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Swihart uses radio to travel the world

Kindergarten open house held last week

Many areas get much-needed rain

Huge Foundation opens scholarships to young men


Swihart uses radio to travel the world

By Marty Pohlman
Lloyd Swihart is a world traveler. On any given day, he may be chatting with residents of nations as distant as Japan or Argentina. The Superior resident is a globe trotter with contacts across the world and he does it all without leaving the comfort of his home. Swihart is an amateur or ham radio operator and he has the world literally at his fingertips.
Swihart is a native of Lovewell who graduated from Lovewell High School in 1954. After graduation, he went to work on irrigation construction, using his welding and iron work skills to good advantage. He obtained employment at the Ideal Cement Company plant in Superior and worked there for 14 years, leaving only when the plant was shut down in 1986. He then attended Central Community College, Hastings, where he earned a certificate in electrical technology. He started his own electrical contracting business, Swihart Electric.
He accepted a job offer at Fort Dodge, Iowa, as an electrical technician and went to work at a plant which manufactured anhydrous ammonia. He retired from that position in 2000. Complications from a hip operation left him unable to work for three years. When his health was sufficiently recovered, he revived his electrical business, Swihart Electric. Though still active in his business, he admits he has slowed down just a bit and limits his work load to small jobs.
Swihart was married to Connie for 44 years, when she died. The couple had four children: Randy and Gregory, both residents of Jacksonville, Fla., and Melodee and Clark, who both reside in Columbus, Neb. He has five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Swihart's interest in amateur radio began at an early age. His brother was serving in the navy in 1939 and sent Swihart a radio which had shortwave capabilities. He was entranced by the variety of broadcasts he was able to receive from around the world. He knew ham radio operators could converse by Morse code anywhere in the world and his passion for radio was awakened but would lie dormant for many years. Family and work came along and his radio dreams were postponed.
In 1976, he studied and obtained his novice radio license. At that time, Morse code was the only transmission method available to novice license holders. Swihart practiced and learned how to send and receive in the language of dashes and dots. In 1977, he was granted a general license which enabled his to use voice and Morse code as a communication medium. He was restricted to using certain approved radio frequency bands.He earned his Advanced license in 1992 which gave him full privileges.
Swihart has a dedicated area of his home which houses his equipment. He also carries a two meter portable device which has a range of approximately 40 miles. Several factors determine the distance an operator can transmit. The sun is a major factor. Solar flares, a frequent occurrence, can improve conditions as well as atmospheric conditions. Swihart noted it was possible to pick up the sounds of the aurora borealis or northern lights, on his equipment, as they are caused by electromagnetic waves emitted by the solar flares.
There is a repeater located on the communications tower near the Nine Mile Corner, north of Superior, which aids in disseminating his transmissions. His equipment is a mix of old and new technology. Earlier transmitters and receivers were often manufactured in one unit, referred to as transceivers. These units allowed the operator to both send and receive transmissions. Today's equipment is a product of constantly evolving technology. No longer does the radio operator have to sit, microphone before him, and converse with the receiving party. Small packets of essential information, called macros, are loaded onto a computer and sent out over the airways. Any operator who receives the macro, sent on a predetermined frequency, can then reply. When the connection is established, voice communication, or in some cases, Morse code, communication, then ensues.
A staple of the ham radio hobby is the QSL card. These are personalized cards, resembling postcards in size, which operators send to each other to confirm their conversation. The cards contain the unique call sign assigned to each operator as well as the frequency on which contact was made as well as date and time. Each nation has a unique identifying codes Japan is JA, Canada is VE, for example while operators in the United States use W, K, N or A. Swihart has a vast collection of QSL cards from across the globe, collected over the course of years. Some are simple in design while others, such as many Japanese cards, are small works of art. Operators mail the cards to each other or submit them to a central clearing house, the QSL Bureau, which then forwards the cards, in batches, to the individual operators.
Ham radio operators do far more than sit around and chat. They are often the only link with the outside world when disasters, natural or man-made, strike. More than a few tornado ravaged communities in the United States have alerted the authorities to their plight when ham radio operators had the only functioning communications equipment in their communities. In countries around the world, the radio operators have played a vital role in coordinating rescue and relief efforts, especially during the early stages of the event, when communication resources are scarce.
Swihart is a trained weather spotter and when the National Weather Service activates storm spotters, he, and his fellow hobbyists, often play a central role in relaying information from the field to the weather service. Ham operators were the only link with many communities after a recent devastating earthquake in Nepal.
Swihart reserves late afternoons and early evenings for his hobby. He finds conditions are ideal at this time of day. One unexpected by-product of his radio conversations is the effect it has on his dog, who cannot ascertain where the other voice is coming from and reacts accordingly by barking incessantly.
Swihart has an antenna attached to his house and has a 50' tower he hopes to erect in the near future. He and his fellow operators stage an annual field day in Hastings. The event serves several purposes. It allows them to demonstrate their capabilities to the public and is a valuable information resource for those interested in taking up the hobby. The operators set up equipment, using makeshift antennas, and show off the capabilities of their equipment. Several Nebraska cities host operator gatherings, called 'Ham Fests," over the course of the year. These events bring enthusiasts of all skill levels together. They have the opportunity to exchange information and a flea market offers equipment of all types for sale. A national convention is held annually at Dayton, Ohio.
Swihart enjoys conversing with newly made friends whether they be near or far. He has embraced the digital revolution. He views it as a positive step to attract new operators to the hobby. He notes that nature radio is a fast-growing hobby. He attributes the dropping of the Morse Code requirement for a license as a positive step which has made the hobby accessible to many more people. Swihart also serves as a volunteer examiner. He, in conjunction with two other volunteer examiners, are authorized to administer licensing test to individuals who want to obtain their initial license or upgrade to an advanced license.
Swihart said his conversations last from 10 minutes to more than three hours. He speaks with one friend in Oregon daily. They do not have to be concerned with downed phone lines, balky internet connections or phone outages. As he excused himself, he said he had to go meet a friend, in Brazil.

