Visitors to the KBRB Web site may listen to live programming, with news broadcasts
from 5:55 until 11 a.m., and from noon to 1 p.m., plus all of our local sports broadcasts.

E-mail us at kbrb@sscg.net

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

* Elmer Joseph Borer, 86, of Atkinson 10:30 a.m. Oct. 31

* Janet Lee Graham, 62, of Springfield 11 a.m. Oct. 29

* Meeting reports located below for:

Oct. 21 Brown County Commissioners

Oct. 15 Ainsworth City Council

Oct. 13 Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors

Oct. 13 Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education

* Agricultural producers urged to sign up for CFAP 2 payments through FSA

(Posted 7:30 a.m. Oct. 28)

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that in the first month of the application period, the USDA Farm Service Agency approved more than $7 billion in payments to producers in the second round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

CFAP 2 provides agricultural producers with financial assistance to help absorb some of the increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“America’s agriculture communities are resilient, but still face many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Secretary Perdue. “This program builds upon the over $10 billion disbursed under the first round of CFAP. Agricultural producers who have been impacted by the pandemic since April 2020 are encouraged to apply for assistance.”

Since CFAP 2 enrollment began September 21, FSA has approved more than 443,000 applications. The top five states for payments are Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois and Kansas.

Through CFAP 2, USDA is making available up to $14 billion for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19. CFAP 2 is a separate program from the first iteration of CFAP. Farmers and ranchers who participated in CFAP 1 will not be automatically enrolled and must complete a new application for CFAP 2. FSA will accept CFAP 2 applications through December 11.

CFAP 2 supports eligible producers of row crops, livestock, specialty crops, dairy, aquaculture, and many other commodities, including many that were ineligible for CFAP 1.

New customers seeking one-on-one support with the CFAP 2 application process can call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer general assistance. This is a recommended first step before a producer engages the team at the FSA county office at their local USDA Service Center.

FSA offers multiple options for producers to apply for CFAP 2. Producers with an eAuthentication account can apply online through the CFAP 2 Application Portal. Also available is a payment calculator and application generator that is an Excel workbook and allows producers to input information specific to their operation to determine estimated payments and populate the application form, which can be printed, signed, and submitted to the local FSA office. Producers can also download the CFAP 2 application and other eligibility forms from farmers.gov/cfap.

Producers of acreage-based commodities will use acreage and yield information provided by FSA through the annual acreage reporting process. Producers have the option to complete their application by working directly with their local FSA staff or online through the CFAP 2 Application Portal.

CFAP 2 is not a loan program, and there is no cost to apply.

To find the latest information on CFAP 2, visit farmers.gov/CFAP or call 877-508-8364.

All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including some that are open to visitors to conduct business in person by appointment only.

* NSAA issues guidance to host schools for winter season activities

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Oct. 28)

Circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic are constantly changing and the circumstances vary from community to community. Difficult decisions will have to be made from week to week or even day to day. The health and safety of students, staff, and local communities remain the priority of the NSAA as it provides opportunities for students to participate in the winter sports season.

Each school has the authority to determine if it will participate in the 2020-21 Winter Season. During the season it will be the responsibility of the host school to provide administrative oversight in compliance with established COVID-19 guidelines in accordance with their local health departments and facilities.

Additionally, the NSAA has requirements for host schools during all winter contests that include:
Participants are permitted, but not required, to wear face coverings during competition.
Coaches and non-active participants are required to wear face coverings at all times.
Spectators are required to wear face coverings at all times while attending indoor events.
Host school requirements must be the same for all schools, officials, judges and spectators.
All participating schools, officials, judges and spectators are expected to adhere to these requirements.
The host school should make every effort to mitigate risk and provide adequate opportunities for physical distancing procedures for the visiting schools, officials, judges and all spectators.
Protocols for winter contest hosts to consider:
Restrict attendance/seating areas
Create separate points of entry for home and visitor teams/spectators
Provide no concession stands or separate/multiple concession stands for home and visitor spectators
Provide separate/multiple restrooms for home and visitor spectators
Communicate availability of locker room space for the opposing team and officials
Implement diligent and effective cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched objects and surfaces
During practice, coaches should make accommodations for physical distancing whenever possible. Provide adequate spacing when participating in stretching, instructional time and drills. Conduct workouts in small groups whenever possible.
During competition, the team and bench areas should be restricted to essential personnel only. Coaches, officials, and players should be cognizant of physical distancing guidelines when interacting before, during, and after contests.
Schools are encouraged to play their regularly scheduled competitions unless a COVID-19 issue prevents them from playing. Member schools shall be solely responsible for determining whether a scheduled game, match, contest, or other activity is cancelled or postponed due to a COVID-19 related issue in consultation with their local health departments. Member schools shall notify the NSAA of any cancellation or postponement.
The NSAA has great appreciation for all its member schools and their tireless efforts to provide opportunities for learning and participation in NSAA activities. Communication, flexibility, and patience will be key in supporting high school student participants as they participate in activities this winter season.

* Evnen reminds voters who requested early ballots to cast them by Election Day

(Posted 10:45 a.m. Oct. 27)

Less than one week ahead of the November General Election, Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen said election officials across the state are ready to conduct a safe and secure election.

“Voters are concerned about the elections this year,” Evnen said. “My message to Nebraskans is that we will maintain the integrity of our voting. Every legally cast vote will count.”

So far, Evnen said early ballots from 395,420 Nebraska voters have been received and accepted by county election officials. Properly completed early ballots that are received by county election officials prior to the close of the polls on Nov. 3 will be counted.

Once the early ballot return envelopes are verified by county officials, early ballots will be stored securely until the day before the election, when, by law, county officials are permitted to begin counting them. No results will be released until after the polls close on Election Day.

“In most of our counties with larger populations, the first results posted on election night will be the results of early voting,” the secretary of state said. “Ballot counts from the polls will come later in the evening. We anticipate our unofficial results will be posted statewide by the end of the night.

“I encourage registered voted who did not ask for early ballots to be sure to go to the polls on Election Day Tuesday. Just as in the Primary Election in May, our voters and poll workers will be kept safe at the polls.”

Polls open at 8 a.m. Tuesday and close at 8 p.m. Brown County voters will cast their ballots in the Ainsworth Conference Center. Keya Paha County voters cast their ballots in the Internal Design building at Springview. Rock County voters cast their ballots in the Bassett Fire Hall.

* Another 72 COVID-19 cases reported Monday by NCDHD

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 27)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 72 COVID-19 cases in the district Monday. Among the cases reported Monday, which also encompassed the weekend, were 13 new cases in Holt County, eight in Boyd County, six in Cherry County and five in Brown County.
The North Central District Health Department will transition to reporting COVID-19 case counts on Mondays and Thursdays only instead of providing daily updates.
There have been 341 new positive COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days in the nine-county district. There have been a total of 1,368 cases since the virus reached the district, with 542 people recovering and 20 deaths.

* State, area counties see sales spike in July

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

Comparison of July 2020 and July 2019 Net Taxable Sales
for Nebraska Counties and Selected Cities

County
or City

2020
Net Taxable
Sales

2019
Net Taxable
Sales

Percent
Change

2020
Sales Tax
5.5%

2019
Sales Tax
5.5%

Blaine

52,006

(D)

(D)

2,860.34

(D)

Boyd

1,235,088

1,005,744

22.8

67,929.94

55,316.05

Brown

3,190,686

2,883,641

10.6

175,487.91

158,600.48

Ainsworth

2,990,961

2,740,401

9.1

164,503.03

150,722.26

Cherry

8,777,842

7,379,850

18.9

482,781.61

405,892.09

Valentine

8,181,621

6,874,557

19

449,989.43

378,100.90

Holt

9,517,628

8,983,225

5.9

523,470.16

494,077.89

Atkinson

1,751,163

1,749,944

0.1

96,314.16

96,247.09

O'Neill

6,542,410

6,148,858

6.4

359,832.85

338,187.41

Keya Paha

338,581

194,500

74.1

18,621.98

10,697.53

Rock

805,963

860,809

(6.4)

44,328.03

47,344.58

State Total

$3,400,353,177

$2,795,639,514

21.6

$187,176,032.43

$153,942,241.59

Comparison of July 2020 and July 2019
Motor Vehicle Sales Tax Collections by County

County
or City

2020
Net Taxable
Sales

2019
Net Taxable
Sales

Percent
Change

2020
Sales Tax
5.5%

2019
Sales Tax
5.5%

Blaine

183,747

154,952

18.6

10,010.57

8,477.71

Boyd

490,647

330,526

48.4

26,946.20

18,230.28

Brown

899,218

946,615

(5.0)

49,370.79

52,343.31

Cherry

2,137,905

1,698,918

25.8

117,556.56

93,950.83

Holt

3,532,701

2,771,989

27.4

194,150.57

153,445.24

Keya Paha

147,540

466,171

(68.4)

8,050.33

25,625.23

Rock

358,180

466,978

(23.3)

19,631.05

25,739.31

State Total

$597,367,689

$428,201,717

39.5

$32,899,229.93

$23,754,701.54

* Another 45 COVID-19 cases reported Friday in NCDHD coverage area

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Oct. 26)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 45 new COVID-19 cases in the nine-county district Friday. Among those were nine new cases in Holt County, four in Boyd County, two in Cherry County, and one new case in Brown County and Rock County.
During the past two weeks, 349 new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed. There have now been 1,296 total cases in the district, with 542 people recovering and 20 deaths.

* Highway 281 Spencer Dam bridge completes 2019 flood damage repairs

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 23)

Representatives from the Nebraska Department of Transportation, Gov. Pete Ricketts, transportation partners and Spencer-area community members gathered Thursday to celebrate the opening of the permanent bridge on Highway 281 over the Niobrara River south of Spencer.

The event also marked full mobility being restored on the State Highway System after catastrophic flooding in March of 2019.

“Since last March’s tragedy, we’ve come far with recovery in Nebraska,” Ricketts said. “We’ve reached many milestones worth celebrating as we worked to rebuild bigger and better than before. While there has been much progress over the last year on the State Highway System, two major projects remained to be completed. On Sept. 1, we celebrated the opening of the Mormon Canal Bridge at Niobrara. Today, we do the same here at Spencer with a final celebration of the completion of the work on the State Highway System following the 2019 floods. The speed of rebuilding is a true testament to the commitment and dedication of the community, NDOT, and everyone who contributed to get us here.”

On March 14, 2019, the dam at Spencer was compromised and resulted in significant damage to Highway 281 southeast of Spencer. On July 26, 2019, a temporary bridge was completed, allowing direct access in the region once again. Prior to the temporary bridge installation, locals were required to utilize a 127-mile detour to cross the river. With the operational temporary bridge, the NDOT was able to reestablish mobility on Highway 281 over the Niobrara.

“We at NDOT are part of the community,” said Mark Kovar, NDOT District 8 Engineer. “We live here and raise our families here. The flood of 2019 was felt by all of us. Getting to today took a lot of work, coordination and effort from NDOT and our industry partners. It also took partnership and patience from the community, which was devastated by the flooding. We know getting the roadway open was of utmost importance to help with recovery.”

As a result of the March 2019 flood, 3,300 miles of the State Highway System was closed. Once the damage was assessed, over 27 bridges required major work or total rebuilds in addition to over 200 miles of pavement requiring total rebuilds of significant repair. The NDOT finalized repairs on the final project Oct. 15, approximately 580 days since the flood occurred on March 13, 2019.

“Recovery hasn’t been easy, but the people in this community worked together to come back better and support each other when times were hard,” said Derek Bentz, Chairman of the Spencer Village Board. “We still have some work to do, but the completion of this bridge, especially as harvest moves into full swing, goes a long way to helping us get back to ‘normal.’ Thank you to NDOT, Hawkins and their subcontractors for the work they have done.”

Chris Hawkins, COO of Hawkins Construction, said, “The flood of 2019 presented challenges for all of us, challenges some of us had never encountered before that required innovative solutions. Together with NDOT, we brought a new temporary bridge system to Nebraska for the first time to restore mobility in north central Nebraska while the permanent bridge was built. Our partnership with NDOT and industry partners helped us get here today. The partnership with NDOT helped us get here today. We look forward to seeing this new bridge serve the community and the region as they continue to grow.”

The NDOT worked closely with Olsson & Associates to expedite the design of the reconstruction. Hawkins Construction was the lead contractor. The $25.4 million contract covered the single lane temporary roadway and bridge as well as a permanent 1,050-foot bridge over the Niobrara River Channel.

“Recovery from the flood was something that took a lot of coordinated efforts from NDOT’s team and our partners across the state and at the federal level,” NDOT Director Kyle Schneweis said. “We got here today because a lot of folks worked really hard and changed our approach on how we look at projects and how we can get them accomplished. The people who got us here today come from all over our agency, our friends at Benesch and many more. The work they did was simply outstanding. But we couldn’t have done it alone. We spent many hours with our Federal Highway Administration partners here in Nebraska to help us get across the finish line. Full mobility restored to this region in less than two years is something you don’t see all the time.”

 

* Another 17 COVID-19 cases reported in Holt County Thursday

 

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 23)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 42 additional COVID-19 cases across the district Thursday. Among those were 17 new cases in Holt County, four in Boyd County, two in Cherry County and one in Brown County.
The NCDHD region has added 327 new positive COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days, and there have been 1,251 total cases in the nine-county district. Of those, 542 people have recovered from the virus and 20 have died.

* Area hospital employees receive Caring Kind Award for service excellence

(Posted 3:15 p.m. Oct. 22)

The Nebraska Hospital Association recognized 75 hospital employees for excellent service by presenting them with the annual Caring Kind Award.
The Caring Kind Award has been given to Nebraska’s most caring and compassionate hospital employees for the past 41 years. The award recognizes outstanding health care employees who demonstrate compassion for patients, cooperation with coworkers and dedication to excellence in the performance of their duties.
Area recipients of the Caring Kind Award are Devyn France with the Brown County Hospital, Megan Frizzell from the Rock County Hospital, Kevin McNichols with West Holt Medical Services of Atkinson, and Theresa Shelden with Avera St. Anthony’s Hospital at O’Neill.
Nebraska Hospital Association President Laura Redoutey said, “Every Nebraska hospital employee plays a critical role in providing high quality, cost-effective treatment as well as ensuring the safety of their patients and coworkers daily. These award winners are star performers through their dedication to patients and teamwork, ensuring care is safe, quality driven, and cost effective for consumers.”

* Weekly COVID-19 cases rising in Nebraska

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Oct. 22)

The number of COVID-19 cases in Nebraska is now 59,409. There were 35 new COVID-19-related deaths in Nebraska during the past week, and 565 Nebraskans have died from the virus since its arrival. A total of 39,687 Nebraskans diagnosed with COVID-19 have since recovered.

The daily average of positive cases for the last seven days is 838, compared to a daily average of 684 and 530 in prior weeks.

Hospitalizations continue to rise this week. DHHS is working alongside the governor’s office to maintain hospital capacity statewide and communicating with hospitals daily about bed and staff availability. The department is continually monitoring hospital capacity and evaluating the measures in place.

The state is allocating up to $40 million in CARES Act funding to support hospital capacity across Nebraska. These funds will be provided to General Acute Care Hospitals as they demonstrate the need and ability to increase capacity to care for COVID-19 patients.

Nebraska received $1.25 billion through the CARES Act to aid coronavirus relief efforts.

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 18 additional COVID-19 cases across the nine-county district Wednesday. Among those were six new cases in Holt County, two in Boyd County, and one new case in Brown County, Rock County and Cherry County.

* Stout submits only perfect card to win final week of the KBRB Football Contest

(Posted 1:45 p.m. Oct. 21)

After 17 perfect cards were submitted in Week 7, there was a single perfect card submitted during the final week of the KBRB Football Contest.

Crystal Stout of Springview picked all 12 games correctly that were played, with one game on the Week 8 card cancelled between Riverside and Chambers/Wheeler Central.

For submitting the only perfect card, Stout wins the $40 first-place certificate for Week 8.

Nine contestants missed just one game this week, which sent us to the tie-breaker. Missing just one game this week were Melissa Doke of Ainsworth, Tiffani Naprstak and Briley Naprstak of Johnstown, J.T. Shaw of Bassett, Roger Brink of Atkinson, and Russ Richey, Travis Mundorf, Hazel Chase and Mike Swan, all of Springview.

There were 13 combined touchdowns scored Friday in the Ainsworth and Summerland game. Mundorf and Swan both guessed 12 touchdowns would be scored, and Chase predicted 14 total touchdowns. With those three contestants still tied, that sent us to our second tie-breaker, the card that was submitted to KBRB the earliest.

The cards submitted by Mundorf and Chase carried a Thursday postmark, while Swan’s card was mailed Wednesday, which earns Mike Swan of Springview the $10 second-place certificate.

KBRB thanks everyone who participated in this year’s Football Contest, and a big thank you goes out to contest sponsors Buckles Automotive, AKRS Equipment and Speedee Mart of Ainsworth, Circle B Livestock of Bassett, the West Plains Bank of Springview, the Tri County Bank of Stuart, the TCB Atkinson branch and Speedee Mart of Atkinson.

* Commissioners hear request to vacate platted roads in Hidden Paradise

(Posted 1:30 p.m. Oct. 21)

The Brown County Commissioners Tuesday heard a request from a cabin owner at Hidden Paradise to vacate a platted road she said runs directly through her cabin.

Susan Ballew told the commissioners she recently had a survey of her property completed, and it showed one platted road going through the middle of her cabin and another platted road near her steps.

“They have never been established as roads,” Ballew said. “I am just trying to clean things up. You would never know there were roads platted there, and there has never been any road built.”

Ballew said the cabin was built at the site more than 50 years ago. The platted roads are located in Block N of Hidden Paradise on lots 6 through 11.

Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin said, for the county to consider vacating any platted road, a petition has to be submitted with the signatures of 15 registered voters who live within 10 miles of the roads requested for vacation.

“I can get the petition set up for you,” Turpin said.

Ballew thanked Turpin for offering to assist, and said she appreciated everything the roads department has done to repair flood damage to roads in the Hidden Paradise area.

County Attorney Andy Taylor said, unfortunately, there were no exceptions to state statute, which requires the petition and a public hearing before the county can vacate a platted road.

Ballew said she would work to get signatures and submit the petition to the county when completed so that a hearing can be scheduled.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners approved a resolution that will have all additional disaster relief invoices paid directly from the county’s inheritance tax fund. The resolution further stated that all reimbursement from FEMA and NEMA the county receives will be paid back to the inheritance tax fund, and the county will repay all money borrowed from the inheritance tax fund to pay for repairing flood damage.

