be forgotten.
While honoring one brave soldier’s sacrifice, we also paid tribute to another Nebraska hero in Washington, D.C. Donald McPherson of Adams was one of 77 American Fighter Aces presented with the Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, May 20th.
Ensign McPherson is one of two surviving World War II fighter aces in Nebraska. These brave pilots earned the title of fighter aces by shooting down at least five enemies in battle. Ensign McPherson earned three Distinguished Flying Crosses and four Air Medals while assigned to fighter squadron VF-83 aboard the U.S.S. Essex in the Pacific. In his F6F Hellcat, he directly faced our enemies in the skies to defend our country and preserve our liberty.
Following the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony, I had the opportunity to thank Ensign McPherson and present him with a copy of the Congressional Record recognizing his service. When asked about his experiences, the humility Ensign McPherson displays is striking. He embodies the selflessness of a true hero.
In addition to Captain Lukasiewicz and Ensign McPherson, thousands of Nebraskans have answered the call to serve their country. At the end of the month, I will have the honor of attending the send-off ceremony for soldiers of the Nebraska National Guard. We pray for our men and women currently serving in our Armed Forces and thank them for representing the greatness of America. Words cannot express our gratitude for their dedication to keeping our homeland safe.  
Memorial Day is set aside each year to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, but we should remain mindful of our military men and women every day. The stories of these selfless heroes, including Captain Lukasiewicz and Ensign McPherson, must be told and their legacies protected for future generations to understand the true cost of freedom.


Duane A. Lienemann
Nebraska Extension Educator
     Have you ever really sat and thought about the meaning of Memorial Day and the real reason for the upcoming weekend. I think it would be pertinent, since as I write this column we are at the beginning of Memorial Day weekend, which is observed annually on the last Monday in May. I know that several area school alumni banquets and gatherings are held during this weekend and so many people look forward to the weekend for many reasons. I would count myself among those who use the weekend to remember family members who have departed and to try to gather as a family whenever or wherever we can. I will visit graves and will enjoy a day from work, but maybe we should give pause to what it is about! 
     Memorial Day was originally designed to commemorate all men and women, who have died in war or military service for the United States.  Many people do visit cemeteries and memorials on Memorial Day, but many more use it for rest and relaxation, many times at lakes or parks.  Many people have traditionally seen as the start of the summer season. But whatever the traditions for families, I believe that we may find that it has lost its meaning over the years.  I think it would be good to take a look at this holiday in this week’s edition and I will explain why I feel the way I do.       
     Let’s first look at a little history of this Federal Holiday. You may be surprised that Memorial Day, as we know it today, was inspired by the way people in the Southern states honored their dead. That tradition was not lost on a General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, who observed the practice and felt strongly that it should be celebrated by our Nation. He went to Congress and proposed that a day be officially proclaimed as a day of memory for those that lost their lives during the Civil War.  The Congress did indeed declare the first day of remembrance on May 5, 1868 and it was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery, thus the original “Decoration Day.”  
     I wonder how many people really knew or remembered that what we now call “Memorial Day,” was originally known as “Decoration Day.” The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873, but by 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states.  What is ironic is that this practice originated in the Confederate States, but yet the South refused to acknowledge the day, instead honoring their dead on separate days. This separation continued until after World War I when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring all Americans who died fighting in any war. It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May and is called almost universally as Memorial Day. 
     I think most people link this day with poppies. I would bet that many of you have donated a dollar or two to affix one of those red poppies to your lapel. Have you ever wondered where the poppy came in as part of the Memorial Day celebration?  Well, as I understand it, in 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields," Moina Michael penned the following lines: “We cherish too, the Poppy red. That grows on fields where valor led. It seems to signal to the skies. That blood of heroes never dies.” She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) became the first veterans' organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their "Buddy" Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans.  It is a tradition that is still popular around our country. Do you have yours? 
     I mentioned at the beginning of this column that I believe we lost the value and meaning of the hallowed event. I quite honestly believe this happened with the passing by Congress of the “National Holiday Act of 1971” which was legislated to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays.  I think it just made it all the easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. It may be worth noting that several Southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead. Maybe the original practitioners still understand the reason.  
    I think that you will find that the traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years.  I think the moving to that three day weekend encouraged putting emphasis on other things other than our fallen soldiers.  Memorial Day has become less of an occasion of remembrance. Many people choose to hold picnics, sports events and family gatherings on this weekend. Many Americans, in my opinion, have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored and even neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades or put out flags at cemeteries or on the town square to honor them.  
     Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country. While I think it is good and right to honor our own passed loved ones, I think we don’t want to forget those who this day was originally prescribed for.  Thank a veteran or stop by the grave of someone who gave their life for their country and our collective freedom. I personally salute my father and both of my grandfathers who all served our country in World War II and World War I respectively. They are now gone but not forgotten. Nor do I forget all those that fought before them, with them, and since then to make sure we are free to celebrate as we do see fit. Let us not forget the reason of Memorial Day!  
[Field]The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or may not reflect the views of UNL or Nebraska Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, Nebraska Extension Educator for Webster County in Red Cloud, (402) 746-3417 or email to: or go to the website at:

