THE SUPERIOR EXPRESS

Oct. 16, 2014

 

 Subsbcribe Special Features Headline News More News Photos Advertising Sports Obituaries  Weekly Columns

 

 

 

NEWS!

'Superior East' receiving first loads of corn

Vultures 'asked' to move from downtown Superior

School board questions value of testing programs

Oral arguments held for Republican River as water concerns continue

The Cyber Express-Record

Digital reproductions of the mailed pages of The Superior Express and Jewell County Record newspapers are organized by date of publication. Click the link below:

The Superior Express 16 October 2014

THE SUPERIOR EXPRESS and JEWELL CO NEWS Complete Editions Pages

To visit The Superior Express archive of back issues maintained by Smalltown Papers please select this link: http://spx.stparchive.com/

For more news, click here.

This is the link to video taken by The Express Staff and friends which we suspect may be of interest to our readers. The most recent posts are near the top of the list. If you let the video continue after it ends, other new ones will play automatically. Or

'Superior East' receiving first loads of corn

Tuesday morning, workers were swarming over the sprawling construction site that is the Aurora Cooperative's Superior East grain multiplex. The first loads of grain were received at the elevator which is located on an industrial site that is larger than the average Nuckolls County farm of a century ago. Scheduled for completion in mid-November, the facility will be able to store 5.8 million bushels of grain in three ground piles and eight silos. The multiplex will be handling only corn this harvest season as the silos will not be ready for use until mid-November.
The first truckload of corn to be unloaded at the new complex pulled into the probe and scale station Tuesday. It then proceeded to an area next to one of the two one million bushel capacity ground piles to be unloaded. The loaded truck pulled up to a metal ramp and the corn was dumped over a grate. A Lemar conveyor system, capable of moving 25,000 bushels of corn per hour, made quick work of the contents of the semi-trailer. The truck then went to an outbound scale for weighing. The system is capable of unloading 12 semi- trucks per hour. The ground piles have a fly ash bottom. When the piles are filled, a large tarpaulin is placed over the top of the product. Large fans installed in the concrete sides of the pile help hold the covers down by providing suction.
As noon approched, a steady stream of trucks were entering the weigh area and then driving to the ground pile to be unloaded. Harvest is well underway and yields were reported to be high on dry land fields. The first shuttle train is scheduled to be loaded at the new elevator about Dec. 1. The elevator is part of a development the cooperative is calling Superior East.

To return to the top of the page and choose another story, click here.

 


