Message on a Hay Bale

Hay Bale Banner

Here’s an idea that’s bound to catch on – especially in the rural areas of our country. And a Chase County businessman is the first to think of it!

Rod Keiser of Champa Group in Wauneta has come up with a unique kind of display – vinyl banners that attach to the ends of hay bales – with any message you choose.

Want to market an ag product? Congratulate a graduate? Post directions to your party? Hay Bale Banners will certainly capture the attention of everyone – whether they’re just passing by or are headed to your event.

Keiser and his innovations are well known in Chase County. He established Champa Group in 2004 to provide technology solutions in Southwest Nebraska. When he would go to trade shows, he found it was a challenge to find a printer to produce the marketing and display materials he needed. Figuring other enterprises would need that type of service, in 2006 he established Exceptional Prints, expanding it to Imperial in 2015.

As the printing business expands, he continues to add new equipment to accommodate even larger displays – hence, the new color printer that can print 63-inch-wide graphics, custom wallpaper, and round hay bale banners. The banners are full-color, waterproof, fade-resistant, and can withstand temperatures as low as minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take a look at their website – – to see examples of banners they’ve created, or stop by their office at 130 N. Tecumseh Avenue in Wauneta to look at miniature samples so you can see for yourself their quality and durability.

Prices start at $99 per banner for standard designs. A custom design will cost extra – or you can design it yourself. Champa Group will email you the Photoshop/Illustrator template. Phone 308-394-6900 or e-mail to find out more.   Feather



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


Gerald R. Ford, 1913-2006


Gerald FordGerald Rudolff Ford was born as Leslie Lynch King, Jr. in Omaha, Nebraska on July 14, 1913, but was raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His name was changed when his mother remarried, to Gerald R. Ford, Sr.

Although as President he had a reputation of being clumsy, he was captain of the football team in high school and served as assistant coach while studying law at Yale. In the Navy during WWII, he attained the rank of lieutenant commander and earned several medals of distinction.

He and Betty – a former model who taught dance to handicapped children – were newlyweds when he was elected to Congress in 1948.

Ford was the only president never to be elected – even as Vice President. In October 1973, President Nixon appointed him Vice President after Spiro Agnew resigned. On August 9, 1974, Ford became the 38th President after Nixon’s Watergate scandal.

FORD FACTS: During his first 14 months as President, Ford vetoed 39 measures; he was the first U.S. President to visit Japan; two assassination attempts were made on his life. Ford viewed himself as “a moderate in domestic affairs, a conservative in fiscal affairs, and a dyed-in-the-wool internationalist in foreign affairs.” On Inauguration Day, his successor, President Jimmy Carter, began his speech: “For myself and for our Nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land.”

Gerald Ford died on December 26, 2006 – the longest any president has lived to date. Feather


12 Ways You Can Use Exceptional Prints

If you think of printers only in terms of business use or special events, you will be pleasantly surprised at all that Exceptional Prints by Champa Group can offer you – for your home, your car, your photos – and your business. Let’s count some of the ways:

To Transform Your Photos

  1. Canvas. Did you take an action shot of your daughter crossing the finish line or your grandson’s first steps? Stretched canvas might just be the perfect display.
  2. Wallpaper. Turn your high-resolution photo into a unique wall covering.
  3. Calendars. Check out the huge wall calendar in the *Imperial office! You could also print one on magnets as a promotional item.
  4. Photo Restoration. Exceptional Prints can make your old scratched, water-damaged photos look like new. They can also make prints from your 35mm square cartridges and negative film strips.
  5. Collages. Exceptional Prints will turn your family vacation photos into a collage on canvas, photo paper – or a magnet!
  6. Scrapbooking Pages. Work with Print Manager Samie Johnson to create memory pages your family will cherish for generations.

To Take It to the Public

  1. Parade Banners. Get your order in early for a weatherproof vinyl banner that everyone will notice.
  2. Bumper Stickers. Promote your favorite cause or share an inspirational phrase wherever you go.
  3. Wall Coverings. Exceptional Prints can print on Photo TexTM – peel and stick polyester material that you can reposition on any surface – indoors or outdoors.
  4. Pull-Up (Retractable) Banners. Use anywhere you need a striking display.
  5. Business Printing/Logo Design. EP provides not only the usual business printing packages, but a custom design as well.
  6. Website Design/Hosting. EP will walk you through every step, from concept to completion. You can update your site from anywhere.