If the inheritance tax fund is under $1 million, the county will reimburse the inheritance tax fund to the tune of $100,000 annually from the county’s general fund. When the inheritance tax fund eclipses $1 million, the annual contribution will drop to $50,000 from the general fund until all money borrowed from the inheritance tax fund is repaid.

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus said the county has used about $1.4 million from its inheritance tax fund to pay for flood damage repairs.

Taylor said, if the county made a transfer from the inheritance tax fund to the disaster relief fund and paid future claims from that fund, the county would have to amend its budget. By paying the invoices directly from the inheritance tax fund, a budget amendment is not necessary.

Commissioner Buddy Small said some counties have had to borrow money to repair flood damage.

“Brown County has not had to borrow any outside money,” Small said.

The board agreed to the resolution and to the repayment structure so future boards would also have the ability to use the inheritance tax fund during times of emergency.

During his report, Turpin said the roads department has been trying to keep up with blading out the washboards on county roads, but the dry conditions made it difficult to remove the washboards.

He said the department completed projects on South Pine Avenue and on the Raven Road.

“We started hauling clay on Moon Lake Avenue to get some of those flooded areas resurfaced,” the highway superintendent said.

The board approved having Small sign annual reports prepared by Turpin to certify to the Nebraska Board of Public Roads Classifications and Standards. Turpin said the certification is needed so the county can receive its annual $600,000 to $700,000 in funding from the state.

The commissioners approved a contract with Paulsen Lawn Service to provide lawn care and tree trimming services at the courthouse park for an annual payment of $7,500.

The board also approved a resolution allowing the Brown County Sheriff’s Department to apply for the USDA technology grant in the amount of $50,000.

Sheriff Bruce Papstein said the grant would cover most of the cost to install new technology in the department’s vehicles as well as a new records system for the sheriff’s department. He said the total upgrade is about $66,000, with the sheriff’s department covering the cost not picked up by the grant.

In a final action item, the board recommitted its membership to the Nebraska Intergovernmental Risk Management Association.

Clerk Travee Hobbs reported Tuesday approximately 600 early ballots have been requested thus far for the General Election, which is fewer to date than the 975 Brown County voters who cast their ballot early during the May Primary Election.

Prior to adjourning, the commissioners worked through a proposed Hazard Mitigation Plan submitted by the Region 24 Emergency Management Agency.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Nov. 3.

* Olson discusses new round of state stimulus funding, LB 840 program

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Oct. 21)

North Central Development Center Executive Director Kristin Olson provided details on the next round of stimulus funding announced by the state of Nebraska as part of its CARES Act allotment of funding. Those who did not apply for funding during the first round are eligible for $12,000 grants. Restaurants and bars are eligible to apply for an additional $12,000 stimulus payment after being identified as industries hardest hit by the pandemic.
To hear the full report, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/NCDC - State funding opportunity.mp3

* NCDHD reports 82 COVID-19 recoveries during the past week

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Oct. 21)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 34 additional COVID-19 cases across the district Tuesday. Among them were 10 new cases in Holt County, three in Cherry County, two in Brown County, and one new case in Keya Paha County, Rock County and Boyd County.
The NCDHD reported 82 people have recovered from the virus across the district since the last recovery reporting. Among the recoveries were 17 people in Cherry County, 11 in Brown County, nine in Holt County, nine in Rock County and four in Boyd County.
Due to the influx in cases and resources and time needed to contact cases and ensure close contacts are notified, there has been a gap created in completing recovery contacts. NCDHD reaches out to each positive case before reporting the case as recovered.
There have been 315 positive COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days, with a total of 1,191 confirmed cases in the nine-county district. Of those, 542 people have now recovered from the virus and 20 have died.

* Firefighters respond to small grass fire Monday north of Ainsworth

(Posted 8:15 a.m. Oct. 20)

The Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department was called to a report of a grass fire Monday afternoon north of Ainsworth.
According to Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala, at approximately 3:30 p.m. Monday, a grass fire was reported 7 miles north of Ainsworth near Meadville Avenue on property owned by Pat Schumacher.
Fiala said a small patch of weeds in a ditch was being burned when the fire started to get out of control. The fire was near a dry corn field and a hay bale pile. Fiala said the fire was basically under control when firefighters arrived. He said the fire department soaked down the area to make sure the fire did not flare back up.
The fire chief reminds property owners a burn permit is required in writing from the local fire chief before any controlled burning is allowed. Fiala said property owners can apply for a permit to burn brush or tree piles, and the fire chief will issue a written permit when conditions are favorable.
Fiala said permits are usually not issued when it is as dry as it is currently, and are never issued when there are red flag fire warnings in effect.

* Ricketts announces new round of stimulus grants for some businesses

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Oct. 20)

Gov. Pete Ricketts on Monday announced new grant programs to continue growing Nebraska in the midst of the disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of the Coronavirus Relief Fund, the state of Nebraska received $1.08 billion in federal assistance to address coronavirus-related needs across the state. These funds are being used to assist in the state’s direct response to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as providing assistance to Nebraska businesses, non-profits, and public healthcare providers who have been adversely impacted due to the pandemic.

The governor gave a status update on the funds utilized so far by the state’s existing grant programs. He then announced the state will award a second round of grants within the following programs:

* $48.5 million of additional funds will be awarded to assist non-profits and care providers as they respond to needs arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

* On a first come, first served basis, $25 million will go to fund a new round of grants to eligible businesses and ag producers who have not yet received assistance.

DHHS CEO Dannette Smith joined the governor to overview the various grants within the Community CARES program. The grants are available to charities, DHHS-licensed care organizations, places of worship, child care centers, food banks, shelters, and other non-profits. 

Additionally, the governor announced targeted grant programs to support businesses in industries particularly hard-hit due to the pandemic.  These include direct-payment grants for the following categories of business:

Restaurants and Bars - $20 million

Cosmetic, Massage, and Body Art Services - $22 million

Event Centers and Sports Arenas - $20 million

Hotels and Convention Centers - $34 million

Ethanol Producers - $15 million

Zoos - $6.05 million

Movie Theaters - $3.2 million

Grant applications open Wednesday and will close Nov. 13.  To apply, visit coronavirus.nebraska.gov/Programs&Grants beginning Wednesday.  The grants will be issued by Dec. 30.

Additionally, the state is allocating up to $40 million to support hospital capacity across Nebraska. The funds will be provided to General Acute Care Hospitals as they demonstrate the need and ability to increase capacity to care for COVID-19 patients. 

The state is also earmarking an additional $100 million to reimburse state agencies for eligible coronavirus expenses. Expanded financial support will also be available to local governments to cover payroll costs from March 1 through May 31 for workers on the frontline of coronavirus response such as dispatchers, corrections teammates and public health staff.

 

* Holt County has another 19 COVID cases among 42 reported in the district Monday

 

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Oct. 20)

 

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 42 additional COVID-19 cases across the district Monday. Those include 19 new cases in Holt County, three in Cherry County, two in Brown County, two in Rock County and two in Boyd County.

There have been 297 new positive COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days in the nine counties covered by the NCDHD. There have been a total of 1,157 COVID-19 cases confirmed, with 460 people recovering and 20 deaths.

Brown County has had 73 confirmed cases, with 19 recoveries and two deaths. Rock County has had 73 cases with 45 recoveries. Keya Paha County has the fewest number of cases in the nine-county district with six, two of which have recovered. Cherry County has had 106 confirmed cases, with 58 recoveries and five deaths. There have now been 242 confirmed cases in Holt County, with 48 recoveries and three deaths. Boyd County has had 47 confirmed cases with 12 people recovering.

* Burdick presented with community service award by chief justice

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Oct. 19)

Judge Kale Burdick of the county court in O’Neill and Judge Geoffrey Hall of the district court in Fremont were announced as 2020’s Distinguished Judge award recipients by Chief Justice Mike Heavican. 

During his address to Nebraska judges on October 16, Heavican noted Burdick is the recipient of the Improvement of Community Relations Award, and Hall is presented the Improvement of the Judicial System Award. The awards recognize members of the judiciary for meritorious projects and exemplary accomplishments beyond their day-to-day duties as a judge. The title of Distinguished Judge is the highest honor given to judges by the Nebraska Supreme Court.

When Judge Kale Burdick was appointed to the bench in 2017, he returned to the O’Neill area and immediately became actively involved in the community.

Most notably, Burdick joined the O’Neill Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, where he achieved Fire Fighter 1 certification and the Hazmat Operational Level certification. In 2019, Judge Burdick served as Aerial Captain and, in 2020, was named the City Captain. He currently responds to well over 50% of the fire and emergency rescue calls. He and his family can be found at the fire hall cleaning trucks and working on various jobs requiring attention on any given evening.

Burdick is an American Legion baseball umpire and participates in other child-focused activities in the community ranging from hydrant water parties to volunteering at back-to-school events. It is not uncommon for community members to warmly comment on Judge Burdick’s commitment to the area residents.

In remarking on Burdick’s friendly, welcoming demeanor, Heavican noted that Burdick “is a great example of judges who go the extra mile not only in their courtrooms but in their communities.”

Chief Justice Heavican closed his awards presentation, making note of the difficulties brought about by the pandemic. He extended his thanks to all Nebraska judges saying, “The entire Supreme Court is so pleased with the way that all of you picked up the ball and kept the courts open and the way that you are providing access to justice for everybody in the State of Nebraska. Good work to you.”

 

* Another 13 COVID-19 cases reported in Holt County Friday

 

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Oct. 19)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 22 additional COVID-19 cases across the nine-county district Friday. Among them were 13 additional cases in Holt County, and one each in Rock, Cherry and Boyd counties.
The NCDHD was informed of two additional deaths in the district from the virus, a man in his 80s from Cherry County and a man in his 80s from Holt County.
There have been 317 positive COVID-19 cases reported in the past 14 days in the district.
There have been 1,115 total confirmed cases of the virus in the nine counties served by the NCDHD. Of those, 460 people have recovered and 20 have died. 

* Brown County District Court proceedings

(Posted 2:15 p.m. Oct. 16)

During Brown County District Court Oct. 13, Jacob Bringsthreewhitehorses, age 30, of Sioux Falls, S.D., was sentenced to two years in prison each on three felony counts. Bringsthreewhitehorses previously pleaded guilty to attempted possession of a controlled substance, a Class 3A felony; possession of a controlled substance, a Class 4 felony; and no drug tax stamp, a Class 4 felony. He was sentenced to two years in prison on each count.
Eric Daniel, 23, of Ainsworth, appeared in district court for sentencing after his probation was revoked. Daniel was sentenced to 30 days in jail and one year of probation. Daniel also appeared for sentencing for violating the Sex Offender Registry Act, and was sentenced to an additional 30 days in jail as well as a year of probation.
Sean Burke, 36, of Ainsworth, pleaded guilty to a count of unlawfully discharging a firearm, a Class 1D felony, and resisting arrest, a Class 1 misdemeanor. Burke will be sentenced in District Court Dec. 8.

* Highway 281 bridge repair over the Niobrara completed at Spencer Dam site

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Oct. 16)

The Nebraska Department of Transportation announced Thursday the opening of the permanent bridge on Highway 281 over the Niobrara River south of Spencer. The permanent bridge replaces a temporary bridge that had been in place since July 30 after March 2019 flooding created a 127-mile detour.
The Highway 281 bridge marks the completion of major flood repairs to the state highway system as full mobility has been restored to Nebraska after flooding caused significant damage and washed out a segment of the highway just south of the bridge.
Two lanes are now open to traffic, with some minor work continuing. Motorists can expect periodic lane closures maintained with signs and flaggers.
An event is planned for Thursday, Oct. 22, to celebrate the bridge opening and the completion of major flood repairs and to recognize the collaborative efforts of the NDOT, industry partners and local stakeholders resulting in the early opening of the permanent Highway 281 bridge. NDOT Director Kyle Schneweis will join Gov. Pete Ricketts, partners and stakeholders during the event.

* Another 51 COVID-19 cases reported Thursday by the NCDHD

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Oct. 16)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 51 additional COVID-19 cases across the nine-county district. Among those are 11 new cases in Holt County, two new cases in Cherry County, and one each in Rock County and Brown County.
As of Thursday, there have been 316 positive COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days in the nine-county district.

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 3:45 p.m. Oct. 15)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a two-vehicle accident that occurred Thursday, Oct. 15, in Long Pine.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 7:51 a.m. Thursday at the intersection of Main and Sixth streets, a collision occurred between a 2005 Dodge Ram, driven by Loren Sherman, 39, of Ainsworth, which was traveling east on Sixth Street, and a 2007 Chevy Tahoe, driven by Sara Kubik, 27, of Stuart, which was traveling north on Main Street.
No injuries were reported. Damage to both the Dodge and the Chevy was estimated at more than $1,000.

* Niobrara Valley Conference will require fans to wear masks at all tournament sites

(Posted 10:45 a.m. Oct. 15)

The Niobrara Valley Conference will require masks for all spectators, workers, bench players and coaches at all sites during the upcoming NVC Volleyball Tournament.
Masks will be required by all in attendance and must be worn properly, over the nose and mouth, at all NVC tournament games. Anyone who does not wear a mask will be asked to leave.

* Another 15 COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday by NCDHD

(Posted 8 a.m. Oct. 15)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 15 additional COVID-19 cases across the district Wednesday. Among them were six new cases in Holt County and one in Rock County.
Due to the influx in cases and resources and time needed to contact cases and ensure close contacts are notified, there has been a gap created in completing recovery contacts. NCDHD reaches out to each positive case before reporting the case as recovered. NCDHD is working to close the gap on active cases as quickly as possible.
To increase transparency in the nine-county district, the health department will begin to report a total number of new cases received in the last 14 days to help community members understand an estimate of active cases. For Wednesday, the NCDHD region has added 322 new positive COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days.

* City Council tables airport request for additional levy for bond guarantee

(Posted 7:30 a.m. Oct. 15)

The Ainsworth City Council tabled a request Wednesday from the Ainsworth Airport Authority to allow the airport to levy an additional 3-1/2 cents of property tax as a guarantee for issuing bonds for a runway rehabilitation project.

Airport Manager Lance Schipporeit said the airport had no plans to actually levy the tax, the additional levy only serves as a guarantee to the bonding company that, should the airport default on its bond repayments, the city would levy a total of 7 cents in property tax to satisfy the bonds.

Schipporeit said the airport received word it had been approved for a $6.5 million federal grant to resurface the main runway, taxiway and apron at the airport. The grant requires a 10 percent local match, which the airport planned to cover with the bond.

“This is part of the process for us to issue bonds,” Schipporeit said. “We aren’t actually going to levy a tax. We have done this before, and in the past we have always paid off the bonds early.”

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl questioned whether the request would affect the city’s property tax levy lid.

“The city budget has already been adopted,” Schroedl said. “I was advised that if the airport wanted an additional 3-1/2-cent levy, it needed to submit that request by Aug. 1 and the city needed to respond by Sept. 1 so it could be filed with the city budget.”

Schipporeit said bonded debt for the airport authority is outside the city’s levy lid.

City Attorney Rod Palmer said there is an exception for bonded debt, since it is not a tax levy.

“We may need to talk to the auditor about the time frame since this is after the city submitted its levy to the county and it has been certified,” Palmer said.

Schipporeit said he was only notified three weeks ago that the airport had been approved for the major grant project.

“Everything is signed, but construction does not start until 2021,” Schipporeit said.

The City Council opted to table the levy request and directed Palmer to work with the city’s auditor on a way to make the project work.

In other business Wednesday, the council, by a 3-1 vote with Schuyler Schenk against, renewed a contract between the city and the North Central Development Center for management of the LB 840 program.

NCDC Director Kristin Olson provided an update on LB 840 projects her office has worked on with applicants. The council approved several fašade grants during a recent meeting, and there were five additional applications on the agenda Wednesday for the council to consider.

NCDC Board representative Graig Kinzie said the draft agreement the city provided to the NCDC Board Wednesday morning was reviewed and the board approved the contract as presented. The council approved the contract as presented with Schenk against.

The council looked at five recommendations from the LB 840 Loan Committee for fašade grant applications. The committee recommended three of the projects be approved and two be denied.

Prior to the council taking action, audience member Rod Worrell said he had submitted one of the applications the loan committee had recommended the council deny.

“I presented the information required by the application,” Worrell said. “According to your procedure manual, the applicant is required to be at the loan committee meeting. I had no idea there was even a meeting. I was not informed.”

Schroedl said there was nothing to be done but admit fault on that point.

“We had good intentions of trying to get a loan committee meeting scheduled and get these projects to the City Council without delays,” Schroedl said. “I will not do that again.”

Mayor Greg Soles said the loan committee will now have set meetings on the first Wednesday of every month instead of trying to schedule meetings as needed.

Councilman Brad Fiala said he believed the applicant should be required to be at the loan committee meeting to answer any questions the committee may have. Worrell said that is exactly what is in the city’s procedures manual.

Councilman Joel Klammer said he would be uncomfortable taking action on the two applications recommended for denial if the applicant did not have a chance to talk with the loan committee prior to the recommendation being made.

Councilman Tonny Beck said, realistically, the council needed to table the two applications recommended for denial so the applicants could have a chance to meet with the loan committee. The council could then address those two applications in November.

Worrell also said the city’s policies and procedures indicate any information provided to the council members on LB 840 projects is considered public information.

“I requested that information from Lisa,” Worrell said. “She indicated she checked with the city attorney and there was information that would need to be redacted.”

Worrell said there was more information listed on the council agenda than on the redacted documents he received from the city.

“Your guidelines state it is a matter of public record,” Worrell said.

Schroedl said she had a conversation with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development on what information is a matter of public record. She said a fašade application is pretty basic, but she did not want to jeopardize the status of the applicants.

Worrell said he wasn’t asking for a business’s financial information but felt the business’s name and a brief description of the project should be a matter of public record.

Worrell also questioned why the council had previously approved a fašade project that had already been completed when the city’s procedures clearly state that work can not have already been undertaken when applying for a fašade grant.

“The application form states the applicant has to have approval on the application before starting any work,” Worrell said. “The only reason I put this application in this time was because the council approved a project in August that was retroactive.”

Kinzie asked if the council was aware the work on one of the projects recommended by the loan committee for approval in August had apparently already been completed.

Beck said he was not aware that was the case when acting on the committee’s recommendation.

Schroedl said that particular project was discussed at length by the loan committee.

