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

* Bill Sokol, 63, of Valentine 2 p.m. Oct. 27

* Meeting reports located below for:

Oct. 19 Brown County Commissioners

Oct. 13 Ainsworth City Council

Oct. 11 Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education

Oct. 6 Brown County Commissioners

Oct. 4 Ainsworth-Brown County Care Center Board

Sept. 20 Brown County Commissioners

Sept. 15 Ainsworth City Council budget hearing

* Taxable sales decline in most area counties in July; Holt County the exception

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 25)

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of July 2016 and July 2015 Net Taxable Sales
for Nebraska Counties and Selected Cities

or City

Net Taxable

Net Taxable


Sales Tax

Sales Tax





































Broken Bow
























Keya Paha
























State Total






Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of July 2016 and July 2015
Motor Vehicle Sales Tax Collections by County

or City

Net Taxable

Net Taxable


Sales Tax

Sales Tax





































Keya Paha


















State Total






* Six contestants tie for top spot in final week of KBRB Football Contest

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

Six contestants missed one game during the final week of the KBRB Football Contest, and the miss was the same for each – Penn State’s come-from-behind win at home against No. 2 Ohio State in the college ranks.

Jim Carr, Tom Mundorf, and Becky Chase of Springview; Jake Gambill and Heath Rudnick of Ainsworth; and Jaksen Adkisson of Amelia each missed just the Penn State win on the Week 8 card.

That sent us to the tie-breaker to determine the winners, Nebraska’s 27-14 win over Purdue. All six contestants picked the Huskers to win.

Rudnick missed the total score by 25 points, picking the Huskers, 48-10. Gambill had the Huskers, 42-9, missing the final by a combined 20 points. Mundorf picked Nebraska, 41-10, to miss the total by 18 points. Adkisson had Nebraska, 38-17, missing by 14 points.

Both Chase and Carr picked identical scores of Nebraska 35, Purdue 10, missing the total by 12 points.

With Chase and Carr tied following the first tie-breaker, that sent us for the first time this year to the second tie-breaker, which was the earliest postmark. Chase had a Tuesday, Oct. 18, postmark on her card, with Carr’s card postmarked on Thursday, Oct. 20.

That gives Becky Chase the first place, $40 certificate, with Carr receiving the runner-up, $10 certificate.

Certificates may be picked up in the KBRB Studios. Thanks to everyone for participating in this year’s KBRB Football Contest, and a big thanks to this year’s contest sponsors Circle B Livestock in Bassett, West Plains Bank of Springview, K&H Specialty Meats of Stuart, KC’s Roadrunner of Spencer, and Buckles Automotive, the Farmers-Ranchers Cooperative Ampride and Propane and Appliance Store, all of Ainsworth.

* Friday fire destroys Ainsworth family's home

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

A Friday morning fire resulted in the loss of a home for an Ainsworth family.

At approximately 10:30 a.m. Friday, a fire was reported at 1111 E. Plainsman Drive in a home owned by Brandon and Mandy Evans.

Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala said, upon firefighters’ arrival, smoke was billowing from the home. He said the fire started in a storage room in the basement of the house.

“We gained access through the front door, and one crew took a line downstairs,” Fiala said. “But, it was just too hot so they had to come back up.”

He said fire crews battled the fire from the main floor, and also applied water through a basement window. The Bassett Volunteer Fire Department provided mutual aid to the Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department. Crews remained on the scene as of 7 p.m. Friday.

The fire chief said no one was in the home when the fire started. He said the house and its contents would likely be a total loss.

One cat was rescued from the inside of the home and taken to a veterinary clinic. A second cat’s whereabouts were initially unknown, but the cat was able to make it outside the home and was found Friday evening.

Fiala said an inspector from the Nebraska State Fire Marshal’s office had been on scene, but due to the smoke and debris had not been able to make a determination as to the cause of the fire. Fiala said no neighboring structures were threatened.

Monetary donations for the Evans family are being collected by all three Ainsworth banks, and the Red Cross will also provide assistance to the family.

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 8:30 a.m. Oct. 19)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a two-vehicle accident that occurred Monday, Oct. 17, in Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 8:07 p.m. Monday at the Ainsworth Community Schools parking lot, a 1995 Chevy pickup, driven by Roger Lechtenberg, 59, of Ainsworth, was backing from a parking space and struck a parked 2001 Chevy pickup, owned by Brian and Sarah Williams of Ainsworth.
No injuries were reported. Damage to the Lechtenberg Chevy was estimated at $100. The Williams Chevy sustained approximately $3,000 damage.

* Commissioners tackle numerous items during lengthy meeting Tuesday

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 19)

The Brown County Agricultural Society received the go-ahead Tuesday to begin work on replacing the chutes and pens at the Fairgrounds Arena, with the County Commissioners agreeing to front money from the county’s inheritance tax fund to pay for the renovations.

Ag Society representatives Tim Iverson, Dave Sherman and Kenny Eggers provided the board with details on the estimated $65,000 project, which will replace all the chutes and gates at the arena and also bring in dirt to raise the elevation and help keep water from standing.

“The initial bids came in pretty high,” Iverson said. “We did some work on the blueprints and came up with a project that will work monetarily.”

Sherman said there will be a lot of donated labor with the project, and he asked if the county roads department would be willing to haul in the dirt this fall after the old chutes and gates are torn out.

“We would like to get everything torn out this fall so it has a chance to get settled for the spring,” Sherman said.

Sherman said the Ag Society needed an indication from the county on if it would be willing to help finance the project now. The commissioners included $20,000 toward the project in its 2016-17 budget, but the price tag is a little more than three times that total.

“We want to get on the same page so we know if we can tear out the old chutes and gates yet this fall,” Sherman said. “We can’t do the project in parts. Would you rather we wait three years at $20,000 per year before doing this?”

Eggers said he worried the price tag for the project would be $85,000 if the Ag Society waited for two more $20,000 allocations from the county.

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus said, “When I do a project, I want to get it done. The original plan was for us to do $20,000 each of the next three years. I am not opposed to taking money from the inheritance tax fund and then paying it back over the next three years.”

Wiebelhaus said the current chutes present a safety issue at the fairgrounds.

“It is time to either do something or let it go,” Wiebelhaus said.

Commissioner Buddy Small said he agreed the Ag Society should go ahead and get started on the project this fall.

The board agreed to pay for the cost of the project using the $20,000 allocated to the Ag Society for the 2016-17 year, with the remainder coming from the inheritance tax fund. The county will then continue to budget an additional $20,000 annually to the Ag Society, with those funds used to pay back the inheritance tax fund.

In other business, the board, following a lengthy discussion on the procedure and the lack of implementing a surveyor, approved a subdivision request for Nathan Johnson for a 5-plus acre parcel northwest of Ainsworth that Johnson plans to use for a home site on property currently owned by his grandfather, Brent Johnson.

Zoning Administrator Dean Jochem said, if someone wants to build a home in the country, they have to have at least a 5-acre tract.

“Typically, a surveyor goes out to the property and surveys out at least 5 acres,” Jochem said. “This deals with a house that Nate Johnson has purchased and moved onto the property. They do not have a zoning permit yet. Their attorney drew up a legal description that does not match.”

Jochem said the legal description provided by the attorney looks like it includes a portion of a neighboring property.

“I can’t recommend approval like this,” Jochem said. “I am upset that, in order to save a few bucks, an official survey was not done. The only thing that is going to solve this is to have a legal survey done. Then, any liability is the responsibility of the surveyor.”

County Assessor Charleen Fox said a survey would be more precise than the legal description provided, but that description did show the parcel to be 5.92 acres, which is what she would use for assessment purposes.

Mark Johnson said he didn’t understand how something so simple needed to become so complicated, as the land currently belongs to his father and would be going to his son for a home site. He said they had measured the site and it met the county’s requirements.

Wiebelhaus said he understood the Johnsons’ hesitation to pay for the cost of a survey.

“If I was just going to buy 5 or 6 acres, the last thing I would want to do is spend $2,500 on a survey,” Wiebelhaus said.

Small said,” We don’t want to make things difficult for anyone, but we want to keep this clean. Would you consider having a survey done?”

County Attorney David Streich said it appeared there was enough cushion that the county’s 5-acre rule was satisfied. He said it was unclear if a subdivision was even necessary, though subdivisions have been standard practice in the past.

Streich commended Jochem for identifying the potential boundary issues in the legal description, as that document would be included with the deed to the property and could affect any future sale of the parcel.

“In terms of the zoning permit, I believe they qualify,” Streich said.

Following discussion on having the Johnsons modify the legal description to ensure it does not include any of the neighboring property, the board approved the subdivision request.

Also Tuesday, North Central Development Center Board members Kim Buckley, Greg Soles and Doug Weiss approached the commissioners about the county’s decision to cut $1,000 from its contribution to the NCDC.

“We are visiting all our contributing partners to let them know what the office is doing,” Buckley said. “We see you lowered your amount to the NCDC, and when we see what the NCDC has done to increase the valuation in the county, we wonder what your expectations are for the office?”

Soles said the NCDC Board would have to figure out the office’s budget soon, and wanted to know the county’s rationale for the cut.

Commissioner Les Waits said any group that gets taxpayer money submits a budget to the commissioners.

“That gives the board an idea of how those dollars are being spent,” Waits said. “Right now, no one knows what is going on.”

Buckley said each contributing partner has a representative on the NCDC’s Board, and each gets a copy of the budget annually.

Small, who represents the county on the NCDC Board, said, several times, he has been told something is confidential.

“The other boards I am on, nothing is confidential to the board members,” Small said.

NCDC Director Kristin Olson said Community Development Block Grant and Housing and Urban Development regulations require any information relating to low to moderate income applications be kept confidential.

“Only the loan committee knows the applicant’s identity,” Olson said. “The loan committee receives the application and then makes a recommendation to the City Council. All the NCDC office does is process the applications.”

Small said, when a director asks a question, he would like an explanation if something is confidential.

“I find it insulting when I am told it is confidential when I ask a question,” Small said.

Olson said she serves on the Central Nebraska Housing Developers Board, which handles owner-occupied housing rehabilitation projects.

“The policy is the same,” Olson said. “We only see a number, not a name.”

Weiss said the NCDC apparently has a public relations problem that needs to be rectified.

“We need the county on board so we can continue to move forward,” Weiss said. “Everyone needs to take a step back and look at the results. Sometimes economic development is messy, but things are getting done.”
Buckley said, as a business owner, he looks at is the return he sees on investments he makes.

“If I make a $10,000 investment and I get a $20,000-plus return, why would I not continue to invest?” Buckley said. “I certainly wouldn’t make a cut. This office has grown immensely in the past 10 years in terms of the projects it has taken on. We have a limited budget, and when it is cut it limits how much we can do.”

Olson said one of the main goals of the NCDC is to increase the tax base in the county.

“We are delivering that to our partners,” Olson said. “We are giving a return on your investment. I am frustrated too. We are out there doing a lot of projects. Sometimes the projects land, sometimes they don’t. I am always happy to answer any questions I can.”

Olson said the NCDC obtained a $90,000 grant for the county to replace the heating and air-conditioning in the courthouse and sheriff’s department, money that would have otherwise come from the taxpayers.

More than $400,000 was raised during the 2012 wildfires, much of which went to fire departments. More than $58,000 was raised for the care center, including $19,000 to employees who were not getting paid by their former employer.

She said professional recruitment efforts helped land two doctors for the Brown County Hospital.

“The professional recruitment funds mean that money is not having to come out of the hospital’s or county’s budget,” Olson said.

She said recent housing and commercial projects have added millions of dollars to the county’s valuation, increasing the tax base.

No action was taken, but the commissioners thanked the NCDC representatives for explaining its efforts and agreed to continue a dialogue going forward.

Hospital Administrator Shannon Sorensen and Chief Financial Officer Lisa Wood provided the board with the results of the hospital’s 2016 audit.

Wood said the audit showed no major deficiencies, only routine deficiencies related to the segregation of duties.

“That is written into about every audit for smaller entities,” Wood said. “There were no significant changes to our balance sheet.”

Wood said the hospital had an operating margin of 3.8 percent in its recently completed fiscal year, compared to an average operating margin of 1.8 percent among hospitals of similar size in the state.

She said the hospital had 168 days of cash on hand for hospital operations, well above the average of similarly-sized hospitals.

