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This Week's Editorial
Dad’s legacy lives on after 10 years PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 22 March 2012 19:01

By Lori Pankonin

Johnson Publications, Inc.


Sunday will mark 10 years since my father took his last breath on this earth and joined the angels. Oh how vividly I recall that day. It was bitter sweet as death of someone near and dear tugs at the heart strings in a big way.

But envisioning him with restored strength in heaven made it a time of celebration. Heaven must have become a brighter place that day.

The next few days truly were invigorating as stories of how he made a difference surfaced from varied generations. He definitely reached out to let people know he cared and those acts were cherished by those he touched.

How remarkable it had to be for him to once again greet his mother after close to 40 years and his father after 25 years. How I anticipate that greeting someday.

Although Dad bravely beat cancer for more than two decades, it finally took its toll, robbing him of his ability to walk. Despite the weakness and continual hurdles that got in the way, he maintained a positive attitude and never quit working towards goals.

It’s that positive attitude that I grew up with, not even realizing that it wasn’t the norm in all households. “Splendid!” he would say upon delighting in our accomplishments.

I recall joining him in the darkroom which started out in our basement at home. Only the red safelight glowed and although he was working, he was there to listen. During a challenging time in college, I found notes from Dad in my mailbox every day.

He worked many, many hours but I never felt like he didn’t have time for me. In our younger years, my sister, two brothers and I would race to the end of the block, waiting for the noon whistle which signaled he’d soon be headed our way for lunch. We’d have to run to keep up with him on that return back to the house.

Skip. Skip. Skip to my Lou. Yes, sometimes we skipped, be it when we were headed home for lunch or on our way to Sunday school and it was a joyous time. He again came home for supper, too. I do recall having to be quiet while he watched the news but he’d fit in a few rounds of London Bridges or Ring Around the Rosie before heading back to the office.

Of course Mom played a big role in that quality time, always having meals prepared. I appreciate even more now what it took to maintain a house with four kids.

In later years, we all joined Dad at the newspaper office, including Mom who went to work full time when my younger brother started school. We gained a good work ethic in those early years of assembling, folding, stapling, eventually moving to some sales, production and bookkeeping.

I couldn’t help but feel Dad’s proud presence recently at the Colorado Press Convention where my sister reigned as president of the state association, also being Colorado’s representative on the national level. Among others attending were my brother, president of the Nebraska Press Association, my husband and me, national representatives for Nebraska, and of course mom.

Never do we attend a convention on the state or national level that someone doesn’t comment on what great people my parents are and what they accomplished. It makes me proud.

Dad also left his mark on the hearts of his six grandchildren, making memories at all the parks in town and letting them know they’re special.

Just recently, when we faced some communication challenges in a local group, more than one person acknowledged, “We need a Loral to step in here. Your dad would have fixed this before it was ever a problem.” His legacy definitely lives on!

I often times find myself thinking, “What would Dad do?” With all the amazing strides and advancement in technology, I’m still waiting for e-mail to heaven.

I love you, Dad! Until we meet again.


LORI PANKONIN is co-publisher of Johnson Publications newspapers in Imperial, Wauneta and Grant, and part-owner of the Holyoke Enterprise in Holyoke, Colo. E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 March 2012 19:02
Progress made money for Water Resources Cash Fund PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 08 March 2012 18:45

By Mark Christensen

State Sen. 44th District


Last week we debated many bills, and fortunately one of those bills was my bill, LB950. The bill was designated a priority bill by the Natural Resources Committee. I would like to discuss this bill in more detail this week.

LB950 would redirect the remaining repayments from the Republican River Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) from the Water Contingency Cash Fund to the Water Resources Cash Fund. It advanced to the second round of debate (Select File) with a 29-0 vote.

If you recall, the NRDs were given an $8.5 million loan for the state in 2008, pursuant to LB1094, to pay for stored water that was sent to Kansas in 2007 to meet compact compliance with Kansas.

The NRDs were required by the Legislature to repay the state by 2013. LB950 seek to use a portion of those repayments from the Republican Basin NRDs to further fund water needs in Nebraska.

The Legislature has made it clear over the last several years that wisely managing and protecting Nebraska’s significant water resources is a priority that needs to be funded. In 2011, the Legislature passed LB229 to provide funding for water resources management using funds from the Environmental Trust.

