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This Week's Editorial
Sand tar pipeline route across Nebraska on the chopping block PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Friday, 12 August 2011 19:14

Capitol View

By Ed Howard


In a move virtually certain to generate some headlines but very little action, State Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm is urging that lawmakers call themselves into special session and adopt laws allowing them to decide the route of a proposed sand tar oil pipeline that would pass through the porous Sand Hills and over the Ogallala Aquifer.

The optimistic view would be that his chances are minimal.

That legitimate questions exist about the safety of running the TransCanada XL pipeline over the company’s preferred route is unarguably proven by the fact that both of Nebraska’s U.S. Senators, Democrat Ben Nelson and Republican Mike Johanns, have said publicly that they oppose it.

Politically speaking, Johanns has made clear he would generally prefer to eat razorblades and hike 20 miles, rather than agree with Nelson on anything. The sanctity of Big Red football and motherhood would probably make the list of exceptions, but not much else.

“They picked the wrong route,” Johanns said. “I wish I could tell you that man-made things never break, but they break. Why would you want to dump oil into the aquifer?”

The question from here: Why do you suppose most state senators have shown virtually no interest in using whatever authority the Legislature has — and the Congressional Research Service says it has primary authority — to investigate and influence the pipeline route?

Haar would need to get nine colleagues to call for lawmakers to be polled, by the Nebraska Secretary of State, on whether a special session should be called. Thirty-three of the 49 lawmakers would have to favor the session in order for it to be called. Haar indicated he’d begin his effort in September.

Special legislative sessions are usually called by a governor. And Gov. Dave Heineman has showed no inclination to do so where the Keystone XL pipeline is concerned.

Like any major construction project, the pipeline holds out the promise of jobs, jobs, jobs. That’s good economically and politically.

It also holds out the established possibility of leaks, pollution and a not-very-satisfactory cleanup of the aquifer, which is immensely important to Nebraska and more than a half-dozen other states.

Side note: If the pipeline should eventually pollute the aquifer, Nelson and Johanns would be in the political clear.

The CRS study said states can establish the primary siting authority for the Keystone XL pipeline. It noted South Dakota and Montana have laws requiring that proposed pipelines receive approval from state agencies.

The only law on Nebraska’s books, however, gives the power of eminent domain to oil pipeline companies if they can’t talk owners of private property into giving the companies right of way.

TransCanada has been criticized several times by property owners who say they have been threatened with eminent domain proceedings.

The U.S. Department of State has said it will decide by year’s end whether to grant a permit for the pipeline.

The House of Representatives recently passed a meaningless statute that called for the State Department to decide the issue by Nov. 1.


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

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Believe in this community as it tries to save nursing home PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Friday, 22 July 2011 15:43

Dear Editor:

Its times like these I am so proud to live in rural southwest Nebraska! When our facility got the news that our corporate office, Vetter Health Services, intended to close our nursing home in Wauneta – staff, residents and families were heart broken to say the least! I know everyone went home that day with crushed spirits!

Fortunately, the gloom and despair didn’t last long. By that evening the news had raced across the entire town and many folks had already rallied with the kind of positive attitude that immediately warms your heart. That’s what small towns are all about. We reach out and support one another when the going gets tough…and believe me, it’s obvious the tough really know how to get going, too!!

A number of people have already put in hours and hours researching license information, grants, attending meetings, and contacting elected officials and state offices! Many thanks to Terry Engell who has been burning the midnight oil doing a lot of the research! And thanks to everyone else who have been working towards a solution! What a terrific group of “go-getters” we have here in Wauneta. Heritage staff and residents appreciate the kindness and support shown in these first few days! It gives us hope!

My husband and I have worked here for a combined 26 years. My dad was a resident and passed away here. My grandmother, too…and my mother has lived here a little over two years! So needless to say, Heritage is familiar…it’s comfortable…it’s loving…it’s HOME!

