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A cattleman from Scribner has become the first of 18 new state senators to be sworn in.

David Schnoor, 52, took the oath of office Thursday afternoon, ahead of the 17 who were elected in November and will be sworn in Jan. 7, the first day of the legislative session. Schnoor was chosen by Gov.-elect Pete Ricketts from a group of five applicants and appointed to the post by Gov. Dave Heineman.

In announcing the appointment, Ricketts said Schnoor's military service and agricultural business background set him apart in the field of applicants.

"Dave is committed to the community," Ricketts said. "He's had a 20-year service to the Air Force and has won the Bronze Star (with valor). He came back to Nebraska to work the family farm."

Schnoor started a feed yard and has been president of the Scribner-Snyder School Board and on the board of the Dodge County Cattlemen. He and his wife, Nickie, have been married 11 years and have six children.

"He's just a gentleman who has great experience and integrity," Ricketts said.

He said he'll work with Schnoor to bring about property tax relief in this session of the Legislature.

Schnoor, who was joined at the ceremony by his wife and nephews Shawn, who turns 6 Saturday, and Jake, 7, said he never thought he'd be in politics like this. 

"Somebody asked me five years ago if I wanted to be on the school board and I told them they were nuts," he said. "Why would I want to subject myself to that kind of punishment?"

But he found out he really enjoys it.

"It's my calling, I think, to do," he said. "We've done great things in Scribner as a school board. We've changed a lot of things and made it better for our community."

He was asked to apply for the legislative seat by several community leaders because of what he accomplished as a school board president, he said.

Schnoor said he is fiscally conservative and will work with Ricketts to try to reduce property taxes and hold to Nebraska family values.

"I've got a lot to learn," he said. "I've got a long way to go, and I really look forward to my time here in the Legislature."

In the Air Force, Schnoor served in Panama, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Haiti, where he conducted and supported combat operations. He was awarded a Bronze Star after the rescue of a downed helicopter with sensitive cargo on board in Panama.

He is a graduate of Scribner High School and holds two associate degrees from the Community College of the Air Force at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina.

District 15 includes all of Dodge County in northeast Nebraska. Schnoor’s appointment lasts through Jan. 3, 2017, and he is eligible for election to a four-year term in November 2016.

The appointment fills a vacancy created by Sen. Charlie Janssen’s resignation on Thursday. Janssen, of Fremont, will be sworn in as state auditor on Jan. 8.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7228 or jyoung@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSLegislature.

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State government reporter

JoAnne Young covers state government, including the Legislature and state agencies, and the people they serve.

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