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Panhandle People

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Pride

In the stacks Passion for books keeps librarian going page 18

A STAR-HERALD PUBLICATION

WWW.STARHERALD.COM

The big picture

Stuck in the past

Paying it forward

Reflections

Kimball visitor’s center welcomes 5,600th visitor after one year in operation

WNCC professor teaching a lesson that spans millions of years

Teammate, mentor dedicates time to youth

Retired farmer looks back on successful career with Extension center

page 7

page 3

page 9

Jay Em founder’s family honor his memory

page 11 page 16

SHS garden adds flavor to student education By JOE DUTTON Staff Reporter

Teaching the basics of everyday life can be beneficial for high school students, but when those skills include a touch of agriculture, it can lead them to adopting a whole new lifestyle. For the past 35 years, Gering resident Suzanne Myers has taught more than 6,000 students in a career that spans 19 years at Gering Junior High School, 11 years at Gering High School and is now in her fifth year at Scottsbluff High School. Stepping into Myers’ family and consumer science classroom at SHS, the smell of a freshly cooked meal or baked goods often greets visitors. Other times, the sounds of sewing machines hastily adding stitching to cloth fill the room. In the spring, Myers changes things up by taking her students outside to help them learn about the importance of gardening and fresh food. For some teenagers, gardening may seem like an old fashioned way of doing things, but in the 21st centur y, gardening is a growing trend among high school students and young adults. To help lead students in the direction of local gardening and even teaching a few growing and cooking tricks, Myers instills those important living habits for a lifetime. Myers said a few students come back into her life from time to time. These students often bring success stories, including using the lessons she taught them years ago as well as owning their own food and sewing businesses. Myers said one of her highlights has been teaching generations of families in the community. “It’s really fun to see a lot of those students,” she said. Some of her lessons have included teaching students about healthier options when it comes to cooking. For example, substituting applesauce for oil when making bread, which is a trick she has used for many years. Myers said students don’t often know she is trying to help them eat healthier, but she adds healthy ingredients when she can. These healthy ingredients not only come from the local grocery store, but most of them come straight from a garden that is on location in a courtyard at SHS. Myers said the courtyard hosts a nice, warm environment for the plants to grow in the spring. Last school year, Myers estimated the garden had about 47 different varieties of plants. The SHS garden started as a place for flowers by science instructor Heather Haberman, but after Myers was invited to plant a few peppers and tomatoes, it quickly became a food garden in 2010. Myers said she was later able to take over the entire court yard and since then it has been a highlight for the high school. “Together we plowed it under and figured out how to irrigate it and plant it,” she said. “We had kids from the science department, kids from detention and the kids from the foods department. We were all working together.” The garden has not only become a

Holding on to 100 years

Education, partnerships power community forester’s mission By BRANDON NELSON Staff Reporter

that provides a strong stalk for the beans to climb up and the squash or pumpkin at the bottom that holds the moisture in and the beans add nitrogen back in the ground,” she said. “It is a self-supporting small garden and it’s a fun experience to teach students that aspect in gardening.” Myers said she has seen a lot of farmto-table and seed-to-table restaurants perk up in larger cities. This has been because of the growing trend of people wanting to eat healthier w ith f resh fruits and vegetables coming from local gardens. The demand for more locally-grown food has influenced Myers to continue the garden at SHS. “We are planning to continue with the garden here. I would like to make it really sustainable; hopefully, getting some community volunteers,” she said. Myers’ favorite part about adding the garden into her curriculum includes seeing the excitement that the students have shown when they are out in the garden. Myers said it’s a good experience for the students to be involved with the SHS garden.

By educating the public and partnering with local advocates, Amy Seiler is growing closer to achieving her goal. For the past two years, the Gering native, who serves as a community forestry specialist for the Nebraska Forest Service, has worked tirelessly alongside the people of Nebraska to effectively restore, protect and utilize the state’s tree resources. Seiler has teamed up with diverse partners, ranging from volunteers and horticulture students at local schools to city planners and master gardeners at the University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center, to plant hundreds of trees and spur other green projects in her coverage area, which spans from Kearney to the Nebraska-Wyoming border. “I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the most amazing and knowledgeable people in the state,” she said. “We’ve had so many projects recently and it’s just been a whirlwind.” Five Rocks Amphitheater, the Northfield Arboretum in Gering, Community Christian School and the Lied Scottsbluff Public Library are among the local venues that have benefited from Seiler’s efforts. Nebraska is short on trees, so the work is much-needed. In the past 40 years, droughts, blizzards and diseases have claimed nearly 40 percent of the state’s tree canopy. To combat the decline of community forests and boost awareness, Seiler frequently leads tree care workshops and training sessions to give instructions on different landscaping techniques as well as address issues associated with growing trees and other landscape plants specific to western Nebraska. She and her project partners work to implement intensive tree planting, waterwise landscaping and targeted education through grants and technical assistance provided by state programs, such as the Nebraska Environmental Trust. For example, funding from the NE T’s Greener Nebraska Towns, an initiative to improve the green infrastructure of Nebraska communities, helped Seiler and Scottsbluff City Planner Annie Folck to design and install several rain gardens and bioswales throughout the City of Scottsbluff. These depressions, which are filled out with native grasses and plants, capture and filter rainwater and surface runoff, while simultaneously providing a visually attractive haven for pollinators and birds, Seiler said. “Those are a treat to work on. They are functional landscapes that work for our communities. They take some input, but provide a lot of output,” she added. “It shows you can still have an attractive garden while using less water.” Seiler said the tree planting at Northfield Elementary School in Gering during Re-Tree Nebraska Week last September stands out as one of her favorite moments on the job so far. Nebraska First Lady Sally Ganem visited the school that day to read “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss to Northfield first-graders and eat lunch with kindergarteners. Teachers and NFS staff also led outdoor activities that touched on a variety of educational topics, including math, physical education, writing and music.

MYERS, page 2

SEILER, page 8

Photo by Joe Dutton

Scottsbluff High School family and consumer science teacher Suzanne Myers helps students mix ingredients to make pumpkin bread during a class project.

student project, but SHS staff members have also lent a hand. Myers said industrial arts instructor Gary Steinbrecher had his students make raised beds and compost bins, horticulture instructor Shane Talkington’s students started some of the vegetables and Jim Bogus helped with tilling and compost. T he communit y has also become involved in the upkeep, including the natural resource district and a few local gardeners and farmers, too. Myers said that she may add hoop gardens to extend the growing season through local resources. Myers even adds t he benef it s of recycling through using compost to nourish the plants. Myers said when the students have food labs, they often save vegetable peels, egg shells and other items that are put into the compost. “Students are surprised when I tell them that it will turn to dirt,” she said. W hen teaching about the garden, Myers said she enjoys educating her students about the social studies angle of gardening. This includes the traditional teaching of the three sisters’ garden that was created by Native Americans. “The three sisters’ garden has corn

Keep the motor running n Graves shifts gears to preserve racing history By BART SCHANEMAN Assistant Editor

Rod Graves has loved cars since the minute he was born. “My first words were automobile brands,” he said. He ow ns more t ha n a handful of cars now, and spends much of his time out at the Hiway 92 Raceway Park east of Gering. The racetrack is one of only two asphalt tracks in Nebraska. Gr aves , 5 4 , was bor n and raised in the valley. He works at the sales counter for Floyd’s Truck Center. He ’s b e e n a r a c e f a n since he was 7, and began

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Courtesy photo

Graves’ stock car

racing in 1980. He won his first race in Grand Island, then raced at the Oregon Trail Speedway until he had his first child in 1992. Eventually he built another car and has been racing ever since. “My love for racing has spanned a long time,” he said. He was the track champ at the A llia nce t rack in

1994, and the champ at the OT Speedway in 1996 and 2000. He has more than 300 wins in his career. Graves began the Wester n Nebraska V int age Stock Car Association in 2 012. His goal w ith the W N VSCA is to preser ve the decades of racing history we have in the Panhandle. “ You can’t believe the

history,” he said. Cars involved with WNVSCA are from 1972 and p r i o r. T h e a s s o c i a t i o n makes it possible for cars that have been w recked and no longer able to be restored to be rebuilt and made into a race car. Graves wa nts to keep the tradition alive for the younger generation. “I take special joy in see-

Photo by Bart Schaneman

Rod Graves, founder of the Western Nebraska Vintage Stock Car Association

ing people win their first ones. It ’s a family env icar race,” he said. ronment of good citizens, He said the area has a b o t h w o m e n a n d m e n . good community of drivers GRAVES, page 8 who mentor the younger

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Star-Herald

Photos by Joe Dutton

ABOVE: Scottsbluff High School student Tate Barnes gathers a bunch of carrots from the SHS garden that were later used for recipes. BELOW LEFT: Suzanne Myers has won a few awards in FCCLA and Pro Start competitions during her 35 years of teaching. Courtesy photo

ABOVE: Students Katelyn Thompson and Zoe Holscher, center, collect tomatoes from the SHS garden to be prepared for canning. LEFT: Myers supervises her students Alex Salazar, left, and Ben Rodriguez as they make pumpkin bread.

MYERS: SHS garden adds flavor to student education Continued from page 1 “You get them out there, they are getting fresh air and they pick a carrot and they are so excited,” she said. “Many of them have never had an experience where they are touching the earth. Some of the kids really get into it and some of them are a little hesitant. I am OK with that, but they need to have those experiences.” After the students br i ng t he ga rden items back into the classroom, they often get to prepare what they pick. Myers said students are more willing to try certain vegetables that come out of the SHS garden. It has been interesting to see which kind of vegetables the students choose as favorites, she

said, including parsnips and kale chips. “That’s been kind of fun. They will actually try vegetables that maybe they haven’t tried before,” she said. “If they’ve tried it once one way, they may try it another way at another time.” Items from the garden not on l y hel p s t ude nt s learn and try new foods, but it helps feed the community, too. Myers said the Scottsbluff Teacher Association provides a meal at the Guadalupe Church once a month and the SHS teachers often help chip in for the rest of the ingredients to prepare the meals. “ T he teachers in each building take turns paying for the ingredients for the meal and my students prepare it,” she said. “We have

been using vegetables from the garden in the soups a nd desser ts, including zucchini cake, chili with tomatoes, pumpkin pie and one time even butternut squash lasagna.” I n her food - based i n struction, Myers said she breaks down the elements of food ingredients, too, i nclud i n g whole whe a t f lour. She describes how it ’s made, what a g ra in looks like and tells students why whole wheat grain is healthier. She also adds the element of other cult ures a nd prepa res cultural dishes when possible to show her students what people eat around the world. “I feel like I have the luckiest position in this world because I do get to

teach such a broad variety of things. I get to teach science, social studies and English. We do it all.” Myers not only teaches her students, but she also le a r ns f rom t hem , t oo. Myers said not a day goes by that she doesn’t learn something new from her students.

“I’m learning all the time and the kids will put things together that I never dream of. Many of them, they say, ‘well, this is the way we’ve done it at home’ so I get to learn whole different ways of doing things,” she said. Myers said the best part of doing her job as a teacher is feeling that she has

made a difference not just for today, but in the long term. She loves to be able to be creative and do things differently in her work. “Scottsbluff and Gering have been really good programs and we have a good foundational education in the valley. Our kids are very lucky,” she said.