Just for giggles, I thought I’d share some ‘fun facts’ about Heritage: The 2010 gross payroll was a bit under $942,000.00! We just hired our 564th employee (since VHS purchase) and admitted our 869th resident (from building opening). We admitted 24 Medicare (skilled) residents in 2010. So far this year – we’ve admitted 17!! Two of our present staff members were here when VHS purchased the building: Deb Andrew and Jan Huser. Deb’s employee number is 2…Do you know who #1 was?? Well – it was Deb’s mother, Lorean Anderson who worked here 18 years! Jan (#18) worked at the old Barnes home, and Deb’s mom and grandmother did, too.

According to a September 7, 1972, Breeze Special Edition, the Grand Opening of “Kinder Kare” (as it was previously called) was on Sept. 10 of that same year, although the home had been open for some time before then. That same edition of the Breeze shows pictures of the facility as it was when it was new. Compared to today, it was rather stark and institutional looking! But certainly state of the art in 1970! The chronological register of residents is a bit askew from those early days and probably includes some residents of the old Barnes nursing home, but it appears that the first resident admitted to the new facility was Lillian Kittle on Jan. 15, 1971.

Although some people could find it easy to place blame on VHS for choosing to close rather than spending the money on a fire sprinkler system, when it comes right down to it, VHS is a business. And when necessary, they must make changes when it is beneficial to the financial strength of the company. I know it was a hard decision for the owners, Jack and Eldora Vetter. They have invested a lifetime in the business of caring for people, and have had to endure state and federal regulations for years… some that made sense and some that didn’t. A fire sprinkler system certainly makes sense for safety reasons, but just proved too costly – even for someone as generous as Jack Vetter. Not only are they closing Wauneta, but also their Spalding facility, “Friendship Villa.” Also not sprinkled are their homes in Bridgeport and St. Paul. A decision has yet to be made on those two facilities.

VHS has dedicated 29 years and large sums of money into modernizing the facility, landscaping and beautifying the grounds, helping us recruit great staff, paying competitive wages, affording benefits to hundreds of employees, kept us updated and educated, and welcomed hundreds of loving residents into a beautiful “home” over those years! They have purchased new computers, a new parking lot, A/C chiller, carpeting, a beautiful Clavinova piano, new furniture, bedding, windows, drapes, commercial kitchen, nursing, housekeeping and laundry equipment, rooms remodeled, etc. The list could go on and on! Anytime we truly need something or a resident’s health or safety is in jeopardy – all we need to do is ask and we receive. VHS has done much to sustain life in Wauneta for the past 29 years, so as we move forward into this next chapter, I do hope you will take the time to remember all the good that has come from being a member of the Vetter family. They were and still remain a true blessing to Wauneta!

We have gained so much strength from our precious residents who are taking this all in stride. Some comments are, “God knows where every bird on earth is – He surely knows where I am and will take care of me.” “God will provide.” “God will see us through this difficulty.” “I prayed about it and I know everything will be fine.” It’s wonderful to have their steadfast faith to see us through difficult days!

I return my thoughts to the above mentioned article from the September, 1972, Breeze paper (which was written by the late G.B. “Jiggs” Crapson). This is how it began: “In 1968, the then owners of Barnes Rest Home, Luther and Emily Barnes, met with the Wauneta Commercial Club and informed the group they were contemplating closing their home in east Wauneta. This, naturally, brought disapproval from all segments of Wauneta’s business society.” The article then goes on to explain how some young, enterprising Wauneta businessmen raised money, applied for grants, etc. for the present day facility! So I guess it’s true what they say… history does sometimes repeat itself!

Wauneta has the pride, passion and the drive to save their nursing home once again! I believe that with all my soul! From the very bottom of my heart…Thank you all for believing in and supporting us!


Lisa Kisinger,


Heritage of Wauneta

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Community will work hard to keep Heritage of Wauneta alive PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 14 July 2011 20:41

Dear Editor:

Considerable concern has understandably arisen in the Wauneta community and the surrounding area following the recent announcement by Vetter Health Service Inc. that they intend to close their nursing home in Wauneta. The facility is a critical element of the health care system, and a very significant source of employment opportunities and commerce in this neighborhood.

