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

E-mail us at kbrb@sscg.net

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

* Margaret E. "Peg" Carlson, 94, of Bassett 10:30 a.m. May 24

* Sally A. Stewart, 65, of Fullerton formerly of Bassett 2 p.m. May 20

* Doris Marie (Best) Greder, 80, of North Platte formerly of Wood Lake 10:30 a.m. May 18

Meeting reports located below for:

May 14 Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education

May 14 Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors

May 9 Ainsworth City Council

April 19 Ainsworth City Council

April 17 Brown County Commissioners

* Portion of Highway 12 reopens east of Spencer

(Posted 3:15 p.m. May 17)

Highway 12 from Spencer east to the Niobrara State Park has reopened ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, according to the Nebraska Department of Transportation and the Game and Parks Commission. Access to the park was reestablished last week following historic spring flooding that closed access roads and bridges.
In an effort to direct travelers to open routes, the NDOT has placed a variable message board on the highway to advise travelers that access to the park is open. The bridges on Highway 12 east of Niobrara State Park remain closed, with no direct access to the park from the town of Niobrara.
“The NDOT has been working closely with Game and Parks to ensure visitors are able to access the Niobrara State Park,” said Mark Kovar, NDOT District 8 Engineer. “We understand the impact the park has on the local community and will continue our efforts to repair roads and bridges damaged by the flooding to allow park visitors to enjoy the beauty of northeast Nebraska.”

* Area students named to UNK Dean's List for spring semester

(Posted 7 a.m. May 17)

The University of Nebraska at Kearney announced students who earned a place on the dean’s list for the spring 2019 semester.

Students who are on the dean’s list must have completed 12 credit hours or more of classes with a 3.5 grade point average or better on a 4.0 scale.

Area students named to the spring semester dean’s list include:

 

Ainsworth

Ashley Titus, Hailey McBride, Miranda Raymond and Morgan Osborn.

 

Wood Lake

Britley Schlueter

 

Bassett

Aubrey Kroll and Jentrie Maurer

 

Newport

Braydon Caldwell

 

Stuart

Brittany Hanzlik, Christopher Schaaf, Hailey Paxton and Monique Schafer

 

Atkinson

Chase Harrison

 

Brewster

Leah Pickering

 

Butte

Mitchell Atkinson

 

Valentine

Bailey Leonard, Hannah Higgins, Kooper Reece and Madison Kelber

* Stuart school district voters reject building addition proposal

(Posted 6:45 a.m. May 17)

By a little more than a 40-vote margin, voters residing in the Stuart Public School District decided against a $4.79 million building project.
A total of 239 cast votes against the building proposal, with 191 voting in favor. All ballots were distributed and returned by mail.
The proposal included a 17,675 square-foot addition to the existing Stuart Public School building.

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 2:30 p.m. May 15)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a vehicle-cow accident that occurred Saturday, May 11, southwest of Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 11:16 p.m. Saturday on 428th Avenue approximately 3-1/2 miles south and 2 miles west of Ainsworth, a 1997 Dodge pickup, driven by Kayla Witt, 18, of Ainsworth, was traveling north when the vehicle struck a cow in the roadway.
No persons were injured during the accident. Damage to the Dodge was estimated at more than $1,000. The cow, owned by Kolby Blake of Bassett, was valued at $1,400.

* NPPD receiving reports of scam calls Tuesday across Nebraska

(Posted 1 p.m. May 14)

Nebraska Public Power District officials urge the public to be aware of a rapid uptick in scam calls taking place across the state.

Customers have reported receiving calls from scammers posing as representatives of NPPD, demanding payment.

“Unfortunately, this is the type of scam that impacts many communities every year.” said NPPD Retail General Manager Tim Arlt. “Anyone who receives such a call should not let their guard down and should contact our team and law enforcement immediately. Protecting our customers is a top priority.”

The recent scam has targeted customers in multiple communities including Aurora, McCook, York, Geneva, Pawnee City and Scottsbluff, but residents across Nebraska should be aware of the scam.

These predatory individuals state the bill must be paid immediately or the power will be shut off and will recommend several methods of payment. Sometimes the scammer’s caller-identification is falsified so it appears to originate from the utility company, a practice known as ‘spoofing’.

To help customers be wary of such scams, NPPD offers the following tips and suggestions:

         NPPD, as a business practice, does not call to ask customers for a credit card number.

         NPPD does not demand payment with a pre-paid card.

         Any customer receiving such a call should not attempt to make payment over the phone using a credit or debit card.

         Write down the call back number or consider asking where the caller is located.

         Contact law enforcement.

         Let NPPD’s Centralized Customer Care Center at 877-ASK-NPPD know about the call.

         If served electrically by a rural public power district or municipality, customers should contact that organization before providing any type of payment.

* Sheriff's department to participate in annual 'Click It or Ticket' mobilization

(Posted 12:45 p.m. May 14)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department, through funding provided by the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety, will participate in the national “Click It or Ticket” campaign May 22 through June 2.

Click It or Ticket is a national program to increase public awareness and make roadways safer by encouraging everyone to wear a seat belt every time they enter a vehicle.

The sheriff’s department is joining law enforcement nationwide to help save lives by strongly enforcing seat belt laws.

While this year’s mobilization runs from May 22 through June 2, the sheriff’s department reminds motorists that deputies enforce seat belt laws all year.

The Click It or Ticket campaign has increased seat belt usage, but there is still more that can be done, as high visibility enforcement and encouraging people to buckle up can turn thousands of lives lost into lives saved. Wearing a seat belt can reduce the risk of a fatal injury during a vehicle accident by 45 percent.

Sheriff Bruce Papstein thanks everyone for doing their part to make roads safer by always wearing a seat belt and making sure everyone under the age of 18 is buckled up at all times.

* Painter presents National History Day project to School Board Monday

(Posted 12:45 p.m. May 14)

Mason Painter presented his National History Day documentary on World War II to the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education Monday after winning at the state level and qualifying for the national event.

Painter won the junior individual documentary division with his documentary titled, “Three Triumphant Tactics of D Day,” using this year’s National History Day theme of Triumph and Tragedy in History.

By winning at the state level, Painter advances to national competition this summer. The Board of Education Monday, per school policy, voted to provide $150 in funding to assist Painter’s trip to the national contest.

In other items Monday, the board voted to increase lunch prices by 5 cents for the 2019-20 school year, and voted to keep breakfast prices the same as the current year.

Superintendent Darrell Peterson said the initial proposed increases were 10 cents per lunch and 5 cents per breakfast, but he said the lunch program has made more than $10,000 profit this year. He suggested increasing lunch prices by only a nickel and keeping breakfast prices the same. Peterson said any money made over costs through the lunch program is put back in to the program.

“The dishwasher is on its last legs,” the superintendent said. “That will cost about $15,000 to replace. We will also need a new stove in the kitchen at some point.”

Peterson said the district would again provide breakfast free of charge to all students who pay a reduced lunch price based on family income.

The board approved the first reading of policies related to activity and admission tickets, and to an activity pay schedule.

The board also authorized the Ainsworth Educational Facilities Leasing Corporation to pay an invoice for the ag and industrial tech building project. Peterson said the payment Monday was the final large payment, as there was only about $20,000 remaining to be paid on the almost $3 million building addition.

In a final action item, the board approved an option enrollment request to allow third-grade student Bryleigh Zeman to continue to attend Rock County Public Schools. Peterson said the family moved to Long Pine, but wanted their daughter to continue to attend school in Rock County.

During his report, Peterson said the district hired Brad Johnson as the school’s technology coordinator to replace Lori Stolcpart. Peterson said Johnson is on site now and will have three weeks to train with Stolcpart before taking over the position.

Secondary Principal Steve Dike thanked the board for supporting the community betterment day.

“It is a neat concept,” Dike said. “The kids had a lot of input, and it was well organized.”

Students cleaned up the Cowboy Trail, Long Pine State Park Mundorf Trail, the Ainsworth Golf Course, Park Homes, Cottonwood Villa, the concession stand at the baseball field, the Grand Theater and the Brown County Fairgrounds.

Students also helped make repairs and improvements at the Rod and Gun Club, and at the fairgrounds.

Board President Jim Arens said he heard a lot of positive feedback from the community about the work performed by the students during the betterment day.

‘The kids also get to learn about community involvement and volunteering,” Arens said.

Elementary Principal Curtis Childers reported 24 students attended kindergarten roundup April 18, and he anticipated there may be another three or four students attend kindergarten in 2019-20 who did not attend kindergarten roundup.

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

* Sandhills Care Center posts $23,000 profit in April

(Posted 7 a.m. May 14)

The Sandhills Care Center turned a profit of $23,439 in April, according to financial data provided to the Board of Directors during its meeting Monday.

With 24 residents, the care center generated $152,925 in revenue in April with expenses of $129,485.

Administrator Stephanie Rucker told the board the facility is now down to one agency LPN, and will not have any CNA agency nursing charges in May. Agency Nursing accounted for $21,282 in expenses during April. Rucker told the board the care center will have three pay periods in May instead of the typical two, so expenses will be higher in May as a result.

Rucker said there were no admissions and no discharges during April, with the care center maintaining its 24 residents. She said 12 residents were paying privately, 11 receive Medicaid assistance, and one receives assistance from Medicare.

Board Chairman Phil Fuchs said the city of Ainsworth has now provided the additional funding previously requested by the board.

Rucker reported the facility received its annual state survey last week, and it went well. She said there were three small deficiencies noted, including a kitchen door that didn’t latch properly, there was dust present on one sprinkler head, and a couple resident rooms where oxygen is used did not have an oxygen sign.

“We did very well,” Rucker said. “We had a pizza party for the staff on Wednesday after the survey was completed.”

Rucker reported Sun Wong, the international nurse the facility hired, has been doing well.

“She is gaining confidence,” Rucker said. “And the residents love her.”

Rucker said two current CNAs are working to becoming LPNs, and they asked if the board would be willing to assist in paying the cost of their education if they signed two- or three-year contracts with the nursing home upon completion of their training.

“I think that would be a great asset if we could find the funding,” Rucker said.

Rucker also reported on National Nursing Home Week, which is underway. She said the residents and staff planted flowers and a tree on Monday. The residents would participate in a cooking class Tuesday. A Bingo party is scheduled for Thursday and open to the public, and there is a show and shine on Friday with the care center serving hot dogs, chips and drinks to the public from 5 until 7 p.m. as they visit to view the classic cars.

In action items Monday, the board accepted the high bid of $1,400 for the fencing on the northwest side of the building. The facility received 10 bids, with the winning bidder also responsible for removing the fence.

The board also approved the purchase of one lift after Rucker presented the board with several quotes and her recommendation to go with a lift from Medline at a cost of $2,100.

Rucker said it is a sit-to-stand lift, and will lift up to 500 pounds. The quote also included free shipping and one sling. She said the facility would need to purchase a few different sizes of slings at a cost of about $100 per sling.

Rucker said one lift was needed immediately, and a second lift would likely be needed soon.

Business Manager Sarah Schipporeit said the facility was told it was not eligible for grant funding since it was a governmental entity, but she said if a non-profit organization like the North Central Development Center would be willing to submit a grant application on behalf of the care center, funding could be provided.

Fuchs recommended the board purchase one lift now and try and work with the NCDC on a grant application for a second lift.

Board member Henry Beel said the board needed to have a goal of replacing the concrete in the facility’s driveway by the end of the summer. Beel said the condition of the concrete is a liability issue.

The next meeting of the Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors is scheduled for 4 p.m. June 10.

* City Council approves ABC funding for 2 projects Wednesday

(Posted 7 a.m. May 9)

The Ainsworth City Council approved a pair of requests for ABC funding Wednesday following recommendations from the Ainsworth Betterment Committee.

The council approved a $2,000 funding request from the E&L baseball program to transport red dirt from Minnesota to place on the little league fields at East City Park.

Clint Painter said the fields have not had new dirt in quite some time, and there were holes that had formed in the infields that have standing water.

Painter said the dirt costs about $20 per ton, with an additional $83 per ton in shipping. He said the $2,000 should cover most of the cost to make the improvement to the little league fields.

The council also approved a $1,250 request from Ainsworth Community Schools to support a Harmony Bridge project.

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said an instructor comes to the community with a set of music geared toward elderly residents. The instructor not only teaches the students the music, but teaches them how to interact with the community’s senior residents.

Following the instruction, the students then go perform at the senior center, assisted living and nursing home. The total cost to host the Harmony Bridge is $6,000, with the school asking for $1,250 in ABC funding.

In other business Wednesday, the council, by a 3-1 vote with Schuyler Schenk against, ratified action taken during its April 18 meeting to approve a contract with the North Central Development Center to manage the LB 840 program.

With City Attorney Rod Palmer raising questions during the April meeting about how the agenda item was worded and whether the council could take action, the council placed the item on Wednesday’s agenda to ratify that decision to remove any questions regarding the wording.

Kade Gracey provided an update to the council on activities at the Ainsworth Golf Course. Gracey said the kitchen in the clubhouse was recently updated and is a nice addition.

While the weather has the course behind this spring, the course is hosting a couple big events this year that should help it catch up. He reported Steve Gann has been hired as the clubhouse manager, and Phil Farley out of Sutton was hired as the course superintendent.

He asked the council if the course could again run its fertilizer bill and its bill for sharpening reels on the mowers through the city using the funding the city allocates to the course annually. Running the bills through the city using those funds saves on sales tax, from which the city is exempt.

The council approved a request from Scotty Clark with the Ainsworth Evangelical Free Church to allow use of city facilities June 2 during the fifth annual Family Fun Concert. Clark said the concert is completely free of charge, with kids games, food and music provided.

The council tabled several agenda items Wednesday, including proposals to expand on the streets building. Schroedl presented the council with two bids, but said the third company she contacted did not submit a proposal.

Councilmen Greg Soles and Brad Fiala both asked if any local businesses were interested in submitting bids for the project. Schroedl said she contacted one local contractor, but did not receive a response.

Fiala said he would like to see as much of the work as possible done locally, and Soles asked Schroedl to check with local businesses to see if the city could get a third quote before taking action.

The council also tabled action on amending the city’s employee handbook.

Soles said there were numerous areas where the city’s employee handbook didn’t match with the union contract the city approved for the majority of its employees.

Fiala said the employee handbook needed to be more in line with the union contract.

“I think we need a workshop to sit down and go through them so the handbook reflects what the union contract shows,” Fiala said.

Schroedl said she and the water superintendent were the only two city employees who did not fall under the union contract.

The council agreed to table that item and schedule a workshop to go through the handbook and the union contract.

During her report, Schroedl said a FEMA project manager had been assigned to review the damage to city streets from the March flooding. The project manager will help the city come up with plans to repair the damage.

She reported the Brown County Sheriff’s Department has made an effort to contact residents about licensing their pets.

“Pet licenses the last three years have decreased tremendously,” Schroedl said. “They have undertaken the effort to make sure pet owners are licensing their pets.”

She reported the sheriff’s department issued approximately 55 pet license notifications.

Schroedl asked residents to not blow grass into the streets and gutters when mowing.

“We understand it happens, but please be cognizant it is an ordinance violation,” Schroedl said.

She said the sheriff’s department will post a notice if it finds properties where grass is in the streets or gutters after mowing. If it continues following the notice, citations may be issued.

Schroedl also reported the swimming pool is slated to open on Memorial Day weekend, depending on the weather.

She said the new pool shades and benches have been installed.

Councilwoman Deb Hurless questioned the minutes from the previous meeting.

“We had not voted to advertise for an economic development position,” Hurless said. “Greg requested that be changed in the minutes, and it wasn’t.”

Schroedl said that discussion was not held during open session, so there was nothing about it in the minutes.

Soles said his request was that Schroedl amend her report that the council had approved advertising.

Schroedl said her report was her account of the conversation, and was not a part of the minutes.

“I stand by that,” she said. “That was my recollection.”

She said the city advertises for positions all the time without council approval.

Mayor Jeremiah Sullivan said any blame for the misunderstanding lies with him.

“I told her to advertise it, put it on me,” Sullivan said.

Palmer told the council advertising for job openings was an administrative action.

With Hurless voting against, the council approved the April meeting minutes.

Hurless also questioned a $5,000 claim paid to Saner Plumbing.

“Are we supposed to get bids for that?” Hurless asked.

Schroedl said the city is only required to bid projects that are in excess of $80,000. She said the claim was for work done to repair the sewer line at the streets department shop.

The consent agenda approved Wednesday included authorization for the Ainsworth Area Chamber of Commerce to close Main Street for both the Middle of Nowhere Days Carnival June 6 through June 10 and for the annual Ainsworth Alumni Parade June 29, and a special designated liquor license request for the Silver Circle for a beer garden June 29. That request also included the closure of the alley between Main and Woodward streets west of the Silver Circle.
The next meeting of the Ainsworth City Council was moved up to June 5 instead of the normal second Wednesday of the month.

* Area students receive NSAA Academic All-State Awards for spring activities

(Posted 1:30 p.m. May 8)

The Nebraska School Activities Association announced the recipients of the spring 2018-19 Nebraska Chiropractic Physicians Association Academic All-State Awards.

The NSAA Awards Program recognizes students who meet the criteria for nomination by their school in the season of their activity. Each year the NSAA recognizes students during the fall, winter and spring seasons who are nominated by their schools for their individual academic excellence, leadership and significant contributions in their NSAA activity.

Area students receiving spring Academic All-State Awards include:

 

Ainsworth

Brandt Murphy and Samuel Wilkins in boys golf, Mackenzie Kovar and Brandt Murphy in music, Benjamin Arens and Treyvin Schlueter in boys track and field, and Megan Appelt and Mackenzie Kovar in girls track and field.

 

Keya Paha County

Miah Wiebelhaus in girls track and field.

 

Rock County

Gunnar Bussinger in boys golf, Brodee Fleming and Suzi Smiley in music, Kolton Needham and Byron Pfister in boys track and field, and Jillian Buell in girls track and field.

 

Stuart

Lainey Paxton and Madison Stracke in music, Colton Kaup and Wade Paxton in boys track and field, and Reaghan Engel and Katilynn Kaup in girls track and field.

 

West Holt

Garrison Hansen and Austin Wenner in boys golf, Anna Albrecht and Lindee Wentworth in music, Aaron Kraus and Benjamin Thiele in boys track and field, and Leighton Mlady and Lindee Wentworth in girls track and field.

 

Sandhills

Brett Downing and Bryan Zutavern in boys golf, Miriam Ganoung and Courtney Swisher in music, Matthew Dailey in boys track and field, and Carlie Collier in girls track and field.

 

Valentine

Dillion Muirhead and Jaydon Owen in boys golf, Mercy Maunu and Rita Woodraska in music, Caleb Long and Lane McGinley in boys track and field, and Allison Hitchcock and Isabelle Salters in girls track and field.

 

Boyd County

Jacey Hilkemann and Nathan Kaczor in music, Austin Koenig and Jared Koenig in boys track and field, and Heather Atkinson and Elsie Magwire in girls track and field.

* Agenda for Wednesday Ainsworth City Council meeting

(Posted 10:15 a.m. May 8)

Ainsworth City Council
Meeting 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 8
Ainsworth Conference Center
Agenda

I.                     CONSENT AGENDA-All items approved with the passage of one motion.

a.       Approve minutes from the April 18, 2019 regular meeting

b.        Approval of Claims

c.        Treasurer's Report

d.       Department Head Reports

e.       Consider authorizing the Ainsworth Area Chamber of Commerce to close Hwy 7 (Main Street) from ist Street to 4th  Street, beginning 6:00 p.m. June  6, 2019 through  4:00 a.m. June 10, 2019 for the annual Middle of Nowhere Carnival. Also, the City of Ainsworth acknowledges the

acceptance of all duties set out in subsection (2) of LB 589/N.R.S. 39-1359, and that if a claim is made against the state, it shall indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the state from all claims, demands, actions, damages, and liability, including reasonable attorney's fees, that may arise as a result of the special event.

f.         Consider authorizing the Ainsworth Area Chamber of Commerce to close Hwy 7 (Main Street) from 1st Street to 4th Street on June 29, 2019 for the annual Ainsworth High School Alumni

Parade from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.  Also, the  City of  Ainsworth  acknowledges  the  acceptance of all duties set out in subsection (2) of  LB 589/N.R.S.  39-1359, and that if a claim is made against the state, it  shall indemnify, defend, and hold harmless  the  state from  all claims, demands, actions, damages,  and liability, including reasonable  attorney's  fees, that may  arise as a result of the special event.

g.       Consider a Special Designated Liquor License for the Silver Circle beer garden to be held on June 29, 2019 from 3:00 p.m. until June 30, 2019 at 2:00 a.m. and a request to close the alley behind the bar on 2nd Street from Main to Woodward Street.

 

*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.

 

Ill.        MAYOR'S APPOINTMENTS AND REPORT

a. Mayor's Report

 

IV.                 PUBLIC HEARINGS

a.        None

 

V.                    OLD BUSINESS

a.       Golf Course Report - Kade Gracey

b.       Consider amendment to the City of Ainsworth Employee Handbook with addition of Employee Job Descriptions

c.        Consider ratification of the motion made at the April 18, 2019 Council meeting: "Greg Soles moved to enter into a contract with the NCDC for $50,000 plus 1% of LB840 funds loaned up to $60,000. Motion seconded by Deb Hurless. Motion passed 3/1 with Schenk voting nay."

 

VI.                  REGULAR AGENDA

a.       Consider a request from the Evangelical Free Church for a family fun concert in the Courthouse Park on June 2, 2019 - Scotty Clark

b.       Discuss flooding on private land -Wally Wiebesek

c.        Discuss and consider proposals regarding the Street shop building expansion

d.       Discuss and consider recommendations of approval from the Ainsworth Betterment Committee for the following projects and amounts:

i.     Ainsworth Community Schools - Harmony Bridge project: $1,250.00

ii.     Ainsworth E&L Baseball - Dirt for little league ball fields: $2,000.00

e.       City Administrator/Clerk/Treasurer Report

* Ainsworth sees less precipitation than average during April

(Posted 9:15 a.m. May 7)

Ainsworth Weather Observer Gerry Osborn provided details from April's weather. To hear the report, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Gerry Osborn April 2019 weather.mp3

* Area students graduate from University of Nebraska-Lincoln

(Posted 9 a.m. May 7)

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln conferred 3,490 degrees during commencement exercises May 3 and 4.

The spring graduating class was the largest in the university's 150-year history.

"Of all the university's awards, achievements and accomplishments of the past year -- and there have been many -- this is one that gives me the most satisfaction," said Chancellor Ronnie Green. "We have an all-time record number of graduates who have successfully completed their academic endeavors and who are embarking upon new adventures, dreams and goals. Their impact upon their families, their communities, Nebraska and the world will be immeasurable. This is truly what the mission of the university is all about."

For the first time, undergraduate commencement was split into two ceremonies, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Malcolm Gillis University Professor of Bioengineering at Rice University, MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" recipient and Nebraska alumna, delivered the undergraduate commencement addresses May 4 in Pinnacle Bank Arena. Sherri Jones, dean-designate of the College of Education and Human Sciences and chair of the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders at Nebraska, gave the address at the graduate and professional degree ceremony May 3 in the arena. Adam Foss, founder and executive director of Prosecutor Impact, spoke to the law graduates May 4 in the Lied Center for Performing Arts.

UN-L graduates from the area include:

 

Ainsworth

Jacob Bryent Wilkins, Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education.

 

Long Pine

Victoria H. Davis, Bachelor of Science in Education and Human Sciences.

 

Springview

Kara Nicole Bruns, Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education with distinction.

Moriah Lynn Heerten, Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics, Bachelor of Science in Agronomy.

 

Bassett

Christopher Gordon Coulter, Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness.

 

Stuart

Evan Patrick Laible, Bachelor of Science in Grassland Ecology and Management.

 

Atkinson

Troy Anthony Childress, Bachelor of Science in Agronomy.

Samantha Marie Garcia, Bachelor of Arts in Hospitality, Restaurant and Tourism Management.

Luke John Welborn, Bachelor of Science in Agronomy.

 

Valentine

Sydney Lauren Dunn, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.

Jonathan Axel Petersen, Bachelor of Arts.

* Kovar named Harriet Hughes Outstanding Fine Arts Student

(Posted 10:30 a.m. May 6)

Senior Mackenzie Kovar was named the Harriet Hughes Outstanding Fine Arts Student at Ainsworth High School. Kovar received awards in numerous fine arts categories, including journalism, one-act play, and thespians.

Jodi Beach, who received top awards in both band and choir, was named the Fine Arts Student Award runner-up.

Kovar was named the Thespian of the Year, and was recognized in journalism for being the school yearbook editor and September Bulldog Beat editor. She also was one of five students who received an outstanding actor/actress award for her work in the school’s one-act play.

Beach was named the National Choral Award winner, and received both the John Philip Sousa Award and Patrick S. Gilmore Award in band.

Henry Beel received the Senior Oratory Award in speech, and senior Sam Wilkins was presented the Duden Award in speech. Outstanding varsity speaker was Adriana Hood, and Alyssa Erthum was named the outstanding novice speaker.

Coy Carson was named the top junior class band member with Josie Ganser the top sophomore and Gavin Olinger the top freshman member of the band.

Carson also received the top junior class award in choir, with Brandt Murphy named the top sophomore and Madelyn Goochey the top freshman member of the choir.

In addition to Kovar, outstanding actor/actress awards in one-act play went to Erin Painter, Alyssa Erthum, Ben Flynn and Elizabeth Wilkins.

Coy Carson, Brandt Murphy and Raven Stewart were named Honor Thespians, and Thespian Initiates included Alyssa Erthum, Ben Flynn, Gavin Olinger, Shelly Saner, Haley Schroedl, Cody Scott and Elizabeth Wilkins.

In addition to Kovar, journalism awards were presented to Tessa Lauer, Bailey Kinnick, Erin Painter, Rylee Rice and Brie Schipporeit.

Kovar will receive a scholarship for being named the Harriet Hughes Outstanding Fine Arts Student.

* Ainsworth Community Schools presents Academic Awards to top students

(Posted 10 a.m. May 6)

Ainsworth Community Schools presented its annual Academic Awards recently, with seniors Trey Schlueter and Sam Wilkins receiving the Principal’s Leadership Award from Principal Steven Dike.

Wilkins and senior Ben Arens were named to the Omaha World-Herald’s All West-Central Second Team in the paper’s All-Academic Program.

