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Indoor Farmers Market welcomes Lincoln shoppers for holiday season

Strings of lights hanging from the ceiling paired with folksy ambient music made for a festive vibe at the Holiday Harvest Farmers Market inside the Park Centers Banquet Hall on Sunday morning.

Vendors touted, among a plethora of other things, kolaches, kohlrabi and kwark, a Dutch goat yogurt cheese, to customers seeking a climate-controlled respite from the weekend's winter storm.

After welcoming over 1,800 people for the first of three winter markets on Nov. 18, event organizers said the weather dropped numbers slightly but, all things considered, still allowed for a good turnout.

Alex McKiernan, the owner of Robinette Farms, recalls the middle market usually having the lowest turnout but not drastically affecting business.

The Robinette stand offers a variety of cold season-greens and roots grown in "hoop houses" — structures similar to greenhouses, but with open floors allowing for planting directly into the ground.

"Inside the hoop house it doesn't really freeze, so they grow great," McKiernan said. "This is often the best time of year for some of our greens and salad mix. It's perfect because they don't like heat. The best things we grow this year are our greens, they're just perfect, beautiful, crisp and sweet."

Across the room from the Robinette booth, Charuth Van Beuzekom-Loth offered her selection of goat cheeses to passing shoppers, including her Rosa Maria cheese that took first place in the aged goat milk farmstead category at the American Cheese Society's national competition in Pittsburgh in July.

Van Beuzekom's Dutch Girl Creamery, which operates in conjunction with ShadowBrook Farm, is home to more than 200 goats that she uses for her cheeses. She calls the work "a labor of love" and says days like Sunday are rewarding.

"It makes me happy knowing that people will be enjoying my cheese with their families, especially when they put it on their holiday platters and make a big deal about it," she said.

Along with the cheeses, ShadowBrook also offered a range of produce, with its carrots specifically attracting Lincoln resident Margaret Vrana to the market.

A longtime gardener who grew up on a farm, Vrana loves the market and everything that comes with it.

"It's like being in a candy shop," she said. "Only much better because I know what candy does to my body."

Toting her own bags, Vrana identified herself as "one of those radical take-care-of-the-Earthers." She recently moved back to Lincoln after a nine year stint in southeastern Colorado and was excited to have crossed paths with many old friends at Sunday's market.

"Check it out, it's such a smorgasbord of wonderful foods grown or made by your neighbors," she said.

The last of the three holiday markets will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 16 at the banquet hall at 2608 Park Blvd.

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Former Lincoln resident runs from Alaska to Florida in 97 days

Pete Kostelnick’s world-record cross-country run might have left some runners satisfied.

In fall 2016, he made the 3,100-mile journey from San Francisco to New York City in 42 days, six hours and 30 minutes, beating Frank Gianinno Jr.’s previous time in 1980 by four days.

Despite that achievement, Kostelnick, a former resident of Lincoln, said his friends and family thought he was crazy to make his next run, this time across the continent.

“I think they were less surprised somehow than they were with other runs I’ve done just because it was like, ‘Oh, this is just Pete doing what he does,’” he said.

From July 31 to Nov. 5, Kostelnick ran across North America, starting in Kenai, Alaska, and ending in Key West, Florida, the southernmost point of the state. His 5,384-mile run took him through 10 states and two countries in 97 days, six hours and 57 minutes.

Unlike his first run, which featured a four-member team, Kostelnick made this excursion alone.

“Just knowing that it’s that much longer, self-supported, I could still challenge myself, but at the same time, do not quite so many miles per day and be able to take it in a little bit more,” he said. “So, that was kind of the thought process for me.”

Kostelnick documented his run on Instagram and Twitter, posting daily updates along with pictures of the scenery, people he’d met and places he’d stayed at.

“I think the big thing behind this run was just wanting to do a run across America where I could stop and take photos and just kind of challenge myself a little differently,” he said.

The idea for the run came from Kostelnick’s childhood road trips from Iowa to Alaska. He loved the trip and wanted to show people how beautiful the state was.

“I heard about people motorcycling or RVing all the way from Alaska to Florida,” he said. “So when I was thinking about running across America again, I didn’t want to just do the same route I did two years ago.”

For his new run, Kostelnick carried a stroller with him that included five pairs of clothes, a GPS and tent. He also brought along a Bluetooth speaker for the first time, as well as license plates he found along the way and clothing given to him by the strangers he stayed with.

Kostelnick’s stroller also contained food supplies. For his initial run, his crew would cook meals for him.

“I was having a lot of really good meals and a lot of variety,” he said. “On this run, it was basically whatever I could find.”

Whereas his first run had him running roughly 14 hours a day, this run’s schedule was based on where Kostelnick could sleep and eat. Some portions of the route had him running five to six days before he saw another town.

During the first few weeks, Kostelnick ate mostly trail mix and chili. He had to eat between 7,000 and 8,000 calories a day throughout his run, something that got easier as he encountered more towns.

“I kind of got into the routine of eating Subway at night, and throughout the day, I was really just eating stuff like Clif Bars during the day,” he said.

But Kostelnick took a slower pace for this journey, averaging 55.3 miles per day, compared to his initial run’s 70-75.