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Th e H i g h P o i n t W e l c o m e C e n t e r o f W e s t e r n Nebraska in Kimball will soon feature a Wi-Fi driven, 42-inch Photos by Brandon Nelson ExploreBoard information kiosk, which will contain A variety of information and amenities await visitors to the High Point Welcome Center of Western Nebraska in 50 profile spots that can highlight a specific area or Kimball. The facility offers a seating area, tables and chairs, free Wi-Fi Internet access, cable TV with weather attraction with photos, video, general information and and news channels, a book and magazine exchange, soft drinks, souvenirs, parking spaces for vehicles of all directions. It will also have the ability to scan QR codes into a smart phone or email information to a mobile device. sizes, a pet walking area and public restrooms.

Kimball tourism director considers the big picture By BRANDON NELSON Staff Reporter

KIMBALL — After nearly nine months in business, the High Point Welcome Center of Western Nebraska recently welcomed its 5,600th visitor. From its locat ion on 204 S. Kimball Blvd. near Interstate 80 exit 20, travel counselors have provided information to travelers f r o m e ve r y U. S . s t a t e , Wa s h i n g t on , D.C . , a nd many foreign countries, including Australia, Austria, Algeria, Belgium, Canada, China , Czech Republ ic, England, Germany, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Switzerland. The efforts of dozens of industry partners helped to open the center in July 2013, but much of the K imball visitor center’s tremendous success can be attributed to the work of Jo Caskey. After signing on as the new Kimball tourism director in January 2013, Caskey hit the ground running, taking bold steps toward developing the tourism industry in Kimball and the rest of western Nebraska. In addition to helping launch t he t wo - mont h Watchable Wildlife Tours series featuring the birds of western Nebraska, Caskey said she is in the throes of planning a “branding” party for National Tourism Week in May, a “Shootout at the Kimball Korral” event with the Wyoming Rough Riders in August and the inaugural Kimball Fiddler’s Competition. “I feel like I’m buried most of the time, but I’m having a lot of fun. There’s a lot going on up here,” she said. Caskey is well-traveled and comes to Kimball with 2 0 yea r s of ex p er ienc e i n t he hospit a l it y f ield. She has lived in 12 states, including South Dakota, Michigan, Missouri and Florida. For a time, she lived in Columbus, and she moved to K i mba l l f rom Lake Havasu City, A riz., where she lived for almost two years. “I’ve come from all over. I was a railroad brat growing up,” she said. “I’ve moved all my life. If a job interests me and the spirit moves me, I go.” Some of her career experience includes the 10 years she spent working with the Spear f ish Convention & Visitors Bureau director in Spearfish, S.D., where she oversaw the area’s destination marketing efforts. Later, the Spearfish Area Cha mber of C om merce hired her as finance director and she most recently served as director of sales for the Lake Havasu City Convention & Visitors Bureau in Arizona for about 20 months. E ven t hough she has lived in Detroit and Orlando, the history and life of rural communities has always appealed to her. K imball has more than 120 years of history, she said, whereas Lake Havasu City was incor-

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Jo Caskey signed on as the new Kimball tourism director in January 2013. Before joining tourism efforts in western Nebraska, she oversaw destination marketing efforts for the Spearfish Convention & Visitors Bureau director in Spearfish, S.D., finances for the Spearfish Area Chamber of Commerce and sales for the Lake Havasu City Convention & Visitors Bureau in Arizona.

The High Point Welcome Center of Western Nebraska, which opened in July 2013, recently welcomed its 5,600th visitor. From its location on 204 S. Kimball Blvd. near Interstate 80 exit 20, travel counselors have provided information to travelers from every U.S. state, Washington, D.C., and many foreign countries, including Australia, Austria, Algeria, Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republic, England, Germany, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Switzerland.

porated in 1978 and has few community roots. “The roots here go deep in Kimball, and that was one of the big things that drew me here,” she said. Now, under her watch, the new welcome center is blossoming. With sights set on drawing Interstate 80 travelers off the highway and onto the scenic byways of western Nebraska, the building has been outfitted with two part-time travel counselors and informational material aimed at highlighting area attractions. The center offers a seating area, tables and chairs, free Wi-Fi Internet access, cable TV with weather and news channels, a book and magazine exchange, soft drinks, souvenirs, parking spaces for vehicles of all sizes, a pet walking area and public restrooms. “I always said that if I could build a visitor center from the ground up, I would make sure it had a cozy seating area and tables, where people could cool their jets and spread out a map to look at,” Caskey said. A ls o, a W i - F i d r iven , 42-inch ExploreBoard information kiosk will soon be installed in the building to complement the 240 plus , Nebr a sk a - t hemed

Garden County. Caskey said the facility has a lso received t hou sands of dollars worth of equipment and furnishing donations from K imball, Cheyenne and Scotts Bluff county citizens. “This is about being colleagues, not competitors,” she said. “Having this center open and available to the people who need it will be a benefit for all of us in west-

advertisements and leaflets already on display. T he electronic kiosk will contain 50 profile spots that can highlight a specific area or attraction with photos, video, general information and directions. Caskey said it will also have the ability to scan QR codes into a smart phone or email information to a mobile device. Addit ional facilit y enhancements will spring up as the budget allows, Caskey said. More highway signs, sun shelters with picnic tables, a corral with a stock watering station, a p et wat er i ng st at ion, rec ycl i ng st at ion, playg rou nd e qu ipment a nd educational landscaping featuring Nebraska agricultural products are all amenities she would like to see added to the facility’s services. Summer sales and do nations are expected to continue to help cover the center’s annual $ 39,0 0 0 maintenance costs. T he project has already been backed by several Panhandle sponsors, including K imball Count y and the City of Kimball, the City of Gering, the Morrill County Visitors Committee, Scotts Bluff County Tourism and

ern Nebraska.” With the visitors center up and running, Caskey said she now plans to use her expertise and work closely with industry partners to market western Nebraska as a destination and direct travelers toward the many attractions throughout the Panhandle. She also hopes to help western Nebraskans see the true potential in this place

they call home, she added. “Sometimes people don’t realize what the short grass and bluf fs are all about. We’re ag, we’re pure Americana out here. We’re not going to be Disneyland,” she said. “If you’ve got a story to tell and an experience to share, you’ve got tourism.” To learn more about the visitor center, e-mail Caskey at Visit@KimballNE.org or call 308-241-0573.

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Postman retires after 30 years of service By IRENE NORTH Staff Reporter

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. The phrase, engraved on the outside of the James A. Farley Post Office building at Eighth Avenue and 33rd Street in New York City is the attitude Jim Reisig had for 30 years as a letter carrier in Gering. Reisig began his career with the U.S. Postal Service in Gering in 1983. Starting three years ago, when many services were moved to the Scottsbluff branch, Reisig was forced to begin his day there before returning to his coveted route. “I had the best route in Gering,” he said. Reisig retired on March 1 but has not yet had a chance to enjoy his retirement because of bad weather. “I’ve been waiting until the weather straightens out. I’m used to walking so much. I’m getting cabin fever,” he said. The postal service continues to rely on the amount of mail delivered each day. It is one of the few things that can be controlled. It is also why letter carriers do not deliver at the exact time every day. “Our job is dependent on t he volu me of m a i l . Sometimes, there isn’t a lot and we’re early, sometimes we have a lot of letters and packages and we’re a little late,” he said. Reisig remembers the days of the Sears and JC Penney’s catalogs and said he doesn’t really miss them. “Some routes have 600

stops. Those days took a while to deliver,” he said. As a post al employee, Reisig said he understands why people get frustrated with the system. “Since we’re the closest to a government agency, sometimes they take their anger out on us. Other t imes, they need to get some place quickly or want to get somewhere and don’t want to wait in line. All of that I understand,” he said. Jim praised his coworkers often, saying they were one Jim and Skeeter Reisig at the Scottsbluff U.S. Postal Service branch. human work. This is a good hard. People don’t under- they do,” he said. of the best parts of his job. Stress, Reisig said, is the “These people do super- group of people. They work stand all that goes into what

Photo by Irene North

REISIG, page 5

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REISIG: Postman retires after 30 years of service Continued from page 4 worst part of the job. “There’s a lot of stress in the job. They try to push as much as they can. Carriers must be within certain time constraints. Everything is measured in seconds,” he said. When Reisig began working for the U.S. Postal Service there were no cluster boxes and very little technology. “ The cluster boxes get really hot and can burn you in summer if you’re not careful. We also have new technologies like scanners that allow you to confirm shipments,” he said. He didn’t see much else in the way of technology that has really changed the job of a letter carrier. “ It ’s by a nd la rge t he sa me. You dr ive to one point, walk and deliver the mail. Then drive to another and do the same,” he said. Jim is looking forward to having more time to play golf. “I haven’t touched my clubs in a couple of years,” he said. His wife, Skeeter, is also looking forward to having a traveling companion when

visiting their son and other relatives. “I’ve got t wo brothers and a son out of state. Not punching a clock makes it easier to visit them,” Jim said. One thing he won’t miss are the dogs. “If I never see a dog again, it will be too soon,” he said. Reisig said the stories about dogs and the postman are true. “I saw a lady walking her German shepherd down the street. They passed several people and the dog did nothing. It passed a letter carrier and nipped him on the back of the leg,” he said. Reisig has also dressed up as S a nt a for severa l years, handing out candy to children. “They didn’t really see me. They only saw Santa and candy,” he said. Jim said he enjoyed being on the street by himself, walking and doing his job and he misses it. “I miss being here. I miss the interaction with the people in the office, but I don’t miss the snow,” he said. Reisig joked that it might not necessarily be a good thing to be congratulated on

Photo by Irene North

Jim Reisig listens to other postal employees as they thank him for his 30 years of service at the Scottsbluff USPS office.

30 years in a career. that. The problem is to do workers gave handshakes “I wouldn’t trade this job “I just made my 30th year that, you have to be an old and hugs, telling him they for anything in the world,” w ith the post al ser v ice. man,” he said. would miss him. he said. Some congratulate you on Reisig teared up as co-

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Star-Herald

Vetter places high importance on students, family By SANDRA HANSEN Ag Editor

T OR R I NG T ON, Wyo. — Leland Vetter’s family covers a lot of territor y. From his pa rents a nd dozens of relat ives in North Dakota, to former st udents as fa r away as A u s t r a l i a , Ve t t e r f e e l s obligated to give his best to see that they all have successful, fulfilling lives. Vetter has invested the past 34 years enriching t he l ives of st udent s at E a s t e r n Wyom i n g C ol lege, i n add it ion to h is f a m i l y t hat i nclude s at least 100 relatives in his native state, and his own family, w ife, Mar y A nn, a n d 10 c h i l d r e n , a g e s 7-34. He will reluctantly let go of some of t hat re s p onsibi l it y when he retires at the end of this academic year. “I planned to get to 50 years here,” Vet ter said during a recent interview in his EWC office where t he wa l ls a re covered with art done by students, a w a r ds , c e r t i f i c a t ions , and even a picture of the C a r t r i ght f a m i l y of T V f a me : Ben, L it t le Joe, Hoss and Adam. The latter confuses some young students who ask if those guys took welding, too. H o w e v e r, Ve t t e r d e c ided t hat h is p a rent s , August and Loretta, could use his help, now that they are both in their 80s. Consequently, this summer, Vetter will move his family to a new home a few doors down from his parents in Linton, N.D. But he claims his decision is kind of selfish, too. “I hope that, just maybe, some of my kids will remember this when I’m that age,” he said with a grin. T he kid who “was not good at school” during his younger years, put EWC on the educat ion map with his welding program. He arrived in Torrington on Ju l y 7, 19 8 0 , b e g a n pla nning a bra nd new prog ra m on July 8 , a nd has devoted the ensuing years to creating a Class A educational opportunity for students of all ages. Vetter’s time in southeastern Wyoming actually b e g a n du r i n g a n e ne r g y con ference i n Iowa . While talking to another con ference pa r t icipa nt , the subject of a welding p rog r a m c a me up , a nd Roy Butler, then EWC ag mechanics instructor, was told to “talk to this kid.” Vetter’s name and contact information were handed over, a nd it wasn’t long before he received a call from Guido Smith, EWC dean of instruction. “I was interviewed over a cup of cof fee,” Vet ter recalls of his first day in Torrington and his meeting with Smith. L e a n i n g for w a rd a nd pulling a few office accessories together in front of him, Vetter explained that Sm it h gave him a lega l pad, a pen, a stapler (which he still has on his desk) and a tape dispenser. “That’s what they gave me, a nd sa id ‘ Ma ke a welding program,”’ Vetter said with a smile. “There was no job descr ipt ion. There’s really no magic.

