County commissioners pushed road repair into high gear on Tuesday as they not only finalized a game plan of which roads are the No. 1 priority but also what roads must be repaired immediately.
“Roads are literally the No. 1 complaint in Antelope County,” County Road Superintendent Casey Dittrich said. “There were so many things we couldn’t control because we didn’t have a game plan. But now we have a game plan.”
Among the decisions made Tuesday was approving the immediate repair of various roads, including the Pierce-Neligh Road. Dittrich has secured millings from the State of Nebraska at $10 per ton — or about $130,000 — from both the Verdigre and Pierce areas.
Dittrich said the county will buy millings to repair four miles — two miles of the Pierce-Neligh Road (527th Avenue to 529th Ave) and two miles south of Clearwater (849th Road to 851st Road).
They will then grind an oil road northeast of Brunswick (on 866th Road from 527th Ave to 531st Ave) and put the millings on 531st Avenue between 857th and 858th Road. Dittrich said the county plans to repair the oil road south of Oakdale to the cemetery and then grind the next several miles from 844th to 841st Road and return it back to gravel.
The county will also grind 527 1/2th Ave (Million Dollar Corner) from 837th to 838th and also 837th Road from Highway 14 to 523rd Ave. Those millings will be used on 839th Road west to 526th Ave.
Dittrich said Knife River Midwest of Sioux City, Iowa, will begin repairing the Royal Road on Monday from 855 Road to 855 1/2 Road of 519th Avenue. The project is expected to take about two weeks, pending weather.
During Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners also deemed 65 miles as the county’s top priority, which means these roads have the most use and are in the best condition. Dittrich said these roads will have a budget for contracted overlay in the future, whether it’s hot mix or concrete.
No. 1 priority roads are --
• Orchard Road (from Highway 275 to the Knox County line)
• Royal Road (from Highway 275 to Grove Lake)
• Copenhagen Road (from Pierce-Neligh Road to Highway 20)
• Clearwater to Holt County line
“We have a long-term plan that I can use as a budgeting tool, and that’s the 65 miles of priority one roads that we need to work into the budget to be able to hire contractors to do that,” Dittrich said. “And that’s huge because we’ve never been able to do that. The oil roads kind of just got whatever we could scrape up and then funnel into the account.”
Dittrich said that approach was weather dependent. Now, the county will be able to hire more contracts, which will provide a better product and keep his regular maintainer operators on the gravel roads, rather than pulling them off to fill holes. Dittrich said his crew will be able to better maintain the roads rather than constantly be scrambling.
“From an organizational standpoint, this is priceless,” Dittrich said. “This gives employees a direction to move. Right now, we’ve been trying to keep people from having unsafe conditions, but we’ll now know if we’re going to make this road last a year, 10 years or forever. We know a little better what the future holds.”
In other items, the county approved the purchase of two tractors — a MX285 from Kayton International and 6470McCormick from Marx Repair.
After more discussion on employee health insurance, commissioners voted to retain their current plan but to continue researching plans.
An Antelope County Commissioner appeared in county court on a misdemeanor theft charge on Wednesday.
Eli Jacob, 65, of Clearwater, was set to appear for a pretrial conference; however, his attorney Jason Doele of Norfolk requested a continuance in the case after speaking with special prosecutor Joe Smith.
"We think we have an agreement that involves an amendment," Smith said.
Doele agreed and asked Judge Donna Farrell Taylor for a continuance of "at least 30 days."
"There is no agreement at this point and time, but I will discuss options with (Jacob)," he said.
The judge continued the case to June 19 at 10:30 a.m.
In March, Jacob pleaded not guilty to theft by unlawful taking, a class II misdemeanor. The charge stems from an incident that occurred between Jan. 1-31, 2019, according to a complaint filed by Smith on Feb. 22. The complaint is for property valued at $500 or less.
After back-to-back executive sessions of about an hour and 15 minutes, the Antelope County Commissioners approved terminating one of their employees on Tuesday afternoon.
Eli Jacob, who also serves as a county commissioner, is no longer employed with the county road department as of May 7. However, Jacob still sits on the county commissioners board.
Commissioner Dean Smith made the motion to terminate Jacob’s road department employment. When Smith began looking through his notes and said, “Effective January …,” attorney Pamela Bourney of Woods & Aiken told Smith it must be effective May 7 because it could not be retro-dated.
