In the classroom: Sarpy County Government Day

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) -

For more than seven decades County Government Day has been a Sarpy County tradition.

The full-day event is put on for juniors and seniors by the Sarpy County American Legion. 


 “It gives them a chance to actually see government in action and get a little bit more in-depth then what they’d read in their text books,” said Mitch Matthews, the Sarpy County American Legion Commander. 


Public Defender Tom Strignez acted as the emcee.  Not only did Strignez let students know about job duties and gave a general overview of the county, he also provided some comedic relief.


“Most of your teachers are my clients.  I’m just letting you know that,” joked Strignez.


Students enjoyed seeing a different side of their elected officials. 


“Seeing them and just like seeing how they act that just shows their personality and shows that they are real people,” said Bellevue West Senior Joshua Harris. 


“You always think of them as very straight-laced in a suit and tie, but the public defender is very funny,” said Papillion La Vista Junior Cassidy Christensen. 


“This guy, he was here before county government started,” joked Strignez. 


Of course that's far from truth.  But, Lloyd Dowding, the Register of Deeds knows a thing or two about today.  He participated in County Government Day when he attended Bellevue High School in the 1950’s.


“It was just a lot of fun.  We all made posters and ran around to our classmates saying hey vote for me, vote for me,” said Dowding.


He’s happy to be on the other side of this educational experience. 


“They seem to want to participate.  They're asking questions, they're laughing, they're at ease,” said Dowding.


Students not only got to learn about how their county functions, but they also got to tour places like the communications center and the county jail.


Legion Commander Mitch Matthews says today's positive participation gives him hope for his county's future.


“It looks like we are in good hands,” said Matthews.  


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