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Attention Ainsworth Alumni

* Find an old high school classmate!
* See what is happening in Ainsworth!
* Update your hometown with what is happening in your life!

Click on the Bulldog to link to the Ainsworth Alumni web site, register your email address and become a part of the Ainsworth Alumni Network!

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Visitors to the KBRB Web site may listen to live programming, with news broadcasts from 5:55 until 10 a.m., noon to 1 p.m. and
the afternoon news from 3:45 to 4 p.m.

E-mail us at kbrb@sscg.net

 

* Funeral Service notes: (see more on the obituaries page)

* Conrad Anderson, 79, of Long Pine 10:30 a.m. April 25

* Frances Guy, 69, of Beatrice formerly of Valentine 2 p.m. April 26

* Duane Stewart Osborn, 80, of Pierre, S.D., formerly of Ainsworth 10:30 a.m. April 26

* Meeting minutes or information located below for:

April 23 Niobrara Council

April 16 Brown County Commissioners

April 10 Ainsworth City Council

April 7 Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education

* Davis discusses pending USDA ruling on meat importation from Brazil

(Posted 3:15 p.m. April 24)

Nebraska 43rd State Sen. Al Davis discussed a pending change to USDA guidelines on the importation of meat from Brazil.
To hear the complete report, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Al Davis 4-23-14.mp3

* Ainsworth wins 3-way tie-breaker for ESU 17 Quiz Bowl title

(Posted 4:15 p.m. April 23)

The Ainsworth Quiz Bowl team finished in a three-way tie for first place Wednesday during the Educational Service Unit 17 District Quiz Bowl at Valentine.

Ainsworth defeated Keya Paha County and Valentine, and lost to Rock County. Ainsworth, Valentine and Rock County each finished with a 2-1 record.

With only two teams able to advance to the State Quiz Bowl, a tie-breaker was used to determine which two teams would advance.

The first tie-breaker used total points scored during all rounds of the competition. Ainsworth and valentine tied for the most points scored on the day, which pushed Rock County to third place.

A second tie-breaker was then used to declare the district champion. Ainsworth’s head-to-head victory over Valentine was the second tie-breaker used, so the Bulldogs were declared the champion and the Badgers the runner-up.

Both teams will represent ESU 17 during the State Quiz Bowl at Holdrege April 30.

Ainsworth Quiz Bowl team members are Hallie Bower, Clay Chohon, Marita Hogseth, Damen Cleal, Nathaniel Goodloe, Jack Arens, Emma Good and Vanessa Taylor.

* Niobrara Council votes to share perpetual easement appraisal cost with Brown County

(Posted 3:30 p.m. April 23)

The Niobrara Council voted 8-3 in favor of splitting the cost of a conservation easement property appraisal equally between the council and Brown County during the council’s recent meeting.

The council had previously submitted an invoice to the Brown County Commissioners in the amount of $3,900, the cost to have a property in Brown County appraised for a potential perpetual conservation easement.

The Brown County Commissioners initially voted to approve the easement after being told they had no grounds to deny the request. Following revisions to the county’s comprehensive plan, which included language against allowing perpetual easements, the board voted to rescind its support of the project.

Between the time of the initial approval and the county rescinding the approval, the Niobrara Council paid $3,900 for the property to be appraised.

Prior to its recent meeting, the council’s Budget and Revenue Committee met regarding the invoice. During the full council meeting, Brown County Commissioner Buddy Small motioned to share the cost of the appraisal equally between the Niobrara Council and Brown County, with each entity responsible for $1,950 of the cost.

The council voted 8-3 in favor of sharing the cost. Council members Brad Arrowsmith, Gene Stalling and Mike Murphy voted against the cost-share.

The Brown County Commissioners will vote on whether to approve the appraisal cost-sharing proposal from the council during its May 6 meeting.

In other business during the Niobrara Council’s April 17 meeting, the council voted that an application for a forest fuels reduction project inside the scenic river corridor was consistent with the desired future conditions of the Niobrara National Scenic River.

Executive Director Kalli Kieborz reported the annual Niobrara Council Spring River Cleanup was set for Saturday, May 17. Volunteers will have the option to walk or canoe portions of the river to remove any litter that may have accrued. Volunteers will be served lunch following the cleanup.

Kieborz also reported the Niobrara Council has adopted a stretch of Highway 7 north of Bassett near the Niobrara River crossing, and will clean up litter along the adopted stretch of highway this month.

The next meeting of the Niobrara Council will be held May 15 in the Ainsworth Conference Center.

* Lions Club provides funding for All-Sports Tailgate Party speaker

(Posted 2:45 p.m. April 23)

The Ainsworth Lions Club agreed to help fund the speaker during the upcoming Ainsworth High School All-Sports Tailgate Party. During its meeting Monday, the board approved a $500 contribution to the school to pay for bringing Doane College men’s basketball coach Jim Weeks to the sports banquet to speak.

The Lions Club continues preparations to serve the meal during the April 29 All-Sports Tailgate Party. All athletes, cheer and pom squad members, as well as coaches and their spouses, receive a complimentary ticket to the tailgate party.

Tickets for anyone else planning to attend may be purchased in the KBRB Studios for $10 each, or are available from Lions Club members.

Club members have been informed of their roles for serving the tailgate party. A Lions Club work night is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday ahead of the Tuesday banquet.

In another meal serving item, Todd Mundhenke reported planning for the annual Ainsworth High School Alumni Banquet continues, as the Lions Club also serves the meal during that banquet.

The board approved the club’s officer and director nominations for the 2014-15 year. Pat Jones will take over as Lions Club President, with Sarah Williams serving as past president.

Evan Evans was selected as the first vice president. Jerry Ehlers will continue to serve as the club’s secretary, and Phil Fuchs will continue as the club treasurer.

Board members include Jerry Allen, Jim Walton, Brian Williams and Darrell Peterson.

Dave Spann was nominated as the Lion Tamer.

The question was raised as to the necessity of conducting an e-mail vote of the membership on the nominations slate, since the slate was approved during a regular meeting.  However, the board elected to send the nominations slate of candidates to members via email since the membership was not made award in advance that consideration may be given to changing the voting process and having the final vote on the officers and directors taken during the meeting. 

Club President Sarah Williams reported the trees for the Fourth Grade Foresters of Nebraska Program had arrived in conjunction with Earth Day and Arbor Day. Trees were distributed to members of the fourth grade class on Tuesday.

The board approved a request for financial assistance for eye care that had been tabled from a previous meeting, pending professional services to be completed. With the eye care completed, the board approved providing $125 in financial assistance, with matching funds requested from the District 38-I Individual Assistance Fund. 

Evan Evans reported he had received a “thank you” note from another resident who had received financial assistance from the Lions Club for eye care.

The youth soccer program, sponsored by the Lions Club, has more than 150 kindergarten through fourth grade players participating. The soccer program is entirely organized, operated and coached by Ainsworth High School students.

The board discussed maintaining the trees planted by the Lions Club at East City Park during the past two years. Larry Rice reported city of Ainsworth personnel have been good about watering the trees, and city employees also staked the trees to provide stability on windy days.  Rice said he would check on the status of the trees and do whatever is necessary to preserve them this spring.

The club has annually contributed $100 to the Brown County Arts Council for the Middle School Fine Arts Camp program, and the board again agreed to make that donation.

The Broken Bow Lions Club is celebrating its 60th anniversary May 4 with a prime rib dinner. Any Lions Club member interested in attending is asked to contact Jerry Ehlers by Friday to reserve a seat.

* Area seniors receive scholarships to Nebraska state colleges

(Posted 5:45 a.m. April 23)

The Nebraska State College System recently awarded over 100 Board of Trustees Scholarships to graduating high school seniors from Nebraska. A Board of Trustees Scholarship provides full tuition for recipients and is worth nearly $17,000 over four years.

Gov. Dave Heineman was the keynote speaker during the awards presentation.

“I want to applaud the Nebraska State College System Board of Trustees for thinking innovatively about ways to boost enrollment and to increase Nebraska’s college-going rate by expanding scholarship opportunities for students,” Heineman said. “We want to ensure that more Nebraska students attend Nebraska colleges. Ensuring that every high school graduate in Nebraska goes to college is critical to our continued success as a state. Our task is to prepare our sons and daughters to compete in a knowledge-based, technology-driven, global, free-market economy.”

The Board of Trustees Scholarship recipients are Nebraska residents who have earned a score of 25 or higher on the ACT or a score of 1700 on the SAT college entrance exams. The recipients also provide written recommendation letters from high school teachers or administrators.

In recognition of the achievement of the scholarship recipients, the Nebraska State College System invited the students and their families to attend the annual Scholarship Luncheon at Lincoln April 11. The presidents of the three colleges introduced the students and their families in attendance.

The Nebraska State College System serves nearly 9,000 students through three geographically diverse institutions – Chadron State College, Wayne State College and Peru State College. Combined, the three colleges offer more than 200 degrees, certificate and pre-professional programs that are accessible on the campuses, via the Internet and in several locations throughout the state. 

Scholarship recipients include Quentin Wagner of Ainsworth, Samantha Sattler of Stuart, Jessica Thiele of Atkinson, and Brianna Bussinger and Shaniya DeNaeyer of Valentine.

* NCDHD presents awards during annual banquet

(Posted 9 a.m. April 22)

The North Central Nebraska Public Health Banquet was Friday, April 11, 2014, with 110 people in attendance.  The banquet was held in conjunction with the observance of Public Health Week promoted through the American Public Health Association.  The American Public Health Association dedicates the first full week of April each year to bring together communities that recognize contributions of public health and highlight issues important for improving our nation's health.
Two awards were presented during the banquet, signifying exceptional achievement, outstanding leadership and contributions in the advancement of the community's health.  The 2014 Dr. Richard Raymond Public Health Champion Award for an individual, was presented to Veta Hungerford.
Hungerford is a Public Health Nurse employed with North Central District Health Department for over 8 years. She manages the North Central Community Care Partnership Coalition and several secondary coalitions, is an advisory board member with Region 4 Behavioral Health, works with youth in several schools on activities for alcohol, drug and tobacco use prevention, works with several area businesses on Wellness in the Worksite, and works each month as a senior car seat technician for the SAFE Kids North Central car seat check events.
The second award, The 2014 Dr. Richard Raymond Public Health Champion Award
for an organization, was presented to the Antelope Memorial Hospital Wellness Department, from Neligh.  The Antelope Memorial Hospital Wellness staff members accepting the award were Kellie Gossman, Natalie McKillip and Cassie Schindler.  In January, the group created the "Biggest and Best Loser Contest" as an incentive for people to get fit and shed excess pounds after the holiday season. The contest included a strength and conditioning class two times per week, unlimited use of the hospital's wellness room and weekly inspirational emails sent to the
165 participating members. 
The members received information on their progress, fitness tips and healthy recipe ideas. More than half of the participants each lost 10 pounds, with others losing up to 30, 40 and even
50 pounds during this contest!  This same team will be starting another program this spring called, "The Choose to Loose Challenge" as a six-month challenge in continued motivation and inspiration for healthy weight and fitness.
The Dr. Richard Raymond Public Health Campion Awards are named for Dr. Raymond, a family physician who practiced at O'Neill for 17 years, and who was later appointed Nebraska's Chief Medical Officer. Raymond directed public health programs and played a vital role in the development of Nebraska's district health departments which cover all 93 counties of this state.

* Harthoorn receives Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation scholarship

(Posted 7:30 p.m. April 21)

The Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation announced the awarding of $30,000 in scholarships to students furthering their education goals in the 2014-2015 academic year. 
“The Foundation strongly believes in the importance of a sound education for tomorrow’s industry leaders,” Scott Langemeier, president of the Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation, said. “Thanks to the generosity of many donors and participants of the Retail Value Steer Challenge, our primary fundraiser, we were able to award these 30 scholarships, the greatest number in the 46 year history of the Foundation.”
Among the students receiving a scholarship is Ainsworth graduate and current University of Nebraska-Lincoln student Haley Harthoorn.
Harthoorn received a $1,000 Martin Viersen Range Management Memorial Scholarship through the Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation.

* Brown County sales continue to climb; Cherry County January sales up substantially

(Posted 3 p.m. April 21)

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of January 2014 and January 2013 Net Taxable Sales
for Nebraska Counties and Selected Cities


County
or City

2014
Net Taxable
Sales

2013
Net Taxable
Sales

Percent
Change

2014
Sales Tax
5.5%

2013
Sales Tax
5.5%

Blaine

37,977

19,260

97.2

2,088.75

1,059.30

Boyd

695,122

756,216

(8.1)

38,231.82

41,591.96

Brown

2,817,021

2,668,387

5.6

154,936.34

146,761.46

Ainsworth

2,660,523

2,563,450

3.8

146,328.94

140,989.91

Cherry

4,640,397

3,957,676

17.3

255,222.31

217,672.45

Valentine

4,456,572

3,797,517

17.4

245,111.74

208,863.69

Holt

8,665,350

8,952,508

(3.2)

476,594.92

492,388.62

Atkinson

1,459,257

1,701,701

(14.2)

80,259.30

93,593.73

O'Neill

6,077,053

6,155,373

(1.3)

334,238.26

338,545.86

Keya Paha

204,239

176,660

15.6

11,233.17

9,716.33

Rock

559,560

552,154

1.3

30,775.87

30,368.54

State Total

2,046,005,764

2,012,522,840

1.7

112,673,129.47

110,935,595.75

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of January 2014 and January 2013
Motor Vehicle Sales Tax Collections by County


County
or City

2014
Net Taxable
Sales

2013
Net Taxable
Sales

Percent
Change

2014
Sales Tax
5.5%

2013
Sales Tax
5.5%

Blaine

192,418

119,230

61.4

10,519.67

6,506.57

Boyd

421,061

313,342

34.4

23,199.60

17,209.84

Brown

1,067,140

665,507

60.3

58,920.57

36,744.90

Cherry

1,759,205

1,477,472

19.1

97,148.50

81,602.07

Holt

2,724,270

2,566,667

6.1

150,443.79

141,938.15

Keya Paha

424,683

286,601

48.2

23,362.66

15,728.13

Rock

373,637

534,957

(30.2)

20,581.55

29,469.22

State Total

334,617,360

311,287,289

7.5

18,538,730.48

17,243,589.98

* Murphy recognized for 15 years as an advisor during state FBLA Convention

(Posted 2:30 p.m. April 21)

The Nebraska Future Business Leaders of America recently named students who won state competitive events during the 52nd annual State Leadership Conference at Omaha.
More than 2,400 students and advisers from 135 Nebraska schools attended the conference with students competing in more than 60 chapter, team and individual events.
In addition to the student competitions, several FBLA advisors were recognized for their years at the helm of high school programs.
Ainsworth business teacher Juli Murphy was recognized for serving 15 years as an FBLA advisory.

* Free citywide household furniture cleanup day slates for Wednesday

(Posted 11:15 a.m. April 21)

The City of Ainsworth is hosting a second, free citywide cleanup on Wednesday, April 23.

Prior to beginning its nuisance abatement inspection program, the city is encouraging all residents to participate in cleaning up their property and alleys of all debris. During Wednesday’s free cleanup day, the city will pick up household furniture, including mattresses, couches, chairs and televisions.

Those items may be left at the curb side of the property and will be picked up by the Streets Department free of charge. Items need to be at curb side by 7:30 a.m. The city will not go back to pick up items that were not put out on time. The pickups will begin Wednesday on the south side of the Cowboy Trail.

The city will not accept household trash, tires, oil, chemicals, paint or hazardous household

waste items, nor will the city pick up tree limbs, grass, leaves, yard waste, wood and lumber.

Yard waste may be taken to the KBR Solid Waste Transfer Station free of charge Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Any machinery or vehicle that is inoperative, has lost its identity or is unable to perform its intended function is considered a misdemeanor violation of city ordinance, as is any motor vehicle without a current license and not housed in storage or an enclosed building. The city urges residents to contact a salvage dealer to haul non-working vehicles and machinery away prior to the nuisance abatement inspections. Contact the city office at 402-387-2494 for more information.

Later this the spring, the city will hold a free tree limb pickup day.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

(Posted 2:30 p.m. April 20)

April 13

* Made contact involving juveniles breaking curfew in Long Pine.  Issued a citation for violation of Provisional Operator’s Permit.

* Provided traffic control for the Ainsworth Firemen responding to a report of a gas meter leaking on North Oak St Ainsworth. Source Gas was also contacted to respond.

* Assisted individuals with a report of a dog running at large on North Maple St Ainsworth.

 

April 14

* Responded to a report of two dogs running at large from Hwy 20 to North Park St Ainsworth.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued a burn permit to individuals West of Ainsworth.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued a burn permit to KBR Solid Waste Station East and North of Ainsworth.

 

April 15

* Investigated a report of a juvenile driving across the Ainsworth School ground.

* Attempted to locate a missing person possibly in the Ainsworth rural area.

* Responded to a possible disturbance on East Zero St Ainsworth.

* Booked a subject into the Brown Co Jail on a court ordered commitment for a drug court violation.

* Released a subject from the Brown Co Jail as their sentence was complete.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to individuals South & West of Ainsworth.

 

April 16

* Responded to a report of a semi driving erratically on Hwy East of Ainsworth.

* Assisted an individual with a report of a missing cat on Woodward St Ainsworth.

 

April 17

* Responded to a report of a dog running at large on the Ainsworth School playground.

* Responded to a report of barking dogs on North Wilson St Ainsworth.

* Investigated a report of reckless driving in Long Pine.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued a burn permit to individuals West of Ainsworth.

* Assisted an individual with a report of suspicious activity on North Walnut St Ainsworth.

* The Brown Co Ambulance Service transported an individual from the Ainsworth Care Center to the Brown Co Hospital.

 

April 18

* Responded to a report of a gas drive off from a service station in Ainsworth.  The subject was located and made restitution.

* Assisted an individual with a report of suspicious activity, when a liquid was poured onto a vehicle on East 1st St Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a possible disturbance on North Ash St Ainsworth.

* Assisted an individual with a report of a possible suicidal subject in Ainsworth.

* Assisted an individual with an unreported accident that occurred earlier in the morning

 

April 19

* Received a report of a possible sexual assault in Ainsworth.

* Received a traffic complaint on Meadville Ave Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a dog running at large on Wilson St Ainsworth.

* Provided a civil standby while individuals gathered personal property from a rural Brown Co residence.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued a burn permit to individuals East & North of Ainsworth.

 

Weekly Summary

0 - Citations were issued.

0 - Crime Stopper call received.

0 - Fix-it tickets were issued.

1 - Handgun permits were issued

18 - Incidents Reports were taken.

0 - Paper Service was served. (includes: 

134 - Phone calls were received.

2 - 911 emergency calls received.

3 - Titles were inspected.

6 - Warnings were issued.  (These include written and verbal.)

* Heineman discusses 2014 legislative session, touting tax relief and water funding

(Posted 5:30 p.m. April 18)

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman appeared on KBRB Friday to discuss with KBRB's Graig Kinzie his views on the work of the 2014 Nebraska Legislature. Heineman said he strongly supported the tax relief measures passed during the session, as well as the funding for water sustainability. He said, without some kind of reform, Nebraska's agricultural property owners were at major risk.
To hear the complete report with Nebraska's governor, click on the audio links below.

audio clips/Gov Heineman 4-18 1.mp3

audio clips/Gov Heineman 4-18 2.mp3

audio clips/Gov Heineman 4-18 3.mp3

* Ainsworth finishes as Southwest Conference Quiz Bowl runner-up

(Posted 5:35 a.m. April 17)

The Ainsworth Quiz Bowl team competed in the Southwest Conference Quiz Bowl at Valentine Wednesday, finishing second by losing to Gothenburg on the last question in the championship match.
Ainsworth was beaten by Minden in the team’s first match, but the Bulldogs worked their way back to the finals with wins over Cozad, Broken Bow, Valentine and Ogallala. 
The team set a high score for the day with 105 points in the Ogallala match. Team members are Hallie Bower, Clay Chohon, Marita Hogseth, Damen Cleal, Nathaniel Goodloe, Jack Arens, Emma Good and Vanessa Taylor. 
The team’s next competition is the ESU 17 Quiz Bowl on April 23 at Valentine. The top two teams from the ESU 17 Quiz Bowl qualify for the State Quiz Bowl competition at Holdrege April 30. 

* Commissioners agree to street milling request from Johnstown

(Posted 5 p.m. April 16)

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Brown County Commissioners, the board approved having the roads department lay down millings for the village of Johnstown.

Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin reported village officials requested having the county place millings on Center Street.

The board agreed to the request, with the village reimbursing Brown County for the cost of the fuel to operate the equipment.

In other business during Tuesday’s meeting, the board approved a request from Gary Welke to bury electrical and water lines across county right of way in the northwest quarter of Section 7, Township 30, Range 20. The board approved the request contingent upon having Turpin review and sign off on the project.

The board also approved a request from Bob Micheel to bury an electrical line for an irrigation system under county right of way in the southwest quarter of Section 1, Township 29, Range 22, again upon the review and sign-off of the county’s highway superintendent.

Larry Linder and Ross DeBower with the Nebraska Public Power District presented the commissioners with an update on the NPPD transmission line project scheduled to be built between Cherry County and Antelope County.

The NPPD representatives indicated the preliminary route for the transmission line would move through the northern portion of Thomas County and continue traveling east, likely placing the line in northern Blaine County as opposed to southern Brown County. A final determination has not yet been made for the route of the transmission line.

The board, with Commissioner Les Waits absent from Tuesday’s meeting, approved a request from Howard County to allow that county to leave the Central Nebraska Economic Development District for the South Central Economic Development District. County commissioners in each county in the Central Nebraska Economic Development District service area are required to sign off on allowing a county to exit for another district.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. May 6 in the Brown County Courthouse.

* 880 Road northwest of Ainsworth to close Monday for bridge replacement

(Posted 4 p.m. April 16)

Brown County Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin reported 880 Road approximately 4 miles west and 1-1/4 mile north of Ainsworth will close traffic on Monday.
Turpin said 880 Road will close from 426th Avenue west to Rauscher Avenue for approximately one week to allow the Brown County Roads Department to replace an old bridge with a culvert.
Barricades will be placed at the sites of the closure. Turpin will notify KBRB when the work is complete.

* Construction work on Highway 20 from Wood Lake west to begin soon

(Posted 3:30 p.m. April 16)

Weather permitting, construction work is scheduled to begin the week of April 28 on
Highway 20, beginning at Wood Lake and extending west for 10.5 miles, according to the Nebraska Department of Roads.
Werner Construction, Inc. of Hastings has the $2.9 million contract. Work includes milling and replacing the asphalt roadway and shoulders.
Traffic will be maintained during construction with the use of flaggers and a pilot car.
The work is scheduled to be completed in August 2014.
The Nebraska Department of Roads project manager is Michael Rudnick of Ainsworth. Motorists are urged to use caution while driving through highway work zones and to remember that fines are doubled when workers are present.

* Construction work on Highway 7 in Bassett and north to begin this month

(Posted 3:30 p.m. April 16)

Weather permitting, construction work is scheduled to begin the week of April 28 on Highway 7,
beginning at Bassett and extending north for 6 miles, according to the Nebraska Department of
Roads.
Knife River Midwest of Sioux City, Iowa, has the $1.9 million contract for milling and
replacing the asphalt roadway and shoulders. Work includes building ADA ramps at all
sidewalk intersections through the city of Bassett.
Traffic will be maintained during construction with the use of flaggers and a pilot car. 
The work is scheduled to be completed in July.
The Nebraska Department of Roads project manager is Michael Rudnick of Ainsworth. Motorists are urged to use caution while driving through highway work zones and to remember that fines are doubled when workers are present.

* Sheriff's department investigates hit-and-run accident Tuesday in Ainsworth

(Posted 10:30 p.m. April 15)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a hit-and-run accident that occurred Tuesday, April 15, in Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, sometime before 3:55 p.m. Tuesday on Maple Street south of the Third Street intersection, an unknown vehicle struck a parked 2010 Ford F-150, owned by Dean Smith of Allen.
Damage to the parked Ford was estimated at $1,080.
Anyone with information on who may be responsible for the hit-and-run is asked to contact the Brown County Sheriff’s Department at 402-387-1440.

* Agricultural land again fuels large valuation increases across Nebraska

(Posted 11 a.m. April 15)

The Nebraska Department of Revenue, Property Assessment Division, has processed the 2014 Real Property Abstracts of Assessment filed by the 93 Nebraska county assessors. Preliminary analysis indicates that real property valuations have increased 12.45 percent statewide from 2013 to 2014, resulting in an increase in valuation of approximately $20.93 billion.

Of that total, $1.99 billion ( 9.5 percent) is attributable to newly-constructed real property, and $18.94 billion (90.5 percent) is attributable to existing property valuation increases.

The real property value percentage change by property type is based on the total property reported in each county. The real property value of individual property in each county may not be affected by the same percentage change.

In looking at area counties, Brown County experienced an overall valuation increase of 10.58 percent. Excluding new growth, the increase is 9.26 percent in Brown County. Residential property value increased by 3.36 percent overall, but only by 1.15 percent when excluding new growth. Commercial property values increased by 7.41 percent overall, but that was virtually all attributed to new growth. Existing commercial values were flat compared to 2012.

Agricultural land in Brown County again saw strong increases, up 12.82 percent from 2012.

Rock County experienced a 14.65 percent overall valuation increased in 2013. New growth accounted for a minor increase, as 14.39 percent of the change was due to increased value of existing property. Rock County’s residential value was nearly static from 2012. Commercial valuation was up 15.74 percent, and 12.78 percent of that increase came from existing commercial property. Agricultural land values in Rock County rose in 2013 to the tune of 16.58 percent.

Keya Paha County had a 14.29 percent increase in overall value, with 13.2 percent of the change coming from existing property. Residential property value increased by 1.27 percent, but, excluding new growth, residential values on existing residential property dropped by 8.65 percent. Commercial property was static, but excluding new growth, commercial property values in Keya Paha County declined by 28.94 percent in 2013. Agricultural land values in Keya Paha County rose in 2013 by 15.28 percent.

Cherry County saw slight valuation increases in residential and commercial properties, but that was due to new growth. Existing residential property in Cherry County was up by 0.58 percent from 2012, and existing commercial property decreased in value by 0.45 percent. Agricultural land in Cherry County increased by 7 percent, fueling the 6.13 percent overall valuation increase in Cherry County in 2013.

Holt County saw an overall increase of more than 21 percent, and less than 1 percent of the valuation increase was attributed to new construction. While existing residential and commercial values saw less than a 1 percent increase, agricultural land values in Holt County jumped by 26 percent.

Only 15 of Nebraska’s 93 counties saw overall valuations increase by less than 10 percent from 2012, and 37 counties saw overall valuations increase by at least 20 percent. The state’s most populated counties saw the smallest valuation percentage increases. Douglas County’s overall valuation increased by just 1.78 percent, and Lancaster County’s overall valuation was up by just 1.7 percent.
On the reverse side, Chase County in southwestern Nebraska saw an overall valuation increase of an astounding 44.27 percent. That was due to a one-year, 58.48 percent, increase in agricultural land value. Another 17 counties experienced value increases of between 30 percent and 40 percent between 2012-13. The increases in those counties - Antelope, Clay, Franklin, Gosper, Greeley, Harlan, Hitchcock, Kearney, Nuckolls, Perkins, Pierce, Sherman, Stanton, Thayer, Thurston, Valley, Wayne, Webster and Wheeler - was due almost exclusively to a rise in agricultural values.

Excluding new construction, residential property statewide increased just 1.48 percent in 2013. Commercial property, excluding new construction, was up by just 0.53 percent. Agricultural land values statewide skyrocketed another 29.12 percent, and have now doubled in value since just 2009, a four-year stretch.

Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson said, “This increase ensures the statewide valuation of agricultural land for tax purposes will have doubled since 2009, as our estimates suggest nearly a 120 percent increase in valuation since that time. Our estimates also suggest that due to the increase, the statewide property taxes paid by farm and ranch families on agricultural land will near $1 billion in 2015.

“As we have pointed out on many occasions the unprecedented growth in valuation on agricultural land and the associated increases in property taxes are carried by farm and ranch families who make up less than 3 percent of our population, but pay more than 25 percent of the property taxes collected statewide. While the Legislature placing more monies into the property tax credit program in the vein of property tax relief is appreciated, the fact remains that Nebraska farmers and ranchers pay the third highest property taxes in the U.S. and will continue to do so until something is done to address this issue.”

Overall valuations statewide have increased by around 5 percent each year since 2009. The overall increase for 2013 was the highest of the group at 8.76 percent, with the majority of that spike fueled by the increase in agricultural land values.

Excluding new construction, the overall increase statewide has been between 3 percent and 5 percent annually, with the exception of 2013, which increased 7.65 percent.

Real property valuations are set by the county assessors and are subject to review during the statewide equalization proceedings before the Tax Equalization and Review Commission. Real property valuation change notices will be mailed on or before June 1, 2014 to real property owners who had real property values that increased or decreased from 2013 to 2014.

Increases to real property valuations may result in an increase of tax revenue for local governmental subdivisions. If the tax rates from the previous year remain unchanged, additional property taxes would be generated. Local property taxes are the product of spending and budgeting decisions made by local governments, based on their fiscal needs.
Brown County, for example, left the amount of tax dollars it asked from property owners the same for the 2013-14 budget as the county did in 2012-13. The tax rate, overall, decreased substantially due to the commissioners keeping the asking the same, but the burden continued to shift toward the agricultural side due to the state formula. The rate was decreased for all property owners, so residential and commercial property owners will pay fewer taxes in 2013, while agricultural property owners will pay more despite the lowering of the levy rate.

The final budgets must be approved by Sept. 20 of each year. Tax rates must be determined by Oct. 15 of each year.

* Area taxable sales see strong increases in 2013 over previous year

(Posted 10:30 a.m. April 15)

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of Annual 2013 and Annual 2012 Net Taxable Sales
for Nebraska Counties and Selected Cities


County
or City

2013
Net Taxable
Sales

2012
Net Taxable
Sales

Percent
Change

2013
Sales Tax
5.5%

2012
Sales Tax
5.5%

Blaine

719,861

641,139

12.3

39,592.54

35,262.78

Boyd

10,991,417

10,499,960

4.7

606,644.84

577,468.16

Brown

38,736,887

35,469,049

9.2

2,131,021.59

1,950,800.51

Ainsworth

36,619,405

33,399,311

9.6

2,014,069.59

1,836,964.53

Cherry

65,498,248

59,134,792

10.8

3,670,454.48

3,252,214.73

Valentine

62,631,113

56,465,212

10.9

3,512,761.21

3,105,386.87

Holt

127,535,633

120,966,484

5.4

7,013,744.81

6,653,260.05

Atkinson

26,051,257

24,912,653

4.6

1,432,821.55

1,370,192.46

O'Neill

84,767,494

81,071,107

4.6

4,661,069.59

4,458,804.16

Keya Paha

2,923,708

2,786,049

4.9

160,804.36

153,233.05

Rock

10,987,201

9,975,206

10.1

604,373.25

548,637.40

State Total

27,344,166,761

25,970,494,368

5.3

1,507,276,736.19

1,429,337,007.80

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of Annual 2013 and Annual 2012
Motor Vehicle Sales Tax Collections by County


County
or City

2013
Net Taxable
Sales

2012
Net Taxable
Sales

Percent
Change

2013
Sales Tax
5.5%

2012
Sales Tax
5.5%

Blaine

1,457,356

1,130,271

28.9

79,604.92

61,524.89

Boyd

4,929,077

5,492,031

(10.3)

270,950.60

302,160.04

Brown

8,193,832

7,815,990

4.8

453,122.49

432,488.95

Cherry

13,832,594

13,674,564

1.2

765,165.65

756,226.07

Holt

29,576,802

29,412,905

0.6

1,636,047.15

1,625,423.65

Keya Paha

2,472,358

2,023,345

22.2

135,822.37

110,997.62

Rock

4,956,946

5,033,071

(1.5)

272,891.48

276,035.42

State Total

$3,720,233,793

$3,575,041,343

4.1

$206,285,587.61

$198,181,165.85

* Davis discusses bills that passed and stalled in the 2014 Legislature

(Posted 4:15 p.m. April 14)

Nebraska 43rd District State Sen. Al Davis said the 2014 session of the Nebraska Unicameral may go down as one of the most trying in the past several years.
While Davis said there was substantial frustration during the session, he still believed there was progress made on numerous fronts.
To hear the report with Nebraska's 43rd District state senator, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/State Sen Al Davis 4-14.mp3

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 4:15 p.m. April 14)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a one-vehicle accident that occurred on Friday, April 11, in Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 3:30 p.m. Friday in the alley between Main and Walnut streets, a 2003 Chevy pickup, driven by Bonnie Richey, 55, of Ainsworth, was backing from a parking spot and struck a concrete post.
No injuries were reported. Damage to the Chevy was estimated at $3,400. The concrete post, owned by Pump and Pantry, did not sustain any damage.

* Traffic Accidents

(Posted 5:45 a.m. April 14)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a pair of motor vehicle accidents that occurred last week.
On Wednesday, April 9, the sheriff’s department investigated a vehicle-deer accident that occurred on Highway 20 west of Johnstown.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 8:45 p.m. Wednesday on Highway 20 approximately 5 miles west of Johnstown, a 1995 Ford Ranger, driven by Jacob Haskell, 37, of Seattle, Wash., was traveling west when the vehicle struck a deer in the roadway.
No persons were injured during the accident. Damage to the Ford was estimated at $800.
The sheriff’s department investigated a two-vehicle accident that occurred on Thursday, April 10, in Ainsworth.
According to the report, at 5:15 p.m. Thursday in the alley between Main and Walnut streets, a collision occurred between a 2003 Dodge, driven by Lillie Parkison, 52, of Ainsworth, and a 2008 Mercury, driven by Michael Lentz, 56, of Ainsworth.
No injuries were reported. Damage to the Dodge was estimated at $500. The Mercury sustained approximately $500 damage.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

(Posted 5:45 p.m. April 13)

April 6

* Responded to a report of suspicious activity at the East City Park.

* Responded to a report of a goat running back & forth across Hwy 20 West of Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of juveniles riding a mini bike across the roadway on West 2nd St. Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a dog running at large on South Wilson St. Ainsworth.

* The Brown Co Ambulance Service transported a patient from the Brown Co Hospital to Good Samaritan in Kearney.

* The Brown Co Ambulance Service transported an individual from a residence on North Wilson St. to the Brown Co Hospital.

* Booked a subject into the Brown Co Jail on a court ordered commitment for Driving Under the Influence.

* The Johnstown Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to individuals in Johnstown.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to individuals North of Ainsworth.

* The Johnstown fire Dept issued a burn permit to individuals East of Johnstown.

* The Johnstown Fire Dept issued a burn permit to the Ainsworth Golf Course./ The Brown Co Sheriff’s Office & the NE State Patrol provided traffic control as the smoke hindered driving conditions on Hwy 20.

 

April 7

* Received a report of possible child neglect in Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a vehicle driving on the wrong side of the hwy, almost causing an accident in the Long Pine hills.

* Released a subject from the Brown Co Jail as their sentence was complete.

 

April 8

* Provided a civil standby while individuals gathered personal property from a residence on East 1st St Ainsworth.

* Investigated a report of suspicious activity in Long Pine.

* Responded to a report of a subject turning cookies in the school parking lot.

* Responded to a traffic complaint on West 2nd St Ainsworth.

* The Brown Co Ambulance Service transported a patient from the Brown Co Hospital to the Good Samaritan in Kearney.

* Booked a subject into the Brown Co Jail on a court ordered commitment and released them later on bond.

* A subject was transported to the NE Dept of Corrections in Lincoln.

 

April 9

* Assisted an individual with a report of theft of copper in rural Brown County.

* Investigated a two-vehicle accident without injury at Pump & Pantry in Long Pine.

* Investigated a vehicle / deer accident on Hwy 20 West of Johnstown.

 
April 10

* Assisted an individual with a report of a missing or stolen bicycle from the Ainsworth Grade School.

* Investigated a two-vehicle accident without injury at Pump & Pantry.

* Responded to a report of a possible suicidal subject in Ainsworth.

* The Brown Co Ambulance Service transported an individual from a residence on Foxtail Road to the Brown Co Hospital.

* Released a subject from the Brown Co Jail and turned them over to the Thomas Co. Sheriff’s Office.

* The Johnstown Fire Dept issued a burn permit to individuals for South on Moon Lake Road.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued a burn permit to individuals for East & North of Ainsworth.

 

April 11

* Assisted an individual with a report of a missing purse, taken from a vehicle, on Woodward St Ainsworth.

* Investigated a hit and run accident on South Maple St Ainsworth.

* Investigated a report of a vehicle that backed into a pole in the alley East of Main St near 4th St. Ainsworth.

* The Brown Co Ambulance Service transported an individual from a residence on East 1st St to the Brown Co Hospital.

* The Johnstown Fire Dept issued a burn permit to individuals for East of Johnstown and West of Plum Creek.

* The Johnstown Fire Dept issued a burn permit to individuals for North of the Golf Course.

* The Johnstown Fire Dept issued a burn permit to individuals North & East of Johnstown.

 

April 12

* Responded to a report of a dog running at large on South Wilson St Ainsworth.

* Investigated a report of littering South of Ainsworth.

* Assisted an individual with a report of a barking dog on North Ash St Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a juvenile going through parked vehicles on Elm St Ainsworth.

* Investigated a report of gun shots being fired on South St Ainsworth.

* The Brown Co Ambulance Service transported an individual from a residence on North Elm St, Ainsworth to the Brown Co Hospital.

* The Johnstown Fire Dept issued a burn permit to individuals North on the Norden Road.

