History stands as the record of achievements of those who paved the way for progress, but that historical record means little without present day citizens who recognize the value of history and build upon it.

History stands as the record of achievements of those who paved the way for progress, but that historical record means little without present day citizens who recognize the value of history and build upon it.
Two such citizens, longtime Arbor Lodge Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent Randy Fox and Mark Kemper, were honored  by Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts with admiralships in the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska during a special ceremony Saturday at the Otoe County Courthouse.
Saturday’s honor was the second in as many days for Fox and Kemper, who were recognized  Friday at the Commemorative Tree Planting at Arbor Lodge State Park.
Just prior to introducing Governor Ricketts, Tim Pendrell of Nebraska City Tourism and Commerce noted that Friday’s moment was an especially significant one.
“Randy and Mark have been doing the honorary tree planting for this community for a long time and it was cool to kind of turn that around and plant a tree for them right in front of Arbor Lodge,” said Pendrell.
In turn, Governor Ricketts recognized Fox and Kemper, not only for being a part of Nebraska’s history, but for building upon it.
“Today, we are also going to recognize a couple of individuals who have been a part of that fabric of our state, the fabric of Nebraska that makes it just a wonderful place to work, live and raise our families,” said Governor Ricketts.
The Nebraska Governor then read aloud the official documents making Fox and Kemper admirals in the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska.
The reading of the documents was met with rapt attention from on lookers and a few chuckles at some of the language, including parts about tadpoles being put under the command of the admirals.
There was no mistaking the serious way in which Kemper received the honor, however, and how much it meant for him to serve Arbor Lodge and Nebraska City.
“It is a great honor to receive this from Governor Ricketts,” said Kemper. “It’s been a great honor working for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 32 years and I continue my work now at Indian Cave State Park near Shubert, Nebraska. I invite everybody, all the tree lovers from Nebraska City, to come down and visit us at Indian Cave State Park. It was wonderful working here in Nebraska City and at Arbor Lodge for all these years and I will always treasure this honor too, Governor, for as long as I live.”
Fox also addressed the Governor and the assemblage in regard to his appreciation.
“I would like to thank the governor too and all the citizens of Nebraska City,” said Fox. “We have entertained a lot of visitors at Arbor Lodge over the years. My 40 years that, I can’t tell you how great its been for me, because of all the things that we’ve met and we’ve done there and continue to do. My station will  be here for the near future to make sure all the stuff gets done at Arbor Lodge that we want to get done. I am just as excited as all get out. I have never been an admiral before, so it’s really kind of neat. We are really excited and thank you Governor Ricketts, it’s really an honor.”

The honoring of Fox and Kemper dovetailed nicely with two other noteworthy occasions which Governor Ricketts, a Nebraska City native, celebrated with Nebraska Citians on Saturday.
The first of those occasions, quite obviously, is Arbor Day itself.

Arbor Day
Ricketts pointed to J. Sterling Morton, the founder of Arbor Day who began the state, and, now, nationwide holiday on April 10, 1872. Ricketts said Arbor Day is also celebrated in a few other countries as well.
“It is really a wonderful thing to recognize here what J. Sterling Morton did to help recognize what a wonderful contribution trees make to the overall quality of life we have here in Nebraska,” said Governor Ricketts.

Otoe Courthouse
In addition to the 144th Arbor Day celebration, the Nebraska Governor also took time to recognize the 150th anniversary of the Otoe County Courthouse, Nebraska’s oldest public building.
In his remarks, Ricketts pointed out some historical facts about the courthouse.
After Col. Stephen Watts Kearny established a military outpost near Nebraska City in 1841, William R. Craig and F. W. Wood began work on a Georgian brick house that would become the Otoe County Courthouse. Work was completed on the courthouse two years prior to Nebraska’s statehood in 1865.
Since then, Ricketts noted that renovations were undertaken in 1882, 1936, 1988, 2006 and 2007.
“We’ve got a wonderful history in this building, including the restoration of the 1866 bell tower,” said Ricketts. “There is a lot of wonderful history that really celebrates Nebraska right here.
“It really is a chance to reflect upon, not only on Arbor Day and the 150th anniversary of this courthouse, but what a wonderful history we have here in Nebraska.
“We have a great state.
“Nebraska is more than just lines on a map,” said Ricketts. “We are bound together by more than just our common geography.
“Nebraska is a culture. It’s a way of life. It’s how we treat each other with dignity and respect and civility. It’s how we are involved in our communities, engaged in our schools and our churches.
“And you all here today represent that best sprit of Nebraska, coming out to celebrate our great history and the sacrifices our ancestors made.
“Now, its our duty to build on that wonderful foundation and create even better futures for our children and grandchildren, create those opportunities and grow Nebraska,” said Ricketts.

Prestigious Tree
Pendrell announced that the Arbor Day Prestigious Tree Award for 2015 goes to the tree at the Otoe County Courthouse. The tree, which also won the Prestigious Tree Award four years ago, was nominated by Joan Dawson. The Prestigious Tree Award is an award given in accordance with a partnership between Nebraska City Tourism and Commerce and the Nebraska City News-Press along with Gatehouse Media.