Focus 2019: What Makes Kearney Unique?

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Sitting Michelle Sawicki & Les Adelung 1809 West 39th Street 2501 Central Avenue 308-234-6171 Kearney Hub • Saturday, February 9, 2019 • Page 10 WHATMAKES KEARNEY UNIQUE? FO U S a professional clinician try to assist and comfort families when they’ve lost a loved one to suicide. “It can be draining. You’re told to do self-care,” Moore said about the toll taken by suicide visitations. She’s also involved with the Kearney Rotary Club’s Dancing With the Stars, which is shining a light on suicide awareness. Lifting the stigma of sui- cide could aid prevention, she said, and might ease the grief of survivors and those who care about them. Moore said the stigma caus- es people to feel awkward and at a loss when talking about suicide with survivors. “At first it seemed like people were afraid to say any- thing. As a survivor I some- times feel like I’m wearing a ‘Scarlet S,’” she said. Volunteering for the Kear- ney Planning Commission, she said, was a healthy move. “Stan Dart (the vice chair- man at the time) suggested to me that I sign up for the planning commission. It was time for me to really get past the situation with my husband, to not be the ‘poor widow’ anymore,” she said. “The guys I worked with were respectful, and they accepted me. They respected my opinions and concerns. It was affirming.” There was $1 million worth of projects unfin- ished when her husband died, Moore said, so she led Moore Construction until she was ready to sell the business to Jamie O’Connor. It now is called Moore-O’Connor Construction. She said she and O’Con- nor “did a little bit of spec building,” and she’s kept a toe in the construc- tion business through her involvement in the housing study done by the Kearney Planning Commission. The study determined that a greater variety of housing designs and price levels are needed. With the recent addition of 1,200 apartment units and opening of new subdivisions with cost-con- taining designs, Moore said the study and the market have combined to broaden housing variety in Kearney. Today, she has a dual focus of learning her role as a council member and serv- ing on the faculty at UNK. She’s teaching a class on managing family finances and a class on human sexual behavior. In each she has 30-50 students in her class- room and another 25-30 students online. “I love to teach the sex ed class because the kids are interested and the media gives me so much to work with,” she said. Moore and Sylvia Asay, a UNK marriage and fam- ily professor, authored a textbook, “Family Resource Management,” which is about managing time, financ- es and technology. The two are revising the textbook for its fourth edition. As a council member she wants to address a number of issues, including work- force shortages. She’s con- cerned about labor shortages as the new Central Nebraska Veterans’ Home and other care facilities compete for medical professionals and care staff. In addition, she said Kearney’s construction industry needs more people in the trades. “With Kearney’s growth, we need to be responsible and purposeful. We also need to focus on the needs of the younger generation,” she said. “All around us diversity is much greater. In Grand Island and Lexington you find diversity is pretty much a part of their communities.” Having seen Europe, Mexico, Canada, India and Japan, she believes as a traveler and professor that nobody should graduate from UNK without an inter- national experience. Moore said she’s still drawn to Kearney’s con- struction and housing issues. “I have a project in my head, but I really don’t need anything else to worry about right now.” CONTINUED FROM 3 MOORE Check these fun places off one by one ers” are visitors who choose a fairly quick experience by observing sandhill cranes feeding in cornfields and wet mead- ows during the day and/ or watching them fly to the river in the evenings from the Fort Kearny Hike-Bike Trail or other pull-off areas. “Strollers” are people who want at least one clos- er-to-the-cranes experience, such as booking space in a Rowe Sanctuary blind along the Platte River to see cranes leave their sandbar roosts in the morning and/or return to the river at sunset. “Students” may book an overnight blind in the river, take crane education classes or tours, and spend more time observing crane behaviors, just like people who will read every sign on every exhibit in a museum, Jasnoch said. Another plus, he said, is that bird watching is con- sidered a “soft adventure” activity that doesn’t require the extreme outdoor skills of a mountain climber or investing in “a $1,000 pair of binoculars to see the cranes.” Jasnoch added that today’s senior citizens are more active today than 20 