 

Weekly Summary

1 - Citations were issued.

0 - Crime Stopper call received.

0 - Fix-it tickets were issued.

5 - Handgun permits were issued

24 - Incidents Reports were taken.

1 - Paper Service was served. (includes: 1 Subpoena)

167 - Phone calls were received.

5 - 911 emergency calls received.

5 - Titles were inspected.

11 - Warnings were issued.  (These include written and verbal.)

* Area Educational Service units receive grant for distance learning expansion

(Posted 2 p.m. April 11)

Educational Service Units in northeast and north central Nebraska have been awarded a grant to further their distance learning capabilities.

USDA Rural Development Nebraska State Director Maxine Moul visited Neligh recently to present officials of ESU 8 a certificate recognizing the $287,442 grant to upgrade its distance learning equipment between 30 schools and Northeast Community College. It is part of $1.2 million in funding awarded to several ESUs in the state.

Moul said the grant will allow students to be able to take advance placement classes, dual credit classes, and job skills training.

“It is essential to expand distance learning so as to expand education to our students. It is with great pleasure Rural Development is able to assist in the ESU’s distance learning efforts,” she said. “The ability of this particular grant to help students in these ESUs gain college credit through Northeast Community College is another wonderful advantage of distance learning. It’s great to see how this opens the world to our children.”

ESU 8  administrator Bill Mowinkel said, “ESU 8 is honored and humbled to receive this grant. This will be a benefit to all districts involved and Northeast Community College. We applaud the efforts of our own Molly Aschoff and Mary Gurney in the preparation and submission of this grant application. Thanks also goes out to USDA Rural Development in recognizing the need to extend and expand educational opportunities to rural northeast Nebraska.”

Aschoff, who serves as the distance learning coordinator for ESU 8, said this grant will also reach schools in ESU 17, which includes schools at Ainsworth, Bassett, Cody-Kilgore, Springview and Valentine, as well as Knox County schools served by ESU 1.

“We have students here in Neligh taking classes through the Manhattan School of Music in New York City,” Aschoff said. “We also had eleven local Vietnam veterans here send a program out to our schools this past fall on Veterans Day.”

Aschoff said distance learning technology has also allowed everyone from local day care providers to dental hygienists get their service and continuing education hours.

“The equipment is not only for our schools, we reach out to our communities a well. There are no longer boundaries thanks to distance learning,” she said.

Dr. Michael Chipps, president of Northeast Community College, who was also on hand for Moul’s presentation, said, “We appreciate the work of the staff of ESU 8 in successfully obtaining this grant. This is really a wonderful opportunity for us to grow and expand our operations with the schools you serve. Thank you for including us in the great work you continue to do.”

* Ainsworth High School prom scheduled for Saturday

(Posted 5:45 a.m. April 11)

The Ainsworth High School prom is scheduled for Saturday, beginning with the banquet at 5:30 p.m.
Candidates for prom queen this year are Bailey Morrow, Hali Davis, Sami Vonheeder, Hayley Murphy, Caitlyn Crawford and Leah Taylor.

King candidates are Rob Maxwell, Landon Welke, Colton Doyle, Dylan Dillon, Clay Chohon and Quentin Wagner.

The grand march is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in McAndrew Gymnasium. The king and queen will be crowned following the grand march.

The prom dance begins at 9:30 p.m. in the Conference Center gym. Post prom follows in McAndrew Gymnasium.

Rock County held its prom last weekend. Saresse Clay and Darren Allen were chosen as the prom queen and king.

* Free prescription drug take-back event planned for April 26

(Posted 4 p.m. April 10)

Anyone with unwanted medicine in their home is encouraged to take advantage of a free prescription drug take-back event Saturday, April 26.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 26, local law enforcement agencies and the Drug Enforcement Administration, in collaboration with North Central District Health Department, will give the public an opportunity to prevent medicine abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted medications.  The service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked.
Collection sites include the Brown County Sheriff’s Department, The Bassett City Hall parking lot, the O’Neill Police Department, the Boyd County Senior Center at Spencer, and the Firehouse Café at Butte.
People may bring expired or unwanted prescriptions and medicines, unused vitamins, veterinary medications and over the counter medicines.
The take-back event will not accept needles, illegal drugs, cancer drugs or medical waste of any kind.
Clean out the medicine cabinet and bring all unwanted medications to the event for proper disposal. All medicine will be disposed of by the DEA. Leave the label on the container but cross out the name and take to the nearest collection site.
Never flush unwanted leftover drugs down the drain. This can lead to water contamination and is affecting fish, frogs and drinking water supplies.
Never give unwanted medicine to someone else to use - it could kill them.
Never take a prescription that was prescribed for someone else. It could kill you.
The streets aren’t the only place kids find drugs. Many kids are finding it all too easy to get drugs to abuse. They just head straight to the medicine cabinet. For kids, prescription drugs may be appealing because they are easily accessible, they are “legal” and they are FDA approved, so are perceived safe compared to illicit street drugs. In reality, abusing prescription medications, even once and a while, can be just as dangerous as abusing any illegal drug. 
Prescription drug abuse is drug abuse and children need to know that.  Make sure you are not contributing to drug abuse with outdated and unused medications in your medicine cabinet.
For more information on the take-back events, contact a local law enforcement agency or the North Central District Health Department at 402 336-2406.

* Baxter sentenced to state prison on felony, misdemeanor convictions

(Posted 3:45 p.m. April 10)

During Brown County District Court proceedings Tuesday, Brian D. Baxter, age 32, of Johnstown, was sentenced to between 32 months and four years in the Nebraska Department of Corrections following a misdemeanor and felony conviction.
According to Brown County Attorney David Streich, Baxter was sentenced to one year in the State Department of Corrections on a Class W misdemeanor conviction of third offense driving under the influence.
Baxter was also ordered to serve not less than 20 months nor more than 36 months on a Class IV felony conviction of driving during revocation. Baxter was ordered to serve the sentences consecutively, meaning he must complete the first sentence before beginning the second prison sentence.
In addition to the time in prison, Baxter was fined $1,000 on the driving under the influence conviction and ordered to pay $169 in court costs. His driver's license was revoked for a period of 15 years.

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 3:45 p.m. April 10)

In addition to fines, each case carries $48 in court costs

Craig A. Smith, age 53, of Ainsworth, charged with first offense driving under the influence, fined $500, sentenced to six months of probation, ordered not to drive for 60 days, and ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

Hadley Caulfield, 16, of Ainsworth, shooting wildlife from a roadway, $100.

Wyatt W. Croghan, 18, of Long Pine, criminal mischief between $200 and $500, ordered to pay restitution and court costs

Cody R. Dillon, 42, of Long Pine, disturbing the peace, ordered to pay $260 restitution.

Steven L. Douglas, 53, of Long Pine, driving under the influence with a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 percent or greater, fined $500, sentenced to two days in jail with credit for one day served, one year of probation, driver’s license revoked for one year, ordered to install an ignition interlock device; also charged with driving left of center, sentenced to two days in jail.

Damen T. Cleal, 16, of Ainsworth, possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, $300; also charged with driving on the shoulder of a highway, $25.

Cory R. Coutts, 24, of Ainsworth, first offense driving under the influence, $500, sentenced to six months of probation, ordered not to drive for 60 days, ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

Lea C. Kegley, 43, of Ainsworth, first offense driving under the influence, $500, sentenced to six months of probation, ordered not to drive for 60 days, and ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

Turee D. Benson, 22, of Ainsworth, possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300.

Kyle Hobbs, 16, of Ainsworth, careless driving, $50.

Joseph A. Wood, 38, of Portland, Ore., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Todd G. Mundhenke, 66, of Ainsworth, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Michael C. Fisher, 44, of Pleasanton, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Dewey D. Odea, 31, of Long Pine, no operator’s license, $500.

Tina R. Fernau, 38, of Ainsworth, violation of a no passing zone, $25.

Chandler A. Townsend, 28, of Omaha, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Darrel D. Titus, 58, of Springview, first offense driving under the influence, $500, sentenced to six months of probation, ordered not to drive for 60 days, and ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

Stacy A. Ellis, 46, of Ismay, Mont., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Leslie Bomar, 61, of Ainsworth, first offense driving under the influence, $500, sentenced to six months of probation and ordered not to drive for 60 days.

* Council debates chicken ordinance, youth coordinator Wednesday

(Posted 5:30 a.m. April 10)

From changing the city’s livestock ordinances to hiring a youth activities coordinator to contracting out for water and sewer system maintenance, the Ainsworth City Council on Wednesday tackled a myriad of issues during its monthly meeting.

Several citizens approached the council asking for a change in City Ordinance 3-301 that would allow residents to keep up to three hens inside city limits.

Spokeswoman Andrea Walz said numerous cities allow residents to have hens inside city limits as pets and as a source of fresh eggs.

“The odor for three hens is very minimal,” Walz said. “There is less waste created for 10 chickens than there is with a 40-pound dog, and chickens are quieter than dogs.”

Walz said city ordinances currently allow for a horse inside city limits if a resident has at least 1 acre of land, and one sheep or one goat if the resident has at least a half-acre of property.

“We are asking for clear guidelines and a permitting process,” Walz said.

Councilwoman Deb Hurless said she had friends in other locations trying to grow more of their own food who have started keeping a few chickens.

“If the neighbors are OK with it and they are kept far enough away from neighboring properties, I don’t have a problem with it,” Hurless said.

Walz said the group only asked that the city create a permit that could be renewed each year.

“That way, if there is a problem, the permit would not be renewed,” Walz said.

Audience member Betsy Saner said she believed a few chickens in an enclosure was less of a nuisance for the city than someone with a cat or a dog.

Mayor Russ Moody asked Saner if the group wanted the council to consider a chicken as a pet. Saner said she would consider them a pet.

“Everyone has their opinion on this,” the mayor said. “People have come to me with both pros and cons on this. It took 50 years to get an ordinance in place to remove chickens from town, so a lot of people consider this going backwards.”

Audience member Jake Graff said he was concerned about the possibilities of salmonella and E. coli from chicken waste running off during moisture events.

“I have two young kids who play in the yard, and I don’t want waste running off from other yards or into city systems,” Graff said. “I am not totally against this, but I would like to see some questions answered.”

Councilman Jake Adkisson asked Walz if she already had chickens in town. Walz said she did have three hens, and she used the waste they generate as fertilizer for her garden.

“I consider chickens livestock,” Adkisson said. “I have spoken with your neighbors, and all of you have at least one neighbor who doesn’t approve of having chickens next door.”

Adkisson said he believed the penalties for violations of the city’s dog and cat ordinances should be increased, but he said he did not agree with allowing chickens.

Councilman Chuck Osborn agreed.

“I think the ordinance is there for a reason,” Osborn said.

Councilman Kent Taylor said the group was the most prepared of any that had approached the council asking for an ordinance change.

“My position on this has not changed,” Taylor said. “I consider chickens livestock, and I am not in favor of changing the ordinance.”

Hurless moved to change city ordinance to allow for three chickens inside city limits with guidelines including having the enclosure at least 15 feet from the lot line, space for a 12 by 12-foot enclosure, and receiving approval from adjacent neighbors.

That motion died for lack of a second.

In other business during Wednesday’s meeting, the council agreed to move forward with hiring a part-time youth activities director to assist with the summer youth baseball and softball programs.

Jerry Ehlers said there continues to be a need for someone to coordinate youth activities in the city. A group involved with park improvement put together a job description for a coordinator, and suggested the city hire someone on a part-time basis to handle the scheduling, field preparation and umpire recruitment.

“We are initially talking baseball and softball,” Ehlers said. “That seems to be the area with the most need.”

Charlie Kyser and Brent Johnson with the Ainsworth American Legion Post said they were in support of the city hiring someone to assist with the summer programs. The Legion and Ainsworth Elks Lodge currently sponsor the summer baseball and softball programs.

“Finding umpires is a big problem,” Johnson said. “We definitely need some help.”

Kyser said the Legion currently tries to find coaches for each team, then has the coaches be responsible for scheduling games.

Ehlers said the sponsoring organizations would still be responsible for purchasing equipment for each youth program.

“Valentine budgets $30,000 for its youth programs, and Hartington budgets $35,000,” Ehlers said. “We are not suggesting a full-time position, but starting with the summer programs and reviewing it after those seasons.”

Adkisson said he believed, overall, the youth sports programs in the city were unorganized.

“I think the school needs to be involved, and we need a commitment from the School Board and the coaches,” Adkisson said.

Ehlers said, initially, the recommendation was only for a coordinator for the baseball and softball programs.

“The school is not involved in those programs,” Ehlers said. “If we move to Phase II and have this person coordinate the youth football, volleyball and basketball programs, we would look to the school for support.”

Ehlers recommended the council look at hiring someone on an hourly basis, and expand the current Parks Committee to oversee the employee and report to the city.

“The communities we have talked to who have hired a youth coordinator are not disappointed with the results,” Ehlers said.

The council unanimously agreed to advertise for a part-time youth coordinator.

A representative from Peoples Service presented the council with a proposal to operate, maintain and manage the city’s water and wastewater systems.

Peoples Service would be responsible for hiring the personnel needed to maintain the city’s water and sewer systems, and would focus on hiring existing personnel.

A five-year agreement was presented, which would begin July 1. The contract would only increase each year based on the Consumer Price Index, which generally runs in the neighborhood of 1.5 percent annually.

Osborn said he was not comfortable with handing over one of the city’s departments to a private contractor, but Hurless said she felt the opposite based on the city’s recent problems with finding employees to operate the system.

Taylor said he wanted to compare the price presented by Peoples Service with the amount of money the city spends currently to operate and maintain the water and sewer system.

“We have estimates, but do we know what we actually spend?” Taylor asked.

City Administrator Kristi Thornburg said the city spends between $195,000 and $200,000 on wages for water and sewer system employees.

The council tabled action on the item to compare the cost of running the systems with the bid provided by Peoples Service. The amount of the bid was not disclosed Wednesday.

Thornburg discussed an uptick in vandalism incidents in the Conference Center during hours when city staff was not present.

“We are continuing to see damage,” Thornburg said. “Some of it is minor, some is more substantial.”

In addition to damage caused to the building, she said someone recently defecated on the bathroom floor.

“That person was identified and banned from the Conference Center,” Thornburg said. “The intent is for the kids to be able to enjoy the facility, but it is getting out of hand.”

She said it takes city staff hours to review video surveillance footage each time an incident occurs to try and determine the responsible party.

She asked the council for guidance on when to pursue criminal vandalism charges.

Osborn said any vandalism to the center should result in criminal prosecution.

Taylor said, for having an open facility, the city seems to get along pretty well about 99 percent percent of the time.

Adkisson said the height of the problems seem to occur between 8 and 10 p.m.

“I think we need to ask the sheriff’s department to have random patrols,” Adkisson said. “If the sheriff’s department walks through every so often, I think it would take care of a lot of it.”

Moody said, if the vandalism continues, a handful of people are going to be responsible for the facility getting locked in the evenings.

In other items, Neil Claussen with Three River Communications presented the council with information on an upcoming upgrade to cable television service in the city.

“We are going to launch a new TV service this summer,” Claussen said. “We are adding more HD channels, 40 movie channels, 50 music channels and an upgraded DVR.”

Claussen said, with the upgrade, cable customers would need set top boxes for each television in their home. He said customers would receive two set top boxes free of charge, and he provided the council with information on the service plans available. He said Three River hoped to launch the new system in Long Pine by the end of next week, and would begin installing the system in Ainsworth by the middle of June.

In other action items Wednesday, the council approved a well permit application for Monte Pirnie for a home north of Ainsworth on Meadville Avenue but within the city’s one-mile jurisdiction.

The council approved a request from Dave and Rhonda Theis to install a sump pump in city right of way near their home with the stipulation that the couple would be responsible for relocating the sump pump if the city ever had to widen First Street or perform other work in the right of way.

The council approved a request from the Ainsworth American Legion to install permanent flag poles at the East Cemetery.

Kyser said the project was the same as the Legion completed at the South Cemetery.

“We have enough money for 25 permanent flag poles to start,” Kyser said. “We are proposing putting the flag poles between the two gates.”

The council agreed to the request, and thanked the Legion for undertaking the project.

The council directed City Attorney Rod Palmer to continue to negotiate with Century Link on stipulations for burying cable in city right of way. Palmer said the company balked at paying Olssen Associates to perform a survey of the area where the cable was to be buried.

“They have in-house engineers who they feel like do a proper job,” Palmer said. “They questioned why they were singled out, and I told them the council has concerns about boring cable and hitting utilities and other infrastructure.”

Osborn said he saw first-hand problems in the past with companies boring through people’s sewer lines.

“We have the right to be gun shy about people boring underground,” Osborn said.

The city directed Palmer to continue to try and find an agreeable resolution to the issue.

The council updated its pay tables for non-union employees, as Thornburg said the city would be hiring soon for part-time summer help for the parks, streets department and swimming pool.

The council approved a bid of $1,417.50 from Anderson Autobody to sandblast and paint five doors at the Ainsworth Swimming Pool.

The consent agenda approved Wednesday included the reappointment of Corvin Hinrichs and Harlan Welch to three-year terms on the Planning Commission, the reappointment of Donita Painter and Welch to three-year terms on the Board of Adjustment, the reappointment of Mark Kovar and Phyllis Leach to four-year terms on the Library Board, the reappointment of Gerry Osborn to the Cemetery Board, the reappointment of Jim Wagner and Jerry Allen to three-year terms on the Housing Board, and the reappointment of Dick Schipporeit, Winnie Walz and Richard Albrecht to three-year terms on the Barton Cabin Advisory Board.

The council will hold a special meeting at some point next week. The next regular meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 14.

* Signup for livestock indemnity and forage losses begins April 15

(Posted 5:45 a.m. April 8)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday that farmers and ranchers can sign-up for disaster assistance programs, reestablished by the 2014 Farm Bill, beginning April 15.
"These programs will provide long-awaited disaster relief for many livestock producers who have endured significant financial hardship from weather-related disasters while the programs were expired and awaiting Congressional action," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The Livestock Indemnity Program and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, and including calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014.
To expedite applications, all producers who experienced losses are encouraged to collect records documenting these losses in preparation for the enrollment in the disaster assistance programs. Information on the types of records necessary can be provided by local Farm Service Agency county offices. Producers also are encouraged to contact their county office ahead of time to schedule an appointment.

* School Board approves advertising for bids on major school roofing project

(Posted 9:15 p.m. April 7)

Ainsworth Community Schools plans to replace a 25-year-old roof on the 1922 portion of the remodeled school building, as the Board of Education Monday approved seeking bids for the project.

Superintendent Darrell Peterson said the roof has held up well, but inspectors have told school officials the roof is getting into pretty bad shape.

“This is a project we would like to get done this summer,” Peterson said. “Then, all of the school building roofs will have been replaced in the past 10 years.”

The superintendent said the money to pay for the roof replacement is available in the school’s depreciation and building accounts. He said Beckenhauer Construction helped develop the specifications for the project and will oversee the work.

With the size of the project, the board approved the final plans for the project and advertising for bids. Bids will be opened April 25, with the board holding a special meeting at noon April 28 to take action on any bids received.

Peterson said one of the specifications of the project is the inclusion of a 15-year warranty.

In another building and grounds item, Peterson reported the board’s building and grounds committee met recently with the district’s heating and cooling company to begin exploring updates to the system.

“We are mostly looking at improvements to the 1975 portion of the building,” the superintendent said. “We need a new control panel and a computer system to run it, and we will need new thermostats for the rooms in the 1975 building.”

Peterson said it would be a hefty project for the district.

“We will eventually have to replace the mechanics of the system, and then the boilers,” he said. “The boilers are now much more efficient, and would need to heat only 3.5 gallons of water instead of 300 gallons.”

Peterson said the district’s March natural gas bill was approximately $9,000, most of which went to heating the school.

“The gas bill in June is about $300, so you see how much it is costing to heat the buildings,” he said. “We are planning to fix the things now that aren’t working, then looking at making the other improvements.”

In other business during Monday’s brief meeting, the board learned it would be losing its first-year Spanish teacher. After one year with Ainsworth Community Schools, Kathy Venteicher submitted her resignation.

Peterson said Venteicher was a good addition to the staff, and the district did what it could to try and keep her in Ainsworth.

The board accepted Venteicher’s resignation effective at the end of the current school year.

The superintendent said the district still has an elementary teaching position open for the 2014-15 school year following the retirement of Jolene Freeman.

“Lori Pollock may end up filling that position,” Peterson said. “Elementary education was her emphasis area. We will advertise for a family and consumer science position as well and see what we come up with.”

In the only other action items, the board approved the second reading of the district’s option enrollment capacity policy, which sets the maximum number of students in each class the district could accept without having to hire additional staff. The district rarely, if ever, reaches a point where it would have to deny an option enrollment request based on class size.

The board did approve an option enrollment student into the Ainsworth Community Schools district. Melissa Freudenburg of the Brewster area would like her son Branden to attend kindergarten at Ainsworth for the 2014-15 school year.

Elementary Principal Sarah Williams said Branden Freudenburg is currently attending Little Paws Preschool, and would be a great addition to next year’s kindergarten class.

Williams said she and kindergarten teachers Sue Wragge and Caren Fernau recently attended a Little Paws Preschool parents meeting to visit about the school’s kindergarten program and provide information on helping children make a smooth transition to kindergarten.

She said several Little Paws students would visit the kindergarten classrooms and the cafeteria April 16.

During his report, Peterson said the 2014-15 certified state aid figures have been released, and Ainsworth Community Schools would receive a paltry $21,321 in state assistance, plus an additional $11,944 as a correction from the current year’s amount. The district received more than $350,000 in state assistance for the current school year, and had as recently as six years ago received more than $1.5 million in state aid.

He reported the district’s allowable cash reserve percentage increased from 35 percent to 45 percent of the budget based on the number of students enrolled. He said the district’s current cash reserve is a little less than 35 percent.

Secondary Principal Richard Gilson reported on several year-end programs and banquets scheduled for the next month.

Prom is scheduled for Saturday, beginning with the banquet at 5:30 p.m. in the Ainsworth Conference Center.

He reported the All-Sports Tailgate Party was scheduled for 6:15 p.m. April 29. Activities Director Jeff Konkoleski said Doane College men’s basketball coach Jim Weeks would speak during the banquet.

The annual Academic Awards presentation will be held at 2 p.m. May 6 in the Learning Center. At 7 p.m. the same evening, a band and choir concert and the school’s Fine Arts Award Night would be held in the Learning Center.

The middle school band and choir concert is set for 6:30 p.m. May 8 in the Learning Center.

Gilson reported the final day of class for seniors is May 13, with graduation May 18.

Peterson reported he was approached by the Ainsworth American Legion Post about placing POW/MIA flag in the gym.

He said he had no problem with placing the flag, and a suitable location for the flag would be determined.

The superintendent reported lunch participation numbers were pacing above the previous school year. He said making the reduced-price lunch students eligible for a free school breakfast had resulted in about 40 extra breakfasts being served each month.

“We can look at continuing that program next month when we decide on our lunch prices,” Peterson said.

He said the district currently has a profit margin of $7,867 for the year with its meal program. Under the first year of the new contract with Lunchtime Solutions, the district is guaranteed a profit of $10,500 for its meal program. Peterson said the goal of the program is to break even, but the federal government dictates the prices the district has to charge for meals.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education is a special meeting at noon April 28 to review bids for the roofing project. The next regular meeting is scheduled for 8 p.m. May 12.

* Winning bidders listed from the Chamber of Commerce Radio Takeover Day

(Posted 11:30 a.m. April 7)

The winning bidders and the items they purchased during the Ainsworth Area Chamber of Commerce Radio Takeover Day auction are listed below. Winning bidders are asked to pick up and pay for their items in the chamber office.

Auction Items
One dozen cinnamon rolls from the Ainsworth Does - $30 Troy Brodbeck
Two Nebraska Spring Game football tickets from KBRB - $30 Bruce Dannatt
I-H tractor seat cover from Classic Ag & Decal - $25 John Bejot
$25 Beef Draft from Madison's Great Western - $22 Sherri Luther
10 burr oak trees from the Middle Niobrara NRD - $45 Greg Soles
John Deere agricultural machine inspection from Plains Equipment - $300 Will Williams
Buy one month, get one month free membership from Fitness First - $30 Austin Cook
One dozen cinnamon rolls from the Ainsworth Does - $40 Todd Mundhenke
10 burr oak trees from the Middle Niobrara NRD - $40 Dave Lane
Two tickets to Husker-Indiana volleyball from Denny and Pam Bauer - $115 Bret Younkin
10-pound certified Angus rib-eye loin from the Golden Steer - $70 Clint Painter
$50 gift certificate from J's Keggers - $45 Jennifer Conroy
Feed the Flock cookbook from the Ainsworth FCCLA - $12 Bonnie Finley
A front-end vehicle alignment from Ainsworth Motors - $45 Chris Lammers
Wireless computer mouse from Simple Solutions - $15 Anita Keys
Family pizza deal from the Ainsworth Pizza Hut - $20 Tiff Naprstak
Framed Ainsworth boys basketball photo from the Ainsworth Star-Journal - $50 Bill Harmon
Two Nebraska Spring Game football tickets from KBRB - $15 Linda DeWeese
10 broiler chicks and a bag of feed from Bomgaars - $21 Kelly Diebler
John Deere lawnmower inspection from Plains Equipment - $100 Tom Mundorf
Country Worthwhile CD from Lorraine Worth - $12 Barb McCormick
Metal laser wildlife welcome sign from Todd Pollock's class - $100 Eric Goochey
Oral B power toothbrush from Ainsworth Dental Office - $65 Jim Welke
Spay or neuter service from Sandhills Animal Health Center - $90 Mary Kirkpatrick
Homemade pie from the Ainsworth Does - $31 Al Hodge
10 burr oak trees from the Middle Niobrara NRD - $65 Moon Lake Ranch
$50 gift certificate from Moody Tire & Supply - $45 Eric Goochey
Season activity pass from Ainsworth Community Schools - $61 Dennis McBride
$25 in alterations from Needles N Pins - $22 Jennifer Erthum
Two Nebraska Spring Game football tickets from KBRB - $15 Jeri Graff
Large vegetable tray from H&R Food Center - $30 Clint Painter
Veterans of Brown County book from the Ainsworth Legion - $65 Larry Ziegler
Office chair from Office Products of Winner, S.D. - $185 Clint Painter
Two all-sports banquet tickets from the Ainsworth Lions Club - $15 Bonnie Finley
$20 Elks Lodge Sunday Night Steak gift certificate - $17 Allen Privett
Ainsworth Bulldog metal sign from Blaxmith - $65 Shane Kinnick
44-piece quarter-inch socket set from Buckles Automotive - $35 Becky Schelm
Car or pickup wash, wax and detail from Allen's Car Care - $80 Rod Worrell
One dozen cinnamon rolls from the Ainsworth Does - $35 Jerry Paulsen
Wood Lathe Basket filled with home items from Home Again - $40 Betty Nelson
Entry to the Brown County Hospital golf tournament Aug. 2 - $150 Sid Salzman
Basket with three bottles of Colorado wine from the Mundhenke Agency - $32 Clint Painter
Power bank with USB output from Technologent/Your Selling Team - $15 Kathy Worrell
Country Worthwhile CD from Lorraine Worth - $15 Jim Hoch
A vehicle service from First Class Auto - $55 Rod Worrell
Five noon meals from the Ainsworth Senior Center - $20 Sid Salzman
Four Nebraska Spring Game football tickets from KBRB - $100 Julie Haskell
First Aid kit from Home Health - $10 Tiff Naprstak
Goose Berry Garfield Cookbook from the Book Peddler - $10 Ardith Goochey
$50 gift certificate to the Royal Theater - $40 Tiffany Barthel
A DVD player with the DVD movie "Frozen" from Alco - $40 Tammy Moretz
$25 gas card from the Farmers-Ranchers Cooperative Ampride - $22 Becky Schelm
Oral B power toothbrush from Ainsworth Dental - $91 Shannon Sorensen
Nine holes of golf or cart rental from Ainsworth Motors - $13 Wade Buechle
10-dozen cream cheese mints from the Hills & Trails FCE - $25 Shannon Sorensen
Half-day pass to the Sandhills Discovery from the Lions Club - $25 Carolyn Schipporeit
Nine holes of golf for two & a cart from the Ainsworth Golf Course - $45 Jackie Eggers
$25 beef draft from Madison's Great Western - $22 Brandy Connell
Homemade pie from the Ainsworth Does - $40 Buddy Small
Candy bouquet from the Ainsworth Care Center - $15 Carolyn Schipporeit
Personalized solar memorial cross from Hoch Funeral Home - $45 Jan Foster
Wireless mouse from Simple Solutions - $16 Shelly McKimmey
10 burr oak trees from the Middle Niobrara NRD - $65 Jack Kaup
Three-foot sandwich from Ainsworth Subway - $40 Mike Depko
Feeding the Flock cookbook from the Ainsworth FCCLA - $12 Lorraine Worth
An oil change from Ainsworth Motors - $50 John Halberslaben
Season activity pass from Ainsworth Community Schools - $60 Steve Salzman
$25 beef draft from Denny and Pam Bauer - $22 Tammy Moretz
Two Nebraska Spring Game football tickets from KBRB - $20 Josh Reagan
Metal laser wildlife sign from Todd Pollock's class - $135 Ronda Buechle
Nine holes of golf or cart rent from Ainsworth Motors - $55 Sherry Buoy
$20 Elks Lodge Sunday Night Steak gift certificate - $17 Gina Jones
Candy bouquet from the Ainsworth Care Center - $15 Kinley Buechle
Buy one month get one month membership free from Fitness First - $50 Mike Chrisman
Homemade pie from the Ainsworth Does - $20 Denise Dougherty
$25 beef draft from Madison's Great Western - $22 Becky O'Hare
Country Worthwhile CD from Lorraine Worth - $50 Mike Chrisman
$50 gift certificate to the Royal Theater - $40 Shannon Sorensen
Two Nebraska Spring Game football tickets from KBRB - $22 Julie Haskell
Bargain Buyway Guide Book from Ainsworth Retail Trade - $10 Jerry Paulsen
Family pizza deal from the Ainsworth Pizza Hut - $20 Amber Happold
Two Nebraska Spring Game football tickets from KBRB - $15 Micah Graff
$25 gift certificate from Red & White Market - $22 Brandy Connell
Ream of paper from Simple Solutions - $9 Clint Painter
Bargain Buyway Guide Book from Ainsworth Retail Trade - $10 Brandy Connell
Large meat and cheese tray from H&R Food Center - $35 Mike Chrisman
Homemade pie from the Ainsworth Does - $30 Chuck Irwin
$25 beef draft from Madison's Great Western - $22 Beverly Smith
Nine holes of golf or a cart from Ainsworth Motors - $20 Heather King
$25 gift certificate from Red & White Market - $22 Dan Drake
10 burr oak trees from the Middle Niobrara NRD - $50 Don Graham
Bargain Buyway Guidebook from Ainsworth Retail Trade - $10 Clint Painter
All-Day Auction Items
ASUS touch screen notebook from Three River Communications - $315 Heather King
DZ pickup tool box from Ainsworth Auto Parts & Sandhills Animal Health Center - $300 Russ Nilson
Husker men's and women's basketball weekend from KBRB Radio - $825 Coralene Kinzie
Six-piece patio set - $300 Dustin Johnson
Char-Broil gas grill - $190 Curtis Bolli
32-inch LCD HD television - $200 Robert Farley

* Ainsworth students participate in Chadron State College Scholastics Contest

(Posted 5:45 a.m. April 7)

Ainsworth High School students competed recently in the Chadron State College Scholastics Contest. Kaleb Schuetz received a third-place medal in American Government. 
Jose Garcia placed fourth in Business Information Systems, and Quentin Wagner earned fourth place in Business Math. Vanessa Taylor placed 10th in Geometry. Schuetz was 12th in Personal Finance. Sabree Porter placed 13th in Psychology. Nathaniel Goodloe placed 14th in American History and Hallie Bower placed 15th in Vocabulary.  Twenty-two students took 37 tests, of those, 25 scores were in the top half of the competition’s participants.

* Ainsworth Destination Imagination team qualifies for Global Finals

(Posted 7:30 p.m. April 6)

During the weekend, two Ainsworth Destination Imagination teams traveled to the University of Nebraska-Kearney campus to compete in the DI State Finals.
The secondary level team of Quentin Wagner, Drew Klatt, Sydney Fling, Tara Taylor and Abbey Doyle placed third in the instant challenge and second in the team challenge for an overall second-place finish. By finishing in the top two in the state, the team earned the right to compete in the Destination Imagination Global Finals May 21-24 at Knoxville, Tenn.
The elementary level team of Brandt Murphy, Ben Flynn, Danica Heinert, Haley Schroedl, and Libby Smith placed third in the instant challenge and eighth in the team challenge for an overall fifth-place finish in the state.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

(Posted 7:30 p.m. April 6)

March 30

* Assisted individuals with information on property line disputes in Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of suspicious activity at the Ainsworth Conference Center.

* The Brown County Ambulance Service transported an individual from Court St to the Brown Co Hospital.

 

March 31

* Provided a welfare check on an individual on East South St. Ainsworth.

* Responded to a traffic complaint on East Zero St Ainsworth.

* Provided a welfare check on an individual on East 3rd St Ainsworth. The Brown Co Ambulance Service transported an individual to the Brown Co Hospital.

* Investigated a report of a possible protection order violation in Ainsworth.

* Released a subject from the Brown Co jail on bond.

 

April 1

* Investigated a report of a possible assault in Ainsworth.

* Received a report of an individual needing adult protective services in Ainsworth.

* Responded to a traffic complaint on Merten St Ainsworth.

* The Brown Co Ambulance Service transported an individual from a residence in rural Long Pine area to the Brown Co Hospital.

* Released a subject from the Brown Co jail, as their sentence was complete.

 

April 2

* Received a report of an individual needing adult protective services in Ainsworth.

* Investigated a report of possible child abuse in Ainsworth.

* Released a subject from the Brown Co jail on bond.

 

April 3

* Assisted an individual with a report of a possible fraudulent phone call to an elderly resident of Ainsworth.

* The Brown Co Ambulance Service transported a patient from the Brown Co Hospital to the Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney.

 

April 4

* Responded to a report of an individual driving without a license on Hwy 20 in Ainsworth.

* Assisted an individual with a report of a peeping tom in Ainsworth.

 

April 5

* Assisted an individual with a report of possible gunfire North of Ash St Ainsworth.

* Provided a civil standby for individual attempting to gather personal property from a residence in Long Pine.

* Responded to a report of suspicious activity on 2nd & Richardson Drive Ainsworth.

* Investigated a report of a suspicious vehicle on East 2nd St Ainsworth.

 

Weekly Summary

0 – Citations Issued

1 - Crime Stopper call received.

0 - Fix-it tickets were issued.

0 - Handgun permits were applied for.

18 - Incidents Reports

2 - 911 emergency calls received.

1 - Paper Service was served. (includes: 1 - Notice of Hearing)

153 - Phone calls were received.

9 - Titles were inspected.

6 - Warnings were issued.  (These include written and verbal.)

 

March Summary

 7 - Arrests

110 - Calls for Service 

12 - Citations were issued

1 - Crime Stopper call received

3 - Defect Cards issued

8 - Handgun permits issued

23- Paper Service served

754 - Phone calls were received

30 - 911 emergency calls received

28- Titles inspected

27 - Verbal & Written Warnings issued

* Thanks to everyone who participated in Radio Takeover Day

(Posted 4 p.m. April 4)

The Ainsworth Area Chamber of Commerce and KBRB Radio thanks everyone who participated in the 2014 Chamber Takeover of KBRB Radio Friday. An impressive amount of money was again raised for the chamber, and that is made possible by the generous donations of dozens of businesses and individuals, and by KBRB listeners who call in bidding on items throughout the day.
Those who made winning bids are asked to pick up and pay for their items beginning Monday afternoon in the Ainsworth Area Chamber of Commerce office on Main Street.

