Interested in Nebraska’s history?
Check out my blog posts on the Nebraska State Historical Society website! New posts every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
Interested in Nebraska’s history?
Check out my blog posts on the Nebraska State Historical Society website! New posts every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
By: Brittany Hamor
Cinnamon Dokken laughs about her used bookstore started in the outskirts of downtown Lincoln in a warehouse basement. There were no shelves, no air conditioning and no heat. Just 700 books and a college senior with a big dream to someday have a successful local bookstore.
In 1992 that dream of opening an actual bookstore became a reality. This month Dokken is celebrating 25 years from the grand opening of A Novel Idea.
“I didn’t even have the first month’s rent in bank when we signed the lease,” Dokken said. “I took a risk and fortunately for me it worked.”
At the beginning of her venture she had no money to her name and could not even afford to hire any movers. She gathered all her friends and family to help her move the entire collection of books into the new location.
Her collection that started with 700 books had expanded to 20,000 during the time she was in the warehouse. Halfway through the move they ran out of bags and boxes. They moved the rest of the books by hand.
“From the start Cinnamon had so much help from the community she never wanted to take that for granted,” Katherine Bergstrom, in-store manager since 1994, said. “She’s made it a mission for the store to give back in any way we can. It’s easy to take the little things for granted and I’m blessed to be working in a place that recognizes that.”
Dokken never forgot the help the community gave to her and gives back to a variety of local charities.
“My dad used to always tell me growing up that we had to pay our civic rent,” Dokken said. “Ever since then giving back to the community has been central to who I am as a person.”
Every week Dokken does “Thank You Tuesday” and 3 percent of the gross sales go to a charitable organization.
“I didn’t just want to raise funds for well-known organizations,” Dokken said. “I also wanted to highlight organizations doing good work in the community and increase volunteers in the Lincoln area.”
Recently, Dokken has teamed up with Produce From The Heart. This organization is based out of Lincoln and has a goal to fight hunger throughout Nebraska.
“We collect donated, unmarketable or excess produce from local farms, farmer’s markets, community gardens and household gardens. The donated produce is then transported to a food pantry, church or soup kitchen within the community,” according to http://producefromtheheart.org.
Dokken stays personally connected to the community by co-hosting a monthly radio show on the Wimmins Show called “That’s What She Wrote.” The show is also hosted by Deb Andersen. Andersen has been a radio host since 1977 on KZUM 89.3 and helped Dokken create the podcast that allows women writers to have their voices heard.
“About a year ago I had an epiphany that I needed to have a book-related segment on the Show and that Cinnamon was the perfect person to do it. She’s knowledgeable and very connected to the literary community here,” Andersen said. “She has added so much to the show with her stimulating conversation and her wonderful smile! She’s the best thing that’s happened to the Wimmins Show in decades. I adore her!”
Dokken makes it a priority to make all her guests very comfortable and leads them into stimulating conversation. She’s thoroughly prepared and meets with her guests before the show.
“Since it is live, I always take my guest to Village Inn beforehand in order to avoid uncomfortable topics on air,” Dokken said. “It’s mainly just an excuse for me to eat pancakes and talk to really awesome people.”
Dokken reflects her unique personality in the community and makes sure her store has a unique identity as well.
“The most popular employees in the store are definitely the two cats,” Dokken said.
The “first edition cats” as Dokken called them happened by accident. The first was a gray tabby cat. It showed up in front of the store, so a customer brought it inside. The cat had a burnt paw and frizzled whiskers.
“We shut down the entire store that day to bring it to the vet,” Dokken said. “And then by that night I ended up with a new cat.”
The second was a black cat found in a terrible condition in an alleyway behind Dokken’s apartment complex. Dokken ended up taking the cat to the emergency vet.
After saving the cat’s life a neighbor recognized the cat as her own. Dokken refused to give the cat back since the neighbor had left it in such terrible condition. The altercation between the two escalated and soon the police became involved.
“I was so stubborn. I said I wasn’t doing anything until I talked to my lawyer and someone from the Humane Society,” Dokken said. “I was 25 at the time I didn’t have a lawyer. Luckily, they didn’t call my bluff.”
The sergeant eventually ended up in the store. He and Dokken discussed the cat situation for a half an hour.
“I finally just ended up telling him (the sergeant) the cat was mine,” Dokken said. “He told me to have a nice day, walked out and that’s how the cat ended up in the store.”
When the “first edition cats” died Dokken had a month-long contest for her customers to see where she should get her new cats.