Celebrating 20 Years in Business!

They just expected me to do it.” T he nex t day, Ju ly 8 , he bought a briefcase at Tor r i ng t on O f f ic e S up ply, which he still uses. He was set to begin, a r med w it h h is deg re e from North Dakota State C ol lege of S c ience a nd a few months of classes in welding, and tool and dye-making. His f irst classes were taught in what was then t h e F FA c l a s s r o o m a t Torrington High School. Eight people, including a mother and son, were his f irst students. T he next year, classes took place at E WC a nd enrollment bega n to cl imb. Class sizes over the years have ra nged f rom 13 - 8 0 st u dents, depending on offerings and space. A new st ate - of-the -ar t facilit y soon attracted a lot of new students, and t he p rog r a m ex p a nde d later when two other programs were dropped. Vet t er s a id when t he weld i ng ex pa nsion was proposed, he told school of f icials it was to make the program bet ter, not bigger. It did both, with p r ob a b l y t h o u s a n d s o f st udents enrolled in var ious welding classes since then. They include Saturday communit y classes, as well as regul a r on - c a mpus opt ions , a nd classes t aught at EWC outreach locations, like Upton, Douglas and Wheatland, Wyo., or other places where people have an interest. E WC a lso prov ides concurrent welding classes for a rea high school st udents. I n addit ion, a mobi le weld i ng f ac i l it y housed in a semi trailer is used to provide welding t ra ining to inmates at the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution at Torrington. A nother aspect of the program is industrial training for companies as far away as Montana. The t r a i l e r a nd i ns t r uc t or s do most of those courses during the summer and spend two weeks on-site. Vetter said an interest in safety training courses has spurred a lot of the distant training sessions. L ocal organizations also utilize the EWC facilities for training. Welding students have i ncluded rodeo queens, farm kids who stay with the family operation and those who want to work with large corporations. A n applicant this spring heard about the EWC program during the National FFA Convention. A c c o r d i n g t o Ve t t e r, one of his most interesting teaching experiences was the arrival of a young man from Australia who wanted to learn to weld so he could make enough money t o buy a r a nch . Vetter has an email from Clint Harm telling of his success at welding, rodeo, starting a family, and owning a 42,000 -acre ranch. T he t e en chos e E WC after finding a promotion piece for t he Cowboy Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colo., in the hip pocket of a pair of jeans he bought. He called the

Photos by Sandra Hansen

Almost every welding student Leland Vetter has had in his classes at Eastern Wyoming College during the past 34 years is in a photograph on the wall outside his office.

CHF to ask if there was a U.S. school that had rodeo and welding, and the organization recommended E WC. Har m was on the EWC rodeo team in addit ion to graduat ing f rom the welding program. Ve t t e r a n d h i s s t a f f also had an international award winner, and several who have done well in U.S. competition. Chance Polo, who took first in a U.S. contest, earned seventh place in the world at a competition in Japan a few years ago. Qualit y instructors a re necessa r y to t ur n out qualit y welders, and during the 34 years, Vetter said only six teachers have been pa r t of t he weld i ng prog r a m . Fou r rema i n : for mer st udent Ly n n Bed ient , T i m A n derson, Stan Nicolls and Vetter. Vetter credits the success of t he prog r a m to t wo things. Personal contact with students and parents, and instruction foc used on repa i rs a nd ma intena nce. He sa id a lot of his approach in developing the program and teaching is based on what he lea r ned in col lege. “ T here isn’t much ma nu fact ur ing a round here, but there’s always a need for repairs and maintena nce,” he expla ined, which led to the story of how he got into welding. O n t he Vet t e r f a m i l y farm, everyone had a job, even young children. At the age of 5, or before he started school, an uncle g a ve L el a nd a weld i n g helmet. The boy became the “fixing” person on the farm, with a side benefit of work ing in a wa r m building during those cold North Dakota winters. His father agreed that L el a nd w a s n’ t f a r m i n g m a t e r i a l , a nd w he n he was a high school sophomore , a f a m i l y f r ie nd recommended Leland for a part-time job with a local welder. It was settled. Until he graduated, Vetter was released from school at noon to work. At 19, his boss sent him w ith a welding tr uck to Williston, N.D., where oil was the main industry. It took six months of stop ping at the same business-

Leland Vetter and student Jeff Sherman of Chapp ell, discuss welding techniques in the EWC welding lab. Sherman’s brother, Greg, completed his welding training at EWC, and his mother, Tammy, takes Saturday welding classes. Jeff will graduate this year with a degree in welding and joining technology, as well as a machining certificate.

es every day before he got a repair job, replacing the door on an outhouse. But after that he was busy the whole time he was there. T h a t ’s w he r e p e r s o n a l relationship becomes important in any occupation, according to Vetter. “You have to know people,” he explained. “From my daily visits, they knew who I was, and I paid attention to details. It was simple.” Vetter follows that patter n today, i nt roduci ng himself to potential students and their families. “ It ’s not c om p l i c a t e d ,” he said. “ You don’t need ‘stuff!’” He fol lows a mont hly schedule in order to keep track of what needs to be done a nd when. Ma rch i ncl ude s c ont a c t s w it h new students. But as enrollment increases, Vetter said indiv idual cont acts become harder to accomplish. Visiting high school classes is also more diff icult , not only because of his schedule, but also public school restrictions. Ve t t e r s a i d he n e ve r “recruited” in schools. He always taught a lesson to a class he visited, always looking for students who wou l d f it i nt o t he p r o gram. “Students who can think,” are good recruits fo r t he E WC p r og r a m , said Vet ter. Just joining pieces on a big construct ion project is not t he

Courtesy photo

Leland Vetter, second from left in back row, had a picture taken with his first welding class at Eastern Wyoming College. Students included a mother and son, and one who eventually worked on the space shuttle. A class picture has become a tradition of the program.

same as having to think about how to make something work. “It requires different thinking to keep things up and running,” he explained. Vet ter is proud of the results EWC has attained with its welding program, especially since there are s e ve n i n - s t a t e wel d i n g programs, and others at Scottsbluff, Fort Collins, Colo., and Rapid City, S.D. L o ok i n g b a c k on h i s t h ree dec ades at E WC, Vetter said he always considered himself as kind of a parent, and his job was

not just to teach welding, but to help students develop a love for learning. “They’re learning about life, and a few quit, but even then they were learning about life,” he said. A c c o r d i n g t o Ve t t e r, helpi ng g u ide st udent s into their futures is like getting them on the right bus to where ever t hey are going. A nd whatever pa r t of t hei r l ives have been touched by Vetter, his wife and children, the family philosophy has always been, “Students are first. Period.”

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3/28/2014 1:32:13 PM


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Star-Herald

Saturday, March 29, 2014 7

Teaching a lesson that spans millions of years By JOE DUTTON Staff Reporter

L oc a l pa leontolog ist L orin K ing brings dinosaurs back to l i fe by helpi ng t he com mun it y understand how they lived millions of years ago. K ing not only teaches six different types of sciences to college students as a professor at Western Nebraska Communit y College, but he also shows his passion for paleontology to anyone who wants to know more about the profession. K i ng sa id t he profes sion is not just about dinosaurs, but what paleontologists do every day. Paleontologists are of t en i n t he l ab, doi n g research about their subjec t s , ex plor i ng t he background of new finds, digg ing at excavat ion sites, or taking fossils out of the ground and putting them back together. “A lot of the times it ’s like a jigsaw puzzle,” he said. K i n g i n it i a l l y got i n terested in paleontolog y when he was about 4 years old grow ing up in wester n Mont a na outside of Helena. He and his family used to go camping and ex plor i ng a l most ever y we ekend. He fou nd h is first fossil in central-eastern Montana on a family friend’s ranch. “It just intrigued me,” he said. “I couldn’t believe that this was something t hat w a s s o c ool t hat I had just found. I still have that and I still look at it. It brings back a flood of really good memories. I never really lost that.” In high school and college, K ing st udied all kinds of subjects, but he never lost his love for fossils. K ing is one of only 2, 20 0 classically and academically trained professional paleontologists in t he world. K ing sa id t he number is so sma l l because it is a tough job to do. King added that paleontologists are at their jobs for many weeks at a time and live in very primitive conditions. Fo r K i n g , i t ’s w o r t h it t o e ndu r e t he h a r s h environment. He is more t ha n happy t o pa s s h is f indings and knowledge onto school children and anyone else who may be interested. “Each dinosaur we find tells us a new story, a new chapter in the history of life on the planet,” he said “It’s fun to be able to pass that on because dinosaurs are one of the first things that kids really get interested in because they are so cool.” K i ng of t en t r avels t o dif ferent dig sites in South Dakot a and Wyo ming, starting in late fall through early spring. He is also looking to get permission to dig in an area west of K imball, a place that has sparked his interest in finding some unique fossils. Throughout his career, K ing has come across a

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few not able f i nds when he was a f ield coordinat o r a nd qu a r r y m a s t e r in western Colorado for three years with the Dinosaur Journey Museum, in the Mygatt-Moore Dino saur Quarry. “I found the f irst Terrasaur from that site that had ever be en fou nd. I found a baby A llosaur and I found the first turtle f rom that site,” he said. “ That was a particularly great, great site that I was really proud to be at.” Paleontolog y for K ing is constant work. He not only works in the field, but also writes t wo to three papers a year on the subject. King has also written a book w it h one of h is colleagues that was published by the New Mexico Museum of S cience about an in- depth study of coprolite, or fossilized excrement. K ing sa id the book shows people how to recognize cer tain coprolite from sharks based on the shapes of their intestines. T hrough his w ritings and presentations, K ing is always willing to help educate people about what paleontology is, what the scientists do and the science behind it. “A l o t o f t h e m d o n ’ t have a clear concept ion about pa leontolog y a nd fossi ls ,” he sa id. “A lot of them think that we’re a rchae olog ist s a nd not paleontologists. There is a difference there.” When talking to school groups from kindergarten to sixth grade, King struct ures his lesson for the particular age group and makes it understandable to help pass the information down to future generations. “I talk to them the same way I would talk to my students. If I use a scientific term I then use a general term and then tie the two together,” he said. In his presentations he educates the students on ever y t h i ng f rom claws , teeth, bones and the information that they hold. K ing has been pre senting to school groups in various st ates and grade levels for the past 20 years. He would like to have more opportunit ies to t a l k to st udent s throughout the Panhandle. “ T h a t ’s g r e a t fo r m e when I can see that twinkle in the kids’ eyes, when you are t alking about it and they are understanding and they are getting it and they are really excited,” he said. “That makes ever y thing wor th it. That’s what makes up for not making the money.” K ing said people don’t get rich in the profession of pa leontolog y, but he does it for the love of his work. “ You do it for the scienc e . You do it for t he love of passi ng on new knowledge and bringing something to life that has been gone for 65 or a 150 million yea rs,” he sa id. “It shows us something that used to be a part of

Courtesy photo

ABOVE: Lorin King looks through a cutout that depicts the estimated size of an adult Allosaur heart at the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, Colo. This is the same place where King found a baby Allosaur at the Mygatt-Moore Dinosaur Quarry.