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Kindergarten open house held last week
Incoming kindergarten students and their parents converged upon Superior Elementary School last Tuesday evening. They attended an open house hosted by the school administrators and staff. The students were introduced to their teachers in two groups. Students whose surnames began with A to L were in the seven p.m. section while the remainder were in the 7:30 grouping.
Pauline Harms has begun her 42nd year of teaching and will instruct a class of 11 students. Megan Alfs enters her third year of teaching at Superior Elementary School with a class of 13 students.
Parents and students toured the classrooms and the students were assigned their cubby storage areas and shown where the rest room was located. Parents and children interacted in a scavenger hunt. They were paired up and had to locate items hidden around the room.
The event allows the students to familiarize themselves with their new environment. Parents and students are introduced to the teacher helping ease first day separation anxiety. Regular classes began Thursday.



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Many areas gets much-needed rain
While Superior has been on the short end of the measuring stick in recent days, since Saturday night some counties in the area served by the Hastings weather bureau office have received much needed moisture, for some more than enough.
After forecasts called for a high probability of rain, the weather service received a few phone calls from residents of areas that didn't get much. And so for clarification Mike Mortiz, the warning coordination meteorologist for the Hastings office, Tuesday morning commented on the recent rainfail.
The precipitation chance has nothing to do with the amount. Moritz said, "A 90 percent chance of rain doesn't mean a bunch of rain.  It just means a nine out of 10 chance of measurable rainfall. That could be 0.01 or 5 inches."  He defended the forecast and said most areas received a measureable amount.
About three-fourths of the Hastings forecast area had 0.25" or more. Six to seven counties did not receive any significant rainfall. 
About half of the forecast area had locations with one inch or more of rain. A substantial rainfall. The town of Edison received at least five inches. That was more than enough and caused flooding problems.
Republican Valley irrigators are hoping runoff from some of the heavy rainfalls will make its way into Harlan County Reservoir. On Tuesday morning, the reservoir level was 12.5 feet below the top of the conservation mark. The reservoir was considered to be only 54.5 percent full.
Lovewell Reservoir, on the hand, remains near the conservation mark. After being in flood stage much of the summer, the lake level Tuesday morning had declined to 1,581.94. The conservation pool is considered to be full at 1,582.00. The lake was said to be 95.3 percent full.


