This Week's Editorial
A serious contender PDF E-mail

Nebraska’s race for governor just got interesting.

Though there is still plenty of time for others to throw their hat in the ring, as they surely will, Dist. 34 Sen. Annette Dubas announced this week that she will be among the candidates trying to replace Dave Heineman. Having observed her work as our own state senator for the past seven years, local constituents know Dubas will be a serious contender.

Whether or not you agree with her political persuasion -- a Democrat in a staunchly Republican state and district -- Dubas has earned her stripes in Lincoln. Now we’re about to find out if she can spread her message effectively on a statewide scale.

From day one on the campaign trail, Dubas touted herself as a good listener and a hard-working rancher not afraid to get her hands dirty and roll up her sleeves when necessary. She has become a voice to be heard in the state capitol, taking a seat at the table for some of the most challenging issues.

She took the railroad to task, for example, demanding answers on questions that deserved asking. She was also a key player in the TransCanada debate last year, one of a handful of senators who helped steer the early conversation. She has stepped up to the leadership table late in her tenure to chair the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.

At the root of her resume, the thing that is quite frankly most impressive about Sen. Dubas’ time in Lincoln, is her willingness to do her homework and attempt to understand every aspect of an issue. That’s an admirable trait, one that has earned her respect from all her colleagues.

As for her chances to become governor, it’s way too soon to know. Mike Flood would have been the front-runner if life circumstances would have allowed, but as it stands it’s a wide open race, perhaps the most intriguing in years.

Sen. Dubas and Chuck Hassebrook, among others, promise to deliver a spirited debate in the Democratic primary. Several names have been mentioned for the Republican ticket, though the list of official candidates is still uncertain.

Sen. Dubas upped the ante for any and all who choose to run. With her family’s full support, we can expect her to be tireless on the campaign trail, travelling the state, making speeches, and most importantly, listening.

That goes a long way with Nebraska voters.

Kurt Johnson

A sad day PDF E-mail

Aurora’s community flag flies at half mast this week in honor of Godfrey Brokenrope.

The Aurora Chief of Police died Saturday from injuries sustained in a Thursday motorcycle accident, ending his life at the young age of 50.
Brokenrope was a proud servant to this community and a 13-year member of the Aurora Police Department. He served the last seven of those years as police chief.

Brokenrope spoke with passion about his life’s work, sharing his insight and experiences often with local groups. He truly cared about Aurora and worked hard to protect and to serve its citizens.

The South Dakota native was honored recently, being chosen to attend the FBI National Academy in Virginia. In his last interview with the News-Register he said he came home inspired with a new sense of leadership and responsibility.

“I had to do 16 term papers while I was out there, and I’ve never done a term paper before,” he said in May. “I completed the (6.1 mile) Yellow Brick Road (obstacle course) also. That was something I really wanted to do.”

The 24-year police veteran said he was rejuvenated by the FBI training and looked forward to sharing what he learned with his staff and community.

Sadly, he will not get that opportunity.

Law enforcement personnel from around the state have tipped their hat in respect to this fallen public servant. We offer our thoughts and prayers as well to his wife, Deb, and three children.

It’s a sad, sad day for Aurora.

Kurt Johnson

Buyer beware PDF E-mail

Local businesses and organizations are being targeted by a telemarketing scam which uses a trusted local resource as the bait. It’s a frustrating ploy that is apparently still at play.

The News-Register staff has learned in recent weeks that an out-of-state company is calling on Aurora area prospects pretending to be representing the “Hamilton County Visitor and Newcomer’s Guide.”  The News-Register has coordinated that project for more than 20 years and in fact published the most recent edition in May of this year.

The Guide is a “Reader’s Digest” style magazine offering 80 pages worth of information on community services, education, tourism, religion and a detailed history of our county. It truly is a community endeavor, funded in part by Hamilton County Visitor’s Committee tax dollars. Newcomers, visitors and prospective residents or businesses are given a copy for free.

A friendly voice using clever but unethical tactics is attempting to exploit that sense of community. They obviously have a copy of the 2011 magazine edition in their possession, and use that as their one and only reference. All their communication is handled via phone, FAX or email, which is a red flag right off the bat.
We have documented proof, for example, that a local business which ran a particular ad only in the 2011 Guide was faxed a copy of that same ad asking if they wanted to run it again. The owner grew skeptical, wondering why a News-Register representative wasn’t the one making the call. When enough questions were asked, the company stopped calling.

