This Week's Editorial
Man of honor PDF E-mail

Hamilton County lost a true friend and public servant this week with the passing of former state senator Bob Kremer.

Bob was one of the good guys, a man with few adversaries and a gentle soul whom many considered a trusted friend. He was a man of faith, first and foremost, which gave him a grace and sense of quiet confidence that helped him be an effective listener and leader. He was always willing to lend an ear, whether working in the halls of the state capitol or visiting one-on-one with a constituent, fellow farmer or resident of his beloved hometown Aurora.

The son of a respected state senator, Maurice Kremer, Bob seemed destined for public service. He spoke openly about the valued role of trusted leadership and looked for opportunity to offer his own voice of reason to the causes and organizations that meant the most to him.

Agriculture was at the top of that list, obviously, and Bob devoted much of his life to working the land and supporting the industry in a variety of ways. He reached his pinnacle of influence as chairman of the legislature’s Agriculture Committee, a position he took very seriously in his final years as a senator.

Even during that time, however, Bob Kremer remained humble and grounded in faith. You never heard him raise his voice or speak ill of someone with a differing view, traits our state and nation could use more of these days. No matter how hot the topic or how high the political stakes, people who dealt with Bob knew they would get a good listen and a fair shake.

On a personal note, the thing I’ll remember most about Bob is his genuine sincerity. When Bob shook your hand and asked how things were going, most often with wife Bev right there by his side, you got the overwhelming feeling that he meant it. Every single person mattered, in his eyes, and he would listen closely to what you had to say. His caring personality made you want to engage and work or volunteer make a difference, which helped him have a profound and positive influence during his lifetime.

We join the community in offering our warmest condolences to his family, who can be comforted in knowing that Bob touched so many lives in a positive and influential way. He lived an honorable life and left a legacy any man would be proud to call his own.

Kurt Johnson

Health challenge offered as motivation to healthier living PDF E-mail

It’s a constant challenge.
If you are like millions of Americans, one of the holiday “gifts” you are dealing with these days is the extra pounds that found their way to your wasteline during and past few weeks. All the Christmas parties, sweets and treats are just too good to pass up, but now the reality of wanting and needing to lose some weight is settling in.
For the sixth year in a row, the News-Register and Memorial Community Health Inc. will be teaming up again to provide some motivation toward that end. The 100-day health challenge will kick off in March, with $500 up for grabs to the two-person team losing the highest percentage of combined body weight.
This weight loss challenge has been a game-changer for many participants over the past five years. Since the debut contest in 2009, an estimated 3,500 pounds have been lost by area folks who decided they wanted to feel better and make their personal health a higher priority. That’s a grand-slam success by any measure, especially when you hear the personal stories of men, women and enatire families who made positive, lasting heath-based changes in their lives.
We are excited to be part of that process and hope this year’s competition will again provide the spark some may need to get up off the couch and focus on diet and exercise goals that will become part of a new lifestyle.
The New Year’s resolution weight loss commercials are predictable this time of year. Some claim you can just take this little pill and miracles will happen. The claims would be comical if the issue weren’t so serious. Study after study after study reaches the same conclusion on that topic. The best way to reach and retain a target weight is to make proper diet and exercise part of the daily routine. It’s easier said than done, of course, but it can be done.
We’ve learned some lessons from previous contests and try hard each year to listen to participants and sponsors about how best to provide meaningful motivation. Cash is always a good carrot, we’ve been told, though it is just as if not more important to have a team member to help keep the fire lit.
If losing weight and feeling better is on your to-do list for 2014, we invite you to put March 17 on your calendar and stay tuned for more contest details.
Happy New Year!
Kurt Johnson

Bring in the bounty PDF E-mail

It’s crunch time for area farmers.

Months worth of hard work, a few sleepless nights and praying for the skies to rain but not hail all culminate in a harvest season now just getting started.

The crops look good, no make that great, in most area fields. Hamilton County stands poised to reap the bounty of fine soil and precious water-bearing aquifer yet again, reminding us that our little corner of the continent does indeed help feed the world.

Corn prices could be better, of course, especially compared to last year. At this point, however, the focus is on getting the crop out of the field as quickly and safely as possible.

Harvest safety is a concern this time of year not just for the men and women driving large farm trucks and combines. It must be a priority for anyone on the roads between now and mid-November.

Remember to be watchful on county roads during harvest. A car going 50 mph coming up behind a farm implement moving at 15 mph closes at a rate of over 50 feet per second.

Don’t pull out in front of farm vehicles. Heavily loaded trucks and grain trailers can’t stop as quickly as a passenger car.