LEFT: King holds a 150 million year old Allosaurus middle finger with claw that he often uses during classroom and community presentations.

B E LO W: K i n g u s e s a measuring grid to map a large insitu jaw of a large pig-like creature from the Oligocene epoch called an Archaetherium that was found in the Badlands of South Dakota.

the world that was really unique.” K ing said he is always happy to answer questions for the children and people in the community who may have a possible fossil.

K ing added that most fossils have been found by amateur paleontologists, but when looking for fossils people need to follow the proper g uidelines a nd shouldn’t just dig

a ny where. T hey should infor m a professional paleontologist if they find something. The fossil may be something that is wellknown or even brand new to the world.

“ It may be something that there are a hundred skeletons of already, but it’s still cool because you are the first person in the world to see that particular bone,” he said.

3/28/2014 1:21:32 PM


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8 Saturday, March 29, 2014

Star-Herald

Photos by Mark Rein

ABOVE: Besides the local races, the racetrack brings in race cars from Wyoming and Colorado, as well as other states. The Legend division cars usually make three to four appearances at the race track. Here, BreAnn Adkison of Cheyenne, Wyo., who was a regular at the racetrack driving in the Bumble Bee class two summers ago, competes in a main event race last August. RIGHT: Scott Long leads a pack of Limited Late Model cars during the Main Event of racing at Hiway 92 Raceway on Aug. 16.

GRAVES: Man shifts gears to preserve racing history

Continued from page 1

And they’re exceptional racers, Graves said. “Cars built in this valley can compete with anybody in the country.” Graves wanted to give credit to Lee Schwartzkopf, the owner of the Hiway 92 Raceway, who Graves said puts a large amount of time and effort into the sport. He a ls o ment ioned t he help they’ve received from the Ladies

Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. “ We’re pret t y for t u nate to h a v e t h a t l i t t l e r a c e t r a c k ,” Graves said. He spoke highly of the quality of the facilities. “ It ’s rea l ly as good as a ny short track around.” During race season, which runs from May 23 to Sept. 5, qualif ying starts at 5 : 30 p.m. and finishes up by 9:30. Ticket prices are $12 for adults and $6 for children 6 -12. Kids under 6

are free. “It’s a heck of a value.” Graves is involved with drag racing and stock car racing as well as pull-offs and demolition derbies. “I’m entrenched in a lot of different ways,” he said. T he f ut u re of t he sp or t is bright, Graves said. “I feel racing right now is on an upmove. This is a good place for a young guy to be.” He emphasized that racing

is a professional sport, played by paid athletes. He also spoke of the diversity in their racers, from mechanics to preachers. “We have a lot of walks of life,” he said. Drivers range in age from 16-70. Graves said many of his of friends have been made through motorsports. To Graves, he would like to see the communit y pay more attention to the track. He sees it as a tourism draw. “ They’re

missing the ball,” he said. “I would love to see our community embrace it more.” Graves reiterated the quality of the racing in the area. “We all kick butt out here,” he said. The race season will start May 23. The first night at the races will feature the Rocky Mountain L egends C a r s . T h is t ou r i ng series races for national point st a ndings. T heir season w ill start in Gering that night.

Photos by Brandon Nelson

Seiler, a community forester specialist for the Nebraska Forest Service, left, explains the root system of a tree to Northfield Elementary School students during an Arbor Day tree planting at Northfield Park in Gering. After reading an Arbor Day poem, a declaration by Gering Mayor Ed Mayo and planting the tree, students joined with Gering High School Science Club students for a scavenger hunt around the park.

Seiler shows an Austrian pine tree seedling to the Northfield Elementary fourth-grade class during a 2013 Arbor Day presentation.

SEILER: Education, partnerships power community forester’s mission Continued from page 1 Later, students planted the seven trees provided to the school by Re-Tree Nebraska, an NFS -funded program aimed at planting 1 million trees by 2017. “It was a blast. We had so much fun,” Seiler said. The community forestry bus tour of Fort Collins, Colo., is another career highlight. The NFS hosted the tour of one of Colorado’s greenest cities in June 2013 with the goal of highlighting the benefits of beautifying city streets and commercial areas. The tour also served as a way to inspire attendees to reach for new, greener heights in their own towns. The City of Fort Collins, which has spent the past 30 years building the city’s canopy and developing bio-retention methods and rain garden programs, boasts about 220 species of trees in its arboretum and a $1.3 million budget to support the city’s 45,000 trees. Led by the city’s forestry department, the group of 53 development leaders

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from Wyoming and western Nebraska embarked on a daylong excursion through the city’s comprehensive landscape developments, stopping at the many treelined neighborhoods, incorporated natural areas and stormwater management areas. In that time, City Forester Tim Buchannan pointed out the many benefits trees offer, including increased property values and reduced air pollutants and home energy costs. One well-placed tree can provide an average savings of $8 a month on air conditioning, and each large, front yard tree can add 1 percent to the sales price of a home. According to the NFS, a single tree in the northern mountain and prairie regions will provide $1,680 in benefits in its lifetime, a 200 percent return on investment. Also, a well-planted and cared for community forest can attract new businesses, residents and visitors to town. The Fort Collins tour group witnessed this first-

hand when they visited the city’s downtown area and received an in-depth look at the economic benefit of downtown landscaping. “That trip was very fruitful. It got a lot of people thinking,” she said. Seiler grew up on a farm north of Morrill and graduated from the University of Nebraska. She operated a landscape design business in Gering before joining the forest service. When she is not planting trees, she and her family enjoy wandering among them. Seiler, her husband Shawn and their children, Peyton, 11, Maddie, 9, and Nathan, 7, enjoy swimming, hiking near the Scotts Bluff National Monument and skiing the mountains of Colorado. Nature can teach many things and Seiler said she hopes to give her children a chance to experience and learn from it. “We’re definitely an outdoor family,” she said. “We want them to learn to value and enjoy the outdoors. My goal is to teach them to be good stewards of the land.”

3/28/2014 1:21:28 PM


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Star-Herald

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Teammate, mentor pays it forward By IRENE NORTH Staff Reporter

G r a t e f u l . I t ’s a wo r d Scotts Bluff County TeamMates Coordinator Maur i e D e i ne s u s e s o f t e n . It is sa id w ith sincer it y and is truly how he feels. Deines is a sof t- spoken man who sees the positive in people. He ha s sp ent h is l i fe helping others in ever y career path he chose. Deines began his career in education in Omaha. “I taught math for six years at Omaha West Side from 1967-1973,” he said. I n Ju ne 19 7 3 , Dei nes and his wife, Peg, moved to Gering. Several factors contr ibuted to their de cision to live in western Nebraska. “ Peg a nd I a re f rom small towns. Omaha West Side was a great school, but I m issed t he w ide open spaces and we wanted to raise our family in a more rural community. We’re grateful to live here and raise our family,” he said. Deines st ares of f into t he d ist a nc e , t r y i n g t o describe what Nebraska is and why he loves it here. “Nebraska is not Chimn e y R o c k , i t ’s p e o p l e . Seeing people contribute to our community and to making a bet ter world,” he said. For 2 0 ye a r s , Dei ne s worked in property and casualty insurance as a partner with Gilbaugh Insurance Agency. During this time, his son was involved in S cout ing a nd Deines spent time as a Scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 3 in Scottsbluff. “I realized I missed working w ith middle s chool - a ged k ids . T hat age group is more moldable,” he said. Deines renewed his

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t e ach i ng l ic ens e by at t end i n g C h a d ron S t at e College. He became aware of opportunities in education in Gering and, in 1994, an opening for assistant principal at Gering Junior High opened up. “I was assistant principal for t wo years before becoming principal for 13 years,” he said. Deines speaks fondly of his time as Gering Junior High’s principal. “ T here were many memorable moments, smiles on people’s faces, feeling good about teachi ng st a f f a nd helpi ng a person grow into a young adult,” he said. A s p r i n c i p a l , he w a s also responsible for discipline. “ W hen I was a principal, I always tried to help kids realize they needed to be disciplined, but that I still valued them as a human being,” Deines said. Deines said he was grateful for the opportunities he’s had to make a difference in children’s lives. “I’m sure that’s a phrase that ’s used a lot, but I’m grateful to see kids from all kinds of backgrounds. I hope the kids I was able to possibly reach a re contributing members of whatever community they belong to,” he said. W hen Dei nes ret i red f rom Gering P ublic Schools, he continued his service of helping young people by joining TeamMates. T he Te a m M a t e s p ro gram was started by former University of Nebraska-Lincoln head football c oa ch Tom O sb or ne i n 1991. Since then, the program has reached 6,000 mentor/mentee matches a c ros s 110 ch a p t e r s i n Nebraska, Iowa and San Diego, Calif. “When I retired in 2009,

Photo by Irene North

Maurie Deines

Te a m M a t e s n e e d e d a coordinator. (Former Superintendent) Don Hague encouraged me to take a look. I was in search mode with what to do with my life in retirement,” Deines said. In 20 0 9, the Scot ts Bluff County chapter began with 14 matches and ended with 50 matches. It continues to grow. Deines a nd h is fel low ment or s continue to work with students in Scottsbluff, Gering, Mitchell and Morrill public schools. Deines said many service clubs tend to also be faith-based organizations. TeamMates was a good fit for him. “ T he TeamMates pro g ra m has a lot of fa ith based people and that ’s where I was at in my life,” he said. Te a m M at es a re p a r tnered w it h Ga l lup t hat devised tests for mentors

and mentees to see where their strengths lie. “ My ma in st reng t h is connectiveness. I feel good when I see people or situations coming together for good. Mentees use their strengths to be the best person they can be,” he said. Deines said he is ver y happy working with TeamMates and it allows him to carve out more of the fun things in being a mentor. “You can help a kid understand who they are,” he said. W hen not working with TeamMates, Deines keeps a busy schedule. He works at the district level with the Boy Scouts helping to deliver Scouting to

the community. “Last year, Troop 3 celebrated 50 years in Scottsbl u f f . It ’s g r e a t t o s e e young men come back and see how they’re helping their communit ies. T he troop has been fortunate to pass through several Scoutmasters. They have never f a i le d t he you n g men in Scouting. I’m quite proud of that,” he said. Retirement doesn’t slow Deines down. He sees the time as an opportunity to do more. “I’m also involved in our chu rch a nd ou r chu rch choir. Retirement allows us t o do t h i n g s i n ou r church,” he said. W hen Deines has free time to himself, he is still

thinking of others. “I enjoy working outside and being outside helping others,” he said. Deines continues to be grateful for the mentors he has had. “When you look in the rear v iew mir ror, people made a difference. They were a mentor. Being a mentor now is a way to pay it forward,” he said. Deines said he sees others mentoring in the community in different ways. “We have a lot of people w ho a r e me nt o r i n g ; i n church, teaching, through youth groups. I think it’s i mp or t a nt t o g ive back any way you can. T hat ’s what makes societ y better,” he said.

