Sunday, November 22, 2009

Miss Rodeo Nebraska Gets Ready for the NFR!

There are a lot of pageants out there, and a lot of incredible young women compete in them. It would be a misunderstanding to think of these as "beauty" pageants because the contestants are talented, accomplished indivuals. This is especially true for the "Miss Rodeo..." contestants.

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege to attend the send-off for Miss Rodeo Nebraska to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas and the competition for Miss Rodeo America.

Amy Amack has been a wonderful representative of Rodeo and of Nebraska. Miss Rodeo Nebraska is crowned each June during the PRCA Buffalo Bill Rodeo, a part of North Platte's NEBRASKAland DAYS celebration.

If you enlarge the program below, you will see a schedule of the week she has in front of her beginning on Sunday November 29 and the contestant check-in for the Miss Rodeo America pageant.
It was pretty much a full house at the new Creekside Event Center in North Platte as friends, sponsors and well-wishers gathered to give Amy an appropriate send-off. Scattered throughout the crowd are many former Miss Rodeo Nebraska's, and two former Miss Rodeo America's.
The wonderful ladies of the Miss Rodeo Nebraska Association and Pageant committee did a great job serving a delicious prime rib dinner.
Then it was on to the style show as Amy modeled some of the beautiful outfits she will wear during the pageant. Like most pageants, this one requires a lot of fantastic clothes, and many changes throughout the competition. Unlike other pageants, though, this one also requires a lot of outfits that can be worn while competing on a horse!

Here Amy shows off her "You've Been Pinked" outfit. To give you a little insight into what an incredible young woman she is, she lost her mother to breast cancer shortly before the competition in North Platte in June of 2008. Knowing how much her mother supported her competition, Amy found the strength to compete and win. She has dedicated her reign to her mother and to raise awareness of the fight against breast cancer.
Part of the purpose of the send-0ff gala is to raise money to help cover the expenses of her trip to Las Vegas. Western artist Brandon Bailey of Wyoming, currently a student at Chadron State College, donated a limited edition print to be auctioned off. Here is explaining a little of the history of the print and his association with Amy.
And here is Amy, showing off the work of this talented artist during the auction.
Miss Rodeo Nebraska doesn't just one day decides she wants to be queen of rodeo in Nebraska. It all starts many years before that, with competitions for queen and princess at many of Nebraska's rodeos. Amy has held numerous titles prior to her winning Miss Rodeo Nebraska. Here are many of the junior queens supporting Amy in her bid to become Miss Rodeo America. They include Miss Rodeo Nebraska 2010 Lady in Waiting, Miss Teen Rodeo Nebraska, Miss Burwell Rodeo, the Oregon Trail Rodeo Queen, Miss Southwest Nebraska Rodeo Queen, Miss Southwest Nebraska Junior Rodeo Queen, Miss Rodeo Cherry County, Miss Rodeo Webster County, Ogallala Round-Up Queen, Miss Rodeo Wilsonville, Logan County Rodeo Princess, Sutherland Junior Rodeo Queen, Miss Rodeo Nuckolls County and the Elwood Rodeo Queen. That's a lot of royalty!
A lot of young aspiring rodeo queens look up to Amy, who serves as an appropriate role model of young womanhood. They were also on hand to wish her well.
Another of Amy's beautiful outfits.
It is great to see all of these talented young women together. Most have farming and ranching backgrounds and all are proud representatives of the rodeos they represent, of their rural lifestyle, the sport of rodeo and Nebraska. During their competitions they not only have to display poise and professionalism, but have to have an extensive knowledge of the sport of rodeo, including the history, animals and aspects of the various competitions, and be excellent horsewomen.
If you can't make it to Las Vegas, you can follow the competition on the Miss Rodeo America Pageant Blog. And, if you would like to support Amy, you can vote for her in the People's Choice Award by texting "MISS RODEO NE" to 40841. Votes will be accepted from noon of November 5 through midnight of December 3. Before you start speed dialing though, each vote costs .99! There is, however, no limit on how many times you can vote.
Amy will finish her reign on December 31, following the competition at the National Finals Rodeo. That is when the 2010 queen, Michelle Boeshart will begin her reign. Her coronation is scheduled in North Platte at the Quality Inn and Suites on January 8th.
Michelle just happens to be the daughter of my best friend, and represented the Sutherland Rodeo as Junior Queen in 2001.
This outstanding young woman will also be a worthy representative of the state of Nebraska, the Buffalo Bill Rodeo, and of the competition during NEBRASKAland DAYS. It will be interesting to watch her during her reign.
Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It's Been A Hard Week

