Locals mixed on proposed time change
by Nathan Arneal
Those sultry summer nights might be starting a little earlier if one Nebraska senator gets her way.
Sen. Lydia Brasch of Bancroft has introduced LB 309 in the Nebraska Unicameral, a measure that would eliminate daylight saving time.
That would mean it would get dark in the evening – and light in the morning – an hour earlier than it currently does from March through October.
If passed, Nebraska would become the third state to abandon daylight saving time and stick with standard time year round, joining Hawaii and most of Arizona. Several other states are considering similar proposals this year.
One reason sighted by proponents of the bill is the disruption it causes for children and students.
Laverta Kitt, owner of Munchkin Patch Day Care in North Bend, said she could tell that the kids she watches missed an hour of sleep when they came in Monday.
“Some of them wanted to fall asleep during lunch time,” she said. “I can see a big difference.”
Shirley Johnson also spent the first full day of daylight saving time surrounded by little ones as a kindergarten teacher at NBE. However, she said she didn’t see much of a change in her students Monday, but the effect of daylight saving time will show itself later in the school year. As the days get longer in late April and early May, her kindergartners get less sleep.
“It’s not dark until almost 8:30 or so and kids don’t go to bed very early,” Johnson said. “They think they can stay up until it’s dark. Then by the time they go to bed and get to sleep, they’ve stayed up way later than usual. That’s when I really notice it, as it gets to be light longer.”
For that reason, Johnson said she wouldn’t mind seeing daylight saving time repealed.
“Once summer hits, I don’t care how late kids stay up,” the teacher said. “When I’m still trying to do schoolwork, it’s kind of hard.”
Local farmers say they wouldn’t be affected much if daylight saving time was abolished.
“As far as the farming operation, you work from sunup to sundown a lot of days, so that perspective doesn’t change,” Dan Ruzicka said.
Bryon Chvatal, who farms in the Morse Bluff and Prague area, agreed. He said even if that summer sunrise came at 5:30 a.m. instead of 6:30, he’d probably still start his day at dawn.
Ruzicka said difficulties could arise if Nebraska was an hour earlier than its neighbors in Iowa, Kansas and South Dakota. His personal preference would be to continue with daylight saving time and the late summer evenings.
“Anything you do is better in the daylight than it is in the dark,” Ruzicka said, “even with the lights that we have on our equipment.”
Chvatal wouldn’t mind seeing Nebraska stay on the same time year round, but he understands others could be affected.
“(DST) probably works better for the businessman because they can come home and do yard work or whatever they need to do,” Chvatal said. “Me personally, (a repeal) wouldn’t bother me, but I don’t want to affect businesses either if it’s going to hurt them, like the golf course. You want them to thrive, especially in the local community.”
Golf courses are one of the main opponents of LB 309.
Claire Eason plays in a women’s league at the North Bend Golf Course. When the league starts in May, tee time is 5:45 p.m. It shifts to 6 p.m. in June. When play is completed about 2 or 2.5 hours later, dusk is gathering.
“At this latitude, we have just enough time during the heart of the summer to get our league played,” Eason said. “(A repeal of DST) would really be a hardship for our women’s league, because people work. We can’t start until like 6:00.”
NBGC Board Treasurer Duane Ellermeier said the course would have trouble making ends meet if there wasn’t enough time to play a golf league before it got dark. NBGC hosts a golf league every weeknight of the summer.
“This golf course is one of the few that are still making money,” Ellermeier said. “If we lost a couple of leagues because of darkness, it would have a huge impact.”
He pointed out that the course wouldn’t be just missing green fees, but income from food and beverage sales and cart rentals.
“It would be – I don’t want to say devastating – but it would be really bad if we were to lose some leagues,” Ellermeier said.
An informal poll of North Bend Eagle twitter followers (@northbendeagle) received 82 votes, with 73 percent of respondents preferring to keep daylight saving time as it is.
LB 309 has been referred to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee and underwent a hearing on March 3. If passed, it would take effect in 2018 and Nebraska would remain on standard time the whole year.
For 2017, daylight saving time began Sunday and runs through Nov. 5.
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