The following questions were asked recently on the Wonderline:

Q: With the Towers of York program last fall, a lot of money was raised for the fireworks show this year. Does that mean that donations are no longer needed? Or are donations still being accepted for this year and shows into the future?

A: Madonna Mogul, director of the York Area Chamber of Commerce, says: The annual Firecracker Frenzy display is a spectacular event that so many in York and surrounding areas enjoy. The Chamber proudly coordinates this celebration of our country’s independence. We work with the Big Bang Shoot Team out of Norfolk for this event. These men and women are licensed pyrotechnicians who meticulously setup and execute what we all see up in the sky.

“This amazing display (and all the costs associated with it) comes at a cost of approximately $25,000 per year. This amount is covered strictly by donations. When the fundraising efforts began for Frenzy over 10 years ago, there was a very strong response. Over time, donations fell off and that resulted in a shortfall over the past few years.

“The Towers Auction was a blessing because the proceeds helped cover the losses from the past few years and allowed the Frenzy account return to a comfortable level. The fundraising goal each year is always $25,000 and we are on pace to raise $15,000 this year. We anticipated this year’s efforts to fall a bit short because of the Tower proceeds. Our fear is if the shortfall continues, the Towers funds will deplete quickly and potentially jeopardize the event. Volunteers will be on hand on July 3 with donation buckets from the spectators. For those who do not carry cash, donations can also be accepted online at

“We invite residents of York, York County and our neighboring communities to York County Fairgrounds to celebrate our country’s independence on Tuesday, July 3!”

Q: How many people work for the Nebraska Department of Corrections?

A: Online sources indicate approximately 2,300 in total, with employees in many different locations throughout the state’s facilities which include the Community Corrections Centers in Lincoln and Omaha, the Lincoln Correctional Center, the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women, Nebraska Correctional Youth Facility, the Nebraska Diagnostic and Evaluation Center, the Nebraska State Penitentiary, Omaha Correctional Center, Tecumseh State Correctional Institution and the Work Ethic Camp in McCook.

Q: Growing up, we heard the craziest stories about how in the old days – in the times of grasshopper plagues – that piles of grasshoppers were actually burned on the courthouse square, in York, in an effort to kill as many as possible. I was just curious as to whether any of that was even true. I don’t know what made me think about it, but I’d love to know if there used to be “grasshopper burnings” on York’s courthouse lawn. Or were those stories just told to us young kids and we just believed them?

A: As crazy as it may sound, it appears that the stories were true.

We received this Wonderline question more than a year ago and just stored it away in the folder called “Wonderline questions we will probably never been able to answer.”

This week, upon going through the folder where hard questions go to die, we decided to give it a go and see if we could find any information about this legendary story.

We did some research into the matter – and there it was, chronicled in the “Old Settlers History of York County” publication.

The old, historical book says that “in the latter part of July, 1873, the early settlers were visited by a new and unlooked for calamity of grasshoppers. In the afternoon of a hot day, July 20, a mysterious cloud appeared in the northern horizon and all were wondering what it was. Until suddenly the awful cloud of grasshoppers covered the country, so thick at times that the sun was darkened, and all gardens and green vegetation was soon devoured. Much of the small grain was in the shock and mostly saved, to the great comfort of the pioneer settlers.

The grain that was standing was soon ruined. The grasshoppers would bite the straw off just below the head; after they had done all the damage they could, they tilled the ground with eggs and left. The next spring the eggs began hatching and the settlers were filled with alarm for the coming crops, and every device imaginable was made for catching young grasshoppers. A petition was filed with the County Board of Supervisors, asking them to take measures to exterminate the young grasshoppers.

“The county board met in special session on April 25, 1877, and Book No. 1, page 470, detailed the proceedings.”

After deliberating upon the subject, a resolution was adopted. All persons in the county were called up on to turn out and kill and destroy grasshoppers. All grasshoppers caught and killed within the limits of the several road districts in the county were to be delivered to the respective road supervisors. The supervisors each gave out receipts, stating the amount of grasshoppers, when and by whom they were delivered. The supervisors received grasshoppers every Friday afternoon.

“The Village of York was at that time liberal, patriotic and interested in the prosperity of the county as a whole, and procured devices for catching grasshoppers and used them in the town and county, catching great quantities of grasshoppers and piling them upon the courthouse square in great piles and burning them free of charge. Mr. H.C. Kleinschmidt tells us he has seen grasshopper piles on the public square nearly four feet high when they were small, and that a bushel of young grasshoppers would make more than a hundred bushels of grown grasshoppers, that one grasshopper egg would have hatched out five or six young grasshoppers,” the history book reads.

There was also a passage in the historical account that suggested the county paid so much per bushel of grasshoppers – but the account was a bit confusing so we couldn’t really tell just how much they went for.

Q: There is an old trick using soap that can be used to get rid of boxelder bugs. The problem is that I can’t remember what kind of soap . . . or really the techniques of the trick. Can you find this out?

A: Take 12 ounces of Dreft laundry soap and dissolve it in a quart of hot water. Mix it well and put it in a pump-up sprayer. Add enough warm water to make a gallon. Pump up the sprayer and hit them with a good spray. It’s a good idea to shake up the sprayer to keep it sudsy.

Q: What the heck is K2? I saw in the newspaper where someone was fined for having it, but I have no idea what it is.

A: K2 is a street name for synthetic cannabis, which is a psychoactive designer drug created by spraying natural herbs with synthetic chemicals that, when consumed, allegedly mimic the effects of cannabis.

When synthetic cannabis blends first went on sale in the early 2000s, it was thought that they achieved an effect through a mixture of legal herbs. Laboratory analysis in 2008 showed that this is the not the case and that they in fact contain synthetic cannabinoids that act on the body in a similar way to those found in cannabis (marijuana).

In 2012, K2 was banned and is now illegal the same as marijuana is.

Q: Does anyone in the area do bat removal? We have recently been having bats in and around our residence and thing something has to be done to make sure they don’t camp here permanently.

A: There are a number of businesses in Nebraska that say they assist with removing bats from houses – but we can’t say for certain that they are reputable or effective.

If you need assistance with one bat, for example, the police department does help with that.

However, for a large scale problem, you might want to go online and look at which companies are most recommended and give them a call.

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