Val Bohaty, Paul Smith

Interviewees:


Interviewee Val Bohaty, SCS and NRCS, mid-1950’s and again 1959 - 1997

Val Bohaty

Position Held: SCS and NRCS, mid-1950’s and again 1959 - 1997
Interviewee Paul Smith, SCS and NRCS, 1958 - 1994

Paul Smith

Position Held: SCS and NRCS, 1958 - 1994

Full Interview:


Interviewer(s):

Jim Barr

Associated NRDs:

Lower Big Blue

Lower Platte North

Nemaha

Transcript:

MR. BARR: This is Jim Barr. It's July 10th, 2013. And I am visiting with Paul Smith and Val Bohaty here in Lincoln. Paul, do you want to start, kind of a little background on yourself?
MR. SMITH: Yeah, I'm Paul Smith from Burt County and I spent a full career, 36 years with the Soil Conservation Service from 1958 through 1994. Burt County farm boy. My dad was the original organizer, you might say, and interim chairman and chairman of the Burt County Soil Conservation District for the first 22 years. They were one of the districts that did well with their equipment and raised some money and, in fact, had terracing equipment all through the years and built the office there for not only the district and their equipment, but also for SCS housing, which was -- weren't very many of those like that. But my dad really believed in conservation. He had been a school teacher for 10 years, originally from Missouri. But he came here to teach school and married another school teacher. So after 10 years of teaching he went into farming. So that sparked his interest in conservation and he followed through. I can recall that, you know, the old soil conservation district supervisors did not receive any pay or compensation. And then along came, through the Natural Resources Commission, they started paying them per diem, which my dad opposed. His reasoning was that he wanted local control and didn't want the state or anybody else poking their nose into it. But he also was a strong supporter of the Soil Conservation Service at that time, now the natural resource districts, and he was a real believer and realized that that was a technical agency that was offering them free technical services for the farmers. He donated all of his time, too, of course, and, of course, as chairman when they had their equipment and had to hire and fire and manage their equipment, the terracing equipment, they had dozers and patrols and also a tree planting -- tree planter and they planted trees, handled trees out of their office in Lyons, my home town. I eventually went to Wayne State College a couple of years because I thought I could play basketball and I didn't -- I played one year. I then decided I better stay in something I knew and that was farming, agriculture and so on, so I transferred to the ag college here in Lincoln, graduating in 1959. Subsequently, I worked in I believe it was 11 different jobs and about nine different locations and moved my wife into her 13th house she says is the last one. So it was an interesting career because I worked both in the western part of the state and the eastern part and so I had experience in range lands and irrigation as well as the typical eastern Nebraska terraces, waterways, tree plantings and so on. And then later I spent a total of four years as a liaison, representing the Soil Conservation Service with and at the office of the Natural Resources Commission at that time. Of course, that's been changed now, too. So I later, I went from there to David City, Beatrice. I had stops in West Point, Curtis, Chappell, finally wound up in Lincoln in 1988 and have been here ever since.
MR. BARR: Okay, Val?
MR. BOHATY: I'm Val Bohaty and I was raised on a farm over in northeast Butler County. My grandfather was a farmer. My dad was a farmer and I decided to work for the Soil Conservation Service. And I had started and got drafted in the military in '57. And when I got back in '59 they sent me to Syracuse. I was there a short time and in a year and a half they moved me over to Auburn, Nebraska, and from there they transferred me to Nelson, Nebraska. Keith Meyers was the state conservationist at that time. And then he transferred me in 1971 to Lincoln, Nebraska. His goal was to get our name, the Soil Conservation Service, then later the Natural Resources Conservation Service, on TV, radio and the newspapers. And I have to give a lot of credit, when I went to channel 10/11, they connected me with Dale Holt and his assistant, Donna Blakeley. And for whatever reason it is, we hit it off real well. We had the professional do the articles that I took down. After 10/11, I can't think of the person that was making the decisions, they said, from now you just bring them over and we're going to use them as is. I mean, they were done professionally. And so I was recognized in my work in information and working with the farmers and getting things going the way at least my state conservationist thought. Just a little sidelight here. I didn't want to move from