Kelly: Omaha is tops in U.S. for least financial stress -
Published Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 1:30 am / Updated at 3:14 pm
Kelly: Omaha is tops in U.S. for least financial stress

Omaha again leads the nation, with the least financial stress on households in 77 metropolitan areas.

Credability, an Atlanta-based nonprofit credit counseling agency, rated the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro No. 1 for the first quarter of 2013. The agency's Consumer Distress Index is a measure of employment, housing, credit, net worth and how families manage household budgets.

A score of under 70 indicates financial distress. The national index for the first quarter was 70.73, down from the 71.77 in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Omaha's score of 80.5 was the only one in the 80s, and an improvement from its 80.3 in the previous quarter.

A sampling of other metros: Minneapolis, 78.3; Oklahoma City, 75.5; Denver, 74.6; Kansas City, 73.4; Cincinnati, 69.8; St. Louis, 68.9.

Omaha scored especially well for its low unemployment rate, affordable housing and solid household credit.

Ride for Rescue: Thunder in the Bluffs hopes to set a Guinness world record next Saturday, with as many as 2,000 ATVs and other off-road vehicles riding through several southwest Iowa towns.

DJ Ginsberg of the Omaha-based United States ATV Search and Rescue said the group has received special permits for riders to drive through the towns of Pacific Junction, Tabor, Bartlett and Thurman and into the Loess Hills on the 52-mile ride.

The event starts at 7:30 a.m. at the Mid-America Motorplex in Glenwood. The fundraiser for the search and rescue group has been advertised in national ATV publications and is drawing a lot of attention.

The record for ATVs and similar vehicles in procession, DJ said, is 1,760. Riders next Saturday will drive mainly on dirt roads but will be allowed on pavement when entering towns. The circuit loops back to the Motorplex for competitive mud bogs, an ATV rodeo and more.

The sponsoring group assists with searches and rescues in a 400-mile radius of Omaha. DJ said it has a boat with sonar equipment and a dive team, as well as a drone to search from above. For more information, go to

DJ hopes the event one day reminds people of the annual event in Sturgis, S.D.

“What Sturgis is for motorcycles,” he said, “we hope Thunder becomes for ATVs.”

Capitol Steps, the Washington, D.C.-based political satirists, wowed an audience of about 600 last Saturday at the Child Saving Institute banquet.

To the tune of “Greased Lightning,” a performer portraying German Chancellor Angela Merkel led the troupe in “Greece is Frightening.”

A cast member dressed as Pope Francis sang “Don't cry, I'm from Argentina.” He was elected because “I got all the Hispanic votes.”

Another portrayed an aging Mick Jagger, singing, “Hey, you, get off of my lawn.”

And an impersonator of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie walked on stage wearing a fleece sweater. He got a big laugh by saying gruffly: “Shut up.”

Capitol Steps, started in 1981 by Senate staffers singing parodies at an office Christmas party, lists a cast of 31 members who perform in the nation's capital and around the country. Five performed Saturday at the Embassy Suites La Vista.

In July 2009, former TV news reporter Jim Fagin of Omaha endured severe stomach pain that turned out to be pancreatic cancer.

This week at the luncheon of the Nebraska Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, he noted that most patients diagnosed with that disease don't live as long as he has.

“I beat the odds,” he told an audience at the Happy Hollow Club. “What your group here is about is helping other people beat the odds, just as I did. Now, I'm not cured, but physicians at UNMC gave me three-plus years of quality life that I wouldn't have had without the life-saving treatment there.”

Jim, also a former radio talk-show host and an aide to then-U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, said he was originally told he might have to go to the Mayo Clinic. He paid tribute to the University of Nebraska Medical Center, saying: “I found 'Mayo on the Missouri' right here in Omaha, Neb.”

At the luncheon, the coalition honored John and Lynne Boyer of Omaha for their support of biomedical research, including human embryonic stem cell research.

Whether you call it a string bass, a contra bass, a double bass or a bull fiddle, you can see what amounts to a bass forest — about 24 of them in concert.

It's the 20th annual Spring Bass Bash Recital, organized by Omaha Symphony bass player Bill Ritchie. Professionals and students will play at 7 p.m. Monday at the Presbyterian Church of the Cross, 1517 S. 114th St. Admission is free.

A string bass looks like a giant violin, but Bill said it's not really a member of the violin family. His bass weighs 23 pounds and stands about 6 feet high, though he said there is no standard weight and height.

Seven bass players are part of the symphony's classical concert this weekend at the Holland Performing Arts Center, and Bill calls the venue a wonderful gift to Omaha, “a world-class concert hall.”

Monday night's concert at the church, conducted by his wife, symphony cellist Patty Ritchie, will include the world premiere of Britisher John Alexander's “Prayer for Clear Weather,” variations on an Omaha Indian melody. As well as Henry Mancini's “Baby Elephant Walk.”

Tom Osborne, who has visited Haiti, will speak at a June 3 event in Omaha to raise money to help build a school there.

The 6 p.m. dinner ($150) and auction is at St. John Vianney Church Hall, 5801 Oak Hills Drive. Estimates are that it will cost $40,000 to build the Flower of Hope School and outfit it with furniture and learning materials.

Michael Downey of Omaha, one of the organizers, said he and Win Lander traveled to Haiti the past two years and helped build composting toilets. With Jim Goedert of Omaha, they decided on a bigger project.

Because construction materials in Haiti are weak, Mike said, they plan to help the Maison Fortune Orphanage develop its trade school and produce stronger building blocks. The plan is to purchase and ship a block press, a concrete mixer and a welding machine, estimated to cost $10,000.

For more information about the event with Osborne, the former Nebraska football coach and athletic director, go to

Contact the writer: 402-444-1132,

Contact the writer: Michael Kelly    |   402-444-1000

Mike writes three columns a week on a variety of topics.

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