Category Archives: On the Front Page

December, The Giving Month: Remember the Pantry

While some of us groan and complain about how much we overate on Thanksgiving, others in our community couldn’t buy enough food to last the month. That’s why the Chase County Pantry is such an important service.

The Chase County Pantry Service began decades ago through the efforts of Monsignor Jerome Murray of St. Patrick’s Church and Pastor Bob Call of the First Methodist Church in Imperial. It is now a cooperative effort of volunteers and the City of Imperial, who provides the facilities and overhead expenses.

Nancy on Duty at the Pantry

According to Nancy Terryberry, president of Chase County Pantry Services since 1996, about 20 volunteers work in pairs on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 11 a.m. in a room behind the old gym. They receive donations, make grocery runs, stock shelves, and serve those who come in for help.

Everything in the pantry comes through food drives and monetary donations from churches, schools, local organizations, and individuals. It is usually well-stocked during the holidays, but supplies can get low in the summertime.

What kind of donations are best for the holidays? Since the pantry has three freezers, they can take small turkeys and other kinds of meat. Other suggestions: Fruit juice, canned fruit and vegetables (no more green beans, please!), dried beans, popcorn, stuffing mix, and cranberry sauce.

If you’d like to donate funds – any time of the year – mail your check to the Chase County Pantry, c/o Nancy Terryberry, PO Box 4, Imperial. To volunteer or for more information, phone Nancy at 882-5136.

“Where’s the Fire?”

That’s the question most of us ask when we hear the sirens go off in Imperial. Later, when we discover what it was, we’re grateful – for a moment – that our fire department was able to take care of the problem, then we go about our business.

That’s not the case with members of the Imperial Volunteer Fire Department (IVFD). The problem is their business. They are always on the alert, 24 hours a day 7 days a week. And it’s a lot more than just fires.

IMG_2001Early in the evening of my interview with Assistant Fire Chief Dan Robinson and the Department’s Secretary Josh Burke, eleven firefighters had answered a rural call because of a carbon monoxide alarm. They also provide rope rescue – in case of a grain elevator or canyon accident – and they’re called out to accidents involving vehicles, which could include not only cars but trucks, tractors, earth movers, and heavy agricultural equipment. Divers provide lake and river rescue and recovery – in the wintertime, that becomes ice rescue. As Dan expressed it, “When the alarm goes off, someone has an emergency we need to tend to.”

Their Equipment

Did you know? The white trucks are for rural calls, and the red ones Rural Fire Truckare for city calls – with one exception: that huge red six-wheel-drive truck that was decommissioned by the U.S. Forestry Service. (All they paid for the truck was the transportation to Imperial.)

All the trucks and equipment – except for dive rescue equipment, which the Co-op stores – are housed at the fire station. The truck bay is crowded; it was built in the 1930s when trucks were much smaller.

A Crew with Distinction

Imperial has one of the few volunteer departments in the country that not only have a full complement of volunteers (35) but a waiting list. Josh once worked with a department in a small town near Lincoln who because of their call volume could have used 50 firemen, but they were lucky to keep 25.

Rapid Response

Bunker gear ready to grab and go.

Last month I was across the street from the station when we heard the sirens. Before the sirens had finished blaring, men were piling out of their vehicles in front of the station. Within seconds, a white truck was pulling out headed south. It was impressive. Even though the dispatcher learns all she can from the 9-1-1 call, “You never know until you get there exactly what the problem is or what extent,” said Dan.

And that’s why their training is so important. “When we first get on, it’s just the older guys that show us the ropes,” said Dan. “Then there are fire schools throughout the year, every couple of months.” Four or five of their men are about to finish a weekly, year-long training class in Grant.

Their Territory

The IVFD covers Chase County and part of Dundy County, one of the largest districts in the state. They are also part of two mutual aid associations which extend east to Cambridge and north to Arthur. Mutual aid associations also call on each other. “We’ve gone as far as Halsey, and up north of North Platte, north of Paxton,” said Josh.

How They’re Compensated

The members of our Volunteer Fire Department do not receive any financial compensation; firefighting is just who they are. But you can sure express your appreciation either in person – or by commenting on the Department’s Facebook page (@Imperialvolfiredept). Be generous when you receive a letter in the next few weeks asking for donations. It helps with their training and equipment purchases not covered by their budget. Also thank the employers who allow these men to leave their jobs at a moment’s notice, never knowing what to expect, but always willing to go wherever and for whatever reason we need them.


The Chase County Area Arts Council Is Back!

“Imperial may be a small community, but it is big on talent!” says Kay Younger, one of twelve members of the new, revitalized Chase County Area Arts Council. “We are fortunate to have many people of all ages, representing all forms of arts, living in our community.”