Arens and senior Megan Appelt were recognized for their selection as Believers and Achievers from the Nebraska Schools Activities Association.

Southwest Conference Academic All-Conference Awards were given to Megan Appelt, Ben Arens, Mikki Arens, Henry Beel, Gage Delimont, Tate Fernau, Kiersten Higbee, Shelby Jones, Mackenzie Kovar, Trey Schlueter, Rebecca Taylor, Sam Wilkins and Jenna Williams.

Students inducted into the National Honor Society were CeeAnna Beel, Adriana Hood, Shelby Jones, Mila Pozehl, Rylee Rice, Molly Salzman and Madison Welch.

Rebecca Taylor received the Class of 1983 scholarship.

Classroom teachers also presented their awards to students.

Tory Cole, Noah Kappelmann, Sloan Raymond, Rylee Rice and Raven Stewart received the excellence in American history class awards.

Outstanding achievement in world history went to Seth Anderson, CeeAnna Beel and Matt Jeffers.

Caleb Allen, Allison Arens, Alyssa Erthum and Libby Wilkins received the outstanding geography student awards.

Outstanding students in physchology were Kaitlin Bussinger and Ethan Christensen.

Government students of the year were Megan Appelt, Ben Arens, Henry Beel, Gage Delimont and Trey Schlueter.

Sam Wilkins received a Future Politician Award.

In foreign language, Alyssa Erthum was named the outstanding Spanish I student, with Sam Wilkins receiving the outstanding Spanish II student award. Kaitlin Bussinger, Gage Delimont and Rebecca Taylor shared the outstanding Spanish III award.

In business classes, Gavin Olinger received the top info tech student award. Brandt Murphy was the top advanced info tech student. The personal finance class top awards went to Rebecca Taylor and Sam Wilkins. Shaley Starkey was named the top Accounting I student, with Halli Haskell the top Accounting II student.

In consumer science, Rhion Irwin was named the top life and career readiness student. Foods and nutrition top student awards were presented to Megan Appelt, Seth Anderson and Josie Ganser. Bailey Kinnick received the top interpersonal relationships common sense award. Kaitlyn Nelson was the top fashion design student, and Jennifer Bryant received the study hall scholar award.

In English, Alyssa Erthum received the English I top student award. The English II award went to CeeAnna Beel. Tory Cole received the top student award in English III, and Mackenzie Kovar was named the top English IV student. Raven Stewart earned the media production class award.

Industrial technology teacher Todd Pollock recognized numerous students who assisted in remodeling the Learning Center, including Gabe Allen, Ben Barrow, Tristan Bowen, Calvin Christensen, Keith Cole, Tanner Cole, Ty Conroy, Jade Dailey, Riley Hawkins, Britt Hollenbeck, Garrett Hollenbeck, Kyle Hollenbeck, Madison Inbody, Conner Jackman, Braxton Jefferis, Wrett Killion, Kade Kral, Braxton Lemunyan, Lila Lewis, Braden Ludemann, Landon Nilson, Oren Pozehl, Sloan Raymond, Michael Spotted Bear, Maverick Stutzman, Atley Titus, Colton Troxel and Isaac Walnofer.

In math, Bria Delimont, Wryllie Killion and Aubree Rice were named the top Algebra I students, with Kylie Higbee and Kyleigh Allen receiving outstanding effort awards. The top trigonometry and Algebra III students were Tory Cole, Tate Fernau and Raven Stewart, with Mikki Arens, Jon Barrow, Tate Fernau and Tessa Lauer receiving above and beyond awards.

The top Algebra II students were CeeAnna Beel and Brandt Murphy, with Allison Arens, Alyssa Erthum and Maia Flynn named the top Geometry students. Holldyn Beck received the top general math student award.

In science, Alyssa Erthum and Ben Flynn were named the top physical science students. Earth science top student awards went to Halli Haskell and Conner Jackman. Physics class top students were Ben Arens and Sam Wilkins, with Tory Cole and Raven Stewart named the top chemistry students.

Outstanding students in biology were CeeAnna Beel, Jennifer Bryant, Haley Hawkins and Molly Salzman. Rebecca Taylor was named both the outstanding marine science student and outstanding college biology student. Megan Appelt, Ben Arens, Mackenzie Kovar, Rylee Rice and Jenna Williams were the top anatomy and physiology students.

In physical education, strength and conditioning awards were presented to Ben Barrow, Jon Barrow, Coy Carson, Ty Conroy, Bria Delimont, Alyssa Erthum, Wrett Killion, Kaitlyn Nelson, Jon Ortner, Mila Pozehl and Elizabeth Wilkins.

* Area students scheduled to graduate Saturday from Northeast Community College

(Posted 8:30 a.m. May 6)

The 46th Commencement of Northeast Community College will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 11, in the Cox Activities Center on the Norfolk campus.

As of May 1, a total of 923 students have earned 1,027 degrees.

Students from the area scheduled to receive degrees from Northeast Community College include:

 

Ainsworth

Holly Esterly, an Associate of Arts degree

Ana Garcia Medina, an Associate of Arts degree

Jennifer Vonheeder, an Associate of Arts degree

Amy Cook, an Associate degree in nursing

Sydney Quinn, an Associate of Applied Science degree in business

Breanna Schwindt, an Associate of Applied Science degree in business

Hadley Caufield, an Associate of Applied Science degree in electrical construction and control

Lisa Ludemann, an Associate of Applied Science degree in health information management systems.

Sonya  Shurter, A certificate in food service and dietary management

 

Long Pine

Jezrae Peacock, an Associate of Applied Science degree in early childhood education

Sabrina Hempel, an Associate of Applied Science degree in graphic design

 

Newport

Jeffery Reynolds, an Associate of Applied Science degree in graphic design

Brook Doke, an Associate of Science degree

 

Stuart

Dezma Lewis, an Associate of Arts degree

 

Atkinson

Jacob Tunender, an Associate of Arts degree, and a certificate in information technology

Jason Seger, an Associate degree in nursing

Miranda Bendig, and Associate of Science degree

Preston Dickau – An Associate of Applied Science degree in auto body repair technology

Skye Cavaness – An Associate of Applied Science degree in business

Linda Shaw – An Associate of Applied Science degree in business, and a certificate in banking

Patrick Vanmeter – An Associate of Applied Science degree in diesel technology

Jeffrey Judge – An Associate of Applied Science degree in paramedic

 

Valentine

Caven Belville, an Associate of Arts degree

Emerson Verbeek, an Associate of Arts degree

Jacy Miller, an Associate of Science degree

Mason Poulsen, an Associate of Science degree

Newt Bussinger, an Associate of Applied Science degree in electrical construction and control

Lyle Cate III, an Associate of Applied Science degree in electrical construction and control

 

Butte

Makala Reiser, an Associate of Science degree

Kolton Wheeler, a certificate in media production

* University of Nebraska Medical Center to hold Spring Commencement

(Posted 9:35 a.m. May 2)

University of Nebraska Medical Center spring commencement ceremonies will take place May 2 and 4 in Norfolk, Kearney, Lincoln, Omaha and Scottsbluff. Diplomas will be conferred on 990 students including several from this area.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing to McKenna Young of Atkinson.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the College of Nursing Lincoln Division to Shea Sinsel with Distinction and to Cassidy Hafer of Dunning.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Norfolk Division to Kenady Stanton of Bassett with High Distinction.

Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene from College of Dentistry Lincoln to Jamie Laetsch of Amelia.

Doctor of Pharmacy to Matthew Laetsch of Atkinson with Distinction.

Bachelor of Science in Medical Imaging and Therapeutic Science from the College of Allied Health Professions to Kayla Bogue of Stuart with High Distinction.

* Local Pheasants Forever chapter awards 6 scholarships

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

The Sandhills Chapter of Pheasants Forever has announced its annual scholarship winners. The local chapter raises funds for the scholarships during its annual banquet in November, and the support from the banquet allowed Pheasants Forever to award six scholarships to graduating seniors.
This year’s scholarship recipients are Henry Beel, Trey Schlueter, Rhion Irwin, Jon Barrow, Sam Wilkins and Rebecca Taylor, all from Ainsworth High School.
This is the 12th year the Sandhills Chapter of Pheasants Forever have awarded scholarships using funds raised from its annual banquet, and brings the total to 46 high school students who have been assisted in furthering their education.

* Monday accident injures 2 motorists southeast of Ainsworth

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

A one-vehicle accident Monday evening southeast of Ainsworth injured two motorists.

According to the Brown County Sheriff’s Department, at 7:40 p.m. Monday, April 29, on 432nd Avenue approximately 1 mile south of the Highway 20 intersection, a 1998 Pontiac Grand Prix, driven by Haleigh Sherman, 16, of Ainsworth, was traveling south when the vehicle hit loose gravel, left the roadway and rolled once in the west ditch.

Sherman and a passenger in the Pontiac – Sierra Jones, 17, of Ainsworth – were transported by the Brown County Ambulance Association to the Brown County Hospital for treatment of injuries suffered during the crash.

The Pontiac was considered a total loss.

The Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department also responded to the accident Monday.

* Collision with deer injures motorist south of Ainsworth

(Posted 3 p.m. April 29)

A vehicle-deer accident April 18 injured a motorist south of Ainsworth.
According to the Brown County Sheriff’s Department report, at 11:46 p.m. April 18 on Highway 7 approximately 11 miles south of Ainsworth, a 2013 Toyota Prius, driven by Katelyn Richards, 20, of Elk Horn, S.D., was traveling north when the vehicle struck a deer in the roadway.
Richards was transported by the Brown County Ambulance Association to the Brown County Hospital for treatment of injuries suffered during the accident.
The Toyota was considered a total loss.

* Sheriff's department seeks information on Wednesday hit and run

(Posted noon April 26)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department is seeking information regarding a hit and run that occurred in Ainsworth on Wednesday, April 24.
According to the sheriff’s department, sometime between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday, someone is believed to have backed into a parked 2005 Buick Lesabre in the 800 block of East Zero Street on the north side of Trailside Apartments and then left the scene.
Anyone with information on who may be responsible for the hit and run is asked to call the Brown County Sheriff’s Department at 402-387-1440 or call Crime Stoppers at 402-382-3121. All callers remain anonymous, and information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for this, or any crime could result in a cash reward.

* Brewer discusses property tax, school aid bills Wednesday

(Posted 2:45 p.m. April 24)

Nebraska 43rd District State Sen. Tom Brewer visited with KBRB's Graig Kinzie Wednesday to provide an update on activities in the Nebraska Legislature.
Several bills related to property tax relief and changes to the school aid formula have been introduced this session, but Brewster said finding any bill that receives enough support to overcome filibusters and potential vetoes will be difficult.
Brewer also discussed his priority bill, which would strip private energy companies from being able to use eminent domain to construct power transmission infrastructure across neighboring landowners to reach a wind power project.
To hear the report with State Sen. Brewer, click on the audio links below.

audio clips/State Sen Tom Brewer 4-23 prop tax, school funding and budget.mp3

audio clips/State Sen Tom Brewer 4-23 eminent domain.mp3

* Four AHS seniors earn 12-sport awards during All-Sports Tailgate Party Tuesday

(Posted 7 a.m. April 24)

Four Ainsworth High School seniors were recognized as 12-sport athletes Tuesday during the 51st annual Ainsworth All-Sports Tailgate Party in McAndrew Gymnasium.

Megan Appelt, Shelby Jones, Mackenzie Kovar and Trey Schlueter each competed in three sports during all four years of their high school careers to earn the “A” plaques from Activities Directors Scott Steinhauser and Jared Hansmeyer.

Seniors Megan Appelt and Jon Barrow received the John Nelson Sportsmanship Awards following a vote of the school’s coaches and activities directors.

The Lifter of the Year Awards went to Bria Delimont and Sloan Raymond.

Each coach presented year-end awards, with cross country coach Jared Hansmeyer leading things off by presenting Most Valuable Player awards to individual Class D state champions Rylee Rice and Ben Arens.

Rice, a three-time state cross country champion, has never been defeated in a high school race, and is one of only 11 runners in the state to win three state titles. As a junior, she has a chance this coming fall to become just the fourth runner to win four state cross country championships. She led the Bulldogs in the fall to their second straight team championship.

Arens, who was a state silver medalist as a junior, won not only the Class D state championship but was the fastest runner in any class, earning the state meet’s All-Class Gold Medal as a senior. He was recently named the Gatorade Nebraska Runner of the Year.

Girls golf coach Heather Lutter presented her team’s MVP Award to senior Rebecca Taylor.

Football coach Jake Nelson announced junior receiver Grant Stec broke school records during the season for single game and single season receiving yards.

Junior Oren Pozehl received the team’s Offensive MVP Award, while junior Jon Ortner was named the Defensive MVP. Senior Gage Delimont was selected as the team’s Newcomer of the Year.

Nelson presented the John Moody Most Valuable Teammate Award to senior Jon Barrow.

Nelson said 18 of the team’s 21 letter winners were underclassmen and had the ability to play again in the fall.

Volleyball coach Jeri Graff announced the breaking of school records during the fall season. Senior Megan Appelt recorded a single-match digs record with 37, and senior Shelby Jones broke the school’s career set-assist record with 670 assists during her four-year career.

Junior Brie Schipporeit was named the volleyball team’s Most Valuable Player, with sophomore Adrianna Hood receiving the Most Improved Player Award. Freshman Summer Richardson received the team’s Hustle Award, and Appelt the team’s Heart Award.

Turning to the winter sports season, wrestling coach Todd Pollock recognized state qualifiers Oren Pozehl and Conner Jackman, both juniors. Pozehl, who received a sixth-place medal at the state tournament, was named the team’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.

Girls basketball coach Stephen Crile named junior Rylee Rice the team’s Most Valuable Player. Rice also received the team’s Defensive MVP Award, and is now second on the school’s career steals chart.

Freshman Kaitlyn Nelson was named the team’s Offensive MVP, and sophomore Katrina Beel was selected as the Most Improved Player.

Boys basketball coach Sean Sterkel presented the Bryant Wilkins Most Valuable Teammate Award to senior Sam Wilkins. Wilkins was chosen by the team’s players and coaches for the award named in honor of his late uncle.

Senior Gage Delimont was named the boys basketball Most Valuable Player. He finished among the top 10 in the state in points per game at 22 and assists per game with six. Delimont eclipsed the 1,000 career-point plateau during his senior year, and was named the Southwest Conference Player of the Year.

Junior Grant Stec was named the team’s Defensive MVP, and senior Trey Schlueter received a newly created Foxhole Award for leading the state in charges taken with 25.

Spring sports coaches provided updates on their ongoing seasons, and presented 2018 Most Valuable Player awards.

Sterkel named senior Sam Wilkins as the 2018 boys golf MVP.

Track and field coach Bryan Doke named Rylee Rice as the Girls Track MVP. Rice, who battled an injury at the state championships as a sophomore, still was able to defend her state title in the 100-meter hurdles, and finished second in the 800 meters.

Boys MVP senior Ben Arens won state championships as a junior in both the 1600 and 3200 meter runs.

The Ainsworth Lions Club hosted the 51st annual All-Sports Tailgate Party Tuesday, serving burgers, beans, chips and drinks free of charge to all the school’s athletes and coaches.

* Water will be shut off Tuesday morning for some west Ainsworth residents

(Posted 7:45 a.m. April 23)

The city of Ainsworth water department will turn off water for residents in a portion of western Ainsworth at 10 a.m. Tuesday while a curb stop is repaired.
Residents living from West Second Place south of West Dawes Street, then east to Hall Street and north back to West Second Street will have water shut off beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday. The water will remain off until the work is completed.

* January sales rise in Rock and Keya Paha counties, decline in Brown County

(Posted 3 p.m. April 22)

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

County
or City

2019
Net Taxable
Sales

2018
Net Taxable
Sales

Percent
Change

2019
Sales Tax
5.5%

2018
Sales Tax
5.5%

Boyd

837,833

777,970

7.7

46,080.97

42,788.46

Brown

2,449,614

2,591,384

(5.5)

134,728.94

142,526.36

Ainsworth

2,393,072

2,495,927

(4.1)

131,619.13

137,276.21

Cherry

5,073,813

4,977,895

1.9

279,060.03

273,784.54

Valentine

4,815,335

4,841,389

(0.5)

264,843.69

266,276.67

Holt

8,201,030

8,076,841

1.5

451,057.17

443,506.15

Atkinson

1,204,018

1,247,346

(3.5)

66,221.09

68,604.20

O'Neill

6,117,224

5,872,106

4.2

336,447.58

322,966.11

Keya Paha

122,834

120,734

1.7

6,755.89

6,640.39

Rock

524,367

493,256

6.3

28,840.24

27,129.13

State Total

$2,398,788,105

$2,264,025,284

6.0

$131,975,166.59

$124,724,802.77

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

County
or City

2019
Net Taxable
Sales

2018
Net Taxable
Sales

Percent
Change

2019
Sales Tax
5.5%

2018
Sales Tax
5.5%

Blaine

95,550

117,098

(18.4)

5,200.96

6,396.96

Boyd

453,527

504,872

(10.2)

24,966.89

27,771.51

Brown

929,891

710,978

30.8

51,388.76

39,256.44

Cherry

989,967

2,194,546

(54.9)

54,806.54

121,002.61

Holt

2,676,937

2,188,331

22.3

148,086.25

121,323.45

Keya Paha

334,719

158,846

110.7

18,392.01

8,699.70

Rock

498,510

493,864

0.9

27,446.78

27,262.21

State Total

$365,130,303

$342,207,159

6.7

$20,239,061.54

$18,968,943.58

* Area students receive scholarship offers from UN-L

(Posted 7 a.m. April 22)

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has offered nearly 7,200 university-wide scholarships to the 2019 graduating class from Nebraska high schools. The total potential value of the scholarships is more than $59.5 million.

The total includes more than 4,000 Husker scholarship offers. Last year, Nebraska Athletics began contributing $5 million annually in scholarship funds for Nebraska residents who do not participate in intercollegiate athletics. The additional funds have allowed the university to offer 1,200-plus more scholarships than the previous record, set in 2018.

“In addition to offering among the lowest tuition in the Big Ten, we are excited to make attending the University of Nebraska–Lincoln even more affordable and accessible for students through our partnership with Nebraska Athletics,” said Amber Williams, assistant vice chancellor for enrollment management.

Many scholarship programs also contain retention programming designed to help students transition to college as they develop a path toward timely graduation.

“Even though we have offered scholarships to more students than ever before this year, we still believe in the power of each student,” Williams said. “Our goal is not only to recruit new students, but to recruit new alumni. We want each student to get connected on campus, develop meaningful one-on-one relationships and collaborate with us as they grow to reach their goals.”

Chancellor’s and Regents scholarships are among the most prestigious awards granted by the university. Each of these awards pays full tuition for full-time students with the potential for renewal at a value of nearly $30,000 over four years. Chancellor's Scholars receive an additional $2,000 per year.

David Distinguished Scholars are recognized for their academic merit and receive $3,500 with the potential for renewal for up to four years. David Distinguished Scholarships are funded in part from a trust established in 1973 by the late Adrian H. David, a Minneapolis attorney, in honor of his parents. Adrian David was a 1908 graduate of the Nebraska College of Law.

Nebraska Achievement Scholarships are based on academic achievement, admission test scores and information in the student's personal statement. There were 149 of these scholarships awarded for full tuition and 305 awarded for $1,000, each with the potential for renewal.

Chancellor's Leadership Scholars are awarded one-year scholarships of $1,000. The award recognizes and rewards students who have excelled both academically and in leadership roles in school and community activities.

Area students awarded scholarships to UN-L include:

 

Ainsworth

Megan Appelt, Husker Living and Learning, and Husker Traditions.

Benjamin Arens, Regents.

Rebecca Taylor, David, Husker Living and Learning, Pepsi and University Honors.

Samuel Wilkins, Regents and University Honors.

 

Keya Paha County

Colton Munger, Husker Power.

 

Rock County

Trace Ebert, Husker Power.

Josie Kuchera, Husker Power.

Jayden Stewart, Husker Power.

 

Stuart

Zachary Michka, Husker Power.

 

West Holt

Cole Laible, Husker Power.

Benjamin Thiele, Chancellor's Leadership and Husker Power.

Lindee Wentworth, David.

 

Sandhills

Jacy Hafer, Husker Traditions.

 

Valentine

Mataya Eklund, Husker Traditions.

Lauren Ferguson, Husker Power.

Elizabeth Harvey, Husker Traditions.

Bradi Larabee, Husker Power.

Alvin Miller, Nebraska Achievement and University Honors.

Reaghan Shelbourn, Chancellor's Leadership, Husker Traditions and Nebraska Achievement.

 

Boyd County

Sydney Atkinson, Husker Traditions.

* City Council approves LB 840 management contract with NCDC

(Posted 6:15 a.m. April 19)

By a 3-1 vote Thursday, the Ainsworth City Council approved a proposal from the North Central Development Center Board of Directors to manage the LB 840 program.

After the NCDC Board declined the council’s initial offer to manage the fund under a contract of $36,000 annually with an additional 5 percent of any LB 840 project awarded with a cap of $60,000 annually, NCDC Board Chairman Kim Buckley said, after much deliberation, the NCDC Board decided to come back to the city with a proposal.

“We believe a majority of the council wants to get this resolved so the NCDC can move on and continue to do the things it has done for the community,” Buckley said.

He presented the council with an offer for the NCDC to manage the LB 840 program at a rate of $50,000 with an additional 1 percent of any LB 840 project awarded with the same $60,000 annual cap the city initially proposed.

“We feel like we are all in this, as a board, to improve our community,” Buckley said. “I think, most everybody up there feels the same. If we abandon the council, we are abandoning dozens of volunteers. There are multiple volunteer committees that run out of that office. We feel like it is best for the community to try and work something out.”

NCDC Board member Graig Kinzie said the top end of the contract originally proposed by the city would not change, this proposal would simply help the NCDC budget accurately.

“It helps us on the lower end,” Kinzie said. “Instead of going to a higher percentage of grant or loan fees, making the flat fee more stable helps us from a budgeting standpoint. We can’t budget for something if we don’t know whether or not it will be there. The top end doesn’t change.”

Kinzie said, in past years, the NCDC received between $65,000 and $75,000 from the LB 840 fund.

“We are not operating on a thick budget,” Kinzie said. “The only place we really have to go with a $50,000 agreement is staffing. This will mean less staffing from what we have had in the past. Some of that makes sense if the city is going to take on the administration of the funds. That was a big part of what the NCDC staff had to manage.”

Buckley said the NCDC has followed the City Council’s direction since the LB 840 fund’s inception.

“We have had about all that we can stand,” Buckley said. “The NCDC has been drug through the mud. If we don’t get this done, I don’t think you will see the LB 840 fund get reapproved in a couple years.”

Councilman Brad Fiala asked, if the council approved the agreement, would the NCDC be able to get everything in place to move forward.

Kinzie said, “We obviously have some fences to mend. We have contributing partners asking, if the city and NCDC are at each other’s throats and can’t work anything out, why should we continue to fund. If we can work something out with the council, we will go to our contributing partners and acknowledge it has been a rough couple years but we are mending those fences, we are getting something put back together to move forward as a community. That is what we have to express to our partners.”

Fiala said, “The community needs the LB 840 funds going forward to survive.”

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said the city already created a job description and has advertised for an economic development position. She said the city does have applicants.

Kinzie asked if the council had approved advertising for an economic development position.

Mayor Jeremiah Sullivan said the council discussed it when it was informed the NCDC had rejected the city’s initial offer.

Audience member Rod Worrell asked if that discussion was done in executive session, because it was not done during any other portion of a meeting.

“I would have to go back and look at when it was discussed,” Sullivan said. “I could be mistaken. If I am, I will take responsibility for that.”

Councilman Greg Soles said he wanted the city administrator’s report amended that indicated the economic development job description was created and advertised as discussed in the March council meeting.

“I don’t remember ever discussing advertising for a position,” Soles said. “I want that reflected in the minutes. We discussed creating a job description. We did not discuss advertising.”

Soles moved to approve a contract with the North Central Development Center to manage the LB 840 program at an annual rate of $50,000 and 1 percent of any approved LB 840 program loans or grants with a cap of $60,000.

Soles, Fiala and Councilwoman Deb Hurless voted to approve the contract. Councilman Schuyler Schenk voted against.

Prior to discussing the LB 840 contract Thursday, Schenk said he asked for the agenda to include having the council consider all city funding held by the NCDC.

Schenk said he had an issue with the remaining housing funds held by the NCDC that were awarded by the city that were not from the LB 840 fund. He said it was his understanding that the demolition funds were to be used in tandem with the LB 840 funds.

Soles said the housing funds and demolition funds were held in two different accounts.

Schenk accused the NCDC of placing the housing demolition funds in its general account and using those funds for other purposes.

“The demolition funds were placed from the demolition account to the NCDC’s general ledger,” Schenk said. “To me that’s an inappropriate use, and I think the city should report it to Sheriff Papstein.”

Kinzie said the housing and demolition funds are in a separate account and are all present and accounted for, and are not in the NCDC general account.

“You need to be researched on these things before you make accusations in council meetings,” Kinzie said. “You are on the record in these meetings. The funds are all there, Schuyler. Make your accusation and see if you get a second.”

Schenk made a motion to report to the Brown County Sheriff’s Department $48,000 from the North Central Development Center’s demolition fund. That motion died for lack of a second. There was no further action or discussion on the matter.

In other business Thursday, the council approved a resolution of necessity for the construction of the sanitary sewer improvements within the city.

The council approved a one-year lease agreement with DBK Farms for 67.74 acres of land east of Ainsworth owned by the city.

Schroedl said the city looked at potentially using a portion of that land for the Nebraska Public Power District solar project, but it would not work for that purpose because it was not close enough to an NPPD line.

“We have leased this to DBK Farms for the last several years,” Schroedl said.

She said the city negotiated with Denny Bauer and came to an agreement with a lease payment of $3,400, with DBK Farms also reimbursing the city for the cost of irrigation water used.

After this season, she said the city would put the lease out for bids.

“The timing didn’t work to bid it this year,” Schroedl said.

The council tabled a proposed amendment to the city’s employee handbook with the addition of employee job descriptions. Soles said he had questions and would like to have the item tabled so the council had time to review the revisions and job descriptions and make recommendations. Hurless agreed she would also like additional time to review.

The council also tabled a report from the Ainsworth Municipal Golf Course Board, as Golf Board President Kade Gracey was unable to make Thursday’s meeting after the initial council meeting was postponed last week.

