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Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink?

News Flash!  The Elmwood water has been declared safe to drink!  We just got the word Tuesday night!


Last Wednesday the citizens of Elmwood were notified that our water contained nitrates.  This poses a serious health threat to infants less than six months old.  Pregnant and nursing mothers were instructed to consult with their doctors.  Adults and children older than six months can drink the tap water because they can process nitrates.  Nitrates in drinking water can come from natural, industrial, or agricultural sources (including septic systems and run off).  Levels of nitrate in drinking water can vary throughout the year.  The level set by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services as safe is 10 milligrams per liter, (10 parts per million).  The level of nitrates in the Elmwood water exceeded this.

How did our water get contaminated?  According to the communication that the Village Board distributed to the community:  "On 02/03/2011 a reverse osmosis pump failed in the water treatment plant.  A back up pump was installed; however the new pump was operating at a higher pressure, which caused a concern of damaging the aged membrane filters for the reverse osmosis system.  Therefore the plant was shut down on 02/02/2011 and the new reverse osmosis membrane filters were ordered on 02/05/2011.  It was the intent to utilize the processed water stored in the water tower until the new filters were installed and the water treatment plant could be brought back on line.  On 02/06/2011, a water pipe broke at one of the well houses causing the water stored in the water tower to be depleted.  This in turn caused the need to supply the Village with unprocessed water."

Thursday night the Village Board held its regular semi-monthly meeting but knew that there would be many people on hand with questions.  Howard Isaacs, Program Manager of the Office of Drinking Water and Environmental Health, Division of Public Health was invited to answer questions.  Mr. Isaacs explained about nitrates and the process involved with taking a plant off line.  Village Board members, Dave Ernst, Ed Blunt, Jeff Clymer, Grace Ronhovde, and Lou Allgayer, along with Dan Spaulding, water treatment plant operator, and Becky vonRentzell, Village Clerk, pieced together the events that led up to the Elmwood water being declared in violation of state codes.  Besides the equipment failure there was a breakdown in communications between the Village Board and the plant operator.  Once everyone realized what was happening the state was notified immediately and the public was given notice.

About twenty or so concerned citizens attended the meeting and asked some tough questions about the issue.  The main concern was why it took so long for the public to be told about the danger.  Mr. Isaacs said that his office would be investigating and determine what recommendations should be made to ensure this doesn't happen again.

The equipment was repaired on Wednesday and the plant was back on line that day.  Dan monitored the nitrate level and was required to provide the State with samples so they could lift the ban on the drinking water.  This process can take several days.

As one of the concerned citizens who attended the meeting I offer my perspective.  I am proud to live in a community where we have leaders and city employees who are dedicated to our safety.  They are not idiots, they are not lazy, and they are not sweeping anything under the rug.  They accept responsibility for what happened.  They faced the public, their neighbors, their friends, and their family members and they answered the questions put to them.  It was uncomfortable and painful to witness.  But it showed me that they are human.  They want to do the best they can for us.  They care.  Admittedly, they do have communication issues amongst themselves.  They may need a refresher on the requirements of the clean water policy.  They may need new procedures to guide their actions.  This is not over for the Village Board or the village employees.  They will have to be involved in the state investigation.

I am not trying to trivialize what happened.  We are lucky that no one was hurt.  Nitrates are very dangerous in our water.  We should have been told so we can protect the babies.  People should be concerned and demand that the system be fixed.  But we should not demonize the people involved.  They are good people who work hard for us and they got a wake up call that what they do is more than plan street improvements and monitor the budget.  They are very important.   I don't have the impression that anything was done intentionally to deceive or mislead or hide the situation.  They live in the community, too.  They have family, friends, and grandbabies that are all drinking the water.  I know that they have learned from this situation and there is no doubt in my mind that this will never be an issue again.  Why am I so confident?  Because I know these people and I trust these people.  We are all human and we all make mistakes.

The Village Board and employees need our support.  They will do what is necessary to gain our trust again.  We need to give them a chance.  I will drink the water.  If I had a baby I would not be afraid to give them the water...once it is declared safe, of course.  You may not agree with me but that is my perspective.






LINCOLN, NE (February 8, 2011) - "Farmers and ranchers need to make sure they meet requirements under the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) and crop insurance programs by the 2011 sales closing date of March15, 2011," noted Nebraska Farm Service Agency Director Dan Steinkruger. "The Livestock Forage Program (LFP) provides pasture loss payments for drought using the Drought Monitor and currently the Nebraska Drought Monitor reflects a lot of the state as Abnormally Dry, or in D1 drought."

Livestock Forage Program (LFP) benefits may be earned by producers of eligible livestock for drought losses to grazing land that is native or improved pastureland. To qualify, the drought intensity during the grazing period as ranked by the U.S. Drought Monitor must reach the D2 or greater intensity for a specific time. Grazing acres incurring a loss must have either crop insurance (policy or plan issued under the Federal Crop Insurance Act) or Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance (NAP) coverage in order to qualify for Livestock Forage Program benefits on those acres.

The Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE) provides benefits for crop losses. It is revenue based, and accounts for losses in production quantity and quality, as well as decreases in price. The Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP) provides emergency relief to producers of livestock, honey bees, and farm-raised fish due to grazing losses, feed losses, and additional costs incurred, or death losses to honey bees or farm-raised fish which are caused by an eligible adverse weather event. To meet risk management eligibility for SURE and ELAP, producers must obtain either crop insurance coverage at the catastrophic (CAT) level or higher, or Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage from FSA for all crops on all farms in all counties in which they have an interest.

Steinkruger added, "Farmers, ranchers, and landowners should review their 2011 drought protection before the March15 deadline with their local FSA Office staff."

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The Nebraska Arborists Association (NAA) Great Plains Tree Conference is set for February 28 & March 1, 2011 at the Lincoln Embassy Suites. This year's Conference, "Wild Times for Nebraska Trees," will feature a day and a half of education and fun for all attendees. Five hours of NAA CEUs are available for the first day, and three CEUs are available for the second day of the conference. (NAA has also applied for ISA credits.). Don't miss this opportunity to network, establish new business contacts, and receive cutting edge information on tree care!

Speakers this year include: Guy Sternberg, author of Native Trees for North American Landscapes and a tree consultant for the City of Springfield, Illinois, will be the keynote speaker for the 2011 Conference. In addition, there will be presentations from Mark Widrlechner, Steve Rasmussen, Dan Mekkes, Dr. Whitney Cranshaw, Jack Phillips, Dr. Mark Harrell and Keith Lucas, and a panel discussion on "Nebraska Trees - Challenges and Opportunities for Care."

For more information and registration details please visit www.nearborists.org






A special thanks to Bonnie Brewer for keeping us supplied with the historical accounts of Elmwood.  If you have any tidbits of Elmwood history you would like to share, please send them to Bonnie Brewer at bb45231@windstream.net.



Lofte Community Theatre to Honor Volunteers

On Saturday, February 26 at 6pm the Lofte Community Theatre in Manley will honor its volunteers and hold their annual business meeting. Actors, ushers, painters, donors and friends are all invited to participate in this special event.  Lofte officers will present Lofte financials and plans for the future.  A complimentary Italian meal and refreshments will be provided.

The Lofte is a non-profit organization and as such is heavily dependent upon its army of volunteers.  During the course of the evening, those with outstanding service during the past year will be recognized by the "Dale Crosby Awards."  Mr. Crosby was a long-time chairman of the Lofte Board of Directors.  His willingness to tackle any duty at the theater served as an inspiration to others.  Over the many years of his service, he performed, cleaned and took on administrative tasks.  Mr. Crosby passed away in 2001.

Lofte Artistic Director Kevin Colbert will announce upcoming show selections and share some of the behind the scenes antics that he witnessed during the 2010 season.

Those who are planning to attend are asked to RSVP by calling the theater at (402) 234-2553



Fiddlin' Around

Championship fiddler and fiddle book author, Deborah Greenblatt, will discuss various ways to perform that classic fiddle tune, Orange Blossom Special.  This wonderful piece encourages improvisation, giving the fiddler opportunities to make their fiddle sound just like a train.   The Workshop takes place on Saturday, March 19, 2011, 1 PM - 3 PM, in the Old Avoca Schoolhouse, Avoca, Nebraska.  Pre-registration is required, enrollment is limted, and there is a $20.00 fee.  For more information, call 402-275-3221, or send an e-mail todebby@greenblattandseay.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it





Sometimes in life you are lucky enough to meet people who make a difference.  Last week I was in this position.  My son, Joe, has participated in the Nebraska Games and Parks Commission's Mentored Youth Archery Deer Hunting Program for the last two years.  He has two dedicated mentors that work hard to get him out into the wild to hunt.  We were invited to their end of the year banquet which was held at the Mallet Lodge at Platte River State Park.  (which is a great place to hold family reunions - see you there in 06/2011 Ashcraft Family!)

Young bow hunters ages 12-17 years who have successfully completed a state- certified bow hunter education program and live in certain areas of the state are eligible to apply to participate in the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's Mentored Youth Archery Deer Hunting Program.  Those who reside in Lancaster, Douglas, Sarpy, Saunders or Cass counties may apply for the program in that area, while those who live in Adams, Hall, Buffalo, Phelps and Kearney counties may apply to participate in the Kearney area.

When Joe signed up the first year two of the mentors, Kevin Markt  and Loren Katt, came out to our house to evaluate his abilities.  They knew that Joe was disabled so they were concerned about his abilities for hunting.  Joe surprised them.  He could shoot the bow just fine but they discovered that he needed a left hand bow but even more than that he needed a cross bow.  The two mentors put their heads together and decided to ask for help.  Kevin contacted Ted Nugent who is a big supporter of the mentor program.  Ted promised they would have the cross bow within the week.  He personally assembled the bow for Joe and sent it to Kevin.

