Christopher David Breen, 39, of Omaha NE

Chris Breen

Chris Breen

Christopher David Breen, age 39, went home to be with his Lord and Savior on Tuesday, December 16th, 2014.

Born July 15th, 1975 in Kansas City, Kansas, Chris was raised in Liberty, Missouri and relocated to Omaha, Nebraska where he married Sarah Breen on November 15th, 2014.

Surviving family includes his wife, Sarah Breen, and children: Cheyenne Worthy, Brock Worthy, Makayla Breen, Brooke Elton, Victoria Breen, and John Spottswood. Other surviving family includes three brothers Aaron Voth and wife Michelle, Andrew Voth and wife Janel and children, Benjamin Voth and wife Nicki and children, and stepsister Christina Smith and family. Chris was preceded in death by his mother, Elizabeth (Breen) Smith.

Chris loved the Lord and his family and he loved to make people laugh. He enjoyed spending time outdoors and especially loved fishing, hunting, boating, and working with horses. He was a certified EMT and found great joy in helping others. Memorial services are being held at 2 p.m. on Friday, December 19th, at Harvey Oaks Baptist Church, 14515 Harvey Oaks Avenue, Omaha, Nebraska. A reception will be held immediately following the service at the church.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Romans 8:37-39 “ all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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Senator Brasch Warns of Scam

Senator Lydia Brasch would like constituents to be aware of a current telephone scam involving an automated message claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Because many taxpayers are in the process of gathering records in preparation of filing taxes, the timing and nature of these calls can be especially alarming to those unfamiliar with legitimate IRS procedures. The automated messages from these scam calls contain threats of legal proceedings by the IRS and assert that recipients of these scam calls will have their assets seized as the result of their inability to pay their taxes.


According to a press release issued by the IRS on April 14, 2014 during a similar scam:

Other characteristics of this scam include:

  • Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
  • Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number.
  • Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
  • Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
  • Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
  • After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.

However, “The IRS will always send taxpayers a written notification of any tax due via the U.S. mail. The IRS never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone.”


Senator Brasch urges consumers to be on guard against these scams and to never reveal personal information over the phone after receiving an incoming call. Any organization legitimately requesting such information over the phone will be able to provide alternative contact information to process such requests.


The IRS press release continues:

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:

  • If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue, if there really is such an issue.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.
  • You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.


Please refer to the IRS press release that is available at for more information.

Senator Lydia Brasch

Senator Lydia Brasch


The End and the Middle of the Year

Rachel Wise, District 3, Nebraska State Board of Education (December, 2014)

As a retired educator, when I think about a calendar, I think about December being halfway through the year, rather than the end of the year. It is difficult to make a calendar mind-shift after so many years of thinking that the most important calendar is a school calendar! In the world of “elected officials” the calendar follows the rest of the world, and December is the end of the year and January begins a New Year. As the end of this year approaches, I want to take the liberty of the pen (or keyboard) to thank some outstanding elected officials!

Congratulations go out to Dr. Bradley Krivohlavek who was recognized recently by Nebraska Association of School Boards with the Ann Mactier Leadership Award for outstanding local school board members. Dr. Krivohlavek has served Norfolk Public Schools for 30 years. In December, Dr. Krivohlavek and, many other local school board members complete their final term of dedication and commitment to local school districts. Take time to thank those individuals who have and are willing to volunteer and give of their time and talent to serve on local school boards.

As we wind down 2014, I would also like to thank John Sieler, the Vice President of the State Board of Education, for his service to Nebraska students. It has been a pleasure to serve with John. I appreciate his advocacy for education and the future of Nebraska.

So, on to the middle of the school year! As I mentioned last month, the Nebraska State of the Schools Report was recently released to the public. In November, the report was updated with graduation rates, which, like reading, math and science test scores, are improving in Nebraska! Similar to the reading, math and science scores, an achievement gap among groups of students continues to exist. However, we should celebrate the efforts of all schools on improving graduation rates, while increasing graduation requirements.

As teachers and administrators look to January, they are reflecting on the first half of the school year, making adjustments for the second half of the school year, reviewing student achievement data, focusing on keeping students in school and on the pathway to graduation. School district staff are engaged in planning for next year, reviewing curriculum, evaluating additional courses that they can offer with existing staff or through partnerships with other schools or colleges or through distance education. A part of this district-level planning involves a review of Nebraska Department of Education Rule 10. The State Board is in its own mid-year review of the rule as well. Rule 10 frames the requirements for school district accreditation in Nebraska. Next month, I will spend more time describing Accountability for Quality Education Systems for Today and Tomorrow (AQuESTT) and the Rule 10 changes that are being proposed to define the expectations for quality and the accountability of Nebraska’s public schools in Nebraska.