Opening a bid, the board approved the lone $40,340 quote from MIPS Inc. to microfilm documents in the county clerk’s office.

Clerk Travee Hobbs said the county didn’t have an option, as the microfilming work was required by the state.

“It will be next fall before they can get here, so this can be included in next year’s budget,” Hobbs said.

In a roads item, the board approved an $84,925 quote from Norfolk Contracting to replace a canal bridge on 429th Avenue near Road 879.

The board also asked Streich and Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin to draw up a sale contract of the county’s 1991 motor grader to the city of Ainsworth for $30,000.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for Nov. 1.

* Freemasons plan child identification event, Lions Club providing assistance

(Posted 1:45 p.m. Oct. 18)

During its recent meeting, the Ainsworth Lions Club voted to provide $100 to assist the Ainsworth and Long Pine Freemasons with an upcoming Child Identification Program Nov. 8-9 in Ainsworth Community Schools.

The Masons are hosting the event, which will include a dental impression and DNA cheek swab. The materials will be given to parents to keep. A CD will also be provided that includes a brief interview, digital photographs and digital fingerprints of the child.

There are two sessions each day, and there is no charge to participants. Approximately 25 volunteers are needed for each session.

Lions Club members who can assist the Ainsworth and Long Pine Masons with the project are asked to let Evan Evans know as soon as possible.

In other items, the Lions Club held its “Adopt-A-Highway” cleanup Oct. 9, with Larry Rice, Jerry Allen, Evan Evans, Dave Spann, Rita Paddock and Roland Paddock participating.

The club discussed potential community service projects. Kim Bejot suggested the replacement of the Learning Center seating at the school would be a worthy project for the club to assist with. Club President Brian Williams appointed the Lions Club Officers/Directors to a committee to develop a community service project plan to present to the club during its November meeting.

Evans presented information regarding park benches needed at the Courthouse Park in the vicinity of the playground equipment south of the library. He will provide additional information regarding costs during the club’s November meeting. 

The Lions Club grilled hamburgers for the school lunch program Oct. 5. The event was held as an expression of appreciation to those who donated beef or cash to this special school lunch program. Todd Mundhenke, Brian Williams, Jerry Allen and Dave Spann grilled approximately 300 burgers. 

Jerry Ehlers reported two overlays for the old Lions Club highway signs were received last week. The club had originally approved the purchase of four overlays, but, due to higher than expected costs, only two overlays were ordered.  If the refurbished signs work, the remaining two can be ordered later.

The Lions Club District 38-I governor will visit the club during its Nov. 21 noon meeting.  The Nebraska Lions Club Fall Rally will be held in Grand Island Nov. 18-20.

* Rudnick submits first perfect card during KBRB Football Contest Week 7

(Posted 12:15 a.m. Oct. 18)

The KBRB Football Contest saw its first perfect card of the season turned in during Week 7.

Heath Rudnick of Ainsworth was spot-on during the week, picking all 14 games correctly.

He predicted Minnesota’s road win at Maryland, and Northwestern’s road win at Michigan State, the two games that tripped up the most contestants. He also picked Stanford to win at Notre Dame in another widely missed contest on the card.

He also correctly had Nebraska winning the tie-breaker over Indiana, 35-24, not too far off the 27-22 final.

Rudnick wins the $40 first-place certificate.

Two Springview contestants turned in cards that missed just one game, both the Minnesota victory over Maryland. Those cards belonged to Crystal Chase and Kurtis Mizner. That sent us to the tie-breaker, and both had the Huskers to win by nearly identical scores.

Chase picked the Huskers, 31-28, while Mizner had the Huskers winning, 31-27. That put Mizner one point closer to the actual score and lands him the $10 second-place certificate.

Cards for the final week of the KBRB Football Contest are available now from Circle B Livestock in Bassett, the West Plains Bank in Springview, K&H Specialty Meats in Stuart, KC’s Roadrunner in Spencer, and in Ainsworth from Buckles Automotive, the Farmers-Ranchers Cooperative Ampride and Propane and Appliance stores.

Remember, the deadline is Thursday for this week’s contest card, as most high school games for the final week of the Class D regular season fall on Thursday this week.

Cards must be submitted to the KBRB Studios by 5 p.m. Thursday, or carry a Thursday postmark.

* Rock County, Keya Paha County crown homecoming royalty Friday

(Posted 10:30 p.m. Oct. 14)

Rachel Calvo and Braydon Caldwell were crowned Rock County homecoming queen and king Friday following North Central’s 26-20 loss to O’Neill St. Mary’s at Springview.
Other queen finalists for the homecoming crown were Rachel Stewart, Jaycee Fleming and Bailey Devall. King finalists were Jack Gale, Riley Bussinger and Miska Vaaraniemi.
Ty Palmer and Elena Tiefenthaler were chosen as Keya Paha County homecoming king and queen Friday.

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

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

In addition to fines, each case carries $49 in court costs

Harold Kidder, age 34, of Rushville, charged with driving under suspension, fined $100 and sentenced to 13 days in jail with credit for 13 days served; also charged with leaving the scene of an accident or failing to furnish information, fined $500.

Andy Stutzman, 18, of Wood Lake, minor in possession of alcohol, $300.

Heidi O. Zeigler, 29, of Ainsworth, possession of an open alcohol container in a vehicle, $50.

Kori J. Yankowski, 17, of Ainsworth, minor in possession of alcohol, sentenced to three months of probation and ordered to perform 20 hours of community service.

Joni R. Kerr, 62, of Vancouver, Wash., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Amber M. Ogden, 29, of Ainsworth, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Mark J. Arens, 53, of Ainsworth, no license on person, $25; improper or defective vehicle light, $10; driving left of center, $25.

Leopolda S. Vargas, 43, of Loveland, Colo., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $75.

Alessandro Antonsambetta, 38, of Marana, Ariz., speeding 21-35 mph over the limit, $200.

Alexander R. Pappel, 23, of Rapid City, S.D., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Arthur D. McDaniel, 18, of Ainsworth, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Breanna K. Schwindt, 18, of Ainsworth, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Jeremy Blaine Veach, 37, of Ainsworth, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Karsyn L. Irwin, 18, of Ainsworth, violation of a stop or yield sign, $75.

David Hernandez De La Cruz, 45, of Anaheim, Calif., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Gerald P. Denny, 67, of Long Pine, driving a commercial vehicle without a commercial license, $100.

Timothy Wyand, 51, of Hidden Valley Lake, Calif., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Anthony B. Ganser, 49, of Valentine, disturbing the peace, $100.

Leonard L. Trobee, 73, of Johnstown, second degree trespassing/defying an order to leave, $50.

Ian A. Van Osch, 41, of Cayuga, Ontario, Canada, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Brian P. Hector, 20, of Jordan, Minn., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Timothy G. Taylor, 38, of Newport, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Amy D. Hullet, 45, of Bismarck, N.D., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Jason R. Proctor, 39, of Eaton, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Megan R. Heisinger, 31, of Aurora, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

David P. Purvis, 72, of Monterey, Calif., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Harry B. Haythorn, 56, of Maxwell, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Christian A. Aldrich, 25, of Carefree, Ariz., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Alan V. Robert, 60, of Long Prairie, Minn., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Cameron Haskell, 30, of Ainsworth, drinking on public property, $100.

Christopher N. James, 47, of Austin, Texas, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Daquan K. Cooper, 22, of Detroit, Mich., criminal possession of a financial transaction device, sentenced to 17 days in jail with credit for 17 days served.

Isiah David Evans, 23, of Detroit, Mich., criminal possession of a financial transaction device, sentenced to 17 days in jail with credit for 17 days served.

Craig D. Pitts, 24, of Asbury Park, Mich., criminal possession of a financial transaction device, sentenced to 17 days in jail with credit for 17 days served.

Grant Lee Pedretti, 19, of La Cross, Wis., possession of marijuana 1 ounce or more, $500 fine and sentenced to 30 days in jail with credit for 16 days served.

Austin C. Dalton, 18, of St. Cloud, Minn., possession of marijuana 1 ounce or more, $500 fine and sentenced to 30 days in jail with credit for 16 days served.

Nicholas J. Wenger, 26, of Fargo, N.D., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Chelsie L. Michalewicz, 26, of Kearney, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Riley J. Painter, 23, of Long Pine, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Albert Lee Ostrander, 57, of Martensdale, Iowa, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Timothy P. Watson, 43, of Mountain View, Calif., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Boe J. Brown, 35, of Harrold, S.D., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

* City Council approves abating nuisance violations on 2 properties

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Oct. 13)

The Ainsworth City Council on Wednesday approved moving forward with abating nuisance violations on two properties in the city.

Central Nebraska Economic Development District Director Judy Peterson, who serves as the city’s nuisance abatement officer, said, of the five properties that remained with nuisance violations after inspections between Elm Street and Main Street from Highway 20 south, three of the property owners had either provided a written plan for addressing the violations or had filed for a demolition permit with the city to completely remove a structure.

“Some of the five have been cleaned up a little, but all five are still in the same condition,” Peterson said.

By a 3-0 vote with Councilman Chuck Osborn absent, the council approved moving forward with abatement on the two parcels where the owner did not provide a plan for correcting the violations, with the cost of the abatement billed to the property owner.

Peterson also serves as the Community Development Block Grant economic development reuse fund administrator for the city, and provided the council Wednesday with an updated set of guidelines for the CDBG revolving loan fund.

The council plans to utilize the remaining CDBG revolving loan funds toward its commitment to the Sandhills Care Center.

Peterson said she had submitted the previous revisions made to the program guidelines to the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. She said DED came back with additional changes.

The council approved the changes to the revolving loan fund guidelines as presented.

In other business Wednesday, the council approved a cost-share agreement with Denny Bauer of DBK Farms to rebuild irrigation ditch pads on city property that Bauer leases.

“Occasionally those ditch pads need to be rebuilt,” Bauer said. “It has probably been 20 years or more since any work was done on them.”

Bauer asked the council pay for 50 percent of the cost of the ditch repair work with a cap of $500. Bauer said he would pay for the other 50 percent, and if the total project costs more than $1,000, he would take care of it.

The council also approved a three-year renewal with the Sandhills Chapter of Pheasants Forever to allow the group to continue to conduct its youth mentor hunt on city property east of Ainsworth.

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said the previous agreement expired in September, and she recommended the council renew the agreement for three years with the same terms.

The city renewed its group health insurance plan with Coventry. Schroedl said the premiums increased 9.1 percent for the upcoming year for the same high deductible and co-pay after increasing by 12.8 percent the previous year. She said the city uses the high-deductible plan, then self-insures for part of the deductible.

During her report, Schroedl said the Brown County Sheriff’s Department has had to ban one person from city parks after receiving reports of people loitering and sleeping in the city parks.

She said the Brown County Commissioners offered the city its 1991 motor grader for $30,000 if the city had interest in the machine. The county was upgrading equipment and could receive $30,000 if it traded in the used machine. She said Streets Foreman Monte Goshorn had met with the county roads department crew to look at the machine.

During his report, Mayor Larry Rice said irrigation pipe at the cemetery was run over and damaged recently, but the driver was observed and ticketed by the sheriff’s department. Damage to the pipe was approximately $500.

He also said the ticket stand building at the entrance to East City Park was recently struck by a vehicle and damaged.

Rice said Modern Woodman representative Stan Libolt donated $250 to plant six new trees on the north side of East City Park.

Rice informed the council that three public hearings had been advertised to be held Wednesday, but due to Osborn being absent from the meeting and some question as to whether any of the council members would abstain from voting on any of the LB 840 loan applications, the hearings were postponed.

Schroedl said, if there was a question about whether there would be a majority vote by the council following any of the hearings, she was not clear on the procedure and had asked City Attorney Rod Palmer for guidance.

Palmer said it would be up to each council member individually to determine whether or not they have a personal conflict on any issue that is brought before the council.

Councilman Greg Soles said one of the LB 840 loan applications scheduled for a hearing Wednesday was time sensitive, and the applicant had already been delayed once after initially applying to the CDBG re-use loan program and then being shuttled to the LB 840 program after the CDBG funds were potentially allocated for the care center.

“One of these applicants cannot wait for another month,” Soles said.

Rice said the city would re-publicize the hearing notices and hold a special meeting on the soonest allowable date.

