Gavins Point Dam to celebrate 50 years

By Deanna Anderson
Cedar County News
ATEN — Gavins Point Dam Project will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the dam’s completion this summer.
A ceremony commemorating this historic event will be held on Aug. 4.
There will be at least one Hartington resident at the reunion for the people who worked on the dam during its construction or since its completion.
“I received an invitation a couple of weeks ago,” said Francis Lammers who helped pour concrete for the construction of Gavins Point Dam.
Lammers said he will be going to the reunion, which will be at the Observatory at 6 p.m. Aug. 4.”
Lammers worked for three years on the construction of Gavins Point. He worked with Massman & Jones Construction Company on the concrete crew.
“I was on the concrete crew from day one to the last day,” said Lammers. ”We poured over 500 cubic yards every shift.”
Lammers said there  were three shifts. The  first two shifts poured concrete and the third shift cleaned up, he said. Work on the project was done seven days a week 24 hours a day, he said.
Lammers said they were done pouring concrete by the fall of 1954. He left that fall with the construction company and worked in several southern states on various other dam projects.
“It was two years later before the dam was finished,” said Lammers. “There was a lot of other work that had to be completed. There was a lot of electrical work that had to be done yet. There were a large number of people who worked on the dam.”
Ground was broken at the dam site in the spring of 1952 in a ceremony attended by Lieutenant General Lewis Pick, then Chief of Engineers and the Governors of South Dakota and Nebraska.
Construction began immediately and in September of 1956 the power plant began producing electricity for customers. The total cost of the dam totaled just under $50 million. Yearly benefits from the dam are estimated at $35 million dollars.

Gavins Point Dam was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1944, commonly called the Pick-Sloan Plan.
Under this plan, Gavins Point was designed primarily to provide a steady outflow of water to assist navigation on the lower Missouri River.
In addition to navigation, the project provides flood control, generation of hydroelectric power, irrigation, improved water supply, fish and wildlife management and recreation.
In the past 50 years, the Lewis and Clark Lake area has grown into one of the most popular recreation spots in the Great Plains.

Progress is being made quickly on new bridge

YANKTON, S.D. — So far, so good. That’s the consensus of people involved with the construction of a new bridge replacing the aging Meridian Bridge that connects Yankton with northeast Nebraska.
“I think we’re on schedule, possibly slightly ahead,’’ says Dan Timmons, vice president of the Discovery Bridge’s contractor, Jensen Construction.
Work is underway on more than two miles of road improvements — including a rerouting of U.S. Highway 81.
As earth movers rumbled, workers near the shore prepared to pour concrete down a shaft on the first of five bridge piers. The five shafts on the first pier will be 80-100 feet deep, said Timmons.
Work also has begun on the second pier, and the remaining piers will be built by workers and equipment on barges.
Many years of planning have paid off, said Bob Wiebelhaus, Nebraska Department of Roads manager for the project. “So far, everyone has been pleased with our environmental stewardship,’’ he said.
“We have a good set of guidelines to follow, and we know what we’re supposed to do. We’re working hard to do it,’’ Timmons said.
Earlier, Jensen Construction officials said they planned to finish the bridge by the end of 2008 — a full year ahead of what the Nebraska Department of Roads had projected.
Part of the reason for the contractor’s optimism for finishing the bridge within 18 months is its experienced crew, which built the nearby Vermillion-Newcastle bridge over the Missouri and the Chief Standing Bear Bridge near Niobrara.
Timmons said his aim to complete it ahead of schedule has not changed.
“I’m still hopeful,’’ he said. “Hopeful is an accurate word.’’
The contractor’s optimism has put pressure on Yankton leaders to speed up plans for the city’s downtown to complement the conversion of the old bridge to a pedestrian and bicycling path. The South Dakota Department of Transportation has $2.9 million budgeted for the process, which will begin once the Discovery Bridge is operational.

Trio of country stars to hit Cedar County Fair stage

By Rob Dump
Cedar County news
HARTINGTON  —  Country music will fill the air this week when the 126th Cedar County Fair opens.
The Fair opens Wednesday night with team penning. The midway, 4-H judging and grandstand entertainment all get underway Thursday.
Two big nights of country music are planned for this year’s fair. The country group ‘Heartland’ will be here Thursday. The group’s song, “I Loved Her First,” hit number one on the charts earlier this year. It is still ranked this week at number 20 on the  Billboard charts.
Heartland member Keith West describes the Heartland sound as a true mixture of styles.
“If you take some Beach Boys and a little Alabama and put them in a cup and shake them up, you get the Heartland sound,” he said.
West said the group’s show is power-packed.
“We like putting on a very lively show that might make you think back to the 80’s rock days—maybe not as crazy,” he said.
Long-time country favorite Sawyer Brown will hit the stage Saturday night.
Sawyer Brown first hit the national stage when they won Star Search in 1984. The next year three songs hit the charts, ‘Leona,’ ‘Step that Step,’ and ‘Betty’s Being Bad.’ In all, they have recorded 17 albums.
The group is also well known in Nebraska for the song, ‘The Nebraska Song.’ The song was written by lead singer Mark Miller after the tragic death of University of Nebraska quarterback Brooke Beringer.
Vaught is known for
his high energy shows

