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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)

* Todd Doyle, 46, formerly of Newport 2 p.m. Aug. 2

* James Rolland Hytrek, 81, of Stuart 10:30 a.m. Aug. 1

* Meeting minutes or information located below for:

July 17 Brown County Commissioners

July 16 Ainsworth City Council

July 14 Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education

July 14 Nebraska Department of Roads one- and five-year roads plan

* Downed power line draws firemen northeast of Ainsworth overnight

(Posted 7:15 a.m. Aug. 1)

A downed power line northeast of Ainsworth sparked a small fire in the early morning hours Friday.
According to Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Jeff Keezer, at 1:30 a.m. Friday, a KBR Rural Public Power line broke approximately 1 mile north and one-half mile west of the Highway 20 and Highway 183 junction.
The downed line sparked a fire in the county road ditch. Keezer said KBR Rural Public Power employees de-energized the line, allowing firefighters to douse the flames. He said the fire was contained to about 50 feet of the county road ditch, and did not burn onto private property.
KBR Rural Public Power replaced the line, and firefighters returned to the fire hall by 2:30 a.m.

* Emergency personnel to host real-time training exercise Aug. 11

(Posted 7 a.m. Aug. 1)

The Brown County Hospital, Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department, Brown County Ambulance Service, Brown County Sheriff’s Department, Nebraska State Patrol and KBR Rural Public Power have planned an emergency exercise for 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 11.
The exercise has been planned to test and improve the overall preparedness of emergency personnel during a large-scale event. Responders will train as if responding to an actual emergency scene, and will follow all emergency protocols.
The training is a requirement for the Brown County Hospital to maintain its designation as a trauma center.

* Johnstown Post Office hours to be reduced in cost-saving measure

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Aug. 1)

Johnstown residents received bittersweet news Thursday during a meeting regarding the future of the Johnstown Post Office.

Tom O’Connor, the manager for post office operations in western Nebraska, said hours of operation for the Johnstown Post Office would soon be reduced, but the post office will remain open.

“The post office went out a few years ago and began the process of closing post offices,” O’Connor said. “That process was stopped, but now we are moving forward with a Post Plan to determine how many hours these post offices need to be open to serve the needs of customers.”

O’Connor said post offices will be open for two, four or six hours daily based on the volume of business done by each facility.

“Johnstown is looking at having the office open four hours,” the western Nebraska manager said. “We have identified the hours of operation as 8 a.m. until noon Monday through Friday.”

The Johnstown Post Office is currently open from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., and from 1 until 4 p.m. during the week. The office is open from 8:30 until 9:30 a.m. on Saturdays, and O’Connor said the open office hour on Saturdays would remain.

A survey of Johnstown postal customers indicated an overwhelming majority preferred keeping the post office open on reduced hours as opposed to closing the office. More than 91 percent of the surveys returned supported that option.

“I think everyone is well aware the U.S. Postal Service is losing money at a tremendous rate,” O’Connor said. “Online payments have depleted our first class mail volume. We are attempting to find solutions to cut down on the deficit.”

O’Connor said the hours of operation were based strictly on the number of customers served with either a post office box or curbside delivery for each zip code, and the revenue generated by each office.

Johnstown Post Master Lonnie Coleman said he was happy to see the Johnstown office remain open for four hours each day instead of only two.

“Once you get down to two hours of window time, you don’t have a lot of time to generate revenue,” Coleman said. “It is important to stay at that four hours.”

O’Connor said the times the mail arrives in and departs from Johnstown will remain the same.

“Mail will be picked up in the drop box at 4:25 p.m., just as it is now,” he said.

O’Connor encouraged the more than one dozen people in attendance to consider the U.S. Postal Service when having online packages shipped.

“Increased deliveries and additional revenue could bump Johnstown back up to six hours of operation,” O’Connor said. “The bottom line is we are not closing any post offices. Everything you can get now from the Johnstown Post Office you will still be able to get during the new hours.”

O’Connor said the new hours of operation will take effect sometime between Oct. 4 of this year and Jan. 9 of 2015. A 30-day notice will be posted before the hours change.

O’Connor said, additionally, postal distribution centers at Norfolk and Grand Island will be closed, and all mail in Nebraska will be routed through centers at Omaha and North Platte.

O’Connor, who is responsible for approximately 100 post offices in western Nebraska, said about half of those offices are seeing changing office hours. The Long Pine Post Office will be open six hours daily.

“In 2006, Congress passed a law requiring the U.S. Postal Service to prefund $5 billion annually in retirement benefits,” O’Connor said. “The post office has had to default on those payments the past few years. There are bills pending that would remove that burden and allow us to better manage our operations. However, Congress has been working on that bill for two years and can’t agree.”

He said the post office needs the freedom to negotiate with individual companies on shipping, something competitors Federal Express and UPS are able to do.

“The package business is something we are focusing on,” he said. “We are gaining market share there and are making inroads.”

O’Connor said, nationwide, between 13,000 and 14,000 post office locations will see reduced hours of operation as the U.S. Postal Service looks for ways to cut down on its more than $5 billion annual deficit.

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 2:30 p.m. July 31)

In addition to fines, each case carries $48 in court costs
Cary L. Gilkey, age 57, of Sandwich, Ill., charged with speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, fined $75.

Borana Gjoka, 23, of Omaha, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Mary L. Polhamus, 73, of Troy, Ohio, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Christopher P. Kelley, 23, of Omaha, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

William W. Cole, 38, of Norfolk, commercial vehicle brake violation, $50.

Gregory M. Caulfield, 43, of Ainsworth, unlawful/fictitious display of plates, $50.

Julie A. Tompkins, 30, of Sioux Falls, S.D., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

E.S. Hanson, 73, of Winner, S.D., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Tara N. Taylor, 16, of Long Pine, no operator’s license, $50.

Lisa Marie Cerra, 57, of Williston, Fla., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Katie M. Lindholm, 26, of Lincoln, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Troy Alan Dufek, 43, of Colome, S.D., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Frederick T. Bartell, 32, of Norfolk, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Jacob R. Nelson, 16, of Ainsworth, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Isaac A. Osnes, 18, of Valentine, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Evan K. Atkinson, 24, of Ainsworth, first offense littering, $100.

Kenneth L. Huggins, 68, of Ainsworth, violation of a ban on open burning, $100.

* FFA members invited to participate in annual Niobrara River trip

(Posted 10 a.m. July 31)

Ainsworth FFA Advisor Roger Lechtenberg reminds FFA members who would like to participate in the group’s annual Niobrara River trip on Tuesday, Aug. 5, to let him or an FFA officer know so the group can reserve enough tubes. There is no cost for FFA members to participate in the Niobrara River trip. The group will depart for the river at 10 a.m. Tuesday from the Subway parking lot.

* Bad bearing ignites hay bale north of Ainsworth Wednesday

(Posted 7 a.m. July 31)

The Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department responded to a report of a hay bale on fire Wednesday north of Ainsworth.

According to Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala, at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, a fire was reported 15 miles north of Ainsworth on property owned by Jason Appelt.

Fiala said a bearing on a baler went out, sparking a fire in a hay bale. He said Appelt was able to keep the fire contained to the bale. Upon arrival, firefighters unrolled the bale and extinguished the flames.

Fiala said there was no damage to the property, other than the loss of the hay bale.

“It is really getting dry out there,” the fire chief said.


(Courtesy photo)

Ainsworth speakers display bricks from Pilger Middle School that were presented to participants during the Nebraska All-Star Speech and Drama Festival Tuesday at Wisner-Pilger High School. Representing Ainsworth were, front row, left to right: Hayley Murphy, Hayes Chohon and Kirsten Gilliland. Back row: Quentin Wagner, Jack Arens, Clay Chohon, Damen Cleal, Miranda Raymond, Lauren Allen, Tessa Jacobsen and Tom Chohon.

* Ainsworth speech performers help June tornado victims

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

Over 200 performers, directors, judges, family and friends participated in the Nebraska All-Star Speech and Drama Festival held Tuesday at Wisner-Pilger High School, including several participants from Ainsworth led by Ainsworth High School speech coach Mary Rau.

The festival was a non-competitive collection of adults, college performers, national and state qualifiers and performers making their speech/drama debut.  The judges, who volunteered their time and efforts, selected several performers for “Outstanding Performance” recognition.  Among those receiving the outstanding performance awards were Angela Campbell, Hayes Chohon, Damon Cleal and Hayley Murphy representing Ainsworth.

Also representing Ainsworth Tuesday were Jack Arens, Clay Chohon, Miranda Raymond, Lauren Allen, Tom Chohon, Tessa Jacobsen and Kirsten Gilliland.

The purpose, according to festival director Gregg Moeller, was to raise money for the area’s June tornado victims. Over $2,000 was raised, but Moeller said the event achieved more than that.

 “This was a wide reaching collection of speakers and performers who came together to raise money for a very good cause, and it accomplished everything we hoped it could do, and more,” Moeller said. “With schools ranging from Class A to Class D-2, and coming from as far east as Pawnee City and as far west as Kearney and Ainsworth, the festival was a gathering of speech and drama performers who displayed their talents and had a great time.  It made me proud of my profession.” Eighteen schools were represented during the festival, which was directed by Moeller and Justin Aaberg of Stanton.

Two features were the one-act play performance of “Sealed for Freshness” by Cedar Valley High School (formerly North Loup-Scotia) and directed by Rachel Fox, and a debut performance of playwright Don Zolidis’ newest play, “This Side of Heaven”, with cast members made up of festival performers.  Zolidis has pledged his first year’s royalties to the festival’s tornado victims fund.

“The festival ended with the Zolidis play, which went wonderfully,” Moeller said.  “It brought the performers together for one final production.”

Moeller said that the generosity of the performers, their directors and their fans was overwhelming, and was key in the day’s success.

“I never in my wildest dreams pictured how successful this day went,” Moeller said. “It was a great day for a great cause.”

* Rock, Holt counties to receive federal assistance in wake of June storm

(Posted 8:45 a.m. July 30)

Rock and Holt counties will receive federal assistance for damage to public infrastructure after a federal disaster declaration was issued for 12 counties stemming from the damage during severe weather June 1-4.

Along with Rock and Holt counties, Burt, Butler, Cass, Hamilton, Nemaha, Pawnee, Polk, Thurston, Valley and Washington counties were declared part of the federal disaster area after tornadoes, straight-line winds, hail and flooding caused extensive damage.

“We appreciate the continued assistance from FEMA and the federal government to help our local and state entities deal with the public damage we’ve seen from the repetitive storms earlier this summer,” Bryan Tuma, assistant director of Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, said. “Now, we will focus on trying to secure SBA assistance for individuals and businesses who are also recovering from these storms and may still have unmet needs.”

The public assistance program helps pay certain costs to remove storm debris, take emergency protective measures and repair or replace disaster-damaged roads, bridges, public buildings, critical facilities, such as water, sewer and power systems and other public facilities.

Federal funding is also available statewide on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures that will help reduce or prevent the impacts of future disasters.

Gov. Dave Heineman also submitted a request Tuesday for disaster assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help Nebraskans in Cedar, Cuming, Dixon, Stanton and Wayne counties who were impacted by the June 14-21 severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding.

That action comes in the wake of an announcement by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that individual assistance for Cedar, Cuming, Dixon, Stanton and Wayne counties did not warrant federal disaster assistance. The decision came after a thorough review of all available information, including the results of joint local, state and federal preliminary damage assessments.  Level of insurance coverage is one factor that is considered, particularly because federal disaster assistance cannot duplicate insurance proceeds or assistance from other sources.

If granted, an SBA disaster declaration would make low-interest loans available to qualified individuals and businesses to help pay long-term recovery costs.