years ago, so sandhill crane activities work well for people who have time to travel and the ability to stay awhile. Seniors and other visitors generally want experiences with two components — entertainment and learning. “Rowe provides both of those things,” Jasnoch said. Marketing a world event He is in his 33rd year as director of the Kearney Visitors Bureau, which was started in 1982. He said an initial brochure printed in 1987 was done in partner- ship with Grand Island and Hastings entities. Rowe Sanctuary, which had an office in an old farm- house but no visitors center like today’s Iain Nicolson Audubon Center, drew around 800 visitors in the mid-’80s. Meanwhile, Jasnoch said, up to 5,000 visitors stopped at the better known Fort Kearny State Historical Park to ask about the cranes. “Now that’s flip-flopped,” he said. When Rowe Sanctuary started getting known as the target location for sandhill crane watching, visitors came from a few states. “Now it’s a number of different countries ... We’re a destination now for the entire free world,” Jasnoch said. “I can remember when you could go to the bike- hike trail bridge (on a crane season evening) and you might see 20 people,” he said. “Now it’s 120 or more.” One reason for the higher numbers has been the ability to use social media to distribute information about one of the world’s great migration experiences to people everywhere, instead of mailing everything. “Information now is instantaneous,” Jasnoch said, and the crane experi- ence gets boosts from online videos posted by visitors and attention from national news media. “We try to keep our website fresh because that’s the last thing some people see before coming here,” he said, adding that one constantly updated feature allows people to see where rooms are available in Kear- ney and at what cost, and then book a room. Front desk employees from area motels are taken on tours to Rowe Sanctuary and Fort Kearny, and given brochures and a laminated cheat sheet to help answer questions about crane watch- ing and other things to do. Partnerships, especially between the Kearney Visitors Bureau, Rowe Sanctuary and Fort Kearny, are strong, Jasnoch said, and they also work with representatives of museums, other conservation entities and tourism-related businesses. He said the partners try to get everyone together about a month after every crane season. One topic often discussed is how to provide additional public viewing opportu- nities. Jasnoch said most dates for river blind tours at Rowe are full by the end of January in most years. Crane capital Motel rooms also can be full at times because of the many special events in Kearney, such as wrestling tournaments, other sports events and entertainment programs, during the height of crane tourism season. “We just need six week- ends in March and we’ll be good,” Jasnoch joked. In the last few years, the visitors bureau has advertised Kearney as the “Sandhill Crane Capital of the World.” When asked how that title was determined, Jasnoch recalled finding an email message sent at 4 one morning by Rowe Sanctuary Director Bill Taddicken. Taddicken suggested the Kearney area could be promoted as the sandhill crane capital of Nebraska. “I suggested we change that to ‘world’ and he said it would not be inappropriate,” Jasnoch said. The next step was getting Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse to sign a proclamation. “It just all kind of hap- pened in a matter of days,” Jasnoch said. CONTINUED FROM 6 EXPLORE: Motel employees can answer sightseeing questions 20 Kearney Area Things to See During Crane Season or Any Season ■ The Archway ■ Classic Car Collec- tion ■ Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary southwest of Gibbon ■ Fort Kearny State Historical Park and Recre- ation Area ■ G.W. Frank Museum of History & Culture ■ Kearney Area Chil- dren’s Museum ■ Museum of Nebraska Art ■ Nebraska Firefighters Museum ■ Pioneer Village at Minden ■ Minden Opera House ■ Buffalo County Historical Society’s Trails & Rails Museum ■ Nebraska Wildlife Ecounter — Zoozeum, downtown Kearney ■ Special events at Buffalo County Fair- grounds, Kearney Com- munity Theatre, Merryman Performing Arts Center and University of Nebras- ka at Kearney ■ Historic World Theatre ■ Storm Hockey and other Viaero Center events ■ Area wineries, vine- yards and breweries ■ Cottonmill, other city parks and hike-bike trails ■ Big Apple Fun Center and Funtastic ■ Downtown on the Bricks, Hilltop Mall, Ca- bela’s and other shopping places ■ A variety of restau- rants, plus clubs featuring live music Kearney Hub, file TOURISM OFFICIALS hope that Kearney area school- children who are regular visitors to the Museum of Nebraska Art will be joined throughout March and early April by crane watchers.