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)

* James E. "Jim" Thiede, 60, of Springview 10:30 a.m. Sept. 22

* BJ Lewis, 34, of Fort Collins, Colo., formerly of Ainsworth 11 a.m. Sept. 21

* James "Jim" Reiman, 88, of Butte 10 a.m. Sept. 21

* Margaret H. King, 98, of Burkburnett, Texas, 1 p.m. Sept. 20

* Clayton E. Bejot, 96, of Ainsworth 10:30 a.m. Sept. 20

* Simeon A. "Al" Turner Jr., 77, of Bassett 2 p.m. Sept. 19

* Meeting reports located below for:

Sept. 12 Ainsworth City Council

Sept. 11 Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education

Sept. 10 Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors

Aug. 23 Ainsworth City Council special meeting

Aug. 22 Brown County Commissioners

* Shaw wins Week 3 KBRB Football Contest

(Posted 10:45 a.m. Sept. 18)

There was a clear-cut winner during Week 3 of the KBRB Football Contest, as Kim Shaw of Bassett finished two games clear of all the other area prognosticators.

Shaw picked a perfect high school card. Her three misses were all on the college side, and included the two most widely missed games of the week – Temple’s 35-14 win at Maryland and BYU’s upset over No. 6 Wisconsin. She also had Auburn incorrectly picked to win at home over LSU in a matchup of top 10-rated SEC teams.

Shaw picks up the $40 first-place certificate.

The runner-up prize was a little cloudier, as eight contestants missed five games on the Week 3 card. While all eight contestants had the Huskers picked to win in our tie-breaker, only one saw a close, low-scoring matchup. The Troy Trojans shocked the Huskers Saturday, 24-19. Austan Walton of Ainsworth picked the Huskers to win, 20-19, missing the total by just six combined points. The other seven contestants who missed five games all had the Huskers winning by at least a two-touchdown margin, and all had the Huskers to score at least 31 points.

The other contestants with five incorrect picks were Marc Gentele, Jorden Hollenbeck, Walker Shaw, Mike Swan, Steve Salzman, Kurtis Mizner and Russ Richey.

With his tie-breaker pick, Walton earns the $10 second-place certificate. Certificates may be redeemed at any of our football contest sponsors.

Those sponsors, where Week 4 cards are also available, include Buckles Automotive, Road Runner and Plains Equipment in Ainsworth; Circle B Livestock in Bassett; the West Plains Bank in Springview; the Central Bar in Stuart; and Roadrunner in Atkinson.

* Agenda for Brown County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday

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

Brown County Commissioners
Meeting 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18
Brown County Courthouse
Agenda

 

05:15 - 05:20            Roll Call;
Acknowledge posting of Open Meetings Law;

Pledge of Allegiance;

Approve minutes of the September 4, 2018 Commissioner meeting;

 

05:15                       Kenneth Turpin – Road Department Issues

 

                                Enforcement of mowing of road ditches
 

                               Contract propane for Johnstown shop for 2018/2019 winter season

                                   

05:30                      Open Sealed Bids for Backhoe

 

05:30                       Budget Hearing

                                   

                               Brown County Treasurer - Annual Distress Warrant Report

                                   

                               Discuss action on possible appeal of District Court decision in The Nature Conservancy v Brown County Board of Commissioners

 

05:45                      Chandra Murray - BKR Extension RE:

                               Review/Adoption of Interlocal agreement between Brown, Rock & Keya Paha counties

                                Permission to use BKR Extension Emergency Fund
BKR Extension – How to handle finances & possible credit card

 

06:00                      Interview Zoning Administrator candidate – Tom Jones

 

06:15                      Interview Zoning Administrator candidate – Danny Bennett

 

                               Appoint Brown County Zoning Administrator

* Ainsworth awarded USDA funds for wastewater projects

(Posted 2 p.m. Sept. 17)

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced USDA is investing $392 million to help rebuild and improve rural water and wastewater infrastructure in 42 states. Nebraska is the recipient of nearly $7 million.

The city of Ainsworth will use a $1.27 million loan and $453,000 grant to reconstruct sewage lift stations and provide backup power to lift stations by installing generators. New radio read meters will be installed. Also, pipe linings will be upgraded, providing better service to more than 880 users.

Project funds were also awarded to the villages of Alexandria, Wauneta and Western.

“Put simply, modern and reliable water infrastructure is foundational to quality of life and economic development,” Hazlett said. “USDA’s partnerships with rural communities underscore Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s commitment to rural people and the places they call home.”  

USDA is supporting investments in 120 infrastructure projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. It can be used to finance drinking water, storm water drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents. In many cases, states, other federal partners and nonprofits work with USDA to also provide funding for the projects.

* Northeast Community College Board of Governors approves $49 million budget

(Posted 1 p.m. Sept. 14)

The Northeast Community College Board of Governors Thursday approved a $49 million budget that increases the property tax levy for the 20 counties served by Northeast from 9.09 cents per $100 in valuation to 9.5 cents.

The Board of Governors cited a decrease in funding from the state and no change in property valuations are among factors that led to the increased property tax levy request.

Board Chairman Dirk Petersen of Norfolk said he and the board are taxpayers themselves, and therefore, are mindful of being good stewards of the funds necessary for college operations.

“Student success is our highest priority,” Petersen said. “Northeast Community College is diligent in achieving this goal and we take our stewardship of public funds very seriously. I am confident that this budget will allow the college to continue to provide a quality education for our students, which prepares them to help address the pressing skilled workforce shortages.”

The 9.5-cent levy is below the maximum levy allowed by the state of 11.25 cents per $100 of valuation.

According to Lynne Koski, vice president of administrative services at the college, the owner of a home in Northeast’s 20-county service area with a taxable value of $100,000 would pay approximately $4.08 more over the previous year.

During Thursday’s public hearings, Koski reviewed the general operating budget of $49.02 million, which includes $18.3 million in the building improvement budget.

Koski said increases in the 2018-19 general operating budget are attributed mainly to personnel and support services to help students succeed in college.

“Funding for the college’s general fund budget comes primarily from student tuition and fees, state aid, and property taxes.” Koski said.

The Board of Governors has also approved a budget lid override as set forth by state statute. Koski said the override permits the college to accept additional state aid or property tax dollars if they would become available.

Dr. Michael Chipps, college president, said the approved budget provides for the continued “forward work” of the college, as well as playing an integral role in meeting Northeast’s strategic goals.

“Across our 20-county service area, Northeast Community College provides an exceptional educational experience for our diverse student population,” Chipps said.  “Through the Vision 2020 comprehensive plan, the Board of Governors has been strategic about where the college needs to be in order to best educate a 21st century, highly skilled workforce; and this budget supports the board’s direction.” 

Chipps said Northeast Community College plays a significant role in not only providing a skilled workforce, but it is also a major player in the growth of the service area’s economy.

“The college is an investment in the future of our 20-county service area and the more than 100 communities we serve,” he said.

* City Council asks for $308,249 in property tax to support 2018-19 budget

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

The city of Ainsworth will ask property owners for $308,249 in tax to support the 2018-19 general fund budget following the City Council’s approval Wednesday of the budget and property tax request.

With total valuation of $65.58 million in property located inside the city limits, the $308,249 in property tax requested represents 47 cents in levy for every $100 of a property’s value.

The council approved a $7.36 million budget, which includes more than $2.1 million for major wastewater improvement projects. The city received 40 percent of the cost of the projects in grant funds, and will borrow the remaining funds from the USDA to repair wastewater pipes in the city and install automatic-read water meters.

Even though the city adopted a $7.36 million budget, the total amount spent will likely come in well below that figure. The budget includes the city potentially spending all available money in funds such as the LB 840 fund and Ainsworth Betterment Committee fund. While the city must budget for that possibility, the actual dollars spent will likely be much lower.

For example, the city ended the 2017-18 budget year spending a total of $2.67 million, which was down from the $2.88 million actually disbursed in 2016-17.

The $308,249 being collected in property tax for 2018-19 is an increase of 4.6 percent from the $294,565 in property tax collected to support the 2017-18 budget. The 47-cent levy remains the same as 2017-18. The total value of property inside the city limits increased from $62.67 million in 2017 to $65.58 million in 2018. That valuation increase included new construction as well as adjustments to existing property, and allowed for the $13,684 increase in property tax asking for the 2018-19 budget while keeping the levy rate the same.

In addition to the property taxes that will be collected, the city is anticipating $536,000 in receipts from its 1.5 percent city sales tax, $32,000 from motor vehicle sales tax collections, and $30,000 from tax in lieu payments.

The 47-cent levy includes 42 cents to support the general fund, and an additional 5 cents in levy to support the city’s interlocal agreements. Those agreements include a $204,831 line item for countywide law enforcement, $22,954 for fire protection and $80,000 to assist with the operation of the Sandhills Care Center.

The city will carry a cash reserve of $1.57 million.

Prior to the wastewater projects scheduled for the upcoming budget year, the city had a total of $506,570 in bonded debt from previous water, wastewater and streets projects.

Following a public hearing, the council approved the 2018-19 budget and property tax request. The council also voted to increase its restricted funds authority by an additional 1 percent over the allowable 2.5 percent annual growth allowance.

In other business Wednesday, the LB 840 Citizens Advisory Review Committee presented its six-month report to the city of LB 840 activity. Review Committee representative John Halbersleben said the report is basically just a rehash of what was submitted six months ago, as the committee has not received information it requested during the previous six-month review.

“The previous entry system had numerous double entries,” Halbersleben said. “Nothing has been received to show those have been corrected.”

Halbersleben said the only monitoring device the committee has available to review is the LB 840 bank statements. He requested the city provide the committee an official transcript report from the city’s accounting system for LB 840 dating back to April 27, 2017.

Mayor Larry Rice asked City Administrator Lisa Schroedl if she could take care of getting that information to the committee. Schroedl said she would email Halbersleben the information Thursday.

Halbersleben provided an update on all the LB 840 loans and grants that have been made to date. He said there was one loan approved by the council almost two years ago that has still not closed. The committee previously recommended to the council that all loans be closed within 30 days of council approval.

Councilman Greg Soles said the loan applicant received a letter from attorney Avery Gurnsey stating the applicant needed to provide an additional nine items that were different from the original application the council approved.

Rice said the applicant knows there is additional info that he must provide before the loan can close.

“Don’t blame the city, the city is not at fault,” Rice said. “We want that loan closed and off the books.”

Review committee member Chris Raymond asked why the applicant needed to provide additional information after the council approved the application as it was originally submitted.

Councilwoman Deb Hurless said she had the same question.

“If we approved it that way, why wasn’t it just closed?” Hurless asked.

City Attorney Rod Palmer said Gurnsey has indicated he does not have the documentation needed to close the loan.

“The city’s interests need to be protected,” Palmer said.

Halbersleben reported city office personnel had not yet provided confidentiality agreements for the LB 840 program, to which Schroedl replied the LB 840 program, by state statute, is owned by the city.

“We are under confidentiality through state statute,” Schroedl said. “We are already required to keep it confidential.”

Palmer said the city office is under no responsibility to sign additional confidentiality agreements since the LB 840 records already belong to the city.

Halbersleben said this was the first time the committee has been made aware of that information.

“There needs to be a revision then,” he said.

Schroedl said, as part of the pending city audit, the city is going to be forced to make some changes.

“We have already been advised of concerns from Dana F Cole,” Schroedl said.

Dana F Cole handles the city’s annual financial audit.

Review committee member Kathy Worrell asked what kind of changes Schroedl was referring to.

Schroedl said, “The city will have to respond to the concerns of the auditors."

Palmer said the city’s auditor was frustrated in not receiving all the information it needed from the North Central Development Center in order to complete its audit of the LB 840 program.

“The auditors contacted me and said they made numerous requests for NCDC documents and they have not been received,” Palmer said.

Soles said NCDC Board member Doug Weiss had been visiting with Dana F Cole on a weekly basis, and had been told up until Wednesday that Dana F Cole did not have a list ready of the information it still needed.

“Doug has been requesting this information for weeks, and Dana F Cole did not have it ready,” Soles said. “Doug finally received a list this morning.”

Palmer said the audit report from Dana F Cole would include some things that were not correct with the LB 840 program accounting.
“Dana F Cole urged the city to be proactive with a plan to correct what may appear in the audit,” Palmer said. “If there are any red flags the state auditor could pick up on, that is in no one’s best interests.”

Audience member Rod Worrell asked Palmer if the city has any of the info it needs to create an action plan.

Palmer said he had an idea after speaking with the auditors on some of the issues. He said there may be potential conflicts of interest with Soles being on the council and also being on the LB 840 loan committee, and with Hurless being on the council while also being an NCDC employee.

Palmer said there is an attorney in Scottsbluff who does a substantial amount of work relating to LB 840 programs.

“If Dana F Cole can put in its audit report that the city has contacted him to take care of any issues in the audit, it would show the city is taking an interest,” Palmer said.

Audience member Cody Goochey said it appeared both sides were blaming the other.

“Why can’t you just sit down together and get this all taken care of?” Goochey asked.

Audience member Tate Schipporeit suggested representatives from the city and from the NCDC meet with the auditors.

“Dana F Cole doesn’t have someone here to let people know what is needed,” Schipporeit said.

Soles encouraged all parties to do what needs to be done to move forward.

“Otherwise, it is no good for the community,” Soles said.

Rice said one of the primary needs for the community is to keep the LB 840 program going.

“We have had too many successes to let this program go away,” the mayor said.

Originally approved by voters in 2008, the LB 840 program sunsets in 2023, and would need another vote of the people to continue to collect an additional one-half cent of city sales tax to strengthen economic development in the city.

In other items Wednesday, the council appointed Bill Lentz to fill the remainder of a term on the Ainsworth Airport Authority created by the resignation of Spencer Schenk. Schenk’s term ends Dec. 1, 2020.

The consent agenda approved Wednesday included a special-designated liquor license for the Elks to serve alcohol in the Ainsworth Conference Center Nov. 3 during the annual Sandhills Chapter Pheasants Forever banquet, and included permission for the Ainsworth Women’s Club to close Main Street from 4:30 until 6 p.m. Oct. 31 for the annual Trick or Treat Safe Street event.

The next regular meeting of the Ainsworth City Council is scheduled for 5 p.m. Oct. 10.

* Agenda for Ainsworth City Council meeting Wednesday

(Posted 8 a.m. Sept. 12)

Ainsworth City Council
Meeting 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12
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 August 8, 2018 Regular Meeting and the August 23, 2018 Special Meeting

b.      Approval of Claims

c.       Treasurer’s Report

d.      Department Head Reports

e.      Approval of an application for a special designated liquor license for Elks BPOE #1790 to serve alcohol at the Ainsworth Conference Center for the Pheasant Forever Banquet on November 3, 2018 from 3:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. November 4, 2018.

f.        Authorize the Ainsworth Women’s Club to close Hwy 7 (Main Street) on Wednesday, October 31, 2018 from 4:30-6:00 p.m. for the Trick or Treat Street.  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.

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

 

III.                MAYOR’S APPOINTMENTS AND REPORT

a.       Mayor’s Report

b.      Airport Authority (6 year terms) – Appointment of Bill Lentz to fulfill the remaining term of Spencer Schenk with term ending 12/01/2020

 

IV.                PUBLIC HEARINGS

a.      2018-2019 Budget Hearing - 5:15 p.m.

b.      2018-2019 Tax Request Hearing – 5:30 p.m.

c.       Citizen Advisory Review Committee 6-month report – 5:45 p.m.

