Area's legacy of governors is continuing

Friday, January 21, 2005

As Nebraska welcomes a new governor, the people of Southwest Nebraska have reason to be proud. Once again, the state's chief executive has a direct link to this region.

Dave Heineman, who was sworn in as Nebraska's 39th governor at 10 a.m. today, lived in both McCook and Benkelman during his early grade school years.

He came to McCook in 1953 when his father served as assistant manager at the JC Penney store. From here, the Heinemans moved to Benkelman, where Dave's father advanced to the store manager level. There, in the mid-1950s, the now Gov. Heineman continued his grade school education.

As a one-time resident of Southwest Nebraska, Gov. Heineman joins an illustrious list of area residents who have attained top level state and national positions.

Four of those men have gone on to be governors of Nebraska. The esteemed list includes Ralph G. Brooks, who served as the state's chief executive in 1959 and 1960; Frank B. Morrison, governor from 1961 to 1967; Ben Nelson, governor from 1991 to 1999; and now Gov. Dave Heineman.

To proclaim Heineman's election and his residency in this region, it is appropriate for this area to consider another Governor's Ball. As many will recall, McCook's first Governor's Ball took place in the early 1990s following Ben Nelson's selection as Nebraska governor.

The event, which took place at the McCook Elks Club, attracted a large crowd, a number of dignitaries and considerable publicity for the McCook area.

Gov. Heineman should be contacted early in his term and invited to participate in an appropriate ceremony in this region. Events could be held in both McCook and Benkelman, or the communities could combine for one, big gala party.

This area is rightfully proud of the number of governors with links to this region. To have four governors out of 39 from this area is statistically astonishing. With nearly 1.7 million residents in the entire state, and less than 40,000 in Southwest Nebraska, the odds are immense against having one governor from this area, let alone four.

We need to acknowledge our governor's legacy. Let's invite Gov. Dave Heineman to celebrate with us in ceremonial style.

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