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Letters to the Editor
Students should learn CPR before graduation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 31 May 2012 12:58

Dear Editor:


Sudden cardiac can happen to anyone at any time. I know this all too well as it happened to me.

June 1-7 is National CPR and AED awareness week. It’s also the week after I graduate from high school. Think how many potential lifesavers we could have if all Nebraska high schools made learning CPR a graduation requirement?

We need more people trained so other cardiac arrest victims have a second shot at life like I did. I am a survivor, but too many are not.

Iowa requires students to learn CPR and now Minnesota will as well. Now is the time for Nebraska to follow their lead. More trained equals more saved.



Kelsey Neal

Lincoln, Neb.

Community Shout Out PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 17 May 2012 21:15

Gene Rider’s dad was a dentist in Wauneta from 1926 until 1984 when he retired. He had a short poem hanging on the door to his reception room.

Gene always remembered it and thought it was worth passing it on. The poem read:

The thing that goes the furthest,

toward making life worthwhile,

it costs the least and does the most,

is just a pleasant smile.


Submitted by:

Gene Rider

Wauneta, Neb.

Calling for support of the Wauneta Senior Center PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 17 May 2012 21:14

Dear Editor,


We live in a very nice small town, friendly people, we know each other (and their business), but what is the problem that we can not get local support for the Wauneta Senior Center?

I don’t mean just money (we can use that also). We need people to come in each day for meals. We are very close to having our Center closed for lack of activity.

Our Senior Center is one of the nicest in the state, a good place to meet and visit, the price is great for meals.

We have a group that play Skipbo and one that plays Mexican Train Dominoes. They are always looking for more players.

This is not a place just for the elderly, all ages are welcome.

I just don’t understand what is keeping people away—if we have hurt your feelings, let us know so we can correct the problem.

There will be about 20 families that can not cook for themselves if the Center closes. Are you prepared to take on this responsibility?


A concerned citizen,

Phyllis Yoder

Wauneta, Neb.

Tragic loss felt throughout entire Wauneta-Palisade community PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 03 May 2012 15:38

Dear Editor,

It is with a tremendously heavy heart that I write back to my hometown newspaper today. It has been a dark, painful week for so many associated with Wauneta-Palisade, as well as other communities who experienced tragic losses.

Some of our recent W-P grads and current students went to bed last Tuesday evening, their eyes still wet with fresh tears from the tragic loss of young Rhiannon Peak of Paxton. Many members of the W-P community knew Miss Peak well, and were heartbroken to hear of the motorcycle accident that took her life. Parents struggled to find the right words to comfort their young sons and daughters, many of whom no longer live at home. While Tuesday night’s counseling sessions proved difficult, no one was prepared for the following morning’s shocking news.

One of our own had been in an accident. Cody Fanning, a beloved member of our W-P community, had fallen from the back of a pickup truck onto a street in the southeast Nebraska town of Crete, where he was a football star at Doane College. His night of celebrating a successful junior year at college had ended abruptly and tragically. Friends and family rushed to his side in a Lincoln hospital, praying for a rally only Cody could have pulled off. Alas, Cody died in that hospital, surrounded by loved ones who grappled with the loss of their son, grandson, brother, nephew, boyfriend, friend, teammate and mentor. They will continue to grieve as the rest of us prop them up in prayer and attempt the seemingly impossible task of providing the comfort and peace they so desperately need.

I don’t know whether I’m qualified to write a tribute for Cody, because I was merely a casual observer of his senior year of high school while I was employed at The Breeze. I know there are countless others who could provide the insight necessary to describe his personality. It was what I noticed in Cody’s character, though, that has inspired this letter. It is the loss of a person of such character that has cast a pall over so many of us this week, whether we still reside in the area or have moved away.

Cody was walking proof that big things come in small packages. A lion-hearted young man of just 5’6”, 155 pounds, Cody wasn’t a typical athlete. In fact, Cody was atypical in every sense of the word. I watched him in football, wrestling and track during his senior year of high school and he excelled in all three. Some of his success was due to the athleticism and resilience he inherited from his parents, no doubt. A great deal more, however, came in the form of pure grit. Cody willed himself, through hard work and dedication, to ‘max out’ every time he competed. With that sense of urgency, intensity and determination was an understated air of cool calm, a rare dichotomy. He was a leader who avoided bombast; Cody led by example. After Cody had competed to the absolute best of his ability, he went right back to work at getting even better.