 

V.                  OLD BUSINESS

a.       None

 

VI.                REGULAR AGENDA

a.      Consider approval of the 2018-2019 Budget and Tax Levy – Resolution #18-03

b.      Consider an increase of total restricted funds by an additional 1%

c.       City Administrator/Clerk/Treasurer Report

* Ulibarri's tie-breaker pick leads to Week 2 KBRB Football Contest win

(Posted 10:15 a.m. Sept. 11)

Games proved difficult to pick correctly during Week 2 of the KBRB Football Contest. Of the 15 games on the card, the best our area prognosticators could do was four incorrect picks. A majority of this week’s misses were in the high school ranks, as the college slate proved to be a little easier to decipher.

Both Becky Schelm of Johnstown and Tami Ulibarri of Ainsworth missed four games to lead the way in Week 2. Schelm missed all four of her games on the high school side, while three of Ulibarri’s misses came in the high school ranks.

That sent us to our tie-breaker, Colorado’s 33-28 victory against the Huskers. Ulibarri correctly picked the Buffaloes to win, 25-19, while Schelm believed in the Huskers, 24-21.

That gives Tami Ulibarri of Ainsworth the Week 2 victory and a $40 gift certificate to one of our contest sponsors. Schelm receives the $10 runner-up prize.

Week 3 KBRB Football Contest cards are available now from Buckles Automotive, Road Runner and Plains Equipment  in Ainsworth, Circle B Livestock in Bassett, the West Plains Bank in Springview, the Central Bar in Stuart, and from the Atkinson Road Runner.

Week 3 cards must be submitted to the KBRB Studios by 4 p.m. Friday or carry a Friday postmark if mailed to be eligible.

* School Board asks for $5.92 million in property tax to support 2018-19 budget

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

The Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education will ask property owners in the county for $5.92 million to support the 2018-19 district budget following the approval of the annual budget and property tax request Monday.

Following public hearings, the board approved a $13.65 million budget, of which $5.92 million will be requested from property owners. For the fifth straight year, the school will receive next to no state assistance. The district is projected to receive just $40,284 in state aid to education. The last time the district received anything of substance from the state was the 2013-14 year, when the state directed $356,086 to the school district.

Since that time, total valuation of real property in the county has increased from $496 million to $814 million.

Board member Brad Wilkins said the three-legged stool for funding education has shifted due to rural districts no longer receiving state aid.

“State aid in 2012-13 was more than $600,000,” Wilkins said.

Superintendent Darrell Peterson said, prior to that, the district had received up to $2 million in state assistance.

The levy rate for the district for 2018-19 to support the school is 72.7 cents per $100 in property value, up from 68.9 cents per $100 in value from the 2017-18 year. The levy rate increased by 3.77 cents, which ended a nine-year streak of levy rate declines.

While the rates declined annually, the amount of property tax collected did not decline, thanks to rising overall property values, until the 2017-18 property tax request came in substantially below the 2016-17 request. A large factor there was the completion of the previous building addition bond payments prior to the 2017-18 budget. The district went from a property tax request of $6.26 million for 2016-17 to $5.59 million for 2017-18.

The 2017-18 property tax asking included $247,474 for the district’s special building fund, the first time money had been requested for that fund since the 2009-10 year. The district had been collecting close to $300,000 annually prior to the 2017-18 year for the voter-approved building addition bond payments. The district is requesting $469,042 for the special building fund for 2018-19, which represents 5.7 cents in levy.

The 2018-19 levy rate of 72.7 cents is well below the $1.05 lid imposed by the state.

Peterson indicated the levy rate for 2018-19 rose in part because the district included 5.7 cents of levy to begin paying for the agriculture and industrial technology building addition project, and overall property valuation in the county did not see a large increase as it had in past years.

For the 2017-18 school year, the district collected $5.35 million in property tax. If the district had chosen to collect the same amount of tax for 2018-19, the levy rate would have been 65.6 cents per $100 in valuation.

The district saw actual expenditures of $8.04 million for the 2017-18 year, which was higher than the $7.71 million spent in the 2016-17 year. While the approved budget for 2018-19 is $13.65 million, the actual expenditures will likely come in substantially lower than that.

The 2018-19 budget includes $1.29 million for the district’s special building fund, which relates to the addition project. That line item was not included in the previous year’s budget.

Of the $13.65 million overall budget, $9.96 million is included in the general fund. A total of $5.45 million of the property taxes being requested will go to support the general fund, with $469,042 in property tax supporting the special building fund.

Peterson reported, while the district is asking for $327,535 more in property tax than it did for the 2017-18 budget year, the property tax request is still $339,096 less than the district requested for the 2016-17 year.

The budget includes a cash reserve of $601,812, which Peterson said is 16.4 percent of the overall budget and well below the 45 percent cash reserve allowed by the state.

Following public hearings Monday, the board approved the 2018-19 budget and property tax request.

In other business Monday, former board member Angie Davis was appointed to serve the remainder of Erin Rathe’s board term. Rathe had to resign her seat after accepting a teaching position with the district. Davis previously served six years on the Board of Education, and she will remain on the board through December, as Rathe’s seat is up for election Nov. 6.

Representatives of the local Teammates chapter presented information to the board on the program’s recent successes, including the local chapter receiving the highest average score of all chapters in the five states participating in Teammates.

Director Lisa Schlueter said the local chapter currently has 20 mentors with students, and should have 23 within a couple weeks. She said the program is voluntary for all students.

“If a student does not want to participate, it won’t work,” Schlueter said. “Teammates is open to all students, not just for at-risk students.”

She said mentees improved their grades by 47 percent during the 2017-18 year, and disciplinary referrals decreased by 59 percent. Unexcused absences also declined by 6 percent for students with a mentor.

She said the program is in search of additional mentors. Mentors are asked to make at least one visit per week with their mentee. Anyone interested in becoming a mentor may go online to www.teammates.org.

In action items Monday, the board authorized Board President Dan Dailey to sign a request for payment, and the Ainsworth Educational Facilities Leasing Corporation would then make the first payment for the new agriculture and industrial technology building addition.

The board also approved the second reading of a procurement plan policy for school food authorities.

During his report, the superintendent said Mr. Pollock’s classes have been working to get the Learning Center prepared for the installation of new carpet. Peterson said he planned to request funding from the Ainsworth Betterment Committee and from the Brown County Foundation for assistance in remodeling the Learning Center, since it serves as a site for numerous community functions in addition to school-related activities.

He said Chief Construction planned to begin building the inside walls of the agriculture and industrial technology addition Tuesday.

Elementary Principal Curtis Childers reported total enrollment of 189 students for kindergarten through sixth grade. The first-grade class and fourth-grade class each have 30 students, which is the largest of seven grades. There are 22 second-grade students, which is the smallest class.

Secondary Principal Steve Dike reported junior high enrollment of 67 students, with 37 seventh-graders and 30 eighth-grade students. There are 132 students enrolled in high school, including 42 freshmen, 39 sophomores, 29 juniors and 22 seniors.

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

* Care Center profitable in August, in search of people for CNA positions

(Posted 5:15 p.m. Sept. 10)

With 22 residents in August, the Sandhills Care Center generated $146,041 of income with a net profit of $10,389 for the month.

During Monday’s meeting of the Board of Directors, Administrator Stephanie Rucker said the facility has 14 private-pay residents and eight receiving Medicaid assistance. She said the facility admitted two new residents in August, and did not lose anyone during the month.

“It was a good month,” Rucker said. “We also didn’t end up needing to take the $2,000 in additional funding from last month to cover expenses.”

Despite the more than $10,000 cushion in operating margin for the month, Rucker said the facility again is seeing a larger cost associated with agency staffing services.

“We are short four CNAs and one nighttime LPN,” Rucker said. “We lost CNAs to college and a couple to the hog farm. We can’t compete with the pay and benefits they offer.”

Board member Leanne Maxwell asked what the cost difference was between having an on-staff CNA compared to having to use an agency.

Rucker said the care center typically starts CNAs at around $14 per hour, and it costs the facility $39 per hour for a CNA supplied by an agency.

Maxwell said, “Maybe there is something proactive we can do, some incentives we could provide to get people trained.”

Board member Chuck Osborn said, if the facility is losing staff to the hog farm, wouldn’t it be worth it to offer them a couple more dollars per hour.

Rucker said the facility could look at increasing pay, but it is still tough to compete with the benefits package and other incentives the hog farm is currently offering.

Jo Fuller with Rural Health Development, the company contracted by the board to manage the care center, said most nursing homes in the state are having the same problems.

“Staffing issues are everywhere,” Fuller said. “Pool agencies are costing everyone. There are not enough people available to fill the positions.”

Board Chairman Phil Fuchs said the care center, in addition to paying for someone to take the CNA certification class, could offer a $500 incentive payment when they sign up for the class and another $500 incentive payment when they have worked for the care center for a year.

“Doing that would save us enough in contract labor to cover that bonus in a month,” Fuchs said.

Rucker said she would work with the board to put together and promote an incentive package to try and get people interested in filling the CNA positions in-house instead of having to use an agency.

In addition to the CNA and LPN shortage, Rucker reported the facility still had received no applications for a maintenance person.

“The hospital administrator contacted me,” Rucker said. “They need another maintenance person, but not full time, so we may be able to share someone. There are some things we need to work out, but it is promising. We don’t really need a full time position either.”

Board member Buddy Small said, if the care center could subcontract someone from the hospital as needed, it would be a great option.

In other business Monday, Fuchs said RHD has agreed to cover all the legal expenses related to trying to appeal the state’s decision not to pursue $70,000 in Medicare funding for the care center because the facility fell just shy of the Medicaid occupancy rate required.

“We received notice the Medicare payment was denied by the state,” Fuchs said, after RHD submitted an amended census report to try and bring the facility to the 40 percent Medicaid population requirement.

The state initially ruled it would not pursue the additional funding due to the facility being at 39.87 percent Medicaid occupancy. The state refused to change its position following the appeal and amended report from RHD.

In building maintenance items, Rucker said the recent leaks in the kitchen and laundry room have been fixed, and the ceilings in both rooms have been repaired. She said five additional air-conditioning units for resident rooms have been ordered.

She also reported the stumps have now been removed after several dead trees were recently cut down on the property. Small said DJ Hladky has offered to remove the remaining surface roots.

“Chuck and I will then go over it with rakes, smooth it out and plant some grass seed,” Small said.

Capital Campaign Committee chair Rolland Paddock said the cost to remove the stumps was being covered by a donor, and he encouraged Rucker to provide him with the bill for the stump removal when it was received.

The next meeting of the Sandhills Care Center Board of Director is scheduled for 4 p.m. Oct. 8.

* Traffic Accident

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

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a one-vehicle accident that occurred Sunday, Sept. 2, in Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 8:18 p.m. on Sept. 2 in the 900 block of East Second Street, a 2006 Pontiac sedan, driven by Amanda Pike, 19, of Long Pine, was traveling west on Second Street when the driver said she swerved to miss a cat in the street and struck a mailbox.
No injuries were reported. Damage to the Pontiac was estimated at $200. The mailbox, owned by Marcus Fairhead of Ainsworth, sustained approximately $100 damage.

* Bassett Country Club hosts second annual barbecue cook-off

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

During the second annual Bassett Country Club barbecue cook-off Saturday, the Master Class Champions and Mystery Meet winners were Jarod Steenson, Shelby Steenson, Sheryl Steenson, and Ruben Andrews.
The People’s Choice Award and Brisket Winners were Christi Leonard, Logan Leonard, and Tucker Iverson.
Winners of the best pork loin were Clay Fischer, Kevin Allen and Flint Licking.

* Traffic Accident

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

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a one-vehicle accident that was reported at 7:09 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4, northwest of Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, a 2006 Ford Taurus, driven by Andrew Wiebesiek, 19, of Ainsworth, was traveling north on the Skillman Road when the vehicle missed the intersection with Road 879 and entered the north ditch. The Ford went through a fence and into a cane field before striking a metal pole and two mailboxes on the north side of Road 879.
No injuries were reported. The Ford was considered a total loss. Damage to the pole and mailboxes, owned by William Frederickson of Ainsworth, was estimated at $100. The cane field, owned by Mike Freeman of Ainsworth, sustained approximately $500 damage.

* Stuart to increase sales tax rate from 1 percent to 1.5 percent in October

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 6)

Nebraska Tax Commissioner Tony Fulton announced, effective Oct. 1, the village of Stuart will increase its sales tax rate from 1 percent to 1.5 percent.
Tekamah and Wisner are increasing their sales tax rates from 1.5 percent to 2 percent. The city of Lincoln is decreasing its sales and use tax rate from 1.75 percent to 1.5 percent.

* Walton wins Week 1 KBRB Football Contest

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

The cancellation of the Husker football game Saturday against Akron threw a bit of a wrench into Week 1 of the KBRB Football Contest.

While having the tie-breaker game voided by Mother Nature did not affect the outcome of the Week 1 winner, it did throw a kink in the weekly runner-up prize.

Missing just two of the 15 games on the Week 1 card, Andrew Walton captured the first-place, $40 certificate. Walton incorrectly had North Central defeating Ansley-Litchfield in the high school ranks. Ansley-Litchfield won in a shootout, 50-42, over the Knights.

The college game Walton missed was the most widely missed of the contest week, Maryland’s 34-29 victory over No. 23 Texas.

Seven contestants missed three games on their cards, and with no Husker tie-breaker to sort it out, KBRB had to go to its second tie-breaker, which was the earliest card entry.

Derek Swan of Springview and Patty Finley of Ainsworth both submitted their contest cards on Wednesday, Swan through the post office and Finley in person. They will tie for second place and each receive a $10 certificate.

Others missing three games but submitting their cards either Thursday or Friday were Bart Waits, Steve Salzman, Jacque Richey, Britt Hollenbeck and Donnie Tielke.

Winners may pick up their certificates from the KBRB Studios.

Week 2 KBRB Football Contest cards are available now from Buckles Automotive, Road Runner and Plains Equipment in Ainsworth, the West Plains Bank in Springview, Circle B Livestock in Bassett, the Central Bar in Stuart, and Road Runner in Atkinson.  

* NPPD to replace electric meters at Long Pine and Bassett this month

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Sept. 4)

The Nebraska Public Power District plans to upgrade electric meters at Bassett and Long Pine next week. The meter replacements are part of a program to replace 43,000 existing electric meters in 33 communities served at retail by NPPD.

New AMI equipment for residences and businesses in Bassett and Long Pine will be installed beginning Sept. 10. NPPD’s customer service organization will contact customers in advance to alert them to the installation of the meters.

A district employee will make the change of the meters and will remove the old meter from the premises. A resident or business owner does not need to be there when the switch out occurs. There will be a short interruption of electric service.

The new meters are equipped with two-way communication known as Advanced Metering Infrastructure, a digital metering technology used around the world for more than a decade. The current meters in communities slated for replacement are electro-mechanical devices. The new meters display the reading, but in digital LED format. The meters will have an electronic circuit board module installed that will receive and securely transmit the data back to NPPD on the total amount of kilowatt hours used by a residence or business.

“The installation of the AMI systems will help maintain competitive electric rates by reducing operating expenses,” said NPPD Retail General Manager Tim Arlt. “With these units we can also pinpoint the exact location of outages quicker, meaning a faster response time to restore power.” Since the new meters have been installed, NPPD has seen a 60 percent reduction in service calls for new customer move-in requests from a year ago.

In addition, the new meters will allow NPPD personnel to automatically read electric meters from service centers, provide a higher level of customer service, help customer service representatives troubleshoot billing concerns, and improve electric service reliability and power quality for customers. Another reason for the meter replacement is from a safety perspective for NPPD’s employees when troubleshooting or handling routine maintenance.