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Transfer Scholar Day opportunity for future Hastings College students to shine

Hastings, Neb. – After finishing her Associate of Arts degree at Cottey College, Amanda Miller sought a small, warm environment with caring professors in which to complete her four-year degree.
“I’m glad I made the transition to Hastings College,” said Miller, a journalism and media arts student from Woodland Park, Colorado. “Professors are willing to help me grow. Switching to another liberal arts college made it possible for all my credits to transfer, and now I know I’m getting a well-rounded education because of it.”
On June 18, 2015, students considering transferring to Hastings College for the same amazing experience Miller is enjoying will have the opportunity to compete for additional scholarships – from $500 to $5,000 – during the inaugural Transfer Scholar Day. Scholarships awarded following Transfer Scholar Day are in addition to any other academic or talent scholarships.
Students transferring or considering transferring to Hastings College from two- or four-year institutions are eligible to participate.
To secure an appointment, students must register at by Friday, June 12, 2015. During the appointment, students will discuss their academic, leadership and career goals with faculty and staff, and have the opportunity to tour campus and the community of Hastings.
“Students who transfer to Hastings College thrive on campus, graduate and go on to do great things,” said Susan Meeske, Vice President for Enrollment and Marketing. “We work with our transfer students to maximize their previous college work and provide an environment to help them complete their bachelor’s degree efficiently so they can get started in their career.”
Founded in 1882, Hastings College is a private, four-year liberal arts institution located in Hastings, Nebraska, that focuses on student academic and extracurricular achievement. With more than 60 majors in 32 areas of study and 13 pre-professional programs, Hastings College has been named among “America’s Best National Liberal Arts Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report, a “Best in the Midwest” by The Princeton Review and a “Best Buy in College Education” by Barron’s. Visit for more.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Smith Honors Captain Dustin Lukasiewicz on House Floor

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives today to remember and honor Captain Dustin Lukasiewicz of Alma who was killed in a helicopter crash last week while providing humanitarian aid to earthquake victims in Nepal.
Remarks as prepared:
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in remembrance of a Third District constituent, Captain Dustin Lukasiewicz of Alma, Nebraska.
He and five fellow Marines were killed in a helicopter crash last week while providing humanitarian aid to earthquake victims in Nepal.    
Captain Lukasiewicz made the ultimate sacrifice while trying to assist victims no one else could reach.
His service reflects the goodness of America, accepting the call to help those who need it most.
When I spoke with the Captain’s mother yesterday, she told me how her son went out of his way to give her a call on Mother’s Day, just days before the crash.
His attention to his loved ones is a reflection of his life of service, devoting himself to the care of others.
Please join me in praying for the Captain’s mother, father, wife, daughter, unborn child, and all others who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
As Memorial Day approaches, we must make it our top priority to honor and remember our military heroes.
Captain Lukasiewicz is certainly one of our heroes.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I yield back..
VIDEO: Smith Honors Captain Dustin Lukasiewicz on House Floor | Congressman Adrian Smith’s Online Office | Congressman Adrian Smith