By Rob Dump
Cedar County news
HARTINGTON  — Area residents have heard hit songs from two of the three country music acts that will hit the stage here during this week’s Cedar County Fair.
The third act — relatively unknown to most area residents — is just on the verge of hitting the big time, though.
After five years of touring across the country performing over 200 shows a year, Phil Vaught is about to sign a new recording contract with a major record label.
Vaught’s talent will be showcased when he does two performances at the Cedar County Fair. He will open Thursday night for country stars ‘Heartland.’  He will also be the opening act Saturday night for ‘Sawyer Brown.’
Vaught said he’s really enjoyed making music for fans, but feels he is established enough, now, to move to the next stage in his career.
“I was very careful to not expose myself to the business of music here in town while I was out on the road making a living,” Vaught said in a Monday phone interview from his Nashville area home. “When  the time came to think about a recording deal. I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t interfere with my livelihood.”
Vaught said a lot of musicians move to Nashville and work odd jobs and earn little money while trying to find their big break.
“It seems the standard is that you move to Nashville to make it big, then you starve waiting for your big break. I didn’t want it to be that way,” he said. “I came in and said, ‘hey I’ve been doing 200 shows a year and I can make it.”
The 28 year-old western Kentucky native said he enjoys putting on live shows and opening for such big name acts as Big and Rich and the Wreckers.
It is time to hit the studio and lay down a few tracks to see if he can’t take his career in a different direction, though.
Vaught has earned a reputation during his five years of touring as a musician that can fire up a crowd with his high energy performances.
His own brand of country music, which sounds a bit like the country group ‘Blue County,’ is only part of the act, though.
He can also handle a rock tune with the best of them. He enjoys doing covers of hits by Journey and Steve Perry.
Vaught first began performing hymnals with his siblings at his father’s Baptist church. His brothers taught him how to play guitar and he also learned to play the drums.

By the time he was in high school, he had graduated to playing local and regional clubs.
Vaught said music has always been a part of his life. For a few years he worked in a factory, but he missed the music, so he gave that up and began touring instead.
“I just love getting up and sharing my music with people,” he said.
Local audiences will have two chances to see him perform this week. He opens for Heartland Thursday and he will open for Sawyer Brown Saturday.

Mathiason’s life is a beehive of activity

By Deanna Anderson
Cedar County News
HARTINGTON — Jay Mathiason has come a long way in 11 years.
Mathiason started with six bee hives in 1996. He has since expanded and created Jz Bzzz.
Mathiason has a building in Coleridge he works out of, but he put his hives in northern Cedar Couny, closer to the river.
“I look for land that might be in the 10 years program to set the hives on,” said Mathiason. “The bees have to have flowers. Sweet clover and alfalfa make the best white honey.”
In the fall the bees will use the pollen from goldenrod and other wild flowers.
The taste of the honey varies according to the flowers the bees use, he said.
“The honey from wildflowers and goldenrod does not taste as good but that honey will stay in the hives. The bees eat it during the winter to survive,” said Mathiason. “I also feed them corn syrup in the fall and spring.”
There is more work and travel than one might imagine with beekeeping.
“There is more expense with bees than people realize — especially now that fuel cost has gone up,” Mathiason said.
Bees need a nectar and pollen source throughout the year.
Mathiason’s bees are taken to California for the winter months. During February they are in the almond groves. By March they will be in southeast Texas.
There are killer bees in the wild in Texas but they do not usually cause any problems, he said.
Honey is collected only once a year, usually in late July or early August.
Seventy pounds of honey per hive is the average for the state,  Mathiason said.
The bees live in the hives and deposit the honey into a honey super.
The honey super, which is like a flat tray with a wooden frame around it, has a plastic-like foundation in it.
The bees produce a wax and build a honeycomb using the plastic foundation as the starting point. The bees deposit honey in the cells of the comb.
It is after the bees cap the honey with an additional layer of wax that Mathiason pulls the super in for extraction.
Mathiason brings the supers to his building in Coleridge where he first uses a machine to break the cap loose.
“The cap has to be broken loose to get to the honey,” he said. “Then I put the frames in the extractor and it spins the honey and the wax to the walls of the extractor.”
Next, it goes to a heated barrel and it is pumped into a wax separator. The honey comes out into a honey tank and is put into ‘food grade’ barrels to sell at wholesale prices. The wax is put in barrels and will be melted later.
Mathiason will sell the wax or trade it for supplies for his business.
“We sell the raw honey to packers,” said Mathiason. “Ours goes to Golden Heritage Foods.
From the location in Coleridge the honey from Jz Bzzz can end up anywhere across the U.S.
Jz Bzzz can sell honey on a farmers market and there are always quart jars filled with the delicious honey for sale at his sisters’ restaurant, Tooties in Hartington.
“Bacteria will not grow in raw honey,” said Mathiason. “Honey never spoils unless something else is mixed with it. It can get sugary, though.”
Since Mathiason extracts honey he has to be registered with the federal government.
His hives and every barrel of honey have to be labeled.
“After 911 we had to register our honey so the fFederal government can track all food to its origin,” said Mathiason.
Beekeepers or apiarists do have a few obstacles to overcome in their business. They have to keep the hives free of pests and disease.
Mites are a big problem. A mite can get on a bee’s back, he said.
Last year, Mathiason also saw the deadly affects from Colony Collapse Disorder, which is a fairly new disease.
“The scientists are testing to see what it is. It could be caused by a chemical build-up in the bees,” Mathiason said. “The disease is across all of the U.S.”
The weather can also have an impact on beekeepers.
Bees normally prefer hot dry weather—when the weather is rainy they do not fly as much.
Northeast Nebraska is a good place to raise bees – one of the best according to Mathiason. The number of beekeepers has been dwindling in this area over the last few years, however, he said.
“Sweet Clover and other clovers used to be plentiful in this area. You don’t see as much clover growing here anymore. The crops are bigger in South Dakota and North Dakota. There is more clover because there is less spraying,” said Mathiason.
Other than a hat and veil, Mathiason just wears regular clothing when he is working with bees.
Mathiason said he has been stung by the bees a lot of times.
Other than the pain and swelling from his share of bee stings, Mathiason enjoys beekeeping. It is nice to work out in the country side, he said.
Mathiason attended school in Laurel and lived several years in Oklahoma.
Jay and his wife Carlene have lived in Coleridge for the last 15 years. Both of their children, Jayson and Courtney, graduated from Coleridge High School.
Jayson helps his Dad out with the beekeeping business.
Local man enjoys living life in a miniature style