The AMI equipment cannot control any appliances, electronics or heating and cooling systems within a residence or business. In addition to the new meters, NPPD will also have numerous routers placed strategically in the community to relay the information to NPPD’s operations.

* August temperatures right on average, precipitation above normal again

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

Ainsworth Weather Observer Gerry Osborn reported August's temperatures hit the average on the button, and 3.49 inches of rain moved the city 7 inches above normal through the first eight months of the year.
To hear the full summary, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Gerry Osborn August 2018 weather.mp3

* Agenda for Sept. 4 Brown County Commissioners meeting

(Posted 5:30 a.m. Sept. 3)

Brown County Commissioners meeting
5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4
Agenda

 

05:15 - 05:20               Roll Call;

Acknowledge posting of Open Meetings Law;

Pledge of Allegiance;

Approve minutes of the August 21, 2018 Commissioner meeting;

 

05:15                           Kenneth Turpin – Road Department Issues

                                                           

                                    Update – Inter local agreement between Brown, Rock & Keya Paha counties regarding BKR Extension

                                                           

                                    Approve Brown County Inventories (Brown County Attorney & Safety Training Option Program STOP)

                                                           

                                    Brown County Treasurer – Delinquent Tax Report

                                   

Brown County Treasurer - Resolution to write 2016 & prior years RE Taxes into Co Tax Sale

 

Discussion of Solid Waste Management Act, Methods of Collecting Past Due Solid Waste Collection Fees, and Establishment of Proof of Use of Other Licensed Disposal Facilities Requirements For Exemption From Solid Waste Collection Fees

                                   

                                    Replace Sidewalks at Courthouse

                                    Discuss letter from James McNally on School Funding/School lands

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 3 p.m. Aug. 30)

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

Alexander D. Mara, age 23, of Lone Tree, Colo., charged with speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, fined $75.

Thad L. Ziemba, 37, of Silver Creek, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Edye A. Longoria, 46, of Purcell, Okla., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Zachary J. Morken, 34, of Ogallala, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Douglas J. Lane, 28, of Dallas, S.D., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Richard L. Carney, 39, of Magnum, Okla., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Christina L. Fetter, 45, of Springview, no valid registration, $25.

Lisa M. Hendricks, 57, of Omaha, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Jason P. Lanoha, 38, of Omaha, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Glynn K. Runyan, 70, of Colorado Springs, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Tiffany R. Miller, 29, of Colorado Springs, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Norman E. Larsen, 86, of Springview, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Tessa E. Lane, 25, of Columbus, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Randy J. Klein, 41, of Gregory, S.D., no trip permit, $35; no registration, $100; two counts of being overweight on an axle or group of axles, fined a total of $100 on the two counts; failure to carry a fuel permit, $75.

Ramona M. Hoppe, 41, of Ainsworth, failure to license a dog or cat, $25.

Mariah A. Utter, 24, of Brewster, driving on the shoulder, $25; possession of an open alcohol container in a vehicle, $50.

Derek R. Kenner, 32, of Wood Lake, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Edy Simon-Juarez, 21, of Ainsworth, no operator’s license, $75.

El Paso J. One Feather, 23, of Ainsworth, defective vehicle light, $25.

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 10:15 a.m. Aug. 30)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a one-vehicle accident that occurred Thursday, Aug. 30, on Highway 20.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 6:44 a.m. Thursday on Highway 20 approximately 2 miles west of Ainsworth, a 2006 Buick sedan, driven by Kylee Odenbach, 21, of Taylor, was traveling west when the vehicle left the roadway and struck a stop sign at the intersection of 428th Avenue.
No injuries were reported. Damage to the Buick was estimated at more than $1,000. The stop sign, owned by the Nebraska Department of Transportation, sustained approximately $100 damage.

* Firefighters respond to report of tractor fire Wednesday southwest of Ainsworth

(Posted 8 a.m. Aug. 30)

The Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department responded to a call of a tractor on fire Wednesday afternoon southwest of Ainsworth.

According to Fire Chief Brad Fiala, at 4:20 p.m. Wednesday, firefighters were called to property owned by Keith Baker. Baker was working on a tractor that had stopped running. Fiala said a spark ignited some fuel and started the tractor on fire.

The fire chief said Baker had a fire extinguisher available, and had put out the fire by the time firefighters arrived on scene.

Fiala said damage to the tractor was minimal, and was limited to some wiring. Firefighters were on scene for approximately 15 minutes before returning to the fire hall.

* Valentine company receives grant for glass recycling effort

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

NK Waste and Recycling of Valentine has been awarded a Nebraska Environmental Trust Grant to aid in offsetting the cost of building a glass recycling bunker at the company’s Valentine location.

This is the second grant received for glass recycling with assistance from the North Central RC&D. The first grant received was from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality for a glass recycling bunker at Bristow. That bunker plans to accept glass for recycling beginning in October.

“It is unusual to offer glass recycling these days,” North Central RC&D President Mike Burge said. “There just hasn’t been an outlet that would accept it. Through the Nebraska Recycling Council, the RC&D became aware of Ripple Glass at Kansas City, Mo.“

All colors of food and beverage glass can be recycled. Labels can stay on, they just need to be clean. If you can see through it, it likely can be recycled. Windows, shower doors and tabletops, with frames and hardware removed will also be accepted.

More details about what can and can’t be recycled will be released during the opening of the bunker. No specific date has been set yet.

NK Waste and Recycling representative Neil Wescott said, “The bunker needs to be completed. It won’t be long and we will keep you posted. Receiving the grant sped up the process. With only one other location in northern Nebraska currently accepting glass, NK Waste and Recycling is proud to be expanding our recycling services.”

* May taxable sales increase for most area counties

(Posted 10 a.m. Aug. 27)

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of May 2018 and May 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%

Boyd

1,094,887

946,885

15.6

60,218.92

52,078.79

Brown

2,940,939

2,700,605

8.9

161,751.80

148,533.50

Ainsworth

2,756,255

2,507,342

9.9

151,594.17

137,904.00

Cherry

6,022,822

5,772,010

4.3

331,255.54

317,460.90

Valentine

5,752,285

5,625,774

2.2

316,375.97

309,417.85

Holt

9,802,560

9,005,769

8.8

539,141.38

495,317.86

Atkinson

1,585,932

1,539,066

3

87,226.40

84,648.79

O'Neill

7,040,185

6,356,978

10.7

387,210.50

349,634.09

Keya Paha

223,085

219,507

1.6

12,269.72

12,072.91

Loup

155,017

176,100

(12.0)

8,525.95

9,685.57

Rock

687,633

601,802

14.3

37,819.86

33,099.16

Valley

4,010,479

3,406,632

17.7

220,576.59

187,365.01

Ord

3,547,900

3,050,376

16.3

195,134.69

167,770.89

State Total

$2,669,141,873

$2,486,653,924

7.3

$147,064,796.90

$136,738,544.20

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of May 2018 and May 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

304,396

148,747

104.6

16,698.16

8,117.06

Boyd

451,952

429,126

5.3

24,900.34

23,619.01

Brown

675,739

681,707

(0.9)

37,452.85

37,648.26

Cherry

1,129,777

1,486,750

(24.0)

62,570.34

82,116.69

Holt

2,859,979

2,752,139

3.9

158,329.14

152,319.63

Keya Paha

205,940

308,790

(33.3)

11,309.97

16,975.40

Loup

307,532

161,773

90.1

16,891.60

8,885.34

Rock

430,548

240,430

79.1

23,683.97

13,257.68

Valley

983,202

699,055

40.6

54,405.21

38,665.44

State Total

$379,936,517

$365,983,291

3.8

$21,034,989.71

$20,300,657.56

* KBRB Football Contest cards are now available at area sponsors

(Posted 9:30 a.m. Aug. 27)

The KBRB Football Contest cards are back for another year, giving listeners the chance to show off their knowledge of the high school and college grid iron teams.

Each week, contestants have a chance at a $40 first-place certificate and a $10 runner-up certificate. The contest entry deadline is 4 p.m. each Friday with the exception of the final week of the contest, which will have a Thursday deadline.

Cards must be dropped off to the KBRB studios by 4 p.m. each Friday or carry a Friday postmark to be eligible.

KBRB Football Contest cards are out now and available at Buckles Automotive, Road Runner and Plains Equipment in Ainsworth, Circle B Livestock in Bassett, the West Plains Bank in Springview, the Central Bar in Stuart, and at Road Runner in Atkinson.

Good luck to our contestants, and a big thanks to this year’s sponsors of the KBRB Football Contest.

* Mayor proclaims Ainsworth horseshoe courts to be named in honor of Hodge

(Posted 7 a.m. Aug. 27)

Kicking off the 2018 Nebraska State Horseshoe Tournament Saturday at East City Park, Mayor Larry Rice surprised longtime local horseshoe club organizer Al Hodge with a proclamation declaring the East City Park horseshoe courts will be named the Al Hodge horseshoe courts.
Rice said no one person had done so much to promote the sport of horseshoe pitching in the community or the state.
Hodge was the leading factor in bringing numerous state tournaments and two World Horseshoe Tournaments to Ainsworth, in 1986 and 1998.
Surprised by the proclamation, Hodge said he was overwhelmed by the dedication of the horseshoe courts in his name, and it was the best secret his family members had been able to keep in the last 40 years.

* Medicaid expansion petition successful, secretary of state certifies 84,269 signatures

(Posted 1:30 p.m. Aug. 24)

Secretary of State John Gale announced Friday that county election officials completed their task of reviewing 136,791 signatures submitted as part of the petition to expand Medicaid eligibility. County certifications have been received by the Secretary of State within the time period required by law.

“After careful review by our counties, I can confirm that the statutory requirements for valid signatures have been met,” Gale said. “The measure will be placed on the 2018 general election ballot, barring an order from the district court handling the pending lawsuit that challenges the initiative petition.”

At least 84,269 valid signatures were required to add the petition question to the 2018 general election ballot.

Gale said, “104,477 valid signatures were certified to my office, which amounted to a 74 percent acceptance rate.”

In addition, signatures of more than 5 percent of registered voters were collected in 47 of the state’s 93 counties. That met the distribution requirement of 38 counties for an initiative petition.

“Certified letters will be mailed to the sponsors, notifying them as to the results of the petition campaign,” Gale said.

The secretary of state said the next steps in the process would be announced by his office at a later date.

“We will schedule dates for a public hearing to be held in each of the three congressional districts as well as produce a brochure about the initiative that will be distributed to each of the county election offices,” he said.

Information about the Medicaid expansion petition may be found on the secretary of state’s web site at: www.sos.ne.gov/elec/2018/elections.html

* First death related to West Nile virus reported in Nebraska

(Posted 7:15 a.m. Aug. 24)

The first person has died from complications resulting in part due to West Nile virus, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

A person over the age of 65 from Douglas County became the first confirmed West Nile related death in Nebraska in 2018.

There have been 19 clinical cases of the virus in 2018, with six of those requiring the patient to be hospitalized. An additional 16 blood donors tested positive for carrying West Nile virus.

Four mosquito pools in Holt County and two in Garfield County have now tested positive for the presence of the virus. There is also testing of mosquito pools conducted in Cherry County, but thus far none of those pools have tested positive. A total of 46 mosquito pools statewide have tested positive for the virus.

Adult mosquitoes are collected every two weeks from routine surveillance sites around the state. Supplemental mosquito trapping may be performed by DHHS personnel as needed. A mosquito sample is all mosquitoes from one CDC-miniature light trap run for one night at a single location.

Samples are sorted and female mosquitoes are identified by species and counted. Mosquitoes in the genus Culex are pooled in vials containing up to 50 mosquitoes of the same species and are submitted for testing for West Nile virus.

With all the rain in the area, there remain large hatches of mosquitoes. Wear proper repellent, long sleeves during the evening and early morning hours, and try and remove standing water from your property. The threat of West Nile will remain until the first freezes of the fall.

* Highway 11 bridge replacement work to begin Monday south of Atkinson

(Posted 7 a.m. Aug. 24)

Weather permitting, work is scheduled to begin Monday on Highway 11 south of Atkinson beginning at milepost 128, according to the Nebraska Department of Transportation.

Werner Construction of Hastings has the $2.78 million contract for replacing the existing bridges with box culverts. There will be an 11-foot lane restriction.

Traffic will be reduced to one lane and maintained with traffic control devices. The anticipated completion date is early December.

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

* Council approves new group health plan through United Healthcare

(Posted 2 p.m. Aug. 23)

During a brief special meeting Thursday, the Ainsworth City Council approved a United Health Care insurance plan for its group health insurance coverage.

After learning Coventry, the city’s current health insurance supplier, would not offer a renewal policy, the city pursued quotes from other companies.

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl presented the council with four proposals for coverage Thursday.

Schroedl said the employee union recommended the city opt for a United Healthcare plan as submitted by Kirk Peterson of Modern Woodman Insurance of Minden.

Schroedl said the plan the union favored was also the most cost effective plan for the city, with the monthly $14,703 policy approximately 5.5 percent higher than the city’s current premium through Coventry.

She said the Coventry plan averaged a 12 percent premium increase each year the city was covered.

The other three plans submitted, one through United Health Care and two from Blue Cross/Blue Shield with differing deductible options, ranged between $15,000 and $16,885 per month.

Schroedl asked the council to make the new plan effective Sept. 1, so the city could receive renewal quotes for subsequent years prior to having to finalize the budget.

Councilman Greg Soles asked Schroedl if she was comfortable with the company submitting the bids, which she said she was.

“Nothing will really change for the employees,” Schroedl said in reference to the new insurance provider.

The council approved the quote from Modern Woodman of Minden for the United Healthcare plan.

The council also unanimously approved an agreement Thursday between the city and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 1597, the union representing eight city employees.

Mary Larry Rice said the agreement was negotiated to give the union employees a 3 percent pay increase for the upcoming year, with the second and third years of the agreement including 2 percent pay increases with the potential for an additional 1 percent merit-based pay increase.

“Each employee has the option of opting out of the union,” Rice said. “There are eight current union employees.”

Council President Chuck Osborn said he believed the merit-based increases would be a good way to motivate the employees.

The only other minor change from the previous union agreement allows employees to take vacation time in 15-minute increments instead of a minimum one hour of vacation time used.

Thursday’s special meeting agenda also included the potential closure of Third Street Friday from Main Street to the alley east to allow the Elks Lodge to have maintenance work conducted on its building.

However, Elks representative Lyndi Goochey said the installation of the new air-conditioning unit for the facility had been postponed, so the street closure was not needed for Friday.

Both Osborn and Soles said they didn’t believe the council needed to make a motion to approve the closure, but the city could simply direct the streets department to place barricades when the crew made it to install the air-conditioner.

The next regular meeting of the Ainsworth City Council is scheduled for 5 p.m. Sept. 12.

* Commissioners set levies for rural fire district, ag society during Tuesday meeting

(Posted 2:30 p.m. Aug. 22)

By Dan Kamppinen
During Tuesday’s meeting, the Brown County Commissioners set 2018-19 property tax levies for the Brown County Rural Fire Protection District and the Brown County Agricultural Society.

The rural fire district requested a 3.5-cent levy, which is one-half cent lower than the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Commissioner Buddy Small said, “I’ve heard some people want to cut it to 2 cents. The only thing that we have talked about in the past with the city is MFO funding. The fire department would lose that MFO funding if the levy drops below 3.5 cents.”

Commissioner Reagan Weibelhaus said the department is sitting on a large nest egg, with total resources of $998,361 available for the rural fire district.