The Natural Resources Committee is also in the middle of a thorough study created in LR314. It examines current and future state water needs and funding sources to develop recommendations for the necessary funding for management of Nebraska’s water resources into the future.

I see LB950 as a great opportunity that follows this intent of the Legislature to adequately fund water resources management by redirecting repayments to the Water Resources Cash Fund for use in the Platte and Republican river basins and throughout the whole state.

Out of the $8.5 million the state gave to the Republican River NRDs in 2008, $1.3 million has already been repaid to the states Cash Reserve Fund.

With the emergency clause that was attached to LB950 with a 30-0 vote, the total amount of repayments redirected to the Water Resources Cash Fund will be $7.2 million for addressing the states many water needs.

This gives the Department of Natural Resources and our NRDs flexibility to address the short term critical needs in the Republican and Platte river basins.

Lastly, in attempt to perfect the Appropriations process the chairman of the committee, Senator Lavon Heidemann, has asked that the original language in LB950 be removed and new language be inserted for select file. The bill will still do all that has been mentioned above it merely allows the appropriations committee to effectively appropriate the bill.

Previous legislation provided for $3.3 million to be deposited in the fund each biennium beginning in 2012-13, ending in 2018-19.


Teleconference call

During his weekly conference call Tuesday, Christensen said they made good progress last week on bills relating to foster care and Health and Human Services.

Christensen said some of these bills will likely get vetoed by the governor so it’s important they pass with 30 or more votes, which is the amount needed to override a veto.

An effort to shorten the times between keno games failed to get the necessary votes Monday to advance.

By shortening the time between games from five minutes to three minutes, he said it was projected to bring in more than $1.5 million to the state. However, the bill is now dead for this session.

Bills passed Monday included putting the question to state voters whether to increase state senators’ salaries from $12,000 to $22,500.

LB863 passed which makes businesses which produce films, commercials and television programs eligible for economic development funding under LB840, the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act passed in 1991. Imperial is among 55 Nebraska communities who have voted in LB840 programs.


LB646 goes to governor

Christensen’s LB646 passed Monday on a 48-0 vote and contains the emergency clause, making it law as soon as the governor signs it.

The bill broadens the definition of emergency medical services (EMS) but does not broaden the type of services an EMS technician could deliver. It also lessens liability of an EMS volunteer or worker.

Nebraska statute currently defines an Emergency Medical Service as an organization responding to a perceived individual need for “immediate” medical care in order to prevent loss of life or aggravation of physiological or psychological illness or injury.

LB646 removes the word “immediate,” which would allow EMS to provide the same medical services in a non-emergency setting on a scheduled or on-call basis.

Christensen emphasized the bill does not change the scope of practice for the level the service is licensed at.

The EMS and its employees and volunteers would still be required to continue to operate under the statutes, which require supervision of a physician, medical director and the Nebraska Emergency Medical Services Board.

In addition, this change would allow an EMS to provide education and follow-up patient care in a non-emergency or non-hospital setting helping to increase access to care and to lower costs to both the patient and the medical providers.

He said this is especially critical to rural and under-served areas of the state, especially if home health services are lost.

He said there are many instances when volunteer and paid EMS workers are on duty or on call at sporting events, hospital/nursing home transfers etc... and are “technically” not responding to someone that may need “immediate medical care.”

He said the bill would remedy the use of ‘immediate’ and prevent an EMS worker from potential liability.

Questions or comments? Contact myself or my staff at the information below.


Senator MARK CHRISTENSEN’s address is c/o State Capitol, P.O. Box 94604, Rm. 1000, Lincoln, NE 68509, Phone 402-471-2805, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 March 2012 18:47
Letter to the Editor PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 08 March 2012 18:43

Efforts to save nursing home make me proud; thank you to all who have helped


It is a federal law that every nursing home must have a pharmacist who acts as their consultant on matters related to medications.

I have served in that position at Wauneta’s nursing home since 1978. I believe that only two or three employees have worked there longer than I have.

When I opened the pharmacy in Wauneta in 1978 in the back of Berry’s drugstore, I had only been out of pharmacy college for a little over a year. My exposure to nursing homes was limited to a few visits with my grandmother at Golden Ours Convalescent Home in Grant.