“We ended up raising $1500 for the Capital Humane Society and $3100 for the Cat House,” Dokken said. “We donated the money to both organizations and got two cats from the Cat House, much simpler than the first edition cats.”
Although giving back to the community is a priority for Dokken, she also prides herself on outstanding customer service.
“I’ve been coming here since I was a freshman in high school. No matter how busy the store is she (Dokken) always helps me find what I need or helps me find a new book to read,” Mikayla Cruickshank, seven-year customer at A Novel Idea said. “I always leave here in a better mood than when I came in. You just can’t find that at bigger bookstores.”
Face to face connections is something the company did not want to lose during an age of many technological advances.
“We stopped selling books online because we missed having the one on one connections with our customers,” Bergstrom said. “We wanted to help customers find books they didn’t even know they were looking for and come back asking for more suggestions. That means we are doing are job well.”
Being an owner of an independent bookstore allows Dokken to create strong bonds with her customers and to those relationships to her are priceless.
“I am able to know our customers at an entirely different level than a bigger book store and I absolutely love that,” Dokken said. “I can tell you what most of my customers have on their shelves at home and that’s something you’ll only find at A Novel Idea.
By: Brittany Hamor
Ever since Collin Wehr was 6 he would read the newspaper with his father, Ray Wehr, at the breakfast table in their Chicago home. They would discuss the stats and the latest injuries to their favorite football team, the Chicago Bears.
His sister, Ramsay Wehr, used to run down the stairs to the kitchen every morning, belting out the latest country hits on the radio. She never cared about sports. All she ever wanted to do was move to Nashville and become a famous country artist.
That dream quickly changed when Collin was diagnosed with brain cancer. He took his final breath on March 20, 2013 at only 11, and that’s when she knew she was going to carry on his legacy. Ramsay, 19, then set herself on the path to become an aspiring sports broadcaster who is immersed in athletic communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Collin was a normal third grade student at the time. He loved playing sports and socializing with other classmates.
He rarely missed a day of school, so when he started getting flu-like symptoms for weeks at a time his parents grew concerned.
They made an appointment at Children’s Memorial Center in Chicago where he was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a brain tumor that’s wrapped about the brain stem, according to the St. Jude’s website.
At 10 he went through five surgeries, chemotherapy, a spinal fusion, hearing loss, a feeding tube and many hours of physical therapy.
“I remember him playing sports and our dad would always coach the team. Their favorite was football though,” Ramsay Wehr said. “But when he got sick his dream of being a professional football player transformed into reporting about football. Sometimes you have to change your dream when your faced with obstacles.”
Collin always had a huge personality. He would talk with all the doctors about all the NFL players’ latest injuries, playoff or game predictions and stats for every NFL team with NFL Network in the background.
“Any time there was a football game on the nurses and doctors would sit there and watch him call plays and color commentate,” Ramsay Wehr said. “Even at his young age he had a gift for sports broadcasting.”
When the Wehr family called Make-A-Wish they were not sure how long Collin had left. Four days later the foundation came knocking on the hospital door.
“They asked him what he wanted for his wish,” Ramsay Wehr said. “He thought about it for a little while, stared them right in the eye and said you know I just really want a guitar.”
That’s when Make-A-Wish taught him their motto: “Think bigger.”
“He looked around the room and noticed the TV,” Ramsay Wehr said. “The Chicago Bear’s game was on, and his eyes lit up.”
His wish was to be an NFL Network Bears beat reporter for the day. He was joined by his favorite NFL Network analyst, Tom Waddle. This was where Ramsay Wehr was exposed to the world of broadcasting.
The Make-A-Wish foundation was able to fly a whole NFL Network crew from Los Angeles to Chicago. The crew consisted of two camera men, two audio assistants, one producer and one assistant producer in December 2013.
“I got to meet and interact with this group of people all day and watch them interview all kinds of people,” Ramsay Wehr said. “I finally understood why he was so interested in sports broadcasting and that’s when I knew I wanted to follow in his footsteps.”
Collin was able to stand in the crowd with other reporters in order to interview the players before the game. All the excitement in this moment did not phase Collin. He was a natural. This was his dream and he was soaking up every second.
“I got nervous when everyone kept telling me to watch Collin because fighting for the interviews can get intense,” Ray Wehr said. “It brought tears to my eyes when all of the reporters stopped and lined up behind him so he could get the interviews he wanted.”
Collin’s Make-A-Wish was not only a pivotal moment in his life, but in Ramsay Wehr’s too. This is where the bond between Collin and Ramsay grew stronger.