The commissioners discussed different levy options.

Weibelhaus asked what the difference in dollars would be between a 2.5-cent and 3.5-cent levy.

Budget preparer Pete Peterson said the 1-cent levy difference is $76,637. The 3.5-cent levy would generate $268,230 in property taxes, which would be only $5 more than the previous budget. The 2.5-cent budget would provide the fire district with $191,593.

Peterson said the city and county have to agree on the levy amounts for the rural fire department to receive MFO funding, as the county and city are required to set the same levy when funding a rural fire district.

“Other counties, like Custer County for example, bring all fire departments together to discuss MFO funding and the setting of levies,” Peterson said. “Everyone comes out of the meeting with a clear idea on what the levies are and what funding will be received.” Weibelhaus requested the board schedule a meeting next March to begin the planning for the yearly budget.

The commissioners discussed the levy they felt would be appropriate for the upcoming budget year.

Commissioner Les Waits said, “When the fire department wanted anything years ago, they came to the county and asked for it. When they wanted a new truck, they asked for one.”

By a 2-1 vote, with Wiebelhaus and Waits in favor and Small voting against, the commissioners approved a 2.5-cent levy for the Brown County Rural Fire Protection District for the 2018-19 budget.

The board also approved a levy for the Brown County Agricultural Society to operate and maintain the Brown County Fairgrounds.

The agricultural society requested $45,000 in general funds and $20,000 in the sinking fund.

The commissioners set a budget of $35,000 for the agricultural society’s general operations, and an additional $20,000 to repay funds borrowed from the Inheritance Tax fund previously to make major upgrades and repairs to the fairgrounds arena.

In other business Tuesday, Small read the Nebraska Crime Commission report on the Brown County Jail. The report indicated the jail met state standards.

The board acknowledged the report.

Small discussed the county’s inventory of equipment, and the board approved the inventory list with the addition of a chainsaw and chemical tank that were not originally included.

Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin told the board the department installed a culvert on the Rock and Brown county line, and will begin laying down armor coat gravel as weather permits.

The roads department has been cleaning the ditch on Richardson Road just south of Ainsworth. There have been water issues recently and the ditch needed to be fixed so farmers can put hay up. Turpin said the roads department has received several calls recently related to drainage.

Turpin also discussed an occupancy permit, telling the board, “Last week I approved two parallel occupancy permits for KBR Rural Public Power. They are going to put some power lines along the Elsmere Road, as there’s a spot through the wetlands where they can’t put poles up so they are going to bury the cable no deeper than 5 feet underground.” Turpin said he didn’t think there would be any issue with the project.

Turpin requested the board declare a Caterpillar motor grader, flat bed truck, roll over protection system, and 140 G motor grader as surplus property so the equipment could be listed and sold. The board approved declaring those items as surplus equipment.

In a final roads department item, Turpin said the roads department would like to request bids for a used backhoe.

“Our old backhoe has been bad for some time and I think it’s time to replace it,” the highway superintendent said. “The hydraulic pump is going out of it. I don’t think it’s worth paying for.”

Turpin estimated the used backhoe would cost between $50,000 and $60,000 for a decent model. He said there are a few used backhoes in town at Plains Equipment that fit into that price range. The board approved allowing Turpin to request bids for a new backhoe.

Roxanne Philben presented a request from the Brown County Court to add Wi-Fi availability to the court room.

Philben said about 50 percent of the courts in the area have Wi-Fi in their courtrooms. Three River provided the court a quote of $150 to set up the Wi-Fi, with a monthly charge of $40.

Weibelhaus said Turpin has a wireless Internet router in the commissioners’ room, and there is another one in the sheriff’s department. Philben said she would try to connect to both of these Wi-Fi routers before pursuing an additional Wi-Fi system for the court room.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Sept. 4.

* NCDHD offers Miles of Smiles program for school students in 9-county area

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

The Miles of Smiles program is available to all children in the North Central District Health Department’s nine-county service area. Miles of Smiles is a school based dental screening and fluoride clinic offered to all elementary school age children twice a school year. Miles of Smiles is a complete oral screening done by a registered dental hygienist along with an application of fluoride treatment.
The program is available even for students who already see a dentist every six months.  According to the American Dental Association, fluoride can help to decrease further cavity development by 38 percent and should be applied four to six times per year.
The hygienist comes to the school to offer the oral screening, fluoride treatment and alert to dental issues if they are noticed. The program is available to all children in the North Central District Health Department’s nine-county area for a non-required $15 donation. However, services are not denied for children whose families cannot afford the $15 donation. For more information on Miles of Smiles, contact Sara Twibell at 402-336-2496.

* Lions Club recognizes members for years of service

(Posted noon Aug. 21)

During its meeting Monday, the Ainsworth Lions Club presented members with appreciation awards for their continuous years of service in the Lions Club.

Jerry Ehlers marked 45 years of continuous membership in the Lions Club. Todd Mundhenke and Dr. David Spann were recognized for 40 years in the club. Jim Arens has been a Lion for 20 years, Doug Weiss for 15 years, and Brenda Mundhenke and Graig Kinzie have been members for 10 years.

The club received a thank you note from the local chapter of Teammates for a contribution from the Lions Club after the All-Sports Banquet held last spring.

Larry Rice reported that the installation of the crumb rubber under the playground equipment has been delayed due to the need to find a suitable border to be installed surrounding each piece of equipment. 

Connie Lentz said she will check with Chuck Osborn regarding the proper paperwork needed for the “Adopt-A-Highway” cleanup project. The date for the next cleanup will be announced later.  Jim Arens, chair of the county fair concession stand project, presented information regarding the work schedule for the three-day event Sept. 1-3.  A concession booth cleanup work session has been scheduled for Friday, Aug. 31.

Lions Club members are asked to sign up to help take tickets during Bulldog home games Sept. 7, Sept. 28, Oct. 12 and Oct. 18.

The club approved a First National Bank resolution authorizing Phil Fuchs to serve as treasurer of the Ainsworth Lions Club. The club decided that the proceeds from the sale of the Centennial Rifle, which the club won during the Nebraska Lions Club District 38 State Convention held in May, is to be maintained in the Ainsworth Lions Club account to be used in accordance with the Lions Club mission of serving those in need.

The Lions Club board approved an application for financial assistance on behalf of a local resident for eye care.

The board also approved Vance Heyer for Lions Club membership.

* Ainsworth to host Nebraska State Horseshoe Tournament this weekend

(Posted 3:30 p.m. Aug. 20)

Ainsworth is the host site for the 2018 Nebraska State Horseshoe Tournament. More than 80 qualified pitchers will descend on the East City Park horseshoe pits Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 25-26, with pitching each day beginning at 10 a.m.

Admission is free to all spectators, and concessions will be available on site. As the host site, the Ainsworth club is responsible for providing bottled water to all pitchers. Anyone willing to donate bottled water for the event is asked to bring it to the horseshoe pits on Thursday or make arrangements for delivery with Al Hodge.

The state banquet is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday in the Elks Lodge, with the annual state meeting to follow the banquet.

Also, the local horseshoe club is hosting a tournament at 6 p.m. Friday that is open to everyone. The entry fee is just $5, and no membership is needed. Horseshoes will be provided for those who do not have their own.
KBRB caught up with Rex Robinson, the regional director of the Nebraska Horseshoe Pitchers Association, to talk about the upcoming state tournament and some of the pitchers who will compete.
To hear the report, click on the audio link below.

 

audio clips/State Horseshoe Tournament Preview.mp3

* Atkinson receives $295,000 housing grant from DED

(Posted 2:45 p.m. Aug. 16)

The Nebraska Department of Economic Development this week announced recipients under the 2018 Nebraska Affordable Housing Trust Fund grant cycle. Atkinson is among the communities to receive housing grant funds.

Established in 1996, the NAHTF is a financial resource designed to help communities improve the quality and quantity of their local housing stock.

Communities with housing concerns face challenges in areas related to growth, workforce readiness and economic development. NAHTF grants, available to local governments, nonprofits and public housing authorities, can help finance an array of housing-related activities and projects to address local housing needs. Example uses include the construction of new owner-occupied or rental units, existing unit rehabilitation and low-income homebuyer assistance.

“Housing is one of the most pressing local issues faced by our communities,” said DED Director Dave Rippe. “But it’s an area where the rewards for hard work pay great dividends. Housing is integral to almost every aspect of local economic development — workforce, quality of life, resident attraction. When local stakeholders gather around the table, identify the challenges and opportunities facing their communities and formulate a plan of action, the results are often much greater than the sum of individual projects.”

The city of Atkinson received a $295,000 housing grant. This year, DED awarded $7.8 million in NAHTF funds to 19 organizations, with 28 applications awarded in all. Beyond set eligibility criteria that include the ability to provide 10 percent in local matching funds, applications were scored on the basis of criteria such as community and regional impact, project readiness and local collaboration.

* RC&D continues to pursue additional recycling efforts

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

The North Central RC&D Council reviewed recycling efforts in its six county service area of north central Nebraska during its recent meeting at Bassett.
Construction of a new glass recycling facility at Bristow is expected to be completed in October. Other communities are also looking at the same type of facility.
The council approved adopting a large scale composting effort as a project to help support and promote. The project is in the early stages of development to produce large quantities of quality compost for agriculture purposes. The council is also looking into paper shredding services for the area and a possible outlet for recycling lick tubs.
The council will meet again Sept. 12.  For more information on the north central RC&D and its recycling activities, contact Kim Burge at 402-376-5842.

* Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education meeting notes

(Posted 10:26 a.m. Aug. 15)

By Dan Kamppinen
The Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education met on Monday, which was also the start of the school year.

Curtis Childers presented the Elementary schools report. The staff of the elementary school has been busy over the past month and a half preparing for the return of students. Teachers have been busy preparing classrooms with the elementary schools theme of the year which will be “Under the Sea.” On Aug. 8, the staff reconvened with a welcome to all staff and an introduction of new staff members. There is only one new staff member this year, Reagan Fairhead, who will be teaching third grade. On August 9th the staff had reading training for the new reading program called “Reading Street.” The staff did team building exercises and select members of the staff did CPR training on Aug. 10.

Steven Dike briefed the board on activities concerning the high school. Dike said, “We had an interesting first day. It was a little bit different; we wanted to set the tone early with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. Just your typical first day. As a staff we have spent a great deal of time beginning to lay some ground work for curriculum work and discussions about where we are, where we need to go and how to get there.”

The activities report was presented without any changes. Highlights from the report include a player and parent meeting was held on Aug. 7 for all fall sports to discuss activities handbook policies and specific team information and policies. The school district continues to use the ImPACT concussion management system to conduct baseline and post-concussion testing for all its players. All seventh, ninth and 11th grade athletes, plus any athletes with out a baseline are measured, because tests are valid for two years. The Booster Club will host the inaugural Bulldog Pride Fundraiser gala Aug. 17 at the Elks Club. The annual kickoff will be on Aug. 18 with fall sports teams hosting games followed by a scrimmage by the football team.

Superintendent Darrell Peterson presented his report on Monday as well. The board has a regional NASB meeting Aug. 27 at Valentine. The community is having a bus disaster drill with the old school bus on Aug. 25. The school will have a small part in the drill by creating a reunification site for parents and their kids. There is a home football game on Sept. 28 at 2:30 p.m. so school will let out at 2 p.m. that day. The school received the ALICAP Insurance Safety Honor Roll award for this past school year. That is awarded to the top third of schools in the plan. The new bus’ air conditioner does not work. It will be a serious repair. The compressor has to be replaced so the new bus will likely not be used for a while. Peterson said, “We have a unique opportunity on the 29th to take the high school students to the Gooding’s Financial Literacy Concert. It’s a musical concert that talks about financial issues and they also worked into it a digital citizenship. Which we had set up for the gentleman to come last year, but we were unable to do so. This is cooperation between ESU Schools, which is nice.”

The board had second readings on the following items:

         AR 4225 & AR 4510: Sick Leave: This allows two additional sick days for employees to use to attend funeral services.

         AR 5300.1 Student Activities: This increases the individual support for students to attend national competitions at $150 from the current $100.

         AR 4205.1 Salary Schedule Classified Employees: This deals with classified employees who are close to the bottom of the schedule or at the bottom and need to assure long-term quality employees to increase salary.

All motions for a second reading on these items were approved. The board also heard open enrollment requests from families. The Pyle family is moving to Bassett but they are working here in Ainsworth and they want their kids to attend school here. A motion was approved for them to opt-in to the school district. There was another Option Enrollment request from the Keller family. They have moved to the Long Pine area but, the kids have been attending Rock County Schools. They would like to opt out of the district so the kids can continue to attend school in Rock County. A motion was approved on the open enrollment request.
A first reading as held on the procurement and purchasing policy for school food authorities.  Peterson said, “They upped the limits this year for the amount of purchasing that can be done. It didn’t affect us when it was at $150,000 so it won’t affect us when it’s at $250,000 now. The burden will mostly fall on Lunchtime Solutions to follow these guidelines.” A motion was approved on the first reading of policy 3302.2.

The board also published a listing of the 2018 staffing certifications and positions. There is not much change from last year. The only significant change is that Roberta Denny is now the middle school volleyball coach.

Brad Wilkins was nominated as the Region #15 Candidate for the NASB Board of Directors in a motion that was approved by the board.

When the board allowed community input on any topics, the superintendent for the construction of the ag and industrial technology building addition spoke on the progress of the project. Footings have been put in the ground and over the next week the construction crew plans to begin laying plumbing and electrical work. They have also begun work on the wall forms, and they hope to have the first half done by Thursday. They want to have the first layer done by this weekend, and to have the second layer done by Aug. 22. It will be completed by Aug. 24 so the project can stay on schedule. The project is on schedule even though the crew started behind schedule, and as long as the weather cooperates the project will stay on track.

The board has set a special meeting for 7:30 p.m. Aug. 29 to approve final expenditures for the 2018-19 school year. A public hearing has been set for 8 p.m. Sept. 10 for the 2018-19 budget of expenditures and the 2018-19 tax request. The meeting will be before the regular school board meeting.

* Ainsworth/Brown County Care Center Inter Local Board meeting minutes

(Posted 9:35 a.m. Aug. 14)

by Dan Kamppinen

The Ainsworth/Brown County Care Center Inter Local Board met on Monday for their regular meeting. Stephanie Rucker gave the update on employees and residents. The count included 21 residents, two admissions, no discharges. Twelve residents are private pay, eight are Medicaid and one is Medicaid A. There are some job openings, including a maintenance position. The maintenance worker ad in the paper will be revised to include a wage. There are CNA openings because of college kids going back to school, and there is an LPN position open as well. There is an international nurse joining the staff. She would be joining the staff by the end of the year because she is still trying to procure a visa.  

The Board heard claims for the care center and discussed the transfer of funds. Care Center Representative Stephanie Rucker requested board approval of a transfer of $2,000 of funding to cover resident’s insurance policies. Rucker said this was because “sometimes it’s iffy when the funds come in from insurance, and there would be no additional funding needed.”

The money isn’t necessarily needed; it would just be a measure in case an insurance payment comes in late. The motion was approved for the $2,000 to get transferred to the Sandhills Care Center operating account.

Next, the board had a discussion on the Medicaid payment and the payment of attorney fees. Board member Phil Fuchs brought up that RHD who is helping prepare the Medicaid report said “We filed a revised cost report last week, and that revised cost report included hours from residents that were in transition from private pay to Medicaid, which would bump the center above 40% which would allow the center to receive the $70,000 in funds.”

