A Monthly Publication of the Nebraska Environmental Trust

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Dave Heineman, Governor

Board of Trustees

District I
District II
District III

Agency Directors

Trust Staff

November 2013

In This Issue:

  1. Executive Director's Corner
  2. Historic Ferguson House Opens for Holiday Tours
  3. Norfolkans take advantage of Household Hazardous Waste Facility
  4. Upcoming Events
  5. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and find us on YouTube


Executive Director's Corner

Fall sports are changing from high school volleyball and football to basketball.  The Huskers are hoping to finish strong in both sports, but the recent home loss to Michigan State in football was a heartbreaker.  The Lady Huskers did avenge the loss with a win over the Lady Spartans.  Folks are excited about Husker men’s basketball for the first time in a while with a couple of wins in the new arena and Coach Miles getting some quality recruits.  The women’s team is picked to finish first in the Big 10 and fans are excited.

Our big holiday open house is coming Sunday, Dec. 8th from 1:00 to 5:00 and we hope to see you.  If you have never toured the Ferguson House, I invite you to come and see some of the fascinating features of the house.  From the central vacuum system and built in icebox to the 3rd floor ballroom and the walk-in vault in the basement.

The Grant Committee has begun the long process of ranking the 2014 grants.  As always, there are some great ideas and I can’t wait to see some of these worthwhile projects get funded and be completed.

Have a safe holiday season. 


Mark A. Brohman
Executive Director


Historic Ferguson House Opens for Holiday Tours

The Nebraska Environmental Trust will host a holiday open house at the historic Ferguson House (office of the Nebraska Environmental Trust) on Sunday, December 8th. The public is invited to visit and tour the 102 year-old Renaissance Revival home from 1 to 5 p.m. Also open on December 8th is the neighboring Kennard house. There is no charge to experience these historic treasures decorated for the holiday season.



The Ferguson House is located at 700 S 16th Street in downtown Lincoln. For more information, call 402-471-5409 or send e-mail to env.trust@nebraska.gov

Considered to be one of the finest examples of Second Renaissance Revival architecture in the area, the Ferguson House was built between 1909 and 1911 by William Henry and Myrtle Ferguson. Mr. Ferguson helped introduce winter wheat and alfalfa to Nebraska and was co-owner of Yankee Hill Brick and Capital Beach Amusement Park, President of Beatrice Foods and owner of Woodlawn Dairy. The State of Nebraska acquired the property from the Ferguson family in 1961 and the property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The house is a well-known landmark in Lincoln located across from the Nebraska State Capitol. The staff of the Nebraska Environmental Trust currently occupies the second floor of the Ferguson House. The first floor living and dining rooms are available to rent for meetings and events.


Norfolkans take advantage of Household Hazardous Waste Facility

In the last ten months Rob Mercer, City of Norfolk Solid Waste Supervisor, has seen a lot of what people store under their kitchen sinks and on the shelves in their garages.

The City’s new Household Hazardous Waste Building at 610 East Monroe Avenue opened last January as a joint project of the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and the Nebraska Environmental Trust to accept wastes including lawn chemicals and cleaners that people have in their home that can’t be put into the garbage. 

“If it’s in your house or garage in household quantities, we’ll take it,” said Mercer. Those items include cleaning chemicals, garden chemicals, automotive products, 2,4-D, paint removers, solvents, paint, WD-40 and caulking.

Mercer said that many times people will clean out their elderly parents’ homes or basements and find lots of products- some that have been on a shelf for years and some that are in quart jars and no one knows quite what it is.

“We’ve had products come in like rose and flower dust from the 1970’s that contain a high percentage of DDT. Some of the containers brought in have arsenic or ricin in them. It’s very important to bring them here and not dump them in the toilet or down the drain as it will eventually end up as poison in the Elkhorn River,” Mercer said.

Instead, Mercer tests to see what type of product is brought in and dumps it into the appropriate barrel until officials from a hazardous waste disposal site in McCook remove it. Since January, Mercer has filled four 55 gallon drums of oil based paint. He has filled two drums of poisons, a half drum of acids and a half drum of bases. 

"If you have products that are from the 1980’s or 90’s or newer first see if you can use them up or give them to a neighbor who may be able to make use of them. If it’s anything from the 70’s or older or you aren’t sure, bring it here,” Mercer said.

The products that come to him unopened he recycles by giving them to various city departments to use. Unused caulk, WD-40, transmission fluid and antifreeze have all been used on city repair projects and for maintaining equipment. Mercer said he uses the fertilizer and weed killer brought in unopened containers to keep the grass nice around the hazardous waste building.


What has already been opened has to be handled carefully. Mercer wears a face shield, mask, gloves and a rubber apron to work with the assortment of chemicals dropped off at the facility. An emergency shower and eye wash are at the ready. A special machine punctures the aerosol cans and paint cans and drains them before crushing the can.

Mercer said if people have cans with a small amount of latex paint in them, it’s best that they dry it out and throw it in their trash as latex paint is non-toxic. If there’s more than that left in the paint, it can be brought to the Household Hazardous Waste Building to be used at the landfill.  Quantities of the latex paint are mixed with shredded newspaper and water and poured over the trash so items don’t blow around.

The Household Hazardous Waste Building is open each weekday from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm and from 7:30 am to 12:00 pm on Saturday. It is closed on Sundays. Mercer said people bringing household hazardous waste items need to stop at the scale house at the entrance of the Solid Waste Facility for directions on where to go next. He also has a few recommendations.
“Don’t buy opened products at a rummage sale as it may not be what you think. Bring your items to us in the original container and never mix them as some of the fumes from doing so can kill you. The best practice is to buy only what you can use,” Mercer said.

For any questions about household hazardous or other types of wastes, call the Solid Waste Division at 402-844-2230. There is no fee to drop off the household hazardous waste as the partnership that set up the facility is absorbing those costs.


Upcoming Events

- December 8, 2013 (Sunday), 1:00pm - 5:00pm - Christmas Open House, Ferguson House, Lincoln NE.

- February 13, 2014 (Thursday), 1:30pm - 1st Quarter Board Meeting

- April 3, 2014 (Thursday), 1:30pm - 2nd Quarter Board Meeting.


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