New senator is ready for work

Above: Sen. Ben Hansen relaxes with his wife, Jill, and daughter, Olivia.

Sen. Ben Hansen doesn’t like to sit still.

The new senator from Blair owns two chiropractic clinics, an equipment rental business and a company that turns reclaimed wood into furniture.

“And I’ve got a two-year-old, that’s the biggest [job]!” Hansen said of his daughter, Olivia.

Hansen has a long history of staying busy. He was born in Schuyler, where he qualified for the 1998 boys’ track and field state meet in the 110-meter hurdles. After earning a psychology degree from Wayne State, Hansen graduated summa cum laude from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa in 2007. Shortly after, he and his wife, Jill, settled in Blair.

“We loved the people, we loved the atmosphere and we always wanted to move back to Nebraska,” Hansen said. “And it’s just the right size. If it takes me longer than five minutes to get from Point A to Point B, I don’t like it.”

Hansen, who served the past four years on the Blair City Council, didn’t consider becoming a candidate for the District 16 seat until outgoing Sen. Lydia Brasch encouraged him to run.

“We’ve known each other for years,” Hansen said. “She thought I’d make a good candidate.”

Life, though, hasn’t stopped since he was sworn in. He still sees patients at his practices in Blair and Omaha on Saturdays and days off from the Legislature.

“I’ve got patients scheduled for the next six months,” Hansen said. “I’ve still got to pay the bills.”

He pays some of those bills through Heritage Barnwood Company, which he started in 2017 with two partners. The group takes salvaged wood, often from razed barns around Nebraska, and turns it into tables, chairs and other pieces. The company recently sold a bench made from milled wood taken from a building on the campus of the former Dana College.

Each item includes a plaque detailing the wood’s origins.

“Every piece of furniture we sell has a story to tell,” Hansen said.

And if all of that wasn’t enough to occupy his time, Hansen recently bought a 1957 Chevrolet in need of restoration. It’s something he’s never done before.

“I thought the best way to learn was to get my hands dirty,” he said. “One of these years I might be able to drive it to Lincoln. It might be a few sessions; maybe after reelection.”

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