They are still unsure if the funds would be approved which is why they sent in the revised Medicaid report. They are still waiting for an answer. RHD did contact an attorney to give them an opinion on whether or not those hours were something they could collect on. The total cost of the attorney is $3,740. RHD said they would split with the board. They had spoken about it last month but decided to put it on hold until they knew exactly what it was and what it was for. Buddy Small voiced his opinion saying, “I can say it here again in front of everyone else, that I am opposed to paying any of it. The responsibility is on RHD. We pay RHD and I believe that included in that payment should be guidance and advice and we shouldn’t have wound up in this situation.” Small goes on to mention the fact that RHD in their initial opinion had never seen a care center in this predicament before.  RHD is still trying to make it to the 40% funding cut off and never mentioned finding an attorney. The board has already procured a loan of $70,000 based off the money they thought they were going to receive through Medicare. No decision could be reached so; the issue was tabled until next meeting. The payment of the line of credit from First National bank was discussed on Monday as well. The board is at roughly $57,500 with interest right now with $72,000 in their account for operating costs, minus $2,000 for the month’s bills. There are September bills to be paid and a payment of $80,000 from the city should be transferred in October. The board approved a motion to pay the line of credit. If need be they can borrow money again on the $80.000 that is coming in October.

 Repairs to the care center were discussed and began with the repair of the gutters on the north end of the facility. That would cost $1,962, and it was the belief that the board could wait because it’s not an immediate priority. Stephanie Rucker brought up the need for 5 new air conditioners. They have 11 that are new right now. Rucker said, “The new units cost $637 per unit. They are needed because the current units are slowly dying so soon there will be no units left to replace the old ones with so that no one is uncomfortable.” Other necessary repairs include the central air conditioning unit that is blowing into the ceiling because it isn’t attached in the right places. The dryer vents are also blowing into the ceiling. The A/C units and dryer vents will be repaired and the dryer vents will be detached once winter comes around again to save on heating costs. There is also a leak in the roof, from an air conditioner that goes to the kitchen. It has already been repaired, but the board and staff will have to see if the repair holds when it rains. A motion was approved to purchase the 5 air conditioning units needed for the Care Center. There was a motion to adjourn to executive session to end the meeting.

 The next meeting of the Ainsworth/Brown County Care Center Inter Local Board will be September 10.

* Sheriff's department to participate in 'You Drink and Drive, You Lose' campaign

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

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department will work overtime to keep roadways safe from impaired drivers by again participating in the national “You Drink and Drive, You Lose” campaign Aug. 17 through Sept. 3.

The sheriff’s department received funding from the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety to overtime hours and mileage to participate in the national enforcement effort. Deputies will be out looking for impaired drivers and will enforce all traffic laws.

On average, there is one alcohol impaired driving fatality every 51 minutes across America. Impaired driving is responsible for almost 10,000 deaths each year. The tragic loss of life can be reduced by removing impaired drivers from the roadway.

Anyone who sees a suspected impaired driver is asked to contact local law enforcement immediately. If you see someone who is about to drive after drinking, be a friend, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get where they are going safely. Anyone who plans to drink should always designate a sober driver first.

Research has shown that high-visibility enforcement, like the “You Drink and Drive, You Lose” campaign, reduces alcohol-impaired driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent. By joining the nationwide enforcement, the sheriff’s department will help make Brown County’s roads safer during the Labor Day holiday period.

Violators face jail time, the loss of their driver’s license, steep financial consequences like higher insurance rates, attorney fees, court costs, lost time at work, and the potential loss of a job.

Brown County Sheriff Bruce Papstein said impaired driving is simply not worth the risk, so don’t take the chance. Drive sober or get pulled over.

GRAND PRIZE WINNER - Joni Tiller of Springview was drawn as the grand prize winner
of $1,400 cash Friday during KBRB's 50th anniversary celebration. Tiller (left) was
presented the grand prize by KBRB owner Graig Kinzie.

* Tiller wins $1,400 grand prize Friday during KBRB 50th anniversary celebration

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

Joni Tiller of Springview had her name drawn by Ainsworth Mayor and former KBRB station owner Larry Rice Friday to win the grand prize of $1,400 in the KBRB 50th Anniversary Tour cash giveaway.

Tiller waited as eight $106 winners were drawn, followed by the runner-up prize of $927, which went to Jennifer Erthum of Ainsworth.

With seven contestants remaining, Rice drew Tiller’s name for the $1,400 grand prize. Tiller, who was in attendance, said she planned to share the prize with her mother.

Tiller was drawn as a finalist from 50th anniversary tour sponsor Ainsworth Motors. Erthum, who received the $927 runner-up prize, had her name drawn from the First National Bank tour stop.

Eight $106 prize winners were drawn. They included Cindy McNally of Ainsworth (H&R Food Center), Jacey Gallegos of Ainsworth (J’s Keggers), Tammy Painter of Ainsworth (Red & White Market), Brent Johnson of Johnstown (Farmers-Ranchers Cooperative Ampride), Tiff Naprstak of Johnstown (Farmers-Ranchers Coop Mr. Tire), Darlene Gantt of Stuart (Central Bar), Layne Waller of Ewing (Turp’s Automotive), and Trisha Killion of Ainsworth (The Whistle Stop).

There were six finalists who were not drawn. Three of those finalists were in attendance Friday, and received a consolation prize of $50 gift certificates to the Ainsworth Elks Club. Those finalists included Robert Magill of Ainsworth (Buckles Automotive), Judy Walton of Ainsworth (Farmers-Ranchers Coop Propane & Appliance Center), and Ginger Brockman of Ainsworth (Husker Meats).

The other finalists Friday were Mary Vanderbeek of Wakefield (Cast Iron Bar & Grill), Ronda Davis of Ainsworth (First Class Auto) and Mike Cummings of Texas (L-Bow Room).

KBRB also drew from among the 50th anniversary tour sponsors for $250 in advertising. First Class Auto was drawn as the winning business for the advertising package.

More than 100 people attended the 50th anniversary celebration. KBRB owner Graig Kinzie thanked those who have faithfully listened to KBRB during its 50 years of service, and thanked all the businesses who advertise with the station to allow it to continue to serve the area. Former owner Rice reminisced about the early days of KBRB, and numerous audience members came to the microphone to share their favorite memories of KBRB.

The Ainsworth Does Drove served hors d’oeuvres Friday, and those in attendance could look through the entire roster of KBRB employees during its 50 years of operation.

KBRB thanks everyone who attended Friday’s 50th anniversary celebration, and all of the station’s fantastic listeners and advertisers.

* Road work begins on Highway 137 north of Newport

(Posted 11:30 a.m. Aug. 10)

Work has begun on Highway 137, approximately 13 miles north of Newport to the Keya Paha River, from milepost 13 to 22, according to the Department of Transportation.
Werner Construction of Hastings has the $2.9 million contract. Work includes milling, asphalt paving, drainage structures and grading. Traffic will be maintained with a pilot car and flaggers.
The project is anticipated to be completed in late November.
The department’s manager for the project is Carl Hart of Ainsworth. Motorists are asked to drive cautiously near construction zones and to expect delays.

* Eleven defendants plead not guilty Thursday to federal charges from ICE action

(Posted 10 a.m. Aug. 10)

Prosecutors released a 14-page grand jury indictment relating to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation carried out in north central Nebraska Wednesday, charging 17 individuals and three companies with conspiracy, and seven individuals and three companies with money laundering.

Prosecutors allege Juan Pablo Sanchez Delgado, an illegal alien; Magdelena Castro Benitez, an illegal alien; and Antonio De Jesus Castro, a citizen, established and operated the companies JP and Sons LLC and J Green Valley LLC, for the purpose of providing unlawful employment to illegal aliens in Nebraska, Minnesota and Nevada.

JP and Sons and J Green Valley allegedly then entered into contracts with Elkhorn River Farms, O’Neill Ventures and GJW to supply those companies with workers.

Prosecutors allege Delgado and Castro failed to verify the identities of the workers supplied to Elkhorn River Farms, O’Neill Ventures and GJW and did not complete the paperwork required to hire the workers before placing them with jobs at those companies.

Delgado and Castro allegedly used different names and Social Security numbers for the workers in order to conceal the workers’ identities and immigration status.

Prosecutors charged individual supervisors Eric Beringer and Christopher Thurlow of Elkhorn River Farms, Asiyadeth Jimenez-Castellon and Mayra P. Jimenez of O’Neill Ventures, and John Glidden with GJW with reckless disregard that one or more employees supplied by Delgado were not legally allowed to work in the United States.

Alma Hernandez Moreno, an illegal alien; Anayancy Castro Hernandez, a deferred action recipient; and Aracely Heredia Martinez, an illegal alien; were charged with assisting the conspiracy by converting paychecks of employees of JP and Sons into currency and then transferring the proceeds of unlawful employment by wire transfer to countries in Central and South America. Prosecutors allege more than $8 million in financial transactions were conducted through the JP and Sons accounts at Great Western Bank that were controlled by Delgado.

John Christopher Good was charged as part of the conspiracy for allegedly allowing Delgado and Castro to conceal commercial assets and businesses in his name, including La Herradura Restaurant. Good was also alleged to have provided a residence to Delgado.

Delgado, Castro, Benitez, Moreno, Hernandez, Good and Martinez were also charged with money laundering in addition to JP and Sons LLC, J Green Valley LLC and Castro Properties LLC.

On the money laundering charges, prosecutors allege Delgado required his illegal alien employees of JP & Sons and J Green Valley to convert their paychecks at his grocery store and money servicing business El Mercadito in O’Neill.

Delgado is charged with withholding money from his employees’ paychecks by falsely representing to the employees that he was withholding federal taxes that would be submitted to the government but instead Delgado retained those withholdings as illegal proceeds.

Delgado, Castro and Benitez were charged with depositing approximately $5.64 million of illegal proceeds into bank accounts generated from the conspiracy.

Hernandez, Moreno and Martinez were included in the money laundering charge for allegedly converting the illegal aliens’ paychecks into cash.

Delgado and Benitez, through Castro Properties LLC, are charged with concealing the ownership of commercial property and real estate assets in the names of others, including Good and Castro.

Eleven of the defendants charged pleaded not guilty Thursday in federal court. Good was among five of the defendants released from custody Thursday.

The next hearing in federal court is scheduled for Oct. 10.

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 3:15 p.m. Aug. 9)

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

Gage A. Davis II, age 26, of Lincoln Park, Mich., charged with attempting a Class 4 felony, fined $1,000.

Casey B. Gallegos, 47, of Ainsworth, disturbing the peace, $100 and sentenced to one day in jail with credit for one day served.

Anthony M. Garcia, 34, of Fargo, N.D., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Cody Schnebel, 27, of Hoskins, two counts of disturbing the peace, fined $500 on each count.

Luis F. Perez III, 28, of Long Pine, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Jennifer L. Cecava, 35, of Bennington, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Aaron P. Hinkle, 41, of Spalding, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Calvin E. Waln, 63, of Mission, S.D., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Ryan H. Wearne, 17, of Gilbert, Ariz., speeding 21-35 mph over the limit, $200.

Trenton K. Briese, 36, of Arvada, Colo., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Dustin M. Metzler, 28, of Goshen, Ind., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

John M. Lucke, 22, of Minnetonka, Minn., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Michael G. Ahrens, 42, of Lincoln, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Sandro Jimenez, 43, of Carson, Calif., no operator’s license, $75; speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Michael E. Hanley, 63, of Denver, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Jordan M. Shaw, 24, of Omaha, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Dale W. Robert, 52, of Fergus, Minn., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Oscar S. Vega, 40, of Fargo, N.D., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $75.

Logan M. Meisinger, 24, of Lincoln, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Joseph D. Mackner, 34, of Fargo, N.D., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Delwyn D. Hager, 69, of Grand Forks, N.D., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

James F. Cassedy, 84, of Ainsworth, failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, $25.

Jesse R. Pellegrim, 26, of Glendale, Ariz., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Saul A. Fernandez, 43, of Ainsworth, no operator’s license, $75.

David Brenner, 58, of Abilene, Texas, possession of an open alcohol container in a vehicle, $50.

Riggin C. Temple, 20, of Ainsworth, possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100; speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Amanda M. Pike, 19, of Long Pine, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Elise M. Montoya, 36, of Durango, Colo., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Alec J. Beaird, 22, of Sioux Falls, S.D., attempting a Class 4 felony, sentenced to 15 days in jail with credit for 15 days served; possession of marijuana more than 1 ounce but less than 1 pound, sentenced to 15 days in jail.

Palmer L. Bagwell, 51, of Vista, Calif., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

* ICE serves search warrants on several north central Nebraska businesses

(Posted 7 a.m. Aug. 9)

Agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit served search warrants on businesses in six north central Nebraska communities Wednesday, including two in the Ainsworth area and one in the Atkinson area, as part of a multi-state operation.

Arrest warrants were executed Wednesday for 17 individuals connected to what investigators allege was a criminal conspiracy to exploit illegal alien laborers for profit.

ICE Homeland Security Investigations officers began executing the warrants Wednesday morning at O’Neill Ventures, the tomato greenhouse on the north side of the city. La Herradura Restaurant, El Mercadito grocery, Elkhorn River Farms and a private ranch near O’Neill were also investigated.

Christensen Farms near Atkinson as well as company locations near Appleton, Minn., and Sleepy Eye, Minn., were investigated.

Wednesday afternoon, the investigators moved to Ainsworth, serving search warrants at GJW LLC and J.E. Meuret Grain Co.

GJW representative Lucinda Noronha said the company cooperated fully with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to ensure the company’s compliance with all applicable federal immigration laws.

“We were able to resume operations at the end of their visit,” Noronha said. “Our company is committed to taking all required steps to maintain compliance with all federal immigration laws while supporting the interests of our employees.”

Other locations searched Wednesday were located in the Stromsburg, Bartlett and Royal areas.

In addition to the 17 criminal arrest warrants executed Wednesday, a total of 133 individuals were arrested on potential immigration violations.

Following a 15-month investigation, the arrest warrants for the 17 individuals located in multiple states allege those individuals colluded to create an illegal alien workforce, defrauding the U.S. government and creating an unfair advantage over their competition.

Authorities allege illegal aliens knowingly hired as part of the alleged conspiracy were exploited through force, coercion or threat of arrest and deportation. Specifically, officials allege the illegal aliens were, in some cases, required to cash their paychecks at an illegal remittance business for a fee, have tax money deducted from their pay even though the money was never paid to the government, and were coerced to remain quiet about that criminal activity.

Special Agent in Charge Tracy Cormier said, “The job magnet in the United States is primarily what draws illegal aliens across our borders. This HSI-led criminal investigation has shown that these targeted businesses were knowingly hiring illegal workers to unlawfully line their own pockets by cheating the workers, cheating the taxpayers, and cheating their business competitors.”

The investigation Wednesday was coordinated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nebraska, the Holt County Sheriff’s Department, O’Neill Police Department and the Nebraska State Patrol.

A majority of the illegal workers detained were reportedly located in the O’Neill area. Of the 133 arrested on immigration violation charges, some will be issued notices to appear before a federal immigration judge and released from custody, while others will remain in ICE custody pending immigration court proceedings.

* Council approves USDA application for $2.11 million in sewer system improvements

(Posted 7:45 p.m. Aug. 8)

The Ainsworth City Council Wednesday approved submitting an application to USDA Rural Development for more than $2 million in sewer system upgrades.

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said the $2.11 million project for sewer line improvements and residential water meters would include a $1.27 million loan over 40 years at 2.37 percent from the USDA. The remaining funds would come from a $453,000 USDA grant as well as the potential for $385,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding.

