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

* LouElla Nelson, 96, of Winner, S.D., formerly of Millboro, S.D. 10:30 a.m. Nov. 23

* Meeting reports located below for:

Nov. 19 Brown County Commissioners

Nov. 14 Ainsworth City Council

Nov. 13 Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors

Nov. 12 Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education

* AHS Mock Trial team advances to State Championships

(Posted 12:30 p.m. Nov. 22)

The Ainsworth Blue mock trial team prevailed over Valentine in a hard fought regional competition on Wednesday, November 20, at the Rock County Courthouse in Bassett.  The first trial had Valentine portraying the plaintiff and Ainsworth, the defense.  Valentine won that trial in a split decision by the judges.  In the afternoon, the teams switched sides, and Ainsworth won in a split decision by the judges.  Because Ainsworth had previously defeated Valentine, Ainsworth claimed the championship with a 3-1 record, and Valentine finished 2-2.  Selected as the Outstanding Attorney and Outstanding Witness in the first trial were Coy Carson and Alyssa Erthum, respectively.  Winning the awards for the second trial were Attorney Raven Stewart and Witness Coy Carson. The Blue team will represent Region 4 at the State Mock Trial Championships in Lincoln on December 9-10.  Members of the Blue team are Seniors Raven Stewart and Coy Carson; Juniors Cody Kronhofman, Brandt Murphy, Molly Salzman, and Elizabeth Smith; and Sophomore Alyssa Erthum.  The team is coached by Mary Rau.

* Ainsworth Airport to receive $6.5 Million in DoT grants for runway rehabilitation

(Posted 10 a.m. Nov. 21)

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer released this statement after the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that Ainsworth Regional Airport will receive $6.5 million through the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Improvement Program for runway and taxiway rehabilitation: "Nebraska families and businesses rely on our state's regional airports every day to stay connected with the rest of the country. This grant for runway rehabilitation at Ainsworth Regional Airport represents another important infrastructure investment in rural Nebraska."

* Commissioners vote to place 9-month moratorium on wind turbine applications

(Posted 8:30 p.m. Nov. 19)

Following a public hearing Tuesday, the Brown County Commissioners unanimously voted to place a nine-month moratorium on the issuance of special-use permits for erecting wind turbines generating more than 100 kilowatts in Brown County.

Zoning Administrator Tom Jones told the board the Planning Commission was working to update the county’s comprehensive plan, and wind turbines would be one of the areas that the commission planned to address in its update.

“We should have something to present to the public by the spring,” Jones said. “That should give us enough time.”

The only member of the public to speak during the hearing was Dave Hutchinson, who said he owned 2,200 acres in Brown County. He urged the commissioners not to allow any additional wind turbines to be built in the county.

He cited potential harm to bats, migratory birds and cattle among his reasons for opposing wind farms.

“The Sandhills is a fragile ecosystem,” Hutchinson said. “People want to come here to see the Sandhills, not wind turbines.”

He suggested dams for hydroelectric power production as an alternative to wind power, in addition to the flood control benefit constructing dams would provide.

Commissioner Dennis Bauer said the era of constructing dams was likely over due to environmental regulations.

“A lot of things get killed with coal powered plants as well,” Bauer said.

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus said the county would likely not be able to implement a straight ban on wind power generation in its comprehensive plan, but the county could put guidelines in place in its plan that would make it difficult to construct wind towers.

“We rant into similar problems in the past with perpetual easements,” Wiebelhaus said. “The previous zoning administrator was against them, and we banned them in the comprehensive plan. The court ruled that was unreasonable. We need to do this the right way.”

Audience member Graig Kinzie asked if the commissioners knew of any potential wind power projects that have been proposed in the county since the original wind farm was built by the Nebraska Public Power District south of Ainsworth. The commissioners said, to their knowledge, there had been no planned developments in the years following the NPPD project.

Following the hearing, the board voted to place a nine-month moratorium on special-use permits for wind turbines to allow time for the county’s comprehensive plan to be updated with new guidelines.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners voted to publish notice and conduct a public hearing at 6 p.m. Dec. 17 to vacate a bridge structure across Bone Creek in northeastern Brown County near property owned by Leon Bracker.

The bridge across the creek was damaged during the March flooding, and was destroyed during the flooding in September. The board discussed the alternative of creating a road coming from the north side of Bracker’s property to provide him access to his residence instead of replacing a bridge that could cost upward of $500,000.

Following a public hearing Dec. 17, the board would make a decision on whether to vacate the bridge.

The commissioners gave Board Chairman Buddy Small the go-ahead to transfer a previously approved $200,000 from the county’s inheritance tax fund to the disaster recovery fund. The board’s intention is to continue to use inheritance tax funding to make needed repairs to flood-damaged infrastructure and replenish the inheritance tax fund when either FEMA money is received or budget over time to replenish the fund through general fund budget contributions.

Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin reported the roads department has been hauling millings to the Elsmere Road to place in two locations where Perrett Construction had completed road elevation work.

Turpin said the Elsmere Road remains closed, as Perrett Construction was working to elevate the third area that has had standing water over the road. He said a 24-inch culvert was installed at one site, and a 36-inch culvert was placed at a second site after the road level was raised.

“As soon as they are done, we will haul millings in and get the road opened back up,” Turpin said.

He reported Road 877 west of Ainsworth south of Highway 20 remains closed, but the water level there is dropping. The only other roads that remain closed are due to bridges that are out.

In addition to the flood recovery work, Turpin said the roads department is blading roads that are getting rough due to harvest and heavy equipment using them.

The board approved the year-end certification to the Nebraska Department of Transportation affirming the county has an in-house highway superintendent to receive annual funding from the NDOT.

Small reported the county received $743 for the purchase of traffic cones, $351 to purchase a ladder, and $20 to assist in the purchase of safety boots from the NIRMA Assist program.

Treasurer Deb Vonheeder and Assessor Terri Van Houten told the board the courthouse computers would need updated since the Windows 7 operating system will no longer be supported.

Vonheeder said the offices thought they would have more time and could include the computer replacements in the next budget, but the support for Windows 7 expires in January, and it would be a security risk for the county’s computers and servers to operate on an unsupported system.

Van Houten said it would cost $1,058 to replace each computer. The board agreed to fund the replacements through the county’s miscellaneous general fund.

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

* Rock County Commissioners approve guidelines for culvert installations

(Posted 3:30 p.m. Nov. 19)

During its meeting Tuesday, the Rock County Commissioners approved a resolution that all future culverts installed by the Rock County Roads Department or private contractors will conform to state code and standards unless it is not feasible due to ground level or drainage.

The county has been dealing with questions recently from property owners about where and how culverts are installed. Chandra Giles visited with the board Tuesday regarding a culvert issue and possible solutions.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners approved a proposal from Norfolk Contracting in the amount of $328,763 to replace the bridge on Short Pine Creek in northwestern Rock County. The board declared the bridge replacement an emergency issue, waiving bidding requirements.

The commissioners approved an application submitted by the Nebraska Board of Educational Lands and Funds for a road crossing and parallel occupancy permit to bury 1-1/2 inch PVC electric line on county road right of way in Section 16, Township 31 North, Range 19.

Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox discussed with the commissioners an invoice for a civil defense siren in the community of Kilgore.

Fox reported a grant had been written for the siren, but the siren would be initially paid from the emergency management fund. When the grant dollars are received, they would replenish the emergency management funds used initially.

The next meeting of the Rock County Commissioners is scheduled for 9 a.m. Dec. 3.

* Informational meeting Dec. 3 on Highway 20 bridge project near Long Pine

(Posted 9 a.m. Nov. 19)

The Nebraska Department of Transportation will hold a public information open house regarding proposed improvements to a Highway 20 bridge over Long Pine Creek in Brown County.

The meeting is scheduled from 4 until 6 p.m. Dec. 3 in the Long Pine Palace.

The proposed project would repair the Highway 20 bridge located near milepost 250 approximately 1.70 miles west of the Brown/Rock county line. The improvements would consist of reconstructing the bridge abutments and the abutment spread footings. A portion of the bridge deck on each end would be removed and replaced to accommodate the work. The bridge approach sections would be reconstructed, and the guardrail would also be replaced with surfacing underneath.

Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin as early as summer 2021 and could be completed by fall 2021. The proposed project would not be constructed under traffic and would require detouring Highway 20 traffic for the duration of the project to accommodate the proposed work. A designated detour would be provided and would utilize Highway 183 and Highway 7.

Personnel from the Nebraska Department of Transportation will be present Dec. 3 to answer questions and receive comments.

* Sunday collision west of Bassett injures one motorist

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

One motorist was injured Sunday in a two-vehicle accident on Highway 20 west of Bassett.

According to Rock County Sheriff James Anderson, at 3:57 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17, on Highway 20 approximately 5 miles west of Bassett, a 2002 Chevy Trailblazer, driven by Caitlyn Soloman, 29, of Kearney, was traveling east on Highway 20. A 2012 Peterbilt semi, driven by Christopher Sease, 35, of Ainsworth, was crossing Highway 20 at the 442nd Avenue intersection. The Chevy and the Peterbilt collided at the intersection.

Soloman was transported by the Rock County Ambulance to the Rock County Hospital for injuries suffered during the accident.

Both the Chevy, owned by Evelyn Jones of Ainsworth, and the Peterbilt, owned by Daniel Hladky of Long Pine, were considered total losses.

The Bassett Volunteer Fire Department assisted the Rock County Sheriff’s Department at the scene. The accident forced the closure of Highway 20 for approximately 15 minutes.

* Greenwell selected for Nebraska Cattlemen Young Cattlemen's Conference

(Posted 2 p.m. Nov. 18)

Nebraska Cattlemen announced the 2020 class of the Young Cattlemen's Conference. Conference nominees were accepted from throughout the state and selected by a committee to participate in the two-year leadership program.
The Class of 2020 includes Hannah Greenwell of Bassett.
"We had another year of a truly outstanding group of applicants for the NE Cattlemen YCC class of 2020, Nebraska Cattlemen President-Elect Ken Herz said. “Nebraska Cattlemen leadership and staff is looking forward to meeting and interacting with the class, hopefully providing them with extensive industry knowledge and many networking opportunities. Our goal is to spark interest within the participants, giving them the desire to come back and serve as board members to our state and national organization."
The goal of the Young Cattlemen's Conference is to expose young and emerging leaders to a variety of areas of the beef industry and provide them with necessary leadership tools. During the two-year program, conference members are provided training on professional communication, given the opportunity to tour multiple Nebraska-based agriculture production facilities and learn to navigate state agencies and legislative processes.

* August taxable sales trend downward for area counties

(Posted 9:15 a.m. Nov. 18)

Comparison of August 2019 and August 2018 Net Taxable Sales
for Nebraska Counties and Selected Cities

or City

Net Taxable

Net Taxable


Sales Tax

Sales Tax

















































Keya Paha
























State Total







Comparison of August 2019 and August 2018
Motor Vehicle Sales Tax Collections by County

or City

Net Taxable

Net Taxable


Sales Tax

Sales Tax































Keya Paha


















State Total






* Traffic Accident

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

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a vehicle-deer accident that occurred Nov. 8 on Highway 20.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 6:20 p.m. Nov. 8 on Highway 20 approximately 3 miles west of Ainsworth, a 2012 Chevy Sonic, driven by Michael Harms, 29, of Monroe, was traveling west when the vehicle struck a deer in the roadway.
No persons were injured during the accident. Damage to the Chevy was estimated at more than $1,000.

* Dickau awarded New Century Workforce Pathway scholarship

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Nov. 18)

A graduate of Northeast Community College has been recognized nationally for his work in the classroom.

Preston Dickau of Atkinson, a 2019 New Century Workforce Pathway Scholar, has been awarded $1,250 in scholarship funding. He was recognized with other New Century scholars during the Association of Community College Trustees’ 50th Annual Congress at San Francisco.