“Some days, I would just do like 20 to 30 miles if I had a longer stretch before that, just depending on where towns were and were there motels were to stay in,” he said.

The pacing of his journey also allowed Kostelnick to take in his surroundings more this time around. Along the way, he saw caribou, alligators and bears.

Finally reaching the finish line in Florida after more than three months on the run, Kostelnick said he still felt like his run was more than just reaching the destination.

“I think it was more celebrating the journey and just reflecting on it more so than just achieving a goal for me, really,” he said. “So it was great, but I wasn’t overly excited or anything. I was just like, ‘This is where it ends.’”

Kostelnick, who now lives in Cincinnati with his wife, Nikki, said he often gets asked why he takes time off from work and his regular life to make these runs.

His answer? He lives modestly and said he wouldn’t want to miss the experience.

“I think it’s just a great way to enjoy life, meet people, see places, and it’s a great challenge at the same time,” he said. “... But I think for this, my main focus was just getting out there and experiencing life and enjoying it and having people follow along.”

Trump and Xi buy time in trade war. That was the easy part.

WASHINGTON— The dinner-table diplomacy that Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping of China conducted over the weekend produced something as vague as it was valuable: an agreement to keep talking.

Forged over grilled sirloin at the Group of 20 summit Saturday in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the ceasefire Trump and Xi agreed to Saturday night illustrated that the leaders of the world's two largest economies can at least find some common ground, however tentative and ill-defined it might be. The truce pulled the United States and China back from an escalating trade war that was threatening world economic growth and had set global investors on edge.

"The prospects for real progress on substantive issues with China are now better than at any point in the Trump administration," said Andy Rothman, investment strategist at Matthews Asia.

What Trump and Xi achieved was the gift of additional time — 90 days, at least — to try to resolve the thorny and complicated issues that divide them. Most important among them, and perhaps the most intractable, is the U.S. argument that Beijing has deployed predatory tactics in a headlong drive to overtake America's global supremacy in high technology.

Yet reaching a permanent peace will hardly be easy. The Trump administration asserts, and many experts agree, that China systematically steals trade secrets and forces the U.S. and other foreign countries to hand over sensitive technology as the price of admission to the vast Chinese market.

Washington also regards Beijing's ambitious long-term development plan, "Made in China 2025," as a scheme to dominate such fields as robotics and electric vehicles by unfairly subsidizing Chinese companies and discriminating against foreign competitors.

This year, Trump imposed an import tax of 25 percent on $50 billion in products, then hit an additional $200 billion worth of goods with 10 percent tariffs. Those 10 percent tariffs were scheduled to ratchet up to 25 percent on Jan. 1 if the United States and China failed to reach an agreement to at least postpone that move.

In Buenos Aires, they did reach such an accord. Trump agreed to delay the scheduled U.S. tariff increase for 90 days while the two sides negotiate over the administration's technology-related complaints. In return, China agreed to buy what the White House called a "not yet agreed upon, but very substantial" amount of U.S. products to help narrow America's gaping trade deficit with China. If the Chinese did eventually increase such purchases, it would be warmly welcomed in the U.S. Farm Belt, where producers of soybeans and other crops have been hurt by Beijing's retaliatory tariffs.

But can China be trusted? Its contentious tech policies lie at the heart of its economic vision, and Beijing could prove reluctant to sacrifice its ambition, no matter what longer-term agreement with the United States it eventually reaches.

"Make no mistake about it: The issues that we have with China are deep structural issues, and you're not going to resolve all of them in 90 days or even 180 days," said Dean Pinkert, a former commissioner on the U.S. International Trade Commission and now a partner at the law firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed. The Trump administration is "going to have to decide how much progress they need in order to define it as a win."

Parag Khanna, founder of the FutureMap consultancy and author of the forthcoming book "The Future is Asian," noted that in speeches to domestic Chinese audiences, Xi is still promoting the economic self-reliance that Made in China 2025 symbolizes.

"What he's saying to his own people has more long-term validity than what he's saying to Trump over dinner for the sake of everyone saving face," Khanna said.

Even so, the Buenos Aires breakthrough may calm investors who worried about financial damage from the trade hostilities. Caterpillar, Ford and other U.S. corporate giants have complained that the higher Trump tariffs, if kept in place, would guarantee higher costs and lower profits. That's one reason the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled this fall after hitting a record close Oct. 3.

In the meantime, just as Trump dialed back the drama on one trade front over the weekend, he magnified the tension on another. En route from Buenos Aires on Air Force One, the president told reporters that he would soon notify Congress that he's abandoning the North American Free Trade Agreement. Such a move would force lawmakers to approve the NAFTA replacement he reached Sept. 30 with Canada and Mexico — or have no North American trade bloc at all. The absence of any such bloc would hurt companies that have built supply chains that crisscross the three countries' borders.

"This trades one trade uncertainty for another," Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, tweeted. "Policy uncertainty remains unusually high for an economy that on paper should be feeling fat and happy."

Prospects in Congress for the new deal — the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement — were complicated by the midterm elections, which left opposition Democrats in control of the U.S. House. Democrats favor provisions of the USMCA that encourage automakers to shift production back to the United States. But they say the deal must do more to protect U.S. workers from low-wage Mexican competition.

"The work is not done yet," Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.