Apr 13 2021
** Audio is not available of this week’s column**
I spent the last two weeks traveling the length of our state, meeting and talking with dozens of Nebraskans. I was so grateful for this chance to hear directly from such a wide range of people. Congress can always use more Nebraska common sense, and these conversations are one way I bring that common sense with me to Washington.
I spoke about my first week of the state work period in last week’s column. I visited Blair, Omaha, and Lincoln in eastern Nebraska. Most recently, I visited western and central Nebraska.
My first stop was in Chadron, where I visited a favorite coffee shop, The Bean and Broker, and spoke with a number of residents. Next, I was in Alliance, where I toured the Greenhouse in the Snow. Owner Russ Finch has built an incredible indoor greenhouse next to his house, where he grows a wide variety of plants entirely indoors. He also sells do-it-yourself greenhouse kits, which allow anyone to start their own indoor garden and produce business, no matter where they live.
After spending time in Alliance, I drove to Scottsbluff, where I stopped by the new SkyView Drive-In Theater on my way into town. The Midwest Historical Theater hasn’t returned to their normal schedule yet, and even though they hope to do so soon, they recently had the great idea to show their movies outside. This open-air theater will be such a great attraction for western Nebraska.
I also had the chance to visit the Panhandle’s first brewery, Flyover Brewing Company. They proudly use equipment from Lincoln, malt made in Nebraska, and other locally grown ingredients to produce one-of-a-kind beers that truly are born in Nebraska.
Big Red Nebraska Popcorn was also a favorite stop. They offer their delicious popcorn in Scottsbluff and beyond, including to local elementary schools for their after-school programs. Owners Pam and Brian Kilthau even let me make my own mix, which was a first for me.
While out west, I also met with members of the Keith County Chamber of Commerce, who have gone above and beyond to help local businesses during the pandemic. They didn’t let COVID get them down and turned to innovative programs to encourage people to support companies in the Keith County community.
In central Nebraska, I visited Mac’s Creek Winery and Brewery, a family-owned business that’s proud to be the second-largest winery in Nebraska. Their cooperation with the local government in Lexington is a model of how public-private partnerships can benefit everyone involved – and they also make one of the best root beers I’ve ever had.
Additionally, I had the privilege of stopping in Kearney to visit UNK’s state-of-the-art new STEM center, Discovery Hall. Dr. Tim Jares, the dean of UNK’s business school, showed me some of the great work that’s taking place at Discovery Hall. I was able to visit with some students about the exciting work they are doing, and I also got to try out their flight simulator, which helps aspiring pilots train for their future careers.
And in Grand Island, I toured the Central Nebraska Regional Airport. I was especially impressed with their brand-new firehouse, which was built by Chief Industries, a local construction company. Most of the work was done by contractors from the Tri-City area, too, and it took them only six months to finish.
It is always informative to travel our state and meet with Nebraskans, listen one-on-one to the problems you may be having with federal agencies, and work to resolve your issues. It is also wonderful to have a meal at Sons of Italy or speak with our Omaha firefighters and learn of their recent accomplishments. I am now back in Washington, ready to put everything I heard these past two weeks to work in the Senate.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.