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

* Sheriff's department seeks information on recent burglary

(Posted 3 p.m. Oct. 12)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department is seeking information regarding a residential burglary that occurred sometime between Oct. 7 and Oct. 9.
According to the sheriff’s department, someone burglarized a home in the 1000 block of East Third Street, stealing several items of jewelry. No forced entry was found.
Anyone with information on who may be responsible for the burglary is asked to contact the Brown County Sheriff’s Department at 402-387-1440 or call Crime Stoppers at 402-382-3121.
All callers remain anonymous, and information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for this crime, or any crime, could result in a cash reward of up to $1,000. An additional $5,000 reward has been added for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in this burglary.

* Ainsworth City Council agenda for Wednesday meeting

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Oct. 12)


Ainsworth City Council agenda

Meeting 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12

Ainsworth Conference Center


1.                  Roll Call


2.                  *Approval of consent agenda

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


3.                  *Minutes of the previous meetings: 09/14/2016; 10/06/2016


4.                  *Treasurer’s report


5.                  *Department Head Reports


6.                  *Claims


7.                  *Cemetery Certificates


1.                  *Closing of 3rd Street from Main to Walnut in front of the Fire Hall on October 29, 2016 from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. for bed races


8.                  *Approve appointments recommended by Mayor Rice:


       Ainsworth Betterment Committee (ABC):  Dave Spann and Mary Ritter (3 year    term) from 10/14/2016 to 10/14/2019


9.                  Consider properties as identified and presented by Central Nebraska Economic Development District, Judy Peterson, in accordance with the City’s Nuisance Abatement Program


10.              Discuss and consider updates as presented by Central Nebraska Economic Development District, Judy Peterson, in regard to the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund


11.              Consider renewing the agreement between the City of Ainsworth and The Sandhills Chapter of Pheasants Forever


12.              Discuss and consider a request from DBK Farms regarding ditch irrigation on the leased farm ground


13.              Consider the Coventry health insurance renewal proposal


14.              Report from City Administrator/Clerk/Treasurer Schroedl


15.              Mayor’s report

* Maurer wins tie-breaker over Stout in Week 6 KBRB Football Contest

(Posted 10:45 a.m. Oct. 11)

For the second straight week, missing two games on the KBRB Football Contest Card put contestants in the running for the weekly prizes.

With another tough slate of games to choose from, there were several places to get tripped up, especially in the college ranks. The LSU and Florida game on the card was postponed due to the hurricane, so contestants get a free pass on that contest.

Tommy Stout of Springview and Marcella Maurer of Bassett each turned in cards that missed two games. Stout picked a perfect high school card, but missed Purdue’s road win at Illinois and Penn State’s home victory against Maryland in the college ranks. Maurer missed Ainsworth’s homecoming win over Boyd County on the high school side, and also missed the Purdue win at Illinois.

That sent us to the tie-breaker, and with Nebraska on a bye, BYU’s 31-14 road win at Michigan State was used to break the tie.

Both Maurer and Stout incorrectly had Michigan State winning. Maurer’s score of 28-24 Michigan State missed the total by a combined 21 points. Stout had Michigan State winning by a 32-21 margin, missing the total by a combined 28 points.

That gives Maurer the first-place, $40 gift certificate, while Stout earns the second-place, $10 prize.

There were 11 cards submitted that missed three games to finish one win shy of being in the running.

Thanks to everyone for participating in the KBRB Football Contest. Week 7 cards are available from West Plains Bank of Springview, Circle B Livestock of Bassett, K&H Specialty Meats of Stuart, KC’s Roadrunner of Spencer, and from Buckles Automotive, the Farmers-Ranchers Cooperative Ampride and Propane and Appliance stores of Ainsworth.

Week 7 cards are due to the KBRB Studios by 5 p.m. Friday, or they must carry a Friday postmark to be eligible.

* School district's 2015-16 NeSA, ACT test scores show mixed results

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 11)

Ainsworth Community Schools Superintendent Darrell Peterson reviewed NeSA and ACT test scores from the 2015-16 year with the Board of Education during Monday’s meeting, telling the board the district’s composite ACT scores for the 30 seniors who took the test averaged slightly ahead of the national average but slightly below the state average score.

Peterson reported the 30 seniors who took the ACT test in 2015-16 represented 73 percent of the class. The group had an average score of 20.9, above the national average of 20.8 but below the state average of 21.4.

The school’s 27 seniors who took the test in 2014-15 scored a composite average of 22.1.

Secondary Principal Bill Lentz said Nebraska consistently scores the highest in ACT composite scores among states that have 80 percent of students taking the test.

Peterson said it is anticipated the state’s average and individual school average scores will go down when all students begin taking the test, as will be required through legislation passed by the Unicameral.

With the NeSA tests, administered to students in the third through eighth grades and the junior class, Peterson said many of the grade levels increased their scores from the previous year.

“Some of the scores were higher, some were lower,” the superintendent said.

He said the state was not going to do an official ranking of school districts for the next couple years like it had in the past. He said some of the results were hard to interpret. For instance, the Ainsworth Elementary third-grade class had 96 percent of its test takers meet or exceed the state’s standards, well above the 84 percent state average.

However, looking at the average reading scale score for the third-grade class, it averaged 115 compared to the average scale score of 120 for state.

“With 96 percent meeting the standards, that meant there was only one student in that class who was not at that level,” Peterson said. “The scale score does not make a lot of sense, unless that one student scored about a zero.”

Elementary Principal Sarah Williams said the district’s staff always looks for patterns with the scores to find areas to emphasize and improve upon.

“Every year, it seems something different is our lower point,” Williams said. “It is difficult to find consistency, but we keep looking every year.”

In reading in 2015-16, the district’s third, fourth and sixth grade classes had a higher percentage of students meeting or exceeding the standards, while the fifth, seventh, eighth grade and junior classes had a lower percentage of students meeting or exceeding the standards than the state average.

In math, it was the school’s sixth, seventh and eighth grade classes that had a higher percentage of students meeting or exceeding the standards than the state average, with the third, fourth, fifth grade and junior classes having a lower percentage.

In science, the fifth-grade class had 78 percent of students meet or exceed the standards, better than the state average of 74 percent. The 68 percent of eighth-grade students meeting or exceeding the standards was equal to the state average, while the 65 percent of juniors meeting or exceeding the science standards were below the state average of 72 percent.

During his report Monday, Peterson recognized those who have donated beef to the school lunch program and those who contributed money to assist in having the beef processed into hamburger for the lunch program.

The Beel Brothers, Ryan and Angie Welke, the Williams and Williams Ranch, and Mark Miles each donated an animal to the program. Pozehl Construction, the West Plains Bank, the Ainsworth Lions Club, Kurt and Nadine Starkey, Roger and Rhonda Lechtenberg, and Darrell and Marjorie Peterson donated monetarily toward the cost of processing the beef.

Peterson said the donors were presented plaques made by the shop class during a recognition event Wednesday. The Lions Club grilled burgers for the donors and students.

The superintendent reported a community engagement session is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Nov. 7 in the school cafeteria. More information on the session will be presented as it nears.

Board member Erin Rathe reported there is a parent group that has also started meeting, with the next meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 3 in the Ainsworth Senior Center.

Peterson reported Williams submitted a letter asking to be reassigned for the 2017-18 school year. In the letter, Williams wrote that after 24 years as a principal, she would like to try something different and go back into teaching. The superintendent said there were a couple teachers who may be planning to retire at the end of the school year, so the district would try and accommodate Williams’ request.

Ainsworth FFA students Whittney Killion and Britley Schlueter provided the board with information on the efforts the organization makes to promote healthy lifestyles.

Through a 50-mile relay for health, a walk/run, and a freewill donation spaghetti feed, the FFA raised $400 to donate to the backpack meal program for students in need.

In the only action items Monday, the board approved the multicultural education annual report, and approved corporate banking resolutions with West Plains Bank, First National Bank and Union Bank & Trust.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education is scheduled for Nov. 14, with the board moving to its 7 p.m. meeting time for the winter months.

* Homecoming royalty chosen for Ainsworth, Stuart

(Posted 11:45 p.m. Oct. 7)

Britley Schlueter was crowned Ainsworth High School homecoming queen Friday following the Bulldog football game, with Jace Kremer selected as homecoming king from a vote of the students.
Jacob Fernau and Whitney Killion were selected as homecoming prince and princess.
At Stuart High School’s homecoming, Andrew Olson and Allison Stracke were crowned homecoming king and queen at halftime of Friday’s football game. Harlee Fischer and Chris Van Metre were selected as homecoming princess and prince.

* Foundation receives more donations to Endowment Fund

(Posted 8:45 a.m. Oct. 7)

During its recent meeting, the Brown County Foundation Advisory Committee welcomed visitor Kristine Gale of Bassett, who is the area's new Nebraska Community Foundation Coordinator.
Contributions to the Foundation's Endowment Account in September totaled $17,600 from three donors, which will result in a cash contribution of $8,800 from the Sherwood Foundation.
The Sherwood Campaign Leadership Committee has identified upcoming strategies to promote the ongoing Sherwood Campaign. The Sherwood Foundation is matching all donations to the Endowment Account, with a maximum donation of $250,000. The Foundation receives $1 from the Sherwood Foundation for every $2 contributed to the Endowment Account.
Jerry Ehlers provided the Advisory Committee with an update on progress made following the town hall meeting in January. Several committees were formed and are in various stages of projects.
The Brown County Foundation has developed a Facebook page. Facebook users are invited to "like" the page and check back often for news, announcements and upcoming campaigns.
The Ainsworth Community Schools local beef account received three donations totaling $1,450, and the Ainsworth Alumni Scholarship Fund received a $550 donation.
The next meeting of the Brown County Community Foundation Fund Advisory Committee is scheduled for 5 p.m. Nov. 2 in the NCDC meeting room.

* Fire in hay pile Tuesday prompts response from 3 area departments

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Oct. 7)

Three area fire departments responded to a report of a hay pile on fire south of Long Pine Tuesday.
According to Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala, at 12:20 p.m. Tuesday, a fire was reported approximately 6 miles south of Long Pine on property owned by Bob Alberts.
A spark from a hay grinder caught the hay pile on fire, prompting a response from the Long Pine Rural, South Pine and Ainsworth Volunteer departments.
Fiala said firefighters had to spread out the entire hay pile to get the fire extinguished. Ainsworth firefighters were on scene until 2 p.m., and the Long Pine Rural Fire Department remained on scene from there to make sure the smoldering hay did not reignite.

* Commissioners discuss action against property owners who don't mow road ditches

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 6)

The Brown County Commissioners discussed the issue of property owners mowing roads ditches adjacent to their property during Tuesday’s meeting, debating whether the county should hire the work done and charge the landowners who fail to mow.

State statute requires property owners to mow road ditches adjacent to their properties twice each year, once prior to June 15 and once during the month of August.

Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin said ditches that are not mowed tend to catch snow and cause drifting during the winter months.

Commissioner Buddy Small said some landowners can’t mow their ditches due to windrows, while others just don’t get it done until someone gets after them.

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus said he was not in favor of hiring the work done and billing the property owners this year since it was getting late in the season.

“Next year, we will let them know early that if they don’t mow, the county will contract it and bill the landowner,” Wiebelhaus said.

Small said he would contact landowners who haven’t mowed asking them to get it done yet this fall to help keep snow from drifting on the roadways.

In other business Tuesday, the board discussed a bridge and trail road on property owned by Leon Bracker in Section 11, Township 31, Range 21 in northeastern Brown County.

Turpin said the bridge on the trail road has a three rating.

“If the rating on a bridge falls below that, the bridge is shut down,” Turpin said.

Wiebelhaus said the county is required to provide access to the property line.

“I don’t think taxpayer funds should be used to pay for a bridge that is only used by one property,” Wiebelhaus said.

The board viewed aerial photos of the property, and opted to take a drive and view the location before making any decisions.

In other roads items, the board gave Turpin the go-ahead to advertise for bids for a truck tractor and a belly dump trailer.

Turpin discussed scheduling with Norfolk Contractors the replacement of a bridge on 429th Avenue and Road 879.

Wiebelhaus said the bridge replacement was included in the county’s 2016-17 budget.

“If we don’t keep up on these bridges, we will start falling behind,” he said.

Turpin reported the roads department has recently been hauling clay and patching roads south of Long Pine, and with Monday night’s rain, roads workers would be out blading roads the rest of the week.

