State boards, commissions offer chance to serve

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Representative government is the core of our society, but how many of us are truly involved? Yes, we can vote in elections, we can call our representatives, we can even write Open Forum letters. Some of us, the bravest among us, may even consent to run for an office like school board, City Council or county commissioner -- and they deserve our gratitude and respect when they do, even when we disagree with their decisions.

But voting, running for office and expressing our opinions are only a few of the ways we can keep our system of government on track.

In Nebraska especially, with only 1.7 million citizens, we have a good chance of making our opinions heard and influencing the direction government takes.

State Sen. Tom Baker of Trenton recently provided us with a list of opportunities to get involved.

Nebraska Boards and Commissions will have a number of vacancies each month, and while some require members with special qualifications and even legislative approval, many require only knowledge or interest in the area for which the groups are formed.

For instance, five seats on the Developmental Disabilities Advisory Council will be open in July. They are to be filled as follows: one family member, one elected official, one interested citizen and two members will be consumers of Developmental Disabilities services.

Other openings in include the Aquaculture Board (four), Behavioral Health Council (three), Child Abuse Prevention Fund Board (one from each congressional district, and approved by the Legislature), and law professor to serve on the County Attorney Standards Advisory Council.

Some of the other commission or advisory council openings throughout the summer include the Grain Sorghum Development and Utilization Board, the Commission on Housing and Homelessness, Jail Standards Board, Mental Health Services, Nursing Home Advisory Council, Problem Gambling and Addiction Services, Public Water Supply, Railway Council, State Records Board, Substance Abuse Services, Commission on the Status of Women, Appraisers for Educational Lands Board, Brand Committee, Ethanol Board, State Board of Health, Personnel Board, Potato Development Commission, Commission for the Protection of Children, and Real Estate Commission.

And those are just a few.

Again, many of them require special qualifications and even approval by the Legislature. But it's surprising how many of us have a special interest in an area covered by a state board of commission. If an official asks you to serve, please give it special consideration. Or, if you would like to volunteer your time and talents, contact State Sen. Tom Baker by mail at State Capitol Building, P.O. Box 94604, Room 1101, Lincoln, NE 68509, phone (402) 471-2805 or e-mail tbaker@unicam.state.ne.us.

He'll put you in touch with the proper officials.

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