* Extension educator discusses hay, corn and soybean conditions on KBRB

(Posted 3:30 p.m. July 28)

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Educator Dennis Bauer visited with KBRB's Graig Kinzie Monday, discussing the progress of the 2014 hay crop and the corn and soybean conditions in north central Nebraska.
To hear the complete report, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Denny Bauer UN-L Extension 7-28 Report.mp3

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

(Posted 5:30 a.m. July 28)

July 20

* Responded to a report of a vehicle tearing around the city streets of Long Pine.

* Responded to a report of a vehicle & ATV tearing around the East part of Long Pine.

* Investigated a report of vandalism to a vehicle on East 3rd St Ainsworth.

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

* The Ainsworth Fire Dept responded to a report of a grass fire North of Ainsworth.

* Received a report of an irrigation system watering a county road in Brown Co.

 

July 21

* Responded to a request to remove an unwanted subject from a residence in Ainsworth. A subject was arrested & booked into the Brown Co Jail for Disturbing the Peace & Resisting.

* Responded to a vehicle with loud pipes driving around Ainsworth.

* Responded to a noise complaint on North Main St Ainsworth.

 

July 22

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

* Investigated a report of possible trespassing at the Ainsworth Swimming Pool.

* Booked a subject into the Brown County Jail for Theft.

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

 

July 23

* Responded to a report of a residential security alarm going off in rural Brown Co.

* Responded to a report of a possible intoxicated driver with an unrestrained child heading East bound on Hwy 20 from Cherry Co.

* Assisted an individual with a report of dogs going to the bathroom on their property on East 1st St Ainsworth.

 

July 24

* Investigated a report of possible vandalism to a camper on West 2nd St Ainsworth.

* The Long Pine Rural, South Pine, & Ainsworth Fire Depts. responded to a report of 2 fires South of Long Pine.

 

July 25

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

* Responded to a report of cattle out on Paradise Valley Rd South of Ainsworth.

* Assisted an individual with a report of suspicious juvenile activity in rural Brown Co.

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

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

 

July 26

* Responded to a report of a dog running at large on Hwy 20 & Ash St Ainsworth. The dog was transported to the Ainsworth Veterinary Clinic.

* Assisted an individual with a traffic complaint in Long Pine.

* Assisted two individuals with a report of a dog found East & North of Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of subjects speeding on South St Ainsworth.

* Assisted the Game & Parks officer with 2 dogs that were found wandering in Keller Park. The dogs were transported to the Ainsworth Veterinary Clinic.

 

Weekly Summary

0 - Crime Stopper call received.

2 - Fix-it tickets were issued.

0 - Handgun permits were issued

21 - Incidents Reports were taken.

2 - Paper Service was served. (Includes: 2 Summons)

176 - Phone calls were received.

4 - 911 emergency calls received.

4 - Titles were inspected.

6 - Traffic Citations were issued.

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

* Lightning from Thursday night storm sparks 3 fires in Brown County

(Posted 9:15 a.m. July 25)

Lightning from a Thursday night thunderstorm sparked at least three fires and sent three volunteer fire departments chasing flames.

At 8:45 p.m. Thursday, a fire was reported approximately 15 miles south of Long Pine on property owned by Glenna Abbott.

Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala said the Ainsworth, Long Pine Rural and South Pine fire departments responded to the call. On the way to that fire, Fiala said the Long Pine Rural Fire Department crew noticed smoke and flames from a second fire sparked by lightning off South Pine Avenue approximately 8 miles south of Long Pine near the end of the paved portion of the road.

The Ainsworth fire chief said the Long Pine trucks stopped to fight that fire, while the Ainsworth department continued south toward the original call.

He said rain from the thunderstorm helped quell the fire on Abbott’s property, and the Long Pine firefighters extinguished the second blaze.

After returning to the fire hall, Fiala said the Ainsworth department was called back out at 9:30 p.m. to a third fire report southwest of Ainsworth on the Salzman Ranch. He said lightning struck a bale, and Ainsworth firefighters arrived at that scene to help extinguish the bale.

“It is starting to dry out,” Fiala said. “These lightning strikes may show up again this morning as it warms up and the wind picks up.”

Fiala asked residents to keep an eye out in case areas from lightning strikes ignite today (Friday) after smoldering overnight.

* Brown County June unemployment rate of 3 percent well below state average

(Posted 10:45 a.m. July 24)

Brown County’s unemployment rate for the month of June checked in at 3 percent, according to figures compiled by the Nebraska Department of Labor. Brown County’s June rate was lower than the 3.3 percent rate of June 2013, but ticked up one-tenth of 1 percent from May’s 2.9 percent rate.

Brown County added 55 jobs between May and June, many of those seasonal positions. The county also added 58 people to its overall labor force, which resulted in the slight upswing in the unemployment rate between May and June despite the addition of 55 jobs in the county. In June, there were 1,887 people working in Brown County, and 58 who were collecting unemployment benefits.

Rock County’s June unemployment rate was the lowest in the area at 2.3 percent. That rate was up slightly from the 2.2 percent rate in May but was down substantially from the county’s 3 percent rate in June 2013.

There were 952 people employed in Rock County in June, with 22 people collecting unemployment benefits. Rock County added 38 jobs between May and June, but added 39 people to its overall labor force.

Keya Paha County’s unemployment rate in June was down more than a full percentage point from the previous year, from 4.3 percent in June 2013 down to 3.2 percent last month. The June rate in Keya Paha County was down four-tenths of 1 percent from May’s 3.6 percent rate.

There were 458 people employed in June in Keya Paha County, with 15 collecting unemployment benefits. Keya Paha County added 29 jobs between May and June and added 28 people to its labor force.

In other area counties of note, Cherry County’s 2.4 percent unemployment rate in June was down from 3 percent in June 2013 but up slightly from the 2.3 percent rate in May.

Cherry County added 121 jobs between May and June, and picked up an additional 125 people in the overall county labor force. There were 3,779 people employed in Cherry County in June, with 92 collecting an unemployment check.

Holt County’s June unemployment rate was 2.7 percent, down six-tenths of 1 percent from June 2013 but ticked up slightly from the 2.6 percent May rate.

Holt County had the greatest number of people employed in the area, with 6,538 working in June compared to 183 who were collecting unemployment benefits. Holt County added 165 jobs between May and June, and added 175 people to the county’s overall labor force.

Blaine County’s unemployment rate in June of 4.1 percent was the highest in the area, and was the only area county to have a higher rate than the state average of 3.7 percent.

Blaine County’s rate was down, however, from 5 percent in June 2013 and was down from 4.4 percent in May. That county added 18 jobs between May and June, and added an equal number of workers to its labor force.

Boyd County’s June unemployment rate of 3 percent was down half a percent from June 2013, but was up from a rate of 2.8 percent in May.

Boyd County added 39 jobs between May and June, but added 42 people to its labor force to account for the slight increase in the unemployment rate. There were 1,177 people employed in Boyd County in June, with 36 collecting unemployment benefits.

Overall, Nebraska lost 2,800 jobs between May and June, despite the rural counties in north central Nebraska adding workforce.

There were 988,619 Nebraskans employed in June, with 36,119 collecting unemployment benefits.

Nebraska’s unemployment rate of 3.7 percent in June was down from a rate of 4.3 percent in June 2013, but was up from a rate of 3.4 percent in May.

Nebraska’s unemployment rate remains one of the lowest in the nation. The national unemployment rate has been improving steadily, and checked in at 6.1 percent in June.

* Sparking transformer ignites small fire Sunday northwest of Ainsworth

(Posted 10:15 a.m. July 21)

The Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department responded on Sunday to a grass fire northwest of Ainsworth caused by a spark from a transformer.
Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala said, at 3 p.m. Sunday, a spark from a KBR Rural Public Power District transformer ignited grass in a county road ditch 2 miles north and 1-1/2 miles west of Ainsworth.
Fiala said the grass in the area was green enough to keep the fire from moving quickly. It burned a stretch approximately 100 yards long by 15 feet wide in the county road ditch.
Firefighters extinguished the flames before they reached any private property. The fire chief said KBR Rural Public Power replaced the transformer, and power in the area was not affected.
Firefighters returned to the Ainsworth Fire Hall by 3:45 p.m.

* Rauscher Avenue closes Tuesday for milling project

(Posted 9 a.m. July 21)

Brown County Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin announced Rauscher Avenue west of Ainsworth will be closed beginning on Tuesday for approximately one week while millings are placed on the gravel road.
Turpin said Rauscher Avenue will be closed from Highway 20 north to 880 Road. The county is receiving millings from an Ainsworth Airport asphalt overlay project, and will place those millings on Rauscher Avenue to turn the road from a gravel to a paved surface between Highway 20 and 880 Road.
Barricades will be placed at the sites of the closure. Turpin will notify KBRB when Rauscher Avenue reopens to traffic.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

(Posted 5:45 a.m. July 20)

July 13

 

* Responded to a report of a vehicle tearing around the streets of Long Pine.

* Responded to a report of a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed on Maple Street in Ainsworth.

* The Brown County ambulance responded to an emergency call on N. Osborne St., Ainsworth. No one was transported at that time.

 

July 14

 

* Investigated report of a possible runaway juvenile in rural Ainsworth area.

* Responded to a report of cattle out on E. 8th St., Ainsworth.

* Assisted a transient located in Ainsworth.

* Deputies assisted by the Ainsworth and Long Pine rural fire departments attempted to locate a missing juvenile, possibly in the Ainsworth or Long Pine area.

* The Brown County ambulance transported an individual from a residence on E. 7th Ave., Ainsworth to the Brown County Hospital.

 

July 15

 

* Investigated a report of threats being made to a resident in Ainsworth.

* Responded to report of suspicious activity on S. Woodward St. in Ainsworth.

* Assisted an individual with a report of possible threats being made to a Long Pine resident.

 

July 16

 

* Responded to a report of the security alarm going off at a rural Ainsworth residence.

* Responded to a report of a vehicle driving erratically on the streets of Long Pine.

* Booked a subject into the Brown Co Jail on a court ordered commitment for driving under the influence.

 

July 17

 

* Responded to a traffic complaint west of Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of suspicious activity on Main Street Long Pine.

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

July 18

* Investigated a report of theft from a business in Ainsworth.

* The Brown County ambulance transported a patient from the Brown County Hospital to the Cherry County Hospital in Valentine and back to the Brown County Hospital. 

July 19 
* Responded to a report of the security alarm going off at a rural Ainsworth residence.
 
Weekly Summary

0 - Crime Stopper call received.

1 - Fix-it tickets were issued.

4 - Handgun permits were issued

15 - Incidents Reports were taken.

3 - Paper Service was served. (Includes: 1 Execution, 1 Subpoena, & 1 Harassment Protection Order)

153 - Phone calls were received.

5 - 911 emergency calls received.

3 - Titles were inspected.

4 - Traffic Citations were issued.

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

* Commissioners approve purchase of 2014 Caterpillar grader for roads department

(Posted 1:45 p.m. July 17)

The Brown County Commissioners on Tuesday approved the purchase of a 2014 Caterpillar 12M3 motor grader for use by the roads department.

The county received two bids for motor graders after advertising. Nebraska Machinery of Norfolk submitted a bid of $219,467 for the 2014 Caterpillar, and Murphy Tractor and Equipment of Grand Island provided a bid of $215,900 for a 2014 John Deer 672G motor grader. The prices both included trade-in for the county’s 1981 Caterpillar 140G motor grader.

Following discussion with the sales representatives for both pieces of equipment, and a recommendation from Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin, the commissioners approved the purchase of the Caterpillar from Nebraska Machinery.

In other business during Tuesday’s meeting, the board approved levy allocations for the Brown County Rural Fire Protection District, and the Brown County Agricultural Society.