The two potential grants would represent just shy of 40 percent of the total project cost.

Following a public hearing, in which no one spoke in opposition to the project, the council, with President Chuck Osborn absent, approved the USDA application.

In a second public hearing item, the council approved a liquor license application for ED Ventures doing business as Canyon Creek Bar & Grill. No opposition was received from the public.

In other business Wednesday, the council approved two funding recommendations from the Ainsworth Betterment Committee.

The council approved $6,500 in ABC funding to Ainsworth Fire and Rescue for a portion of the cost of purchasing 20 sets of bunker gear for firefighters.

Fire Chief Brad Fiala said the department has fallen behind with replacing its bunker gear.

“A lot of our gear is older than the 10-year National Fire Protection Association Standard,” Fiala said. “It is not Nebraska law to follow that standard, but insurance companies do use that standard.”

Fiala said more than 75 percent of the department’s bunker gear is older than 10 years. Each set of bunker gear costs $2,531, for a total project cost of $50,620 for 20 new sets. Fiala said several groups have pledged to help fund the purchase, with Ainsworth Fire and Rescue approving $13,825. He said he planned to meet with the Brown County Rural Fire Board Wednesday to get a commitment of $12,000. A total of $8,000 would come from the city of Ainsworth’s fire department budget, with the Nebraska Forest Service providing a grant of $3,825. Fiala said he also planned to meet with the Brown County Foundation for a potential commitment of $6,500.

“In the future, we would like to budget to replace three sets of gear each year so we don’t have to get 20 sets and pay $50,000 in one year,” the fire chief said. “Then, we can keep a rotation and not get hit all at once.”

The council also approved a recommendation from ABC to place an additional $30,000 into an interest-bearing account for the eventual replacement of the swimming pool.

Schroedl said there is currently a little more than $350,000 in the city’s swimming pool account that has been approved from ABC funding, with this $30,000 adding to that total.

Councilwoman Deb Hurless said the North Central Development Center also has established a swimming pool fund, and has raised more than $40,000 in private donations.

The council approved both ABC funding recommendations.

Jerry Ehlers updated the council on the Ainsworth/Brown County strategic plan for community betterment.

Ehlers said several community betterment projects have been completed and several others are in the works from the original strategic plan that was developed in 2007 and updated in 2016.

Recent projects undertaken include reopening the Sandhills Care Center, which has been accomplished, and rebuilding the theater, which is ongoing.

Addressing housing needs has been another active committee, as has been a focus on continuing education through a partnership with Northeast Community College and Ainsworth Community Schools.

Ehlers said the LB 840 one-half cent sales tax would need to be reapproved by a vote of the community prior to its expiration in 2023. The original vote by the community in 2008 led to the collection of the one-half cent city sales tax for economic development for a 15-year period.

He said a leadership team has been established for additional projects. That team is comprised of himself, Jim Arens, Haley Miles, Rhe Ann McBride, Kristin Olson and Colleen Lentz.

Mayor Larry Rice said, “We really can’t afford to not pass LB 840 again. It is a great way to raise funds to help the entire committee.”

Ehlers said the leadership team would likely begin preparations to educate the community on the successes of the LB 840 program with a goal of having an election to renew it in 2021.

Sandhills Care Center Board Chairman Phil Fuchs presented the council with the 2018-19 budget for the facility. Fuchs said the board put together a conservative budget for 2018-19, estimating 20 residents in the facility for a yearly operating loss of $43,000 after factoring in $80,000 contributions from both the city and Brown County, the two partnering entities on the care center.

“We presently have 21 residents, with a 22nd resident expected at the end of this week,” Fuchs told the council. “If we average one additional resident per month than what we have in the budget, we would likely not have a shortfall. We have good rapport with the community. They see we are here to stay.”

In an additional action item Wednesday, the council approved a two-year renewal with liability and workman’s compensation insurance carrier LARM. The city received a 4 percent discount on its premium by agreeing to the two-year renewal a year after receiving a 5 percent premium discount for renewing for three years.

Schroedl said the city’s workman’s compensation insurance premium increased, which led to a total renewal cost of $81,965 after factoring in the discount. She said the previous year’s premium was around $76,000. She said the city also received a 2 percent premium discount because LARM was no longer collecting a 2 percent fee to pay to the League of Nebraska Municipalities.

The council tabled two items, one relating to an agreement between the city and the Local Union 1597 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the other to select a new employee health insurance group policy.

Rice said he, Schroedl and Osborn reached a tentative agreement with the union’s representative that would increase union employee wages by 3 percent for the first year of a three-year contract, followed by annual increases of 2 percent in the two subsequent years and the potential for a merit-based increase of an additional 1 percent.

Both Hurless and Councilman Greg Soles asked that the agreement be tabled until a final draft is received and all council members had a chance to review the agreement.

The health insurance group plan was tabled to allow the council time to review all of the proposals received.

Schroedl said Aetna bought out Coventry, the city’s current health insurance group plan provider. She said Aetna would no longer offer that plan to the city.

Several companies presented proposals, with Schroedl indicating that the union requested a plan from United Health Care that would be the most reasonable cost option for the city of all the plans presented.

The United Health Care plan would include a $6,500 individual deductible, with the city self-insuring the deductible down to $1,500 for each employee and $3,500 for each family plan. She said the United Health Care premium would be a 5.5 percent increase from the current plan, which was reasonable considering the Coventry plan averaged an annual premium increase of 12 percent.

The council will hold a special meeting in August to address both the union contract and the health insurance plan.

The council also set a budget workshop for Aug. 27, with two council members reviewing the budget in the morning and two in the afternoon so as not to have a quorum.

In a final action item, the council approved the mayor’s recommendation to reappoint Alane Lentz to a five-year term on the Ainsworth Housing Authority, which oversees Park Homes.

The next regular meeting of the Ainsworth City Council is scheduled for 5 p.m. Sept. 12.

* Jochem announces retirement as Brown County Zoning Administrator

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

By Dan Kamppinen

Longtime Brown County Zoning Administrator Dean Jochem announced his retirement during Tuesday’s meeting of the Brown County Commissioners.

The commissioners thanked Jochem for his work over the years. Jochem suggested Tom Jones be appointed as the next zoning administrator.

The commissioners approved advertising for the zoning administrator position.

In other business Tuesday, longtime roads department employee Dewey Jefferis notified the board of his retirement, effective Aug. 2. The commissioners thanked Jefferis for his work and wished him the best in his retirement.

Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin reported Cody Chase has been hired to replace Jefferis on the roads crew.

The commissioners received notice from the Nebraska Department of Roads that all state highways in the county currently listed at either 55 mph or 60 mph would be increased to 65 mph, and Highway 20 would increase from 65 mph to 70 mph.

Turpin reported the roads department has been blading and graveling roads all over the county as weather permits. The department installed new 15 miles per hour speed limit signs in the Hidden Paradise area.

The Camp Witness bridge was again discussed. Though not certain, the board has come to the conclusion that the bridge was likely a county bridge.

County Attorney Tom Herzog said counties can vacate a bridge if it is no longer in use and does not hinder anyone’s travel abilities.

Herzog said he would look into the matter further and will provide additional information during the next board meeting.

The roads department also repaired a culvert on Road 879.

The commissioners approved an agreement with Pete Peterson to help prepare the county’s 2018-19 budget. Peterson has been preparing the county budget for the past 10 years. The board agreed to pay Peterson $3,000 for his assistance in preparing the budget.

The commissioners tabled several agenda items, including setting property tax levies for the Brown County Rural Fire Protection District and the Brown County Agricultural Society.

The board also tabled any action on a revised interlocal agreement with Rock and Keya Paha counties relating to the BKR Extension office.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Aug. 21.

* Sybrant wins Dennis Roggasch Memorial Horseshoe Tournament

(Posted 1:15 p.m. Aug. 6)

On Saturday, 14 pitchers took part in the Dennis Roggasch Memorial Horseshoe Tournament at the Rock County Fair. Jim Sybrant of Bassett was the top pitcher and earned the Dennis Roggasch Memorial Traveling Trophy.
Tim Roggasch of Rose finished second, with Malinda Hodge of Rose taking third. Fourth went to John Strong of Chambers, followed by Jeremy Roggasch of Long Pine in fifth.

* Ainsworth Special Olympics team members compete in Fall Games

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

Ainsworth Special Olympics team members traveled to Lincoln for the 2018 Fall Games. 
The team participated in bocce at Speedway Village on Saturday.
The team of Austan Walton and Kurt Johnson received gold medals. Kaylie Ulibarri and Ty Boli received fourth-place in their division.
They attended the banquet and dance at Lincoln North Star High School on Saturday night. Emcee was Kevin Sjuts and Special speaker was Connie Yori, former head coach of the Nebraska Cornhusker women’s basketball team.

* The 16 finalist for the KBRB 50th anniversary cash giveaway drawn Friday

(Posted 1:30 p.m. Aug. 3)

Congratulations to the 16 finalists drawn Friday for the KBRB 50th Anniversary Tour cash drawing.

During Friday’s Classifieds program, Ainsworth Mayor and former KBRB station owner Larry Rice drew the names of 16 finalists, one from each stop on the 50th Anniversary Tour.

Finalists will be in the running Friday, Aug. 10, for more than $3,000 in cash prizes that will be awarded during KBRB’s 50th anniversary celebration at 6 p.m. in the Ainsworth Elks Lodge.

KBRB will draw the names of 10 winners, with eight receiving $106 cash, one receiving $927 cash and the grand prize winner receiving $1,400 cash.

Everyone is invited to KBRB’s 50th anniversary celebration at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10, in the Elks Lodge.

The following are the cash drawing finalists and the businesses where they made their winning entry.

Buckles Automotive – Robert Magill

Ainsworth Motors – Joni Tiller

H&R Food Center – Cindy McNally

J’s Keggers – Jacey Gallegos

Red & White Market – Tammy Painter

Farmers-Ranchers Coop Propane and Appliance Center – Judy Walton

Farmers-Ranchers Coop Ampride – Brent Johnson

Farmers-Ranchers Coop Mr. Tire – Tiff Naprstak

The L-Bow Room – Mike Cummings

The Central Bar – Darlene Gantt

Husker Meats – Ginger Brockman

Turp’s Automotive – Layne Waller

The Whistle Stop – Trisha Killion

First Class Auto – Ronda Davis

First National Bank – Jennifer Erthum

Cast Iron Bar & Grill – Mary Vanderbeek

* Long Pine Council approves increase to water turn on, turn off fees

(Posted 7 a.m. Aug. 3)

By Dan Kamppinen

The Long Pine City Council addressed water and sewer issues during its meeting Thursday.

The council looked at turn on and turn off fees for water. Originally there was a $25 turn on fee and there was no turn off fee. The City Council looked at three different plans. The first was a $100 turn on and off fee, the second was a $50 turn on and off fee, and the last one was a $25 turn on fee and a $30 turn off fee.

The council passed a motion to charge a $50 turn on fee and a $30 turn off fee.

Another issue had to do with clarifying the minimum water and sewer rates by ordinance. The ordinances state that all consumers who are connected to both city water and sewer, whether using it or not, must pay a flat fee. Sewer rates for residents are $18 per month with a charge of $1.25 per 1,000 gallons. The non-resident rate is $36 per month with a charge $1.25 per 1,000 gallons. The raising of these rates won’t affect current homeowners and the money will go toward revitalizing infrastructure. Anyone who has a structure on their property that has water or sewer running to it but is not using it as a primary home can write a letter to the city to apply of an exception.

The next item up for approval was the removal of bats and flooring for the Palace. The City Council got a bid for $4,715 from Nelson Flooring of Valentine to replace the flooring of the bleachers, bathroom thresholds, and the front entryway. The City Council was unsure of the timeline for the project but they were looking for the Long Pine Foundation to split the cost.

The project wouldn’t be completed until the bats were removed from the Palace.

On the topic of bat removal, it will be a multi step process. Summer is the right time to get rid of the bats. The Long Pine Foundation priced out ultrasonic bat removal sensors and found they would cost around $45 per unit and cover 2,500 square feet. To cover the Palace, the city need eight units at a total cost of around $500. The council approved paying for the bat removal and to split the cost of the new flooring with the Long Pine Foundation.

The council approved liquor license renewals for the Sandhills Lounge and American Legion.

The council discussed a building permit for Lynn Gum to construct a fence. The fence would be 5 feet high, near the sidewalk and continue 25 feet along the property line to the alley. The item was tabled until next meeting to allow Mayor Ed Brown to further discuss the height of the fence with Gum.

Brown presented a Health Board report. The weeds on the north side of the Palace were sprayed and the owner of the old grain bins on the Cowboy Trail was contacted. She is close to a deal to sell the bins. Once the bins are sold, the new owner will be contacted with the city’s concerns.

During his report, Brown said the city dump truck’s clutch failed before a recent grave opening so Dave Seadore donated his dump truck to the city for two grave openings.

The city found a replacement truck at a cost of $5,500. The new dump truck arrived this week. Also last week, Second Street and Main Street from the Cowboy Trail to the top of the hill were graveled and the city plans to add more money into the budget next year for gravel.

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 12:30 p.m. Aug. 2)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a one-vehicle accident that occurred Wednesday, Aug. 1, southwest of Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 9:44 a.m. Wednesday, a 2012 Chevy Cruze, driven by Derik Everett, 28, of Worthington, Minn., was traveling south on 429th Avenue southwest of Ainsworth when the vehicle went through the T intersection with Road 876 and struck a tree in the south ditch.
No injuries were reported. Damage to the Chevy was estimated at more than $1,000.

* Smith discusses tariffs, trade, deficits and workforce during KBRB stop Thursday

(Posted 9 a.m. Aug. 2)

3rd District Republican Rep. Adrian Smith discussed several issues at the federal level Thursday with KBRB's Graig Kinzie.
Smith addressed the tariffs placed on U.S. agricultural exports and the damage that is inflicting on Nebraska producers. He also addressed workforce issues and the escalating U.S. budget deficit.
Click on the audio links below to listen to the conversation.

audio clips/3rd District Rep Adrian Smith 8-2-18 - Trade & Agriculture.MP3

audio clips/3rd District Rep Adrian Smith 8-2-18 - workforce & deficits.MP3

* July much wetter than average, temperatures normal

(Posted noon Aug. 1)

Ainsworth Weather Observer Gerry Osborn recorded 5.76 inches of moisture in July, more than an inch above normal. The year-to-date total jumped to 21.12 inches, which is more than 6 inches above the average.
To hear the report, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Gerry Osborn August 2018 weather summary.mp3

* Smith scheduled to appear at Valentine Wednesday

(Posted 7 a.m. Aug. 1)

Third District Rep. Adrian Smith will appear in Valentine at 10 a.m. Wednesday to visit with constituents. Smith and his staff will host a mobile office in the Cherry County Courthouse beginning at 10 a.m.
Smith is also scheduled to hold a mobile office on Tuesday, Aug. 7, in the Thedford Life Center.
The public is welcome to attend both mobile offices.

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 3 p.m. July 28)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a two-vehicle accident that occurred Tuesday, July 24, in Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 4:29 p.m. Tuesday at the Pump & Pantry parking lot, a 1999 Chevy pickup, driven by Andrew Wiebesiek, 19, of Ainsworth, was backing from a parking space and struck a parked 2016 Chevy Equinox, owned by Jonathan Alderson of Ainsworth.
No injuries were reported. Damage to the Equinox was estimated at more than $1,000. The Chevy pickup did not sustain any damage.