Syracuse. I didn't want to move from Auburn. I didn't want to move from Nelson. And I am definitely not going to move -- I retired in November of 1997 on a Friday and I had already let the word out a few days or weeks earlier that I was going to start my own consulting business. I was a firm believer that how could I be a supervisor if I couldn't tell if my staff had a problem with a project. And the staff, on occasion, would say, I don't know. This isn't working. Yes, I think I might walk those steps before that. And so all the employees, and I trained a lot of them. One of their goals on their worksheet was that they will learn how to do these projects because the technicians are the ones that are assigned this. You better know how it is so if they have a problem you can go ahead and do this. At that time, at least up here in Lincoln, we had very, very few women conservationists and technicians. And Dale Williamson, digress a little bit, had a daughter and she didn't know what she wanted to do with her life, Susan, and Dale asked if she just couldn't work for nothing, which she did, and so we would take her out. There was another lady that I -- we had so many of them that I don't recall, Jim, what the other girl's name was. But, anyway, I was going to go on vacation for a week and I let the contractors know and the farmers that they would be expected to go do, that she was coming. And the contractor called me, said he was going to wait with his job until I got back. I said, no, they're scheduled. The next time he came into the office, why, he didn't say, good morning, hi, Val. He says, where are the women? I said, what do you mean? He says, they're good. I said, I wouldn't have sent them out if they weren't any good. So you have to walk that. But, yes, I've had an excellent career. Couldn't have picked a better job. And this consulting work, I did 29 jobs last fall and expect to be doing some more now.
MR. BARR: Great.
MR. BOHATY: If you have any questions, please ask me.
MR. BARR: Well, I thought next we could -- each of you could talk a little bit about the time, say in the '60s, when -- any experience with the districts and then as the natural resource district legislation was being discussed and actually passed, that period of time.
MR. BOHATY: You go first, Paul.
MR. SMITH: Yes, I worked with three soil conservation districts as well as being familiar with my own county prior to the NRD's law being passed. And then later I was what we call liaison district conservationist. Since the NRDs basically were drawn on watershed boundaries, which really helped the watershed projects because that's the way they had to delineate their boundaries, but the SCS assigned what was called an LDC, a liaison district conservationist that met with the board. Even though there might be several counties involved, we did have a lead DC that worked with the NRD managers and board and met with them at all their meetings and activities. That was an interesting job. And I worked in Beatrice and David City both. Quite a contrast in districts there, Beatrice being very heavy in watersheds. So -- but the taxing authority that the NRDs received with the law really enabled them to increase their watershed funds since they had to buy land rights. Prior to that, if the districts, they didn't have enough money to pay for land rights, which was a fair way to do it with the farmer, they had to count on volunteers and that didn't always work. So it really accelerated the program and later on I worked in the Lincoln area office and in our state office on watersheds, watershed contracts. We also got into contracting regular farm conservation plans using watershed funds and all those -- I reviewed all of those as they came in and did the training involved. The watershed was a very good program and Nebraska is well noted for it. And pretty much carried out all the construction that was one the books after the NRDs came in.
MR. BARR: Val, what was your experience in that period?
MR. BOHATY: In the NRDs?
MR. BARR: Well, both districts and as the NRD legislation was written.
MR. BOHATY: The districts were -- had no problem with them because they were all, every one that I can think of, were land owners, land or farmers. And then when the NRD came in, as Paul has indicated, a lot of the board members were concerned that they were going to lose control of the land that -- so the instructions that were passed down to us, not in writing, is that we walk that narrow line. Don't get involved or take a side. If they ask questions, respond. If you don't know the answer, follow up with the area office, as Paul has indicated, stay in the state office. And Owen Perry was the chairman of my board and he was good. Couldn't ask for a better chairman of the board. And it was a give and go, but I think it worked out well.
MR. BARR: What board was that?
MR. BOHATY: Here, Lancaster County.