The board approved a 4-cent levy for every $100 of property valuation in the county for the rural fire protection district. The 4-cent levy is the maximum levy that can be approved for a fire district without going to a vote of the people. Brown County voters approved an additional 6-cent levy for the rural fire protection district in November 2012 following the Niobrara River Valley wildfires. That additional levy was good only for the 2013-14 tax year, and the fire district will go back to receiving the 4-cent levy for the 2014-15 year.

The Brown County Agricultural Society requested a levy allocation of $35,000 for its general fund to operate the annual Brown County Fair, and an additional $5,000 to be placed in a sinking fund for improvements to the fairgrounds.

Following discussion, the board approved a $30,000 levy for the agricultural society’s general fund and an additional $2,500 for its sinking fund.

In a tourism item, the commissioners approved signing a permit application to the Nebraska Department of Roads to place a sign on the south side of Highway 20 near Johnstown on land owned by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

The sign will read, “Home of the Brown County Fair and Rodeo,” and will be located in Section 18, Township 30, Range 23.

After a public hearing in June resulting in the approval of special-use permits for the construction of two Viaero Wireless cellular towers in Brown County, the commissioners on Tuesday approved the subdivision of two parcels of land in the county the company plans to purchase as the sites to construct the cell towers.

The board approved subdividing a parcel in the eastern half of the northeastern quarter of Section 9, Township 25 North, Range 22 West, and a second parcel in the northeast quarter of Section 10, Township 27 North, Range 22 West.

Viaero Wireless plans to construct two cell towers between Ainsworth and Brewster in rural Brown County near Highway 7 to improve wireless coverage in southern Brown and northern Blaine counties.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 8 a.m. Aug. 5 in the lower level of the Brown County Courthouse.

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 12:45 p.m. July 17)

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

Larry J. Schumacher, age 53, of St. Helena, charged with first offense driving under the influence, fined $500, also sentenced to seven days in jail with credit for one day served, driver’s license revoked for six months, and ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

Emmanuel Schultz, 27, of Gothenburg, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25; also charged with no proof of insurance, $100.

Michael D. McDaniel, 23, of Clearwater, negligent driving, $50; also charged with failure to use a seat belt, $25.

Kyle Hobbs, 16, of Ainsworth, first degree criminal trespassing, ordered to serve six months of probation; also charged with minor in possession of alcohol, six months of probation.

Maggie Steinhauser, 20, of Ainsworth, minor in possession of alcohol, $300.

Paxton Fiala, 19, of Ainsworth, minor in possession of alcohol, $300.

Kylie M. Krieger, 17, of Atkinson, violation of curfew, $25; also charged with minor in possession of alcohol, sentenced to three months of probation and ordered to perform 20 hours of community service.

Kieron K. Rice, 17, of Ainsworth, violation of curfew, $25; also charged with minor in possession, sentenced to three months of probation and ordered to perform 20 hours of community service.

Kyle A. Erthum, 16, of Ainsworth, speeding 36 mph or more over the limit, $300; also charged with careless driving, $50.

Pamela Hollenbeck, 45, of Ainsworth, first offense reckless driving, $500, also sentenced to six months of probation, driver’s license revoked for 60 days, and ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

Tara N. Taylor, 16, of Long Pine, violation of curfew, $25.

Daniel S. Johnson, 36, of Ainsworth, overweight on an axle or group of axles, $75; no valid registration, $200.

Christopher T. Burke, 39, of Corsica, S.D., driving a commercial vehicle without a CDL permit, $100; also charged with failure to carry a fuel permit, $100; commercial vehicle marking violation, $50; commercial vehicle load securement violation, $100.

Donald O. Killion, 40, of Ainsworth, assault by mutual consent, sentenced to six months of probation.

Brooke C. Worden, 22, of Ainsworth, disturbing the peace, $100.

Steven R. Condon, 45, of Le Mars, Iowa, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Heidi Suzanne Spike, 40, of Sioux City, Iowa, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Nicole K. Stueckrath, 30, of Hoskins, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Michael Scott Johnson, 33, of Trinity, N.C., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Keaton Gracey, 20, of Ainsworth, minor in possession of alcohol, $300.

Trevor Modaff, 17, of Ainsworth, two counts of having a dog running at large, $25 for each count.

Julie A. Garrison, 53, of Johnstown, refusal to submit to a pretest, $100.

Kyle B. Hobbs, 16, of Ainsworth, violation of a provisional operator’s license, license impounded for 30 days.

Charity R. Fay, 35, of Ainsworth, overloading a front seat, $50; also charged with having a passenger under the age of 18 in the back of a vehicle, $25.

Rick L. Scott, 67, of Omaha, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Alison L. Moy, 29, of San Fransisco, Calif., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Jezrae J. Peacock, 15, of Long Pine, violation of curfew, $25.

Joshua L. Zeigler, 19, of Ainsworth, disturbing the peace, $100.

Brenda L. Smith, 52, of Ainsworth, first offense driving under the influence, $500, also sentenced to six months of probation, ordered not to drive for 60 days, and ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

* Ainsworth Conference Center bonds will be paid in full Aug. 19

(Posted 8:30 p.m. July 16)

During a light agenda Wednesday, the Ainsworth City Council voted to pay off early the remaining general obligation bonds for the Ainsworth Conference Center.

City Administrator Kristi Thornburg told the council the money was available to pay the remaining $355,000 in principal, which would save the city approximately $16,400 in additional interest payments.

The council approved making the remaining $355,000 principal payment, and the abbreviated interest amount of $3,631. With the resolution, the city will close out the bonds for the Conference Center on Aug. 19.

In other business during Wednesday’s meeting, the council agreed to have the city water department dig into the 300 block of North Maple Street and try and repair a water line that is leaking under the street.

Water Superintendent Brad Miller said the water main in that area is not good.

“This is the third or fourth time we have had to go in and work on it,” Miller said. “I would recommend we put in a new main line.”

Thornburg said the city won’t know how much of the line needs to be replaced until the water department can dig down and see what the problem is.

Councilman Chuck Osborn said he did not like to continue to use a Band-Aid approach to making the repairs, as each time the street is dug up it has to be repaired.

“If we are going to dig it up again, let’s fix it right,” Osborn said.

Councilman Kent Taylor said, “I don’t think you want to do any more than is absolutely necessary until we can go in and replace the entire street.”

Councilman Jake Adkisson agreed the entire three-block stretch of Maple Street from First to Fourth streets needed to be replaced, but more than 50 percent of the front footage was opted out of the city’s previous paving project by property owners.

“The entire street needs to be replaced, but I am not sure how you are going to get it passed,” Adkisson said.

The council, with Councilwoman Deb Hurless absent, agreed to have city employees dig out the leaking area, and if additional repairs were needed beyond the department’s scope to hire a contractor to replace a larger stretch of the water line.

By a 2-1 vote with Adkisson against, the council approved $2,890 in repairs to the Brown County Ambulance Service building.

Ambulance service representative Scott Goodloe said the repair bill was going to the city instead of the county because of a motor vehicle accident 16 years ago involving an Ainsworth Police Department vehicle striking the building.

“There are about 14 blocks that need to be repaired,” Goodloe said. “It is all from damage sustained from that vehicle accident.”

Mayor Russ Moody questioned why it took 16 years to make the repairs, since the city’s insurance could have covered the repairs if they had been made at the time of the accident.

Goodloe responded, “That is a good question, and my answer is I don’t know why it took 16 years to get it fixed.”

He said the portion of the building affected by the accident has deteriorated over the last few years, and it was now affecting additional foundation blocks.

Osborn and Taylor voted in favor of having the city pay the $2,890 quote from Seadore Masonry to repair the building. Adkisson voted against.

During her report, Thornburg said the city received a grant from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality to hold a tire amnesty event for 180 tons of tires.

“I hope to have the tire amnesty yet this fall,” the city administrator said. “We might not be able to do that. It will depend on the hauler’s availability. If we can’t get it done this fall, we will have the tire amnesty in the spring.”

Thornburg said the grant funds needed to be drawn down by June 2015.

She reported part-time city summer employees have painted the softball field restroom and the restroom at the Courthouse Park. She said the well house near the swimming pool has also been painted, and the summer employees are also painting fire hydrants and the pipe fence at East City Park.

Thornburg said the Ainsworth Swimming Pool will remain open through Aug. 12. Then, depending on the weather and staff availability, the pool may be open again for the weekend of Aug. 16-17 before closing for the year.

She said a company will be called after the pool closes for the season to try and identify the cause of a slow leak before the pool is drained for the season.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 13.

* Home-schooled students could attend 1 class at Ainsworth under amended policy

(Posted 9:45 p.m. July 14)

The Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education plans to craft a policy to make it easier for home-schooled children within the district to integrate into the public school system.

During Monday's meeting of the Board of Education, Superintendent Darrell Peterson said the district’s current policy requires a student to attend a minimum of half the school day.

Board member Scott Erthum said he would rather see a more lenient policy, allowing a student to attend one or two classes if they choose.

“If we can serve more kids, I think we should,” Erthum said. “That is what we are here to do. Those parents who home-school their children are still paying taxes for the public school.”

Peterson said there were 34 students within the district during the 2013-14 school year who received their education at home.

“No one has ever officially used our part-time student enrollment policy,” the superintendent said. “Some schools have a policy similar to ours. Some schools have no stipulations. Some schools have a maximum number of classes part-time students can attend.”

Peterson said the current policy fit in with the Nebraska Schools Activities Association, which requires a student to attend class for at least half the day to be eligible for NSAA activities.

Board member Brad Wilkins said he would also like to see a more lenient policy.

“There may be some home-schooled students who would only like to take one or two specialized classes.”

Peterson said he liked the idea of a home-schooled student having the ability to come in to Ainsworth Community Schools to take a class or two.

“There might be a few issues, but I don’t think there is anything we can’t overcome,” he said.

Board member Jim Arens said he was in favor of changing the policy, but he wanted to be sure the parent is still responsible for the attendance of any part-time students outside the public school classroom.

Peterson said he would explore some options that would amend the policy and allow part-time students to take up to four classes and remain part-time. If a student plans to take more than four classes in a year, they would be considered a full-time student and be required to attend a full day.

In other business during Monday’s meeting, the board approved the first reading of a policy relating to school attendance and excessive absenteeism.

Peterson said the Nebraska Legislature amended its guidelines for the third straight year, this time allowing school districts more flexibility in excusing absences related to school activities, medically documented absences and funerals.

Peterson said the amended policy would classify absences as either school-excused, self-excused or unexcused. A self-excused absence would occur when a parent informs the school a child will miss class for reasons other than for a funeral or for a medically documented illness.

If a student has five self-excused or unexcused absences in a semester, the student and parent are notified and must meet with school administrators.

“Schools will now have more latitude on excused absences for activities than we have had the past two years,” Peterson said.

He said schools also have more discretion on the cause of absences before notifying the county attorney of the missed class time.

“We can always make additional changes if we feel the need,” the superintendent said. “The Legislature makes changes to this policy about every year.”

Peterson said the new policy should limit the number of students who appear before the district’s Attendance Committee.

However, the students who do appear before the committee will now have limited excuses for the absences since the district will likely be excusing the legitimate absences ahead of time and not counting them toward the number of absences that triggers an appearance before the Attendance Committee.

The board approved the first reading of the amended policy, and also approved the first reading of a resolution to remove several previous policies no longer necessary since they will be covered under the new attendance policies.

In another approved first reading Monday, the board approved a policy relating to concussion protocol as approved by the Nebraska Legislature.

The concussion policy sets up a protocol for a student returning to regular classwork following a diagnosed concussion.

Secondary Principal Richard Gilson said all athletes in seventh through 12th grades are given a baseline test that can be used for comparison if an athlete suffers a concussion. However, he said no baseline tests are given at the elementary level, and baseline tests are not administered to seventh- through 12th-grade students who do not participate in athletics.