“Their discussion was there was a lot of money in the LB 840 fund,” Schroedl said. “The application would have fit and the committee felt it met the conditions in every other case. The loan committee wanted to help the community.”

Beck said, “Once we open the door and make it retroactive it will open a can of worms and becomes a train wreck. This is why we follow the guidelines.”

Olson said, as the LB 840 program manager, she did address her concerns with the administrator and the loan committee about approving a project that had already been completed.

“The project was a great project,” Olson said. “But, it did not meet the guidelines because it was already done.”

That conversation steered the council to a recommendation by the loan committee to accept fašade grant applications until the end of this year that were initiated and/or completed by businesses since Jan. 1, 2018.

Schroedl said, since there was an application approved in August that had already been completed, the loan committee discussed at length Tuesday how far to go back for other projects that had already been completed.

“The committee recommended to accept those applications only through the end of this calendar year for projects that were completed since Jan. 1, 2018,” the city administrator said.

Olson said, since the precedent was set in August, the loan committee Tuesday tried to figure out a compromise for other projects that had already been completed.
Soles said the request on Wednesday’s agenda from the loan committee to accept applications for work that had already been completed should have been made prior to the council approving the first application that had the work completed.

Beck said, “They did at least spend the money on exactly what the program is for, they just didn’t follow the procedures.”

Fiala said he understood the loan committee’s reasoning for setting the Jan. 1, 2018, date, but he hoped the city did not now receive 300 applications.

Schroedl said the ultimate authority for approval of applications rests with the City Council.

“The loan committee met for five hours that day and deliberated at length on two applications, this being one,” Schroedl said. “Now, they want to treat everyone fairly. This gives everyone the opportunity to apply. No one is trying to skirt the rules. I understand that project went against set policy.”

Klammer said the proposal from the loan committee to allow applications for work completed after Jan. 1, 2018, does appear to be a fair method.

“We go forward from there with the understanding that nothing will be approved if the construction has occurred,” Klammer said.

By a 3-1 vote with Beck against, the council approved the recommendation from the loan committee to allow for applications to the fašade program for work completed after Jan. 1, 2018, with those applications only accepted through Dec. 31.

The council also approved a recommendation from the loan committee to allow an applicant 12 months from the date a grant agreement is signed to complete the work on an approved project.

The council denied a recommendation from the loan committee to waive application fees for fašade improvement grants. Schroedl said the fašade program provides a maximum grant of $10,000, and the loan committee felt a $100 application fee was steep.

Olson said the conversation on removing the application fee stemmed from two applicants who submitted an application without a fee but were still moved forward, even though the guidelines state the fee must be paid when the application is submitted.

Schenk said having an application fee gives the applicant some skin in the game when applying for funds. The council unanimously voted to deny that recommendation and keep the fee in place.

After working through those recommendations, the council approved three fašade grant applications. One application approved awarded $4,918. Another awarded $10,000 to an applicant, and a third, approved by a 3-1 vote with Beck against, awarded $5,689 for a project Schroedl said had already been completed. The council tabled the two projects the loan committee recommended to deny, each in the amount of $10,000, to give the applicants a chance to meet with the loan committee.

Following a public hearing Wednesday, the council approved recommendations from the Ainsworth Planning Commission to provide a conditional use permit for utilization of a property for residential use at 234 N. Walnut St. that was located in a commercial zone. Schroedl said the house was grandfathered in and the financial institution wanted a guarantee before approving a loan for the purchase of the home that if there was a fire, the house could be rebuilt at the site.

Following a second public hearing, the council approved rezoning a lot at the corner of Third and Oak streets from R-1 to R-2.

In other agenda items, the council approved signing an annual certification of program compliance resolution to the Nebraska Board of Public Roads Classifications and Standards which Schroedl said allowed the city to receive its annual streets funding from the Nebraska Department of Transportation.

The council also approved a resolution acknowledging the NDOT’s requirements for temporarily closing a state highway for special events. Schroedl said the resolution was recommended by Mark Kovar with the NDOT and would keep the council from having to approve each event every year that requests Main Street be closed.

In a related item, the council approved allowing the Ainsworth Women’s Club and Ainsworth Area Chamber of Commerce to close Main Street for a trick or treat safe street event Oct. 30 from 4 until 6:30 p.m. Schroedl said she separated that closure due to COVID concerns in case the council wanted to add any stipulations.

The council tabled taking action on an ordinance that sets time and date restrictions on when fireworks can be ignited in the city without a special permit.

Schroedl said she received feedback from residents about the city’s fireworks ordinance and put together a task force to review the ordinance.

The task force recommended allowing fireworks to be discharged from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. June 25 to July 3, from 8 a.m. until midnight July 4, and from 5 p.m. until midnight Dec. 31. A $40 special permit would be required if someone wants to discharge fireworks outside those dates and times.

Task force member Lori Baker said she wanted to see the city’s ordinance set dates and times for fireworks. She said there were a lot of older people in the community who were kept awake by fireworks.

Those igniting fireworks outside the designated dates and times without a permit could be subject to a $100 fine.

The council tabled the item to remove the 1-mile jurisdiction from the ordinance and have it only effective inside city limits.

Schroedl said, in reviewing the ordinance, she realized the city also did not charge an occupation tax for fireworks stands. The council approved including fireworks stands as business operations that required paying an occupation tax to the city.

The council approved having the mayor sign an agreement with the Nebraska Department of Transportation for the Highway 20 resurfacing project inside city limits.

Schroedl said the construction project was scheduled for the spring of 2021.

The work includes the installation of 56 light poles. Initially, she said the NDOT indicated there would be no additional charge to paint the light poles, and the council previously approved painting the stainless steel poles a bronze color. Now, Schroedl said she was informed there would be an estimated $500 per pole charge for the bronze painting, and an estimated $400 per pole charge for flag and banner brackets to be mounted.

Soles said the only reason the council decided on the bronze color was it was the same cost. Fiala said the city could potentially purchase and install its own flag brackets to save money on the poles as well.

Schroedl said the bids on the light poles will include alternatives for the painting and the brackets and the council can make the decision on the poles when the actual bids are received.

Schroedl reported the cure-in-place sewer line project has been completed, and there were only six water meters left to install. She said she contacted those who refused a new meter to let them know their water service would be discontinued, and all then agreed to allow the installation of the new meters.

Schroedl said the low to moderate income survey had been completed and Miller and Associates would present the results to the council in November. Preliminarily, she said the results look favorable for the city to qualify for future Community Development Block Grants.

The council approved the mayor’s recommendations to reappoint Evan Evans and Rosemary Saner to the Ainsworth Betterment Committee, reappoint Jim Arens, Bob Maxwell and Kathy Klammer to the LB 840 Loan Committee, and appoint Devron Crawford and Hunter Martin to the Ainsworth Planning Commission.

The council also appointed the mayor as the city’s alternate representative to the North Central Development Center Board of Directors.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth City Council is scheduled for 5 p.m. Nov. 11.

* Seventeen perfect cards submitted in Week 7 of KBRB Football Contest

(Posted 8:15 a.m. Oct. 14)

An unprecedented 17 perfect cards were submitted during Week 7 of the KBRB Football Contest, as area prognosticators were dialed in to the high school action on the gridiron.

With two games cancelled due to COVID-19 protocol, there were 12 games played and 17 guessers were perfect on their predictions for those dozen contests.

Turning in perfect cards this week were Melissa Doke and Becky Schelm of Ainsworth; Tiffani Naprstak, Briley Naprstak and Eli Beel of Johnstown; Lois Kaup of Stuart; Maxine Brink of Atkinson; and there were 10 perfect cards submitted from Springview from Mike Swan, Brett Swan, Russ Richey, Jacque Richey, Michele Adulaju, Travis Mundorf, Kristie Mundorf, Logan Mundorf, Kallie Mundorf and Kurtis Mizner.

That sent us to the all-important tie-breaker, the total number of touchdowns scored during the Ainsworth and North Central game. Of the 17 perfect cards, three were exactly right on the tie-breaker by correctly picking 12 total touchdowns scored.

Finishing in a three-way tie for first this week with perfect cards and perfect tie-breakers are Travis Mundorf and Kurtis Mizner of Springview, and Becky Schelm of Ainsworth. Those three will split the first and second place certificates and KBRB will throw in a little extra this week to give each of the three a $20 certificate.

This is the final week of the KBRB Football Contest. Cards are available from Buckles Automotive, AKRS Equipment and Speedee Mart of Ainsworth, Circle B Livestock in Bassett, the West Plains Bank in Springview, from the Tri County Bank in Stuart, or from the TCB Atkinson branch or Speedee Mart in Atkinson.

Cards must be submitted to the KBRB Studios by 4 p.m. Thursday or carry a Thursday postmark to be eligible.

* Agenda for Ainsworth City Council meeting Wednesday

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Oct. 14)

Ainsworth City Council
Meeting 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14
Ainsworth Conference Center
Agenda

 

I.                    ROUTINE BUSINESS

a.       Announcement of Open Meetings Act

b.       Roll Call

c.       Pledge of Allegiance

 

*Any item listed on this agenda will be open for discussion, consideration and/or action by the Ainsworth City Council.

 

II.                  CONSENT AGENDA – All items approved with the passage of one motion.

a.       Approve minutes from the September 16, 2020 regular meeting and the September 29, 2020 Special Meeting

b.       Approval of Claims

c.       Treasurer’s Report

d.       Department Head Reports

 

*Any item listed on the Consent Agenda may, by the request of any single Council member, be considered as a separate item under the Regular Agenda section of the Agenda.

 

III.                MAYOR’S APPOINTMENTS AND REPORT

a.       Mayor’s Report

b.       Mayor’s Appointments

                 c.      Consider appointment of the position of the City of Ainsworth Mayor to serve as the alternate voting member for the City on the NCDC Board of Directors

 

IV.                PUBLIC HEARINGS

a.      Recommendation from the Planning Commission for approval of a conditional use permit for utilization of property for residential use on Original Town, Block 1, N 52’ of Lot 10, S 15’ of Lot 11, Ainsworth, Brown County, NE – 234 N. Walnut, zoned as C-2

b.      Recommendation from the Planning Commission for the rezoning of a property located at Hall’s Addition, Block 34, Lot 1 from a R-1 to a R-2 – corner of 3rd Street and Oak Street

 

V.                  OLD BUSINESS

a.      None

 

VI.                REGULAR AGENDA

a.      Consider approval of Resolution #20-08 for the signing of the municipal annual certification of program compliance form 2020 to the Nebraska Board of Public Roads Classifications and Standards

b.      Consider approval of Resolution #20-09 acknowledging Nebraska Department of Transportation’s requirements for the temporary use of the state highway system for special events

c.       Consider the request by the Ainsworth Area Chamber of Commerce and the Ainsworth Women’s Club to hold the Trick-or-Treat Street event on Main Street on October 30th from 4:00 pm – 6:30 pm

d.      Discuss and consider the request by the Ainsworth Airport Authority to approve an additional levy of up to 7 cents per $100 of taxable valuation for the purposes to issue Airport Authority Refunding Bonds

e.      Discuss and consider the Agreement for Economic Development Services with the North Central Development Center (NCDC)

f.        Discuss and consider Ordinance #1543, amending Chapter 9, Article 4 – Fireworks

g.      Discuss and consider Ordinance #1544, amending Chapter 5, Article 3, Section 5-301 – Amounts of Occupation Tax

h.      Discuss and consider the Municipality Financial Agreement between the City of Ainsworth and the State of Nebraska, Department of Transportation for construction of the Highway 20 project

i.        Discuss and consider Resolution #20-10 authorizing the Mayor to sign the Municipality Financial Agreement with the State of Nebraska, Department of Transportation

j.        Discuss and consider the recommendations by the LB840 Loan Committee:

                                                            i.      Deny #20-07 Fašade Improvement Grant in the amount of $10,000

                                                           ii.      Approve #20-08 Fašade Improvement Grant in the amount of $4,918

                                                         iii.      Deny #20-09 Fašade Improvement Grant in the amount of $10,000

                                                         iv.      Approve #20-10 Fašade Improvement Grant in the amount of $10,000

                                                           v.      Approve #20-11 Fašade Improvement Grant in the amount of $5,689.09

                                                         vi.      To waive application fees for fašade improvement grants

                                                       vii.      To allow for a 12-month completion, from date of grant agreement signing, for an approved project

                                                     viii.      To accept applications until 12/31/2020 for projects that were initiated and/or completed since 01/01/2018

k.       City Administrator/Clerk/Treasurer Report

 

ADJOURNMENT

* NCDHD reports 23 COVID-19 cases Tuesday, 54 recoveries

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Oct. 14)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 23 additional COVID-19 cases across the district Tuesday. Among them were 11 new cases in Holt County, two in Rock County and four in Cherry County.
The NCDHD reported 54 recovered from the virus in the nine-county district since the last report Thursday. Among the recoveries were four Brown County residents, three Rock County residents, one Keya Paha County resident, eight residents of Holt County, and one person recovered in both Cherry County and Boyd County.
Of the 70 confirmed cases in Brown County, 19 people have now recovered, two have died and there are 49 active cases. In Rock County, 45 of the 68 confirmed cases have resulted in recoveries. Cherry County has had 100 confirmed cases, with 58 recoveries and four deaths. Two of the six people in Keya Paha County who have contracted the virus have recovered. Holt County has had a spike in the past two weeks and has now had 193 confirmed cases. Of those 143 cases are active, with 48 recoveries and two deaths. Boyd County has had 44 confirmed cases with 12 people recovering.

* Care Center Board approves wage increase, other incentives to employees

(Posted 3:15 p.m. Oct. 13)

The Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors Monday approved a 3 percent cost of living wage increase for all current employees. The board additionally approved shift bonuses for part-time and full-time employees who take on additional work hours than those they are scheduled and approved a referral bonus for employees who refer someone who is then hired by the facility.

Administrator Stephanie Clifton reviewed the care center’s pay scale with the board, and recommended wages be increased in an effort to compete with other health care employers in the area.

Clifton said addressing the care center’s wage scale to reflect years of experience was as much about retaining current staff as it was for attracting new staff members.

Board member Buddy Small said he was a believer in awarding pay increases based on performance rather than longevity.

Board member Phil Fuchs said the care center has probably missed its latest round of performance reviews.

“Based off those reviews, employees who are doing the best for the facility should be paid more,” Fuchs said.

Board member Dr. Mel Campbell encouraged the board to also take education and longevity into account when considering wage increases for staff.

“The care center is significantly below the hospital’s pay scale for nursing,” Campbell said.

Fuchs said the care center was competing for the same employees as the hospital and other health care facilities in the area, and needed to be competitive to attract employees. Board member Leanne Maxwell agreed it was important for the care center to offer wages that were competitive with the surrounding health care facilities.

Clifton said she would provide more information and a recommendation on pay scale updates during the board’s November meeting.

In addition to a 3 percent cost of living wage increase, the board approved paying employees a $25 bonus if they pick up an additional four-hour shift that is unfilled, a $50 bonus for picking up an additional eight-hour shift, and a $75 bonus for working an additional 12-hour shift beyond their normally scheduled hours.

Clifton said the goal of providing the incentive is to reward employees and keep the care center from having to use agency staffing, which is much more expensive than paying current employees their regular wage and the bonus.

The employee would already have to be scheduled for at least 24 hours of work each week in order to receive the bonus for picking up additional shifts.

The board also approved paying employees a $500 bonus if they refer someone to the care center who is then hired and works for at least 90 days. Clifton said the care center currently has one full-time opening for a registered nurse or LPN. In addition, there are two openings for CNAs and openings for a full-time worker and a part-time worker in the dietary department.

Having employees rewarded for referring additional workers would again, Clifton said, serve as a way to reduce agency staffing. She said Leanne Chin begins her duties as the facility’s director of nursing Oct. 24. She said Samantha Snyder is currently training to fill the care center’s MDS position.

Clifton reported there are currently 21 residents in the Sandhills Care Center, which included eight residents paying privately, 12 receiving Medicaid assistance and one receiving assistance from Medicare.

The care center generated $133,171 in revenue during September with expenses of $136,146 for a net operating loss for the month of $2,974. The care center did receive donations in the amount of $11,935 during September. The nursing home spent nearly $20,000 on either agency staffing or outside consulting during the month.

Fuchs reported the care center is pursuing a USDA Community Facilities Grant for up to $50,000 to replace the facility’s generator.

“If we get the grant, we will have to go out for bids for a new generator,” Fuchs said.

Clifton told the board there have been zero additional cases of COVID-19 in the care center during the past month.

After one employee tested positive more than a month ago, Clifton said the care center is testing employees and residents twice per week, and there have been no additional cases found.

“We are still doing group activities, dining together, and our residents are having outdoor visits with their families,” Clifton said.

She said the care center is working to put together a COVID area in the facility similar to what the Brown County Hospital has done with a portion of its facility.

“When we get that done, we can move people quickly to that area if we do get positive tests,” Clifton said.

The next meeting of the Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors is scheduled for 4 p.m. Nov. 9.

* School Board opts to continue to encourage but not mandate masks

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 13)

The Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education on Monday discussed at length the district’s COVID-19 protocols, specifically whether the district should mandate the use of masks by students and faculty.

Superintendent Dale Hafer said another positive case Monday resulted in nine students having to quarantine at home.

“We have all now experienced the front lines of COVID,” Hafer said. “The principals have done a lot of leg work identifying close contacts when we have a positive case.”

Secondary Principal Steve Dike said there have been five students and two staff members test positive for the virus thus far, which has resulted in 36 total students and staff members having to quarantine.

“Some of the quarantines have had nothing to do with school,” Dike told the board. “The student may have had a family member who tested positive. Every situation is unique. We have yet to have a case in the school that can be traced back to another case in the school.”

Hafer said there is certainly no consensus about whether a mask mandate would be good policy.

“We get some questions from parents, but usually it is only after their student has had to quarantine,” Hafer said. “The mask issue is the single toughest issue. Everyone has an opinion. It would be better in the eyes of the health department if we required masks.”

Board President Jim Arens asked the principals what percentage of students are already wearing masks during the day. Dike said it varies by the day, but he estimated 60 percent to 70 percent of middle and high school students are wearing masks. Elementary Principal Curtis Childers said the number was closer to 50 percent at the elementary school level.

Dike said, the bottom line is, if a student wears a mask that student will get to stay in school if they are in contact with someone who is found to have the virus. Without a mask, the student will have to quarantine.

Board member Brad Wilkins said the No. 1 priority of the board is to keep kids in school.

“We might not need a mask mandate now, but we do need one before we would have to go to remote learning again,” Wilkins said.