The board discussed selling a used motor grader to the city of Ainsworth instead of trading it in.

Small said Eddie Bomar with Nebraska Machinery estimated the county would receive about $30,000 in trade-in value for the used motor grader.

Turpin said he would rather see the city be able to use the machine for $30,000 and keep it in the area if the city was interested rather than the county trading in the machine and seeing it leave the area.

The board agreed to contact the city to see if it was interested in the grader.

In a final roads item, the board approved a $2,500 salary increase for Turpin for the 2016-17 year.

County Assessor Charleen Fox presented the board with a contract for appraisal services from Stanard Appraisal of Central City.

Fox said the company has handled the appraisal work for the county for numerous years.

“There are not many people who do this kind of work,” Fox said. “Appraisal work is expensive, and it is specialized.”

Fox said the appraisal work would be done on commercial property this year as part of the required six-year review.

Wiebelhaus said $225 per parcel for 225 properties seemed expensive.

“Paying $50,000 for three to four weeks of work seems like a lot to me,” Wiebelhaus said. “In future years, I wonder if we should bid this out. Maybe there is some competition out there where the county could save some money.”

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for Oct. 18.

* Highway 20 asphalt work scheduled from Valentine east to Highway 83 junction

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Oct. 6)

Weather permitting, milling and asphalt overlay work is scheduled to resume Oct. 11 on Highway 20 in Cherry County, from the city limits of Valentine east to the south junction of Highway 83, according to the Nebraska Department of Roads.
Werner Construction of Hastings has the $2.5 million contract for the 4.6-mile project, which includes milling, asphaltic concrete overlay of the roadway, work on bridges and drainage structures.  Traffic will be maintained during construction with use of a pilot car.  Work is anticipated to be completed in December.
The Department of Roads’ project manager is Darrell Lurz of Valentine.  Motorists are reminded to drive cautiously through highway construction zones.

* September sees above-normal temps, below-normal precipitation

(Posted 1:30 p.m. Oct. 4)

Ainsworth Weather Observer Gerry Osborn reported 2.09 inches of moisture during September, below the average of 2.50. However, Ainsworth remains above-normal for the year thanks to an extremely wet April and July.
Temperatures were above the average, though only slightly, with the warmest temperature in September of 89 degrees.
To hear the full September report, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Gerry Osborn September Weather 2016.mp3

* Crane wins Week 5 KBRB Football Contest with 2 misses

(Posted 11:30 a.m. Oct. 4)

Week 5 of the KBRB Football Contest proved to be the toughest week yet for our contestants, with several tough college games to pick and some surprising results on the high school side.

The games missed most were Boyd County’s win over Clearwater-Orchard on the high school side, and Northwestern’s upset on the road at Iowa on the college side.

Missing two of the 14 games on the Week 5 card was good enough to win it this week, as there was only one card from the more than 60 turned in this week that missed two games.

That card belonged to Shauna Crane of Ainsworth, who picked the high school side perfectly. Her misses came on the college side, where she had Wisconsin beating Michigan, and TCU beating Oklahoma.

Crane earns the $40 first-place certificate this week.

There were only three cards submitted that missed three games. Those cards belonged to Judy Densberger, Tami Ulibarri and Robert Rudnick all of Ainsworth.

That sent us to the tie-breaker, Nebraska’s 31-16 victory over Illinois. All three contestants picked the Huskers to win. Rudnick’s score of 52-10 missed the final by 27 combined points. Ulibarri had the Huskers 35-25, missing the total by 13 points. Densberger picked a 42-17 Husker win, missing the final by 12 total points.

By a one-point difference, Densberger edged Ulibarri for second place and the $10 certificate.

Thanks to everyone for playing. Week 6 contest cards are available from the West Plains Bank of Springview, Circle B Livestock of Bassett, K&H Specialty Meats of Stuart, KC’s Roadrunner of Spencer, and in Ainsworth from Buckles Automotive, the Farmers-Ranchers Cooperative Ampride, and the Co-op Propane and Appliance Store.

Week 6 cards must be submitted to the KBRB Studios by 5 p.m. Friday, or carry a Friday postmark.

* Care Center passes fire marshal's inspection; rates set ahead of November opening

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 4)

Resident rates for the Sandhills Care Center were set Monday on a scale based on the level of care needed.

The Ainsworth-Brown County Care Center Board approved the private pay schedule rate as presented by representatives from Rural Health Development.

The rate for a resident needing a standard level of care is $193 per day for a semi-private room, and $218 per day for a private room.

Walt Dye with Rural Health Development said the rates will be competitive with other facilities in the area.

“These rates are comparable to Stuart’s rates,” Dye said. “These are right in the ballpark with other facilities in western Nebraska.”

Dye also recommended the board increase the rates by 2 percent to 3 percent annually, as the costs to operate a nursing home typically increase by 4 percent to 8 percent annually.

“If you increase the rates by 2 percent to 3 percent each year, it helps you avoid having to take a larger jump down the road,” Dye said.

Care Center Administrator Stephanie Rucker reported the facility passed the fire marshal’s inspection and received a certificate of occupancy Sept. 26. She said RHD then submitted its application for licensure to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

“They can call anytime within 30 calendar days of when the application was submitted to schedule a visit,” Rucker said.

She said the facility would be licensed by DHHS by Oct. 27 at the latest, and could accept residents at any point after the licensure is received.

She said interviews were scheduled with several Certified Nurses Assistants, and the facility had hired two LPNs.

Rucker said the personnel needed to receive the licensure were in place. She said 16 resident applications have been received, though the facility would not be able to accept all 16 right away.

Two residents would be admitted initially, and the facility would then need to become Medicare and Medicaid certified. Once that certification is received, the facility would then begin adding additional residents.

Brown County Hospital Administrator Shannon Sorensen presented the Care Center Board with a title to a 2011 Ford bus that previously belonged to the Ainsworth Care Center.

Sorensen said the Hospital Board of Trustees voted to donate the bus to the Sandhills Care Center.

“Our goal was to make sure the bus did not leave the community,” Sorensen said. “It is a nice vehicle.”

Board Chairman Kent Taylor thanked the hospital for the donation, and the board approved having Taylor sign the bill of sale for the vehicle.

The board opened two bids, both from Ainsworth Motors, for a minivan to replace the 1994 van it currently owned. Ainsworth Motors submitted a bid of $10,900 for a 2011 Ford Flex van with 105,000 miles, and a bid of $9,025 for a 2010 Dodge Caravan with 80,000 miles.

After receiving the donation of the bus, the board opted not to approve the purchase of a van. After contacting Ainsworth Motors, board member Jim Walz said the dealership would honor either bid in a month if the vans were not sold to another buyer.

During a renovation committee report, Dick Schipporeit said there was a concern with the roof at the Sandhills Care Center.

“The valleys are not in very good shape,” Schipporeit said. “Century Lumber has agreed to donate the material to fix the valleys, and Frank Williams has agreed to supervise the repairs.”

Schipporeit thanked members of the Ainsworth United Methodist Church, who have volunteered numerous hours helping to renovate the building and grounds.

Taylor said he was grateful for all of the volunteer help and donations that have been received. The donations and volunteer hours have reduced the amount of money needed to get the building to the point it passed code and was ready to accept residents.

Rucker said approximately $74,000 has been spent currently in payroll and operating costs to get to this point.

Walz said the $70,000 to $80,000 was going to be well below the initial estimate of $150,000.

“We didn’t know what we were getting into with that building,” Walz said.

The North Central Development Center, after months of work, negotiated for the building to be donated to the NCDC by its previous owner, RP Midwest. NCDC subsequently turned the building over to the Ainsworth-Brown County Care Center Board in exchange for the legal costs to complete the transaction.

By a 3-2 vote, the board approved having the Sandhills Care Center be a tobacco free campus. During its September meeting, the board indicated it was not in favor of a tobacco free campus and had RHD create an amended policy creating a designated smoking area outside the building for residents and staff.

However, three of the five board members indicated, after spending time thinking about the issue, they were in favor of RHD’s original recommendation to keep the entire campus tobacco free.

With board members Walz and Chuck Osborn voting against, the board approved the tobacco free campus policy.

The board heard proposals from Juan Reyes with NP Dodge Insurance of Omaha, and Janet Fredrick of JG Elliott of Scottsbluff relating to property, liability and workmen’s compensation insurance for the facility.

The board will open bids from the two companies, and any other bids that may have been received, during a special meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday in the Ainsworth Care Center. Both Reyes and Fredrick said they would be available by phone Tuesday for any additional questions the board may have after opening the bids.

* Bass Pro Shops acquiring Nebraska-based Cabela's in $5.5 billion deal

(Posted 11:45 a.m. Oct. 3)

In a reported $5.5 billion deal, Bass Pro Shops is acquiring Nebraska-based Cabela’s. There has been no announcement on the future of the Cabela’s Sidney headquarters, or how Bass Pro Shops plans to move forward with Cabela’s Nebraska locations.

Capital One is taking over Cabela’s credit card business, and has announced that the cards will continue uninterrupted.

Gov. Pete Ricketts said, “I know this change brings significant disruption and uncertainty for the citizens of Cheyenne County and the surrounding communities. My office, the Department of Economic Development, and the Department of Labor stand ready to assist area residents and communities to find opportunities. Nebraskans have faced challenges in the past, and we overcome them by working together. We will face these new circumstances by working together as well.

“We are pleased Capitol One agreed to keep their acquired operations in Lincoln, and we encourage Bass Pro to consider the same. I know from personal experience that when you hire Nebraskans, you get individuals who are well-educated, have a great work-ethic, and will make your company succeed.”

3rd District Rep. Adrian Smith also weighed in on the news of the acquisition.

“Cabela’s has long served as a cornerstone of western Nebraska’s economy, and I hope Bass Pro Shops will see the value in maintaining operations in Sidney,” Smith said. “Thousands of Nebraskans have worked tirelessly to build the Cabela’s brand, which is respected nationwide and around the world. Our state has a pro-growth economy and an unmatched work ethic, which I urge Bass Pro Shops to consider when determining a path forward.”

* NDEQ issues health alert for Merritt Reservoir due to algae outbreak

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Oct. 3)

A health alert is in effect for Merritt Reservoir in Cherry County, Willow Creek Lake in Pierce County, and Rockford Lake in Gage County.
The health alert was put in place after high levels of blue-green algae were detected at the lakes during testing by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.
It is recommended that visitors to Merritt Reservoir and the other lakes avoid full body contact activities such as swimming, wading, skiing and jet skiing. Non-contact activities such as boating, fishing and camping are not affected by the alert.

* Counterfeit currency passed in Ainsworth Tuesday

(Posted 11:30 a.m. Sept. 29)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department reports two counterfeit $20 bills were passed by someone to an Ainsworth business on Tuesday.

The sheriff’s department reports while both $20 bills looked genuine, they had the same serial number, did not have the security features of actual currency, and did not pass the counterfeit pen test.

Anyone with information regarding who may be responsible for passing the counterfeit currency is asked to call the Brown County Sheriff’s Department at 402-387-1440 or call Crime Stoppers at 402-382-3121. All callers remain anonymous, and information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for this crime could result in a genuine cash reward.

Businesses are encouraged to check all currency taken in, and be aware of the signs of counterfeit bills.

* Queen, king candidates chosen for Ainsworth High School homecoming week

(Posted 11:30 a.m. Sept. 28)

Ainsworth High School students have chosen the candidates for homecoming king and queen.

Homecoming festivities begin Saturday with Royalty Night at 7 p.m. in the Learning Center, and culminate with the crowning of the king and queen following the Oct. 7 football game against Boyd County.

Queen candidates this year are Emma Good and Macey Vonheeder, representing the fine arts programs; Whittney Killion, representing vocal organizations; Breanna Schwindt, representing fall sports; Britley Schlueter, representing A Club; and Shylo Paddock, representing the senior class.

Candidates for homecoming king are Jace Kremer, representing fine arts; Riggin Temple, representing vocal organizations; Jacob Fernau, representing fall sports; Jacce Beck, representing A Club; and Jack Arens, representing the senior class.

This year’s theme is “There’s No Place like Home-Coming.” The annual homecoming parade begins at 2:20 p.m., will leave from the school, travel down Second Street to Main Street, then back up Third Street. A pep rally follows the parade at the west side of Ainsworth Community Schools.