In a final action item, the council approved a special designated liquor license application for Niobrara Valley Vineyards of Nenzel to serve wine in the Ainsworth Elks Club during an Ainsworth Area Chamber of Commerce fund-raising event scheduled for June 15.

During her report, Schroedl said the city has documented the damage to the city’s streets from the March flooding. She said she has contacted Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox, and will meet with Streets Superintendent Lloyd Smith.

She said the city will potentially qualify for FEMA funding to reimburse 75 percent of the cost of repairs to the streets, with NEMA providing a portion of the remaining 25 percent. Schroedl said she registered the city on the NEMA portal.

"There is a lot of documentation that has to be done on our end," Schroedl said. "Our insurance does not cover damage to streets."

Fiala said there were some critical streets that needed to be repaired.

Schroedl said she would continue to work with Smith and Fox to ensure the city moved forward correctly to remain eligible for FEMA and NEMA assistance.

“We are moving forward, even if it may look like we are not,” Schroedl said.

She also reported the city had received several applications for seasonal help with the parks, the sanitation department, and at the swimming pool.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth City Council is scheduled for 5 p.m. May 8.

* Camp Witness representatives ask county not to vacate washed out bridge

(Posted 10 a.m. April 17)

A bridge and road in northeastern Brown County near Camp Witness that had previously been targeted for vacation was a topic of debate during Tuesday’s meeting of the Brown County Commissioners.

Glenn Smith, the director at Camp Witness, said he has heard the county has discussed vacating the bridge and a portion of Red Wing Road near Camp Witness, and he presented the commissioners with the signatures of more than 90 county residents asking the board not to vacate after the bridge washed out in the March flooding.

“Abandoning the bridge in its current state is a bad faith action,” Smith said. “We are asking that the county remove the failed bridge and assist in the construction of a new bridge. We can’t get to three quarters of our property without that bridge.”

Smith said, with the recent designation from FEMA that Brown County is now eligible for assistance in repairing and replacing roads and bridges that were damaged during the March flooding, FEMA would cover the cost of 75 percent of replacing the bridge, with the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency funding 12.5 percent, leaving the county with just 12.5 percent of the cost to replace the bridge.

“If we had owned the bridge, our insurance could have covered it or we could have applied to FEMA for assistance, but we don’t own the bridge, the county does,” Smith said. “If the county would only owe 12.5 percent, we would try to help share in the cost. We can commit $5,000 right now to assist you.”

Smith said the county has a responsibility as the owner of the bridge to replace it.

“Had we owned the bridge, it would be our responsibility,” Smith said. “It would be a bad faith action on the county’s part to abandon something that is broken.”

Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin said he could not find any documentation showing the county owned the bridge.

“That bridge hasn’t been on our list for annual inspections,” Turpin said.

Smith said the county owned the road on both sides of the bridge, so there was no doubt it was a county bridge.

Commissioner Buddy Small said there are no wing walls and no head walls at the site, only a bridge in the creek.

“Brown County would have to build the bridge and then seek reimbursement,” Small said. “The county does not get the money up front, and there are no guarantees. I would need to see in writing that this bridge would be an approved project by FEMA.”

Commissioner Denny Bauer said he wouldn’t have a problem partnering with Camp Witness to replace the bridge if the county can get assurances from FEMA that it would cover a majority of the cost.

Camp Witness Board member Duane Saner said for Camp Witness to try and raise $150,000 to replace the bridge would be too much.

“If we can get assistance, if the bridge costs $150,000 the county would owe $17,500,” Saner said. “If there is a chance the county can get that funding, it makes sense. If you drop the bridge on us, we have to bear the entire burden.”

Smith asked the commissioners if they would pledge not to abandon the road and bridge right away, and instead pursue the option of seeking assistance for the bridge replacement.

Small and Bauer both indicated they would be willing to delay action on the bridge vacation.

County Attorney Andy Taylor said a petition had been filed with the county clerk requesting the road and bridge be vacated, so the commissioners were required to direct Turpin to perform a study and report back to the board with a recommendation within 30 days.

With Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus absent, the board voted 2-0 to have Turpin conduct a study and then recommend to the commissioners whether or not the county should abandon the bridge and a portion of Red Wing Road.

In another roads item on Tuesday’s agenda, Dan Zwiebel asked the commissioners and roads department to resume maintenance on a portion of Road 877 south of the Cowboy Trail.

“I know this isn’t the best time to ask, but it is a county road and it has probably been five or 10 years since it has been bladed,” Zwiebel said. “I would appreciate it if you could get to it. There are a lot of semis that use it to haul cattle.”

Turpin said he didn’t realize the final stretch was still a county road, as the maintainer had always turned around before going through the final southern stretch.

Bauer said it shouldn’t be an issue to have the maintainer continue on to the south when it blades that road.

“If it is a county road, we need to maintain it,” Bauer said.

Turpin provided the commissioners with an update on the department’s continued efforts to repair damage from the March flooding.

Turpin said trying to plow snow following last week’s blizzard was awful, as the roads were extremely soft.

“We tried fixing as many washouts as we could before the snow,” Turpin said. “We are now trying to get rough spots smoothed up. Next week, we are going to add fill and surfacing to areas that washed out.”

Turpin said an additional bridge approach on a county road south of the Highway 183 and Highway 20 intersection had washed out during the March flooding, and the department found another culvert that had been undermined on Coon Road. He said the department repaired that area.

“The hired truck drivers have done a good job getting materials here,” the highway superintendent said. “They have hauled about 2,000 tons of rock and have now been hauling gravel in from Brewster.

The commissioners approved a pair of resolutions Tuesday related to the roads. The first changed the accrual of compensatory time for roads department employees who work overtime and choose to take comp time instead of being paid for the overtime hours. The resolution changed the number of hours roads department employees can accrue in comp time from 80 hours to 120 hours.

The second resolution clarifies that private citizens are not to work on county roads without specific written approval from the commissioners or from the highway superintendent. Volunteers may not work to fix county roads due to potential liability issues if an accident were to occur.

In a final roads item Tuesday, Wally Wiebesiek approached the commissioners about a drainage issue on his property at 503 W. Second St. He said he was told by the Army Corps of Engineers that he needed to speak with the county first. Bauer informed Wiebesiek that he needed to talk to the Ainsworth City Council about his issue, as his property was inside the Ainsworth city limits so there was nothing the county could do.

In other business, a representative from Applied Connective provided the board with a proposal for information technology services the company could handle for the treasurer and assessor’s offices. Applied Connective will provide a written proposal for the board to consider when its current IT service agreement expires at the end of July.

The commissioners approved a request from the Ainsworth Evangelical Free Church to hold its fifth annual Family Fun Concert at the Courthouse Park. This year’s event is scheduled for June 2, and organizer Scotty Clark said the night of food, games and music is provided free of charge to everyone.

“It has been building momentum every year,” Clark said. “We had about 600 people last year, and we are expecting about 650 this year.”

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. May 7.

 

* Agenda for Ainsworth City Council meeting Thursday

 

(Posted 10 a.m. April 17)

 

Ainsworth City Council

Meeting 5 p.m. Thursday, April 18

Ainsworth Conference Center

Agenda

 

I.                    ROUTINE BUSINESS

a.       Announcement of Open Meetings Act

b.      Roll Call

c.       Pledge of Allegiance

 

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

a.       Approve minutes from the March 13, 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.

 

III.                MAYOR’S APPOINTMENTS AND REPORT

a.       Mayor’s Report

 

IV.                PUBLIC HEARINGS

a.       Consider Resolution #19-05:  Resolution of Necessity for the construction of sanitary sewer improvements within the City

 

V.                  OLD BUSINESS

a.       None

 

VI.                REGULAR AGENDA

a.      Consider an application for a special designated liquor license for Niobrara Valley Vineyards for a Chamber of Commerce fundraiser event to be held at the Elk’s Lodge on June 15, 2019 from 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

b.      Golf Course Report – Kade Gracey

c.       Discuss and consider the farm lease agreement with DBK Farms

d.      Consider amendment to the City of Ainsworth Employee Handbook with addition of Employee Job Descriptions

e.      Discuss and consider all city funds held by North Central Development Center

f.        Discuss a contract with the North Central Development Center – Kim Buckley

g.      City Administrator/Clerk/Treasurer Report

* Area counties now eligible for additional FEMA assistance

(Posted 6:30 a.m. April 17)

The major disaster declaration for the state of Nebraska has been amended to authorize Public Assistance grants for 20 additional counties to help pay for repair and replacement of public facilities damaged as a result of the March winter storm, straight-line winds and flooding.
Brown, Keya Paha and Rock counties were among the counties designated for the additional assistance.
FEMA’s Public Assistance grant program provides federal assistance to state and local governments and certain types of private nonprofit organizations following a presidential disaster declaration. Public Assistance can help communities quickly respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies.
Through the program, FEMA can reimburse eligible costs for debris removal, life-saving emergency protective measures and the repair, replacement or restoration of disaster-damaged publicly owned facilities and the facilities of certain private nonprofit organizations. The Public Assistance program also encourages protection of these damaged facilities from future events by providing assistance for hazard mitigation measures during the recovery process.
Previously, 65 counties and five tribal nations were approved for Public Assistance grants to reimburse the cost of emergency services and debris removal, including direct federal assistance.

* Lions Club prepares to host All-Sports Tailgate Party April 23

(Posted 2:30 p.m. April 16)

During its monthly meeting, the Ainsworth Lions Club Board heard plans for the upcoming Ainsworth High School All-Sports Tailgate Party, scheduled for Tuesday, April 23, in McAndrew Gymnasium.

The Lions Club prepares and serves the meal free of charge to all high school athletes and coaches. Tickets are available at the door, or from KBRB Radio. David Spann provided the board with an update on the plan for the meal, and members will be emailed the event worksheet.

Club President Connie Lentz presented a report from Sarah Williams regarding the Fourth Grade Foresters Tree Planting Project, with the distribution of the trees to be held at 8 a.m. Monday, April 29, at McAndrew Elementary. 

Lentz also led a discussion regarding the Lions Club support for the 2019 Bike Ride Across Nebraska event, with the riders staying overnight in Ainsworth June 4.  The Lions Club Directors met on April 1 and decided to have a food stand and reported that to BRAN by the April 3 deadline. After reviewing several options regarding what to serve, the board decided to provide a potato bar at East City Park near the biker campground. Rhonda Lechtenberg and Rita Paddock will assist Lentz with making the necessary arrangements and plans.

Lions Club District 38-I received an Lions Club International Foundation grant of $10,000 for flood disaster assistance, which amounts to $300 per club in the district. Roland Paddock provided information that the club could purchase fence wire at cost from a local business, with the local business also providing about 100 posts. It was decided that the club purchase fence wire in a partnership with the local business. Vergil Heyer will assist Paddock with the project.

Lentz presented Lions Club International award pins to David Spann, Brian Williams and Vergil Heyer for sponsoring new members to the club. She also reported the Lions Club Highway 20 cleanup project east of Ainsworth will be scheduled in May, with the date and time to be announced later.

The next Lions Club Board of Directors meeting is scheduled for noon May 20.

* Broken Bow wins Southwest Conference Quiz Bowl

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

Broken Bow defeated Gothenburg in the championship match of the Southwest Conference Quiz Bowl on Monday.

Held in the Ainsworth High School Learning Center, Broken Bow scored a 45-0 decision over previously unbeaten Gothenburg.

The Indians went 2-0 in preliminary matches, then knocked off Cozad, 45-10, in the semifinals.

The Swedes went 3-0 in preliminary matches, then defeated Valentine, 20-0, in the semifinals before losing to Broken Bow.

Ainsworth finished fifth in the conference, losing a 20-15 decision to Gothenburg in its opening match, then defeating Ogallala by a 70-10 score before losing to Cozad, 15-5, to complete its preliminary round at 1-2.

Ainsworth received a bye into the fifth-place match, and defeated Minden, 35-10, for fifth. Cozad defeated Valentine, 50-0, in the third-place match.

* Area students named NVC Scholars for performance on ACT

(Posted 2 p.m. April 15)

Students who scored a 28 or higher on an ACT examination were recognized as Niobrara Valley Conference Scholars. Those students include:

 

Keya Paha County – Katie Lewis

 

Rock County - Brodee Fleming and Brendan Bussinger

 

Stuart – Reaghan Engel and Colton Kaup

 

West Holt - Lindee Wentworth

 

Boyd County - Sydney Atkinson and Lane Carson

 

Clearwater – Julia Thiele

 

Elkhorn Valley - Kimberly Frey

 

Neligh-Oakdale - Cole Belitz, Emma Bixler and Hailey Bixler

 

Niobrara - Abbigail Holz

 

Pope John - Kyle Schumacher

 

St. Mary's - Ansley Kramer, Jacob Pongratz, Betsy Crumly, Abby Everitt and Brandi Ruzicka

 

Verdigre - Bailey Frank

* Jackman, Raymond finish first in their weight classes in power lifting competition

(Posted 9 a.m. April 15)

Conner Jackman and Sloan Raymond represented Ainsworth High School during the AAU Powerlifting event at Orchard. Jackman and Raymond, through their efforts, landed Ainsworth third place in the team standings despite being the only two competitors.
Jackman finished first overall, including a bench press of 275 pounds that placed him first in that event. Jackman also finished first in the Iron Man category, which is a combination of bench press and dead lift totals. Jackman had a dead lift of 440 pounds, and a squat of 418 pounds. His three-event total of 1,133 pounds was up 10 pounds from last year’s total.
Raymond finished second overall, also finishing first in his weight class in both the bench press at 253 pounds and the Iron Man with a dead lift of 343 pounds. Raymond had a top squat lift of 363 pounds, giving him a three-event total of 959 pounds, up 100 pounds from a year ago.

* Man shot and killed by deputy Sunday in Rushville church

(Posted 6:45 a.m. April 15)

The Nebraska State Patrol is investigating an officer-involved shooting that occurred Sunday at Rushville.

At approximately 10:20 a.m. Sunday, Sheridan County Sheriff’s Department deputies responded to reports of an assault at 303 Chamberlain in Rushville. Upon arriving at the house, deputies found a victim with a broken arm.

Shortly thereafter, the suspect, Clarence Leading Fighter, 32, was located in the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church at 606 Church St. in Rushville. At approximately 11:07 a.m., an incident occurred in which the suspect was shot by a Sheridan County Sheriff’s deputy. The suspect died as a result of the injuries.

The Sheridan County Sheriff’s Department has requested the State Patrol investigate the shooting. Initial investigation indicates the deputy used deadly force to protect himself and parishioners from potential serious harm. Nebraska State Law requires a grand jury to convene as well.

* Area Northeast Community College students named to honor chapter

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

Northeast Community College welcomed the newest members into its international honor society.

One-hundred students were installed into Northeast’s Phi Theta Kappa, Tau Chi chapter during the spring 2019 induction ceremony held in the Lifelong Learning Center.       

Since the installation of Northeast’s Tau Chi chapter in 1996, approximately 3,200 students have been inducted into the international academic honor society for two-year colleges. For more than 80 years, membership in Phi Theta Kappa has signified a singular honor and a willingness to embrace the Society’s shared commitment to academic excellence.  

To be eligible for PTK, students must have earned at least 12 credit hours and achieved a minimum grade point average of 3.5 or above out of a 4.0 system.

Dr. Michael Chipps, president of Northeast Community College, spoke during the ceremony. He told students their membership in PTK is “more than just a line on your resume.”

“Your Phi Theta Kappa membership will take you far if you utilize it well. You represent Phi Theta Kappa with the highest integrity and the highest potential you have to offer.”

Students from the area inducted into the PTK chapter include:

Jacce Beck of Ainsworth, Sabrina Hempel of Long Pine, Jeffrey Reynolds of Newport, and Chaelly Farhrenholz, Kennison Kunz and Cassie Miksch of Stuart.

* Lions Club approves food booth during BRAN ride

(Posted noon April 12)

During a recent meeting of the Ainsworth Lions Club Board of Directors, President Connie Lentz reported ways the Lions Club could support the summer BRAN ride that has a stop scheduled in Ainsworth.
Lentz said options to support the hosting of BRAN include a welcoming committee and shuttle service. After a discussion of the various support options, the Board of Directors reviewed the following food service options: spaghetti and sauces, garlic break and cookie; a hamburger, beans and chips; or a stuffed baked potato. 
The board approved providing a food booth during the BRAN ride and agreed to purchase a $30 ad in BRAN’s informational brochure. Lentz will prepare an ad and send it to the BRAN committee. The menu will be determined later after discussion with Lions Club members with some insight regarding what bikers would like to have for a late afternoon/evening meal. The location of the food booth will be determined once the biker camp layout is determined. A Lions Club flyer, noting the location of the food booth and the menu, will be given to the welcoming committee and distributed to the bikers as they arrive at East City Park.
A discussion was held regarding the use of approximately $300 from the Lions Club International Foundation for assistance to flood victims. The foundation has specific guidelines for the use of the funds, to include the following: no cash payments; and no handing over checks/relief materials to governmental agencies. Lentz will contact the Lions Clubs at Atkinson and O’Neill and Roland Paddock will make contact in Boyd County and other locations.  The assistance project issue will be placed on the club’s April 15 agenda.

* NPPD crew to assist in restoring power in South Dakota following storm

(Posted 11:45 a.m. April 12)

As the winter storm that blew across Nebraska Wednesday night and Thursday, it settled into South Dakota creating power outages in that state.
NPPD line technicians, including technicians from Ainsworth, will support a mutual aid request from Xcel Energy in the Sioux Falls, S.D. area with a distribution team. 
“We will mobilize Friday morning out of Norfolk and travel to Sioux Falls,” said T&D Construction and Maintenance Manager Scott Walz. “We have assessed our current storm situation and believe we will be out of the storm area which will allow us to support this request for mutual aid.
“Sioux Falls is close enough that if we have to pull our people back for any reason they are not far away.”
A total of 13 technicians and one supervisor from O’Neill, Ainsworth, Norfolk, Loup City, South Sioux City, Bloomfield, Hartington, Aurora, Kearney, Lexington, York, and Plattsmouth will assist local crews in restoring power.

* Traffic Accident

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

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a vehicle-deer accident that occurred Tuesday, April 9.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 7:09 a.m. Tuesday on Highway 20 approximately 3 miles east of Ainsworth, a 2006 Chevy Silverado, driven by Nathan Porter, 46, of Long Pine, 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 $1,000.

* KBR Rural Public Power customers experiencing outages Thursday due to icing

(Posted 8:45 a.m. April 11)

KBR Rural Public Power District Manager Bob Beatty reported Thursday some customers are without power due to damage to power lines and poles from icing and the accompanying wind.

Beatty said power is out in western Brown County going toward Wood Lake, and in southern Brown County in the Calamus area.

Beatty said KBR is also experiencing major outages in Cherry County.

He said crews are out working to restore power, but there are broken poles, broken arms, and wrapped up wire from the icing and wind.

Customers served by KBR Rural Public Power who are experiencing a power outage may call 402-387-1120 or call 800-672-0009.

* Ainsworth High School Prom is scheduled for Saturday

(Posted 4:15 p.m. April 10)

The Ainsworth High School Prom is scheduled for Saturday. The evening begins with the annual banquet at 5:30 p.m. in the Ainsworth Conference Center. The Grand March begins at 7:30 p.m. in McAndrew Gymnasium. The dance is scheduled from 9:30 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. in the Conference Center, with post prom to follow at 12:30 a.m. in McAndrew Gymnasium.
This year’s senior candidates for prom queen are Rhion Irwin, Rebecca Taylor, Mikki Arens, Mackenzie Kovar and Jenna Williams. King candidates are Gage Delimont, Trey Schlueter, Tate Fernau, Sam Wilkins and Ben Arens.

* School Board approves laptop computer replacements for staff members

(Posted 9:15 a.m. April 9)

The Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education Monday approved replacing 54 staff laptop computers.

Superintendent Darrell Peterson said the district did not replace the teachers’ computers two years ago when the laptop computers were replaced for high school students as part of the district’s one-to-one computer initiative.

Peterson said the decision was made at that time to save some money by having the teachers keep their older computers. He said most of the computers the high school teachers are using were purchased in 2012, and the computers used by the elementary and middle school teachers are older than that.

The superintendent said the third and final annual payment to replace the students’ computers was being made, so the district can replace the staff computers without having an additional payment to make on the student computers.

“We won’t have to replace these staff computers then the next time we update the students’ computers,” Peterson said.

The cost for the 54 staff computers, including software, adaptors and the AppleCare warranty, is $108,278, which includes a $5,900 discount from Apple.

The board unanimously approved the purchase.

In other business Monday, the board approved contracts for three teachers to fill elementary school vacancies.

The board approved a contract for Bobbie Jo Robinson for an elementary special education position. Peterson said Robinson has recently served as a special education paraprofessional, and is scheduled to complete her special education degree this summer.

The board also voted to hire Jennifer Parr and Alisha Strelow to fill elementary teaching vacancies in the fourth and fifth grades.

Peterson said Parr is coming from Iowa, but used to teach in the Keya Paha County Public Schools system. He said Strelow currently teaches at the Pony Lake School, which is part of the Rock County Public Schools system.

Peterson said administration had not yet determined which of the two would teach fourth grade and which would teach fifth grade.

He said the district did not plan to hire a replacement for Linda Hapner, who announced her retirement effective at the end of the school year. The superintendent said Sandi Nelson would handle the Title 1 duties that Hapner had covered.

With the three contracts, the district has just one open staff position remaining for the 2019-20 school year, and Peterson said the district would interview applicants for the technology coordinator position this week.

“I am pleased with the applicants we have for that position,” he said.

In a final action item Monday, the board authorized the Ainsworth Educational Facilities Leasing Corporation to pay an invoice related to the agricultural and industrial technology building addition project. Peterson said there might be only one invoice left to pay on that project.

During his report, Peterson told the board Monday three Northeast Community College Board of Governors members visited the school Monday to tour the new addition.

“We had a lot of good conversation,” Peterson said. “We are hoping to be able to offer some dual credit classes.”

The superintendent also reported Todd Pollock’s students built a new stage to use in the gym. He said the previous stage was difficult to move and gouged the gym floor. The new stage will be easy to reconfigure for each event.

Peterson said he planned to hold an open house for the building addition, and was thinking to hold the open house in conjunction with the FFA banquet May 6.

Elementary Principal Curtis Childers reported the elementary classes held a penny war competition to assist flood victims, and raised $4,328. Childers said he and five elementary students presented the funds to Boyd County Public Schools officials, who indicated the money would be used to help replace the major water line that was lost in the flood.

“Our community comes together for a common cause, and that is a real testament to Ainsworth,” Childers said.

Secondary Principal Steve Dike’s report congratulated Todd Pollock’s manufacturing class for winning the recent Summit Racing Parts Pedal Car Challenge. Sloan Raymond, Oren Pozehl, Isaac Walnofer and Braden Ludemann picked up the first-place plaque, which marks the second straight year Ainsworth won the competition.

Dike also presented the board with information regarding summer school plans. Seventh- and eighth-grade students who fail two classes will have the opportunity to retake the classes during the summer to make up the credit.

Activities Director Scott Steinhauser reported the Ainsworth Booster Club asked not to take tickets at the door for home contests in McAndrew Gymnasium.  He said staff members would be assigned ticket-taking duties, which would free up the Booster Club to focus on other fund-raising projects that provide substantial assistance to the school’s activities programs.

Steinhauser reported the school is moving forward with renovating the locker rooms in McAndrew Gymnasium. Work will include new flooring and benches, shower stalls, doors, graphics, a sound system, and painting. He said the Booster Club committed $15,000 to assist with the renovation.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education is scheduled for 8 p.m. May 13.

* Sandhills Care Center welcomes new RN from international program

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

The Sandhills Care Center Board on Monday welcomed a new employee to the facility.

Senkyung Jung joined the staff Monday as a registered nurse. Jung is originally from South Korea, and joined the Sandhills Care Center through an international nursing program that places nurses in facilities who need their services.

Administrator Stephanie Rucker said Jung, who goes by the first name "Sun," will be a good fit for the Sandhills Care Center.

“Sen got here yesterday, and she is spending this week getting familiar with the facility and the community,” Rucker said. “We are going to give her a month of training first.”

Rucker said Jung would replace an agency nursing position the facility had previously utilized.

Rucker reported one agency CNA was leaving the facility at the end of the month, so pool nursing expenses should continue to come down.

The cost for agency nursing services in March was $24,881, about half of what it had been at its highest point.

The Sandhills Care Center generated $148,065 in revenue in March, with total expenses of $138,116 for a net profit for the month of $9,949.

Rucker reported there are 24 residents in the facility, and they were contacted Monday about the potential to add a 25th resident. She said 11 residents are private pay, 12 receive Medicaid assistance, and one resident receives Medicare assistance.

Rucker also reported Monday the facility was implementing online training for employees to adhere to new regulations that become effective in October. She said the trainings are oriented for each department, and each employee could be better tracked to ensure the trainings are being completed and there will be data available to show how each employee scores on the trainings.

“We were one of the few facilities that were still using paper copies for training,” Rucker said.

Capital Campaign Committee Chair Roland Paddock reported the facility received a $1,000 donation in addition to another family continuing to donate $20 monthly.

He asked the board its opinion on replacing the solid fencing on the west side of the facility with chain link fencing using the donations.

Paddock said residents rarely use the gazebo area in the yard because they can’t see out, and a chain link fence would address that issue.

He said volunteers could remove the current fence and install a new chain link fence, with the donations covering the roughly $1,000 cost for the fence and related materials if the installation was volunteered.

Rucker said, while a different fence would likely encourage more residents to utilize the gazebo, she said the facility needed to replace three of its aging lifts, and she would rather see the donated money used toward that more pressing item.

She reported the facility was going to apply for a $2,500 grant to assist in purchasing the lifts, which she said would run about $2,000 each.

The board approved removing the current fence and advertising to sell it to the highest bidder, and use the $1,000 in donated funds and the funding from the sale of the fence to replace the three lifts. Rucker said she would have quotes for the lifts for the board to review during its May meeting.

Rucker, Director of Nursing Chelsea Hladky and Business Manager Sara Schipporeit also discussed replacing the concrete on the main entrance and driveway.

Schipporeit said the condition of the concrete, at some point, would become a workman’s compensation issue, and Hladky said the condition of the concrete could pose a danger for residents who like to walk on the east side of the facility for exercise.