There was no public discussion before voting. The commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the motion with Jacob abstaining.
Attorney Doug Stratton, who is representing Jacob in a county court case, was also present for the meeting and for one of the two executive sessions.
Jacob, of Clearwater, has pleaded not guilty to theft by unlawful taking, a class II misdemeanor, in Antelope County Court. The charge stems from an incident that occurred between Jan. 1-31, 2019, according to a complaint filed by Smith on Feb. 22. The complaint is for property valued at $500 or less.
Woods & Aiken is an Omaha-based attorney’s office. The county approved payment of $3,343.40 to the firm last month.
Four Antelope County students were among those who received a record-setting number of degrees during the University of Nebraska-Lincoln commencement exercises last weekend.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln conferred 3,490 degrees on May 3 and 4. The spring graduating class was the largest in the university's 150-year history.
"Of all the university's awards, achievements and accomplishments of the past year -- and there have been many -- this is the one that gives me the most satisfaction," said Chancellor Ronnie Green. "We have an all-time record number of graduates who have successfully completed their academic endeavors and who are embarking upon new adventures, dreams and goals. Their impact upon their families, their communities, Nebraska and the world will be immeasurable. This is truly what the mission of the university is all about."
For the first time, undergraduate commencement was split into two ceremonies -- one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. The sesquicentennial graduation also included the debut of redesigned robes and regalia featuring the Nebraska "N."
Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Malcolm Gillis University Professor of Bioengineering at Rice University, MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" recipient and Nebraska alumna, delivered the undergraduate commencement addresses May 4 at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Sherri Jones, dean-designate of the College of Education and Human Sciences and chair of the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders at Nebraska, gave the address at the graduate and professional degree ceremony May 3 at the arena. Adam Foss, founder and executive director of Prosecutor Impact, spoke to the law graduates May 4 at the Lied Center for Performing Arts.
The following is a list of area graduates by hometown:
Royal: Cassidy Marie Curtis, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Bachelor of Science in Animal Science with distinction.
Neligh: Noelle Elizabeth Ervin, College of Journalism and Mass Communications, Bachelor of Journalism with high distinction.
Elgin: Regan Lee Kerkman, College of Arts and Sciences, Bachelor of Science .
Neligh: Kristin Ann Rice, College of Business, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with high distinction.
For a complete list of graduates, visit https://go.unl.edu/grads-may19.
(Some students request not to be listed.)
Two men were sentenced to jail in Antelope County District Court last Wednesday after violating their previous court orders.
Collin Willert, 18, appeared for sentencing on five charges.
Judge James Kube revoked his two-year probation sentence from November 2018 and re-sentenced him on the original charges of attempted unlawful discharge of a firearm, a class II felony, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a class I misdemeanor.
For attempted unlawful discharge of a firearm, Willert was sentenced to an indeterminate term of not less than 3 nor more than 5 years in prison. He was given credit for 119 days served. He was ordered to serve a concurrent term of 6 months on the second charge.
Willert was given additional prison time for the crimes he committed in the second case while he was on probation—theft by unlawful taking, a class II misdemeanor; second degree trespassing, a class II misdemeanor; and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a class I misdemeanor.
He was sentenced to a term of 6 months on the first two counts and term of 1 year for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Kube ordered that the last three sentences be served concurrently; however, they will run consecutively to the sentence in the first case. He was given credit for 101 days served and ordered to pay $138 in court costs.
The judge said Willert must serve at least two years before he will be eligible for parole or three years before his mandatory release.
Antelope County Attorney Joe Abler said the original charges stem from a case in which the Willert used a 20-gauge shotgun to shoot “a big hole” in the wall of a home. After being placed on probation, he later broke into someone’s home and enlisted the help of some juveniles to take a weight set, Abler said.
“This court, at sentencing, told him, ‘Look this is dangerous stuff, but you’re a kid, you need to grow up and here’s the opportunity to do so.’ That was in November,” the county attorney said.
“We turn around and here he is again, right out of the chute, doesn’t even complete a class on probation. He’s basically leading a little Oakdale gang with a bunch of juveniles.”
Abler recommended that the judge revoke Willert’s probation and incarcerate him.