Rodney Einspahr of Imperial was the consultant for Kinder Kare in Wauneta at that time. He called me and said since I lived at Wauneta, I might as well have the job. I asked him what I would have to do and he said, “not much.” It paid the huge sum of $10 per hour. How could I possibly refuse?

At that time my duties consisted primarily of checking to see that medications were being stored properly and I would destroy any medications which were outdated or no longer being used by a resident. I could usually get the job done in under an hour.

That all changed in the 1980s when Congress made a lot of regulations with the goal of improving patient care in nursing homes. My days of doing “not much” were over. I currently spend 8 to 10 hours every month in the facility to complete duties of the consultant pharmacist.

I have enjoyed my 33 year association with the Heritage residents and staff.

One year ago this week, the communities of Wauneta and Palisade were celebrating the success of the Bronco boys basketball team. Many locals made the trip to Lincoln to watch them compete in the state tournament.

It was amazing to see everyone else who showed up. Alumni from both Wauneta and Palisade and from the consolidated Wauneta-Palisade school, friends and relatives of the players and their parents, former teachers and administrators, people who knew someone who knew someone from Wauneta or Palisade, all came to watch and cheer on our team. Even more followed the radio and TV broadcasts of the games.

I talked to one gentleman who told me he came to the game because his grandmother used to live in Wauneta. He had never been to Wauneta and had only a vague idea of where we are located. It was great to have so many people rooting for the Broncos.

When the announcement was made that $150,000 would need to be raised to make possible the purchase of our Wauneta nursing home I did not doubt that goal would be reached.

As the donations came in and I read the letters to the editor the past few weeks, I started to get the same feeling that I had last year in Lincoln. There are a lot of people out there who are pulling for us to succeed in saving our Wauneta nursing home.

The basketball tournament was a lot of fun and our team’s performance was a source of pride for our communities, but in the end it was just a game.

Keeping the Wauneta nursing home in operation is something that will have a real and lasting effect on our community.

Thank you Terry Engell, Page Johnston, and the Wauneta Village board for all the work you have done to make this happen.

Thank you to everyone who has donated. It has been wonderful to see and it makes me proud to be from Wauneta.

Kathleen Bartels

Wauneta, Neb


Last Updated on Thursday, 08 March 2012 18:44
Keystone pipeline issue not going away PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Friday, 02 March 2012 19:33

By Mark Christensen

State Sen. 44th District


At the Legislature this week we will begin full day debate on the floor. The Speaker of the Legislature released his priority bills and I was pleased to find out that my bill, LB 1125, was chosen as one of them.

This bill would allow for the rebate of the occupation tax on land in conservation programs that is not being irrigated.

Despite the President’s denial of TransCanada’s permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, the issue continues to make a splash here at the Capitol.

I would like to discuss LB 1161, in relation to the events surrounding the pipeline issue in Nebraska.

During the special session of 2011, Nebraska passed, LB 1, legislation allowing the Nebraska Department of Environmental Equality to work on a state funded supplemental environmental impact study with the U.S. State Department to help develop a route around the Sandhills.

It also allowed the governor to have final review of the project. The Federal Pipeline Safety Act has exclusive control over pipeline safety.

President Obama’s decision to deny the federal permit of TransCanada has also ended Nebraska’s state funded supplemental study for Trans­Canada’s application. This leads us to the need for LB 1161.

In light of the events that have occurred since the special session, Sen. Jim Smith of Omaha introduced and prioritized LB 1161 for the 2012 Legislative Session. This is an important bill for our state as well as the many Nebraskans who voiced their concern with the original pipeline route.

President Obama’s denial of the permit denotes that Trans-Canada will have to re-apply for a permit. If a new permit is applied for, the application would fall under the Major Oil Pipeline Siting Act, giving the Public Service Commission the authority to site the pipeline route.

This puts the state in jeo­pardy for a potential study to be done on the original pipeline route, through the Sandhills. Senator Smith’s, LB 1161 with AM 1984 would allow the DEQ to continue their current study of a re-route for the TransCanada Keystone XL oil pipeline projects and reduce the chances that a pipeline will be routed through the Sandhills.

I agree with Senator Smith that the pipeline is an issue that should continue forward, for the betterment of our state. In the meantime the Natural Resource Committee has decided to wait for a statement to be made by the Governor before the bill will move forward out of committee.


