Wednesday, December 17, 2014
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Obama announces Hagel resignation from Pentagon

President Barack Obama says Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has concluded it's an "appropriate time" for him to complete his service.

Obama says Hagel will stay in place at the Pentagon until a successor is confirmed.

Hagel has had a rocky tenure of nearly two years in which he's struggled to break through the White House's insular foreign policy team. He stepped down under pressure amid multiple foreign policy crises, including the rise of the Islamic State group.

But in remarks at the White House Monday, Obama called Hagel "an exemplary defense secretary" and steady hand for strategy and budget. Obama said he'll always be grateful that Hagel has always "given it to me straight."


Holiday Preview Success

Numerous Valentine merchants participated in the annual Holiday Preview organized by the Valentine Chamber of Commerce this past Sunday. Merchants had the opportunity to display the merchandise they have for Christmas shopping. A large crowd attended and registered to win prizes at many of those businesses. Each business awarded an individual prize and all the names were put into a drawing for $500 in Valentine Chamber Bucks. Sheryl McMillon of South Dakota was the overall winner of that $500 prize.

Remember that this Saturday will be “Small Business Saturday”. Local businesses appreciate your support.


Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame Nominations due by Dec. 31 2014

Time is quickly running out for the public to submit nominations for the 2014 Nebraska Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame. Nominations are due by Dec 31st.

Nomination forms are available by contacting any Board Member or Rod Palmer at Box 127, Ainsworth, Nebraska or calling 402-387-2212. Nominees must be 50 years or older or deceased. The nominee must fit the following criteria:

“The Nebraska Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame honor those individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the Western Lifestyle or horse culture in the areas of competition, business, support of rodeo in the western lifestyle in the Sandhills of Nebraska, this includes rodeo, ranching, rodeo stock contractors, western arts, western entertainment and special achievement awards.”

Online nomination forms are located at the website:

The mailing address is:

Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame

353 North Main, P.O. Box 127

Ainsworth, NE 69210


Public comments sought for Community Wildfire Plan Update

The draft North Central Nebraska Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) for the counties of Boyd, Brown, Cherry, Holt, Keya Paha, and Rock is ready for public review. Public meetings are scheduled during the first week of December to answer questions and accept comments.

This plan updates the 2009 CWPP adopted in Brown, Cherry, Keya Paha, and Rock Counties to improve collaboration and communication among the various agencies and organizations who manage fire in the central Niobrara River valley, and to effectively manage wildfire and hazardous fuels.

The Central Niobrara Watershed Fire Advisory Council recommended expanding the plan boundary to coincide with the Region 24 Emergency Management Area that includes Boyd, Brown, Cherry, Keya Paha, and Rock Counties. Holt County, which has its own emergency management area, opted to be included in this effort. The amended plan updates outdated information in the original plan, and adds information about the Firewise Communities program that is currently being implemented in the area.

Having a CWPP in place allows the Nebraska Forest Service to apply for funds to cost-share forest fuels reduction treatments in at-risk areas within the plan boundaries. This boundary adjustment may also provide increased opportunities for counties, municipalities, and rural fire districts to seek grant funding for activities related to fire protection.

The meetings are scheduled for Dec. 1-4 at the following locations and times:

Dec. 1, 3 p.m., O’Neill, Holt County Courthouse, Supervisors’ meeting room

Dec. 2, 4 p.m., Butte, Lower Niobrara NRD meeting room

Dec. 3, 4 p.m., Bassett, RC&D meeting room

Dec. 4, 4 p.m., Valentine, Cherry County Courthouse, Commissioners’ meeting room

The draft plan is also available online at

Comments will be accepted at the meetings, or they may be sent by mail to the Nebraska Forest Service, PO Box 130, Bassett, NE 68714 or emailed to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



Nebraska October jobless rate drops to 3.4 percent

A newly released report says Nebraska's preliminary unemployment rate for October dropped to 3.4 percent.

The Nebraska Labor Department said in the report released Friday that the rate was four-tenths of a point under the October 2013 rate of 3.8 percent.

The new Nebraska figure remains well below the preliminary national unemployment rate of 5.8 percent in October. The new national rate is one-tenths of a point under the September figure of 5.9 percent and 1.4 percentage points below the October 2013 rate of 7.2 percent.


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