Martin Klein said his client “is not a bad person, he just makes bad choices.”
“If he goes to Lincoln, I’m not sure he will come out the same person,” Klein said. “He needs to figure out something in his life to get structure. Probation would be ideal because it’s going to help him in society in the long run.”
Willert read a statement to the judge, requesting another chance at probation and making promises to make changes in his life.
“I would like to take responsibility for my actions and admit that I screwed up,” he read.
In the end, Judge Kube said he agrees with his attorney; however, he also agrees with the county attorney.
“As Mr. Klein indicates, what you need is some structure in your life. That is exactly what I was thinking back in November 2018,” the judge said. “I have to say Mr. Abler’s right. You weren’t on probation very long and it fell apart. I am unconvinced that being on probation is the answer.”
Judge Kube found that Willert was no longer a candidate for probation, in either case, and sentenced him to prison.
“The big issue for you will be the day that you get released—what kind of mindset you have and what you want to do with that,” the judge said. “I hope you have the same mindset then as what you are telling me today.”
Jeremy Jones was also sentenced in district court. This time, on a charge to revoke his post release supervision.
Jones admitted to the allegation and was sentenced to the Antelope County Jail for the remainder of his post-release supervision term, which is slated to end on Oct. 6, 2019.
The judge said the revocation was based on the fact that Jones had failed to report to his probation officer and tested positive for drugs at his last court appearance.
Public defender Pat Carney said his client “would rather not continue to report because it makes things difficult with employment.”
Jones apologized for the last time he was in court saying he “was out of line,” but he is ready to move on now.
“I haven’t been charged with any crimes since 2017,” he said. “I just want to get back to my life, your honor.”
Judge Kube said taking Jones off post-release supervision “doesn’t address the issues.”
“When you say I just want to get back to my life and not have to worry about this post release crap, what that says to me is that you’ll probably end up using (drugs) again,” he said. “I hope that’s not the case.”
Editor's Note: This is the final story in a three-part series about inmate rehabilitation and the criminal justice system.
* * *
It was midnight at the Antelope County Law Enforcement Center, but Cory Romej was wide awake on that Saturday night. Inside his cell, the 41-year-old Elgin man was giving his 19-year-old cellmate a pep talk about how to get his life together – not knowing his own life was about to be turned upside down.
Sheriff Bob Moore led Romej from his cell to the jail library and told him that his wife, 29-year-old Courtney Romej, had just died in a tragic vehicle accident in Kansas. On her way home from building turbines, she decided to surprise their four kids for Thanksgiving.
But she missed her exit and rolled their crew cab pickup 14 times and flipped it several more times end over end. She was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene.
“I had just talked to her two or three hours earlier on the phone from jail,” Romej said. “It didn’t seem real to me.”
But it was real, and the sheriff had some decisions to make. Who was going to tell the four kids — ages 3 to 17 — that their mom was dead since their dad was in jail?
History of Incarceration
Sitting in the same library the horrible news had been delivered, Romej folded his hands in front of him on Monday evening, lacing his fingers as he described the worst night of his life — November 17, 2018.
Romej had been in jail for a week after violating his probation by driving under suspension. It was a minor infraction — no assault or drug use this time. Romej was clean for more than two years and decided to use this jail time as an opportunity to mentor other inmates.
After all, he knew about poor decisions. Romej spent about 15 years off and on in an Arizona prison. He had a temper and his two-year sentence quickly added another seven after several assaults, including one against a correctional officer.
“In every other jail I was in, I got into trouble left and right,” Romej said. “But here, never. I never wanted to. Everyone has always been so nice.”
That wasn’t actually true, though. Moore clarified that Romej was involved in one fight while incarcerated in Neligh, “but it’s not the fight you would think,” he said.
“There were some inmates saying bad things about a couple of our female jailers, and he was upset about how they were going on about them,” Moore said. “We talked about what was happening, and he was upset about the comments toward our staff, and he had enough. It was going to stop.”
Although Romej had a history of incarceration, thanks to violence and drug use, he actually cleaned up his act when he left the Arizona prison. He had two sons – Cory Jr., now 17, and River, 15, with his ex-wife. Even while in prison, they lived in his house with his mother.