I enjoyed watching his tenacious spirit in action, as did his many fans in the crowd. He was an inspiration on the field, mat and track; and he was a polite and well-rounded young man outside of the sports realm. I enjoyed reading Doane College recaps that included his name, as well as seeing pictures his mother posted on Facebook. The hilarious and touching memories posted on social networks from his high school and college friends, teachers, and coaches have also brought to light a wild, fearless, extremely goofy side—which I certainly appreciate. He was, and will remain, a great source of pride for his family, which includes the W-P and Doane communities.

His death serves as a harrowing reminder of the other young deaths our community has experienced in the past several years, some of which involved members of his own family. It’s often said that when an older person dies, we grieve for the past; but when a young person dies, we grieve for the future. We think of all that he could have become, considering his success in life thus far. With Cody, however, I think many will grieve for both. That’s how well he lived his years. We struggle to find the words to describe the vast heartache we feel for his family. On Wednesday afternoon, as his family experienced such an unspeakable horror in that hospital across town here in Lincoln, I drove the streets fighting back tears as I considered how lucky I was going to be to receive hugs from my oldest son at preschool pickup that day. I thanked God for my toddler barking orders in the backseat. Every time I think about his family and friends, I say a prayer. I have no idea exactly what to request in those prayers, but I trust that God can sort through my incoherent blubbering. I also trust that He knows exactly what it is you all need, and that it will be provided.

Although we mourn, we are able to extract one glimmer of humanity from such a dark day. Back when Cody and his W-P classmate and best friend T.J. Ellicott, went to obtain their learners’ permits, both made the conscious and heroic choice to register as organ donors. From the last report I heard, Cody’s organs were able to be transplanted into seven other people. Seven desperate souls found new life this week because of a generous decision Cody made years ago. If Cody’s spirit can transfer over through the process, those seven souls will be doubly blessed.

Wednesday was a difficult day in our household, as it was far and wide. As much as I tried, in vain, to shield him from the news, my five-year-old son, Jack, overheard many of the updates on Cody’s condition throughout the day. His questions and their answers brought forth a deluge of tears at the dinner table. I quickly explained that Cody was able to save lives because of his choice to be an organ donor. “This is all so sad. Dad, I don’t know him, but Cody is my new hero,” my son spoke through his tears.

Join the club, Jack. Join the club.

In death, new life.

In tragedy, a hero.

How could we expect anything less from Cody Fanning?


Sincerely, and with love,

Dave Vrbas, Lincoln

Important Primary Ballot Issue Related to Your Local Healthcare PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Wednesday, 25 April 2012 20:22

We are fortunate to live in a country where our citizenship provides us with the opportunity to vote. However, with that opportunity is also the responsibility to know what you are voting for, or against. On May 15, registered voters will have the opportunity to vote for or against dissolution of the Chase County Hospital District. If you plan to vote, do you understand what this ballot initiative is about?

We currently have two entities in Chase County with the ability to govern healthcare. One is the County Hospital, which we know as Chase County Community Hospital. Our local hospital has been governed under the County Hospital statutes since it opened in 1977. It continues to operate under these statutes today. The second entity is the Chase County Hospital District, which was brought forth two years ago by a petition resolution to create a hospital district. This resolution passed in the May 2010 primary.

Since the 2010 primary, additional information about County Hospitals and Hospital districts has been presented to the public. Registered voters concerned about the possible effect of the new Hospital District organized a petition and received the required signatures to place the issue of dissolving the Hospital District on the ballot for the 2012 Primary.

Why was the Chase County Hospital District created? The answer to that may depend on who you ask. The most common reason given was to create an elected board for Chase County Community Hospital rather than an appointed board as is required under County Hospital statutes. Some points to consider:


Point # 1 – The vote in 2010 did not create an elected board for the hospital. It created a new political subdivision with an elected board called the Chase County Hospital District. This district currently has no governance over Chase County Community Hospital.


Point # 2 – In order for the newly created Hospital District to govern Chase County Community Hospital, the hospital would have to be transferred into the hospital district. Estimates from two different legal firms have put the cost of this transfer in the range of $200,000-$400,000. The reason for this expense is that since the Hospital District will be a new owner, this transfer could require appraisals, expense for potential bond issues, new contract negotiations with vendors and employees, updating of legal documents, insurance coverage, etc. Since the Chase County Hospital District has no money, this expense would most likely be assessed to property taxes in Chase County.