My #1 brother and his wife are the publishers and editors of our hometown newspaper, the Courier Times, which serves the Nebraska communities of Paxton, Sutherland and Hershey. My sister-in-law penned this editorial column in this weeks issue. It shows the spirit and compassion of rural Nebraska, as well as the practical common sense. I hope you enjoy it.

“It’s been a hard week,” is the comment I have been hearing a lot on the street lately. Lots of you folks out there are weary. You’re weary from losses. You’re weary from lots of extra activities. You’re weary from worry about the economy and a variety of other issues, and you’re weary from work.

For the first time in a long time, THE COURIER has more than a page of obituaries in this edition. Since we only run the ones that pertain to our local communities, that’s saying something. Some were due to natural causes, but too many weren’t. The Paxton community is reeling from the loss of two people to accidents last week, and several other local families are also mourning losses of young and old alike in recent weeks.

If you look at the Lincoln County Sheriff’s report in this issue, you’ll notice that there have been five car-deer accidents in the past few days, and unfortunately, a few DUI’s.

The fact that firearm deer season opens November 14, combined with farmers working frantically to get their corn harvested, can make driving even more hazardous.

When we get weary our reflexes slow down just a little – or a lot. We may get a little grumpy, and we may make poor decisions.

It would be perfectly alright with me if folks would get a little more sleep, leave a little sooner, and drive a little slower. Watch for the harvest trucks – and the deer – and the other guy on the road – and give them all plenty of room. Our young people are pretty good drivers in town, but one almost made a “Courier Editor” shaped dent in her car last week, as I was attempting to cross the street.

Let’s be kind and courteous to one another. We want to see you tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Local Politics - Help Protect Nebraska's Tourism Marketing Efforts

In 2008, direct travel spending in Nebraska generated $266 million in federal, state and local tax revenues. Travel-generated income and sales taxes represent 3.8 percent of all state and local tax revenues in Nebraska, not including property taxes.

The travel and tourism industry supports 36,050 jobs statewide, generating earnings of $555,624,000.00 for Nebraskans. We are facing an economic crisis, and now isn't the time to jeopardize the tax revenue or the jobs and payrolls generated by this important industry.

The total budget of the Nebraska Travel and Tourism Division in Fiscal Year 2007-08 was approximately $4.8 million, compared to an average of $17.4 million among all state travel offices. A 1% lodging tax provides much of the revenue for the Division "to generally promote, encourage, and attract visitors to and within the State of Nebraska and enhance the use of travel and tourism facilities within the state."

One of the proposals to help balance the Nebraska budget is to divert a portion of this 1% lodging tax into the state's general fund. Since Travel and Tourism generates 3.8% of all state and local tax revenues in Nebraska, not including property taxes, this is a self-defeating proposal. It will ultimately hurt the efforts to balance the budget by reducing the taxes generated by Travel and Tourism.

Please contact your state senator today (you can find their contact information on and let them know that diverting money from tourism marketing is like killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

The Nebraska Legislature is a prudent manager of the state's funds, and we all must sacrifice to keep the budget balanced. The tourism industry is willing to grant major concessions, including giving back any general fund income it receives, but protecting the main source of income from the 1% lodging taxes paid by visitors is essential. Please take a few minutes and let your senator know how important this issue is.

Thanks for stopping by. Isn't discussing politics over coffee fun?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Small Town Veterans Day Celebration in the Outback

I’ve lived a lot of places in the U.S., and I believe that living in a small town is the best. In a small town, you’re more than just a face in the crowd at events like a Veterans Day program. You know everyone around you and people know you. You’re there out of respect to friends and relatives, not just out of wanting to honor nameless “Veterans.” We have lots of local veterans from nearly all branches of service, but we were reminded by the emcee that there are more than 25,000,000 veterans living among us today. To all of you: THANK YOU!
This year’s program at Sutherland High School was no exception. Our American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary are very active in our community, and each year they sponsor young men and women to Cornhusker Boys and Girls State, and also the Junior Law Academy. They also sponsor the Voice of Democracy speech contest. All of these young people have the chance at the annual Veterans Day program to tell of their experiences and recite their speeches.