Arens said, if the board required masks, there would likely be fewer students who would have to quarantine in the long run.

“But, there are arguments about the efficacy of masks,” Arens said.

Hafer said Rock County, Valentine and West Holt public schools are currently requiring students and staff to wear masks. Dike said Valentine had more than 100 students who have had to quarantine.

The board opted to continue to encourage the use of masks by students and staff, but not mandate that masks be worn.

In other business Monday, the board tabled taking action on a bid to replace two sections of the school building’s roof after the quote came in higher than a third-party estimate the district received.

Hafer said Guarantee Roofing submitted a quote of $58,837 for the work, which was higher than the third-party estimate. Hafer said Matt Fisher of Guarantee Roofing indicated there was a 20 percent larger area to replace the two sections of roofing than was estimated by the third-party contractor. Hafer said Fisher also found water issues in both sections that were not found during the first inspection.

Arens said it bothered him a little that the first inspector did not find the water issues and underestimated the square footage of the two roof sections.

“I am going to be hard to sway from going away from Guarantee Roofing,” Arens said.

Hafer said Guarantee Roofing replaced the McAndrew Gymnasium roof, and he was very happy with the work the company did on that project.

He said if the district locks in the replacement project before the end of the year, it would save approximately 6 percent as Fisher indicated they will see a 6 percent increase in the cost of materials in 2021.

Board member Jessica Pozehl said Guarantee Roofing has proven the company knows what it is doing by the job it did on the gym roof.

Wilkins said the district hired Trane and had Heartland Roofing do the original estimate.

“I think we should at least call them and have them look at this quote before we approve it,” Wilkins said.

The board agreed to table the item and have the quote reviewed.

In another building project, the board approved using depreciation funds to pay the $68,917 cost of the Trane window and roof project. Hafer said he just needed the board’s formal approval to use depreciation funds for the project.

The board approved the second reading of a Title IX policy, and approved an option enrollment request to allow Addah Booth to option in to the Ainsworth Community Schools district from the Keya Paha County Public Schools district.

During his report, Hafer said a community engagement night to update the district’s strategic plan is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Nov. 16.

The board heard an update from North Central Development Center Executive Director Kristin Olson, who provided the board with information on the work being done by the NCDC.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education is scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 9.

* Another 58 COVID-19 cases reported across the NCDHD area Monday

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Oct. 13)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 58 additional COVID-19 cases across the district Monday, which also encompassed any confirmed cases over the weekend. Among the newly confirmed cases were 20 in Holt County, four in Boyd County, three in Brown County, and one each in Keya Paha County and Cherry County.
The NCDHD will announce additional recoveries Tuesday. There have now been 1,004 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the nine counties covered by the North Central District Health Department. There are 140 active cases in Holt County, 53 active cases in Brown County, 35 active cases in Cherry County, 24 active cases in Rock County, 33 active cases in Boyd County and five active cases in Keya Paha County.

* Keya Paha County sees 3 new COVID-19 cases Friday

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Oct. 12)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 23 additional COVID-19 cases across the district Friday. Among them were 10 new cases in Holt County, three in Keya Paha County, and one each in Brown, Cherry and Boyd counties. There had previously been only two confirmed cases total in Keya Paha County before the three reported Friday.
The health department was also informed of the 18th person in the district dying from the virus. A man in his 70s from Holt County died after contracting COVID-19.
There have now been 946 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the nine counties covered by the North Central District Health Department. Of those, 406 people have recovered. Additional recoveries will be reported Tuesday.

* Osborne records little moisture, hot temperatures in September

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Oct. 9)

Ainsworth Weather Observer Gerry Osborne reported September in Ainsworth was an obvious hot and dry month. The first 12 days produced the month’s moisture total of 0.77 and the final 18 days were without any observable precipitation.  
Sept. 8 had the largest rainfall total of 0.42, which was over half of the month’s total of 0.77. September's average moisture total is 2.48 inches. Ainsworth has received 20.74 inches of moisture for the year, which is 0.68 of an inch above average.
The final 18 days of the month were hot and completely without any precipitation.
The month’s top temperature was an even 100 degrees coming on Sept. 5. Four days later on Sept. 9, the low reading of 34 degrees was recorded.
The overall daily temperature average of 66.4 is in the record heat for the ninth month. The daily day average high mark of 80.5 degrees and the low mark average of 52.2 degrees are both well above the expected temperature norms.

* NCDHD reports 61 people recovered from COVID-19 since last report

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Oct. 9)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 31 additional COVID-19 cases across the district Thursday. Among them were two cases in Brown County, one in Rock County, one in Cherry County, eight new cases in Holt County and four in Boyd County.

NCDHD reported 61 people have recovered from the virus since the last report Oct. 1. Among the recoveries are 13 Cherry County residents, 12 residents of Rock County, seven in Holt County and three in Brown County.

NCDHD received notification of a death in Knox County, a woman in her 80s. There have now been 17 deaths in the nine-county district due to the virus.

As of Thursday afternoon, there have been 923 total COVID-19 cases in the district, with 406 people recovering from the virus. There are 500 active cases in the nine-county area served by the North Central District Health Department.

There have been 66 confirmed cases in Brown County, with 15 people recovering and two deaths. Rock County has also had 66 confirmed cases, with 42 people recovering. Cherry County has had 94 confirmed cases, with 57 recoveries and four deaths. Holt County now has the second-highest confirmed case total in the district with 152, behind only the 237 confirmed in Knox County. Of the Holt County cases, 40 people have recovered and one died. Boyd County has had 39 confirmed cases with 11 people recovering. There have been just two confirmed cases in Keya Paha County, with one recovery.

* State Volleyball Tournament expands a day, all matches in Pinnacle Bank Arena

(Posted 3 p.m. Oct. 8)

The Nebraska School Activities Association Board Thursday unanimously voted to change the format of the Nebraska High School State Volleyball Championships this year, adding an extra day to the state tournament and playing all matches in Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Classes A, B and C-1 will play opening-round matches Wednesday, Nov. 4, in Pinnacle Bank Arena. First-round matches for Classes C-2, D-1 and D-2 will be played Thursday, Nov. 5, in Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Semifinals for all classes will be played Friday, Nov. 6, in PBA, and the championship matches will be played Saturday, Nov. 7.

* DED grant helps to bring broadband to Ainsworth, Atkinson and O'Neill

(Posted 2 p.m. Oct. 8)

Gov. Pete Ricketts announced the awarding of more than $29.5 million in funding under the Remote Access Rural Broadband Grant program, administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

“These grants will lead to better broadband service in many areas of the state that are currently underserved,” Ricketts said. “The enhanced service will equip more of our rural communities with the technology needed to conduct business online, make virtual health visits, and engage in distance learning opportunities.”

Among the companies awarded grants to expand broadband opportunities in rural areas include Three River, which received $408,500 to install broadband service to 1,120 residences in Ainsworth, and $350,000 to enhance broadband service to 2,073 residences in O’Neill.

USA Communications received a $580,798 grant to provide broadband service to 638 residences in Atkinson.

Consolidated Telephone Company received a $39,694 grant to provide broadband to 12 residences in rural Dunning.

The Broadband program was one of four grants designed and administered by DED this year to support the state’s economic recovery in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“COVID-19 has underscored the need for a more concentrated, collaborative effort to improve our state’s broadband infrastructure,” DED Director Anthony Goins said. “This grant is an important first step toward ensuring all citizens of Nebraska have the opportunity to participate in the digital economy.”  

The Broadband grant opportunity—made possible by federal CARES Act funding, including $1.08 billion of Coronavirus Relief funds allocated to the state of Nebraska—was announced by DED last spring. The grants target areas of the state where high speed internet service is nonexistent or subpar based on the FCC standard of 25/3 Mbps download/upload speeds.  

When all projects are completed, a minimum of 17,600 housing units will gain the ability to subscribe to broadband Internet service. Most of the projects being awarded are scheduled for completion by the end of the year, with controls in place to ensure agreements are executed as planned in a timely manner.  

* Valentine receives $1.9 million grant for storm water improvements

(Posted 3 p.m. Oct. 7)

The United States Department of Commerce announced a $1.9 million grant for storm water infrastructure improvements at Valentine.
“Valentine was severely impacted by last year’s severe weather, disrupting the local economy,” U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer said. “These stormwater infrastructure improvements will protect Valentine’s businesses against the risks of future storms.”
The funding provided through the United States Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration will create stormwater infrastructure improvements to protect Valentine businesses from flooding.
The EDA’s grant will be matched with nearly $1.4 million in local investments.

* Three perfect cards submitted in this week's KBRB Football Contest

(Posted 7:15 a.m. Oct. 7)

Three perfect cards were submitted this week for the KBRB Football Contest as our area prognosticators dialed in on the week’s high school contests. Numerous contestants missed just one game on the Week 6 card.

In fact, all three perfect cards were submitted by Springview contestants this week, with Tommy Stout, Jacque Richey and Brett Swan all going perfect on the 12 games that were played. The Central Valley and Chambers/Wheeler Central game was cancelled after appearing on the card.

With three tied, that sent us to the tie-breaker, the total number of touchdowns scored in the Ainsworth and Neligh game. There were 14 combined touchdowns in that contest. Both Swan and Richey picked 13 scores, while Stout guessed 11 total touchdowns. With two contestants still tied, that took us to the second tie-breaker, the card submitted the earliest. Swan’s card carried a Sept. 29 postmark while Richey’s postmark was Oct. 1, so by virtue of the second tie-breaker Brett Swan wins the $40 first-place certificate and Richey picks up the $10 second-place certificate.

Winners may pick up their certificates from the KBRB studios or make arrangements to have the certificates delivered when the KBRB sports crew is in town.

Just two weeks remain in the KBRB Football Contest. Week 7 KBRB Football Contest cards are available now from Buckles Automotive, AKRS Equipment and Speedee Mart of Ainsworth, Circle B Livestock in Bassett, the West Plains Bank in Springview, from the Tri County Bank in Stuart, or from the TCB Atkinson branch or Speedee Mart in Atkinson.

Cards must be submitted to the KBRB Studios by 4 p.m. Thursday or carry a Thursday postmark to be eligible.

 

* Reported COVID-19 cases lower in the district Tuesday

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

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 16 additional COVID-19 cases confirmed across the nine-county district Tuesday. Among them were five new cases in Holt County, and one new case in Brown County and in Boyd County.
On Tuesdays each week, NCDHD reports on people who recovered after testing positive for COVID-19. Due to an increase in positive cases, additional staff assisting influenza vaccine clinics and Test Nebraska clinics to serve communities, the NCDHD reported it was unable to report the recovery data Tuesday. NCDHD is aware there are recoveries to report and will report recovery counts this week.

 * Public comment sought for community wildfire protection plan

(Posted 9 a.m. Oct. 6)

The draft North Central Nebraska Community Wildfire Protection Plan for Boyd, Brown, Cherry, Holt, Keya Paha, and Rock Counties is ready for public review. Draft copies of the document have been mailed to county courthouses and are available to the public online at https://nfs.unl.edu/documents/CWPP/NCCWPP.pdf. Comments will be accepted until November 9.

County boards, emergency managers, fire department personnel, and other stakeholders worked with the Nebraska Forest Service to update the CWPP that the counties adopted in 2015. This plan is a wildfire-specific resource that coordinates with area emergency and hazard mitigation plans. Part of a statewide network of CWPPs, the plan provides information useful to local emergency responders and those from outside the area who provide mutual aid.

Landowners in counties with a CWPP are eligible to apply for federal and state cost-share funds for woody fuels reduction. The plan may also provide increased opportunities for counties, municipalities, and rural fire districts to seek grant funding for other activities related to fire protection.

Comments will be accepted via email to sbenson4@unl.edu or they may be mailed to the Nebraska Forest Service, Attn: Sandy Benson, PO Box 830815, Lincoln, NE 68583-0815.

* Agenda for Brown County Commissioners meeting Tuesday

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

Brown County Commissioners
Meeting 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6
Brown County Courthouse
Agenda
 

5:15 p.m.                     Roll Call;

Acknowledge posting of Open Meetings Law;

Pledge of Allegiance;

Approve minutes of the September 15, 2020 Commissioner meeting;

 

                                    Kenneth Turpin – Road Department Update

 

                                    Big John’s restaurant contract for Prisoner’s Meals – County Clerk

 

                                    Resolution to strike Shopko Personal Property Taxes – County Treasurer

                                   

                                    Selection for Veteran Service Officer – Judy Walters

 

                                    Letter from NIRMA Re: Dividend & Recommitment as member – County Clerk

 

                                    Budgeted transfer of $300,000.00 from Miscellaneous General in General Fund to County Highway Fund – County Clerk

 

                                    Public Comment

                                                           

                                    Approve Claims

* Another 62 COVID-19 cases reported Monday, including 22 in Holt County

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

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 62 additional COVID-19 cases across the district since last reporting on Friday. Among those were 22 new confirmed cases in Holt County, three in Cherry County, three in Boyd County, one in Brown County and one in Rock County.
With the 22 new cases, Holt County has now reported 133 confirmed cases, 99 of which are active. There have been 92 cases in Cherry County, 64 in Rock County, 60 in Brown County and 34 in Boyd County. The North Central District Health Department will report additional recoveries Tuesday.

* Whipple, Nolles receive Farm Bureau scholarships to support FFA programs

(Posted 2:30 p.m. Oct. 5)

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation awarded 18 teachers with funds in support of agricultural education and FFA programs in Nebraska.
“All 18 teachers have a passion for teaching agriculture in Nebraska,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation. “We are very proud to support the future of Nebraska agriculture. Our investment has a great return as the number of schools that offer agricultural education and FFA in Nebraska grows each year,” she continued.
Among the 18 recipients of the Farm Bureau scholarships are Emily Whipple of Ainsworth and Katie Nolles of Boyd County.
Recipients are all agricultural
education teachers in their first through fifth year of teaching. Teachers are eligible for increasing awards each year. As the teachers’ impact grows in the classroom, in their FFA chapters, and in their communities each year, the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation aims to recognize and support their efforts.

* NCDHD reports 21 COVID-19 cases Friday

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Oct. 5)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 21 additional COVID-19 cases across the district Friday, including three new cases in Brown County, five in Holt County and one each in Cherry, Rock and Boyd counties.
There have now been 59 confirmed cases in Brown County, 111 in Holt County, 89 in Cherry County, 63 in Rock County and 31 in Boyd County. The NCDHD will report additional recoveries from the past week on Tuesday.
There have been a total of 797 COVID-19 cases in the nine counties served by the North Central District Health Department, with 345 people recovering from the virus, 16 losing their lives, and 436 active cases.

* Another 32 COVID-19 cases reported in the district Thursday

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Oct. 2)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 32 additional COVID-19 cases across the nine-county district Thursday. Among the cases reported Thursday were seven in Brown County, seven in Holt County and one in Rock County.
There have now been 744 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the NCDHD service area, with 345 people recovering and 16 deaths. There are 383 active cases in the district.

* With many voting early, KBRB breaks down General Election ballot

(Posted 9:30 a.m. Oct. 1)

With the General Election now a month away and many Nebraskans opting to vote early either in person or by mail, KBRB will preview the 2020 ballot early this year.

In addition to votes for President, U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, voters will see several initiatives and Constitutional amendments on the ballot.

There are two amendments to the Nebraska Constitution on the ballot. The first asks voters whether or not to eliminate a provision in the constitution that states that slavery or involuntary servitude may be used as punishment for a crime.

The second amendment would authorize the Legislature to extend the maximum length of time for the repayment of indebtedness for tax increment financing from 15 years to 20 years if more than half of the property in the project area is designated as extremely blighted.

There are four ballot initiatives up for vote in the General Election, three of which relate to the same item.

The first initiative would amend state statute to reduce the amount that payday lenders can charge to a maximum rate of 36 percent annually, would prohibit payday lenders from evading the rate cap, and would deem void any delayed transaction made in violation of the rate cap.

The other three initiatives relate to the authorization, regulation and taxation of games of chance to be allowed within licensed racetracks in Nebraska. If approved, the initiatives would allow racetracks to offer games of chance, would allow the Nebraska Gaming Commission to license and regulate the gaming, and would impose a 20 percent annual tax on gross gaming revenue with a portion of the taxes going to the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund.

Voters in Brown and Keya Paha counties will choose a State Senator, as incumbent Tom Brewer faces off against challenger Tanya Storer for the 43rd District seat on the Nebraska Legislature.

Voters will also see several judges on the ballot, including Mark Kozisek for a six-year term as the District Court Judge for District 8 and Kale Burdick for a six-year term as County Court Judge for District 8.

Two judges on the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court, Thomas Stine and Dirk Block, are on the ballot for six-year retention.

There is a contested race for an at-large post to the Northeast Community College Board of Governors between Jeff Scherer and Timothy Miller. Nicole Sedlacek is running unopposed for the District 2 seat on the Northeast Board of Governors.

Three Middle Niobrara Natural Resources Board seats are up for election and have candidates running unopposed. Tim Nollette in Subdistrict 1, Leonard Danielski in Subdistrict 3 and Gregory Wilke in Subdistrict 5 are each unopposed for those MNNRD board seats.

Renee Adkisson is running unopposed for the Educational Service Unit 17 Board for District 4.

Brown County voters will be asked whether the position of county surveyor should be appointed or elected.

The only local races in Brown County are for three seats on the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education, where Scott Erthum, Brad Wilkins and Mark Johnson are running unopposed. Buddy Small is unopposed for another four-year term on the Brown County Board of Commissioners.

There are four people running for two seats on the Ainsworth City Council. City residents will decide between Vance Heyer, Shawn Fernau, Brett Duester and Anissa Julius.

In Rock County, no one ran for the open Bassett Mayor seat, and only Andrew Hollenbeck is running for two open seats on the Bassett City Council. Tammy Cline is the lone candidate for two seats on the Newport Village Board.

There are five candidates running for three seats on the Rock County Public Schools Board of Education. Three will be elected from among Leah Hagan, Tim Shaw, Erin Moravec, Krystal Kaup and Mark Klemesrud.

Wade Hollenbeck is unopposed for a four-year term on the Rock County Board of Commissioners after winning the Republican Party Primary.

In Keya Paha County, there are four candidates running for three seats on the Keya Paha County Public Schools Board of Education. Voters will select three from among Erik Johnson, Ann Kepler, Rachel Ferguson and Jason Rutar.

There are three candidates running for two seats on the Springview Village Board. Two will be elected from among David Lewis, Ernest Hallock and Nathan Arends.