“I used drugs, and I was in and out of prison,” Romej said. “But one day, when the kids came to visit me, I decided I was done. I had went to prison for two years but did seven more years after picking up more assaults. When the kids came to visit, something clicked. I was done, moved out of Arizona and got a real job.”
He eventually landed in Elgin, Nebraska, building turbines. He liked the small community and decided to make it home for the family, where he and Courtney, his new wife, had two children. Cara is now 7 and Case is 3.
Romej spent the next eight years “feeling like a man, going to work and watching my kids grow.” Despite years of being clean, Romej said he slipped up after his wife began using drugs. He was on the road often and didn’t realize she was using. But within a matter of months, Romej went back to using meth and saw his life spiral again.
Romej said he swore he had kicked meth. But in 2017, it regained control of his life. With both of them now using, he and his wife were like mixing fire and gasoline. During a five-day period — from June 15 to June 19, 2017 — Romej was arrested three times, including twice on the same day. Romej said that was his rock bottom.
“In 2017, that was the only time I’d been in trouble since I left prison,” he said. “It was a really bad couple of weeks, and I nipped it in the bud. That was it, but I couldn’t get her away from all the non-sense.”
The couple’s relationship was volatile. After a domestic incident, Romej was arrested again in Colorado and brought back to Antelope County on the parole violation. Romej admitted he struck his wife and lost his temper, which is why he was the one who called the police this time.
“I lost control, so I called the police,” he said. “I told them I had hit my wife. I didn’t want to hit her, but I did. I had to call the police and tell them.”
That’s what landed Romej back on probation, which is why he found himself back in jail in November 2018. He’d been housed for a week and knew his wife was still using but couldn’t get her to stop. She was working with a wind tower company while his mother took care of the four children.
“We had been talking on the phone every day. She was still my wife and still the mother of my kids. I just had to accept the fact that she wasn’t doing right when she was out there,” he said. “I could tell she wasn’t right by the sound of her voice.”
A state trooper in Colby, Kansas, called Moore about a fatality of an Antelope County resident, but the officer understandingly mispronounced Courtney Romej’s last name.
“I didn’t know who he was talking about until he finally gave the address — Beach Street. I had been there; I had been to that house several times,” Moore said. “I was in Clearwater, and as I drove back to the jail, I tried to figure out what we were going to do.”
Moore said he didn’t know how Romej would react to being told his wife was dead, so he and Chief Deputy Dan Hallock led Romej into the jail library. He was shocked and heartbroken, but Romej wasn’t the violent man he had once been. Romej was worried about his four children.
That’s when Moore did something Romej said he can never repay — he allowed Romej to replace his orange jumpsuit with “real clothes” and drove him to Beach Street in Elgin, where he told his children face to face that their mother had died. Romej said Moore helped him find the right words to explain what had happened.
“I can’t imagine what I would have done if we hadn’t have had that conversation,” Romej said. “That was the turning point for me. I always got along with Bob, but when he supported me that day in the library and sat beside me in my living room with my kids, that meant more to me than anything ever before.”
While it was the first time Moore had ever told an inmate that their spouse had died, it wasn’t the first time Romej had been given bad news while incarcerated. He was in prison in Arizona when his grandmother died.
Romej said he reacted with violence and quickly was in a fight. But that didn’t happen in Antelope County. Romej credits Moore and the Antelope County staff for knowing how to handle the situation and allow him privacy from other inmates when he returned from telling his kids.
But the compassionate treatment didn’t end there. Romej was allowed to see his children face to face just hours later inside the jail. The next day, Antelope County Attorney Joe Abler began working with Romej’s attorney, Brad Montag, and Judge James Kube for an emergency bond.
“Between Sheriff Moore, Mr. Alber, Judge Kube and Mr. Montag, they got me out of here in a couple of days. They didn’t have to do that,” Romej said. “They went out of their way to get me home to my family, so I gave Bob my word I’d do right.”
Driving home around 4 a.m. Nov. 18, Moore and Romej talked candidly. It’s a conversation neither will ever forget.
“I told him, ‘Now you have to be mom and dad,’ ” Moore said. “Courtney was gone, his mom’s heath was fragile, and there he sat in the balance of wondering how to get ahead of this monster. He was now mom and dad – a double role.”
