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Tim Gragert

Sen. Tim Gragert

District 40

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Starting November 8, wages are increasing at our four state veterans’ homes (Norfolk, Bellevue, Scottsbluff, & Kearney)! Clinical positions like nursing will be increasing 30 percent and support positions like food service, maintenance, and housekeeping will be increasing 20 percent! On top of that will be a $3 pay differential for all positions in the homes. In addition, overtime rates are going from 1.5x to 2x. Below are some examples of increases to starting wages.

Maintenance Technician (Housekeeper) now starts at $17.40/hr.
Food Service Worker now starts at $18.48/hr.
CNA now starts at $21.807/hr.
LPN now starts at $26.40/hr.
RN now starts at $35.516/hr.

View more information on pay line increases HERE.

If you are interested in becoming a nurse, Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs offers a PAID CNA Class and allows you to earn an hourly wage during class. They also offer education and tuition reimbursement opportunities while paying for supplies and certification, too!

PLUS! The NDVA is offering $1,500 – $5,000 sign-on bonuses for new hires, $1,000 referral bonuses for current employees, $200/month commuting bonuses for commutes of 30+ miles one way, and clinical certification bonuses.


Nebraskans will once again reap the benefits of the energy and creativity of Nebraska young people as they serve as interns in their local public libraries. The Nebraska Library Commission recently awarded Nebraska Library Internship Grants totaling $25,000 to twenty-four Nebraska public libraries. These internship grants will support public library interns who will contribute to the scope and value of the diverse programs and activities in Nebraska’s public libraries.

“The internships are a great opportunity for students to get involved in library work. Beyond earning money and gaining valuable work experience, the student is exposed to the broad range of library services and programming. Internships provide an opportunity for the student to view the library as a viable and satisfying career choice. In addition, interns bring a fresh perspective and their own unique talents to the library,” said Nebraska Library Commission Director Rod Wagner.

Student interns will learn about library work as they shadow staff, assist with day-to-day library operations, and implement special projects. Some of the activities that students will participate in include:

  • plan and implement programs such as summer reading programs for all ages, story time sessions, book discussions, and teen/tween activities;
  • assist with computer classes for adults and seniors;
  • organize Makerspaces and Maker Clubs, as well as other STEAM learning activities, programs, and crafts;
  • work with Summer Youth Outreach Services to provide Bookmobile services at locations throughout the city and county;
  • facilitate partnerships with Doane University, the Bassett Old Feed Store Art Center, the Ponca State Park, and Nebraska Extension;
  • assist with outreach events outside the library;
  • update the library’s website and social media sites (Facebook, Pinterest, blogs, etc.) or in some situations designing and coding a new website;
  • assist with circulation activities, book selection, and collection management; and
  • work on newspaper digitization projects.

The following 24 Nebraska public libraries were awarded 2021 internship grant funding:

  • Hoesch Memorial Library, Alma
  • Atkinson Public Library
  • Rock County Public Library, Bassett
  • Bayard Public Library
  • Blair Public Library and Technology Center
  • Bridgeport Public Library
  • Central City Public Library
  • Clarkson Public Library
  • Clearwater Public Library
  • Columbus Public Library
  • Crete Public Library
  • Franklin Public Library
  • Kimball Public Library
  • Madison Public Library
  • Morrill Public Library
  • Norfolk Public Library
  • Cordelia B Preston Memorial Library, Orleans
  • Oxford Public Library
  • Papillion Sump Memorial Library
  • Plainview Public Library
  • Ponca Carnegie Library
  • Stromsburg Public Library
  • Verdigre Public Library
  • Kilgore Memorial Library, York

Additionally, three public libraries participating in the Library Innovation Studios: Transforming Rural Communities (LIS) project have also received 2021 internship grant funding. The interns hired in these libraries will primarily be working with this LIS makerspace grant. These libraries include:

  • Bellevue Public Library
  • McCook Public Library
  • Lied Randolph Public Library

Funding for the project is supported and administered by the Nebraska Library Commission, in partnership with the Nebraska Library Systems.

