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Kudos, Wauneta, for allowing life at Heritage to continue PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 29 March 2012 20:23

Another Perspective

By Lori Pankonin


Hip hip horray. Hip hip horray. Hip hip hooray for Wauneta and its extended family for joining forces to save the local nursing home. Kudos to the organizers who diligently spent countless hours to develop a plan and to all who came forward to surpass the financial contribution goal. WoooHooooo!!

A feeling of deep concern overcame the community when Vetter Health Services announced that Heritage would close in a year if a new owner didn’t come forward. What? The shock soon turned to fear. What would this do to Wauneta’s economy?

Obviously the threat of job loss for that many people in a rural community is huge. Employees support downtown businesses with needs for food, gasoline, insurance, vehicles, vehicle repair, flowers, gift items, banking services, newspaper service and the list goes on.

Consider the dollars that benefit the local utilities department in water and electrical usage for that big of a building. Consider property taxes. It would definitely be an economic jolt.

But beyond realizing the potential financial crunch, one has to think of the emotions of all the people who call Heritage home. What about the families who appreciate having loved ones close at hand?

Memories of special friends at Heritage will always be lasting for our family. My grandpa was 98 when he died in a Colorado nursing home. It was so rewarding to see the faces of residents light up when we passed through the halls with young children. I realized we could light up the faces of Wauneta folks more regularly.

So on our way home from bike rides or strolls to the park, we started stopping at Heritage. We soon determined a special person where we would direct our visit and chatted with others as well. Howard requested pie when he came to our house for his birthday supper. Although he didn’t have many teeth, he had no problem downing his meal with a big smile, ending with pie al a mode.

His death was hard on me but the girls seemed to understand and we started visiting Lue regularly. She saved some of her bingo prizes to give to the girls and was always happy for a visit, no matter how brief. I sat with her in the hospital when she took her last breath and it was a special moment. But it ripped at my heart and I thought we might take a break from having a “special” person.

Then Brooke suggested we have Percy as our special friend and when he died, we could visit Bob more often. At first I thought that was rather insensitive, but I realized they were looking at death in a different light. Our Heritage friends were older and had lived good lives. It was actually quite natural for them to die and go live with Jesus.

Percy very proudly presented the girls with his paint-by-number creations of puppies. Bob revealed his chocolate stash and invited us to enjoy his treats with him. One gentleman never did forget that I danced with him on the day they had special music and that made me feel good. As a centenarian, Edna fascinated me when she’d recite the poem about the presidents that she learned at age four.

Daughter Celeste started doing ladies’ nails on Tuesdays after school. I really can’t imagine a first grader doing an ideal nail painting job, however just think what that gift of time did for the older ladies. Picture an elderly woman having one-on-one time with a young girl, having her hands touched gently and sharing conversation. Wow. One day Celeste told me that one of the ladies had a lot on her mind. I asked what they talked about and Celeste said it was just between them.

Several years later, Celeste is now studying speech and language pathology in graduate school. “I just love old people,” she said with sincere respect when referring to one of her adult clients. And she admits that it was probably her Heritage days that instilled that compassion. What a valuable characteristic to have acquired.

In more recent years, I’ve enjoyed visits with Lucille, Edna, Ruby and others. They are indeed special friends full of wisdom.

Thank you to everyone who made it possible for seniors needing assistance to continue to reside in Wauneta. It would be a shame to stop the growing pool of memories there.

I will forever cherish our memories.


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, 29 March 2012 20:24
Of state aid, local control, tax dollars and a dog named Spots PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 09 February 2012 18:37

Capitol View

By Ed Howard


It is what you might call a universal headline.

At some point, you can find it in pretty much any newspaper in America and most of the world.

“Flood aid procedures frustrate …” read a Nebraska newspaper this week.

Change “flood” to whatever’s appropriate. School aid. Fire aid. State aid. Food.

That “aid procedures” are frustrating people somewhere has come to be an understanding of modern life.


Where’s Mine?!

It’s not surprising that the Legislature would choose the Department of Roads for an audit by a committee of lawmakers.

Only Bo Pelini’s decisions are subject to more second-guessing.

Nebraskans love to gripe about the department, no matter what. But the griping is inevitably enhanced when it centers on some local project which, the second-guessers are certain, is long overdue and far worthier than others around the state.