Vultures 'asked' to move from downtown Superior

There have been reports of firecrackers going off in Superior this week but young punks with contraband firecrackers are not to blame.
The fireworks heard this week are part of a planned effort to relocate a flock of Turkey Vultures which had taken up residence on the cell phone tower at Fourth and Kansas.
Perhaps as many as 100 of the migratory birds have been using the tower nightly as their "motel."
Two wildlife agents employed by the federal government, Ron Fryda and Jared Fullerton along with Dave Crecelius, a Windstream Communications employee, were involved this week in the relocation effort.
Fryda said he had previously successfully relocated vultures from a woman's yard in Nelson to the creek but he noted, "They are easy to relocate, you don't know where they will go."
A few years ago a flock of vultures began roosting at the former Koch Elevator on East First Street. Now they are also roosting on the towers of the former Farmers Union Co-op Mill elevator on east First Street.
The cell phone tower near the center of town has a been a popular roosting place in recent years. However, the birds' choice of locations has not been popular with the neighbors or the phone company. The birds leave corrosive "calling cards" which the phone company doesn't like and when the wind conditions are correct the calling cards were bombing visitors entering and leaving the nearby United Methodist Church.
Fryda said the area around the cell phone tower resembled a "chicken coop."
Probably because of their frequent roll as a movie prop, some Superior residents were concerned the birds might attack a pet or small child. However, those fears are not thought to be realistic as vultures do not feed on live prey.
The birds are protected by federal migratory bird regulations and not even the government agents are allowed to shoot them. Instead the agents have been using pyrotechnic devices to scare them away from the tower. When fired, the shells sound much like exploding, high powered firecrackers.
Fryda expects relocating the birds will be an ongoing process because of the tower's popularity.
While he has never counted more than 50 of the birds roosting on the tower at one time, some Superior residents report having counted nearly 100.
Of the migratory birds, the only ones that can be legally shot and killed are sparrows, starlings and pigeons.
Curious about vultures, we found the following information in our research:
While in some areas of the United States the Turkey Vultures are year-around residents, here they migrate in the spring and fall. More than a million are through to moving through Central America and in some cases as far as south as Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador each year. After having their numbers reduced by DDT, the vulture population has, in recent years, been on the upswing.
The birds look large but Fryda said they are mostly feathers. Most weigh between four and five pounds but they have a wing span between five and six feet.
The Turkey Vulture uses its sense of smell to locate carrion. The part of its brain responsible for processing smells is particularly large, compared to other birds. Its heightened ability to detect odors-it can detect just a few parts per trillion-allows it to find dead animals below a forest canopy.
The Turkey Vulture maintains stability and lift at low altitudes by holding its wings up in a slight dihedral (V-shape) and teetering from side to side while flying. It flies low to the ground to pick up the scent of dead animals.
Vultures in the Americas look a lot like the vultures in Europe, Asia, and Africa, with broad wings, bare heads, and the habit of eating dead meat. But surprisingly, they're in different taxonomic families, meaning they're not particularly closely related.
The word vulture likely comes from the Latin vellere, which means to pluck or tear. Its scientific name, Cathartes aura, is far more pleasant. It means either "golden purifier" or "purifying breeze."
In cowboy movies the bad guy usually threatens to leave the hero in the desert for the buzzards, meaning the vultures. Although buzzard is a colloquial term for vulture in the U.S., the same word applies to several hawks in Europe.
At night, they roost in trees, on rocks, and other high secluded spots.
Turkey Vultures eat carrion, which they find largely by their excellent sense of smell. Mostly they eat mammals but are not above snacking on reptiles, other birds, amphibians, fish, and even invertebrates. They prefer freshly dead animals, but often have to wait for their meal to soften in order to pierce the skin. They are deft foragers, targeting the softest bits first and are even known to leave aside the scent glands of dead skunks. Thankfully for them, vultures appear to have excellent immune systems, happily feasting on carcasses without contracting botulism, anthrax, cholera, or salmonella. Unlike their Black Vulture relatives, Turkey Vultures almost never attack living prey.
Their clutch size ranges from one to three eggs.
Turkey Vultures don't build full nests. They may scrape out a spot in the soil or leaf litter, pull aside obstacles, or arrange scraps of vegetation or rotting wood. Once found, many of these nest sites may be used repeatedly for a decade or more.
Turkey Vultures nest in rock crevices, caves, ledges, thickets, mammal burrows and hollow logs, fallen trees, abandoned hawk or heron nests, and abandoned buildings. These nest sites are typically much cooler (by 13°F or more) than surroundings, and isolated from human traffic or disturbance. While they often feed near humans, Turkey Vultures prefer to nest far away from civilization.
The Turkey Vulture's distinctive slow, teetering flight style probably helps the bird soar at low altitudes, where it is best able to use its nose to find carrion. At other times they may soar high on thermals and form mixed flocks or kettles. On the ground they move with ungainly hops.
Outside of the breeding season, Turkey Vultures form roosts of dozens to a hundred individuals. When Turkey Vultures court, pairs perform a "follow flight" display where one bird leads the other through twisting, turning, and flapping flights for a minute or so, repeated over periods as long as 3 hours. Migrating flocks can number in the thousands. At carcasses, several Turkey Vultures may gather but typically only one feeds at a time, chasing the others off and making them wait their turn.
Turkey Vultures have been increasing in number across North America since 1966, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 18 million with 28 percent spending some part of the year in the U.S., 9 percent in Mexico, and 1 percent breeding in Canada. Turkey Vultures were threatened by side-effects of the pesticide DDT. Today they are among the most common large carnivorous birds in North America. However, because they live on rotting meat they can fall victim to poisons or lead in dead animals.
Turkey Vultures are accustomed to living near humans and snacking off of our leavings. You will often see them in farm fields or hanging out next to the road. However, they are not likely to be in your backyard unless something has died.