Wilkins said he would like to see the new policy placed on the district’s web site to better inform parents of the protocols for returning a student to normal classroom work following a diagnosed concussion.

The board also approved the second readings of policies relating to substance abuses and activity suspensions, district salary guidelines and the safe pupil transportation plan.

During the only other action item Monday, the board approved having Dana F. Cole and Co. of Ord continue to handle the district’s annual audit. Peterson said the company has performed the district’s audit since 2010, and has done quality work. The cost for the audit is approximately $7,300.

Peterson provided the board with a report on the total mileage traveled by the district’s fleet of vehicles during the 2013-14 school year.

Total mileage increased almost 22,000 miles from the 2012-13 year, largely as a result of increased travel for athletics and student activities.

“Some of our games were farther away, and our district and state basketball games this year added to the total,” Peterson said.

A total of 124,122 miles were driven this year for school business, ranging from the aforementioned activities to bus routes to travel for teacher continuing education. That total eclipsed the 102,328 miles driven during 2012-13, and was a four-year high.

The superintendent said vehicle repairs were minimal. The district’s 1997 route bus did incur $2,528 in repairs, and the 2006 activities bus had $2,002 in repairs, but the repairs to the district’s other 10 vehicles totaled less than $400.

“We had some issues with the 1997 bus, but they think they finally have it figured out,” Peterson said.

During his report, the superintendent said the Nebraska Public Power District would visit the school this week to perform an energy audit.

He said the school’s dance team requested permission to raise funds to attend the Capital One Bowl Game at Orlando, Fla., from Dec. 29 through Jan. 2. He said the district did not provide any funds for the trip, so the dance team would raise the amount needed to attend. This would be the first bowl trip the team has attended in four years.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education is scheduled for 8 p.m. Aug. 11.

* NDOR plans $30 million in 2015 fiscal year projects for District 8

(Posted 4 p.m. July 14)

The Nebraska Department of Roads’ Director, Randy Peters, announced NDOR Surface Transportation Program improvement projects for the 2015 fiscal year.

The one- and five-year program details how the NDOR plans to use taxpayers’ highway user dollars to provide the safest state highway system possible for Nebraskans and the traveling public.

A total of 153 projects will be let to contract on the State Highway System during fiscal year 2015 (July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015).  Projects throughout the state range in size and scope from small intersection improvements involving lighting and traffic signals, to pavement and bridge preservation projects and large resurfacing and reconstruction projects.

In District 8, which includes Brown, Keya Paha, Rock, Cherry, Holt, Boyd, Loup, Garfield and Wheeler counties and a portion of Blaine County, 16 projects totaling just more than $30 million are planned for the 2015 fiscal year.

Two projects are planned in the Ainsworth area for 2015, including the milling and resurfacing of 6.7 miles of Highway 7 south of the city at a cost of $1.04 million. A six-mile stretch of Highway 20 from Ainsworth east will receive chip sealing at a cost of $368,000.

Another project is scheduled in Brown County, and involves 8.8 miles of milling, resurfacing and bridge repairs on Highway 183 from the Niobrara River bridge south. That is one of the largest projects in District 8 for 2015, and carries an estimated price tag of $4.28 million.

Two projects are planned in the Atkinson area. The first is the milling and resurfacing of 7.8 miles of Highway 11 from Atkinson north. The second is 16.6 miles of micro-surfacing work on Highway 20 between Atkinson and O’Neill.

A more than 15-mile stretch of Highway 91 from the Highway 7 junction east in Blaine County will be milled and resurfaced. That project costs approximately $2.8 million.

The 2015 fiscal year program is subject to change with any emergency repairs or improvements that may be needed.

The Nebraska Department of Roads’ five-year program for fiscal years 2016-20 includes more than $155 million in projects.

Numerous projects are included in the five-year plan for Highway 20, Highway 7, Highway 12 and Highway 183 in the KBR area.

Replacing Highway 20 in Ainsworth with concrete from the current asphalt surface is included in the five-year plan. The 1.3-mile project would cost an estimated $2.3 million to change Highway 20 to a concrete surface inside the Ainsworth city limits.

Repairing Highway 20 bridges near Wood Lake and Long Pine are also included in the five-year plan, as is a 4.3-mile resurfacing project on Highway 20 from Valentine southeast.

More than 26 miles of Highway 7 resurfacing are included between Ainsworth and Brewster as part of the five-year plan, as is another stretch of Highway 7 in Rock County.

Five milling and resurfacing projects on Highway 12 are planned from Sparks to east of Burton. Those projects encompass almost 45 miles of resurfacing on Highway 12, and carry a total price tag of close to $23 million.

Also included in the five-year plan are resurfacing projects on five stretches of Highway 183 in Keya Paha, Rock and Loup counties.

The resurfacing projects in Keya Paha County include a 9.7-mile stretch of Highway 183 from the Niobrara River Bridge north, and a 6.5-mile stretch from the Keya Paha River to the South Dakota state line.

A 6.4-mile resurfacing project from Rose south is also part of the Highway 183 repairs during the next five fiscal years.

The 2015 State Highway System Program is published at $457 million and is funded from state and federal highway user taxes and fees. The Local System Program for city streets and county roads totals $303 million and is funded with state, federal and local highway user revenues.

* Bomb threat Friday results in the evacuation of 3 Ainsworth businesses

(Posted noon July 14)

A bomb threat Friday forced the evacuation of three Ainsworth businesses on Highway 20 while the area was checked for devices.

Brown County Sheriff Bruce Papstein said, at 1:37 p.m. Friday, a threat was called in to the Dollar General Store at Ainsworth.

“The caller told the Dollar General employee there was a vehicle in the parking lot with explosives,” Papstein said.

The caller then indicated if the Dollar General employees did not allow the people who would be entering the store to leave with merchandise, the caller would detonate the explosives.

Papstein said the Brown County Sheriff’s Department cleared not only the Dollar General Store, but Big John’s Restaurant and the Pizza Hut while a Nebraska State Patrol bomb technician was notified and the area was checked for devices.

“The all-clear was given at 2:20 p.m., and people were allowed to return to the businesses,” Papstein said. “A deputy remained on location for the next several hours.”

The sheriff said the call appeared to originate from India, and was routed through Texas. Similar threats were called in to the Broken Bow Dollar General Store and several other locations in Nebraska.

He said similar threats have been made to hundreds of businesses using the same method of operation.

Should anyone receive a call from someone making similar threats, immediately contact local law enforcement.

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 5:30 a.m. July 14)

The Brown County Sheriff's Department investigated a two-vehicle accident that occurred Friday, July 11, on Main Street in Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff's department report, at noon Friday, a collision occurred in the 300 block of North Main Street between a 2014 Chrysler Tourig, driven by Renee Adkisson, 66, of Ainsworth, and a 2011 Ford F-350, driven by Brett Fernau, 52, of Ainsworth.
No injuries were reported. Damage to the Chrysler was estimated at $1,000. The Ford did not sustain any damage.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

(Posted 5:15 a.m. July 14)

July 6

* Provided a welfare check on a possible suicidal subject in rural Brown Co.

* Responded to a domestic dispute in Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of an underage driver in Long Pine.

* Responded to a noise complaint on North Main St. Ainsworth.

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

 

July 7

* Investigated a report of vandalism to a building on Main St Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of underage individuals riding on ATV’s in Long Pine. A juvenile was cited.

* Received a report of possible child neglect in Ainsworth.

* Provided a welfare check on a possible suicidal subject in rural Brown Co.

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

* The Raven & Ainsworth Fire Depts. responded to a report of a pickup on fire South of
Ainsworth.

 

July 8

* Received a report of possible child neglect in rural Brown Co.

* Responded to a report of an underage driver riding an ATV on the city streets of Ainsworth.

* Assisted an individual with a report of vandalism to tires in rural Brown Co.

* Cited two juveniles for curfew violations in Ainsworth.

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

 

July 9

* Booked a subject into the Brown Co Jail on a warrant for Failure to pay child support and failure to comply.

* The Ainsworth Firemen responded as storms spotters for storms passing through the area.

 

July 10

* Responded to a domestic disturbance on North Maple St Ainsworth.

* Responded to a report of reckless driving in Ainsworth & county roadways. A citation was issued to a subject for Speed 93 mph in a 50 mph zone, willful reckless, & negligent driving.

 

July 11

* Provided a security check on a business in Ainsworth.

* Investigated a report of a possible theft of lawnmowers in Ainsworth.

* Investigated a two-vehicle accident without injury on Main St Ainsworth.

* Received a report of a dog that had been found South of Ainsworth. The dog was transported to the Ainsworth Vet Clinic.

* Responded to & Investigated a report of explosives in a vehicle parked at Dollar General in Ainsworth. The NE State Patrol assisted with this investigation.

* The Brown Co Ambulance transported an individual from a rural Brown Co residence to the Brown Co Hospital.

 

July 12

* Provided a security check on a business in Ainsworth.

* Cited a subject for Burning without a permit in rural Ainsworth area.

 

Weekly Summary

0 - Crime Stopper call received.

2 - Fix-it tickets were issued.

1 - Handgun permits were issued

21 - Incidents Reports were taken.

7 - Paper Service was served. (Includes: 1- Subpoena, 1 – Order to Show Cause, 1 Summons of Garnishment, 1- Bench Warrant, 3 - Summons

169 - Phone calls were received.

2 - 911 emergency calls received.

8 - Titles were inspected.

5 - Traffic Citations were issued.

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

* Davis meets with area constituents Thursday

(Posted 1:30 p.m. July 10)

Nebraska 43rd District State Sen. Al Davis held a series of meetings with constituents this week. Davis was in Brown and Keya Paha counties Thursday, answering questions and listening to concerns regarding issues at the state level.
KBRB's Graig Kinzie visited with Davis following the Ainsworth session. To hear the report, click on the audio links below.

audio clips/State Sen Al Davis 7-10 schools & minimum wage.mp3

audio clips/State Sen Al Davis 7-10 water and budget.mp3

* Teammates mentoring program now accepting local volunteer mentors

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

It will be an exciting school year for the students of Ainsworth Community Schools, as Ainsworth has established a local chapter of the TeamMates Mentoring Program. The program begins this fall when students return to school.
TeamMates’ mission is “to positively impact the world by inspiring youth to reach their full potential.”  The TeamMates program began in 1991 with the vision of University of Nebraska Head Football Coach Tom Osborne and his wife Nancy.
The program began with 22 football players who met with middle school students in the Lincoln Public Schools.  TeamMates has expanded, and there are currently more than 6,000 youth in 115 communities across Nebraska, Iowa and California who participate.
Ainsworth began the application process in November 2013. The application was approved in May. The local chapter board members are Wade Alberts, Brad Wilkins, Shannon Sorensen, Lisa Chohon and Richard Gilson. The coordinator for the Ainsworth TeamMates chapter is Lisa Schlueter. The board was trained in June and began to recruit mentors. The board marched with a banner in the annual Ainsworth Alumni Parade on June 28.
Applications are being accepted from adults interested in being a mentor. Being a mentor is an opportunity to be a positive influence and a source of guidance for the community’s youth. The time commitment is one hour per week, at the school. All visits take place at the school. Visits could be coming to the school and having lunch with the student, playing cards or board games, sitting and visiting, or helping with their homework.
Anyone interested in being a mentor is asked to contact one of the board members, or call Lisa Schlueter or Richard Gilson at the High School, (402)387-2082. The first mentor training is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 8 in the Ainsworth High School cafeteria.

