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On July 31 we held our last regular meeting of the year for the Legislature’s Building Maintenance Committee, of which I am the chairman. This time we held our meeting at the University of Nebraska’s West Central Research and Extension Center, which is part of the University of Nebraska’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The campus was established back in 1904 in North Platte, and continues to address important agricultural problems and natural resource concerns specifically related to the counties of West and Central Nebraska.
The West Central Research and Extension Center provides vital research in the agricultural sciences and in natural resources which have a direct bearing upon the way we farm and ranch in Nebraska. The campus performs research and employs specialists in eight related areas, including: Agricultural Economics, Beef Nutrition, Beef Reproduction, Entomology, Field Crops, Irrigation and Water Resources, Plant Pathology, Range and Forage Management, Soil Science, and Weed Science and Application Technology.
Perhaps, the most interesting fact about the West Central Research and Extension Center is that it houses the only laboratory in the United States where Entomologists can do year-long research on the Western Bean Cutworm. The trick is figuring out how to keep this little bug alive during the off season and they’ve figured out how to do it at the West Central Research and Extension Center.
Another fascinating observation about the Center is how they do research in herbicide application technology. The West Central Research and Extension Center is home to a large chamber which can reproduce different speeds of crop spraying in a laboratory setting. Consequently, they can observe how herbicides settle on crops and weeds, especially those of the broadleaf kind. They can even adjust their research for wind speed and direction.
The 309 Task Force along with the oversight of the Building Maintenance Committee have approved three renovation projects for the West Central Research and Extension Center. The first project will overlay existing siding with new metal siding on a structure they refer to as shop #28. The second project will replace the roof on their plant materials building. But, the third project is certainly the most fashionable, classy and chic. The third project will replace windows and doors on what they call the Old Horse Barn. What makes these renovations to the Old Horse Barn so unique is that the structure still gets used frequently by couples on their wedding day as the backdrop for their wedding pictures.
Finally, you may be interested to know how all of these projects of the Building Maintenance Committee get funded. Well, seven cents from the sale of every pack of cigarettes in Nebraska goes to funding these renovation projects. So, many of us State Senators who sit on the Building Maintenance Committee feel compelled to tell our constituents to buy more cigarettes, but as Doug Hanson, who is Director of the 309 Task Force likes to say, “Buy more cigarettes – just don’t smoke any of them!”