Local Revenue

During most of its history, when rural numbers and philosophy ruled the Legislature, the phrase “local control!” was virtually a war cry. This applied most especially when it came to the organization of school districts — which, in turn, had/has everything to do with school financing and thus property taxes.

Local governments these days are scowling at state government as a result of what they believe are good fiscal reasons.

On the one hand, the amount of state tax dollars being returned to local subdivisions of government in the form of state aid has been dwindling in recent years.

Against this backdrop, there are now proposals to do away with the county death tax and to require that local occupation taxes be approved by voters.

Both of these initiatives represent potential losses to local governments worth millions of dollars — amounts local governments are ill-prepared to replace.


Man’s best friend .… Really!

To a very great extent, these days, government is all about privatization. Contracting out. Keeping staff rosters as short as possible.

It comes as a bit of a surprise then to learn that UNL types are thinking about undertaking an unusual “hire” who would lead the ongoing search-and-destroy mission aimed at the campus bedbug population.

To date, the effort has been in the capable . . . well . . . paws of one rat terrier named Spots, who is billed as a “bedbug detecting dog.”

Spots, however, is an independent contractor, and given the magnitude of the task ahead, it appears that some at UNL think it might be wise for them to get their own bedbug detecting dog.

One has to wonder what spending category in the UNL administrative budget would contain the entry “dog.”


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

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 February 2012 18:39
Neb. Game and Parks proposes hunting season for mountain lions PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 02 February 2012 18:02

Capitol View

By Ed Howard


The clientele at Ole’s Big Game Bar seemed destined to witness a sudden, unpleasant end to what had for decades been a close relationship.

Two fellows at the bar, eating up some groceries and throwing down some beers, had come to disagree about the décor. Ole’s big game bar in Paxton was decorated with big game trophies. All kinds. All over the place. Still is.

Conversation first centered agreeably on the beauty of the animals and the quality of the taxidermy.

Unexpectedly, one of the guys, I’d known him as a hunter for years, said with obvious and sincere distaste that mounting big-game animals per se was disgusting. And his vitriol ran deep.

A hunter making a spectacle of a big-game kill was everything from mean-spirited to egomaniacal, unsportsmanlike, delusional and undoubtedly unsure of his manhood, he said.

It was the latter assertion, which sparked a Vesuvius eruption from our third party.

If someone will get close enough to a grizzly or a polar bear, or a big cat or cape buffalo to dispatch it with a rifle, he asked, doesn’t it say something about them? About their courage?

The rejoinder: Not one bit.

He argued big-game hunting merely represented man’s ability to use technology to overcome animals that otherwise might look at Homo sapiens and think hor d’oeuvres. And it gives hunters who can afford it an exotic, expensive entertainment experience. It’s an ego thing.

Could there come a time when it would be seen as appropriate to mount a big-game trophy?

“When the animals can shoot back!”

That episode from the early 1980s comes to mind whenever the subject of big game hunting comes around – perhaps a dozen or so times.

The Legislature is looking at a proposal from the Game and Parks Commission that would give the GPC the authority to establish a hunting season on mountain lions, also known as cougars.

The state figures there are 20 or so cougars around Nebraska, mostly in the northwest, capable of breeding.

Proponents say they want the law on the books just in case it’s needed some day. There haven’t been any reports of the cats taking down livestock. Besides, it’s already legal to shoot a cougar if it threatens animals or people.

The potential Nebraska scenario:

Imagine what some hunters would pay for a permit to kill a mountain lion, and either have it mounted or have made into a “rug” type of trophy.

Permits could be offered through an auction – creating the potential for indefinite amounts of revenue by issuing just a few of them.

Proponents insist the bill is only a “just in case” thing. At the top of those cases will always be “just in case” the Commission comes to a time and place when a it appears that killing off a portion of Nebraska’s cougar population could generate comparatively big revenue with very little effort.


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

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 February 2012 18:04
Governor encourages individuals to e-file PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 26 January 2012 20:05

Dear Fellow Nebraskans

By Gov. Dave Heineman


It is time to begin thinking about filing your tax returns for tax year 2011 and I want to encourage every Nebraskan to consider filing their individual income taxes electronically. E-filing is a convenient and secure way to file state and federal taxes. I also want to encourage taxpayers who are making state income tax payments, including estimated income tax, to use the state’s electronic payment program located at   

  Last year, we achieved our 85 percent e-file goal. This compares to an e-file rate of 62 percent in 2008, and a 78 percent e-file rate in 2009.