By Deanna Anderson
Cedar County News
HARTINGTON — Carroll Neuhalfen has been building toys and miniature machinery ever since he was a young boy.
Neuhalfen’s latest creation is a one-third scale model semi-truck which he can actually drive.
The semi-truck, which is about five feet high, runs on a two cylinder motor. The horn, lights and flashers all work although the CB aerial is just for show.
Neuhalfen said he doesn’t spend a lot of money in building his miniature machinery.
The bits and pieces he uses can hardly be recognized as to what they were originally.
The frame for the tractor is a lawn mower frame which Neuhalfen stretched out and added another axle to. The two silver exhaust pipes on the tractor are made from discarded vacuum cleaner pipes. The hubcaps are made from large size metal buttons that you would normally cover with fabric.
The trailer is just like the real thing only smaller; it has hoppers that work, a crank-over tarp on top, a ladder and flashers.
“I worked on it on-and-off for about a year,” said Neuhalfen.
Neuhalfen’s first big project took him close to 14 years to build.
The replica of a 4400 John Deere combine, which is a one-half scale model, has all the working parts of a combine.
The miniature version has hydrostatic drive, an electric clutch on the header and power steering.
He recycled tires from a wheelbarrow, a lawn mower handle and various other parts to complete the small combine.
“It took me a long time to find some of the parts,” said Neuhalfen. “The one thing that did cost a little more was when I purchased the belts when I was done.”
Neuhalfen has also constructed a miniature replica of a 1975 Chevy pickup and a 1988 Chevy two-ton straight truck.
“I built the ‘75 Chevy pickup in the early 90’s. I had one exactly like it; I could look at it as I was building the miniature one,” said Neuhalfen.
The ’88 Chevy truck has a twin cylinder hoist under the box. The box is metal and the cab is made from wood.
Growing up on a farm by Coleridge sparked Neuhalfen’s interest in machinery and tractors.
When he was around nine or ten years of age he was already making toy-sized machinery.
“I have been doing this most of my life; I have always been mechanical minded,” Neuhalfen said. “I built smaller stuff when I was little; I built my own little tractors.”
All four of Neuhalfen’s spectacular replicas will be on display at the Knox County Fair this year.
“They asked me to come. I will be there for four days; the fair is August 9-12th,” said Neuhalfen. “My mother was born and raised in Bloomfield; that is the connection.”
Since Neuhalfen’s display will be in a building at the fair he will be taking along his two model airplanes which he will hang from the ceiling.
The bigger piper cub plane has a wing span of 11-1/2 feet but only weighs 28 pounds. The motor, which came from a snow blower, weighs 10 pounds itself. Neuhalfen used an engine from a weed eater for the smaller plane.
The model airplanes Neuhalfen built are as complex as his other miniatures.
Down the road he will be testing his planes for flying by using a remote control.
“You have to know where the balance point is when you are building them,” Neuhalfen said. “In the Piper Cub there is a trap door to drop a parachute out of. I used to be a paratrooper when I was in the military.”
When Carroll and his wife Shirley built their home and moved into Hartington a little over three years ago, they left a space in the basement for a workshop for the model planes.
“When it is 20 below outside this is where I work,” he said.
Neuhalfen plans to either be down in the basement or out in the shed in his back yard tinkering around for a few more years.
He has already started building a miniature tandem disk; after that will be a 1944 Massey Harris.