The scholarship is the first of its kind to support students at associate degree-granting institutions who plan to enter the workforce upon the completion of a degree or certificate on a national scale. The program is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Foundation and Phi Theta Kappa.

Dickau graduated from Northeast in May with a degree in auto body repair technology. He is employed by Ernie’s Auto Body at Atkinson.

“Education helps ensure that young people can realize their full potential,” said Helen Smith Price, president of The Coca-Cola Foundation. “The Coca-Cola Foundation places a high priority on supporting education to help build strong communities.”

New Century Workforce Pathway Scholars were selected based on their academic accomplishments, leadership, activities, and how they extend their intellectual talents beyond the classroom. Over 2,000 students were nominated from more than 1,200 college campuses across the country. Only one New Century Workforce Pathway Scholar was selected from each state.

“Preston was a great student with an exceptional work ethic and a genuine desire to learn new things,” said Dave Beaduette, Northeast auto body technology instructor. “He is a true leader who presents himself well and always has a good attitude - making him a great addition to any business. I certainly enjoyed having him in the auto body program.”

* Traffic Accidents

(Posted 1:30 p.m. Nov. 15)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a pair of motor vehicle accidents that occurred Nov. 7.

At 1:12 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Ainsworth Community Schools parking lot, an unknown vehicle struck a parked 2003 Ford pickup, owned by Britt Hollenbeck of Long Pine.

Damage to the Ford was estimated at more than $1,000. Anyone with information on who may have struck the vehicle is asked to contact the Brown County Sheriff’s Department.

At 6:39 p.m. Nov. 7 on Highway 20 one-half mile east of Long Pine, a 2018 Subaru Outback, driven by Brandi Weinrich, 48, of Pierce, was traveling east when the vehicle struck a deer in the roadway.

No persons were injured during the accident. Damage to the Subaru, owned by the Region 4 Behavioral Health System of Norfolk, was estimated at more than $1,000.

* Ainsworth Red mock trial team falls to Valentine Wednesday

(Posted 1:30 p.m. Nov. 15)

The Ainsworth Red Mock Trial team’s season came to an end with a loss to Valentine Wednesday in the Brown County Courtroom.

The Red team portrayed the defendant, Rabona Foods, and Valentine played the part of the plaintiff, Kelly Panenka.  The trial was judged by attorneys Jim Gotschall, Rodney Palmer, and Andy Hoffman.

Winning the award as Ainsworth’s outstanding witness was Tatum Nickless, and the outstanding attorney award on the Ainsworth team went to Dakota Stutzman.

“The Red team performed very well this year,” coach Mary Rau said. “I wish we had more teams in the area so the students could get more competitions. But, the JV team held their own against both the Ainsworth and Valentine varsity squads.”

The result of this trial pits Ainsworth Blue against Valentine for the regional championship. The final trial will be held in the Rock County Courthouse at Bassett Nov. 20, with the first trial beginning at 10 a.m. Since the Blue team has already defeated Valentine once, it will only have to defeat Valentine one more time to capture the state championship berth. If Valentine wins the first trial, the teams will flip sides and perform a tie-breaker trial at 1 p.m.

All trials are open to the public.

* Brown County Hospital receives deficiency-free state survey

(Posted 6:15 a.m. Nov. 15)

Surveyors from the state of Nebraska arrived last week to conduct a three-day, unannounced survey of the Brown County Hospital. The scope of review ensures the hospital is compliant with Medicare/Medicaid and State Licensure regulations, and occurs approximately once every three years.

The State Fire Marshall survey was also conducted at the same time. The surveyors focused on a broad range of regulatory requirements, including but not limited to, quality, safety, patient rights, HIPAA, and staff competencies.

Upon an exit interview, hospital leaders were informed that no deficiencies were discovered during the survey.

Brown County Hospital CEO John Werner said the results confirm the staff members are working diligently to live up to the facility’s mission, “Brown County Hospital is dedicated to provide our patients and communities with the highest quality of comprehensive and compassionate healthcare.”

“I want to thank the surveyors for their kind words and also applaud the consistent high quality of care our providers and staff produce 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” Werner said. “We are passionate about what we do and who we do it for. Recognition isn’t what drives us, but having an outside agency validate our program is gratifying.”

* Sedlacek appointed to Northeast Community College Board

(Posted 6:15 a.m. Nov. 15)

An O’Neill woman is the newest member of the Northeast Community College Board of Governors. The board voted unanimously during its monthly meeting Thursday at Norfolk to appoint Nicole Sedlacek to an open District Two seat.

Sedlacek, an economic development consultant with the Nebraska Public Power District, succeeds Keith Harvey of Creighton, who resigned in September. District Two covers Boyd, Brown, Holt, Keya Paha, Knox and Rock counties in their entirety and a portion of Cedar County. 

Sedlacek said she applied for the board position because she believes in the mission of Northeast Community College as it continues to meet the needs of students and the region. She said, as an alumna and a longtime advocate of the institution, she wants to ensure it continues to be one of the top community colleges in Nebraska and the nation.

“My experience in economic development over the last 12-years has helped make me aware of what our strengths are as a region; what needs businesses and industries have; and how education, economic development and business and industry all need to be working together to solve some of the challenges we face in northeast Nebraska, such as workforce shortages and a declining population,” she said. “I believe it is important to demonstrate how Northeast Community College is providing outreach to the entire 20-county service area.”

Steve Anderson, chair of the board of governors, said he is pleased Sedlacek will be joining the board.

“Nicole Sedlacek has had a long association with Northeast Community College and has a great perspective on the needs of the college’s 20 county service area, with particular knowledge of the far western service area. She will make an excellent addition to our board.”

Sedlacek earned an associate of arts degree from Northeast Community College, a bachelor of science degree in management from Bellevue University and is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute.

Prior to her role with NPPD, she served as economic development director of the Holt County Economic Development Agency for nine years. She has assisted in previous Northeast Community College projects including the College of Nursing capital campaign in the O’Neill area and was co-chair of the College’s O’Neill Extended Campus fundraising campaign.

She has served as president of the Northeast Community College Foundation Board of Directors. In addition, Sedlacek was presented Northeast’s Distinguished Service Award in 2014.

Sedlacek, who has said she will run for the seat when it comes up for election in 2020, will be sworn in during the board’s December meeting.

The Northeast Community College Board of Governors is made up of 11 members, with two members representing each of five districts. There is one at-large member who represents the college’s entire 20-county service area.

* NDOT pumps water off Highway 83, and Highway 97 also reopens

(Posted 2 p.m. Nov. 14)

The Nebraska Department of Transportation on Thursday announced the return of normal two way traffic to Highway 83 between Thedford and Valentine.

The area of Highway 83 had been covered with water since May as the result of abnormally high rainfall. Traffic had been limited to one-way traffic, controlled by stoplights, for several months. 

The Department of Transportation was able to successfully pump enough water out of the
low-lying area to get the water off the road and remove the temporary surfacing, allowing traffic to return to normal.

In addition, NDOT announced the opening of Highway 97, which had been closed as the result of water over the road since the summer. There is still a small amount of water covering a portion of the northbound lane. Motorists should use caution while traveling through the area.

The NDOT installed a culvert at Alkali Pond, providing drainage to allow the roadway to

Next week, weather permitting, NDOT plans to raise a portion of the roadbed on Highway 61 between Hyannis and Merriman, which has had water over the road most of the summer.

NDOT thanks its partners for their tireless work to resume these critical corridors to the people of Nebraska.

Work continues to restore normal operations in other areas of the state.  The NDOT will continue to update the public as it completes projects and normal traffic operations resume.

* Deer season opens Saturday; hunters reminded of regulations

(Posted 9 a.m. Nov. 14)

Nebraska’s annual firearm deer season opens Saturday and runs through Nov. 24. Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. Hunters are reminded to make sure they follow all requirements, including wearing orange clothing and checking in any harvested deer.

Deer must be checked in by 1 p.m. on Nov. 25. Check stations in this area include Speedee Mart in Ainsworth, the Turbine Mart in Springview, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission office and the Rock County Sheriff’s Department in Bassett, O’Neill Tire Supply and Torpin’s Rodeo Market in O’Neill, the Valentine Fish Hatchery and Wright’s Bait in Valentine, and The Firehouse Café in Butte.

KBRB invites hunters to email photos from their hunt for inclusion in the annual KBRB Hunting Gallery, sponsored by Tall Tails Taxidermy. High resolution JPEG photos may be emailed to KBRB requests the hunter appear in the photo with the harvested animal, and the information include the hunter’s name, the date and county where the animal was harvested, and any additional description including whitetail or mule deer, number of points or B&C score for bucks, and especially if it is a hunter’s first harvest.

Lymph node samples to be tested for chronic wasting disease will be collected from select harvested mule deer at check stations in the Pine Ridge and Plains management units, and from whitetails in the Missouri, Loup East, Calamus East and Elkhorn units. Learn more about CWD at

Nebraskans who want to donate or receive harvested deer can participate in the Deer Exchange, which is designed to accommodate the additional harvest of deer. It brings together hunters who have a surplus of deer with recipients willing to accept the deer meat. To join, visit

Hunters should keep safety the top priority in the field by always keeping their rifle muzzle pointed in a safe direction, with safety on, and finger off the trigger, until they are ready to fire. They also should identify their target and what lies beyond it before firing. In addition, all deer hunters are required to wear 400 square inches of blaze orange on their head, chest and back during the November firearm season, regardless if they are hunting with a firearm or archery tackle.

Hunters also are reminded that permission is required to hunt on private land. Those who have permission to hunt should show the landowner and land respect.

The 2019-20 Public Access Atlas identifies and consolidates the nearly 1 million acres of publicly accessible lands that benefit Nebraska’s hunters, trappers and anglers. Printed copies are available where permits are sold; it also is available online at

* Water service to be shut off for West Second Street residents Thursday morning

(Posted 8 a.m. Nov. 14)

The city of Ainsworth water department plans to shut off water service to customers on West Second Street between Ulrich Street and Bone Creek today. Water service will be interrupted beginning at 8 a.m. and lasting until noon at the latest while crews tie in a water line near Bone Creek that washed out during flooding in September.

* Council votes to request return of housing demolition funding from NCDC

(Posted 7 a.m. Nov. 14)

By a 2-1 vote Wednesday with one abstention, the Ainsworth City Council requested the return of $72,997 in housing demolition money previously provided to the North Central Development Center through Ainsworth Betterment Committee funds and city general funds.

The latest issue between the city and NCDC stemmed from a state auditor report that showed the NCDC potentially returned LB 840 funds the city had provided by using funding from its housing demolition account, which had also been money provided by the city.

City Attorney Rod Palmer said the state auditor’s office believed there was an attempt by the NCDC to hide how the LB 840 funds were repaid to the city.

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said Scottsbluff Attorney Rick Ediger had reviewed the report and recommended the city terminate its agreement with the NCDC at the end of the current year subject to the NCDC assuring accountability.

Palmer said the information was forwarded to the Brown County Attorney’s office, but County Attorney Andy Taylor had recused himself from the case due to his wife receiving LB 840 funding. He said a special prosecutor would be appointed.

The only NCDC Board member in attendance Wednesday, Graig Kinzie, told the city he wasn’t sure where the auditor received its information. He said he could not speak for the entire board, but he had not been contacted by the auditor’s office to provide any information and there had been no discussion during recent NCDC board meetings that any board members were aware further issues existed. NCDC Executive Director Kristin Olson, also in attendance Wednesday, said she had not been contacted by the auditor’s office.

Kinzie said city representatives were in attendance during the NCDC meeting when the housing demolition funding was discussed. He said 25 percent of the housing demolition funds came from the LB 840 program, which the board voted to return to the city.

The remaining funding was placed into a separate housing demolition account, and is sitting in the West Plains Bank.