The homecoming dance is scheduled from 10 p.m. Friday until 1 a.m. Saturday.

* Hoffman, Team Jack win online voting and $100,000 from NASCAR Foundation

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Sept. 28)

The Team Jack Foundation and Co-Founder Andy Hoffman were named the 2016 winner of The NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award during the NASCAR Foundation’s Honors Gala at New York City Tuesday. 

"Receiving this award is truly a reflection of all of those amazing people who helped support the Team Jack Foundation since day one," Hoffman said. "Winning this award, literally, could be the difference between life or death for a child."

Hoffman was among four finalists from across the nation up for the award, which recognizes a dedicated NASCAR fan who has positively impacted the lives of children through volunteerism. 

Following two months of online fan voting on, Hoffman emerged from the group of selected finalists. The voting ended Monday night. 

The Team Jack Foundation will receive a $100,000 donation from The NASCAR Foundation. Team Jack’s mission is to fund pediatric brain cancer research and work to create national awareness for the disease.

* Schelm wins Week 4 KBRB Football Contest in tie-breaker over Densberger

(Posted 10:15 a.m. Sept. 27)

Two contestants picked just one of the 14 games incorrectly on the Week 4 KBRB Football Contest card.

Though still without a perfect card this season, only Wisconsin’s road domination of top 10 ranked Michigan State threw off Everett Densberger of Ainsworth and Becky Schelm of Johnstown.

Densberger and Schelm were otherwise able to run the gauntlet of a tough week of college choices on the Week 4 contest cards.

With the two contestants missing one game, that sent us to the tie-breaker, Nebraska’s 24-13 victory on the road at Northwestern.

Both Densberger and Schelm picked the Huskers to win, and both actually had the same score of 21 points chosen for Northwestern. Schelm predicted the Huskers to score 31, while Densberger had the Huskers scoring 34.

Schelm was three points closer to the actual final, and she wins the $40 first place gift certificate. It is the second time Schelm has been in the money, as she finished second back in Week 1.

Densberger earns the $10 second place certificate.

In addition to Wisconsin’s road win, LSU’s loss at Auburn was the other most widely missed result. There were, however, numerous games that went about 50-50 as far as who the contestants favored.

There were eight cards submitted that missed just two games, including Adam Beel, Jenny Beel and Eli Beel of Johnstown, Marcella Maurer of Bassett, JD Hoover and Susan Hoover of Ainsworth, Ailee Atkisson of Amelia, and Tom Mundorf of Springview.

Winners can pick up their certificates in the KBRB Studios.

Week 5 cards are available from West Plains Bank in Springview, Circle B Livestock in Bassett, K&H Specialty Meats in Stuart, KC’s Roadrunner in Spencer, and in Ainsworth at Buckles Automotive, the Farmers-Ranchers Cooperative Propane and Appliance Store, and the Farmers-Ranchers Ampride.

* NSAA receives Believers and Achievers nominees from Nebraska high schools

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Sept. 27)

U.S. Bank and the Nebraska School Activities Association have received the 2016-2017

Believers and Achievers nominees from Nebraska high schools. Believers & Achievers is a statewide program designed by U.S. Bank and the NSAA to give recognition to Nebraska’s future leaders.

Beginning in October and continuing through March, 48 Nebraska high school seniors will be named Believers & Achievers. From those 48 finalists, eight will receive $500 scholarships from

U.S. Bank to the college or university of their choice.

The students will be recognized during NSAA State Championships throughout the 2016-17 activities year and on bi-monthly posters sent to all NSAA member schools and U.S. Bank branches throughout the state.

All of the students nominated for the Believers & Achievers awards program represent the very best of Nebraska’s high schools.

Nominated from this area are:

Ainsworth - Emma Good and Jack Arens

Rock County - Jack Gale and Riley Bussinger

Stuart - Alison Stracke and Rachel Kaup

West Holt - Anna Meyer and Jake Judge

Valentine - Amos Utecht and Riley Beel

* Taxable sales in June rebound in most area counties

(Posted noon Sept. 26)

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of June 2016 and June 2015 Net Taxable Sales
for Nebraska Counties and Selected Cities

or City

Net Taxable

Net Taxable


Sales Tax

Sales Tax























































Keya Paha












State Total






Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of June 2016 and June 2015
Motor Vehicle Sales Tax Collections by County

or City

Net Taxable

Net Taxable


Sales Tax

Sales Tax





































Keya Paha


















State Total






* West Holt students participate in annual Capitol Forum

(Posted noon Sept. 23)

Presidential candidates are not the only ones offering their positions on foreign policy. Nebraska students have studied the issues and have their opinions as well.

Nearly 100 students from across the state, including West Holt students Christa Wentworth, Kyle Linders, Caitlyn Nelson, Austyn Ramm-Lech and Avery Neptune, took part in the 18th Capitol Forum on America’s Future at the State Capitol, deliberating four different foreign policy options. Capitol Forum is sponsored by Humanities Nebraska and Secretary of State John Gale.

Nebraska students suggest that cooperation with other countries is the best option when resolving complicated issues like immigration, environment, terrorism, poverty and human rights. The highest ranked choice marked a departure from thinking on policy options by participating students. For the past several years, students have advocated shifting focus from global concerns, to those affecting citizens more directly at home.

The last time students opted for a cooperative approach was 2010. This year, more than half (51 percent) of participants chose cooperation. Concentrating on national concerns was the second choice (26 percent). At 19 percent, the third preference was one that stipulated taking whatever actions were necessary to keep the nation safe and strong.  The least favored option (4 percent) called for the U.S. to serve as a beacon for democracy, utilizing the nation’s military if necessary, to do so.

The Capitol Forum program is integrated by participating teachers into their classroom curriculum. Teachers picked classroom representatives to attend the day-long event on March 21 and report back what they learned to classmates in their home schools. Then, students voted on their choice of foreign policy and international issues.

In addition to ranking policy options, students also weighed in on specific concerns with regard to other nations. Top issues included: billions of people suffering from poverty, hunger and disease; biological and chemical weapons falling into the hands of terrorists; and, draining U.S. resources to solve the problems of other countries.

When asked about a plan of action to address issues and relations with other countries, the majority of students opted for negotiating strict international standards for dealing with climate change and other environmental threats. Previously, developing a policy to deal with immigration has been a key plan of action.

* Commissioners declare bull thistle a noxious weed in Brown County

(Posted 3:15 p.m. Sept. 20)

Beginning in June 2017, bull thistle will become a noxious weed in Brown County that requires landowners to spray for its control.

During a public hearing Tuesday, the Brown County Commissioners heard from Weed Superintendent Doug Mulligan and several landowners regarding the presence of the non-native thistle variety in some parts of the county.

“I have been watching bull thistle for the past two or three years,” Mulligan said. “The drought in 2012 gave some of these weeds a chance to get established. If we act now, we can control it. If we let it continue, it will be more of a problem later.”

Mulligan said there are some fairly heavy infestations of bull thistle near the Elsmere Road and near Highway 7 south of Ainsworth.

“Bull thistle is not a native plant,” Mulligan said. “It came over from Eurasia, and it has no natural enemies. We are starting to see a lot more of it in southern Brown County.”

Sheriff Bruce Papstein asked if the state is moving to declare bull thistle a noxious weed, or was it only Brown County.

Mulligan said bull thistle is not a statewide issue, but is more of a problem for the north central part of the state.

“Rock County has declared it a noxious weed,” Mulligan said. “Holt and Garfield counties have also had problems with it. There are 12 statewide noxious weeds, and the Department of Agriculture has taken action to declare those. The Department of Agriculture gets its information from weed superintendents.”

Landowner Tony Ruhter said he is seeing bull thistle on his and neighboring properties in lower depressions that are typically covered by water.

“We are definitely seeing it more after the drought,” Ruhter said. “I think, if we don’t do something, we are just going to extend the problem.”

Ruhter said he was not necessarily advocating that bull thistle had to go on the noxious weed list, but property owners in the county needed to be aware of it.

“We have a chance now, with a small infestation, to control it,” Ruhter said.

Property owner Henry Beel said he would rather have bull thistle stay off the noxious weed list, but he understood some property owners would not take action to control it unless it was included.

“I oppose the government getting involved, but if you do include it, you need to educate the public so they know how to get rid of it,” Beel said.

Mulligan said bull thistle is unique because the end of its leaves look like a chicken’s foot.

“With native thistle, the bottom of the leaf will be white to silver in color,” Mulligan said. “With invasive thistles, the bottom half of the leaf will be green.”

Commissioner Buddy Small said one of the concerns people have expressed to him is the procedure if a property owner does not control a noxious weed.

“Most do what they can to control these weeds,” Small said. “What is the procedure if someone doesn’t spray?”

Mulligan said he tries to contact the landowner in person, or he sends a letter if that is not possible. If the landowner still does not make an attempt to control, Mulligan said he will issue a 10-day notice. If they still don’t comply, then the county can perform a forced spray.

“We typically have a commercial sprayer go in at that point,” Mulligan said.

The cost of the county spraying is then passed on to the property owner.

Small asked what the recommended chemical would be to control bull thistle.

Mulligan said Milestone provides excellent control, but it is expensive at $400 per gallon.

“You can get pretty good results in early spring with 2-4-D,” the weed superintendent said.

Following the hearing, the board approved declaring bull thistle as a noxious weed effective June 1, 2017.

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus said he wanted to make the declaration effective June 1 of next year to allow enough notice to property owners.

“I think it is going to take a couple-three years to get good enforcement,” Wiebelhaus said. “I would rather give landowners some extra time to start controlling it themselves.”

Mulligan said he didn’t believe most landowners would have a problem with bull thistle being on the list because they are already controlling other noxious weeds.

“I don’t necessary like adding weeds to this list, but I think it needs to be done to protect the good stewards who are already controlling it,” Mulligan said.

In other business during Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners approved a transfer of $100,000 from the county’s inheritance tax fund to the Ainsworth-Brown County Care Center Board as part of the county’s $340,000 commitment toward the city-county facility.

Small said $140,000 had previously been transferred to the Care Center Board. Wiebelhaus discussed transferring the remaining $200,000, since the commissioners had already agreed to provide it, but the board settled on providing the interlocal group with half of the county’s remaining commitment now, with the final $100,000 contribution made when it was needed.

Treasurer Deb Vonheeder reported the sheriff’s department had collected 14 distress warrants from personal property tax due from the 2014 tax year. Vonheeder said the sheriff’s department collected $4,928 in past-due personal property tax. Only one warrant went uncollected, and Vonheeder said the company that owed that tax was in bankruptcy.

Following a presentation from Central Nebraska Economic Development District Executive Director Judy Peterson on the benefits the county would receive, the board approved a membership to CNEDD at a cost of $1,572.

Peterson said the dues were based on the county’s population of residents not living inside the Ainsworth or Long Pine city limits, or the Johnstown village limits. She said Ainsworth, Long Pine and Johnstown were also members of the development district.

In roads items, the board chose to take no action on a request for the county to rebuild or repair a trail road east of property owned by Lester Stufft in Section 4, Township 25 North, Range 23 West.

Small said he had looked at the trail in question with Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin.

“It is not a county road, and it is not near a county road,” Small said. “It is on private ground, and I don’t believe we should be involved.”

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. Oct. 4.

* City Council asks Ainsworth property owners for $282,250

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 15)

The Ainsworth City Council on Wednesday asked property owners for $282,250 to support a 2016-17 general fund budget of $5.14 million.

During the annual budget hearing and property tax levy hearing, the council proposed a levy of 47 cents per $100 in value for all property located inside the city limits.

The overall valuation in the city increased by just over $2 million to $60 million. The city kept the levy at the same 47-cent per $100 in value level that it did during the 2015-16 year, which will allow the city to collect an additional $27,000 in taxes from property owners.

The city’s $5.14 million budget includes $278,797 in debt service on the remaining $687,810 in bonded debt. The city has bonds remaining from past street, water and wastewater projects.

The city will not likely spend the entire $5.14 million budgeted for the general fund. In the 2015-16 fiscal year, the city actually spent $2.35 million, including $222,260 to pay down debt. City spending in 2015-16 was below the $2.78 million spent during the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Included in the budget is the city allocating all $884,000 in economic development funding for disbursement, though the likelihood of that occurring is slim.