“Sports have always meant a lot to Ramsay and her family. It was their way of bonding. When I joined the family, metaphorically of course, they taught me all about sports,” said Cassandra Louie, Ramsay Wehr’s best friend. “Through her brother’s make a wish, Ramsay was able to find a way to combine her love of sports and of performance. I can’t wait to see her on ESPN someday, knock on wood!”
Six months later Collin passed away after two years of fighting his cancer.
“Make-A-Wish showed me that my brother and I had a common dream,” Ramsay Wehr said. “When he passed I knew one day or another we were going to reach it.”
Shortly after Collin passed away, it was time for Ramsay to apply to universities. All she knew about college was that she wanted to go into sports broadcasting and turned to a guidance counselor to seek advice.
“I was a mess when it was time to pick colleges. He (the guidance counselor) suggested I check out the University of Nebraska-Lincoln,” Ramsay Wehr said. “When I went on tour I instantly fell in love with the college because they had all the things I wanted, like hands on experience in my field.”
She made it her goal to get as involved as she could her freshman year to make sure she could get to be a part of HuskerVision during her sophomore year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
“Aside from live game entertainment HuskerVision also works to produce Nebraska Athletics Television content that airs nationally on the Big Ten Network as well as through local affiliates. Over 100 fully produced television shows each year provide national exposure to Nebraska athletics,” according to the Huskers website.
As a freshman, she was involved in the Media Smarts learning community, Chi Omega sorority, president of Sandoz Hall government, Residence Hall Association speaker of the house and the director of volleyball and wrestling at Iron N.
“When she has a goal she goes after it with everything she has got,” said Joan Wehr, mother of Ramsay and Collin. “I am so proud of and in awe of all her hard work to make a career in broadcasting a reality.”
Now the Make-A-Wish gift has gone full circle, as a member of Chi Omega their philanthropy is helping create wishes for other Make-A-Wish children. The sorority has hosted a “Wing Fling” every year since 2002 and has raised almost $13 million. The Wing Fling gives students access to unlimited wings for $6 and all the proceeds go to making a child’s wish come true.
“She’s always the first one to volunteer for anything during this philanthropy,” said Kensie Burnside, Wehr’s sorority sister. “Seeing how motivated she is about everything she does makes her a person aspire to be.”
Make-A-Wish gave her and her brother the opportunity to bond over their love of sports broadcasting during his last few months. She vows to give back to them in any way possible because what the foundation did for her is something she’ll cherish for a lifetime.
“I volunteer a lot of hours during this philanthropy because it’s so close to my heart,” Ramsay Wehr said. “If I am lucky enough to be working in a professional field I promise I will be the first one to make their wish come true. The impact Make-A-Wish has on these kids is priceless.”
Her main goal is to work for ESPN or NFL Network after graduation and hopes to get an internship with either company next summer.
Her brother is what motivates her to achieve all her goals and strive to have a future in the professional football world.
“I can’t wait to see where my future takes me, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of my little brother,” Ramsay Wehr said.
On October 23, 1874, Lakota warriors entered Red Cloud Agency and chopped up the pole that agent John J. Saville planned to use to fly the American flag. The stage was now set for an armed confrontation, and only decisive action by Lakota leaders and U.S. troops prevented bloodshed. The incident represented the larger confrontation, conflict, and transformation brought on by gradual cultural domination of the Lakota by the whites.
The story of this conflict and the events leading up to it are explored in the article “The ‘Flagpole Affair’ at Red Cloud Agency: An Incident in the Cultural Transition of the Oglala Lakota” by Randy Kane. It appears in the Fall 2016 issue of Nebraska History.
It began with the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. Though it removed military posts from the Bozeman Trail, it also established a reservation for the Lakota (Western Sioux) and began the process of tribal confinement.
Oglala Chief Red Cloud had understood by the Treaty of 1868 that the food and supplies distribution point for his people would be at Fort Laramie, but government officials determined that too many whites lived nearby and passed through the area. An “agency” for the Oglala Lakota was established along the North Platte River thirty miles downriver from the fort. The agency at White River, known as Red Cloud Agency after the prominent Oglala Leader, became the administrative center for the Oglala to be supervised by an appointed agent representing the government.
Agent John J. Saville arrived at Red Cloud agency in 1873. The Peace Policy authorized church denominations to appoint the agents. Saville did the bookkeeping, hired the agents, supervised the distribution of annuities and payments and acted as a liaison with the military forces in the area.