MR. BARR: Lancaster County.
MR. BOHATY: Supervisors.
MR. BARR: Yeah.
MR. BOHATY: And they had a number of -- the article I just showed you here, there was an article in what we call the Soil Conservation Magazine when David Landis, brand new attorney, wanted to become a member of the board. And so they had a little history here. Owen Perry took him under his wings and, you know, they got him going. Big asset. They had a legal counsel they didn't have to pay for.
MR. BARR: Oh, yes. At that time some of the districts were pretty resistant to the idea of natural resource districts. Do you want to comment on any of that or --
MR. SMITH: I wish I knew who it was, but I can't remember anything really bad. I mean, I had explained to them that this was a change, just like converting from districts to NRDs. And they still had local control and they could still talk to a live person. And so I really didn't have a lot of --
MR. BARR: Did you have any -- work with the Nemaha NRD area or --
MR. SMITH: No, it was just -- at that time just the NRD. I was only there two and a half years.
MR. BOHATY: But that was the conservation district.
MR. SMITH: District, yeah, conservation district. The NRDs were not in existence.
MR. BARR: What was your experience with the natural resource district as it -- well, I guess we've moved into the area where the districts were starting to form and how did the transition from the Soil and Water Conservation districts and the inclusion of the other multi-purpose districts, how did that work out?
MR. BOHATY: Well, I told my staff that we were supposed to be kind of neutral and a lot of times they kept -- our office was in the basement of the -- anyway, basement. So we could hear a lot of that stuff going on at Auburn. And then up here we had our own office. The NRD had their own office. And everything we did went smooth and I was hearing, you know, concerns throughout the state but I didn't have a problem because everybody was aware and everybody was communicating through me or with the directors. If they needed to see somebody in their local, I'd just say, well, give them a call and I would call the person ahead of time that this person would be calling you. And they all accepted that. I don't know if they were different than -- this is the way my father did it. This is the way I did it. We didn't have that problem.
MR. BARR: You worked with the Lower Platte South NRD and Hal Schroeder had been the executive of the Salt Valley --
MR. BOHATY: Yes, yes.
MR. BARR: I can't remember the exact name of that.
MR. BOHATY: The Salt Valley Watershed, I think it was called. Yeah, so we had their cooperation and he expected me to do our part. We just didn't have any concerns. I'd go to these meetings and they were discussing things and I didn't have that problem. I got lucky.
MR. BARR: Did you have any involvement in that at all, Paul, or --
MR. SMITH: No, I can remember a lot of arguing and some rightly so. Each district as you cross the state, the problems are different, and each district may have unique problems which they were trying to protect. The NRDs took over a lot of other districts, such as drainage and irrigation districts, which was a good consolidation. But some of those were opposed. We did not get into a lot of arguing around in northeast Nebraska. When it first started, reorganization talk first started and they had information meetings, I was in West Point, Cuming County Soil Conservation District, and they really didn't have any opposition or any reason to oppose. I think they had one iffy watershed program so they were a little unique in that regard. Going back a little further, the soil conservation districts were organized, and I can remember we happened to live on a farm owned by Ed Dahl. Now Ed Dahl was, I believe, an SCS background or maybe employee, but he worked with Extension. Part of his job was organizing districts. And I suppose that's how my dad got involved. And as early as 1944, I was only seven years old, we had guys over on the neighbor's farm showing him how -- the SCS people from Lincoln and around the state came there and I was there, too. I was only seven years old. But I can distinctly remember that and probably led to my career. So the transition, one example of that, my dad was chairman the first 22 years in Burt County. He was not in favor of NRDs because he really treasured local control. And they had made their own money, paid their own way. He didn't make any organized efforts. He just didn't agree with it in his own mind. And, in fact, before the interim board was named in Burt County, he resigned or did not -- he didn't resign. He didn't run for another term. So that's just a little added background there. Some of the transitions were a little tough, mainly involving those parts of the state in my experience that had other districts that were being taken over. The small watershed programs, Public 0566 federal watershed program, was one of those because it had to have -- at that time you had to organize a watershed conservancy district that had the power of taxation. Soil conservation districts did not, which was one of the impetus to reorganize in Nebraska. So we were kind of unique in that regard. But most of the opposition hinged around some of those other areas and around the local control issues. And some people didn't want to pay more taxes either. You always have that group, perhaps rightly so.
