New Members Named for Expansion of Natural Resources Commission


Beginning June 1 there will be 11 new members on the Natural Resources Commission to comply with terms of a recently passed bill aimed at addressing water management, water quality and flood control issues.

The new members will expand the commission from 16 to 27 members and include a diversity of water users to represent agricultural interests, manufacturing interests, the interests of outdoor recreation users, wildlife conservation interests and many more.

The appointees must have staggered terms of service so the following new members will initially serve two-year terms beginning June 1: Brian Barels of Columbus, water resources manager at Nebraska Public Power District; Joel Christensen of Omaha, civil engineer and vice president of water operations at Metropolitan Utilities District; Steven Huggenberger of Lincoln, assistant city attorney specializing in water law; Tom Palmertree of Hebron, director of marketing at Reinke Manufacturing; and Scott Smathers of Lincoln, executive director at Backcountry Consulting.

The additional new members will serve four-year terms beginning June 1: Don Kraus of Holdrege, general manager at Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District; Walter Dennis Strauch of Mitchell, general manager at Pathfinder Irrigation District; Donald Batie of Lexington, farmer and cattleman; Henry (Hod) Kosman of Scottsbluff, president, CEO and chairman at Platte Valley Companies; Lindsey Smith of Broken Bow, assistant manager for Gracie Creek Ranch; and Owen Palm of Gering, CEO at 21st Century Equipment.

Finally, a few individuals already serving on the committee will have a new term to comply with the passage of LB 1098. Thomas Knutson of St. Paul, retired Twin Loups Reclamation District, and Mayor Stanley Clouse of Kearney will serve until May 31, 2016. Kearney farmer Richard Mercer will serve until May 31, 2018.