Lexie Dooley made a connection with a little Guatemalan boy.
Only about 5 years old, the boy touched her face, played with her hair and sat in her lap. He gave her a big hug.
But he never said a word.
“Later, we found out he wasn’t able to talk,” Dooley said. “They’re pretty sure he had autism.”
Dooley, who graduates today from Midland University, was among nursing students who went to the South American country earlier this year.
There, the group built stoves and assessed families for health conditions. Because of that interaction, group members told Nursing Heart, Inc., about the boy’s situation.
Now, the organization would contact the family to get the child the help he needs.
What if the students hadn’t been there?
“He wouldn’t have gotten the help,” she said, noting that the family wouldn’t have known where to get assistance.
Months after that priceless interaction, Dooley looks forward to graduation and plans to become an oncology nurse.
Dooley, who is from Missouri Valley, Iowa, was a child when she realized she wanted a career in nursing.
It started years ago, when her grandfather, Richard Powell, had head and neck cancer and multiple surgeries.
Dooley was inspired by her aunt, Leslie Collins, a nurse who’d graduated from Midland University.
“She helped my family understand all the medical terminology,” Dooley said.
And Collins provided direction for Powell’s treatment.
“She was a big part of helping my family understanding the care my grandpa needed,” Dooley said. “I felt like I would want to be the person to do that for other families going through this.”
Dooley grew up on a small family farm. Her dad, Bud, took over the farm and her mom, Brenda, works at First National Bank of Omaha.
Her older sister, Whitney Reisz, graduated from Midland in 2014 with a degree in secondary education in science and teaches at Missouri Valley High School.
Dooley was still in high school when she went through the HOSA-Future Health Professionals program. She studied medical terminology and anatomy.
“It was a big, comprehensive class and then we also were able to compete at the state level and I went on to nationals,” she said.
At Midland, Dooley played softball for two years and was a catcher. That ended after she had two hip surgeries.
She also was a nursing tutor at The Learning Center on the university campus. This year, she was secretary and treasurer of the Student Nurses Association and was voted “Student Nurse of the Year” by her instructors.
During her time at Midland, Dooley took two trips to Guatemala.
She and other nursing students were involved in school clinics for young children in 2017. The students recorded the children’s heights and weights and conducted respiratory and heart assessments. The children were given anti-parasitic medication — and many got their first toothbrush.
“We got to teach them how to brush their teeth and we also did fluoride treatments,” Dooley said.
While in Guatemala, the students also helped build eight wood-fire stoves, consisting of bricks, a platform and burners.
The stoves are designed to take emissions out of the house to reduce respiratory and other problems for families who cook tortillas over a flame.
Dooley also was among students who went to Guatemala in January.
This time, the students conducted a clinic at a school for children with special needs and built eight more stoves. They conducted a foot clinic in a nursing home operated by three nuns.
The students washed residents’ feet, trimmed their toenails and gave them foot massages.
“One of the elderly ladies — she was the sweetest; She told me my eyes were beautiful and I told her I was jealous because I thought her eyes were the most beautiful and then she just kind of giggled,” Dooley said. “When I left, she told me she loved me and I made her day and she gave me a kiss on the cheek.”
It was a moment that transcended the language barrier and pointed to another lesson for the student nurses: the universality of smiles and compassion.
Dooley learned much from the trip.
“We don’t realize how lucky we are,” she said, adding that the Guatemalans were very grateful for the help.
On Thursday, Dooley looked back on her years at Midland.
“I was blessed to have amazing instructors,” she said. “You build such a strong bond with them, especially in nursing, because of the hours you spend together with clinical and class. You really get to know each other.”
Dooley has appreciated the relationships she’s been able to build at Midland — with coaches, staff, friends and instructors.
“It’s a small community, but it’s big,” she said. “You know a lot of people, but you don’t know everyone. It just has a small-town feel, which is kind of like home.”
After graduation, Dooley plans to return to Missouri Valley, where she will co-coach the high school dance team with her sister, Whitney.
She’s looking for a nursing job.
And she looks forward to this: “to be able to care for oncology patients as best I can — to give those families the support they need throughout the hardest time in their lives.”
For Larry Marvin, the fourth time’s a charm.
Marvin, a Fremont native and a Democrat, has run for a spot in the U.S. Senate in each of the last three election cycles. And while he hasn’t found success yet, he believes that his last campaign showed flashes of hope for this year.
After scoring a little more than 2 percent of the vote in the 2008 and 2012 Senate primary races, Marvin scored a more substantial 32.4 percent of the primary vote in 2014, ultimately losing to the eventual Democratic nominee, Dave Domina.
And while the 2014 primary had only two candidates — the 2008 and 2012 primaries each had larger pools of candidates — Marvin believes that his higher percentage shows his name is getting more recognition.
“I’m out working, meeting the people, and more people know about me now, and so we’ll just have to see,” he said.
Marvin is a U.S. Air Force veteran who served as a Czech-Bohemian language translator in West Germany. He graduated from UNL with majors in German, Education, History, Geography and Social Sciences, and was a German teacher in West Point. He says he’s been active in the Nebraska Democratic party since 1972, attending state conventions, serving on state central committees and more.
He’s also a real estate broker who owns a building and lives in Fremont. He’ll be up against Jane Raybould, Frank Svoboda and Chris Jacinek in the Democratic primary. The winner will go on to face the victor of the Republican primary, which includes incumbent Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer.
“I throw my hat in to give people a choice, if they want me or they want special interests,” Marvin said.
Marvin believes that United States citizens have an obligation to help and support each other and protect our freedoms—even if it means giving up personal wealth. It’s an ordinance that dates back to the Declaration of Independence, argues Marvin, who cites the historic document’s last sentence: “We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”
“We have that, but a lot of people that don’t believe in that,” Marvin said.