MR. BARR: You've both been involved in the national organization to some extent, I assume. What kind of observations have you made about the Nebraska system with natural resource districts versus the other parts of the country where that hasn't developed?
MR. SMITH: Well, different states have different laws. Some are funded through counties, through county taxes. But then you have another board involved, like the county commissioners. I lost my train of thought. But in Nebraska, we were kind of unique. Whenever I worked in the area office and later more so when I was in the state office, you would attend regional and national meetings, talk to other people and they were rather envious of our natural resource district program. I know people in Nebraska on many occasions were asked to be speakers in other states or send information, that sort of thing. And we would have tours, particularly in Beatrice where the watershed program was big, we had a lot of visitors down there, some interested in the organizational process that Nebraska had. I think it was envied by other states and, to some extent, copied. I don't know how much at this point.
MR. BOHATY: I was not involved in that part of it. That's why I asked Paul to go ahead. But looking at this article that I'm going to share with it, it was written by John Cross, our information specialist in Lincoln. And what it is here, the article is talking about a young attorney, Dave Landis, that just graduated from law school and he was 23. I'm quoting to the article now. “Landis was 23 years old, was elected to the district board while still a law student. He was interested and wanted to serve.” And so during his career, supervisors at that time, and I'm again looking in here, said we were wondering what we had here, Dave Landis, Owen Perry, chairman of the board. What we have in Dave is a man willing to listen and learn. A man willing to listen and learn and who cares about the thoughts of every issue. We older recognize the gap between the generations, but Dave filled that gap for us. And, again, quoting here, Owen Perry, a board member for 21 years, Harvey Ehlers, a farmer with 20 years, Fred Rath, a farmer east of town here, four years, and Bernard Sullivan, a farmer with six years. And so we had someone that was definitely interested in this and so it come out good.
MR. BARR: In the Lower Platte South you had a district with a fairly strong urban involvement. How did that have a -- how was that different than some of the other more rural districts?
MR. BOHATY: Well, we discussed earlier, you brought it up, Hal Schroeder was manager here and so all of the contacts for the watershed part of it were already covered. And are you familiar with Hal Schroeder? Have you ever met him or visited with him?
MR. BARR: Well, actually, when I was with Nebraska Soil and Water Conservation Commission in 1971, I started the water quality program. And so we had a contract with the Salt Valley so I worked pretty closely with Hal during that and then during the time we developed the state interim water quality plan. So at that point I was working pretty closely with Hal.
MR. BOHATY: Yeah. See, he had the contacts in the city where we needed a lot of -- the population was. And he was employed with the right people in the right job. He had no problem -- he didn't keep enough notes when he went to meetings. He'd pick me up or I'd pick him up. He took it with him and he could just talk to you, ask you questions like he had the questions in front of him. But we were very, very lucky and Owen Perry and the directors that I had here, open-minded and they talked -- farmers would call them and I'd get a call back after I referred a farmer to say, Owen Perry, and I called Owen and he was going to call. Never did -- Owen call back where the farmer say, I didn't get what I was looking for but --
MR. BARR: Hal had had a background with the Corps, hadn't he?
MR. BOHATY: Yes, Corps of Engineers. He was a colonel, I think, or --
MR. BARR: I think so.
MR. BOHATY: Yeah, full colonel, I think. You could tell the military part of it. Everything was organized. You'd go to meetings. You'd didn't have to wonder how it was going to be. We knew we would start on time and we normally ended on time. Don't laugh, Paul. I had a good NRD, gosh.
MR. BARR: Did you work with the NRD in the David City area, Paul?
MR. SMITH: I did, yes.
