Tag Archives: Civics

A Litter-ary Opportunity

When I was a kid, my dad would drop my brother and me off at the top of the hill by our house with a couple Jirdon feed bags and have us pick up litter while we were waiting for a cattle truck. We would fill the bags on the way down the hill, picking up everything from pop bottles to diapers.

According to the “Star Herald,” tourism to the Scotts Bluff National Monument in 2022 added $15 million to our local economy and supported 179 local jobs. This number probably overlaps a little with other tourism opportunities like Oregon Trail Days, or the High Plains (Rat Rod) Riot. With local stops on the Nebraska Passport and other promotions throughout Scotts Bluff County, a lot of visitors drive through our area.

Chasing balloons or bikes or ball players brings a lot of families to our community. What nicer way to greet our visitors than with clean roadsides? This would further show off our beautiful landscape for travelers as well as residents.

If you are interested in picking up some litter on your daily walk, you can check out a litter kit from the Gering Library. Each kit contains a bucket, some bags, gloves, a very fashionable safety vest, a scale, and a litter-picker-upper stick. 

If you would like to make a longer term commitment to a cleaner Scotts Bluff County, you can contact Keep Scottsbluff Gering Beautiful (KSGB) and they will set you up with a highway to keep clean. The director, Cassidy Baum, can be reached at 308-632-4649 for more information. KSGB will even pay you to do it!

A group I belong to recently adopted a highway on the edge of town, and we went out to pick up litter last weekend. We walked half of our designated road before we called it a day. Nine volunteers spent three and a half hours picking up over 400 pounds of litter. It had been a while since this stretch of road was cleaned up, and it was a mess. We picked up tires, an entire set of clothing, home decor, drug paraphernalia and an air-pistol, along with hundreds and hundreds of little shooter alcohol bottles. 

On a side note, I did some research and discovered that most of these tiny bottles of “Fireball” sold in gas stations are not actually Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey. They are labeled to mislead people into buying a malt liquor beverage rather than the original distilled spirit. Either way, these companies are making a killing and should be ashamed of the behavior of their consumers.

I grew up in the days of Woodsy Owl, who said “Give a hoot – don’t pollute!” I think it was more the experience of dad making us pick up litter than the spokes-owl, but this weekend reinforced my determination to not contribute to garbage in our ditches. I encourage you to take advantage of our litter pick-up kits and keep Scotts Bluff County beautiful.


“That’s the trouble with a politician’s life, somebody is always interrupting it with an election.” The great Will Rogers had a lot to say about politicians and elections. Speaking of elections, we have one coming up November 8. Are you registered to vote?

It seems like voting is one of those rights we are proud to have as a society but don’t exercise as often as we should. Nebraska has 93 counties. As you read through this column, I invite you to make a mental guess as to how Scotts Bluff County ranks in Nebraska voter turnout. Voter turnout is the percentage of voters who voted.

If all politics are local, as they say, this election seems particularly important. Scotts Bluff County has a number of open seats on school boards, and city councils. Our state representative seat is open as well. These are the people who can make a direct impact on our lives.

Do you need more information about who is running for office, and where they stand? The library subscribes to the Star Herald and the Omaha World Herald. You can come in and read through the papers to learn what candidates are saying. You can also access the Star Herald online through Newsbank from the comfort of your home. If you need help with this, call the Gering Library and we will be happy to walk you through the process. When the time comes for presidential elections, we will carry books written by and about candidates from both parties.

The polls are open November 8 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. If you don’t know where to vote, contact the County Clerk’s office at 308 436-6600. You can also find a lot of information on their website, including information about polling sites that have moved. Go to scottsbluffcounty.org and then look for “Election Office” on the menu to the left.

According to Daniel Bennett of Civic Nebraska, “One of the best ways to ensure turnout is to request a mail-in ballot or absentee ballot. You get to take your time making your selections and researching candidates and [you can] securely mail or drop off your ballot at a time that’s convenient for you.” 

You can stop by the county clerk’s office in the county administration building (1825 10th Street, Gering) to request an absentee ballot between now and the election. You can also find Scotts Bluff County online and click on “Election Office” to learn how to request a mail-in ballot. You will want to get your request in the mail in plenty of time for the county clerk to receive it by October 28. The ballot dropbox is directly west of the administration building door in the parking lot.

October 11 is the first day you can vote early at the county administration building. Sometimes it’s just easier to stop by and get it done while you are thinking about it.

You can register to vote at the county administrative building from now up to October 28. If you want to register online, you will need to get that done by October 21.

Among Nebraska’s 93 counties, Scotts Bluff County ranks 91st in voter turnout. Ninety-first from the top. Several voter precincts in the county draw over 70% voter turnout. Unfortunately, many are lower, causing our voter turnout in the last two presidential years to hover around 59-64%. These numbers come from the Scotts Bluff County Clerk’s office.

If I had the opportunity to have dinner with anyone living or dead, I would choose Will Rogers. He was sort of a combination of Johnny Carson and Baxter Black. Rogers probably leaned towards one political party, but he had a lot to say about both sides. Here are a couple of  gems: “[E]lections are a good deal like marriages, there’s no accounting for anyone’s taste.”& “The short memories of American voters is what keeps our politicians in office.”