Nebraska Association of County Officials

1335 H Street Lincoln, NE 68508

Phone: (402) 434-5660
Fax: (402) 434-5673
February 22, 2019 | | NACO E-Line Archive
Former Longtime NACO Director
Jack Mills
Jaclund (Jack) D. Mills, 81, of Lincoln passed away February 14, 2019, following a courageous extended battle with cancer.

The son of Dr. Dale and Fern E. (Zieme) Mills, Jack was born August 22, 1937, in Holdrege. As the son of educators, Jack would spend his formative years in Colorado, Shelton, Lincoln and Big Springs before graduating from Superior High School in the mid-1950s. He would continue his education at Kearney State College, the University of Nebraska and eventually earn his degree from Bellevue University.

Jack’s entrepreneurial spirit once again took him west to Big Springs where he successfully established himself in the grain, fertilizer and cattle business. His can-do attitude also led him to serve on both the local Educational Service Unit Board and the Big Springs School District Board.

Jack successfully ran for the Nebraska Legislature in 1974 and represented the 44th District from 1975 until 1978. Here he would form many long-lasting friendships and leave an indelible impression. But Jack’s best accomplishment while in the Statehouse may very well have been marrying Norma Thorell Swanson, who was employed in the Attorney General’s Office. On August 7, 1976, Norma agreed to be Jack’s beloved wife and for the next 43 years serve as his rock, guiding light and inspiration. It was truly a love story.

Jack left the Legislature to become Executive Director of the Nebraska Association of County Officials on September 1,1978, a position he would steadfastly hold until his retirement on June 30, 2000. During those years Jack worked alongside five different governors and countless state senators to formulate legislation that was in the best interest of the Nebraska’s 93 counties and local taxpayers.

One example was successfully leading an effort in the 1980s to create the state’s first public entity risk management and self-insurance program, the Nebraska Intergovernmental Risk Management Association, that to date has saved counties and taxpayers millions of dollars. The Association of Governmental Risk Pools would recognize this and in 2008 made Jack an Honorary Lifetime Associate Member of the international organization.

When Jack announced his plans to retire, members of the Legislature paid tribute by adopting a resolution recognizing his service and, one by one, 16 senators took to the microphone to praise Jack and recount his days as the counties’ representative and voice.

“He is one of those stars, I think, among the lobby group. He does exactly the things that I think should happen by a lobbyist. He represents the people very well. He understands the issues. He presents them forthrightly,” said one senator. “I don’t even think of Jack Mills as a lobbyist. I think of him as an ambassador … (a) diplomat,” said another.

Retirement did not mean slowing down as Jack would continue to serve as a member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska Board of Directors, and for a period of time as Chief Executive Officer. After 28 years on the board, including 10 as chairman, Jack resigned in 2012. In recognition of the unparalleled legacy he left, Jack was bestowed the title of Chairman of the Board Emeritus, the only person given this honor.

Jack and Norma enjoyed traveling together. They explored the United States in their motor home and sailed on their boat, appropriately named the Norma Jean, that would take them from Lewis and Clark Lake to the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. Not one to shy away from a challenge, Jack charted a course that would take Norma and him along the East Coast from Havre de Grace, Maryland, to Stuart, Florida, a trip that would span 40 days and nights and cover a distance of more than 1,000 nautical miles.

Later on in retirement, Jack opted for a bit less adventure, trading his boat shoes for flip flops and a condominium in Florida where Norma and he would spend the winters. Jack enjoyed visiting with other “snowbirds” from around the country and world, and equally enjoyed serving as president of the Villas at Island Club Condominium Association for 14 years. One of Jack’s other enjoyments in retirement was attending his Thursday morning coffee group in Lincoln where he visited and reminisced with other retired professionals. It was the highlight of his week.

While Jack was the recipient of many awards and honors throughout his career, possibly the highest professional honor came in 2010 when the Board of Governors of the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben inducted Jack in their Court of Honor as the honoree for Lifetime Contributions to Public Service.