Mike Tuerk is running unopposed for a four-year term on the Keya Paha County Board of Commissioners after winning the Republican Primary in May.

Voters may request their ballot early from the county clerk in their county of residence. The polls will be open for those who choose to vote Nov. 3 from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.

* Another 25 COVID-19 cases reported to NCDHD Wednesday

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Oct. 1)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 25 additional COVID-19 cases across the district. Among the new cases confirmed Wednesday were four in Brown County, two in Rock County, three in Cherry County, four in Holt County and four in Boyd County.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there have been 744 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the nine counties served by the North Central District Health Department. A total of 345 people have recovered from the virus and 16 have died. There are 383 active cases in the district.
Brown County has had 49 confirmed cases, with 12 recoveries, two deaths and 35 active cases. Rock County has had 61 cases with 30 recoveries and 31 active cases. Cherry County has had 88 confirmed cases, with 44 recoveries, four deaths and 40 active cases. Holt County has had 99 confirmed cases, with 33 recoveries, one death and 65 active cases. Boyd County has had 30 confirmed cases with 11 recoveries and 19 active cases. There remain only two cases confirmed in Keya Paha County.

* Council opts to close Wilson Street at Highway 20 for lift station replacement

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Sept. 30)

During a brief special meeting Tuesday to approve year-end claims, the Ainsworth City Council opted to close Wilson Street at the Highway 20 intersection for a lift station replacement project scheduled to begin Wednesday.

Mayor Greg Soles said, in talking to Mike Freeman at Rolling Stone Feed Yard, he thought it would be better to keep trucks from being able to even turn on to Wilson Street during the lift station replacement project.

During its regular September meeting, the council closed Wilson Street one block north of the Highway 20 intersection at Fifth Street through Seventh Street. Soles said he believed it was a wise idea to close Wilson Street at the Highway 20 intersection to keep trucks from turning on to Wilson Street and then having to use city streets to get turned around when they find the street closed at Fifth Street.

The council approved closing Wilson Street from the Highway 20 intersection. The detour route from Sept. 30 through Oct. 30 is Meadville Avenue north and then west on Road 879.

Prior to adjourning, the council entered into executive session to discuss a contract.

The next regular meeting of the Ainsworth City Council is scheduled for 5 p.m. Oct. 14.

* NCDHD reports 28 COVID-19 cases Tuesday, announces 46 recoveries

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

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 28 additional COVID-19 cases across the district Tuesday, including two new cases in Brown County, six in Holt County and one in Boyd County.
The NCDHD also reported 46 people recovered from the virus during the past week, bringing the total numbers of recoveries to 345 from among the 719 confirmed cases.
One person in Brown County recovered during the past week, as did four people in Rock County, two people in Cherry County, two people in Holt County and one person recovered from the virus in Boyd County.

* Brink wins tiebreaker for Week 5 KBRB Football Contest top prize

(Posted 2:45 p.m. Sept. 29)

Four contestants missed just one game on the KBRB Football Contest Week 5 card, as numerous entrants were dialed in to the high school games on the Week 5 card.

Tami Ulibarri of Ainsworth, Kim Shaw and Walker Shaw of Bassett, and Maxine Brink of Atkinson each missed just one game, which sent us to the tiebreaker. There were a combined 12 touchdowns scored Friday during the Ainsworth and West Holt game. Maxine Brink guessed the teams would combine for 11 touchdowns, which gives her the Week 5 win in the tiebreaker and the $40 first-place certificate. Walker Shaw of Bassett guessed 10 combined touchdowns would be scored, which snags him the $10 second-place certificate. Kim Shaw guessed nine combined touchdowns, and Tami Ulibarri had a guess of eight combined scores as both just missed out on the Week 5 prizes.

Winners can pick up their certificates from the KBRB Studios or make arrangements to have the certificates delivered when the KBRB sports crews are out and at their location.

Week 6 KBRB Football Contest cards are available now from Buckles Automotive, AKRS Equipment and Speedee Mart of Ainsworth, Circle B Livestock in Bassett, the West Plains Bank in Springview, from the Tri County Bank in Stuart, or from the TCB Atkinson branch or Speedee Mart in Atkinson.

Cards must be submitted to the KBRB Studios by 4 p.m. Thursday or carry a Thursday postmark to be eligible.

* Monday electrical fire causes minor damage to Bassett home

(Posted 1:15 p.m. Sept. 29)

An electrical fire Monday night caused minor smoke damage to a home in Bassett.
According to Bassett Fire Chief Jim Stout, at approximately 9:15 p.m. Monday, a fire was reported in the basement of a home at 609 Sunrise Circle owned by Marty and Erin Moravec.
Stout said an electrical fire started in a water heater located in the home’s basement. A fire extinguisher was used to put out the flames. Stout said the home sustained minor smoke damage to the utility room.

* Spectator information for Ainsworth weekly activities released

(Posted 6: 45 a.m. Sept. 29)

Ainsworth Community Schools released information for those planning to attend sporting activities this week. Click on the link below for the specific information on each activity.

September 28-October 3 Activities Information.pdf

* Homecoming candidates for Rock County, Keya Paha County selected

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Sept. 29)

Homecoming king and queen candidates for Rock County and Keya Paha County high schools have been chosen, with the royalty crowned following Friday's football game at Keya Paha County against Summerland.
Keya Paha County queen candidates are Keely Munger, Adyson Linse and Hunter Wiebelhaus. King candidates are Koby Franklin and Aiden Tiefenthaler.
Rock County homecoming queen candidates are Valerie Carroll, Grace Olson, Jaya Nelson and Jillian Buell. King candidates are Paxton Smith, Ty Nelson, Ben Bruns and Zach Dickau.
The homecoming dance for both schools will be held following the Friday football game at Keya Paha County High School.

* Another 41 COVID-19 cases reported in the district Monday

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Sept. 29)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 41 additional COVID-19 cases in the nine-county district Monday. Among those were six new cases in Brown County, bringing the total to 43. There were 10 new cases in Holt County, three in Cherry County and two new cases reported in Boyd County.
The NCDHD will report on additional recoveries during the past week on Tuesday.
There are 30 active COVID-19 cases in Brown County, 39 active cases in Cherry County, 57 active cases in Holt County, 33 active cases in Rock County and 15 active cases in Boyd County.

* NCDHD reports 24 additional COVID-19 cases Friday

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

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 24 additional COVID-19 cases in the district Friday. Among the newly confirmed cases were three in Brown County, four in Rock County, seven in Holt County, one in Cherry County and two in Boyd County.

Test Nebraska clinics will be held from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. today at the Rock County Fairgrounds, and from 8:30 until 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in the alley behind the North Central District Health Department building at O’Neill.

Pre-registration at www.testnebraska.com for a testing time is preferred, but not required. Testing at the events is free.

There have now been 650 COVID-19 cases confirmed in the nine counties served by the North Central District Health Department. Of those, 299 people have recovered and 16 have died.

There are 24 active cases in Brown County, 36 active cases in Cherry County, 33 active cases in Rock County, 47 active cases in Holt County, 13 active cases in Boyd County and one active case in Keya Paha County. Additional recoveries will be reported Tuesday.

* Five Brown County COVID-19 cases among 27 reported Thursday

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Sept. 25)

An additional 27 COVID-19 cases were confirmed to the North Central District Health Department Thursday within the nine-county district. Of those, there were five new cases in Brown County, two in Rock County, four in Cherry County, two in Holt County and one in Boyd County.

Brown County has now had 34 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 11 people recovering and two people dying from the virus. Rock County has 55 confirmed cases with 26 recoveries. Cherry County is up to 81 confirmed cases, with 42 recoveries and four deaths. Holt County has 72 confirmed cases, with 31 recoveries and one death. Boyd County has 21 total cases, with 10 people recovering. There have been just two confirmed cases in Keya Paha County, with one of those two recovering and one case active.

Test Nebraska will hold a free COVID-19 testing clinic from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Monday at the Rock County Fairgrounds, and from 8:30 until 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in the drive-through clinic behind the North Central District Health Department office at O’Neill.

Pre-registration at www.testnebraska.com is preferred to schedule a testing time but is not required. Testing at the events is free.

* Ainsworth school sends letter encourage students to wear masks

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

Ainsworth Community Schools Superintendent Dale Hafer issued a letter Thursday urging parents to have their students wear masks in an effort to limit the number of students who have to quarantine when a positive case of COVID-19 is discovered.
Thought mask wearing is not yet a requirement, Hafer said, when positive cases are confirmed, the local health department is less likely to quarantine students and staff if they wear a mask to school.
To read the full letter, click on the link below.

Parent Letter - Sept 24, 2020.pdf

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 3 p.m. Sept. 24)

In addition to fines, each case carries $50 in court costs

Allyssa R. Carbis, age 25, of Ainsworth, charged with attempting a Class 1 misdemeanor, sentenced to one year of probation; also charged with contributing to the delinquency of a child, one year of probation; possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, fined $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Sandra Nilson, 50, of Ainsworth, third-degree assault, sentenced to one year of probation.

Kay L. Collins, 39, of Long Pine, possession of an open alcohol container in a vehicle, $50.

Marlon B. Thomas Jr., 34, of Chula Vista, Calif., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Tywon A. Begger, 21, of Fort Lupton, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Brady R. Heath, 23, of Denver, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Craig D. Juliano, 62, of Livingston, Mont., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

David C. Kessler, 36, of Dallas, Texas, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Traceton D. Halley, 23, of Scottsbluff, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Martha B. Rasmussen, 71, of Ainsworth, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

William D. Hills, 44, of North Platte, second offense driving under the influence, $500 and also sentenced to seven days in jail with credit for two days served, driver’s license revoked for six months and ordered to install an ignition interlock device; leaving the scene of an accident or failing to furnish information, $300.

Melvin J. Cole, 24, of Sioux Falls, S.D., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75; attempt of a Class IV felony, $1,000; possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300.

Jessica J. Beyer, 32, of Fairfax, S.D., attempting a Class IV felony, $1,000; possession of marijuana more than 1 ounce but less than 1 pound, $500; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Wayland A. Rask, 32, of Fairfax, S.D., attempting a Class IV felony, $1,000; first offense driving under the influence of drugs, $500 and also sentenced to six months of probation, driver’s license revoked for 60 days, and ordered to install an ignition interlock device; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Connor J. Kaup, 22, of Round Rock, Texas, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Abby E. Olson, 21, of Fargo, N.D., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75; attempting a Class IV felony, $1,000; possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Louis H. Quinones, 22, of Colorado Springs, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Derek J. Stach, 39, of Colorado Springs, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Edgar G. Sanchez Arelano, 24, of McCook, no operator’s license, $75.

Joshua E. Crespo, 30, of Denver, Colo., possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Dillon R. Bacon, 19, of Ainsworth, minor in possession, $300.

* Another 21 COVID-19 cases reported by NCDHD Wednesday

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Sept. 24)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 21 additional COVID-19 cases in the district Wednesday, including six new cases in Holt County, three in Boyd County, two in Rock County and one in Cherry County.
The NCDHD was also notified that a Holt County resident died from the virus. Additionally, earlier this week the NCDHD reported a death in Rock County. However, after investigation, the person who died from the virus was actually a Brown County resident and not a resident of Rock County.
Free Test Nebraska clinics will be held from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Monday at the Rock County Fairgrounds. Tuesday, tests will be conducted from 8:30 until 10:30 a.m. at the drive-through clinic behind the North Central District Health Department office at O’Neill.
Pre-registration on testnebraska.com for a testing time is preferred, but not required.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there have been 599 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the nine counties served by the North Central District Health Department. Of those, 299 people have recovered, 16 have died and there are 284 active cases in the district. 

* Area students named NSAA Believers & Achievers at school level

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

U.S. Bank and the Nebraska School Activities Association announced the 2020-21 local school winners of the Believers & Achievers award.

Each NSAA member school is able to submit four senior students for recognition in the awards program.

The 48 statewide winners of the U.S. Bank Believers & Achievers award will be announced later.

Area school Believers & Achievers are:

 

Ainsworth

Brandt Murphy, Madison Welch and CeeAnna Beel

 

Keya Paha County

Hunter Wiebelhaus, Keely Munger and Adyson Linse

 

Rock County

Benjamin Bruns

 

Stuart

Alyssa King, Wade Paxton and Jett Kunz

 

West Holt

Brianna Rentschler and Haley Peek

 

Valentine

Elliana Springer, Christopher Williams and Calvin Stoeger

 

Boyd County

Brayden Almgren, Jenny Goesch, Lauryn Hoffman and Kaci Mashino

 

Sandhills

Madison Marten, Reed McFadden and Matthew Dailey

* June taxable sales down in Brown County after strong 2019

(Posted 2:30 p.m. Sept. 23)

Comparison of June 2020 and June 2019
Net Taxable Sales for Nebraska Counties and Selected Cities

County
or City

2020
Net Taxable
Sales

2019
Net Taxable
Sales

Percent
Change

2020
Sales Tax
5.5%

2019
Sales Tax
5.5%

Blaine

61,783

56,987

8.4

3,398.08

3,134.32

Boyd

1,224,068

992,513

23.3

67,323.86

54,588.36

Brown

3,034,252

4,812,281

(36.9)

166,884.12

264,675.68

Ainsworth

2,762,465

4,582,198

(39.7)

151,935.81

252,021.09

Cherry

8,018,410

7,043,321

13.8

441,012.95

387,383.13

Valentine

7,531,625

6,662,010

13.1

414,239.69

366,410.94

Holt

9,637,984

9,470,531

1.8

530,089.79

520,879.88

Atkinson

1,712,379

1,532,756

11.7

94,181.02

84,301.76

O'Neill

6,506,691

6,684,987

(2.7)

357,868.32

367,674.62

Keya Paha

340,887

290,363

17.4

18,748.85

15,970.02

Rock

919,488

841,105

9.3

50,571.92

46,260.80

State Total

$3,015,211,759

$2,863,176,589

5.3

$166,113,107.28

$157,334,485.68

Comparison of June 2020 and June 2019
Motor Vehicle Sales Tax Collections by County

County
or City

2020
Net Taxable
Sales

2019
Net Taxable
Sales

Percent
Change

2020
Sales Tax
5.5%

2019
Sales Tax
5.5%

Blaine

108,460

104,103

4.2

5,915.34

5,682.22

Boyd

402,177

494,235

(18.6)

21,987.20

27,247.09

Brown

925,776

633,969

46

50,782.88

35,053.10

Cherry

2,507,991

1,262,042

98.7

137,706.77

69,806.72

Holt

4,317,268

2,354,229

83.4

237,378.76

130,681.90

Keya Paha

244,036

237,011

3

13,316.86

13,030.87

Rock

543,709

167,553

224.5

29,902.94

9,258.27

State Total

$556,775,791

$389,420,607

43

$30,661,198.65

$21,609,060.83

* City of Ainsworth armor coating streets

(Posted 7:15 a.m. Sept. 23)

The city of Ainsworth is armor coating streets, and residents are urged not to park on streets that are scheduled for armor coating.
Streets where vehicles should not be parked including Eighth Street between Walnut and Oak streets, Seventh Street between Walnut and Oak streets, Oak Street between Highway 20 and Eighth Street, Elm Street between Highway 20 and Eighth Street, Ash Street between Highway 20 and Eighth Street, and Seventh Avenue.
Any vehicles parked on those streets may be towed if the owner cannot be contacted to move the vehicle.

* NCDHD reports 61 COVID-19 recoveries during past week

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Sept. 23)

The North Central District Health Department reported 61 people have recovered from COVID-19 during the past week, bringing the total number of recoveries in the district to 299 of the 578 confirmed cases. Fifteen people in the district have lost their lives to the virus.
Of the 61 recoveries, four were in Brown County, eight in Rock County, 12 in Cherry County, and seven people recovered in Holt County during the past week.
The NCDHD reported 28 additional COVID-19 cases Tuesday. Among them were four new cases in Holt County, and one each in Brown, Rock and Cherry counties.
There have been 29 confirmed cases in Brown County, with 11 recoveries and one death. Rock County has had 51 confirmed cases, with 26 people recovering and one death. Cherry County has had 76 confirmed cases with 42 recoveries and four deaths. Holt County has had 64 cases with 31 of those people recovering. Boyd County has had 17 cases with 10 recoveries, and there have been just two cases confirmed in Keya Paha County, with one recovery.

* Ainsworth receives $20,000 EducationQuest grant

(Posted 3 p.m. Sept. 22)

Ainsworth High School is among 24 Nebraska high schools selected to receive a College Access Grant from EducationQuest Foundation.

The school will receive $5,000 a year for four years to develop or enhance programs designed to increase the number of students who pursue education beyond high school.

In total, EducationQuest will award $810,000 in grant funds to the 24 selected schools over the next four years. The amount each school receives in based on their enrollment.

The high schools will use the grants to fund programs and activities such as college visits, financial aid sessions, scholarship searches, career exploration, ACT test preparation, and completion of college applications. The grant program also promotes involvement with families and businesses to help ensure the program’s success.

The recipient schools have set goals to increase their college-going rates by approximately 10 percentage points over the next four years.

EducationQuest awards College Access Grants to Nebraska high schools every two years and has awarded 143 grants to 101 high schools since the program began in 2006.

* Cheatum wins KBRB Football Contest for Week 4

(Posted 2:45 p.m. Sept. 22)

David Cheatum of Long Pine missed only one game among the 13 listed on the KBRB Football Contest for Week 4. Cheatum’s lone miss on the Week 4 card was O’Neill St. Mary’s home victory against Niobrara-Verdigre. Cheatum earns the $40 first-place certificate for Week 4.

Six contestants, a group that included Roger Brink of Atkinson, Tiffany Naprstak and Adam Beel of Johnstown, Tony Stahl of Bassett, and Jacque Richey and Michele Adulaju of Springview, missed just two games on the Week 4 Football Contest card, which sent us to the tie-breaker.

Ainsworth and Anselmo-Merna scored a combined 13 touchdowns in Friday’s game. Jacque Richey guessed the teams would combine for 12 touchdowns, which was good enough to win the tie-breaker and give her the $10 second-place certificate.

Winners may pick up their certificates from the KBRB studios or make arrangements to have the certificates dropped off.

Week 5 KBRB Football Contest cards are available now from Buckles Automotive, AKRS Equipment and Speedee Mart of Ainsworth, Circle B Livestock in Bassett, the West Plains Bank in Springview, from the Tri County Bank in Stuart, or from the TCB Atkinson branch or Speedee Mart in Atkinson.

Cards must be submitted to the KBRB Studios by 4 p.m. Thursday or carry a Thursday postmark to be eligible.