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 1:36 p.m. July 27)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a single-vehicle accident that occurred Sunday, July 22, in Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 11:51 p.m. Sunday on 880 Road, a 2007 Chevrolet 1500, driven by Braden Ludemann, 17, of Ainsworth, was traveling west when the vehicle struck a cow.
No injuries were reported. Damage to the Chevrolet was estimated at more than $1,000.

* Chadron State Finalizes 2018-19 Men's Basketball Roster

(Posted 10:54 a.m. July 24)

Chadron State College Head Men's Basketball Coach Houston Reed announced the final additions to his team's roster for 2018-19 this week.

Brady Delimont, of Ainsworth, Nebraska, is the final scholarship player to join the team. After redshirting in 2016-17, and sitting out from injury last season at the University of South Dakota, Delimont comes to CSC with three years remaining. As a high schooler for his hometown alma mater, he set a state record for career three-pointers made, hitting 320 of 884 shots for an accuracy of 36.2 percent. Delimont was named Class C-2 All-State First Team as a senior, when he averaged 27.3 points and nearly eight assists per game. Delimont also earned Second Team All-State in 2015, and honorable mention in 2014. He was an all-conference player all four years.

Reed also added three walk-ons to his roster, all from the panhandle. They are Devin Buderus of Scottsbluff, Austin Hoffman of Gering, and Jared Nelson of Gordon-Rushville High. Buderus and Nelson were named honorable mention All-State last year. Hoffman was a two-time honorable mention before playing one season at Western Nebraska Community College. 

* Armor coat and painting on Highway 183 from Springview south to begin Monday

(Posted 3:15 p.m. July 19)

Weather permitting, work will begin Monday on Highway 183 near Springview going south to the junction of Highway 20 between mileposts 194 and 218, according to the Nebraska Department of Transportation.
Sta-Bilt Construction Company of Harlan, Iowa, has the $672,019 contract.  Work includes resurfacing and paint striping. Traffic will be maintained with lane closures and one-lane work zones. The anticipated completion date is August.
The NDOT project manager is Darrell Lurz of Valentine.  Motorists can expect delays and are advised to use caution while driving through construction zones.

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 12:30 a.m. July 19)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a two-vehicle accident that occurred Wednesday, July 18, in Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 3:40 p.m. Wednesday on Highway 20 at the Ash Street intersection, a collision occurred between an eastbound 2016 Ford Focus, driven by Claire Steinhauser, 18, of Ainsworth, and an eastbound 1996 Chevy pickup, driven by Dustin Howell, 31, of Ainsworth.
No injuries were reported. Damage to the Ford was estimated at $1,000. The Chevy sustained approximately $500 damage.

* Road work on Highway 183 north of Springview to begin Monday

(Posted 9 a.m. July 19)

Weather permitting, work will begin Monday on Highway 183 north of Springview to the South Dakota state line, from milepost 218 to milepost 225, according to the Nebraska Department of Transportation.
Werner Construction of Hastings has the $2.62 million contract. Work includes milling, asphalt paving, bridge and guardrail repair, culverts, rumble strips and grading.  Traffic will be maintained with lane closures and one-lane work zones at the Holt Creek Bridge from July 30 to Aug. 31.  The anticipated completion date is early November.
The NDOT project manager is Michael Rudnick of Ainsworth. Motorists can expect delays and are advised to use caution while driving through construction zones.

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 2:15 p.m. July 18)

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

Juan Carlos Torres Soto, age 29, of Huron, S.D., charged with possession of a controlled substance, fined $1,000; also charged with intent to distribute a controlled substance, $1,000; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100; driving on the shoulder of a highway, $25.

Jack A. Larsen, 27, of Omaha, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Faith S. Wilde, 47, of Huron, S.D., two counts of attempting a Class 4 felony, fined $1,000 for each count; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Kenneth D. Voss, 71, of Long Pine, no registration in vehicle, $25; no proof of insurance, $50; driving left of center, $25.

Eswin F. Noj-Ollej, 33, of Tucson, Ariz., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Joshua D. Morey, 31, of St. Louis Park, Minn., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

William W. Wolfe, 62, of Ainsworth, commercial vehicle brake violation, $50.

Cody L. Campbell, 27, of Evans, Colo., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Jorge A. Reyes-Martinez, 28, of Albuquerque, N.M., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Gene F. Denman, 66, of Williamsburg, Mich., possession or discharge of illegal fireworks, $50.

Steven L. Ulland, 56, of Moorhead, Minn., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Kayleen M. Wear, 24, of Omaha, possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Sarah R. Tolle, 24, of Omaha, possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100; defective vehicle light, $25.

Kolton C. Salonen, 18, of Gregory, S.D., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Aaron L. Hacecky, 20, of Mitchell, S.D., possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100; defective vehicle light, $25.

Madison R. White, 25, of Ainsworth, no operator’s license, $75.

Lanny D. Billings, 80, of Long Pine, first offense reckless driving, $500, also sentenced to six months of probation, driver’s license revoked for 60 days, and ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

Timothy R. Chapman, 32, of Colorado Springs, Colo., possession marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Josiah J. Lamont Hill, 28, of Glenrock, Pa., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Kassidy R. Inghram, 19, of Sturgis, S.D., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Manuel A. Campos, 34, of Richmond Hill, Ga., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Russell L. Strand, 63, of Ainsworth, careless driving, $100.

Jacob R. Owens, 36, of O’Neill, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Faustino Boria Jr., 52, of Riverside, Calif., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Jody M. Allen, 18, of Ainsworth, careless driving, $100.

Christine L. Hallock, 62, of Springview, theft by unlawful taking less than $500, sentenced to six months of probation.

Daniel R. Cheeseman, 40, of Mitchell, S.D., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Winona Tahdooahnippah, 41, of Wahpeton, N.D., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Jorge Mora Jr., 21, of Omaha, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

John T. Michael, 61, of Mebane, N.C., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Luis M. Cordoba Ortiz, 30, of Grand Island, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Todd C. Stevens, 57, of Merrifield, Minn., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Madison R. White, 25, of New Underwood, S.D., possession of an open alcohol container in a vehicle, $50.

William D. Jeffers III, 45, of Ainsworth, obstruct government operations, $1,000.

Wang Xiang, 61, of Colorado Springs, Colo., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Jorge A. Reyes Bonilla, 45, of Greeley, Colo., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Teisha L. Carnicle, 21, of Garretson, S.D., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Patrick J. Quinn, 39, of Sisseton, S.D., attempt of a Class 4 felony, $1,000; possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300.

Andrew W. Wiebesek, 19, of Ainsworth, possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100; defective vehicle light, $25.

Jonathan L. Adams, 28, of Sisseton, S.D., attempt of a Class 4 felony, $1,000; possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300.

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 1 p.m. July 18)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a two-vehicle accident that occurred Tuesday, July 17, in Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Dollar General parking lot, a 2014 Chevy pickup, driven by Roberta Denny, 42, of Ainsworth, was backing from a parking space and struck a parked 2017 Buick Envision, owned by Lila Pieper of Dodge.
No injuries were reported. Damage to the Chevy was estimated at $300. The Buick sustained approximately $1,000 damage.

* Commissioners review Sandhills Care Center 2018-19 budget

(Posted 7:30 a.m. July 18)

By Dan Kamppinen

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Brown County Commissioners, Sandhills Care Center Board Chairman Phil Fuchs presented the facility’s 2018-19 budget to the commissioners. Fuchs told the board the facility currently has a population of 19 residents. To be profitable, the facility needs approximately 22 residents on average. Fuchs said there would be a projected shortfall of $43,000 in the budget for the upcoming year.

He said the Sandhills Care Center did not receive a $70,000 payment it expected to receive in June because Medicaid resident days fell at 39.87 percent, just below the requirement of 40 percent.

The care center’s management company, Rural Health Development, is working with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to see if the funding can still be pursued from the federal government. RHD is going back over the numbers from last year because the numbers are so close to the cutoff point.

The budget was tabled until the next commissioner meeting to give RHD more time to negotiate with the Department of Health and Human Services.

Fuchs also reported the shingling project at the facility has been completed, and the contractors had to use 169 square of shingles versus the 160 projected.

The board met with representatives of the Brown County Agricultural Society regarding reimbursement to the Inheritance Tax Fund relating to the chute replacement project at the Brown County Fairgrounds.

From December 2017 to May 2018, the treasurer collected $11,000. Currently, the money goes from the Brown County Treasurer to the Ag Society and then to the inheritance tax fund every six months. The issue was cleared up during the meeting, as Ag Society representative Ken Eggers agreed the current pay schedule made sense.

The commissioners opted not to bid on a Philbrick property when it goes to a public tax sale.

Commissioner Buddy Small addressed the room on the road department. The Roads Department is still blading, spreading gravel and rock, and repairing potholes. Small reported Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin approved a project to create an approach to a hayfield.

The commissioners discussed a bridge near Camp Witness. Turpin and John Witski of Niobrara Valley Consultants both came to the conclusion the bridge in question is not owned by the county. More research is being done on who has jurisdiction over the bridge.

An update was presented for things happening in the Region 24 Emergency Management Agency. On Aug. 25, firefighters and emergency responders will run a drill simulating a bus crash with a semi, with injuries to children. Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox is currently applying for grants to acquire Go-Pro’s for Region 24. These would be used in county vehicles to map bridges and culverts.

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

* April taxable sales decline for Brown and Keya Paha; rise for Rock County

(Posted 12:30 p.m. July 17)

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of April 2018 and April 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%

Boyd

837,928

811,715

3.2

46,086.18

44,644.45

Brown

2,413,953

2,482,928

(2.8)

132,767.60

136,561.26

Ainsworth

2,311,882

2,318,244

(0.3)

127,153.69

127,503.62

Cherry

4,163,270

4,631,605

(10.1)

228,980.15

254,738.67

Valentine

4,047,095

4,435,269

(8.8)

222,590.49

243,940.10

Holt

8,321,379

8,217,278

1.3

457,676.50

451,950.79

Atkinson

1,373,371

1,382,651

(0.7)

75,535.58

76,045.96

O'Neill

5,882,321

5,662,670

3.9

323,527.94

311,447.12

Keya Paha

174,565

217,279

(19.7)

9,601.14

11,950.38

Rock

531,838

514,176

3.4

29,251.18

28,279.75

Valley

3,130,045

3,092,188

1.2

172,152.74

170,070.58

Ord

2,695,513

2,733,871

(1.4)

148,253.43

150,363.07

State Total

$2,438,475,452

$2,336,655,860

4.4

$134,319,099.88

$128,686,142.83

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of April 2018 and April 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

178,377

161,312

10.6

9,780.80

8,817.97

Boyd

385,023

386,051

(0.3)

21,200.81

21,263.98

Brown

554,174

606,166

(8.6)

30,643.58

33,408.79

Cherry

870,908

912,691

(4.6)

48,146.17

50,668.44

Holt

1,962,816

2,076,788

(5.5)

108,506.52

115,121.42

Keya Paha

300,218

106,305

182.4

16,532.35

5,816.13

Rock

279,709

191,805

45.8

15,425.74

10,557.72

Valley

1,126,708

950,216

18.6

62,355.82

52,471.91

State Total

$375,740,719

$336,426,119

11.7

$20,840,566.72

$18,663,351.20

* School board forms leasing corporation to finance ag building construction

(Posted 9:30 p.m. July 16)

As a tool to finance the almost $3 million agriculture and industrial technology building addition, the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education Monday voted to establish the Ainsworth Educational Facilities Leasing Corporation and enter into a lease purchase agreement with First National Capital Markets.

Superintendent Darrell Peterson said establishing the leasing corporation was a better and cheaper way to go about financing the building addition project. He said forming the leasing corporation would give the district a better interest rate to finance the addition over a seven-year period.

Tobin Buchanan with First National Capital Markets told the board the district was still on pace to close the financing by July 25 and have the funds in place prior to construction.

“The leasing corporation will need to elect officers and sign two resolutions,” Buchanan said. “This is going to work out well for everyone. There will be a tremendous amount of sales tax savings, and we got the interest rate down as well.”

Buchanan said there was no pre-payment penalty, unlike a bond, should the district have the funding to pay off the note prior to the full seven-year period.

Peterson said the district signed a contract for the building addition project with Chief Construction for $2.875 million. With fees and closing costs, the district will finance $2.93 million with First National Capital Markets for the project.

“We are on track to have the shell completed sometime in December,” the superintendent said. “The goal is to have the building ready to use by the second semester. The wood shop is going to remain where it is for now. Then, we will move the equipment into the new building and change the current wood shop into a couple classrooms.”

The board approved the resolution creating the leasing corporation, and appointed Peterson and board members Jim Arens, Brad Wilkins and Mark Johnson to the corporation.

In other business Monday, the board accepted the resignation of Erin Rathe effective July 31. Rathe accepted a teaching position with the district for the 2018-19 year, and therefore had to resign her seat on the board. Peterson said he will put notice in the newspaper that there has been a resignation from the school board.

“Since we will only be appointing someone for a few months, it will probably be a past board member,” Peterson said.

Rathe’s four-year term on the school board is up for election in November.

The board approved an option enrollment request from Neil Dover to allow his son Reece to continue to attend Rock County Public Schools. Peterson said Dover will be a freshman at Rock County, and has previously attended school there. The family moved into the Ainsworth district, but would like him to continue to attend school in Rock County.

Peterson presented the board with a report on the mileage driven by the district’s fleet of vehicles during the 2017-18 year. Overall, the district’s fleet traveled 107,913 miles, which includes daily route buses, activities buses, vans and administration vehicles.

The 107,913 miles were slightly higher than the 2016-17 year’s mileage of 101,784, but were well below the more than 124,000 miles the district’s fleet traveled in both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years.

The superintendent said the old bus the district replaced was destroyed Friday, which was a requirement of a grant the district received to cover a portion of the cost of the replacement bus. He said the Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department planned to use the old bus for a training exercise.

The board approved a purchase agreement with Duane and Geri Johnson for a 2-acre parcel near the Norden Road that was at one time country school District 38.

Peterson said the purchase agreement clears up the title on a piece of land that has not been used as a school for decades. He said the paperwork to dissolve the parcel was apparently never filed correctly.

When a parcel is no longer used by a school, the ownership of the land typically reverts back to the previous owner.

Peterson said the purchase agreement clears up the ownership of the parcel at no cost to the school district. The Johnsons own the land surrounding the 2-acre parcel.

During his report, Peterson said there have been a few fire alarms in the building recently. He said they believe a couple of the alarms were triggered by fumes from refinishing the gym floor.
“We apologize to the firemen,” Peterson said. “But, we appreciate the work they do to help us out.”

In action items Monday, the board approved the second readings of policies relating to:

* Reading instruction and improvement for kindergarten through third-grade students;

* Assessments and academic content standards;

* Anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-retaliation;

* Homeless students;

* Student suspension, expulsion and grievance procedures;

* Child abuse and neglect, and;

* Student fees.

The board also approved the first reading of a policy relating to sick leave. Peterson said the board agreed during negotiations with the Ainsworth Education Association to allow certified staff and classified staff to use two sick days per year to attend funerals not already covered by district policy.

The board approved the first reading of a policy that will increase from $100 to $150 the contribution made by the district to students who qualify for national contests.

The board also approved the first reading of a policy adjusting the salary schedule for classified employees.

