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This Week's Editorial
Wauneta Breeze alive and well PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 01 November 2012 18:31

By Russ Pankonin

The Imperial Republican


I have to think of the old adage from Mark Twain when he said that reports of his death had been greatly exaggerated.

For the last several weeks, people have been asking the Breeze staff, along with Lori and I, about the future of the Breeze—that they’d heard it was closing and people would just get the Imperial paper instead.

Well, the reports of the death of The Wauneta Breeze has been greatly exaggerated.

Next month, The Wauneta Breeze will celebrate its 125th year of bringing the news to Wauneta with a special commemorative issue.

As co-publishers of The Wauneta Breeze, Lori and I want you to know that we remain committed to The Breeze and the Wauneta community. Wauneta will always hold a special place in our hearts.

It’s where we cut our teeth in the journalism profession. It’s where our children were born and spent their younger years. It’s the place where we dedicated our lives to for 15 years. It’s the place where we forged many close friendships that continue to this day.

Wauneta is indeed a unique community as proven this past year when you rallied to save your nursing home. I know of several other small communities that lacked the moxie to achieve what you have been able to do.

It makes us proud of the people, our friends, who rose to the occasion to insure the health care for residents of Sunrise Heights, as well as saving the largest employer in the community.

Kip Engell may have said it best during the grand opening of Sunrise when he noted how Wauneta stepped up to save the nursing home. “Wauneta’s a special little community.”

We agree and are proud of the major role The Wauneta Breeze plays in covering the lives of those who call Wauneta home.


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

Fate of funding to the water reserve cash fund in the air PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Friday, 06 April 2012 19:16

Telephone conference

report held on

Tuesday, April 3


By Russ Pankonin

The Imperial Republican


With the governor approving budget bills sent to his desk on Monday, other bills remaining on the floor over spend the budget by about $7 million. That means Sen. Mark Christensen’s LB 950 could be in jeopardy.

In his weekly teleconference call held Monday, Christensen said he doesn’t know what to expect on the fate of the bill.

The bill would move this year’s loan repayments to the state by Republican Basin natural resources districts from the general budget to the Water Resources Cash Fund.

This year’s repayments will total $2.4 million, with $4.8 million remaining for two more years.

The state loaned the money to the NRDs to enable them to buy surface water to keep Nebraska in compliance with the Kansas compact settlement.

If the Legislature approves the bill, they will have to make some cuts in other places.

However, Gov. Dave Heineman used his line-item veto to strike out nearly $2.5 million in LB 1072, one of the budget bills forwarded to him Monday.

This appropriation was to pay subcontractors of The Boys and Girls Home, one of the private companies who took over foster care for the state.

Christensen said this represents money owed to businesses, mostly in western Nebraska, who did work for the Boys and Girls Home, relating to foster care needs.

Christensen said that veto represents the amount of money needed for his bill, LB 950.

He said he doesn’t want to see the businesses in western Nebraska get stuck for expenses they incurred for the foster care companies.

As a result, he said it will be difficult to put his bill in front of getting those people paid.

He noted in the call that he killed his bill, LB 653, which sought to create legislative authority for interbasin transfers of unappropriated, unallocated flood waters.

When it looked like that bill wouldn’t fly, he amended it to look at constructing three small dams below Harlan for time releases to Kansas. He also added a study using wells of Nebraska Public Power near the Gentleman generating station at Sutherland as another source for transfers.

When it looked like the bill had no hope, Christensen chose to kill it.

He was discouraged the bill faced opposition from the “same old water groups” that oppose everything. “You can’t get anything done,” he noted.

The Legislature advanced historic horse racing to final reading. Even if it gets the 25 votes to pass, he expects the governor to veto it.


This week’s letter back home

By Mark Christensen



The 102nd Nebraska Legislature is fast approaching the last day of session. Thursday, April 12 is the scheduled 60th day but it looks like there could be a delay in Sine Die, due to the large number of bill’s being passed.

In order to prevent the possibility of the governor vetoing a last minute bill following Sine Die, it appears the speaker will wait five days following the last bill that reaches the governor’s desk.