3/28/2014 1:21:23 PM


10 SATURDAY, MARCH 29, 2014

1st Presbyterian ChurchScottsbluff 1st United Methodist Church-Gering 1st United Methodist Church-Scottsbluff 23 Club Baseball Adopt a School Westmoor Albin Community Center Alliance Chamber of Commerce Alliance High School Alliance High School-FFA Alliance Public Schools Foundation Assumption- Greek Festival Banner County High School Banner County High School Foundation Banner County High School FFA Bayard High School Bayard High School FFA Bethel#12-Jobs Daughters-Kimball Boy Scouts Longs Peak Council Boy Scouts-Troop 3 Spaghetti Feed Box Butte County 4-H Council Box Butte County Ag Society Box Butte County Livestock Sale Box Butte Development Corporation Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce Bridgeport Ducks Unlimited Bridgeport High School Bridgeport High School FFA Broadwater VFD Burns High School Burns High School FFA Bushnell Lions Club Carpenter Center CASA of Scottsbluff Cedar Canyon School Booster Club Central Church of Christ-Gering Cheyenne County 4-H Council Cheyenne County Livestock Sale Christmas in the Valley Community Christian School Congregational Church of Torrington Cooperative Ministries-Back Packs Dalton Fall Festival Ducks Unlimited Eastern Wyoming College Eastern Wyoming College Lancer Club Eastern Wyoming Foundation Emmanuel Congregational-Scottsbluff Faith Luthern Preschool-Gering Farmer’s Day Golf Tournament-Kimball Farmer’s Day Hamburger Feed-Kimball Farmer’s Day Pancake Breadfast-Kimball Farmer’s Day Off Golf Sponsor FCA Western Nebraska Festival of Hope Foster Grandparent Program-CAPWN Foster Parent Program Friends of the Midwest Theater Geil Elementary-Gering Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau Gering GO Baseball Gering High School Gering High School Booster Club Gering Legion Baseball Gering Wrestling Club Gering Zion Church & Joyful Noise Day Care Get Fit Challenge Girl Scouts Golden Halo Foundation Goshen Cattle Women Goshen County 4-H Councill Goshen County 4-H Foundation Board Goshen County Chamber of Commerce Goshen County Development Corp Goshen County Fair Association

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Goshen County Livestock Sale Green Nebraska Towns-Scottsbluff Heartland Pulling Association Hemingford Bobcat Wrestling Hemingford Chamber of Commerce Hemingford High School Hemingford High School-FFA Hemingford Pheasants Forever JC Pilkington-Miss Nebraska KCMI Radio Keep Kimball Beautiful Keep Scottsbluff Gering Beautiful Kids Explore Kimball Banner 4-H Council Kimball Banner Chamber of Commerce Kimball Banner County Livestock Sale Kimball Concert Association Kimball County Ag Society Kimball High Booster Club Kimball High School Kimball High School FFA Kimball PRCA Rodeo Queen Knights of Columbus Land of Goshen Ministries-Torrington Laramie County 4-H Council Laramie County Livestock Sale Leadership Scotts Bluff Leadership Scotts Bluff Hoops for Heros Legacy of the Plains Museum Leyton High School Lied Scottsbluff Public Library Lied Scottsbluff Public Library Bucks for Books Light of Hope Breakfast Life Change Connect Lincoln Elementary School-Torrington Lincoln Heights Elementary Lingle Fort Laramie Lingle/Ft Laramie Schools Longs Peak Council Boy Scouts Mary Lynch Elementary-Kimball Meals on Wheels-Scottsbluff Minatare High School Minatare High School-FFA Miss Alliance Pagent Mitchell High School Mitchell Schools Foundation Monument Bible Church Morrill County 4-H Council Morrill County Fair & Rodeo Morrill County Hospital Foundation Morrill County Livestock Sale Morrill High School Morrill High School-FFA Morrill Lions Booster Club Morrill Public Schools Nebraska Agri Business Association Nebraska Coop Manager Association Nebraska Cooperative Council Nebraska Cooperative Council-Foundation Nebraska Lead Program Nebraska Safety Council Nebraska Special Olympics Nebraska Sugar Beet Growers Nebraska Water Balance Association

Star-Herald

Nebraska Wild Turkey Federation New Hope Assembly of God Church-Kimball Next Young Professionals North Platte Water Association Oregon Trail Community Foundation Oregon Trail Days Panhandle Humane Society Panhandle Rock & Gem Club Panhandle Worksite Wellness Coalition Pine Ridge Ducks Unlimited Pheasants Forever Platte Valley Human Resources Plymouth Congregational Church Regional West Foundation Riverside Discovery center Rocky Mountain Agri Business Association Rocky Mountain Trackers S/G Ambassadors S/G Chamber Ag Business Committee S/G Chamber Valley Visions S/G United Chamber of Commerce Salvation Army Bell Ringing-CAPWN SB Volunteer Center Snow Angels Scotts Bluff 4-H Council Scotts Bluff Ag Society Scotts Bluff County Livestock Sale Scotts Bluff County Volunteer Center Scotts Bluff 4-H Trap Club Scottsbluff Firefighters Union Scottsbluff High School Musical Scottsbluff High School Booster Club Scottsbluff High School-FFA Scottsbluff Gering Bowling Team Scottsbluff Gering Lions Club Scottsbluff Noon Kiwanis Club Scottsbluff Noon Kiwanis Golf Sponsor Scottsbluff Gering Rotary Club Scottsbluff Wrestling Club Senior Friendship Center-Torrington SeptemberFest-Torrington Sioux County 4-H Council Sioux County High School Sioux County High School-FFA Soroptomist International Southeast FFA Southeast Goshen Elementry Southeast High School-FFA Southeast Wyoming Search & Rescue St. Agnes Elementary School St. Agnes Penny Carnival St. John’s Lutheran Church Sugar Valley Rally Summit Bible College Thanksgiving in the Valley Theater West Torrington High School Torrington High School-FFA Trail Elementary Schools Twin Cities Development Corp Twin Cities Zephers & Express Baseball United Way Golf Tournament United Way of Western Nebraska Duck Race United Way of Western Nebraska Valley Christian School-Torrington Wee Pals Preschool Westmoor Elementary Running Club Westmoor Elementary School WNCC Atheletics Sponsor WNCC Foundation WNCC Foundation Marathon & Fall Frolic WNCC Vocal Music Gala Wyoming Medium Correction Prison Wyoming Wheat Growers YMCA-Scottsbluff Zion Evangelical Church-Scottsbluff


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Star-Herald

Saturday, March 29, 2014 11

Retired farmer reflects on successful career By JOE DUTTON Staff Reporter

Fa r m i n g i s n e v e r a n easy way of life, but for one enduring Scottsbluff resident, it has been the only way to live. R et i red Un iver sit y of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension C e n t e r Fa r m M a n a g e r Herb Ullrich has had his hands in the Scottsbluf f soil his entire life. For 17 of those years, he worked w it h what he sa id were some of the best research men to work w it h unt il ending his career at the Extension center in 1976. Farming has been Ullrich’s life ever since he was a little boy. He began his career at the experimental plots in the alfalfa reading plant in the summer of 1943, a year after graduating from Sunflower School in Mitchell. The Extension center job was close by his home since he l ived on a f a r m just north of Scottsbluff. “It was a four-acre patch around some trees and I thoroughly enjoyed breeding the plants,” he said. A t t h a t t i me , U l l r ich was doing his own farming and went on to take up two farms. Ullrich said it wasn’t enough work for h i m . T he s e c o n d f a r m he w a s t e nd i n g t o w a s owned by Orlando Howe, who was a n ir r igat ion engineer at the Extension c e n t e r. H o w e c a m e t o visit Ullrich while he was working Howe’s farm and of fered him a job at the university operating leveling benches. “He said, ‘I need somebody to run this technical machine t hat we have for level i ng. A f t er it is all finished, you put the f i n ish i ng t ouches on it because benches have to be 2 percent g rade a nd

Photo by Sandra Hansen

Former UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center Farm Manager Herb Ullrich catches up with former employee and Extension Educator Gary Stone at the Gering Civic Center during Bean Day in January.

have a level across back and forth,’” Ullrich said. “Howe asked ‘Can you run that machine? ’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I sure think I can.’” A f ter working the level i ng benches for t wo we eks , U l l r ich enjoyed the work and seeing the ag r icult ura l side of t he station. One day, the Extension

center Super intendent Lyle Harris came out and asked Ullrich if he wanted to have a steady job there. When Ullrich started, he told Harris that he needed a few dollars to live on a nd Ha r r is of fered him $1.56 an hour in 1959. It wouldn’t be long until Ullrich would get an unexpected promotion after

the foreman at the time compared Ullrich’s wages to his own. “ T he job was going along good, but I noticed the forema n was not as f r iendly as he nor mally would be,” he said. “He wrote my check out and asked ‘ How come you make more money than I do? ’ I said, ‘Well, I didn’t

really know I did.’ And he quit.” A fter that, Ullrich was of fered the foreman po s it ion . U l l r ich t hou ght he couldn’t handle it, but Har r is had fa ith in him and Ullrich kept that position until he retired. “I wound up managing the milk cows, the swine, the dair y cattle and

the sheep exper iments, w h i c h w a s a l o a d ,” h e sa id. ”It was a n exper i ence and it was fun and I enjoyed it. T hat was the important part.” T he proudest moment for Ullrich in his career was engineering the plow-plant system. ULLRICH, page 12

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12 Saturday, March 29, 2014

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ULLRICH: Retired farmer reflects on successful career Continued from page 11 “We spread the manure on and put the chemical fertilizers on and then we plowed it,” he said. “ We would come in with the tractor and the planter and that loose ground planted it, you didn’t have a bunch of tracks in there, so that worked out real well.” In the early years of the Panhandle station, Ullrich said they would even bring sheep in by train, which is very different from how they bring them in today. “We unloaded the lambs out of that train and got them in kind of a circle, all 600 head of them,” he said. “Then we herded them up to the experimental station down about a mile, drove them up there and put them in their pins. Now they get big semis and bring them in, but how the times have changed.” The times have not only changed with sheep driving, but with farming in general over the years. Ullrich said the economy, engineering and machinery of farming have changed tremendously. Even on his own farms that his children still work on, the tractors will practically drive themselves now. “We have combines and we will combine in the dark,” he said. “The computers are set that the combine will go so far and automatically turn in all by itself. Push another button and the power steering takes off and you don’t have to drive it.” Ullrich said overall, farming has changed for the better, but it’s still hard and the cost is great. Good management is a way toward good returns.