The president of Sutherland’s Student Council was also our representative at Girls State this year. She applied because of her love of politics, and she was elected as a Senator in the Girls State Legislature, and also had the opportunity to volunteer at the Child Advocacy Center for community service. As a member of the Legislature, she discussed wind energy and water rights, both important topics in Nebraska, and learned the power of compromise and the benefits of listening to different points of view.

The first representative to Boys State spoke about his involvement in Athletics (his Sand Volleyball team was champion!), and his time also serving as a Senator in the Boys State Legislature. His experiences led him to apply to be a junior counselor next year. He presented a top ten list of experiences at Boys State:

  1. Don’t lose elevator privileges (he housed on the 10th floor)
  2. 50 strangers can become best friend
  3. It’s a great feeling to be undefeated
  4. 6am wake up calls are no fun
  5. Avoid the spinning wheel of death (?)
  6. Asking strangers to vote for your candidate can generate strange looks
  7. Being elected to the legislature means you miss 25% of the speakers including Tom Osborne
  8. Vote for your towns candidates
  9. A three hour car ride to Lincoln takes six hours in a bus
  10. Your hometown is the best
The next Boys State speaker was told at Boys State that if you don’t like your experience, the good news is that it only lasts a week. But if you are loving it, the bad news is that it only lasts a week. His experience turned out to be the bad news. He found himself spending a week being immersed in things about Nebraska that he had never even heard of, and being with kids from towns he didn’t know existed. He served on the newsletter staff as a page designer, and as he wasn’t elected to an office enjoyed the many speakers that taught them and challenged their beliefs. This year, the Governor of Boys State was elected by only one vote, which showed them the importance of voting. His most memorable part of the week was the tour of the Nebraska State Capitol, which is a magnificent building.
The young lady who attended the Junior Law Cadet program was daunted by the thought of daily calisthenics, but soon learned to get over her shyness and make new friends. The program stresses the importance of teamwork, compromise and cooperation. They were required to keep their rooms spotless, right down to the hospital corners on the beds. She faced her fears, including firing a weapon for the first time, and enjoyed learning to drive a patrol car.
Sutherland's music program isn't perhaps as strong as it could be, but nonetheless, the Senior High Band performed some stirring marches for our enjoyment.
Staff Sgt. Gale Mayberry serves full time in the Nebraska National Guard with the 1074th Transportation Division out of North Platte, and has served two deployments to Iraq. National Guard members serve overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan and are deployed stateside to such diverse duties as fighting wildfires in California and supporting hurricane recovery in Louisiana.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the Armistice ending World War I, The War to End All Wars was signed. That day was named Armistice Day in honor of our WWI veterans. In 1954, the scope was broadened to include all Veterans, and in the first Veterans Day proclamation by president Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954, he said that it is to …Honor all veterans who served on the seas, in the air and on foreign shores… so that their effort may not have been in vain.