Being A Good Dad
Moore, who serves as pastor of the Brunswick Congregational Church, shared the horrific situation with his congregation later that morning. Immediately, they offered to help the Romej family. Private donations took care of the cremation. At Christmas, the church provided his family with gifts for the children.
Being a single parent, Romej couldn’t travel with the wind towers any longer and raise a family, so Moore talked to Steve Rutjens about hiring Romej at Elkhorn Valley Equipment, and he started on January 2.
The community of Elgin also rallied around the family, especially as they witnessed Romej become an engaged father, attending parent-teacher conferences and other school events. Moore said the community has embraced the Romej family.
“There was a time the Elgin community wanted Cory Romej to move away, but that’s not the case today. They’re tickled to have him and to have those kids in school. He can walk into any business in Elgin, and no one thinks twice about him being there,” Moore said.
Like most fathers, Romej’s eyes quickly light up when talking about his children, whether it’s school or sports.
“I’m proud of my kids,” he said. “They don’t get into a lick of trouble, and they help me out a lot. By the time I get home, the dishes are done and yard is done.”
While Moore’s support provided the turning point, Romej’s life now revolves around his four children, and he knows exactly why he’s on an entirely different road.
“It’s my kids. One thousand percent because of my kids,” he said. “I was a disappointment for a little bit. They weren’t directly involved in what I was doing, but I could see it was affecting them. I saw how people were looking at them because of me, and I didn’t want that. I want them to go to school and be proud of their dad.”
Judge Kube has also recognized a difference in Romej. During court last March, Kube said he wa pleased to hear that Romej was working hard and providing for his children.
“You’ve had a tragedy in your life, but you haven’t let that get the best of you,” the judge said. “You’ve made the decision to be a responsible parent, a responsible adult. That’s really all society wants from you.”
Kube added, “Finish up your program. Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep being a good dad.”
The State of Nebraska and FEMA will open Disaster Recovery Centers in Antelope, Cuming and Pierce counties.
Neligh Fire Hall
512 W. 11th St.
Neligh, NE 68756
Open May 6 - May 9
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. CDT
Centers are operating in several other locations; survivors can visit any open center. To find locations, go online to FEMA.gov/DRC or call the Disaster Assistance Helpline at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585.
At the centers, recovery specialists from FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will provide information on available services, explain assistance programs and help survivors complete or check the status of their applications. They can provide referrals and help with appeals. Centers are equipped with captioned phones, video remote interpreting and assistive listening devices.
Nebraska homeowners, renters and business owners in Antelope, Boone, Boyd, Buffalo, Burt, Butler, Cass, Colfax, Cuming, Custer, Dodge, Douglas, Hall, Howard, Knox, Madison, Nance, Nemaha, Pierce, Platte, Richardson, Saline, Sarpy, Saunders, Stanton, Thurston and Washington counties and the Santee Sioux Nation may apply for assistance for uninsured and underinsured damage and losses resulting from severe winter storm, straight-line winds and flooding.
How to Register with FEMA:
• Online, visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
• On a smart phone, download the FEMA app and click on “disaster resources,” then “apply for assistance online.”
• By phone, call FEMA’s toll-free registration line at 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585 (TTY). Telephone registration is available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CDT seven days a week.
• Visit a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) and speak to a FEMA specialist one-on-one. To find the nearest DRC visit: FEMA.gov/DRC, or text DRC along with a ZIP code to 43362, or call the Disaster Assistance Helpline at 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585 (TTY).
Applicants requesting disaster assistance should have the following information on hand:
• Social Security number
• Address of the damaged primary residence
• Description of the damage
• Information about insurance coverage
• A current contact telephone number
• An address where they can receive mail
• Bank account and routing numbers for direct deposit of funds
Businesses and residents can visit SBA.gov/disaster, call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. TTY users may also call 800-877-8339.
For more information on Nebraska’s disaster recovery, visit fema.gov/disaster/4420.
County oil roads damaged by the recent flood are about to see major repairs.
While work will begin May 6 with the first 1,000 ton of hot mix, commissioners went even further by locking in the same price during Monday’s special meeting for even more repairs of county roads.
