October 2013


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).


Oct. 14, 2013 is Norris Alfred’s 100th birthday, definitely something worth celebrating.

Two of the Prairie Fire crew visited Brian Tyler in Polk to walk the birding trail that Norris walked. Brian has painstakingly re-created the trail by poring over Norris’s writings, and other community members have contributed, including one generous soul who donated an original Norris Alfred bluebird box placed near the commemorative sign.

How the New Health Insurance Marketplaces Will Work: Making Health Insurance Affordable for Individuals and Families in the Affordable Care Act

By Jon M. Bailey

Beginning Oct. 1, 2013, Americans will face a new world of health insurance purchasing. Many individuals and families will have the opportunity to purchase health insurance from either state-operated or federally facilitated health insurance marketplaces. Millions of uninsured Americans will be purchasing health insurance for the first time, or the first time in awhile.

A major calculation for many as they begin to research and purchase insurance through the health insurance marketplaces will be the cost—the amount in premiums individuals and families must pay for their choice of coverage. The affordability of insurance will determine the success of the primary goals of the Affordable Care Act—enrollment in health insurance exchanges to increase insurance coverage and reduce the nation’s uninsured.

Making the Will of the Majority (Not the Minority) Count

By Larry R. Bradley

Do or do not Americans believe elections and/or the functions of government should be determined by the will of the majority?

For most Americans, the response to that question would be yes. The problem is the election system Americans are using (especially in partisan primary elections) is obscuring, if not outright thwarting, the will of the majority. In other words, too many American primary elections are resulting in the will of the minority being imposed on the majority.

What this essay will do is show you why the statements above are true—and what to do to solve the problem.

23 Years of Hard Work: An Immigration Success Story in Lexington, Neb.

By Mary Garbacz

It has been 23 years since Iowa Beef Processors opened a beef processing plant in Lexington, Neb. Twenty-three years since the town of Lexington had a population of just more than 7,000, mostly white residents. Twenty-three years since an influx of workers, mostly Latino, came to work at IBP (now Tyson Foods), growing the community to a population of 10,000-plus, a population younger than the Nebraska average. It is a community in which one is twice as likely to meet a Latino as a Caucasian, but likely, too, to meet someone from Africa or from Asia.

In 23 years, Lexington has changed.

Lexington is a success story.

The Right to Food and the Heartland

By Kathy I. Andersen

From a UNICEF conference this past May to a special G8 meeting in June, international attention is honing in on the failure of current food programs to address hunger. World leaders have agreed upon the Right to Food as a Universal Human Right, and starvation causes the most pain for the world’s poor. What priorities will help us accomplish the aim of providing every world citizen with access to nutritious, affordable food? Out of the debate two camps tend to emerge, those advocating for food security and those advocating for food sovereignty.

In actuality, this is an artificial distinction: food security is after all best accomplished through food sovereignty. Going forward, we need to use food sovereignty as a basis on which to forge a new path in policy, industry and ideology that will enable us to achieve the goal of food security for all. And the Heartland should play a big part.

Agritourism and Ecotourism in Nebraska

By Angela White

Agritourism is defined as any agriculture-based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch. Examples are U-pick fruit farms, wineries, farm stands or shops, farm stays, tours, on-farm classes, fairs, festivals, pumpkin patches and orchards.

With fewer and fewer people growing up on farms and in farm communities, many people enjoy getting the opportunity to experience some part of the rural life. Whether going out to pick berries, getting lost in a corn maze, taking a trail ride or just experiencing what one’s parents or grandparents did, consumers are turning to rural attractions as tourist destinations. This also gives Nebraska farmers opportunities to diversify their operations and add additional sources of income.

Who Will Make the Case to Preserve Prairie?

By Peter Carrels

A few years before Tony Dean died he told me that the book “Grassland,” by Richard Manning, was the most important book he’d ever read. Tony recalled reading the book multiple times because it was highly informative, dense with deep thought, majestic in its scope and provocative about a subject that had begun to take up more and more of Tony’s life: the fate of grasslands and prairie.