Board member Buddy Small said Brown County Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin, Ainsworth City Streets Foreman Monte Goshorn and Board member Chuck Osborn planned to get together and come up with a plan to replace the concrete.

Board Chair Phil Fuchs said the board recognized the current condition of the concrete was an issue.

In a final action item Monday, the board approved the facility’s employee handbook with minor revisions, which included listing contact information for the five board members on the final page of the handbook.

Rucker reported she had scheduled interviews Tuesday for the open activities director position created by the resignation of Macey Lackaff, who accepted another position.

The next meeting of the Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors is scheduled for 4 p.m. May 13 in the care center.

* Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame announces 2019 inductees

(Posted 7 a.m. April 5)

The 2019 inductees into the Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame have been announced.
Inductees into the Hall of Fame this year are Cliff Andre and Kenneth Churchill of Cherry County, Jim Sevier of Thomas County, Gary Pearman of Hooker County, Elno “Tag” Kyne of Logan County, Robert “Bob” Jordan of Sioux County, and Linda Applegarth Cleveland, Paul Cleveland, Gary “Doc” Sears DVM, John Rothwell, and Bernard Spencer of Grant County.
The 14th annual Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame banquet and induction ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. June 8 in the 4-H building at the Cherry County Fairgrounds, Valentine.

* Commissioners approve agreement with NDOT for box culvert replacement

(Posted 9:30 a.m. April 3)

The Brown County Commissioners on Tuesday approved an agreement with the Nebraska Department of Transportation to replace the Sand Draw Creek box culvert on Meadville Avenue that was damaged during the recent flooding.

Commissioner Buddy Small said Paul Kieper with the Department of Transportation visited the site and informed the county the box culvert would qualify for replacement using federal emergency funding unlocked by the recent flooding.

Kieper said the Department of Transportation would provide 80 percent of the funds for the design and construction of a replacement structure at the site, with the county responsible for 20 percent of the cost.

The county previously had design options created by an engineering firm for a replacement at the site, and those designs would likely be able to be utilized. The DOT would also pay for 100 percent of the cost of maintaining a detour route while Meadville Avenue is closed.

Small said it was great news for the county to be able to address the box culvert that had been an issue for some time while having 80 percent of the project paid for by the state.

“We are looking at paying a couple hundred thousand dollars on what might be a $1 million project,” Small said.

The commissioners unanimously approved an agreement with the Department of Transportation to replace the box culvert.

Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin provided the board with an update on road work as the department continues to repair damage from the mid-March flooding.

“We are working to get everyone at least one way out of their homes, and I think everyone has that now,” Turpin said. “It may not be the most convenient way, but they can get out.”

Turpin reported the water levels are starting to go down, but there were still some sites the roads department could not reach.

“There are still washes and soft spots on a lot of roads,” Turpin said. “We will keep filling washouts and will eventually fill things with clay and rock.”

Turpin asked all motorists in Brown County to drive with caution and watch for washouts and soft spots on county roadways.

Meadville Avenue remains closed at the Sand Draw Creek box culvert site.

Road 880 remains closed between Meadville Avenue and 432nd Avenue as a culvert washed out.

Road 881 is closed between Rauscher Avenue and 427th Avenue due to severe washing. Turpin said he hoped the roads department could get to work on that stretch next week.

The Bar 25 Road is closed at the McCullough Bridge as the approach to the bridge is washed out.

Road 888 from 434th Avenue to Highway 183 remains closed as that stretch of roadway is still underwater. Motorists are urged to obey all road closed signs.

Small asked Brown County Deputy Emergency Manager Carl Hart to assist Turpin wherever possible with documenting damage to turn in to FEMA for eventual reimbursement.

The commissioners approved an increase in the compensatory hours county employees can accumulate from 80 hours to 120 hours. Employees who plan to use more than three days of comp time must get Turpin’s approval. The comp time is accrued when employees choose that option over being paid for overtime hours worked.

The commissioners declined an offer from Chandra Giles to track volunteer labor on county roads. The official stance of the county remains that road work be left to the roads department, and volunteers using their own equipment on county roads is not condoned by the county due to liability issues.

County Attorney Andy Taylor said, if the county started tracking volunteer hours, it would be taking responsibility if there were any accidents involving people using their own equipment on county roadways.

The board set a public hearing for April 16 to amend the roads department budget to account for additional flood-related expenditures that were not anticipated when the 2018-19 county budget was finalized.

The commissioners approved an emergency exemption for Sandhills Elite Genetics to lower its lagoon levels by pumping through center pivots instead of injecting the liquid product into the soil.

Brad Arens, the nutrient management specialist with Sandhills Elite Genetics, said the facility’s lagoon was at an emergency level due to the recent weather, and the liquid cannot be injected as fields are too wet for equipment to be out on them.

“We can apply one-quarter inch in 12 hours at one site, and one-quarter inch in 17 hours at another site,” Arens said. “We won’t apply when it is raining.”

Commissioner Denny Bauer said the Department of Environmental Quality has guidelines facilities must follow when their lagoons reach a certain level.

“They don’t want these ponds to be breached,” Bauer said.

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus said the weather has created numerous emergency situations, and he did not have a problem approving a temporary exemption for the facility.

The board approved the emergency exemption for 60 days or until the lagoon gets back to a manageable level.

Sara Twibell with the North Central District Health Department asked the commissioners to support the Miles of Smiles program the district offers to schools in its nine-county coverage area.

Twibell said Miles of Smiles offers dental checks and fluoride applications for students in 38 elementary schools in its service area twice each year. Parents are asked to provide a $15 payment for the service, but the payment is not mandatory. She said the program brings in enough income to cover about 60 percent of the cost.

She said the Nebraska Community Foundation provided a substantial grant to the health department to continue the program for the next five years, but the grant requires a local match. She asked the board to provide funding in the amount of $2 per child in the county, which would be an annual contribution of $520 for the program.

Small said, since the county budgets a year at a time, he was not comfortable committing to five years, but would support a one-year contribution.

Bauer said he wanted to see the participation level increase in Ainsworth Community Schools, as the 30 percent of students participating in Miles of Smiles in Ainsworth was below what Twibell said was a district-wide 50 percent average.

Wiebelhaus said he agreed Miles of Smiles was a good program, but he was not in favor of using taxpayer money as a donation to the district health department.

Twibell said Cherry County and Brown County were the only two of the nine counties served by the North Central District Health Department that had not approved contributing toward the program. By a 2-1 vote with Wiebelhaus against, the board approved a one-year contribution of $520 to the Miles of Smiles program.

In a final action item Tuesday, the board approved a budgeted transfer of $33,500 from the county’s miscellaneous general fund to the Extension fund.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. April 16.

* Ainsworth saw much colder average temperatures in March

(Posted 8:30 a.m. April 3)

Ainsworth Weather Observer Gerry Osborn reported March temperatures were well below normal, and precipitation was above average.
The temperature hit 13 below on March 3, as the first 10 days of the month continued the trend of cold temperatures from February. Most of the 2.14 inches of moisture fell on March 13-14 and, when coupled with frozen ground and melting snow, led to historic flooding statewide.
To hear the complete March weather summary, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Gerry Osborn March 2019 Weather Summary.mp3

* Area student-athletes receive Academic All-State Awards from NSAA

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

The Nebraska School Activities Association announced the student recipients of the Winter 2018-19 Nebraska Chiropractic Physicians Association Academic All-State Awards.

Since 2006, Academic All-State Awards are given to students who meet the criteria for nomination by their school in the season of their activity.

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

Area students named Academic All-State for the winter season include:

Ainsworth

Trey Schlueter and Sam Wilkins in boys basketball, Megan Appelt and Mackenzie Kovar in girls basketball, and Sam Wilkins and Jenna Williams in speech.

Keya Paha County

Sydney Linse and Miah Wiebelhaus in girls basketball.

Rock County

Byron Pfister and Marcus Reynolds in boys basketball, Alex Chavez and Hannah Keller in speech, and Mylan Andrews and Tommy Klemesrud in wrestling.

Stuart

Wade Paxton and Ethan Sattler in boys basketball, Reaghan Engel and Madison Stracke in girls basketball, and Lainey Paxton and Morgan Wallinger in speech.

West Holt

Garrison Hansen and Austin Wenner in boys basketball, Leighton Mlady and Carlie Wetzel in girls basketball, Anna Albrecht and Lindee Wentworth in speech, and Casey Coburn and Martin Wentworth in wrestling

Sandhills

Matthew Dailey in boys basketball, Jacy Hafer in girls basketball, Dylan Lister and Bryan Zutavern in speech, and Dylan Lister and Bryan Zutavern in wrestling.

Boyd County

Jared Koenig in boys basketball, Sydney Atkinson and Emma Stahlecker in girls basketball, and Jayla Froman and Joseph Hiatt in speech.

* NRD, Extension offering private water well testing Tuesday through Thursday

(Posted 10 a.m. April 2)

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension office and the Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District will perform drinking water tests for those who use private wells as their consumable water source.

The water testing will be held from 1 until 5 p.m. Tuesday, from 2 until 5 p.m. Wednesday, and from 3 until 5 p.m. Thursday. Those who want their drinking water tested are asked to pick up a sample bottle ahead of time from the BKR Extension office, located in the lower level of the Brown County Courthouse.

The sample bottles should be filled and returned to the Extension within two hours of filling them for the sample to be accurate.

Bacterial contamination of drinking water supplies, including private domestic wells, can result from recent flooding. Flood waters commonly contain high levels of bacteria. Whenever floodwater or surface runoff inundates a well, bacterial contamination is likely.

Shallow wells and wells that do not have watertight casings can be contaminated by bacteria infiltrating with the water through the soil near the well, especially in course textured soils. This bacterial contamination cannot be detected by sight, smell, or taste, but can cause flu-like symptoms, intestinal infections, dysentery and other illnesses.

Pick up a sample bottle from the Extension office anytime from 8:30 a.m. until noon and between 1 and 4:30 p.m. Those picking up a bottle will be given a date and a time to return the filled container to the Extension office.

Anyone with questions may contact the BKR Extension office at 402-387-2213.

* USDA asks people to report any stranded or deceased livestock

(Posted 8:15 a.m. April 2)

Nebraska, the citizens of Nebraska have come together and helped each other in tremendous ways.  With neighbor helping neighbor, stranger helping stranger and people from out of state sending supplies and donations to help rebuild, the resilience of Nebraskans shows through.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is also on the ground to help Nebraskans as they recover and rebuild. There are many programs available to everyone, including farmers and ranchers.  For a list of all the programs available, visit www.usda.gov/topics/disaster.
In Nebraska, USDA has several crews conducting aerial surveillance in the federal designated disaster areas looking for stranded livestock. Anyone who sees stranded or deceased livestock is asked to report it to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality at 877-253-2603. USDA has contractors in place to remove livestock carcasses.

* Winning bidders listed for KBRB Radio Takeover Day auction items

(Posted 3 p.m. April 1)

The winning bidders of the auction items donated for the Grand Theater during the KBRB April Fools' Radio Takeover Day are located below.
Please pay for and pick up items beginning Tuesday morning in the KBRB Studios on South Main Street.
Between items that were auctioned Monday and the cash donations that were made, more than $13,000 was raised for the Grand Theater.
The theater committee sends a heart-felt thank-you to everyone who participated during the annual Takeover Day.
 

Grand Theater 2019 Radio Takeover Day 7 A.M. Hour

 

Items donated for the theater auction                                             Winning Bidder/Price

 

Vickie Schipporeit – One-half dozen Chubbies                                     $25, Rod Stolcpart

 

Middle Niobrara NRD – 10 starter-size burr oak trees                          $100, Tom Frank

 

KBRB – Two tickets to the Husker Spring Game                                   $40, Crystal Sell

 

Rangeland Rehab – A recovery pack, includes a foam roller,                   $50, Diana Syfie

stretch strap, Lacrosse ball, Rock sauce, Kinesotape and instructions

 

Brown County Agricultural Society – A weekend pass                    $40, Cathie Pankowski
to the Brown County Fair

 

Ainsworth Does Drove – A dozen of Bonnie Finley’s cinnamon rolls       $35, Greg Soles

 

Daniels Manufacturing – A gate package, includes                                  $40, Todd Kicken
a GL-2 latch with one gate closure

 

Husker Meats – A 5-pound package of 80/20 Sandhills-raised burger     $20, Levi Gum

 

A $25 beef draft for $23 from Rolling Stone                                             Sherry Turner

 

 A $25 certificate to Red & White Market for $23                                   Rick Mayfield

 

Grand Theater 2019 Radio Takeover Day 8 A.M. Hour

 

Items donated for the theater auction                                             Winning Bidder/Price

 

Plains Equipment – A full tractor inspection                                           $200, DJ Hladky

 

Devine Healthcare – A clinic visit                                                           $30, Jennifer Erthum

 

Vickie Schipporeit – One-half dozen Chubbies                                      $30, Troy Brodbeck

 

KBRB – Two tickets to the Husker football Spring Game.                     $30, Crystal Sell

 

Ainsworth Does Drove – A dozen of Bonnie Finley’s cinnamon rolls       $30, Jill McBride

 

Ainsworth Community Schools – A 2019-20 season activities pass         $60 Jennifer Conroy

 

Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District – 10 burr oak trees              $50 Brad Miller

 

A $25 beef draft from Madison’s Great Western for $23                          Rick Mayfield

 

A $25 gift certificate to Canyon Creek Bar & Grill for $23                       Sheri Luther

 

Bomgaar’s – 10 broiler chicks and a 10-pound bag of chick feed              $15 Al Hodge

 

Daniels Manufacturing – A small red sprinkler                                       $40, Coralene Kinzie

 

Vickie Schipporeit – One-half dozen Chubbies                                      $30, Crystal Sell

 

Ainsworth Motors – oil change and vehicle wash                          $70, First National Bank

 

GJW & Sandhills Elite Genetics - A half a hog,                                      $400, Duane Pfister

 

Fitness First – A free one-month membership                                         $10, Logan Barager

 

A $25 gas card from Speedy Mart for $23                                               Becky Schelm

 

A $25 gift certificate to Simple Solutions for $23                                      Becky Schelm

 

Friendship Christian Preschool – Preschool basket                            $35, Lanay Hansmeyer

  

Grand Theater 2019 Radio Takeover Day 9 A.M. Hour

 

Items donated for the theater auction                                             Winning Bidder/Price

 

Plains Equipment – A full riding lawn mower inspection                         $110, Brad Miller

 

Buckles Automotive – An ATD 24-piece -inch SAE                           $40, Sherry Turner
and Metric socket set

 

Gross Seed Company – A 5-pound tub of Omega gopher grain bait        $20, KBRB

 

Vickie Schipporeit – One-half dozen Chubbies                                        $42, Janelle Carpenter

 

Larry Rice – An original Zip Code Classifieds cook book                        $35, Becky O’Hare

 

Ainsworth Does Drove – A dozen of Bonnie Finley’s cinnamon rolls        $50, Dianah Schrad

 

KBRB Radio – 2 tickets to the Nebraska Football Spring Game              $20, Vance Heyer

 

A $25 certificate to the Ainsworth Elks for $23                                       Rick Mayfield

 

A $25 beef draft from Madison’s Great Western for $23                        Sherry Turner

 

Brown County Hospital – Entry into the Hospital’s         $400, Mike Depko and Gross Seed
4-person Scramble Golf Tournament

 

Ranchland Western Store – A Yeti Cup leather Koozie                           $20, Logan Barager

 

First Class Auto – A vehicle service                                                        $150, Jerry Ehlers

 

Vickie Schipporeit – One-half dozen Chubbies                                      $50 Todd Mundhenke

 

Rodeway Inn – Certificate for a one-night stay                                       $45, Troy Peters

 

Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District – 10 burr oak trees             $41, Brad Miller

 

A $25 beef draft from Rolling Stone Feed Yard for $23                         Beverly Smith

 

A $25 certificate to the Farmers-Ranchers Coop Ampride for $23          Levi Gum

 

Grand Theater 2019 Radio Takeover Day 10 A.M. Hour

 

Items donated for the theater auction                                             Winning Bidder/Price

 

Vickie Schipporeit – One-half dozen Chubbies.                                    $45, Becky O’Hare

 

Daniels Manufacturing – A boxed sprinkler                                           $40, Kim Galas

 

Ainsworth Dental Clinic – An electric toothbrush                                   $85, Susan Imm

 

Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District – 10 burr oak trees            $41, Pam Schmitz

 

H&R Food Center – A large vegetable tray                                           $42, Chelsey Lane

 

Pizza Hut – A family meal deal – 2 large pizzas, breadsticks and pop      $40, Glenn Johnson

 

A $25 beef draft from Madison’s Great Western for $23                        Levi Gum

 

A $25 gas card from Speedy Mart for $23                                             Nadine Starkey

 

Century Lumber – A pair of saw horses                                                 $60, Stan Pennington

 

Office Products – A golf bag                                                                  $50, Diette Glenn

 

Simple Solutions – A wireless mouse                                               $15, Carolyn Schipporeit

 

Devine Healthcare – One micro-needling session                                 $60, Chelsey Lane

 

Pam and Denny Bauer – Two tickets to the Wild Game Feed       $75, John Halbersleben
April 5 in the United Methodist Church

 

KBRB Radio – Two tickets to the Husker football Spring Game          $30, Rhonda Theis

 

A $25 certificate to Red & White Market for $23                                West Plains Bank

 

A $25 beef draft from Rolling Stone Feed Yard for $23                        Anita Keys

 

Keys Canning & Crafts – Jellies and pot-holders basket                        $35, Phyllis Leach

 

Grand Theater 2019 Radio Takeover Day 11 A.M. Hour

 

Items donated for the theater auction                                             Winning Bidder/Price

 

Ainsworth Community Schools – A 2019-20 activity pass                      $55, Calista Keezer

 

Gross Seed Company – A 5-pound bag of Kentucky bluegrass seed        $35, Wes Luther

 

Viaero Wireless – A BRAVEN Blue Tooth speaker & power bank         $80, Jon Logterman

 

Subway – A certificate for a 3-dozen cookie party tray                            $25, Glenn Johnson

 

Ainsworth Municipal Golf Course – Two steak dinners in the clubhouse   $60, Tyler Johnson

 

Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District – 10 burr oak trees              $50 Brad Keller

 

A $25 Ainsworth Elks Club gift certificate for $23                                    Jami Burdick

 

A $25 Simple Solutions gift certificate for $23                                           Jim DeBolt

 

Ainsworth Flowers & Gifts – A gift basket of spices                                $35, Tammy Cline

 

H&R Food Center – A large fruit tray                                              $75, West Plains Bank

 

Ainsworth Pizza Hut – A family meal deal, includes 2 large pizzas,         $50, Kasey Johnson

breadsticks and a 2-liter bottle of pop

 

Ainsworth Lions Club – Two tickets to the All-Sports Tailgate Party      $18, Beth Chase

 

Fitness First – A one-month membership                                                $25, Rhonda Theis

 

First Class Auto – A vehicle service                                                        $60 Ronda Kenner

 

Daniels Manufacturing – A gate package, includes a                                $45, Diette Glenn
GL-2 latch and gate closure

 

A $25 Canyon Creek gift certificate for $23                                             Tyler Johnson

 

A $25 beef draft from Madison’s Great Western for $23                          Glenn Johnson

 

Brad and Cammie Waits – 2 tickets to the wild game feed                        $75, Eli Beel
and a pan of Scotcheroos

 

Book Peddler – Cook Book                                                                   $10, Rhonda Theis

 

Grand Theater 2019 Radio Takeover Day Noon Hour

 

Items donated for the theater auction                                             Winning Bidder/Price

 

Brown County Agricultural Society – A weekend pass to the                $40, Roxanne Troxel
Brown County Fair and Rodeo

 

Lovinity Health and Wellness – A gluten-free wellness basket                $21, Delores Colburn

 

Schilousky Lawn Care – A four-step lawn care plan, including             $225, Marilyn Stewart
weed and grub control, and fertilizer applications

 

Hills & Trails FCE Club – 10 dozen cream cheese mints                         $23, Pat Gibbs

 

Husker Meats – A 5-pound package of 80/20 Sandhills-raised burger    $55, Glenn Johnson

 

Ainsworth Golf Course – Nine holes of golf and cart rent for 2             $50, Luke Schilousky

 

A $25 beef draft from Rolling Stone Feed Yard for $23                         Kade Gracey

 

Daniels Manufacturing – A boxed sprinkler                                             $20, Jami Burdick

 

Pam and Denny Bauer – Six 16-ounce rib-eye steaks                        $120, Joyce Hutchinson

 

Phoebe McDaniel – A Thirty-One bag with Color Street items,               $25, Beth Chase
including fingernail polish with no dry time

 

Carquest – A jump starter and portable power pack                               $110, Pat Gibbs

 

Home Health – A complete First-Aid kit                                                 $30, Tony Stahl

 

Simple Solutions – A wireless mouse                                                       $20, Joyce Stahl

 

First Class Auto – A car stereo/CD player                                               $60, Glenn Johnson

 

Bill Cole – A deer mount plaque and leather straps                                  $60, Joyce Stahl

 

Sandhills Lounge – Two Saturday night prime rib dinners                         $70, Don Schilousky

 

Stuart Raceway – A season pass to races at Stuart Park                           $73, Rick Mayfield

  

Grand Theater 2019 Radio Takeover Day 1 p.m. Hour

 

Items donated for the theater auction                                             Winning Bidder/Price

 

All-Day Auction Items

 

Buckley Steel – One-day equipment rental                                    $300, George Freidrich         

 

Frontier Diesel – An 8-foot rubber tire tank                                       $400, JD Alberts

 

Frontier Diesel – A 12-foot rubber tire tank                                       $700, JD Alberts

 

Grand Theater – A one-year pass to the Grand Theater                     $335, Greg Soles
 

* Takeover Day raised thousands for Grand Theater

(Posted 2 p.m. April 1)

A tremendous thanks to everyone who participated in any way to the annual KBRB April Fools' Radio Takeover Day. The showing of support for the Grand Theater project went above and beyond.
Keep posted to this page, as later this afternoon KBRB will update the News page with the winning bidders of each item donated and the price of each winning bid.
Winning bidders are asked to begin picking up and paying for items they purchased starting Tuesday from the KBRB Studios on South Main Street.
Below is a list of businesses and individuals who called in cash donations to the Grand Theater. The businesses and individuals donating items for the auction, as well as the winning bidders, willl be posted to this site later this afternoon.
The Theater Committee thanks everyone who participated, and the showing of support serves as a great reminder to this volunteer group of the importance of having a theater reopened for area youth and residents.

Cash Donations to the Grand Theater for Radio Takeover Day

West Plains Bank $100 (West Plains also previously donated $10,000 to the Grand Theater!)

Pozehl Construction $200

State Farm Insurance $100

Union Bank & Trust $100

First National Bank $100

Long Pine Lumber $100

Ainsworth Vision Clinic $50

April Good/Lashley Land & Recreational Brokers $50

Silver Lining $30
Jim and Deb Lauer $100
Anonymous $100
Steve and Amy Salzman $100
Long Pine Feed Service $50
Ainsworth Star-Journal $100
NTL Trucking $100
Bejot Feed Lot $100
Simple Solutions Computer Group $100
Gary and Faye Saar $100 (initiated a Rock County Challenge)
Fontanelle Hybrids - Terry Kuchera $100
Randy Stolcpart $100
Goochey Plumbing $100
Zwiebel Ranch in memory of Don Zwiebel and Bob Zwiebel $500
Morrison K Lawn - Daniel Morrison $100
Phil and Marsh Fuchs $100
The Jones Family and Thad Jones Trucking $100
Jerry and Dawn Cook $100
Randy and Sandy Rowan $100
Jim and Jaci Harmon $100
Hometown Repair $50
The Scissor's Edge $50
Gary and Phyllis Leach $75
Rangeland Rehab $100
Bill and Evelyn Barnes $100
Gary and Joyce Hutchinson $100
Dan and Susan Zwiebel $100
Lytle's Plumbing $100
Jim and Joni Arens $100
Ryan and Angie Welke $100
Dori and Kade Gracey $100
Ainsworth Electric Motor $250
Farm Bureau Insurance $100
Scott Hallock Construction $200
Jerry and Connie Denny $100
G&V's Market $100
Earl and Doris Brown $100
Lisa and Tom Chohon $300
R&K Cattle Company $500
Ann and Jim Hoch $50
Jennifer Lammers $50
Ben, McKenzie and the Crane boys $50
Greg's Heating and Air $200
Joyce and Tony Stahl $100

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 3:45 p.m. March 29)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a vehicle-deer accident that occurred Tuesday, March 26, on Highway 20.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 9:03 p.m. on Highway 20 approximately 2 miles west of Long Pine, a 2006 Chrysler minivan, driven by Pamela Peterson, 65, of Bassett, was traveling east and struck a deer in the roadway.
No persons were injured during the accident. Damage to the Chrysler was estimated at more than $1,000.

* Highway 11 asphalt replacement to begin Monday south of Atkinson

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

Weather permitting, work is scheduled to begin April 1 on Highway 11, beginning 6 miles south of Atkinson and working north to the Highway 20 junction.
Werner Construction of Hastings has the $2.26 million contract for the project. Work will include bridge repair, milling, asphalt paving and grading. There will be a 12-foot lane restriction. The speed limit will be reduced to 45 mph for bridge repair operations.
Traffic will be maintained during construction with lane closures, as well as flaggers with a pilot vehicle. The anticipated completion date is the fall. Motorists are asked to drive cautiously near construction zones and expect delays.

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 4 p.m. March 28)

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

Alisha L. Haug, age 30, of Sisseton, S.D., charged with attempting a Class 4 felony, fined $1,000; also charged with possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

David L. Kee, 48, of Mission, S.D., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25; possession of marijuana between 1 ounce and 1 pound, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Aaron D. Jones, 36, of Houston, Texas, three counts of attempting a Class 4 felony, fined $1,000 on each count and ordered to pay $3,752 restitution.

Angela Demontigny, 33, of Broken Bow, attempt of a Class 4 felony, $200, also sentenced to 33 days in jail with credit for 33 days served.

Bill E. Allen, 56, of Mitchell, no small game or fur harvest permit, $150, also ordered to pay $2,000 in liquidated damage.

Robert W. Sears, 55, of Ainsworth, first offense driving under the influence, $500, also sentenced to six months of probation, ordered not to drive for 60 days, and ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

Ross W. Miller, 26, of Newport, driving on the shoulder, $25; possession of an open alcohol container in a vehicle, $50.