* Dozens of items scheduled for auction during Friday's Chamber Takeover Day

(Posted 2 p.m. April 3)

It is that time of year again. Throw out the KBRB format Friday, as the Ainsworth Area Chamber of Commerce invades the station for the chamber's annual Radio Takeover Day auction.
Beginning at 7 a.m. Friday, with chamber members as guest announcers, KBRB will auction off items donated by area businesses and individuals. This is the largest chamber fund-raising event all year, and allows the chamber the funds it needs to promote the area and its members.
The list of guest announcers can be found on the KBRB events page. New auction items will be added every half hour until 2 p.m.
The chamber has six items that it will auction during the entire day.
Three River Communications has donated an ASUS Touch Screen Notebook computer with a sleeve. Ainsworth Automotive and Sandhills Animal Health Center combined to donate a DZ pickup tool box. KBRB Radio has donated a Husker basketball getaway weekend, including two tickets to a Husker men's basketball game, two tickets to a Husker women's basketball game, two nights lodging in a suite at Lincoln, $50 gift certificates for two meals, and a $50 gas card to get you to Lincoln.
In addition, several businesses made cash contributions to the chamber to purchase all-day auction items. Thanks to donations from KBR Rural Public Power, West Plains Bank, Ainsworth Vision Clinic, First National Bank, Rodeway Inn, Union Bank & Trust and Farm Bureau Insurance, the chamber is able to offer a 32-inch LCD HD television, a Char-Broil gas grill and a six-piece patio set, which includes a table, umbrella and four chairs.
Those items will stay on the auction block all day before being closed out one by one from 2 until 2:45 p.m.
Winning bidders are asked to stop by the Ainsworth Area Chamber of Commerce office on Main Street Monday to pay for and pick up their items.
Thanks to all the businesses and individuals who donated items to the annual Radio Takeover Day Auction. A list of the auction items follows.
Auction items
Classic Ag & Decal - International Harvester Tractor Seat Cover
The Book Peddler - Goose Berry Garfield Cookbook
Ainsworth Dental - (2) Oral B Powered Toothbrushes with Mouthwash,
toothpaste & extra brush head
Ainsworth Lions Club - Sandhills Discovery Pass- and 2 tickets to the All Sports
Banquet
Denny & Pam Bauer - Two tickets to Husker volleyball Nov. 8 vs. Indiana and a $25 Beef Draft
Hills & Trails FCE Club - 10 dozen cream cheese mints
Brown County Hospital - Entry into Aug. 2 Golf Tourney
Home Again - Wooden Lathe Basket with Home Again Products
Home Health - First Aid Kit
Ainsworth Care Center - (2) candy bouquets made by residents
Pizza Hut - (2) Family Meal Deals with pop
Subway - 3-foot subway sandwich
Ainsworth FCCLA - (2) Feeding the Flock cookbooks
Lorraine Worth - (3) CDs Country Worthwhile
Sandhills Animal Health Care- Free spay or Neuter service
The Golden Steer - 10-pound Certified Angus Rib-eye Loin
Needles N' Pins - $25 worth of alterations
Madison's Great Western - (4) $25 beef drafts
J's-Keggers - $50 gift certificate
Farmer Ranchers Cooperative -$25 gas card
Elks 1790 - (2) $20 Sunday night steak certificates
Mundhenke Agency - A basket with three bottles of Colorado Wine
Ainsworth Star Journal - Framed 2014 Runner Up State Boys Basketball picture
Technologent/Your Selling Team - Power Bank with USB output
Ainsworth Golf Course - Two nine-hole rounds of golf with cart
Ainsworth Motors - One Free Oil change, One Free Front end wheel alignment, and three golf outings  with nine holes golf or cart rent for nine holes
Hoch Funeral Home - Solar Lighted Memorial Cross
Red & White Market - (2) $25 gift certificate
Plains Equipment - a John Deere Machinery Inspection ( tractor, combine,
baler inspection) and a John Deere lawn mower inspection
Ainsworth Community Schools - (2) Season Activity Passes
Mr. Pollock's Metal class - (2) metal laser Wildlife Welcome Sign
Bomgaar's - 10 broiler chickens & 10 pounds chicken feed
Senior Center - (5) noon meals
BlaXmith - Ainsworth Bulldog metal sign
Middle Niobrara NRD- 50 Bur Oak Trees (5 bundles of 10)
Moody Tire - $50 Gift Certificate
Winner Office Products - Gray Office Chair, high back, deep seat
Ogden Electronics/Fitness Center - (2) certificates for: Buy 1 month fitness membership get 1 month free
Alco -Family Movie Night: DVD player with just released movie, "Frozen" & a jumbo box of popcorn
Sandhills Entertainment - (2) $50 gift certificates for movies
Ainsworth Does - (3) dozen Cinnamon rolls & (3) pies of buyers choice
H&R Food Center - (1) large fruit tray and (1) large Meat and Cheese tray
Simple Solutions - 2 wireless mouse and (1) Ream of Paper
Allen's Car Care - Wash and wax for car or pickup
KBRB Radio: (18) Nebraska Spring Football Game Tickets April 12
Buckles Automotive: 44-piece one-quarter inch socket set
1st Class Auto: Oil Change Service Job
Ainsworth Legion: Veterans of Brown County Book

* Citywide cleanup scheduled for April 10

(Posted 2 p.m. April 3)

The city of Ainsworth is hosting a free citywide cleanup day for residents Thursday, April 10, prior to the city beginning its nuisance abatement inspection program.
Residents are encouraged to participate by cleaning up their property of all debris, including old appliances, iron, metal, wire items, machinery, vehicle parts and similar items.
Those items may be placed at the curbside by 7:30 a.m. Thursday, April 10, and the city streets department will pick them up free of charge. The city will not go back and pick up items that were taken to the curbside after the streets department had already been by the area. Pickups begin on the south side of the Cowboy Trail.
The city will not accept household trash, furniture, tires, oil, chemicals, paint or household hazardous waste items, nor will the city pick up tree limbs, grass, leaves or other yard waste, or lumber. Those items may be taken to the KBR Solid Waste Transfer Station during the station's regular hours of operation.
The city also reminds residents it is illegal to scavenge items from the curbsides during the cleanup event. Violators will be prosecuted.
For more information, contact the city office at 402-387-2494.

* Ainsworth residents can now pay utility bills online

(Posted 1:30 p.m. April 3)

Customers needing to make a payment with the city of Ainsworth now have the ability to pay using a credit or debit card. The city office recently started using PayPort, a credit card processing system, offered by Nebraska.gov.

The City of Ainsworth is responsible for collecting payments for services including utility payments, water service deposits, meeting room rent, ATV license fees, pet licenses and building permit fees.

A few of those services may be paid online by going to www.ne.gov/go/ainsworth.

Ainsworth City Administrator Kristi Thornburg said, “I am excited to be able to offer our citizens the option to pay fees owed to the city with a credit or debit card. By partnering with Nebraska.gov, we are able to provide a system that will give people the ability to make a payment online, without having to come to the office.  The PayPort system is a cost effective system that is creating efficiencies for our office and a convenience to our customers.”

Nebraska.gov has provided the PayPort system without any monthly or maintenance fees charged to the city of Ainsworth. There is an additional fee for customers who use the system.


* Internet outage at midnight tonight

(Posted 2:30 p.m. April 2)

Three River Communications will conduct a fiber splice starting at midnight Thursday and lasting for two to three hours. The fiber splice will affect the Internet service for Ainsworth, Johnstown and Springview Three River customers.

* Gilliland selected to attend Cornhusker Girls State

(Posted noon April 2)

Kirsten Gilliland, a junior at Ainsworth High School, has been selected to attend the 2014 session of Cornhusker Girls State.  She will represent the Long Pine American Legion Auxiliary Unit 260.

Girls State is a nationwide program sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary. Each year, more than 400 girls from throughout the state are offered an opportunity to be active participants in structured role-playing that emphasizes our Democratic form of government.

The Long Pine American Legion Auxiliary works with Ainsworth High School Guidance Counselor Lisa Schlueter in making the applications available to all interested junior girls. Students selected for Girls State have demonstrated an interest in learning government and are leaders in their high schools.

Gilliland’s activities include the National Honor Society, band and choir, Thespians, FCCLA, FBLA, A Club, Spanish Club, Golf, Cheerleading, Mock Trial, Speech, Jobs Daughters, United Methodist Church Youth Fellowship and the church choir. She is also a member of the Long Pine Jr. Auxiliary.

Gilliland will attend the Cornhusker Girls State session at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln June 1-7.

She is the daughter of Travis and Stacey Gilliland of Ainsworth.

* Peters, Weiss selected to attend Cornhusker Girls State

(Posted noon April 1)

Laura Peters and Maikayla Weiss, both juniors at Ainsworth High School, have been selected to attend the 2014 session of Cornhusker Girls State.  They will represent the Ainsworth American Legion Auxiliary Unit 79.

Girls State is a nationwide program sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary. Each year, more than 400 girls from throughout the state are offered an opportunity to be active participants in structured role-playing that emphasizes our Democratic form of government.

The Ainsworth American Legion Auxiliary works with Ainsworth High School Guidance Counselor Lisa Schlueter in making the applications available to all interested junior girls. Students selected for Girls State have demonstrated an interest in learning government and are leaders in their high schools.

Peters has been active in FBLA, Student Council, National Honor Society, Volleyball, Track, Basketball, Thespians, Band, and Choir.  She has been an active volunteer in her church and with American Legion activities. Her parents are Troy and Paula Peters of Ainsworth.

Weiss has been active in Mock Trial, Choir, FBLA, FFA, National Honor Society, Thespians, Basketball, Volleyball, FCA, Pom and Cheer Squads, A-Club, Spanish Club, UMYF, and Methodist Church Choir.  Her parents are Doug and Deb Weiss of Ainsworth.

Weiss and Peters will attend the Cornhusker Girls State session at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln June 1-7.

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 5:30 p.m. March 31)

The Rock County Sheriff's Department, assisted by the Nebraska State Patrol, investigated a one-vehicle accident that occurred Tuesday, March 25, on Highway 183 south of Bassett.
According to the sheriff's department report, at 10:10 a.m. March 25 approximately 24 miles south of Bassett, a 2012 Ford F-150, registered to Roger Ohde of Atkinson, was located in a pasture on the east side of Highway 183.
The vehicle appeared to have been traveling south on Highway 183, left the roadway and went through a fence owned by Jeff Larson. The Ford then went through a second fence and came to rest in a pasture belonging to Duane Swanson.
The Ford was considered a total loss. The driver's name has not been released pending an investigation. A disoriented man, not the registered owner of the vehicle, was found in the pasture near the Ford and, according to the report, transported by the Rock County Ambulance Service to Rock County Hospital to be checked for injuries. His name has not been released by the sheriff's department.

* Lions Club nominates officers and directors for 2014-15

(Posted noon March 31)

The Ainsworth Lions Club nominated its officers and directors for the 2014-15 year during its recent meeting. Pat Jones will serve as the club president for 2014-15, with Sarah Williams moving into the past-president post.

Evan Evans was nominated as the first vice-president. The second vice-presidential post was left open.

Gerry Ehlers will continue to serve as the club’s secretary, and Phil Fuchs as the treasurer.

Dwain Grunke was nominated as the club’s Tail Twister and Dr. Dave Spann as the Lion Tamer.

Lions Club Board of Directors for 2014-15 include Jerry Allen, Jim Walton, Brian Williams and Darrell Peterson.

In other business during the Lions Club meeting, the board set dues for the 2014-15 year. Dues will increase to $65 for a single membership and $105 for a family membership. The dues cover both the fees the club pays to the district and national Lions organizations. Members are asked to pay dues by the end of May.

Club member Larry Rice provided an update on the upcoming All-Sport Tailgate Party, scheduled for April 29. The Lions Club serves the meal for the event, and provides the meal free of charge to all athletes, coaches and their spouses.

Rice said the school is looking to bring in a guest speaker for the event, and is seeking assistance with the cost. Rice said the sports banquet is a break-even event for the Lions Club as it now stands.

After visiting with the Ainsworth Alumni Committee, the board voted to purchase 1,000 placemats at a cost of $65 for use during the alumni banquet. The Lions Club serves the meal for that banquet as well.

The club received a request to sponsor a high school student who will attend the Nebraska Lions All-Star Golf Tournament. The board discussed paying the fee if there was an interested and qualified individual to participate, but not sponsoring an entry if no one from the area was interested in participating.

Sarah Williams reported the trees the club ordered for the fourth-grade students at Ainsworth Elementary to plant during Arbor Day should arrive April 22.

The Lions Club’s next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 21 in the Golden Steer.

* Larson provides weekly update from the Nebraska Legislature

(Posted 5:45 a.m. March 31)

Nebraska 40th District State Sen. Tyson Larson discussed legislation from a busy week in the Unicameral.
To hear the report, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Larson 3-27-14.mp3

* Stuart speech team wins Class D-2 title, Rock County sixth Friday

(Posted 5:45 a.m. March 31)

The Stuart speech team picked up five medals, including two state champions, Friday during the Class D-2 State Speech Championships to tie Bruning-Davenport for the state title. The team is coached by Brenda Larabee.
Rock County grabbed three medal winners to finish sixth in the state, and Keya Paha County speakers earned two medals.
Brittany Hanzlik of Stuart was a part of two state championship performances Friday. Hanzlik won the informative speaking title, and was a member of the oral interpretation of drama team that finished with a state title. The other winning team members for the Broncos were Hailey Paxton, Jaden Schafer and Monique Schafer.
Kelsey Kaup finished third for Stuart in persuasive speaking. Paxton won a fifth-place medal in entertainment speaking. Tate Schmaderer grabbed a fourth-place medal in extemporaneous speaking.
For Rock County, Nolan Sybrant finished just behind Hanzlik in informative speaking, receiving the silver medal. Sybrant also earned a sixth-place medal in persuasive speaking. Colin Erickson also received a silver medal for Rock County, finishing second in extemporaneous speaking.
For Keya Paha County, Emily Swan picked up a sixth-place medal in humorous prose. Moriah Heerten took sixth in informative speaking to give the area three of the six medal winners in that event with Hanzlik and Sybrant.

* Ainsworth speech team wraps up season at State Championships

(Posted 5:30 a.m. March 31)

NSAA State C-1 Contest

==Varsity==

Superiors:  Rob Maxwell—Extemporaneous Speaking

                        Quentin Wagner—Entertainment Speaking

                        Tiffani Beegle—Humorous Prose

                        Clay Chohon—Informative Speaking

                        Clay Chohon & Hayes Chohon—Duet Acting

Excellents:  Hallie Bower—Poetry

                        Hallie Bower—Persuasive Speaking

 

"State was a tough day of competition for us," Ainsworth coach Mary Rau said. "Speakers who had medaled all year at large tournaments were unable to break finals. Rob Maxwell was only one ranking point away from being one of the top six. It was very disappointing, but, on the other hand, we’ve had a very successful year, winning four invitationals and bringing home a district championship.

"This year’s team was a great group to work with, and we’ll miss the seniors very much next year.  However, we also have some very talented underclassmen who will maintain our strong speech team tradition in the years to come."

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

(Posted 7 p.m. March 30)

March 23

* Responded to a report of an unwanted person at a residence on East 2nd St Ainsworth. A subject was arrested and booked into the Brown County Jail on Third Degree Assault, Criminal Mischief, and Resisting Arrest.

* Investigated a report of a security alarm going off at a business on Hwy 20 in Ainsworth.

* Provided a civil standby at an Ainsworth residence, while an individual gathered personal property.

* Received a report of possible child neglect or abuse in Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a gas drive off from a service station in Ainsworth.

* Investigated a report of suspicious activity at a residence in Hidden Paradise.

* The Brown Co Ambulance Service transported an individual from a residence on East 2nd St to the Brown Co Hospital.

* The Brown Co Ambulance Service transferred a patient from the Brown Co Hospital to Valentine.

 

March 24

* Received a report of possible child abuse in Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a barking dog on Ulrich St Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a dog running at large and barking at a residence on North Maple St Ainsworth.

* Investigated a report of vandalism to a mailbox in rural Brown Co.

* Responded to a report of a dog running at large in Long Pine.

* Provided a welfare check on an elderly individual riding an electric cart on East 1st St Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a dog running at large in the area of 3rd & Pine Sts. In Ainsworth.

* Assisted the Keya Paha Sheriff’s Office with an attempt to locate an individual traveling through the area needing medical services.

* The Brown Co Ambulance Service transported an individual from the Ainsworth Care Center to the Brown Co Hospital.

* Booked a subject into the Brown Co Jail on a court ordered commitment for Driving Under the Influence.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued a burn permit to individuals for West & North of Ainsworth.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued a burn permit to the Nature Conservancy for the Smith Falls area.

 

March 25

* Investigated a report of possible neglect of a dog on East 6th St Ainsworth.

* Provided a welfare check on individuals on West 1st St Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a dog running at large on Main St Ainsworth.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to the Nature Conservancy for the Smith Falls area.

 

March 26

* Investigated a report of threats being made to juveniles in Long Pine.

* The Brown Co Ambulance Service transported an individual from a residence on East 4th St to the Brown County Hospital.

* The Brown Co Ambulance Service transported an individual from a residence on North Elm St to the Brown Co Hospital.

* Performed tornado-warning drills for the cities of Ainsworth, Long Pine, & Johnstown.

 

March 27

* Received a report of possible child neglect in Ainsworth.

* Investigated a report of a possible sexual assault on an individual in Ainsworth.

* Booked a subject into the Brown Co Jail for Driving Under the Influence.

 

March 28

* Responded to a report of a security alarm going off at a business in Ainsworth.

* Assisted an individual with a report of dogs running at large in rural Brown Co.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued a burn permit to individuals East & North of Ainsworth.

* The Johnstown Fire Dept issued a burn permit to individuals North of Johnstown.

* The Johnstown Fire Dept issued a burn permit to individuals South of the Golf Course.

 

March 29

* Assisted an individual with a report of a school permit violation in Long Pine.

* Assisted an individual with a report of a subject driving without a valid license in Long Pine.

* Provided traffic control for 200 head of cattle crossing Hwy 183 North of the Hwy 20 junction.

* Provided a welfare check on individuals in Ainsworth.

* Responded to a traffic complaint in rural Ainsworth area. The vehicle was located and cited for a stop sign violation, violation of provisional operator’s license, & use of a restraint system.

 

Weekly Summary

2 – Citations Issued

0 - Crime Stopper call received.

0 - Fix-it tickets were issued.

2 - Handgun permits were applied for.

27 - Incidents Reports

7 - 911 emergency calls received.

3 - Paper Service was served. (includes: 1 Execution & 2 Summons)

158 - Phone calls were received.

5 - Titles were inspected.

3 - Warnings were issued.  (These include written and verbal.)

* Department of Roads reminds people not to place sign on right of way

(Posted 11:15 a.m. March 28)

The Nebraska Department of Roads reminds Nebraskans it is against the law to erect political campaign signs, or any signs, on state highway right-of-way.

Various sizes of signs often appear along roadsides around national and local election time.

NDOR maintenance crews will remove signs that are improperly placed within the state highway rights-of-way. The signs will be stored for a brief period of time in local NDOR maintenance yards, where they can be reclaimed by the owners.

This state right-of-way reminder also applies to any errant plantings or harvesting operations, parked equipment or salvage items, commercial sales, private business stands, garage sale signs and debris.

According to State of Nebraska statutes, no physical or functional encroachments upon state highway right-of-way are permitted without written consent of the NDOR.

Those needing further information concerning the boundaries of right-of-way corridors’, or seeking permit information, should contact their NDOR District headquarters, or their nearest NDOR staffed office.

* Kenner to be inducted into Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame

(Posted 11 a.m. March 28)

Homer Kenner of Wood Lake has been selected for induction into the Nebraska Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame.
The annual Hall of Fame banquet will be held at 4 p.m. June 14 in the Callaway Community Center.
Ten Sandhills ranchers will be inducted. In addition to Kenner, 2014 inductees are Felix Becker of Alliance, Peter Becker of Ashby, Gordon Kostman of Arthur, Howard Conrad Haythorn of Maxwell, Vernon Oatman of Broken Bow, Bill Shrewsbury of Alliance, Bob Whitlock of Alliance, Bernard “Bud” Edward McKillup of Maxwell, and Edward Becker of Chadron.

* Ainsworth Municipal Golf Course hosting cleanup day and spring meeting

(Posted 2 p.m. March 27)

The Ainsworth Municipal Golf Course is gearing up for the golf season by holding its annual cleanup day at 9 a.m. Saturday. All members are asked to pitch in and help get the course spruced up for the playing season. The clubhouse officially opens for the season April 1.
The Golf Association will hold its spring meeting on Sunday, April 13. Dinner will be served at the course at 6 p.m., followed by the spring meeting at 7 p.m.
Golfers are reminded to pay their dues and cart shed rentals by April 1. Golfers will be charged green fees until dues are paid. All golfers are asked to register in the clubhouse before golfing.

* Davis discusses failed Medicaid expansion bill

(Posted noon March 27)

During his weekly report from the Nebraska Legislature, 43rd District State Sen. Al Davis discussed the Unicameral's debate on the Medicaid expansion bill and the decision not to move the bill to a vote.
To hear the report, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Davis 3-26-14.mp3

* Schlueter wins local Modern Woodman Speech Contest

(Posted 10:30 a.m. March 27)

Ainsworth Middle School students participated in the annual Modern Woodman Speech Contest. Winners from the Wednesday speaking contest were Trey Schlueter, first place; Sam Wilkins, second place; and Henry Beel, third place.
Each received a trophy and a gold award pin, and their names will be engraved on the school’s contest plaque.
Gold award pins were also given to finalists Michaela Hobbs, Rylee Rice, Bo Painter, Dillan Graff, Katrina Beel, Holden Beck, and Brittany Harrison.

* Mills woman dies in single-vehicle rollover accident Friday north of Springview

(Posted 2:45 p.m. March 26)

A 51-year-old Mills woman died Friday in a one-vehicle accident north of Springview.
According to a report from the Keya Paha County Sheriff's Department, Cynthia Kelly of Mills was traveling west on Highway 12 Friday afternoon when she lost control of the pickup she was driving. The pickup slid through the Highway 183 intersection and rolled in the ditch.
The sheriff's department report indicated Kelly was not wearing a seat belt.

* Ainsworth, Rock County and Stuart receive band achievement awards

(Posted 9 a.m. March 25)

For the second year in a row, Ainsworth High School band students, under the direction of Kim Bejot, won the state Academic Achievement Award.  The Academic Achievement Award is instituted by the Nebraska State Bandmasters Association to recognize band programs that demonstrate a high degree of academic achievement
Any high school band in the state of Nebraska is eligible to receive the award.  To qualify, the cumulative grade point of all the students in the high school instrumental program must be 3.5 or higher on a 4.0 point scale.
Rock County and Stuart also received the Academic Achievement Award for their high school bands. The three area schools were among only 18 statewide to receive the award.

* Hospital Board approves medical staff privileges for 2 providers

(Posted 3:30 p.m. March 24)

During its recent meeting, the Brown County Hospital Board of Trustees approved medical staff privileges for a pair of providers who will perform certain duties for the hospital.
The trustees approved medical staff privileges to the hospital’s affiliate staff for PAC Joseph Verzal with New West Sports Medicine. Verzal is an orthopedic provider for a specialty clinic offered twice each month.
The trustees also approved courtesy staff privileges for Dr. Ian Weber. Both Verzal and Weber were recommended for appointment by the hospital’s medical staff during its March 5 meeting.

In another provider-related item, Hospital Administrator Shannon Sorensen notified the trustees of the passing of Dr. Tobin, who had performed general surgical procedures for the hospital. Sorensen said Dr. Cole would provide the hospital with general surgery coverage every three to four weeks.

In two other action items, the trustees approved the 2013 Compliance Program Annual Summary report as presented, and the board approved a contract with UniNet. Sorensen provided information on the UniNet program through the Clinically Integrated Network. She highlighted the benefits of a UniNet membership to the facility.

Sorensen provided the board with updates on the hospital’s strategic plan, including additional collaborative efforts the hospital is making with other facilities.

She told the trustees the hospital’s Centriq Migration is underway, with consultants from Healthland on site since Feb 18. She said the hospital is on target to meet all project goals, and plans to go live with the Centriq program in June. The trustees discussed the finances involved with the electronic records migration project.

The board discussed the hospital’s lifeline service and potential changes to the program, and briefly discussed the recruitment of a chief financial officer for the hospital. Sorensen said phone interviews have been completed, and on-site interviews would be conducted soon.

The hospital administrator also provided the board with results from the 2013 HCAHPS patient satisfaction surveys. She discussed the results of the survey and areas where the facility can continue to improve.

Prior to adjourning, the board held an executive session to discuss physician recruitment efforts. No action was taken following the executive session.

* Ainsworth qualifies 2 Destination Imagination teams for State Finals

(Posted 7:30 a.m. March 24)

Ainsworth's Destination Imagination teams competed in the Regional Finals Saturday at Cross County High School near Stromsburg, and two of the teams finished in the top two to qualify for the State Finals April 5.
The high school level team of Quentin Wagner, Drew Klatt, Abbey Doyle, Sydney Fling and Tara Taylor placed first in the instant challenge and second in the team challenge for an overall second-place finish.
The elementary level team of Brandt Murphy, Danica Heinert, Libby Smith, Ben Flynn and Haley Schroedl placed first in the instant challenge and first in the team challenge for an overall first-place finish.

* University reports agricultural land values in Nebraska rise 5 percent

(Posted 7 a.m. March 24)

Agricultural land markets in Nebraska remained relatively steady in the last year, according to preliminary findings from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Overall, the average statewide farmland value rose by about 5 percent, as of Feb. 1, to $3,195 per acre, said Jim Jansen, research analyst with UN-L's Department of Agricultural Economics, which conducts the Nebraska Farm Real Estate Market Developments survey annually.

Survey reporters across the state reported percentage gains for all the farmland classes for the period from Feb. 1, 2013 to Feb. 1, 2014. Current figures are preliminary; a final report will be available this summer.

Farmland values in recent years have increased sharply. The overall increase of 25 percent in 2013 followed increases of 22 and 32 percent in the two previous years, leaving the 2013 all-land value more than double the value in early 2010.

In the last year, the largest increase by land class occurred for non-tillable grazing land, at 7 percent. Non-tillable grazing land includes pasture and rangeland that does not have the current potential to be converted into cropland for small grain or row crop production.

Record high livestock prices translated into strong increases seen throughout the state for pasture and rangeland. The increases in non-tillable grazing land varied greatly among the districts, with a low of 4 percent reported in the Northwest District to a high of 32 percent in the South District, but the Northeast, Central, East and Southeast districts all averaged around 15 percent.

Expectations among survey participants also indicated high future cattle prices to be a strong factor fueling the increase in non-tillable grazing land.

Increases in dryland cropland values also varied across the state depending upon the location and potential for irrigation. Generally, changes of less than 10 percent occurred in the eastern third of Nebraska for dryland cropland with or without irrigation potential. The Eastern District had a decline of 5 percent in the value of dryland cropland with no irrigation potential, but this should be noted as more of a negligible change given the strong increase in this district over the prior several years, Jansen said.

The western two-thirds of the state had the strongest increases in dryland cropland values, with increases averaging around 20 percent. Increases in the value of dryland cropland of the western two-thirds of Nebraska are comparable to those of the eastern third of Nebraska reported by survey participants during the past several years.

Trends observed for the value of tillable grazing land are comparable to those of dryland cropland for the western two-thirds and eastern third of Nebraska, Jansen said. The hayland class proves to be a critical component of forage production in the state for cattle producers. Increases in the value of hayland generally averaged around 10 percent across the districts in 2014, whereas in 2013 the increases ranged from 25 to 30 percent, spurred by the devastating effects of the 2012 drought. Future changes in the value of this land class likely will be tied to the value of forages and cattle production in Nebraska.

Observed changes in the value of gravity irrigated and center pivot irrigated cropland ranged from 2 percent decreases to almost 20 percent increases. Weighting these ranges across the districts equated to an overall increase of about 4 percent for each of the two irrigation land classes.

For the prior two survey years in 2012 and 2013 the land value averages had an annual increase of about 30 percent. The smaller increases in the value of irrigated cropland in 2014 suggests the market is holding steady given current expectations and commodity prices.

Surveyed 2014 cash rental rates for cropland on average declined with lower commodity prices while pasture and cow-calf pair rental rates significantly increased due to higher beef cattle prices, the lingering effects of the drought, and the conversion of some marginal land to crop production.

Lower anticipated grain prices in 2014 have led to lower average cash rental rates for dryland, gravity irrigated, and center pivot irrigated cropland as profit margins begin to tighten, Jansen said.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

(Posted 7 a.m. March 24)

March 16

* Responded to a report of suspicious activity at the Conference Center. Two individuals were banned from the center.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued a burn permit to individuals Northwest of Ainsworth.

* The Johnstown Fire Dept issued a burn permit to individuals East of Johnstown.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued a burn permit to the Nature Conservancy for West of the Norden Road.

* The Brown County Ambulance Service transported an individual from the Nazarene Church to the Brown County Hospital.

 

March 17

* Assisted an individual with a report of a dog running at large in Long Pine.

* Received a traffic complaint on North Oak St Ainsworth.

* The Brown County Ambulance Service transported an individual from a residence on South Plum St to the Brown County Hospital.

 

 

March 18

* Assisted an individual with a report of a runaway juvenile in the Ainsworth area. The juvenile was located and put into emergency protective custody.

* Investigation is on going in a report of vandalism to a residence & vehicle, which was spray painted, in Ainsworth.

* Assisted with a report of a possible stolen vehicle in Ainsworth. The vehicle was returned.

* Investigated an accident without injury in Ainsworth.

* Assisted an individual with a report of disorderly conduct in Ainsworth.

* Booked an individual into the Brown County Jail on a Court ordered commitment for a drug court violation.

 

March 19

* Assisted an individual with a traffic complaint on 2nd & Main St Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a dirt bike tearing around on Maple St Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of suspicious activity South of Ainsworth.

* Arrested a subject for driving under suspension and booked them into the Brown County Jail. The subject was released on bond.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to the Nature Conservancy for Smith Falls area.

 

March 20

* Arrested a subject for driving under the influence and booked them into the Brown County Jail. The subject was released on bond later in the day.

* Responded to a security alarm going off at a rural Brown County residence.

* Assisted the Ainsworth Schools with suspicious juvenile activity.

* Arrested a subject on a Thomas County warrant for a Probation violation and booked them into the Brown County jail on hold for Thomas County.

* The Johnstown Fire Dept issued a burn permit to individuals on South Carpenter St. Johnstown.

* The Brown County Ambulance Service transported an individual from the Cottonwood Villa to the Brown County Hospital.

* The Brown County Ambulance Service transported a patient from the Brown County Hospital to the Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney.

 

March 21

* Investigated a report of a theft from a residence on East 4th St. Ainsworth.

* Assisted an individual with a report of a possible vicious dog running at large on North Pine St. Ainsworth.

* Assisted an individual with a traffic complaint of trucks not stopping at stop signs East of Ainsworth.

* Assisted an individual with a report of a dead deer located South of Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a dead deer impeding traffic South on Hwy 7.

 

March 22

* Responded to a noise complaint on North Pine St Ainsworth. A verbal warning was issued.

* Investigated a report of a possible burglary in rural Brown County.

* Provided a welfare check on a family on East 3rd St Ainsworth.

* Assisted an individual with information on intrastate child custody issues.

 

Weekly Summary

3 – Citations Issued

1 - Crime Stopper call received.

0 - Fix-it tickets were issued.

1 - Handgun permits were applied for.

23 - Incidents Reports

9 - 911 emergency calls received.

7 - Paper Service was served. (includes:  2 Summons & 5 Subpoenas)

167 - Phone calls were received.

8 - Titles were inspected.

5 - Warnings were issued.  (These include written and verbal.)

* Stuart captures Class D2-3 District Speech title, Rock County the runner up

(Posted 10 a.m. March 22)

Stuart won the team sweepstakes Thursday during the Class D2-3 District meet at Clearwater-Orchard, with Rock County finishing as the runner up.
Several students from Stuart, Rock County and Keya Paha County qualified for next Friday's Class D State Speech Championships on the University of Nebraska-Kearney campus.
From the district champion Stuart Broncos, Aaron Ammon finished first in extemporaneous speaking, and Tate Schmaderer was third in the event to qualify.
Kelsey Kaup was the persuasive speaking district champion. Hailey Paxton won the entertainment speaking competition. Brittany Hanzlik was the champion in informative speaking.
The Stuart oral interpretation of drama team also won the district title. Team members are Hanzlik, Paxton, Jaden Schafer and Monique Schafer.
Rock County qualifiers include Colin Erickson, who finished second in extemporaneous speaking. Nolan Sybrant was third in both persuasive and informative speaking to qualify in both events. Quinton Shaw finished third in entertainment speaking.
For Keya Paha County, Emily Swan was the humorous prose district champion. Swan also qualified in serious prose, finishing third. Moriah Heerten qualified in poetry and informative speaking, finishing as the district runner up in both events.
Other medalists for Rock County who did not qualify for state included Katie Nolles, who finished fourth in entertainment speaking. Tabitha Belmont and Quinton Shaw were fifth in duet acting. Belmont placed sixth in serious prose.
Jentrie Maurer was sixth for Rock County in poetry. Nolles and Hollie Morton were sixth in duet acting, and the oral interpretation of drama team consisting of Saresse Clay, Cash Cosgrove, Tori Davis, Hollie Morton and Sadie Stec finished sixth.

* Ainsworth wins Class C1-6 District Speech sweepstakes

(Posted 9:45 a.m. March 22)

The Ainsworth Speech Team won the sweepstakes Thursday during the Class C1-6 District Meet at Gering, and qualified seven events for next week's State Speech Championships.
Rob Maxwell was named the district champion in extemporaneous speaking. Maxwell will be joined at state next week by Quentin Wagner, Tiffani Beegle, Hallie Bower, Clay Chohon and Hayes Chohon.
Wagner finished as the district runner-up in entertainment speaking. Beegle was third in humorous prose. Bower qualified for state in two events, finishing third in both poetry and persuasive speaking. Clay and Hayes Chohon finished third in duet acting to qualify. Clay Chohon took third in informative speaking to qualify for state for the fourth straight year in that event.
Ainsworth scored 177 points to win the district team race, with Mitchell the runner up with 165 points.
Other medalists for Ainsworth went to Jack Arens, who finished fourth in extemporaneous and fifth in entertainment speaking. Kirstin Gilliland was fourth in informative speaking to finish one spot shy of state. Nathaniel Goodloe was fifth in humorous prose. Rob Maxwell and Hayley Murphy were fifth in duet acting, and Sabree Porter placed sixth in persuasive speaking.
Hayes Chohon received a superior rating in serious prose.
The Class C-1 State Speech Championships will be held at 8 a.m. Thursday, March 27, on the University of Nebraska-Kearney campus.

* Larson provides update from the Nebraska Legislature

(Posted 8 a.m. March 22)

Nebraska 40th District State Sen. Tyson Larson provided an update on activities in the Nebraska Unicameral, including his vote against ending debate on the Medicaid expansion bill.
To hear the report, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Tyson Larson 3-21-14.mp3

* Bower selected for National Youth Science Camp

(Posted 6 a.m. March 22)

Hallie Bower, an Ainsworth High School senior, has been selected as Nebraska’s delegate to the National Youth Science Camp.

The 51st National Youth Science Camp will be held June 27 to July 20 at Green Bank, W.V.

Bower’s background in academics, activities and community involvement as well as a 4.0 grade point average led to her selection. She is a member of the National Honor Society, a youth representative to the Ainsworth Betterment Committee and, among other recognitions, was named Nebraska State Athletic Association Academic All-State and received the Ainsworth High School Excellence in Chemistry Award. She also has received numerous music, speech, theatre and mock trial awards.

The National Youth Science Camp was established in 1963 as part of West Virginia’s Centennial Celebration and is an annual summer forum where delegates representing each state exchange ideas with leading scientists and other professionals from the academic and corporate worlds. Lectures and hands-on research projects are presented by scientists who work on topics such as fractal geometry, the human genome project, global climate change, the history of the universe, the fate of our rain forests and robotics. Delegates are challenged to explore new areas in the biological and physical sciences, art and music with resident staff members.  Delegates also present seminars covering their own areas of research and interest.

The National Youth Science Camp’s diverse academic program is complemented by an outdoor recreation program, which leverages the Science Camp’s location in the Monongahela National Forest. The Science Camp’s outdoor program offers backpacking, caving, rock climbing, mountain biking and kayaking.

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 2:15 p.m. March 20)

In addition to fines, each case carries $48 in court costs

Chad E. McClure, age 34, of Dana, Ind., charged with two counts of being overweight on an axle or group of axles, fined a total of $225 on the two counts.

Ron A. Rowse, 73, of Burwell, commercial vehicle brake violation, $50.

James D. Davis, 54, of Ainsworth, speeding 1-5 mph over the limit, $10.

Kassandra R. Gillis, 25, of Ainsworth, failure to yield the right of way, $25.

Nicholas J. Zimmerman, 59, of Homestead, Fla., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Jesse B. Aman, 32, of Richardton, N.D., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Lori Ann Buoy, 48, of Long Pine, third offense driving under the influence, $1,000 fine, sentenced to 30 days in jail, one year probation, driver’s license revoked for two years.

Robert J. Everette, 36, of Lake City, Fla., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Wyatt W. Croghan, 18, of Long Pine, negligent driving, $50.

* Sheriff's department investigating vandalism incident March 18

(Posted 9:30 a.m. March 20)

The Brown County Sheriff's Department is seeking information about vandalism that occurred in Ainsworth in the early morning hours of Tuesday, March 18.
According to the sheriff's department, sometime early Tuesday morning, someone spray-painted a house and a vehicle with red paint in the 300 block of Richardson Drive in Ainsworth.
The vandalism resulted in thousands of dollars in damage to the home and vehicle. A can of red Miracal Premium brand spray enamel was located in the yard.
Anyone with information on who is responsible for the vandalism is asked to call the Brown County Sheriff's Department at 402-387-1440 or call Crime Stoppers at 402-382-3121. Information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the vandalism could result in a cash reward of up to $1,000.

* Heineman discusses Medicaid expansion, water bills on KBRB Wednesday

(Posted 3 p.m. March 19)

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman appeared on KBRB Wednesday, congratulating the boys basketball team on a thrilling state championship game he viewed Saturday in Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Heineman discussed several bills being debated in the Nebraska Legislature, including a bill that would expand Medicaid coverage to 54,000 Nebraskans not covered by the current system who make too little to receive federal insurance subsidies.
Heineman also talked about what he considered a dangerous water bill in committee that would take control away from local Natural Resources Districts, and renewed his call for the Legislature to provide additional tax relief to workers and property owners.
To hear the complete report with Gov. Heineman and KBRB's Graig Kinzie, click on the audio links below.

audio clips/Gov Dave Heineman 3-19 cut 1.mp3

audio clips/Gov Dave Heineman 3-19 cut 2.mp3

* Farmers may nominate a school for Monsanto Grow Rural Education grant

(Posted 11:30 a.m. March 19)

For the third consecutive year, America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, will give eligible farmers the opportunity to enhance math and science programs in their communities.