That would make the final day April 18.

The past week at the Legislature consisted of several days of lively debate and a disappointing end to LB 239.

LB 239, also known as the photo ID bill, was introduced by Senator Charlie Janssen of Fremont. LB 239 requires an individual to present a photographic identification in order to vote in elections.

The Government, Military and Veteran Affairs Committee attached an amendment to the bill that would allow individuals who lacked identification the ability to receive a registration card for voting purposes.

After a lengthy debate and filibuster, the cloture motion failed by 3 votes, 30-16-1 and 2 excused, taking the bill off the agenda.

Tightening voter ID laws, is legislation that has been passed in several other states as a prevention for voter fraud and to protect the integrity of the voting process.

In years past, elections have ended with extremely close results between candidates, which is why I viewed this bill as important and needed. Candidates deserve an election process that does not allow fraudulent voters the ability to vote.

I would like to thank all my constituents that voiced their thoughts and concerns regarding LB 239.

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

SENATOR MARK CHRISTENSEN holds weekly teleconferences at 7 a.m. MT/8 a.m. CT each Tuesday morning. The public is invited to attend the conference calls. Hosts of the conference calls are Imperial Republican in Imperial, Southwest Public Power District in Palisade and Midwest Electric in Grant. Christensen can be reached at 402-471-2805, or by mail at P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or via e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated on Friday, 06 April 2012 19:18
Legislature into its final eight working days PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 29 March 2012 20:21

By Mark Christensen

State Sen. 44th District


Late night debates at the Legislature are in full swing and we are nearing the pinnacle of the 2012 Legislative session.

We began debating on consent calendar bills last week, which are bills that have been deemed non-controversial and are allowed no more than 15 minutes of debate. My bill, LB 1126, is one of the bills that passed first round on consent calendar. (Bill allows villages to square off their jurisdiction outside its village limit.)

This past week a bill that was advanced to select file triggered my interest and the importance it has on my district. The bill I am referring to is Legislative Bill 959, a job reference immunity bill, introduced by Senator Charlie Janssen of Fremont and prioritized by Senator Colby Coash of Lincoln.

LB 959 provides employer job reference immunity for current and previous employers that provide employment information, of an employee, to prospective employers. AM 1020, a committee amendment, was passed and incorporated into the bill. AM 1020, allows a former or current employer to provide certain information to a future employer upon written consent of the future employer. The employer is not required to provide, but may provide the following information of an employee:

• Date and duration of employment;

• Pay rate and wage history;

• Job description and duties;

• The most recent written performance evaluation;

• Attendance information;

• Results of drug or alcohol tests within the past year;

• Threats of violence, harassment or threatening behavior in the workplace or toward another employee;

• Whether the employee was voluntarily or involuntarily separated from employment and the reasons;

• Whether the employee is eligible for rehire.

The employer providing such information is immune to civil liability, as long as they are acting in good faith and that there is no false information given recklessly or in spite.

Nebraska is one of the few states that does not provide protection to employers from civil liability for disclosing job reference information. Therefore, many employers are hesitant to disclose details of an employee’s references.

Encouraging employers to communicate relevant and factual information is an important tool for the hiring process. It allows for effective job screening and prevents a high employee turnover rate.

In return, employees are more likely to perform more efficiently. As a former business owner I see the importance of, LB 959, and the benefits it creates for both employers and employees.

I intend to continue my support of this bill and I am open to hearing any comments or concerns my constituents may have regarding LB 959.


Tuesday teleconference

In his call Tuesday, Christensen noted the Legislature was in day 50 of the 60-day session.

There’s a lot left to cover with only 10 days remaining, the senator said. “There’s a lot of heavy hitters on the agenda.”

He said final reading on the budget bills was scheduled for Tuesday so they could get them to the governor 10 days before the end of the session.

Christensen’s bill, LB 950, to move the loan repayment from Republican Basin natural resource districts to a water cash resources fund was also scheduled on Tuesday’s agenda for second round debate.