* Ainsworth, Bassett and Atkinson receive scrap tire amnesty grants

(Posted 1:45 p.m. July 9)

Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality Acting Director Patrick Rice announced the awarding of $4,296,581 in grants through the Waste Reduction and Recycling Incentive Grant Fund.
“The funds are used for a wide variety of projects to reduce waste, promote recycling and address the issue of scrap tire piles,” Rice said. “The grants will provide support to important local environmental improvement efforts across the state.”
The city of Ainsworth received a $22,520 grant to clean up 180 tons of scrap tires in Brown County. The city of Bassett and Rock County picked up a $23,352 grant to clean up 200 tons of scrap tires, and the city of Atkinson secured a $30,398 grant to fund the cleanup 300 tons of scrap tires.

The Waste Reduction and Recycling Incentive Grant Fund is generated by a fee on solid waste disposed of in landfills, an annual retail business sales fee, and a fee assessed on the sale of new tires for motor vehicles.
The grants are provided to local integrated waste management projects including: recycling systems, household hazardous waste collection programs, transfer stations, yard waste composting, scrap tire collections, and recycling scrap tires into crumb rubber for use in athletic fields.

* Middle Niobrara NRD, JEO Consulting present Long Pine Creek Watershed Plan

(Posted 5:45 a.m. July 9)

The Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District and JEO Consulting laid out a plan to the public Tuesday to address erosion and water quality issues in the 328,000-acre Long Pine Creek Watershed, which includes Long Pine Creek, Bone Creek, and Sand Draw Creek.

Segments of Long Pine Creek and Bone Creek have been identified as having impaired water quality due to excessive amounts of E. coli bacteria, and Sand Draw Creek has experienced extreme erosion, which is threatening Meadville Avenue north of Ainsworth.

JEO Consulting discussed the results of a survey sent to residents. Of the 78 responses received, a majority of those who identified themselves as agricultural producers within the watershed indicated they currently incorporated conservation practices, including rotating crops, using no-till or minimum tillage, and using variable-rate irrigation.

Sixty-one percent of the producers indicated they would be interested in touring the watershed and learning about additional best-management practices, but indicated Natural Resources District cost-share assistance on additional conservation practices would improve the likelihood of those practices being implemented.

While specific projects were not included in the plan, the best-management practices to incorporate include stream restoration, irrigation water management, cover crops, fertilizer management, septic system maintenance outreach, storm water management, filter and buffer strips and providing alternative water sources for livestock.

As plans for specific projects are implemented, landowners will be identified and funding sources will be pursued.

By completing the watershed plan and submitting it to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, additional funding could be received from that entity for future projects.

* Taxable sales dip in Brown, Rock counties in April

(Posted 5:30 a.m. July 9)

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of April 2014 and April 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

43,793

35,021

25

2,408.63

1,926.17

Boyd

798,343

745,113

7.1

43,908.96

40,981.31

Brown

3,077,171

3,180,154

(3.2)

169,244.52

174,908.75

Ainsworth

2,945,874

3,045,142

(3.3)

162,023.18

167,483.07

Cherry

4,570,701

3,951,370

15.7

251,388.92

217,325.71

Valentine

4,299,836

3,828,416

12.3

236,491.26

210,563.20

Holt

10,500,798

9,401,736

11.7

577,544.53

517,096.15

Atkinson

2,182,227

1,867,872

16.8

120,022.68

102,733.17

O'Neill

6,918,353

6,479,496

6.8

380,509.75

356,372.62

Keya Paha

200,606

194,353

3.2

11,033.35

10,689.45

Rock

886,856

1,013,857

(12.5)

48,777.14

55,762.19

State Total

2,240,437,861

2,142,506,857

4.6

123,496,440.08

118,024,142.05

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of April 2014 and April 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

93,519

85,634

9.2

5,098.08

4,663.98

Boyd

438,984

494,877

(11.3)

24,125.87

27,241.38

Brown

566,926

510,606

11

31,360.34

28,247.92

Cherry

1,188,773

929,257

27.9

65,748.50

51,524.26

Holt

2,410,978

2,871,100

(16.0)

133,282.97

158,842.29

Keya Paha

155,099

286,602

(45.9)

8,534.34

15,773.84

Rock

433,945

220,185

97.1

23,946.32

12,116.74

State Total

336,953,081

325,108,707

3.6

18,688,411.96

18,032,422.16

* Harthoorn receives $10,000 Engler Entrepreneurship Scholarship

(Posted 11 p.m. July 8)

University of Nebraska-Lincoln senior Haley Harthoorn has received a $10,000 Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Scholarship for the 2014-15 academic year.

Scholarships are awarded in two categories – an undergraduate renewable award of up to $10,000 per year as well as one-time scholarships up to $4,000.

The scholarships recognize students with high capacity to bring entrepreneurial talent to the marketplace, specifically focused on business development in the wide domain of agriculture.

Harthoorn was one of 18 students to receive the $10,000 renewable scholarship. Among the $4,000 one-time scholarship winners are sophomore Tyler Haun of Spencer and freshman Jamie Mashino of Spencer.

Established in 2010 by a gift from the Paul and Virginia Engler Foundation, the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program has grown to involve more than 100 students at the university.

The program offers an academic minor focused on business concept development, significant opportunities to develop professional business skills outside the classroom, relationship building, leadership and service opportunities as well as the support for international experiences focused on entrepreneurship and enterprise creation.

* Monday fire destroys pickup in southern Brown County

(Posted 8 a.m. July 8)

While driving through a pasture Monday, grass became wrapped in a pickup’s exhaust system and started a fire in southern Brown County that destroyed the vehicle.

Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala said, at approximately 5:15 p.m. Monday, a Ford Ranger pickup owned by John Rossenbach caught fire west of the Highway 7 Calamus River bridge in southern Brown County.

“The Raven department was the first on the scene, and the vehicle was fully engulfed when they got there,” Fiala said. “The grass was tall enough in the pasture to get wrapped up in the exhaust system, and that started the fire.”

The Ainsworth fire chief said Rossenbach and three passengers in the pickup were able to exit the vehicle safely before the fire completely destroyed it.

He said the fire burned a little grass around the immediate area, but the fire was quickly contained before it could spread any farther.

* Friday accident on Meadville Avenue injures Ainsworth man

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

A one-vehicle accident on Meadville Avenue on the Fourth of July injured a 24-year-old Ainsworth man after he was ejected from the vehicle.
According to the Brown County Sheriff's Department, at 5:55 p.m. Friday on Meadville Avenue approximately 14 miles north of Ainsworth, a 1993 Ford Ranger, driven by Jonathan A. Ford, 24, of Ainsworth, was traveling north on Meadville Avenue when the vehicle left the roadway and entered the east ditch. The vehicle flipped onto its top and came to rest suspended in trees.
Ford, who was ejected from the vehicle, was transported to the Brown County Hospital for injuries suffered during a crash. A passenger in the Ford, Evan Atkinson of Ainsworth, was not injured during the accident.
The Ranger was considered a total loss.

* MNNRD begins signups Monday for 2,500 new irrigated acres

(Posted 1:15 p.m. July 3)

The Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District on Monday will begin accepting applications for 2,500 new irrigated acres within the district. This is the fourth and final year the NRD will be allowed to grant 2,500 new irrigated acres within its boundaries.
Signup begins Monday and continues through close of business Aug. 15.
An application, along with rules and regulations, is available in the Middle Niobrara NRD office at Valentine, and can also be printed off the web at www.mnnrd.org. Anyone with questions may call the office at 402-376-3241.

* Sen. Fischer discusses developments in Middle East

(Posted 4:15 p.m. July 2)

During a stop in Ainsworth Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer dropped in the KBRB Studios and visited with Graig Kinzie about the gridlock in Washington, the difficult decisions ahead in the Middle East, and the barriers to reforming the nation's immigration system.
To hear the report with Sen. Fischer, click on the audio links below.

audio clips/Sen Deb Fischer - gridlock & immigration.mp3

audio clips/Sen Deb Fischer - ISIS and Middle East.mp3

audio clips/Sen Deb Fischer - military technology.mp3

* June was sixth wettest in Ainsworth history

(Posted 4 p.m. July 2)

Ainsworth Weather Observer Gerry Osborne reported the 6.88 inches of rain in June was the sixth wettest month since records were kept.
Temperatures in June were below normal, and the rainfall helped the city creep back closer to normal for the year.
To hear the report, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Gerry Osborne June Weather.mp3

* Ainsworth group finishes ninth in nation in National History Day competition

(Posted 1:45 p.m. July 2)

Four Ainsworth sixth-grade students and freshman Vanessa Taylor recently competed in the National History Day contest at Washington, D.C.
Sixth-graders Dylan Graff, Halli Haskell, Bailey Kinnick and Erin Kuchera created a documentary on the life of Whitney Young, and his fight for civil rights. Taylor focused her documentary on the life of Japanese Americans during World War II, specifically on two Japanese-Americans who lived in Nebraska.
More than 300 historians and education professionals evaluated the contestants.
The Ainsworth sixth-grade group was recognized as the outstanding junior entry from Nebraska, and placed ninth nationally in the junior division of the contest.
Sponsor Nicole Flynn said this was the first time in seven years of having students compete in the national event that an Ainsworth group reached the final round.

* Beel, Linse and Linse advance to Nebraska State Fair Presentation Contest

(Posted 5:45 a.m. July 2)

The BKR Counties 4-H Presentation Contest was held Tuesday, hosted by Keya Paha County 4-H. Connie Larrington judged the seven 4-H’ers and Cloverkids who presented a wide variety of topics during the contest.

Purple ribbon was awarded in the novice division to Hannah Linse with a presentation entitled “No Bake Cookies”.

Purple ribbons were presented in the multi-media division to Sydney Linse with her entry entitled “Fitness Fun”; Henry Beel who shared about “Henry’s Horticulture” and Adyson Linse with a presentation entitled “Just Kidding Around”.

Cloverkid ribbons were awarded to Hannah Beel, Olivia Beel and Shelby Connell.

Henry Beel, Adyson Linse and Sydney Linse are now eligible to represent the BKR counties during the Nebraska State Fair 4-H Presentation Contest.

* Gov. Heineman discusses storm damage, prison reforms on KBRB Friday

(Posted 4:45 p.m. June 20)

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman visited with KBRB's Graig Kinzie Friday, discussing the damage from Monday's tornadoes in Pilger and the response from Nebraskans. The governor also talked about a new prison reform task force that has formed and is being chaired by Speaker of the Legislature Greg Adams and Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Heavican. He touted the opportunity for Nebraska to continue to expand its livestock industry, and discussed the improvements being made to the state's roadways through the one-quarter cent state sales tax allocation.
To hear the reports with Heineman, click on the audio links below.

audio clips/Gov Dave Heineman 6-20 severe weather.mp3

audio clips/Gov Dave Heineman 6-20 prison task force.mp3

audio clips/Gov Dave Heineman 6-20 ag development-roads.mp3

* GJW receives county permit to double capacity at its facility south of Ainsworth

(Posted 2 p.m. June 17)

GJW LLC was granted a special-use permit from the Brown County Commissioners following a public hearing Tuesday to double the size of its swine confinement facility south of Ainsworth.

GJW owner Greg Wilke said the business plans to increase its capacity from 5,500 animals to 11,000 by building two additional facilities and expanding on one current structure. He said the company has received a permit from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.

During the public hearing on the permit Tuesday, Dr. David Aiken of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln discussed the environmental requirements for hog and cattle confinement facilities.

“The initial focus on manure management was to keep manure from running into streams and rivers,” Aiken said. “In the 1980s, we added the focus of keeping manure from contaminating groundwater.”

Aiken said all lagoons constructed for livestock waste are tested to meet seepage requirements. While 18 older livestock facilities were found to have increased nitrate levels in groundwater, newer facilities have safeguards in place to reduce the threat.