Marcus D. Sears, 21, of Johnstown, possession of an open alcohol container in a vehicle, $50.

Jesus G. Perez-Lopez, 58, of Norfolk, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Jamie L. Filler, 39, of Cheyenne, Wyo., possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300.

Hunter D. Lerew, 61, of Aberdeen, S.D., possession of marijuana more than 1 ounce but less than 1 pound, $500; speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Pebbles Bray, 30, of Dunning, issuing a no-account check, $25 and ordered to pay $53 in restitution.

Phillip C. Mitchell, 28, of Commerce City, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25; possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300.

Christina R. Eele, 35, of Tekamah, procuring or selling alcohol to a minor, $300.

Julia F. Shakespear, 25, of St. Paul, Minn., possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Benjamine J. Shakespear Little Child, 25, of St. Paul, Minn., possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100; speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Shane R. Cole, 19, of Ainsworth, leaving the scene of an accident or failing to furnish information, $250; careless driving, $100; exhibition driving, $100; modifying or changing a muffler, $100.

Jordan Davis, 28, of Ainsworth, assault by mutual consent, $100.

Dickie D. Marshall Jr., 48, of Dunning, violation of a harassment protection order, sentenced to 15 days in jail with credit for 15 days served.

Michael D. McDaniel, 28, of Clearwater, assault by mutual consent, sentenced to three days in jail with credit for one day served.

James J. Beedle, 28, of Arvada, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Eugene W. Meier Jr., 67, of Omaha, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Roger L. Bickel, 70, of Gordon, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Lyle D. Cate, 19, of Valentine, speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Angel M. Cook, 18, of Ainsworth, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Donald R. Hinton, 42, of Isabel, S.D., speeding 21-35 mph over the limit, $200.

Donald R. Schuyler, 72, of Carterville, Ill., overweight on capacity plates, $25.

Santiago Zamudio, 31, of Hampton, Iowa, driving left of center, $25; no operator’s license, $75.

Benjamin S. Cable, 28, of Sioux Falls, S.D., failure to yield the right of way, $25.

Cody A. Heller, 22, of Ainsworth, first offense reckless driving, $500.

Allyssa R. Carbis, 24, of Norfolk, possession of an open alcohol container in a vehicle, $50.

Christopher E. Jones, 26, of Waco, Texas, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Thomas A. Ward, 38, of Columbus, first offense resisting arrest, sentenced to 10 days in jail with credit for 10 days served; third-degree assault, sentenced to 10 days in jail.

Josie E. Voss, 45, of Long Pine, driving left of center, $25.

Jaye H. Tumpkin, 56, of Sioux City, Iowa, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Christopher M. Mauna, 38, of Arvada, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Curtis P. Lewin, 25, of Ainsworth, violating a stop or yield sign, $75.

Michaela Bachmann, 19, of Gregory, S.D., minor in possession of alcohol, $300; possession of an open alcohol container in a vehicle, $50.

Floyd L. Evans Jr., 36, of Springview, no operator’s license, $75.

Alexandria N. Barrett, 26, of Sioux Falls, S.D., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Brendon M. Coutts, 33, of Fort Benning, Ga., careless driving, $100.

Christina Fetter of Springview, issuing a bad check, $25 and ordered to pay $73 in restitution.

Miles Wagoner, 28, of Bassett, two counts of attempting a Class 2 misdemeanor, fined $25 on each count and ordered to pay $615 in restitution.

Halli R. Haskell, 17, of Ainsworth, speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Ashley J. Babcock, 29, of Bassett, first offense reckless driving, $500.

Arturo B. Olvera, 35, of Harvard, no driver’s license on person, $100.

Schuyler K. Privett, 22, of Valentine, careless driving, $100.

* December taxable sales dip sharply in Brown County

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

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of December 2018 and December 2017 Net Taxable Sales
for Nebraska Counties and Selected Cities

County
or City

2018
Net Taxable
Sales

2017
Net Taxable
Sales

Percent
Change

2018
Sales Tax
5.5%

2017
Sales Tax
5.5%

Blaine

61,438

64,950

(5.4)

3,379.13

3,572.27

Boyd

1,110,126

1,137,936

(2.4)

61,057.20

62,586.66

Brown

3,441,037

3,816,238

(9.8)

189,257.28

209,893.45

Ainsworth

3,234,491

3,328,302

(2.8)

177,897.19

183,056.90

Cherry

6,321,204

6,077,176

4

347,666.84

334,276.79

Valentine

5,919,746

5,546,861

6.7

325,586.44

305,077.83

Holt

10,630,766

11,391,901

(6.7)

584,693.14

626,564.64

Atkinson

2,265,937

2,059,374

10

124,626.75

113,274.81

O'Neill

6,641,442

7,506,435

(11.5)

365,279.78

412,854.44

Keya Paha

282,815

293,056

(3.5)

15,554.98

16,118.18

Rock

702,148

712,671

(1.5)

38,618.25

39,197.01

State Total

$2,945,783,420

$2,961,321,446

(0.5)

$162,259,479.57

$164,440,369.53

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of December 2018 and December 2017
Motor Vehicle Sales Tax Collections by County

County
or City

2018
Net Taxable
Sales

2017
Net Taxable
Sales

Percent
Change

2018
Sales Tax
5.5%

2017
Sales Tax
5.5%

Blaine

121,489

111,115

9.3

6,624.85

6,082.56

Boyd

450,962

263,322

71.3

24,793.16

14,470.20

Brown

485,353

616,350

(21.3)

26,903.82

34,025.47

Cherry

1,059,223

1,207,113

(12.3)

58,449.27

66,694.85

Holt

2,128,254

2,376,364

(10.4)

117,809.52

131,519.35

Keya Paha

139,875

115,548

21.1

7,700.12

6,309.60

Rock

381,833

352,387

8.4

21,029.03

19,406.83

State Total

$322,356,796

$333,015,841

(3.2)

$17,865,241.93

$18,458,841.20

* Rock County FFA Ag Issues team debates CRISPR technology

(Posted 9:45 a.m. March 25)

The Rock County FFA Ag Issues team debated the use of CRISPR technology in the agricultural sector during a visit to the KBRB Studios. The Ag Issues team debates an issue during the State FFA with the chance to advance to national competition.
To hear the debate, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Rock County FFA Ag Issues Team.mp3

* Bronco speakers pick up two silver medals at Class D-2 State Speech Championships

(Posted 7 a.m. March 25)

During the Class D-2 State Speech Championships Friday at Kearney, Zach Michka of Stuart earned a silver medal in extemporaneous speaking, finishing just one ranking point behind Caleb Hendrickson of Shickley.

Elle Schmaderer also picked up a silver medal at state for the Broncos, finishing second in informative speaking. She tied for first in ranking, but lost a tie-breaker to Layne Miller of Lyons-Decatur Northeast.

The Stuart oral interpretation of drama team of Abigail Tubbs, Zach Michka, Taya Schmaderer and Lainey Paxton just missed making the finals and finished with a superior award.

Alyssa King just missed cracking the finals in poetry, earning a superior award. She was just one ranking point shy of making the serious prose finals, finishing with a superior award.

Colton Kaup earned a superior award in extemporaneous speaking, and Taya Schmaderer picked up a superior award in persuasive speaking.

Stuart finished 11th in the Class D-2 team standings with 36 points. Potter-Dix won the Class D-2 State Championship with 84 points.

Leighton Mlady of West Holt picked up a sixth-place medal Friday in the Class C-2 State Speech Championships at Kearney, making the finals in persuasive speaking.

In the Class D-1 State Speech Meet, Alex Chavez of Rock County just missed earning a superior award in extemporaneous speaking.

* Dickau named New Century Workforce Pathway scholar

(Posted 6:45 a.m. March 25)

A Northeast Community College student has earned national recognition.

Preston Dickau of Atkinson has been named a 2019 New Century Workforce Pathway scholar and will receive $1,250 in scholarship funding.

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.

“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 are 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.

“We congratulate Preston for receiving this prestigious scholarship, and we are honored to partner with The Coca-Cola Foundation to recognize his outstanding achievements,” said Phi Theta Kappa’s President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner. “Scholarship programs like this are integral for creating opportunities for students to succeed as they prepare to enter the workforce and for putting college completion within reach.”

Dickau will graduate from Northeast in May with a degree in auto body repair technology.

New Century Workforce Pathway Scholars will be recognized during the annual Association of Community College Trustees’ Congress in San Francisco, Calif., in October.

* Nebraska Strong Day raises more than $436,000 in donations

(Posted 6:45 a.m. March 25)

Gov. Pete Ricketts declared Friday #NebraskaStrong Day, a day of giving to the relief effort. Radio and television stations, local celebrities and others joined together to encourage donations. The total of donations at the end of the day was $436,719.

Those who are looking for a one-stop option for donations can go to the #NebraskaStrong website: www.nebraska.gov/nebraska-strong. A variety of non-profit relief agencies are available for donations.

Visitors to the NebraskaStrong website can also list specific resource needs, and those with resources to donate can connect with those in need.

The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Health and Human Services have been working to ensure safe drinking water is restored to flood affected communities. 

Of the 606 community public water systems across the state, 14 were temporarily unable to provide water to customers, nine boil-water advisories have been issued, and five do-not-consume advisories have been issued.  Full service has been restored to all but four systems, with five boil-water and four do-not-consume orders still in place as of Sunday morning.

Through cooperation with EPA Region 7 and DHHS, a mobile testing laboratory was set up in Fremont, Norfolk, and Verdigre to help private well owners determine their water quality. Through March 23, 226 private well samples were analyzed for total coliform and E. coli bacteria. Approximately 30% of the results indicated the presence of bacteria.

DHHS has facilitated the movement of over 400 pallets of bottled water, or roughly 21 full semi-trucks. This includes deliveries into warehouse storage, delivery from warehouse to impacted sites, and direct delivery to impacted sites.

Nebraska Department of Transportation inspection teams have been out assessing damage and prioritizing repairs. To date, 1,309 miles of highway have reopened; 258 miles of highway are still closed. There are 15 damaged bridges on State Highways.

Since the declaration by President Trump, homeowners and renters in nine counties in Nebraska (Butler, Cass, Colfax, Dodge, Douglas, Nemaha, Sarpy and Washington) who were impacted by the severe weather events beginning March 9, 2019, are eligible to apply for federal disaster assistance.

Additional counties may be added assessments are completed and submitted to FEMA.

FEMA suggests the following steps be taken to being recovery:

Report damage to your local emergency manager. This helps provide information about locations and extent of damage that can be used to assess additional recovery needs for your jurisdiction.

Call your insurance agent. There may be coverage for your losses under a traditional homeowner’s or renter’s policy or under a flood insurance policy.

Document your damage. Take photos or video. Make lists of damage items.

Register with FEMA. The process is free, take about 20 minutes. Register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or register by phone using FEMA’s toll-free registration line by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362). When calling the FEMA number, be prepared to provide your current address, the address of the damaged property, contact information where FEMA can reach you, your social security number, the makeup of your household, insurance, and income information.

Register, even if you are insured. Your insurance may not cover everything, and some damage may not show up until later. Do not wait until you have settled with your insurer to register with FEMA.

There are currently six Red Cross shelters open with a population of 177 people. Shelters are located at Bristow, Bellevue, Fremont, Snyder, Albion and Omaha. Officials are looking at the possibility of consolidating shelters and are examining long-term housing options.

To date, 10,330 meals have been served. A volunteer reception center has been set up at Fremont. More than 45 organizations are ready to assist with identified needs.

* Wilkins earns sixth-place medal Thursday at Class C-1 State Speech

(Posted 9:30 a.m. March 22)

Class C-1 State Speech

Thursday at Kearney

Team Scores

1. Omaha Brownell Talbot, 128; 2. David City, 118; 3. David City Aquinas, 74; 4. Wahoo Neumann, 62; 5. Sutton, 60; 18. Ainsworth, 10.

 

Ainsworth’s Sam Wilkins finished with a sixth-place medal in extemporaneous speaking after making the finals by being ranked third and first in his two preliminary rounds.

Alyssa Erthum received a superior award in persuasive speaking, with ratings of 47 out of a possible 50 points in each of her two preliminary rounds.

Adriana Hood received a superior award in informative speaking. Hood earned ratings of 46 in each of her two rounds.

Jenna Williams also picked up a superior award by picking up ratings of 45 in each of her two preliminary rounds.

 

* University of Nebraska Extension provides flood cleanup resources

 

(Posted 9:30 a.m. March 22)
 

As Nebraskans begin returning to their homes in the aftermath of widespread historic flooding, the University of Nebraska Extension has mobilized a number of resources to aid in the road to recovery.

“Extension is committed to helping Nebraska recover from this disaster,” said Chuck Hibberd, dean of Nebraska Extension. “Our team of statewide experts is available to offer assistance with immediate needs and will be there every step of the way for as long as it takes.”

Those affected by the flood are likely unsure of where to begin. Extension encourages individuals returning to homes and properties to first take steps to ensure their safety. When a home or building is flooded, there is likely damage to the structure. Buildings need to be thoroughly dried, and before drinking water it is critical to test domestic wells for bacteria. Also, be cautious when working in and around contaminated floodwater.

Extension has compiled a list of the state’s certified public health environmental laboratories where homeowners can obtain a water test kit. This information is available on Nebraska Extension's flood resources website, https://flood.unl.edu, which serves as a resource hub for families, homeowners, businesses and producers facing flood cleanup. New and updated information will be added to the site on an ongoing basis.

Tips for homeowners facing food-safety concerns after the flood can also be found on the flood resources website. This includes guidelines to help people decide when to throw out food and how to disinfect food that can be saved. For instance, screw-topped or crimp-topped jars or bottles of food that have come into contact with floodwaters should be thrown out, even when the jars have not been opened. 

Extension is also a resource for those wanting to help flood victims. The Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead and Haskell Ag Lab near Concord are serving as donation locations for hay (large bales) and fencing materials for livestock owners and managers impacted by the flood. Those wishing to obtain the donated materials should contact the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. 

“We’re partnering with a number of state agencies and organizations to do what we can to help those who need it most," Hibberd said. "We’re all in this together."

* Broadcasters Association holding fund drive Friday

(Posted 7 a.m. March 22)

The Nebraska Broadcasters Association has kicked off a Nebraska Strong flood relief drive today in partnership with the American Red Cross.
Friday only, people can call 844-278-8555 to make a donation to flood relief efforts in Nebraska.
The Nebraska Broadcasters Association kicked off the fund drive by donating $20,000 to the Red Cross.
If able, the Broadcasters Association asks Nebraskans and those with Nebraska ties to participate in the Nebraska Strong funding drive and support neighbors in need.

* Area fire departments collecting items to take to Boyd County

(Posted 7:30 a.m. March 22)

Brown County residents may still drop off items to send to Boyd County in the Ainsworth Fire Hall. Items need to be dropped off to the Ainsworth Fire Hall before noon on Saturday, as the final trailer load of items will be delivered to Lynch Saturday afternoon.
Suggested items include bottled water, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items, disposable gloves, trash bags and non-perishable food items.
The Bassett and Newport volunteer fire departments are also collecting items to send to Boyd County. Trailers in Rock County are located in front of the Corral Bar in Bassett, and at the Newport Fire Hall.
The fire departments plan to take items to Boyd County this weekend.

* President approves disaster declaration for Nebraska

(Posted 7 a.m. March 22)

President Donald Trump signed a disaster declaration for Nebraska Thursday. Nine counties were approved to receive individual assistance including: Butler, Cass, Colfax, Dodge, Douglas, Nemaha, Sarpy, Saunders and Washington were approved. In addition, 65 counties were approved for public assistance. Counties that were not initially approved could still be declared.

Public assistance funding is available to eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work in 65 counties, including Brown, Rock, Keya Paha, Holt, Cherry, Boyd and Blaine counties.

Counties not included for individual assistance as part of Thursday’s disaster declaration are being reviewed by FEMA as damage assessments continue. Homeowners and businesses that have had damages are encouraged to report those to local emergency management. As counties qualify, they will be added.

Individual assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. Individuals and businesses who sustained losses in the designated area can begin applying for assistance by registering online at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone number will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.

All public assistance requests were approved, but only for debris removal and emergency protective measures. As damage assessments continue, more counties and categories of work are expected to be added to the list.

Furthermore, Federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

The response to the historic weather events Nebraskans face has been overwhelming. Information, both accurate and inaccurate, is coming from every direction. In an effort to streamline some of that information, staff at the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency’s Joint Information Center is continuously collecting information and posting links on social media and the NEMA website.

NEMA website: www.nema.nebraska.gov

NEMA Twitter: https://twitter.com/NEMAtweets

NEMA Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nema.page/

In addition, there are several reputable websites and phone numbers for information on donations, aid, and other services:

www.nebraska.gov/nebraska-strong: Help in connecting those in need with people offering resources. This is a partnership with NEMA and the Nebraska Preparedness Partnership. Governor Ricketts has proclaimed Friday “#NebraskaStrong Day.”

www.ndbf.nebraska.gov: The Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance (NDBF) has information on avoiding investment scams, which increase during disasters. NDBF also has a consumer hotline, (877) 471-3445 or (402) 471-3445.

https://protectthegoodlife.nebraska.gov/report-scam: The Nebraska Attorney General’s office has a website for reporting scams. If you receive an unsolicited call for donations, use caution. Know to whom you are donating. Never give personal information including credit card information to an unsolicited caller.

https://twitter.com/NEDHHS: Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is tweeting information on local water testing, mental health resources, and other health-related information. Local water testing will take place at Fremont, Norfolk, and Verdigre between now and March 24.

 www.redcross.org/donate: Red Cross is no longer accepting donations of goods. They thank everyone who has donated, but they have received more than they can handle. Monetary donations can be made on their website. Select “I want to Support Disaster Relief.” Donations can also be made by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations can also be mailed to American Red Cross, 2912 S. 80th Ave., Omaha NE 68124

* Flooding damages 15 bridges on state highway system, including 2 in Boyd County

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

The Nebraska Department of Transportation is reporting at least 15 bridges on the state highway system have washed out or have been damaged.

The known bridges are:

Highway 11 just south of Butte

Highway 281 just south of Spencer

Highway 12 Mormon canal west of Niobrara

Highway 12 Niobrara River west of Niobrara

Highway 13 East of Hadar

Highway 15:  Two bridges resulting in a closure from Linwood Spur to south of Schuyler

Highway 14:  Two bridges resulting in a closure from the junction of Highway 92 to Albion

Highway 39 just south of Genoa

Highway 57 south of Stanton

Highway 94 Truss Bridge east of Pender

Highway 116 South of Dixon

Highway 121 South of Yankton

Highway 275 West Center Road

Truckers are advised to only take marked detours and avoid county roads in these areas. Many of the county roads are unable to support semi-truck traffic.

NDOT will provide detours for each bridge that has either been washed out or requires repair through 511.nebraska.gov

Plan your travel by checking 511 prior to leaving for your destination.  511 provides the most up to date travel conditions available through 511, Nebraska’s Advanced Traveler Information System.  The system is available at all times via phone by, online at www.511.nebraska.gov, Nebraska 511’s smartphone app or by dialing 511.

Motorists are reminded to make sure everyone in their vehicle wears a seatbelt and children are in a car safety seat.

* Lions Club votes to donate toward area flood relief efforts

(Posted 7:45 a.m. March 21)

The Ainsworth Lions Club Board voted to provide the Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department with a $200 donation to help with supplies needed in the area due to the devastation from flood water and ice. 
The fire department indicated it would use the money to help pay for bottled water the department had purchased.
Club President Connie Lentz presented a report from Sarah Williams regarding the Elementary Fourth Grade Foresters tree planting project, with the distribution of the trees to be held on or near Arbor Day, April 26. 
David Spann provided an update on plans for the annual Ainsworth Lions Club sponsored All-Sports Tailgate Party to be held on Tuesday, April 23, with a work-detail Monday, April 22.  Committee assignments and other details will be developed later.

Lentz led a discussion regarding the club’s participation in the 2019 Bike Ride across Nebraska event, with the riders' overnight stay in Ainsworth June 4. A review of activities from the 2008 BRAN ride was presented, including food sold and served by the club to some of the riders. The board discussed what the club might do this year. Some other organizations, to include churches and commercial food service businesses, will make food available to the riders. It was suggested the Lions Club representative continue to meet with the support groups to obtain more information on how the club could best assist with the BRAN visit.

Lentz reviewed the slate for officers and directors, and members to be nominated for a vote to be held later for the 2019-20 terms.

She also reported that information had been received from the Nebraska Department of Transportation to renew the agreement for the Lions Club Trash-off project along shoulders of Highway 20 east of Ainsworth. The agreement has been signed, with dates and times to be determined later for the spring and fall clean-up events.

* Turpin provides update on flood damage to county roads

(Posted 7:15 a.m. March 21)

In a continuation of Tuesday’s Brown County Commissioner meeting, Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin told the board Wednesday the main plan for the roads department in the short term is to make sure everyone in the county has at least one route to make it out from their homes.

“Some people are still having to travel through standing water to get out,” Turpin said. “We are trying to run blades and repair washouts.”

Turpin said the roads department has repaired the culvert that failed 2 miles north of Ainsworth on Meadville Avenue, and installed a second culvert at that site. However, the Sand Draw Creek crossing on Meadville Avenue remains closed, and there are large hay bales placed on the north and south sides of the box culvert on the road to keep vehicles off. Turpin said the Sand Draw box culvert will need wing wall work before the roads department can come in and back fill.

Commissioner Buddy Small said Rahn Matteo with Norfolk Contracting visited the site and will get something designed and to the commissioners. Small said half of the road at the box culvert washed out.

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus said he believed the board needed to call an emergency meeting when that proposal was received so the county could make a decision and get the work done as soon as possible.

Turpin said a bridge near Jason Appelt’s property also needs work, and is a priority along with the Sand Draw box culvert because the bridge is Appelt’s only access point to feed his cattle.

The highway superintendent said the bridge near Camp Witness also fell in, but that was a bridge the county was planning to vacate anyway. He said the county would still need to go through the process of vacating the bridge even now that it has fallen in.

“A lot of the bridges in the county took the high flows quite well,” Turpin said. He said both Niobrara River bridges on Meadville Avenue and Norden Avenue appeared to weather the flooding well.

However, he said there are at least 10 culverts so far the roads department has found in need of repair.

The Norden Road has been reopened to traffic, but motorists are urged to use extreme caution as there are still some spots that have washed.

Even a week after the flooding, the status of some roads is still unknown because they cannot be reached.

“On Monday, we got three roads open but had to close another four after we found culverts that had been undermined,” Turpin said. “We are trying to get sand hauled in and fill holes. If we tried to just put rock in all of them, we would be out of rock. There is washing on just about every mile of road.”

Turpin said South Pine Avenue had been repaired and was reopened, but areas west of the T intersection were mostly underwater. He said Moon Lake Avenue still has standing water across it in several spots and is considered closed.

Turpin said several residents have contacted him offering to assist the county with trucks or equipment.

“It would be nice if we could have some guys with trucks haul material from South Dakota for us,” he said. “But, it will be several days before the road in there will be open for us to get to the material. Just having some truck drivers go get material for us would be a big help.”

Commissioner Denny Bauer said, if people were going to use their equipment to assist the county, the board needed to come up with a set rate of compensation.

“We need to have an agreement in place on what we are willing to pay, and then people can decide whether they want to do it,” Bauer said. “We need to be fair to everyone.”

The commissioners discussed hiring additional temporary workers for the roads department. Turpin said several people had volunteered to work for the county if needed.

Wiebelhaus said he believed anyone hired should be hired as contract labor at a rate of $20 per hour.

Turpin said the roads crew is digging in and working on as many projects as possible.

“We will get through it,” he said.

Bauer said the roads department was doing a good job.

“99 percent of the people understand the situation and know things have to dry out a little before we can do too much,” Bauer said.

Wiebelhaus said he knew the roads crew was tired.

“Be careful how many hours you guys work,” Wiebelhaus said. “I don’t want you to get run down.”

Turpin said he is having the roads department employees work five, 10-hour workdays at this point.

The commissioners discussed how to pay for materials and other costs, including overtime, associated with repairing damage from the flooding.

Turpin said each roads department worker was documenting everything, and they have been taking pictures of the damage.

The documentation is being completed in anticipation of a federal disaster declaration that would unlock FEMA disaster relief reimbursement funding.

Bauer said it would be cleaner for the county to pay for the repair work from its inheritance tax fund, and the board approved paying for the costs of flood repairs from that fund.

In the only other action item Wednesday in the continuation from Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners approved the low bid of the three it received for armor coating work. The low bid of $13,294 per mile was supplied by Figgins Construction of Red Cloud with the county also responsible for supplying the gravel needed.

TopKote of Yankton, S.D., submitted a bid of $13,698 per mile, and Sta-Bilt Construction of Harlan, Iowa, bid $18,176 per mile for the armor coat work.

On Tuesday, Mike Murphy with the Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District told the commissioners there would likely be assistance available for flood mitigation from the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Emergency Watershed Protection Program.

Murphy said there would be value in the NRD and the county partnering with the NRCS after identifying potential projects.

“That would open the door for extra assistance in making repairs and improvements,” Murphy said. “If there is a disaster declaration, you pay to make the repairs and hope to get reimbursed for at least some of it.”

In an unrelated item, Murphy reported the loss of the Spencer Dam in Boyd County still fell under the Nebraska Public Power District’s ownership.

An alliance of Natural Resources Districts and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission had signed a purchase agreement in September for the Spencer Dam and NPPD’s senior water rights, but there was a two-year window within that purchase agreement for the groups to find the funding needed for the purchase.

“We still feel there is huge value in those senior water rights,” Murphy said. “But, those water rights going forward, at this point, are questionable. There is a precedent with previous dam failures. There should be some productive talks with the Department of Natural Resources. At the end of the day, all we really wanted were the water rights.”