A man of benevolence, Jack was always the one to ask about your family, lend an ear or offer a helping hand to those in need. He enjoyed his many years as a Mason and found great pleasure in participating in local parades with his fellow Shrine members, oftentimes driving his red Corvette.

Jack was a longtime member of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church where he served on the Finance Committee.

Jack had a subtle yet direct way of offering encouragement, whether it would be with a friend, coworker or family member. He enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren, stressing the importance of a good education, encouraging them to strive for excellence and often challenging them in different ways.

Those who knew Jack will remember him as a man of vision, ambition, fortitude and someone who always remembered your name. And, they can attest, Jack Mills was not a potted plant.

Jack is survived by his wife Norma; son Kevin (Kim) of Bellevue, daughters Melanie of Omaha, Jody (Randy) Himan of Bellevue, and Stephanie (Brian) Beeson of Tulsa, Oklahoma; 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren; brothers- and sisters-in-law Rodney (Wanda) Thorell, DeWayne (Alice) Thorell, Alex (Marlene) McClean, and sisters-in-law Elaine Westergren and Ginger Thorell; numerous nieces, nephews and friends.

He was predeceased by his parents Dale and Fern Mills; father and mother-in law Raymond and Ruth Thorell; brothers-in-law Wendell Thorell, Don Thorell and Arlyn Westergren; sister-in-law Pat Thorell; and nephews Ryan Westergren and Todd Thorell.

Funeral services were held at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday (2-19-19) at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, 8550 Pioneers Blvd.
New Searchable County Officials Directory
NACO is excited to announce that there is a new searchable Directory of Nebraska County Officials available on our webpage. The interactive directory assists in quick access to easily lookup contact information by name, county or office. Please visit our website at  and select the blue button that says “County Officials Directory Online” to start using the directory today.  Please send an email to if you have any questions or concerns about the content of the directory. 
NACO on Social Media
NACO has been working on its social media presence, and plans on using these tools as a means of quickly disseminating information relevant to county government. We hope you will find them helpful.
We have updated our Facebook page, and will use it to provide news on what is going on in the office, as well as upcoming events of interest to the counties. We have also registered an account on Twitter, as @NACO_Nebraska, and will use this account to provide newsworthy items and to get information out more quickly if needed.
As part of this initiative, we are developing a policy on social media use, which will be presented to the NACO Board for approval. We would certainly welcome any suggestions or feedback. The Facebook and Twitter icons will be coming soon to the NACO homepage , and please friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter !
2019 NACO Scholarships Available
Nebraska high school seniors who are the children, stepchildren, or under the legal guardianship of county officials or employees are encouraged to apply for one of twelve $1,000 NACO scholarships. In addition, the special award of the Ronda Dix Memorial Scholarship may be presented to an applicant planning a career in nursing, physical therapy or another medical field. 
Additional information and the application form can be found on the front page of the NACO website. The scholarship application deadline is March 1, 2019. To access the application from this article, click here .
NACO began its scholarship program in 1999 when it presented six high school seniors with $500 awards to be used toward their post-secondary educations. Since 2004, NACO has presented twelve high school seniors with $1,000 awards. Scholarships are available for one year and are not renewable. Since its inception, NACO has offered nearly $200,000 to students of higher education due to this scholarship program.
To be considered for a NACO scholarship, students must complete the required application form, submit a seven-semester transcript from an accredited Nebraska high school and prepare essays on the importance of county government in Nebraska and their future goals and career plans.
Scholarship recipients must attend a post-secondary educational institution within the state of Nebraska and may use the NACO scholarship for any costs associated with their continuing education.
MIPS Bytes
Using a single router for a wireless network in a large home may not provide the best results. Many rooms have great signal while others have weak or no signal. In my case even a small house with dense walls and a metal mesh throughout makes it nearly impossible to set up an efficient wireless network. However, several solutions exist for extending or strengthening a wireless network.

