November 18, 2011                                                  NACO E-Line Archive 
The NACO & MIPS offices
will be closed
Thursday, November 24th
& Friday, November 25

Upcoming Events


December 14-16, 2011


NWCA Annual Conference

North Platte

February 6-9, 2012


County Board Workshop


February 8-10, 2012

























AssocMembersAssociate and Sustaining Members

NACO Associate and Sustaining Members enable NACO to enhance its continuing education programs for county officials across the state. Visit NACO's complete associate and sustaining membership list here.


 EducationFoundationEducation Foundation Memorial Program

A gift to NACO's Education Foundation ensures that the children of county officials and county employees are eligible to apply for scholarships to continue their education at Nebraska's higher learning institutions. Whatever their passion - history, art, music, science, education, sports - the NACO Education Foundation will provide them an opportunity to fund their education beyond the K-12 level. Memorial gifts to NACO's Education Foundation are tax exempt and a lasting legacy in honor of your loved one's commitment to educating the children of Nebraska's county officials and employees. For more information about how to make a memorial gift, please contact Jon Edwards / 402-434-5660 ext. 227.

In This Issue

Conference Matters

Legal Line

Interim Hearing Schedule

Nebraska Crime Commission Grant Announcement

2012-2013 COMPETITIVE AmeriCorps Funds Announcement

News from NACo

NACo Web-based Education

Legal Calendar

County Classifieds

Associate & Sustaining Members

NACO Education Foundation Memorial Program


ConferenceConference Matters
Tom_Osborne_Photo_2010Tom Osborne to Speak at Opening Session


Hall of Fame football coach Tom Osborne has continued to leave a lasting impression on the history of Nebraska Athletics since returning to lead the Husker program as the school's 13th athletic director on Oct. 16, 2007. Osborne, who led Nebraska to three national championships (1994, 1995, 1997) and 255 victories in his 25 years as the Huskers' head football coach, has continued to use his impressive leadership skills to guide the NU athletic department as a whole over the past four seasons. 

With the core values of integrity, trust, respect, teamwork and loyalty serving as guiding principles for Nebraska's 23-sport program as a whole, Osborne has made historic decisions to help the University of Nebraska athletic programs for years to come.
Registration and Program


Registration, tentative program and affiliate agenda information is available on the NACO website. Advance registration is $120 on or before November 25. Registrations received after that date will be $135.


Silent Auction


As stated in the July 15 issue of NACO E-Line, NACO will hold a silent auction on Friday at the Annual Conference. County Clerks have been contacted to recruit their fellow county officials in soliciting donations from vendors in their county for the auction. It is NACO's goal to have items available from each of the 93 counties. When you consider what item to donate, please keep in mind the interests and needs of individuals who attend our conference. For example, themed gift baskets are a popular silent auction item, including themes such as sports, home improvement, chocolate, music, and theater candy/popcorn, entertainment, etc.
When you donate the item, please include the donor's name, a description of the item and the estimated value of the item.

Donations for the silent auction, along with the donor and the approximate value, must be reported to NACO no later than November 28. You may bring the item(s) with you and turn them in at the conference registration desk when you register for the conference.


Please contact Elaine Menzel / 402-434-5660 ext. 225 with questions or information about how you will contribute to the NACO Education Foundation Silent Auction.


Thank you for your consideration of this invitation to be a key part of NACO's Education Foundation Silent Auction.


LegalLineLegal Line 
Editor's Note: Legal Line is a feature that will periodically appear in E-Line. This edition has been prepared by Beth Ferrell, a member of the NACO legal staff. Legal Line is not intended to serve as legal advice. Rather, it is published to alert readers to court decisions and legal or advisory matters important to county government. For a specific opinion on how the information contained in this article or that which will be discussed in future issues relates to your county, consult your county attorney or your personal counsel. 


Mineral Interest Case Decided 


Severed mineral interests were reunited with the surface interest in a Nebraska Supreme Court case decided on Nov. 10. Citing Neb.Rev.Stat. 57-229, the Court determined that the mineral interests had been abandoned because the owners had not taken the actions required by statute within the appropriate timeframe. These actions, which include acquiring or transferring interest in the property, drilling or mining for minerals, or recording a verified claim of interest in the county, must be undertaken within 23 years. If not, the owner of the surface interest may sue in equity to extinguish the severed mineral interest under 57-228. These dormant mineral statutes were adopted in 1967.


In Peterson v. Sanders, 282 Neb. 711, ___ N.W.2d ___ (2011), Stacia and Floyd Sanders sold a parcel of property in 1953 but reserved the mineral interest to themselves. In 1985, the severed mineral rights were passed to their children. The Petersons, who owned the surface interest, filed suit in 2010 alleging that the mineral rights had been abandoned. Both parties agreed that in the 23 years preceding the complaint, none of the defendants had exercised their right of ownership in the mineral interest in any of the ways specified by 57-229


The Court examined case law addressing the retroactive application of dormant mineral statutes and found that the critical date in this case was not the date when the mineral interests were severed, but 1985 when the Sanders children received the property. When the property was transferred to the Sanders children, they were presumed to have knowledge of the law which affected their prospective enjoyment and retention of the mineral interests.  Because they did not publicly exercise their right of ownership, the mineral interests were considered abandoned.   