“There is a little more than $73,000 in that account,” Kinzie told the council. “You are welcome to it.”

Kinzie said he found the continued insinuation insulting that there was somehow money missing. He said the NCDC Board is a group of volunteers who work to help improve the community, and do so without any personal benefit.

Councilman Schyler Schenk made a motion for the city to recover all funding it had provided to the NCDC. That motion died for lack of a second.

Council members Deb Hurless and Brad Fiala both questioned why the NCDC had not been given a chance to respond to the state auditor’s office before the report was completed.

Mayor Jeremiah Sullivan said he wanted the NCDC and the city to move on.

“This has been a long fight,” Sullivan said.

Councilman Greg Soles made a motion for the city to recall $72,997 in ABC funds and city general funds previously given to the NCDC for its housing demolition program. That motion passed by a 2-1 vote, with Soles and Fiala in favor, Schenk against and Hurless abstaining.

Kinzie said the NCDC Board would likely have no issue voting to return those funds, which he said would be a little more than $73,000 after interest on the account had accrued.

In another development item Wednesday, the council unanimously approved amendments to the city’s economic development program policy and procedure manual as recommended by the LB 840 Citizen Advisory Review Committee.

CARC member Chris Raymond said the group had worked on the policies and procedures manual for the past 60 days, and the document was reviewed by Attorney Rick Ediger’s associate, who made suggestions for revisions that were incorporated into the final document.

Palmer questioned having a committee address any LB 840 loan defaults instead of that issue being handled by the City Council.

Raymond said that was one of the suggestions made by the attorney from Ediger’s office. He said, if you ask three attorneys about anything regarding LB 840, you seem to get three different answers.

Palmer said he would also like to see the checklist for applicants include supplying a certificate of good standing from the secretary of state’s office. That suggestion, along with a clarification that a city-appointed attorney as opposed to the city attorney would review all LB 840 loan applications, were incorporated as additional amendments Wednesday prior to the council unanimously voting to approve the policies and procedures manual.

In other business Wednesday, Terry Flick with J&J Sanitation presented the council with a proposal for the company to handle the city’s garbage pickup. Flick said J&J Sanitation had 31 municipal contracts, and would love to bring its service to Ainsworth.

Flick said J&J Sanitation would bill the city $11 monthly per residential household, $27 for light commercial, and $54 for heavy commercial. If the city wanted J&J Sanitation to also handle transporting the waste to a licensed landfill, the cost would increase to $21.84 monthly for residences, $35 for light commercial and $75 for heavy commercial.

He said those increases were due to J&J Sanitation having to haul the waste to its transfer facility at O’Neill before it is transported to a landfill near David City. He said the tipping fees J&J Sanitation paid to the landfill near David City were $61 per ton, which was substantially lower than the $72 per ton the city is charged by Lexington Area Solid Waste.

Schroedl said the city currently charges residents $14.30 per month, with light commercial charged $27.30 per month and heavy commercial $54.60 per month. In addition, those with dumpsters paid an additional $13 per month in rent.

She said those fees would likely have to increase by at least 10 percent for the city to stay in the black, which didn’t factor in potentially having to replace the city’s garbage truck.

Fiala asked if J&J Sanitation could use the KBR Solid Waste Transfer Station instead of having to go to O’Neill with the trash, which Flick said was a possibility.

The council agreed to have J&J Sanitation continue to research options, and meet with the KBR Solid Waste Committee regarding the use of the transfer station.

Following a public hearing Wednesday, the council unanimously approved recommending to the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission that a Class I license be approved for 1700 Ventures LLC doing business as The (402) Bar.

Graig and Stephanie Kinzie told the council they had purchased the former Silver Lining building on Main Street to open a sports bar.

Kinzie said the only issue the couple ran into was the distance between the building and the United Methodist Church, as a liquor license application requires a building to be either more than 150 feet away from a church or have the church provide a letter that it did not object to the license.

Kinzie said he had been in contact with church leaders to discuss the project. He said the Nebraska State Patrol employee in charge of liquor license applications for the area based out of North Platte visited the site Wednesday and measured the distance between the buildings at 171 feet.

There were no objections to the license application raised during the public hearing, and the council voted unanimously to recommend the application be approved.

In final action items Wednesday, the council approved a recommendation from Schroedl to ratify the election of members to the League Association of Risk Management Board of Directors. She said recent litigation regarding the makeup of the LARM Board, which handles the city’s liability insurance, had ended, and members of LARM were being asked to ratify the current board composition following the lawsuit’s completion.

Palmer said he did not see anything wrong with the council ratifying the election of the LARM Board members.

The council also approved a subdivision for a parcel of real estate west of Highway 7 and south of South Street into three parcels. Schroedl said, while the parcel was outside city limits, it was inside the city’s 1-mile zoning jurisdiction. That required a vote on the subdivision, which the council unanimously approved as presented by attorney Todd Flynn.

During her report, Schroedl said she continued to work with FEMA on disaster relief efforts. She reported she was working with the NCDC into the possibility of obtaining USDA grant funding to assist with paving work.

She reported the cement has been poured for the street shop expansion project. Fiala said the steel building was to be delivered to the site by Nov. 22.

Schroedl reported the NPPD solar power project continues, with NPPD receiving five proposals from developers. She said she hoped to have a presentation on the project during the December council meeting.

That meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Dec. 11.

* Traffic Accidents

(Posted 12:30 p.m. Nov. 13)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a pair of motor vehicle accidents during the past week.

At 10:52 a.m. Friday, Nov. 8, at the Bomgaars parking lot, a 2005 Chevy Silverado, driven by Glenna Abbott, 92, of Long Pine, was turning into a parking stall and struck a parked 2009 Chevy Silverado, owned by Darian Jones of Ainsworth.

No injuries were reported. Damage to the Jones Chevy was estimated at more than $1,000. The Abbott Chevy did not sustain any damage.

At 5:45 a.m. Monday, Nov. 11, on Highway 7 approximately 5 miles south of Ainsworth, a 1999 Ford Explorer, driven by James Lind, 20, of Ainsworth, was traveling north when the vehicle slid due to icy conditions, left the roadway and turned onto its driver’s side in the east ditch.

No injuries were reported. Damage to the Ford was estimated at $1,000.

* Care Center Board approves establishing scholarship for volunteers

(Posted 7 a.m. Nov. 13)

The Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors Tuesday approved a scholarship program that encourages high school students to volunteer with the nursing home.

Activities Director Brianna Lawrenz presented the details to the board Tuesday, and said she will work with Ainsworth Community Schools to implement the program.

Students would agree to volunteer for 1-1/2 hours per month with the residents. Activities staff will educate the students before they enter the building on the different needs of residents.

Students will prepare a paper regarding their experience, and the things they learned by volunteering. Staff members will vote on the top volunteer, who will receive a $300 scholarship.

Lawrenz said it would be a great volunteer opportunity for students and would give them a new perspective.

Board member Leanne Maxwell asked if any student could volunteer or if the student needed to be planning to study a health care related field. Lawrenz said any student would be welcome to volunteer.

Board Chairman Phil Fuchs urged Lawrenz to work with the school and start the program in January.

“There is no reason we couldn’t change the parameters as we go if needed,” Fuchs said.

The board, with Buddy Small absent, voted to establish the $300 scholarship and begin the program in January.

In other business Tuesday, Administrator Stephanie Kinzie presented the board with a quote to replace the window coverings in the care center.

Kinzie said the window coverings in the building were outdated. She said she tried to procure three bids for the project, but two of the companies refused to send someone out to even measure the windows and provide the care center with a quote.

Provider Plus Inc. of Iowa submitted a bid for 66 window shades for resident rooms and four shades for the dining room. The company provided two quotes, one for its premium patterned fabric with blackout material, which the staff recommended, and a quote for standard pattern material with 1 percent openness. The quote for the premium fabric was $14,360, with the standard pattern quoted at $10,469.

Kinzie said Matt Moody could handle the installation of the window coverings.

Fuchs asked what additional updates to the building’s interior the board would also need to plan to modernize after the window coverings.

Kinzie said the next items would include bed spreads, wall hangings, bedside furniture, dining room furniture and flooring. She said families of some potential residents comment about the building’s interior being outdated when they initially visit the facility.

“I think this would add a lot to the facility to start, and then work on the bedding next,” Kinzie said.

Board member Henry Beel said he would like to see at least one other bid for the project before voting on it, and encouraged Kinzie to check with Stuart Furniture on the window coverings since Moody could handle the installation.

The item was tabled to the board’s December meeting.

Kinzie reported she recently received a bill from KBR Solid Waste for $1,100 related to dump fees for the shingling project that was completed during the spring. She said the quote from the contractor the board hired for the shingling project included the cost of disposing of the old shingles.

Fuchs said the disposal fees were part of the contract.

“He should have taken care of that,” Fuchs said. “That was part of the deal.”

Fuchs said he would contact the contractor about paying the disposal fees, since it was not the care center’s responsibility.

In a final action item Tuesday, the board approved removing former board member Kent Taylor from the Union Bank & Trust account signature card, and keeping board members Maxwell and Buddy Small on the card along with Kinzie.

During her report, Kinzie said the care center admitted four new residents during October, but also discharged four residents. She said three residents went back home after rehabilitating, and one moved to another facility closer to family.

The care center currently has 23 residents, with 11 paying privately, 11 receiving Medicaid assistance and one receiving Medicare assistance. She said she received an additional referral Tuesday for another potential resident, and she had a nurse apply for night shift work, so the facility may be able to cut back on some agency nursing hours.

She said she knew of people interested in taking a Certified Nursing Assistant class if one were to be offered in the area. Maxwell, who teaches the class through Northeast Community College, said she might be able to offer a CNA class in January or February.

The care center generated $174,586 in revenue during October, with expenses for $136,181 for a profit of $38,404.

Capital campaign committee chair Roland Paddock told the board, unless another major funding drive were needed, there was likely no longer a need to have the committee. He said the committee has not met for a couple years.

Paddock thanked the community for its generosity in support of the Sandhills Care Center. He said a total of $209,460 had been donated to the facility, including more than $10,000 to employees who worked without pay when the previous management company closed the facility.

Fuchs thanked the committee members for all their work.

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

* Agenda for Wednesday meeting of the Ainsworth City Council

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

Ainsworth City Council
Meeting 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13
Ainsworth Conference Center


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 October 9, 2019 regular 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.



a.       Mayor’s Report


IV.                PUBLIC HEARINGS

a.       Application of 1700 Ventures, LLC DBA The (402) Bar, to be located at 339 North Main Street, for a Class I Liquor License


V.                  OLD BUSINESS

a.      None


VI.                REGULAR AGENDA

a.      Presentation by J&J Sanitation

b.      Consider an Administrative Subdivision of the following described real estate:  Township 30 North, Range 22, West of the 6th P.M. in Brown County, Nebraska

c.       Consider Resolution #19-11 – Resolution for “Participating Members” of LARM to ratify the elections of members of the LARM Board of Directors

d.      Consider the Citizen Advisory Review Committee’s recommended amendments to the Economic Development Program Policy and Procedure Manual

e.      Discuss and consider the letter of investigative findings and recommendations by the Nebraska Auditor of Public Accounts regarding the February 13, 2019 City Council’s directed investigation of potential misuse of public funds by NCDC

f.        City Administrator/Clerk/Treasurer Report

* Teammates chapter tells board it needs additional volunteer mentors

(Posted 7 a.m. Nov. 12)

Ainsworth Teammates Chapter board members provided an overview of the local mentoring program to the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education Monday, telling the board they are in need of additional mentors.

Lisa Chohon told the board the local chapter has 28 current matches between mentors and students between grades five and 12.

“We have kids waiting,” Chohon said.

Mentors agree to visit with their mentee at least once per week. Meetings are conducted in the school, and typically occur either during lunch or prior to school. Meetings usually last 20 to 45 minutes.