As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, “bringing together people and information.”

Nebraska’s Regional Library Systems consist of four non-profit corporations governed by boards representative of libraries and citizens in the region. The four systems were established to provide access to improved library services through the cooperation of all types of libraries and media centers within the counties included in each System area.


The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission Website,



Christa Porter

Nebraska CARES Act funds are still available to livestock producers, charitable organizations, licensed health providers and centers of worship now through Nov. 13.

The grants, administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) with federal CARES Act funding, provide qualified livestock producers, charitable organizations, licensed health providers and centers of worship with working capital to pay for operational expenses and PPE, with the purpose of helping sustain them during the economic downturn or preparing them to bounce back.

There is no fee to apply for the grants, and, with a nearing deadline of Nov. 13, it is recommended to apply as soon as possible. Grant payments are expected to be released before Dec. 28, with award recipients notified by Nov. 25.

Applications are now live. For more information, go to:

For original source, go to:

Governor Pete Ricketts announced new grant programs to continue growing Nebraska in the midst of the disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic.  As part of the Coronavirus Relief Fund, the State of Nebraska received $1.084 billion in federal assistance to address coronavirus-related needs across the state. The Governor announced targeted grant programs to support businesses in industries particularly hard-hit due to the pandemic.  These include direct-payment grants for the following categories of business:

  • Restaurants and Bars – $20 million
  • Cosmetic, Massage, and Body Art Services – $22 million
  • Event Centers and Sports Arenas – $20 million
  • Hotels and Convention Centers – $34 million
  • Ethanol Producers – $15 million
  • Zoos – $6.05 million
  • Movie Theaters – $3.2 million

Grant applications open October 21, 2020 and will close November 13, 2020.  To apply, visit as of October 21st.  The grants will be issued by December 30, 2020.

A toll-free number will be released on the website (below) once the application period opens. The toll-free number will get you in contact with representatives who will be available to address your questions.

The Governor gave a status update on the funds utilized so far by the State’s existing grant programs.  He then announced that the State will award a second round of grants within the following programs:

  • Community CARES Grant Program
    • 5 million of additional funds will be awarded to assist non-profits and care providers as they respond to needs arising from the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Business and Livestock Producer Stabilization Grant Program
    • On a first come, first served basis, $25 million will go to fund a new round of grants to eligible businesses and ag producers who have not yet received assistance.

Additionally, the State is allocating up to $40 million to support hospital capacity across Nebraska.  These funds will be provided to General Acute Care Hospitals as they demonstrate the need and ability to increase capacity to care for COVID-19 patients.

The State is also earmarking an additional $100 million to reimburse State agencies for eligible coronavirus expenses.  Expanded financial support will also be available to local governments to cover payroll costs from March 1st through May 31st for workers on the frontline of coronavirus response such as dispatchers, corrections teammates, and public health staff.

Information on the grant programs can be found at:

Read the full “State of Nebraska: Coronavirus Relief Fund Programs” presentation here:


WASHINGTON, Feb. 28, 2020 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy today announced that USDA is providing funds to rural projects that support regional economic and community development planning.

This Strategic Economic and Community Development (SECD) funding is authorized through a Farm Bill provision for applications submitted through the following programs:

To apply for the funding, applicants must meet underlying program requirements and submit the Form RD 1980-88 to the nearest USDA office. Program funds available under SECD expire on June 30, 2020. Additional information is available on page 11947 of the Feb. 28, 2020, Federal Register.

Interested parties can learn more about this opportunity during a webinar on Thursday, March 12 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Register for the webinar at  In Nebraska, contact Community Programs staff at 402-437-5551 opt 3; for Business Programs staff 402-437-5551 opt 4.

