The following questions were asked recently on the Wonderline:

Q: Does the city own its snow blowers or do they borrow them from the county or the state?

A: The city owns and operates its own snow removal equipment.

Q: If a church has a parsonage and their pastor is living in it, is that house considered to be tax exempt?

A: Yes. If a church owns a parsonage and the pastor lives there as part of his or her compensation, then the house is being used as part of church business and the house is considered to be property tax exempt.

Q: I recently moved to Nebraska and I’m intrigued by this whole thing with the Sandhill Cranes coming to Nebraska each spring. My question is why do they come here and hang around each year? And have they always done this, even before there were cornfields to eat from?

A: According to Nebraska Game and Parks, “Every spring Nebraska’s central Platte River valley hosts one of the most remarkable wildlife spectacles in North America and the largest gathering of cranes in the world. From mid-February through early April, about a half million Sandhill Cranes stage here, feeding in cornfields and wet meadows by day and roosting in the shallow flowing waters of the Platte River at night. The central Platte River is important to Sandhill Cranes and other migratory birds because it serves as a key stop-over site where birds rest and store energy to continue their northward migration and subsequently breed. Sandhill Cranes that stop in Nebraska spread out as they continue north and their breeding range extends across the northern United States, Canada and Siberia.

“Cranes are among the oldest living birds on the planet,” Game and Parks continued. “Fossil records place Sandhill Cranes in Nebraska more than nine million years ago, long before there was a Platte River, which by comparison is only 10,000 years old. The landscape then was savanna-like, and its inhabitants were more like that of modern East Africa – with varies of rhinos, camels and elephants long since extinct. Yet, cranes survived and watched as American bison, pronghorn and wapiti evolved on the prairies. Humans now dominate the landscape, having replaced the bison with cattle and the prairie with corn and concrete.

“An individual crane spends about 29 days along the Platte River. During that time, it will deposit up to a pound of fat, which provides the energy necessary to complete the migration and initiate nesting. About 90 percent of their diet consists of corn, while the remaining 10 percent is made up of invertebrates such as earthworms, snails and insect larvae. It has been estimated that the cranes consume nearly 1,600 tons of corn during their stay. Fortunately, this is waste grain leftover from the fall harvest and, as such, provides a service to the local farmers by removing what would become volunteer corn in the next year’s crop. Before there was corn, cranes ate starchy tubers from a variety of aquatic plants such as nutsedge, a species once abundant in the widespread wetlands bordering the Platte before European settlement. Now about 75 percent of these wetlands have been converted to croplands.”

Q: There are a lot of beautiful old churches in Nebraska. I’m wondering which one is the oldest.

A: The oldest church in Nebraska is the First Presbyterian Church in Bellevue. It was built around 1856-58 in the Greek Revival style.

Q: Is Ernie Chambers an attorney?

A: Chambers is a graduate of Omaha Tech High School and Creighton University of Law – he is not a member of the bar and does not practice law.

Q: There was a story about a man who “absconded” and then was sent to jail. What does “absconded” mean?

A: Absconded means to escape, or leave custodial watch or supervision without contact with law enforcement.

Q: Who chose the winners of the Five Under 45 Impact Awards?

A: The public was invited to make nominations and a good number of nominations were submitted.

Then a committee (made up of representatives of the York County Development Corporation and the York News-Times) met to discuss the nominations and choose this year’s five recipients. Then the York News-Times wrote the features about the winners.

Q: I saw the section about the Impact Awards and was wondering why I had never heard of these awards before.

A: This is the first year the Five Under 45 Impact Awards were given out at the York County Development Corporation annual meeting.

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