December 2007

Notice:

Prairie Fire Newspaper went on hiatus after the publication of the September 2015 issue. It may return one of these days but until then we will continue to host all of our archived content for your reading pleasure. Many of the articles have held up well over the years. Please contact us if you have any questions, thoughts, or an interest in helping return Prairie Fire to production. We can also be found on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you to all our readers, contributors, and supporters - the quality of Prairie Fire was a reflection of how many people it touched (touches).

The Nebraska charitable tax credit and community endowments

By Maxine Moul Caring for those less fortunate has been a hallmark for Nebraska from its earliest days. Raising barns and harvesting crops for neighbors in need are traditions that have been passed down through the generations, and we still read of farm families who gather for spring plantings or urban folks who open their wallets and their hearts to those less fortunate.

Alfredisms

January 26, 1989 br> “Small Rural Communities Will Survive” What has been concerning us lately is the viability of small, rural communities in these days of increasingly industrialized agriculture that eliminates farms and farm families. This decline in farming population is reflected in decreasing commercial activity in villages the size of Polk and larger. Where once were numerous Main Street businesses, few survive.

Of Malcolm and Reubens: The role of public-private partnerships in city making

By Connie Spellman Malcolm X. The Reuben sandwich. An innovative approach to city making that may well set a standard for the future. The common denominator for this seemingly disparate trio is Omaha, Neb. Malcolm X was born as Malcolm Little in Omaha. The Reuben sandwich, or so the story goes, was invented by Reuben Kulakofsky, a wholesale grocer who made the culinary sensation for his buddies during a late-night poker game at Omaha’s Blackstone Hotel in the 1920s. The third item is noted urban planner Alexander Garvin’s characterization of Omaha’s Urban Design Element, a tool that has positioned Omaha to become the first city of its size to develop and implement a comprehensive urban design plan.

America's Economy Headed for Crisis, Part 3: Medicare reform

By Robert Bixby, J. Robert Kerrey, Peter G. Peterson, Warren B. Rudman Medicare is a much bigger problem than Social Security, not just fiscally but also politically and ethically. Its costs are projected to grow faster than the economy and faster than can be reasonably supported by the federal budget. Health-care prices have outpaced overall economic growth since 1960. This phe­­nom­­enon greatly compounds the growing fiscal problems associated with the rising number of aged Americans. Unless health costs slow, by 2050, the share of the Gross Domestic Product consumed by Medicare and Medicaid will be nearly five times what it is today. Most of that increase would come from the rising cost of health care rather than the larger number of elderly Americans.

Music Review - Back East by Joshua Redman

By Jesse Starita It’s no secret: Adaptation and evolution are essential for human beings to survive. But these qualities also extend to artists and record companies. Without it, they struggle to maintain viability and vitality. With it, creative frontiers are opened, new markets appear and, more often than not, both parties reap the rewards. Yet, making these transformations on paper is one thing. Converting them to full-length musical statements is another.

Sonny's Corner

New cocaine guidelines are an improvement

For decades now, federal judges have been forced to hand down tougher sentences for offenses involving crack cocaine than for those involving powder cocaine. Now it seems likely that the unequal punishment will be lessened. The change is appropriate and overdue.

The Great American Desert - A long-term perspective on drought history in the Great Plains

By Sheri Fritz The major droughts of the 20th century, such as those of the Dust Bowl period and 1950s, had profound environmental, economic and social impacts in the Great Plains and are viewed by many as extreme events. Yet the 20th century provides a relatively short-term view of climate variability, and it is useful to extend our perspective to include longer periods of time. A longer-term perspective gives us a better understanding of both the natural recurrence of drought for planning purposes and of whether recent trends may be a product of human impact on climate or are simply a manifestation of long-term natural variation.

The Platte River Recovery Implementation Plan

By Chad Smith In 1997, the states of Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska and the Department of Interior came together in a unique partnership to develop a shared approach to managing the Platte River. Brought together by concerns over endangered species, water use and other management challenges, the states and the federal government chose collaboration and stakeholder involvement as a way to seek solutions to what had become a contentious policy debate over the future of the Platte. Water users from the three states and conservation groups joined the effort. The parties traded litigation for a meeting table and began the process of negotiating a new way of using science to deal with endangered species issues. The result was an innovative process utilizing adaptive management, stakeholder input and science to better manage the Platte for the health of the ecosystem and the people that depend on it - the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program.

Goats

By Pat McGrane Controlling invasive noxious weeds is required by Nebraska weed laws, but what if one weed species is so obnoxious it just won’t go away! What can a person do? Send in a herd of goats to chew them off is one solution.

Green funerals

By John Richardson Klara Tammany’s mother didn’t want a typical American funeral. No embalming, no metal casket, not even a funeral home. When she died after a long illness a couple of years ago, family members and friends washed and dressed her body and put it in a homemade wooden casket, which was laid across two sawhorses in the dining room of her condo in Brunswick, Maine.

Immigration in Nebraska

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