Teleconference call

During his weekly teleconference Tuesday, Christensen said they spent considerable time Monday debating the need for a voter identification system in the state.

Debate was ceased without any action but will come back up for debate later this week.

Christensen’s LB 950, which would return NRD loan repayments to a revolving water cash fund, is expected to come up later this week as well.

But in between, the Legislature will be discussing five different bills dealing with the child welfare situation in the state.

Christensen expects some lively and intense debate on the issue.

Christensen said he believes the whole child welfare system be stripped from the Department of Health and Human Services, with the possibility for a whole new department just for that.

He feels that better fiscal responsibility within the program and better training of caseworkers would go a long ways to solving the problems being faced by the state.

The state privatized the system several years ago but has all but collapsed after several private contractors pulled out of the system.

Christensen said LB 653, which would allow the inter-basin transfer of non-appropriated flood waters, has developed opposition.

The Department of Natural Resources is saying this can already be done without further legislation. In addition, a number of parties submitted written testimony in opposition.

The way it looks now, Christensen said, is that the bill will be gutted and replaced with a study to move water from wells drilled near Nebraska Public Power’s Gerald Gentleman generating station near Sutherland.

Christensen said these wells have the potential to pump more than 65,000 gallons per minute. If pumped in the winter season when NPPD wouldn’t be using them, that water could go a long way towards keeping the state in compliance with Kansas.

Questions or comments? Contact Senator Mark R. Christensen or staff at the information below.


Senator MARK CHRISTENSEN’s address is c/o State Capitol, P.O. Box 94604, Rm. 1000, Lincoln, NE 68509, Phone 402-471-2805, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated on Friday, 02 March 2012 19:35
Heineman calls for repeal of local death tax authority PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Friday, 24 February 2012 18:34

By Ed Howard


State agricultural groups and the governor have demonstrated their willingness to shower the Humane Society of the United States with hellfire and brimstone if the well-funded animal welfare organization even looks like it’s about to propose statutory or regulatory changes relating to the treatment of farm animals in the state.

Now there’s a report about fast food giant McDonald’s issuing new requirements for how its suppliers house hogs. Specifically, the restaurant chain wants its pork-producing partners to stop using so-called “gestation crates” for pregnant hogs.

The crates, according to proponents, help keep injuries to the animals and their handlers to a minimum. Opponents, including animal-welfare groups like HSUS, argue that the crates are inhumane in that they are too small to allow the sows room to move around.

Much of the local tempest that follows HSUS around the state becomes moot when the national organization shakes hands with a giant like McDonald’s, which, in turn, tells those who supply it with bacon and sausage “this is how it is.”

Breakfast from the fast-food lane may give new meaning to the term “happy meal” in the near future—at least from the standpoint of four-leggeds and two-leggeds with feathers who like to stretch a little.

McDonald’s has also recently inked an agreement with the United Egg Producers that affects how much living space laying hens are given.


Huzzah for Hassebrook!

Let’s have a nonpartisan “Huzzah!” for University of Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook. He’s agreed to give the Democrats a candidate for the United States Senate in 2012.

In so doing, Hassebrook has saved his careworn party from who knows what kind of embarrassment and has single-handedly ensured that the two-party system continues to have a future—or at least a present—in the state.

Noting that the first time he ran for a seat on the Board of Regents, he was outspent 2 to 1, Hassebrook looks to his victory in that contest as suggesting he could win in November.

This time, however, Hassebrook will be lucky if he isn’t outspent 1,000 to 1.

And the chance that President Obama will enjoy a “popular surge” that will help any Democrat in Nebraska is as likely as a pound puppy winning next year’s Westminster Dog show.


Locals Eyeing Tax Win

It appears that local governments might have enough support in the Legislature to hang on to the inheritance tax that spreads more than $40 million annually among them.

Gov. Dave Heineman wants the Legislature to repeal the local death tax authority, while local officials and many lawmakers say it would place an additional unfair burden on local property taxes, which might have to be increased to make up the difference.

City and county governments are fond of pointing out that when the Legislature acts to reduce or eliminate revenue sources locals rely on, there is no corollary reduction in the expenses they continue to incur.

Sort of like when you lose your job but still need to feed the kids.


ED HOWARD is the statehouse correspondent for the Nebraska Press Association.

Last Updated on Friday, 24 February 2012 18:36
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