“In my opinion, commercial fertilizer application is more of a threat to groundwater nitrate levels than livestock waste,” Aiken said.

In addition to groundwater monitoring, which is tested twice annually for nitrate levels after a base reading is established, Aiken said confinement facilities are also responsible for creating an odor management plan.

“We recommend the facility follow DEQ best practices,” Aiken said. “Larger lagoons can get bacterial growth that helps to limit odors. The future of this industry will include turning manure into energy using digesters that produce methane gas.”

Aiken said, if a facility has a good operator who follows the practices that have been put in place, the system does a good job mitigating groundwater impact.

Three of the more than 30 people in attendance Tuesday spoke against the expansion, citing concerns on the increase in odor from the facility.

Jason and Heather Painter said they are raising a family on their ranch near the current facility.

“We smell the odor daily, but we have not complained about the current operation,” Heather Painter said. “We watch the manure get pumped onto the fields. We are trying to protect our home. If our water gets contaminated, what are we going to do then?”

Tonny Beck of Beck’s Well and Irrigation said his company installed shallow monitoring wells at the current site that detect any seepage from the facility’s lagoon.

“With any sign of the nitrate levels increasing in those monitoring wells, there is a plan of action,” Beck said. “That is why the DEQ requires those monitoring wells.”

Asked by Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus if the nitrate levels at the current facility have risen, Beck said the levels remain the same they have been historically, in the 4 to 6 parts-per-million range. Water nitrate levels of 10 parts per million or less are deemed safe for all human consumption.

Wilke said the addition of 5,500 swine would produce the equivalent waste of expanding a cattle confinement operation by 2,000 animals.

Several audience members touted the economic benefits to Brown County from the expansion of the current facility, including the hiring of an additional 25 employees by the company.

Brown County Zoning Administrator Dean Jochem said the Planning Commission unanimously recommended the special use permit be granted.

“I have watched the population sign of Ainsworth continue to decline, and watched as the school’s numbers have gone down,” Jochem said. “More people from outside the area are buying the land in Brown County. I think we need to do whatever we can do to keep people here.”

Jochem said, as the zoning administrator for the past 16 years, the issue of odor has been brought up before.

“We are a livestock community,” Jochem said. “That smell is what is keeping people here because they are able to work. This is a very important project for our county.”

Commissioner Buddy Small read a letter submitted by Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District Manager Mike Murphy.

Murphy wrote that GJW has worked extensively with the Natural Resources District during the years to obtain the required permits and follow all regulations.

Murphy wrote Wilke has also played a major role in enhancing portions of Plum Creek in northern Brown County to reduce erosion and remove eastern red cedar trees to benefit the area.

Small said he has worked extensively with Murphy on the Niobrara Council, and on a project to address soil erosion on the Pine Creek Watershed and Sand Draw Creek.

“I pay attention to what Mike Murphy says, and his letter is a testament to the type of manager Greg Wilke is,” Small said.

Wiebelhaus agreed Wilke has been a good manager at the current facility.

“I feel for the people who are going to see an increase in the smell,” Wiebelhaus said. “If I had a confinement facility close to where I live, it would be irritating. But, in this case, the benefits of the project outweigh the negatives.”

Wiebelhaus said he was concerned about the potential for increased nitrate levels in groundwater due to the operation, but Beck’s information showing the nitrate levels had not increased eased his concerns on that front.

Commissioner Les Waits said he toured the current operation, and came away impressed with the farming operation that applies the manure generated from the facility onto cropland.

“Greg manages the soil out there very well,” Waits said.

Following the public hearing, the commissioners unanimously voted to approve the special-use permit application for GJW, contingent upon the company following all DEQ requirements, and state and federal laws.

During a second and much shorter public hearing Tuesday, representatives from Viaero Wireless asked the board to approve two special-use permits to allow for the construction of two cellular towers between Ainsworth and Brewster.

A 195-foot tower would be constructed west of Highway 7 approximately 1-3/4 miles south of the Calamus River.

A larger, 240-foot tower would be built south of Ainsworth near the Paradise Valley Road.

Both towers would serve to improve the cellular phone service between Ainsworth and Brewster and the surrounding rural areas that are currently without cellular service.

Gene Carroll with Viaero said the company would purchase 5.1 acres of land for the smaller tower and 8 acres of land for the larger tower, and would have both projects completed by the end of this year if the permits are granted by the county.

Small asked if other cellular companies would be able to utilize the tower space.

Carroll said the possibility exists, as Viaero negotiates agreements for the trading of tower space with other cellular providers.

No objections were raised to the projects.

The commissioners approved both special-use permits for the construction of the cellular towers.

* City Council approves South Street paving district

(Posted 10:45 p.m. June 11)

South Street between Main and Ulrich streets on the south side of Ainsworth will receive a paved surface following the approval of a resolution creating a paving district by the City Council Wednesday.

Property owners with street front footage will be assessed a maximum of $9 per frontage foot for the project.

City Administrator Kristi Thornburg said the city did not receive a single written objection to the creation of the paving district.

Property owners Jack and Babette Shaul expressed concern over the speed of vehicles traveling on South Street, and whether a paved surface would encourage them to travel even faster.

“I don’t think it is a good idea to turn that street into an interstate,” Jack Shaul said. “It is a 25 mph street, and some are going 70 to 80 mph as it is now. A lot of people walk on that street, and someone is going to get hit.”

Councilman Chuck Osborn said the speed issue sounded to him like an issue for law enforcement and not a street issue.

Mayor Russ Moody said speeding vehicles wasn’t any different than any other city street.

“We have people who walk on East Second Street,” Moody said. “It is paved, and we haven’t had any problems. Gravel or asphalt, it is a law enforcement issue.”

Following the public hearing, the council unanimously approved the creation of the paving district. Thornburg said, with Brown County performing the work and providing the equipment, the project would begin when the county could work it into its summer schedule.

Councilman Jake Adkisson stressed the city did not receive any written objections opting property out of the paving district. If more than 50 percent of the front footage had objected to the creation of the district, the project would have failed.

Property owners will be assessed a maximum of $9 per frontage foot for the milling project, and will have the option of paying the assessment up front or having the payments spread out over a period of several years. Any assessments not paid will be placed on the property taxes for the parcel.

In other business during Wednesday’s meeting, the council approved allowing the Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department to use up to $13,927 in Mutual Finance Organization funds to purchase new Jaws of Life equipment.

Fire Chief Brad Fiala said the department’s 20-year-old Jaws of Life equipment broke recently during a non-emergency extraction.

“That is the second time this set has broken,” Fiala said. “Vehicles are made differently now than they were 20 years ago, and this set was not designed for the newer style of vehicles.”

The fire chief said the department fixed the older equipment, but planned to purchase a new set with the assistance of the Brown County Rural Fire Protection District.

“We are asking the Rural Fire District to provide matching funds for the purchase,” Fiala said.

Thornburg said the $13,927 in city-allocated MFO funds had not been earmarked, and could be used for the purchase.

The council approved allowing the fire department to use those funds for the equipment, provided the Brown County Rural Fire Department provide matching funds.

The remaining debt for the Ainsworth Conference Center will be retired early, as the council took advantage of its ability to call the remaining bonds for the project.

Thornburg said $355,000 in bonded debt remained on the Ainsworth Conference Center, with the final payment scheduled for October 2017.

“We have $343,000 in our debt service account currently, and we should get an additional $12,000 or so in sales taxes for that account by June 22,” Thornburg said.

By voting to pay off the debt early, the council will save approximately $19,000 in remaining interest charges.

Thornburg announced the hiring of Katie Painter as the youth recreation program coordinator, a newly created position designed to assist organizations with the management of youth activities.

The council approved an ordinance creating a Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, which would oversee the new position and report to the City Council.

Upon Moody’s recommendation, the council appointed Bruce Papstein, Teri Gambill, Wade Alberts, Lanay Hansmeyer and Jerry Ehlers to serve on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, with the terms to be staggered.

The council approved the low bid of $5,240 from Morrison Underground Sprinklers of Bassett for the installation of an underground sprinkler system for the south softball field at East City Park.

Adkisson said he checked on why the Morrison bid called for substantially fewer sprinkler heads than the other $8,640 bid the city received on the project.

“The reason for the lower number of sprinkler heads is the type Morrison uses rotate 360 degrees,” Adkisson said.

The council briefly debated amending a city ordinance to allow for the extended sale of alcoholic beverages inside city limits. The current ordinance states alcohol cannot be sold inside city limits after 1 a.m.

State legislation now allows municipalities the option of extending the sale of alcohol to 2 a.m.

Osborn and Councilmen Kent Taylor both indicated they had no interest in extending the hours for alcohol sales. Thornburg said the Brown County Sheriff’s Department was against the city amending the ordinance to allow for extended sales.

Mike Marvin with the Nebraska Public Power District presented the council with recently completed community guides for the city.

The facts books provide all pertinent information about the city, from businesses to services to recreational opportunities.

Osborn thanked Marvin for the public relations work NPPD performs for the city and the area in general.

“You have an outstanding crew here,” Osborn said. “They go out of the way to assist the community wherever they can.”

Thornburg said the local NPPD crew recently assisted the city by replacing light bulbs at both the softball and legion fields.

“They are great to work with, and they should be commended,” Thornburg said. “They help us out in so many ways.”

North Central Development Center Executive Director Kristin Olson provided the council with an update on housing projects, and Jerry Ehlers provided the council with a six-month review of the city’s LB 840 program.

Olson said the North Osborne Street housing project lots are listed for sale. The housing committee purchased and removed three dilapidated homes from the site, and combined the parcels into two lots that are available for private purchase for residential development.

“If we can sell the lots and let the purchaser build the home, that would be ideal,” Olson said, citing the success of the East Third Street project. “If the lots don’t sell by August, the housing committee will move forward with a project.”

Olson said the housing committee is receiving additional property for development, as the committee received a pledge of approximately three-quarters of a block to be donated for housing.

“There might be an opportunity for someone to move an old home or two from that site,” Olson said. “We have to be creative. We have a $150,000 loan from LB 840 for housing, but we are learning it is hard to build a new home for $150,000.”

Ehlers said the LB 840 Citizens Advisory Review Committee is looking at things that can be done to encourage more business loan applications to the program.

“We are reviewing to determine if the program or the application process is too restrictive,” Ehlers said. “We may survey our business community to find out ways the program could work better. We would like to encourage more business expansion and retention.”

Thornburg said there is currently $435,000 available in the LB 840 fund, and an additional $271,000 in Community Development Block Grant reuse money available for qualifying business loans.

Ehlers said the review committee has heard from local employers who have good-paying jobs available, but who are having a hard time filling those positions with qualified applicants.

“We are working to see how we can assist those businesses,” Ehlers said.

During her report, Thornburg discussed the work done to get the Ainsworth Swimming Pool open and operational for the summer. She said the updates to the bathhouse look nice, but the pool itself is still losing some water.

“It isn’t losing as much water as maybe it has in the past,” Thornburg said. “We are having to run a hose to keep it filled up.”

She said the city’s recently purchased street sweeper is working well, and would be used again to sweep the streets prior to alumni weekend.

During his report, Moody said he received a request from Legion Baseball coach Dave Dodds to replace 60-feet of fence behind home plate at Legion Field. The cost for the fence is $400, and Moody said Dodds indicated he would assist with the installation of the new fence.

Moody also reported he was approached by Denny Bauer and Kurt Starkey about having a 4-H archery competition at East City Park in July. Moody said the UN-L Extension has liability insurance to cover the event, and would name the city as an additional-insured party.

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

* School Board opts for Rosetta Stone online program for foreign language classes

(Posted 9:45 p.m. June 9)

Unable to find candidates to fill a vacancy, the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education on Monday approved a contract with Rosetta Stone for online foreign language instruction.