Recognizing the profound importance of retaining a viable form of the facility in Wauneta, several members of the community leadership are working together to identify the options available, and to marshal available resources to provide an alternative to closure of the facility.

We want to assure not only employees, residents of the facility, and their families, but all concerned citizens that we will be working diligently in an effort to retain this valuable asset.


Page Johnston

Wauneta, Neb.

GUEST TRIBUTE COLUMN: Frank Pothoff remembered PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 21 October 2010 17:48

Every once in a while, a person crosses our paths and they may affect our lives in very specific ways.  Then, when their life on earth ends and while one can rejoice over their ascension to the spirit world, we feel the loss profoundly.

Three days after I became a licensed local pastor I was to do my first funeral.  I was petrified.  I called an old timey pastor and asked him what I should do.  He said, “Talk about Jesus and talk about the person.”

Through these past 13 years as a pastor, I’ve found that to be good advice.  If I did not know the deceased personally, and even if I did, I tried to meet with the family and talk to friends who could give me insights into that person’s life and character.  From that, I would search the scriptures to find where that life connected with the sacred text.  If I could find an image or a word, then I could write the service. Sometimes this was easy, sometimes more difficult.

No such difficulty with Frank Potthoff.  The word for Frank came quickly, integrity.  Integrity of the best kind, with a great sense of humor. Last week, cancer took Frank at 73.  A vast number of family, friends and acquaintances gathered to pay tribute.  Pastor Bonnie McCord led us through the scriptures and his life.  Granddaughters spoke of a fun-loving, musical grandpa, who was ‘there’ for them.

As his former pastor, I had memories of Frank, too.  The always on time, always prepared board member who had more ideas in his head than a dog has fleas.  My last visual memory of Frank was on a ladder as he and Denny Ferguson changed the entire lighting fixtures of the church to more ecological, energy saving ones. Palisade UMC went green.

I experienced Frank as a man who ‘walked his talk’.  “A righteous man who walks in his integrity.  “How blessed are his sons (daughter, grandchildren, great-grandchildren).” Proverbs 20:7.  All of us who knew and worked with Frank experienced this as an understatement.

What I also admired about Frank was his sense of place.  Anyone who lives in a small town knows its strengths but, if we’re honest, we know small town life can also be limiting and ingrown.  I never experienced Frank (or Betty, his spouse) as being limited or colloquial.  Instead, I had found him wise to the world, open to diversity, and an ever-flowing fountain of ideas about how to make every aspect of Palisade life work better: church, community, work.

Yes, I have been affected by the death of Frank Potthoff, but more so by his life.  He was a measure of integrity against which I can measure my own.  Frankly (sorry for the pun), I think I come up a bit short.  My prayer is that as Frank has embarked on this new adventure of the spirit that he helps God fulfill this, “He (God) is a shield to those who walk in integrity,” Prov. 2:7.  May it be so!


Pastor Judy Dye.

A tribute to one of Wauneta’searly day veterans PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 01 July 2010 20:22

A Breeze reader recently requested that we reprint this historic, patriotic poem which was written about Wauneta and two of the town’s early founding citizens, Civil War veteran Lest-er Baker, and his wife, Amoretta Lawrence Baker.

We proudly honor this request.

The Bakers moved to Wauneta in late February of 1887 where their son, Edwin Baker, and son-in-law and daughter, John and Grace Hann, had established the Wauneta Breeze newspaper. The Bakers built a sod house 1 mile west of Wauneta during the spring of 1887. Lester and Amoretta Baker were the grandparents of Beulah Hann Olmsted and the great-grandparents of longtime Breeze readers Gene Olmsted of Powell, Wyo., John Olmsted of Gothenburg, and Fred Olmsted of Ogallala.

Lester died in 1890, never having fully recovered from ailments associated with his service as a Union soldier in the Civil War. Amoretta Baker died in 1925. They are now buried together at Wauneta’s Riverside Cemetery.

