- Associated Press - Monday, August 12, 2019

Omaha World Herald. August 9, 2019

School districts in flood-damaged communities show commendable resolve

The hardship and complications wrought by this year’s catastrophic flooding are continuing for many families into the new school year. It’s encouraging to see school districts in Nebraska and Iowa strive to provide support during these difficult times even as the districts themselves cope with major change.

Hamburg, Iowa, is among the communities hardest hit, with the loss of 200 homes by Missouri River floodwaters. That will mean about 20% fewer students for the Hamburg Community School District, The World-Herald’s Joe Dejka reports. Hamburg and several other districts went the extra mile in providing transportation during the immediate crisis in the spring. But now, as families take up stable residences away from Hamburg, the district will no longer be able to transport them from nearby districts.

The difficult fact for some parents, said Superintendent Mike Wells, is that “if they want to come to our school, they’re going to have to transport themselves. And a lot of those families lost their cars and lost their homes. They don’t have means to get back and forth, so they’ll be forced to go to other schools, which is sad. Sad for our kids.”

Still, in Hamburg and other communities, Dejka found, school officials and staff members are making all-out efforts to provide students with as much stability as possible. School personnel will be especially attentive to helping children cope with stress.

“I really feel for the families because they’re in a difficult position,” said Shenandoah Iowa Community Schools Superintendent Kerri Nelson. “Schools are pretty resilient. We tend to find ways to serve students and tend to find ways to adjust and overcome. But families, they need a lot of support right now.”

In so many places, school districts have demonstrated laudable community spirit. “We basically had a Walmart set up in our gym, and in our shop area was our food bank,” said Wells, with the Hamburg Community School District. It’s encouraging to see that the support was a two-way phenomenon: Hamburg schools have received enough donations so every student can have free school supplies.

In many communities, the restoration of road connections is vital. State and county crews have done admirable work reopening roads, but some remain closed, leading to longer bus routes.

One much-appreciated accomplishment was the temporary road around the collapsed Highway 39 bridge, allowing Nebraska residents in Genoa and Silver Creek to get back and forth. One of the most impressive and creative efforts to cope with the flood this spring was the Twin River district’s use of laptop-enabled teleconferencing to continue classes for students in those towns. The project required great flexibility by teachers and staff, plus technical improvising that restored a vital telecom connection that had been severed when the flood destroyed a bridge and fiber optic cable along with it.

Terrible flooding has brought frustration and pain to many Midlands families. But the situation also has allowed Nebraskans and Iowans to demonstrate admirable solidarity and generosity. That, in itself, can be a positive lesson for young people about the strength of their communities in the midst of hardship.


Kearney Hub. August 8, 2019

Mid-Nebraska among providers with shots to prevent

Among our region’s providers of health-giving immunizations is Community Action Partnership of Mid-Nebraska.

Mid provides back-to-school clinics and regular Monday clinics to see that the increasing numbers of children and young adults who need vaccinations are receiving them.

If your child is due for shots, remember that Mid schedules its regular immunization clinics in Kearney on the second and fourth Mondays of every month. Clinics are scheduled in Lexington on the first and third Mondays. Additionally, Mid provides an immunization clinic in Holdrege on the fourth Thursday.

Youths must be between the ages of 2 months and 18 years to qualify for vaccine clinics for children. The patient also must meet one of the following eligibility criteria: 1) Enrolled in Medicaid; 2) Uninsured; 3) American Indian or native of Alaska; 4) Underinsured. Has insurance that does not pay for vaccines.

Many of the same qualifications apply to Mid’s clinics for adults. Participants must be age 19 or older and be underinsured or uninsured. Vaccines for adults include Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, MMR, diphtheria-tetanus, Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), varicella, and flu shots, which will be coming soon.

If you believe your family might qualify for Community Action Partnership of Mid-Nebraska’s Immunization Program, you can contact Mid at 308-865-5675 or visit its website: communityactionmidne.com.

Prevention is the best medicine.


Lincoln Journal Star. August 9, 2019

Nebraska GOP offer to boot McCollister is pure pettiness

President Ronald Reagan spoke often of his desire to make his Republican Party one that welcomed others into a broad coalition.

That successful approach, which propelled him to two terms in the White House, became known as the “big tent.” Now, faced with a criticism from a prominent voice within the party about President Donald Trump, the Nebraska Republican Party has instead aimed to shrink the tent by kicking out the dissenter.

Omaha Sen. John McCollister made national headlines over the weekend after condemning his party for “enabling white supremacy” and fellow Republican elected officials “who look the other way and say nothing for fear that it will negatively affect their elections.” He later said his remarks were inspired by the racist manifesto posted by the suspected gunman before Saturday’s massacre in El Paso.

Regardless of whether one agrees with McCollister’s opinion, the proper response is to engage in a civil dialogue about the topic. Cutting the lines of communication and shutting down a discussion before it can begin perpetuates the needless division and incivility too present in today’s political discourse.

Instead, the state party’s closed-minded response smacks of “If you don’t love it, leave it.”

McCollister clearly loves the Nebraska Republican Party, the one his late father represented for three terms in Congress. That’s why he chose to, in his words, “be honest with what is happening inside our party,” calling out what he saw as its demons in hopes of summoning its better angels.

That’s also why he rejected its ridiculous stunt, in which the state party’s director offered to mail him a form to change his voter registration. Rather than even respond to McCollister’s criticisms, the director of the Nebraska GOP simply ignored the meat of the senator’s comments and instead blasted his voting record.

As if orthodoxy, loyalty and groupthink must triumph over independent inquiry for someone to be a member of an organization.

The moderate McCollister raised what he considers a valid criticism of the president and the Republican Party. After all, the GOP has changed some of its long-held beliefs, such as on trade policy and foreign relations, because of Trump in the last few years.

But any questioning of the standard bearer is apparently anathema to Nebraska’s GOP leadership.

Listed first among the Journal Star editorial board’s platforms for 2019 was “civility, civic-mindedness and nonpartisanship in government.” Branding someone as a heretic and excluding them for expressing an opinion, even if it was a critical one, shows a preference for homogeneity and uniformity over all else.

Attempting to kick a sitting state senator out of the GOP, merely because he disagrees with what he sees, illustrates that only those who pass an ideological purity test are welcome within the tent is petty beyond belief - and a repudiation of its past.


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