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spotlight alert featured
Fremont Corn Expo focuses on future

Earlier this month, the Christensen Field Main Arena was inundated with local corn growers, agribusinesses, and industry experts for the annual Fremont Corn Expo. 

Since 2004 local corn growers have gathered every January at the Fremont Corn Expo to get the newest information on management issues before planting begins in the spring.

This year’s expo included a variety of presentations that included information on corn stalk lodging, grain markets, grain storage, and effects of La Nina on the 2018 crop production season.

Following a breakfast provided by The Waffle Man compliments of the Fremont Chamber, Nebraska Extension Corn Plant Pathologist Tamra Jackson-Ziems gave a presentation on corn stalk lodging and was followed by DTN Senior Analyst Darin Newsom who gave a look ahead at grain markets for 2018.

The morning session also included a panel of local experts and growers on the topic of planting cover crops following seed corn.

The panel included NRCS Conservationist Jeremiah Schutz, UNL Extension Agronomist Nathan Mueller, Precision Ag Specialist Jason Strand, Greg Beebe of Beebe Seed Farms, grower Scott Wagner, and applicator Seth Feala.

The panel discussed the pros and cons of using cover crops following seed corn harvests and answered questions about the practice from local growers who attended the expo.

During the panel discussion, Schutz spoke about cover crops and their usefulness in improving overall soil health.

“Four basic principles to follow to improve soil health those would be keep the ground covered, minimize the disturbance both physically and chemically, increase diversity and maintain a growing root as long as possible throughout the year,” he said. “That being said when you are choosing a cover crop species you want to have one goal in mind and that is plant per square foot.”

Mueller spoke about the usefulness of cover crops when it comes to minimizing rainfall run-off, but also pointed out that like any business decision the cost of cover crop seed and other related expenses can be a challenge.

“One of the biggest advantages of cover crops after seed corn is just to help us with infiltration rates so we can utilize that rainfall that we get throughout the year,” Mueller said. “I think one of the biggest challenges just like anything right now is the cost associated. There are still some direct costs and sometimes it’s hard to pencil out just where exactly you are making that money back.”

Following the 45-minute panel discussion, representatives of the Nebraska Farm Bureau in Dodge County, Fremont Chamber, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, and the Nebraska Corn Board gave updates on the industry and covered what each organization has been doing to help the industry flourish.

“We truly understand at the chamber how important the Ag industry is to our community, every single business industry is effected one way or another by Ag,” Tara Lea, executive director of the Fremont Chamber, said. “We have an Ag council who are there for any issue you might have, so whether it be a local, state, or national issue we want to help you and we want to make sure your voice is being heard.”

Nebraska Corn Board Director of Research Boone McAfee spoke about the board’s focus on maintaining and strengthening trade agreements like NAFTA and their effect on Nebraska corn exports.

“First of all, one of the biggest issues that we looked at was around trade,” he said. “Exports are a bright spot for Nebraska corn and create enormous values for our producers, so when we talk about pulling out of trade agreements or renegotiating trade agreements that is definitely something we look at very closely especially when it impacts some of our biggest export partners such as Mexico.”

According to McAfee, in the spring Nebraska Corn Board worked with the U.S. Grains Council, National Corn Growers Association and a group of Mexican grain buyers who represent 80 percent of all corn imports into Mexico to communicate the joint value of trades to both of the countries.

McAfee also spoke about the board’s focus on ethanol production and export strategies moving forward.

“With ethanol being a major market for our corn our board has also increased our focus on ethanol exports as well,” he said. “This includes partnering with the U.S. Grains Council to staff resources in Mexico and we also put together an aggressive export strategy focused on countries such as Japan which just recently opened up their boarders to exports from the U.S.”

The Fremont Corn Expo was organized and hosted by Nebraska Extension. The Fremont Chamber Ag Business and Natural Council, Nebraska Farm Bureau in Dodge County, Colfax-Dodge Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Corn Board, Frontier Co-op, Butler Ag Equipment, and StrongField Resources were primary sponsors of the event.

spotlight alert featured
Therien art show

Robert Therien’s early inspiration in art came from a less conventional source: Mad magazine.

The cartoonish art from the satirical humor publication is much different than the Fremont man’s photo-realistic scenes of goldfish, turtles and caladium.

This month, works by the internationally known artist and retired professor of art at Midland University are on display at Gallery 92 West in Fremont.

Admission is free to a reception in honor of the artist. The event, which is open to the public, is from 5-7 p.m. Friday in the Fremont Area Art Association Building, 92 W. Sixth St.

Those who attend can see many of Therien’s latest works — a vibrant collection of oil and watercolor paintings of botanical subjects.

Therien’s interest in art began years ago. Back then, he lived in North Omaha and went to Florence Elementary and McMillian Junior High schools.

“I had a very adventurous youth,” Therien said.

When he was about 14 years old, Therien set up a card table studio in his parents’ basement. He became interested in art through Mad magazine.

He liked the magazine’s off-the-wall art.

