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Ricketts Encourages Nebraskans to Take “Test Nebraska” Assessment, Discusses Issues Facing Municipalities

Ricketts Encourages Nebraskans to Take “Test Nebraska” Assessment, Discusses Issues Facing Municipalities
Gov. Ricketts (podium) provides an update on the State’s response to COVID-19 at today’s press briefing.

This afternoon, during his daily COVID-19 briefing, Governor Pete Ricketts encouraged Nebraskans to take an online assessment as part of the State’s Test Nebraska plan.

The Governor also announced that Ed and Leta Olson have received the 2020 Leopold Conservation Award in Nebraska.  The Olsons were selected as this year’s award recipients in recognition of the wise stewardship they have long practiced on their farm in eastern Nebraska.

L. Lynn Rex, Executive Director of the League of Nebraska Municipalities, joined Gov. Ricketts at today’s news conference.  She talked about the most frequent issues encountered by city officials during the pandemic.

Gov. Ricketts: Test Nebraska

  • Our Test Nebraska initiative is accelerating our ability to defeat the virus and get Nebraskans back to work.
  • As of this morning, nearly 20,000 Nebraskans had already completed an assessment at TestNebraska.com.
  • We need every Nebraskan to go online now and to fill out this quick assessment.
  • Again, the website is TestNebraska.com.  Please go on social media and use #TestNebraskaChallenge to challenge five friends to do the same!

Gov. Ricketts: Earth Day / Leopold Award

  • Today is Earth Day.
  • I want to take a moment to thank our farmers and ranchers across Nebraska who are the state’s original conservationists.
  • Typically around this time of year, we honor a family with the Leopold Conservation Award.
  • Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation by American farmers, ranchers, and foresters in 21 states.
  • While this year’s award winners cannot be with us today, I want to announce that the Olson family of Burt County is the 15th recipient of the Leopold Conservation Award in Nebraska.
  • Of the 815 acres Ed and Leta Olson farm, 115 acres are enrolled in conservation programs to create filter strips, shelterbelts, and pollinator habitat.
  • Ed has adopted a variety of conservation practices to decrease erosion, protect water quality, and increase soil health.
  • The Olsons will be presented with the $10,000 award at a public event later this year.

Lynn Rex: Nebraska Municipalities

  • During this pandemic, our 529 cities and villages are doing everything possible to limit the spread of COVID-19.

o  Municipalities are supporting our EMTs, police officers, firefighters, and other first responders.

o  They’re also supporting healthcare workers at municipal nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospitals.

  • Our municipal officials are addressing three issues on a regular basis.

o  Issues relating to parks and playground equipment.

  • It is great to get exercise but please comply with the CDC recommendations regarding parks.
  • If you are not feeling well, please do not go to the park.
  • If the park is crowded, please leave and come back another time.
  • Go to the park closest to your home to avoid traveling long distances and having to stop to use facilities.
  • As you walk or jog through the park, remember to “social distance” by staying at least six feet away from others.
  • Do not use or let children use playground equipment.

o  Ways to avoid sewer backups and other issues by not flushing certain items.

  • Municipal sewer systems are designed to treat toilet paper.
  • Please do not flush paper towels, baby wipes, moist towelettes, and other such items.
  • Most municipalities have ordinances that make flushing these types of items a violation subject to a penalty.
  • Flushing these types of items will result in raw sewage backing up into your basement, expensive repairs to sewer facilities, and environmental hazards.

o  COVID-19 moratoriums on utility disconnects.

  • Municipal officials understand that COVID-19 may affect some customers’ ability to pay monthly bills.
  • Lash Chaffin, League Utilities Section Director, has recommended that municipalities adopt a moratorium policy on disconnects for customers for 45 days or longer and most municipalities have done so.
  • Customers affected by COVID-19 and with difficulty paying bills should contact their municipality.
  • Customers will be asked to commit to a payment plan since the bills are still owed.
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