Questions of the Week – Readers ask about Nebraska tree, heroin, election filings, nativity scene

The following questions were recently asked by inquiring readers:


Q: How many years has a Nebraska tree been showcased in the rotunda at the state capitol?

A: This year marked the 75th anniversary of a Nebraska Christmas tree being in the rotunda. And it was extra special because the tree was grown right here in York County.


Q: Recently, you ran a story about a man caught with heroin. What exactly is heroin?

A: According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, heroin is an illegal, highly addictive drug processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of certain varieties of poppy plants. It is typically sold as a white or brownish powder that is “cut” with sugars, starch, powdered milk, or quinine. Pure heroin is a white powder with a bitter taste that predominantly originates in South America and, to a lesser extent, from Southeast Asia, and dominates U.S. markets east of the Mississippi River.3 Highly pure heroin can be snorted or smoked and may be more appealing to new users because it eliminates the stigma associated with injection drug use. “Black tar” heroin is sticky like roofing tar or hard like coal and is predominantly produced in Mexico and sold in U.S. areas west of the Mississippi River. The dark color associated with black tar heroin results from crude processing methods that leave behind impurities. Impure heroin is usually dissolved, diluted, and injected into veins, muscles, or under the skin.


Q: To file to run for a local office, are fees charged?

A: If the position is paid, a slight filing fee is charged. If the position is unpaid, there is no filing fee.


Q: If I want to run for a local position in the 2024 election year, where do I go?

A: Go to the election office or the county clerk’s office on the main floor of the courthouse. They will help you.


Q: Do we know which positions, locally, are up for election next year?

A: Yes. Here is the run-down, pertaining to filing during the Primary Election period:

The following local races are up for consideration in the 2024 election cycle and filings need to take place with the Primary Election period:

  • District 2 York County Commissioner (representing Stewart, Thayer, New York, Waco, Beaver, West Blue and Ward 1). This is currently filled by Woody Ziegler who was appointed in 2023. This term will end at the end of 2024, so it will be on the next ballot.
  • District 5 York County Commissioner (representing Wards 4A and 4B). This is currently filled by Jack Sikes.
  • Henderson Mayor. This is currently filled by Corbin Tessman.
  • Henderson City Council seat. One seat will be up for election. That seat is currently filled by Kevin Friesen.
  • York Mayor. This is currently filled by Barry Redfern.
  • York City Council seats. Four seats will be up for election. These seats are currently filled by Tony North, Jennifer Sheppard, Jerry Wilkinson and Mathew Wagner.
  • McCool School Board seats. Three seats will be up for election. These seats are currently filled by Steve Gerken, Michele Schwartz and Doug Smith.
  • York School Board seats. Three seats will be up for election. These seats are currently filled by Brien Alley, Matt Holthe and Amie Kopcho.

Candidate filing can be achieved at the election/clerk offices which are located on the main floor of the courthouse.

It should be noted the county commissioners candidates must live within the boundaries of that district in order to run.

All city/school board candidates must live within the municipal limits or within the school district boundaries to run.

According to the York County Clerk’s office, Primary Election race filings can begin on Jan. 5.

Incumbents have until Feb. 15 to file their intentions. Non-incumbents have until March 1.


Q: How many York County Commissioner positions are up for election this year?

A: There are two – the two currently held by Jack Sikes and Woody Ziegler.


Q: Does York County put up the nativity scene on the courthouse property?

A: No. The nativity scene is placed there every year by local churches.


Q: Why do we have the tradition of decorating Christmas trees?

A: A number of sources say “the tradition of decorating a tree goes back hundreds of years. In ancient Germany, people would bring evergreen branches and hang them upside down on their walls to symbolize hope for a bountiful harvest in the coming year. Later, they began turning the components on their ceilings instead of walls, eventually moving them outside and adding candles to them.”

The earliest known decorations were nuts, and fruit hung from branches to represent fertility and abundance. These were later replaced by candles and stars made from paper or tinsel, which eventually evolved into glass balls filled with water that could be illuminated by candlelight.


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