This article represents my personal view, not that of the State Board of Education or my role as president. Feel free to contact me at Search the Nebraska Department of Education website at to learn more about education in our state.

Rachel Wise

Rachel Wise

Poinsettias are not Poisonous

John Wilson

John Wilson

By John Wilson, Extension Educator

It seems like I talk about this every year, but I recently had a call from a concerned parent wondering if poinsettias were poisonous. It seems that their young child found one of these within reach and must have decided the leaves looked like a fresh change from lettuce. They were very relieved when I assured them that poinsettias are not poisonous and they are safe to have in homes with young children and pets.

However, poinsettias are not edible and it could be expected that, if eaten in quantity, they may cause stomach upset and possible vomiting. This might happen if an overactive puppy devoured an entire plant.

However, no one wants a stomach ache during the holidays so it’s best to keep any holiday plant out of reach of pets and small children. Holiday plants that are toxic and should not be used in homes with young children and pets, or placed high where they are not accessible, include azaleas, rhododendron, Jerusalem cherry, mistletoe, Christmas holly, and Japanese yew.

Now that you know that poinsettias are not poisonous, here are several other things you might not know about this holiday flower. Poinsettias are the most popular flowering potted plant in the United States, even though most are sold only during a short, six-week holiday season!

Native to Mexico, poinsettias are a perennial flowering shrub. They were introduced into the United States in 1825 by Joel Poinsett, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico. Over 100 varieties of poinsettia are available in red, pink, white and gold, often with unusual leaf coloration including speckles or streaks of color. However, most people still prefer the traditional red blooming variety.

When choosing a poinsettia, look for a full, well-branched plant with good color development in the showy bracts and dark green leaves. Avoid plants with wilted foliage, or those with few leaves at the base, which can indicate health problems. A fresh plant will have little or no yellow pollen showing on the true flowers, the small cluster of round yellowish buds in the center of the colorful bracts.

Also avoid plants with small white gnat-like insects that fly out of the plant when it is touched, or are found on the undersides of the leaves. These insects, called whiteflies, are a common greenhouse pest. Once in your home, they can fly and infest other houseplants and are very difficult to control. However, don’t confuse droplets of white milky sap that may be found on stems or leaves with whiteflies. Poinsettias are in the euphoria, or spurge family and normally have white, milking sap.

In your home, place a poinsettia where it will receive lots of sunlight and cool night temperatures around 60-65 degrees F. Keep the plant away from very cold drafts and furnace vents that will dry the plant out quickly and possibly even scorch the leaves. The soil should remain evenly moist, but not soggy. About two weeks after bringing the plant home, fertilize it with a complete fertilizer.

Depending on several cultural factors, your poinsettia will do one of two things after the holidays… hold onto its leaves or drop its leaves. If the plant holds its leaves, treat it like any houseplant. Leave it in a sunny location and apply a complete, water soluble fertilizer once every two weeks.

If the plant loses its leaves, place it in a bright, cool location (50-55° F), such as on a basement window ledge, but avoid locations with temperatures above 60° F. Let the soil dry out, but never let it get so dry that the stems start to shrivel. Allow the plant to rest in this condition until spring. In late April or early May cut back the stems to 3-5 inches from the soil and place it in a bright, warm location, watering whenever the soil dries out. New growth will begin to emerge. Pinch the new shoots back when they reach 4-6 inches in length to encourage bushiness. The plant can be set out-of-doors when the night temperatures stay above 60 degrees.

In fall before the first frost bring the plant indoors to a sunny location, but check the plant over thoroughly to be sure you aren’t bringing in insects, too. Beginning about September 25, poinsettias need 15 hours of complete darkness every day (i.e. – from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m.). Cover the plant with a cardboard box or put it in a closet. Be sure to bring the plant back out into sunny conditions during the day. Continue this dark treatment until the bracts begin to show color. Your poinsettia will bring holiday cheer to your home for years to come!

Bohannon Attends National 4-H Congress

Nick Bohannon of Tekamah attended the National 4-H Congress right after Thanksgiving representing Burt County and Nebraska 4-H at this prestigious event. Here is a quick summation of this event through his eyes:

