July 2011


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).

Hidden Treasures and Fading Places in 2011

By J. L. Schmidt

It came to me some years ago as I steered the car off the Interstate and onto one of Nebraska’s secondary roads. I was doing it as much for me as for my two young sons in the back seat of the station wagon.

I don’t want these kids to grow up and think that Nebraska is an endless stretch of four-lane highways, rest areas and fast food restaurants, I told my wife. I want them to see and remember the places and things that we experienced as kids.

A Rational Approach to Maintaining a Healthy Weight

By Paul Nathenson, RN

In order to maintain a healthy weight, it is important to understand the mechanisms that cause weight gain. Once you have an understanding of what causes weight gain, you will be in a position to make the right nutrition choices, and you will be able to avoid being fooled by diet foods or even some foods labeled as healthy that actually cause weight gain.


“When his painting had to take a backseat to publishing the Polk Progress, [Norris Alfred] began to express his humorous side with his ‘Whatzits.’ These are simple line drawings with color often added that took on a more abstract and whimsical nature.

Mythology of Health Care Reform

Illustration by Paul Fell

By Jon Bailey

Nebraska, like most Midwestern and Great Plains states, has an economy dominated by small businesses and the self-employed. Nearly all Nebraska establishments with employees are considered “small businesses.” According to the 2008 U.S. Census Bureau County Business Patterns (most recent data available), 95 percent of Nebraska nonfarm establishments with employees have fewer than 50 employees. Thus, the concern over small business health care and health insurance issues and how health care reform would treat them was of paramount political importance during the debate on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The Making of No Child Left Behind: A Participant's View, Part Two

By Randall Moody

When the Congress approved the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1975, it agreed to shoulder up to 40 percent of the cost of providing educational services to children with special needs. But over the years the federal dollars provided to states and school districts hovered around the 15–18 percent mark, becoming a very large unfunded mandate. In some small school districts the arrival of just one special education student could bust the entire year’s budget. For years there had been pressure on the Congress to make IDEA money an entitlement. In other words, dollars for this program would be guaranteed each year and not have to go through the normal appropriations process competing with other federal budget items for funding.

William Kloefkorn: The Genesis of a Poet

Painting, courtesy of Carlos Frey

By Mary K. Stillwell

Nebraska State Poet since 1982, Bill Kloefkorn was a big man with a warm welcome, a resonant baritone and an easy laugh. He died Thursday, May 19, 2011, in Lincoln, Neb., at the age of 78 and will be mourned and missed by family, friends, students and neighbors who looked forward to his next visit, plus thousands of readers and listeners who looked forward to each new book and to the Friday morning NET “Poetry of the Plains” broadcast. Fortunately, he left behind a treasure trove of writings, including 31 collections of poems, four volumes of memoirs and numerous works of fiction.

The Story of the Nebraska Quilt Project: Uncovering the Art of Common Folks

By Christine Humphrey

During the 1970s, quilt makers, dealers and collectors began to ask questions about the origins of quilt making and how women contributed to the history of their families, communities and nation through their quilts. By 1980, increased interest in quilts had created a growing market for antique quilts. Unfortunately, once quilts left family hands, their unique history was lost.

Grow Local Oaks, Part One

By Jack Phillips

Since it is better to be cold and dry than cold and wet, I prefer November in Winnipeg over Vancouver. I had flown almost half way across Canada on a red eye after a few days in and out of the cold rain at the University of British Columbia Botanical Gardens, and my boots were finally dry. Even so, the windy Manitoba morning kept geese flying low and my Winnipegger companions hunkered down as we descended a wooded ravine to dig roots for class. The cold soil was hard enough to break a shovel, but we still found growing root tips and lots of lively critters under the frozen duff. And I ran into some old friends. The stumpy, twisty bur oaks that hugged the stream bank greeted me, and, along with the promise of perogies in a warm Ukranian diner, made the early winter morning not so bad at all.

Agricultural Ethics and USDA Organic Standards

By Courtney Quinn and Charles Francis

For millennia people have considered ethical implications of food consumption decisions. Many cultures and religions, including Judaism, Hinduism and Islam, have texts that give dietary guidelines for morally permissible food options. Consideration of ethical food production has also become important. Many 20th-century writings focused on the ethics of food production. In “Silent Spring,” for example, Rachel Carson chastised those who promoted widespread use of chemicals for pest and weed control, documenting their harm to the environment.

Program Protects Ranchland from Development

By Joanna Pope

Cowboys are known for being good storytellers. When you visit with Roy and Steve Breuklander, father and son ranchers in Cherry County, you are treated to several stories. Roy will share a story about how his grandparents homesteaded in Cherry County back in the 1880s or about how he got his ranching operation started down along the Niobrara River. Steve will share stories about expanding the family’s ranching operation or how his family started one of the first canoe outfitters in the Niobrara Valley.

Sonny's Corner: Soldiers Are Not Second-Class Citizens

By Laurel Marsh

There are many ways to fight for our rights. My daughter is a captain in the United States Army. Ten months ago, my daughter deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. As her mother, I am painfully aware of the risks my daughter and her fellow soldiers face every day. One day I learned that servicewomen—as well as military wives and daughters and other female dependents—are denied comprehensive reproductive health care while stationed abroad. I never knew that by volunteering to defend our freedoms my daughter would be treated like a second-class citizen by the very country she risks her life to serve.

Algeria: One North African Country at the Beginning of the 21st Century

One of the many spectacular vistas looking toward the Mediterranean from El Biar. (Gene R. Bedient)

By Gene R. Bedient

Our adventure in Algeria began when my spouse, Gwen Bedient, decided to apply for employment with the U.S. Foreign Service. In January 2010 we received notice that she had been accepted and was being invited to Washington for orientation. Because I have been working toward retirement after 41 years with the Bedient Pipe Organ Company, the timing seemed ideal because living outside of the continental United States had been a dream of ours. A sudden shifting-of-gear was necessary to set in motion the many arrangements that needed to be made prior to her reporting to D.C. for training on March 15. Shortly after arrival, she learned that her first assignment would be at the American Embassy in Algiers, capital city of Algeria on the northern African coast. My retirement plans were launched.

Immigration in Nebraska

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