The budget includes $3.4 million in operating expenses, $744,198 in capital improvements, $557,384 in other capital outlays, $278,797 to service city debt, and $162,542 in miscellaneous expenses.

In the 2015-16 year, the city actually spent $1.69 million in operating expenses, $110,910 in capital improvements, $148,520 in other capital outlays, $222,260 to service bonded debt, and $181,376 in other expenses.

No one spoke in opposition to any of the spending in the 2016-17 budget during Wednesday’s hearings, and the council unanimously approved the budget and property tax request.

In other business Wednesday, the council voted to abate five remaining nuisance violations on parcels inspected this year by the Central Nebraska Economic Development District.

CNEDD Director Judy Peterson said two of the seven properties that were declared nuisances were cleared after the property owners abated the violations.

She said, of the remaining five parcels, three have done some cleanup and have indicated they have a plan to remedy the remaining violations. She said two property owners have not responded.

“One of the property owners was given additional time after a show-cause hearing,” Peterson said. “One property owner plans to do some demolition and has been in for a permit. One property is changing ownership, and there is a plan for cleanup.”

The board approved moving forward with abatement, with the five property owners having until Oct. 11 to either clear the violation or provide a written plan to the Central Nebraska Economic Development District for addressing the violations.

Should the violations not be cleared or a plan presented, the council will act on abating the nuisance violations during its Oct. 12 meeting and levy the cost of the abatement onto the parcel’s property tax statement.

Councilman Chuck Osborn said, “I wonder if we are doing any good with this. I have gone back and looked at the areas that were inspected the first two years. A lot of them have gone right back to the way they were before.”

Councilman Brian Williams agreed, saying, “There are some from the other two areas that are back to being in pretty bad shape.”

City Attorney Rod Palmer said, in his experience, nuisance abatement will be an ongoing project, not a one-time venture.

The council discussed potentially placing a ballot measure for city voters relating to bringing Keno to the community.

Councilwoman Deb Hurless provided the group with data on the percentage breakdowns for Keno related to paying back prize money and paying other expenses. At the end, the information indicated there was a profit margin of around 9 percent from the gross dollars spent playing the game of chance.

Committee member Graig Kinzie said he wanted some guidance from the council on the percentage it was willing to share with any proprietors potentially interested in having the game in their business.

“That is the first question I will be asked,” Kinzie said. “Looking at these percentages, I am a lot more lukewarm about this than I was before.”

The council agreed to offer a 50-50 split of any profits to proprietors interested. Kinzie said he would visit with two business owners in the community to see if there was any interest before the council determined whether it wanted to proceed.

The item was placed on the council’s October agenda.

During her report, City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said cemetery software has now been installed in the city office.

She said the streets department purchased a 1998 boom truck at a cost of $7,000. The truck, which was previously owned by an electrician in Wyoming, will be used primarily for tree trimming, and hanging flags and lights.

She reported building permits for the year totaled $882,450 in improvements.

The consent agenda approved Wednesday included a special designated liquor license for the Sandhills Lounge to serve alcohol in the Ainsworth Conference Center during the Nov. 4 Pheasants Forever banquet.

It also authorized the Ainsworth Women’s Club to close Main Street from 4:30 until 6:30 p.m. Oct. 31 for a Trick or Treat Safe Street.

The consent agenda also included approval of Mayor Larry Rice’s appointments of Keith Baker to another five-year term on the Ainsworth Housing Authority, Kristin Olson to another five-year term on the Community Redevelopment Authority, Jacob Sinsel to a two-year term on the Ainsworth Betterment Committee, and Pat Nelson and Maxine Mattern to fill vacant seats on the Sellors-Barton Cabin Advisory Board.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 12.

* Keya Paha County Commissioners adopt $3.25 million general fund budget for 2016-17

(Posted 3 p.m. Sept. 14)

Keya Paha County property owners will pay $962,990 to support the county’s general fund budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

During Tuesday’s budget hearing and property tax request, the board approved a $3.25 million budget, with $1.63 million budgeted for the general fund and $894,430 in the roads department fund.

The $962,990 in property tax is about $37,000 more than the $925,340 requested for the 2015-16 fiscal year budget.

Keya Paha County’s levy rate, despite the small increase in tax collection, dropped from 22 cents per $100 in valuation in 2015-16 to 20.8 cents per $100 for the 2016-17 year.

Had the county not collected the additional $37,000 in property tax, the levy rate would have been an even 20 cents per $100 in value.

The overall valuation in Keya Paha County increased from $418.7 million in 2015 to $461.5 million in 2016, an increase of $42.7 million. The overall value of all classifications of property in Keya Paha County rose 10 percent between 2015 and 2016.

One cent of levy in Keya Paha County for the 2016-17 year generates $46,148 in property tax, compared to the same 1 cent of levy generating $41,878 during the 2015-16 fiscal year.

In addition to the 20.8 cents in levy for the general fund, Keya Paha County property owners will also pay $14,037 to the Keya Paha County Agricultural Society, which represents about one-third of 1 cent of levy.

The Keya Paha County Rural Fire Protection District will receive a total of $44,635 in property tax, which represents a levy rate of nine-tenths of 1 cent.

The total levy approved by the commissioners Tuesday of 22.1 cent per $100 in valuation will generate $1.02 million in total property tax, up slightly from the $983,082 generated in 2015-16 from a levy of 23.4 cents per $100 in valuation.

Keya Paha County’s actual disbursements in 2015-16 were $1.43 million, which were down from the $1.71 million disbursed during the 2014-15 fiscal year.

The county spent $796,902 from its general fund in 2015-16, down from $907,686 in 2014-15. Roads department spending was down from $676,073 in 2014-15 to $553,374 in 2015-16.

Following Tuesday’s budget hearing, in which no opposition was expressed, the commissioners approved the 2016-17 county budget and the property tax request.

* Commissioners ask for $2.51 million to support 2016-17 general fund budget

(Posted 3:45 p.m. Sept. 13)

During the annual budget hearing and property tax request Tuesday, the Brown County Commissioners approved a general fund budget of $4.11 million for the 2016-17 fiscal year that asks property owners for $2.51 million in taxes.

The county’s property tax asking is $245,380 more than the $2.26 million requested for the 2015-16 fiscal year. However, with valuations in the county rising from $668 million to $824 million, due in large part to another jump in agricultural property value, the overall county levy decreased from 41.2 cents per $100 in property value to 35.6 cents per $100 in value.

The total value of all property in Brown County for the 2016 tax year is $156 million above the 2015 tax year total, representing a 23 percent year-over-year increase in the total value of property in the county.

With the increased overall valuation in Brown County, 1 cent of tax levy equals $82,438 in property tax generated, compared to $66,831 in tax generated from 1 cent of levy for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

Had the county asked for the same $2.26 million in property tax as it did for the 2015-16 fiscal year, the levy would have dropped to 33.4 cents per $100 in value. The 35.6 cents of property tax per $100 in valuation for 2016-17 is 5.5 cents below the 2015-16 levy.

In addition to the $2.51 million in property tax to support the general fund, property owners in Brown County will pay $401,540 in tax to support the voter-approved Brown County Hospital addition bonds.

The $401,540 hospital bond payment is lower than the $453,090 collected during the 2015-16 fiscal year. With the increased valuation in the county, the hospital bond represents 4.8 cents in tax levy per $100 in valuation for the 2016-17 year, compared to 6.7 cents in tax levy during the 2015-16 year.

The levy breakdown for property tax collections in Brown County for the 2016-17 year includes $2.51 million for the general fund for 30.4 cents in levy, $305,731 for the Brown County Rural Fire Protection District for 4 cents in levy, $52,500 to the Brown County Agricultural Society for a 0.6-cent levy, and $401,540 to the Brown County Hospital addition bond representing 4.8 cents in levy.

Keeping the Brown County Rural Fire District’s levy at 4 cents allows the district to receive $103,746 more than it did during the 2015-16 year. The $52,500 contribution to the Brown County Agricultural Society was $20,000 more than the previous year, with that $20,000 allocated for arena repairs.

Taking all funds into account, the total property tax asking of $2.94 million is $185,050 more than the $2.75 million collected during the 2015-16 fiscal year.

The commissioners, as part of the budget, approved a contribution of $11,000 to the Ainsworth Public Library to allow county residents the ability to utilize the library free of charge, and a $5,000 partnership contribution to the North Central Development Center.

The Brown County Hospital’s budget is also included as part of the overall county budget. However, the only tax dollars supporting the hospital are for the voter-approved addition bond. The Brown County Hospital’s general operating budget is funded completely through hospital revenue.

The hospital addition bond, thanks to attractive refinancing rates and a contribution from the hospital’s operating budget, has $4.85 million remaining. By refinancing the remaining 10 years of bond payments, and receiving the contribution from the hospital’s operating revenue, one full year of bond payments were removed, leaving nine years remaining to pay the hospital addition in full instead of 10 years.

The total county budget, including the hospital’s budget and the budgeting of the now $1.93 million in the county’s inheritance tax fund, is $19.5 million for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

As an accounting standard, the commissioners budget for the spending of the entire $1.93 million in the inheritance tax fund, though actual expenditures from the inheritance tax fund have only been approved by the board recently, and in the amount of $340,000, to support the Ainsworth-Brown County Care Center Board’s efforts to reopen a nursing home in the community, which is expected this fall.

The commissioners approved $154,551 in disbursements from the inheritance tax fund during the 2015-16 fiscal year to support the Care Center Board. The inheritance tax fund still has $1.93 million remaining for use by the board to support the betterment of Brown County. As a practice, the commissioners have rarely utilized the funds in the inheritance tax.

Counting the hospital’s operating expenses, $16.2 million was disbursed by the county during the 2015-16 year, up $2 million from the $14.2 million disbursed during the 2014-15 fiscal year. Increased general fund disbursements from $2.52 million in 2014-15 to $3.5 million in the recently completed 2015-16 fiscal year accounted for about half of the overall disbursement increase.

Following the budget hearing, in which no opposition to the budget was expressed, the board approved the budget, the property tax request, and the allowable increase in restricted funds.

The next regular meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. Sept. 20.

* School Board approves $9.36 million budget for 2016-17

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 13)

Property owners in the Ainsworth Community Schools District will be asked to pay $5.96 million to support a 2016-17 budget of $9.36 million.

Following a public hearing Monday, the Board of Education approved the 2016-17 budget, which is about $61,000 higher than the 2015-16 budget.

In addition to the $5.96 million to support the school’s general fund, property owners will pay $176,585 to support the kindergarten through eighth grade building bond, and $122,712 to support the high school building bond.

Superintendent Darrell Peterson told the board the 2016-17 year will be the final time bond funds are collected for the school addition.

“That levy will drop off next year,” Peterson said. “The bonds will be paid off after those taxes are received. That will amount to about $300,000 in taxes that won’t have to be collected next year.”

The $6.26 million in total property tax asking is a little more than $400,000 more than was requested from taxpayers to support the 2015-16 budget.

Despite the increase in tax asking, the levy rate decreased dramatically for the 2016-17 year, as property owners will pay 83 cents for every $100 in value. That total includes the 9.2 cents in levy for the voter-approved bonds, and is almost 12 cents lower than the 2015-16 levy rate of 95 cents per $100 in value.

The levy rate for Ainsworth Community Schools dropped substantially thanks to the overall valuation in the county again skyrocketing, mainly due to agricultural property values that were up by more than 20 percent from the prior year.

The valuation in the Ainsworth school district rose from $655 million to $806 million, an approximately 23 percent jump.

Had the school district opted to keep the property tax asking the same as the 2015-16 school year, the levy rate would have dropped to just under 78 cents per $100 in value.

The current school aid formula utilized by the Nebraska Legislature has resulted in state assistance for education to the Ainsworth district dropping from $1.71 million during the 2010-11 school year to zero for the 2016-17 year.

This will be the first year under the formula where Ainsworth Community Schools receives absolutely no funding assistance through the TEEOSA formula, though it is the third straight year with state funding assistance of less than $48,000.

“There was a piece in the formula that provided us a little in sales tax dollars, but that went away for this year,” Peterson said.

That meager sales tax portion had returned $33,266 to the district in the 2014-15 year, and $47,819 in the 2015-16 year. The last year the district received anything significant relating to state assistance was back in 2013-14, when $356,086 was returned to the school through the state aid formula.

Peterson said the $9.3 million budget provides for a cash reserve of approximately 23 percent.

