An Ag Open House last Wednesday in Lexington at the Dawson County Fairgrounds brought local and state officials together to celebrate National Agriculture Week.
Among the dignitaries in attendance were Gov. Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Director of Agriculture Steve Wellman. “With one in four jobs in Nebraska tied in to agriculture it is important to note if we are going to grow Nebraska we have got to grow agriculture,” noted Ricketts.
Spotlighting the hard work involved with agriculture was a tour of Lexington’s Tyson facility before the reception for Ricketts, Wellman and other Dawson County ag leaders.
The tour allowed Tyson officials to show how they process specialty beef that will be shipped to the European Union. Exports are key to keeping Nebraska’s agriculture profitable, noted Ricketts. “Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside U.S. borders. The most innovative and productive farmers and ranchers live here in Nebraska.”
Keeping Nebraska products before international consumers is important and Ricketts noted that is why he has participated in a variety of trade missions. “I was the first Governor from Nebraska to go to Canada to say thanks for being a great trading partner. Last year Nebraska exported $1.26 billion in beef, an increase of 12 percent over the previous year.”
Nebraska currently represents over half of the U.S. beef exports to China. Pork exports from Nebraska were valued at $475 million in 2017, with Argentina being a new customer, having opened their market to U.S. pork.
Agriculture continues to grow with value-added plants, added the governor. Among the early arrivals was Frito-Lay with their Gothenburg facility. More recently Costco has invested $300 million in a poultry processing facility in Fremont with 125 farmers ready to invest in poultry barns that will supply meat birds for the plant.
In all there has been $1.1 billion invested in new industries and facilities in Nebraska last year, noted Ricketts, with over half of that in ag-related industries.
Nebraska Farm Bureau’s first vice president Mark McHargue also attended and noted that with more than $6 billion in export dollars on the line, maintaining trade access to international trading partners will be key to the state’s bottom line.
Property taxes are another issue that needs to be addressed, McHargue said. “We have the fifth highest property taxes in the country,” adding he was happy that LB 947, the Nebraska Property Tax Cut and Opportunity Act had been voted out of committee. “We’d rather have a legislative fix than have to rely on a ballot,” referring to the initiative petition drive by Reform for Nebraska’s Future, which would place property tax reform on the November ballot.
Finally, Wellman praised local ag groups and producers. “Dawson County is a great example of the agricultural diversity in Nebraska. All the way from the raw product to value-added products.”
Derek Wolfe will be installed as the new Exalted Ruler of Cozad’s Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Lodge No. 2250 in Cozad on Saturday, April 7th. He will succeed Joe Libal. 
Evening festivities will start with a cocktail hour at 7 p.m. The Grand March is scheduled at 8 p.m. Later, live music by James Lee Band and dancing will be provided from 9 p.m.- 1 a.m. There will be an 11th hour toast.
Other officers who will be recognized during the evening include:
Leading Knight Luke Pinkelman
Loyal Knight Tanner Brandt
Lecturing Knight Ethan Lambert
Esquire David Niles
Chaplain Chris Allbright
Inner Guard Jake Knauss
Tiler Connor Smith
Secretary Dick Krushenisky
Treasurer Alisha Schau
Trustees Darwin Mast, Matt Smith, Kaleb Hickenbottom, 
Ryan Henry and Joe Libal
A Lancaster County District judge signed an order that 21 nursing facilities and ten assisted living facilities, in 19 counties, be placed in receivership for uninterrupted operation of the facilities, recently. 
Cozad Care and Rehabilitation Center was among the facilities directly affected. 
The facilities are owned by Cottonwood Healthcare LLC, known as Skyline, which is headquartered in New Jersey. 
The receiverships were ordered after Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson filed court proceedings seeking receiverships at the request of Courtney Phillips, the Chief Executive Officer, of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The facilities, listed below, were placed in receivership with Klaasmeyer & Associates of Omaha, the appointed Receiver.
The following nursing facilities, all operated by Skyline were placed in receivership:
-- Broken Bow Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Columbus Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Cozad Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Franklin Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Fullerton Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Hartington Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Lakeview Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Nebraska City Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Neligh Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Norfolk Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Omaha Metro Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- O’Neill Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Park Place Care and Rehabilitation Center in Grand Island.
-- Plattsmouth Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Schuyler Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Scottsbluff Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Sidney Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Sorensen Care and Rehabilitation Center in Omaha.
-- Tekamah Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Valhaven Care and Rehabilitation Center in Valley.
-- Wausa Care and Rehabilitation Center.
The following assisted living, all operated by Skyline were placed in receivership: 
-- Columbus Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Cozad Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Franklin Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Fullerton Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Hartington Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Nebraska City Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Norfolk Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Schuyler Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Scottsbluff Care and Rehabilitation Center.
-- Sidney Care and Rehabilitation Center.
DHHS was made aware today that Skyline was not able to meet its payroll. DHHS determined that receivership proceedings were necessary to protect the health and welfare of the residents of the nursing and assisted living facilities because Skyline was financially unable to pay staff and ensure the future care of the residents.
Klaasmeyer & Associates will oversee operations of the facilities as a new owner is identified and/or residents are relocated to another facility. DHHS will provide oversight throughout the process to ensure a safe and orderly transition and maintain the safety and well-being of residents. If needed, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has authorized the use of Civil Money Penalty funds for the nursing facility operations to ensure the safety and well-being of residents.
Trinity Lutheran Church, 205 E. Seventh St., will once again present their Easter gift to the community in a live dramatization of Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting of “The Last Supper.”
Performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. on both March 28 and 29 in Trinity’s sanctuary. The public is invited and no tickets are needed. A social hour follows each performance in the fellowship hall, allowing those attending to meet and greet members involved in the production.
According to the Rev. Rob Kuefner, church pastor and narrator for the production, “This living picture represents the 12 disciples who were attending the Last Supper.”
Da Vinci purposefully chose the moment Jesus said, “One of you will betray me,” to depict the story. In turn each disciple asks, “Is It I?”
Directing the 2018 edition of the pageant will be John Moore, who has been the director of the Trinity production from its beginning. He notes that great care is taken to authenticate the scene. The backdrop is that of the classical Renaissance artwork. The props, costumes and appearances of Jesus and the disciples will mirror a life-size rendition. The actors remain motionless in their poses until they speak.
“The production will be a worship service formatted within a drama,” Moore said. “I don’t think it is an understatement to say these performances will give deep spiritual meaning to the season.”
Moore estimates it took more than 100 individuals to make the initial production successful in 2003, and in the 15 years since he has been assisted annually by nearly 40 other Trinity members. They volunteer their time either as actors, musicians, vocalists, or as stage crew. Others help with costuming and makeup, as ushers and with the social hour.
The pageant is based on the soliloquies of Ernest K. Emurian and is enhanced with Bible passages and musical intervals. “Perhaps the most poignant minutes of the evening,” said Moore, “are when the Apostles serve those who choose to come forward and partake in Communion.”
The cast for this year’s production includes: Gary Petersen as Jesus; Quentin Dailey as James, the Less; Marcus Porath as Matthew; Ron Davey as Nathaniel; Eric Young as James, Brother of John; Steve Gierhan as Andrew; Ross Koch as Thomas; Keith Anderson as Judas;  Mike Thome as Thaddeus; Larry Fisher as Philip; David Steele as John; Charlie Licking as Simon the Zealot; and Blaine Petersen as Peter.