To return to the top of the page and choose another story, click here.


School board questions value of testing programs

Members of the Superior Board of Education met Monday evening. After excusing Darren Willet, an absent board member, Allison White (music instructor) addressed the board on behalf of the staff family and community committee. She distributed the results of the pre-kindergarten through sixth grade parent survey on students reading at home.
White said, "The survey shows as we get into the older elementary classes reading at home dramatically decreases."
The primary focus of the meeting focused on district goals.
Supt. Isom is working to develop room in the current buildings to house up to 54 preschool children and negotiate a cooperative program with Head Start. Board members received a space utilization review as part of the process and asked several questions about how specific areas of the building are currently used. Included were the Little Theatre, Family Consumer classroom, the libraries and the elementary technology room. Superintendent Isom will bring information from Rule 10 on requirements for library space to the next meeting.
Peggy Meyer asked if the goals list developed by Board members during the financial workshops last spring would ever be addressed. She specifically asked about hiring an elementary guidance counselor.
During the years Superior was part of the South Central Unified School District (Guide Rock, Sandy Creek, Lawrence-Nelson and Superior) an elementary guidance counselor came to the elementary school and worked primarily with character development. Otherwise the elementary school has not had a guidance counselor.
Meyer pointed out the student population has changed. Hoins agreed.
He said, "Our free and reduced lunch students composed approximately 30 percent of our student body then and now we are at slightly more than 50 percent."
Jim Miller, board member, said, "We talk about budget, material and buildings, but we need to think about what is best for students."
Hoins again told board members he would rather have two full-time instructors for each elementary class than a guidance counselor. Prior to the unification, some classrooms were a combination of two grades with one teacher.
Bob Cook, junior-senior high principal, and Hoins planned to attend a meeting to explore becoming part of a Positive Behavior Intervention System, something they called PBIS. PBIS consortium is sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Education. School districts must be accepted to participate. Hoins said, "PBIS is for kindergarten through sixth or sometimes eight grade. All classrooms have the same rules with the hope of developing behavioral skills students tend to be lacking. The program's success depends on at least an 80 percent staff buy-in and is expected to take four to five years to implement."
Principals reported on the 2014 NeSA reading, math and science results with the 2013 results. The test was given last April. Prior to reviewing the results, Hoins cautions board members to not put too much emphasis on the tests. "One or two different students in a class can dramatically affect the average when a small number of students are involved."
Hoins highlighted the scores that were greater than or equal to the state average. Those scores at the elementary level were primarily in math and science. The same trend followed through senior high. With math scores tending to be slightly higher than the state average and reading scores slightly lower.
Meyer said, "If reading has been our school improvement goal for seven years, shouldn't we be seeing better reading scores?"
The ACT scores for the past five years were also reviewed. However only about half of the Class of 2014 took the ACT.
The ACT consists of curriculum-based test of educational development in English, mathematics, reading and science designed to measure the skills needed for success in first year college course work. The NeSA (Nebraska State Accountability) tests are intended to measure, report and compare student performance on academic content standard in all Nebraska public school buildings.
Matt Sullivan said, "I am tired of tests that are meaningless. We need to know if we are making progress."
An extensive discussion followed concerning testing. Administrators seemed to like the Mapps test given in both the spring and fall. However, the district has not used them long enough to have a trend.
Sullivan suggested the district make taking the ACT test a graduation requirement. Administrators reported the idea is being tried in other school districts. More than 75 percent of Nebraska students take the ACT. Nebraska ranks number one in number of students taking the tests.
However, last year only half of the Superior Class of 2014 took the tests. Their scores were as follows (state average in parenthesis): English 21.6 (21.3), math 24.1 (21.1), reading 20.8 (22.0), science 23.3 (21.7) composite: 22.6 (21.7)
It was estimated to cost the district $1,500 to provide the test for all seniors.
Board members also asked administrators to investigate ways to use the money in the cooperative fund. It is thought the money from the fund can only be used to hire staff shared with other districts. Otherwise the money withdrawn from the fund may decrease state aid.
The only action items were to approve the consent agenda (minutes of the previous meeting, treasurer's report, school activity fund report, receipts summary report and control budget report); approve September expenditures of $451,313.61 from the general fund, update the asthma protocol and recognize the Superior Education Association as the sole negotiation for the 2016-17 school years.