The Arts Council will host their first event – the Downtown Art Walk – on Saturday, August 6, preceding the Chamber’s Smokin’ on Broadway event. The Council will consider two- and three- dimensional artwork, to be exhibited at various businesses in town. If you’d like to participate or want more information, phone Sara Stretesky (308-883-1505) or Marcia Baurle (308-882-8814).

The Council will also host a booth during Smokin’ on Broadway. Please stop by to visit, find out how to become a member, and share your ideas on how the Arts Council can best serve our community! You can also look at the Arts Council Facebook Page for updates and to give input.

Also – don’t miss the People’s Choice Art Competition, sponsored by the Chase County Community Hospital, August 1 to August 5 – the week prior to the Downtown Art Walk. Details on submission and voting are on Chase County Community Hospital’s Facebook page.  Feather


That Cheatin’ Grass

Cheatgrass - BromusTectorumIf you have property of any size, you probably already know about cheatgrass, but I hadn’t heard it named until a couple of weeks ago, when a Facebook friend mentioned mowing it down out on her farm.

We’ve all seen it, though! It looks graceful, rising tall, elegantly bowing its head to sway gently in the wind. But you don’t want it in your yard. And It’s not graceful at all – it’s destructive!

Why is it called cheatgrass? 1) It cheats farmers into thinking their winter wheat is coming along well; 2) It germinates in the fall, spending the winter building roots and storing energy. Then in the spring it sneaks ahead of other plants by growing early and fast, cheating them out of soil moisture.

Its scientific name is Bromus tectorum – literally “housetop broom.” It’s been used to thatch roofs in eastern North America. It’s also known as downy brome and bronco grass.

Where did it come from? Southwestern Asia through Europe with shipments of wheat in the late 1800s. It now invades over 100 million acres – most of it in the Western United States, including Nebraska.

Is it dangerous, or merely a nuisance? An article in the LA Times compared it to a “lake of kerosene.” When it gets dry – usually by July – it creates a dense mat that is extremely flammable. Since it has become invasive in most Western states, wildfires have become more frequent.

Is it good for anything? Apparently, it does have a medicinal use: Grind the seeds into paste, and apply it as a poultice to the chest to relieve pain. Animals don’t like to eat it because of its prickly awns (the bristles at the end of the plant).

How do you control it? With great difficulty – and time. Even with chemicals, long-term control is complicated. For more information and ways to eradicate cheatgrass from your property, see “Living with Fire: A Homeowner’s Guide to Cheatgrass, published by the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

Other sources of information:

In elevated carbon dioxide, soybeans stumble but cheatgrass keeps on truckin’ – Washington University in St. Louis

Medicinal Use of Cheat Grass

Cheatgrass – National Park Service Website

Cheatgrass: The Invader that Won the West – Idaho Bureau of Land Management



Turkey Buzzards!

330px-Cathartes_aura_-Florida_-USA_-flying-8-4cThey’re ugly, and they enjoy a disgusting diet, but you have to admit – they do look majestic as they soar high on the thermals. Also – they help our ecosystem by disposing of nasty decay, which curtails the spread of disease.

Here are some other facts about the gigantic birds that grace our courthouse and water tower every summer:

  1. Their scientific name is Cathartes aura (Latin for Cleansing Breeze).
  2. Up close, they are dark brown with a two-toned underside, a featherless red head, and a pale bill.
  3. According to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, it is illegal to kill turkey buzzards, most commonly known as turkey vultures.

    Turkey Vulture Morro Strand State Brach, Morro Bay, CA 21 March 2008 - Photo by Michael "Mike" L. Baird,
    Turkey Vulture Morro Strand State Brach, Morro Bay, CA 21 March 2008 – Photo by Michael “Mike” L. Baird,
  4. They don’t have the vocal box that most birds have. All they can do is grunt or hiss.
  5. They generally raise two chicks every year and are believed to mate for life.
  6. They have very few natural predators. (No surprise there.)
  7. Their keen sense of smell means they can find – and dispose of – decaying animals that might be obscured by trees.
  8. According to a Chase County courthouse source, their droppings can cover the top of a car. However, their feces can kill many of the bacteria found in other bird feces.
  9. Up to 50% of their diet consists of vegetation
  10. Most of the United States, including Nebraska, is included in the species’ summer breeding range. In the winter, they may migrate as far south as South America.
  11. Two possible reasons you see more turkey vultures now than you used to:
    1) More roadkill due to the increase in deer population and the number of vehicles on highways; 2) The banning of DDT in 1972, which affects the whole food chain.

Want to know more? Read Turkey Vultures: Nature’s Cleanup Crew on the Nebraskaland magazine website. (The article also tells you how to get rid of them – legally.)