Point # 3 - There are definite differences in the laws that govern a County Hospital and a Hospital District. While I will not cover all of them, there is one difference I see as a major concern: The ability of a board to lease or sell the hospital facility and property: Under County Hospital statutes, which currently govern Chase County Community Hospital, the hospital board of trustees cannot lease or sell all or substantially all of the hospital without it also being approved by the county commissioners. It would take a majority vote of both boards. (Statute 23-3504, section 3). This is based on the most recent revisions made through LB 995, which was signed into law on April 5, 2012.

Under Hospital District statutes, only a majority vote by the Hospital District board is required to lease or sell your hospital. So this means only 3 out of 5 district board members could make this decision. No one else has to approve this.

You might ask “who would want to buy a rural hospital?” There actually has been interest by corporate healthcare entities in purchasing Chase County Community Hospital. Something to consider here: Those corporate entities are not required to answer to anyone locally in terms of how they run the hospital. If the hospital is not profitable enough, they can also choose to close it without input of the local residents. It could be very similar to what happened with Heritage Nursing Home in Wauneta.

Again, with the new revision of LB 995, in the event an offer was made to purchase Chase County Community Hospital, this decision would need to be approved by two boards. If the hospital were to transfer to the Hospital district, the decision to sell the hospital would only need to be approved by the Hospital District board.


Point # 4: Appointed Board or Elected Board? This seems to be the main issue that created the situation we now have. As Americans, we believe in our right to elect officials who govern our public organizations. So is that right lost under the County Hospital structure which by statute requires an appointed board? In my opinion, not really. The current Chase County Community Hospital Board of Trustees is appointed by the county commissioners. The commissioners have legal oversight of the hospital board and the commissioners are elected by a vote of the people. A couple of sub-points:

a. If you feel the Chase County Hospital Board of Trustees is not doing an adequate job of managing the hospital, you have several options. 1) All hospital board meetings, by law, are open to the public and the public is welcome to attend and register concerns. 2) If you are not satisfied with the trustees’ response, you have the option to go to the county commissioners, who oversee the county hospital board of trustees, and register your concerns. 3) If you feel a board member or members are not doing their job, and can successfully make that case to your county commissioners, the commissioners have the right to remove any hospital board of trustee member at any time for any reason. (This based on LB 995 revisions).

b. Under the Hospital District Board, if you register a concern and are not satisfied with the response of this board, you have to wait until the next election and hope you can influence a change. The hospital district board of directors does not answer to the commissioners on matters of hospital operation.

At the beginning of this letter, I stated that we have the responsibility as voters to understand what we are voting on. We must also understand what a vote “For” and what a vote “Against” really means. The ballot relating to dissolution of the hospital district will ask the question: “Shall the Chase County Hospital District be dissolved?” A vote FOR this will dissolve the district. A vote AGAINST this initiative will retain the hospital district and keep it operational. Please note, if this initiative passes, and the hospital district is dissolved, it does not affect the operation of Chase County Community Hospital. Your local hospital and clinic will continue to operate as they have in the past, under the governance of the County Hospital statutes.

One other point of clarification I would like to make deals with the recent property tax statements. If you own property, you may have noticed a levy assigned to Chase County Hospital. The tax money collected from this is not being used for Chase County Community Hospital. This money is used to pay for expenses related to creating the new Chase County Hospital District.

If you would like to learn more about the statutes that govern County Hospitals and Hospital Districts, they can be found on the Internet at and choose the link to Bills and Laws. The laws governing County Hospitals are Statutes 23-3501 through 23-3526 and 77-3442 & 77-3443. You can also look up LB 995 at this same website to see the latest changes to County Hospital Statutes as of April 5, 2012. Hospital Districts are Statutes 23-3578 through 23-3578.

Finally, I encourage you to get out and vote. I believe it is in the best interest of health care for our county to vote FOR this initiative and dissolve the Chase County Hospital District. Whether you agree or disagree with my perspectives, I hope you exercise your right and responsibility to vote.


Randy Vlasin

Imperial, Neb.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 April 2012 21:29
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