Courtesy photo

Former UNL Panhandle Extension Center Farm Manager Herb Ullrich combines dry edible beans on the Extension center grounds in the 1960s. Photo by Joe Dutton

Ullrich sits in his favorite chair at his home in Scottsbluff. Ullrich was involved with many of the creative changes in the farming industry during his 17 years of service at the Extension center.

He added that farmers have to be up on the markets or else they will go under. They need to keep with it and understand it. “I don’t believe in gambling, but on the other hand, you have to play your cards, too,” he said. Even with the new chemicals and computerization of farming, Ullrich said farming is a different world today. “We have made a lot of changes and what’s coming is unbelievable,” he said. “I just wonder in another 20 years what will come. The technology is outstanding.” In his career at the Panhandle station, Ullrich felt there were some things he could have done better, but it was always in the interest of the experiment to do better. “ I don’t mea n to brag

about it, but there were a lot of things accomplished in the research.” Ullrich said his greatest success while working at the station was the knowledge that he gained and the happiness of being with the people he worked with. “You get 23 of those guys and they all have a different opinion and sure we had some differences once in a while, but it always worked out,” he said. For anyone planning to become a farm manager themselves, Ullrich said his best advice for them is to have patience and be honest. “ People a re di f ferent , but still they like a good C h r is t i a n a t t it ude ,” he said. “It’s always been my theory — don’t have somebody do something that

you would do yourself. Be honest with them.” Ullrich’s home will always be on the farm and even though he doesn’t live on his farm, his children are still caring for it and keeping it in his family. “ T here is nothing like smelling the earth when you’re plowing and harvesting hay and of course that’s been my life so that’s what I loved.” Ullrich said there is never a dull moment in farming and the weather has always been unpredictable, but he and the Scottsbluf f area have been blessed in farming. “I’ve seen the times when we had a heavy hail and the next year you go back and do it again and never give up,” he said.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014 13

Photos by Chabella Guzman

ABOVE: A bison at the Riverside Discovery Center enjoys the sun on a warm morning. The bison is one of many native animals housed at the zoo. LEFT: Anne James, executive director of Riverside Discovery Center, far right, and Tony Kaufman, RDC board president, second from right, attend the Heritage Barn groundbreaking ceremony. The event included other members of the board and the community.

Docents crucial part of zoo By CHABELLA GUZMAN Staff Reporter

As a docent at the Riverside Discovery Center, Jamalee Clark has seen a lot of changes since beginning in 1994. “I really enjoy working with the other docents,” she sa id, “a nd meet i ng d i f ferent p e ople i n t he communit y through the program.” Docents a re t ra ined volunteer educators who interact with the public and help carry out programs at the zoo. Clark added that she is excited to see the new ventures going on at the zoo. Since breaking out on its own in 2010 from the City of Scottsbluff, the Riverside Discovery Center has been under its own board of directors. The center is also working on a three-stage plan. The first stage includes the Heritage Barn, main entrance and loopway, which a l low s v is it or s t o w a l k around the zoo grounds w ithout hav ing to backtrack. “We will also be adding a stage and amphitheater to host area events and our own,” said Todd Lewis, president-elect of the board. “In phase two, we’ll be working on the Children’s or Natural History Museum, depending on what the board decides.” He added t hat a ll t he plans RDC had at the beginning when they first began are still there, but they are doing them in stages to avoid adding debt. “ There are things that municipalities can’t do that private sector organiza tions can,” he said. Since being out on their own, K aufman admitted t he budget is t ight a nd there are str uggles like any business, but RDC is succeeding. “ Since we broke away from the city, we have garnered support from local businesses. The businesses have always been helpful before,” he said. “Now I think they are even more willing to help with costs as there are no municipal strings attached.” W i t h a t i g ht b ud ge t , the zoo relies heavily on its staff and docents, like Clark and her friends. “I like giving tours to s m a l le r g roup s ,” s a id Clark, “and assisting in programs at the elementary schools. We get to take the animals and share the

animals and information about them.” RDC is one of the largest non-formal educators in the area, said Anne James, executive director at RDC. In 2013, the center visited and had educational classes for more than 12,000 children from kindergarten to fourth grade. Clark and the other docents enjoy handling the smaller animals, like chinchillas, lizards, snakes and birds. RDC has a collection of 161 animals, 70 species, with 16 species that are rare or endangered, which is a large percentage for the zoo. Clark emphasizes the animals they take out are very trustworthy and transportable. “ They are animals the children can get close to and crowd around to learn about ,” she s a id. “ K i m (Miedema, RDC education curator) would never take out anything that would be the least bit dangerous.” She added that it is fun to watch the faces of the mothers and grandmothers when they touch a snake. R DC Boa rd P resident Tony K au f ma n sa id t he renovations going on now will add access to greater educational opportunities for children and the community. Through a recent fundraiser with Rotar y Gold, the center is looking to build a water feature in the new area by the Heritage Barn, where children can manipulate water and create tidal waves, erosion and sail boats. It will add to the ma ny educat ional a nd f un tools at t he center. The popular Splash Pad is a zero-depth water feature with animal sculptures that spray water on children. Clark said the docents are looking forward to the Heritage Barn and giving tours, where they will circle the zoo and not backtrack through the grounds. “There has been a lot of time and money put into the planning,” she said. “I know they had to figure out where to cut across the grounds and the petting zoo will move. It’s all very exciting to see the changes.” With all the construction and daily events at the center, it’s easy to forget the zoo has had to struggle with a tight budget. “ Through our partnerships with other businesses a nd orga ni zat ions, we looked at what we had to do to make the zoo sustain-

ABOVE: Riverside Discovery Center docent Jamalee Clark places the chinchilla back in its cage, while fellow docent Anne Heasty watches. The women volunteer at the zoo giving programs and tours.

LE F T: D e e r a t t h e Riverside Discovery Center each picked their o w n t e a m a t a n eve n t sponsored by the zoo. The zoo hosted a Huskers versus Cowboys event where the bison got to pick the winning team. He was late to the event and deer moved in.

able,” said Kaufman. “The existing facility needed updates. After a lot of meetings we decided to scale back the original plan a little bit and not go into debt. So funds are now 100 percent raised before we start a project.” He added that the three stages keep them on schedule, and it also keeps the organi zat ion f inancially responsible. T he board knows that some people believe the zoo has lost a lot of animals, but Kaufman said the number of animals was reduced somewhat in the beginning. “ B u t i n r e a l i t y, w e stripped down to the bare bones to make sure the zoo could remain financially s us t a i n a bl e ,” K a u f m a n said. “Since then, we are up to the same level as before, and every exhibit is full.” James added that the zoo

has always been accredited and meets the same standards as the Omaha or Denver zoos. Miedema said the nice t h i n g ab out t he z o o is people can get near the animals. “You can see our animals up close and personal, not like some zoos where they are way off in the brush,” she said. “Plus, we have g reat su r rou nd i ngs for them.” Clark would agree, as one of her favorite parts of being a docent is getting to interact with all the animals and not just the small ones. “Our docent group has a lot of fun together and enjoys making enrichment activities for the animals, from big to small, papier-mâché enrichment toys for the animals. It’s a great way to volunteer.”

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14 Saturday, March 29, 2014

Star-Herald

Diehard sports fans go every chance they get By BART SCHANEMAN Assistant Editor

Ma r y A nn and Ly nn Hei nt z badly wa nted to attend the boys high school state basketball tournament this year. But Lynn wasn’t feeling well, and the drive to Lincoln isn’t easy, so in their stead Mary Ann sent a tub of homemade fudge and bags of pretzels for the entire team. “Kids get hungry,” Mary Ann said. Lynn, 82, and Mary Ann, 79, are something of a fixture at Scottsbluff Bearcats home games. During the boys basketball games they like to sit behind the scorer’s table. “We just like to go,” Mary Ann said. They’ve attended every home game they were able to, whether it be basketball, volleyball or football, and regularly support the Western Nebraska Community College Cougars as well. “Everyone knows when we’re not there,” Mary Ann said. “They say ‘I missed you at the game.’” Scottsbluff High School boys basketball coach Tony Siske had nothing but nice t hings to say about t he Heintzs. “It’s pretty incredible how dedicated they are to following the basketball teams and sporting events,” Siske said. “It’s nice to see them there. We really appreciate their support.” They were able to attend last year’s state basketball tournament with a little help from the Siskes. Lynn and Mary Ann happened to be in Omaha visiting their daughter that weekend. They wanted to attend the tournament, but neither of them feel comfortable driving at night. So Siske’s parents picked them up and

Photos by Bart Schaneman

Lynn and Mary Ann Heintz of Scottsbluff are ardent sports supporters. The couple have a set spot behind the scorer’s table for the Scottsbluff High School basketball games.

took them to the game. T h e y we r e f o r t u n a t e enough to have front row seats. “We just like sports,” Mary Ann said. T he c ouple moved t o Scottsbluff about 25 years ago. Prior to that, Lynn farmed the typical crops for this area east of Bayard. “It was a good life,” Lynn said. Their passion for watching sports began when their nephew played for Scottsbluff High in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Back then the uniforms were a lot dif ferent, the shor ts were shor ter for one thing and there wasn’t a three-point shot or play clock. “There was more defense back then,” Lynn said, adding that they didn’t see too many slam dunks. Though they attend mostly Scottsbluff home games, they don’t support any partic-

ular team. They’re just there to watch. “We can go and see a lot of people we know,” Mary Ann said. They have a lifetime senior pass for the Bearcats games and they get a senior discount for the Cougar games. They enjoy seeing players develop when they’re younger then go on to play at higher levels. Bobby Jackson, who played at WNCC then went on to play in the NBA, came to mind, as well as the star girl player Jordan Hooper from Alliance. “It’s nice when you know people and you know their kids,” Mary Ann said. Mary Ann’s boss at Herberger’s, Rhonda Menghini, praised their dedication to supporting athletics. “My daughter’s a senior and plays volleyball and they were at all the games. There were times when [Mar y Ann] had to get off early to

go,” Menghini said. “There are a lot of parents that don’t even go to the games and then you find Lynn and Mary Ann.” Often Mary Ann will be at the game wearing black, which is the required dress code for a Herberger’s employee. She’s worked in the cosmetics department there for 27 years. Ly n n g rew up w it h a strong love for sports. He spoke about playing baseball against the traveling teams from the Negro leagues in the ’40s. He said when he played for the Minatare Athletics in the late ’40s he got a hit off of the great pitcher Satchel Paige. Going to the games is the Heintz’ main hobby. They use their Bearcat seats they bought from the school and they don’t

Bags of pretzels are lined up for the Scottsbluff boys basketball team. Mary Ann Heintz said she felt bad about not being able to attend the state tournament in Lincoln, so she sent food along with the team.

Mary Ann Heintz made this tub of fudge for the Scottsbluff boys basketball team to eat on their way to Lincoln for the state tournament.

plan on slowing down any “As long as we can go,” time soon. Mary Ann said.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014 15

Photo by Irene North

Construction continues on a new vet clinic in Mitchell.

