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).

Bessey to be inducted into Nebraska Hall of Fame

A Nebraska visionary, Professor Charles E. Bessey (1845–1915), will be officially inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame at 1:30 p.m., Friday, June 26, in the Warner Chamber of the Nebraska State Capitol. Born in Ohio, Dr. Bessey was a nationally known University of Nebraska professor of botany and horticulture from 1884 to 1915 and a gifted administrator who served as acting chancellor of the University of Nebraska from 1888 to 1891 and again in 1899. When he arrived in 1884, the university was only 15 years old; the student body numbered only 373.

Byways for bicycles: Nebraska rails-trails offer gateways to outdoor adventure

By Matt Gersib

In the 1900s, railroad lines crisscrossed Nebraska’s plains, transporting grain from small towns to larger hubs. While the days of the short-haul rail lines have long since passed, the open corridors they left behind offer a unique opportunity for the development of recreation trails that allow cyclists to get out and experience beautiful places they may not otherwise find. As they run amidst the corn, wheat, soybean and alfalfa fields common to the region, these trails pay homage to the agricultural roots that gave birth to the rail beds on which they are built.

Guns, germs and steel in Zambia: An introduction

By Charles Erickson, M.D.

I was interrupted from my sedentary activity on a hot afternoon in the Sons of Thunder Farm House when a young man of about 15 clanged the metal pipe that served as a doorbell. The clinic was closed, as the paramedic director was in Lusaka attending an HIV/AIDS course. I had met this teenager two years before, when I had visited his home in “the bush” to discuss his mother’s condition (HIV) and to check him to see if he had any evidence of disease. But I did not recognize him, as he had grown. He had the build of a typical rural Zambian, slender with no evidence of body fat from walking long distances each day and eating a limited diet consisting mostly of nsima (finely ground white corn boiled to a paste), the staple of Zambia.

Inauguration 2009: Being there

By Sara Sawatzki

When my plane touched down at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 16, I could feel it. It was a low murmur at first that would grow exponentially over the next few days. You could hardly walk five feet without hearing one or both of the following words: Obama, inauguration. Through a series of amazing twists of fate, I had been able to obtain six of the coveted 240,000 “up-close” tickets that were given out, enough for my brothers, their significant others and me to attend. I had expected insane crowds, but nothing could have prepared me for the mass of crowd and energy that was to come.

A major public health problem

By Alexander N. Kingsley, M.D.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. Cancer of the colon and rectum affects one in 20 persons in the western world, and over 156,000 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Recent data show a decrease in the incidence of colon cancer, attributable to a higher immigration from eastern Mediterranean, African and Asian nations, which have a much lower incidence of the disease as compared to earlier immigrants from Germany, Ireland and Eastern Europe, where colon cancer is prevalent.

Online won't save the old media

Cartoon by Paul Fell

By Charles Hammer

Let’s say you owned a cookie store where you sell cookies for $3 each. You’ve seen a slow, steady decline in your sales. Your customers start asking you to sell them online. You do a few Web searches and realize that there are big sites that sell comparable cookies for $1.50 each. Then you realize that you’ll have to change the recipe and package the cookies so they’ll stay fresh longer.

The success story of HIV and AIDS control in Cuba

By Byron L. Barksdale, M.D.

Cuba has the lowest percentage of its population, a total of 11,243,000 people, infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the Western Hemisphere. Con­sidering the adverse effects of the U.S.-led embargo against Cuba and the limited means under which the Cuban health system operates, what has brought about this success story in mysterious Cuba?

Exercise for the mind: The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNL

By Herb Howe

Just as there are many changes in one’s physical capabilities as one ages, so some cognitive abilities begin to decline as early as the 30s, while some others continue to grow. It is critical to recognize that there are tremendous individual differences, not only in the maximum level one’s abilities achieve in young adulthood but also in the speed with which cognitive capabilities decline in later adulthood. Given that caveat, vocabulary tends to increase until the mid-50s and is among the cognitive abilities most resistant to decline. Declines in speed in completing mental tasks, reasoning and memory loss generally occur at about the same rate. To put these changes in perspective, the average person in her or his 20s scores at about the 75th percentile on speed reasoning and memory tests. In contrast, people in their 70s score near the 20th percentile on these tasks.

My father remembered

By Robert Rickover

Today Admiral Hyman G. Rickover is best remembered for developing the atomic-powered submarine. With the launching of the first of these submarines, the Nautilus, in 1954, he was dubbed “The Father of the Atomic Submarine.” As Admiral Rickover’s only child, that made me The Atomic Submarine, and you can imagine what I now had to live up to. And just when I had become used to it, several atomic-powered surface ships were built and my father became “The Father of the Nuclear Navy”—and I acquired an even more bizarre identity!

Concern about CERN: Thomas Jefferson versus James Dobson

By Eli S. Chesen

Not unexpectedly, the media has been saturated with the political campaigns, the election and, most of all, our multitrillion-dollar financial misadventure. As of the time of this writing, the election has not yet taken place and I will defer to the journalists and pretty-faced commentators to fill the pages and airwaves, respectively, with political and financial commentary. We are truly entering dour times with deferred retirements, Lilliputian-sized 401(k)s and the unemployment rate for Wal-Mart greeters soaring.

Big impact: Nonprofits and the community

By Anne Hindery Camp

Does the term “nonprofit business” seem like an oxymoron to you? Often when people hear of the vibrant nonprofit sector in the greater Omaha area, they are surprised. Maybe it’s because the bottom line of a nonprofit is different than most businesses and that confuses people. To those of us in the nonprofit field, it is simple: the for-profit or private sector is generally concerned with how much money they make for their shareholders, while nonprofits are focused on how much impact is made in the community for our stakeholders.

The Heritage Byway

By Rosie Stockton

Over hill, over dale, along the highways and byways of Nebraska, in particular along the Heritage Byway, as it wends and winds its way along the southern border of Nebraska… This road stretches 238 miles from Brownville on the east along the mighty Missouri River to the gentle rolling hills and the fertile Republican River Valley where it ends near Edison.

Civil War reenacting in the Midwest

By Annabel Lee Major and 1st Nebraska Volunteer Infantry, Company A

As the chaos builds, the soldiers fall into strategically placed strokes on a battlefield canvas. An event that is over 145 years in the making is about to unfold in front of you. Rarely is one afforded the opportunity to time travel at the drop of a hat, or in this case a kepi, so you had better be prepared for the ride.

It's no joke: Norfolk shows its sense of humor by hosting the first Great American Comedy Festival

By Kandra Hahn

Deacon Gray of Denver won the first Great American Comedy Festival in Norfolk, Neb., on June 20.

“I like Norfolk,” he told the festival’s Showcase audience packed into the Johnny Carson Theater the next night.“It’s a place where if you have good manners they don’t think you’re gay.”

Indian Nations saved Lewis and Clark

By Robert J. Miller

The Lewis and Clark Expedition undertook an exceedingly difficult, dangerous and perhaps even superhuman mission. Most Americans are well aware of its exploits and success. What is less known is the fact that Indian nations and individual Indians provided crucial assistance to the expedition. Without the help of indigenous people and Indian tribes, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark may not have succeeded in their mission or even survived the attempt.


“Polking Around”
Sept. 4, 1980 

The time has come to go fishing and to try and detect, from the nibbles on the hook, whether it is a three-foot northern or a five-inch perch. Our fishing partner, Lyle Dornburgh, needs another lesson in how to land a walleye after accidentally hooking one. Meanwhile, we’ll both sit in the boat and settle the problems of the world to our satisfaction by ignoring all problems we can’t solve.


Immigration in Nebraska

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