Christensen wanted the repayments to the state for loans to buy surface water for compliance purposes to being used for addressing water issues in the state.

His bill was amended by Sen. Lavon Heideman who wants the state to appropriate the remaining $7.2 million in loan payments to the fund this year.

However, Christensen said the governor has already indicated he will veto the bill if it carries a $7.2 million price tag, even though the NRDs will be paying that money back over the next several years.

As a result, Christensen plans to offer an amendment that would change the appropriation to $2.4 million this year, which would equal the loan repayment from the NRDs this year.

Even if it passes, Christensen said the governor has indicated he will veto that as well.

Can Christensen get the votes to override a veto? He said he didn’t know but was hoping to get the needed 30 votes at passage, which is the same needed for an override.

Another of his bills, LB 1125, would give the Lower Republican Natural Resources District the power to refund occupation taxes paid on property enrolled in conservation programs.

The LRNRD collected occupation taxes on those acres although no irrigation occurred. Prior to this bill, the NRD had no statutory authority to refund the tax.

This bill was scheduled for first round debate late Tuesday or Wednesday.

Questions or comments? Contact, Senator Mark R. Christensen 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, 29 March 2012 20:23
The Stamm-pede: The Physics of Sports PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 29 March 2012 20:17

By Diane Stamm


In case you haven’t heard, I’m a sports junkie. Every morning when “The Cat In The Hat” gets over on PBS the channel gets changed to SportsCenter on ESPN.

My favorite segment is Plays of the Day. A close second is Sports Science. The premise is using math to explain sports. Have you ever saw a hit on the football field and wondered “How hard did he get hit?” Here’s where you can find your answer. One of my personal favorites is when they demonstrate that it’s harder to hit a 70 mph softball than a 90 mph baseball.

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with sports in southwest Nebraska.

While I watched the Broncos in Cambridge on Saturday the thought occurred to me: How in the heck does Tailor Lee throw an eight pound shot 32 feet? For those of you who haven’t seen Lee, she’s a relatively tall kid, but no one could call her big. What makes tall, skinny kids good at throwing shot? How many factors go into throwing a shot put?

Sports Science crossed my mind again as I watched Emma Skelton run the hurdles. I’ve always enjoyed watching those athletes that don’t break stride and look like they just take a step over the hurdle. In the 100 meter high hurdles, each hurdle is 33 inches tall. Skelton is 63 inches tall. That turns into a pretty big hop 10 times while running like crazy in between.

Late in the day as the meet was wearing down Sports Science crossed my mind again as I watched 5’3” Abbie Fanning turn on the jets and track down Chase County’s 5’8” Paige Spady in the 800 meter run. Spady had a comfortable lead rounding the final turn. Fanning kicked it into gear and chased her down only to lose by a step. How many more steps did Fanning have to take in the race? How fast was she running down the stretch?

In school I enjoyed algebra and trigonometry, but physics never really sunk in. Watching Sports Science explain the physics of athletics has increased my enjoyment of sports. It makes me appreciate the effort and enjoy the accomplishments of local athletes all the more.

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 March 2012 20:19
Letter to the Editor: Success of nursing home fundraising effort left us in awe PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 22 March 2012 19:03

Closing the Heritage of Wauneta nursing home would have had a negative impact on the school district’s financial outlook, but the loss of 60 jobs and uprooting of loved ones would have had a devastating impact on many of our students’ families.

Joanie and I attended the community meeting at the Legion Hall on Jan. 12 and were impressed by the thorough planning that had been done by the Village Board and staff, and equally impressed with the thoughtful consideration being given to the employees and clientele of the nursing facility.

Watching the successful fundraising effort has left us in awe of this community and reminds us of the teaching of Mahatma Ghandi as paraphrased by the late Senator Hubert Humphrey.

“The greatness of a community is measured by how it treats its weakest members - those in the dawn of life, the children; those in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those in the shadow of life, the sick, needy and handicapped.”

Congratulations on being a truly great community.


Dr. Stan Sibley

Superintendent of the Wauneta-Palisade Schools

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 March 2012 19:04
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