Just Cause Upheld in Termination 


The termination of a public employee who smoked marijuana before reporting to work was upheld by the Court of Appeals on Nov. 8, 2011 in Petersen v. Nebraska Dept. Of Health and Human Servs., 19 Neb. App. 314 ___ N.W.2d ___ (2011). Petersen was a Department of Correctional Services (DCS) employee who worked at the Lincoln Regional Center (LRC) and was a member of a government employees' union. When a Nebraska State Patrol SWAT team was touring an LRC building, one of the members detected an odor of burnt marijuana surrounding Petersen. He was assessed by the director of nursing and allowed to return to work. Shortly thereafter, he was suspended and later terminated. The notice of termination indicated that Petersen had violated the labor contract by violating a code of conduct and other articles of the contract, as well as violating the Department's drug testing policies and the LRC's rules. Petersen appealed as outlined in the employee grievance process. 


In Petersen's Court of Appeals case, he argued that there was no just cause to terminate his employment, as required by the terms of the labor contract. He cited a 2009 Nebraska Supreme Court case in which another DCS employee who tested positive for marijuana in a random test was not subject to immediate discharge.  In Ahmann v. Nebraska Dept. Of Corr. Servcs, 278 Neb. 29, 767 N.W.2d 104, the Court held that DCS did not consider off-duty drug use a per se justification for immediate discharge and that Ahmann's use of marijuana did not occur on the job or otherwise "affect his job performance or in any way jeopardize the safety and security of DCS." The Court of Appeals distinguished the Petersen case from Ahmann, noting that Ahmann was a clerical worker with no contact with patients but Petersen was in direct contact with patients in his responsibilities related to mental health board commitments, including contact with persons with serious and persistent mental illnesses, court-ordered referrals, certain criminal defendants, and sexual offenders. The Court noted that Ahmann and other cases defined "just cause" for dismissal as that in which a reasonable employer, acting in good faith, would regard as good and sufficient reason for terminating the services of an employee, as distinguished from an arbitrary whim or caprice. 


Given the nature and severity of Petersen's infraction, the Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's conclusion that a reasonable employer, acting in good faith, would regard the infraction as a cause for immediate termination. Because Petersen worked in a potentially dangerous and violent unit in which a physician had been attacked and killed by a patient, it was of the utmost importance that Petersen remain alert and unimpaired at work. His use of marijuana before reporting to work could jeopardize the safety and security of DCS.


InterimInterim Hearing Schedule 

During the interim between regular legislative sessions, standing committees of the Legislature conduct studies on resolutions introduced by senators during the session. Below is a listing of upcoming study hearings that may be of interest to counties.


Nov. 22 - Retirement Systems - LR 210 - Examine retirement systems administered by the Public Employees Retirement Board


Nov. 29 - Health and Human Services - LR 306 - Assess the effectiveness of the ACCESS Nebraska system in building partnerships with community-based organization and serving clients via the new system


Dec. 5 - Judiciary Committee - Special study of policies and procedures associated with immigrants who come into contact with law enforcement at federal, state, and local levels


Dec. 5 - Judiciary Committee - LR 243 - Examine the extent of human trafficking in Nebraska in connection with labor and sex trafficking 


A full list of interim studies is available on the Legislature's website here.


Hearings conducted at the State Capitol can be watched through NET's live video streaming link.


NCCGrantNebraska Crime Commission Grant Announcement 

The Nebraska Crime Commission has announced the availability of 2011 Federal Title II and 2012 State Juvenile Services funds. Applications are due to the Crime Commission by January 6, 2012. The application and instructions can be found on the Crime Commission website.


AmeriCorps2012-2013 AmeriCorps  COMPETITIVE Request for Applications 

ServeNebraska announces the availability of 2012-2013 Competitive AmeriCorps funds for programs operating exclusively within Nebraska or multi-state programs with a presence in our state.


This opportunity is appropriate for community-based non-profit organizations and public entities with experience in successfully implementing significant-scale multi-site national or community service programming with sophisticated well-developed program designs addressing human services, educational, environmental, public safety, veterans, or disaster preparedness and response needs.


This opportunity is designed for experienced providers of programming. Qualified proposals will be submitted to compete for funding nationally with quality proposals from other states and strong multi-state applications. AmeriCorps programming funded under this Request for Applications will begin September 1, 2012.


Learn more, take a voluntary organizational readiness self-assessment, and access application materials here.


NACoNewsNews from NACo 

NACo_LogoUpdated NACo Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative Publication


NACo has recently updated the Second Edition 2011 publication of Juvenile Detention Reform Guide for County Officials. This publication captures alternative practices to juvenile detention that counties can implement in their respective communities. Read the full publication here.


To order copies of this publication or other justice related materials from NACo, please contact Rebecca Hsieh / 202-942-4279.


NACoWebEdNACo Web-based Education

The Future of Financing County Energy Projects

Thursday, December 1, 2011

1:00 PM - 2:15 PM CST


Over the past three years, many counties have been making significant energy project investments in their facilities - resulting in real savings over the long term and resource protection. Yet, much of the state and federal funding counties have relied on is not going to be available in 2012. The world of county energy finance is changing quickly. Participate in this webinar to learn about the new strategies available to finance your county energy projects. Register here.


For more information on these and other upcoming or previous webinars, visit the NACo Web-based Education page.


Nebraska Association of County Officials
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