MR. BARR: Did you want to make any thoughts about how that worked out and perhaps --
MR. SMITH: Well, maybe I should take the fifth. I noted in Hazel Jenkins' summary and history of the organization of NRDs mentioning of a lawsuit involved with the manager of the Lower Platte North NRD, Al Smith. When I went to -- I helped on the Nebraska State Water Quality Planning staff for two years. When we completed writing that plan, I had no place to go. My term ended with the Commission and David City was the only place open. So I volunteered. And Benny Martin said, well, I really don't want you to go up there. I'd rather you go out of state for a promotion or something like that, but there wasn't any openings there particularly either. But he said, you can go up there two years and then you get out. Well, that's exactly what I did. But, you know, this is one of the objections to the NRDs to begin with, that there are some fears that there would be some strong managers that had money behind him that would create their own little empires. And I guess you might say a little bit of that happened, but not in a major way, because for the most part NRDs hired some very capable -- they hired some people with good backgrounds and it hasn't become what it potentially could, as evidenced by the Lower Platte North NRD, which they got straightened out anyhow after I left.
MR. BARR: What kind of a board did they have?
MR. SMITH: Well, they had a board entirely of farmers. They didn't always agree with their manager either, but the thing of it was, a lot of it was done under the table that they didn't know about. I think it's a little like supporting a poor politician, which is current. But, you know, if you don't have proof, what can you do. And so you have people supporting who maybe, if they really knew all the facts, would make different decisions, including the chairman. The chairman is somewhat key to that because he works almost on a daily basis perhaps with the manager.
MR. BARR: Just looking at the natural resource districts and how they were originally formed and objectives that were there at the time and then seeing them develop over the 40 years or so that they have done, do you have any observations you'd like to make on this process, not only the beginning of it but as they have developed over the 40 or so years since they were started?
MR. SMITH: Well, I think that -- maybe I'm prejudiced because I worked in the watershed program with SCS, but I mentioned it earlier, too, that it really benefited those kind of projects because they were operating on base and boundaries, basically, based on their drainage. That was probably one of the bigger things they done. The other thing probably is in the field of information where that burden fell pretty much on the SCS representative in each county to take pictures and write the news items. In the older days, which we all did, sometimes I can remember talking the district into buying me a camera out in Curtis. But we took a lot of pictures and the district, of course, I have a copy of the annual reports here, many of the pictures I took at the time. But nowadays they have their own information specialist. That's another area that has really helped as far as a public image. And also all the battles that go on with groundwater and irrigation drainage and so on. NRDs have been able to provide a lot of services there that otherwise would have been left up to some other entity of state government. So that is three things that I can think of that -- that and the staffing, not only they provided -- and the old districts did, too, provided clerical help to keep that office door open during the week when the men are in the field. That continued and in some cases increased and increased technical field men, too, to work with the SCS technicians and so on. So that's several areas where I think NRD had more capabilities than the old districts.
MR. BOHATY: I'd have to agree with Paul. They had the taxing authority, and as Paul mentioned, the secretary. And then we had all the help. Glen Johnson said, if you need help, you let us know and we'll get you part-time help. And so Glen was a great manager for us.
MR. BARR: Still is.
MR. BOHATY: Yes, I was just going to say, just like that. I've talked to, Paul knows, over the state, they didn't have that working relation thing. It was a people problem more than the policies and stuff like that. If we needed something, you know, go for it. One other thing I might share with you. When I came to Lincoln, Nebraska, in '71 our office was on the second or third floor of the Sears building, state office was. I would go downtown and I was there for three months. I seen two farmers. I wasn't used to that at Nelson, Nebraska, and Auburn, Nebraska. And so I talked to Owen Perry and I said, what's going on? He said, well, that Dale Harlet, maybe you heard of Dale.
MR. BARR: Yeah.