The first method is to use access points. An access point connects directly to the network with an ethernet cable and provides a wireless network much like a traditional wireless router. However, this network can be setup to mirror an existing wireless service set identifier (SSID or network name) on separate channels. With an access point, the wireless devices receive full bandwidth back to the router since the signal is much closer to the device. Keep in mind some wireless devices may not switch to the strongest signal without first disconnecting from the previous access point.

Second, repeaters function similarly to access points, however, their connection to the network is wireless through another access point or repeater. With this setup the repeater creates a new wireless network with a different SSID. Since the repeater connects to another wireless network directly, the bandwidth allocated to devices is cut in half. The bandwidth is also affected by the distance the repeater is from the wireless network. A poor connection to the original router or repeater will affect all connected devices on the repeater. Wireless devices have the same problems that access point devices have in connecting to the strongest signal.

Finally, a wireless mesh requires several devices called nodes that connect to each other directly using a dedicated signal. The bandwidth is shared throughout the mesh, however, there are fewer device connections per node. With a mesh, the SSID remains the same in creating a unified network. Unlike access points or repeaters, devices roam throughout an area while seamlessly switching connected nodes. As an added benefit, a mesh system is typically configured and updated once and pushed to all connected nodes, while changes to access points and repeaters may need applied to all devices individually.

Determining the best way to extend a wireless network is difficult and will depend on the current infrastructure. To get the most available bandwidth, an access point is a good choice however it requires a wired connection to the existing network. For ease of use, setup, and scalability a wireless mesh is another good option.
County Government Day PowerPoint
The PowerPoint presentation is available electronically at no charge (sent via e-mail) for use by counties during their annual County Government Day. The PowerPoint provides a comprehensive look at county government functions in the State of Nebraska and can be customized by each county. CD's are also available for $10.00 each to cover processing, shipping and handling. To request the County Government Day PowerPoint electronically, please e-mail your request to .

The CD order form is available here .
News from NACo
Registration is Now Open
2019 NACo Legislative Conference

March 2–6, 2019 | Washington Hilton | Washington, D.C.

The National Association of Counties (NACo) Legislative Conference brings together over 1,500 elected and appointed county officials to focus on federal policy issues that impact counties and our residents. Attendees engage in relevant and timely policy and educational sessions, interact with federal officials and participate in congressional briefings and meetings.
Don't miss this unique policy advocacy opportunity!
NACo Webinars
Rural Early Childhood Peer Learning Network
Mar. 19, 2019
1:00 pm – 2:30 pm CST
Contact Tracy Steffek
(202) 661-8813

Peer Learning Networks are quarterly webinars consisting of smaller networking groups for small/rural, mid-size/suburban and large/urban counties. This webinar allows counties an opportunity to interactively connect with each other on early childhood topics and share best practices. Join NACo for our first Peer Learning Network webinar of the year to engage in peer-to-peer discussion about convening early childhood stakeholder groups and how to build a case for early investments in your county!  To learn more information or to sign up to receive updates about Peer Learning Network events, please visit: .
2019 NACO Institute of Excellence
Lincoln & North Platte
First Sessions
March 7, 2019 - North Platte
March 14, 2019 - Lincoln

Southeast District Meeting
Southeast Community College, Career Academy, Lincoln
March 14, 2019

Northeast District Meeting
Northeast Community College, Lifelong Learning Center, Norfolk
March 15, 2019
A genda

Central District Meeting
Leadership Center, Aurora
March 21, 2019

Panhandle District Meeting
Prairie Winds Community Center, Bridgeport
March 27, 2019

West Central District Meeting
Ogallala Convention Center, Quality Inn & Suites, Ogallala
March 28, 201

Nebraska's Stepping Up Initiative
Cornhusker Marriott, Lincoln
April, 17, 2019
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Nebraska Association of County Officials
1335 H Street Lincoln, NE 68508
Phone: (402) 434-5660
Fax: (402) 434-5673
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