I recently returned from National 4-H Congress in Atlanta, Georgia. I was part of Nebraska’s 25 delegates, none of which I knew prior to arriving at Eppley Airfield in Omaha.
Early on Black Friday we departed for our 5 day conference. Coming back that next Tuesday was one of the most disappointing trips home I have ever had to take.  After networking with outstanding individuals from 46 states and Puerto Rico on this trip of a lifetime, coming home was kind of a downer.
Throughout the conference week we were able to listen to many fantastic inspirational speakers within the walls of Atlanta’s beautiful Hyatt Regency Hotel & Conference Center. We had many cultural events in which we were exposed to foods, dances, and other elements of life that we may never have experienced. For example, at the Atlanta History Center we had the opportunity to watch native African dancers perform and even learn the significance of certain actions within the dance.
Monday morning we did community service work at a city park in downtown Atlanta. In the 250+ acre park in the heart of the city we were able to help the grounds crew clean leaves and prepare for winter.
Additionally, we were able to attend many sessions presented by extension specialists from universities across the country during our time at Congress.
I will never forget the “Give, Talk, Learn” session about the value of service learning projects. These community service projects affect people in ways we could never begin to understand. During the session, Mr. Justin Crowe from the University of Tennessee Extension
told a story about his most memorable service project as an extension agent. Mr. Crowe had
been administering a science fair in a Memphis, Tennessee school district for 4th and 5th
graders. When a young 4th grade girl received 2nd place she was overjoyed to the point where
Mr. Crowe wondered why. Why was this girl so happy? When he spoke with the teacher, he
discovered the little 4th grade girl was homeless. She lived under a bridge a few blocks
from the school and everything she used for her science project had been donated to the local
shelter. That 2nd place 4-H ribbon may have changed that girl’s life in ways most Americans
could never begin to comprehend!
Stories like this remind me daily that every community service project, mentoring program, or 4-H group has a purpose. No matter how minuscule a task may seem, we are changing the lives of someone, regardless of if we see it or not.
Without a doubt 4-H is the best program I have ever had the privilege to be a part of and National 4-H Congress was the trip of a lifetime. I will never forget the memories I have made through 4-H and other community service projects. I encourage everyone reading this to either, get involved, get your kids and grandkids involved, or volunteer today. Keep in mind that anyone can make a difference in the world and 4-H is an outstanding way to begin making your mark.
As the University of Nebraska – Lincoln commercial states “… make waves where there is no ocean …”
Nick Bohannon
2014 National 4-H Congress Delegate

Nick Bohannon

Nick Bohannon

Nicholas Bohannon
UNL Extension – Burt County
Summer Intern
111 North 13th Street
Tekamah, NE 68061
Office: (402)-374-2929
Mobile: (402)-709-3583

4-H and FFA Reminders

1. 4-H Achievement Event will be Sunday, January 11 at the Oakland Auditorium beginning at 4:00 p.m. More details to come!
2. 4-H and FFA Market Beef Weigh Day, Saturday, January 24 at Johnnie Johnson’s show barn from 8:30-11:00 a.m. Keep this in mind as you are getting your project animals.
3. Need an extra Christmas gift idea? Tickets for the Burt County Fair Foundation Fundraiser are now available at the Extension office and local banks. The event is Saturday, February 28 at the Tekamah Auditorium. Don’t miss out on the fun!

Genevieve Hermelbracht, 90, of Omaha NE Formerly of Bancroft NE

Genevieve Hermelbracht, 90, of Omaha, formerly of Bancroft, Nebraska died on Thursday, December 18, 2014 at Huntington Park Care Center in Papillion, Nebraska. Funeral services for Genevieve will be held on Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Bancroft; Pastor Philip Hale will be officiating.

Genevieve Hermelbracht

Genevieve Hermelbracht

The visitation will be held on Monday from 5:00 until 7:00 p.m. at the Munderloh – Smith Funeral Home in Bancroft, Nebraska. Burial will be in the Lyons Cemetery in Lyons, Nebraska. Memorials are suggested to the family for future designation. Munderloh – Smith Funeral Home of Bancroft is in charge of the arrangements.

Merry Christmas! Blessings to all!

It is a week until Christmas! Are you as excited as I am?

This has been an amazing year for Jeff and I. Our son and his fiancé, Thu, blessed us with a granddaughter, Charli (named after my dad), on October 28th. Our daughter, Whitney, and her husband Tri, blessed us with a granddaughter, Penelope, November 21st.

We also have two other grandchildren, Grayce 8 and Grayhm 6. To say we have been blessed is an understatement.

Christmas is not about giving gifts. Some forget the reason for the season. The birth of our Savior is the reason for the season. I saw a saying somewhere and held it in my heart.

The birth of our savior is the reason for the season. But, his birth is also the reason for every day we are here to enjoy, living, laughing and loving others.

My husband, children and grandchildren mean the world to me. I thank the Lord every day for the life I have been given and those I am blessed to have in it.

I can’t wait to share Charli and Penelope’s first Christmas with them. There is something special about Christmas in the eyes of a child, even when they are so small and don’t know what Christmas is yet. They are God’s newest blessings and all of us know how very lucky we are to have them.

We are going to Justin’s house on Christmas Day. It will be so nice to have Christmas with our kids and their families. I plan on taking many pictures! Children grow so fast. It is nice to have pictures to reflect back on.

Making memories is so important. I have come to find them more and more precious as I have gotten older.