Superintendent Darrell Peterson said students have the option of learning Spanish, German or French with the Rosetta Stone online program, and receive face-to-face sessions with teachers connected to the program online.

Secondary Principal Richard Gilson, who researched the program and spoke with school officials who use it, said the students receive virtual sessions with instructors.

“Once a month, the student has a face-to-face meeting with a native speaker of the language, and they work on pronunciation skills,” Gilson said.

Peterson said the district has a paraprofessional who is fluent in Spanish who will be assigned to the classroom used for the foreign language program.

“Mr. Gilson did quite a bit of research on this program,” Peterson said. “It is not used in Nebraska yet, but schools in other states are using it, and they are highly recommending it.”

Gilson said there are currently 67 students signed up to take a foreign language class. The district has planned for six sections of foreign language to spread out the class sizes.

Board member Brad Wilkins said the Rosetta Stone program, which will carry a cost of $15,457 for a license for 75 students, was more economical than trying to go back to distance learning for foreign language classes.

Peterson said, with the district unable to find a foreign language teacher to fill the opening left by the resignation of Spanish teacher Kathy Venteicher, the Rosetta Stone program was worth a try.

“If we like the program, we can continue with it,” the superintendent said. “Or, we can decide to start looking for a Spanish teacher early on next year.”

The board unanimously approved the contract with Rosetta Stone.

In other business during Monday’s meeting, the board approved a bid of $77,336 submitted by Rasmussen Mechanical Services of Sioux City, S.D., to update the heating and air conditioning control system in the school building.

Board President Mark Johnson said the Building and Grounds Committee received three bids for the project, and recommended the Rasmussen Mechanical Services bid.

“Two of the three bids we received were comparable,” Johnson said.

The district received a bid of $88,600 from Control Services of Omaha. Peterson said the district has worked with both companies in the past. With the time it takes to order the parts needed, the project may last into the beginning of the 2014-15 school year before it is completed.

John Trecek with Ameritas of Omaha was present to provide information to the board on refinancing the school addition bonds.

Getting ready to enter the final five-year period of the 20-year bonds, Trecek said the district could refinance the remaining $1.055 million at a substantially lower interest rate and save $61,777 in interest charges for the final five years of the bond.

“The bonds will be repaid after this refinancing,” Trecek said. “There are very low interest rates right now, so it seems like a good idea to take advantage. You are going to see a very good savings for this short of a term.”

Trecek said the district would currently pay from 2.6 percent to 3.6 percent for the remaining life of the bonds. By refinancing, the district will receive a rate beginning at 0.35 percent and ending at 1.5 percent.

Peterson said this will be the third time the district has refinanced its building addition bonds.

“I looked back, and we paid 5.1 percent interest on the original bond,” the superintendent said. “Now, we will start at 0.35 percent.”

The final bond payment on the school addition will be paid Dec. 15, 2018.

The board held public hearings on student fee and parent involvement policies. No one from the public spoke during either hearing. Peterson said there were no changes planned for either policy.

Counselor Lisa Schlueter told the board she was approached by several people following graduation requesting that the commencement ceremony be moved to a Saturday.

“They felt Saturday would be better for people who were traveling here for graduation,” Schlueter said.

Peterson said he, too, has received requests about moving graduation to Saturday from Sunday.

“Unfortunately, more times than not, our graduation falls on state track weekend, so that would be a big issue,” he said.

During his report, Peterson said the district’s free and reduced-price meal student numbers have dipped, so the elementary and middle schools would not be eligible for the free fruit and vegetable snack program. The elementary was eligible for the program the past two years, and the middle school was eligible for the program during the 2013-14 year.

Schools with a high percentage of students receiving free or reduced price meals are eligible for a program that provides a fruit or vegetable snack two to three times weekly during the school year.

Peterson said the program is evaluated annually, so the district could potentially be eligible again in the future.

Gilson reported six middle school students and eight high school students are participating in summer school, which began June 2. He said the high school students are taking credit recovery courses through Odysseyware, which could help them gain ground toward fulfilling graduation requirements.

The board performed annual reviews of the district’s bomb threat and anti-bullying policies, and made no changes for the upcoming year.

In policy action items, the board approved the second readings of policies relating to prohibiting tobacco use, offenses and penalties, concussions, classification of students and graduation requirements, and a salary schedule for classified employees.

The board approved the first reading of a policy that would allow newly hired teachers to count all of their years of verified teaching experience into the district’s salary schedule. The district’s previous policy limited teachers to a maximum of five years of experience for pay scale purposes when they were hired.

The board also approved first readings of a policy relating to the district’s safe pupil transportation plan, and a policy regarding substance abuse and activity suspensions.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education is scheduled for 8 p.m. July 14.

* Hastings man killed in one-vehicle accident Tuesday on Highway 20

(Posted 11 a.m. June 4)

A 51-year-old Hastings man died Tuesday in a one-vehicle accident on Highway 20 west of Wood Lake.
According to Cherry County Attorney Eric Scott, early Tuesday afternoon on Highway 20 approximately 14 miles southeast of Valentine near the Arabia Ranch, a vehicle driven by Barry Albers of Hastings left the roadway and rolled in the ditch.
Albers was pronounced dead at the scene. Scott said an investigation by the Cherry County Sheriff's Department indicated weather conditions likely played a role in the crash.

* Region 24 emergency manager discusses damage in Brown, Rock counties

(Posted 7 p.m. June 3)

Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox, who serves Brown, Rock, Keya Paha, Cherry and Boyd counties, provided an update Tuesday evening on the damage he viewed from the afternoon severe thunderstorms that moved through the area.
Fox said six irrigation systems were overturned in Rock County, two grain bins were flattened, and an outbuilding near Newport was destroyed.
In addition, substantial damage to trees and public power lines occurred, especially in Rock County.
To hear the complete report with the Region 24 emergency manager and KBRB's Graig Kinzie, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Region 24 damage report from June 3 storm.mp3

* Substantial storm causes widespread damage in KBRB listening area


(Photo by Jake and Shea Olberding)

A large tree in Stuart Tuesday was uprooted in its entirety and came to rest on the Parkside Manor building. A Stuart Volunteer firefighter surveys the damage from the rooftop. The National Weather Service received a report that all the west-facing windows at Parkside Manor were damaged by hail. Tuesday's storm damaged power lines and caused extensive tree, building and vehicle damage in Keya Paha, Brown, Rock and Holt counties. Straight line winds of between 80 mph and 100 mph were reported in eastern Rock and western Holt counties. Hail up to golf ball size in diameter was reported in Keya Paha, Brown, Rock and Holt counties, and a storm chaser and trained spotter reported the brief touch-down of a tornado between 1 and 1-1/2 miles northwest of Bassett.


(Photo by Rachel Kaup)

Following the storm, all the west-facing windows at Parkside Manor had to be boarded up. The tree that fell on the building was removed by late Tuesday afternoon.


(Photo by Rod Stolcpart)

Tuesday's storm caused extensive damage in portions of Keya Paha, Rock and Holt counties. This photo was taken of a shop owned by Kurt Micheel that was destroyed in Rock County near Newport. Straight line winds of up to 100 mph were reported in the Newport area, and a storm chaser and a trained storm spotter reported the brief touchdown of a tornado between 12:15 and 12:30 p.m. one mile northwest of Bassett. Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox reported six irrigation systems were overturned in Rock County, and two grain bins were completely destroyed in addition to the outbuilding owned by Micheel.


(Photo by Jake and Shea Olberding)

A large tree landed on a camper at Stuart Tuesday afternoon when a severe thunderstorm swept into the area from the northwest. The camper was reportedly unoccupied at the time. The Stuart Fire Chief reported to the National Weather Service that numerous trees were knocked down at Stuart Park.


(Photo by Jake and Shea Olberding)

An entire row of trees were toppled at Stuart in a domino effect from the winds that exceeded 80 mph in some locations. Trees at Stuart were twisted and broken Tuesday afternoon, damaging the campers parked beneath. As of late Tuesday afternoon, no reports of injuries from the storm had surfaced.


(Photo by Matt Kaup)

Numerous long-standing trees at Stuart Park were leveled by Tuesday's severe storm. Cleanup efforts in Stuart began soon after the storm passed through the area.


(Photo by Rod Stolcpart)

A center pivot irrigation system in Rock County was overturned by the strong winds, one of six that was damaged in Rock County alone.


(Photo by Jake and Shea Olberding)

This photo shows the size of the hail that fell in Stuart Tuesday afternoon. Hail up to golf ball size, 1-3/4 inches, in diameter fell along a line from eight miles west of Springview to Meadville and northern Brown County, to 2 miles south of Springview, to three miles north of Bassett, and then continued into Newport, Stuart and Atkinson and points east.


(Photo by Jake and Shea Olberding)

An intimidating storm front moved into western Holt County Tuesday afternoon. The strongest portion of the cell moved southeast from northeastern Cherry County into western and central Keya Paha County, then from southern Keya Paha County and northern Brown County into northern and central Rock County, and from eastern Rock County into western and central Holt County, leaving substantial damage in its wake.


(Photo by Steve Camp)

Steve Camp captured this image of unique cloud formations near Bassett during Tuesday afternoon's severe storm. Severe storms pounded eastern Nebraska Tuesday evening after causing widespread damage in Rock and Holt counties during the early afternoon hours.

* Substantial storm causes widespread damage in KBRB listening area

(Posted 2 p.m. June 3, updated 4:30 p.m. June 3)

From just after noon Tuesday through 1:30 p.m., a large storm cell moved through parts of four counties, causing widespread damage from hail and straight line winds.
The first hail reports came in just after noon Tuesday west of Springview. Hail up to golf ball size in diameter was reported at 12:05 p.m. eight miles west of Springview.
Also at 12:05 p.m. trained spotters reported hail more than three-quarters of an inch in diameter 10 miles north of Ainsworth in Brown County. At 12:18 p.m., hail 1-3/4 inches in diameter was reported by fire and rescue personnel 11 miles north of Ainsworth. Golf ball size hail was reported at the same time in Meadville, and two miles south of Springview.
From 12:15 to 12:30 p.m., a storm chaser and a trained spotter reported the brief touchdown of a tornado 1-1/2 miles northwest of Bassett. The National Weather Service has not yet confirmed whether a tornado did indeed touch down, but information was forwarded from two sources with training.
The cell continued to move in an east-southeast direction, and dropped golf ball size hail three miles north of Bassett. By 12:30 p.m., the heaviest portion of the cell had reached Bassett. Hail 1-3/4 inches in diameter was reported by a trained spotter 7 miles north of Bassett.
As the storm continued to travel to the southeast, straight-line winds picked up. Straight line winds up to 100 mph were reported in the Newport area at 12:46 p.m. At least one building was destroyed, trees were uprooted, power lines were damaged and irrigation equipment was overturned. In addition to the wind, fire personnel reported hail 1-3/4 inches in diameter in the village of Newport and four miles north of Newport.
Winds caused power lines to come down two miles west of Stuart, and a semi and trailer were overturned on Highway 20 west of Stuart, and the vehicle's windows were broken out by hail.
Tree damage in Stuart was extensive, as was hail damage to buildings and vehicles.
The Stuart fire chief reported to the National Weather Service that numerous trees were knocked down in Stuart. One large tree landed on the Parkside Manor building on the north end of Main Street, and numerous trees fell at Stuart Park, one of which landed on an unoccupied camper.
Large hail fell in Stuart around 1 p.m., as well as southeast of Stuart. By 1:10 p.m., the large, 1-3.4 inch-diameter hail had reached Atkinson, causing widespread damage.
The storm continued to track east-southeast, depositing large hail north of Emmett and northeast of Page before moving into the O'Neill area.
Residents of the Bassett, Newport and Stuart area remain without power Tuesday afternoon. KBR Rural Public Power General Manager Bob Beatty said power was restored to Keya Paha County customers Tuesday afternoon after power was rerouted around damaged areas.
Information from area emergency management officials will be provided when the officials have had a chance to survey the area and gather additional information from residents and spotters.
Anyone with photos from Tuesday's storm may submit them by email to kbrb@sscg.net. Please include the photographer and a description of the location where the photo was taken. Some of the photos will be posted on the KBRB web site.