Now until April 6, farmers can nominate a local public school district to compete for a merit-based grant of up to $25,000. Administrators of nominated school districts may then submit grant applications through April 21.

America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, is part of the America’s Farmers initiative, which highlights the important contributions farmers make every day to our society. This year, America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education will invest over $2.3 million in science and math programs across rural America, with more than $7 million invested since the program’s inception in 2011.

The America’s Farmers campaign is an advocacy and community outreach program celebrating U.S. farmers through communications, awards and special programs that highlight the importance of modern American agriculture.

Other America’s Farmers initiatives include:

America’s Farmers Grow Communities, which supports rural communities by offering farmers the chance to win $2,500 for their favorite local nonprofit organization.

America’s Farmers Mom of the Year, which celebrates women in agriculture by offering the chance to win up to $10,000 and the title of “National Farm Mom of the Year”.

America’s Farmers Grow Ag Leaders, which launched this year in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Nebraska, North Carolina and South Carolina, and aims to encourage the next generation to remain involved in agriculture by offering students the chance to apply for a $1,500 scholarship.

To learn more, visit America’s Farmers at www.americasfarmers.com.

* Commissioners table action on paying $3,900 Niobrara Council invoice

(Posted 4 p.m. March 18)

The Brown County Commissioners on Tuesday opted to take no action on a bill submitted by the Niobrara Council claiming the county owed the council $3,900 for an appraisal done for a perpetual conservation easement the commissioners first approved then later denied.

Board Chairman Buddy Small said the commissioners initially voted to approve the conservation easement because they were advised that they had no other option.

“Since then, the county’s zoning regulations were amended stating the county did not agree with perpetual easements,” Small said. “The county then rescinded its support of the easement.”

Small said, following the initial approval of the project in 2011, the Niobrara Council moved forward with the project and had the property in northern Brown County appraised at a cost of $3,900.

“The Niobrara Council is asking us to pay that $3,900,” Small said. “I see the council’s concerns, but I cannot in good conscience agree to pay that bill. A majority of the Niobrara Council members think we should pay the bill, but there are some who don’t believe we are responsible for it.”

Zoning Administrator Dean Jochem, who has argued against any perpetual easements being allowed in the county, said the board was told by the Niobrara Council’s attorney that the easement had to be approved.

“You were under duress,” Jochem said. “It was not the fact originally that we wanted to allow this easement.”

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus said he voted to allow the easement because the county had no defense for denying it until the zoning regulations were amended.

“They knew with our initial vote that the only reason we approved it was because we were told we did not have a choice,” Wiebelhaus said.

Following the initial approval of the perpetual easement in February 2011, the county’s comprehensive plan was updated. As part of that update, the Planning Commission recommended, and the board approved that having an easement in perpetuity was not in the best interest of Brown County’s future land usage.

A perpetual easement freezes the use of land to its current usage in perpetuity. In exchange for signing a perpetual easement, the landowner is compensated by another party, such as an environmental organization. In this case, the Niobrara Council, through funding from the Nebraska Environmental Trust, attempted to create a perpetual conservation easement on property in northern Brown County near, but outside, the boundary of the Niobrara Scenic River Corridor.

In November 2012, the commissioners voted to rescind the approval of the perpetual easement, citing the change to the county’s comprehensive plan.

County Attorney David Streich said the law is going to look at whether the Niobrara Council expended funds based on the county’s initial decision.

“This will depend on where the Niobrara Council was in the process when Brown County rescinded its approval,” Streich said.

Contacted by phone, Niobrara Council Executive Director Kallie Kieborz told the board the council approved the appraisal contract on Aug. 16, 2012, and the appraisal was completed in October 2012.

Streich said the county had several options, including denying the payment and arguing the case if the council pursues the $3,900 in court, approving the payment, or trying to reach an agreement since both sides would likely acknowledge some responsibility and agree that litigation would be an expensive alternative for both the county and the Niobrara Council.

The board tabled taking any action on the claim.

In other business during Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners approved a six-year contract with Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin. Turpin would be required to give the county at least six months notice prior to leaving the highway superintendent position, as the county is required to have a contracted highway superintendent.

In roads items, Turpin discussed the possibility of purchasing a water tanker to pull behind a county semi for use in watering white rock and clay material during road base improvement.

“We would mainly use this for laying down white rock and clay,” Turpin said. “Tripp County (S.D.) uses a tanker when they lay their white rock down. I think we could save on clay and rock, and make better roads.”

Turpin said he found a used tanker in Wayne for $12,000 that would hold 4,600 gallons of water.

“That is about the cheapest I have found,” Turpin said.

Wiebelhaus said the roads department has gotten by in the past without a tanker.

“I could see the cost per mile to blade a road going up due to the extra fuel and personnel costs if we used a water tanker,” Wiebelhaus said. “There is a lot of additional expense to haul a water tanker around.”

Commissioner Les Waits said he believed it would make for a better road base if the roads department could wet down the white rock as it was laid down.

“When it is wetted, it packs down nice,” Waits said. “If it is dry, it is dusty. It doesn’t pack down as well, and we lose some of the material.”

Wiebelhaus said the Nebraska Forest Service sometimes has used equipment like that available for lease.

“I think we could give something like that a try first before jumping in with both feet,” Wiebelhaus said.

Turpin said he would check with the Forest Service and see if it had a tanker available to lease.

No action was taken.

Turpin also reported the county would receive $49,522 in federal funds for roads upgrades, and $25,673 in federal funds for bridge repairs or replacement. The funds replace federal money that was allocated on a per-project basis and instead provides counties a certain dollar amount each year to be used toward whichever projects the county deems necessary.

“This money is solely to be used toward the cost of reconstruction or repairing roads and bridges,” Turpin said. “It cannot be used for maintenance. We just have to document that the money was used for road and bridge repairs or replacement.”

In two final roads items, Turpin told the board he would move the roads crew to its summer schedule on April 15. During the summer schedule, workers begin their day at 7 a.m. instead of 8 a.m.

The board also approved a request from Century Link to place a copper cable adjacent to Ulrich Street just west of Ainsworth under county right of way.

Region 24 Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director Scott Goodloe present emergency identification badges to county officials Tuesday, and told the commissioners the badge project was nearing completion.

“I am waiting on 12 ambulance association members,” Goodloe said. “Those are the last people I need information from.”

Small said the badges would make paperwork much easier for large scale emergencies similar to the 2012 wildfires in the Niobrara River Valley.

Goodloe said there would be much less stress in getting the correct information to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency.

“When someone shows up to the staging area during an emergency, their badge can be taken and scanned right away,” Goodloe said. “This will make the data much more accessible.”

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. April 1.

* Davis discusses Medicaid expansion bill to be debated Tuesday in Legislature

(Posted 7:30 a.m. March 18)

Nebraska 43rd District State Sen. Al Davis provided information on the Medicaid expansion bill that will be debated today in the Legislature.
To hear the complete report, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/State Sen Al Davis 03-17.mp3

* Area students receive Winter Academic All-State awards from NSAA

(Posted 11 a.m. March 17)

The Nebraska School Activities Association has announced the student recipients of the

Winter 2014 Nebraska Chiropractic Physicians Association Academic All-State Awards.

Since 2006, this NSAA Award Program has recognized students who meet the criteria for nomination by their school in the season of their activity.

Each year, the NSAA and the NCPA recognize students during fall, winter and spring seasons who are nominated by their schools for their individual academic excellence, leadership and significant contributions in their NSAA activity.

Area students who received Academic All-State recognition for the winter sports season include:

Ainsworth – Austin Harthoorn in boys basketball, Lydia Allen and Ellie Carr in girls basketball, Dominic Henry in wrestling, and Hallie Bower and Clay Chohon in speech.

Rock County – Andrew Hollenbeck and Tyler Knox in boys basketball, Amber Frerichs and Jamie Turpin in girls basketball, and Nolan Sybrant and Colin Erickson in speech.

Stuart – Brittany Hanzlik and Samantha Sattler in girls basketball, and Kelsey Kaup and Hailey Paxton in speech.

West Holt – Evan Laible and Josiah McAllister in boys basketball, Blake Butterfield and Mackenzie Hale in girls basketball, Tom Rentschler and Jessica Thiele in speech, and Joshua Coyle and Viktor Jonseth in wrestling.

Valentine – Brianna Bussinger and Shaniya DeNaeyer in girls basketball, Joshua Arment and Sydney Dunn in speech, and Trevor Bukaske and Braxton Coleman in wrestling.

Sandhills – Alex Coffman in boys basketball, Jacy Spencer in girls basketball and speech, and Landon Hopkins in wrestling.

* Huskers grab an 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament, face Baylor Friday

(Posted 5:15 p.m. March 15)

The Nebraska Huskers earned their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1998 Sunday, grabbing the 11 seed in the West Regional at San Antonio.
The Huskers will face the Big 12 Conference Tournament runners-up Baylor Bears Friday, March 21, at San Antonio, Texas. The Bears are the six seed in the regional. KBRB AM will broadcast the first round game at 10:30 a.m. Friday, with tip-off scheduled for 11:40 a.m.
If the team can somehow get past a very talented Baylor team, the Huskers could possibly see a rematch with in-state rival Creighton. The Jays are the No. 3 seed in the regional, and face No. 14 seed Louisiana-Lafayette in the opening round.
Arizona is the top seed in the West Regional, and Wisconsin from the Big 10 Conference earned the No. 2 seed in the region.

* Bulldogs come up 1 bucket shy in overtime classic, finish as Class C-2 runners-up

(Posted 5 p.m. March 15)

Senior Matt McLeod's running shot at the buzzer in overtime banked away Saturday, and the Ainsworth Bulldog boys basketball team ended its season one basket shy of a state championship, losing 71-69 to Fremont Bergan.
In a classic state finals contest, the Bulldogs and Knights traded the lead back and forth while playing for the third straight day in their third different venue.
The Pinnacle Bank Arena crowd was treated to an instant classic between the Bulldogs and Knights. Ainsworth grabbed a six-point lead in the first half behind a monster performance from McLeod, but the Knights fought back with an end-of-the-half run to take a 39-37 lead into the break.
Fremont Bergan stretched that lead to as large as 12 in the second half, only to see the Bulldogs make a furious rally. With 12 seconds remaining in regulation and Ainsworth down by three, sophomore Brady Delimont came off a screen from junior Hunter Martin and buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key to tie the game. McLeod, playing with four fouls for much of the fourth quarter, blocked a Knight shot before the buzzer, sending the two teams to overtime.
With both teams running out of gas playing in their third game in three days, neither team gained more than a one-bucket advantage in overtime. Tied at 69-69 with the clock running out, the Knights hit a shot with 5 seconds to play.
The Bulldogs called their final timeout and set up a play for McLeod, who scored a game-high 31 points. Catching an inbounds pass, McLeod raced past the half-court line and got to 17-feet before having to launch a shot at the buzzer. The shot hit the backboard and caromed away, giving the Knights the Class C-2 title.
McLeod added a team-best 10 rebounds and five blocks to his 31 points to lead Ainsworth in his final game in a Bulldog uniform. McLeod, Delimont, Martin and senior Tanner Fuelberth played all 36 minutes in the overtime game. Delimont ended his sophomore season with a 16-point effort and a team-best four assists.
Playing in his final game, Fuelberth finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, making 3 of 7 shots behind the 3-point line. McLeod went 4-for-6 beyond the arc, and the Bulldogs hit eight 3-pointers in the game to extend their Nebraska all-class record for 3-pointers in a season to 289. Ainsworth finished 13 triples ahead of the previous record-holder, Bellevue West in 2006.
Jonah Madsen led Fremont Bergan with 18 points, all of which came behind the 3-point line. Madsen went 6-for-10 from long range, and the Knights finished 9-for-19 as a team behind the 3-point line. A day after hitting 16 of 33 from beyond the arc, the Bulldogs finished 8-for-26 from 3-point range.
Adam Dykman added 17 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out in overtime. Nathan Griffen finished with 16 points, and Colton Brdicko added 12 points in the overtime win.
There were 15 ties and six lead changes in the game. The Bulldogs ended the season with a 25-3 record, and the Knights finished 24-3 as the state champions.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

(Posted 5 p.m. March 15)

March 9

* Responded to a report of a security alarm sounding at a business in Ainsworth.

* Received information on an elderly individual possibly needing assistance from adult protective services.

* Provided public assistance for an elderly individual in gaining access into their residence.  A locksmith was contacted.

* Investigated a report of possible harassment in Ainsworth.

* Investigated a report of threats being made on West 2nd St Ainsworth.

* The Brown county Ambulance Service transported an individual from a residence on North Main St. Ainsworth to the Brown Co Hospital.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept issued a burn permit to an individual West of Long Pine.

 

March 10

* Received a report of an elderly individual in Ainsworth, possibly needing assistance from adult protective services.

* Responded to a traffic complaint on Pine St. Ainsworth. An individual was cited for 3rd Degree Assault.

* Responded to a report of a dirt bike traveling East on  the Cowboy trail near Pine St.

* Responded to a report of a dog running at large on North Osborne St. Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a possible vicious dog running at large on North Walnut St. Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a disturbance in the alley West of Main St. Ainsworth, off 2nd St.

* Assisted an individual with a report of harassment in Ainsworth.

 

March 11

* Investigated a report of threats being made in Ainsworth.

* Investigated a report of juveniles drinking and driving in Ainsworth.

 

March 12

* Responded to a parking complaint on 2nd St Ainsworth.

* Investigated a report of the theft of a snowmobile in rural Bro Co.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept issued a burn permit to the NE Games & Parks for the Pine Glen area.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued a burn permit to the Nature Conservancy Northeast of the Norden Road.

 

March 13

* Assisted and individual with information involving child custody in Ainsworth.

* Received a report of juveniles riding an ATV in Long Pine.

* Arrested a subject for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs on Hwy 20 East of Ainsworth. The subject was booked into the Brown Co Jail.

* Investigated a report of suspicious activity at the Conference Center in Ainsworth.

 

March 14

* Investigated a report of a possible assault in Long Pine.

* Investigated a report of possible animal neglect in rural Brown Co.

* The Brown County Ambulance Service transported a patient from the Brown County Hospital to a Lincoln Hospital.

 

March 15

* Assisted an individual with a report of a possible carbon monoxide leak at a residence on North Harrington St. Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a dog running at large on Main St. Long Pine.

* Assisted an individual with information on child custody issues in Brown Co.

* The Johnstown Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to the Nature Conservancy for East of the Norden Road.

 

Weekly Summary

1 – Citations Issued

0 - Crime Stopper call received.

0 - Fix-it tickets were issued.

1 - Handgun permits were applied for.

26 - Incidents Reports

9 - 911 emergency calls received.

5 - Paper Service was served. (includes: 1 Subpoena, 1 Order for Protection, & 3 Summons)

149 - Phone calls were received.

3 - Titles were inspected.

8 - Warnings were issued.  (These include written and verbal.)

* Bulldogs set season 3-point record in semifinal win over Freeman

(Posted 4:30 p.m. March 14)

The Ainsworth Bulldogs knocked down 16 of 33 attempts from beyond the 3-point line Friday en route to a 69-56 victory over Freeman during the Class C-2 Boys State Basketball Tournament semifinals in the Bob Devaney Sports Center at Lincoln.
With the 16 triples, Ainsworth set the single-season record for made 3-point shots with 281, surpassing a record of 276 set by Bellevue West in 2006.
The Bulldogs grabbed an early lead Friday and held on throughout the game. Ainsworth led by eight at the end of one quarter and extended to an 11-point lead at the half.
The Falcons closed to within four points in the third quarter, and were within six in the fourth quarter before Ainsworth put the game away.
Sophomore Brady Delimont tied a Class C-2 state tournament record by hitting seven 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 25 points.
Seniors Matt McLeod and Tanner Fuelberth each scored 16 points. Both missed double-doubles by a single rebound.
The Falcons finished with three players in double figures, and were led by 17 points from Derek Veerhuzen. Cole Schuster added 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Isaac Frerichs scored 15 points a day after dropping 26 points in a win over Kimball.
The Bulldogs shot 33 times behind the 3-point arc, making 16, and attempted only 10 two-point shots during the game, connecting on six. Ainsworth went 9-for-17 from the free-throw line.
Freeman hit 8-of-26 behind the 3-point line, and went 13-for-31 from two-point range. The Falcons shot just eight free throws, hitting six.
The top-seeded Bulldogs (25-2) will play for their second state basketball title Saturday against No. 3 Fremont Bergan. Bergan (23-3) went to overtime Friday to defeat second seed Doniphan-Trumbull, 58-55.

* Ainsworth moves on to Class C-2 Boys State Basketball semifinals

(Posted 3:30 p.m. March 13)

The Ainsworth Bulldogs pulled away in the second half Thursday to post a 71-54 victory over Battle Creek and advance to the Friday semifinals of the Class C-2 Boys State Basketball Tournament.
The Bulldogs led by six at the half, 38-32, only to see the Braves close to within one midway through the third quarter. However, Battle Creek's two leading scorers, Zach and Jared Beller, got into some foul trouble and the Bulldogs stretched the lead to double figures.
The Bulldogs were led by senior Matt McLeod, who finished with 24 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Brady Delimont, senior Tanner Fuelberth and junior Hunter Martin each scored in double figures as well. Delimont and Martin each scored 16 points, and Fuelberth picked up a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. The Bulldogs only committed eight turnovers in the victory.
Zach Bellar, Brandon Shurman and Kobe Lade led the Braves with 12 points each. Battle Creek ends the season with a 12-13 record.
The top-seeded Bulldogs (24-2) advance to Friday's 2 p.m. semifinal in the Bob Devaney Sports Center to take on No. 4 Freeman. Freeman downed Kimball Thursday, 49-46.
KBRB's Cody Goochey and Shane Kinnick will have the call from the Devaney Center on KBRB FM 92.7 and the web at approximately 1:45 p.m. Friday.

* Ainsworth speech team places fourth in Southwest Conference Meet

(Posted 10:15 a.m. March 13)

Southwest Conference Speech at Ogallala March 11

==Varsity==

1st:  Rob Maxwell & Hayley Murphy—Duet Acting

2nd:  Clay Chohon—Informative Speaking

5th:  Rob Maxwell—Extemporaneous Speaking

            Hallie Bower—Persuasive Speaking

6th:  Hallie Bower—Poetry

Superiors:  Quentin Wagner—Entertainment Speaking

                        Jack Arens—Entertainment Speaking

                        Nathaniel Goodloe—Humorous Prose

                        Tiffani Beegle—Humorous Prose

                        Kirsten Gilliland—Informative Speaking

                        Hayes Chohon—Serious Prose

 

Team:  4th of 7

 

“Our conference is one of the toughest speech conferences in the state," Ainsworth coach Mary Rau said. "Gothenburg was crowned as speech champion again, followed by Ogallala and Minden. We had several speakers - Hayes Chohon, Tiffani Beegle, Nathaniel Goodloe, and Kirsten Gilliland - who just barely missed making finals, which was disappointing.  But we did our best to hold our own, and I was very proud of the team’s efforts."

The next competition for the speech team is the C1-6 District Contest at Gering March 20.

* Paving district created on South Street between Main and Ulrich streets

(Posted 9:15 p.m. March 12)

A paving district has been created on South Street between Main and Ulrich streets, as the Ainsworth City Council on Wednesday approved the creation of the district and an accompanying assessment to property owners along the north side of the street not to exceed $9 per frontage foot.

City Administrator Kristi Thornburg said the council could either create the paving district and give the property owners the choice of opting out of the district, or leave it to the property owners to request a paving district be created.

“If we create the district, more than half of the frontage feet would have to opt out for the district to fail,” Thornburg said. “If the residents request the district, 60 percent of the frontage feet would have to come in and support it.”

Councilman Jake Adkisson said the Brown County Commissioners agreed that the county would provide all the equipment and labor to lay the millings for the project, and pay for half of the cost of the armor coating work.

The south side of South Street is outside the city limits, and the county contributing the equipment, labor and half the armor coating takes the place of assessing the property owners on the south side of the street.

Thornburg said initial estimates indicated per-foot assessments in the $8.20 to $8.65 range, depending on whether the street was kept at 26 feet or widened to 28 feet.

With Councilman Kent Taylor absent, the council approved creating the district with an assessment not to exceed $9 per frontage foot.

Property owners on South Street between Main and Ulrich will receive a letter from the city, and will have the option of opting their property out of the district. If more than 50 percent of the frontage feet are opted out, then the district fails and the street will remain a gravel surface.

In other items during Wednesday’s meeting, the council learned it could receive a grant to have 150 properties inspected as part of its recently enacted nuisance abatement ordinance.

Central Nebraska Housing Developers Executive Director Judy Peterson, who has been contracted as the city’s nuisance abatement officer, told the council CNHD has a grant for up to three communities to use for nuisance abatement inspections. One of the original three communities removed itself from the program, so Ainsworth could now receive grant funds to pay for those properties to be inspected.

“You can count all in-kind contributions as your grant match,” Peterson said.

She recommended the city host a cleanup day and promote that nuisance abatement inspections would commence following the cleanup.

Thornburg said the council planned to hold a citywide cleanup in April prior to beginning the inspections.

Peterson said the council could determine the area of the city it wanted to have inspected first, and determine how many total properties to inspect.

Councilwoman Deb Hurless said the city was ready to move forward with the inspections. The council agreed to have an additional 50 properties inspected on top of the 150 property inspections covered by the grant, for a total of 200.

The council will determine which area of the city to have Peterson inspect first. Hurless said, eventually, all the properties in the city will be inspected.

If a violation to the city’s nuisance ordinances is noted, the property owner will receive a letter and have the opportunity to voluntarily take care of the violation prior to any additional action being taken.

Peterson said the council could sign the contract with CNHD during its April meeting, and she would plan to begin the initial inspections in May.

The council continued discussion on purchasing a used street sweeper. Greg Oliverius of Nebraska Environmental Products of Lincoln presented the council with bids on two used sweepers. The council also had bids on several other used sweepers.

“In my opinion, we need to get something done,” Adkisson said.

Councilman Chuck Osborn agreed.

“I would be interested in the 1998 Elgin machine from Wayne,” Osborn said. “I think we need to move forward.”

Oliverius said he would bring the machine to Ainsworth for a demonstration, and would train city streets employees on how to operate the sweeper. Following the demonstration, the council could determine whether or not it wanted to purchase the machine.

Adkisson said he believed the city needed to advertise for some part-time help to operate the sweeper.

No action was taken, pending the demonstration of the 1998 Elgin sweeper, which has 2,339 hours of use and was bid at a price of $32,500. Other bids ranged from $5,000 for a state surplus sweeper all the way to $160,722 for a 2013 International sweeper with only 134 hours of use.

In another streets item, Adkisson asked if the streets department planned to try and clean up gravel that had collected on people’s yards during winter snow removal.

“This problem all comes back to the streets not getting swept in the fall,” Adkisson said.

The city had contracted for the streets to be swept four times each year. The contractor did not make the fourth trip in the fall to sweep the streets, and armor coat gravel was then deposited on yards next to the streets when the city cleared snow.

Thornburg said the streets crew had been out working to remove some of the gravel from yards where the city received calls.

Streets Foreman Monte Goshorn said he planned to have his crew try to get around town and clean up the gravel from the yards as well as they could.

The council discussed moving forward with planning for infrastructure work to coincide with the Nebraska Department of Roads repaving Highway 20 in the city. Thornburg said the Highway 20 project was scheduled for 2018.

“We are looking at some manholes and valve replacement, and some sewer and storm sewer work,” Thornburg said.

She inquired about the possibility of looking for a planning grant to have an engineer study the city infrastructure and recommend any replacement work to coincide with the NDOR concrete paving project in 2018 through Ainsworth.

Osborn said there was a lot more city responsibility with the Highway 20 paving project coming through town than he initially expected.

Thornburg said the city needed to keep moving forward and try to get a plan prepared so it could be incorporated into the Department of Roads Plan.

The city had previously had a streetscape plan completed that included lighting and sidewalk work on both Highway 20 and Main Street.

The council agreed to have the North Central Development Center pursue an engineering planning grant for infrastructure replacement.

The council briefly discussed hiring a youth activities director to coordinate all the youth sports programs in the city.

Thornburg said a request was made for the council to consider adding the position.

“At budget time, the council opted not to budget for a youth director,” the city administrator said. “But, I thought I would bring it up and see if the council was interested in moving forward.”

Adkisson said there is currently one person in charge of youth baseball, one for football, one for volleyball, one for soccer, and one for basketball.

“It is a mess now,” Adkisson said. “I could see having one person to set up all the schedules and check out all the equipment to the kids.”

Osborn asked if the council needed to consult the organizations operating the youth programs before making a decision.

Thornburg said, “If we hire someone, I think we need to have a coalition of all these organizations. I think the position could be self-funded by entry fees and concessions, but we need to have the support of all these organizations or we are just spinning our wheels.”

The council agreed to work with the established youth committee and begin working with the organizations to see if a consolidation of the youth programs would be a welcome venture.

Mark Gracey provided the council with an update on Ainsworth Municipal Golf Course activity.

He said the Ainsworth Golf Association hired Cindy Castor to manage the clubhouse for the upcoming season, and Brad Christ would again serve as the course superintendent.

“We are looking to get Brad some additional help, and we have a couple people who may be interested,” Gracey said.

He said the course recently installed a three-phase sink in the clubhouse to comply with a food inspector recommendation.

Gracey said the clubhouse would open for the season on April 1, and the association had scheduled its spring membership meeting for April 5.

The consent agenda approved Wednesday included authorizing the Alumni Board to close Main Street from 10 until 11:30 a.m. June 28 for the alumni parade, and authorized a $2,000 contribution to the Independence Day fireworks show July 4 at the Ainsworth Golf Course from ABC funds. The Ainsworth Betterment Committee recommended the council approve the $2,000 contribution for the fireworks show, which is operated by members of the Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 9.

* Fire training underway at the Niobrara Valley Preserve

(Posted 10:15 a.m. March 12)

Jeremy Bailey, the associate director of fire training with The Nature Conservancy, visited with KBRB's Graig Kinzie Wednesday regarding the fifth annual fire training underway at the Niobrara Valley Preserve.
Approximately 9,000 acres will be burned with prescribed fire during the three-week training, weather permitting.
Bailey discussed the benefits of using prescribed fire as well as the valuable training tools provided to the more than 100 fire workers on site.
To hear the complete report, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Jeremy Bailey Fire Training 3-12.mp3

* Ainsworth City Council agenda for March 12 meeting

(Posted 8:30 a.m. March 12)

Ainsworth City Council agenda
7 p.m. March 12
Ainsworth Conference Center
 

1.      Roll Call

           

2.      *Approval of consent agenda

            All items listed with an asterisk (*) are considered to be routine by the City Council and will be enacted by one motion.  There will be no separate discussion of these items unless a Council member or a citizen so requests, in which event the item will be removed from consent status and considered in its normal sequence on the agenda.

 

3.      *Minutes of the previous meetings

 

4.      *Treasurer’s report

 

5.      *Claims to be approved for payment

 

6.      *Approve housing claims-CDS in the amount of $960.73; Fernau Siding in the amount of $4450.00 for applicant #01848; Painter Electric in the amount of $1693.03 for applicant #01847

 

7.      *Authorizing the Ainsworth Alumni Board of Directors  to close Hwy 7 (Main Street) on Saturday, June 28, 2014 starting at10:00 a.m. and ending at 11:30 a.m. for the Ainsworth Alumni Parade.  Also, the City of Ainsworth acknowledge the acceptance of all duties set out in subsection (2) of LB 589/N.R.S. §39-1359, and that if a claim is made against the state, it shall indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the state from all claims, demands, actions, damages, and liability, including reasonable attorney’s fees, that may arise as a result of the special event.

 

8.      *Ainsworth Betterment Committee Recommendation to fund $2000.00 for the Independence Day Fireworks Display on July 4, 2014 to be held at the Ainsworth Golf Course

 

9.      Department Head Reports

 

10.  Nuisance Abatement Agreement with Central Nebraska Housing Developers-Judy Petersen

 

11.  Consider purchasing a Street Sweeper

 

12.  Implementing a Youth Activities Director

 

13.  Creating a Paving District on South Street from Main to Ulrich Street

 

14.  Joint effort with NDOR on the projected 2018 Highway 20 Resurfacing project

* Two sentenced in District Court Tuesday on drug-related charges

(Posted noon March 11)

Two Brown County residents were sentenced in Brown County District Court Tuesday on drug charges stemming from an Oct. 9 search warrant served on a residence in rural Brown County.

According to Brown County Attorney David Streich, Annette K. Gedwillo, 48, of Johnstown, was sentenced Tuesday to not less than 8 years and no more than 12 years in the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women after pleading guilty to a Class II felony charge of possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Gedwillo also pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, a Class III felony. She was sentenced to serve four years in prison on that charge, however, the sentences are to run concurrently, meaning Gedwillo will serve the four-year term on the marijuana conviction at the same time she serves the 8- to 12-year term on the felony methamphetamine charge.

Gedwillo was arrested Oct. 9 after a search warrant was served on her residence by the Nebraska State Patrol, Brown County Sheriff’s Department and the Tri-County Task Force from Hall County.

In a related case, Travis V. Pike, 25, formerly of Ainsworth, was ordered to participate in the North Central Problem Solving Court after pleading guilty to a charge of possession of a controlled substance, a Class IV felony.

Streich said Problem Solving Court is an intensive program with a minimum length of 18 months. Participants are subject to higher levels of supervision than traditional probation, and are required to maintain employment or schooling, submit to drug testing, meet weekly with their supervisory team, as well as comply with additional terms adapted toward their rehabilitation.

The county attorney said the purpose of Problem Solving Court is to reduce offender recidivism by fostering a comprehensive and coordinated court response consisting of early intervention, appropriate treatment, intensive supervision and consistent judicial oversight.

* School Board approves 2014-15 calendar

(Posted 7 a.m. March 11)

Ainsworth Community Schools students will attend class for 181 days during the 2014-15 year following the Board of Education’s approval Monday of the annual school calendar.

School begins for students Aug. 13, and will dismiss May 21, 2015. Graduation is scheduled for Sunday, May 17.

The first semester ends with semester tests Dec. 19, and second semester classes pick up Jan. 5, 2015.

In other action items during Monday’s meeting, the board accepted the resignation of elementary teacher Jolene Freeman effective at the end of the current school year. Superintendent Darrell Peterson said Freeman was retiring from teaching, and he and the board wished her well in her retirement.

The board approved the first reading of a policy setting the capacity for each class regarding option enrollment students. Peterson said the district is required to adjust the policy each year to account for how many option enrollment students the district could accept in each class before the class is considered at capacity and another teacher would have to be hired.

Board members nominated Brad Wilkins to represent District 15 on the Nebraska Association of School Boards Legislative Committee.

Wilkins, who was nominated for an open position on the committee a year ago, said the group meets twice each year to go over legislation proposed in the Unicameral relating to schools.

After filling a vacancy a year ago, Wilkins’ term is expiring. If his candidacy is approved by the other school districts in District 15, Wilkins would serve a three-year term on the NASB Legislative Committee.

Following an executive session, the board renewed the contracts of Sarah Williams as the school’s elementary principal and Richard Gilson as the school’s secondary principal.

During his report, Peterson said, after offering a free breakfast to those students who receive reduced-price lunches, the breakfast program was experiencing a minimal increase in participation at best.

“We sent a letter home informing parents that breakfast would be free for those students, and we have seen minimal, if any, results,” Peterson said.

During its previous meeting, the board gave the go-ahead to offer the students receiving reduced-price lunches a free breakfast in an effort to increase breakfast participation.

The superintendent reported state personnel would travel to Ainsworth in April to review the district’s lunch program.

“They will go through the entire program with Lunchtime Solutions,” he said.

Peterson told the board the Nebraska Legislature has pushed the date for state aid certification back to April 10, but since the district was projected to receive almost no state assistance, he was no longer concerned about the certification date.

During his report, Gilson noted the number of students on the school’s fifth through 12th-grade down list dropped below 50 for the first time all year.

The district previously implemented a mandatory ninth hour program for students failing one or more classes to receive additional assistance.

Williams’ report indicated letters were sent to 31 parents of prospective kindergarten students. Williams said one family so far has indicated it will wait a year before enrolling the student in kindergarten, leaving a possible kindergarten class of 30 students.

A class of 30 kindergarten students for the 2014-15 school year would be the second largest class in the elementary, behind the 31 students who would be entering the third grade.

The elementary school’s largest class, the fourth grade class of 40 students, will move to the middle school level for the 2014-15 year.

Williams reported 93 parent-teacher conferences were conducted Feb. 10, and teachers met with 15 additional parents outside the scheduled conference time. Approximately 72 percent of the students were represented during the conferences.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education was bumped ahead a week to April 7. The board will begin its 8 p.m. summer meeting schedule during the April meeting.

* Brown County Fund Endowment Account grant of $15,000 to $20,000 mulled

(Posted 2:15 p.m. March 10)

The Advisory Committee of the Brown County Fund met recently to strategize ways to increase community input and involvement in the yearly grant-making process.

As the Endowment Account of the Brown County Fund continues to grow, the amount of funds available for grants subsequently grows. There is the potential for a major impact grant later this year or early in 2015. The amount available for a major impact grant could range from $15,000 to $20,000.

The Brown County Fund has set goals of supporting grants in the areas of infrastructure, education, health and recreation. Individuals or committees involved in those four areas should consider projects that could utilize Endowment Account grant funds for the common good. Even greater impact could be realized if grant applicants were able to match the Brown County Fund Endowment Account funds.

During the recent meeting of the Advisory Committee, the treasurer’s report noted contributions to the Endowment Account for the month of February included $115 in memorials and $350 in pledges. Contributions to the General Fund included $100 in memorials and $25 in annual contributions.

The Scholarship Committee will release information soon regarding the 2014 Non-Traditional and Upper Class scholarship application requirements and deadlines. 

The next meeting of the Advisory Committee of the Brown County Fund is scheduled for 5 p.m. April 2 in the North Central Development Center meeting room.

* Sedlacek, Beel elected to Farmers-Ranchers Cooperative Board of Directors

(Posted 10:30 a.m. March 10)

During its annual shareholders meeting, Mark Sedlacek of rural Johnstown and incumbent Frank Beel of rural Johnstown were elected to serve-year terms on the Farmers-Ranchers Cooperative Board of Directors.
The cooperative recognized Ken Eggers, who retired after 21 years with the cooperative.
The 2014 Farmers-Ranchers Cooperative Scholarship winners were announced. Leah Pickering of Brewster, Bailey Dexter of Valentine, Saresse Clay of Bassett and Jesse Paxton of Stapleton received the $1,000 scholarships. Applicants wrote an essay describing why they were interested in a career in agriculture.
"Farmers-Ranchers is pleased to make these scholarships available," CEO Kent Taylor said. "We were grateful for all the qualified students who applied. These young people have represented our communities very well and will continue to do so in the future."
Door prizes during the evening were awarded to Jeri Graff, Jami Burdick, Nate Johnson, Mary Bejot, Royce Greder, Kristen Johnson, Lynn Moore, Donna Keim, John Appleman, Melba Bejot, Berniece Fiala, Debb Gracey and Les Waits.

* Larson checks in from the Nebraska Legislature

(Posted 7 a.m. March 10)

Nebraska 40th District State Sen. Tyson Larson provided constituents with an update of activity in the Unicameral.
To hear the complete report, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Larson 3-7-14.mp3

* Speech team competes in difficult Norfolk Invitational

(Posted 7 a.m. March 10)

Norfolk Panther Classic

==Varsity==

5th:  Hallie Bower—Poetry

Superiors:  Hayes Chohon—Serious Prose

                        Tiffani Beegle—Humorous Prose

                        Marita Hogseth—Poetry

                        Marita Hogseth—Informative Speaking

                        Kirsten Gilliland—Informative Speaking

                        Hayley Murphy—Entertainment Speaking

                        Jack Arens—Entertainment Speaking

                        Cheyenne Cook—Entertainment Speaking

                        Quentin Wagner—Entertainment Speaking

                        Hallie Bower—Persuasive Speaking

                        Britley Schlueter—Persuasive Speaking

                        Nathaniel Goodloe & Lauren Allen—Duet Acting

Tiffani Beegle/Cheyenne Cook/Ana Garcia—OID

            Lisa Ludemann/Jace Kremer/Seth Taylor/Miranda Raymond—OID

 

Team:  17th of 32

 

“Norfolk was a tough tournament for us," Ainsworth coach Mary Rau said. "We were missing a few team members due to illness and other commitments, and the competition was as tough as we’ve seen so far this year.  It’s a shot to the ego, but we pick up good ideas when we compete in a different area.”

The speech team is wrapping up the 2014 season with the Southwest Conference, district and state competitions remaining. The team will travel to Ogallala on Tuesday, March 11, for the Southwest Conference Meet, and will compete at Gering on Thursday, March 20, for districts.

 The team will host a speech presentation night on Tuesday, March 18, in the Learning Center.  The district team will showcase the presentations that will vie for a spot at the state tournament at Kearney on March 27.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

(Posted 7 a.m. March 10)

March 2

* Performed a traffic stop where a subject was arrested & booked into the Brown County Jail, for driving under the influence. The subject was later released on bond.

* Assisted an individual at a business in Ainsworth.

* Cited a juvenile for careless driving in Ainsworth.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept issued burn permits to individuals West of Long Pine, North of the Pineview Theater, Northwest of Long Pine, and North on Camp Witness Rd.

* The Raven Fire Dept issued a burn permit to individuals Southeast of Ainsworth.

* The Johnstown Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to individuals North of Johnstown.

 

March 3

* Received a report of possible child neglect in Ainsworth. A welfare check was provided.