MR. BOHATY: He told it like it was. He says, here I am in my boots, walking through the hog manure on my boots, in my dirty pickup, I can't drive downtown. I've got to change. So, again, a lot of this is who you know, not what you know. Anyway, Floyd Hudkins was a county commissioner which I knew and he was in Kiwanis. Again, I'm sure that's -- Kiwanis, I was complaining to him. He said, Val, he says, get a place on the edge of the town. He kind of agreed. I said, wow, you've got to move the commissioners. Not a problem, two to one. And I got lucky, got that land. In the first month I bet I had over 20 farmers either call, thank you, thank you. They could come in with their dirty pickups. They couldn't believe. I said, not what you know but I think who you know on that thing. And just again what you know. And then why would they be in the inner city? So I'll put that on the record. I'd go to Hickman. On occasion I would be going through and I'd stop for coffee. I'd be in there and there were farmers there. They said, Val, what are you leaving for? What do you mean? How come you're not playing pool for these dividers? That's what your predecessor did. He'd spend the afternoon here. Did not make my days. And these kind of -- just one of those things. You just don't know. But, yes, you've just got to have the right people working for you. And this Dave Glanis was excellent, too. He was an attorney, gosh.
MR. BARR: Looking at the condition of the land from say 1940 to present time, just looking back and over that period, how would you describe it and how would you evaluate it in various periods of time and practices and that sort of thing? It's kind of a broad, open-ended question and you can kind of appraoch it however you want to.
MR. SMITH: You know, the Soil Conservation Service always promoted -- well, we typical -- tillage, keeping cover on the ground, particularly on the hillier land. And we had a heck of a time convincing people they really didn't need to plow. But going back as far -- and that was one of the things that happened. When I was in West Point, when the NRDs first came in, Steve Oltman was the manager of the NRD and he was stationed in Norfolk. I was in West Point with the SCS. But we got together and promoted a conservation tillage day in West Point and that was in 19- -- well, when NRDs first started, '73 or along in there, had to be 2 or 3. Of course, at that time the Buffalo planter was about the only one that could handle the trash very well. Some of the major companies had not got into it in the early '70s. So we worked at that for a long, long time. And now it's entirely different. But it took 35, 40 years and now most farmers, that's the way they farm, even on the irrigated land, that they really always thought they had to turn that ground. Well, it did a few things like plant weeds and you lost moisture, which is kind of foolish when you were having to pay for irrigation. So those are some of the things. You know, we worked awful hard at that with conservation tillage days, promotions. And wheat was a little easier to come by and probably started keeping cover on in the western part of the state when I was out there. They were doing a pretty fair job most of the time. Some farmers didn't. And you could tell on a windy day which ones it was because I seen Highway 30 east of Chappell pretty dark with dust on a windy day.
MR. BARR: In central Nebraska I talked to a gentleman who was, among other things, flew. And he said he could tell the county lines between counties based upon how well their preservation program was working. Val, do you have any thoughts on that?
MR. BOHATY: That's true, yes. You've seen all these orange risers sitting out there, haven't you? Anyway, I'm the one that got those started. I was lucky enough with several farmers in parts of the county, and so we got those put in by Ron Raikes' company, Conservice, what he called it later. I got several farmers starting to do that. And what I did, instead of having these point rows, these allowed you to have parallel terraces on the contour and then you could make a fill land or cut on the ridge. So they started doing this. Once we got those started, we had a list of a page and a half always of people wanting that. So this really made a big difference in putting these in. And we got better with them. And the other thing that we got started here before I retired, the area office in Lincoln, state office in Lincoln, but I have terraces that are straight, okay. From ridge to ridge, they're straight. And since I have been retired in '97, I had lots (indiscernible) because they still believe that you got to have this. Farmer has a 30-foot or 40-foot planter. You cannot make that turn. There's a guy by the name of Allen Ratzlif over here, just north of Lincoln here. If you go to that gas station on 84th Street and you're going up to Waverly, you go to the first intersection and go four miles. He has a