Program coordinator Lisa Schlueter said students with a mentor displayed many positive changes, including 78 percent of students improving their grades and 65 percent improving school attendance. In addition, the students in the program had 96 percent fewer disciplinary referrals.

Teammates member Scott Steinhauser said parents or school staff members nominate students for mentors, and Teammates is not a needs-based program. Any student could potentially enter the program.

Teammates member Connie Lentz said the goal of the mentor is to build a relationship with the student through the one-on-one mentoring.

Schlueter said there are currently 10 students on the waiting list for mentors, and anyone willing to volunteer to serve as a mentor may either contact Schlueter at the school or go online to

“The program’s goal is to increase students’ engagement in school, improve their well-being, and give them hope,” Schlueter said.

School Board members thanked the Teammates members for their work with the program.

In other business Monday, the board approved a recommendation from Activities Directors Jared Hansmeyer and Steinhauser to have Ainsworth remain a participant in eight-man football for the next two-year cycle.

Steinhauser said the school has been eligible for the playoffs the past two seasons due to enrollment numbers. While it appears the district will be above the current cut-off number, the school can opt to remain in Class D-1 and still be eligible for the playoffs for the next two years.

“Schools across the board are hurting for football numbers,” Steinhauser said. “It would be hard to play 11-man football with our current numbers.”

The board unanimously approved the recommendation to keep Ainsworth participating in eight-man football for the next two years.

The board approved the resignation of part-time English Language Learner teacher Mitzi Randall, who submitted a resignation letter to the board.

Superintendent Dale Hafer thanked Randall for her work with ELL students, and said the district would now work with Educational Service Unit 10 out of Kearney to provide service to those students.

“The ESU 10 coordinator is really good, and will be a wonderful resource for us,” Hafer said.

In other action items, the board approved allowing Hafer and the activities directors to identify and sell surplus equipment, ranging from old uniforms to rubber mats that were recently removed from the school playground.

Hafer said some people had already expressed interest in the rubber mats, and he said the district just needed to go through some things that are piled in corners of the building and see if anyone wants them. If not, some things needed to be thrown away.

The board also approved using an evaluation tool provided free of charge by the Nebraska Association of School Boards to perform Hafer’s six-month evaluation.

Board President Jim Arens said, while the two evaluation tools the board considered are similar, the NASB tool allows board members to fill out their initial evaluation online, and the results are compiled and organized for the full board’s review.

The board will complete the individual evaluation, and will go through the results with Hafer during the board’s December meeting.

During his report, Hafer said the replacement of the McAndrew Gymnasium roof is nearing completion. Metal flashing around the edge of the roof should be installed within the next week. He said there were a few rotten boards that needed to be replaced in addition to some drain work that would add between $2,500 and $3,500 to the total cost.

The superintendent also reported Rasmussen is completing some minor repair work to the school’s heating and air system. He said, after that work is completed, the district will make the transition to Conditioned Air Mechanical, whose bid to replace and maintain the district’s chiller was approved during October’s board meeting.

Hafer told the board the rubber mats under school playground equipment had been removed, and have been replaced with new borders and gravel. The Brown County Community Foundation provided the school with a $5,000 grant for the playground improvement work, and Hafer thanked Joey Finley, Todd Pollock and his students, and other community volunteers for their work to help remove the old rubber mats.

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

* Sunday evening accident injures 4 motorists south of Ainsworth

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

Icy conditions played a factor in a Sunday evening one-vehicle accident south of Ainsworth that injured four motorists.

According to the Brown County Sheriff’s Department, at 7:11 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10, a Dodge Ram pickup, driven by Emily Seidel, 34, of rural Ainsworth, was traveling south on Highway 7 approximately 12 miles south of Ainsworth when the vehicle encountered black ice on the highway.

The Ram slid into the east ditch, where it rolled. Seidel and three passengers in the Dodge, all children, were transported by the Brown County Ambulance Association to the Brown County Hospital for treatment of injuries suffered during the accident.

The Dodge was considered a total loss. The Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department assisted with the call Sunday.

* Brown County Hospital receives performance award

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Nov. 11)

Brown County Hospital has been recognized by The Chartis Center of Rural Health and the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health for overall excellence in Performance Leadership. Based on the results of the Hospital Strength INDEX from iVantage Health Analytics, the Performance Leadership Award reflects top quartile performance among all rural hospitals in the United States in quality, outcomes or patient perspective.

The Hospital Strength INDEX is the industry’s most comprehensive and objective assessment of rural hospital performance.

John Werner, CEO of Brown County Hospital, said, “As a community, we have much to be thankful for. Being recognized by the Chartis Center for Rural Health for Performance Leadership reflects well on the work our staff, providers and board are engaged in. It also speaks well of the support we receive from the community.”

Teryl Eisinger, Chief Executive Officer of the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health, said, “National Rural Health Day has come to symbolize not just the vital role healthcare providers play in rural communities, but the dedication and hard work that goes into overcoming the unique healthcare challenges that exist across rural America. We are proud of the work of the State Offices of Rural Health, their partners and rural hospitals do to improve care across the nation.”

Michael Topchik, national leader of The Chartis Center for Rural Health, said, “Each year, National Rural Health Day serves as a terrific backdrop for celebrating the power of rural and recognizing rural providers who continue to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to delivering quality care within their communities. We are delighted to be recognizing these top quartile performers.”

* Blue defeats Red in Ainsworth Mock Trial showdown

(Posted 3:30 p.m. Nov. 7)

The second round of Region 4 Mock Trial competition took place in the Rock County Courthouse at Bassett Wednesday, with the Ainsworth Blue team defeating the Ainsworth Red team in a unanimous decision.

The Blue team portrayed the defense in the trial and the Red team the plaintiff.  Judges for the round were attorneys Forrest Peetz, Rodney Smith and Avery Gurnsey.

Gavin Olinger and Mila Pozehl were selected as Outstanding Witness and Outstanding Attorney for the Red team. Winning the awards for the Blue team were Witness Alyssa Erthum and Attorney Coy Carson.

The next Mock Trial competition will take place at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, in the Brown County Courtroom. Valentine will portray the plaintiff and Ainsworth Red, the defendant.  The winner of that trial will advance to compete against undefeated Ainsworth Blue Nov. 20 for a chance to compete in the state championships at Lincoln Dec. 9-10.

* Commissioners cancel upcoming hearing on Camp Witness bridge abandonment

(Posted 12:30 p.m. Nov. 7)

The Brown County Commissioners Tuesday cancelled an upcoming public hearing Nov. 19 relating to the abandonment of a road and bridge at Camp Witness.

The bridge was destroyed during flooding in March, and Camp Witness representatives had previously urged the board not to abandon the road and bridge until the county could determine if it could first receive disaster funding to replace the bridge.

The board had scheduled a hearing for Nov. 19, but cancelled the hearing during Tuesday’s meeting.

Don Fling met with the commissioners regarding a drainage issue east of Ainsworth affecting property he owned, along with property owned by the Ainsworth Evangelical Free Church and the city of Ainsworth.

The commissioners requested Brown County Attorney Andy Taylor look into statutes to determine the best way to proceed with addressing the drainage issues.

Property owner Leon Bracker also visited with the commissioners regarding a bridge leading to his property that was damaged during this year’s flooding. No action was taken following the discussion.

BKR Extension beef systems educator Hannah Greenwell introduced herself to the board as the newest University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension educator for the area. She provided the commissioners with a description of her job responsibilities as she joins the BKR staff.

The commissioners approved a resolution for a food service contract between the county and Big John’s Restaurant to provide daily noon and evening meals to Brown County Jail inmates. The board previously approved the bid submitted by Big John’s, as it was the only bid the county received to provide the meal service.

Clerk Travee Hobbs discussed information regarding cybersecurity for the courthouse she learned by attending a recent meeting. Hobbs discussed potential vulnerabilities to the county’s computer networks and possible preventive action that could be taken. No action was taken.

Hobbs also discussed a payment the clerk’s office recently made to the Nebraska State Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Division.

Brown County Weed Superintendent Scott Erthum requested the county implement a government employee cell phone plan through Verizon for his official phone. The county was previously paying Erthum $50 to partially reimburse costs for using his cell phone for county weed department business. By going with a government employee plan, the county will only have a cost of $39 per month.

Nebraska Association of County Officials Blue Cross Blue Shield representative Judd Allen provided the commissioners with an update on the county’s current wellness and insurance programs.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Nov. 19.

* Rock County Commissioners approve engineering study for Road 854

(Posted 7 a.m. Nov. 7)

The Rock County Commissioners Tuesday met with a landowner regarding a culvert the county installed on Road 854 that drained additional water onto his property.

Frank Taylor and Ben Andrews representing the Spring Valley Ranch requested the county dig out the ditches on Road 854 and the culverts to allow the excess water to drain naturally to Bloody Creek.

Rock County Attorney Avery Gurnsey discussed with the board conducting an engineering study for Road 854 and the surrounding area, which includes Sections 22, 25 and 36 of Township 26 North, Range 20, and Sections 19, 30 and 31 of Township 26 North, Range 19.

Following the discussion, the commissioners approved a contract with JEO Engineering to conduct a study of Road 854 and those accompanying sections.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners approved a license renewal application request from Rock County Hospital Administrator Stacey Knox for the hospital and long term care. The board reviewed the final reports from both the hospital audit and the county audit. Those audit reports are on file in the clerk’s office and available for public inspection.

New University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension beef specialist for the BKR office Hannah Greenwell introduced herself to the commissioners.

Ed Hall and Les Hall visited with the commissioners about progress on replacing the Carnes Bridge across the Niobrara River that was damaged during the March flooding.

The next meeting of the Rock County Commissioners is scheduled for 9 a.m. Nov. 19.

* October temperatures substantially below normal

(Posted 1:30 p.m. Nov. 5)

October temperatures in Ainsworth were well below the average, while moisture during the month also fell below the historical average.
Ainsworth received just 1.01 inch of moisture during the month, but that still pushed the 2019 precipitation total to 35.22 inches.
To hear the complete October summary from Weather Observer Gerry Osborn, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Gerry Osborn October 2019 weather.mp3

* Keezer wins Pink Ladies Karaoke Idol Contest Wednesday

(Posted 8:30 a.m. Oct. 31)

Calista Keezer was judged the winner Wednesday during the annual Ainsworth Pink Ladies Dart League Karaoke Idol Contest Finals in the Silver Circle.

Keezer’s rendition of “My Church” won the People’s Choice Award, with people making donations to the Pink Ladies for cancer assistance to express their choice for the top karaoke singer.

Jason Nelson’s version of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence” took second place, and Tailer Rogers finished third with her rendition of “Always Remember Us This Way.”

All three winners donated their prize money back to the Pink Ladies. Kathy Worrell won the 50-50 raffle and donated the proceeds as well.

The Ainsworth Pink Ladies Dart League raised approximately $1,500 during its annual Karaoke Idol Contest to provide support to people in the area who are battling cancer.

* Beel wins Week 9 KBRB Football Contest in tie-breaker

(Posted 10:30 a.m. Oct. 29)

There were no perfect cards submitted this year during the nine weeks of the KBRB Football Contest, though in the final week four contestants came close to that elusive perfect card.

Jacque Richey of Springview, CeeAnna Beel and Olivia Beel of Johnstown, and Michelle Aduloju of Lead, S.D., each missed just one game on the Week 9 card.

Both Beels incorrectly picked Purdue to win at home against Illinois, while Richey and Aduloju both missed TCU’s home win over Texas.

Having four contestants tied with one miss sent us to the tie-breaker, Indiana’s 38-31 road win over the Huskers. CeeAnna Beel was the only one of the four to pick the Hoosiers to win, so she earns the $40 first-place gift certificate.

For second place, Aduloju picked a 31-30 Nebraska final, getting the Husker score right and missing Indiana’s by eight points. That earns her the second-place $10 certificate.