SSgt. Mayberry has served in many areas throughout the world that are not as developed as America. The worst areas that America has is better than their best areas. They yearn for the freedom and democracy that we have.
PFC RC O’Neal is a Sutherland Graduate and also serves with the National Guard. He told us about the Veterans serving because of a love for country and a love for the unbreakable brotherhood that is the armed forces.
The Elementary children (Sutherland is a K-12 district), performed patriotic music from their places in the stands.
The theme for the Voice of Democracy speeches was Heroes. The third place speech focused on the fact that there still are heroes in America today, whether in service to their community, in service to their country or people you look up to in your personal life.
The next young man, who had written the second place speech related a story of a Christmas morning in his home, when he helped his Grandpa deliver a present to His father that consisted of his Great Grandpa’s mementos from World War II. His father was moved to tears and that made him realize that there was something special about his great grandpas service in the war. People you see every day in your hometown may be a hero who did their job to protect their country. Heroes never die, but live on forever in the hearts and minds of their loved ones. He shared a quote that was also contained in the third place speech: A boy doesn’t have to go to war to be a hero, he can say that he doesn’t like pie when he sees that there’s not enough to go around – Edgar Watson Howe
The winner of the Voice of Democracy contest presented a different view of the topic. True heroes are someone who does something dramatic that changes the world. In his mind, that means a veteran. What would the world be like if these men and women hadn’t answered the call and fought for us? Would we live free? Would other areas of the world live free? No, they can’t stop bullets like superheroes, but many took bullets for us, which is more of a sacrifice. Their service has granted us our freedom. Give the title Hero to the people who deserve it – our veterans.
The Senior High Choir sang God Bless America.
And then one of my favorite parts of the program. To the recorded music of the official songs of the branches of service, the Boy Scouts parade the flags and the service men and women of each branch stand. First the Army.
Then the Marines.
The Navy.
The Air Force.
And the Coast Guard. Sutherland hasn't produced many Coast Guard veterans. There are some, but none were in attendance today.
The program ended with a touching slide show set to the theme music from the movie Armageddon. It wasn’t the first remembrance of the day that brought a tightening of the throat and tears to the eyes.
Another heartfelt THANK YOU to all of our Veterans and Active Duty service men and women, and an appreciation to their families who bear the burden of their absence.
Thank you for stopping by. If you are enjoying your coffee in freedom, thank a Veteran.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

This and that in the Outback

My NaNoWriMo novel is sufficiently ahead of schedule (nearly 16,000 nonsensical, boring words), that I am rewarding myself with the distraction of putting up a blog post. Since November is pretty well dedicated to grinding out 2,000 words a day on the novel and when I'm not writing I'm thinking about what my hapless characters are going to be up to next, time spent at the computer without racking up word count seems like time wasted!

We were greeted with a beautiful sunrise Friday morning. I had slept in until nearly 7am, so only took the time to snap one quick picture before returning to my computer keyboard, willing words to flow from my fingertips.
Later that day, the Mister and I headed out to run some errands. He had just mowed the lawn for what we hope is the final time this year. Mostly he did it to chop up the dead lives into little bits, which is important because the Catalpa leaves are huge and will kill the grass if left where they fall.

It looked so green and pretty that I just had to stop and get a photo of it. Doesn't it look like the trees should be budding out instead of just now dropping their leaves? Hard to believe we have already had more than three feet of snow covering the ground here in the Outback.

The Mister has spent his last few days off getting the stove that was given to me by a friend ready to cook, and he finally succeeded! (Yes, Ann - the stove works!). So our task for a beautiful fall Saturday afternoon was to make a trek to the cabin in the Sandhills and put the stove in place. Add to that a cupboard donated to the cause by my sister, and doesn't it begin to look like a home?

Here you can see a close up of the beautiful stove in it's place of honor. We're already planning a day of wood cutting up here, and I think I'll put together a pot of chili to cook on the stove, and hot coffee will really be welcome!

Next on the list of acquisitions is a kitchen table, and I got a call from another sister yesterday that she thinks she has what I'm looking for. Woo Hoo!

Since the weather is cooling off, the bees aren't really a threat. Because of the widespread problem of Colony Collapse Disorder, I have been convinced not to kill the bees in the walls outright. I'll first approach some beekeepers to see if they have a way of salvaging the colony to place it somewhere else. This colony certainly seems to be thriving!

As does the critter that lives under the house. None of my efforts to block the entrance have succeeded, the little bugger just digs them out. I suppose we'll have to trap it or something.

All work and no play isn't any fun, so I bribed the two men who helped me with this endeavor, the Mister and son #4 with some target practice. The Mister doesn't think I have any business trekking alone into the Sandhills without some way of defending myself against wild beasts, and didn't consider my walking stick sufficient protection, so he has purchased a small .22 pistol for me to carry. Now I just have to become comfortable using it. I will admit to being a pretty good shot, though.

The Mister got to try his hand at it, too.

With the warm dry weather, the farmers have been anxious to get back into the fields and catch up on the harvest. From the sounds of things, the soybean harvest has finally been completed, nearly a month late, and they're spending long hours in the field getting the corn out.

A common sight in Nebraska, combines in the cornfields and a train rumbling by on the tracks.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.