Watch out! Trucks and farm equipment may be entering the roadway from field lanes in places where you wouldn’t normally expect them.

Give them room. Eight-row headers are nearly 25 feet wide and 12-row headers are nearly 35 feet wide. These take up nearly all of a roadway. When overtaking a combine, give the farmer time to see you and to find a safe place where he/she can pull over and make room for you to pass. Never attempt to pass a wide farm machine until the driver is aware of your presence.

Never try to pass a combine or other implement on the shoulder of the road. If you hit a washout or hidden culvert, you could roll the vehicle.

Harvest activity can disturb deer, causing them to be on the move during times of the day they are usually lying down. Be especially alert for deer during harvest.

There is a special feeling in the air during harvest, especially for the folks who are bringing in the bounty. We look forward to celebrating another profitable, rewarding harvest at the end of the year, but urge all area farmers and residents to proceed with caution between now and then.

Kurt Johnson

A trusted source PDF E-mail

As the News-Register joins the celebration of National Newspaper Week, we can’t help but turn the attention to you, our readers, and the community we serve.

Times have changed in our industry, indeed our world, in terms of the way society gets its news and information. Some would have you believe that newspapers are a dying medium, but in fact our industry, and this newspaper, are transforming in a digitally-driven world.

Whether you read the local content we provide in traditional print format or on the web, Facebook, Twitter, or via e-edition on an iPad, you are still relying on a trusted source to keep you connected with your community.

We understand how important that connection is, and also believe that the strength and vitality of any community is based on that sense of belonging. That’s why you’ll find in these pages pictures and stories about the Friday night football game, innovations in local agriculture, breaking news on the business scene, as well as human interest stories about your friends and neighbors. We also take our role as the Fourth Estate watchdog of government very seriously, as reflected in the “Inside the Numbers” series now reviewing 10-year budget histories which impact local property taxes.

Advertisers know they can reach the marketplace, and get results, by using this medium as well. But don’t just take our word. Warren Buffet wouldn’t be buying newspapers today in what he considers to be strong, growing communities, if he didn’t believe it was a solid investment.

Newspapers -- viable, strong, thriving newspapers -- are all about the communities they serve, and on that note we feel blessed to work and live in Hamilton County, Nebraska. It’s a true partnership; a reflection, one of the other.

Today’s technology has proven how valuable local content is by providing a platform to widen the audience for each story, which can now be taken and repeated, shared, tweeted and emailed countless times a day. A recent Soundslide feature on a high school football game we posted on the News-Register website, for example, was viewed more than 4,200 times. Many of those viewers were no doubt teens and young adults, who we think will be drawn to the mobile product we’re working on as well.

As long as people still read, still care about their quality of life, still love the place they call home, newspapers that celebrate the lives of ordinary people will remain relevant, will matter to the community and be part of your every day life.

Kurt Johnson

Confusing issue PDF E-mail

The calendar continues to count down toward nationwide implementation of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Much has been said and written since this historic legislation was passed in 2010, though the reality of how it will impact families and businesses is still largely unknown. What we do know is that applications for the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) will be accepted from businesses with fewer than 50 employees as of Oct. 1, 2013, which means millions of Americans are now trying to make plans and decisions for their future health care coverage.

That seems like a daunting challenge, especially when you hear members of Congress continue to debate the funding details, suggesting that the plan itself may be changed before the start date arrives. This massive reform came too fast for Congress to digest those details, let alone anxious Americans who want and need to know how their families will be covered in the years ahead.

Though the mandate to provide health insurance for employees has been postponed to Jan. 1, 2015, the time is now to seriously start paying attention, if you weren’t already.

The goal, as defined by the law itself, is to increase the quality and affordability of health insurance, lower the uninsured rate (there are an estimated 220,000 uninsured Nebraska citizens), and reduce the costs of health care for individuals and the government. It provides a number of mechanisms, including mandates, subsidies and insurance exchanges, to accomplish that goal. The law also requires insurance companies to cover ALL applicants within new minimum standards and offer the same rates, regardless of pre-existing conditions.

There is a great deal of new terminology involved, as well as options that may or may not apply to you, depending on a number of factors. It can all be a bit confusing, if not overwhelming.

In hopes of providing unbiased, factual stories on this most important issue, the News-Register, in partnership with press associations from Colorado and South Dakota, as well as the Nebraska Press Association Foundation and Commonwealth Fund, has announced plans to begin year two of the Rural Health News Services series.

National health reporters will create timely news stories, some with detailed graphics, to help all of us better understand the health issues in our community, state and nation. In reading the articles over the past year, we’ve found them to be well written and helpful.

We welcome your comments and ideas about this continued project.

Kurt Johnson

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