USDA encourages applications that will support recommendations made in the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB) to help improve the quality of life in rural America. Applicants are encouraged to consider projects that provide measurable results in helping rural communities build robust and sustainable economies through strategic investments in infrastructure, partnerships and innovation. Key strategies include:

  • Achieving e-Connectivity for Rural America
  • Developing the Rural Economy
  • Harnessing Technological Innovation
  • Supporting a Rural Workforce
  • Improving Quality of Life

USDA also encourages applications that will support the Administration’s goal to combat substance use disorder, including opioid misuse, in high-risk rural communities by strengthening the capacity to address prevention, treatment and/or recovery.


WASHINGTON, Feb. 28, 2020 – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) intends to make available up to $100 million in competitive grants for activities designed to expand the sale and use of renewable fuels.

The Department plans to publish application deadlines and other program information in the Federal Register this spring.

USDA will make the grant funds available under the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). Its purpose is to increase significantly the sale and use of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel by expanding the infrastructure for renewable fuels derived from U.S. agricultural products. The program is also intended to encourage a more comprehensive approach to marketing higher blends by sharing the costs related to building out biofuel-related infrastructure.

Grants will be available to help transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities convert to higher-ethanol and biodiesel blends by sharing the costs related to installing, retrofitting and/or upgrading fuel storage, dispenser pumps, related equipment and infrastructure.

USDA plans to make available approximately $86 million for implementation activities related to higher blends of fuel ethanol, and approximately $14 million for implementation activities related to higher blends of biodiesel.

For additional information, see page 11946 of the Feb. 28, 2020, Federal Register.  In Nebraska, contact Energy Coordinator Jeff Carpenter at 402-437-5554 or

USDA will encourage applications that will support recommendations made in the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB) to help improve the quality of life in rural America. Applicants are encouraged to consider projects that provide measurable results in helping rural communities build robust and sustainable economies through strategic investments in infrastructure, partnerships and innovation. Key strategies include:

  • Achieving e-Connectivity for Rural America
  • Developing the Rural Economy
  • Harnessing Technological Innovation
  • Supporting a Rural Workforce
  • Improving Quality of Life

In February 2020, Secretary Perdue unveiled the Agricultural Innovation Agenda, a department-wide initiative to align resources, programs and research to position American agriculture to better meet future global demands. Investing in the availability of innovative fuels for American consumers supports this vision while we fulfill our motto to “Do Right and Feed Everyone.”

On July 30, 2019, President Trump signed a bill July 30 that declares the United States has been in a state of war since Dec. 7, 1941.

“The American Legion sought the declaration as a way to honor approximately 1,600 U.S. servicemembers who were killed or wounded during previously undeclared periods of war.

“The LEGION Act (Let Everyone Get Involved In Opportunities for National Service Act) also opens the door for approximately 6 million veterans to access American Legion programs and benefits for which they previously had not been eligible.”

To read the full article, go to

For additional information, go to

Lincoln, Neb., Nov. 25, 2019 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Nebraska announced that agriculture producers affected by natural disasters in 2018 and 2019 can apply for assistance through the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program-Plus (WHIP+). Nebraska FSA offices across the state are ready to accept applications.

“Nebraska farmers have had a challenging year,” said Nancy Johner, FSA State Executive Director in Nebraska. “WHIP+ may be able to assist those who have faced significant losses.”

WHIP+ Eligibility

WHIP+ is available to producers who have suffered eligible losses of certain crops, trees, bushes or vines in counties with a Presidential Disaster Declaration or a Secretarial Disaster Designation (primary counties only). A list of qualifying counties is available at Also, producers with losses in counties that did not receive a disaster declaration or designation may still apply for WHIP+ but must provide supporting documentation to establish that the crops were directly affected by a qualifying disaster event.

“In Nebraska, disaster losses must have been a result of floods, tornadoes, snowstorms or wildfires, and related conditions that occurred in 2018 or 2019,” said Johner.

Eligible crops include those for which federal crop insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage is available, excluding crops intended for grazing. Because grazing and livestock losses are covered by other disaster recovery programs offered through FSA, those losses are not eligible for WHIP+.

Both insured and uninsured producers are eligible to apply for WHIP+, but all producers who receive WHIP+ payments will be required to purchase crop insurance or NAP coverage for the next two available, consecutive crop years after the crop year for which WHIP+ payments were paid.