* Arrested a subject for driving under suspension on Main St. in Long Pine. The subject was booked into the Brown County Jail and was released on bond.

* Arrested a subject for driving under suspension and booked them into the Brown County Jail. The subject was released on bond.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued burn permits for the following areas: Southeast of Ainsworth, Northwest of Ainsworth, North & East of Ainsworth, South of Ainsworth, and East & North of Ainsworth.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept responded to a report of a garage fire located East & North of Ainsworth.

 

March 4

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued burn permits to the following areas: East of Ainsworth, West of Long Pine, North on Camp Witness Rd, East & North of Ainsworth, & North of Ainsworth.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept issued burn permits for the following areas: West & North of Long Pine and North of the Pineview Theater.

* The Raven Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual Southeast of Ainsworth.

* The Johnstown Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual North of Johnstown.

 

March 5

* Responded to a possible domestic disturbance on 3rd St Ainsworth.

* Assisted an individual with information on a civil matter in Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of an injured cat on Ulrich St Ainsworth.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued burn permits for the following areas: East of Ainsworth, Southeast of Ainsworth, North, East, & South of Ainsworth, & Northwest of Ainsworth.

* The Johnstown Fire Dept. issued a burn permit for the following area: West & North of Johnstown.

 

March 6

* Responded to a report of a possible vicious dog running at large on 5th St Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a subject driving under suspension in Ainsworth. The subject was located, cited, & released.

* Responded to a report of a reckless driver on Hwy 20 East of Ainsworth.

* Provided traffic control for 160 head of cattle traveling west bound through the Long Pine hills. The NE State Patrol also assisted with this traffic control.

* Investigated a report of a juvenile assault in Ainsworth.

* Assisted an individual with information on an outstanding warrant.

* Responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle on a county roadway West of Ainsworth.

* Provided a welfare check on a juvenile in rural Brown County.

* Responded to a report of juveniles racing up & down Pine St Ainsworth.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept issued burn permits for the following area: West of  Long Pine.

* The Raven, Calamus, & Ainsworth Fire Depts. responded to a report of hay equipment on fire South of Ainsworth.

 

March 7

* Provided traffic control for 300 head of cattle crossing Hwy 20 West of Ainsworth.

* Assisted with an attempt to locate a juvenile in the Ainsworth area.

* Investigated a report of dog bite on North Oak St Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of suspicious activity on North Osborne St Ainsworth.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept issued a burn permit to individuals West of Long Pine.

 

March 8

* Responded to a report of a dog running at large on West 2nd St Ainsworth.

* Investigated a report of an underage driver in Long Pine.

* Investigated a report of terroristic threats in Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of suspicious juvenile activity on Osborne St Ainsworth.

* Provided a welfare check on an individual in Ainsworth. The Brown County Ambulance Service also responded and transported an individual to the Brown County Hospital.

* Assisted individuals with a report of possible harassment involving juveniles, in the Ainsworth area.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept issued a burn permit for the following area: West of Long Pine.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit for the following area: East & North of Ainsworth.

* The Johnstown Fire Dept. issued burn permits for the following areas: Ainsworth Golf Course & East of Johnstown.

 

Weekly Summary

4 – Citations Issued

0 - Crime Stopper call received.

3 - Fix-it tickets were issued.

1 - Handgun permits were applied for.

27 - Incidents Reports

5 - 911 emergency calls received.

8 - Paper Service was served. (includes: 1 Subpoena, 1 Protection /Abuse Order, 1 – 30 Day Notice, 5 Summons)

182 - Phone calls were received.

7 - Titles were inspected.

8 - Warnings were issued.  (These include written and verbal.)

* Davis discusses property taxes, state aid, surplus dollars during Friday visit

(Posted noon March 7)

Nebraska 43rd District State Sen. Al Davis discussed the bills being debated in the Nebraska Legislature as the Unicameral moves past the halfway point in the short session.
Davis discussed how to best utilize surplus dollars, property tax relief bills, the loss of state education aid for rural schools, Medicaid expansion and wind energy during an extended conversation Friday with KBRB's Graig Kinzie.
To hear the report with Davis, click on the audio links below.

audio clips/State Sen Al Davis 3-7 cut 1.mp3

audio clips/State Sen Al Davis 3-7 cut 2.mp3

audio clips/State Sen Al Davis 3-7 cut 3.mp3

audio clips/State Sen Al Davis 3-7 cut 4.mp3

* Firefighters respond to bale processor fire Thursday

(Posted 8:15 a.m. March 7)

The Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department was briefly called out Thursday evening to a report of a bale processor on fire southwest of Ainsworth.
According to Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala, at 6:10 p.m. Thursday, firefighters received a report of a fire on the Elsmere Road 4 miles west of the Highway 7 junction.
Fiala said a bale processor owned by Brett Fernau caught fire after twine wrapped around the rotor caught fire. Fiala said the Ainsworth, Calamus and Raven volunteer fire departments responded, but the equipment operator was able to get the fire extinguished before they arrived and the departments turned around before reaching the scene.
He said the bale processor did not sustain any damage.

* Brown County sees strong December in taxable sales, motor vehicle sales

(Posted 6 p.m. March 5)

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of December 2013 and December 2012 Net Taxable Sales
for Nebraska Counties and Selected Cities


County
or City

2013
Net Taxable
Sales

2012
Net Taxable
Sales

Percent
Change

2013
Sales Tax
5.5%

2012
Sales Tax
5.5%

Blaine

114,263

87,605

30.4

6,284.50

4,818.31

Boyd

1,208,713

1,110,404

8.9

66,479.44

61,072.49

Brown

4,284,369

3,962,861

8.1

235,640.61

217,957.82

Ainsworth

4,036,041

3,654,628

10.4

221,982.50

201,004.92

Cherry

6,294,467

5,825,820

8

344,407.85

320,420.73

Valentine

5,634,037

5,341,603

5.5

308,083.99

293,788.58

Holt

13,272,652

13,033,978

1.8

729,997.01

716,869.84

Atkinson

2,888,100

2,581,463

11.9

158,845.82

141,980.69

O'Neill

8,505,205

8,969,225

(5.2)

467,786.82

493,307.77

Keya Paha

435,927

527,095

(17.3)

23,976.07

28,990.40

Rock

901,484

819,376

10

49,581.76

45,065.85

State Total

2,867,300,395

2,622,171,342

9.3

157,787,382.90

146,020,724.90

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of December 2013 and December 2012
Motor Vehicle Sales Tax Collections by County


County
or City

2013
Net Taxable
Sales

2012
Net Taxable
Sales

Percent
Change

2013
Sales Tax
5.5%

2012
Sales Tax
5.5%

Blaine

139,867

110,783

26.3

7,623.01

6,028.28

Boyd

346,649

677,782

(48.9)

19,017.91

37,278.07

Brown

793,192

710,639

11.6

43,801.46

39,287.56

Cherry

1,120,434

1,331,781

(15.9)

61,953.68

73,563.84

Holt

2,616,436

2,921,796

(10.5)

144,493.85

161,389.57

Keya Paha

160,365

163,166

(1.7)

8,792.27

8,929.56

Rock

440,039

424,664

3.6

24,249.40

23,424.05

State Total

301,298,987

265,628,132

13.4

16,695,320.07

14,715,148.22

* Deadline passes for May Primary Election; candidate field set

(Posted 3:30 p.m. March 4)

Now that the deadline for non-incumbent candidates to file for office in races appearing on the May Primary Election ballot has passed, the field for the primary races is set.

Many of the incumbent candidates have filed to retain their respective positions in an election year that will see the terms of county clerks, treasurers, attorneys, sheriffs and assessors expiring.

In Brown County, Republican Janet Huggins, the incumbent clerk, is facing a primary challenge from Travis Hobbs, Amber Happold and Denise Dougherty.

Several Republican incumbents have filed to retain their offices and will not face a challenge. Sheriff Bruce Papstein, Treasurer Deb Vonheeder, Attorney David Streich and Assessor Charleen Fox will run unopposed. Incumbent Republican commissioners Les Waits and Reagan Wiebelhaus have filed to maintain their respective positions. Joe Nelson and Will Williams have also filed as Republican candidates for the Brown County Board of Commissioners.

The three current members of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education whose seats are expiring – Jim Arens, Scott Erthum and Dan Dailey – have filed for re-election. Erin Rathe, Jake Adkisson and Cody Stutzman have also filed for the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education. Since six or fewer candidates filed, the school board race will not appear on the May Primary ballot.

Two incumbents on the Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District Board of Directors – Marty Graff in Subdistrict 6 and Dean Jochem At Large – have filed for re-election.

The Ainsworth City Council seats currently held by Chuck Osborn and Jake Adkisson are expiring. Osborne filed for re-election, but Adkisson chose to run for the Board of Education as opposed to the City Council. Brian Williams did beat the non-incumbent deadline and will run for an Ainsworth City Council seat. Mayor Russ Moody’s four-year term also expires this year, and Moody did not seek re-election for another term. Three candidates have filed to be the next Ainsworth mayor. Those candidates are Myrna Jakob, Larry Rice and Cynthia Castor.

The Long Pine City Council seats belonging to Fred Meyer and Carroll Dodds are up for election, as is the Long Pine mayoral position currently held by Henry Thorne. Dodds and Meyer both filed for re-election, and David Cheatum also filed for a council position.

Beverly Newport, Dian Dodds and Steven Swett have filed to become mayor of Long Pine, while Thorne did not file for another term.
Spencer Schenk has filed for a seat on the Ainsworth Airport Authority. Dave Spann’s seat on the airport authority is expiring, and Spann did not seek re-election.

In Rock County, two Republican candidates have filed to replace retiring Treasurer Linda May. Mona Davis and Janice Devall are vying for that open position.

The other incumbents have all filed for office with the exception of the retiring May. Clerk Joyce Stahl, Attorney Avery Guernsey, Assessor Monica Turpin and Commissioners Jim Stout and Stan Larson on the Republican side, and Sheriff James Anderson on the Democratic ticket, have each filed for re-election. Dustin Craven filed as a Republican candidate for commissioner, and will face Larson and Stout for two seats on that board.

Four candidates have filed for seats on the Rock County Public School Board of Education. Incumbent Tonya Larson has filed, as have newcomers Kayti Gordon, Becky LeZotte and Larry Ebert II. Three seats are expiring, those held by Larson, Doug Stanton and Les Hall. Since fewer than seven candidates filed for the three positions, the school board race will not appear on the Primary Election Ballot.

The Bassett City Council seats held by Rick Foxworthy and Barry Frerichs are expiring. Foxworthy filed for re-election, and Cheryl Arrowsmith filed for a City Council seat. Foxworthy has also filed to retain his seat on the Rock County Airport Authority.

James Keller has filed for the District 1 seat on the Upper Elkhorn Natural Resources District Board of Directors.

In Keya Paha County, all the Republican incumbents whose terms are expiring have re-filed. Clerk Suzy Wentworth, Treasurer Sandra McCoy, Sheriff Jeff Kirsch, and Commissioners Bruce Ritterbush from the East District and Corey Nilson from the Center District are attempting to retain their positions. David Lewis has filed to run against Nilson in the Center District Commissioner race in the Republican Primary, and Bryan Kienke has filed to run against Ritterbush in the East District Commissioner Republican Primary.

Taking a look at regional and state races, Nebraska 40th District State Sen. Tyson Larson of O’Neill is facing a challenge in his bid for a second four-year term in the Legislature. Keith Kube of Crofton and Bruce Boettcher of Bassett have filed to run for the 40th District seat. The field in the non-partisan race will be narrowed from three candidates down to two during the May Primary, with the top two vote-getters facing off in the November General Election.

With U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns seeking not to run for re-election, and with Gov. Dave Heineman leaving office due to term limits, multiple candidates on both sides of the aisle are running for those two prestigious seats.

There are five Republicans and two Democrats running for U.S. Senate. The Republican candidates include Clifton Johnson of Fort Calhoun, Shane Osborn of Waterloo, Sid Dinsdale of Elkhorn, Ben Sasse of Fremont, and Bart McLeay of Omaha.

On the Democratic side, Larry Marvin of Fremont and Dave Domina of Omaha are running for the six-year U.S. Senate seat.

There are six Republicans and one Democrat who have filed to be Nebraska’s next governor.

On the Republican side, the field includes current state senators Tom Carlson of Holdrege and Beau McCoy of Omaha, current Attorney Gen. Jon Bruning of Lincoln, current Auditor Mike Foley of Lincoln, Pete Ricketts of Omaha, and Bryan Slone of Omaha. The winner of that loaded Republican Primary will face the lone Democratic candidate for governor, former University of Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook of Lyons, as well as Mark Elworth Jr. of Omaha from the Libertarian Party.
Sitting 3rd District Rep. Adrian Smith faces a challenge in the Republican Primary from former Army officer Tom Brewer of Gordon. The winner of that race will be challenged by Democrat Mark Sullivan of Doniphan in the General Election.

Several candidates have filed to replace Bruning as Nebraska’s attorney general.

On the Republican ticket, attorney general candidates include Doug Peterson of Lincoln, Pete Pirsch of Omaha, Brian Buescher of Omaha and Mike Hilgers of Lincoln. There are two Democrats vying for the open attorney general seat. They are Janet Stewart of Fremont and Allan Eurek of Lincoln.

Three candidates – two Republicans and one Democrat – have filed to replace Foley as the State Auditor of Public Accounts. Republicans Charlie Janssen of Fremont and Larry Anderson of Lincoln will square off in May, with the winner facing Democrat Amanda McGill of Lincoln in the General Election.

Current State Treasurer Don Stenberg of Gretna faces a challenge in the Republican Primary from Christopher Costello of Omaha in his bid for re-election. Democrat Michael O’Hara of Omaha and Libertarian Michael Knebel of Bellevue have also filed for state treasurer.
John Gale is running unopposed for another term as Nebraska’s Secretary of State.

In other races of note, incumbent Larry Poessnecker of Atkinson is running unopposed for another term on the Northeast Community College Board of Governors.

Thomas Higgins of Newport and Roger Miller of Springview are running for the Subdistrict 1 seat on the Lower Niobrara Natural Resources District Board of Directors.

Dwain Marcellus of Atkinson in Subdistrict 7 and Larry Baumeister of Stuart in Subdistrict 8 are running unopposed for the Lower Niobrara NRD Board.

Nebraska’s Primary Election is scheduled for Tuesday, May 13, with the General Election slated for Tuesday, Nov. 4.

* Monday controlled burn escapes, damages garage northeast of Ainsworth

(Posted 9 a.m. March 4)

A controlled burn Monday evening jumped out of its boundaries and started a garage on fire northeast of Ainsworth, prompting the response of the Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department.
According to Fire Captain Jeff Keezer, firefighters were called at approximately 5:45 p.m. Monday to a report of a garage on fire on property owned by Dewey Jefferis northeast of Ainsworth.
Keezer said a controlled burn on the property got out of hand and ignited the garage. Firefighters were able to stop the fire before it burned through the garage and damaged the contents. Keezer said the damage was limited to the garage building itself.
He said firefighters returned to the fire hall by 7 p.m. Monday.

* Commissioners approve addition to Johnstown Fire Hall on county property

(Posted 2 p.m. March 3)

The Johnstown Volunteer Fire Department received permission to move forward with an addition to the fire hall, as the Brown County Commissioners Tuesday approved allowing the department to add to its building, which sits on county property.

Representing the Johnstown department, Jeremiah Dailey said the fire department already has one truck sitting outside the fire hall due to lack of space.

“Our bunker gear is strung down a wall and is tough to get to,” Dailey said. “We don’t have much room during our meetings.”

Dailey said, since the addition would be located on county-owned property, the department wanted to make sure the county would be ok with the addition before moving forward with the project.

Firefighter Eric Goochey said the department was looking at adding 16 feet to the south end of the fire hall.

“We think we can get all or most of the labor donated,” Goochey said. “That will be the deciding factor on if we have enough money to get this done.”

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus said he didn’t foresee any problems with allowing the addition.

“It is definitely better to keep your machinery in and out of the weather,” Wiebelhaus said.

Commissioner Buddy Small said he believed the expanded room would be a positive step for the Johnstown department, and he asked the group when it planned to start the project.

Goochey said the department planned to get the concrete pad for the addition poured this spring, and then the department, using volunteer labor, would construct the addition as time allowed.

The commissioners unanimously approved allowing the addition to be built on the county-owned property.

In other business during Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners approved the purchase of a $1,120 Pull Tarp for one of the county’s belly dump trailers.

Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin said the tarps would keep the county from having any liability from debris that might otherwise fly out of the county’s three belly dump trailers and strike a vehicle windshield.

Wiebelhaus recommended purchasing one tarp to start to see how well it worked.

“If it works well, then we can purchase two more for the other two trucks,” Wiebelhaus said.

Tom Krings with Applied Connective and Brian Delimont with Three River Communications presented the board with information on security systems the companies had available to install in the courthouse.

Both systems would have wireless devices in each courthouse office that would send an alarm tone to the Brown County Sheriff’s Department should a courthouse employee feel threatened.

Small said the county didn’t expect to have any problems in the courthouse, but the security system would be a safety insurance policy for the courthouse offices.

After hearing from the representatives, the board indicated it would review the plans and make a decision during its March 18 meeting.

The commissioners approved three new members to the county’s Safety Committee. Weed Superintendent Doug Mulligan, Treasurer Deb Vonheeder and Wiebelhaus replace Small, Extension Educator Denny Bauer and Assessor Charleen Fox on the committee. Sheriff Bruce Papstein, Chief Deputy Darrin Kremer and Turpin remain on the committee, which meets to evaluate potential safety issues for county employees, buildings and equipment.

The commissioners discussed a contract renewal for Turpin as the county’s highway superintendent. County Attorney David Streich recommended a few minor changes to the contract, and said he would have it ready for approval during the board’s March 18 meeting.

The board also discussed allowing Turpin the authority to assign all roads department employees to duties he deems necessary without having to seek approval from the commissioners.

The commissioners also approved sending Turpin and either Wiebelhaus or Small to the Nebraska Intergovernmental Risk Management Agency safety seminar April 9 at Norfolk.

The board approved renewing its long term disability policy with Madison National Life Insurance.

Prior to adjourning, the board discussed creating a shared leave policy, which would allow employees to donate a portion of their sick leave to a shared leave bank. An employee who runs into a longer-term illness could then apply for additional leave available through the bank.

Wiebelhaus said the state of Nebraska has a similar policy, and the board could craft its policy similar to that offered by the state.

Streich said he would research options for a shared sick leave bank and report back to the board during its next meeting.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. March 18.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

(Posted 6:45 a.m. March 3)

Feb. 23

* Received a report of suspicious activity in rural Brown County.

* Responded to a report of a dog running at large on South Maple St Ainsworth. The dog was transported to the Ainsworth Veterinary Clinic, where its owner claimed it.

* Provided traffic control for 300 head of cattle crossing Hwy 20 East of Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a loud vehicle running stop signs and tearing around Long Pine.

* The Brown County Ambulance Service transported an individual from the Conference Center to the Brown County Hospital.

* The Ainsworth Firemen responded to a report of a vehicle on fire East of Ainsworth.

 

Feb. 24 

* Investigated a one-vehicle accident without injury on Main St Ainsworth.

* The Brown County Ambulance Service transported an individual from a residence on East 4th St to the Brown County Hospital.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual North & West of Ainsworth.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual South & East of Ainsworth.

* The Johnstown Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual at the Ainsworth Golf Course.

 

Feb. 25

* Provided a welfare check on an Ainsworth resident.

* Responded to a report of a dog running at large in the Big John’s & Dollar General parking lot. The dog was transported to the Ainsworth Veterinary Clinic, where its owner claimed it.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual West of Ainsworth.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual North and West of Ainsworth.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual North of the old Drive In Theater. 

 

Feb. 26

* Assisted a business with a report of suspicious activity in Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of an underage driver, driving around the Ainsworth Schools.

* Responded to a report of a vicious dog running at large in Long Pine.

* Provided a welfare check on residents of rural Brown County.

* Responded to a report of a vehicle speeding up and down Walnut St. in Ainsworth.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual for North of Ainsworth.

 

Feb. 27

* Provided traffic control for 250 head of cattle crossing Hwy 20 East of Ainsworth.

* Assisted an individual with a report of possible animal neglect in Ainsworth.

* Provided traffic control for crossing Hwy 20 West of Ainsworth. The NE State Patrol assisted with this request.

* Assisted an individual with a report of damage to a residence on North Osborne St Ainsworth.

* The Brwn County Ambulance Service transported an individual from a residence in Long Pine to the Brown County Hospital.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual North of Long Pine.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual West of Long Pine.

 

 

Feb. 28

* Assisted an individual with a report of threats being made in Long Pine.

* Assisted an individual with a custody issue in Long Pine.

* Received a dog complaint in Long Pine. A verbal warning was issued.

* Responded to a report of a dog running at large at Big John’s parking area.

* Provided traffic control for 500 head of cattle crossing hwy 20 East of Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a juvenile disturbance on Main St. Long Pine.

* Arrested a subject and booked them into the Brown County Jail on charges of “Felon in Possession of a firearm”. The subject was released on bond.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual North & East of Long Pine.

 

March 1 

* Responded to a report of a vehicle horn honking continuously on 1st St Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a vehicle tearing around Long Pine and sliding around corners.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued a burn permit to an individual North & West of Ainsworth.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual West of Long Pine.

* The Johnstown Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual North of Wood Lake.

* The Wood Lake Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual on Main St Wood Lake.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual Southwest of Ainsworth.

* The Raven Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual South of Ainsworth.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual North of Long Pine.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual East & South of Ainsworth.

 

Weekly Summary

0 – Citations Issued

3 - Crime Stopper call received.

1 - Fix-it tickets were issued.

2 - Handgun permits were applied for.

24 - Incidents Reports

6 - 911 emergency calls received.

8 - Paper Service was served. (includes: 1 Search Warrant, 1 Writ of Assist, 6 Summons)

178 - Phone calls were received.

1 - Titles were inspected.

9 - Warnings were issued.  (These include written and verbal.)

* February temperatures, moisture below average

(Posted 10:30 a.m. March 2)

Ainsworth Weather Observer Gerry Osborne reported both temperatures and moisture during February were below historical averages.
To hear the complete February weather summary, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Gerry Osborne February Weather.mp3

* City Council approves re-use loan application to local company for housing project

(Posted 2:15 p.m. Feb. 28)

Agreeing with a recommendation from its loan committee, the Ainsworth City Council during a special meeting Friday approved a $10,000 loan application for Ainsworth Builders LLC from the CDBG re-use fund.

Councilwoman Deb Hurless said the $10,000 loan to the company is for working capital as the group prepares to begin the construction of an eight to 10-unit rental housing complex.

“Some individuals in Ainsworth have gotten together and formed an LLC to construct a housing complex in cooperation with Aschoff Construction,” Hurless said.

Hurless said the company is putting up $40,000 as loan collateral. She said the construction of the complex would cost approximately $1 million, and the company would be seeking additional investors for the project.

“There is no risk to the city with the collateral they are putting up,” Hurless said. “Aschoff Construction has built these types of complexes in several communities. They would also be an investor in this project.”

Councilman Kent Taylor asked if there would be income or age restrictions for the tenants like there would have been had the Excel Development housing project moved forward.

Hurless said with the money coming from private investment, there would be no restrictions on who could rent one of the units.

Taylor said he thought it was fantastic that a local group had stepped forward to undertake a project like this.

Councilman Jake Adkisson said the $10,000 loan did not necessarily mean the project would move forward right away.

“The group is still going to have to raise the rest of the funding they need,” Adkisson said.

Hurless said Aschoff Construction planned to get started on the project this spring. She said Ainsworth Builders LLC did not want to exclude anyone who might be interested in investing in the project, so they are making their plans known now.

“They already have four or five people interested in moving in,” Hurless said.

The council unanimously approved the loan application, setting repayment of the $10,000 over a five-year period with an interest rate of the current T bill rate plus 2 percent.

In addition to the benefit of aiding another housing project in the city, approving the loan kept the city from reaching a two-year window of inactivity with the CDBG reuse loan program that could have resulted in the entire balance of loan funds being returned to the state.

In another item during Friday’s special meeting, the council discussed moving forward with the creation of a paving district for South Street between Main and Ulrich streets.

City Administrator Kristi Thornburg said only the northern half of South Street would be included in the paving district, as the south side of the street is outside city limits. Instead of including those residents in the paving district, the Brown County Commissioners agreed to perform the milling work using county equipment and pay for half of the cost of armor coating the millings once the street is complete.

Taylor and Councilman Chuck Osborn both indicated residents on South Street had been urging them to move forward with paving the currently gravel street.

Adkisson said, “They have asked me too, but they also want to know how much it is going to cost.”

Though still preliminary, Thornburg said the assessment might fall between $8 and $9 per foot of street frontage.

“The drainage and bridge work would be the city’s responsibility,” the city administrator said.

During the most recent paving district projects in the city, property owners were assessed between $75 and $100 per frontage foot for new concrete streets on portions of Osborne, Woodward, Zero and Oak streets.

The South Street project would move the street from gravel to milled and armor coated asphalt, which is much less expensive than concrete but has a much shorter lifespan.

Adkisson said the council should be able to look at the estimated cost of the millings and the armor coating and have a good idea of the cost per frontage foot by the council’s regular March meeting.

The council’s March agenda will include an action item on creating the paving district. If the district is created, property owners along the north side of South Street would then have the opportunity to opt out of the district. If more than half of the estimated 4,870 feet of street frontage property is opted out of the district, the paving project would fail.

* Fifth annual fire training scheduled at the Niobrara Valley Preserve in March

(Posted 11 a.m. Feb. 28)

Fire workers from as far away as Spain will call The Nature Conservancy’s Niobrara Valley Preserve home from March 8 through March 22 as they learn and burn at the fifth annual fire training exchange. Area residents can expect to see smoke in the Niobrara River valley during the two-week training.

“We choose the safest time of year to hold this training,” Jeremy Bailey, associate director for Fire Training for The Nature Conservancy, said. “We anchor into previously burned areas, spend months working on burn plans, and relentlessly monitor weather reports.  Local fire departments are involved in the permitting process.”

The exchange was designed to meet the training needs of fire workers – those who serve state and federal conservation agencies and fire departments, as well as private sector nonprofits, businesses, and landowners.  It is also a way to bring much-needed fire to places that need it as a way to reduce the fuel load in the river valley.

“We know this landscape is a fire-adapted one, and we’ve seen the benefits of regular controlled burns for wildlife and for grazing on the Preserve,” Rich Walters, program director at the Niobrara Valley Preserve, said. “We’ve also seen what happens when too much fuel builds up. Recent wildfires are a stark reminder of that. Having the personnel to get fire on the ground safely is essential. It’s a great two-way street of teaching and learning.”

Weather conditions permitting, participants hope to burn 7,100 acres at the Niobrara Valley Preserve and an additional 2,200 acres on private lands. 

The training is expected to draw 110 fire workers from Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah and Washington.  One participant is coming all the way from Spain. 

“The Niobrara Valley Preserve has been an important base from which exchange programs have grown,” Bailey said. “Folks who have met and trained in Nebraska have duplicated the event in South Africa and Spain.”

Large numbers of workers means a high level of vigilance in planning. 

Multiple private and public partners assemble to contribute resources for the exchange. They include: the Fire Learning Network, the Nebraska Forest Service, the Nebraska Environmental Trust, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Firestorm, the Niobrara Council, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Pheasants Forever and the Great Plains Fire Science Exchange will join the roster for a second exchange to be held in the Loup River area later in the month.  Personnel will include 12 firefighters from Spain, a dozen municipal firefighters and emergency managers, including contract, federal and state fire organizations.

* Niobrara Council approves Nature Conservancy cedar removal projects

(Posted 7 a.m. Feb. 28)

During the February meeting of the Niobrara Council, the council approved a pair of cedar tree reduction projects submitted by The Nature Conservancy.

With the Conservancy falling inside the National Scenic River Corridor, any tree reduction activities must be approved by the Niobrara Council. The council determined the Conservancy’s cedar tree removal projects in both Brown and Cherry counties were consistent with the desired future conditions for the Niobrara National Scenic River.
The council also approved a prescribed burn project submitted by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for Smith Falls State Park.

The council again discussed billing Brown County for the costs of having an appraisal done on a parcel for a perpetual conservation easement. After initially approving the project, the Brown County Commissioners later withdrew their support after the county updated its zoning regulations.
In January, the council approved seeking reimbursement from Brown County for the cost of the appraisal. Council members indicated, with a limited budget, the council needed to be accountable for all public dollars spent. The council directed Executive Director Kallie Kieborz to prepare a letter to send to Brown County requesting reimbursement of the cost of the appraisal.

The council also discussed its insurance coverage. Kieborz said the council was currently paying insurance quarterly, hoping to find a more affordable option.
She said the council’s insurance premiums have taken a drastic increase, and she was working with the Nebraska Intergovernmental Risk Management Agency about the possibility of providing membership and insurance coverage for the Niobrara Council.

The council directed Kieborz to travel to Lincoln for a NIRMA meeting if the organization requests a Niobrara Council representative be in attendance.

The Niobara Council’s next meeting is scheduled for March 20 in the Peppermill at Valentine.

* Vilsack encourages enrollment in health care plan, discusses Farm Bill

(Posted 4:30 p.m. Feb. 25)

Former Iowa Gov. and current U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visited with KBRB's Graig Kinzie Tuesday, encouraging people to enroll in a health insurance plan as part of the Affordable Care Act. Vilsack discussed the benefits of enrollment and the work done to improve the signup process.
The Secretary of Agriculture also talked about provisions included in the 2014 Farm Bill.
To hear the report with Vilsack, click on the audio links below.

audio clips/Tom Vilsack 2-25 health care 1.mp3

audio clips/Tom Vilsack 2-25 health care 2.mp3

audio clips/Tom Vilsack 2-25 Farm Bill.mp3

* Rock County FFA students debate issue of antibiotics in agriculture

(Posted 2:30 p.m. Feb. 25)

As part of their Ag Issues Team, members of the Rock County FFA chapter presented both the positive and negative cases for using antibiotics in animal agriculture. As part of their qualification for the state contest, the Ag Issues Team is required to hold forums in their area debating both sides of an agricultural issue.
To hear the complete report from the students, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Rock County FFA Ag Issues Team.mp3

* Brown County Hospital hiring an occupational therapist

(Posted 3:45 p.m. Feb. 24)

During a recent meeting of the Brown County Hospital Board of Trustees, Hospital Administrator Shannon Sorensen reported the hospital has hired an occupational therapist, who will begin working at the facility this summer.

Sorensen reported Dr. Cole will provide general surgery coverage for the Brown County Hospital during a three to four week period while Dr. Tobin is away.

She said the hospital continued to recruit a permanent chief financial officer. Several phone interviews have been completed, and Sorensen said she anticipated conducting an onsite interview soon.

The hospital administrator told the board an Energy Efficiency Inspection Report conducted by the Nebraska Public Power District showed the hospital facility being more energy efficient than 18 other similarly sized hospitals.

In action items, the board approved providing a letter of support for the hospital to gain certification into the Level IV Trauma Program.

The board also approved the resignation of medical staff privileges for Dr. Michael Nguyen from the hospital’s consulting staff. The hospital’s medical staff recommended the action during its February meeting.

Sorensen provided a quality report that included the hospital’s quarterly core measurements. She shared with the board the new patient safety campaign “Bandit” to ensure scanning each patient’s wrists band for correct patient identification with the proper care.

Sorensen said the hospital’s migration to the Centriq program was underway, and consultants from Healthland would be at the hospital soon to continue the implementation of the program. She said the facility is on target and meeting all project goals, with the plan to be live with the program in June.

Sorensen said Barb Lamb is retiring from her position on the hospital’s Policy Review Committee. Sorensen thanked Lamb for her many years of volunteer service to the hospital.

Prior to adjourning, the trustees held an executive session to discuss continued recruitment of a physician. No action was taken following the executive session.

The next meeting of the Brown County Hospital Board of Trustees is scheduled for March 17.

* Bassett man to serve more than 30 years on child sexual assault convictions

(Posted 10:45 a.m. Feb. 20)

A 45-year-old Bassett man was sentenced in Rock County District Court Tuesday to more than 30 years in prison for sexually assaulting a child.

Lavon E. Lewis was sentenced to 15 years in prison on each of two convictions of first degree sexual assault of a child, both Class 1B felonies. Those sentences will be served consecutively, meaning Lewis will have to complete the first sentence before beginning the second 15-year term in prison.

Lewis was also convicted on two counts of felony incest, and was ordered to serve an additional four years in prison on each count by District Judge Mark Kozisek. Those sentences will also be served consecutively to the two sexual assault sentences.

Had the sentences been ordered to be served concurrently, Lewis would have been allowed to serve one 15-year term for all four counts. Being ordered to serve the sentences consecutively, Lewis will serve 38 years in prison, minus any time he is given for good behavior. He was given credit for 46 days served.

Should he ever be released from prison, Lewis would have to register as a sex offender.

Sandra Allen with the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office handled Lewis’ prosecution.

* Commissioners receive permit to stabilize road bank at Sand Draw box culvert

(Posted 11 a.m. Feb. 18)

During a brief meeting Tuesday, Brown County Commissioner Buddy Small reported the county has received its long-awaited permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to place concrete rip rap on the east side of Meadville Avenue at the Sand Draw Creek box culvert in an effort to slow erosion of the bank.

A festering problem for the county, Meadville Avenue at the box culvert had previously been reduced to one lane of traffic due to the Sand Draw Creek eroding the road bed and creating a void under the east side.

Norfolk Contracting previously filled the void with concrete, allowing the road to be reopened to two lanes of traffic.

The second phase of the project involves placing 2-by-2-by 3 concrete blocks to stabilize the east bank of the roadway. However, placing the concrete forms required a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

After applying for the permit in October, the commissioners received word this week that the permit had finally been approved.

However, Small informed the board Norfolk Contracting was currently beginning a project in Kansas, so the timeline for returning to Brown County to complete the second phase of the project was uncertain.

In another roads-related item, Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin told the commissioners Madison’s Great Western had locked in the county’s price for diesel fuel at $3.36 per gallon, excluding taxes.

Turpin said the county contracted with Madison’s Great Western for 10,000 gallons of highway diesel fuel and 18,000 gallons of off-road diesel.

The board indicated it would likely not enter a contract for unleaded fuel, and would instead have accounts set up at local service stations for the sheriff’s department and other county vehicles to utilize.

The only other items on Tuesday’s agenda were related to the courthouse building. Small suggested the board have a professional inspect the courthouse roof to see whether it would soon be in need of replacement.

“The roof has been on here a long time,” Small said. “If we wait until it starts to leak, we are too late.”

Small said he would make a few phone calls and see if he could get a professional roofer to inspect the roof.

“If they come back and tell us we have five years left, great,” Small said.

Commissioner Les Waits said it would be nice to know how the roof is holding up.

“If we need to start planning to put a new roof into the budget, we can,” Waits said.

In a courthouse item that has been on several recent agendas with no action taken, the board agreed to ask the two companies that submitted quotes for a security buzzer system for the courthouse offices to be present and explain the systems to the board. The item was placed on the board’s next agenda.

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus said he recently had his phone service changed and would have a new phone number for anyone in the county needing to contact him. Wiebelhaus said his new number is 402-382-3491, and would not be listed until new phone books are printed.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners was moved ahead one day, and will be held at 8:15 a.m. Monday, March 3.

* Sheriff's department seeking info on vehicle occupants suspected in thefts

(Posted 11 a.m. Feb. 17)

The Brown County Sheriff's Department is seeking information regarding two occupants of a dark green sport utility vehicle in the Ainsworth area Saturday, Feb. 15.
According to the sheriff's department, the dark green SUV, possibly with Holt County license plates, was observed in the Ainsworth area at 1 p.m. Saturday, and is believed to be involved in a string of thefts from vehicles in and around Ainsworth. The vehicle was last seen heading east at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Anyone with information on the occupants of the dark green SUV is asked to contact the Brown County Sheriff's Department at 402-387-1440 or call Crimestoppers at 866-434-4069. Information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the thefts could result in a cash reward.

* Fiala named Firefighter of the Year during Firemen's Ball Saturday

(Posted 10:30 a.m. Feb. 17)

Ann Fiala was named the 2013 Firefighter of the Year during the annual Ainsworth Volunteer Firemen's Ball Saturday in the Elks Lodge. In addition to the top award, Fiala was also recognized with a 15-year service award by the fire department.
Tom Vonheeder was named the fire department's Rookie of the Year. Daniels Manufacturing, which employs several members of the fire department, received the Business of the Year Award.
Eldon Sylvester was recognized with a 40-year service award. Sylvester has been a member of the Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department since 1974.
Scott Goodloe was given a 10-year service award, and five-year service awards were presented to Troy Brodbeck and Brandon Evans.

* Murphy asks residents to provide survey information on Pine Creek watershed

(Posted 5:30 p.m. Feb. 13)

Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District Manager Mike Murphy provided an update on the Long Pine Creek Watershed project, which is currently in the planning stages.
The watershed project is a multi-agency undertaking, with JEO Engineering handling the planning phase of the project.
Murphy asks anyone with current or historical information on streams within the watershed, such as Sand Draw Creek, Bone Creek or Pine Creek, to complete a survey, which is available in the NRCS office at Ainsworth, in the Middle Niobrara NRD office at Valentine, or online at www.mnnrd.org.
To hear the full report with Murphy and KBRB's Graig Kinzie, click on the audio links below.

audio clips/Mike Murphy MNNRD cut 1.mp3

audio clips/Mike Murphy MNNRD cut 2.mp3

* Three milling projects included on city's one-year streets plan

(Posted 7 a.m. Feb. 13)

Three projects made their way onto the city of Ainsworth’s one-year streets plan for 2014, and all three involve placing millings on formerly gravel streets.