He believes that people in the United States need to treat each other more fairly, and as senator, he hopes to encourage people to stand up for themselves.
The recent tax cuts passed by Republicans are adding too much to the national debt, he argues—“I think we’re stealing from the money right now so that our grandchildren can pay for that,” he said.
And he is deeply against the use of the term “middle class” in political conversations, arguing that it undermines his belief that we are all inherently equal.
“When people say work hard and save your money and become middle class,” he said, “they’re telling you you’re a fourth class or fifth class citizen.”
In terms of immigration, he believes there should be a pathway to citizenship, and that the groundwork for one might already be present in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He doesn’t believe that President Trump should pull out of that agreement, but isn’t opposed to altering parts of it.
He’s concerned about health care and education costs, and believes that the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was a step in the right direction and that most people who opposed it didn’t understand it.
“I want to improve the Affordable Care Act, and I would work with Senator Bernie Sanders to improve that, and if it has to go to single payer, I’ll even accept that,” he said.
He wants the U.S. to be more critical when dealing with criminal dictators in other countries, and even, in some cases, with our allies. He cites the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center as an example of our allies’ failures.
“All of our good friends around the world, how many of them told us that was going to happen?” he said.
He believes that Trump has failed to “drain the swamp” as he promised and that the president’s impulsivity on issues like tariffs and trade undermines his ability to lead.
“I made more money off of my investments under (Trump) than I have any other president, but now, already this year, I have lost more under him than any other president, over, I think the NAFTA and the tariffs because certain stocks have taken a beating,” he said.
Marvin hasn’t raised any campaign money, but instead has taken out loans for $34,854.00, according to campaign finance records. Marvin believes that campaign contributions are tantamount to “selling a vote,” which he believes should be criminal.
In this year’s race for Dodge County Attorney, incumbent Oliver Glass faces a challenge from local attorney Bryan Meismer in the May 15 primary election.
The Fremont Tribune spoke with both Republican candidates about each of their platforms and qualifications for the position.
Oliver Glass has worked in the Dodge County Attorney’s office since 2005, and was appointed to the position of County Attorney in 2011 by the Dodge County Board. He also recently served as temporary legal counsel to the City of Fremont after former city attorney Paul Payne resigned in 2017.
Along with vowing to continue to prosecute crimes appropriately, Glass also laid out some of the other duties required by the position.
“We do a lot of different things here, it’s not all just criminal prosecution,” he said. “We are also the coroner, and the attorneys for the county board when they have any legal issues or considerations.”
Glass also pointed to his work with the Dodge County drug court and diversion programs, that he says save the county money and allow first time offenders to get their lives back on track without tying up the court system.
“We are going to continue to prosecute violent crime and continue to rehabilitate people that have committed crimes when appropriate,” he said. “Our drug court is very important to me and we have a good success rate. There are a lot of people that have drug and alcohol issues that have gone through our drug court and have come out and are very good citizens.”
Glass has also received endorsements from both the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #37 and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #17, which are the unions that represent the Fremont Police Department and Dodge County Sheriff’s Office respectively.
“I have an open door policy with law enforcement, they know they can come to me with questions, and they know I’m going to give them my time,” Glass said. “That isn’t true in all county attorney offices believe it or not. I know law enforcement appreciates that and that’s why I believe they endorsed me.”
If re-elected Glass says he pledges to continue his effort to run an efficient office that serves the community appropriately.
“I want to continue to serve the people, continue to prosecute crime,” he said. “I also want to continue to save money as best I can, and yet run an efficient office that does what it needs to do. I grew up in this community, I went to school here, and I love this place. I will not let you down.”
Bryan Meismer has worked in Fremont at Register Law Office since 2002 practicing primarily criminal law. A veteran of nearly 20 jury trials, he said he is looking forward to the opportunity to put his experience to work for Dodge County.
“I feel like my legal career up to this point has been preparation for this opportunity,” he said.
Meismer graduated from Creighton Law School in 2000 and has been practicing criminal law for 18 years. He has also served as a public defender in Schuyler for the past eight years, and in David City for the past six years.
Meismer says that his experience as a defense attorney in the area has allowed him to become familiar with the processes involved with being the Dodge County Attorney.
“I’m very familiar with the volume of cases that go through the court system in this area of Nebraska,” he said. “Prior to that I did a ton of criminal work in Dodge County, so I am familiar with the courts and the judges. I feel like I certainly can handle what the criminal docket would look like and be able to manage the egos that go into the court system.”
Mr. Meismer also hopes to bring a unique perspective to the role of County Attorney.
“My wife, Donna, was a Patrol Officer with the Fremont Police Department for almost 10 years,” he said. “I feel like that gives me insight into law enforcement that not very many attorneys have. I have a unique perspective regarding both the defense side and law enforcement side.”
He also said that his primary focus, if elected, would be to focus on criminal prosecutions for violent crimes.
“Trying to deal with the drug issues in the county and violent crimes would be at the top of my list,” he said.
Meismer and his wife, Donna, have lived in Fremont since 2003 with their three children.
“Dodge County, Nebraska is a great place to raise a family but we can always do better,” he said. “I hope to get a chance to help make Dodge County an even better place for our children to live and grow.”
Whichever Republican candidate makes it through the May 15 primary election will face off against Democratic candidate Pamela Hopkins in the general election this November. Hopkins is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Hopkins has been a privately practicing attorney in Dodge County for 20 years and has served as Special Prosecutor for the State. She also served as one of the first Court appointed Special Advocates in Dodge County, and as President of the Nebraska Mediation Center.