Nebraska had the number one ranking for percentage of income tax returns e-filed for tax year 2010. Our goal this year is to continue to be a leader in electronic filing.

E-filing allows taxpayers to submit both their federal and state tax returns together. Taxpayers can go online, purchase software or visit a participating tax preparer to file their returns using the federal and state e-file programs. Some software providers allow free federal e-filing, but may charge a fee for state e-filing. Visit  for more information.

  NebFile allows Nebraska residents the opportunity to file their Nebraska individual income tax return online at no charge with the Nebraska Department of Revenue at Nebraskans have embraced e-filing at much higher rates than most taxpayers across the country.

In addition to being quicker and more efficient, filing tax returns online reduces the risk of errors, provides confirmation that a return has been received, and allows tax refunds to be received much sooner. Those taxpayers entitled to a refund who e-file and choose to have their refund returned via direct deposit typically receive their refund in seven to 10 business days.

The ability to file and pay taxes online is another way our state is providing the services Nebraskans want, while helping ensure greater efficiency in government. The switch to e-filing has reduced the number of temporary workers at the Department of Revenue. No temporary workers were hired again this year, compared to the approximately 150 temporary workers hired in years past before e-filing became an option.

Our progress is due in part to the cooperation of the professional tax preparation community who have embraced the speed and convenience of e-filing coupled with the cooperation of individuals and families who converted to this faster, more convenient option in the last several years.

Every single taxpayer choosing to file online saves the staff time needed to open envelopes, remove staples or paper clips, and review the enclosed documents to ensure everything is in order before each tax return can be processed.

For more information on new developments and other electronic options available, visit the Nebraska Department of Revenue website at

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 January 2012 20:06
A Senate bid by Bob Kerrey would make the contest a contest PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Friday, 20 January 2012 15:18

Capitol View

By Ed Howard


Bob Kerrey has an inordinate fear of boredom.

You could say he’s just a guy who needs to keep busy.

But Kerrey, who at 68 might be the only hope for revitalizing the state’s torpid Democratic Party, needs more than that.

It’s a danger thing. A particular type of danger.

 Review the guy’s 30-something years in public life.

He captured Nebraska’s imagination at the age of 40 as a brash political newcomer — a good looking entrepreneur who came home from Vietnam with a Medal of Honor and without part of one leg.

He made a million bucks in the restaurant business and, with that accomplished, began looking around.

Kerrey was elected governor in 1983 on the strength of a personality that seemed to overwhelm and please the public. He talked about Nebraskans’ “hopes and dreams.” So the electorate threw out dull Republican Charlie Thone amid the Reagan recession.

Four years later he said he didn’t have the “fire in the belly” for a second term. More telling, he said “I need to find a little danger.”

He did the private enterprise thing until a U.S. Senate seat opened with the death of Democrat Ed Zorinsky.

Kerrey was remindful of legendary Democrat Jim Exon, who, after two terms as governor, made a career in the U.S. Senate. Both were legitimate Democrats, but of the conservative stripe. “Authoritarian” would be an appropriate description for either man. Hardnosed and plainspoken when it came to policy and politics.

As governor and in the senate Kerrey generally went his own way, seemingly unaware and unconcerned about consequences and critics.

He drove Democrats crazy as often as he bedeviled Republicans.

Now, Democrats are wondering if Kerrey still has his political touch for Nebraskans. Democrat Ben Nelson isn’t seeking re-election, and if the party has any chance to hold onto his seat, Kerry will have to carry the banner.

A Kerrey bid would make the contest a contest.

And the GOP knows it.

“In lieu of an official candidate from the Democrats, we’re going to treat (Kerrey) like a candidate. His positions and previous statements are fair game,” Nebraska GOP Executive Director Jordan McGrain said recently.

After years of living in New York and heading a famous liberal arts college, there are questions about whether Kerrey will really want to do home-state politics again.

His decision will have much to do with whether he senses Nebraskans are still moved by his quirky approach to public office.


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

Last Updated on Friday, 20 January 2012 15:20
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