* Lions Club discusses playground rubber mulch project

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 22)

The Ainsworth Lions Club Board Monday discussed plans to install crumb rubber and borders around playground equipment.

The group discussed moving forward with the installation by either replacing the former railroad tie borders and adding new crumb rubber mulch or going with new edging. Evan Evans said the Lions Club may be able to receive edging from the Northern Kansas City School District as a donation since that school district is replacing its edging.

In other business Monday, the Lions Club received a final report from the Brown County Fair concession stand project. Though profits were down from last year, the Lions Club still earned money to support its charitable projects. Phil Fuchs thanked everyone who volunteered to help in the concession stand.

The Adopt a Highway cleanup project will be conducted at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 27, with volunteers meeting at the Ainsworth Auto Parts parking lot and cleaning up Highway 20 ditches east of Ainsworth.

Jerry Ehlers reported ticket takers are needed for the Oct. 2 and Oct. 16 Ainsworth football games. The Lions Club volunteers to take tickets at home Bulldog football games.

The District 38I Assistance Fund Raffle is looking for donations or contributions. The board voted to purchase $250 in raffle tickets as it does annually.

The Lions Club District Governor will be in Ainsworth for the Lions Club November meeting.

The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 19 in Canyon Creek with a Zoom invitation sent out a few days before.

* Another 8 COVID-19 cases reported in Brown County Monday

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Sept. 22)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 39 additional COVID-19 cases in the district, including eight new cases in Brown County.

With the eight new cases confirmed Monday, there have now been 28 confirmed cases in Brown County.

The NCDHD confirmed a person in Rock County succumbed to the virus, the first death in Rock County and the 15th in the district.

There were six additional cases in Cherry County Monday, as that county has now reached 75 total. Four new cases were reported in Holt County, bringing the total to 60. One new case was confirmed in a Boyd County resident, the 17th in that county.

Test Nebraska will be in the drive-through area of the North Central District Health Department office at O’Neill Tuesday from 8:30 until 10:30 a.m., and will be in the Trading Post at Niobrara from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Wednesday to provide free COVID-19 testing.

The Cherry County Clinic at Valentine is also hosting a Test Nebraska event Tuesday from 8:30 until 11:30 a.m. Pre-registration for the free testing clinics is preferred by going online to www.testnebraska.com but is not required.

Gov. Pete Ricketts has issued an updated Directed Health Measures to include details about quarantine and isolation instructions for school-aged individuals, teachers, staff, and administration effective from now through Oct. 31. To view the updated DHM, visit the Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 Directed Health Measures page at dhhs.ne.gov.

There have now been 550 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the nine counties served by the North Central District Health Department. Thus far, 238 people have recovered from the virus and 15 have died. Additional recoveries during the past week will be reported Tuesday afternoon.

* Dunning man dies in 2-vehicle crash Friday in Blaine County

(Posted 2:45 p.m. Sept. 21)

A 22-year-old Dunning man died in a two-vehicle crash Friday night on Highway 91 near Dunning in Blaine County.
According to the Nebraska State Patrol, at approximately 11:15 p.m. Friday, a northbound Lincoln Town Car, driven by Ty Milleson, 22, of Dunning, collided with a southbound pickup, driven by Thomas Peaster, 34, of La Loma, N.M. Investigators determined the pickup crossed the center line and collided with the Lincoln.
Milleson was pronounced dead at the scene. A passenger in the Lincoln, Shelby Wolever, 23, of Snyder, Colo., was transported to a medical facility at Kearney for treatment of injuries suffered during the crash. Peaster reportedly suffered minor injuries in the accident.

* Rock County sees 6 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday, 3 in Brown County

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Sept. 18)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 26 additional COVID-19 cases in the district Thursday.

Nine cases in the district, through investigations, have been determined to be due from community spread, 11 were deemed to be due to having close contact with another positive case, and six remain under investigation.

There were three additional cases reported in Brown County Thursday, bringing the total to 20. Six additional cases were confirmed in Rock County, taking its total to 46. Four cases were confirmed in Cherry County, making it 64 total cases there. There were two cases in Holt County Thursday and one new case in Keya Paha County, just the second confirmed case there. There was also one new case confirmed in Boyd County, bringing its total to 13. 

There have now been 482 people confirmed to have COVID-19 in the nine counties covered by the North Central District Health Department. Of those, 238 people have recovered, 14 people have died and there are 230 active cases in the district. Eight of the 14 deaths occurred in Pierce County, with four deaths in Cherry County.

The NCDHD also confirmed the first positive equine West Nile Virus case in the district has been found in a horse in Holt County. There are three commercially available West Nile Virus equine vaccines. If you are an equine owner, talk to a veterinarian about vaccinating for West Nile Virus.

* Commissioners ask for $2.89 million in property tax for Brown County budget

(Posted 2:30 p.m. Sept. 17)

The Brown County Commissioners will ask property owners in the county for $2.89 million in property tax to support the 2020-21 budget.

The commissioners, with Reagan Wiebelhaus absent, approved the 2020-21 budget and property tax request following a public hearing Tuesday. The budget includes projected expenditures of $19.6 million, of which $10.9 million is the budget for the Brown County Hospital.

Of the $2.89 million in property tax requested, $2.46 million will support the county’s general fund, with $402,849 in property tax going toward the voter-approved hospital addition bond and $29,697 going to the reappraisal fund.

The levy to support the general fund amounts to 30 cents per $100 in property value, with 4.8 cents in levy going to support the hospital bond fund, 2.5 cents in levy ($229,368) to the Brown County Rural Fire Protection District, and $65,000 (0.7 cents of levy) to the Brown County Agricultural Society.

The county’s overall property value decreased by approximately $23 million between 2019 and 2020, with all property in the county valued at $830.8 million for the 2020-21 fiscal year, down from $853.9 million in 2019-20.

The county’s request of $2.89 million in property tax is slightly higher than the $2.82 million requested to support the 2019-20 fiscal year budget. The overall tax levy increased to 34.8 cents per $100 in value, up from 33 cents in the 2019-20 fiscal year. Some of that increase was attributable to the $23 million overall loss in the value of property in the county.

For the 2020-21 fiscal year, 1 cent of levy equals $83,080 in property tax, down from $85,392 for every 1 cent of levy in 2019-20.

Had the county asked for the exact same amount of property tax as it did in 2019-20, the levy would have been 33.9 cents instead of the approved 34.8 cents.

During the 2019-20 fiscal year, the county spent $16.69 million. The Brown County Hospital accounted for $9.78 million of that total. The county spent $2.83 million from its general fund and $1.75 million from its roads fund, with $1.15 million spent from the inheritance tax fund to support recovery efforts following the 2019 flooding. The commissioners have indicated a plan to pay back the money used from the inheritance fund through a combination of reimbursement received from FEMA and contributions from the general fund over time.

The $16.69 million spent during the 2019-20 fiscal year was about $600,000 more than the $16.08 million spent during the 2018-19 fiscal year.

The county remains obligated for $2.41 million in bonded debt for the Brown County Hospital addition approved by voters. The county is in the final five years of paying off the hospital bond, which has $2.29 million in principal remaining and $128,520 of interest.

With its approved budget, the county is anticipating a 20 percent cash reserve of $3.49 million after finishing the 2019-20 budget year with a cash reserve of $5.81 million.

In addition to approving the budget and property tax request, the board also approved a 1 percent increase in the county’s restricted fund and reauthorized the county’s petty cash funds.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners accepted the lone bid for meals to inmates housed in the Brown County Jail. Big John’s Restaurant submitted a bid of $9 per lunch and $8.50 per dinner, with the meals delivered to the Brown County Jail.

After visiting with outgoing Veterans Services Officer Judy Walters, the commissioners agreed to make the veterans services officer a full-time position pending the agreement of the Rock County Commissioners and the Keya Paha County Commissioners. The Brown County Veterans Services officer also provides service to veterans of Keya Paha and Rock counties.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Oct 6.

* School provides guidance for those planning to attend activities this week

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 17)

Ainsworth Community Schools posted information for sites hosting activities this week. Click on the link below if you plan to attend any sporting events this week to learn information required at each site.

September 14-19 Activities Information.pdf

* City Council approves budget asking for $408,661 in property tax

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 17)

Following a public hearing Wednesday, the Ainsworth City Council approved a $9.39 million budget that asks property owners in the city for $408,661 in taxes.

The city kept the levy the same for the 2020-21 budget as it was the prior year at 45 cents per $100 in property value, while the total value of all property in the city increased from $89.3 million to $90.8 million.

Among some of the capital improvement projects budgeted for 2020-21 is approximately $100,000 in utility work to coincide with the renovation of Highway 20 in Ainsworth. City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said the city also included $1 million in the streets department budget for a potential paving district in 2020-21. She said the city also planned to armor coat 30 blocks of streets this fall.

Schroedl said the portion of the wastewater improvement project not yet completed was included in the 2020-21 budget as well. The total budget of $9.39 million will most likely not be reached, as the city annually budgets to spend all the money from each of its funds when in reality most of those funds will continue to carry a healthy balance.

The city actually spent $4.19 million during the 2019-20 fiscal year, which was substantially higher than the $3 million spent during the 2018-19 fiscal year. The sewer improvement project and streets repairs accounted for the lion’s share of the increase in spending.

In addition to the 45-cent levy to support the general fund, the city will also levy 5 cents to support interlocal agreements, which includes the city’s agreement with Brown County for law enforcement service. The 5-cent levy for interlocal agreements amounts to an additional $45,407 from property owners.

Following the hearing, the council approved the 2020-21 budget and property tax request, and voted to increase the city’s total restricted funds by an additional 1 percent, which is money the city could have collected in property tax but opted against.

The vote was made with Councilmen Schyler Schenk and Joel Klammer absent. Mayor Greg Soles said, in order to reach a quorum, state statute allowed the mayor to become a voting council member in those situations where two council members are absent from a meeting.

In other business Wednesday, the council denied a sealed bid submitted by the Ainsworth Child Development Center for a parcel owned by the city near the intersection of Third and Oak streets.

The Ainsworth Child Development Center submitted the lone bid of $4,500 for the property. However, the bid indicated it was contingent upon the group receiving setback variances and a zoning change from R-1 to R-2.

City Attorney Rod Palmer said he did not believe the city could accept a bid that was conditional.

Devyn France, representing the Ainsworth Child Development Center, said the organization has been accepted through the Communities For Kids Foundation, which helps construct child-care facilities and includes a $10,000 grant. She said, for the project to work at the site, the group would need a change in zone and some setback considerations.

Soles asked if the group could request the zoning changes and setbacks before resubmitting a bid for the property.

“Can the city handle that for them first and then advertise to rebid the property?” Soles asked.

Schroedl said the city would need the group to submit a plan for the site and how the building would be situated on the lot.

“We can look at the zoning after we get a site plan,” Schroedl said. “A building plan is the first stepping stone. The zoning change request would go to the Planning Commission and then to the City Council for public hearings. Any setback changes would require a public hearing with the Board of Adjustment.

Ainsworth Child Development Center representative Neiley Arens said it would have been nice to know about the zoning and setback procedures prior to going through this bid process first.

Soles said some of the issues may be fairly easy to resolve.

Councilman Tonny Beck said, as painful as the delay for the group is, if the council didn’t get things done the right way for the group initially the chance of obtaining LB 840 funds for the project won’t be successful.

“We want you to succeed,” Beck said. “We can have a special meeting if needed to help move this along.”

In a related item, the council followed a recommendation from the Ainsworth Betterment Committee to deny a $200,000 grant request from the Ainsworth Child Development Center to construct a child care facility in the community.

France said the ABC Committee’s main concern when the group met on the application seemed to be the amount the group requested.

“We are going to bring this project to Ainsworth,” France said. “It is a huge need in Ainsworth. We hope to go back and see if they will consider a smaller amount.”

Schroedl said her understanding was the ABC Committee supported the project but felt ABC funds weren’t the appropriate source and an application for LB 840 funds may be a better avenue.

France said the group would pursue an LB 840 application after it gets some additional items finalized for the project.

Beck said LB 840 would be a better way to approach the big piece of the funding puzzle.

“We are on your side, the funds just need to be through a different channel,” Beck said.

Councilman Brad Fiala applauded the group for its initiative, and said the child care facility is something that is definitely needed in the community.

The council Wednesday approved several items relating to the wastewater treatment project, including three change orders, a pair of pay applications and a request to draw down USDA grant funds on the project.

Jess Hurlbert with Olsson Associates said the first change order removed $53,935 from the project, as a 300-foot stretch of Maple Street near the Dawes Street intersection on the south side of the city could not have cure-in-place sewer pipe installed.

The alternative was a second change order that adds $62,175 to the project and includes digging up and replacing the sewer line in that stretch.

Beck said with the sewer line buried to a depth of 20 feet in that area, the replacement would be a major undertaking and would result in an exceptionally dangerous job site. Beck said the contractor would likely end up having to pump static water from the site to get to the pipe, and the soil composition would make for an extremely difficult excavation.

Beck told Hurlbert to make sure the contractor took proper precautions to keep the area marked and blocked so people could not get near the site.

The final change order approved Wednesday reduced Section C of the project from the installation of two new generators down to one, which removed $49,950 from the overall project cost.

The council approved payment of $116,658 for Section C of the project for the cost of the materials to replace a lift station on Wilson Street. For that portion of the project, the council voted to close Wilson Street between Fifth and Seventh streets on the northwest side of the city from Sept. 28 through Oct. 30 while the lift station is replaced.

With a large amount of truck traffic utilizing Wilson Street, the council rejected the proposed detour route of North Main Street to West Seventh Street back to Wilson Street, and instead opted to detour traffic to Meadville Avenue and then west on Road 879.

Beck said Seventh Street would not be able to handle the heavy traffic that would be detoured.

“We can’t handle harvest traffic on those streets,” Beck said.

Fiala said if two semis met on those streets and there had been any kind of moisture, the outcome would not be good. He agreed routing traffic to Meadville Avenue and to Road 879 was a much better route.

Hurlbert said he will stress to the contractor the importance of Wilson Street to truck traffic, especially during the harvest season, and would push to get the work done and the street reopened as soon as possible. He estimated the closure would last for approximately three weeks.

Residents on Wilson Street between Fifth and Seventh streets will be requested not to park vehicles at the site for the duration of the project.

The council approved a subdivision of one lot into two lots that lies outside the city limits but within the city’s 1-mile zoning jurisdiction. The subdivision creates one parcel of 4.17 acres and another of 2.23 acres in Smith’s Subdivision.

In a final action item, the council rejected a proposal to implement a $65 surcharge for a small number of property owners who refused to have their water meters upgraded to the new radio read meters that are being installed throughout the city, and instead opted to discontinue water service to any water user who refuses to allow the new meters to be installed.

Schroedl said the few residents cited health concerns from the radio read meters. She proposed the $65 per month surcharge since it would require the city to maintain old software and equipment and have city personnel take the meter reading from each property monthly.

Both Beck and Fiala said trying to maintain old software and equipment for fewer than five residents was not feasible regardless of a surcharge, and instead voted to discontinue city water service to any property that did not allow the installation of the new water meters.

Approving recommendations from the mayor, the council appointed Luke Hitchcock to the Ainsworth Library Board to replace Traci Ganser, and appointed Alyssa Erthum as the high school representative on the Ainsworth Betterment Committee to replace Jon Ortner, who graduated.

During her report, Schroedl said city employees Lyndi Goochey and Cody Nilson had done an excellent job tracking down the residents who received low to moderate income surveys but had not yet completed them. She said Goochey and Nilson tracked down more than 20 people to get the needed number of surveys completed. Schroedl said Miller and Associates would present the LMI results to the council during its November meeting.

The council will hold a special meeting prior to the end of September to approve the final claims for the 2019-20 fiscal year. The 2020-21 fiscal year for the city begins Oct. 1.

 

* Additional COVID-19 cases confirmed in the area Wednesday

 

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 17)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 27 additional COVID-19 cases in the district Wednesday.
There were two additional cases reported in Brown County, bringing the total to 17 cases confirmed.
There were four cases confirmed in Rock County, which raised that county’s total to 40 positive cases. There were also four additional cases reported Wednesday in Holt County, bringing their case total to 51. Cherry County had one new case Wednesday for a total of 60. One additional case in Boyd County remains under investigation.

* Ogden submits perfect card to win Week 3 KBRB Football Contest

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 16)

It was a good week for prognosticators from Atkinson during the third week of the KBRB Football Contest, and the first week a perfect card was submitted.

Larry Ogden of Atkinson picked every game on the Week 3 contest correctly, earning him the $40 first-place certificate.

It took a perfect card to garner the top spot, as Roger Brink of Atkinson missed just one game on the Week 3 card. His lone miss was Stuart’s home opening win over Hampton. For missing just one game, Brink picks up the $10 second-place certificate.

Winners may pick up their certificates from the KBRB Studios.

Week 4 KBRB Football Contest cards are available now from Buckles Automotive, AKRS Equipment and Speedee Mart of Ainsworth, Circle B Livestock in Bassett, the West Plains Bank in Springview, from the Tri County Bank in Stuart, or from the TCB Atkinson branch or Speedee Mart in Atkinson.

Cards must be submitted to the KBRB Studios by 4 p.m. Thursday or carry a Thursday postmark to be eligible.

* Three additional Brown County COVID-19 cases reported Tuesday

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Sept. 16)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 18 additional COVID-19 cases in the district Tuesday.

There were three additional cases reported in Brown County Tuesday, one of which was due to community spread and two due to being in close contact with another confirmed case.

There were two additional cases in Cherry County and two in Holt County.

The North Central District Health Department reported 60 people recovered from the virus during the past week. There were 13 recoveries in Cherry County, 11 recoveries in Rock County, four in Holt County and two in Brown County.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there have been 429 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the nine counties served by the NCDHD. Of those, 238 people have recovered and 14 have died, leaving 177 active cases in the district.

There have been 15 confirmed cases in Brown County, with seven recoveries and one death. Half of the 36 confirmed cases in Rock County have recovered. Of the 47 confirmed cases in Holt County, 24 have been deemed to have recovered. There have been 30 recoveries among the 59 confirmed cases in Cherry County. Four people have died from the virus in Cherry County. Ten of the 11 confirmed cases in Boyd County have recovered, and the lone case in Keya Paha County has recovered from the virus. 

* Care Center Board discusses plan for reopening facility to visitors

(Posted 2:15 p.m. Sept. 15)

The Sandhills Care Center Board and Administrator Stephanie Clifton on Monday discussed when the facility might again allow families to visit residents during the pandemic.