Richey also had Nebraska’s 31-point total pegged, but had the Hoosiers scoring 27 to miss the total by 11 points. Olivia Beel had the Huskers winning, 24-21, to miss the total by 24 points.

Thanks to everyone who submitted a card during the annual KBRB Football Contest, and thanks to contest sponsors Buckles Automotive, Plains Equipment and Speedee Mart in Ainsworth; Circle B Livestock in Bassett; the West Plains Bank in Springview; and Speedee Mart in Atkinson.

* Evans wins top award during annual Chili Cook-off

(Posted 8:15 a.m. Oct. 29)

The Brown County Hospital raised more than $400 for the Sandhills Cancer Fund Saturday during its third annual Chili Cook-Off.
The Best Tasting Chili Award was bestowed upon Brandon Evans, with Matt Lentz winning the Spiciest Chili Award. The top non-traditional chili award was shared by Shannon Painter with an elk chili, and Diette Glenn with a buffalo chicken chili.
There were 17 competitors Saturday vying for bragging rights as the best chili cookers in the area.

(Courtesy photo)

MOCK TRIAL WINS TO OPEN SEASON - The Ainsworth Blue Mock Trial Team won its opening trial of the year against Valentine. Team members include front row, left to right: Libby Smith, Molly Salzman and Brandt Murphy. Back row: Alyssa Erthum, Raven Stewart, Coy Carson and Cody Kronhofman.

* Season underway for Mock Trial

(Posted 12:45 p.m. Oct. 28)

The Ainsworth Blue Mock Trial team started the season with a victory over Valentine Wednesday in the Cherry County Courthouse.

Ainsworth, who represented the plaintiff, Kelly Panenka, scored a unanimous decision over Valentine’s defendant, Rabona Foods, Inc.

The Ainsworth Blue Team consists of seniors Coy Carson and Raven Stewart, juniors Cody Kronhofman, Libby Smith, Brandt Murphy, and Molly Salzman; and sophomore Alyssa Erthum.

Most effective attorney award was given to Alyssa Erthum, and most effective witness award was given to Libby Smith by the Valentine team.

This year’s case involves a breach of contract civil suit, in which up and coming soccer star Kelly Panenka (who plays for the pro soccer team, the Newport Gnomes) has filed a case against Rabona Foods to demand payment of $100,000, as the contract specified. Rabona had signed Panenka to be their spokesperson, but then they accused Panenka of inappropriate behavior and assert that Panenka had breached the contract.

The next competition for Ainsworth will pit the Blue team against the Ainsworth Red team, which consists of juniors Mila Pozehl and Cody Scott, sophomores Gavin Olinger and Haley Schroedl, and freshmen Ethan Arens, Tatum Nickless and Dakota Stutzman. The two Ainsworth teams will face each other in the Rock County Courthouse at Bassett at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6.  

(Photo by Graig Kinzie)

THREE-PEAT - The Ainsworth girls cross country team captured its third consecutive Class D state championship Friday at the Kearney Country Club. The Bulldogs became the ninth girls team in all classes to win three or more straight state titles. Pictured are (left to right) assistant coach Kara Welch, CeeAnna Beel, Moriah Beel, Arlyn Lazo, Molly Salzman, Rylee Rice, Bria Delimont and head coach Jared Hansmeyer. Rice finished second individually, just missing out on a fourth straight individual title. CeeAnna Beel earned a 15th-place medal. Full results are located on the sports page.

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 4 p.m. Oct. 24)

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

James S. Wilson-Parker, age 24, of Long Pine, charged with second offense driving under the influence, fined $500 and sentenced to 30 days in jail with credit for 30 days served, driver’s license revoked for 18 months, and ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

Amanda M. Turpin, 37, of Long Pine, third-degree assault, $500.

Hunter L. Reed, 19, of Long Pine, third-degree assault, $500.

Garth S. Swett, 28, of Long Pine, third-degree assault, $500.

James L. Barta, 29, of Broken Bow, possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100; driving on the shoulder of a highway, $25.

Garrett J. Taylor, 20, of Coleridge, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Wayne A. Paulson, 41, of Ainsworth, dog running at large, $50 and ordered to pay $320 in restitution; failure to license a dog or cat, $50.

Sierra L. Jones, 17, of Ainsworth, driving under suspension, $100.

Jolene K. Walters, 71, of Ainsworth, disobeying a traffic control device, $25.

Reena L. King, 34, of Johnstown, attempting a Class 1 misdemeanor, $100.

Phoebe J. McDaniel, 41, of Ainsworth, attempting a Class 1 misdemeanor, $100.

Jacquelyn J. Eggers, 62, of Ainsworth, attempting a Class 1 misdemeanor, $100.

Phillip A. Chamberlain, 61, of Ainsworth, attempting a Class 1 misdemeanor, $100.

Loren J. Sherman, 38, of Ainsworth, driving under suspension, $100.

Curtis G. Smith, 72, of Bismarck, N.D., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

James D. Kopsa, 21, of Omaha, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Mark W. McNally, 63, of Ainsworth, first offense reckless driving, $500 and sentenced to seven days in jail; leaving the scene of an accident or failing to furnish information, $500.

Michael A. Drake, 53, of Littleton, Colo., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

John S. Delinsky, 67, of Sartell, Minn., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Todd Goodridge, 24, of Ainsworth, third-degree assault, sentenced to 30 days in jail with credit for three days served; possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100; first-degree criminal trespassing, sentenced to 30 days in jail; contributing to the delinquency of a minor, sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Daniele T. Holley, 50, of Lincoln, first offense driving under the influence, $500, sentenced to six months of probation, driver’s license revoked for 60 days, and ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

Amanda McKinney, 23, of Ainsworth, possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Gary L. Pike, 60, of Long Pine, domestic assault, sentenced to three days in jail with credit for two days served.

Dante R. Redd, 28, of Omaha, driving under suspension, $100 and driver’s license revoked for one year.

Joseph R. Szmber III, 23, of Las Cruces, N.M., speeding 21-35 mph over the limit, $200.

Joni L. Tiller, 55, of Springview, second offense driving under the influence, $500, sentenced to 10 days in jail with credit for one day served, one year of probation, driver’s license revoked for 18 months, and ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

Dallas J. McCarville, 24, of Ainsworth, driving under suspension, driver’s license revoked for one year; improper or defective vehicle light, $25.

Leon L. Janis, 26, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75; driving under suspension, sentenced to one day in jail with credit for one day served, and driver’s license revoked for one year.

Thomas E. Little Thunder, 29, of Omaha, possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Brian E. Obst, 41, of Long Pine, disturbing the peace, $100.

Mason K. Gabel, 19, of Stromsburg, following too closely, $50.

Christopher S. Jameson, 29, of Ainsworth, criminal mischief $500 or less, $100.

Francois O. Maurice, 52, of Larringes, France, disobeying a traffic control device, $25.

Shane R. Cole, 20, of Ainsworth, driving under suspension, $100.

Kevin L. Jones, 35, of Red Lake, Minn., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75; attempting a Class 4 felony, $1,000.

Jack A. Solomon, 41, of Long Pine, first offense cruelly mistreating an animal, $25.

Robert B. Swartwout, 24, of Baltic, S.D., possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Chloe M. Cozad, 19, of Long Pine, zero tolerance violation, driver’s license impounded for 30 days.

* Northeast Board selects Barrett as college's ninth president

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

For the first time in its 91-year history, Northeast Community College will have a female president.

On Wednesday, the Northeast Board of Governors unanimously selected Dr. Leah Barrett, currently a vice president for a community college district in Wyoming, as the institution’s next president. Barrett, who will succeed Dr. Michael Chipps, becomes the ninth president of Northeast in January.

“I am looking forward to taking on this leadership role as we begin to talk about the future for Northeast,” Barrett said. “So what I share with you today is what I think is the foundation and the priorities for our institution. … And that surrounds the empowerment of our faculty and staff and our students to listen and to learn from each other and create a vision together of where we see Northeast Community College going (toward) 2025 and beyond.”

Barrett said as Northeast’s Vision 2020 strategic plan comes to a close next year, this is an ideal time for a presidential transition.

“The role of our college is to support the success of our students and be an effective partner in our region’s vitality. I look forward to engaging the college community and the citizens of northeast and north central Nebraska in conversations to lead us into the future.”

Barrett was selected from 63 applicants.

Board Chair Steve Anderson said Barrett’s breadth of experience and knowledge, with 27 years in higher education, complement the work taking place at Northeast.

“Northeast Community College has been searching for a leader who will continue to move the institution forward to meet the workforce and economic development priorities of the region and provide the essential services to ensure our students obtain a quality education. We have found those attributes in Dr. Barrett,” Anderson said. “Her background in student affairs is a strong asset in terms of student success and will serve Northeast well. The board also received excellent feedback from the college community and the public following her two open forums on campus. She will be an excellent president.” 

Barrett said she was drawn by the success Northeast Community College has achieved, which she said is evident across the college and in the community.

“There is so much pride in this institution. The photos of the faculty listing their credentials and their accomplishments (across campus) show a commitment to student success and faculty development,” the new president said. “The partnerships with business, education and industry have helped to create academic programs and build buildings. And the hundreds of people wearing Northeast gear on campus and in the community shows a sense of pride shared throughout the region. That’s the kind of institution I want to lead.”

Barrett comes to Northeast from the Northern Wyoming Community College District, where she is vice president for student affairs. She and her husband, Doug, have two sons, Sean, 14, and Finnian, 11.   

“I am so honored to have been selected as Northeast’s ninth president and to lead this very special place,” she said. “My family and I are eager to begin calling northeast Nebraska our home.”

Wednesday’s announcement fell within the timeline Anderson declared at the beginning of the search to hire a new president. Former Northeast administrators Mary Honke and Steve Schram, who have been serving as co-interim presidents since June 1, will remain in their positions until Barrett assumes office in early 2020.

* Lions Club Board approves assisting resident with eye care

(Posted 1:30 p.m. Oct. 23)

During its regular monthly meeting Monday, the Ainsworth Lions Club approved an application to assist a local resident financially with eye care.

The Nebraska Lions Club District 38-I maintains an Individual Assistance Fund for financial assistance for medical issues related to sight, hearing, and diabetes.  In accordance with the guidelines, the Ainsworth Lions Club takes applications to assist those who need it relating to eye care.

Connie Lentz thanked the 13 members of the club who assisted with the Adopt-A-Highway Cleanup project Sept. 29. Eight bags of trash were collected.

Jerry Ehlers thanked the 15 members of the club who volunteered to take tickets during the four home football games.

The County Fair Concessions Project review was tabled until the Lions Club meeting in November.

A discussion was held regarding the pros and cons of continuing to alternate monthly meetings between a noon and evening meeting time or changing to all evening meetings.

With no motion presented to make any changes, Club President Vergil Heyer said the club will continue to alternate the monthly meeting times until such time that a change is warranted.

Lentz presented information regarding new Lions Club shirts, with ladies’ and men’s style shirts being available for review. She is seeking additional information regarding the color options available for the Lions Club logo to be placed on the shirt.   

The Nebraska Lions Club Fall Rally will be held on Nov. 1-3 at Grand Island, with the program and registration information available in the Nebraska Lion magazine. Heyer and Jerry Ehlers indicated they planned to attend.  If any member is interested in attending, they are to contact Heyer.

Last year, the Ainsworth Lions Club adopted a budget to finance Lions Club projects in accordance with its mission “To Serve.” The club dedicated $1,500 to health care; $2,000 to community service projects, $2,000 for future designation, $3,000 for playground rubber mulch and borders, and $1,500 for miscellaneous projects for a total budget of $10,000.

Ehlers provided a report of expenditures in each category for the 2018-19 fiscal year, with the club spending a total of $6,476.28.