WHIP+ Payments

WHIP+ payment amounts will be determined using a formula that includes several factors: expected value of the crop, how much of the crop was actually harvested, and crop insurance coverage and payments issued on those crops. At the time of sign-up, producers will be asked to provide verifiable and reliable production records.

Producers with WHIP+ payments for 2018 disasters will be eligible for 100 percent of their calculated value. Producers with WHIP+ payments for 2019 disasters will be limited to an initial 50 percent of their calculated value, with an opportunity to receive up to the remaining 50 percent after January 1, 2020, if sufficient funding remains.

WHIP+ Prevented Planting

FSA will provide prevented planting assistance to uninsured producers, NAP producers and producers who may have been prevented from planting an insured crop in the 2018 crop year and those 2019 crops that had a final planting date prior to January 1, 2019.

An application deadline has not yet been established for the WHIP+ program.

Additional Loss Coverage

The Milk Loss Program will provide payments to eligible dairy operations for milk that was dumped or removed without compensation from the commercial milk market because of a qualifying 2018 and 2019 natural disaster. In Nebraska, qualifying natural disasters for this program include floods, tornadoes, and snowstorms.

Applications for the Milk Loss Program are being accepted through Feb. 1, 2020.

Eligible producers can receive payments at a rate of 75 percent of the market value of the milk that was dumped. The payment formula takes into consideration normal milk marketings for the impacted dairy operation, fair market value of the milk, and promotion and hauling fees, among other factors.

Producers also are reminded of the availability of the On-Farm Storage Loss Program. This program assists those who suffered losses of harvested commodities, including hay, stored in on-farm structures in 2018 and 2019.

For More Information

Additional information about the WHIP+ Program, the Milk Loss Program, and the On-Farm Storage Loss Program can be found at or by contacting your local USDA Service Center.

NOVEMBER 25, 2019 (LINCOLN, NEB.)  — The Nebraska State Patrol is urging motorists to be prepared for a winter storm that is projected to affect most of the state over the next two days.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for Nebraska counties throughout western, central, and northern Nebraska, which will take affect at 9:00 p.m. Monday. Heavy snow and strong winds are expected to create hazardous travel conditions for significant portions of Interstate 80 and many other Nebraska roadways.

“Thanksgiving week is a major travel period and this strong winter storm has the potential to make travel difficult,” said Colonel John Bolduc, Superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol. “Drivers should plan ahead and adjust plans accordingly to make sure they reach their destinations safely.”

Motorists are encouraged to stay up to date on conditions and plan ahead as travel may become difficult or impossible in some areas. Nebraska 511 is the best resource to monitor road conditions and closures. Motorists can also view real time conditions with the Nebraska Department of Transportation’s Plow Tracker system. NSP will provide updates on social media as well.

Troopers will be on the road to assist motorists who need help. Anyone in need of assistance can call *55 from a cell phone or 800-525-5555 to reach the NSP Highway Helpline. NSP also issues the following reminders for motorists traveling in extreme weather conditions:

·         Always wear your seat belt and never drive faster than conditions allow.

·         Blowing and drifting snow can reduce visibility. Travel only when necessary.

·         If you must travel, use well-traveled routes and give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. Tell others your destination, your route, and when you will arrive.

·         If you become stranded while traveling, stay in your vehicle until help arrives. Have a red flag or bandana to signal for help. Freezing temperatures can be life threatening.

·         If your vehicle becomes stuck, run your motor sparingly and keep a window cracked to prevent buildup of carbon monoxide.

·         Maintain a winter weather survival kit in your vehicle.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provides many services to Nebraskans, including resources on mental health, child care, food assistance, Medicaid, and several other very important services. Below you will find a link to an interactive two-page document outlining these various DHHS services. In addition, you will find the latest information on the Olmstead Plan, Medicaid expansion, and DHHS’s 2019-20 Business Plan.

Sen. Tim Gragert

District 40
Room 11th Floor
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2801
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