Manning’s book is not only a beautifully written celebration of grass and prairie, it is a daring and intelligent expose about agriculture, ecological naïveté and short-sighted greed. No writer has more effectively explained the ecological disadvantages of industrial -monoculture, the benefits of prairie and how the annihilation of prairie undermines our civility, democracy and environment.

Cowboy Exhibit Opens Sept. 23

By Lynne Ireland

Cowboys are the stuff of myth, legend, pulp fiction, Hollywood and history! This American icon is widely recognized around the world, and Nebraskans’ part in this story is revealed through historic gear, photographs, music and more at the “Nebraska Cowboys: Lives, Legends, and Legacies” exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln, Neb. Some of Nebraska’s best cowboy artifacts, borrowed from museums across the state, have been rounded up for the display.

“Nebraska Cowboys: Lives, Legends, and Legacies” will tell multiple stories: the Vaquero origins of American cowboys; brands and branding; cowboy gear and food; cowboy guns; and Nebraska saddle makers. Visitors can learn about cowboys unintentionally immortalized in penitentiary mug shots or by wooden markers that once stood over their lonely graves; see a rare plastic saddle manufactured in the 1940s by a company based in Lusk, Wyo., and Scottsbluff and be awed by an elaborate prize saddle won by PRCA rodeo champion Scott “Ote” Berry of Gordon.

Book Review: "Finding Higher Ground: Adaption in the Age of Warming" by Amy Seidl

Review by John Atkeison

“Finding Higher Ground: Adaptation in the Age of Warming”
Author: Amy Seidl
Publisher: Beacon Press

Does ‘Finding Higher Ground’ Offer A Way Home?

“Finding Higher Ground” is a book that is full of positive ideas, lovely language and words that flag important concepts that illuminate our way forward toward “Adaptation In the Age of Warming.” I agree with a basic premise of the book, that we can survive and thrive through coping with global warming. So why does this small book make me so uneasy?

Financial Literacy in Schools: Rock Band Gooding Launches "Funding Our Future: The Importance of Financial Literacy for Students across the Nation"

By Gooding

It may seem strange that a rock ’n’ roll band is traveling the countryside preaching to kids about saving money, but in my mind nothing is more rock ’n’ roll than the freedom to make your own decisions and follow your own path.

I wanted to be a full-time musician/gypsy since watching Gene Simmons breathe fire live as a 4-year-old at my first rock concert. Throughout my teenage years, I thought a record deal would solve all my problems. I believed I would simply get rich quick, buy my momma a house, and any pain or problem I had would magically disappear. As it turns out, the record deal never came. Instead, through a ton of hard work and slow and steady growth, and hard lessons in an incredibly competitive and ever-changing industry, my band and I have released over a dozen records, toured every state in the union, met some of our musical heroes, started a record label and publishing company, and best of all, are just getting warmed up after many years on the open road.

Sonny's Corner: The Sign Said Dead End

By Josephine Deborah Bogdon

The sun shone brightly, and I was glad to be outside, though I felt my anxiety begin to soar as I parked my car. As I walked toward the building, praying silently, I noticed a yellow warning road sign, “Dead End.” While the sign forewarned the end of the road, I wondered what other new immigrants visiting the office of Immigration and Naturalization Services might think of the placement of the sign. It was a tip from a friend that led me into the parking lot that day. She said, “There is an immigration office in Lincoln where you might be able to get some information.” It was three-and-a-half years into my immigration process nightmare—I was fully awake, eyes wide open and still feeling helpless. You know the feeling you have after waking up from a nightmare, thinking, “Good—it was only a nightmare.” For my 16-year-old son and I, this nightmare never seemed to end.

Rural Health Just One of Many Topics to Be Discussed at Rural Futures Conference

By Mary Kay Quinlan and Kim Peterson

Murlene Nollmeyer Osburn likes to tell people there’s dirt in her veins, from the sugar beet farm in eastern Montana where she grew up to the Sandhills ranch she now calls home near the Cherry County village of Wood Lake, population 64.

“We are so isolated, but I love it that way,” Osburn says.

Immigration in Nebraska

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