* Nebraska broadcasters to host telethon for flood victim support Friday

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

On Friday, radio and television stations from around the state will team up for a one-day relief effort in partnership with the American Red Cross. Led by the Nebraska Broadcasters Association, the #NebraskaStrong Drive for Flood Relief will run from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m. this Friday.
Nebraskans and others around the county will have the opportunity to support their neighbors and fellow Nebraskans who have been affected by the flood. Several Nebraska-native celebrities have also signed-on to support the effort on social media and broadcasts. Red Cross volunteers will be manning dozens of phones in the Omaha Steaks call center to accept donations. All funds raised through the donation drive will go to support American Red Cross flood relief efforts in Nebraska and western Iowa.
Those who would like to contribute Friday can call 844-278-8555 and make a donation. Those donating through the website should select “Disaster Relief.” The Nebraska Broadcasters Association has announced they will kick off the campaign with a $20,000 donation. Gov. Pete Ricketts will also proclaim Friday as “#NebraskaStrong Day” in Nebraska.

* NDOT postpones meeting on Highway 20 bridge project over Long Pine Creek

(Posted 2:45 p.m. March 20)

The Nebraska Department of Transportation has cancelled the public information open house set for March 28 in Long Pine regarding proposed improvements on the Highway 20 bridge over Long Pine Creek in Brown County.
The meeting will be rescheduled at a future date. Details will be provided when available.

* Region 24 Emergency Manager Fox provides update on flood recovery efforts

(Posted 1 p.m. March 20)

Region 24 Emergency Management Agency Director Doug Fox provided an update on the recovery efforts from the historic flooding in Nebraska. Region 24 covers Brown, Rock, Keya Paha, Cherry and Boyd counties.
While current efforts are focused on the restoration of essential services to communities in Boyd County, all five area counties are dealing with the after-effects of the flooding.
To hear the report from Fox, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Flood Recovery Update w Doug Fox - Region 24.mp3

* State provides update on flood resources available

(Posted 1 p.m. March 20)

Overnight, the number of cities under emergency declarations in response to the devastation from the historic weather events increased to 89. There are 77 counties under declarations, 4 tribal nations, and 5 special government areas such as unincorporated townships. Declarations cover more than 80 percent of the state.

As Nebraskans are beginning to return home to flood ravaged communities, the reality of what comes next hits hard. It can be overwhelming.

The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency website - https://nema.nebraska.gov/ - has an interactive map of declarations, a chart of estimated damage costs, and general information on the floods.

There are many resources available, and the state of Nebraska has compiled information on agencies providing assistance and information. A 24-hour call center has been established at the Joint Information Center at NEMA. The call center is staffed by state employees from a variety of agencies who are available to connect citizens with the resources needed. The call center number is 402-817-1551. This is not a FEMA resource number. A federal declaration has not been made. If a federal declaration is made, a FEMA contact number will be announced.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture has set up a hotline for donations of hay and other farm supplies. That hotline number is 800-831-0550. The Nebraska National Guard is currently executing hay drops in areas where livestock are cut off from feed. In addition, NDA has a Rural Response Hotline for farmers and producers who need emotional support or someone to talk to.

When disasters occur, there are always people who try to profit off of the needs of others. Fraudulent funding schemes are popping up on the Internet. To find a legitimate agency for monetary and other goods and services donations, contact 211. To reach 211, simply dial 211. If you have difficulty reaching 211, dial 866-813-1731.

Any Nebraskan knows that neighbors helping neighbors is everyday life in the heartland. Our National Guard troops are our neighbors, friends, and family.

Sunday, Natasha Hilsgen, a staff sergeant with the Nebraska Air National Guard, helped with food rescue efforts to Fremont. Hilsgen said the sun was just setting as the National Guard convoy crossed the bridge into town. The town had been without fresh supplies of food and water for two days as it was surrounded with flood waters.

"As we approached the town, I saw people coming out of their houses, standing on street corners, waving and clasping their hands in joy,” Hilsgen said. "We drove to the HyVee store to begin distribution efforts. As we rounded the corner we saw the parking lot filled with hundreds of people. A great cheer rose from the crowd when they saw the convoy.” 

Hilsgen reported people from the community thanked the Nebraska National Guard and all the volunteers with hugs and handshakes. A long line formed as supplies were unloaded at the store.

"As we began carrying bottled water into the store, an elderly lady, who had been for waiting hours hugged me and was overcome with emotion,” said Hilsgen. "She was so thankful and relieved knowing  that even in difficult and trying times, there are Nebraskans doing things 'the Nebraska way' by watching out for our most vulnerable citizens.”

Agriculture is Nebraska’s number one industry, and a flooding disaster of this magnitude has an impact on everyone. Farmers and ranchers have immediate and immense needs as caring for their animals and keeping them safe is a top priority. It’s devastating to lose livestock under any circumstance, and this is on such a large scale. 

Nebraska has been appreciative of the overwhelming response of donations of hay, feed, equipment, etc.  In addition to local offers of assistance from Nebraskans, ag-related donations are coming in from all over the country.

* Chipps announces retirement from Northeast Community College

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

Dr. Michael Chipps, who has served Nebraska’s community colleges for 40 years, announced he will retire from his position as president of Northeast Community College later this year.

Chipps shared his intentions with the Northeast Board of Governors and the college community this week.

“Northeast is a special place for students to learn, faculty to teach, and for staff to support and promote student success,” Chipps said. “After several weeks of reflection on our major initiatives and my own desire to make sure the college is positioned well for the future, I have informed the board that I plan to retire later this year and write a new chapter in my life.”

Chipps’ last day will be December 31.

He said he is grateful for the many accomplishments that Northeast has achieved and a number of initiatives that have been undertaken over the past seven years at the College.

Northeast was recognized by the nation’s largest organization that works closely with community colleges during Chipps’ tenure. In 2013, the American Association of Community Colleges named Northeast one of four national finalists for its Awards of Excellence as an Outstanding College/Corporate Partner for its collaborative work with the Nucor Detailing Center in Norfolk. In 2015, AACC named Northeast a top four national finalist for its Exemplary CEO/Board of Trustees Award of Excellence. In addition, Northeast Community College was one of six colleges recognized by AACC in 2018 for outstanding student success for its five-year advising model that is transforming the College’s culture.

“I have been so blessed to have the opportunity to lead Northeast with a visionary board that has established a succinct mission and clear goals that has positioned the college well for years to come.” Chipps said. “I have also had an exemplary senior leadership team and a college family who are laser-focused on making Northeast one of the premier community colleges in America. Together, we have accomplished so much and have impacted the lives of countless students.”

Northeast Board Chairman Steven Anderson said, “With our Vision 2020 strategic plan at the forefront, Dr. Chipps is ensuring that Northeast Community College is strategically committed to its graduates in securing highly skilled jobs while addressing the workforce needs of northeast and north central Nebraska. His work each and every day is testament to that fact.”

Anderson said Chipps is 100-percent committed in seeing Northeast students succeed.

“Although they may not witness the work of its president every day, the students of Northeast Community College are the recipients of Dr. Chipps’ endeavors to improve their lives and the lives of their families and friends,” Anderson said. “He goes out of his way to speak with individual students to make them feel welcome and highly valued.”

Chipps, who began in February 2012, is the eighth president of Northeast Community College and its predecessor institutions. Previous to leading Northeast, he served as president and chief executive officer of Mid-Plains Community College in North Platte and McCook. He also held several instructional, student services and administrative positions at Central Community College in Grand Island and Hastings.

Anderson said Chipps has moved the college to serve rural northeast and north central Nebraska by contributing to the economic development of its 20-county service area and beyond.

“Under Dr. Chipps’ leadership, Northeast Community College is not only positioning itself as a trailblazer both within the state and region, but also as a shining example of what rural community colleges nationwide can aspire to become,” he said.

* Commissioners approve tax exemption for portion of The Nature Conservancy

(Posted 7 a.m. March 20)

Based on a recommendation from the county attorney and county assessor, the Brown County Commissioners Tuesday, acting as the Board of Equalization, approved an application from The Nature Conservancy to exempt 572 acres with a building site from property taxation.

The 572 acres include a public trail system, the Hubbard Center for Conservation Learning and the Holland Visitor Center.

Assessor Terri Van Houten said the conservancy currently pays about $12,000 in property tax on the 572 acres, while paying more than $123,000 in total property tax on all of its 31,785 acres.

County Attorney Andy Taylor said, as a non-profit organization, the conservancy could likely ask for all of its property to be declared tax exempt if it chose to. He said the portion they were asking to have exempted has beneficial uses for the public.

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus said he spoke with Rod Palmer, who was the Brown County Attorney when The Nature Conservancy initially purchased the land in Brown County in 1982.

Wiebelhaus said Palmer was confident The Nature Conservancy provided a document to the county indicating it would not ask to have property removed from the tax rolls.

“Rod said he told county officials at the time to frame the document because the county would likely need it at some point,” Wiebelhaus said.

Commissioner Buddy Small said several current county officials searched for that document, but it was not found.

Commissioner Denny Bauer said, even if the letter surfaced, it might not mean anything.

Taylor said it would depend on who wrote the letter and whether that person could bind the conservancy to any kind of agreement.

“We have looked everywhere, but I don’t think we can base a decision off a letter,” Taylor said. “There is nothing attached to the deed. I think, if there would have been a binding agreement, it would have been noted.”

Audience member Marty Graff said The Nature Conservancy purchasing land in Brown County was a contentious issue back in 1982 due to the possibility of the land being removed from the tax rolls.

Small said the last time the commissioners had any dealings with The Nature Conservancy were in court after the county denied the conservancy’s application for a perpetual easement on more than 800 acres it was selling to a private individual. Small said the courts sided with the conservancy that the county could not deny the perpetual easement, and the county spent more than $20,000 in attorney fees.

Taylor said, if the commissioners denied this exemption, he had no doubt The Nature Conservancy would file an appeal with the TERC Board and the county would lose.

Wiebelhaus said there was nothing to prevent The Nature Conservancy then from coming back next year and asking for all its property to be tax exempt.

Wiebelhaus moved to allow The Nature Conservancy’s tax exemption for the 572 acres based on that portion of the conservancy’s holdings having a different purpose than the remainder of the conservancy’s property in that the primary purpose of the 572 acres was for the public’s education and benefit.

The board unanimously approved that motion to exempt the 572 acres.

In another agenda item Tuesday, the commissioners approved an interlocal agreement with Rock County to have Brown County provide veterans services to Rock County for a three-month trial run from April through June, with Rock County paying Brown County $2,500 for that service.

The commissioners were scheduled to discuss flood damage and potential sources to fund road, culvert and bridge repairs, but Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin was unable to make the meeting Tuesday due to being on site with repair efforts. The commissioners recessed Tuesday’s meeting until 5:30 p.m. Wednesday so Turpin could be present and provide the board with an update.

* NEMA continues work to assist flood victims

(Posted 6:45 a.m. March 19)

The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency continues to work with multiple public and private partners to serve those affected by the floods in Nebraska.

Members of the public who have questions can call NEMA’s Joint Information Center at 402-817-1551.

Twenty-nine counties have had mandatory or voluntary evacuations across the state since flooding began last week.

Over the last 24 hours, the Nebraska State Patrol, working with the Nebraska National Guard and the Nebraska Department of Transportation, led three convoys of semi-tractor/trailers and fuel tankers from the Omaha area to Fremont. The first convoy left Omaha on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. and arrived in Fremont two hours later. Monday, a faster route was created by NDOT that allowed two more convoys of trucks, including one with 17 semis full of supplies, to make the journey.

Information on road closures can be found on the Nebraska 511 map at www.511.nebraska.gov. Nebraska 511 can also be accessed through the 511 smartphone app or by dialing 511.

Agriculture producers who have been impacted by the blizzard and flooding and are now in need of hay, feed stuffs, fencing materials, volunteer help, equipment, etc. should call the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at 800-831-0550.

Those with hay, feed stuffs, fencing materials, equipment, etc. who are willing to donate are asked to contact the Department of Agriculture. 

Of the calls that NDA received Monday, about a third were from farmers and ranchers in need. Two-thirds were from people offering supplies and assistance.

The Nebraska Preparedness Partnership is currently accepting donations. The donations will stay in Nebraska. Call Sandra Hobson at 402-979-7207 or email her at shobson@neprep.org for more information.

A list of reputable national and state organizations can be found on the Nebraska Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster website, www.nvoad.org. By giving to any of these organizations, donors can be sure that their funds will be distributed to those most in need.

The American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund is accepting donations at www.redcross.org or call 1-800-HELP-NOW (1-800-435-7669).

* Boyd County residents remain on water restriction, public water not safe to drink

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

Boyd County residents are asked to continue to limit water use as much as possible. Water use restrictions include: limiting flushing of toilets and minimizing bathing, laundry and dishwasher use.

Running water is currently available for Butte residents but the water is not safe to drink without boiling. To use the water, boil for 1 minute and let it cool before using.

In accordance with the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations, the public water supply in Boyd County not within the village of Butte’s supply may be contaminated. Boiling is not recommended at this time because it may not be effective. This means the water may not be safe for drinking, preparing food, brushing your teeth, or making ice. Bottled water should be utilized until further notice.

The Rural Water District is continuing to work to return the water system to regular function.

For those with private wells, at this time bottled water is also recommended for drinking and food preparation. It is recommended to test private wells for coliform bacteria. Water test kits are available in the Lynch Community Center and the North Central District Health Department office at O’Neill. Kits can also be ordered online at www.nebraska.gov/dhhs/water-test-kits/private.html. Test kits are free, but the cost of a coliform test is $15 to $20.

If a private well tests positive for bacteria, disinfection is needed.  It is best practice to contact a well professional to handle disinfection.

* Livestock producers urged to report losses to USDA's Farm Service Agency

(Posted 10:45 a.m. March 18)

Nebraska USDA Farm Service Agency State Executive Director Nancy Johner is highlighting FSA resources that may be important to farmers and ranchers as they assess flood and blizzard impacts on farms and ranches across the state.

Programs such as the Livestock Indemnity Program, Emergency Conservation Program, Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program, Disaster Set-Aside Program and Emergency Loan Program are disaster safety net tools available through FSA.

“As producers continue to address their individual circumstances, we want them to be aware of these programs and information we may need to deliver assistance to them,” Johner said.

The Livestock Indemnity Program financially assists producers when they suffer loss of livestock due to adverse weather. Producers must notify their county FSA office of losses within 30 days of when those losses become apparent. A phone call is an acceptable form of notification, Johner said.

Documentation of losses also is critical for LIP, Johner said. Documentation can include items such as veterinarian certification, other independent third-party certification, rendering receipts, dated photos or video. FSA also will need to know the type and weight of the animals lost.

The Emergency Conservation Program can provide some cost-share assistance to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters and to help restore fences damaged or lost due to natural disaster. The program does not trigger automatically, and Johner said it is critical that producers, if they think they may want to access this cost-share resource, contact their county FSA office about the program before taking any action to repair damages.

The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program can, in certain situations, financially assist with livestock feed losses. This may include situations where forage or feedstuffs were destroyed by flood waters. The program also may be available to assist with costs incurred for transporting livestock feed to eligible livestock during an adverse weather event.

There also may be options for producers through FSA farm loan programs, including the opportunity for existing FSA loan customers to delay a loan payment through the Disaster Set-Aside Program or access the Emergency Loan Program, Johner said.

“It is important for producers to contact their county FSA office to report their weather-related impacts and discuss all the program options that may be available to assist them, as well as the steps involved with accessing these programs,” Johner said.

* Region 24 has ordered flood cleanup kits

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

Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox reported, with numerous homes experiencing flood damage in the area, the Region 24 office has ordered 100 flood cleanup kits that can assist residents who have water damage they are cleaning up.

Fox said the kits should be in to the office by the end of the week. Call the Region 24 Emergency Management office at 402-684-2424 to get on the list for a flood cleanup kit when they arrive.

For emergency responders and others exposed to floodwaters, the North Central District Health Department reports that tetanus can be a concern for those working in and around floodwater.

Tetanus can be an increased concern for emergency responders and others who have a higher risk of cuts or wounds while working in floodwater.

The North Central District Health Department urges those cleaning up or otherwise working in floodwater to check their records to be sure their tetanus vaccination is up to date. There is a link on the NCDHD web site at www.ncdhd.ne.gov to allow people to check their records, or call 402-336-2406.

For those needing a tetanus shot, contact your local provider or the North Central District Health Department has vaccine available.

* Supply drive initiated to help flood victims

(Posted 8 a.m. March 18)

A group of Brown County residents has initiated a supply drive to collect items for flood victims in neighboring communities.

After those communities assisted this area following the 2012 wildfires, residents in our area want to help those folks now that they are in need.

Anyone wanting to donate items can drop them off at the Ainsworth Fire Hall between 9 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. If you have items to donate and want someone to pick them up, call 402-760-1362.

Suggested items include bottled water, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items, disposable gloves, trash bags and non-perishable food items.

* Meadville Avenue remains closed in 2 locations

(Posted 7 a.m. March 18)

Brown County Commissioner Buddy Small reported Meadville Avenue remains closed in two locations. Approximately 2 miles north of Ainsworth, a culvert has washed out. Small said large bales of hay have been placed on both sides of the Sand Draw box culvert, making travel impossible across that portion of Meadville Avenue.
Several other roads in addition to Meadville Avenue remain closed. Motorists are asked to heed all barricades and road closure signs. Do not attempt to drive around barricades.
Small said the county roads department will begin making repairs to county roads as soon as conditions allow. While Small said the commissioners and the roads department are anxious to get the roads repaired, running heavy machinery across muddy and compromised roads can make the problems worse.
Small asks for patience from residents as the county begins to tackle the long, expensive process of repairing the damage caused by last week’ flooding.

* Motorists urged to heed barricades, road closures in area counties

(Posted 11:30 a.m. March 16)

All area residents are urged to obey road closures and barricades. Rock County Sheriff James Anderson reported there have been cases in Rock County of drivers either ignoring barricades or actually physically moving barricades to drive down closed roads.

In one instance, Anderson said a pickup driver in Rock County went around a barricade and drove into a washout.

Anderson said, after consultation with the county commissioners and roads department, the Rock County Sheriff’s Department will issue citations to any motorists found to have driven around or moved a barricade.

Drivers are urged to use common sense and obey the road closures that have been issued by roads department in the area counties. Failure to obey posted roads could result in injury or death and puts at risk not only the driver but emergency responders.

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 11:15 a.m. March 16)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a two-vehicle accident that occurred Tuesday, March 12, in Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 12:40 p.m. at the intersection of Second and Pine streets, a collision occurred between a 2005 Ford Escape, driven westbound on Second Street by Ellie Welke, 16, of Long Pine, and a 2015 Ford pickup, driven northbound on Pine Street by Kraig Freeman, 29, of Ainsworth.
No injuries were reported. Both vehicles were considered total losses.

* Private water wells may be impacted by flooding

(Posted 11 a.m. March 16)

Recent flood conditions can pose threats to the quality of private water supplies. Flooded private water wells or wells suspected of being impacted by flooding may need to be tested to ensure that they are safe according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.  

“Cloudiness or a change in taste or smell are signs of possible contamination,” said Sue Dempsey, administrator of the DHHS Drinking Water Program. “However, if there is any indication that the water supply has been breached by flood waters, even without noticeable changes in taste or smell, I encourage residents to get a water sample kit for testing.”

Nebraskans can request kits from the Nebraska Public Health Environmental Laboratory to test for coliform bacteria. Order kits online at http://www.nebraska.gov/dhhs/water-test-kits/private.html or by calling (402) 471-3935 between 8 and 5 Monday through Friday.

If people don’t know whether or not their private well has been impacted, only drink bottled, boiled, or disinfected water. To disinfect water bring it to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute. Water may also be disinfected by mixing six drops (1/8 teaspoon) of ordinary household bleach per gallon of water.  Mix the solution thoroughly, and let it stand for 30 minutes before using. Very cloudy water may be strained through a clean cloth before disinfecting or boiling, and the amount of household bleach should be doubled. 

Since bacterial contamination may reoccur after a flood, conducting another water analysis a month or two after the first test is advised.

Public drinking water supplies are being closely monitored by a team of DHHS field staff and some systems have been impacted by the flooding. Local officials already have or will notify impacted residents as information becomes available.

The State Emergency Operations Center has been opened to address this and other emergencies related to the storms and flooding this week in Nebraska. A link to updates from the SEOC can be found at https://governor.nebraska.gov

* NDOT reports several bridges compromised by floodwater

(Posted noon March 15)

The Nebraska Department of Transportation reports at least four bridges on the state highway system have washed out or have been damaged and advises motorists to not travel in north central and northeast Nebraska until flood waters recede.
Floodwaters continue to run over multiple roadways. Please do not travel unless absolutely necessary.

The known bridges on state highways that have washed out or sustained substantial damage are:

Highway 281 just south of Spencer

Highway 11 just south of Butte

Highway 12 at Niobrara

Highway 22 just south of Genoa

Many bridges will remain closed until bridge inspection can occur. Please do not drive on bridges until they have been inspected and reopened.  Do not drive around barricades.

Once the waters have receded, NDOT will provide detours for each bridge that has either been washed out or requires repair. 

Please remember, just a few inches of water can impact a vehicle’s ability to navigate, cause it to stall, or even float it.  Should you encounter water over a roadway, never drive through it and do not drive around barricades or flagged closures.

* Man reported missing after Spencer Dam failure Thursday

(Posted 7 a.m. March 15)

Officials have confirmed the Spencer Dam partially failed Thursday, and a surge of floodwater damaged the south approach to the Highway 281 bridge east of the dam.

Angel’s Straw Bale Saloon southeast of the Spencer Dam was destroyed by the floodwaters, as was a residence adjacent to the business.

Officials reported Kenneth Angel, who lives in the home that was washed away, is missing, and search and rescue efforts will continue. Emergency responders on Thursday rescued one individual whose residence was surrounded by ice and water.

Floodwaters also destroyed numerous structures in the community of Niobrara.

* Ricketts, NEMA officials provide update on flooding, evacuations

(Posted 6:45 a.m. March 15)

Gov. Pete Ricketts, Nebraska Emergency Management Agency officials and partner agencies Thursday provided an update on the current flooding and severe weather impacting the state.  The agencies are continuing to monitor conditions, fielding calls from citizens and community partners, and providing information and resources to keep citizens safe.

“As snow and rain pass, many communities have experienced devastating flooding. This could last for quite some time,” Ricketts said. “Nebraskans should watch the weather and waterways in their communities closely in the coming days, and be prepared for historic levels of flooding even if it has not hit their community yet. As Nebraskans know, conditions can change quickly, and everyone needs to be prepared.”

Following a declaration of emergency Tuesday evening, NEMA opened the State Emergency Operation Center in response to hazardous conditions caused by blizzards and flooding impacting the majority of the state.

NEMA staff and partners began working 24-hours-a-day in the SEOC at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.  The SEOC will remain open as needed.  NEMA is tracking conditions across the state, responding to requests for assistance from local emergency managers and developing a common operating picture to keep local officials aware of the situation.

The SEOC is staffed by officials from NEMA, the State Patrol, Department of Health and Human Services, Fire Marshal, Department of Transportation, Department of Natural Resources, the Military Department, and other agencies.

Flight operations will begin Friday as weather permits.  Be advised that if you are using a drone, use caution and keep away from operational flights near rivers.

Evacuations have taken place throughout the state, including the communities of: Randolph, Norfolk, Beemer, Cedar Rapids, Belgrade, Dannebrog, St. Edward, Genoa, Northern Butler County, Horseshoe Lake, Inglewood and Eastern Richardson County.

The Washington County Sherriff has ordered a mandatory evacuation of the eastern portion of the county.  The Reception Center at Fremont is available for shelter.  

The Nebraska National Guard has deployed multiple high-water vehicles and Army National Guard soldiers to both Norfolk and Genoa to assist with stranded individuals and evacuations. Sandbagging is being done throughout the state. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has had requests for 22,000 sandbags. Three million are available.

Nine Lincoln Urban Search and Rescue members have been deployed to Columbus. Five to 20 people and five dogs are on a list for rescue at Columbus. A family with a child is the priority. A Buffalo County Emergency Management deputy was hit by a vehicle while taking photos. His condition is unknown. Currently, there are two individuals unaccounted for and one confirmed fatality in Platte County.  Details involving the fatality will be released at a later time.

* Northeast Community College evacuates students from residence halls

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

Northeast Community College has taken emergency action to evacuate its students living on its Norfolk campus due to rising floodwaters on the nearby North Fork River.

At the request of City of Norfolk officials, college officials abided by a request Thursday morning to move students off-campus. Approximately 545 students who live in Burkhardt, Path and Simon residence halls were transported off campus by Northeast busses, while others used their own vehicles. Many of the students are staying with family and friends, but approximately 200 others are in one location at First Christian Church at Benjamin Avenue and Victory Road – approximately a half-mile from the campus.

“The safety or our students and employees is of the utmost importance to us,” said Dr. Michael Chipps, president. “We want parents, loved ones and friends to all know that our students are in good hands here.”

Northeast Community College falls within the evacuation zone that city officials identified as an area for potential flooding since the campus is adjacent to the city’s flood control levee. 

Chipps said work on the north side of campus over the past year has played an important role in reducing storm runoff on that side of campus.

“The board of governors authorized a storm water drainage system and detention pond to channel the flow of water and move it away from the residence halls and other campus buildings. That work was brought into full action the past few days as the normally dry detention pond has turned into a churning lake. We are so fortunate to have this system in place for dire situations like today.”

The Northeast Emergency Response team, led by John Blaylock, executive vice president, gathered early this morning to prepare for the evacuation. Chipps said the team did an exceptional job of organizing and executing the evacuation.

“The Emergency Operations Center has been in action for several hours and continues to do an amazing job. It is also inspiring for College officials to work alongside the Resident Assistant/Student Assistant team who continues to provide superior leadership in carrying out the evacuation. Their leadership skills have been put to the test and they are commended for their leadership.”

Chipps spoke to the students and thanked them for the way they handled the evacuation.

“Students, I always thought you were amazing, but you continue to demonstrate that over and over again like what you did here this morning. Thanks for being very receptive to the evacuation and doing what we asked you to do.”

Chartwells, Northeast food service provider, supplied some food while 150 pizzas were ordered from local establishments to feed the students both lunch and supper.

Resident Assistant Carli Huston in Path Hall, of Holdrege, said, “We’re all in this together and it’s going to be okay even though this is not the best of situations. Like Dr. Chipps said, we just want to make sure everyone is safe.”

All Northeast locations in Norfolk, O’Neill, South Sioux City and West Point will be closed on Friday. As far as the students are concerned, Chipps said he has been informed by city officials that students will need to remain off campus for the time being.   

“This is a complex and delicate situation in many parts of our service area. Our prayers go out to those who have been impacted by the floodwaters. I assure all of you that the response by College staff evidenced by me this morning is one of Northeast’s finest hours.”