In 1874, Saville attempted to erect a pole to fly the American flag over the Red Cloud Agency. Saville stated that the flag would be flown only on Sundays to let the Indians know that the agency employees did not want to be disturbed for business on that day or flown as a sign to the military camp that the agency was in trouble.
The Indians, including Red Cloud, initially objected. Capt. William H. Jordan wrote that the Indians considered the erection of a flagpole as “a declaration of war against them.” Lt. Emmet Crawford responded when the Indians began chopping up the flagpole. He later testified that the agency people objected to the flagpole because “it looked too much like a military camp.”
The most prominent player in the flagpole incident, however, was the Oglala leader Sitting Bull. He personified the cultural evolution of many Oglala towards acceptance of the agency and reservation way of life. Sitting Bull went on to navigate complicated and tragic relationships between Native Americans and the U.S. government.
In September of 1875, Sitting Bull once again played role in quelling a disturbance created by the Lakota during negotiations at Red Cloud Agency with the government’s Allison Commission to purchase the Black Hills. In September 1876, after the summer battles at the Rosebud and the Little Bighorn, another commission led by George Manypenney came to Red Cloud Agency to dictate terms of an “agreement” forcing the Lakota to sell the Black Hills. The Indians had little choice and band leaders and headmen signed the documents.
Shortly after, Sitting Bull left the agency and went to the camp of Crazy Horse. Sitting Bull volunteered to join a delegation of Lakota chiefs to negotiate peace with Brig. Gen. Nelson Miles. On December 16, 1876, as the delegation approached the cantonment under the flag of truce, Crow Indian scouts serving with the army treacherously killed Sitting Bull and the other Lakota. This act infuriated Miles and ruined his attempt to negotiate surrender.
Overall, many people suffered from their involvement in this fraught period in Indian-government relations. Saville was relived from office as a result of his attempt to administer cultural change. Sitting Bull was killed in his attempt to accommodate cultural change.
Sophomore biology major Joanna Castro walked through the front doors of Prime Place feeling confident that she made the right choice. As the door to her two-bedroom apartment shut behind her, she thought this calm atmosphere was what she needed to thrive.
This was the moment it felt like home.
“The living space in Prime Place is a great improvement compared to the small dorms,” Castro said. “The dorms were not my ideal environment because I prefer to live in a place that’s quiet. I also liked that I could make it feel like home and do whatever I wanted with the space.”
In the last four years, several off-campus apartment complexes with an emphasis on student living have become a home for students like Castro. This trend develops at a time when the student population is expanding without plans to increase on-campus student housing.
However, it hasn’t had a significant effect on university housing.
According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Fact Book for 2015-2016, 34.7 percent of students live on campus. That’s about a 4.2 percent decrease from the 2014 fall semester.
“At this point, it has not had much of an impact on the university,” said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Juan Franco. “Since freshmen are required to live on campus, our housing numbers will always be good.”
Even with the closing of Cather and Pound halls, Franco said the university will continue to have adequate space for the students. UNL will also be opening a new residence hall on East Campus with several single rooms that can easily be converted to doubles.
A lack of space is not the main concern for students moving off campus; a growing concern is affordability.
“Living off campus was the best option for the financial situation I am in right now,” said Addison Krebs, a sophomore fisheries and wildlife major at UNL and a resident in the The Willows apartment complex at 1800 Knox Street. “I get to pay rent monthly instead of having to pay everything at once, like at the dorms.”
Apartment-style living on UNL’s campus costs $7,864 per academic year for two bedrooms and one bathroom, such as in The Village or Courtyards. When divided up among eight months of the academic year, that costs students about $983 per month.
A two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment at Prime Place would cost $499 per month in comparison. At Aspen Heights, a two bedroom, two bathroom starts at $669 per renter. A two bedroom and one bathroom at 8 | N Lofts ranges from $725 to $735 a month.
With everything added up, the difference between on-campus and off-campus living could be over $400 per month.
“Not only did I really like the financial aspect, but the location was great too,” Krebs said. “[The Willows apartment complex] is only a 10-minute bus ride to and from campus.”
Krebs said he believes the biggest downfall in the location is having to plan his day around the bus schedule because he does not have a car in Lincoln.
“It is also inconvenient when I have gaps in between my classes,” Krebs said. “When I have a two-hour break it is not worth going home for 15 minutes and then taking the bus straight back to campus.”
Even though Krebs has to plan his day around the bus schedule, he said he believes being able to get off campus sometimes is worth it.