This poem was written by Samantha “Mantie” E. Bride (1847-1938), one of Wauneta’s most talented early citizens. She was lauded for her abilities as a writer, public speaker, painter and musician.

This poem was written after Mantie moved with her husband, Charlie, to Wauneta in 1906. It is reprinted again in honor of Independence Day and in tribute to all those who have defended our nation’s freedoms. (The stanzas from the original poem have been changed due to space limitations on this page.)


The Lone Grave on the Hill

By Samantha ‘Mantie’ E. Bride (1847-1938)

As I wandered to a hill-top, Near a quaint Nebraska town,

There a lone grave I discovered,

Where I paused and gazed around, But no other grave was near it.

All was desolate and still.

And I wondered whence it came there; That lone grave upon the hill. And strange thoughts came stealing o’er me. Thoughts my heart could not forget.

And I asked for information, of a stranger who I met. “I can answer,” said the stranger, “Tis a soldier’s grave,” said he. “If you’ll list, Ill tell the story, Tell it as ‘twas told to me.”


The Story

Faraway in old New England, Eighteen hundred sixty four; When our dear old Uncle Abram called for sixty thousand more. Then up-spoke young Lester Baker. “Come my wife and sit by me,” Thus he spake, his wife beside him, And his infant on his knee:

“I have heard my country calling; For her sons that still are true; I have loved that country, loved ones; Only next to God and you. And my soul is springing forward to resist her bitter foe,

Shall I go, my Amoretta? Tell me darling, shall I go?

And she answered thro’ her teardrops; In her eyes he saw them shine; “Tis your heart’s responsive throbbing, to a higher claim than mine.

And though grief my heart is stirring; And my heart is sad with woe, I must answer yes, my Lester. Duty calls and you must go.

And where duty leads you, follow, though it leads you on to death. Pleasures only make life hollow; For noble things God gave us breath. While for Freedom you are fighting, God, who knows our cause is just, will watch o’er and guard you, husband; I commit you to His trust.”

Amoretta, I believe you, go I will. God bless you, wife! For the Union I’ll be fighting; How e’re long or hard the strife. Faith will keep us, never doubt it, till I shall return to you. Victory! Victory, we will shout it; For the red, the white, the blue.”

So he went long months enduring all the agony and woe, that which we, who stayed behind him, do not, and can never know. And the wife at home remaining, through the long and weary time, saw the shattered ranks returning; Saw her Lester in the line.

But his step was slow and halting; And his face was pale and grave, as he said “I’ve brought back darling but the wreck of what you gave.”

Then came months of weary waiting; Months of suffering and pain. But with courage unabated, still he hoped for health again.

So they sought the western prairie, where the healthful breezes blow; Settled here in wild Nebraska, when the place was wild and new.

On the hill-side built their cottage, there the children romped with play, looking down upon the valley, where the river winds its way.

But the health he sought for came not, yet he fought for life so sweet; And he lived to see a village growing almost at his feet. Often he would climb the hill top, looking down upon the stream, saw Wauneta grow beneath him, seemingly as in a dream. But at last disease o’er came him, and he knew the end was near; And upon his death bed lying called his wife and children dear. And he said, “My Heavenly Father calleth me unto my rest;

I would fair remain among you, but our Father knoweth best.

“There is one thing I would ask you; It has often been my thought. Bury me upon the hill-top; Twas my favorite resort.

There I’ve sat and planned the future! Future that was not for me. And I love to think my children, There my resting place will be.”

This the tale the stranger told me, as we walked toward the town. How his last request was granted, when to rest they laid him down. Months have passed, yet still I ponder, as my memory roams at will; O’er the sad and touching story of the “Lone Grave on the Hill.”

And his friends do not forget him, on each sad Memorial Day.

And upon that grave so lonely, they their decorations lay.

Sons and daughters of our veterans, where he sleeps so strange and still, come and let us lay our offering.

On the lone grave on the hill.


Last Updated on Thursday, 01 July 2010 20:25
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