To return to the top of the page and choose another story, click here.


Oral arguments held for Republican River as water concerns continue
By Angela Hensel,
Nebraska News Service
In an on-going debate that has altered local water management practices, the battle over Republican River water allocations once again reached the U.S. Supreme Court for oral arguments on Tuesday.
Kansas is suing Nebraska for a second time arguing that Nebraska has taken more than the allocated amounts of water it was designated in the Republican River Compact. The first lawsuit was in 1998 and reached a settlement in 2003.
"It's a forever-long process," said Jack Russell, manager of the Middle Republican Natural Resources District.
The current case argues whether Nebraska violated the compact and took more than its share in 2005 and 2006. The lawsuit was heard by a Special Master last November who said Nebraska should award Kansas $5.5 million in damages for violating the compact, but rejected Kansas' claims that it should be awarded $80 million in damages and that Nebraska should shut off more than 300,000 irrigation wells along the Republican River.
Most water lawsuits that occur between states are sent to the U.S. Supreme Court and are first heard by a Special Master, who is appointed by the court.
The Republican River basin drains a 24,900 square mile watershed covering parts of northeastern Colorado, southern Nebraska and northern Kansas. To help with water management, the three states created a Republican River Compact in 1943 that established river allocations. Based on the compact, 11 percent of the water in the Republican River basin is allocated to Colorado, 40 percent is allocated to Kansas and 49 percent is allocated to Nebraska.
Despite the compact, the intercon-nectedness of surface water and groundwater, along with other factors, has complicated the agreements. Because the river flows eastward, Kansas has often had to deal with water amounts less than what was previously allocated, which is what has led to the lawsuits.
"Kansas keeps on suing Nebraska at the drop of a hat," said Dave Aiken, University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor and water law specialist.
In the 1998 lawsuit, Nebraska was forced to reach a settlement with Kansas after the U.S. Supreme Court decided that groundwater management was part of the compact and Nebraska had exceeded its allocations because of excessive groundwater pumping.
That decision and the continued legal pressure have forced Nebraska's Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) to adapt to keep up with the demands of Kansas.
"From the policy perspective, the issues in the Republican River basin changed the dynamics for a lot of things," said Dean Edson, executive director of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts.
After the 2002 lawsuit, the state legislature established a Water Policy Task Force, which was designed to come up with integrated water management plans for NRDs that took into account the relationship between surface water and groundwater.
One of the most recent changes with NRDs is the ability to shut off wells. The three Republican River NRDs have the authority to shut off wells in a dry year if they can't find any other way to get enough water to Kansas, although none of them have done that yet, Aiken said.
"Within the last year or two the NRDs have turned a corner," Aiken said.
In addition to required management practice, the Republican River NRDs have also implemented a number of voluntary practices, such as using soil moisture monitors and converting irrigated farmland acres to dryland, Russell said.
Despite the efforts in Nebraska to increase water flow in the Republican River down to Kansas, the debate continues, forcing the Republican River NRDs to remain focused on compact compliance.
"There really isn't an option to not meet the compact," Russell said.
As both sides prepared for the oral arguments, Edson said he thinks with the recent efforts of the NRDs and with the Special Master's decision, it may be a step in the right direction and a signal that the court has recognized Nebraska's efforts to improve water management in the Republican River basin.
But with the continuing issues of water scarcity, Aiken said he believes no matter the outcome of the current lawsuit, struggles over Republican River allocations will continue in the future.
"Kansas is going to keep the heat on," Aiken said.

To return to the top of the page and choose another story, click here.

To see more news, click here.