Therien later studied art with Tom Majeski, an art professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

“He kind of took me out of his classrooms and had me working with him and we did a lot of outreach work for his clients. I thoroughly enjoyed that,” Therien said.

After the UNO courses, Therien completed his art major at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota.

“I worked with (professor) Bruce McClean. He was very supportive,” Therien said.

Therien went to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin and got a teaching assistantship, teaching design and drawing.

In the summer, he taught drawing at Creighton University.

Therien was hired at what was then Midland Lutheran College, where he taught drawing, design, art history, painting and print making.

He became professor of art at Midland and chair of the art department, teaching many students throughout his long tenure.

Today, he works in his home studio and in a garage where he can frame his pieces.

He’s twice won the Joslyn biennial and has had work in national and international shows.

Therien enjoys painting botanical images.

“I’m a fisherman and I believe those images are very picturesque, and the florals I think are very picturesque also. I started doing those in watercolor and then in oil,” he said.

In his artist’s statement, Therien further describes his work.

“My paintings deal with plant, greenhouse and isolated water images that are by their nature dramatic and subjectively appealing,” he said.

Therien works come from drawings, photographs and conceptual images.

“My intent is in capturing a freshness and luminosity, as well as a spontaneity evident in the patterns of growth,” he said. “The water images use distortions of the submerged, coupled with the ever-changing patterns on water surfaces.”

Therien’s list of awards and exhibits is lengthy.

More recently, he received the 2016 Merit Award at the Americas All Media exhibit at the Northwest Art Center, Minot State University. He also was awarded the Nancy L. Pate Award from Watercolor USA at the Springfield Art Museum.

Therien was the first artist to receive the Pathfinder Award during the John C. Fremont Days festival in 2006 — an award that has gone to authors, inventors, philanthropists and politicians.

Barb Tellatin, exhibits committee member, believes guests will enjoy the exhibit.

“One of the things that strikes me about it, for the most part, is how colorful it is,” Tellatin said. “On a cold, winter day, you can come in and be warmed by the artwork. They transport you from sub-zero temperatures outside to Summer Haven. He has a cabin on Summer Haven so a lot of the subject matter has come from there.”

Therien also encourages area residents to attend the reception.

“If anybody’s interested in watercolor, I’ve compiled a pretty thorough list of what they’ll need to use for materials and brushes and I think I can help them,” he said.

He also is reaching out to would-be, young artists.

“I would encourage young people who are interested in art that it’s not hopeless, because there are opportunities out there,” he said. “There are a lot of them.”

The show will be on display through Jan. 29. Regular gallery hours are 1-4 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Admission is free.

Courtesy photo  

Jeanette Villasenor and her dad, Tory Sr., provide music during a worship service at Fremont Nazarene Church. Hortencia Villsenor is the Hispanic community pastor.

breaking alert
Dodge County Sheriff's Office sergeant responds to live hand grenade found in truck

Hazardous Device Technicians with the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) Bomb Squad disposed of a live hand grenade in Snyder Wednesday evening.

The grenade was found in a truck which had recently been purchased from the family of a deceased individual, released information from the Nebraska State Patrol says.

While the new owner was cleaning out the truck, he discovered the grenade in the back seat and alerted authorities with the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office.

While en-route to Snyder, Sgt. Dustin Weitzel of the DCSO called-in the NSP Bomb Squad to dispose of the device. NSP Hazardous Device Technicians determined that grenade was live. They safely removed it from the vehicle and used counter charges to destroy it in an empty field.

“This is a great reminder for anyone who comes across anything resembling a grenade or an explosive device to call 911,” said Lt. Jim DeFreece, NSP Hazardous Device Coordinator through a released statement. “We’ve had people find them when cleaning out storage areas, garages, or in this case a vehicle. The safest thing to do is to avoid touching the device and call the authorities.”

After being alerted of the situation and being dispatched around 5:15 p.m., Weitzel said he advised the NSP that he was en-route to Snyder and that he may be dealing with a live grenade.

“I advised them that I was on my way to Snyder and what the call was,” Weitzel said. “When I got there he (NSP officer) said to take pictures of it if I thought it was safe to do so, which I did, and at that time he said not to touch it because he didn’t know if it was live or not.”

Weitzel said that two members of the NSP Bomb Squad arrived, assessed the situation, and used their training to remove the grenade from the vehicle.

While the situation certainly isn’t commonplace, NSP Bomb Squad members said it isn’t completely out of the norm.

“They said that it happens more frequently than you would expect,” Weitzel said. “It was a live grenade, and he could tell that from the explosion that it made. The crater in the ground showed that, because the explosive (counter charge) they used would have just misplaced some of the top soil. The crater left showed it was a live grenade.”

Weitzel has seen a variety of interesting things during his tenure on the force, but dealing with a situation like this was a first.

“This was the first time I’ve ever been called to a grenade,” he said. “It was pretty cool though, and it was like a World War II one. Now they said they are seeing more Korean War and Vietnam War explosives because a lot of people collect that stuff and don’t always know they have a live weapon.”