After discussion, the Lions Club Board approved an additional $10,000 for projects, including $6,000 for playground rubber mulch and borders, $1,500 for health care, $1,000 for community service projects, and $1,500 for miscellaneous projects.

Heyer said the club continues to develop plans for an informational meeting in January with area medical personnel regarding financial assistance that is available through the Ainsworth Lions Club and Lions Club District 38-I Individual Assistance Fund for eligible area residents. Evan Evans and Crystal Dailey are assisting with the project.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Lions Club Board is scheduled for Nov. 18 in Canyon Creek.

* Brown County taxable sales back to normal in July after June spike

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Oct. 23)

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of July 2019 and July 2018 Net Taxable Sales
for Nebraska Counties and Selected Cities

or City

Net Taxable

Net Taxable


Sales Tax

Sales Tax

















































Keya Paha
























State Total






Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of July 2019 and July 2018
Motor Vehicle Sales Tax Collections by County

or City

Net Taxable

Net Taxable


Sales Tax

Sales Tax































Keya Paha












State Total






* Brink uses near perfect tie-breaker score to win Week 8 KBRB Football Contest

(Posted 10:15 a.m. Oct. 22)

It was another tough week of games to navigate during the KBRB Football Contest. Illinois’ upset of Wisconsin in the college ranks tripped up almost everyone on the Week 8 card.

Five contestants missed two games, including the Illinois win, to tie for the top spot on the Week 8 card and send us to the tie-breaker. With Nebraska on a bye week, the Penn State 28-21 win at home against Michigan was used for the tie-breaking game.

All five contestants correctly picked Penn State to win. Roger Brink of Atkinson missed the final score by a single point, picking the Nittany Lions 28-20. That nearly spot-on score earns Brink the $40 first-place certificate.

Second place was tight. Becky Schelm of Ainsworth picked Penn State to win, 38-21, to miss the final by 10 points. That earned Schelm the $10 second-place certificate by two points, as Mike Swan of Springview had the Nittany Lions picked to win by a 20-17 margin to miss the total by 12. Doug Walton of Ainsworth missed two games during Week 8, but missed the final score by 21 points with a 35-7 prediction in the tie-breaker, and Greg Straka of Atkinson missed the tie-break total by 25 points with his 14-10 Penn State prediction.

Winners may pick up their gift certificates at the KBRB Studios. Certificates may be redeemed from any of our contest sponsors.

The final week of the KBRB Football Contest is upon us. Remember the early deadline this week, as cards must be submitted to the KBRB Studios by 4 p.m. Thursday or carry a Thursday postmark to be eligible.

Week 9 KBRB Football Contest cards are available now from Speedy Mart, Buckles Automotive and Plains Equipment in Ainsworth, Circle B Livestock in Bassett, from the West Plains Bank in Springview, and from Speedy Mart in Atkinson.

* Elsmere Road closed to traffic beginning Tuesday for road raising work

(Posted 1:15 p.m. Oct. 21)

Brown County Commissioner Buddy Small reported the Elsmere Road will be closed beginning Tuesday morning until further notice while a contractor raises the road level east of Clear Lake.

The Elsmere Road has had more than a foot of standing water across it for much of 2019, and the commissioners recently approved a contract with Perret Construction of Valentine to raise the road level.

Perret Construction will begin raising the road Tuesday, which will close the road to all traffic in that area. The stretch will not be passable, and those needing access are urged to use an alternate route.

The county will notify KBRB when the work is completed and the Elsmere Road is reopened to traffic.

* Sandhills Care Center finishes September with 25 residents

(Posted 8:15 a.m. Oct. 21)

The Sandhills Care Center Board received updates regarding the driveway replacement project during Friday’s meeting. The northern portion of the circle driveway east of the facility has now been replaced.

Administrator Stephanie Kinzie told the board there are currently 25 residents in the Sandhills Care Center, with 14 residents paying privately, 10 receiving Medicaid assistance and one receiving Medicare assistance. There was one admission during September, and three residents passed away.

The Sandhills Care Center generated $162,735 in revenue during September, with expenses of $143,025 for a net profit during the month of $19,710.

With the facility still having to utilize some agency staff in its nursing department, those expenses amounted to $24,651 in September.

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

* NDOT provides information on Highway 20 improvement project in Ainsworth

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 18)

Representatives from the Nebraska Department of Transportation held an open house Thursday in the Ainsworth Conference Center to give the public a look at the planned renovation of Highway 20 through Ainsworth.

The project, scheduled for construction in the spring of 2021 with a completion date of the fall of 2022, would place new concrete on Highway 20 through Ainsworth, with the NDOT also widening the highway on the east and west sides of the city.

District 8 Engineer Mark Kovar said the estimated $6 million project will require the NDOT to obtain temporary easements on 50 tracts of private property, mainly for sidewalk construction. The project includes a sidewalk on the south side of the highway along the entirety of the city to East City Park, with a sidewalk on the north side ending at Rodeway Inn. Kovar said obtaining right of way will be a factor in how far the sidewalk stretches on the north side of the highway.

“We have not had any issues so far,” Kovar said of obtaining temporary easements. “People have been welcoming. We have had some questions on businesses keeping access to the highway during construction.”

In addition to the sidewalk, Carl Hart with the Department of Transportation said the project would increase the width of Highway 20, extending a center turn lane west of Wilson Street to accommodate trucks that utilize that street, and extending a center turn lane east past Bomgaars and Ainsworth Motors. The intersections at both Wilson Street and Meadville Avenue will be widened to accommodate turning semis.

Seven current driveways would be eliminated between Elm and Herrington streets, however, all businesses would still have access. Three current driveways would be eliminated on the south side of the highway, with four being removed on the north side.

Anyone with questions on the project who was unable to attend Thursday’s open house may contact the NDOT District 8 office.

* Driver escapes injury during Wednesday morning rollover accident

(Posted 10 a.m. Oct. 17)

A driver avoided injury Wednesday during a one-vehicle rollover accident southeast of Ainsworth.
According to the Brown County Sheriff’s Department, at 7:35 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16, on 432nd Avenue approximately 3 miles south of the Highway 20 intersection, a 2006 Jeep Cherokee, driven by Kady L. Crist, 18, of Ainsworth, was traveling north when the driver lost control and the vehicle rolled in the west ditch.
Crist was transported by the Brown County Ambulance Association to the Brown County Hospital for evaluation.
The Jeep was considered a total loss.

* Wednesday evening fire destroys pickup east of Ainsworth

(Posted 8 a.m. Oct. 17)

The Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department responded to a report of a pickup on fire Wednesday evening east of Ainsworth.

According to Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala, at approximately 7:40 p.m. Wednesday, a pickup was reported on fire 1 mile east of Ainsworth on Highway 20.

Fiala said a 1979 Chevy flatbed pickup, driven by Jakob Tech of Page, was traveling west when the driver pulled over because the vehicle wasn’t running well. Upon stopping, Tech saw flames coming from the engine compartment of the pickup.

The fire completely engulfed the Chevy, and the pickup was a total loss. Firefighters extinguished the flames from the pickup parked along the north shoulder of the highway, and assisted the Brown County Sheriff’s Department and Nebraska State Patrol with traffic control on Highway 20.

Firefighters returned to the Ainsworth Fire Hall by 8:30 p.m.

Fiala said the Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department is giving rides on the fire truck to Ainsworth preschool and elementary students this week, so people will likely hear the vehicle sirens in town Thursday and Friday.

* Rock County Hospital receives zero care deficiencies during state survey

(Posted 5:45 p.m. Oct. 16)

The state of Nebraska visited Rock County Hospital Oct. 7-9 to check for compliance with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and state regulations regarding hospital administration and patient care practices. 
Rock County Hospital received zero deficiencies in the survey and will not have to submit a corrective action plan to the state of Nebraska. 
The regulations are enacted by the federal and state government to ensure safe and respectful care is being provided for the patients that are seen in hospitals across the county.

* Stout wins KBRB Football Contest for Week 7 in tie-breaker

(Posted noon Oct. 15)

Five contestants missed just one of the 15 games on the Week 7 KBRB Football Contest card. Four of the five were tripped up by North Central’s win over defending state champion Creighton on the high school side, while one missed Purdue’s home victory over Maryland on the college side.

Melissa Doke of Ainsworth, Olivia Beel of Johnstown, Crystal Stout of Bassett, and Donnie Tielke and Roger Brink of Atkinson missed just one game. That sent us to the tie-breaker, Minnesota’s 34-7 victory against Nebraska.

Four of the five contestants picked Minnesota to win. Only Brink had faith in the Huskers, which cost him a shot at the win.

Stout picked the Gophers, 40-17, missing the total by 16 points to edge Doke by a single point for first. Doke picked Minnesota, 34-24, missing the final by 17. Beel had the Gophers, 32-24, missing by 19 points, and Tielke picked a 42-24 Minnesota win to miss by 25 points.

With the tie-breaker, Crystal Stout of Bassett wins the first-place, $40 gift certificate. Doke earns the $10 runner-up certificate.

Winners may pick up their gift certificates at the KBRB Studios.

Week 8 KBRB Football Contest cards are available now from Speedy Mart, Buckles Automotive and Plains Equipment in Ainsworth, Circle B Livestock in Bassett, from the West Plains Bank in Springview, and from Speedy Mart in Atkinson.
Cards must be submitted by 4 p.m. Friday to the KBRB Studios or carry a Friday postmark to be eligible.

* School Board approves replacing chiller damaged by lightning strike

(Posted 8:45 a.m. Oct. 15)

The Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education approved several capital expenditures Monday for building repairs and improvements, the largest of which replaced the building’s chiller that was damaged by a lightning strike.

The board reviewed three bids for the chiller replacement, the lowest of which came from Conditioned Air Mechanical of Grand Island in the amount of $184,657.

Board member Scott Erthum said he thought the district would end up with three comparable bids, but that was not the case.

The second bid of $225,603 came from Rasmussen Mechanical Services of Rapid City, S.D., the company where the district’s current chiller was purchased. Tessier’s Inc. of Mitchell, S.D., submitted a bid of $310,000.

Erthum said the Tessier’s bid was not considered due to the price.

“The two systems are a little different, but both will do the job,” Erthum said. “We were comfortable going with the low bidder.”

Erthum said the chiller from Conditioned Air Mechanical would use six smaller compressors to cool the building, while the system from Rasmussen would use three screw compressors. Erthum said the cost to replace one of the small compressors was $8,000, while the cost to replace the larger compressor was $40,000. He said the new chiller would use about 30 percent less energy than the current chiller.

Conditioned Air Mechanical also provided the lowest bid for preventive maintenance service at $10,675 per year. Rasmussen Mechanical Services bid $12,170 to provide preventive maintenance annually.

Superintendent Dale Hafer said he had worked with Conditioned Air Mechanical for the past 12 years while at Sandhills Public Schools.

“We never had an issue with their products or their service,” Hafer said. “Since we have a crane we can rent locally, and a local electrician who can assist with the project, we should be able to knock that bid down under $180,000.”

Hafer said the district will receive at least $92,000 from Alicap as an insurance claim following the lightning strike that can be put toward the cost of the new chiller.

The board, with Mark Johnson absent Monday, approved the low bid from Conditioned Air Mechanical.

In a related item, the board approved a $22,031 invoice for repairs made to the chiller prior to the lightning strike, as well as an $8,050 invoice for new controls for the system, which Erthum said would be useable with the new chiller.

The Board of Education Monday approved numerous other improvement and repair projects for the building, including $9,560 from Glass Edge to replace the doors near the band room on the southeast side of the school building, and a $4,871 invoice from Glass Edge to reframe the doors near the McAndrew Gym locker rooms following the pouring of concrete in that area.