On a motion by Eli Jacob and second by Allan Bentley, the board unanimously approved (5-0) a committee of Jacob and Charlie Henery to assist Road Superintendent Casey Dittrich with prioritizing the repairs from the flood and gave them the ability to move forward with a change order for even more hot mix to repair additional asphalt roads.
“We have to go forward with the flood repair because that is the most unsafe conditions we have on the roads, besides from bridges being out,” he said. “I would rather see us go out and fix 40 miles of road and make them safe with patching and not overlaying than spending everything we have left in the budget to do a mile and half of a road.”
Dittrich added, “I just can’t see us blowing every last dime we have in the budget and telling everyone else that Pierce-Neligh road needed a mile and a half of oil. That’s just not fair to everybody in the county.”
Dittrich said the repairs will be patchwork done in small sections — not entire roads. The state standard is 100 ton per mile, meaning the $324,867.45 approved by commissioners could cover up to 10 miles. Dittrich explained that patchwork could be done in an 8x20 box on part of the road but the size could be much different on another part.
“This is a big step forward for Antelope County,” Dittrich said. “But there’s much more work to be done besides flood repair.”
During Monday’s meeting, commissioners approved spending $600,000 to begin repairing flood damaged roads, the Royal Road and a bridge north of Orchard.
That’s $324,867.45 on flood damaged roads, another $210,000 on a half mile of the Royal Road and $53,000 on a bridge by Orchard.
Dittrich said while the repairs will help, it only scratches the surface of “the No. 1 problem of Antelope County,” which is road conditions.
Dittrich said he has only $2.5 million in his budget for roads and bridges. Considering county roads were in such disarray even before the flood damage, Dittrich told commissioners point blank they need a plan of how to correct the situation because prices are skyrocketing and the roads are continuing to deteriorate.
“What we have budgeted this year, we can (repair) about 1.4 miles a year, so in about 120 years, we’ll have everything overlaid so it can last 15 years,” Dittrich said. “That’s a real problem, guys.”
Dittrich said he’s researched the county and has the data needed to start mapping a long-term plan for road repair, but he wants commissioners to make the final decision on priorities since they are the elected officials.
“I’m not going be the bad guy for a whole district to hate because I’m the one who said this road is set priority over what roads need to be fixed,” he said. “I’m just telling you we’ve done this band aid process for too long. I’ve tried it for three years. I’ve totally changed the band aid process and went from a band aid to a wrap.”
That’s why Dittich asked commissioners to hold off on repairing the 1.5 miles of the Pierce-Neligh Road, which they agreed wasn’t any worse condition than other county roads. The bid from Knife River Midwest of Sioux City, Iowa, opened at Monday’s meeting totaled $1.4 million, which not only included the $525,000 that was approved, but also nearly $900,000 for Pierce-Neligh Road.
During Monday’s 101-minute meeting, commissioners opted to hold off on the Pierce-Neligh Road because it would cost $300,000 per half mile, which they said was unfair to spend considering the disarray of other roads.
Instead, Dittrich recommended focusing on the half mile of the Royal Road — 855 Road to 855 1/2 Road of 519th Avenue — which butts up to the two miles being repaired by Invenergy, which is 853 Road to 855 Road. Bruce Jorgenson of Knife River Midwest agreed to honor the bid if separated.
The next priority, the commissioners agreed, was flood damaged roads. Also approved was repairing the bridge near Orchard. The bridge at 513th Avenue north of 868 Road, which was considered the top priority of all bridges, was approved at $53,000.
Commissioners then authorized advertising bids for the Tilden north bridge, which is one of nine other bridge projects following the flood. Dittrich said four of the next eight are nearly ready to begin bidding. He said the bridge project priorities are based through the organizations’ recommendations.
The two bridges shared with Knox County will be closed for some time, engineer Brian McDonald said.
Today the USDA announced that it will be extending the deadline to May 17 from May 1 for agricultural producers to certify 2018 crop production for payments through the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), which helps producers who have been significantly affected by foreign tariffs, resulting in the loss of traditional exports.
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) extended the deadline because heavy rainfall and snowfall have delayed harvests in many parts of the country, preventing producers from certifying production.
Payments will be issued only if eligible producers certify before the updated May 17 deadline.
The MFP provides payments to producers of corn, cotton, sorghum, soybeans, wheat, dairy, hogs, fresh sweet cherries and shelled almonds. FSA will issue payments based on the producer’s certified total production of the MFP commodity multiplied by the MFP rate for that specific commodity.