Samie JohnsonPhone Samie at 394-6700 or drop by the Imperial office on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday at *410 Broadway, or the office in Wauneta at 130 N. Tecumseh, next to Walgren’s.


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



Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte, 1865-1915

BORN IN JUNE, BORN IN NEBRASKA Susan La Flesche Picotte, 1865-1915

The first American Indian woman to become a physician in the United States was born on the Omaha Reservation in Thurston County in northeast Nebraska.

Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte was born June 17, 1865 to Waoo-Winchatcha (Mary Gale), who was half French and half Omaha, and Joseph LaFlesche (Chief Iron Eye), who was half white and half Omaha.

Dr. Picotte was educated at Hampton Institute in Virginia and the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, graduating at the top of her class in 1889. It was unusual for women to attend medical schools; many social conservatives believed that women weren’t able to “manage the mental strain of higher education.”

As a child, Picotte had witnessed the death of a member of her tribe because the agency doctor never came. In her private practice, she treated both tribal and white patients, advocating for better health care for all. In 1912 she founded a reservation hospital, which was later named in her honor.

Picotte crusaded against tuberculosis, which killed hundreds of Omaha, including her husband Henry in 1905. With no cure available, she advocated cleanliness, fresh air, and the eradication of houseflies, believed to be major carriers of TB. She also campaigned against alcohol, lecturing about the virtues of temperance and embracing prohibition laws.

Dr. Picotte died at the age of 50, on September 18, 1915 in Walthill, Nebraska – probably of bone cancer. She is buried in Bancroft Cemetery in Bancroft, Nebraska.


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.)


Fred Astaire


Fred AstaireFred Astaire was born May 10, 1899 in Omaha to Johanna and Fritz Austerlitz, European immigrants. He died on June 22, 1987 in Los Angeles.

In show business from age 5, he performed with his sister Adele in vaudeville and on Broadway until her marriage in 1932. Fred headed for Hollywood, where a studio executive wrote after a screen test: “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Slightly balding. Can dance a little.”

Astaire made his first of ten movies with Ginger Rogers in 1933. He was known for wearing a top hat and tails, his smooth, effortless dancing style, and calmly strolling offstage after a dance sequence.

More Fred Astaire Trivia:

  • His legs were insured for a million dollars.
  • He appeared on the cover of The Beatles’ “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album.
  • He was one of the first Kennedy Center Honorees in 1978.

Fred Astaire quote: “I’m just a hoofer with a spare set of tails.”


Marlon Brando


Marlon BrandoMarlon Brando was born April 3, 1924 in Omaha, Nebraska, and died in Westwood, California on July 1, 2004.

When he lived in Omaha, his mother gave stage lessons to Henry Fonda.

He is often cited as one of the greatest and most influential actors of all time, probably best known now for his role in The Godfather as Vito, the patriarch of the Corleone family. Early roles included A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) and On the Waterfront (1954). He was also in the musical Guys and Dolls in 1955.

Brando received 7 Best Actor Oscar nominations.


April Trivia


APRIL 22. Birthday of Nebraska City’s onetime newspaper editor, Julius Sterling Morton, who with Nebraska Governor Furnas, was responsible for establishing Arbor Day on April 10, 1872. He offered prizes for counties and individuals for planting the largest number of trees on that day. It was estimated that more than a million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day.

In 1989, the state legislature established the last Friday in April as Nebraska’s Arbor Day. Imperial has been a Tree City USA for 30 years, one of 98 Tree Cities in Nebraska.

APRIL 29. NATIONAL ARBOR DAY! For $10, you can join the Arbor Day Foundation and receive 10 free trees. Learn more at

APRIL IS ALSO National Poetry Month, National Volunteer Month, and National Humor Month! Remember that grumps don’t live longer — it just seems like it!