The board approved a $5,241 invoice from Morrison Underground Sprinklers for repairs to 1,200 feet of sprinkler line at the East City Park football field that was leaking. Hafer said the leaking lines were on the east end of the field, but the district would likely have to make additional repairs to the rest of the sprinkler lines at the football field in the future.

The board approved the purchase of an 84-inch broom and brush attachment to remove snow from the school grounds.

“With all the new concrete we have, a couple of you discussed getting a quote for this,” Hafer said. “It is not something we absolutely have to do, but we felt it was worth at least visiting about. There is nothing better to remove ice and keep the sidewalks clean.”

Board member Brad Wilkins said slips and falls are the number one accident that the school’s liability insurer has to deal with annually.

“The current bucket is wider than the sidewalk,” Wilkins said. “It catches the grass and tears up the turf.”

Board member Jim Arens said the brush would keep the new concrete from getting damaged.

The Bobcat brush attachment quoted by Titan Machinery cost $4,510, which Hafer said included about a $1,500 municipal discount. The board approved the purchase.

The board also approved the purchase of a new recorder for the district’s security system. By purchasing a high-definition recorder, the district would receive two new cameras to replace two that were currently down.

The cost to purchase the HD recorder is $4,924 from Safe-N-Secure, which includes the two cameras, while Hafer said just purchasing two analog cameras would cost the district $1,895.

“We are going to have to go to a digital system at some point,” Hafer said. “This recorder converts the signal from analog and gives you two free cameras. Then we can just replace the other cameras as we need to.”

Erthum said it didn’t make any sense just to buy two outdated cameras.

There are 16 cameras in the high school and six in the elementary. The board approved the $4,924 purchase as recommended. A quote to replace the entire system all at once would have cost the district $15,339.

The board approved an invoice from Nebraska Safety and Fire Equipment to make repairs to the district’s malfunctioning fire alarm system, which Hafer said was leading to several false alarms prior to the start of school.

Hafer said, “It feels like we are hitting you with a lot of things tonight, but this system may be the next one we have to upgrade at some point.”

The board held off on replacing the showers in the McAndrew Gymnasium locker rooms after Hafer said the quotes came in above what the district had estimated.

Lytle’s Plumbing of Long Pine bid $17,816 to replace the locker room showers, while Saner Plumbing of Ainsworth bid $27,431 for the project.

“We were still pretty surprised at how high the bids were,” Hafer said. “If you want to move forward, that’s fine. Otherwise, we can just keep this on the radar. We have made some nice headway on the locker rooms already.”

Arens said he appreciated everyone who helped make improvements to the locker room.

“I would like to see this get done, but maybe we should hold off for a year based on some of these other things that we have encountered,” Arens said.

The board did not approve either bid for the work.

The board also opted to place gravel at the school’s playground equipment for the time being and remove worn out rubber padding. The price for placing rubber mulch at the playground came in at $14,475 for 6 inches of mulch. Hafer said the district’s liability insurance provider actually recommended 12 inches of rubber mulch, which would double the cost.

Hafer said gravel is $30 to $35 per cubic yard, and would be a much more inexpensive option for the short term.

Arens said, ideally, he would like to see rubber mulch used, but the cost was prohibitive.

Elementary Principal Curtis Childers said the current rubber padding is a safety concern.

“Gravel would be fine with me at this point to alleviate that safety concern,” Childers said.

While approving the gravel placement, the board also will look into having the North Central Development Center assist the school with a potential rubber tire recycling grant application through the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy for rubber mulch.

In a final action item Monday, the board approved an option enrollment request allowing sixth-grade student Sidon Brock to opt into the Ainsworth district from Rock County. Hafer said the Rock County Public Schools Board of Education had approved allowing Brock to option out of that district.

During his report, Hafer said the gym roof replacement project was pushed back a week due to weather delaying the construction crew. Work was now scheduled to begin Oct. 21, though Guarantee Roofing indicated it was confident the work would still be completed by the Nov. 15 deadline.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education is scheduled for Nov. 11. The board meetings will move to 7 p.m. beginning in November and continuing through March.

* Forest management cost-share workshop scheduled Oct. 22 in Ainsworth

(Posted 1:45 p.m. Oct. 14)

The Nebraska Forest Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will host a free cost-share informational workshop Oct. 22 in Ainsworth.

The workshop is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Oct. 22 in the Ainsworth Conference Center. Each organization will explain the various processes of forest management, application processes, and details of how a project should be completed in relation to the respective programs.

Nebraska Forest Service representative Benjamin Bohall said the workshop will also offer information on various aspects of land management.

“We’re excited to work with our partners to let people know what options are available,” Bohall said. “There is a lot of information out there. Our goal is to break it all down and help landowners, land managers, and contractors take advantage of what these programs have to offer.”

Free lunch is provided with registration. After lunch, the group will visit a local producer involved in making biochar to see how it’s made, and also visit a local landowner who has various NRCS and NFS projects that span the last seven years.

To register, visit the web at

* Highway 12 near Bristow reopens to traffic after landslide

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Oct. 11)

The Nebraska Department of Transportation has repaired a landslide that closed Highway 12 near Bristow on Sept. 19.

The highway is now open to traffic, and A&R Construction of Plainview will continue working to stabilize the soil in the area. A short section of the roadway near mile marker 130 will have gravel surfacing until asphalt surfacing can be placed.

Speed will be reduced through the work zone. The project will be completed in November.

Motorists are asked to drive cautiously in and near construction zones and to expect delays.

* City Council approves installing sprinkler system at East City Park

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Oct. 10)

The Ainsworth City Council on Wednesday approved installing underground sprinklers for a large portion of East City Park.

The council approved the low estimate of $27,266 submitted by Morrison Underground Sprinklers of Bassett. The sprinklers would be installed from south of the East City Park main entrance to the sidewalk just north of the Ainsworth Swimming Pool. The sprinkler system will stretch east to the gravel road running through the park near the tennis courts.

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said Jim Clopton was currently using large hose reels and heavy sprinklers to water the park. She said the reels needed to be replaced, and going with new equipment would have cost the city in the neighborhood of $20,000.

Schroedl said, with Clopton taking care of East City Park by himself, she felt this was a good opportunity to use the funding to install a sprinkler system instead of replacing the manual equipment.

“For not much more money, this would save Jimmy some time since he is a one-man show out there,” Schroedl said.

Schroedl said Morrison Underground Sprinklers installed the systems at the ball fields at East City Park. She said the company also services the systems, starting them and checking the lines and sprinkler heads in the spring, and also drains the lines in the fall.

Four Star Sprinkler Service of Bassett submitted an estimate of $32,000 for the sprinkler installation.

The council unanimously approved the estimate from Morrison Underground Sprinklers.

In other business Wednesday, Mayor Jeremiah Sullivan broke a 2-2 council deadlock to approve having Dana F Cole handle the city’s annual audit.

Dana F Cole submitted a three-year bid of $10,700 for the first year’s audit, with the cost increasing to $11,200 for the second year and $11,800 for the third year of the contract.

AMGL of Grand Island supplied the council with a three-year bid of $14,400 for the first year, $14,650 for the second year, and $14,900 for the third year.

Schroedl said Dana F Cole has handled the city’s audit for several years, but she said the company has caught some heat over the last year.

“They were just doing their job,” Schroedl said.

Councilwoman Deb Hurless said she understood AMGL was more expensive, but she said that company had audited an impressive list of public entities.

“Would another firm be more apt to push us to get some things done?” Hurless asked.

Councilman Brad Fiala said he would like to have a fresh set of eyes look at the city’s books once in a while, but he said a $10,000 difference in price over a three-year period was a factor.

Councilman Greg Soles agreed.

“If it was $1,000 difference per year, that is different,” Soles said. “Some of the recommendations Dana F Cole has made over the past five years we just haven’t implemented.”

Schroedl said there wasn’t much the city could do about the annual finding of a lack of segregation of duties unless the council wanted to hire more staff.

“Dana F Cole is well acquainted with what we do,” Schroedl said. “State statutes dictate how municipalities are audited, so both companies would be auditing the same thing.”

Soles and Fiala voted to hire Dana F Cole for a three-year contract to audit the city. Hurless and Councilman Schyler Schenk voted against.

In breaking the deadlock and approving Dana F Cole for the work, Sullivan said he was concerned about the difference in price.

“If it was closer, I would look at the other company,” Sullivan said.

In a final action item Wednesday, the council approved a resolution to sign the annual certification of program compliance to the Nebraska Board of Public Roads Classifications and Standards.

Schroedl said Highway Superintendent Lloyd Smith worked with the city to create the forms. She said the city was no longer required to submit all the forms to the Nebraska Department of Transportation, but only has to certify that the forms are completed.

“We only have to send them two pages now instead of about 50,” the city administrator said.

During her report, Schroedl said she was working with engineering firm Olsson Associates for a permanent fix for the water main lines damaged on the west side of the city during the September flooding.

“We reached out to contractors to potentially bore lines under Bone Creek,” Schroedl said.

Schroedl reported the Nebraska Department of Transportation has scheduled an informational open house from 5 until 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, in the Conference Center regarding the proposed plan to renovate Highway 20 through Ainsworth with new concrete and sidewalks and widen the highway on both the east and west ends of the city.

The next regular meeting of the Ainsworth City Council is scheduled for 5 p.m. Nov. 13.

* Bassett's Rocktoberfest celebration cancelled due to weather forecast

(Posted 2:45 p.m. Oct. 9)

Due to the cold weather and gusting winds in the forecast for Saturday, the Rocktoberfest Committee in Bassett has decided to cancel this year’s event.
Anyone who pre-purchased a wristband for Rocktoberfest may contact any of the event organizers for a refund. The committee members will also be in touch with event sponsors.
The Rock County Hospital vendor fair will be held as scheduled beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday in downtown Bassett.

* Vehicle destroyed in Tuesday afternoon fire near Ainsworth Community Schools

(Posted 11 a.m. Oct. 9)

Fire Prevention Week has gotten off to a rough start, with firefighters called to a second fire in Ainsworth in as many days.

After the Super 8 Hotel sustained substantial fire and smoke damage Monday, the Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department received a call Tuesday afternoon of a vehicle fire near Ainsworth Community Schools.

Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala said the call was received at 4:40 p.m. Tuesday of a vehicle on fire at the corner of Second and Elm streets near the school. Fiala said a Dodge pickup, owned by Bobby Stewart of Bassett, was engulfed in flames by the time firefighters arrived on scene.

Fiala said the fire started somewhere in the engine compartment. The Dodge was considered a complete loss.

Fiala said firefighters extinguished the fire prior to it spreading, and the flames were contained to the vehicle itself.

Firefighters returned to the Ainsworth Fire Hall at approximately 5:15 p.m. Tuesday.

* Beel wins tie-breaker to capture KBRB Week 6 Football Contest

(Posted 3:30 p.m. Oct. 8)

Through six weeks of the KBRB Football Contest, the elusive perfect card has yet to be submitted. Three contestants missed just two of the 15 high school and college games on the Week 6 card, so the tie-breaker again comes into play to determine the winners.

Terry Hollenbeck of Long Pine, Nathan Finley of Valentine and Adam Beel of Johnstown each missed just two games in Week 6, and both came in the college ranks.

Going to the tie-breaker, all three contestants correctly picked Nebraska to defeat Northwestern. Adam Beel’s score prediction of 28-17 Huskers missed the 13-10 final by 22 total points and earns Beel the first place, $40 gift certificate.

Terry Hollenbeck picked the Huskers to win, 31-21, to miss the total by 29 points. That earns Hollenbeck the $10 second-place certificate. Nathan Finley had the Huskers picked, 50-30, to miss the total by 57 points.

Winners may pick up their gift certificates at the KBRB Studios.

Week 7 KBRB Football Contest cards are available now from Speedy Mart, Buckles Automotive and Plains Equipment in Ainsworth, Circle B Livestock in Bassett, from the West Plains Bank in Springview, and from Speedy Mart in Atkinson.
Cards must be submitted by 4 p.m. Friday to the KBRB Studios or carry a Friday postmark to be eligible.