Unfortunately, the tactics have been successful in some instances. We have alerted the Better Business Bureau of the situation, but as of yet have not been able to completely stop the perpetrators. We, too, feel victimized by this scam and want to alert any and all who many be contacted.

Please be aware that the Guide, which is historically published every other year, will not be updated until the spring of 2015. If anyone calls suggesting otherwise, know that the sales pitch is not legit. We do not hire outside sales representatives because we enjoy the opportunity to serve our community directly.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our office and make it a point to work directly with the familiar faces on the News-Register staff.

Kurt Johnson

Priceless exposure PDF E-mail

All eyes were on Omaha this past week for a prime time event that cast a positive glow all across Nebraska.

After years of planning and anticipation, the U.S. Senior Open Golf Championship played out at the Omaha Country Club. It was a true test of golf for some of the game’s greatest, guys like Tom Watson, Fred Couples and Corey Pavin, who are now playing on their own back nine of life.

What a thrill for the host city and state. It’s not often you are 90 minutes away and can easily catch such a major showcase event live and in person, or sit down in your living room on Sunday and see familiar turf on prime time network television.

“This course is a gem,” commentator Johnny Miller said as Sunday’s coverage began. “Anyone who has a chance should really come out and play it.”

Wow! Talk about a priceless plug and open invitation to the world.

And it wasn’t just the Omaha Country Club getting some love. Tom Lehman flew up to Valentine a day or two before the tournament began and played a round at The Prairie Club, a place he calls his “favorite place on earth.” The Sand Hills Course near Mullen, and even the public, very popular Wild Horse links course in Gothenburg also got some valuable exposure. Golf purists may not have considered Nebraska a destination venue before, but they’ll surely be tempted to check it out now.

The beauty of it is you didn’t have to be a golfer, or even a huge golf fan, to enjoy the theater of last week’s event. Nebraskans have always known this is a special place, with natural scenic beauty and wide open spaces from border to border, far away from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan life. Millions of other folks now know it as well.

Throughout the four-day event, golf fans all over the country were treated to tidbits of information and insight on the Cornhusker state. They learned that Nebraska does have hills. In fact it’s a beautiful place with good steaks, lots of history, character and charm. Oh by the way you can play some pretty great golf here as well.

Omaha truly embraced this championship and put on a show that will pay statewide dividends for years to come.

Kurt Johnson

Online resource helps raise the bar PDF E-mail

You answered the bell again, Hamilton County.
A challenge initiated in 2009 was issued for the fifth straight year in 2013 and we were pleased to see that extra motivation apparently helped prime the pump for healthier living in many who stepped up to the plate. Hats off to the winners and congratulations to all who accepted the challenge and gave it a go.
A total of 67 two-person teams signed up back in March, stepping on the scale with a goal of coming back lighter and leaner 100 days later. As you may have read in our earlier coverage, participants lost a combined 521 pounds.
Leading the way were Tom and Kim Wanek of Aurora, who lost a combined 57.5 pounds, or 12.14 percent of their total body weight. Tom took this year’s challenge to heart, literally, and established new eating habits as well as a daily exercise routine. Their success earned team One X-2M a $500 cash prize, as well as a desire to maintain a healthier routine.
“I knew I needed to do something and the health challenge was just a way to challenge myself to get motivated,” Tom said. “I just hope the lifestyle change can stick.”
Therein lies the real challenge!
From a planning perspective, organizers are always trying to find new and creative ways to keep people motivated in their efforts to shed pounds and/or live a healthier lifestyle. One of the new twists this year involved an online resource which we think has tremendous potential to raise the bar in future years.
Dane Sutherland, co-owner of the Aurora Fitness Center with his wife, Sara, works for a large health company in Kansas City. Through Dane’s efforts, Cerner Corporation allowed Hamilton County Health Challenge participants to utilize a rather sophisticated online program as a way to track progress and communicate along the way.
Not everyone in the challenge logged on to the portal, but some interesting facts and figures emerged based on the experience of those who did. For the 114 competitors who used the website and officially weighed out, a total of 634 pounds were lost -- 113 more pounds than the challenge field.
Having a way to track your progress (as well as that of your competitors), share tips and have some fun throughout the process increases your level of engagement. That’s a formula for success sponsors and organizers have been looking for from the beginning.
Thanks again to all who stepped to the plate this year.
Kurt Johnson

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