I also feel blessed that I am young enough (sort of) to enjoy our grandkids, playing with them, reading to them, anything their hearts desire. I have to admit, I get a little worn out, but it is a happy tired! I wouldn’t trade it for the world.


Papa Jeff, Nana Nise and Charli.

Papa Jeff, Nana Nise and Charli.

Papa Jeff, Nana Denise and Penelope.

Papa Jeff, Nana Nise and Penelope.



4 Lanes 4 Nebraska

Norfolk, NE — A coalition of industry and business interests in northeast Nebraska today announced the organization of 4 Lanes 4 Nebraska, a trade and advocacy organization promoting the modernization of Nebraska’s transportation infrastructure.  The group will focus immediately on the expansion of Highway 275 from two to four lanes from east of Norfolk to west of Fremont.  It has hired Josh Moenning, former District Director for U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry and Policy and Communications Director for Pete Ricketts’ gubernatorial campaign, to lead the organization.

“We’ve come together to make a simple point: Northeast Nebraska deserves 21st century infrastructure,” Moenning said.  “With 1940s roadways, our steelmakers, manufacturers, cattle feeders, farmers, and small businesses remain isolated from major markets.  We have tremendous potential for new growth and increased quality of life, but outdated infrastructure is costing us countless opportunities to help grow Nebraska.  We hope to work constructively and creatively within our communities and with policymakers to make Hwy 275’s expansion a reality. ”

“Expanding Highway 275 is critically important to Nucor,” said Dirk Petersen, General Manager of Nucor Steel in Norfolk.  “We are poised for significant new growth. Having access to an interstate to realize that growth is crucial.” 

“We’ve been living on an island here for too long,” said Richard Robinson, President of Norfolk Iron & Metal.  “For the good of our families and communities, it’s time to finish the work of connecting our major communities with four-lane highways.” 

“The 275 corridor is cattle country, the largest cattle feeding area in America,” said JD Alexander, owner of Alexander Cattle and Farms of Pilger.  “More cattle are hauled up and down this road by more trucks every day.  We need a better and safer highway.”

“Manufacturers rely on safe, efficient roadways to get products to market,” said Jeff Scherer, Chief Financial Officer of Smeal Fire Apparatus Company of Snyder.  “This is a manufacturing corridor.  We need to get the right infrastructure in place.” 

“Our communities thrive when people and goods travel smoothly and safely,” said Nadine Hagedorn, Community President of Citizens State Bank in West Point.  “Highway 275 expansion would be a boon for area small businesses and community growth.”

“This is one of the most productive agricultural areas in the state,” said Dennis Baumert, owner of Scribner Grain in Scribner.  “Our farm products end up all over the country and all over the world, but getting them in and out of this area is more difficult than it should be.”

Petersen, Robinson, Alexander, Scherer, Hagedorn, and Baumert are founding members of the 4 Lanes 4 Nebraska board of directors.  Moenning will serve as the organization’s executive director, managing its education, research, and public relations efforts.  

Highway 275 was constructed as a two-lane highway in northeast Nebraska in 1939.   In 1988, the State of Nebraska enacted transportation policy to prioritize the connection of each major Nebraska community to an interstate system via a four-lane highway.  Highway 275’s 45 miles of two-lane road remain one of the few unfinished segments within the 600-mile statewide expressway system.

Congress Takes Family Farmers and Ranchers for a Ride

By John Crabtree,, Center for Rural Affairs

What does Congress have against family farmers and ranchers? The $1.1 trillion spending bill passed last week included the full version of the so-called GIPSA rider passed earlier by the House of Representatives. A rider is a legislative provision attached to a larger spending bill.


There are not enough ways to describe how bad this hidden policy package truly is. It limits USDA’s ability to protect farmers’ and ranchers’ basic rights, such as their freedom of speech and freedom of association. The Packers and Stockyards Act, passed in 1921, was written to protect farmers and ranchers from discriminatory, deceptive and abusive practices when they sell livestock and poultry to meatpacking corporations.


Congress abandoned those principles when they passed the FY 2015 federal spending bill. They abandoned USDA’s effort to provide smaller volume livestock producers a more competitive livestock market and greater fairness for farmers and ranchers. The 2008 Farm Bill required Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to write regulation, under the Packers and Stockyards Act, to prohibit undue and discriminatory preferences given to large, industrial livestock operations and to provide basic protections to farmers and ranchers who do business with meatpacking corporations. Secretary Vilsack proposed the best and most comprehensive livestock market reforms since the passage of the Packers and Stockyards Act.


Unfortunately, Congress has repeatedly undercut his efforts. Family farmers and ranchers, need and deserve access to competitive livestock markets that reward them fairly for their work. That’s something Congress must figure out, soon.


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