Senior secondary math education major Sarah Houston is a resident of the Tanglewood apartment complex, located on 301 N 44th St., and said she prefers it to on-campus living, especially considering the cheaper rent and location.
“I really like that I am able to have my own space and not have to worry about finding a quiet place when I choose to have time to myself,” Houston said. “Sometimes it’s great to get off of campus and just be able to relax.”
While many students agree that experiencing dorm life is essential to the traditional college experience, living off campus can help further develop students’ skills outside the classroom.
“I think there are more positives to it than negatives,” Krebs said. “It’s a good life experience and really helps you grow as a person.”
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has announced two sets of finalists for two senior vice chancellor positions.
Ronnie Green previously held both of these positions, but they opened up when Green became the UNL’s chancellor in May.
One set of finalists is up for the Harlan Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the University of Nebraska vice president for Agriculture and Natural Resources. Michael Boehm, William Brown, Gary Thompson and Ron Yoder are the finalists for these positions.
The second set of finalists are competing for the position of Executive Vice Chancellor, previously known as the Senior Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs. The finalists are Sheryl Tucker, Elizabeth Spiller, Mark Sheridan and Cheryl Achterberg.
All of the finalists will be on campus over the course of the next few weeks to speak and meet with students, faculty and staff.
Michael Boehm, professor of plant pathology and vice provost for academic and strategic planning at the Ohio State University, will live-stream a state and campus town hall Sept. 26 at 3 p.m. in 107 Hardin Hall at UNL.
William F. “Bill” Brown, dean for research and director of the Agricultural Experiment Station at the Institute of Agriculture at the University of Tennessee, will live-stream a state and campus town hall Sept. 28 at 3 p.m. in the East Union Arbor Suite.
Ron Yoder, interim vice chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Nebraska, will live-stream a state and campus town hall Oct. 3 at 3 p.m. in the East Union Great Plains Room.
Gary Thompson, associate dean for Research and Graduate Education and director of the Pennsylvania Agricultural Experiment Station at Pennsylvania State University, will live-stream a state and campus town hall Oct. 6 at 3 p.m. in the East Union Great Plains Room.
Sheryl Tucker, associate provost and dean of the Oklahoma State University Graduate College, will have a live-stream public presentation at 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 4.
Elizabeth Spiller, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, will have a live-stream public presentation Oct. 6.
Mark Sheridan, vice provost for graduate and postdoctoral affairs and dean of the graduate school at Texas Tech University, will have a live-stream public presentation at 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 11.
Cheryl Achterberg, dean of the College of Education and Human Ecology at the Ohio State University will have a live-stream public presentation at 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 13.
More information about the the search for the executive vice chancellor be found online.
Recognizing the warning signs of a suicide crisis will be the focus of a training session in the Nebraska Union at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Sept. 20-21, from 3:30 to 5 p.m.
QPR training, which stands for question, persuade and refer, is a three-step system that can help students save a life.
The hosts for the event will be Pat Tetreault, assistant director of Student Involvement and director of the LGBTQA+ Resource Center, and Jan Deeds, the director of the UNL Women’s Center.
Tetreault has both personal and professional reasons for supporting suicide awareness and prevention efforts.
“I have known students who shared with me that they had been suicidal due to the bullying, lack of support and other challenges they had experienced,” Tetreault said. “Raising awareness about the signs that someone may be suicidal, and how to respond in ways that may be helpful, is useful information that may positively impact many people’s lives.”
In the sessions, students will learn how to recognize warning signs, give hope and seek help to save a life.
“Suicide is a leading cause of death, and recognizing the potential signs that someone is suicidal has the potential to save someone’s life,” Tetreault said.
Those signs can be seen in three things: speech, behavior and sudden changes in mood, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
According to the foundation, something that could be a warning sign of suicide is “if a person talks about being a burden, feeling trapped, experiencing unbearable pain or having no reason to live.”
The AFSP also lists recklessness, isolation, sleeping too much or too little, giving away prized possessions, aggression and visiting people to say goodbye as behaviors to watch for.
The training will provide a foundation for recognizing some of those indicators.
“The overall goal is for people to be aware of the signs that someone may be suicidal and what they can do to help,” Tetreault said.
Everyone has the ability to make a difference in someone else’s life, Tetreault said, and this seminar will bring some of those ways to light.
“Being aware and having basic information and skills to respond in ways that may help are important for the person responding as well as the person who may be at risk for suicide,” she said.
The free trainings are open to all students, staff and faculty members.
For those in search of help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255.