half section there. And three years ago now he had me out there in the still spring. And I had put three terraces out there earlier with tile and he said, I want to finish the farm. So I went back and luckily I had that. I installed those October of 1997, parallel to the road. So we're driving along and so I asked Allen, I said, how often have you cleaned these out? And he stopped his pickup and he turned to me and he says, you mean with a dozer? I said, yeah. Never. I put six more terraces on there and we're talking maybe 15, 20 foot up, and then he commented and I said -- and he says, well, Val, if they silt in after a big, heavy rain, I get a dozer in and clean that up. The convenience of these straight -- he said, if I plant it, I can't shut off two rows. At that time the planter was either in the ground or on the ground. And after I retired, farmers in the Lower Platte South got up to $7,000. Every one of them -- I was asking them, Jim, how do you want the terraces? I want them this way. And then they say, well, if I get cost share, how will they be? They will be this way. Forget the blankety, blankety -- I've had Allen use these choice words. He says, have them come over and see me if they don't -- clean them out with no-till. They don't plow any more. Everything I have done in Otoe -- not Otoe but in Gage County down there, the farmers get the money and it's all parallel to a degree. It's just one of those lucky things that I just can't -- I can't believe that they wouldn't switch over. And I have a letter I got from Craig Erickson who I praise. He is a state conservationist of NRCS. I have a letter that says I can't state cost share projects. I opened the letter that evening by my mailbox and my wife was getting supper. And I opened it up and I says, whoopee. What happened? I said, I have a letter now that I can't state cost share, because I was trying to tell the farmer. So you get $7,000 and these will be there for at least 20 years.
MR. BARR: Yep.
MR. BOHATY: What is that cost of double planting? Insignificant. And then another thing I found, okay. Jim, if you had these in '97 earlier and you had me back and back and back because you have only so much money, if they were so bad you'd say, Val, that's the dumbest thing you ever gave me, recommended to me. They want more of them, Jim. And so you've got to be looking. Now, here again, I will take you back to Otoe County. I came out of the service. I was the third soil conservationist. Henry Baylor and I can't think of the other guy's name -- Oral Bass. Anyway, when the drainage come in, Jim O'Donald would get the engineer out to probe it before the tile goes. After a few jobs he says, this isn't going to happen. He says, one of you three are going to get trained. Val, you're it. I wasn't too happy when I went home that night. Best thing that ever happened. I did tile lines in all the counties. And the thing that you have to learn is you need to know where to put the tile, the drainage. You have to understand the soil. And when I was in Auburn, Nebraska, there was a big land owner by the name of Ed Heely, and he had a son, I can't think of the son's name, Gene, Gene Heely, officed in the basement of the courthouse, down in the boiler room. And Gene come in there and I went out to -- he come up to -- drainage, looked at the soils, and I said, you need a tile line. And I could hear him still to this day. He says, Val, if this doesn't work, I'm going to come in and I'm going to hang you by your thumbs. And he was loud enough and everybody in the office and the janitor -- so I went out there and Gene says, here's where the wet spot was. And I walked -- I was looking at it, probing. I walked up the hill and I paced it 300 feet. And Val said, what the blank are you doing over here? My wet spot is here. And I found that clay layer at approximately three feet. Where he had the water I couldn't hit it with a six-foot probe. It was still loose ground and wet. And so he came in the office. Val! I'm sitting there and everybody -- they knew when he come in there. They was all listening. He says, Val, come up here. I walked up there and he went, you were right. And I have trained others and to this day I just -- tile lines, they just the greatest thing that ever happened. And I had a good career, too.
MR. BARR: Any other final thoughts you want to observe on anything kind of related to this topic?
MR. BOHATY: If you have a question about this, give me a call and we can meet.
MR. BARR: Sure.
MR. BOHATY: If you have a question about any of this or need more detail, we can do it over the phone, I can meet you at the coffee house or my house or something.
MR. BARR: We may get these transcribed and then we'll probably --
MR. BOHATY: That would be fine. We could meet together or individually, something like that.
MR. BARR: Very good. Anything else, Paul?
MR. SMITH: No.
MR. BARR: Thank you, guys, for coming in.