During Wednesday’s meeting of the Ainsworth City Council, City Administrator Kristi Thornburg said the streets department plans to place millings on South Street from Main Street west to Ulrich Street. The city would likely create a paving district for property owners along South Street prior to moving forward with the milling project. South Street is currently a gravel street on the southern border of the city. The south side of South Street is outside the city limits.

Placing millings on Volunteer Drive through East City Park was also included on the one-year plan.

“If we don’t end up using the millings on South Street, then we will use them at East City Park,” Thornburg told the council.

The only other project on the city’s one-year plan is a smaller milling project on a portion of North Elm Street from Seventh Street south to where the street dead ends.

Councilman Kent Taylor asked if there was any appetite to move forward with another concrete paving project.

“Are there any CDBG funds available for paving?” Taylor asked.

Thornburg said the city has several streets identified on the six-year plan to replace asphalt with concrete, and there was the possibility of Community Development Block Grants being available to cover a portion of the cost.

Taylor said he wanted to keep moving forward with renovating the city’s streets.

“I don’t want to kick the can down the road for future councils,” Taylor said.

Concrete paving projects on the six-year plan include Maple Street from First to Fourth streets, Elm Street from First to Fourth streets, East First Street from Main to Pine streets, Oak Street from First to Second streets, and Woodward Street from First to Third streets.

With the exception of the East First Street project, the other streets identified for concrete paving were a part of the last paving project created by the city, but property owners opted those blocks out of the project.

Other projects on the six-year streets plan include pouring millings on South Street from Main Street east to Oak Street, rebuilding the Highway 20 and Meadville Avenue intersection, overlaying the asphalt on East Second Street and East Third Street between Main and Walnut streets, improving the ditch drainage from Meadville Avenue to North Pine Street, pouring millings on North Elm Street from Fourth to Sixth streets, overlaying the asphalt on Meadville Avenue from Highway 20 north to the city limits, and repaving the alleys on the east and west sides of Main Street.

The council approved the streets plan, and it will be submitted to the Nebraska Department of Roads.

In other business during Wednesday’s meeting, the council heard a presentation from Peoples Service to operate and maintain the city’s water, sewer and wastewater systems.

Thornburg said both Ainsworth and Long Pine have current openings for a utilities worker.

Representatives from Peoples Service said the company works with 40 communities in Nebraska, and has contracts with municipalities in five states.

Contracts are tailored to each community based on the scope of work needed.

The company would ask the city to sign a five-year agreement. Peoples Service would then be responsible for hiring the personnel needed to perform the duties included in the contract.

Thornburg said the city was not looking to displace any current employees, and the representatives said one of their top priorities is hiring the existing staff.

Peoples Service will work with Thornburg, Long Pine Mayor Henry Thorne, and Water Superintendent Brad Miller to come up with a scope of work and a written proposal.

The council took no action Wednesday on the item, and will wait to make a decision until seeing the contract for the scope of work and the associated costs.

Reagan Wiebelhaus and Clint Painter asked the council to allow a wrestling mat to be placed in the Conference Center’s exercise room for youth to use.

“We are trying to increase participation in wrestling by getting our youth started early,” Wiebelhaus said. “We would like to place a mat in the Conference Center for the kids to use all year.”

Painter said he purchased a wrestling mat from Ainsworth Community Schools after the school replaced its mat.

“I am happy to donate the mat,” Painter said. “We would like to see it in a place where it can stay down, because it is difficult to pick up.”

The council discussed what to do with some of the exercise equipment and chair racks currently stored in the exercise room. Painter said the working exercise equipment could stay, and be placed on top of the mats.

“We are looking for a place to bring the kids to practice wrestling all year, just like we have now for basketball players,” Painter said.

Taylor and Councilwoman Deb Hurless said they had no problem with allowing the mat to be placed in the center’s exercise room.

“You may just have to live with the chairs being in there and move them out when you want to use the room,” Taylor said.

With Councilman Jake Adkisson absent from Wednesday’s meeting, the council granted permission for Painter and Wiebelhaus to place the wrestling mat in the room.

Jim Ramey with Rose Equipment presented the council with information on three used street sweepers he had for sale. He discussed the features of each machine and recommended the council purchase a used sweeper that had been used by a municipality in the suburbs of St. Louis, Mo.

The council took no action, but encouraged Ramey to bid used sweepers when and if the council decides to bid for a sweeper instead of continuing its contract to have a company sweep the city’s streets.

The council approved upgrading its skid steer. This is the fourth year the council has been in a contract to trade in its current skid steer for a new model and pay $10 for each hour the previous machine was used.

Streets Foreman Monte Goshorn said the current skid steer had 150 hours of use, so the council could upgrade machines for $1,500.

Mayor Russ Moody said the contract has worked extremely well for the city during the past four years.

“We don’t have any maintenance or repair work, and everything is under warranty,” Moody said.

The council heard a request from Century Link to bury cable under city right of way from Ulrich Street north to West Second Street, then east to Wilson Street, north to Third Street and east.

City Attorney Rod Palmer said the council would need a legal description and a survey from Century Link before taking action.

Councilman Chuck Osborn recommended the council have Century Link put down a $1,000 performance bond to handle any damage to city infrastructure.

The council approved having Palmer contact Century Link with the city’s requirements.

In a final action item, the council approved using Payport to allow city residents to pay utility and other bills using a credit card.

The city will pay a one-time fee of $100 for a machine to process credit cards in the city office, and residents may also go online to pay their city utility bills.

The credit card holder would be charged a 2.49 percent transaction fee in addition to the cost of the transaction.

Thornburg said she contacted other cities, and all recommended the city provide that option to its residents.

Kim Buckley provided the council with an update on activities at Ainsworth Municipal Golf Course. He said the Ainsworth Golf Association planned to expand its machine shed to house maintenance equipment and rental carts the club has started to purchase.

He said the association was working with the Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department and the Ainsworth Area Chamber of Commerce to hold a Fourth of July fireworks show at the course.

Buckley said the club planned to install a three-phase sink in the clubhouse to comply with health inspection requirements.

During her report, Thornburg said city crews worked diligently to repair a water main break under Pine Street. Miller showed the council a photo of the break, which was caused by the pipe freezing due to the prolonged cold weather.

The consent agenda approved Wednesday included the appointment of Phyllis Leach to fill a term on the Ainsworth Library Board, and the reappointment of Kathy Worrell and Colleen Lentz to the LB 840 Loan Committee.

* Keya Paha County Commissioners approve road plan

(Posted 4 p.m. Feb. 11)

Keya Paha County Highway Superintendent Lloyd Smith presented the one- and six-year roads plan to the Board of Commissioners during a public hearing Tuesday.

Smith reported four projects were placed on the one-year plan for completion in 2014. Those included three grading improvement and gravel projects and one asphalt patching and armor coat project.

The roads slated for grading improvement and gravel for 2014 include 415th Avenue, 909th Road and on Norden Avenue. The three projects span a total of just more than 6 miles of repair, and carry an estimated total price tag of $85,000.

In addition to the grading and gravel work, a 3-mile stretch of patching and armor coat work is planned for Lost Creek Road. That project carries an estimated cost of just under $23,000.

Smith said he believed the roads department would be able to complete all four projects during the year, and may be able to begin tackling some of the projects on the six-year plan.

Smith told the commissioners there may be some movement in the next year on the Norden Bridge replacement project the county shares with Brown County.

“We may be receiving state funding on that project,” Smith said. “We were fortunate, the state identified both the Norden and Carnes bridges as projects for assistance that the counties couldn’t likely pay for themselves.”

The highway superintendent said, instead of the counties receiving federal funds for bridge repair and replacement, federal money instead goes to the state to fund bridge projects. The state then identifies projects to fund based on need and the age of the current bridge.

Commissioner Corey Nilson said it would be nice to get the state funding on the Carnes Bridge especially, since that bridge has a more than 500-foot span and would be extremely expensive for Keya Paha and Rock counties to jointly replace.

Smith said the state may indeed fund both projects, but the Norden Bridge replacement would have to be the first of the two undertaken.

Commissioner Mike Tuerk said receiving state funding for the projects would be welcome news.

“That would be a blessing for our taxpayers here, if we can get state assistance to get those bridges done,” Tuerk said.

A vast majority of the projects on the county’s six-year plan, excluding the two bridge replacement projects, involve road base improvements, grading and gravel work.

“Some of the projects on the plan could probably be classified as maintenance projects,” Smith said.

Following the public hearing, the commissioners approved the one- and six-year roads plan as presented. The plan is then submitted to the Nebraska Department of Roads. If a county does not submit a one- and six-year plan to the state annually, the Department of Roads can withhold highway allocation funding.

* Ainsworth Community Schools may lose remainder of state aid for 2014-15

(Posted 7 a.m. Feb. 11)

Ainsworth Community Schools may receive little to no state aid funding for the 2014-15 school year, if preliminary estimates hold true.
Superintendent Darrell Peterson told the Board of Education Monday the state aid projection models show Ainsworth receiving $21,322 in state assistance, down from the $337,784 the district received for the current school year.

“It would appear we are going to be out of equalization aid,” Peterson said. “Of the 249 school districts in the state, 153 have now lost all state aid. The models show the Lincoln and Omaha districts going up a lot.”

Peterson said Lincoln Public Schools was projected to receive an increase of $9 million in state assistance for the 2014-15 year, with Omaha schools scheduled to get an increase of $5 million.

Just six years ago, Ainsworth Community Schools was receiving close to $1.5 million in state aid. With state assistance virtually gone, the district will have to rely on property taxes for the vast majority of its budget requirements.

In other items during Monday’s meeting, the superintendent discussed a plan to encourage more students to utilize the school’s breakfast program.

He said the district received a letter from the USDA stating the school could use its lunch fund to subsidize breakfast for students qualifying for reduced-price meals.

“The price right now for a reduced-price breakfast is 30 cents,” Peterson said. “We have 70 students receiving reduced lunch prices, and only about seven or eight of those students are currently eating breakfast at school.”

He said he believed breakfast was an important meal for students, and he suggested the district waive the 30-cent charge for those students on the reduced-price lunch plan and provide them with a free breakfast.

“About 90 percent of the students who qualify for free lunches take advantage of the free breakfast,” Peterson said. “If we can get 20 more kids to eat breakfast each day, I think that would be worth it.”

The superintendent said it would cost the district $21 per day if all 70 students on the reduced-price lunch program took advantage of a free breakfast.

“We have as much money in our lunch fund as we can carry over, so we need to spend some money out of that fund,” Peterson said. “The government mandates what we have to charge for school lunches. We don’t have a choice on what we can charge.”

Board member Scott Erthum supported the idea.

“Doing this doesn’t cost us anything if the students don’t use it,” Erthum said.

Peterson said he would send a letter to parents whose students qualify for reduced-price lunches and inform them that breakfast would be provided to their student free of charge.

“We can try this out for the rest of this year and see if we want to continue it,” Peterson said.

Also as part of his report to the board, the superintendent said the district had received approximately 20 applications for the elementary administrative assistant position. He said Melissa Roeber is leaving the position for another job. He said the plan was to hire a replacement prior to the end of the current school year.

During his report, Secondary Principal Richard Gilson said he was researching working with a company to put video feeds of Ainsworth sporting events on the web.

“Some schools have been video streaming their sports activities,” Gilson said. “We are researching that. One concern is whether it would affect the gate at the games.”

Gilson said he is looking at streaming services that both cost money and services that are free.

He said he would try and have more information for the board’s March meeting.

Elementary Principal Sarah Williams’ report recognized social studies teacher Nicole Flynn, a 2013 Behring Award winner, for being featured on the National History Day web site.

An elementary principal’s coffee is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 25 in the elementary library. The coffees provide parents with a chance to visit with Williams about topics related to the elementary program.

Peterson said letters were recently sent to 33 parents of prospective kindergarten students. He said, if all those parents enroll their students in kindergarten for the 2014-15 school year, the kindergarten class would be the largest in the elementary for the upcoming year.

The current fourth-grade class, with more than 40 students, will be moving into the middle school for 2014-15.

In the only action item Monday, the board approved renewing its membership in the Nebraska Association of School Boards. The cost for the annual membership is $4,479.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 10.

* Brown County Sheriff's Department weekly, monthly and 2013 summary

Feb. 23

* Received a report of suspicious activity in rural Brown County.

* Responded to a report of a dog running at large on South Maple St Ainsworth. The dog was transported to the Ainsworth Veterinary Clinic, where its owner claimed it.

* Provided traffic control for 300 head of cattle crossing Hwy 20 East of Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a loud vehicle running stop signs and tearing around Long Pine.

* The Brown County Ambulance Service transported an individual from the Conference Center to the Brown County Hospital.

* The Ainsworth Firemen responded to a report of a vehicle on fire East of Ainsworth.

 

Feb. 24 

* Investigated a one-vehicle accident without injury on Main St Ainsworth.

* The Brown County Ambulance Service transported an individual from a residence on East 4th St to the Brown County Hospital.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual North & West of Ainsworth.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual South & East of Ainsworth.

* The Johnstown Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual at the Ainsworth Golf Course.

 

Feb. 25

* Provided a welfare check on an Ainsworth resident.

* Responded to a report of a dog running at large in the Big John’s & Dollar General parking lot. The dog was transported to the Ainsworth Veterinary Clinic, where its owner claimed it.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual West of Ainsworth.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual North and West of Ainsworth.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual North of the old Drive In Theater. 

 

Feb. 26

* Assisted a business with a report of suspicious activity in Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of an underage driver, driving around the Ainsworth Schools.

* Responded to a report of a vicious dog running at large in Long Pine.

* Provided a welfare check on residents of rural Brown County.

* Responded to a report of a vehicle speeding up and down Walnut St. in Ainsworth.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual for North of Ainsworth.

 

Feb. 27

* Provided traffic control for 250 head of cattle crossing Hwy 20 East of Ainsworth.

* Assisted an individual with a report of possible animal neglect in Ainsworth.

* Provided traffic control for crossing Hwy 20 West of Ainsworth. The NE State Patrol assisted with this request.

* Assisted an individual with a report of damage to a residence on North Osborne St Ainsworth.

* The Brwn County Ambulance Service transported an individual from a residence in Long Pine to the Brown County Hospital.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual North of Long Pine.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual West of Long Pine.

 

 

Feb. 28

* Assisted an individual with a report of threats being made in Long Pine.

* Assisted an individual with a custody issue in Long Pine.

* Received a dog complaint in Long Pine. A verbal warning was issued.

* Responded to a report of a dog running at large at Big John’s parking area.

* Provided traffic control for 500 head of cattle crossing hwy 20 East of Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a juvenile disturbance on Main St. Long Pine.

* Arrested a subject and booked them into the Brown County Jail on charges of “Felon in Possession of a firearm”. The subject was released on bond.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual North & East of Long Pine.

 

March 1 

* Responded to a report of a vehicle horn honking continuously on 1st St Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a vehicle tearing around Long Pine and sliding around corners.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued a burn permit to an individual North & West of Ainsworth.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual West of Long Pine.

* The Johnstown Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual North of Wood Lake.

* The Wood Lake Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual on Main St Wood Lake.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual Southwest of Ainsworth.

* The Raven Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual South of Ainsworth.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual North of Long Pine.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual East & South of Ainsworth.

 

Weekly Summary

0 – Citations Issued

3 - Crime Stopper call received.

1 - Fix-it tickets were issued.

2 - Handgun permits were applied for.

24 - Incidents Reports

6 - 911 emergency calls received.

8 - Paper Service was served. (includes: 1 Search Warrant, 1 Writ of Assist, 6 Summons)

178 - Phone calls were received.

1 - Titles were inspected.

9 - Warnings were issued.  (These include written and verbal.)

 

2013 Year End Totals

 

Accidents Investigated – 91                                 Fire Calls Ainsworth

 

Ainsworth Calls Responded to – 689                  Accidents with Injuries - 6

 

Animal Cases – 16                                               One (1) Fatality

 

Board Of Health – 0                                            Accidents w/o Injuries - 5

 

Brown County Arrests – 74                                Assist other Agencies - 3

 

Burglaries – 3                                                     Burn Permits Issued - 123

 

Citations – 200                                                  Canyon Fires - 1

 

County Calls Responded to – 381                    Controlled burns (bldgs) - 2

 

Court Commitments – 13                                 Fire Alarms - 2

 

Crime Stopper Calls – 25                                 Garage Fires - 2

 

Criminal Cases – 41                                        Gas Meters & Leaks - 8

 

Dog Complaints –132                                     Grass Fires - 0

 

Domestic Assault Cases – 9                            Hay Bales - 2

 

Drug Cases – 11                                              House Fires - 5

 

Fix it tickets – 103                                           KBR Solid Waste out of control - 2

 

Handgun Permits – 77                                     Motor Fires/Irrigation & Sump - 2

 

Incident Reports – 1,213                                 Reports of Smoke - 1

 

Incoming Phone Calls – 8,617                        Storm Spotting - 5

 

Information Files – 33                                     Tree Fires - 3

 

Inmates Housed in Brown County – 104       Vehicle Fires - 3

 

Inmates Housed for other agencies – 3

 

Inmates Housed for NSP arrests – 14

 

Inmates – Females - 20

 

Inmates – Males – 84

 

Johnstown Calls Responded to - 10

 

Juvenile Cases – 14

 

Long Pine Calls Responded to - 133

 

Mental Health Cases – 11

 

MIP’s - 14

 

911 Calls – 516

 

Papers Served – 288

 

Sex Crimes – 4

 

Thefts – 23

 

Titles Inspected – 257

 

Total Traffic Stops – 805

 

Traffic cases – 56

 

Vandalism Cases –18

 

Written Warnings - 502

 

Information from the 2012 Wildfires in the Niobrara River Valley

* Additional fire funding in Keya Paha County approved by wide margin

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 5)

Just like in Brown County, Keya Paha County voters Thursday overwhelmingly approved additional property tax dollars for the Keya Paha County Rural Fire District.
With just under 70 voters needed to make the town hall meeting official, more than double that amount cast a ballot Thursday in the Springview Grade School multipurpose room.
Ninety-one percent of the 155 voters supported the 8 cents in additional property tax levy for the rural fire district in response to the costs incurred in fighting the Region 24 Complex fires in July.
A total of 141 votes were counted in favor of the additional funding. Just 14 cast ballots against the measure.
By approving the additional 8-cent levy, voters allowed the Keya Paha County Rural Fire District to collect an additional $223,984 to help pay for the extensive costs incurred fighting wildfires during the summer and begin to repair or replace damaged equipment.
Had the additional levy not been approved, the fire district would have had a budget of $41,667 from the 1.5 cents in levy given by the Keya Paha County Commissioners as part of their 2012-13 fiscal year budget. County boards can award up to 4 cents in general levy to fire districts. Anything above that amount must be approved by county voters using either the town hall or special election format.
By using the town hall format Thursday, the additional 8 cents in property tax levy will be collected for one year only.
With the levy passing, residential and commercial property owners in Keya Paha County will pay an additional $80 in property taxes for every $100,000 worth of property value. Agricultural property owners will pay an additional $60 per $100,000 in value.
The 91 percent approval rating in Keya Paha County's town hall vote was even higher than the 85 percent approval rating for Brown County's town hall meeting Sept. 24.

* Nelson praises firefighters and volunteers in weekly column

(Posted 10:15 a.m. July 30)

By Sen. Ben Nelson

In large rural states like Nebraska, we depend heavily on volunteer firefighters to protect our homes and property. These are very special people who deserve our gratitude and respect because of their selfless devotion to a part time job that requires extensive training and doesn’t pay anything.

Their courage and bravery have never been more apparent than during the raging wildfires that have swept across parts of Nebraska this summer. In the face of unknown dangers, hundreds of volunteer firefighters answered the call. They left their paying jobs, their homes and their families to try to quell the dangerous fires.

Heroic Effort

Several hundred volunteers joined forces with federal firefighters and National Guard troops on the front lines of the wildfires. They came from more than 30 communities from all over Nebraska; some traveling hundreds of miles to help out.

They are our heroes. They do what they do out of a sense of duty to their communities and now their state. It is a calling that reaps them no financial rewards. They ask nothing in return for risking their lives, giving of their time and talents to fight the fires and the hours and hours of intense schooling required before they can do what they do. They cannot just get on a truck and put out a fire, especially fires as sprawling and fast moving as these.

It’s difficult to find just the right words to describe Nebraska’s volunteer firefighters, especially those who rose to this occasion. There are times when the actions of some are so heroic and extraordinary that a simple thank you doesn’t seem to be enough even though it’s about all we have to offer other than the food and water that so many generous Nebraskans donated.

Natural Disasters Require Help

When natural disasters like wildfires and drought strike we pull together as Americans and put political differences aside but we also need a little help from Washington.

That’s where the Farm Bill comes in. On a strong bipartisan vote, the Senate passed the Farm Bill that includes a number of provisions for financial relief for those suffering from drought and wildfires. Relief provisions include an authorization of direct and guaranteed loans for recovery from wildfires and drought.  Funding for the construction and rehabilitation of fire breaks, and other pre-suppression efforts. Compensation for ag producers that have incurred livestock and livestock feed losses resulting from wildfires and much more.

But, while Nebraska burns the House plays politics and refuses to bring the bill modernizing farm programs for the next five years to a vote. There’s talk of just extending the last farm bill for a year, which would be another half-hearted move by this Kick the Can Down the Road Congress and wouldn’t provide the certainty our producers need or all drought and fire assistance needed after this summer’s disaster.

I have called on the Speaker of the House to put politics aside. Think of the agriculture producers who are in need of help. Show the same courage as all the volunteers who pitched in to fight the fires. There was no political gamesmanship there. Just a common goal to do the right thing. Now, it’s Washington’s turn to do the same.

* Incident Management Team transitioning out of the area Monday

(Posted 9 a.m. July 30)

According to the daily update from the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency on Sunday, fire crews made good progress on the Wentworth and Hall Fires. Both are now at 90 percent containment. The Fairfield Creek Fire is at 100 percent containment and remains in patrol status.
Hot and dry is the forecast for tomorrow and for the immediate future. Fuels will continue to be very receptive to fire and the potential for new starts remains elevated. Residents can expect to see smoke within the interior especially in the afternoon when temperatures are at their highest and relative humidity is at its lowest.
Operations have shifted to demobilizing resources.  On Monday, the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team will transition the incident back to local authorities. The members of the incident management team thank the area communities and the amazing volunteers for their hospitality and cooperation.
No road closures are in place. However, expect heavy emergency vehicle traffic as engines and other resources are released from the fire in route to their home units. 

* Fire containment proceeding, crews heading out of the area

(Posted 8 a.m. July 30)

Many of the state and federal resources in the area to combat the Fairfield Creek, Wentworth and Hall fires began leaving the area during the weekend. While some of the federal officials remain to finish mop-up duties, many of the crews were headed out.
Thank you to everyone who has assisted in any way with the recent fires, from the firefighters on the front lines to the volunteers in the fire halls to the hundreds of people who have donated supplies or funds to assist the effort. North central Nebraska has represented its people well, as have the people who no longer reside here but who have ties to the area.
Those who donated coolers to the fire halls can pick those coolers up, and those who donated air mattresses or cots to the Red Cross for use at the community shelter can pick those items up from Ainsworth Community Schools.
Unfortunately, some people still don't realize the extreme danger of fire in the area. The Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department was called out at 7:35 a.m. Monday to a report of a grass fire in the ditch south of Ainsworth on the Cemetery Road.
According to Fire Chief Brad Fiala, someone threw a lit cigarette from the window of a vehicle, igniting the ditch just north of the Ainsworth South Cemetery.
"If the wind would have been up, that fire would have probably gotten into a grove of trees before we could have got there to put it out," Fiala said.
Though he has not yet taken that step, Fiala said he has received permission from the Nebraska Fire Marshal's Office to ban smoking in Brown County. If a smoking ban is implemented, smoking will be restricted to inside the home and in a vehicle with the windows up.
Fiala encouraged people to be aware of the extreme dry conditions in the area. If fires continue to be sparked from smoking materials, he won't hesitate to issue the ban. If a ban on smoking materials is issued, anyone smoking outside of their homes or their enclosed vehicles can be issued a fine.
Fiala said he does not want to implement a ban, so he warned people not to throw lit cigarettes from their vehicle.
An open fire ban is already in place, yet the Brown County Sheriff's Department and volunteer firefighters have had to respond to several calls of campfires being started in the Long Pine State Park area. Fines can be issued for anyone who is caught with an open fire.

* Fischer commends responders and volunteers Saturday during stops in area

(Posted 4:45 p.m. July 28)

Seeing first-hand the effects of the fires in Keya Paha, Brown and Cherry counties on Saturday, 43rd District State Sen. Deb Fischer said it was a relief to see the progress that has been made on controlling the fires, and she is amazed at the response from the people in the area.
"You see the outpouring of support from all across Nebraska, but especially from the communities here who have been affected by this horrible event," Fischer told KBRB's Graig Kinzie Saturday afternoon.
Fischer said the 43rd District has experienced some major fires during her time in the Legislature, from the Valentine area in 2006 to the Thedford fire a couple years ago and now the fires in this area and in Dawes County, which is now also in the 43rd District.
"I am trying to see how we can get some additional state and private resources to the area to help meet the huge expenses you've incurred," Fischer, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, said.
She said the stories she has heard regarding the volunteer effort and the sacrifices made by so many make her proud to be a Nebraskan.
"It's the fire departments, the ranchers, the volunteers, the wives of the firefighters," Fischer said. "Everyone comes together in a time like this."
To hear the complete report with State Sen. Deb Fischer from Saturday, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Deb Fischer Saturday report.mp3

* Region 24 manager reporting containment efforts progressing

(Posted 4:30 p.m. July 28)

Region 24 Manager Doug Fox told KBRB Radio's Graig Kinzie Saturday afternoon substantial progress has been made on the Fairfield Creek, Wentworth and Hall fires in Keya Paha County despite south winds gusting to 25 mph.
Things are starting to look really good," Fox said.
Though there will still be some areas inside the fire lines burning and causing some smoke, work on the edges of the three fires has progressed substantially.
Fox said he took an aerial tour of the site with Springview Fire Chief Scott Hallock, and he anticipated many of the state and federal resources would be departing the area by Monday.
To hear the complete report with Region 24 Manager Doug Fox, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Doug Fox Saturday Afternoon Update.mp3

* Nebraska Emergency Management Agency update on containment progress

(Posted 2:45 p.m. July 28)

On Friday, the Wentworth Fire remained in southeastern Keya Paha County remained active with medium to high rates of spread, group tree torching, crown runs and medium range spotting. Crews completed line around the largest of the three fires, the Fairfield Creek Fire, bringing it into 100 percent containment. Progress was made on both the Wentworth and Hall fire containment lines.

Friday night’s thunderstorm provided little moisture and several positive lightning strikes. There continues to be the potential for new starts, active burning and re-burning throughout the areas.

Fairfield Creek - Crews will continue to patrol and mop-up. 

Hall - Crews will hold and improve lines.

Wentworth – Crews will continue securing open line with line construction and firing out operations.  They will also continue to hold and improve line, mop-up and patrol. 

Structure protection will continue on all three fires.

No road closures are in place, however local authorities recommend using Highway 183 as an alternative to Highway 7 as it will have heavy emergency vehicle traffic.

No evacuations are in place at this time.

Fire stats at a glance:

Start Date: July 20, 2012

Containment: 73 percent , estimated full containment by Monday

Cause: Lightning

Acreage: 74,884 total (Fairfield 66,745; Wentworth, 5,757; Hall, 2,382)

Personnel: 423, plus approximately 40 Rural Fire Department personnel

Crews: 8 crews on the fire line

Aviation: Five heavy-lift helicopters, one medium, and one light

Engines: 27, plus 20 Rural Fire Department engines

Injuries: 3 (minor)

Structures destroyed: 14 residences, 17 associated outbuildings

Structures/outbuildings threatened: 152

* Firefighters continue work on Wentworth Fire; river valley picks up some rain

(Posted 7:45 a.m. July 28)

Area firefighters, with support from the National Guard and federal hot-shot crews, continued work into the night with the Wentworth Fire burning in southeastern Keya Paha County.
With the Fairfield Creek and Hall fires both under control, the Wentworth Fire has been the focus of the responders' attention since it broke through a fire line Thursday afternoon.
Reports indicate southeastern Keya Paha County picked up one-quarter of an inch of rain or so from a small line of thunderstorms that moved through the area early Saturday morning. Roger Wentworth in southeastern Keya Paha County reported .20 of an inch of rain from the overnight storm. Wentworth's property absorbed the lightning strike that officials believe started the middle of the three fires - thus the namesake.
There was some lightning with the line of storms, so responders will keep their fingers crossed that no new fires crop up from those strikes.
Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala asked area farmers and ranchers to keep all their stock tanks filled. Firefighters can fill their smaller tanks those water sources if necessary.
Preliminary reports indicate 98 different volunteer fire departments have assisted with the Niobrara River valley fires during some portion of the now nine-day response.
Officials are cautiously optimistic that they are in the home stretch of the major firefighting effort.
Preliminary reports show 14 residences have been lost, some of which were occupied full time while others were cabins, and a total of 47 other structures reportedly burned.
Monetary donations continue to be needed to help the fire departments deal with the monumental costs associated with nine days of fighting fire. Information on how to help is located at the top of this page.
Thank you to those who have already donated, as thousands of dollars are coming in to the relief fund to assist the fire departments and those who have lost homes. Additional support in the way of hay, fence posts and trucking have also been donated, not to mention the hundreds of hours of volunteered labor and equipment use from private contractors on the fire lines. There are so many stories of personal sacrifice and heroism, it is impossible to try and mention them individually. Just know all of the communities in this area are so appreciative of everything being done to assist them in this trying time.

* Kerrey proposes expanding drought program, streamlining disaster process

(Posted 7:45 a.m. July 28)

After completing a tour of the fire-affected Niobrara River Valley Thursday, former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey said expanding the crop insurance program and streamlining the disaster declaration process would help the people dealing with the drought and the fires.
Kerrey’s comments came as he returned from a tour of drought and fire-affected areas of north central Nebraska. While there, Kerrey met with fire victims, National Guard personnel, first responders, Forest Service officials and volunteers to learn more about the fire and its impact.
“The response of the volunteer community and the pressure this puts on county and city budgets reminded me of the aftermath of the tornado of 1975 that destroyed hundreds of businesses (including mine), thousands of homes and much more besides,” Kerrey said. “The storm put tremendous pressure on Omaha and Douglas County’s budget. The good news for us was that the area was declared a federal disaster two days later.
“This fire is part of a larger disaster occurring as a consequence of drought conditions. The impact on local governments is substantial. For example, the city of Ainsworth’s Fire Department budget was exhausted in just two hours of fighting this fire. I can’t tell you how impressed I am at the courage, tenacity and effectiveness of everyone involved in this effort. These folks are heroes and I want to do whatever I can to support them. Unfortunately, we may be facing a very long fire season.”  
Based on the information he gathered from the tour, Kerrey offered the following proposals for aiding farmers and ranchers affected by the drought:
“First the House must pass the five-year Farm Bill and renew the disaster programs to deliver relief to our struggling farmers and ranchers,” Kerrey said. “The bill’s enactment would also allow the Department of Agriculture to deliver assistance for livestock feed lost due to the drought and to provide compensation for livestock losses. Finally, the bill provides critical assistance to communities by funding fire prevention and firefighting resources.
“Second, the USDA should press forward with, and Congress should support, its efforts to streamline disaster declarations and speed up the turnaround time for low-interest loans to farmers and ranchers impacted by the drought.
“Third, Congress should consider expanding the crop insurance program for grazing land. The bill generates $23 billion in savings and expands the crop insurance program. I think we should look at rolling some of that savings into expanding the program allowing ranchers to purchase insurance for their pastures and grassland.”
Kerrey's opponent in the U.S. Senate race, State Sen. Deb Fischer, is visiting north central Nebraska today (Saturday).

* Springview fire chief said work continues on Wentworth Fire Friday

(Posted 2:35 p.m. July 27)

Springview Fire Chief Scott Hallock told KBRB just after noon on Friday work continues to solidify the fire line after a breakout of the Wentworth Fire on Thursday afternoon.
Hallock said substantial progress was made overnight and this morning after firefighters were able to stop the breakout before it jumped the Niobrara River into Rock County approximately 2-1/2 miles west of the Carnes Bridge.
According to Deputy Commander Mark Hatcher with the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Bravo Team, Thursday's breakout of the Wentworth Fire burned an additional 2,500 acres in southeastern Keya Paha County.
To hear the complete report with Springview Fire Chief Scott Hallock, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Scott Hallock Friday Noon Report.mp3

UPDATE: The Springview Volunteer Fire Department requested mutual aid assistance from the Ainsworth, Long Pine and Bassett departments to fight another small break-out of the Wentworth Fire Friday afternoon and to help with back-burns.
Brown County Sheriff's Department Dispatcher Judy Cole said the civil defense siren did sound in Long Pine for the mutual aid call, but not in Ainsworth as a truck was dispatched by Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala immediately. Cole said five trucks responded to the mutual aid call, including two from Bassett, two from Long Pine and one from Ainsworth.


(Photo Courtesy of Win Mills)

These photos were taken Monday from the vantage point of Nancy Reinhardt's ranch southwest of Springview, south of Highway 12 in Keya Paha County. Though the date on the photo says Sunday, the photos were taken Monday as the Fairfield Creek fire broke out to the north, fueled by a gusting south wind and temperatures that topped 105 degrees. Fire lines worked tirelessly to keep the fire contained to the Niobrara River canyons, but it did break the Highway 12 containment line Monday before being pushed back by firefighters. As of Friday, the Fairfield Creek Fire had burned close to 100,000 acres but was close to being declared closed by fire officials.


(Photo Courtesy of Win Mills)

A C-130 tanker drops flame retardant on the north end of the Niobrara River valley Monday in an effort to keep the fire from proceeding north. The C-130 planes were based out of South Dakota.


(Photo Courtesy of Win Mills)

Fire rages out of a Niobrara River canyon southwest of Springview as firefighters attempt to stop the flames at the canyon. The charred ground and the sod mound in the foreground show firefighters' attempts to create back burns and fire breaks to keep the fire from moving north and racing on flat ground.


(Photo Courtesy of Win Mills)

Flames shoot more than 100 feet in the air on Monday as the Fairfield Creek Fire consumed pine and cedar trees on the north edge of the Niobrara River Valley southwest of Springview.

* Fire officials provide updates on firefighting effort on KBRB's Open Line

(Posted noon July 27)

Appearing on KBRB's Open Line program Friday morning, Rocky Mountain Incident Management Response Team Bravo Deputy Commander Mark Hatcher, Nebraska Emergency Management Agency representative Mike White, Region 24 Emergency Management Agency Director Doug Fox and Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala discussed the continued fire response effort, the toll fighting the fires has taken on firefighters and volunteers, the major assistance provided by landowners and volunteer contractors helping to save property in the river valley, and the work that still needs to be done to help the departments pay for the monumental expenses associated with eight straight days of fighting the wildfires in the Niobrara River valley.
Media outlets, there is a bundle of information from these responders on the following audio links from the 40-minute live program. Feel free to use any of the information to help your newscasts. Please credit KBRB Radio as the source of the information.
Thank you to everyone who has played a role in assisting the firefighting effort and helping to spread the word about the serious needs of the area fire departments and those who have lost homes and property in these fires. Information on how to make donations to support the area fire departments and those who have lost homes and property can be found at the top of this page.
Click on the following four links for the complete audio of KBRB's Friday morning Open Line report with the fire officials.

audio clips/Friday Open Line w Fire Officials Pt 1.mp3

audio clips/Friday Open Line w Fire Officials Pt 2.mp3

audio clips/Friday Open Line w Fire Officials Pt 3.mp3

audio clips/Friday Open Line w Fire Officials Pt 4.mp3

* Gov. Heineman shares stories of the volunteers in weekly column

(Posted Noon July 27)

Fighting Fires

By Gov. Dave Heineman

July 27, 2012

 

Dear Fellow Nebraskans:

 

This week, we are monitoring the status of the drought-related fires throughout the state. While the magnitude of the fires and the drought impacts weigh heavy on Nebraskans and the economy of our state, I have been reminded the past few days of the strong resolve and resiliency of our state’s citizens.

Since the fires broke in north-central Nebraska, I have been to the affected communities twice and monitored the damage firsthand. While seeing 72,000 acres of scorched Earth is striking, what I saw in our people is inspiring. In every community, brave volunteer firefighters were on the frontlines, facing temperatures of 120 degrees. At the command posts, responders worked tirelessly to update and coordinate efforts to contain the massive fires, and anticipate the fire’s next moves through behavior modeling. In the communities, family-members and friends of the community provided aid and comfort, gathering donations of food, ice, water, ibuprofen, eye wash, and other necessities.

When meeting with volunteers, firefighters and responders, I heard story after story of the truly remarkable generosity and thoughtfulness of Nebraskans and caring strangers throughout our nation. At the Ainsworth Fire Hall, I spoke with local firefighter Ann Fiala who told me they have received much needed donations from throughout the state and as far away as Maine. Ann said they have had people walk into the Fire Hall and hand them checks for as much as $500 and $1000.

In Norden, volunteer Cathy Fauren, told me she had been volunteering for days on end. Her husband and son were in the fires, and that a simple phone call from them was all she needed to know they were ok. A volunteer in Springview, Linda Sheehan, told me about the Springview Nebraska Community Facebook page, which is covered with photos and encouraging messages.