* Additional bridge washes out in Rock County

(Posted 4 p.m. March 14)

Darrell Olson with the Rock County Roads Department reported Thursday afternoon a bridge has washed out on Road 889 on Short Pine Creek approximately one-half mile east of the Cuba Church.
Road 889 is closed until further notice. Again, as a reminder from roads departments in Brown, Rock and Keya Paha counties, travel is not advised on any county road until the departments are able to assess flood damage and identify compromised roads.
Additional road closure information from flood damage is located below.

* NDOT advises no travel in north central and northeast Nebraska

(Posted 3:15 p.m. March 14)

Nebraska is encountering significant flooding across the state. Melting snow coupled with rain has created flooding in many parts of Nebraska, especially in north central and northeast Nebraska. 

The Nebraska Department of Transportation is advising motorists to not travel in north central and northeast Nebraska. Flooding continues to increase, causing water to run over multiple roadways. Please do not travel unless absolutely necessary. 

Plan your travel by checking 511 prior to leaving for your destination. 511 provides the most up to date travel conditions available through 511, Nebraska’s Advanced Traveler Information System.  The system is available at all times, online at www.511.nebraska.gov or by dialing 511.

Again, this is a rapidly evolving event. Please remember, just a few inches of water can impact your vehicle’s ability to navigate, cause it to stall, or even float it.  Should you encounter water over a roadway, never drive through it and do not drive around barricades or flagged closures.  Turn around – don’t drown. 

Motorists are reminded to make sure everyone in their vehicle wears a seatbelt and children are in a car safety seat. Never use cruise control in wet weather.

As a reminder, the State Patrol Highway Helpline is available 24 hours per day for motorists in need of assistance. Drivers can reach the State Patrol by dialing *55 from any cell phone.

* Travel not advised on Highway 20 or anywhere in north central Nebraska

(Posted 11 a.m. March 14)

Due to whiteout conditions and ice and snow, the Nebraska Department of Transportation is advising that motorists stay off Highway 20. The NDOT reports Highway 20 from Wood Lake west is impassable, and whiteout conditions persist across much of north central Nebraska. Ainsworth to Wood Lake on Highway 20, travel is not advised. Travel is also not advised on Highway 183 from the Highway 20 junction to the South Dakota state line, and travel is not advised on Highway 12 from Springview west or from Highway 12 east from Springview to Highway 137. Travel is not advised on Highway 7 south of Ainsworth.

* Meadville Avenue, Norden Avenue, Carns Avenue closed in Keya Paha County

(Posted 8:45 a.m. March 14)

Keya Paha County Commissioner Mike Tuerk reported there is ice across the road on the north side of the Meadville Bridge. Meadville Avenue is closed in Keya Paha County.
The Norden Road is also closed in Keya Paha County from Highway 12 to the bridge.
Carns Avenue in Keya Paha County is also closed leading to the Niobrara River, as the south approach on the Rock County side of the river at the Carns Bridge has washed out.
Tuerk reported all roads in Keya Paha County are potentially compromised. Travel is not advised. Anyone traveling on roads in Keya Paha County does so at their own risk.

* Carns Bridge out across the Niobrara River

(Posted 8:45 a.m. March 14)

The southern approach to the Carns Bridge has been washed out, so 450th Avenue in Rock County is closed. There are barricades on both the Rock County and Keya Paha County side of the Niobrara River approaching the Carns Bridge.
Darrell Olson with the Rock County Roads Department also reported 457th Avenue from Highway 20 to the WPA Road remains closed.
Olson said, for all practical purposes, every county road in Rock County has been affected by the flooding.
"Every road in Rock County at this point is technically closed," Olson said. "If anyone travels, they do so at their own risk."

* Spencer Dam washes out, damaging Highway 281 bridge

(Posted 8:30 a.m. March 14)

Video and photos are beginning to surface potentially confirming that the Spencer Dam has been washed out. The washout also led to a portion of the Highway 281 bridge below the dam being damaged and leading to a large hole on Highway 281. Highway 281 is closed north of O'Neill and south of Spencer. There are also reports of downed power lines near the Niobrara River bridge on Highway 11 south of Butte, and the bridge across the Niobrara River north of Stuart has also reportedly been compromised.

* Several county roads closed due to flooding

(Updated 6:45 a.m. March 14)

Numerous roads throughout the county remain compromised due to extensive flooding Wednesday, and travel is not advised on any rural road in Brown, Rock and Keya Paha counties.
Darrell Olson with the Rock County Roads Department reported Thursday there are large chunks of river ice on the north side of the Niobrara River bridge on Highway 7 between Springview and Bassett. The Nebraska Department of Transportation now shows Highway 7 between Bassett and Springview as closed to traffic.

On Highway 7 south of Ainsworth between mileposts 38 and 39, there is water running across the highway.

On Highway 137 north of Newport, there is water across the road approximately 5 miles north of the Highway 20 junction and from mileposts 17 to 22.

A flash flood warning has been issued for the Niobrara River in the area of the Spencer Dam. Reports indicate the Spencer Dam may have been compromised, which also led to damage on the river bridge on Highway 281 below the Spencer Dam.

Brown County Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin reported Thursday morning that travel is not advised on any rural road in Brown County until the water levels recede and roads department personnel can assess the damage.
Stay tuned to KBRB for additional updates on road conditions. Below are the reports KBRB received on Wednesday with road closures.

The Brown County Sheriff's Department reported Meadville Avenue is closed due to the collapse of a culvert 2 miles north of Ainsworth.

Turpin reported South Pine Avenue has been closed 1 mile south of the end of the asphalt due to the road being undermined.

In addition, 434th Avenue south of Highway 20, Road 872 west of South Pine Avenue, and Road 877 east of South Pine Avenue are also closed.

The Norden Road has been closed by the county from Road 880 north, and the Moon Lake Road has water running across it in several areas and the county is advising motorists to stay off that road as well.

All roads south of Highway 20 between 423rd Avenue and 430th Avenue have now been closed by the Brown County Roads Department.

The city of Ainsworth has closed South Street from Main to Ulrich streets.

In Rock County, Darrell Olson with the county roads department reported 890 Road through the Sand Creek, Willow Creek and Rock Creek areas is closed. Also, 888 Road  is closed from the 455th Avenue intersection one mile where Rock Creek crosses.

The Newport Road, 457th Avenue, is now closed from Highway 20 to the WPA Road southwest of Newport.

Road 878, known as Lingenfelter Road, is closed for a 5-mile stretch from Highway 183 to the KBR substation. And, in the Rose area, 854 Road, known as the Duff Road, is closed in its entirety from Highway 183 to the Brown County line.

From the Nebraska Department of Transportation, Highway 91 between Brewster and Dunning is now closed. There is also water across Highway 91 east of Brewster. A 6 to 7 mile stretch on Highway 183 north of Rose has water across the road in numerous locations. There is also water across Highway 7 north of Bassett, and Highway 7 south of Springview.

Travel is not advised on local roads in Brown, Rock and Keya Paha counties. Motorists will be traveling at their own risk due to the potential of floodwater undermining roads.

* City Council approves several items related to $2.12 million wastewater projects

(Posted 6 p.m. March 13)

The Ainsworth City Council Wednesday approved several items related to the planned major wastewater improvement projects in the city.

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said the five agenda items Wednesday related to the $2.12 million projects the city planned to undertake, including replacing all water meters in the city and upgrading several portions of the city sewer system with cured-in-place pipe.

The council approved a resolution to accept a USDA loan in the amount of $1.274 million, and approved a USDA water and waste water grant agreement in the amount of $453,000.

Schroedl said the city was also eligible to receive $385,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds to complete the estimated $2.12 million projects.

The two additional resolutions approved Wednesday dealt with reimbursements of expenditures already made relating to the improvement projects, and a resolution of necessity for construction of enlargements and additions to the existing sewage treatment facility.

Schroedl said those items relate to the interim financing the city planned to obtain through Ameritas to fund the work before receiving the loan and grant funds from the USDA.

She said the city had already spent about $30,000 on the projects, mostly related to water meter inspections and design aspects of the projects. She said CDBG funds could not be used for the water meter replacement portion of the project, so those would have to go toward the cure-in-place pipe replacement portion.

Councilman Brad Fiala asked what the timeline was to start construction on the projects.

Schroedl said the current water meters have now been inspected, and Olsson Associates was working on a design plan and specifications for the projects. She said the city would likely be ready to go out for bids on the projects in five to six months.

“The earliest start would be this winter for the water meters,” Schroedl said. “The cure-in-place pipe would be next spring.”

In a final agenda item related to the wastewater projects, the council approved a USDA legal services agreement with Palmer Law Group. Schroedl said the USDA requires the city to have legal services in place for the project. She said the billing for any work done by Palmer Law Group related to the wastewater improvement projects would be billed separately, though she didn’t anticipate legal expenses would be very high on the projects.

In other business, the council adopted an ordinance Wednesday changing the city’s fee schedules.

Fees were increased for annual dog and cat licenses, and a per-day impound fee set by the vet clinic was included for all pets impounded by the city.

Swimming pool fee rates also will increase this year, with the daily rate increasing from $3 to $4 and the individual and family season pass prices also increasing.

Fees charged to rent Ainsworth Conference Center meeting rooms increased from $30 to $40 if renting one meeting room for four hours or less. The deposit required to rent the Conference Center gymnasium doubled from $150 to $300, with the cost to rent the gym remaining at $200 per day.

In a final action item, the council approved Mayor Jeremiah Sullivan’s recommendation to reappoint Heather Lutter to the City Board of Adjustment for a three-year term, and to appoint Jordan Nuffer as an alternate to the Board of Adjustment for a three-year term.

During her report, Schroedl said the two parcels the city submitted for the Nebraska Public Power District community solar project were not ideal, as the two parcels were not in NPPD’s service territory. She said she was working to come up with additional sites that might work for the project.

She also reported there was currently no waiting list for Community Development Block Grant housing rehabilitation loan funds. Anyone interested in potentially applying for the low-interest loan funds for housing improvements may contact the city office.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth City Council is scheduled for 5 p.m. April 10.

* Substantial portions of Nebraska experiencing flooding

(Posted 10:45 a.m. March 13)

Nebraska is encountering significant weather across the state. Melting snow coupled with rain has created flooding in many parts of Nebraska.

The Nebraska Department of Transportation is advising motorists this flooding event is rapidly evolving and will continue to change throughout the rest of the week.

Plan your travel by checking 511 prior to leaving for your destination.  511 provides the most up to date travel conditions available through 511, Nebraska’s Advanced Traveler Information System. The system is available at all times via phone, online at www.511.nebraska.gov, Nebraska 511’s smartphone app or by dialing 511.

Again, this is a rapidly evolving event.  Please remember, just a few inches of water can impact your vehicle’s ability to navigate, cause it to stall, or even float it.  Should you encounter water over a roadway, never drive through it.  Turn around – don’t drown. 

Motorists are reminded to make sure everyone in their vehicle wears a seatbelt and children are in a car safety seat.  Never use cruise control in wet weather.

For safe-driving tips information, visit NDOT’s website, http://dot.nebraska.gov/safety/driving/

As a reminder, the Nebraska State Patrol Highway Helpline is available 24 hours per day for motorists in need of assistance. Drivers can reach the patrol by dialing *55 from any cell phone.

* Tuesday fire destroys pickup northwest of Ainsworth

(Posted 7:15 a.m. March 13)

Firefighters were called Tuesday to a report of a pickup on fire northwest of Ainsworth.

According to Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala, just after 7 a.m. Tuesday, firefighters received a call of a pickup on fire at the residence of Randy Schwindt 3 miles west and one-half mile north of Ainsworth. Fiala said a pickup was plugged in, and a faulty cord started a fire in the engine compartment that spread to the cab of the pickup.

The pickup was parked next to the house, but Fiala said an east wind helped keep the fire from reaching the home. The pickup was considered a total loss.

Firefighters returned to the fire hall by 8 a.m. Tuesday.

* Melting snow, rain causing washouts in Keya Paha County

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

With all the moisture and melting snow in the area, several rural roads in Keya Paha County have had water wash across them.
Keya Paha County Commissioner Corey Nilson reported the county roads department has been out trying to identify and flag some of the problem areas, but motorists in Keya Paha County are asked to use extreme caution on all rural roads and report any washed out areas to the courthouse or to one of the commissioners.
Brown County Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin reported that water was running across numerous roads in Brown County. He advised all motorists in Brown County to use extreme caution, as all the running water could lead to washouts.
The Nebraska Department of Transportation reported Wednesday water running across Highway 183 north of Rose and water running across Highway 91 between Brewster and Taylor.
Motorists are urged not to drive across any roads where there is water actively running across the road.

* Ricketts issues emergency declaration with pending storm system

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

Gov. Pete Ricketts on Tuesday, in consultation with the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, issued an emergency declaration in anticipation of severe weather issues set to impact the state. 

The emergency declaration will allow NEMA and other state agencies to address potential impacts from the impending severe winter storm expected to affect the Panhandle area, as well as anticipated flooding across other areas of the state. 

“Nebraska has experienced a significant amount of severe weather and precipitation over the last couple of months,” Ricketts said. “Nebraskans should watch the forecast closely in the coming days, and be prepared for severe weather events in conjunction with potential historic flooding.  As Nebraskans know, conditions can change quickly, and everyone needs to be prepared.”

The emergency declaration allows NEMA to coordinate response and recovery activities with local jurisdictions, state agency partners, and a variety of other stakeholder organizations. The emergency declaration allows local jurisdictions who require assistance with capabilities and resources to direct requests for assistance to the State of Nebraska. 

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning for the Panhandle region in anticipation of a major winter weather system entering the state. This storm will be dangerous and life-threatening with significant impact on transportation, utilities and agricultural producers.  Snowfall amounts in excess of 18 to 24 inches are possible and 50-60 miles per hour winds will make travel difficult to impossible.

Motorists are urged to exercise care and travel is not recommended as the winter storm system enters the state. Residents should anticipate rapidly changing winter conditions with this storm system. The governor’s office urges Nebraska residents and agricultural producers to take precautionary measures to protect life and property.

In addition, flooding will be a primary concern in many areas of the state due to warmer temperatures generating runoff from snowmelt. While this storm system is expected to deliver record levels of snow in the Panhandle, it is expected to generate 1 to 3 inches of rainfall in the eastern portions of Nebraska. Frozen ground and high soil saturation levels will allow snowmelt and precipitation to run off into rivers and streams that are currently frozen. Significant flooding is possible along the Loup, Platte, Elkhorn and Missouri rivers. Ice jams in several locations may exacerbate flooding. 

The governor’s office has authorized NEMA to implement ice dusting operations on the Loup and Platte Rivers when conditions permit. The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality has issued a permit to conduct this operation once weather conditions change. If feasible, NEMA will commence operations as early as Friday. The agency will pre-position coal ash material at the airports in Columbus and Wahoo to facilitate the aerial application of the material on river ice. A private aerial applicator will apply the material at the direction and oversight of NEMA and local jurisdictions. 

The agency is also working with a variety of partners including the United States Army Corps of Engineers to stage sandbagging supplies associated with flood fighting measures directed at the local level. 

The Nebraska State Patrol, the Nebraska Department of Transportation, and the Nebraska National Guard will be coordinating personnel and equipment needed. NEMA strongly encourages individuals or families with functional needs to reach out to their local officials in advance of the storm system reaching their area. This will permit local officials to plan appropriately and identify the resources needed to provide assistance.

* Care Center Board approves administrator job description, employment agreement

(Posted 3 p.m. March 12)

The Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors Monday approved a job description and employment agreement with current Administrator Stephanie Rucker to continue in her administration role after the facility’s management agreement with Rural Health Development ends March 31.

The Care Center Board voted during its February meeting to end the management agreement with RHD. Rural Health Development employed Rucker as the facility’s administrator as part of the management agreement. Ron Ross with RHD agreed to waive a non-compete clause in Rucker’s employment contract to allow her to continue to serve as the care center’s administrator under the supervision of the board.

The board Monday approved the terms of her employment agreement, and a job description for the administrator position.

Rucker reported there are currently 23 residents in the Sandhills Care Center, with 12 private pay residents, 10 receiving Medicaid assistance and one receiving assistance from Medicare. There were no discharges in February.

Rucker reported agency nursing expenses were coming down, with the facility spending just over $27,000 in February on agency nursing. She reported the international nurse hired by the care center would arrive in Ainsworth from South Korea this month, and would replace an agency LPN.

The Sandhills Care Center generated $124,292 in revenue during February, with expenses of $127,200 for an operating loss during the month of $2,908.

The board opted to hold future meetings in the Sandhills Care Center moving forward as opposed to meeting in the Ainsworth Conference Center. The next board meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. April 8.

* National Weather Service provides update on pending winter storm

(Posted 2:30 p.m. March 12)

A meteorologist with the National Weather Service provided an update Tuesday on the track and impacts of a winter storm that is expected to arrive Tuesday night and last through Thursday morning.
To hear the report, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/National Weather Service 3-12 Storm Forecast.mp3

* Four Ainsworth speakers qualify for state championships during C1-6 District

(Posted noon March 12)

Class C1-6 District Speech Meet

Ainsworth results

2nd:  Sam Wilkins—Extemporaneous Speaking          STATE QUALIFIER

            Adriana Hood—Informative Speaking          STATE QUALIFIER

3rd:  Alyssa Erthum—Persuasive Speaking                 STATE QUALIFIER

            Jenna Williams—Informative Speaking         STATE QUALIFIER

5th:  Maren Arens & Ben Flynn—Duet Acting

Superiors:  Libby Wilkins—Humorous Prose

                 Alyssa Erthum—Poetry

                 Cody Kronhofman—Poetry

                  Libby Smith—Persuasive Speaking

                  Maren Arens—Entertainment Speaking

                  Jenna Williams, Henry Beel, Coy Carson, Adriana Hood, Cody Kronhofman—OID

 

Team:  5th of 9

“We went into districts this year not really knowing what we would be facing,” Ainsworth coach Mary Rau said. “With so many meets canceled due to weather, we weren’t able to see much of our competition. I was very happy with the results. Our seniors had good success, and the novices are proving that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.”

Wilkins, Hood, Erthum and Williams will compete in the NSAA Class C-1 State Speech Championships next Thursday, March 21, on the University of Nebraska-Kearney campus with rounds beginning at 8:30 a.m.

* School schedules second annual community betterment day for April 26

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

Ainsworth Community Schools has planned its second annual community betterment day for Friday, April 26, with a weather date of Tuesday, May 7.

During Monday’s meeting of the Board of Education, Activities Director Jared Hansmeyer asked the board if it would again support the event financially. He said the board last year allowed up to $4,000 for supplies for the betterment event, though the students did not end up spending close to that amount on the various projects that were completed.

During the betterment event, students work on community projects under supervision. Numerous projects were completed last year from Johnstown to Long Pine, including cleanup activities, painting, and other tasks.

Board President Jim Arens said the event was successful last year.

“This is a good way to get kids involved,” Arens said.

Board member Brad Wilkins said he heard nothing but good things following last year’s betterment day.

Fifth- through 12th-grade students spend the entire day on betterment projects, with kindergarten through fourth-grade students spending a half a day on projects close to the school.

In other business Monday, the board accepted the resignation of elementary teacher Sarah Williams. Williams, who also served as the district’s principal for several years, submitted a letter of resignation effective at the end of the 2018-19 year after 29 years at Ainsworth Community Schools.

Also Monday, the board authorized the Ainsworth Educational Facilities Leasing Corporation to pay an invoice on the agriculture and industrial technology building addition project.

Superintendent Darrell Peterson said there would likely be three more invoices remaining to complete the project.

“We have been using the shop area and the classrooms,” Peterson said. “They are remodeling the old shop area now.”

The superintendent said the contractor was nearing completion, and planned to be wrapped up by the end of this month. They are installing flooring in the old shop area and finishing a hallway.

The board approved the 2019-20 school calendar, which includes a start date for students of Aug. 15. First semester tests are scheduled for Dec. 19-20, with the second semester to begin Jan. 6, 2020. Graduation is set for May 17, with second semester tests administered May 20-21.

Following an executive session Monday, the board approved contracts for Elementary Principal Curtis Childers and Secondary Principal Steve Dike for the 2019-20 year.

During his report, Peterson said the district was still ok on its snow days at this point. Should the district have to take another snow day, semester tests could be moved to a Thursday and Friday instead of the current Wednesday and Thursday to add a day to the school calendar.

The superintendent reported representatives from Northeast Community College planned to tour the new agriculture and shop addition to see if there may be opportunities for the college to offer classes.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education is scheduled for April 8. The meetings move to 8 p.m. beginning in April and continuing through October.

* NWS provides detailed projections on weekend storm path

(Posted 1:30 p.m. March 8)

Meteorologists from the National Weather Service's North Platte office provided a detailed update Friday on the impacts of the pending winter storm system expected to impact north central Nebraska.
To hear the forecast, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/NWS Friday Storm Conference Call.mp3

* Valentine man arrested on murder charge stemming from Monday shooting

(Posted 2:45 p.m. March 6)

Investigators with the Nebraska State Patrol arrested a Valentine man in connection with the shooting death of his wife on Monday, March 4.

The State Patrol was initially called by the Valentine Police Department after officers responded to a reported shooting at 301 Edna St. in Valentine at approximately 7 p.m. Monday.

The victim, Pamela Nickisch, 71, was found dead. Her husband, Paul Nickisch, 70, and a juvenile grandson were also present at the residence.

Investigators allege Paul Nickisch shot Pamela Nickisch as a domestic violence situation escalated. He was arrested on a murder charge and lodged in the Cherry County Jail. A final determination on charges will be made by the Cherry County Attorney’s Office.

The Nebraska State Patrol, Valentine Police Department, Valentine Fire and Rescue, and Cherry County Attorney’s Office contributed to the investigation and response.

* Wilkins earns medal at Southwest Conference Speech Meet

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

Southwest Conference Speech Meet

Ainsworth Results

3rd:  Sam Wilkins—Extemporaneous Speaking

Superiors:  Cody Kronhofman—Poetry

                        Alyssa Erthum—Poetry

                        Libby Wilkins—Humorous Prose

                        Madison Welch—Humorous Prose

                        Alyssa Erthum—Persuasive Speaking

                        Coy Carson—Entertainment Speaking

                        Jenna Williams—Informative Speaking

                        Adriana Hood—Informative Speaking

                        Shaley Starkey—Serious Prose

 

“We suffered some major disappointments at SWC this year,” Ainsworth speech coach Mary Rau said. “Alyssa missed persuasive finals on a tie breaker, and Jenna was next-in with informative finals. Southwest Conference is very competitive, and we received many great critiques there. We’ll work hard this week to polish for district competition on Monday.”

Before heading to Gering for the C1-6 District meet Monday, the speech team will perform its annual presentation night at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Learning Center.

* Commissioners, council discuss fire department levies, care center funding Tuesday

(Posted 7 a.m. March 6)

Members of the Ainsworth City Council Tuesday requested the Brown County Commissioners coordinate with the council prior to making decisions related to setting the rural fire district levy and approving future additional funding for the Sandhills Care Center in excess of the $80,000 annually each entity committed for a five-year period when the facility reopened.

Ainsworth City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said there is an interlocal agreement in place between the city and county for fire protection. While the city provided a 3-1/2 cent levy for fire protection per the agreement, the county commissioners voted to drop the rural fire district levy to 2-1/2 cents.

“The county and city should match their levies due to the interlocal agreement,” Schroedl said. “The state expects us to agree. If you don’t agree, you should meet with the city to discuss.”

Schroedl said she contacted the state treasurer’s office and was told the county is the taxing authority the state references regarding MFO funding, which is state assistance the fire departments receive on top of the property tax levies. The fire departments received about $29,000 in MFO money for the current fiscal year.

Ainsworth Fire Chief and City Councilman Brad Fiala said the fire departments typically put the MFO money into a sinking fund for the purchase of major equipment.

“The rural board and the city have to be at the same levy for it to work,” Fiala said. “We used MFO funds when we replaced our rescue truck.”

Rural Fire Chief Doug Rau told the commissioners they dictated the money allocated to the rural fire board last year without any notification to the rural board.

“Today is the first day you have had any communication with us, and I think you should apologize,” Rau said. “We took a 28 percent cut from 4 cents to 2-1/2 cents, and we didn’t even get a say about it.”

Commissioner Buddy Small said, last year, two commissioners voted to cut the levy. He said he voted against that proposal.

“I apologize for not contacting you,” Small said. “It wasn’t intentional.”

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus said, from his standpoint, he had information that the rural fire board had between $900,000 and $1 million in its coffers.

“If I am looking at a volunteer fire department having that much in reserve, it means you don’t need that much for the current year,” Wiebelhaus said. “That was my thinking at the time. It is hard to know how to budget if we don’t have the numbers.”

Rau said the rural fire board submits its budget to the commissioners each year.

“If you want to cut the levy again to 2-1/2 cents, fine,” Rau said. “We are not willing to give up any more than that. We don’t spend money right and left. You find money for pay increases and medical benefits. Maybe you should cut your budget by 28 percent and give the rural taxpayers a real break.”

Small said he couldn’t speak for the other commissioners, but he said if the rural fire board was willing to accept a 2-1/2 cent levy for the upcoming fiscal year, then that was probably what would happen.

Fiala said the city has set its fire department levy at 3-1/2 cents. He asked Schroedl if she knew how much it would cut the fire department’s budget if the city went down to a 2-1/2-cent levy.

“The city’s pumper truck is a 1994 pumper,” Fiala said. “We have about $113,000 in a sinking fund, but a pumper costs about $400,000.”

Schroedl said, if the county was not happy with the interlocal agreement as it currently stands, the two entities would likely need to discuss an amendment to the agreement soon.

Small said he believed the commissioners and the city council should stay in contact. No action was taken.

Also Tuesday, the council and commissioners discussed funding for the Sandhills Care Center, which the two entities own and operate jointly.

City Councilman Greg Soles said both entities agreed to provide $80,000 in funding to the care center annually for five years.

“If the center needs additional funding above and beyond the initial commitment, we would like the two entities to visit together prior to any decisions being made,” Soles said. “We need that from a budgeting standpoint. It needs to be mutually discussed prior to a commitment from either party.”

With the care center not receiving anticipated Medicaid reimbursement funding from the previous year, the facility ran short for the current fiscal year and needed additional assistance from the city and county.