“Trade issues, coupled with low commodity prices and recovery from natural disasters, have definitely impacted the bottom line for many agricultural producers,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “The MFP payments provide short-term relief from retaliatory tariffs to supplement the traditional farm safety net, helping agricultural producers through these difficult times. Weather conditions this fall, winter and early spring have blocked many producers from completing harvest of their crops, and we want to make sure producers who want to finalize their MFP application have an opportunity.”
Producers can certify production by contacting their local FSA office or through farmers.gov.
About the Market Facilitation Program
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue launched the trade mitigation program to assist farmers suffering from damage because of unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations. FSA implemented MFP in September 2018 as a relief strategy to protect agricultural producers while the Administration works on free, fair and reciprocal trade deals to open more markets to help American farmers compete globally. To date, more than $8.3 billion has been paid to nearly 600,000 applicants.
The MFP is established under the statutory authority of the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act and is administered by FSA.
For more information, contact your local FSA office or visit www.farmers.gov/MFP.
Antelope County high school and junior high artists earned 20 Judge's Merit Awards at the Niobrara Valley Conference Art Show in Tilden on Friday.
Neligh-Oakdale senior Madison Grosserode hauled in four merit awards herself, excelling in painting, photography, miscellaneous and collage and assembly. Taylor Bolling of Clearwater wasn't far behind as she earned three merit awards for her works in pencil, painting and design.
The complete list of Judge's Merit Award winners include:
High School -
Madison Grosserode - Neligh-Oakdale - Lily Pond - painting
Skylar Eacker - Ewing - Camo - painting
Taylor Bolling - Clearwater - Deer In Woods - painting
Rebecca Frick - KPCS - Purity - painting
Brie Magdefrau - Elkhorn Valley - Maybe I'm Too Nice, Enemies, Bitterdays - pencil
Taylor Bolling - Clearwater - 4-H - pencil
Haley Peek - West Holt - Cassie - pencil
Abbigail Holz - Niobrara - Childhood Memory - sculpture
Kira Dickau - Stuart - The Horse - sculpture
Kira Widger - Elgin - Spooky Boi - sculpture
Krystal Fulsaas - Neligh-Oakdale - My Imagination's Family - black and white
Rachel Pavelka - Verdigre - Nature's Order - print making
Brie Magdefrau - Elkhorn Valley - They Pictured Us As Sunflowers - mixed media
Rane Vesley - Verdigre - Paint Pallette - miscellaneous
Rachel Pavelka - Verdigre - Amidst the Lily Pads - batik
Madison Grosserode - Neligh-Oakdale - Abstract Design - collage and assembly
Kiersten Wheeler - Boyd County - Moose - photography
Amanda Dietz - Neligh-Oakdale - Penn Lake - photography
Madison Grosserode - Neligh-Oakdale - Paint Brushes - photography
Blake Bartling - Verdigre - Jumping Jellyfish - photography
Taylor Bolling - Clearwater - Show Horse - design
Eli Thiele - Clearwater - Dundee - scratch art
Brie Magdefrau - Elkhorn Valley - The Climb - digital art
Madison Grosserode - Neligh-Oakdale - Sit On My Life - miscellaneous
Gracie Beddow - West Holt - Grandma - charcoal
Junior High -
Matthew Koehlmoos - St. Mary's - Dad - sculpture
Will Paxton - Stuart - William - miscellaneous
Trenadi Dodds - Stuart - Bottom Of My Heart - miscellaneous
Blake Henn - Elgin - Blue Bird - sculpture
Kennedy Penne - Elkhorn Valley - Elements & Principal of Design - sculpture
Aubrea Howard - Elkhorn Valley - Rooster - sculpture
Karli Nielsen - Niobrara - Owl - pencil
David Durre - Elgin - David's Meltdown - miscellaneous
Johnathan Fessler - Stuart - Leaf - photography
Brooke Wilcox - Elkhorn Valley - Winter's Beauty - colored drawing
Winter Henry - Niobrara - Henry - colored drawing
Halie Faus - Boyd County - Marilyn - colored drawing
Alyssa Buck - Neligh-Oakdale - No Title - mixed media
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