While driving the recent fire paths in the Niobrara River Valley, the ground was still smoking and smoldering in many spots. As we drove down a dirt road, surrounded by burnt trees on both sides, we stopped to talk with a father and son from Grand Island who were driving the roads, putting out the residual fires in order to prevent a second round of immense burns.

These stories are examples of what makes Nebraska a wonderful place to live. Nebraskans are generous. We care about one another. We are always willing to help others.

At the incident command center in Ainsworth, I was briefed on current efforts. More than 32 volunteer fire departments have helped.  Low humidity, high temperatures, extreme drought, and dry lightning in the weather forecast continue to be major concerns.

This week, we activated the State Emergency Operations Plan in response to the fire emergency in Cherry, Brown and Keya Paha Counties. I declared a State of Emergency in early July, which activated parts of the State Emergency Operations Plan and allowed us additional options for use of state resources. Resources from the State Patrol, the Department of Roads, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and the State Fire Marshal’s Office are also responding to the emergency.

The Nebraska National Guard continues to mobilize available resources as the response grows. This included the mobilization of three Nebraska Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters equipped with “Bambi buckets” and approximately 28 personnel to provide support to local firefighters. I also want to acknowledge and thank the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team for their continued efforts on site.

As I write this column, we are close to having the fires contained – thanks to everyone’s hard work and support. We are very proud of you.

* July could join June as one of driest in history

(Posted 7:15 a.m. July 27)

Through the first 26 days of July, the KBRB rain gauge has picked up a total of .32 of an inch of moisture. That .32 total in July follows the third driest June in Ainsworth's history. Just .73 of an inch fell in June, more than 2.5 inches below the average for the month.
July's average rainfall in Ainsworth is 3.95 inches, according to Ainsworth Weather Observer Gerry Osborne.
Through 26 days of July, the temperature has climbed above the century mark 12 times, including a high of 109 degrees on Saturday, July 21, one of the worst days firefighters had trying to fight the Fairfield Creek Fire.
An additional 10 days in July have been above 90 degrees, including three readings of 99 degrees. That is 15 of the 26 days in July with temperatures of 99 degrees or above, with what could be the least amount of precipitation for July in Ainsworth's history.
Anyone with step by step directions on a tried and true rain dance, feel free to pass them along to KBRB and we will hold a community training session.

* Niobrara River opening to Rock Barn today for float trips

(Posted 6:45 a.m. July 27)

The Niobrara River is for float trips beginning today from the launch are at Fort Niobrara to Rock Barn. Before today, the river had been closed east of Smith Falls State Park.
Firefighters continue to use River Road to access the fire line and continue mop-up operations on the Fairfield Creek Fire. Visitors and those traveling in the fire area are urged to use extreme caution as emergency vehicles and firefighters will continue to be working in the River Road area.
The public is also reminded that there are still hazards to be cautious of in the fire area. Smoke may continue to be visible during the next few days as unburned fuels and smoldering logs located inside the perimeter continue to burn. Also, trees that may have been weakened by the fire could fall without warning. Please use caution near the fire area, and while traveling on roads adjacent to the fire area.

* New concerns as the Wentworth fire flares up and heads toward Carnes

(Posted 5:30 p.m. July 26)

Just when it looked like progress was being made, winds picked up out of the northwest this afternoon in Keya Paha County and the Wentworth Fire jumped a fire line sending flames toward the Carnes Bridge area between Keya Paha and Rock counties. Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox told KBRB fire officals are trying to get as many units into that area as possible. He said they have fire crews from Bassett, Naper, Tripp County, S.D., in addition to the federal firemen. The Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department was also sending trucks to the area. Fox said the south moving fire line was near Walker Creek, which is just a half-mile west of Carnes. 

8:30 p.m. July 26 UPDATE: Doug Fox reports that the fire crews working on the Wentworth Fire flare-up in southeast Keya Paha County Thursday afternoon and evening were able to stop the fire before it reached the Niobrara River and the Carnes Bridge area. Listen for more complete information when fire officials appear on the KBRB Open Line program Friday morning.

* Updated NEMA map shows progress made on all 3 Niobrara Valley fires

(Posted 3:30 p.m. July 26)
 images/20120726_Region24Complex_NE_NES_120791_PIOThreeFire_MapCompressed_11x17.JPG
(Image courtesy of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency)

Instead of producing a smaller version of the map on the site, please click on the above link for the full-scale version. Areas in black indicate fire lines that are secure. Areas in red show boundaries of the fires that have not yet been completely contained. Thank you to the hundreds of folks who responded to our offer to email the full-scale version of the map we placed on our Web site on Tuesday. We tried to get the full-scale version emailed as quickly as time allowed, but we hope this method of delivery works a little better! This is the largest version of the map we have to view. The map may be available in an even larger form on the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency's site, but not confirming that.

* Bob Kerrey tours area, visits with fire officials and volunteers

(Posted 3 p.m. July 26)

Former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey visited Ainsworth and Springview Thursday afternoon, touring the command center in the Ainsworth Conference Center and visiting with firefighters and volunteers in the fire halls on the front lines of the response.
"You start with the volunteer effort," Kerrey said. "The federal communications officer said she has been working on fires for 25 years and she has never seen a better community response."
He said he heard story after story of individual heroism while talking with firefighters.
"There are some great, heroic stories coming out of these fires," Kerrey said. "You have stories of firefighters turning at once, holding the line together and stopping the flames. They did it. They stopped the fire. It didn't have to be that way."
Kerrey said the main assistance that can be provided at the federal level is passing a Farm Bill and allowing the president to have the authority to declare these areas a federal disaster and unlock funding assistance.
Kerrey is the Democratic Party candidate for U.S. Senate. His Republican opponent in the General Election race, 43rd District State Sen. Deb Fischer, has said she plans to be in Ainsworth on Saturday.
To hear the complete report from former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Bob Kerrey Thursday visit.mp3

* Springview fire chief reports substantial progress, mounting expenses

(Posted 1:30 p.m. July 26)

Springview Fire Chief Scott Hallock said the Hall fire in southeastern Keya Paha County has been contained, and crews are finishing fire lines on the south end of the Wentworth Fire in southeastern Keya Paha County today.
The Wentworth Fire started Saturday from a lightning strike, a day after the Fairfield Creek Fire, the largest of the three fires, ignited from a lightning strike in northwestern Brown County. The Hall Fire sparked up on Monday.
Hallock said weary area firefighters are finally starting to get a break, as federal hot-shot crews are working on the fire lines and removing hotspots.
The Springview fire chief said the current fuel bill for the department is more than $60,000, which is equal to or above the department's entire annual budget.
In addition to the North Central Development Center fund that has been established to assist the fire departments and those who lost homes and livelihoods, an additional fund has been created for the Springview department.
Donations can be made to the Springview Fire Hall at PO Box 204, Springview, NE 68778, or to West Plains Bank at PO Box 189, Springview, NE 68778. Write "fire relief" in the check's memo line.
To hear the complete report from early Thursday afternoon with Springview Fire Chief Scott Hallock, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Scott Hallock Thursday Noon Report.mp3

* NEMA reports Meadville evacuation lifted, Highway 12 reopened to traffic

(Posted noon July 26)

The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency reports the evacuation notice for Meadville has been lifted, and Highway 12 west of Springview has reopened to traffic.  Crews on Thursday are focusing on improving fire lines, mopping up hot spots, patrolling the fires' perimeters and protecting any structures still at risk.
State and federal officials estimated full containment of all three fires by Sunday.

The weather is forecasted to be warmer and drier through the weekend with possibility of afternoon thunderstorms along with accompanying lightning.  Fuels are still very receptive to fire and the possibility for new starts remains elevated.

“We currently have sufficient fire resources on the incident," Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox said. "If additional resources are needed, local fire chiefs will put out a call for assistance."

While Highway 12 is open to traffic, the Nebraska State Patrol recommends motorists use caution when traveling in the area.

Volunteer evacuations have been lifted for Meadville and Norden.

The Niobrara River between County Line and Brewer bridge remains closed but is scheduled to reopen on Friday.

Fire stats at a glance:

Start Date: July 20, 2012

Containment: 50 percent, estimate containment by July 29

Cause: Lightning

Acreage: 72,405 total (Fairfield 66,745; Wentworth, 3,278; Hall, 2,382)

Personnel: 480, plus approximately 80 Rural Fire Department personnel

Crews: 7 crews on the fire line

Aviation : Four heavy-lift helicopters, one medium, and one light.

Engines: 38, plus 40 Rural Fire Department engines

Injuries: 3 (minor)

Structures destroyed: 10 and associated outbuildings

Structures/outbuildings threatened: 152

* Fox says paying for cost of fighting fire will be a massive effort

(Posted 10 a.m. July 26)

Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox said fuel costs for the Springview Fire Department have surpassed $60,000, and fuel costs alone for the Ainsworth Fire Department are estimated at $150,000. Both of those totals surpass the entire annual budget for both departments.
Fox told KBRB's Grag Kinzie Thursday funds will be needed to pay for the costs associated with fighting the Fairfield Creek, Wentworth and Hall fires, as those bills will be due long before any state or federal grant funds are received.
The Region 24 emergency manager said the Fairfield Creek Fire is contained, while work continues on the Wentworth Fire in southeastern Keya Paha County.
"There will be more air drops there today," Fox said. "Hot shot crews are being sent into the fire's perimeter to down trees and create fire lines within the hot areas of the fire.
"The members of those crews are from all over the country," Fox said. "They have done a lot of work taking down trees inside the fire areas. Those guys have been a great asset."
Fox said, within the next couple days, he hopes to report that all three fires are completely contained.
To hear the complete report with Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox from Thursday morning, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Doug Fox Thursday AM Update.mp3

* Heineman says entire state focused on north central Nebraska efforts

(Posted 9 a.m. July 26)

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman joined KBRB's Graig Kinzie Thursday morning to discuss the effort statewide to support the firefighters and volunteers in the area.
To hear the complete report with Gov. Heineman, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Gov Dave Heineman Thursday Report.mp3

* UN-L Extension taking donations to help cattle producers affected by fires

(Posted 6:50 a.m. July 26)

North central Nebraska livestock producers have been hit with a one-two punch -- drought and now fire. The extremely dry conditions, coupled with a fire that is burning tens of thousands of acres of pasture land, have caused a disaster of major proportions.
The fire has consumed hundreds of miles of permanent fence, along with what little summer grass was left for several thousand cows and calves to feed on. The fences that have been destroyed will have to be rebuilt before grazing can resume next year, if weather conditions permit a good growing season.
The North Central Development Center in Ainsworth has set up a fund to take monetary donations to help with the cost of the fire. Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to the North Central Development Center at 335 N. Main St., Ainsworth, NE 69210.
Donations of wire and post may be delivered to the Farmers and Ranchers Co-op in Ainsworth, 224 S. Main St. The contact person is Plant Manager Rocky Sheehan at 402-387-2810.
Individuals who want to specify their donations to help with fencing materials and hay may send checks to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension office in Ainsworth. The mailing address is BKR Extension Office, 148 W. Fourth St., Ainsworth, NE 69210. Donations will be deposited into the NCDC Fire Relief Fund.
All funds collected will go to help those who have been affected by the fire. All needs will be taken from the fund, whether it is fencing, hay, feed for animals, personal needs of those impacted by the fire and help for fire departments that have responded to the distress.
For more information, contact the UN-L Extension Office in Ainsworth 1-800-634-8951 or e-mail dbauer1@unl.edu. The NCDC can be contacted at 402-387-2740 for more information.

* Red Cross has delivered more than 4,000 meals to firefighters, volunteers

(Posted 6:45 a.m. July 26)

Additional volunteers are supporting the relief efforts in north central Nebraska. A total of 21 Red Cross volunteers and staff have been supporting residents and the fire departments who are responding, including four additional volunteers who deployed late Tuesday from northeast Nebraska. Three emergency response vehicles have been on scene providing mobile feeding.
As responders continue to battle the blaze, the Red Cross is reaching out to those whose homes were affected. Case work volunteers are meeting with affected residents to provide food, shelter, comfort and care as needed. Residents affected by the wildfires are urged to call (888) 382-3790 to talk with one of the trained Red Cross volunteers.
Red Cross volunteers will continue to deliver prepared meals to seven fixed sites where responders can escape the intensity of the sun and flames to rehydrate and refuel. There are cots and volunteers there to assist those who are working to contain the fires. So far the Red Cross has served more than 4,000 meals and snacks both in the shelter and to the emergency responders on the front lines.
The Red Cross shelter remains open in the Ainsworth Community Schools facility at 520 E. Second St. in Ainsworth. More than 70 residents, responders and volunteers have stayed at the shelter where they find comfort and care from trained Red Cross Volunteers. Disaster workers in emergency response vehicles are circulating in and near affected areas, delivering water and food, supplies and comfort items.  The Red Cross is working with community partners to provide support.
You can help people affected by disasters such as floods, tornadoes, fires and hurricanes, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. To make a donation, visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767); people can also text the word “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

* Ainsworth fire chief close to declaring Fairfield Creek Fire contained

(Posted 7:15 p.m. July 25)

Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala, after six straight days of battling wildfires, told KBRB's Graig Kinzie Wednesday evening he was close to declaring the nearly 100,000-acre Fairfield Creek Fire contained.
"Everything on the south side of the Fairfield Creek Fire has been cold for more than 24 hours, so that is good," Fiala said. "We still have some hot spots west of Norden, but the Valentine crews are doing an excellent job getting that area mopped up."
Fiala said, even if fire officials declare the Fairfield Creek Fire closed soon, there will still be some hot spots along the entire corridor for days to come.
"Don't be too alarmed if you see some smoke for a few days," the Ainsworth fire chief said. "Even if something starts back up, it shouldn't go far. We are still going to be monitoring the area, so if you do see flames let us know."
Fiala said there was an all-out aerial assault today on the Wentworth and Hall fires in southeastern Keya Paha County.
"When I went out and visited the Wentworth Fire today, I didn't see any smoke to the east with the Hall Fire," Fiala said. "They really knocked that one down today."
Fiala said, after six straight days of fighting fire on little rest in demanding weather conditions and terrain, the volunteers are looking forward to getting back to their regular jobs.
"This is our sixth day, and it is still kind of a blur to me," the Plains Equipment employee said. "We need to get back to work and get back to our jobs. It will be nice to get back to our jobs just to get our mind on something different."
He said the costs incurred battling the fires by the area departments are going to be staggering.
"When you get 70, 80, 90 trucks going full bore all day and all night long, that fuel bill is going to be tremendous," Fiala said.
Fuel costs alone could reach the neighborhood of $150,000, and the fire chief said that might be a low estimate. He said the support from the communities, the entire state of Nebraska, and nationwide, is unbelievable, and the volunteers have a hard time putting it into words.
"We have said for years, this is why we live in the place we do," the Ainsworth fire chief said of the area's response. "The overwhelming support we have received has been remarkable."
The North Central Development Center has set up a fund to assist all the area fire departments fighting the Niobrara River valley fires and to assist those who have lost their homes. Checks can be mailed to the North Central Development Center at 335 N. Main St., Ainsworth, NE 69210. Mention the fire relief effort in the check's memo line. Donations will go to all of the area fire departments. All donations are tax deductible, as the North Central Development Center is a 501c3 non-profit organization.
To hear the complete Wednesday evening report with Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Fire Chief Brad Fiala Wednesday Evening.mp3

* Communications infrastructure one of the key elements of firefighting efforts

(Posted 7 p.m. July 25)

With the massive effort of more than 40 local fire departments, state of Nebraska resources, the Nebraska Army National Guard and federal officials in the area combating the Fairfield Creek, Wentworth and Hall fires, communications infrastructure was just one of the vital pieces needed to coordinate the response.
Brian Delimont with Three River Communications discusses with KBRB's Graig Kinzie the communications needs of the various agencies. Click on the audio link below to hear the complete report:

audio clips/Communications Report w Brian Delimont.mp3


(Photo courtesy of Cody Croghan)

Fire burns above the Niobrara River canyon on Monday as the Wentworth Fire in southeastern Keya Paha County jumped out of the river valley. Firefighters pushed the fire back into the canyon Monday night, then spent Tuesday combating a change in wind direction that sent the Wentworth Fire south toward the Niobrara River.


(Photo courtesy of Cody Croghan)

A Blackhawk helicopter hovers near a raging portion of the Wentworth Fire Monday afternoon in Keya Paha County. As of Wednesday evening, the Wentworth Fire had been contained to the canyons on the north side of the Niobrara River valley in southeastern Keya Paha County.

* KBRB's Larry Rice begins putting voices to the volunteer effort

(Posted 4:30 p.m. July 25)

With the KBRB one-man news team chasing down the latest information on the progress being made to combat the Fairfield Creek, Wentworth and Hall fires burning in Keya Paha, Brown and Cherry counties, former one-man news team Larry Rice is beginning a series highlighting just a few of the stories from the thousands of volunteers who have had an impact on the fire-fighting effort. The following audio report with a 7-year-old Pender boy is the first of that series.

audio clips/Larry Rice Report on Volunteer Effort.mp3

* Fire halls appreciative of donations, cash for fuel bills needed at this point

(Posted noon July 25)

The Ainsworth, Springview and Bassett Fire halls are reporting they have a substantial supply of water, food and sports drinks. With the area departments racking up extremely expensive fuel bills, cash donations are needed to help the area departments pay for those massive fuel costs. Fuel bills for each department are in the tens of thousands of dollars. At last report, the Springview Fire Department's fuel bill alone was more than $60,000.
Cash donations can be made to the fire halls in Brown, Rock, Keya Paha and Cherry counties. The North Central Development Center has set up a fund to assist all the area fire departments fighting the Niobrara River valley fires and to assist those who have lost their homes.
Checks can be mailed to the North Central Development Center at 335 N. Main St., Ainsworth, NE 69210. Mention the fire relief effort in the check's memo line. Donations will go to all of the area fire departments. All donations are cash deductible, as the North Central Development Center is a 501c3 non-profit organization.
The volunteers working in all of the area fire halls thank all those who have made a donation and volunteered to help. The support has been phenomenal. From the firefighters on the front lines to the volunteers in the fire halls and those helping the Red Cross purchase and prepare meals, thank you to everyone who has helped provide support.
Your help will continue to be needed when the fires are extinguished, as the costs to these small departments will otherwise be monumental.

* Nebraska Emergency Management Agency Update

(Posted 11:30 a.m. July 25)

Effective at 6 a.m. Wednesday the Fairfield Creek, Wentworth and Hall fires were combined and renamed the Region 24 Complex. The incident will continue to be managed by local units with the Rocky Mountain Type 2 Incident Management Team B providing assistance and coordination.

On Tuesday, Gov. Dave Heineman visited the fire and affected communities.  “I’m very impressed with the interagency coordination,” he said. “I’d like to express my personal gratitude to the firefighters and especially all the volunteers working the incident.”

In spite of the extreme fire weather yesterday, good progress was made on all three fires. Crews were successful in constructing and securing line along several sections of the fires. 

With the projected cooler temperatures and higher relative humidity expected today Todd Pechota, the commander for the Rocky Mountain team, said he is optimistic that they might have turned the corner on this incident.  “However, it’s not over yet - one shift of the wind and we could be off to the races again,” Pechota said. 

According to Doug Fox, Region 24 Emergency Management Director, “We currently have sufficient resources on the incident. If additional resources are needed local fire chiefs will put out a call for assistance.”

A cold front moved through the area last night bringing cooler temperatures and higher relative humidity. Combined with winds out of the north-northwest, this will help moderate fire behavior. 

Additional air resources are expected on the fire today.  They include six heavy-lift helicopters (three Black Hawks, a K-max, a Sky Crane, and a Boeing Vertol) for a total of eight helicopters.  Another K-Max is en route to the complex today.  Break-out by division:

  • Division A (Fairfield Fire): Continue to improve and hold fire line.

  • Division C (Fairfield Fire): Continue to hold and improve line.  Provide structure protection.

  • Division E (Fairfield Fire): Continue to hold and improve line.  Provide structure protection.

  • Division H (Fairfield Fire): Continue to hold and improve line.  Provide structure protection.

  • Division O (Wentworth Fire): Secure line and provide structure protection.

  • Division M (Wentworth Fire): Construct and improve line along Hwy 7.  Provide structure protection.

  • Division X (Hall Fire): Hold and and improve line.  Provide structure protection.

  • Division Z (Hall Fire): Hold and improve line.

Volunteer evacuations are still in place for Meadville.

Niobrara River is closed for recreational use between County Line and Brewer bridges.

Fire stats at a glance:

Start Date: July 20, 2012

Containment: 25 percent

Cause: Lightning

Acreage: 72,405 total (Fairfield 66,745; Wentworth, 3,278; Hall, 2,382)

Personnel: 321, plus approximately 80 Rural Fire Department personnel

Aviation : Six Heavy-lift helicopters, one medium, and one light.

Engines: 30, plus 40 Rural Fire Department engines

Injuries: 3 (minor)

Structures destroyed: 10 and associated outbuildings

Structures/outbuildings threatened: 128

* Firefighters making progress in difficult terrain

(Posted 10:45 a.m. July 25)

Anyone who claims Nebraska is nothing but flat land needs to spend a day in the shoes of the firefighters who have been fighting raging wildfires in the Niobrara River Valley since Friday.
The steep, wooded terrain in the canyons on both sides of the Niobrara River have proved to be a difficult opponent for the fire crews. Heavy equipment from the Nebraska Department of Roads and private contractors who have volunteered to assist the effort have been working to knock down trees and clear paths into areas otherwise not accessible. That equipment is also being used to create the fire lines, which have helped stall the fires' progress in several areas.
Ainsworth Firefighter Nate Rau said he has been working west end of Fairfield Creek and west of Norden, an area where on Tuesday fire officials concentrated their efforts to keep the Fairfield Creek Fire from breaking a fire line and burning unabated to the west.
"We have been doing our best to make sure it doesn't get any farther west," Rau told KBRB Radio's Graig Kinzie Wednesday morning at the Ainsworth Fire Hall while awaiting orders on where he would be deployed. "It is rough. There is no way to get two-wheel trucks in there."
Rau said, though not working frequently in areas where aerial drops have been made, he has seen their impact.
"They have been helping," Rau said. "We had one Saturday morning drop about right on me, and that cooled me off quite a bit."
To hear the complete report with Ainsworth Firefighter Nate Rau, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Firefighter Nate Rau.mp3

* Wednesday efforts to focus on Wentworth, Hall fires

(Posted 10 a.m. July 25)

Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox said progress continues to be made in containing the Fairfield Creek Fire burning in southwest Keya Paha, northwestern Brown and eastern Cherry counties.
Fire officials are focusing their efforts Wednesday on the Wentworth and Hall fires burning in southeastern Keya Paha County.
"Additional ground units are being moved east to assist with the Hall and Wentworth fires," Fox told KBRB Radio's Graig Kinzie Wednesday morning. "There is a concern that both of those fires could jump the Niobrara River to the south, but the federal officials are confident the aerial drops can keep the fire contained to north of the river."
Springview Fire Chief Scott Hallock said firefighters on the front lines of the Wentworth and Hall fires had another exhausting night, first keeping the fire from jumping out of the canyons to the north, then watching as the wind shifted to the north and fires began blazing a new path to the south.
"There is just no way for the ground forces to get in front of it to the south," Hallock said. "The Wentworth Fire is in some very deep canyons. We don't have a way to contain it after the wind shifted."
Hallock said the Niobrara River will be used as the southern containment line for the fires, and additional crews are massing to create fire breaks to try and keep the fires from moving east and threatening additional homes.
Fox said at least nine aircraft will be focused on dropping water and fire retardant on the Hall and Wentworth fires.
As for the Fairfield Creek Fire, Fox reported containment continues to progress, and firefighters made significant progress on the fire's southwest, northwest and southeast boundaries.
"With the resources going to the east today, I am fairly optimistic that in the next few days we can get these fires to the point of being mop-up situations and we can get the job finished," Fox said.
To hear the complete Wednesday morning reports with Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox and Springview Fire Chief Scott Hallock, click on the audio links below:

audio clips/Doug Fox Wednesday AM Report.mp3

audio clips/Springview Chief Scott Hallock Wednesday.mp3


(Photo courtesy of Emily Estes of Stuart)

A C-130 tanker drops flame retardant on a fire burning Tuesday afternoon in the Niobrara River canyon. Firefighters pushed the flames back into the canyon in an attempt to protect Greg Bammerlin's home in southeastern Keya Paha County threatened by the Hall Fire.


(Photo courtesy of Emily Estes of Stuart)

Firefighters from Keya Paha County and several other assisting departments work to save Greg Bammerlin's home in southeastern Keya Paha County Tuesday afternoon as the Hall Fire moves north out of the Niobrara River canyons.


(Aerial photos of the Fairfield Creek Fire courtesy of Jeff Biermann, Omaha-World Herald)

The Fairfield Creek fire burns the bluffs on the north side of the Niobrara River in Keya Paha County on Monday.


(Jeff Biermann, Omaha-World Herald)

The Fairfield Creek fire, which jumped Nebraska Highway 12 Monday and moved north into the grasslands of Keya Paha County. Firefighters stopped the fire.


(Jeff Biermann, Omaha-World Herald)

Sgt. Richard Shearer of the Nebraska National Guard watches for their target for their bucket of water as the Blackhawk helicopter fights the Fairfield Creek fire.


(Jeff Biermann, Omaha-World Herald)

The Fairfield Creek fire north of Nebraska Highway 12 on Monday. Firefighters stopped the fire from continuing north, but 150 acres burned and a home was lost north of Highway 12.

To view Biermann's photo gallery taken from a Blackhawk helicopter above the Fairfield Creek Fire, click on the following link:
http://odc.omaha.com/index.php?u_page=5002&p=3787

* Fiala reports major progress Tuesday on Fairfield Creek Fire

(Posted 9 p.m. July 24)

Sounding optimistic for the first time since the Fairfield Creek Fire ignited Friday morning, Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala reported major progress was made on all fronts Tuesday despite another day of extreme heat and south winds.
Fiala said substantial progress was made on the south side of the Niobrara River in the Plum Creek and Meadville areas.
"A large effort was focused on knocking down the flames there because of concerns with the wind possible shifting to the north later tonight," Fiala told KBRB's Graig Kinzie Tuesday evening.
The fire chief said there are still several hotspots north of Norden, southeast of the community of Sparks. On Monday night, fire officials were concerned that Sparks could be in the path of the fire if it continued to progress to the northwest Tuesday.
"We had some large flare-ups there, but we had two Blackhawk helicopters and one Huey dumping from the air," Fiala said. "We made a lot of progress in that area today."
Fiala said, with the number of volunteer crews who have responded to the area to help with the three fires burning in the Niobrara River valley, the Ainsworth crew was going to be pulled off the fire for a night of rest and to allow the department's equipment to be checked and serviced if needed.
"Some other departments have had some equipment problems, so we are pulling everyone off the fire tonight and giving them a night of rest," Fiala said. "We'll get our trucks checked out and hit it hard again tomorrow.
To hear the complete report Tuesday evening with Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Brad Fiala Tuesday Night Report.mp3

* Heineman hopeful containment of the fires is progressing

(Posted 7 p.m. July 24)

After visiting Ainsworth, Springview and Norden Tuesday and hearing a briefing from Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team officials, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman said he is hopeful meaningful progress is being made in combating the three major fires burning in Brown, Keya Paha and Cherry counties.
"My sense is we are on the verge of making some significant progress to contain the fires, and that would certainly be very good news for all of us," Heineman told KBRB's Graig Kinzie Tuesday evening. "I am pleased to see all the federal, state and local forces working together."
Heineman said the volunteer spirit and effort being displayed in north central Nebraska makes him proud.
"We are in a much stronger position today trying to contain the fires," Heineman said. "I can see we are making progress, but the weather still makes you nervous."
Heineman said the state's focus will remain on assisting the volunteer fire departments in the area until the fires are completely under control.
To hear the complete report with Gov. Dave Heineman from his Tuesday evening conversation with KBRB, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Gov Heineman Tuesday Evening Report.mp3

* North central Nebraska not the only area dealing with fires

(Posted 6 p.m. July 24)

Hot, dry weather and stronger western winds helped Ash Creek Fire jump a line and grow to approximately 1,000 acres and 20 percent containment, compared to this morning’s 300 acres and 25 percent containment.

Steve Lenzo, deputy forest supervisor, said, “We ordered a Type 2 Incident Management Team that is expected to arrive tomorrow by mid-afternoon.  At this time there have been no evacuations or structures lost. There was one injury.”

Most of the fire growth is attributed to weather, especially shifting western winds. Additionally, fire crews’ efforts are hindered by steep ravines and rugged terrain.

The Ash Creek fire started from a Saturday late night lightning storm in the Pine Ridge National Recreation Area approximately 20 miles southwest of Chadron.

* Hallock reports Wentworth, Hall fires flaring, but firefighters keeping up

(Posted 5:30 p.m. July 24)

Springview Fire Chief Scott Hallock told KBRB Radio late Tuesday afternoon the Wentworth and Hall fires burning in southeastern Keya Paha County are again trying to climb out of the Niobrara River Canyons, jump fire lines and move north, but firefighters have been able to get the fires put out before they gain much steam north of the fire lines that have been built.
Hallock said additional manpower and equipment is on scene at the Wentworth and Hall fires today, helping to keep both fires from gaining momentum.
Federal officials are anticipating a wind change Tuesday night, with winds expected to move from southerly to northerly. While Hallock said crews are prepared to combat them if the flames move south, having the fire move back onto ground that has already burned may help firefighters gain even more grounds.
For the complete report from 5 p.m. Tuesday with Springview Fire Chief Scott Hallock, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Scott Hallock Tuesday 5 PM update.mp3

* Nebraska Emergency Management Agency provides map of fires

(Posted 4:45 p.m. July 24)


Map provided by the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency

(A larger copy of the map can be emailed by providing a return email address to kbrb@sscg.net, but will be forwarded only as staff time allows)
With the Niobrara River dissecting it, the large orange area on the left is the Fairfield Creek Fire, which is burning in Brown, Keya Paha and Cherry counties on both sides of the Niobrara River. That fire started Friday morning in northern Brown County from a lightning strike. The western edge of the fire is the prime concern for firefighters today, as they are trying to keep the fire east of the fire breaks that have been created along the river valley.
The area jutting to the northern end of the fire area represents the ground that was burned Monday evening after the fire broke the containment line north of Highway 12 approximately 3 miles west of Cub Creek. A home was destroyed when the fire broke north of Highway 12 before firefighters could get it stopped. Approximately 150 acres burned north of Highway 12.
The center orange area represents the scope of the Wentworth Fire in southeastern Keya Paha County. After starting from a lightning strike Saturday, the fire raced to the north Monday afternoon before being pushed back by firefighters into the Niobrara River canyons Monday night.
The far right orange area is the Hall Fire burning in southeastern Keya Paha County. That fire started on Monday and moved quickly to the north, fueled by south winds gusting to 25 mph. Firefighters were able to halt the progress of the Wentworth and Hall fires before any homes were lost.

* Red Cross serving 1,800 meals per day to firefighters, volunteers; donations of cash, bananas, snack mixes and beef jerky sought

(Posted 4:30 p.m. July 24)

Mindy Mangus, the disaster services manager with the Central Plains Chapter of the American Red Cross, said volunteers with the Red Cross are cooking and serving as many as 1,800 meals daily to assist the firefighters and volunteers working in Brown, Keya Paha and Cherry counties.
Mangus told KBRB's Graig Kinzie Tuesday the Red Cross is delivering meals to 10 staging areas near the front line of the fires, and volunteers are preparing as many as 600 meals per meal from their location at Ainsworth Community Schools.
Mangus said the communities have been very welcoming and appreciative of the Red Cross, and the volunteer support has been tremendous.
She said, in addition to cash donations to help support the 100 percent volunteer effort, the Red Cross can use bananas, Chex Mix, peanuts, and snack items such as beef jerky that are sent out with the prepared meals. Those items can be delivered to Ainsworth Community Schools.
The work of the Red Cross is completely voluntary, and free of charge for those receiving its services. Red Cross operations are paid for through the generosity of the American public.
For the complete report with Mindy Mangus, click on the audio report below:

audio clips/Mindy Mangus w the Red Cross.mp3

The Red Cross has mobilized to support area residents and the more than 30 fire fighting departments who are responding to the Fairfield Creek Wildfire in north central Nebraska with urgently needed hydration, meals and a shelter to comfort those in need. 
So far, the Red Cross has served 2,583 meals and snacks both in the shelter and to the emergency responders at the front lines. The organization has also provided cots and other relief items to firefighters in multiple staging areas set up in the field.
The Red Cross shelter remains open in the Ainsworth Community Schools facility at 520 E. Second St. in Ainsworth.
Displaced residents and responders can find comfort and care from trained Red Cross Volunteers. Disaster workers in emergency response vehicles are circulating in and near affected areas, delivering water and food, supplies and comfort items. The Red Cross is working with community partners to provide support.
The easiest way to help is to make a financial donation. Financial donations are the best option to support those in need because they offer agencies, like the Red Cross, the most flexibility in obtaining the most-needed resources. Donations of goods require helping agencies to redirect valuable resources away from providing relief services to sort, transport, warehouse and distribute items that may not meet the needs of those affected by the disaster.
You can help people affected by disasters such as floods, tornadoes, fires and hurricanes, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, by making a donation to support AmericanRed Cross Disaster Relief. To make a donation, visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767).  Contributions may also be sent to a local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

* Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Team volunteers preparing 1,800 meals daily

(Posted 4:30 p.m. July 24)

Andrew Lee of North Platte is one of the 17 volunteers from the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Team assisting the American Red Cross by cooking meals at Ainsworth Community Schools for the firefighters battling the fires burning in the area and the volunteers working to help support the firefighting effort.
Lee said the Southern Baptist team volunteers have been welcomed warmly to the area, and are working hard to provide the firefighters and volunteers with the energy they need to sustain their effort.
For the complete report with Andrew Lee from the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Team, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Team Report.mp3

* Johanns says he will pursue additional federal resources if needed

(Posted 2:45 p.m. July 24)

U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns said on Tuesday he is monitoring the fires burning in the Niobrara River Valley, and will pursue additional federal resources for the area if needed.
“This summer’s drought has adversely affected nearly every Nebraskan and is now exacerbating the wildfires in the Niobrara River Valley,” Johanns said. “My thoughts are with those who have been displaced, who have lost homes, or whose livelihoods are being threatened. I also want to join every Nebraskan in thanking the firefighters, National Guard and other emergency responders for their dedicated, tireless service as they work to extinguish this blaze.
“I am closely monitoring the situation and in contact with the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and county officials. If additional federal assistance is required, I’m ready to ensure that aid is delivered quickly and efficiently.”

* Officials provide Gov. Heineman with an update on fire progress

(Posted 2:30 p.m. July 24)

Officials with the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team provided Gov. Dave Heineman and Nebraska Emergency Management Agency officials with an update on the three fires burning in Brown, Keya Paha and Cherry counties.
Officials said the priority for fire officials today is the western lines of the Fairfield Creek Fire. A substantial effort is being made to stop the western progress of the fire, which has entered Cherry County west of the Rocky Ford area.
With fire crews launching a massive effort to create fire breaks in that area, if the fire jumps those breaks and continues west, it will be extremely difficult to contain.
Heineman said any state resources needed will be available to combat the three fires burning in the Niobrara River valley.
"We don't want these fires going on for another two or three weeks," Heineman said. "With the conditions we have across the state, we could see more and more fires spring up."
Heineman asked about a realistic estimate for having the fires brought under control.
"I know that is hard a question to answer at this point, but do you have any sense on when you can say it is contained?" Heineman asked.
The Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team officials indicated, unless the fires erupted again Tuesday afternoon and evening and broke out past the fire lines, that the fires could be contained in approximately three days, though they said there are still several factors that could alter that timeline.
Officials estimated the containment of the Fairfield Creek Fire at 15 percent on Tuesday, though they said they hoped that percentage would go up by nightfall.
Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox said there are an additional 22 to 24 pieces of fire equipment moving into the area today from surrounding volunteer departments.
"That is going to allow some of these departments that have been up here for a while to rotate back out," Fox said.
Though costs of the federal and state resources used in the fire-fighting effort were briefly discussed, Heineman said the first priority was getting the fires controlled.
Following the briefing, Heineman toured the Norden area to see first-hand the damage caused by the Fairfield Creek Fire as it moved through that community on Friday night.
Following a tour of the area today, Heineman will appear on KBRB to talk about the firefighting efforts and the state and federal response.

* Nebraska Emergency Management Agency Tuesday fire report, statistics

(Posted 12:50 p.m. July 24)

“We will coordinate and integrate efforts with local, state and federal resources to be effective as possible,said Incident Commander Todd Pechota at this morning’s briefing. “The Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team 2B is interagency, comprised of state and local resources, as well as federal. Our role is to assist and coordinate state and local fire management.”

Hot, dry conditions are expected for another day at the Fairfield Creek, Wentworth fire and Hall fires in north central Nebraska close to the Niobrara River. A total of approximately 65,580 acres have burned.

The Fairfield fire is approximately 58,560 acres and straddles the river. The Wentworth fire is 20 miles east of the Fairfield Creek fire and 3 miles north of the river. It is estimated at 2,595 acres.

A new fire started yesterday approximately 6 miles east of the current Wentworth fire and 3 miles north of the river.  It has been labeled the Hall Fire and was estimated at 1,425 in size. Both the Wentworth and Hall fires are east of Springview.

For most of Tuesday hot and dry weather is expected.  A heat advisory is in effect until 9 p.m. on Tuesday and a Red Flag Warning is in effect for winds and low relative humidity. Late afternoon severe weather with high winds is forecast with the potential to affect fire behavior.

