WEEKLY UPDATE December 21, 2020
Merry Christmas! A time of wonder and joy for little ones, a time for looking back and cherishing memories. Christmas can also be a difficult time for those who are experiencing their first Christmas without a loved one lost in the year past. Let us each use this Christmas to reach out to someone who might otherwise be alone or hurting. With the social distancing and fewer in-person encounters with others in 2020, your voice on the other end of the telephone or on the computer or live electronic communication can go a long ways. Many of us have had to get accustomed to Zoom or other virtual meetings. This Christmas season, let’s use Zoom and our electronics for an otherwise impossible encounter with someone we care for. How about a cross-country family Zoom? The children in your life may enjoy an alternative to teachers, classrooms, and their other electronic experiences of 2020. My wish for you is that your holiday will be filled with kindness and joy and that you will treasure each moment with those you love.
COVID-19 State Response Update.
Hospitalizations in Nebraska continue to decline and the vaccine is here. These are both good news for Nebraskans. Some frontline medical workers and other essential personnel have already begun to receive the vaccine. Even so, the doses are limited and it will take several months to see widespread availability. Remember to avoid the 3 “C”s – close contact, crowds, and confined spaces. Wash hands frequently, sanitize hands and surfaces, social distance, and wear a mask when around others from outside of your household. If you are experiencing symptoms, get tested and if you feel sick, stay home.
COVID-19 numbers in District 17
The number of positive tests reported for the periods December 11, 2020, and December 18, 2020 in District 17 are as follow:
Dakota County +71 (3493)
Thurston County: +50 (724)
Wayne County: +34 (904)
College in District 17
Last week I was able to brag on Wayne State College and the tremendous work it has done in keeping enrollment up in the midst of creating a safe learning environment for students. This week, I am delighted to also brag on Northeast Community College.
First, some very exciting news emerged this past week when the College was notified it will receive a $15 million gift from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. It is anticipated that the funds will be used to create an endowment that will provide for its Student Scholarships and Success Initiative. Congratulations Northeast Community College!
No doubt the scholarships will bring even more benefit to students from District 17, Nebraska, and throughout the U.S. than is already being provided by the college. Northeast Community College began the fall 2020 with enrollment nearly the same as fall of 2019, which was the third largest enrollment on record at the institution. While the number of first-time freshmen students enrolled at the College was 7% lower, while the number of high school early college enrollment increased 16%.
In response to the pandemic, like Wayne State College and the University of Nebraska, Northeast Community College moved its start date up a week in order for students to be able to complete course work in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. Northeast also worked hard to provide alternative online courses for the students, while offering in-person course work for those hoping to fill much needed roles in the fields of Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and paramedics. One third of students in the 2020 class attended in-person, while two-thirds of the students were offered online courses.
Spring 2021 looks to have increased early college (high school) enrollment. Enrollment is currently in process through virtual New Student Registration sessions, with the next one scheduled for January 7, 2021. The College is looking forward to welcoming new and returning students in the spring.
It remains clear to me that Nebraska students, and in particular, Northeast Nebraska students, do not need to go far to find quality educational and training opportunities. We can and should all be proud of Northeast Community College and Wayne State College.
My Congratulations to District 17’s newest judge! I want to take a few minutes to congratulate Edward Matney of Hartington on his appointment by the Governor to the position of County Court Judge. Mr. Matney will replace retired Judge Kurt T. Rager in Judicial District Six, which consists of Dakota and Thurston Counties in District 17, as well as courts in Burt, Cedar, Dixon, Dodge, and Washington Counties.
Mr. Matney has served a multitude of clients in his law practice in South Sioux City since 2012. For the several years, Mr. Matney devoted a large portion of his practice to trials in criminal and juvenile matters in Northeast Nebraska. His work as the Deputy County Attorney for Dakota County in 2020 and serves as the Dakota County Attorney from 1998 to 1999 and from 2004 to 2008 and experiences in other Northeast Nebraska County Attorney offices gives him the knowledge and experience needed to serve the diverse communities and culture well.
As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me by phone at 402-471-2716 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>