Just because that dollar amount is budgeted does not mean that many dollars will be spent.

For example, during the 2015-16 school year, the district adopted a budget of $9.29 million, but spent a total of $7.38 million, including the money toward the bond funds. In the 2014-15 school year, the district budgeted $9.05 million, and spent $8.37 million. A large portion of the spending difference between those two years was a bond payment in 2014-15 that was more than $1 million higher than the payment made in 2015-16.

No one spoke in opposition to the budget, nor questioned any of the spending line items, during Monday’s special meeting.

Following the public hearings, the board adopted the 2016-17 budget and the property tax request.

The only other action item Monday was the passage of the second reading of a policy regarding staff members being prohibited from assisting anyone in finding a job who had been convicted of sexual assault of a child.

During her report, elementary principal Sarah Williams said Roni Daniels is spearheading the backpack food program this year, which provides supplemental food during the weekend to families who qualify. Williams said Al Steuter with the Brown County Foundation has been key in assisting with raising funding for the backpack program.

Secondary principal Bill Lentz said he has shared his expectation for behavior with the high school students and staff, and the district is emphasizing the concept of respectfulness.

He said there would not be a ninth period or Saturday school this year, as Lentz reported he did not believe those methods were effective. Instead, he is asking teachers to work directly with students before and after school who need additional help.

During his report, Peterson said the district has been serving local beef through the school lunch program. He said they have already gone through one animal and were starting on a second.

“It will take about eight to get us through the full year,” the superintendent said. “We currently have four animals that have been donated.”

He said there would be an event, likely during homecoming week, to recognize those supporting the local beef in school lunch program.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education is scheduled for 8 p.m. Oct. 10.

* If inspection is passed, care center could admit residents by end of October

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 8)

There is light at the end of the tunnel in the long journey to reopen a nursing home facility in Ainsworth.

Representatives from Rural Health Development informed the Ainsworth-Brown County Care Center Board Wednesday that the Nebraska State Fire Marshal plans to inspect the Sandhills Care Center building at 1 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12.

Should the facility pass the fire marshal’s inspection and receive a certificate of occupancy, the community can apply for a license through the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

Walt Dye with RHD said DHHS has 30 days from receiving notification from the community to schedule a licensure walk-through of the facility.

“We have to have a medical director, director of nursing and a dietitian in place at that time,” Dye said. “It will take DHHS a couple hours to go through everything. Then, we can receive a license and admit residents.”

Dye said passing the fire marshal’s inspection was not guaranteed, but they have been in contact with the inspector to make sure every item that will be checked is in working order. If the facility passes the inspection Sept. 12, the facility could admit its first residents toward the end of October.

Administrator Stephanie Rucker said the facility’s boiler passed inspection on Tuesday, and everything was ready for the fire marshal’s inspection with the exception of the generator.

Rucker said the part needed to repair the generator was in Broken Bow, and she was confident the repair would be complete ahead of the fire marshal’s arrival.

New board member Chuck Osborn volunteered to drive to Broken Bow Thursday to pick up and return the needed part so the generator repair work could be completed.

The board thanked Frontier Diesel for donating approximately $2,500 worth of repairs to the generator to help get it up and running.

Rucker introduced Amanda Tucker to the board after she was hired as the director of nursing for the facility. Rucker said the next hires will be a social services director, a dietary manager and a business office manager. She said the facility is seeking applications from registered nurses, certified nurse’s assistants and LPNs.

“The kitchen work has been completed, and the kitchen looks nice,” Rucker said. “The Methodist Church youth group painted the gazebo, pulled weeds and power-washed the fence. They did an amazing job.”

Rucker presented the board with options for dining room chairs. She said she found a company willing to sell 45 chairs for a delivered price of $100 each. She said the chairs were nursing-home approved and were being offered to the community at a discount because they had been ordered by another facility, but the sale fell through.

Board member Jim Walz said trying to take the old chairs apart so they could be repainted would ruin some of them.

“You are going to spend $25 per chair to try and repair them, and then you still have old chairs,” Walz said. “These new chairs can then be moved to the new facility.”

The board approved the dining room chair purchase from Invacare.

The board also approved working through the two local auto dealers to find a replacement for the care center’s minivan.

Walz said the van currently runs, but the air conditioning does not work and the brakes will soon need to be replaced. The board approved getting quotes from Ainsworth Motors and First Class Auto for a minivan not to exceed a price of $10,000 with the trade-in of the current minivan.

The board approved a bid from Time Management Systems for a system to clock in employees. Dye said the hardware does everything the facility needs it to do, and it is fingerprint verified when an employee clocks in to work. The first-year cost to install the hardware for the time management system will be between $6,060 and $7,710, depending on the installation time needed. Dye said the system could then be moved to a new facility.

By a 4-1 vote with Walz against, the board approved applying for a credit card for use by the administrator. The card would have a limit of $5,000.

The board held lengthy discussion with the RHD representatives regarding a tobacco free policy for the facility. Dye encouraged the board to approve a tobacco-free campus, but a majority of the board members instead preferred having one designated smoking area outside the facility where residents and employees could smoke.

The board approved having an off-site company handle all alcohol and drug testing of new hires and recurring random alcohol and drug tests of employees.

Discussing a benefits package to offer to employees, the board asked RHD to provide information on what other area nursing homes offer employees for benefits before making a decision.

Board chairman Kent Taylor said Eid Bailey, the company hired to generate a market study for the community as a requirement for a USDA direct loan program application for the construction of a new facility, would be on site in October and planned to have the market study completed by November.

The board approved purchasing a $350,000 title insurance policy on the Sandhills Care Center building at a total cost of $907.50.

The board also approved having RHD go out for bids for an insurance package for the facility, which would include property and liability insurance and workman’s compensation. Those bids will be opened at 2 p.m. Oct. 3.

The Ainsworth-Brown County Care Center Board will hold a special meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14. The next regular meeting of the board is scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3.

* Brown County Hospital 2017 budget presented to commissioners

(Posted 10 a.m. Sept. 7)

Representatives from the Brown County Hospital presented the facility’s 2017 budget to the Brown County Commissioners Tuesday, showing the hospital finishing the 2016 year with a projected net profit of $366,242.

The Brown County Hospital generated $9.73 million in total operating revenue for 2016, with $9.74 million in operating expenses for a nearly balanced profit-loss margin. When including the voter-approved addition bond revenue, grant income and other contributions, the facility finished the year with the $366,242 profit margin.

In presenting the 2017 budget, Hospital Administrator Shannon Sorensen and Chief Financial Officer Lisa Wood said there were no major changes to the budget with the exception of the two additional providers, Dr. Ruslan Tourtsev and Dr. Bea Taylor, being added to the hospital staff.

The proposed budget projects revenue of $10.6 million for 2017, with expenses of $10.1 million.

Wood said adding the two physicians will increase expenses for the hospital, but should also lead to increased revenue when the providers begin to pick up increased patient visits.

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus asked about two expense line items for 2017 that showed significant projected increases.

Sorensen said the maintenance and repair line item increased by 15 percent because the hospital had a credit for 2016 from its electronic health records installation that dropped the 2016 expense line. She said that line item of $467,000 was similar to the 2015 line item of $441,961, but the credit for 2016 dropped that line item to $407,359.

With a 23 percent budgeted increase in the “other” expense category, Wood said there was a detailed breakdown of items that fall into the “other” line item. She said the increase was attributed to the hospital helping to match physician recruitment efforts, such as student loan contributions. She said those contributions are spread out over the length of the physician’s contract.

Wood said the hospital also anticipated revenue in 2017 from again providing services to a local nursing home, as the Sandhills Care Center is scheduled to open late this year and will likely contract with the hospital for some services in 2017.

The commissioners include the Brown County Hospital’s budget as part of its 2016-17 budget. The annual budget hearing and property tax request for the Brown County 2016-17 budget is scheduled for 8 a.m. Sept. 13.

In related items Tuesday, the commissioners approved resolutions setting the 2016-17 property tax levy for the Brown County Rural Fire Protection District and the Brown County Agricultural Society.

The rural fire protection district will receive 4 cents in property tax levy for the 2016-17 budget year, and the agricultural society will receive $32,500 for its general operations and $20,000 toward arena renovations.

Commissioner Buddy Small reported the county had a balance of $70,000 in its sanitary landfill budget, and the county’s budget preparer recommended the balance did not need to be that high.

The commissioners approved reducing charges to county residents for solid waste disposal for 2017. Instead of a $10 monthly solid waste disposal charge for county residents, those outside the Ainsworth and Long Pine city limits, the board voted to cut the charge in half to $5 per month for 2017. The business rate and the cabin rate for solid waste fees in the county will also be cut in half for 2017.

The reduced fees take effect in January and are for 2017 only. The board will reassess the fees prior to 2018.

The commissioners received one bid to provide meals to the Brown County Jail for inmates. Big John’s submitted a bid of $9 per lunch and $9 per dinner delivered to the Brown County Jail. The bid from the local restaurant was equal to the bid it submitted the prior year, and the board approved it.

However, Wiebelhaus advised Sheriff Bruce Papstein he would like to see the sheriff’s department provide inmates with sandwiches, chips and fruit for a lunch meal, with the county required to serve one hot meal per day to jail inmates.

“It is not as big a deal when we only have one or two inmates,” Wiebelhaus said. “But, lately we have had five and six inmates in the jail, and going to one hot meal would cut down on some expense.”

Papstein said the sheriff’s department did recently replace a refrigerator in the building. He asked Wiebelhaus if it would be sheriff’s department personnel who would then be responsible for preparing the inmate lunches. Wiebelhaus said it would fall to the sheriff’s department to prepare the lunches for inmates, with the evening meal then still provided by the contracted restaurant.

The commissioners acknowledged the Brown County Ambulance Association roster as presented by members Mike Rudnick and Paul Carpenter.

Rudnick said the association has seen growth in its membership, and now has enough emergency medical technicians to implement a schedule that has an EMT on-call every five weeks. In the past, Rudnick said some EMTs were on call two of every three weeks.

The roster includes 21 EMTs, six ambulance drivers, and nine additional area responders as part of the on-call transfer schedule implemented in the past year by the association.

In addition, the roster shows nine students currently taking classes to become emergency medical technicians.

Rudnick and Carpenter then demonstrated the new power lifts that the association had purchased for its two ambulances. The board agreed to assist in the purchase of one of the power lifts, and will attempt to receive assistance for the cost of the lift from the Nebraska Intergovernmental Risk Management Agency.

The power lifts keep ambulance association personnel from having to physically lift patients in a stretcher into the ambulance.

During his report, Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin said the department has been hauling clay and patching roads, and planned to start next week on the replacement of a bridge on Norden Avenue near property owned by Royce Greder.

Turpin told the board he would like to continue the roads department’s summer hours through the month of September.

He requested again using a winter schedule that has roads department employees work four, 10-hour days instead of five, eight-hour days.

Wiebelhaus said he would again like to wait until November to begin the four-day shifts and run that schedule through the end of March.

The board approved a contract with Madison’s Great Western for propane at the county’s Johnstown roads shop. The county contracted the 1,800 gallons of fuel at $1.02 per gallon, with the county responsible for paying 10 cents per gallon up front.

The commissioners approved having Turpin sign supplement program agreements with the Nebraska Department of Roads for the Norden Bridge replacement project.

The board held an executive session to perform its annual performance evaluation of the highway superintendent.

The next regular meeting of the board is 8:15 a.m. Sept. 20, with the budget hearing Sept. 13.

* Department of Roads plans 9 projects for 2017 in District 8

(Posted 9:30 a.m. July 11)

Nebraska Department of Roads Director Kyle Schneweis released the fiscal year 2017 Surface Transportation Program, which details how the NDOR plans to use highway user dollars to provide the best state highway system possible for all Nebraskans and the traveling public.

The 2017 State Highway System Program is published at $520 million and is funded from state and federal highway user taxes and fees. 

Ninety-five projects will be let to contract on the State Highway System during fiscal year

2017, which runs July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017.

There are nine projects on the 2017 highway plan for District 8, which encompasses north central Nebraska. Seven of those nine projects include resurfacing, with the other two slated for micro-surfacing.

Milling, resurfacing work and bridge repairs are scheduled for 6.3 miles of Highway 7 from the Calamus River north in Brown County at an estimated cost of just under $2 million.