Board member Leanne Maxwell said she would like to see the nursing home allow family members to visit in the activities room soon.

“I understand the regulations, but it is really hard to take away the precious time people have left with their loved ones,” Maxwell said. “We have to have compassion for family members distanced from their loved ones. I understand there needs to be limitations, but I think we should let families come in every couple weeks at least.”

Clifton said she wrestles with the decision every day when it comes to keeping visitors out of the facility due to the risk of COVID-19 getting into the building.

“We are surrounded right now,” Clifton said. “The numbers in Cherry County and Rock County are awful right now. If I approached it with my heart, I would allow all the family members in. Plainview’s nursing home lost 16 residents to COVID and had to evacuate. I am petrified of that happening here.”

Board member Henry Beel said a family member of a Sandhills Care Center resident called in to Gov. Pete Ricketts’ call-in program asking whether the state could make a rule allowing family members to visit their loved ones in nursing homes.

“How have family members been that you’ve talked to?” Beel asked.

Clifton said families, for the most part, have been understanding.

“The families upset at not being able to visit would also be very upset if their loved one contracted COVID,” Clifton said. “Ultimately, my responsibility is to do my best to keep COVID out of the building.”

Currently, family members are not allowed to visit the facility, but Clifton said they can visit their loved one on Zoom or other online avenues.

She said, after one staff member tested positive for COVID-19, all of the residents and staff were tested on two occasions, and everyone tested negative on both occasions.

“We are back to communal dining and group activities,” Clifton said. “Residents are getting outside. But nothing replaces being able to touch and see their loved ones.”

Clifton said she would continue to evaluate the numbers of COVID cases in the area as she determines when to potentially allow family visitations again.

In other business Monday, Clifton reported the care center is using an agency to provide an interim director of nursing. In addition to that position, she said the facility has a full-time opening for a nurse, and two full-time and two part-time CNA positions available. She said she did hire a new MDS coordinator for the facility.

The care center currently has 19 residents, and Clifton said they received one referral in the past week.

The Sandhills Care Center generated revenue of $144,528 in August and also received federal stimulus funding in the amount of $76,700. Expenses during the month totaled $145,825. The board voted to move the $76,700 in grant funding from the operations account to the interlocal account.

Clifton discussed some short-term and long-term goals with the board.

“With COVID, it seems like we are just spinning our wheels,” the administrator said. “But, we want to continue to work toward short-term and long-term goals.”

She said short-term goals would include hiring a permanent director of nursing, establish competitive pay rates for nurses and LPN positions, provide bonuses for staff members who pick up additional shifts, and have a deficiency-free state survey.

Long-term goals include building the census in the care center, updating the bath and shower house, replacing the generator, replacing the flooring in the facility, providing tuition reimbursement for employees to attend nursing school, and hold future CNA classes in-house.

“We are trying to do some forward thinking, even with COVID taking up a lot of our time now,” Clifton said. “We have been painting inside, and received donations for some added dÚcor. It looks nice.”

Maxwell said Northeast Community College was offering a CNA class to high school students each Wednesday. She said there are currently four students enrolled in the class, which lasts for a semester.

Board President Phil Fuchs said another item for the long-term planning would be replacing the facility’s windows, which he said are 60 years old.

Fuchs encouraged Clifton to find comparisons with what other facilities in the area are paying their employees and bring a recommendation for the board to consider to the next meeting.

Clifton said having a wage scale was good practice, and she wanted to make sure employees are compensated fairly.

“We need to be competitive with the shortage of nurses,” Clifton said.

The next meeting of the Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors is scheduled for 4 p.m. Oct. 12.

* All Ainsworth students will receive free breakfast and lunch through Dec. 31

(Posted 9:30 a.m. Sept. 15)

All Ainsworth Community Schools students will receive free breakfasts and lunches through Dec. 31 as part of the extended Summer Food Service Program provided by the Nebraska Department of Education through the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program.

All students enrolled at Ainsworth Community Schools will receive free breakfast and lunch daily through Dec. 31, or until the federal funding supporting the National School Lunch Program is exhausted.

After the extended Summer Food Service Program ends, the district will move back to operating its breakfast and lunch programs at normal pricing.

Any families who have paid for meals since Sept. 1 will have those charges credited to their accounts, as the active period for the extended Summer Food Service Program runs from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31.

Anyone with questions may contact the district office at 402-387-2333.

* School Board asks for same amount of property tax as 2019-20 to support budget

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 15)

Following a public hearing Monday, the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education approved a $13.3 million budget for the 2020-21 school year that calls for $6.67 million in property tax.

The amount of tax requested from property owners in Brown County is the same as what the district collected for the 2019-20 budget year. However, with the overall valuation in the county decreasing by $23 million from $836 million to $813 million, the property tax requested results in a levy of 82 cents per $100 in property value. That is up from a levy of 79.8 cents for the 2019-20 year.

Superintendent Dale Hafer said the board’s goal was to avoid a see-saw approach with the budget and to try and keep it level.

“I think we are in good shape budget-wise as we head in to 2020-21,” Hafer said.

Board member Brad Wilkins said he felt the board took a conservative approach when preparing the 2020-21 budget.

“To have zero inflation is a good thing,” Wilkins said.

Though the board approved a $13.3 million budget, the actual amount spent will likely be somewhere around 70 percent of that total.

Hafer said the district spent 69 percent of its budget for the 2019-20 year, mainly due to lower expenses in the spring semester. He said the district typically spends around 72 percent to 75 percent of its budget.

“Spending less allowed us to operate with the same tax request as last year,” Hafer said. “We capitalized on the savings we had.”

Of the property tax requested for the 2020-21 year, $6.2 million will go to support the general fund budget, while $469,657 will go to the special building fund to pay for the agriculture and industrial technology building addition project. The general fund represents 76.3 cents of the district’s levy, with the special building fund accounting for 5.7 cents in levy.

The board unanimously approved the 2020-21 budget and property tax request following the public hearing. No one from the public spoke during the hearing regarding the budget.

In other business Monday, counselor Lisa Schlueter reported she had applied for and received a four-year college access grant at $5,000 per year for a total of $20,000.

Schlueter said the goal of the grant is to increase the percentage of Ainsworth Community Schools students going on to some form of college following their graduation from high school.

Schlueter said 71 percent of the district’s seniors from the 2018 graduating class went on to college. Schlueter said the goal of the grant is to increase the rate to 83 percent over the four-year grant period.

She said the grant funds can be used to assist students with college visits, FAFSA applications, scholarship searches and holding a career fair. She said the grant will also allow all high school students to take a career strengths survey to help them potentially identify a career to pursue.

Elementary Principal Curtis Childers and Secondary Principal Steve Dike discussed early assessment data with the board.

Childers said test numbers were a little lower to start the year, but that was expected due to kids losing a few skills over the summer coupled with the district having to go to remote learning for the fourth quarter.

Dike said the goal was to get the data into the teachers’ hands early, which would make them much more effective.

In action items Monday, the board approved the first reading of policy revisions related to Title IX requirements as recommended by the Nebraska Association of School Boards.

Hafer said the new Title IX requirements went into effect Aug. 14. With the new requirements, districts must demonstrate that each Title IX position has received training.

The board also approved three option enrollment requests, allowing Emberly Zwiebel, Colby Grupe and Haley Stanley to option out of the Ainsworth district and into the Rock County Public Schools district.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education is scheduled for 8 p.m. Oct. 12.

* Additional 21 COVID-19 cases reported Monday in the district

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Sept. 15)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 21 additional COVID-19 cases in the district Monday.

Two additional cases were reported in Brown County Monday, bringing the total to 12. There were also two additional cases reported Monday in Rock County, bringing the total to 36 in the county.

Holt County had six additional cases confirmed, all of which were deemed to be due to community spread. Holt County has now had 45 total cases. Cherry County picked up an additional case, bringing its total to 57.

Fifteen of the 21 cases in the district Monday were determined to be due to community spread, with six cases deemed to be the result of having close contact with another confirmed COVID-19 case.

There have now been 411 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the nine counties covered by the North Central District Health Department. Of those 178 people have recovered and 14 have died. The NCDHD will report Tuesday on additional recoveries during the past week.

* Grand Theater to reopen Sept. 25 with limited seating

(Posted 3:30 p.m. Sept. 14)

The Ainsworth Grand Theater will reopen on the weekend of Sept. 25. The first movie will be the locally produced “Oceans of Grass: Life on a Nebraska Sandhills Ranch.” Showtimes are 7 p.m. Sept. 25 and Sept. 26, with a 4 p.m. matinee Sept. 27.
DVD and Blu-Ray copies of the movie will be available for purchase in the lobby.
The theater will limit attendance to 36 people. All patrons are required to wear a mask upon entry, but may remove the mask once seated. Other guidelines will be posted at the entrance.
As studios have not released new movies, the Grand Theater will begin showing classics. Help is needed to choose upcoming movies. A form is available in the theater, and all suggestions are welcome.

* Nine more COVID cases confirmed in Rock County, 1 death reported in Brown County

(Posted 6:15 a.m. Sept. 14)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 28 additional COVID-19 cases in the district Friday, and received notice that a Brown County resident, a woman in her 90s, died from the virus.

Twelve of the 28 new cases in the district have been determined to be due from community spread. That includes two cases in Cherry County, and one case each in Brown, Rock and Holt counties.

Sixteen cases were determined to be due to having close contact with another positive case. Among those were eight cases in Rock County and three in Holt County.

With nine new cases reported Friday, there have now been 34 cases confirmed in Rock County, with seven people being deemed to have recovered. Brown County has now had 10 confirmed cases, with five recoveries and the county’s first death.

Cherry County has had 56 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 17 recoveries and four deaths. There have been 39 confirmed cases in Holt County with the four additional cases Friday. Twenty Holt County residents have recovered.

As of Friday afternoon, there have been 390 total cases in the nine counties covered by the North Central District Health Department. Of those, 178 people have recovered, 14 have died and there are 198 active cases in the district.

* Secretary of State provides information on upcoming election

(Posted 10 a.m. Sept. 11)

Nebraska Secretary of State Robert Evnen appeared on KBRB Friday to preview the upcoming Nov. 3 General Election. Evnen discussed the ballot initiatives that will appear, as well as the process for casting a ballot early.
To hear the conversation between Evnen and KBRB's Graig Kinzie, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Neb Sec of State Robert Evnen 9-11.mp3

* Five new COVID-19 cases reported in Rock County Wednesday

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 10)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 14 additional COVID-19 cases in the district Wednesday.

Seven cases in the district, through case investigations, have been determined to be due from community spread, while six were determined to be due to close contact with another positive case.

Five new cases were reported in Rock County, three due to close contact and two due to community spread. Two additional community spread cases were reported in Holt County, with a third case in Holt County still under investigation.

The remaining cases Wednesday were reported in Antelope, Knox and Pierce counties.

The health department received word that four people died in the district due to COVID-19 complications. Two deaths occurred in Cherry County – a man in his 80s and a woman in her 80s. Two deaths occurred in Pierce County, both women in their 80s.

There have now been 13 deaths reported in the nine counties covered by the North Central District Health Department.

As of Wednesday, there have been 362 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 178 people recovering and 171 active cases.

With the five additional cases Wednesday, there have now been 25 cases in Rock County, with seven people recovering and 18 active cases. With the three reported Wednesday, there have now been 35 cases in Holt County, with 20 people recovering and 15 active cases.

Four Cherry County residents have now succumbed to the virus, with 54 total cases, 17 recoveries and 33 active cases.

* Ainsworth High School homecoming royalty to be crowned Friday

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

Ainsworth High School will crown the homecoming queen and king Friday following the Bulldog football game against Arcadia-Loup City.

This year’s homecoming queen candidates are Madison Welch and Josie Ganser, representing the senior class; Ellie Welke, representing fine arts; Katrina Beel, representing A Club; Mila Pozehl, representing fall sports; and Elizabeth Smith, representing vocational clubs.

Homecoming king candidates area Kaleab Zorkowski, representing the senior class; Brandt Murphy, representing fine arts; Logan Hafer, representing fall sports; and Tristan Bowen, representing vocational clubs.

* Sheriff's department makes 4 DUI arrests during enforcement period

(Posted 1:15 p.m. Sept. 9)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department participated in the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement effort that ran from Aug. 19 through Sept. 7. The campaign is a national program to increase public awareness and make roadways safer. The sheriff’s department received a grant from the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety to have four deputies work a total of 61.5 hours of overtime.

Law enforcement across Nebraska joined in the effort to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on roadways during the Labor Day holiday period.

During the enforcement period, the Brown County Sheriff’s Department made four arrests on charges of driving under the influence. One motorist was arrested on an outstanding warrant. The department arrested 10 motorists on charges of possession of controlled substances, and one arrest was made on a charge of willful reckless driving. The sheriff’s department issued a total of 27 citations and 69 warnings during the enforcement period.

The sheriff’s department used regular enforcement, saturation patrols and an enforcement zone during the campaign, and K-9 unit Dutch was utilized multiple times during the crackdown.

Brown County Sheriff Bruce Papstein urges drivers to do their part to make roadways safer by always designating a sober driver if planning to drink, and to buckle up at all times.

* Additional COVID-19 cases reported in area counties Tuesday

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Sept. 9)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 28 additional COVID-19 cases in the district since last reporting on Friday.

Twelve of the 28 cases were determined to be due to close contact with other confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 13 cases deemed to be the result of community spread and three cases in Knox County remain under investigation.

There were two additional cases in Brown County, three in Rock County, two in Holt County and five in Cherry County.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there have been 348 total cases of COVID-19 in the nine counties served by the North Central District Health Department. Of those, 178 people have now recovered and there have been nine deaths as a result of the virus. There remain 161 active cases in the district.

The NCDHD also reported 47 people in the district recovered during the past week from COVID-19. There were five recoveries in Cherry County, four in Holt County, three in Rock County, and one recovery in Brown County, Keya Paha County and Boyd County.

Cherry County has had 54 confirmed cases, with 17 recoveries and two deaths. Holt County has had 32 cases, with 20 recoveries. Rock County has had 20 cases, with seven recoveries. There have been 10 cases in Boyd County, with all 10 people recovering. Brown County has had nine cases, with five recoveries. There has been one case in Keya Paha County, with the person being deemed to have recovered.

* KBRB Football Contest for Week 2 ends in a deadlock

(Posted 2:45 p.m. Sept. 8)

It was another difficult week of picking high school game winners on the KBRB Football Contest card.

Of all the contestants who entered, the best cards each had three incorrect picks. Bill Carr, Kurt Johnson and Darrin Kremer all of Ainsworth, and Crystal Stout and Kurtis Mizner of Springview each missed three games on the Week 2 card, which sent us to the tie-breaker – the total number of touchdowns scored by both teams in the Ainsworth vs. Burwell game. There were a combined 15 touchdowns scored between the Bulldogs and Longhorns Friday.

Two contestants, Kremer and Stout, each picked a combined 14 touchdowns to miss the total by one. With the two contestants still tied, that sent us to the second tie-breaker – the card to be submitted earliest. Both cards carried the same postmark, leaving the Week 2 KBRB Football Contest in a deadlock.

Sharing the first and second-place certificates this week are Darrin Kremer of Ainsworth and Crystal Stout of Bassett. Each will receive $25 gift certificates to one of the Football Contest sponsors. Winners may pick up certificates from the KBRB Studios.

Week 3 cards are available and may be picked up from Buckles Automotive, AKRS Equipment and Speedee Mart of Ainsworth, Circle B Livestock in Bassett, the West Plains Bank in Springview, from the Tri County Bank in Stuart, or from the TCB Atkinson branch or Speedee Mart in Atkinson.

Cards must be submitted to the KBRB Studios by 4 p.m. Thursday or carry a Thursday postmark to be eligible.

* Ainsworth Community Schools provides guidance for those attending events this week

(Posted 2 p.m. Sept. 8)

Ainsworth Community Schools released guidance for those planning to attend events this week the school is hosting.
Click on the link below to read the updated guidance from the school.

September 8-12 Activities Information.pdf

* Five additional COVID-19 cases reported in Cherry County Friday

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Sept. 8)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 10 additional COVID-19 cases in the district Friday.

One case in Holt County, five cases in Cherry County, two cases in Pierce County, one case in Knox County and one case in Antelope County, through case investigations, were determined to be due to having close contact with other confirmed COVID-19 positive cases.

With the five additional cases Friday, there have now been 49 cases confirmed in Cherry County, with 12 of those people being deemed to have recovered. Two people in Cherry County have died as a result of COVID-19.

Holt County has had 29 confirmed cases, with 16 of those people recovering. Rock County has had 19 confirmed cases, with four recoveries. Boyd County has had 10 cases with nine recoveries. Brown County has seven confirmed cases, with four people recovering. Keya Paha County has just one confirmed case.

The NCDHD will provide another report Tuesday, which will include its weekly list of those recovering from the virus.

Statewide, there have been 35,975 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 404 Nebraskans dying as a result of the virus.

* Hafer provides update for Ainsworth Community Schools

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 3)

Ainsworth Community Schools Superintendent Dale Hafer authored a letter Wednesday that was placed on the district's website to update parents and students on the district's mask recommendations.

* Six additional COVID-19 cases confirmed in Rock County Wednesday

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

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 11 additional COVID-19 cases in the district Wednesday.

Six of the 11 cases were reported in Rock County, with four of those determined to be due to close contact with another positive case and two deemed to be a result of community spread.

Cherry County recorded two additional cases, one of which was deemed to be due to community spread. A single case in Holt County Wednesday was due to close contact with another confirmed case. Two cases were reported in Antelope County.

The NCDHD also received information that 23 additional cases were reported from the Santee Sioux Nation. Those cases have been added to the Knox County case counts.

The North Central District Health Department has placed the area in the yellow category of its risk dial, which is slightly elevated from last week.

The nine-county district surpassed the 300-case mark Wednesday with 301 confirmed cases. Of those, 131 people have recovered and seven died. There are 163 active cases in the district.

With the six additional cases Wednesday, there have now been 18 confirmed in Rock County. Cherry County has 42 confirmed cases, followed by Holt County with 26 cases, Boyd County with 10, Brown County with seven and Keya Paha County with one. Knox County has had 104 of the 301 cases in the district.

* Commissioners approve livestock permit moratorium by 2-1 vote

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 2)

Following a public hearing Tuesday, the Brown County Commissioners approved placing a moratorium on the issuance of any special-use permits for livestock facilities.