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Huge Foundation opens scholarships to young men
In the 12th Year of the DVH Scholarship Fund and the Harry and Reba Huge Foundation, the fund's and foundation's founding family will this fall invite on behalf of their father, Arthur Huge, young men to apply for the DVH and Huge Foundation scholarships. And the three sons of Dorothy Vordestrasse Huge and Arthur Huge know that their mother would welcome this expansion to consider young men from the high schools in Thayer, Nuckolls, Webster and Jefferson counties. In previous years only young women from Thayer and Nuckolls counties were eligible to apply.
Dorothy Vorderstrasse Huge, a native of the Deshler community, described herself in the last two weeks of her life as a "little farm girl." Actually, she was a beautiful, smart and talented 5' 7" package of energy and grace, who moved through her 90 years of life like the athlete she was ­ with quickness and agility and humor and determination.
Dorothy's mother and father were children of German immigrants, and her mother died in Dorothy's childbirth. She was raised by an aunt on a farm near Stoddard, in Thayer County, a town that no longer exists. Her first language was German, and only later did she learn English. Schooled in a one-room schoolhouse during the dust bowl depression, she graduated from eighth grade. In the Depression Era, young women from German immigrant farms rarely got to go to high school, and to attend college was a mirage. Dorothy met her husband, Arthur Huge, in Deshler. They were married in 1936 and lived in Thayer and Nuckolls counties for more than 25 years before moving East. Art and Dorothy Huge celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Deshler in 1986.
While Dorothy never had a real opportunity for higher education, she always believed in it and insisted upon it for her three sons ­ all college graduates. Two also earned law school degrees and the other received a master's degree. Her eight grandchildren are all college graduates, including two more lawyers and another recipient of a master's degree.
When she was on her death bed, she and her sons spoke about her own brand of steel and intellectual honesty and courage. They remembered their lives together. It was during those last days and hours that the idea of a scholarship fund for women from Nuckolls and Thayer counties began to be discussed, formulated and planned by the dying mother and her sons. Dorothy dreamed that every spring on her beloved plains of southern Nebraska she would be remembered at the high school graduations when the diplomas were passed out ­ a diploma she never got. She hoped that her fund's scholarships would help several young women to go on to college and earn their degree. She dreamed about how lovely it all would be, and wondered if she would have qualified for such a scholarship. Dorothy was assured that if she studied as hard as she made her sons study, she would surely have qualified for a scholarship. It was these thoughts that occupied her on March 8, 2004 ­ after 90 years of life.
Arthur Huge grew up in the 1920s and 1930s in Tampa, Kansas, Deshler and Kansas City. His father died while Arthur was young, and then his mother died while he was not yet out of high school. Arthur moved in the 1930s to Deshler where there were cousins. He found work on a farm. Arthur was a natural athlete, playing sandlot baseball in the summer leagues in Thayer and Nuckolls counties. And it was at a dance in Stoddard that Arthur met Dorothy, and as they both later said, they each knew this was the person they were going to marry. The marriage in 1936 lasted 60 years and produced three boys ­ Harry, Jim and Cal. Growing up, the boys had no chance to be lazy or shiftless with Dorothy providing the quickest left hand for discipline, and if that did not work, there was always the enforcer Arthur ­ all six feet four inches and 185 pounds. The boys had a choice, straight As in school, be on the athletic teams, have newspaper delivery routes, work in the family hatchery at Superior or the Safeway after school or on weekends, no back talk, no fighting, Cub and Boy Scouts, attend church and Bible school or face an encounter with their parents which they did not want.
Arthur moved from work on the farms to found (with two friends) the Spring Creek Dairy in Deshler. He moved his young family briefly to Holdrege to manage a hatchery. Soon thereafter he and Dorothy moved the family to Superior when Arthur bought a hatchery and feed store in the late 1940s. The hatchery known as Huge Hatchery was located behind their house at 1010 Commercial. That house, after extensive remodeling, is now the Huge Foundation Conference Center where the finalists for the scholarship are interviewed. The hatchery building is gone, abandoned after the hatchery failed in one of the periodic financial and economic depressions which come to the farm communities.
When the Huge Foundation bought their family home at 1010 Commercial in 2006, the collapsing hatchery building had to be torn down as it was a potential health hazard. In the late 1950s, with the hatchery gone, Arthur and Dorothy moved with Arthur's various jobs until ending up in a home on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. By then Harry was in Charleston, and Cal in Summerville, a suburb of Charleston. Jim lives in Reno, Nevada.
Arthur died in the hospital at the Medical University of South Carolina of cancer, with his family ­ Dorothy and the boys by his side. By then he had seen the fruits of his and Dorothy's hard and joyful work with the boys ­ all had college degrees, two lawyers, one nationally known educator, and all college athletes. Dorothy and he had taught and trained them well. Not only the need for education, but living examples of work ethics, of never quitting, of community involvement, of giving back. Arthur was on various school boards and the chief of the Deshler volunteer fire department. He hurt his back while fighting the terrible blaze at the Deshler broom factory. He also quietly showed them by example how to stand up for principles of friendship and loyalty, including not to discriminate. At the hatchery immediately following the war years of WWII, while feelings were still raw, the hatchery employed as a part-time consultant an American of Japanese descent. Some folks came to Arthur and asked Arthur to get rid of the "little Jap." He refused and the American of Japanese descent continued to work for the hatchery.
Dorothy and Art are buried side by side on Hilton Head Island, S.C., but because of their vision and the generosity of their sons young people of Southern Nebraska are receiving opportunities for college education.
Scholarship applications will be available in the near future from guidance counselors and this newspaper. The completed applications are to be submitted in September.

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