We met with the mentors at the archery range at Schramm Park because Joe had to qualify by shooting arrows into a target which he did easily.  The men were so excited to tell us the story about where the bow came from.  Joe had seen Ted Nugent's hunting show on television and I've heard his music and I've heard him speak on the radio.  I think that the mentors and I were a lot more excited than Joe though.  Over the next two years Joe went on several hunts with the mentors and other kids but didn't bag his deer.  He hit one this year but the arrow went right through the deer and it got away.  This spring Loren has promised him they would go turkey hunting.

Joe is just one of many kids in the five county area who participate in the mentor hunting program.  The kids are paired with volunteer bow hunter education instructors and allowed to hunt throughout the entire archery season, September 15 - November 13 and November 21 - December 31.

These mentored youth hunts are held on land where urban deer populations are too large and need control. Land partners include the cities of Omaha and Lincoln, The University of Nebraska, Nebraska Forest Service, Papio-Missouri NRD, Whooping Crane Trust and the Nature Conservancy, as well as several private landowners.

The mentors and the kids pitched in and built a couple special hunting sites that were close to the road and easily accessible for Joe so he could get to the blinds without walking too far.

This program gives the youths a chance to hunt big game, develop a lifelong interest in hunting, and assist in urban game management in the process. Few sports offer such rewards while at the same time enhancing wildlife management goals for Nebraska.  Not only do they learn to hunt but they also learn how to field dress the deer and how to process it.

Joe and I went to the banquet last week and took along a couple of friends,  Kalee Brewer, an accomplished hunter herself and Bridget Sukup, who was interested in learning to hunt so she wanted to see what the program was like.  The lodge was packed with the mentors and the kids and their families.  There was camouflage everywhere!  Everyone brought their favorite wild game dish or dessert.  It was delicious!

The mentors had awards to present to several kids who excelled in the program and some recognitions for the supporters.  They take a lot of pictures throughout the season and had two slide shows with pictures of the kids hunting and the deer they shot.  They also had hunting supplies and clothing that was donated by sponsors such as Full Draw Archery.  These items were given to the kids.  The mentors announced that they had a celebrity hunter among them...it was Joe Anderson.  They told about the donation from Ted Nugent and about how Joe had participated in the program.  Then they presented Joe with a shirt that was signed by Ted Nugent himself!  Loren had bought it at Cabelas and Kevin was in Texas the week before and met up with Ted to get the autograph.

These mentors put a lot of time into the program and the kids become more than just kids to them...they are family.

The program is made possible through the volunteer efforts of Nebraska bow hunter education instructors, the Lincoln chapter of Whitetails Unlimited, Ted Nugent United Sportsmen of America, and the Nebraska Bowhunters Association, as well as by donations from dedicated sportsmen and women from across the state.




Kevin and Loren presenting the shirt to Joe.


Loren spent many hours with Joe in the blind and had several good stories to tell.


Joe and the shirt...if you see Joe don't mention that you saw this in the newsletter.  He told me I couldn't post it on facebook because it is his news to tell...he never said anything about the newsletter but I'm just guessing he won't like it. Wink


Kalee and I found some smoked deer on the buffet line that we loved and scouted out the cook to get the recipe.

We'll be trying it out as soon as we get a smoker.


Help us thank our 2010 Democratic Candidates

at a "Roast for Those Who Ran"

Featuring: Ivy Harper, Mike Meister, Tom White, and Vince Powers as MC

Saturday, March 19, 2011

6:00 pm - Reception and cash bar

7:00 pm - Dinner and Program

The Exposition Center on the Cass County Fairgrounds

132nd St. and Highway 1, north of Weeping Water

Tickets: $25/individual, $40/couple

May be purchased at: http://www.actblue.com/page/casscountyroast/

Or purchased directly from many Cass County Democrats.

Call (402) 434-2180


Audit confirms accuracy of Nebraska election equipment

LINCOLN - Sample hand counts of results from the November 2010 general election show that Nebraska's voting-tabulation equipment is extremely accurate, according to Secretary of State John Gale.
Gale ordered an audit of results in 33 randomly-selected precincts (2 percent of the state's total) to test the accuracy of the equipment. A total of 7,815 ballots were hand counted in three contests - U.S. House of Representatives, a community college race and a county race.
In 30 of the 33 precincts, there were no discrepancies between the hand counts and the machine counts.
Two precincts had a change in one ballot each due to the fact that one race on each ballot had been marked too lightly for the machines to count. Another precinct had changes because one ballot should have been rejected because it wasn't initialed by election officials. 
Nebraska uses paper ballots to vote, and the ballots are counted by optical-scanning equipment.
"Out of a total of 7,815 ballots hand counted for the audit, only three ballots had errors, including one ballot that should have been rejected and never counted," Gale said. "This minuscule error rate confirms our confidence in our voting-tabulation equipment."
Studies of elections have shown that optical-scanning equipment produces more accurate results than hand counts.





Click here for the School Lunch Menu!


Elmwood Murdock School Schedule



MS Girls BB Louisville


District Speech


Boys BB District Final


Start of Spring Sports Practice


No School - Spring Break


SOS Meeting at Elmwood


School Board Meeting @ Murdock


End of 3rd Quarter


No School - Spring Break

3/14-18/ 11

Terra Nova Testing -- Grades 4,8,11

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