The county approved providing an additional $80,000 from its fifth-year commitment early, and the city then followed suit.

Sandhills Care Center Board Chairman Phil Fuchs said the facility needs to get to 25 residents to reach a break-even point.

The care center currently has 23 residents.

“The long-term goal is to manage the facility without additional funding,” Fuchs said. “We feel this is an asset to the community. We are always looking for places to save. We are ending our contract with RHD. They were instrumental in helping us get started, and we wouldn’t be where we are without their help. But, we felt their assistance was no longer needed.”

Fuchs said the facility would likely save between $5,000 and $6,000 per month after ending the agreement. The board is working on an administrative contract with current administrator Stephanie Rucker, who has been an RHD employee.

“RHD was willing to release Stephanie so she can stay with us,” Fuchs said. “We are hoping to get to 25 or more residents so we can sustain ourselves.”

Care Center Business Manager Sarah Schipporeit said the facility has reached out to facilities at Broken Bow and Norfolk that are closing.

Care Center Board member Leanne Maxwell said care centers are not there to make a profit anymore.

“They are there to serve residents and their families so they can keep their loved ones home,” Maxwell said.

Wiebelhaus said both the council and the commissioners knew when they entered the agreement that the facility was likely not going to be profitable. While he said there were likely limits to how far both entities could go financially to support the facility, if in year six, after the original agreement, it would cost the city and county each around $25,000 or so, then that is likely something both would be willing to do to keep the facility in the community.

There was no action taken on that item.

Following the City Council adjourning its portion of the meeting, the commissioners heard from representatives of the Brown County Agricultural Society, who requested the county consider providing the group with funding assistance to replace the restroom facilities on the west side of the Brown County Fairgrounds.

Ag Society member Dave Sherman said the bathrooms have become completely outdated. He said the ag society can maintain the fairgrounds with its current budget, but that does not leave any room for projects like this.

Sherman said a $2,000 donation kick-started the project, and the ag society had proposals in to Aksarben and to the Brown County Foundation, but at the most the society might be able to raise about $10,000 of the estimated $77,000 needed to replace the restrooms.

Wiebelhaus said, instead of trying to get the project done in one year, maybe it could be budgeted over a two- or three-year period.

Commissioner Denny Bauer said the board could consider extending the payback period to the inheritance tax fund the ag society was making following the replacement of the chutes at the arena.

“We could let you use that money to speed up the project,” Bauer said.

Wiebelhaus agreed, saying the commissioners could then provide some additional funding in future budgets to pay back the inheritance tax fund over time just like it did with the chute project.

Sherman said the chute project has been a major improvement at the fairgrounds, and the ag society only asked the county for $60,000 of that $120,000 project.

No action was taken, and the item will be addressed during preparations for the 2019-20 budget.

* February coldest in more than 2 decades

(Posted 7 a.m. March 5)

Ainsworth Weather Observer Gerry Osborn reported February's average temperature was more than 13 degrees below normal. While not the coldest on record, February the coldest month temperature-wise in the past two decades.
Precipitation was slightly above normal thanks to 12-1/2 inches of snow that fell during the month.
To hear the complete February summary, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Gerry Osborn February 2019 summary.mp3

* Friday fire destroys trailer house in Bassett, damages 2 neighboring homes

(Posted 9:45 a.m. March 4)

A Friday afternoon fire destroyed a trailer home in Bassett and damaged two neighboring houses.

According to Bassett Fire Chief Jim Stout, the fire was reported at 12:45 p.m. Friday on South Park Street in Bassett. Stout said the trailer house was completely engulfed in flames upon the arrival of firefighters.

While there were no occupants in the trailer house when the fire broke out, two dogs succumbed to the flames.

Stout said firefighters worked to save homes on either side of the trailer house. While the fire chief said those structures were saved, both received heat damage to their siding.

The trailer house, owned by Johnny Dunn of Bassett, was a total loss. Stout said investigators from the Nebraska State Fire Marshal’s Office determined the fire was started by an electrical heating unit.

Bassett volunteer firefighters returned to the fire hall at 4:30 p.m. Friday.

 

* Drivers escape injury Thursday in head-on collision on Highway 20

 

(Posted 9:45 a.m. March 4)

A Thursday night two-vehicle accident on Highway 20 prompted the response of the Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department, Brown County Sheriff’s Department and Brown County Ambulance Association, but neither driver suffered injuries in the head-on collision.
According to the Brown County Sheriff’s Department report, at 9:03 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, on Highway 20 approximately five miles east of Ainsworth, a collision occurred between a westbound 1995 Ford Ranger, driven by Jesse Marshall, 23, of Spencer, and an eastbound 2000 International semi, driven by Randall Wolvington, 62, of Chadron. The sheriff’s department report indicated the Ranger crossed the center line.
No injuries were reported. Damage to the Ford was estimated at more than $1,000. The International also sustained in excess of $1,000 damage.

* Area students participate in model bridge building contest Saturday

(Posted 6:45 a.m. March 4)

The Ainsworth and Rock County high schools’ distance learning physics class competed in the 40th annual Nebraska Model Bridge Contest at Aurora Saturday.

The winning bridges were determined by their efficiency, which is calculated by dividing the weight the bridge held by the weight of the bridge itself.

Trial and error allowed students to learn from experience. The class built and tested a total of 15 bridges during the unit. The maximum weight of the bridges was 25-grams (0.88 ounces). The range of weights held by the bridges in the contest ranged from 1.4 pounds up to 156.2 pounds. This year’s winning bridge was from Hastings, weighing 12.4 grams and holding 88.8 pounds.

Ben Arens of Ainsworth placed fifth with a bridge that held 156.2 pounds, which was reduced to 110 pounds due to contest rules for calculations. Arens’ bridge received second place in the Most Unique Design contest.

Sam Wilkins of Ainsworth placed eighth with a bridge that held 92.7 pounds. Jon Barrow of Ainsworth finished 10th with a bridge that held 41.4 pounds. Riccardo Valletta of Rock County was 12th. His bridge held 25.1 pounds. Tate Fernau of Ainsworth finished 16th with a bridge that held 13.6 pounds.

Ainsworth placed third as a school, and Rock County finished sixth.

* Council approves contract with NCDC to manage LB 840 program by 2-1 vote

(Posted 8 p.m. Feb. 27)

By a 2-1 vote Wednesday with one abstention, the Ainsworth City Council approved a contract prepared by the LB 840 Citizen Advisory Review Committee to have the North Central Development Center manage LB 840 program applications beginning March 18.

Review committee member Chris Raymond said the committee proposed a one-year contract that the council would then have to vote to renew each year.

“This is the third draft of the contract,” Raymond said. “All the recommendations from the City Council and from the NCDC Board have been approved by Rick Ediger and are included. All the funds will come from the city office. The NCDC will simply manage the program and all the applications.”

Mayor Jeremiah Sullivan read three letters at the outset of the hearing. A letter from Jerry Ehlers provided the council with a history of the accomplishments of the North Central Development Center in the community and his recommendation to accept the contract proposed by the Citizen Advisory Review Committee for the management of the program. Letters of opposition to the contract submitted by Betsy Saner and Janelle Carpenter were also read.

Sullivan opened up the floor for public comment on the proposed contract.

Audience member John Gross said, speaking on behalf of the Brown County Hospital Board of Trustees, the LB 840 program has worked well in the past and has helped the hospital stay competitive in recruiting professionals to practice in the community.

“I would encourage you to vote for it,” Gross said.

Gross said the hospital has a strategic plan in place, and holding up the potential utilization of LB 840 program funds is not beneficial.

Gross said, on a personal note, there are 20 businesses owned in Ainsworth on the Highway 20 and Main Street corridors by people who live outside the city limits. Those businesses represent $2.8 million in property valuation and $45,000 in annual property taxes. He said the council needed to consider those business owners even though they could not cast votes in city council elections.

“NCDC has been good for the community,” Gross said. “The city can set expectations for the NCDC and let them go to work. I think this contract will help move us forward.”

Audience member Ann Fiala said, as a nearly lifelong citizen of the community, and as a long-time volunteer, she was vested in the community and wanted to see the city and the NCDC work together.

“We need the NCDC to help promote growth like it has done,” Fiala said. “It is sad that this has gotten to this point. It can all be cleared up.”

She said everyone needed to set aside their personal grievances and work together.

“This is about coming together and making this community as vibrant as possible,” Fiala said.

Following public comments, Councilman Schuyler Schenk motioned to table the contract, but that motion died for lack of a second. Schenk said he believed a vote to approve a contract with the NCDC would be criminal. He read a definition of the word “complicity” and said if the council voted to approve a contract it would amount to criminal complicity.

“We have proof that the NCDC took taxpayer money from one fund and used it to repair the roof of the theater,” Schenk said.

Schenk said the city should not give any additional funding to the NCDC and should bid out for managing the LB 840 program.

He said the city should at the very least table the contract until the completion of an investigation by law enforcement.

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said she called the Brown County Sheriff’s Department Wednesday, and was told the matter had been referred to the Nebraska State Patrol. She said she was waiting to hear from the State Patrol.

City Attorney Rod Palmer said, if there is an investigation, it would be premature for the city to enter into any agreements.

Schenk said, “I am flabbergasted by the amount of blowback we are getting. I made 16 notes in the contract on ways the NCDC can screw the city over.”

Councilwoman Deb Hurless, who abstained from the vote on the contract Wednesday and during past meetings due to her employment with the North Central Development Center, said Schenk also had a conflict of interest with the NCDC and should abstain from any voting relating to the LB 840 program.

Audience member Mike Schrad told Schenk it appeared he had a thorn in his side against the NCDC, and asked him to explain why Hurless might believe he would have a conflict.

Schenk offered that he worked with the NCDC when he moved back to Ainsworth on an application for funding to potentially open a sandwich shop in the community. He said the NCDC was helpful, but his application was denied due to a lack of collateral.

Schenk said NCDC has done some good things with the LB 840 program, and he was not disputing that. However, he said LB 840 tax money had gone to things that it should not have and he was very much against signing a contract with the NCDC.

Kristin Olson, who has served as the North Central Development Center executive director the past 13 years, said there has been misunderstanding in the community regarding the theater roof project at the heart of Schenk and other city officials’ concerns.

Olson said one section of the theater building’s roof had already been replaced. A portion of the other section, which contractors believed was stable, blew off during a strong wind storm last spring, and that is the section that had to be replaced.

Schenk asserted that the NCDC used other funds to pay back the $35,000 borrowed by the theater from an LB 840 program account, and the NCDC still owed the city $35,000.

Councilman Greg Soles asked Schenk how he came up with that assertion, and told Schenk he should do more research.

“The money has been repaid,” Soles said.

Councilman Brad Fiala said the letter from Jerry Ehlers showed the NCDC track record was pretty darn good with what they have done for the community. He said, in the proposed contract, the city would handle all the funding. The NCDC would handle the application procedures and advise the council, and the council will determine whether to move forward with each project.

Fiala said the city does not have the capability to manage the LB 840 program, and he believed the management and the administration of the program should be done under different roofs.

Soles said Ediger had recommended changes the city needed to make to update the program and move forward.

“Rick Ediger made some good points, and that is what is being addressed,” Soles said. “We need to move forward together. This has been frustrating.”

NCDC Board Chairman Kim Buckley said the NCDC welcomed the city to serve as the administrator for the funds.

“It doesn’t bother us at all that we won’t have to administer all these funds anymore,” Buckley said.

Soles asked if the city would be given top priority by the NCDC since the city would be the largest contributor to its operations.

Buckley said the city has always been the NCDC’s largest contributor and its top priority, even though the development center does receive additional funding from other entities.

Olson said the NCDC office has evolved in major ways since she moved to the community 13 years ago.

“When I moved here, we had a $20,000 budget and I was hired to work three to four days per week,” Olson said.

She said she ended up working seven days a week much of the time, because that was what it required.

“We have a lot of projects we should be chasing that we can’t right now,” Olson said. “This is a good opportunity for the city and the NCDC. We need to be thinking 10 to 20 years down the road. The city can handle all the accounts. We can then utilize our time to help the businesses in the community.”

Schroedl said she believed the city could hire personnel and run the LB 840 program on a smaller pay scale than what was included in the contract proposal.

After Schenk’s motion to table the contract failed for lack of a second, Fiala made a motion to approve the contract between the city and the North Central Development Center for management of the LB 840 program at an annual rate of $36,000 plus 5 percent of any loan or grant application approved by the council with a total amount paid for management of the program not to exceed $60,000 annually.

Soles seconded the motion. Soles and Fiala voted to approve the contract effective March 18, with Schenk voting against and Hurless abstaining.

Prior to the public hearing Wednesday on the LB 840 contract, the council unanimously approved amendments to the LB 840 plan as recommended by the Citizen Advisory Review Committee.

Raymond said the recommended amendments included adjusting the types of business that would qualify for LB 840 program funds. Another amendment struck caps on project awards from the plan as that was no longer part of the law. The changes also included verbiage relating to the LB 840 program administrator since Schroedl was now serving in that capacity.

“There shouldn’t be any big controversy on these,” Raymond said.

Soles thanked the members of the review committee, Schroedl and Olson for all their recent work on the program amendments and with the contract.

In a final action item Wednesday, the council rejected two bids it received to replace the filter system at the Ainsworth Swimming Pool.

Larry Steele with engineering firm Miller and Associates said the two bids came in much higher than the $80,100 Miller and Associates had estimated.

Steele said Phil Karkowski of Loup City submitted a bid of $131,745 to replace the swimming pool filter system, but also specified in the bid that he would not be able to complete the work within the city’s timeline.

The second bid, from Christensen Construction of Pender, was for $132,500.

Steele recommended the council reject the bids and re-bid the project with a new completion date.

“Some of the contractors couldn’t bid on the short time frame,” Steele said. “I think we would get better bids going for construction next year.”

The council unanimously voted to reject both bids for the project.

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

* Breakdown of area county votes on regional, state and federal races

(Posted 9:45 a.m. Nov. 7)

Nebraska Statewide and Federal Races

Total votes cast plus vote breakdowns for area counties

 

Initiative 427 to expand Medicaid coverage

Votes               For                   Against

Statewide        344,437           302,338

Brown             447                  846

Keya Paha       101                  250

Rock                210                  407                 

 

U.S. Senate    

Deb Fischer (R)           Jane Raybould (D)

Statewide        393,536                       259,626

Brown             1,149                           188

Keya Paha       336                              42

Rock                563                              79

 

District 3 U.S. House of Representatives

                        Adrian Smith (R)        Paul Theobald (D)

Statewide        162,757                       49,363

Brown             1,194                           159

Keya Paha       355                              32

Rock                583                              64

 

Nebraska Governor

                        Pete Ricketts (R)         Bob Krist (D)

Statewide        402,078                       275,186

Brown             1,146                           213

Keya Paha       347                              43

Rock                566                              93

 

Secretary of State

                        Bob Evnen (R)            Spencer Danner (D)

Statewide        397,035                       253,593

Brown             1,111                           159

Keya Paha       321                              34

Rock                532                              68

 

State Auditor

                        Charlie Janssen (R)     Jane Skinner (D)

Statewide        371,549                       269,787

Brown             1,074                           180

Keya Paha       305                              35

Rock                504                              77

 

State Treasurer

                        John Murante (R)

Statewide        502,190

Brown             1,175

Keya Paha       325

Rock                546

 

Nebraska Attorney General

                        Doug Peterson (R)

Statewide        502,743

Brown             1,175

Keya Paha       321

Rock                546

 

Nebraska Legislature District 40

                        Tim Gragert     Keith Kube

District-wide   7,181               6,738

Rock                314                  261

 

Nebraska Public Power District Subdivision 5

                        Charlie Kennedy         Thomas Hoff

District-wide   8,687                           5,251

Brown             657                              303

 

Lower Niobrara Natural Resources District

Sub-District 3

                        Linda Hoffman           Paul Allen

District-wide   1,287                           884

Keya Paha       109                              81

 

Sub-District 4

                        Kevin Randa               Bradley Mahon

District-wide   1,176                           897

Keya Paha       74                                88

 

At-Large

                        Jeffery Uhlir                Shaun Higgins

District-wide   1,082                           999

Keya Paha       101                              120

* Nebraskans vote to expand Medicaid coverage; Republicans sweep races

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

By a 42,000-vote margin, Nebraskans voted Tuesday to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Nebraskans who now earn up to 138 percent of the median poverty level income will qualify for coverage under Medicaid. The federal government pays for 90 percent of the cost of the expanded Medicaid coverage, with the state responsible for 10 percent.

A total of 344,437 Nebraskans voted in favor of the expansion, which represented just over 53 percent of the vote. There were 302,338 votes against expansion, just under 47 percent.

Republicans dominated the state and federal races on the ballot Tuesday, as U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer was easily re-elected. Fischer received 58 percent of the votes cast, 393,536, while Democratic challenger Jane Raybould picked up 259,626 votes, 38.3 percent. Libertarian Jim Schultz received 24,456 votes, just over 3 percent.

Gov. Pete Ricketts earned re-election to another four-year term by an almost 20-point margin. Ricketts received 402,078 votes (59.37) percent, while Democratic challenger Bob Krist received 40.63 percent of the vote with 275,186 ballots cast in his favor.

Republicans swept the three Congressional seats in the state, with the closest race in the Second District. Incumbent Don Bacon edged Democratic challenger Kara Eastman by a 51.5 percent to 48.5 percent margin.

Adrian Smith cruised to re-election in the Third District, receiving almost 77 percent of the vote compared to just 23 percent for Democrat Paul Theobald.

Jeff Fortenberry was re-elected in District 1 by a 60-40 margin over Democratic challenger Jessica McClure.

Republican Bob Evnen will replace retiring Secretary of State John Gale. Evnen received 61 percent of the vote to 39 percent for Democrat Spencer Danner.

Charlie Janssen was re-elected as the State Auditor, receiving 58 percent of the vote to 42 percent for Democrat Jane Skinner.

Republican Doug Peterson ran unopposed for re-election as the Nebraska Attorney General, and Republican John Murante ran unopposed to replace Don Stenberg as State Treasurer.

Voter turnout in Nebraska was 56 percent in the General Election, with 685,320 Nebraskans casting ballots from the 1,219,644 who were registered to vote in the state.

* Gragert defeats Kube for 40th District Nebraska Legislature seat Tuesday

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Nov. 7)

Looking at some of the regional races during Tuesday’s General Election, Tim Gragert edged Keith Kube for the 40th District seat on the Nebraska Legislature. Gragert received 51.5 percent of the vote with 7,181 ballots cast his direction. Kube picked up 48.5 percent of the vote with 6,738 ballots cast.

Just over 400 votes separated the two candidates from the nearly 14,000 votes cast in the 40th District, which includes Rock, Holt and Boyd counties among others in north central and northeast Nebraska.

Gragert will replace Tyson Larson, who served two terms and could not run again due to term limits.

Charlie Kennedy ousted incumbent Thomas Hoff for the Subdivision 5 seat on the Nebraska Public Power District Board of Directors. Kennedy received more than 62 percent of the vote compared to 37.5 percent that went to Hoff. Subdivision 5 represents north central and northwest Nebraska.

Running unopposed, Cherryl Lovejoy in Subdistrict 4, Martin Graff in Subdistrict 6 and Dean Jochem in an at-large race won re-election to the Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District Board of Directors. Though not on the ballot, Justin Hammond received write-in votes to win election to the Subdistrict 2 seat on the Middle Niobrara NRD Board.

There were contested races for seats on the Lower Niobrara Natural Resources District Board of Directors.

Linda Hoffman defeated Paul Allen by a margin of 1,287 to 884 for the Subdistrict 3 seat on the Lower Niobrara NRD Board. Kevin Rand picked up 1,176 votes to win the Subdistrict 4 seat, with Bradley Mahon receiving 897 votes.

Jeffrey Uhlir edged Shaun Higgins for an at-large seat on the board, earning 52 percent of the vote, 1,082, compared to Shaun Higgins with 48 percent, 999 votes.

Thomas Higgins in Subdistrict 1, Marvin Leiwer in Subdistrict 2, Kent Pavlik in Subdistrict 5, Curt Morrow in Subdistrict 6, Dwain Marcellus in Subdistrict 7 and Larry Baumeister in Subdistrict 8 all ran unopposed and were elected to the Lower Niobrara NRD Board.

Four candidates also ran unopposed for seats on the Educational Service Unit 17 Board of Directors. Sue Weston in District 1, Lisa Chohon in District 3, Jean Pinney in District 5 and Duane Gudgel in District 7 were all elected to the ESU 17 Board Tuesday.
Outgoing Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale was nearly spot-on on his prediction for voter turnout, as 685,320 Nebraskans cast ballots during the General Election. That represents 56.19 percent of the 1,219,644 voters registered in the state.

* Van Houten elected assessor, Taylor county attorney in close Brown County races

(Posted 9:45 p.m. Nov. 6)

There were several tight local races in Brown County Tuesday during the General Election, two at the county level and one in the race for Ainsworth mayor.

Three candidates, two of them write-in candidates, vied to replace the retiring Charleen Fox as Brown County Assessor.

Terri Van Houten, the lone candidate appearing on the ballot, received 538 votes. That was enough to defeat two write-in candidates for the position. There were a total of 810 write-in votes cast Tuesday. Amber Happold received 409 write-in votes, and Bill Carr picked up 398 write-in votes.

Van Houten will be seated as the next Brown County Assessor.

There was one successful write-in campaign Tuesday, as Andy Taylor defeated David Streich in the race for Brown County Attorney.

Taylor received 719 write-in votes. Streich, the long-time county attorney, received 505 votes Tuesday as the lone candidate appearing on the ballot. Taylor will be sworn in as the next Brown County Attorney.

In the race to replace outgoing Ainsworth Mayor Larry Rice, Jeremiah Sullivan edged Cody Goochey by 79 votes. Sullivan finished with 360 votes, 54 percent of the votes cast, while Goochey picked up 281 votes, 43 percent.

Brad Fiala and Schyler Schenk will be seated on the Ainsworth City Council as the only two candidates to run for the expiring seats held by Brian Williams and Chuck Osborn.

In a four-way race for two seats on the Long Pine City Council, Linda Alberts led the field with 78 votes. She will be seated on the council and will be joined by Katherine Papstein, who secured 63 votes. David Cheatum received 45 votes, and Cheri Painter garnered 32 votes in the council race.

Long Pine Mayor Ed Brown was unopposed, and received re-election for another four-year term.

Brown County Clerk Travee Hobbs, Sheriff Bruce Papstein and Treasurer Deb Vonheeder ran unopposed and were re-elected to additional four-year terms.

After surviving an eight-way Republican Primary in May, Dennis Bauer and Reagan Wiebelhaus were elected to the Brown County Board of Commissioners Tuesday.

Doug Pankowski and Robert Maxwell were elected to seats on the Brown County Airport Authority without challenge.

Frank Beel, Jessica Pozehl and Jim Arens were each elected to four-year terms on the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education. They were the only three candidates appearing on the ballot for the three seats on the School Board.

Pat Schumacher ran unopposed for another term as the Brown County representative on the KBR Rural Public Power Board of Directors.

JoAnn Johnson Parker, Brenda Goeken and P. Lynn Clay were each elected to three seats on the Johnstown Village Board. They were the only three candidates appearing on the ballot.

Brown County had voter turnout of 65.5 percent, with 1,401 votes cast from among the 2,136 registered voters in the county.

* Rock County voters approve levy and restricted fund increase for hospital, ambulance

(Posted 9:15 p.m. Nov. 6)

Rock County voters overwhelmingly approved allowing the Rock County Hospital and Rock County Ambulance Association to continue to levy property tax for operations and equipment purchases, and increase the county’s restricted funds budget to allow for the collection of the tax.

The measure passed by a margin of 455 in favor to 179 against.

In contested local Rock County races, TJ Ellermeier won the write-in election for county assessor over Monica Turpin. With neither name appearing on the ballot, Ellermeier received 355 write-in votes. Turpin picked up 71 write-in votes.

Lana Arrowsmith and Mike LeZotte won a four-way race for two Bassett City Council seats. Arrowsmith received 186 votes to lead the way, with LeZotte a close second with 180 votes from Bassett residents. Bonnie Emerson finished third in the race with 65 votes, followed by Kathy Maloun with 43 votes.

It was a close race for the Rock County seat on the KBR Rural Public Power District Board of Directors. Mike Kreitman received 200 votes to edge Dale Caskey, who finished with 187 votes.

The other local races in Rock County were uncontested, as Daunitta Buoy was elected as county clerk, Mona Davis as county treasurer, James Anderson was re-elected as county sheriff, and Avery Gurnsey was re-elected as county attorney.

Jim Stout and Glen May were the only two candidates for two seats on the Board of Commissioners and were elected.

Larry Ebert II, Tonya Larson and Kristy Beard were elected to the Rock County Board of Education, and James Nelson was re-elected to a six-year term on the Rock County Airport Authority.

Melissa Denny, Waylon Reynolds and Dan Judge were all elected to seats on the Newport Village Board.

Voter turnout in Rock County was 66 percent, with 671 votes cast from among the 1,012 registered to vote in the county.

* Prewitt, Cook and Hespe win seats on the Springview Village Board Tuesday

(Posted 10 p.m. Nov. 6)

The lone contested race locally in Keya Paha County was for the Springview Village Board, as six candidates ran for three spots on the Village Board.

Jesse Prewitt was the leading vote-getter with 115, followed by Troy Cook with 92 votes. The third candidate who will be seated on the Village Board is Larry Hespe. Hespe picked up 75 votes for the final seat.

Nathan Arends received 36 votes to finish fourth, followed by Robbie Painter with 30 votes and Joe Caulfield with 18 votes.

Mark Frick received 239 votes for Keya Paha County Public Schools Board of Education. He was the only candidate appearing on the ballot Tuesday. Two write-in candidates will be seated on the School Board, with Darcy Wiebelhaus picking up 88 write-in votes and Todd Painter receiving 86 write-in votes.

County Clerk/Assessor Suzy Wentworth, Treasurer Kaye Thiede and Sheriff Jeff Kirsch all ran unopposed and were elected to four-year terms.

Corey Nilson in the Center District and Bruce Ritterbush in the East District were each re-elected to the Keya Paha County Board of Commissioners after running unopposed Tuesday.

Randy Rowan ran unopposed and was elected to the KBR Rural Public Power District Board of Directors representing Keya Paha County.

Voter turnout in Keya Paha County was 64 percent.

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