An additional 12.3 miles of Highway 7 milling and resurfacing work is planned for Highway 7 north of the first project at a cost of $3.2 million.

An 8-mile stretch of Highway 12 from Springview west in Keya Paha County is scheduled for milling and resurfacing work at an estimated cost of $3.3 million.

More than 25 miles of Highway 61 in Cherry County is scheduled for micro-surfacing work at a cost of $1.5 million. There is a 7.8-mile stretch of Highway 83 between Thedford and Valentine scheduled for milling and resurfacing work at a cost of $3.2 million.

The other District 8 projects are planned for Highway 91 in Loup County, Highway 91 in Garfield County, Highway 183 in Loup County and Highway 281 in Boyd County.

The nine projects planned in District 8 for 2017 carry a total estimated cost of $29.2 million.

Numerous projects are included on the Department of Roads’ five-year plan, including:

NDOR Five-Year Plan

Highway 7

Blaine County from Brewster north – 8.4 miles of milling and resurfacing, $3.6 million.

Brown County  in the Ainsworth area – Micro-surfacing, $2.3 million.

Brown County in Ainsworth and south – 7.2 miles of milling and resurfacing, $3.8 million.

Rock County from the Niobrara River south – 5.3 miles of milling and resurfacing, $3.1 million.

Keya Paha County from the Niobrara River north – 4.7 miles of milling and resurfacing, $2 million.

Highway 20

Brown County in Ainsworth – 1.3 miles of concrete paving, $4.8 million.

Brown County near Willow Creek – Culvert repair, $600,000.

Brown County near Long Pine Creek – Bridge rehabilitation, $870,000.

Rock County – Micro-surfacing, $2.3 million.

Cherry County in Valentine – Micro-surfacing work, $4.3 million.

Cherry County from Merriman west – Micro-surfacing, $900,000.

Cherry County from Eli to Nenzel – Micro-surfacing, $1.7 million.

Holt County in O’Neill – Joint repair and grinding, $390,000.

Highway 183

Rock County from Rose south – 6 miles of milling and resurfacing, $2.6 million.

Rock County from Rose north – Micro-surfacing, $1.8 million.

Rock County from Bassett south – 10.1 miles of resurfacing, $3.7 million.

Keya Paha County north and south of Springview – Micro-surfacing, $890,000.

Keya Paha County from the Niobrara River north – 4.3 miles of milling and resurfacing, $2.1 million.

Keya Paha County from the Highway 12 junction north to the South Dakota line – 7.1 miles of milling and resurfacing, $2.9 million

Loup County north and south of Taylor – Micro-surfacing, $1.5 million.

Highway 137

Rock County from Newport north – Resurfacing, $4.5 million.

Keya Paha County from the Niobrara River north – 9.7 miles of milling and resurfacing, $3.3 million.

Keya Paha County from the Keya Paha River to the South Dakota line – 6.5 miles of milling, resurfacing and bridge repair, $3.5 million.

Highway 12

Cherry County at the Minnechaduza Creek – Bridge project, $1.5 million.

Cherry County from Sparks east – 3.5 miles of milling and resurfacing, $1.5 million.

Keya Paha County east and west of Burton – 9.4 miles of milling, resurfacing and bridge work, $4.5 milion.

Boyd County near Bristow – Culvert repair, $1.1 million.

Boyd County from Lynch to Monowi – 8.6 miles of milling, resurfacing and bridge repair, $3.2 million.

Highway 11

Holt County from Amelia north – 6.4 miles of milling, resurfacing and bridge repair, $3.2 million.

Holt County north and south of Holt Creek – 8.5 miles of milling and resurfacing, $3 million.

Holt County from Atkinson south – 6.1 miles of milling, resurfacing and bridge repair, $2.8 million.

Holt County from Brush Creek to the Niobrara River – 4.8 miles of milling and resurfacing, $2.2 million.

Boyd County from the Niobrara River to Butte – 5.2 miles of resurfacing, $1.9 million.

Boyd County from Butte north – 7.3 miles of resurfacing, $2.5 million.

Highway 91

Blaine County from Brewster east – 9.6 miles of milling and resurfacing, $4.7 million.

Loup County from the Blaine County line east – 6.3 miles of milling and resurfacing, $2.5 million.

There are additional District 8 projects in the five-year plan for Highway 61 in Cherry County, Highway 83 in Cherry County, Highway 96 in Loup and Garfield counties, and Highway 281 in Holt County.

The projects on the District 8 five-year plan total $144 million.

The state received $246 million from motor fuel taxes, $119 million for transportation funding from motor vehicle sales taxes, and $43 million from motor vehicle registration taxes.

The Transportation Innovation Act, passed by the Nebraska Legislature in 2016, will also begin providing revenue for the Department of Roads. An estimated $58.5 million in roads revenue is projected for the 2017 fiscal year.

* Public Service Commission District 5 race may be too close to call

(Posted 7 a.m. May 11)

The vote may be too close to call for the District 5 seat on the Nebraska Public Service Commission following Tuesday's Primary Election.
Fewer than 60 votes separates Mary Ridder and incumbent Jerry Vap. Both Republicans, Ridder received 21,818 votes (50.07 percent) Tuesday to 21,761 (49.93 percent) for Vap. That 57-vote margin represents just a 0.14 percent difference between the two candidates and may trigger an automatic recount in the race.
As expected, Donald Trump easily carried the state of Nebraska during Tuesday’s Republican Party Presidential Primary.

Trump received 61.5 percent of the Republican vote statewide, with Ted Cruz finishing a distant second at 18.5 percent.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton received 53 percent of the statewide vote to 47 percent for Bernie Sanders. The vote was largely symbolic, however, as Sanders won 15 of the 25 Nebraska delegates during the Presidential Caucus that was held in March. Tuesday’s support for Clinton was a reversal of the Caucus results two months prior.

In the Second District Republican Congressional Primary, Don Bacon captured 66 percent of the vote to 34 percent for Chip Maxwell. Bacon will face Democratic incumbent Brad Ashford in the November General Election.

Jeff Fortenberry in District 1 and Adrian Smith in District 3 both ran unopposed. Fortenberry faces Daniel Wik from the Democratic Party in November to retain his seat. Smith does not face a challenger in November.

While both candidates advance to the November General Election, Tom Brewer made an early statement by garnering 54.3 percent of the vote in the Nebraska Legislature’s 43rd District race. Incumbent Al Davis received 45.7 percent of the vote.

Davis will find himself in a similar position as four years ago, when he trailed John Ravenscroft following the Primary Election but defeated Ravenscroft in the General Election.

Brewer received 5,204 votes to 4,380 votes cast for Davis.

Voter turnout statewide was just 26.5 percent Tuesday, with 309,079 votes cast from the 1,165,371 registered voters.

Cherry County voter turnout eclipsed 50 percent at 50.5 percent, with 2,134 ballots cast from the 4,219 registered voters.

Holt County turnout was above the state average at 33 percent, with 2,305 ballots cast from the 6,988 registered voters.

Blaine County turnout was 42.3 percent, as 162 of the 383 registered voters showed up at the polls Tuesday.

* Voter turnout just 39.5 percent in Brown County with few races on the ballot

(Posted 10 p.m. May 10)

With few contested races Tuesday, voter turnout in Brown County was its lowest in several election cycles. Just 825 voters, 39.5 percent of the 2,087 registered, cast ballots in the Primary Election.

There were 744 votes cast in the Republican Primary, 60 in the Democratic Primary, and 21 non-partisan ballots were cast.

By a narrow margin, 417-387, Brown County voters favored challenger Tom Brewer over incumbent 43rd District State Sen. Al Davis. Both Davis and Brewer advance to the November General Election.

Republican voters in Brown County cast 555 ballots for Donald Trump for President. Ted Cruz finished second with 79 votes, followed by 36 for Ben Carson, 33 for John Kasich an 18 for Marco Rubio.

Brown County also favored challenger Mary Ridder for the Public Service Commissioner District 5 seat over incumbent Jerry Vap by a 396-207 margin.

* Craven, Tuerk win contested commissioner races in Rock, Keya Paha counties

(Posted 9:30 p.m. May 10)

Rock County Republican voters chose Dustin Craven to be the next commissioner and Keya Paha County Republicans re-elected Mike Tuerk to the Board of Commissioners in the only two contested local races in the area.

Craven received 313 Republican votes during Tuesday’s Primary Election, to 170 for incumbent Ernie Hasch. There was no Democratic Party candidate, so Craven will run unopposed in November.

In Keya Paha County’s West District Commissioner race, Tuerk received 96 votes in his re-election bid to 44 for challenger Jim Ruther. Tuerk will not face opposition in November from the Democratic Party.

Rock County and Keya Paha County Republicans overwhelmingly selected Donald Trump as their candidate for President. Though all Republican challengers had suspended their campaigns, five candidates had previously filed paperwork to appear on the ballot.

Trump secured 308 Republican votes in Rock County and 203 in Keya Paha County. Ted Cruz finished second in both counties, with 74 votes in Rock County and 31 in Keya Paha County. John Kasich picked up 31 votes in Rock County and 15 in Keya Paha County. Ben Carson had 26 votes in Rock County and 20 in Keya Paha County, and Marco Rubio received 13 votes in Rock County and four in Keya Paha County.

In the race for the District 5 seat on the Public Service Commission, challenger Mary Ridder carried both Rock and Keya Paha counties over incumbent Jerry Vap. Ridder secured 217 votes in Rock County to 140 for Vap, and 124 votes in Keya Paha County to 67 for Vap.

Keya Paha County voters favored challenger Tom Brewer over incumbent Al Davis for the 43rd District seat on the Nebraska Legislature by a 168-132 margin.

Republican Third District Rep. Adrian Smith ran unopposed Tuesday, as did Bob Phares for re-election to the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.

Voter turnout was 52 percent in Keya Paha County despite the few contested races, with 320 of the 634 registered voters casting a ballot.
Turnout in Rock County was solid as well at 53.6 percent. A total of 540 of the 1,006 registered voters in Rock County cast a ballot Tuesday.

* 2015 temps above normal, moisture total near average

(Posted 1:30 p.m. Jan. 4)

Ainsworth Weather Observer Gerry Osborn recorded 22.89 inches of precipitation for 2015, which is right at the city's average total of 22.99 inches.
The largest single-moisture event was July 6, when 1.52 inches of rain was recorded. Six of the first seven months finished below their respective averages for moisture, but the final five months all recorded above-average moisture. December tallied .57 of moisture, .16 above average.
To hear the complete December and 2015 reports, click on the audio links below.

audio clips/Gerry Osborn December and 2015 weather.mp3

* Thank-you area firefighters for Second Street response

(Posted 10 a.m. Oct. 17)

I would like to thank the Ainsworth, Bassett and Brown County Rural Volunteer Fire departments for their amazing response Wednesday morning to the Royal Theater Fire on Second Street.
To save our business with a fire burning that hot was an unbelievable accomplishment, and is a testament to the countless hours of training exercises our firefighters have undergone to be able to respond to situations exactly like Wednesday morning’s fire. There is not a paid fire department anywhere that could have done a better job than our area volunteers.
To whoever noticed the flames coming out of the theater at that early hour, thank you. Your call likely saved an entire half block of businesses from burning to the ground.
Thanks to everyone for their well-wishes as we clean up from the smoke. Thanks to the KBRB staff for helping to keep us on the air and operating in these less-than-optimal working conditions, and to Larry Rice and Randy Brudigan for coming down in the middle of the night to rescue what they could while the fire was still burning next door.

Graig Kinzie
KBRB Radio

* Fire causes major damage to Royal Theater

(Posted 9 a.m. Oct. 15)

Ainsworth firemen, assisted by firemen and units from Long Pine, Raven and Bassett, were called out about 3 a.m. Wednesday after someone passing by on Second Street in Ainsworth noticed smoke coming from the Royal Theater.
The fire caused extensive damage to the front lobby area and projector room. The fire also burned through the upstairs portion into the roof. Flames were also coming out of the front of the building. The entire structure suffered smoke and water damage. The recently installed new theater seats were not destroyed but may or may not be able to be used again. In addition to the theater, heavy smoke damage was sustained in adjoining businesses including the offices and studios of KBRB Radio Station, Mundhenke Agency and Ainsworth Motors. The exact cause of the fire is being investigated by the State Fire Marshall and the theater's insurance company. The theater is operated by volunteers.











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