The moratorium, which was approved by a 2-1 vote with Commissioners Buddy Small and Reagan Wiebelhaus in favor and Commissioner Denny Bauer against, will be in place for nine months or until the county’s comprehensive plan and zoning regulations are updated.

Zoning Administrator Tom Jones told the commissioners the Planning Commission is close to sending its recommended comprehensive plan updates to the Lincoln company hired to assist the county to have them drafted into a new document.

“I don’t see why it wouldn’t get done before the end of the year,” Jones told the board.

During the hearing, both Jack King Sr. and Heather Painter spoke in favor of the moratorium. King said the moratorium was a must, as he said he believed people would try to sneak permits in before the new zoning regulations were approved.

Painter said the moratorium was necessary until the county passes more strict and direct guidelines. She said the current regulations can be interpreted differently.

Wiebelhaus said he believed there was vagueness with the current zoning regulations.

“It depends on who sits on this board on what is detrimental to neighboring property,” Wiebelhaus said. “I would like to see the regulations better defined.”

Bauer said the county does have regulations in place currently, and that is the plan the county should go by until any new regulations are approved by the board.

“The new plan will also be open to interpretation,” Bauer said. “If you approve a 1-1/2 mile setback on all feed yards, you are going to kill the livestock industry in Brown County. What if our existing feedlots want to add 10,000 head in addition to their existing operations?”

Bauer said the county can’t just pass regulations for swine operations, all livestock would be included.

“We would have no development north of Ainsworth in the future, and we are an agricultural county,” Bauer said. “If you have a 1-1/2 mile setback, there won’t be any future livestock expansion for our existing operators.”

Small said he realized Brown County was an agricultural county.

“We are getting ahead of ourselves,” Small said. “Tonight’s hearing is only about a moratorium. I don’t want to hamstring agriculture in this county. I just don’t want to see neighbors being turned against each other.”

With Bauer against, the board approved the nine-month moratorium on special-use livestock facility permits. The moratorium would be lifted as soon as the board approves updated zoning regulations.

In other business Tuesday, Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin said the roads department finished installing 84-inch culverts on Bone Creek near Worden’s, and hauled more than 3,000 cubic yards of dirt to the site. He said the roads department also completed the drainage project on Road 878 near Jochem’s.

“Three driveway culverts and two cross culverts were installed there,” Turpin said.

Turpin reported the county has received $263,434 in FEMA funds to reimburse the county for the cost of damage from the March 2019 floods. He said FEMA also approved an additional $169,274 in reimbursement.

Turpin said he planned to file for an extension with FEMA for five remaining projects.

“We weren’t able to get those done because we can’t get the materials yet,” the highway superintendent said. “Everything has been ordered.”

After a short executive session, the board approved a $1.60 per hour raise for Nakoa Fletcher in the roads department. Small said Fletcher was a talented mechanic, and has saved the county substantially on repair bills by doing work in-house.

The commissioners approved providing a letter of support to the Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District for Long Pine Creek watershed improvements.

The board also approved providing the city of Ainsworth with a quitclaim deed for 3.73 acres on the south side of East City Park east of the Brown County Hospital.

County Attorney Andy Taylor said the county sold the ground to the city in 2004 for a dollar, but did put a stipulation that the area must be used for the construction of baseball or softball fields or the county could reclaim the property.

Taylor said the city planned to use the parcel to construct a solar array, but first needed the county to agree to waive the stipulation about the property being used for ball fields. Taylor said he worked with City Attorney Rod Palmer to prepare a quitclaim deed removing the restriction.

Taylor also reported he had been working with attorneys for the Nebraska Public Power District on an agreement for the use of a county road to construct a transmission line. Taylor said the issue with the agreement was a hold harmless clause, which he believed would be amended.

“We should have an updated contract drawn up by the next meeting,” Taylor said.

The Board approved a resolution allowing Brown County Treasurer Deb Vonheeder to hold a tax sale on property taxes that have not been paid for three years.

Wiebelhaus said delinquent taxes amounted to $12,155 on 85 parcels in the county that would be placed on the tax sale.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Sept. 15. That meeting will include a public hearing for the county’s 2020-21 fiscal year budget.

* Seventh confirmed COVID-19 case reported in Brown County Tuesday

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Sept. 2)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 14 additional COVID-19 cases in the district Tuesday, including the seventh case in Brown County.

The Brown County case was determined to be the result of community spread, as were single cases in Rock, Cherry and Knox counties. One case in Cherry County, one case in Holt County and five in Knox County were deemed to be due to close contact with another confirmed COVID-19 case.

Three cases in Pierce County remain under investigation.

The NCDHD reported 24 recoveries across the district, with four of the seven people confirmed to have COVID-19 in Brown County now being deemed to have recovered. There were seven reported recoveries in Cherry County, six in Knox County, two in Boyd County and Antelope County, and single recoveries in Rock County, Holt County and Pierce County.

The seventh death resulting from COVID-19 was also reported to the health department Tuesday, a man in his 70s from Pierce County.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there have been 267 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the nine-county district. Nearly half of those infected, 131, have now recovered. There are 129 active cases.

* Richeys sweep top spots during KBRB Football Contest opening week

(Posted 11:15 a.m. Sept. 1)

Jacque Richey of Springview missed just two games to capture the top spot during the first week of the KBRB Football Contest.

With the contest featuring all high school games this year, Richey missed only Arcadia-Loup City’s two-point home win over Elm Creek and Anselmo-Merna’s 40-28 victory at home against Ansley-Litchfield.

For being the only card with two games missed, Richey earns the $40 first-place certificate. Second place went to a tiebreaker, as two contestants missed three games. Russ Richey of Springview and Tiff Naprstak of Johnstown each missed three games. Richey guess 11 combined touchdowns would be scored in the Ainsworth and Pleasanton game, while Naprstak guessed 10 combined TDs. In Plainview’s 58-32 win over the Bulldogs, the teams combined for 12 touchdowns, giving Richey the second place, $10 certificate. Winners can pick up certificates from the KBRB Studios.

Thanks to everyone who filled out a card. Week 2 cards are available from Buckles Automotive, Speedee Mart and AKRS Equipment in Ainsworth. In Bassett, cards can be picked up from Circle B Livestock. In Springview, pick up cards in the West Plains Bank. Head to the Tri County Bank in Stuart to pick up a contest card, or to the TCB Atkinson branch or Speedee Mart in Atkinson.

Week 2 cards are due to the KBRB Studios by 4 p.m. Thursday or they must carry a Thursday postmark to be eligible.

* DHHS continues to accept applications for expanded Medicaid coverage

(Posted 11 a.m. Sept. 1)

Heritage Health Adult Medicaid Expansion has signed up 5,218 Nebraskans to-date.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services continues to process applications, with a turn-around time of about 7 days, which is over a month faster than required by federal law. Additional DHHS teammates have been hired and trained to be able to help answer callers’ questions and process applications.

Jeremy Brunssen, the interim director of Nebraska Medicaid, said he appreciates the hard work these teammates are providing to their fellow Nebraskans.

“Our Medicaid teams have helped the thousands of Nebraskans become eligible for Medicaid Expansion and other programs by processing thousands of applications and assisting folks in person and over the phone,” Brunssen said. “Great work has been accomplished by all during the continued COVID-19 pandemic, which has often impacted our own teammates personally and professionally. I am proud of the people we have on our teams fulfilling our mission to help people live better lives.”

Heritage Health Adult expands Medicaid to lower income adults of working age (19-64 years old).  Lower income means earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level.  For a single person, this is an income of approximately $17,609 per year, and for a family of four this is an income of approximately $36,156 per year.

All participating Nebraskans will receive a robust and comprehensive services package of physical health, behavioral health, and prescription drugs.  Nebraskans who are 19-20 years old, pregnant, or medically frail will also receive dental and vision services, in addition to over-the-counter medications.  All those who are determined to be eligible for HHA will receive benefits starting October 1.

To apply, individuals can go online to www.ACCESSNebraska.ne.gov, call toll free at (855) 632-7633, or visit any DHHS office.

Additional information about Medicaid Expansion is available at www.dhhs.ne.gov/MedicaidExpansion.

* Ainsworth Community Schools posts guidelines for fall activities

(Posted 9:45 a.m. Sept. 1)

Ainsworth Community Schools released guidelines for those planning to attend and participate in fall activities. View the guidelines by clicking on the document below.

ACS- Covid Hosting Events Guidelines .pdf

* Additional COVID-19 cases reported in Rock, Cherry and Holt counties Monday

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Sept. 1)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 13 additional COVID-19 cases in the district Monday.

Three cases were confirmed in Rock County, two of which were determined to be due to community spread and one due to close contact with another positive case.

After having 10 COVID-19 cases during the prior report, an additional five cases were confirmed in Cherry County residents Monday. Four of those were deemed to be due to close contact with another positive case, with one due to community spread.

Two additional cases in Holt County were deemed to be due to community spread.

The other three cases were reported in Knox County.

Cherry County has now had 38 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 24 in Holt County and 11 in Rock County. Brown County has had six cases, there have been 10 in Boyd County, and a single case in Keya Paha County.

Of the 253 total cases in the nine-county area served by the North Central District Health Department, 107 people have recovered and six have died, leaving 140 active cases in the district. The NCDHD will provide an update on additional recoveries Tuesday. 

* Brewer sets tone for November with 61 percent of 43rd District vote Tuesday

(Posted 7 a.m. May 13)

Tanya Storer will have a large hill to climb between now and November, as 43rd District State Sen. Tom Brewer had a strong showing during Tuesday’s Primary Election.

In his bid for reelection to the Nebraska Legislature, Brewer garnered more than 61 percent of the vote in the 43rd District. Brewer picked up 8,027 votes to 5,093 for Storer, the Cherry County Commissioner challenging Brewer for the seat on the Legislature.

Brewer won every county in the 43rd District, including a two to one advantage in Cherry County. Both candidates advance to the November General Election, as the Primary Election only winnowed legislative races down to the top two candidates. Brewer and Storer were the only two candidates in the 43rd District race.

It was a big day for all the incumbents running for reelection to the Legislature. All advanced to the General Election, and only one, Andrew LaGrone in District 49, was not the leading vote-earner. Jen Day picked up 53 percent of the vote in District 49 compared to 47 percent for LaGrone.

There were no surprises on the federal ticket among Republicans. President Donald Trump carried 91.5 percent of the Republican vote Tuesday, with challenger Bill Weld receiving 8.5 percent.

On the Democratic ticket, Joe Biden picked up 77.5 percent of the vote for President, with Bernie Sanders receiving 14 percent, Elizabeth Warren 6 percent and Tulsi Gabbard just shy of 3 percent.

Ben Sasse, the state’s junior Republican U.S. Senator, beat back a Primary Election challenge from Matt Innis. Sasse captured 75 percent of the Republican vote Tuesday, though Innis did win eight counties, including several in the north central part of the state. Innis won Keya Paha, Cherry, Holt, Blaine, Boyd, Grant, Wheeler and Cheyenne counties.

In a U.S. Senate field that featured seven candidates, Chris Janicek emerged from the field by grabbing 30.6 percent of the Democratic Party votes. Janicek’s closed competitors were Angie Phillips and Alisha Shelton, who finished with 23 percent and 22 percent of the Democratic vote respectively.

Janicek and Sasse will square off in November for a six-year senate seat.

Incumbent 3rd District Rep. Adrian Smith brushed back four Republican challengers Tuesday, taking almost 83 percent of the vote. None of his challengers earned more than 5.5 percent.

Smith will face Democrat Mark Elworth Jr. in the General Election for the U.S. House of Representatives seat, as Elworth ran unopposed.

Incumbent Republicans Jeff Fortenberry and Don Bacon won the Primary handily Tuesday. Fortenberry will be challenged by State Sen. Kate Bolz of Lincoln in the General Election, as Bolz won the Democratic Party nomination with 78 percent of the vote against Babs Ramsey.

Bacon will see a rematch against Democrat Kara Eastman after Bacon edged Eastman for the District 2 House seat in 2018. Eastman earned 62 percent of the Democratic Party vote Tuesday, with Ann Ashford picking up 31.5 percent and Gladys Harrison 6.5 percent.

Voter turnout in Nebraska for the Primary Election was 38.7 percent, with 471,434 voters casting ballots among the 1.21 million registered voters in the state. Mail-in and early voting turnout set a record for the state.

* Small wins Republican race Tuesday for Brown County Commissioner

(Posted 9:45 p.m. May 12)

During Tuesday’s Primary Election, Republican Buddy Small held off three challengers in his bid for another term on the Board of Commissioners.

Small received 507 votes, representing 48.5 percent of the total votes cast. His closest challenger was Tim Iverson, who picked up 236 votes. Cherie Priest finished with 192 votes, and Dewey Jefferis garnered 111 votes from Brown County Republicans. There were no Democrats running for commissioner, so Small will earn another term on the board.

In the other local race of note, four of the five candidates vying for two seats on the Ainsworth City Council advanced to the General Election, where two will earn council seats.

Vance Heyer led the vote Tuesday with 402. He was followed by 194 votes for Shawn Fernau, 184 for Brett Duester and 133 for Anissa Julius. Those four advanced to the General Election. John Mead received 95 votes for council and does not advance.

A total of 1,218 votes were cast in Brown County among the 2,084 registered voters for a turnout of 58.5 percent.

Wade Hollenbeck won the race for Rock County Commissioner Tuesday on the Republican ticket. Hollenbeck received 421 votes, compared to 91 for Todd Stahl. No one from the Democratic Party ran for the seat. Hollenbeck will replace Dustin Craven on the Board of Commissioners after Craven did not seek re-election.

Rock County voters shot down a 2-cent levy for a new swimming pool, and Bassett city voters also declined to support a bond for a new pool.

There were 477 votes cast against the 2-cent countywide levy, with 182 voters in favor. The city bond issue for the pool failed with 143 against and 91 in favor.

Voter turnout in Rock County was 65 percent.

In Keya Paha County, Republican Mike Tuerk won a four-way race in his re-election bid to the Board of Commissioners. Tuerk received 72 votes, compared to 29 for challenger Randy Painter, 24 for Mike Vigoren and 21 for Anthony Tiefenthaler. There were no Democratic Party candidates for the West District Commissioner seat, so Tuerk will earn another four-year term.

Turnout in Keya Paha County was 64 percent.

While both candidates advance to the General Election, incumbent 43rd District State Sen. Tom Brewer had a strong showing in Brown County Tuesday. Brewer earned more than 60 percent of the votes cast with 707. Challenger Tanya Storer received 464 votes in Brown County. Brewer also had a strong showing in Keya Paha County, earning 293 votes compared to 98 for Storer. Those two will square off again in November.

In the 3rd District Congressional race, Brown County Republicans cast 862 votes for incumbent Adrian Smith. Mark Elworth scored 70 votes from Brown County Democrats. Rock County Republican voters also overwhelmingly favored Smith. Smith earned 501 votes in Rock County, compared to just 20, 19, nine and seven for his four challengers. Democrats cast 24 votes for Elworth. In Keya Paha County, Smith received 285 votes compared to 24 for Justin Moran of Atkinson, his nearest challenger. Elworth picked up 24 votes on the Democratic side.

Republican U.S. Senator Ben Sasse showed strong in Brown County Tuesday, with 682 ballots cast for his reelection compared to 367 for challenger Matt Innis. Chris Janicek edged Angie Phillips, 22 votes to 16, among Brown County Democrats. Republicans in Rock County also chose Sasse for reelection to the U.S. Senate in the Primary, though Innis had a strong showing. Sasse garnered 368 Rock County votes, compared to 205 for Innis. Janicek led the seven Democrats in the Senate field with nine votes. Alisha Shelton picked up seven. Innis was the choice for Keya Paha County Republicans in a competitive race. Innis won the county with 190 votes. Sasse received 169 votes. Janicek and Phillips led Keya Paha County Democrats with eight votes each.

Donald Trump was the choice for President in Brown County among Republicans, with 981 votes compared to 59 for challenger Bill Weld. Democrat Joe Biden picked up 57 votes in Brown County compared to 14 Bernie Sanders. Rock County Republicans favored the reelection of President Trump, casting 538 votes his way. Weld picked up 25 votes. On the Democratic side, Biden received 30 votes from Rock County Democrats, with Sanders and Elizabeth Warren each picking up five. Keya Paha County voters gave 342 votes to Trump, compared to just seven for Weld. Biden received 28 votes in Keya Paha County, with Tulsi Gabbard the next closest with three.

ATHLETE OF THE YEAR - Rylee Rice (right) was named the KBRB Athlete of the Year
 by a vote of the Ainsworth head coaches and faculty members. Rice is presented the plaque
 by KBRB's Graig Kinzie along with a $500 scholarship.

* Rice named KBRB Athlete of the Year

(Posted 2:15 p.m. April 29)

Rylee Rice was named the KBRB Athlete of the Year following a vote of the Ainsworth Community Schools’ coaches, faculty and A Club.

Rice finished her Ainsworth career as one of the most decorated athletes in school history. She earned three individual cross country state titles and led the Bulldogs to three consecutive Class D team titles. She won the State Cross Country All-Class Gold as a sophomore, and is one of only 11 girls in state history to win three state titles. Rice was the first Class D girls runner to win the All-Class Gold.

She currently holds the course record at every site she ran a cross country race, and never lost a race until the state championships her senior year, where she finished as the runner up. She also holds the Class D State Meet Record, eclipsing the previous Class D record by more than 45 seconds.

She was a four-time Southwest Conference and District champion.

In basketball, Rice set the single season school record for steals with 103. She also holds the school record for career steals with 361, finished second in school history in career assists with 160, and third in school history in career rebounds with 521.

Rice was named to the Southwest Conference First Team in 2019-20, and to the SWC Second Team following both her sophomore and junior seasons.

She finished honorable mention All-State three times and was named Academic All-State twice.

Though losing her senior track and field season due to the coronavirus pandemic, Rice won five gold medals at the Nebraska State Track and Field Championships, including four during her freshman year. She holds Class C state meet records in both the 800 meters and 1,600 meters.

In all, she won nine state track and field medals, and scored 79 points at the state meet in three years, including 40 her freshman year to give the Bulldogs a Class C runner-up finish as a team.

She finished her career as an 11-time district champion and holds school records in the 100-meter hurdles, 300-meter hurdles, 800 meters, 1,600 meters and 3,200 meters.

For being named the KBRB Athlete of the Year, Rice receives a $500 scholarship and has her name placed on a plaque displayed in Ainsworth Community Schools.
Rice plans to attend Doane University, where she will compete athletically in track and field.

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