Work continues on the four divisions of the Fairfield Creek fire:

Division A (southwest) Cherry County Fire District—continue to establish and hold line.

Division C (northwest): Springview Fire District, Keya Paha County--hold line and burn-out where possible to bring defensible line down to the river.

Division E (northeast): Springview Fire District, Keya Paha County—anchor line at the river, hold, improve and secure spot that crossed Highway 12.

Division H (southeast): Ainsworth Fire District, Brown County—construct a direct hand line toward the southwest.

Air Operations

Four Helicopters and Two Air Tactical Platforms will continue to assist ground crews in achieving containment goals. 

Fire retardant drops may be available.

Road Closures

Road blocks will be in place on Highway 12.  Motorists are asked to find alternate travel routes. The Meadville Avenue and Norden Road are also closed to traffic.

Evacuations: 

Volunteer evacuations are still in place for Meadville.

Niobrara River is closed for recreational use between County Line and Brewer bridges.

Fire stats at a glance:

Start Date: July 20, 2012

Containment: 15%

Cause: Lightning

Acreage: 65,580 total

Personnel: 239

Aviation : (3) Type (1) National Guard Black Hawks, and 1 Type 2

Engines: 30

Injuries: 3 (minor)

Structures destroyed: 10 and associated outbuildings

Structures/outbuildings threatened: 80

* North Central Development Center has established a Pay Pal account for funds to support fire departments

(Posted 11:30 a.m. July 24)

The North Central Development Center has established an online Pay Pal account that allows those who would like to donate funds to support the firefighters fighting the Fairfield Creek, Wentworth and Hall fires.
Go to Facebook and like the North Central Development Center. A link to the Pay Pal account can be found on the NCDC Facebook page.
For those not on Facebook, make checks payable to the North Central Development Center, 335 N. Main St., Ainsworth, NE 69210. Write fire relief on the check.
All donations are tax deductible, and 100 percent of the money donated will be used to support the firefighting efforts and support the victims who have lost their homes.

* Springview fire chief says Wentworth, Hall fires pushed back into Niobrara River canyons, 1 home lost west of Springview when fire jumped Highway 12

(Posted 11:15 a.m. July 24)

Springview Fire Chief Scott Hallock said crews worked through the night to push back the Wentworth and Hall fires southeast of Springview that raced north Monday afternoon fueled by the heat and strong south winds.
"We have both those fires contained to the canyons, but they could flare up again today with the wind," Hallock reported at 11 a.m. Tuesday from the Springview Fire Hall.
Hallock said the Wentworth and Hall fires were kept clear of homes in southeastern Keya Paha County, but one home west of Springview was damaged Monday evening when the Fairfield Creek fire jumped the northern containment at Highway 12 approximately 3 miles west of Cub Creek, 6 miles west of Springview.
Hallock praised the volunteers working in the Springview Fire Hall to keep the front lines supplied with water and food.
"They were making food and water runs out to the guys at 3 and 4 a.m. this morning," Hallock said.
He reported federal forces were assisting with the Hall and Wentworth fires, and fire lines would continue to be created with some back-burning to try and keep the fires from moving north rapidly if they again move up out of the river canyons.
To hear the complete report with the Springview fire chief, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Scott Hallock Tuesday 11AM Fire Report.mp3

* Susan Ford with the Rocky Mountain Incident Management team checks in with an update on the fire response efforts

(Posted 10:45 a.m. July 24)

audio clips/Susan Ford incident management Tuesday report.mp3

* Firefighters describe conditions at the front line of the fires

(Posted 9:30 a.m. July 24)

Ainsworth Volunteer Firefighter Brandon Evans said he has never seen anything like the fire burning in the Niobrara River valley.
It is unbelievable," Evans told KBRB's Graig Kinzie Tuesday morning as his crew was getting its marching orders and preparing to head back out for another day on the fire lines. "I never imagined something like this could happen. I hope we never see anything like it again."
Evans said the crews are basically trying to surround the Niobrara River valley and put out fires as they jump out of the canyons.
"We have seen fire moving at more than 60 mph," Evans said.
Ainsworth Firefighter Jeff Keezer said his crew was out 32 hours straight from the time the Fairfield Creek Fire ignited Friday morning north of Johnstown until they grabbed a break Saturday morning.
"After we got a little break, we went back out for another 24 hours," Keezer said.
Keezer said trying to get ahead of the flames when they break out of the canyons is not an easy task for the crews on the front line.
"When it breaks out, you are moving fast and driving hard over some very rough terrain," Keezer said.
To hear the complete report with the firefighters, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Report w firefighters Evans & Keezer.mp3

* Region 24 manager says crews made progress overnight, another tough day ahead today

(Posted 9:15 a.m. July 24)

Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox told KBRB Tuesday morning progress was made overnight to push the numerous fires burning in Brown, Keya Paha and Cherry counties back into the Niobrara River basin after gusting south winds Monday caused the fire to break out at several locations.
Fox said the Wentworth Fire exploded Monday, but crews there pushed it back south into the canyons and are now working on fire lines in anticipation of strong south winds again today.
Fires continue to burn in several locations. He said the western edge of the Fairfield Creek fire was still burning west of Norden in the Rocky Ford area, and fires were still burning on both the north and south sides of the Niobrara River.
The hear the complete report Tuesday with the Region 24 emergency manager, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Doug Fox Tuesday AM report.mp3

* Ainsworth fire chief says ground units struggling to keep up with fires; asks Sparks residents to be on alert in case fire continues west

(Posted 9:15 p.m. July 23)

Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala says the 300 to 400 fire personnel are doing their best to knock down fires that are flaring to the north out of the Niobrara River valley at numerous locations, pushed by gusting south winds and extreme heat on Monday.
Fiala said the Fairfield Creek Fire's western edge is burning rapidly, and the small community of Sparks should be on notice that an evacuation may be necessary on Tuesday if the fire continues on its current path.
"Today, the aerial units were giving the ground forces their only chance to keep up," Fiala said. "If we can keep the wind down on Tuesday, we might be able to get on top of it a little."
During the late afternoon hours Monday, a portion of the Fairfield Creek Fire broke the northern containment line on Highway 12 approximately 3 miles west of Cub Creek.
"It burned about 150 acres north of Highway 12, but the fire resources in that area got it knocked down," Fiala said. "It would have been a huge fire in that terrain if had kept burning north, and there would have been no place to stop it."
Fiala also commended the work of the crews that battled the Wentworth and Hall fires in southeastern Keya Paha County on Monday afternoon.
"The Wentworth Fire blew up in the early afternoon hours," the Ainsworth fire chief said. "Those guys were working really hard to slow that fire down."
For the complete Monday night report with Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Fire Chief Brad Fiala Monday Night.mp3

* Fairfield Creek Fire reportedly crosses Highway 12 west of Springview

(Posted 5:45 p.m. July 23)

KBRB has received reports that a portion of the Fairfield Creek Fire has moved across Highway 12 west of Springview, which had been the northern boundary of the fire that has been burning since Friday morning.
The fire reportedly jumped the highway approximately three miles west of Cub Creek.
Firefighters are continuing to battle extreme weather conditions in addition to the fires, and are working to try and keep the flames from breaking free to the north of the river valley in several areas.
KBRB will try and bring listeners an evening update on the status of the Fairfield Creek, Wentworth and Hall fires.

* Area departments trying to head off fires in southeastern Keya Paha County

(Posted 5 p.m. July 23)

Springview Fire Chief Scott Hallock said crews in southeastern Keya Paha County are struggling to slow down the Wentworth Fire and the Hall Fire that have jumped out of the Niobrara River valley and are being pushed northwest by the wind.
Hallock said the Wentworth Fire is now eight miles southeast of Springview, moving to the northeast, and the Hall Fire is located farther east in southeastern Keya Paha County.
Hallock said getting enough water to the fire crews is a big issue at this point, as tankers are doing their best to keep up with demand. Firefighters on the ground are also trying to coordinate with one of the Blackhawk helicopters being used to drop water from the air.
For the complete report with Springview Fire Chief Scott Hallock, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Scott Hallock update on southeastern KPC fires.mp3

* Firefighter and EMT Ann Fiala discusses the volunteer effort

(Posted 4:45 p.m. July 23)

Ann Fiala, a firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician who is helping to coordinate the volunteers assisting the front lines with food and water, told KBRB Monday afternoon she continues to be overwhelmed by the way the communities have come together to support the firefighting effort.
For the full report with Fiala, including how to assist the volunteer effort, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Ann Fiala report on volunteer effort.mp3

* Fox reports 3 fires jumping out of Niobrara canyons fueled by dry, south winds

(Posted 4 p.m. July 23)

In addition to the Wentworth Fire in southeastern Keya Paha County that has jumped out of the Niobrara River basin and is moving northeast, Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox said a new fire, being referred to as the Hall Fire, is now burning in southeastern Keya Paha County east of the Wentworth Fire, and a third fire has jumped out of the river canyons in western Keya Paha County. These flare-ups are in addition to the large Fairfield Creek Fire that continues to burn in the river canyons in northwestern Brown and southwestern Keya Paha counties.
To listen to the full report with Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Doug Fox Monday Afternoon Report.mp3

* Wentworth Fire southeast of Springview breaks containment, heading northeast

(Posted 2:15 p.m. July 23)

During the late morning and early afternoon hours on Monday, the fire burning in southeastern Keya Paha County known as the Wentworth Fire broke containment in the Niobrara River basin canyon area and is now moving over open ground to the northeast.
Springview Fire Chief Scott Hallock said the fire is moving quickly, and personnel from several departments are en route to try and get ahead of the fire as it moves to the northeast.
Hallock said, if its present direction holds, the fire should miss Burton, but it could move close to that community if the departments cannot get it slowed down.
Residents potentially in the fire's path have been notified. Temperatures at 2 p.m. were already 104 degrees and climbing, with south winds at 16 gusting to 25 mph.
To hear the full report with Springview Fire Chief Scott Hallock, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Scott Hallock - Wentworth Fire.mp3

* Federal team coordinating firefighting efforts from conference center

(Posted 11:30 a.m. July 23)

The Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team 2 Bravo has set up in the Ainsworth Conference Center to help coordinate firefighting efforts on the Fairfield Creek Fire. This is the third wildland fire to which the team has been deployed during 2012.
KBRB's Graig Kinzie spoke with Susan Ford, the team's public information officer, Monday in the conference center.
Ford said aerial infrared data shows the southwestern and southeastern edges of the Fairfield Creek Fire are continuing to burn at a very high temperature. She said their aerial surveillance of the fire showed it had burned approximately 50,000 acres. Estimates have ranged from 50,000 to 100,000 acres that have burned since the fire started Friday morning in the Fairfield Creek area.
To hear the complete report with Ford, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Rocky Mountain Incident Management.mp3

* Meadville Avenue, Norden Road, Highway 12 remain closed

(Posted 10 a.m. July 23)

Brown County Sheriff Bruce Papstein reported Monday morning to KBRB that the Norden Road and Meadville Avenue in both Brown and Keya Paha counties, and Highway 12 in Keya Paha County remain closed to traffic.
Papstein said, with fire equipment traveling the narrow roads, other vehicle traffic is prohibited. He warned people to stay away from the area. Law enforcement officials have had to warn several motorists to turn around who were trying to make their way toward the Niobrara River for a closer look at the fire.
To hear the complete report with Sheriff Papstein, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Sheriff Papstein Road Closure Report.mp3

* Fox reports another home lost Sunday night, 1 feared lost found still standing

(Posted 8:30 a.m. July 23)

Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox said he plans to tour the area to assess the damage from the Fairfield Creek Fire, which has been burning since Friday morning in northwestern Brown County and southwestern Keya Paha County.
More than 100,000 acres have burned. Fox said six homes have been lost to the fire. One home feared lost in the Norden area was found still intact with only the outbuildings burned. That home was one of several in the Norden area that were saved from destruction, though others were lost.
However, Fox said the fire again jumped the Niobrara River to the south, where it destroyed a home in the Fairfield Creek area Sunday night. He said the fire is moving quickly west, and is now burning several miles west of Norden. Another finger of the fire is burning in the Rocky Ford area of Cherry County.
Fox said the wind will be the main factor on Monday, and could cause additional problems. He said the backfire efforts west of Meadville has stopped the fire for the time being from moving east. Those backfires were set approximately five miles west of Meadville to remove the dry vegetation on which the fire is feeding.
The fire is still burning in Brown County south of the Niobrara River, and is currently west of the old Plum Creek dam.
To hear the complete report from Monday morning with the Region 24 emergency manager, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Doug Fox Monday Report.mp3

* Heineman reports state assets being brought to bear on Fairfield Creek Fire

(Posted 8:30 a.m. July 23)

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman told KBRB Monday morning state and federal resources have been brought in to assist with the effort to contain the Fairfield Creek Fire.
Heineman said a federal incident management team has taken control of the coordination of the firefighting efforts. He said the federal team has extensive experience in fighting wildland fires.
To hear the full report with Gov. Heineman, click on the audio link below:

audio clips/Gov Heineman Monday Report.mp3

* Fairfield Creek Fire 50 percent contained, but tentative with Monday winds expected; 6 homes lost thus far

(Posted 8:30 p.m. July 22)

In a report with KBRB's Graig Kinzie Sunday evening, Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox estimated the Fairfield Creek Fire was 50 percent contained, though that figure could easily change Monday as southwest winds are forecast at 10-20 and gusting to 30 mph.
Fox said six homes have been destroyed by the fire since it started Friday morning north of Johnstown from a lightning strike. The fire tore through the Norden area Friday, but Fox said some homes have been saved in that area.
As of Sunday evening, the western edge of the fire was the most aggressive, burning rapidly west of Norden and potentially endangering three homes. Fire breaks burned Sunday west of Meadville have helped slow the eastern movement of the fire and protect the Meadville area for another day. The northern edge of the zone remains at Highway 12, and the southern edge of the fire continues to jump south of the Niobrara River.
Fox said the fire that started in southeastern Keya Paha County Saturday evening due to a lightning strike has been contained to the river canyons. No homes have been lost in that fire.
For the complete report Sunday with Region 24 Manager Doug Fox, click on the link below:

audio clips/Doug Fox Sunday Evening Report.mp3

* Updated information from the American Red Cross

(Posted July 22)

KBRB's Graig Kinzie spoke with Red Cross volunteer Susan Epps Sunday on the activities of the organization, which has set up a shelter at Ainsworth Community Schools to aid firefighters and those who have been displaced by the Fairfield Creek Fire.
Also, Ainsworth Fire Hall volunteers reported they now have a sufficient number of coolers to transport water to the front lines of the fire. They again thank everyone who has made donations to the firefighting effort.
To hear the full report with Susan Epps of the Red Cross, click on the link below:

audio clips/Red Cross Sunday update.mp3

* NCDC setting up online avenue to assist firefighting effort

(Posted July 22)

The North Central Development Center is in the process of setting up an online shopping cart for all of the local departments and those who have been impacted by the fire.
All donations will be tax-deductible. Anyone who would like to help with the effort can go online to donate to the departments. As soon as everything is set up, more information will be posted. Items the departments have requested include an ice truck, supplies and items for the families who have lost their home. The North Central Development Center thanks everyone who is supporting the effort to control the Fairfield Creek Fire.

* Fiala reports fire still threatening Meadville area, impossible to control

(Posted July 22)

Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala said two Ainsworth firefighters were injured while working on the front lines of the Fairfield Creek Fire on Saturday. Both firefighters were injured while working on the fire lines. They were taken to the Cherry County Hospital, where they were treated and released.
Fiala said the difficult terrain and the high level of fuel in the Niobrara River valley are making the fire almost impossible to slow down. Fiala said a large amount of resources are being utilized to protect Meadville. He said C-130 tankers are being flown into the area dropping fire retardant, and three Blackhawk helicopters are taking water from area dams and dropping it in certain areas.
Fire lines are in the vicinity of the Coleman Creek canyon west of Norden on the fire's western front, west of Meadville on the eastern front, Highway 12 on its northern boundary, and just south of the Niobrara River on its southern boundary.
Winds are not expected to blow at more than 10 to 15 mph for the remainder of Sunday, and will generally be from the northwest. However, on Monday, winds are expected out of the south at 15-20 mph with gusts to 30 mph.
To hear the full report from Fire Chief Fiala, click on the link below:

audio clips/Brad Fiala Sunday Fire Report.mp3

* Heineman activates Emergency Operations Plan; 3 Blackhawk helicopters dropping water on Fairfield Creek Fire

(Posted July 22)

Gov. Dave Heineman has activated the State Emergency Operations Plan in response to the fire emergency in Brown and Keya Paha Counties. Saturday, Heineman surveyed firsthand the affected areas in north central Nebraska and met with local responders in Ainsworth, Long Pine and Norden.

“I am continually impressed with the hard work of Nebraskans in difficult situations,” Heineman said. “The local communities are working very hard and are supportive of the efforts of local responders and firefighters, including providing aid in the forms of food and water. We will continue to work closely together as we fight these fires.”

The Nebraska National Guard continues to mobilize available resources as the response grows. This includes the mobilization of three Nebraska Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters equipped with “Bambi buckets” and approximately 28 personnel to provide support to local firefighters fighting a wildfire in Keya Paha and Brown Counties at the request of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency. The helicopters are equipped with “Bambi buckets” which can scoop water from local sources and place the water where needed by ground firefighters.

The Nebraska National Guard is also preparing to send up to 35 additional ground, red-card certified Nebraska National Guardsmen to support local firefighters if needed.

Resources from the Nebraska State Patrol, Nebraska Department of Roads, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and the State Fire Marshal’s Office are also responding to the emergency.

At the beginning of this month, Heineman authorized an emergency declaration for statewide drought and fires that allows state personnel and resources to assist with emergency situations and prevention, and allows maximum flexibility to the state to deploy Nebraska National Guard and Nebraska Emergency Management Agency assets and resources as needed.

The governor and the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency will continue to monitor the situation throughout the state, as the drought continues.

* Gov. Heineman reports additional state resources on the way to battle fire

(Posted July 21)

Calling in Saturday evening to KBRB, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman said two additional Blackhawk helicopters and members of the Nebraska National Guard would be in the area Sunday to help combat the Fairfield Creek Fire, which as of Saturday evening had burned to within four miles west of Meadville.
Heineman said the state of Nebraska has declared a state of emergency to allow for the use of additional state and federal resources to combat wild fires in the state.
The complete audio report with Gov. Heineman can be accessed by clicking the link below.

audio clips/Gov Heineman Report Saturday.mp3

* Fairfield Creek Fire has now burned approximately 100,000 acres

(Posted July 21)

Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox said the Fairfield Creek Fire was now burning out of control on Saturday evening. Despite massive efforts from fire departments representing almost one-third of Nebraska, the fire is burning faster than allows for fire lines to be established.
Fox said firefighters were beginning to experience major fatigue and heat-related problems, and a few firefighters have been injured in non-fire incidents relating to digging fire suppression lines.
The fire, at last report, was located four to five miles west of Meadville, which has been evacuated. The fire on Friday devastated the small community of Norden on the north side of the Niobrara River in Keya Paha County.
Additional fires have sparked southeast of Springview Saturday evening from another round of lightning strikes, and some of the firefighting resources from the Fairfield Creek Fire were moved to suppress those fires before they spread.
The complete report with Region 24 Manager Doug Fox is located below. Click on the link for the audio report.

audio clips/Doug Fox Saturday Update.mp3
 

* Brown County Ambulance Service requests towels, ice packs

(Posted July 21)

Anyone with towels and ice packs to spare, please drop them off at the Brown County Ambulance Service. The towels and ice packs will be used to help aid in cooling down firefighters battling the Fairfield Creek Fire.

Some area retailers are running low on water and ice. Deliveries are expected again tomorrow. Stay tuned to KBRB for reports on inventory supply.

* Report with Red Cross organizer Susan Epps

(Posted July 21)
(Click on the link below for the audio report)

audio clips/Red Cross Report.mp3

* Red Cross volunteers have arrived at Ainsworth Community Schools

(Posted July 21)

The American Red Cross has opened a shelter for people displaced by the Niobrara River Canyon Fire in north central Nebraska.  The shelter is located in the Ainsworth Community Schools facility at 520 E. Second St. Anyone displaced by the fire is urged to come to the shelter for a safe place to sleep, a meal, minor first aid, referrals and a shoulder to lean on. Volunteer teams will continue to provide food and hydration to the firefighters from 16 departments battling the wildfire.
As soon as conditions are deemed safe by local authorities, additional Red Cross volunteers will arrive to assess damage to area homes and conduct interviews with affected families. Food, clothing, shelter, comfort and care will be provided based on need. Snacks and drinks will be provided to area residents as well.

* Red Cross setting up emergency shelter at Ainsworth Community Schools

(Posted July 21)

Two teams of Red Cross volunteers from Grand Island and North Platte are setting up an emergency shelter at Ainsworth Community Schools for residents evacuated from the path of the Fairfield Creek Fire.
The Red Cross will also help provide meals and hydration to firefighters from the now more than 16 departments trying to battle the fire in the Niobrara River Valley.
More Red Cross volunteers are standing by. The Red Cross will work with local agencies and community organizations to ensure that the needs of first responders and those who have been evacuated are met.
To make a donation to the Red Cross Disaster Relief, call 1-800-REDCROSS or visit the web at www.redcross.org.

* Emergency personnel evacuating area east of the Norden Bridge to Highway 183

(Posted July 21)

Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox has issued an evacuation notice for all residents of the Niobrara Valley from the Norden Bridge east to Highway 183. This evacuation notice includes Meadville and the surrounding area.
The Fairfield Creek Fire is moving quickly to the east today, and with the dry and hot conditions and the steep terrain.
Those people east of the Norden Bridge to Highway 183 need to evacuate to the south, not to the north. Those evacuees are asked to report to the Ainsworth Community Schools, where the Red Cross has set up a temporary shelter.
The Brown County Ambulance Service is asking for donations of ice packs and towels to help cool down firefighters who have been battling the fire since it started before 10 a.m. Friday.
Stay tuned to KBRB for the latest information on the Fairfield Creek Fire.

* Updated Fairfield Creek Fire Report with Region 24 Emergency Manager Fox

(Posted at 8 a.m. Saturday)

(click on the link below)

audio clips/Doug Fox Fire Update.mp3

Fox reported the fire has now burned more than 30,000 acres, with numerous structures destroyed. Firefighters are trying to contain the fire to a line south of Highway 12, and fire lines have been set up both east and west of Norden. Fox said the fire is still raging in the Norden area. While firefighters try and contain the fire from the east and the west, aerial support is being brought in from South Dakota and other areas. A Blackhawk helicopter is dropping water on the flames, and a tanker plane from Rapid City will be utilized to drop a slurry mixture on the flames.
Fox said any food, water and ice donations for the firefighters can be taken to the Ainsworth Fire Hall. Highway 12 west of Springview remains closed. No traffic is allowed anywhere near the Norden area, which has been completely evacuated.

* Audio report with Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala Friday evening

* Fox reports leading edge of Fairfield Creek Fire 6 to 7 miles wide

(Posted 8 p.m. July 20)

Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox is reporting the leading edge of the Fairfield Creek Fire is between 6 and 7 miles wide as it moves through Keya Paha County north of Highway 12.
"The wind is starting to switch a little, so we may be able to start slowing this thing down," Fox said.
The fire has burned several thousand acres in northern Brown County and southern and central Keya Paha County, including extensive damage in the community of Norden. Numerous homes and structures in the Norden area have been damaged, though Fox said the exact number of homes damaged won't be known until the area can be surveyed.
Fox said more firefighting assets continue to move into the area, as units from the six-county North Platte Mutual Aid District are making their way to the area from as far south as Curtis. Fox said those firefighters will concentrate on mopping up hot spots Saturday in both Brown and Keya Paha counties.
A large air tanker from Rapid City, S.D. will also be in the area Saturday, as will a water-carrying helicopter from Lincoln.
No injuries have been reported from the fires, though Fox said some firefighters were being treated for symptoms relating to heat stress. A Long Pine Volunteer Fire Department truck was destroyed by the Fairfield Creek Fire, and a second truck belonging to the South Brown County Fire Department was damaged fighting a second fire south of Long Pine Friday afternoon, though Fox said that truck will be salvageable but will require new wiring.
Fox will again appear on KBRB Saturday morning to provide an update on the firefighting activities and the extent of the damage.

* Fire does severe damage to Norden area, jumps Highway 12 containment line

(Posted July 20 at 6:30 p.m.)

The small community of Norden has been severely damaged by a fast-moving fire that began at 9:45 a.m. Friday north of Johnstown, jumped the Niobrara River and broke through a containment line on Highway 12 in Keya Paha County.
Recapping the events since the fire was first reported 13 to 14 miles north of Johnstown, the flames moved quickly through the Fairfield Creek area and jumped across the Niobrara River. The fire began moving north through Keya Paha County. Residents of Norden and the surrounding area were evacuated ahead of the fire reaching the community.
Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox told KBRB Radio's Graig Kinzie Friday evening most of the Norden area has sustained extensive damage. No injuries have been reported due to the fire, but the Long Pine Rural Volunteer Fire Department did lose a fire truck to the blaze, and another truck belonging to the South Brown County Fire Department was damaged fighting another Friday afternoon fire south of Long Pine. Fox said that truck is salvageable with new wiring.
"We haven't had any injuries," Fox said. "People were evacuated ahead of time. Some of our firefighters are experiencing some symptoms of heat stress."
Temperatures Friday again soared to near 105 degrees, and south winds gusting to 25 mph led to the fire moving quickly through the area already dealing with severe drought.
As of 6 p.m. Friday, the fire had burned an area more than 10 miles long and reportedly up to four miles wide in some areas near Norden.
"The fire is moving faster than we can keep up with," Fox said after the blaze jumped a containment line set up on Highway 12 in Keya Paha County.
Some residents living north of Highway 12 in northern Keya Paha County and into southern Tripp County, S.D., are being evacuated. Highway 12 has been closed to traffic west of Springview.
Firefighters from the Ainsworth, Johnstown, Wood Lake, Long Pine, Bassett, Springview, Calamus, Raven and South Brown County departments battled what is being referred to as the Fairfield Creek Fire, while the Ainsworth, Long Pine, Bassett and Stuart fire departments fought the fire south of Long Pine. That fire was brought under control by 5 p.m. Friday. Damage from the fire south of Long Pine was limited to pasture ground and the loss of the South Brown County Fire Department truck.
Fox reported additional fires were burning north of Merriman in Cherry County on both sides of the Niobrara River, and east of the Spencer Dam in Boyd County. All of the fires in the area Thursday night and Friday morning were sparked by lightning from a storm that carried extensive lightning but little rain.
Aerial support was utilized, but Fox said the numerous buckets of water dropped from the plane were not effective in slowing down the fire in Keya Paha County.
The extent of the damage is not yet known, but thousands of acres and numerous structures, including homes, have now been burned by the Fairfield Creek Fire.
Brown County Board of Commissioners Chairman Buddy Small on Friday signed a declaration asking for disaster assistance for the county stemming from the wildfires burning in northern and southern Brown County.
Dozens of volunteers flooded the Ainsworth Fire Hall with bottled water, sports drinks, ice and coolers to send to the front lines of the fires. Organizer Heather Walnofer said the outpouring of support from the area has been overwhelming.
Stay tuned to KBRB for additional information.

* Fire crosses Niobrara River, Norden area evacuated

(Posted July 20 as of 4:50 p.m.)

The fire burning north of Johnstown has crossed the Niobrara River, pushed by strong south winds. The Keya Paha County Sheriff's Department confirmed at 4:45 p.m. firefighters are attempting to contain the fire to an area south of Highway 12 in Keya Paha County.
Norden residents and those in Keya Paha County between the Niobrara River and Highway 12 in the Norden area have been evacuated from their residences.
Traffic is prohibited in the area until the fire has been contained.
The Keya Paha County Sheriff's Department is asking for anyone with a large disc to call the sheriff's department at 402-497-3201, as firefighters are trying to utilize that type of equipment to create a containment area and keep the fire from crossing Highway 12.
The Brown County Sheriff's Department reported just before 5 p.m. Friday the fire burning south of Long Pine had been brought under control by the Long Pine, Ainsworth, Stuart and Bassett departments. A Brown County Rural Fire Department truck was damaged fighting the fire south of Long Pine, though no injuries were reported.
No structure damage has been reported with either fire, though that could change as the fire moves its way from the Niobrara River north into the Norden area in Keya Paha County.
Brown County Board of Commissioners Chairman Buddy Small on Friday signed a declaration asking for disaster assistance for the county stemming from the wildfires burning in northern and southern Brown County. Aerial resources continue to be sought to battle the fire burning north of Johnstown that has now crossed into Keya Paha County.

* Another large fire burning south of Long Pine

(Posted July 20)

Area fire resources continue to be taxed to the limit as another large fire has been reported south of Long Pine.
According to Brown County Sheriff Bruce Papstein, just before 1 p.m. Friday a fire was reported 15 miles south of Long Pine on property owned by Glenna Abbott. Resources from the Ainsworth, Long Pine, Bassett and Stuart volunteer fire departments responded to fight that fire while numerous area departments continue to fight a large fire north of Johnstown.
According to Papstein, a South Brown County fire truck was damaged by the fire south of Long Pine, but no injuries have been reported.
Area residents continue to volunteer at the Ainsworth Fire Hall, filling coolers with donated water, sports drinks and ice to get to the firefighters as they work in the 100-plus degree heat. Dozens of volunteers were working in the fire hall early Friday afternoon to get coolers of cold drinks headed to the front lines of the fires.
Volunteer organizer Heather Walnofer thanked the community for its support in answering the call for supplies.
"The response has been overwhelming," Walnofer said.
Papstein said the fire north of Johnstown continues to be pushed north by strong south winds, and firefighters are having a difficult time containing the blaze.
"It is a real bear," Papstein said. "It is just really tough for them to keep up with it right now. Thankfully, there has not been any structure damage."
Papstein said the fire has approached the Niobrara River, and there have been conflicting reports on whether it had possibly jumped the river. There has, as of yet, been no confirmation of the fire burning north of the river.
Stay tuned to KBRB for more information throughout the day.

* Firefighters battling large fire north of Johnstown

(Posted July 20)

Numerous area fire departments are battling a 1,000-acre fire that started Friday morning north of Johnstown due to a lightning strike.
According to Brown County Sheriff Bruce Papstein, the fire was reported at approximately 9:45 a.m. 13 to 14 miles north of Johnstown.
Firefighters from the Ainsworth, Johnstown, Wood Lake, Long Pine, Bassett, Springview, Calamus, Raven and South Brown County departments are on the scene trying to keep the fire from spreading.
Papstein said a plane is also on its way to drop water on the fire. He said residents in the area have been contacted and provided information. He said one residence was in jeopardy from the fire, which he estimated at between 800 and 1,000 acres.
Papstein urged people to stay away from the area and let the fire departments have room to work and try and contain the fire.
Stay tuned to KBRB for additional updates.

* Lightning sparks 500-acre fire northwest of Ainsworth Thursday

(Posted July 20)

A lightning strike Thursday night sparked a fire northwest of Ainsworth that burned more than 500 acres and prompted the mutual aid response of four fire departments to get the blaze under control.

According to Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala, a lightning strike sparked the fire at 8:45 p.m. approximately 5 miles west and 4 miles north of Ainsworth on property owned by Pat Schumacher.

Fiala said winds with the thunderstorm pushed the fire to the southwest onto ground owned by Taylor Johnson.

He said the fire remained on pasture ground but did work its way into a tree grove.

“It burned through the tree grove fast enough that it didn’t do much damage,” Fiala said. “It only burned the bottom of the trees.”

Fiala said firefighters were able to get the fire under control by using a county road and two cornfields to help block its advance.

Fiala said the fire was under control by 11:30 p.m., and firefighters returned to the fire hall by 12:30 a.m. Friday.

The Johnstown, Long Pine and Wood Lake fire departments provided mutual aid to the Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department.

“We are just waiting now to see if any more fires start up today from those lightning strikes last night,” the Ainsworth fire chief said.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department Weekly Summary

Feb. 23

* Received a report of suspicious activity in rural Brown County.

* Responded to a report of a dog running at large on South Maple St Ainsworth. The dog was transported to the Ainsworth Veterinary Clinic, where its owner claimed it.

* Provided traffic control for 300 head of cattle crossing Hwy 20 East of Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a loud vehicle running stop signs and tearing around Long Pine.

* The Brown County Ambulance Service transported an individual from the Conference Center to the Brown County Hospital.

* The Ainsworth Firemen responded to a report of a vehicle on fire East of Ainsworth.

 

Feb. 24 

* Investigated a one-vehicle accident without injury on Main St Ainsworth.

* The Brown County Ambulance Service transported an individual from a residence on East 4th St to the Brown County Hospital.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual North & West of Ainsworth.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual South & East of Ainsworth.

* The Johnstown Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual at the Ainsworth Golf Course.

 

Feb. 25

* Provided a welfare check on an Ainsworth resident.

* Responded to a report of a dog running at large in the Big John’s & Dollar General parking lot. The dog was transported to the Ainsworth Veterinary Clinic, where its owner claimed it.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual West of Ainsworth.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual North and West of Ainsworth.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual North of the old Drive In Theater. 

 

Feb. 26

* Assisted a business with a report of suspicious activity in Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of an underage driver, driving around the Ainsworth Schools.

* Responded to a report of a vicious dog running at large in Long Pine.

* Provided a welfare check on residents of rural Brown County.

* Responded to a report of a vehicle speeding up and down Walnut St. in Ainsworth.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual for North of Ainsworth.

 

Feb. 27

* Provided traffic control for 250 head of cattle crossing Hwy 20 East of Ainsworth.

* Assisted an individual with a report of possible animal neglect in Ainsworth.

* Provided traffic control for crossing Hwy 20 West of Ainsworth. The NE State Patrol assisted with this request.

* Assisted an individual with a report of damage to a residence on North Osborne St Ainsworth.

* The Brwn County Ambulance Service transported an individual from a residence in Long Pine to the Brown County Hospital.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual North of Long Pine.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual West of Long Pine.

 

 

Feb. 28

* Assisted an individual with a report of threats being made in Long Pine.

* Assisted an individual with a custody issue in Long Pine.

* Received a dog complaint in Long Pine. A verbal warning was issued.

* Responded to a report of a dog running at large at Big John’s parking area.

* Provided traffic control for 500 head of cattle crossing hwy 20 East of Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a juvenile disturbance on Main St. Long Pine.

* Arrested a subject and booked them into the Brown County Jail on charges of “Felon in Possession of a firearm”. The subject was released on bond.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual North & East of Long Pine.

 

March 1 

* Responded to a report of a vehicle horn honking continuously on 1st St Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of a vehicle tearing around Long Pine and sliding around corners.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued a burn permit to an individual North & West of Ainsworth.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual West of Long Pine.

* The Johnstown Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual North of Wood Lake.

* The Wood Lake Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual on Main St Wood Lake.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual Southwest of Ainsworth.

* The Raven Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual South of Ainsworth.

* The Long Pine Rural Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual North of Long Pine.

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept. issued a burn permit to an individual East & South of Ainsworth.

 

Weekly Summary

0 – Citations Issued

3 - Crime Stopper call received.

1 - Fix-it tickets were issued.

2 - Handgun permits were applied for.

24 - Incidents Reports

6 - 911 emergency calls received.

8 - Paper Service was served. (includes: 1 Search Warrant, 1 Writ of Assist, 6 Summons)

178 - Phone calls were received.

1 - Titles were inspected.

9 - Warnings were issued.  (These include written and verbal.)

 

2013 Year End Totals

 

Accidents Investigated – 91                                 Fire Calls Ainsworth

 

Ainsworth Calls Responded to – 689                  Accidents with Injuries - 6

 

Animal Cases – 16                                               One (1) Fatality

 

Board Of Health – 0                                            Accidents w/o Injuries - 5

 

Brown County Arrests – 74                                Assist other Agencies - 3

 

Burglaries – 3                                                     Burn Permits Issued - 123

 

Citations – 200                                                  Canyon Fires - 1

 

County Calls Responded to – 381                    Controlled burns (bldgs) - 2

 

Court Commitments – 13                                 Fire Alarms - 2

 

Crime Stopper Calls – 25                                 Garage Fires - 2

 

Criminal Cases – 41                                        Gas Meters & Leaks - 8

 

Dog Complaints –132                                     Grass Fires - 0

 

Domestic Assault Cases – 9                            Hay Bales - 2

 

Drug Cases – 11                                              House Fires - 5

 

Fix it tickets – 103                                           KBR Solid Waste out of control - 2

 

Handgun Permits – 77                                     Motor Fires/Irrigation & Sump - 2

 

Incident Reports – 1,213                                 Reports of Smoke - 1

 

Incoming Phone Calls – 8,617                        Storm Spotting - 5

 

Information Files – 33                                     Tree Fires - 3

 

Inmates Housed in Brown County – 104       Vehicle Fires - 3

 

Inmates Housed for other agencies – 3

 

Inmates Housed for NSP arrests – 14

 

Inmates – Females - 20

 

Inmates – Males – 84

 

Johnstown Calls Responded to - 10

 

Juvenile Cases – 14

 

Long Pine Calls Responded to - 133

 

Mental Health Cases – 11

 

MIP’s - 14

 

911 Calls – 516

 

Papers Served – 288

 

Sex Crimes – 4

 

Thefts – 23

 

Titles Inspected – 257

 

Total Traffic Stops – 805

 

Traffic cases – 56

 

Vandalism Cases –18

 

Written Warnings - 502

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