Local vet opens her own clinic By IRENE NORTH Staff Reporter

T OR R I NG T ON, Wyo. — “ I ne ve r h a d a p l a n B. This is what I always wanted to do,” said Somer P ie p e r, vet e r i n a r i a n a t B e a r Cre ek Vet er i na r y Clinic in Torrington. Pieper has known since she was young that she was going to be a veter ina r ia n. She has been working with veterinarians since she was a teenager. “I worked for Dr. Cook in Sidney in high school. I went to Chadron State for my master’s and worked t h e r e f o r D r. G a m b y. When I was in vet school at Kansas State, I worked for the USDA,” she said. P ieper graduated in 20 08 and has worked at Bear Creek since 2009. “I did everything backwa rds. You’re supposed to get a job a nd t hen move, but we bought the

Pieper family home and moved here. It ’s been in the family for 104 years. My husba nd ’s g re at -grandfather homesteaded it. I was fortunate to have found a job at Bear Creek,” she said. T hough she enjoys work ing at Bea r Creek, P ieper sa id she saw a ne ed for a n i ma l hea lt h care in the Mitchell area. “I love the clients and practice, but felt there is enough demand to open another clinic in Mitchell,” she said. Pieper’s facility, Mitchell Valley A nimal Hospit al, is expected to open in June or July. She plans to have a staff of at least two registered veterinary t e ch n ic ia ns , a vet t e ch s t ude nt a nd a dd it ion a l help as needed. “ We w a nt t o p r ov i d e great customer service at a fair price,” she said. T he facilit y will focus on prevent at ive screen -

ing and regular care. “ We w a n t t o c a t c h chronic cases before they are a burden for the animal and the owner,” she said. Exam rooms are placed using a pod concept. “ We ’ l l h a ve a c a n i ne o n l y, f e l i n e o n l y, a n d grieving or comfort room,” she said. T he g r iev i ng room is designed to have a cozy, wa r m feel i ng for t hose who a re br i ng i ng t hei r pets in for the last time. The room has a separate exit so griev ing ow ners don’t have to worry about c om p o s i n g t he m s e l ve s for others before leaving. P ie p e r s a id a lt hou gh they provide euthanasia for animals, they do not perform cremations. “We will provide transpor t for cremat ion so there’s less stress on the owner,” she said. T he f ac i l it y w i l l a lso have a surger y room,

IDEX X diagnostics, digital radiography and heated floors for pet comfort. Kennels are designed to be indoor/outdoor w it h guillotine gates. “ T hey will be blocked in at night, but dogs will have free access during the day to run. Each kennel has its ow n sect ion to run so the dogs won’t mix,” Pieper said. There is also a cat kennel, an of f ice and break room. Though the new facility will serve mostly smaller a n i ma ls , it c a n ser v ice la rger a nimals, such as goats, sheep and horses. “ We can accommodate 4 - H a n i ma ls depend i ng on need. We love 4-H. It’s such a wonderful organization. We want to be a part of it in any way we

can,” she said. Pieper said after spending 10 years in college, she was excited to graduate and begin working. “ We s p e n d s o m u c h t i me lea r n i ng. It was great walking into Bear Creek for the f irst time a nd s e e how I ’ve come full circle,” she said. There are still difficult days at any veterinarian clinic. “ T he h a r de s t p a r t of my job is seeing a patient with a disease or a medical problem that I can’t fix. It’s debilitating to the animal and devastating to the owner,” she said. A combinat ion of new cases, continually learning and her clients are all inspirations for Pieper. “ T he best pa r t of my job is seeing a sick ani-

mal that means a lot to an owner and I can make it better,” she said. Pieper said one of the biggest misconceptions is that veterinarians are in it for the money. “That is so far from the truth,” she said. In her free time, Pieper enjoys spending t ime with family and friends, ga rden i ng, shoppi ng, decorating and cooking. S he i s a l s o a R o t a r i a n a nd is a member of the board for the Panhandle Humane Society. “My job is about making people happy. People think a veterinarian business is only about animals, but it’s about people, too. If you don’t make people happy, there isn’t going to be a business,” she said.

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ABOVE: The Jay Em welcome sign is a bit worn, but visitors are welcome in the tiny hamlet located midway between Lingle and Lusk, Wyo. The post office, which is threatened with closure, and the church, are the only public entities in the 100-year-old settlement. Photos by Sandra Hansen

Main Street in Jay Em still features buildings that housed the town’s businesses. From left are the stone shop, the lumber yard/mill building, the bank/post office, the grocery, cream station and hardware store. The lone gas station and blacksmith shop are one block north of the hardware store. The two-story structures over the years provided space for hotel rooms, meetings and movies.

Jay Em holding on to 100 years of history n Founder’s descendants honor his memory By SANDRA HANSEN Ag Editor

JAY EM, Wyo. — Jay Em isn’t even a wide spot in the road. In fact, it sits off to the side of U.S. Highway 85, about 25 miles north of Lingle, Wyo., and 25 miles south of Lusk, Wyo. About 20 people call it home, living in modern homes on the fringes of the historic downtown area. Even so, it is an important reminder of the early settlement years, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as a Historic District in 1984, 72 years after its creation. Life probably was never easy in that part of Goshen County where sagebrush prov ided cover for jack rabbits that outnumbered the human residents. None of this deterred those early settlers who staked their fortunes on a few acres of sandy, wind-blown ground. Some succeeded as farmers, but most were interested in raising cattle. One of these was Silas Harris, a cattle buyer from Wisconsin, who bought what had been the Jim Moore ranch, 2 miles north of today’s Jay Em. Early owners named the ranch for Moore’s initials and brand, JM. When Silas’ three sons split the ranch, A r t and Frank went into ranching. However, Lake turned his homestead into a new community, Jay Em, also named for the brand. Lake Harris was a fellow who looked to the future, and spent a good part of his life looking at ways to make Jay Em bigger and better. He enjoyed considerable success until the modern world found the Jay Em community and the automobile made it easier to drive 20-30 miles to town for a wider range of supplies as well as medical care, rather than go a few miles to Jay Em. The tiny commercial venture that had started with a grocery store in Harris’ home, had grown considerably by the late 30s. By then, in addition to the post office that became official in 1909, Jay Em consisted of a new hardware store built in 1920; Farmers State Bank, also built in 1920; Shoults Gas Station and Garage established in 1928; new grocery

store next to the hardware store in 1935; and a cream station built between, connecting the double two-story structures that also provided upstairs rooms for meetings, movies and dances ; and finally, the Jay Em Onyx & Gem Company in 1935 that used stone quarried around Hart ville, Wyo., and the Rawhide Butte area. Stories abound about the busy days of the creek-side community. A newspaper account tells of 1,000 visitors per day at the Jay Em Livestock and Agricultural Fair, held Sept. 1-3, 1920. The 1920 hardware store was more than a supply depot. It had a massive and popular soda fountain, which is still there, and sold gasoline. The bank reportedly did not close during the Bank Holiday of 1933, because, the story goes, Lake Harris did not receive word that he was supposed to close. It remained open until after it was purchased by First National Bank of Torrington in 1945. A middle of the night bank robbery was foiled by Harris and other community members in 1935. A few groceries could still be bought in the grocery store in the mid-1970s. His descendants say Harris was a man with many dreams. In addition to overseeing the building of the town, he was, at different times, a newspaper publisher of the Jay Em Sentinel and Fort Laramie News, banker, postmaster and land commissioner. By the time Harris died in 1983 at age 96, his dream tow n had t ur ned i nto a huddle of pa i nt- peel i ng buildings lining the one-

block main street. Only a few residents on the outskirts prevented it from becoming an official ghost town. Nevertheless, the community has survived and Harris descendants hope to maintain what is left of the town, and share its story with visitors and tourists. Follow ing 10 yea rs of family discussions about the future of the town, granddaughters Marjorie Sanborn of Glendo, Wyo., and Hazel Mudget t of W heat la nd, Wyo., have taken up the challenge of preserving the town and its story. They didn’t live at Jay Em until they were nearing high school age, but have fond memories of visiting in their earlier years. Their mother, L ake’s daughter Maysie Harris McVay, and their father, Francis McVay, were teachers, so they frequently moved. Maysie a nd t he children moved to Jay Em in 1946 so the children could attend school on a more permanent basis. Their father later purchased a sawmill near Glendo, and the family moved there in 1951. At Jay Em, the sisters attended classes in the school that still stands on the north side of Autumn Street, the main thoroughfare from the highway to downtown Jay Em. They lived in the house that stands on the east side of the highway near the intersection. Their stories of life in a declining Jay Em are ripe with laughter and giggles. Sliding down the shallow ditch next to the school when it was filled with ice was scary for their mother but an exciting pastime for the children, and delivering newspapers from

Lake Harris’ daughter, Maysie McVay, and children, including Marjorie Sanborn and Hazel Mudgett, lived in this house in the late 1940s so the children could attend school. The McVay parents, Maysie and her husband, Francis, were school teachers, and moved frequently, so they decided to live in one place.

Cheyenne and Colorado that were tossed from a passing passenger bus at the turn to Jay Em, or dropped from an airplane, so the kids could walk around town delivering the daily papers, indicate the enjoyment they experienced while living or visiting in their grandfather’s town. According to Sanborn and Mudgett, the town is important as a symbol of what life was like on the prairies of eastern Wyoming at the turn of the 20th Century. They are honoring his wishes and

keeping alive his philosophy of giving back to people by giving tours of the town and buildings. A lthough tours are by appointment only, they are personal and include much more information than expected at busier tourist haunts. Special tours were conducted during the summer of 2013 to observe the 100th anniversary of the settlement, which Harris established in 1912. Individual tour guides, some of them family members, were locat-

ed in each of the seven existing buildings: bank/post office, grocery store-cream station-hardware store, gas station/blacksmith shop, lumber yard/mill building, and stone shop, Tours run May through September, depending on weather, and take 1 1/2 to 3 hours. Groups, adults, children, and school groups are welcome. Donations are gratefully accepted and appreciated. Proceeds are JAY EM, page 19

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Star-Herald

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Saturday, March 29, 2014 17

Photo by Chabella Guzman

ABOVE: Santos Ramirez stops to smell the flowers during the annual Theatre West Garden Walk. Photo by Joe Dutton