* Highway 83 road-raising project south of Valentine underway

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

The Nebraska Department of Transportation began raising the roadbed of Highway 83 near milepost 184 between Thedford and Valentine.

Higher than normal rainfall has kept the section of Highway 83 about 35 miles north of Thedford and 28 miles south of Valentine that has been underwater since June. The work is necessary to provide motorists a dry roadway to travel in advance of a strong winter storm that is forecast to hit the area this week.

The roadway is being raised with asphalt millings and the work is being done by NDOT maintenance forces. The roadway will remain open to traffic during construction but will be reduced to one-lane. The traffic signals that are currently controlling one-lane traffic in the area will remain in operation until NDOT can further evaluate the condition of the roadway.

The work is anticipated to be completed in two days. Motorists are reminded to use caution when driving through construction zones and selected alternate routes, and to wear seatbelts.  To stay up to date on the latest closure information for this project, call 511 or visit

* AHS homecoming candidates chosen, parade cancelled due to weather forecast

(Posted 1:15 p.m. Oct. 8)

Homecoming week is being celebrated at Ainsworth High School. Coronation of the king and queen will follow the football game against Niobrara-Verdigre Friday. The homecoming parade Friday has been cancelled due to the weather forecast, but a pep rally will be held in the gym.

Homecoming queen candidates are Erin Painter, representing fall sports; Kaitlin Bussinger, representing the senior class; Bailey Kinnick, representing vocational clubs; Rylee Rice, representing A Club, and Raven Stewart, representing fine arts.

King candidates are Jon Ortner, representing fall sports; Oren Pozehl, representing the senior class; Colt Temple, representing vocational clubs; Sloan Raymond, representing A Club; and Tristan Hanqvist, representing fine arts.

The annual homecoming dance follows the football games from 10 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. in the school cafeteria.

* Team Jack radiothon raises $120,000 for cancer research

(Posted noon Oct. 8)

Team Jack raised nearly $120,000 for child brain cancer research Sept. 26 during the Team Jack Foundation’s seventh annual state-wide radiothon. The day-long event was aired on over 25 stations throughout Nebraska and beyond.

The Radiothon broadcasts stories of families affected by child brain cancer as well as those of popular figures like Rex Burkhead, Coach Jovan Dewitt, Dick Vitale, Matt Davison, Dr. Don Coulter of the University of Nebraska Medical Center and many more. The objective of the Radiothon is to not only raise research funds for child brain cancer, but to also raise awareness for the disease and the need for research funding.

This year’s Radiothon was hosted by The Home Agency at Elwood, population 690. Leading up to the event and throughout the day, the community came together to support the cause.  The pre-kindergarten class walked down their Pennies for a Purpose donation totaling over $272 and the Gothenburg Lady Swedes Volleyball Team stopped on their way to a game with a donation of over $400. A visit from the entire K-12 Elwood Public Schools and the community-wide bake sale were other highlights of the day.  In addition to their presenting sponsorship, Jim & Sharri Baldonado supplied every student at Elwood Public Schools with a Team Jack Nebraska t-shirt.

“On behalf of The Home Agency, the village of Elwood and the Baldonado family, we would like to all say thank you for letting us host the 2019 Team Jack Radiothon here in Elwood,” Jim Baldonado said. “People are still talking about it and how much fun it was.  We are already talking about what we can do different next year to make it even better, as we are hoping we can host again.”

With about 90 minutes left on the air, a caller pledged to give $10,000 if an additional $10,000 could be raised prior to the radiothon’s end. The radio host, Kevin Thomas and the Foundation put out a plea on the radio and online and the phones rang non-stop. The matching $10,000 in donations was raised bumping the day’s total to over $105,000 for child brain cancer research. In the week following the radiothon, donations have continued to be made bringing the overall event total to nearly $120,000.

Since 2013, the annual Team Jack Foundation Radiothon has raised more than $530,000 for child brain cancer research.

* Fire causes extensive damage at Ainsworth's Super 8 Hotel

(Posted 3:15 p.m. Oct. 7)

A Monday morning fire caused substantial damage to a business on the south side of Highway 20 in Ainsworth.

At approximately 6:45 a.m., the Brown County Sheriff’s Department received a call that fire alarms were sounding at the Super 8 Hotel.

Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala said, upon the department’s arrival, heavy smoke was billowing out of window air-conditioners on the hotel’s second floor.

Fiala said firefighters worked with the manager to make sure all guests had evacuated the hotel, and entered the building to find the source of the smoke.

“It took a while to find the actual fire,” Fiala said. “The fire was finally located in two rooms in the upstairs that were completely burned, and the bathrooms of two rooms directly below burned."

Fiala said firefighters suppressed the flames and began ventilating the smoke, which had spread throughout the hotel.

The fire chief said the two upstairs rooms and two downstairs rooms on the east side of the hotel were heavily damaged by the fire, and the entire hotel sustained heavy smoke damage. The electricity and water to the building are currently turned off, as the fire burned a hole through the first floor and second floor interior floors.

The four rooms that sustained the heaviest damage were not occupied at the time the fire started. All guests were safely evacuated from the hotel when the initial alarms sounded.

Firefighters remained on scene until 11:30 a.m. searching for any additional hot spots. The Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department received mutual aid from the Long Pine and Bassett departments.

Fiala said investigators from the Nebraska State Fire Marshal’s Office are on scene to determine how the fire started.

Fiala urged motorists to never drive past barricades the department sets out when responding to a call. He said motorists Monday drove past the department’s barricades and drove over fire hoses, which then must be tested and more than likely replaced.

Motorists not only risk inhibiting the efforts of firefighters to effectively respond to a fire call, but motorists could face fines and civil penalties if they damage firehose by driving over it.

* NDOT to host open house Oct. 17 on planned Highway 20 improvements

(Posted 10:45 a.m. Oct. 3)

The Nebraska Department of Transportation will hold a public information open house regarding the proposed improvement to Highway 20 in Brown County Oct. 17. 

The meeting will be held from 5 until 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, in the Ainsworth Conference Center.

The proposed project would reconstruct approximately 1.50 miles of Highway 20 beginning approximately 300 feet west of the Ainsworth city limits at milepost 241, and extending east
to milepost 243 through the city to 700 feet east of the city limits.

Proposed improvements consist of new concrete pavement, curb and gutter, surfaced shoulders, storm sewer, culverts, sidewalks and curb ramps. The three-lane section of Highway 20 would be
extended on the west side of Ainsworth to approximately 500 feet west of Wilson Street, and on the east side of Ainsworth to approximately 1,800 feet east of Richardson Drive.

The proposed project would require the acquisition of additional property rights, which could include new right-of-way, control of access, permanent easements, and/or temporary easements.

Property owners who are impacted will be contacted once the final design has been established.

Construction could begin as early as the spring of 2021 and be completed by the fall of 2022. The proposed project would be constructed under traffic with lane closures controlled by appropriate traffic control.

Personnel from the Department of Transportation will be present to answer questions and receive comments from 5 until 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, in the Ainsworth Conference Center.

* September is wettest in Ainsworth history

(Posted 7:45 a.m. Oct. 3)

September will go down as the wettest in the city's history for the ninth month, as nearly 10 inches of rain fell that led to substantial flooding.
Ainsworth Weather Observer Gerry Osborn recorded 9.98 inches of rain during the month, which brings an already above-average 2019 to an unfathomable 34.21 inches, which is 14.15 inches above normal.
To hear the complete September weather summary, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Gerry Osborn September 2019 weather summary.mp3

* Commissioners approve $200,000 transfer to assist in flood recovery

(Posted 7:15 a.m. Oct. 3)

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Brown County Commissioners, the board approved transferring $200,000 from the county’s inheritance tax fund to its disaster fund to aid in recovery efforts from September’s flooding.

A disaster declaration has not yet been declared for the county following more than 9 inches of rain that fell on consecutive nights in September.

Should a disaster be declared, the county would be eligible to recoup approximately 80 percent of the cost of repairs.

Central Nebraska Economic Development District Director Judy Petersen talked to the commissioners about the potential for disaster recovery funding.

Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin updated the board on the work the roads department has done to repair damage from the flooding. Representatives from the Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District discussed the Long Pine Creek Watershed restoration project now that the box culvert on Sand Draw Creek at Meadville Avenue has been completely washed away.

Property owners Dan and Ginger Brockman discussed concerns with the board regarding the Sisson Bridge north of their property.

The board signed letters to be sent to property owners Ted Keys and Joe Giles regarding the purchase of fill dirt for the Elsmere Road raising project.

Prior to adjourning, the board entered into executive session with Brown County Attorney Andy Taylor to discuss pending litigation.

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

* Commissioners hear from residents about condition of Road 889

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 2)

During Tuesday’s meeting, the Rock County Commissioners heard from several residents regarding a culvert project on Road 889.

Those in attendance expressed concern regarding the maintenance of Road 889 and the lack of shoulders on the roadway. The commissioners agreed to discuss the status of the project with the contractor and engineer.

The commissioners voted to allow two companies access to county road right of way. The board approved a request from Viaero Wireless for a road crossing and parallel occupancy permit on right of way in Section 3, Township 20 North, Range 19 West. The board also approved a request from Black Hills Energy to install 2-inch natural gas pipeline under 442nd Avenue from Section 2, Township 29 North, Range 20 West to Section 3, Township 29 North, Range 20 West.

In a final roads item Tuesday, the commissioners approved a contract with Gentele Construction to install a culvert on Road 890.

In other business, the commissioners approved Rock County’s annual certification of program compliance to the Nebraska Board of Public Roads Classifications and Standards for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

The board voted to set Rock County Government Day for Nov. 5, when high school students visit the courthouse to learn about the duties of elected officials.

The commissioners set fees and fines for late returns to the Rock County Library as recommended by the Library Board and Director Macey Lackaff.

The commissioners set a fee of $45 per day for the Rock County Jail to house inmates from other counties. The board also approved a $10 vehicle inspection fee and a $5 gun permit fee to be charged by the sheriff’s department.

The next meeting of the Rock County Commissioners is scheduled for 9 a.m. Oct. 15.

* Mundorf wins tie-break for Week 5 KBRB Football Contest

(Posted 1 p.m. Oct. 1)

Nine contestants missed two games during the KBRB Football Contest for Week 5. Elm Creek’s road win at Burwell on the high school side and Baylor’s home victory over Iowa State on the college side were the most widely missed games on the Week 5 card.

With nine contestants tying with two misses from the 15 games on the card, that sent us to the tie-breaker, Ohio State’s 48-7 victory over Nebraska.

Six of the nine contestants picked Ohio State to win, which ended the hope for Nebraska pickers Mike Swan of Springview, and Casey Jones and Mary Gambill of Ainsworth.

Jacque Richey, Travis Mundorf and Kristie Mundorf of Springview; Katrina Beel of Johnstown, Andrew Walton of Ainsworth, and Roger Brink of Atkinson all correctly picked Ohio State to win in the tie-breaking game.

That took us to the second tie-breaker, the closest to the actual 48-7 score. Kristie Mundorf picked the Buckeyes to win by a 49-21 margin, missing the total by just 15 points. That earns Mundorf the $40 first-place certificate.

Andrew Walton picked a 63-14 Ohio State win, which missed the total by 22 points and earned Walton the second-place $10 certificate.

Travis Mundorf missed the total by 24 points, followed by Jacque Richey (30 points off), Katrina Beel (33 points) and Roger Brink (34 points).

Winners may pick up their certificates at the KBRB studios.

KBRB Football Contest Week 6 cards are available now from Speedy Mart, Buckles Automotive and Plains Equipment in Ainsworth, Circle B Livestock in Bassett, from the West Plains Bank in Springview, and from Speedy Mart in Atkinson.

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



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