* Sasse advances; Ricketts wins by tiny margin in Republican governor race

(Posted midnight May 14, updated 5:45 a.m. and 10 a.m. May 14)

Nebraska's Republican race for governor was extremely close Tuesday, but Pete Ricketts held off Jon Bruning by 1 percentage point, 26.5 percent to 25.5 percent. Ricketts received 57,922 votes to 55,751 for Bruning. Beau McCoy received 21 percent of the Republican vote for governor, 45,804 votes, with Mike Foley earning better than 19 percent of the ballots cast, 42,029. Democrat Chuck Hassebrook ran unopposed and advanced to the General Election.
Ben Sasse will be the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, as Sasse received more than 49 percent of the vote. Sid Dinsdale finished a distant second and Shane Osborn ran third in the Republican Senate race. Sasse will face Democrat Dave Domina in the General Election.
3rd District Rep. Adrian Smith had no trouble in his Republican Primary match-up with Tom Brewer. Smith received 68 percent of the vote to 32 percent for the retired military officer. Smith will face Democrat Mark Sullivan in the General Election.
2nd District Rep. Lee Terry survived his primary against Republican Dan Frei. Terry earned just under 53 percent of the vote to more than 47 percent for Frei. Terry faces State Sen. Brad Ashford in the General Election.
In District 1, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry cruised in the Republican Primary with 86 percent of the vote. He faces Democrat Dennis Crawford in November.
Doug Peterson emerged from a tight, four-way race for the Republican attorney general nomination. Peterson received more than 35 percent of the Republican vote, 10 points better than second-place finisher Brian Buescher. Mike Hilgers received almost 23 percent of the Republican vote, and Pete Pirsch finished fourth in the race with 16 percent of the primary vote.
Peterson will square off with Democrat Janet Stewart in November. Stewart earned 72 percent of the Democratic Party Primary votes compared to 28 percent for Allen Eurek.
Charlie Janssen bested Larry Anderson in the Republican bid for state auditor of public accounts. Janssen picked up 56.5 percent of the Republican vote, and will face fellow State Sen. Amanda McGill, who ran unopposed for the Democratic state auditor nomination.
State Treasurer Don Stenberg received 85 percent of the Republican vote in his bid for re-election, and will face Democrat Michael O'Hara in the General Election.
In the 40th District state legislative race, incumbent Tyson Larson secured 68.5 percent of the vote. Both Larson and Keith Kube advanced to the General Election in the non-partisan race, as Kube finished with 31.5 percent of the vote.
A total of 316,117 voters cast a ballot during the Primary Election cycle statewide. That accounts for fewer than 28 percent of the 1.15 million registered voters in Nebraska.
Brown, Rock and Keya Paha County each had more than double the percentage of voters cast ballots during the Primary than the statewide average.

* Wiebelhaus, Waits re-elected as Brown County Commissioners; Hobbs edges Huggins

(Posted 11:45 p.m. May 13)

Both Republican incumbent Brown County Commissioners were re-elected during Tuesday’s Primary Election.

Just as he did four years ago in his first race, Reagan Wiebelhaus was the leading vote-getter with 763 Republican ballots cast in his favor. Les Waits will rejoin Wiebelhaus for four more years on the Board of Commissioners, as Waits edged challenger Will Williams by 35 votes, 554 to 519. Joe Nelson finished fourth in the race with 212 votes.

In a four-way race for Brown County Clerk, Republican challenger Travis Hobbs edged longtime incumbent Janet Huggins by 26 votes. Hobbs collected 438 Republican votes to 412 for Huggins. Hobbs received just under 40 percent of the overall vote in the clerk's race, while Huggins received 37.5 percent of the vote. Amber Happold finished third in the race with 141 votes, and Denise Dougherty collected 112 votes in the race for county clerk.

Larry Rice was the overwhelming choice for Ainsworth mayor. Rice received 464 votes to advance to the November General Election. Joining Rice in November will be Myrna Jakob, who tallied 91 votes from Ainsworth voters in the non-partisan race to advance to the November Election. Cynthia Castor finished third with 28 votes.

Long Pine voters selected Dian Dodds and Beverly Newport to advance to the General Election from the three-way race in Tuesday’s Primary for mayor of Long Pine.

Dodds scored a vast majority of the vote in Long Pine with 73 ballots cast in her favor. Newport received 24 votes to advance. Steven Swett received 16 votes.

Close to 58 percent of registered Brown County voters cast ballots in the Primary Election, with 1,252 ballots cast from among the 2,170 registered county voters.

In the state and federal races, Brown County Republicans chose Ben Sasse for U.S. Senate with 433 votes. Shane Osborn received 284 votes, with Sid Dinsdale picking up 266 votes, Bart McLeay 48 and Clifton Johnson 17.

On the Democratic ticket, Larry Marvin edged Dave Domina for U.S. Senate by a 38-36 margin in Brown County.

In the Republican Primary race for Nebraska governor, Brown County chose Jon Bruning with 358 votes to 325 for Beau McCoy, 209 for Pete Ricketts, 105 for Mike Foley, 38 for Tom Carlson and 21 for Bryan Slone.

In the four-way Republican battle for attorney general, Brown County voters sided with Brian Buescher. Buescher received 368 votes. Mike Hilgers picked up 231 votes, followed by Doug Peterson with 201 votes and Pete Pirsch with 123. On the Democratic Party ticket, Brown County chose Janet Stewart for attorney general by a 56-19 margin over Allen Eurek.

Republican 3rd District Rep. Adrian Smith carried Brown County with ease in his bid for another two-year term. Smith received 723 votes to 322 for challenger Tom Brewer.

Incumbent State Treasurer Don Stenberg received 847 votes in his re-election bid from Brown County Republicans, compared to 105 votes for challenger Christopher Costello.

Republican voters in Brown County chose Charlie Janssen for state auditor by a 418-312 margin over Larry Anderson.

Brown County voters picked incumbent Molly O’Holleran over challenger Robin Stevens by a 491-348 margin in the race for the State Board of Education District 7 seat.

Brown County Republicans selected Bradley Wilkins and Wendy Wilkins to represent the county as delegates to the Republican Convention.

Brad Wilkins received 377 votes. Wendy Wilkins picked up 335 votes, and Rodney Palmer finished third in the race with 196 votes.

* Rock County incumbent commissioners advance; Davis tops Devall for treasurer

(Posted 10:30 p.m. May 13)

In a close race to replace retiring Rock County Treasurer Linda May, Mona Davis defeated Janice Devall by 77 votes in Tuesday's Republican Primary.
 Davis finished with 302 votes to 225 for Devall. With no Democratic Party candidate running, Davis will become the next Rock County treasurer.
 It appears both Republican incumbents will hold on to their seats on the Rock County Board of Commissioners.
 Incumbent Jim Stout led the three-candidate countywide race for two seats on the Board of Commissioners with 401 votes. The second seat was a tight finish between incumbent Stan Larson and challenger Dustin Craven.
 While the results at this point are still unofficial, Larson received 270 votes to 266 for Craven, which is less than a 1 percent margin of victory.
 A total of 58 percent of the registered voters in Rock County cast ballots in the Primary Election. Of the 1,036 registered voters, 601 filled out a ballot.

In the U.S. Senate race, Rock County Republicans picked Ben Sasse. Sasse received 204 votes to 162 for Sid Dinsdale, 103 for Shane Osborn, 28 for Bart McLeay and eight for Clifton Johnson.

Rock County Democrats chose Dave Domina over Larry Marvin by a 32-14 margin.

For Nebraska governor, Rock County voters opted for Jon Bruning with 188 votes to 169 for Beau McCoy, 87 for Pete Ricketts, 50 for Mike Foley, 15 for Bryan Slone and 11 for Tom Carlson.

Brian Buescher strongly carried Rock County Republican voters for attorney general, scoring 367 votes to 60 for Doug Peterson, 35 for Mike Hilgers and 15 for Pete Pirsch. Rock County Democrats chose Janet Stewart by a 30-11 margin over Allen Eurek.

Rock County Republicans cast 418 votes for incumbent State Treasurer Don Stenberg to just 52 for challenger Christopher Costello.

For state auditor, Rock County chose Charlie Janssen by a 188 to 137 margin over Larry Anderson.

In the 3rd District Congressional race, Republicans in Rock County were solidly behind incumbent Adrian Smith. Smith earned 470 votes to 146 for challenger Tom Brewer.

Incumbent 40th District State Sen. Tyson Larson was the overwhelming choice of Rock County voters in his bid for a second term in the Nebraska Legislature.

Larson received 403 votes to 111 for Keith Kube.

Incumbent Molly O’Holleran picked up 213 votes in Rock County in her bid for re-election to the State Board of Education in District 7 to 174 for challenger Robin Stevens.

* Nilson, Ritterbush hold onto Keya Paha County Commissioner seats

(Posted 9:30 p.m. May 13)

Both incumbent candidates for Keya Paha County Commissioner will keep their seats for another four years, as Keya Paha County Republican voters elected Cory Nilson to the Center District Commissioner seat in a close race over challenger David Lewis, and Bruce Ritterbush received better than 80 percent of the Republican votes in the East District Commissioner race.

Nilson received 65 Republican votes in the Center District to 49 for Lewis. Ritterbush garnered 64 votes in the East District race to 15 for challenger Bryan Kienke.

Keya Paha County Republicans chose Ben Sasse in the race for U.S. Senate. Sasse received 117 votes in Keya Paha County to lead the Republican field. Shane Osborn picked up 80 votes in Keya Paha County, Sid Dinsdale received 63 votes, Bart McLeay 12 and Clifton Johnson four.

Just 18 Democrats voted in the U.S. Senate race in Keya Paha County, and chose Larry Marvin by a 10-8 margin over Dave Domina.

Keya Paha County Republicans gave the most votes Tuesday to Beau McCoy in the race for Nebraska governor. McCoy received 85 votes, four better than Jon Bruning. Pete Ricketts earned 57 votes in Keya Paha County, followed by 31 for Mike Foley, 17 for Tom Carlson and 13 for Bryan Slone.

Democratic candidate Chuck Hassebrook received 16 votes for governor in Keya Paha County.

In the Republican race for Nebraska Attorney General, 125 Keya Paha County voters gave the not to Brian Buescher. Doug Peterson received 58 votes, followed by 31 for Mike Hilgers and 26 for Pete Pirsch.

Democratic voters selected Janet Stewart by a 13-4 margin over Allan Eurek for Attorney General.

In the other contested state race, Republican voters in Keya Paha County gave incumbent State Treasurer Don Stenberg 215 votes to 30 for challenger Christopher Costello.

Incumbent Republican 3rd District Rep. Adrian Smith had no trouble in Keya Paha County, receiving 216 votes to 63 for challenger Tom Brewer.

For District 7 State Board of Education, Keya Paha County voters chose incumbent Molly O’Holleran by a 119-84 margin over challenger Robin Stevens.

For Nebraska Public Power District Board of Directors in Subdivision 2, Dan Scheer received 107 votes to 53 for Barry DeKay and 44 for Ross Knott.

Keya Paha County Clerk Suzy Wentworth reported 392 of the 638 registered voters in Keya Paha County cast ballots for the Primary Election, a 61 percent turnout.

* 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.

* Brown County Sheriff's Department 2013 summary

 

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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