Volunteering to better his community By JOE DUTTON Staff Reporter

Volunteering in the community is not just a hobby for one Scottsbluff resident — it’s become a way of life to help give back. Santos Ramirez was born the 17th of 19 children in Morrill. He graduated from Morrill High School in 1980. The day after he graduated, Ramirez left town to experience life in the city and went to college at the University of Houston. The confidence to go to college came from his speech teacher Mary Winn, who saw potential in Ramirez. “I was so lucky to have a good teacher that saw something beyond this kid that lived in poverty,” he said. “She was able to give me skills that I could get out of that rut.” After graduating from college and hosting a variety of jobs over the years in different states, including Texas and Florida, Santos decided to come back to western Nebraska after his job at an auto parts distributor was bought out by another company. Ramirez took early retirement and came back to the valley in 2007 to help his ailing father. His plans to stay in Nebraska were only temporary. He thought he would go straight back to Florida, but after purchasing a home in Scottsbluff, he decided to stay. “I’ve lived and done some pretty remarkable things with my life, but coming home was the best decision I made. I love it here,” he said. After moving back to western Nebraska, Ramirez started volunteering in the community with Winn’s help. One of his first volunteer efforts included judging high school speech competitions. Ramirez has been judging high school speech for 20 years, and this is his seventh year judging in Nebraska. The competitions keep him busy on the weekends during speech season. He travels throughout the Panhandle and has judged more than 200 students this year. Ramirez said he loves being involved with high school speech. The program helped him prepare for the business world and encouraged him to be able to talk to anyone. Ramirez added that the speech program also helps students learn how to communicate and prepares them to be more professional in the future. “Speech makes these kids get up and talk and do their thing and not be scared to get a job and face reality,” he said. Not only is Ramirez busy with speech competitions, but is also involved with volunteering around the community. At Regional West Medical Center, Ramirez helps with the valet services. He greets patients at the North Plaza with a smile. Ramirez said he has grown to know almost everyone that passes by and even knows most of them by name. “They are just sweet people and you try to make them feel good,” he said. “Nobody wants to go to the doctor anyway and when you’re elderly it’s just a pain in the neck. But it’s really nice to be there for them.” Ramirez not only helps with the valet, but also works with the Meals on Wheels program at the hospital. He assists drivers in getting the coolers of food in and out of their cars. “It makes you feel so good to help people because then you don’t think about your problems and you realize that they are human beings,” he said. “They just need to feel good and welcomed.” Ramirez also sits on the Theatre West Advisory Board where he is very involved with the annual Garden Walk, among many other events. “It’s nice to highlight different people’s homes and what they do in their gardens. People really come out and enjoy that,” he said. Rodriguez also volunteers at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Scottsbluff. Not only is he the bishop’s executive secretary, financial and board clerk, he also helps deliver Meals on Wheels there, too, where he gets the meals once a month from Cheyenne, Wyo., and delivers them to valley residents. Ramirez just completed a two-year mission at the church, staying in charge of the building and making sure the church runs smoothly. Also at the church, Ramirez helps organize the Matthew Project. This is a

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LEFT: A Regional West Medical Center valet parking volunteer, Ramirez greets hospital visitors who pass by his podium at Medical Plaza North with a cheerful smile.

program that works with other local church organizations to help serve meals to homeless families. “It’s extremely humbling when this little 2- to 3-year-old kid comes up and says, ‘Can I have four meals?’ and your heart just breaks,” he said. Ramirez said he always hopes that they don’t run out of meals when he serves, but they always seem to have just enough to fulfill the need. When Ramirez is not busy volunteering full-time, he also enjoys mowing his neighbors’ lawns or helping them spruce up their gardens. “I like helping other people get their yard to look good and you just get close to them and become really good friends,” he said. An accomplishment that isn’t widely known about Ramirez — he had a book published by the Chicago Press in 1996. The book was created by his second-grade bilingual class when he was teaching at Richey Elementary in Pasadena, Texas. The book was written and illustrated by his students based on their mascot, an eagle. The plot of the story is that the eagle was homeless and couldn’t find a home, but eventually found one at the school. The book is titled “The Eagle Without a Home.” The students were familiar with the theme of the book since it was a very low-income school. Ramirez said each student wrote and illustrated a different scene of the eagle trying to find a home. He found out some very heartbreaking truths about his students. “One of the kid’s families was living in a bus and he wrote about being in a bus,” he said. “One of the saddest ones, I didn’t know until he wrote this page, but some of his brothers and sisters were sleeping in boxes outside.” The book eventually won money for the school and Santos won the Teacher of the Year award that year. “I’ve had corporate jobs most of my life, but I was lucky enough to teach for a few years,” he said. “It’s so rewarding, especially the younger kids. I did it because I wanted to hopefully make a difference in their lives.” To Ramirez, being a volunteer means serving other people. A quote he has always lived by is, “When you are in the service of your fellow man, you are in the service of your God.” Ramirez added that this area is a great place where people can still stop and help someone who is in need. “The things you are afraid to do in a big town, you can still do it in a small town like Scottsbluff, Nebraska,” he said. Ramirez estimated that he is involved with about seven or eight different volunteer jobs, but some are staggered throughout the year and others are consistent. It is like a revolving door to him. “No matter what stage of life you are in or what stage of economic abilities, you can still volunteer,” he said. “There is always somebody else that needs your help. It changes your life and your outlook on your life and changing other people’s lives. It makes you feel so rewarded and it gives you that pride that you have helped somebody else.” Ramirez said it’s hard to pick a favorite volunteer job. He loves them all. He has won many awards over the years for his volunteer efforts. Ramirez said it’s always good to be recognized, but the most rewarding part is putting a smile on someone’s face. “That may mean a little kid on the Matthew Project, feeding him, or it may be watching someone enjoying a yard in the garden walk, or it may be just helping students out. Those are the things you live for and you try to be ready to help,” he said. As long as his health permits, Ramirez said there are many things that people can do to help others and that is what life is all about. He hopes that when he gets older, someone will be there to look over him just as he has done as a volunteer. “You learn not only about helping other people and making their situation just a little better, but you learn compassion, love and understanding. The reality is you can change somebody’s life even if it is for that second,” he said. “That is what I have learned the most. It’s those moments that will last a long time. They will remember them and you will remember them.”

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18 Saturday, March 29, 2014

Star-Herald

Do you have something to sell? Call 308-632-9020 for assistance.

Photos by Irene North

John Beers shows a book about Lincoln in the library.

Passion for books keeps librarian going By IRENE NORTH Staff Reporter

John Beers has always surrounded himself with books . A s a you ng boy i n F t . Dod ge , Iow a , he enjoyed spending time at the library. He spent his career working for Lincoln Cit y L ibra r ies . Even i n retirement, books are still part of his life. Beers has ma int ained the library at The Village at R eg iona l West si nce 2002 when he retired to Scottsbluff and staff asked if he would maintain the library. “ T hey asked me and I thought , ‘ why not ? ’” he said. His ent husiast ic de meanor and exuberance in showing his library to people puts a smile on everyone around him. Browsing through the va r ious se c t ions of t he library, Beers points out each book on his favorite topic, the Kennedy assassination, giv ing a quick review and saying whether the book’s thesis is valid or not. B e e r s ret i re d t o T he Village after a visit to the area. “I came out to see what the western climate would be like. A ll my allergies cleared up. It ’s beautiful scenery,” he said. Beers w ill tell you he can’t walk far anymore, but anyone that walks with him f inds it di f f icult to keep up. “I like to walk and exercise. I don’t want to put my feet up yet,” he said. Beers received his Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan in Lincoln and a master’s degree in media at UNL. He worked fulltime while obtaining his master’s. “Working fulltime, that was a chore. I took one or two classes a semester. It’s so much work. A few are all you can do,” he said. H i s f i r s t a s s i g n m e nt with LCL was at its Gere b r a nc h i n 1 9 7 2 . W h i l e work ing at Gere, Beers s a id t he re w a s a g re a t deal of interest in Charles Starkweather. “We had a large collection of clippings and a lot of homework assignments were on him,” Beers said. Beers worked in reference and said one of the more popular items were the travel packets. “We had these packets of different destinations, ma i n ly i n t he U. S . You could check them out for t wo to three weeks,” he said. Beers is passionate about the library he helped expand at The Village. In the beginning, the library had only a few books. “I’ve improved it, added volumes and volumes. It w a s t i ny, i nade quat e . I made it adequate,” he said. B e e r s vol u nt e e r s h is

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The Village’s resident librarian, John Beers.

t i me t o m a i nt a i n more than 2,000 books, which includes a sizable selection of large-print books, plus movies, newspapers, magazines and audio books. T here is a l ibr a r y on each floor at The Village so residents don’t need to traverse the stairs in the middle of the night. The library is available 2 4/7 ever y day of t he year. When residents are finished with a book, they give it to Beers, who returns it to its proper place. He k now s where ever y book is located. His filing system is in his head. T here a re several old books in the collect ion. One well-kept book, copyrighted in 1884, has gold leaf on the edges and beautif ul lithographs inside. Beers doesn’t want anyone to know because he wants it to remain in the library for others to enjoy. “ The library has some real treasures,” he said. Beers is paid a stipend for books and keeps the library revolving, changing books so residents always have somet h i ng new to read. “It ’s enough to keep it going,” he said. He obtains new books from book sales and donations. “The best way is library book sales,” Beers said. T he resident s of T he Village enjoy the variety of books Beers has obtained for them. “ T hey like f iction like Danielle Steele,” he said. Beers also places sticke r s w it h t he c opy r i ght year on all medical books s o resident s k now how cur rent the infor mat ion is. T here are special sections, including a Nebras-

ka history section and a histor y of T he V il lage. He also whets everyone’s appetite with his once-amonth book reviews. “I tend to favor non-fiction,” Beers said. He has done reviews on Nebraska histor y, world histor y, the Blizzard of 1949 and the Kennedy assassination. “ E ve r y b o d y he r e r e members the Blizzard of ’49,” he said. Residents still come to Beers for reference items. “Librarians love inquisitive people,” he said. He researched the name of a W WII ship for a resident who had been a nurse during the war. He found the ship and its entire history to the delight of his fellow resident. “Doing research is the best part of the library. I have my ow n computer and can find almost anything,” Beers said. Another resident asked how many U.S. presidents ser ved i n t he m i l it a r y. Wikipedia lists 31. “The nice thing is you can look it up now,” he said. Beers’ skills aren’t just in researching facts. He was once told a resident borrowed a signed copy of a book and in the process of moving, the book was lost. Beers tracked down a nother sig ned copy to replace it. With the advent of the Internet, it’s hard to tell the future of libraries. “A re the days of traditional libraries limited? Who knows? ” Beers said. Beers said the Internet is now comparable to what the reference department used to be. “ W het her t he in for mation is right or not is another matter,” he said.

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3/28/2014 1:20:02 PM


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Star-Herald

Saturday, March 29, 2014 19

Photos by Sandra Hansen

ABOVE: The Jay Em school was a busy place when Lake Harris’ grandchildren attended classes there in the late 1940s. After it closed, a family turned it into their home for several years. The red paint has worn off, but it still stands at the east entrance to Jay Em.

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

Lake Harris was a man with great dreams when in 1909 he platted the town of Jay Em on his homestead in northern Goshen County, Wyo. Jay Em became a reality in 1912. He had been offering area homesteaders general store and grocery items from his home, but by 1917, a mill building was constructed and was first called the Jay Em Store and General Store. The original family arrived in the Jay Em area in the late 1800s when Silas Harris, a cattle buyer, and his sons, Art, Frank and Lake, came from Wisconsin to live on a ranch they had purchased. Only two local descendents still bear the Harris name: Bill Harris of Lingle, and Mark Harris of Torrington, Wyo.

Hazel Mudgett, a granddaughter of Jay Em founder Lake Harris, works with her sister, Marjorie Sanborn, to honor Harris’ wishes and keep alive his philosophy of giving back to the people by giving tours of the town and its buildings. Jay Em was established in 1912 on the banks of Rawhide Creek on Harris’ homestead. RIGHT: A special treat on last year’s anniversary tour was an early version of a doll that wet its diaper. According to Marjorie Sanborn, a granddaughter of the town’s founder, Lake Harris, water was poured into the metal container, and a spigot could be opened to initiate the wetting process. The doll pays visits only on special occasions. Otherwise it lives with Sanborn.

JAY EM: Holding on to 100 years of history welcomes our new Physical Therapists

Continued from page 16 used to help restore and cover costs of the upkeep of the buildings. The family is applying for grants to help maintain the buildings, one of which helped repair the gem and stone shop this past winter. For tour information, call Sanborn at 307-735-4364 or Mudgett at 307-322-2839.

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