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

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 2:45 p.m. July 16)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a two-vehicle accident that occurred Wednesday, July 11, south of Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 1:12 p.m. Wednesday on Highway 7 near milepost 21 south of Ainsworth, a collision occurred between a northbound 1995 Plymouth Voyager van, driven by Wanda Huebner, 84, of Wood Lake, and a northbound 2017 Ford pickup, driven by Jeffrey Buerger, 43, of Denver, Colo.
Huebner was transported to the Brown County Hospital by the Brown County Ambulance Association for injuries suffered during the accident.
Damage to the Plymouth was estimated at $3,000. The Ford sustained approximately $1,500 damage.

* Motorcycle accident Sunday claims life of 43-year-old Bassett man

(Posted 2 p.m. July 16)

A 43-year-old Bassett man died Sunday in a motorcycle accident north of the city.
According to Rock County Sheriff James Anderson, the sheriff’s department responded to a report of a motorcycle accident at 2:45 p.m. Sunday on Highway 7 north of Bassett near milepost 71. Erich Bussinger of Bassett was driving a 2001 Harley Davison when he apparently lost control and went into the east ditch.
Bussinger was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.
The Rock County Ambulance Association and the Bassett Volunteer Fire Department also responded to the accident call.

* NCDHD investigating potential Cyclospora cases from consuming McDonald's salads

(Posted noon July 13)

The North Central District Health Department is collaborating with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Centers for Disease Control in investigating an increase in people becoming sick from the parasite Cyclospora in the district.

NCDHD serves Antelope, Boyd, Brown, Cherry, Holt, Keya Paha, Knox, Pierce and Rock counties.

Two other nearby states have noticed a similar increase in Cyclospora associated with the possible consumption of salads from McDonald’s restaurants. McDonald’s is also investigating the issue and has been fully cooperating with health officials.

Symptoms of Cyclospora infection include frequent watery diarrhea, weight loss, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, nausea, fatigue and fever.

It may take a week or more for symptoms to start after consuming the contaminated food product with the illness lasting from a few days to a few months. People might feel better, then get worse again and, following diagnosis, can be treated with antibiotics.

The North Central District Health Department encourages anyone who has experienced the above symptoms and who may have eaten a salad at McDonald’s since early June and experienced diarrhea and fatigue to contact a health care provider to be tested and receive treatment. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.

* Comprehensive planning session addresses city's strengths, areas to improve

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

By Dan Kamppinen

 

Miller and Associates and the city of Ainsworth held the first of four planned meetings Thursday to discuss the comprehensive plan that Miller and Associates is putting together for the community.

Brenda Jensen of Miller and Associates said the company crafts comprehensive plans for communities based on factors like land use, public utilities, services and infrastructure, transportation, housing, economic development, community revitalization, historic preservation, environmental conservation, energy, rehabilitation, and redevelopment.

The comprehensive plan covers 10 years and is beneficial when applying for state and federal grants.

The process involves four community meetings, and community and housing surveys to determine what community members feel are the weaknesses and strengths of the community.

Community members pointed out positive aspects of Ainsworth, including locally owned businesses along Main Street, access to critical and senior care, the airport, schools, and the new developments around town.

Some areas where attendees felt Ainsworth struggled were in the lack of new home construction, the ability to balance keeping kids busy while at the same time having time for themselves.

Other issues that came up Thursday were the swimming pool and the theater. Following the discussion, Jensen indicated the major factors that need to be included in the early stages of planning are how to keep adults and kids engaged in the community, how to get more young professionals to move back to town and how to keep high school aged kids out of trouble. The next meeting will take place in September.

* Traffic Accident

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

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated an accident that occurred Monday, July 9, on the east edge of Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 4:25 p.m. Monday on Highway 20 at the Shopko parking lot turn, a 2006 Peterbilt semi, driven by Edward Duncan, 22, of Casa Grande, Ariz., was traveling west when the semi was forced to brake quickly to avoid striking a vehicle that pulled onto the highway from the Shopko driveway.
The sudden braking caused the semi’s payload, a 2018 Case combine, to shift and break loose from its restraints. The combine partially fell off the flatbed trailer, causing approximately $10,000 damage to the combine’s undercarriage.
The accident prompted the civil defense siren to sound in Ainsworth and emergency personnel to respond. However, no injuries were reported as the semi was able to stop before striking the other vehicle. The second motorist was cited on a charge of failing to yield the right of way.

* Mayor breaks deadlock, approving $50,000 in ABC funding for theater project

(Posted 7 p.m. July 11)

With Mayor Larry Rice casting the tie-breaking vote, the Ainsworth City Council on Wednesday narrowly approved a recommendation to provide $50,000 in Ainsworth Betterment Committee funding to the North Central Development Center to be used toward the Grand Theater project.

The NCDC submitted a funding request for $150,000 to the ABC Committee, stating in the application that the project was at a stand-still until additional funds are raised or received to complete the flooring and seating, and acquire furniture, fixtures and concession stand equipment.

The application stated the city is currently losing sales tax dollars to other communities, as many local residents are traveling to theaters at Valentine and Stuart.

The ABC Committee recommended to the City Council that $50,000 in funding be approved.

Committee member David Spann told the council the consensus of the committee was to have more accountability for the money.

“When that $50,000 gets used up, they can come back to us with another request,” Spann said. “We wanted another layer of accountability.”

The committee also recommended that the invoices for work done at the theater be presented to the city, with the city paying the invoices until the $50,000 is expended.

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said having the city pay the invoices instead of the $50,000 being written to the NCDC was in line with recommendations made by the city’s auditor.

Councilwoman Deb Hurless said she believed completing the theater was a good fit for what the ABC funds are supposed to be used to support, and questioned why the entire request was not being funded.

Hurless and Councilman Greg Soles voted against the ABC Committee’s recommendation, with Councilmen Brian Williams and Chuck Osborn voting in favor of the committee’s recommended amount of $50,000.

With the council deadlocked, Rice cast the deciding vote to award $50,000 for the project.

In other business Wednesday, the council accepted a quote of $19,090 from Pfister Wrecker Service & Repair to replace a motor in the generator at the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

Schroedl said the generator is fairly old, and the wastewater plant operators have had major struggles with it this summer.

“It needs a new motor,” Schroedl said. “It is a critical piece of infrastructure.”

Water superintendent Brad Miller said the treatment plant would only be able to operate for about four hours without a working generator. Should the city have an extended power outage similar to what Atkinson experienced in the spring from severe weather, a working generator was a necessity.

Miller said the motor appeared to be the only issue. He said a completely new generator would cost upwards of $55,000. He recommended the council approve the $19,090 bid from Pfister Wrecker Service & Repair for the installation of a remanufactured engine.

The council received a second bid for the motor replacement from Road Builders at a cost of $36,337. The council approved the bid from Pfister.

Larry Steele with Miller and Associates presented the council with a quote to replace the filter and pump at the Ainsworth Swimming Pool.

Steele said the $98,660 quote he provided would likely have to be adjusted upward by 20 percent due to recently implemented tariffs on steel.

Schroedl said the quote was being provided to the council for informational purposes ahead of the city beginning its work on the 2018-19 budget.

Miller told the council the current filter is on life support, and something needed to be done.

Steele said to install the new filter system would also require the pumping system to be replaced, as the new filter would not work with the pool’s current pump.

Hurless asked if the new filter and pump could be transferred to a new swimming pool should the city eventually move forward with building a new pool.

Steele said both the filter system and pump could be transferred.

Rice asked Steele to provide a revised quote to the city prior to the first budget workshop.

Elaine Ginter with Bright Horizons presented the council with information on the services provided by the non-profit organization in the community.

Ginter said Bright Horizons, which is located in the Brown County Hospital Specialty Clinic building, is funded through grants and other government programs, so she was not asking for any funding from the council.

“Bright Horizons is dedicated to the elimination of domestic violence and sexual assault,” Ginter said.

She said the office was open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to provide services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

During his report, Rice said the city received a few calls regarding fireworks being discharged late at night. He said the city’s ordinances only follow state statutes.
“We don’t have a city ordinance on hours for fireworks,” the mayor said.

He also asked the council if there would be interest in installing solar-powered radar signs on the highway entrances to the city.

He said Gregory, S.D., uses radar signs and they have been quite effective in reducing the speeds of vehicles entering the community.

Osborn said there has been discussion about installing the radar signs in conjunction with the upcoming Highway 20 renovation in the city.

“I think it is a great idea,” Osborn said.

Rice said the signs cost approximately $2,000 each, with some additional installation expenses.

During her report, Schroedl said she had finished the application to the USDA for wastewater improvement project funding, and was working on the $350,000 Community Development Block Grant application for the projects.

She reported Steve Warnke has been officially hired as the city’s lead wastewater treatment plant operator. Warnke worked for the past 11 years under previous plant operator Jerry Clark, who recently retired.

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

* Welch wins lottery drawing for Game and Parks super tag permit

(Posted 4:30 p.m. July 11)

Zachary Welch of Ainsworth and Oren Smith of Parsons, Kan., have been drawn as lottery winners of two Super Tag multi-species big game permits. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission drew the names Tuesday.
Frank Nemeth of Chadron and Gary West of Ridge Spring, S.C., were drawn as winners of the Combo multi-species big game permits.
The Super Tag and Combo permits are valid in 2018 and 2019. The Super Tag bag limit is one elk, one antelope, one deer and two turkeys. The Combo bag limit is one antelope, one deer and two turkeys. The permits are valid in open seasons with appropriate equipment.
Welch had one of 1,536 Nebraska resident entries in the single-entry Super Tag lottery. Smith had five of 2,163 entries (1,127 residents and 1,036 nonresidents) in the multiple-entry Super Tag lottery.
In the multiple-entry Combo lottery, Nemeth had three of the 465 entries for the resident permit, and West had one of the 322 entries for the nonresident permit.

* Roadway paint striping continues in District 8

(Posted 7 a.m. July 11)

Roadway paint striping continues in District 8 in Boyd, Holt, Garfield and Wheeler counties, according to the Nebraska Department of Transportation.
Vogel Traffic Services of Orange City, Iowa, has the $641,384 contract for district-wide striping.
The work is occurring in Blaine, Boyd, Brown, Cherry, Garfield, Holt, Keya Paha, Loup, Rock and Wheeler counties. The anticipated completion date is July 2018.
The department’s project manager is Darrell Lurz of Valentine. Motorists are asked to drive cautiously through construction zones and to expect delays.

* Sandhills Care Center Board approves $1.7 million 2018-19 budget

(Posted 7 a.m. July 10)

The Sandhills Care Center Board on Monday approved a 2018-19 operating budget of $1.7 million for the facility, with conservative estimates on resident population showing a shortfall for the upcoming year with projected revenue of $1.44 million.

Chairman Phil Fuchs said, in the previous fiscal year, the board estimated being at 22 to 23 residents.

“We were more conservative in our budget this year on projecting the number of residents,” Fuchs said. “Based on those projections, we will be about $98,000 short for the next year after the contributions from the city and the county.”

Fuchs said the budget did not include a potential payment from Medicare for the federal portion of the amount the facility is over its state caps for resident care.

Walt Dye with Rural Health Development, the company contracted to manage the Sandhills Care Center, said the Medicare payment would likely be around $55,000 to $60,000, and would be received in June 2019.

Those funds are the same as the $70,000 the facility expected to receive in June of this year before finding out its Medicaid resident days fell just shy of the 40 percent threshold the state requires before tracking down the federal funds for the facility.

Dye said attorney Dick Nelson is writing an opinion letter on that issue to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

“He believes the federal regulations trump the state regulations since the two don’t match,” Dye said.

Fuchs said there was still a chance the facility could receive that funding, but the board would know more in a week or two.

Fuchs asked the board if it wanted to include in the 2018-19 budget the projected $55,000 from the same federal source as the $70,000 that the facility did not receive this year. Dye told the board the facility was currently at 44 percent Medicaid days, so it would meet the state’s 40 percent threshold for the payment in June 2019.

The $70,000 payment expected in June of this year was not received because the facility finished the year at 39.83 percent Medicaid days, just shy of the threshold the state requires before seeking out those federal funds.

The board agreed to include the anticipated $55,000 in the budget, which drops the projected shortfall for the fiscal year to approximately $44,000.

Board member Leanne Maxwell said, though the board’s budget is conservative and only shows a population of 20 residents for the year, she hoped the resident population would increase since the facility is gaining the community’s confidence.

“We are showing them that we aren’t going anywhere,” Maxwell said.

She said she received a call from a resident’s family member who was extremely complimentary of the nursing, the administration, the activities, and the overall excellent care their family member was receiving.

Fuchs said he visited with a family who said the same thing about the care their loved one was receiving.

Board member Chuck Osborn said the care center was now not losing any residents to facilities in other communities.

The breakeven point for the facility for the 2018-19 year is 21 residents. Administrator Stephanie Rucker said there are currently 19 residents in the care center, with two admissions in June and one resident death.

The board approved the 2018-19 operating budget, which will now be forwarded to the Brown County Commissioners and the Ainsworth City Council.

Looking at the June financial report, the facility experienced a net profit of $10,160 for the month, with expenses of $101,047 and revenue of $111,207.

Rucker said she was fully staffed with the exception of a maintenance person and a kitchen aide.

The board approved payment for the recently completed roofing project for the facility.

Fuchs said the facility now has a roof that should last for 20 years.

“There was quite a bit of sheeting that needed to be replaced, and they also had to build a support for the kitchen’s exhaust fan,” Fuchs said.

The project took an additional 19.3 square of shingles than the 150 square that were included in the original bid.

Board member Buddy Small said Shawn Fernau discussed the additional work with individual board members before moving forward.

Fuchs said building committee chair Dick Schipporeit reviewed the work completed and indicated it was acceptable.

The board approved payment of $16,788 to Shawn Fernau Construction, which included the $13,900 original bid and the extra work. The board also approved a payment of $4,029 to William Krotter Lumber for the additional square of shingles and the sheeting.

Fuchs said the total cost of the roofing project is $29,217. Between private donations and contributions from the county and the Ainsworth Betterment Committee, the board had the funding to cover the cost of the project.

In the only other action item Monday, the board approved extending its line of credit with the First National Bank for 30 days to allow the board time to see whether or not the state would grant the facility’s appeal and pursue the $70,000 federal portion of the cost of care overages.

The next meeting of the Sandhills Care Center Board is scheduled for 4 p.m. Aug. 13.

* Osborn reports June as warmer, wetter than normal

(Posted 4:15 p.m. July 6)

Ainsworth Weather Observer Gerry Osborn recorded 4.27 inches of precipitation in June, which is more than one-half inch above normal and comes a year after Ainsworth experienced the driest June in its 113-year history in 2017.
Ainsworth has received almost 4 inches more precipitation through the first six months than the average year, as the 4.27 inches in June pushed the year-to-date total to 15.36 inches.
Temperatures were also above normal during June, with a high mark of 97 degrees recorded on June 5.
To hear the complete June weather summary, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Gerry Osborn June 2018 weather summary.mp3

* DOT schedules more than $40 million in District 8 road work in one-year plan

(Posted 3:45 p.m. July 6)

Gov. Pete Ricketts and the Nebraska Department of Transportation announced a record-setting $600 million in projects slated for construction across the state. 

The announcement came with the release of the DOT’s Program Book for Fiscal Years 2019-2024, which details transportation projects scheduled for funding in the next one and five-year programs.

There are 11 projects in the District 8 one-year plan that total more than $40 million. District 8 encompasses the north central region of Nebraska.

Among those projects are:

* Highway 137 in Keya Paha County, milling and resurfacing work on an 8-mile stretch from the Keya Paha River to the South Dakota state line at a cost of $4.5 million.

* Highway 137 in Rock County, milling and resurfacing on a 13.6-mile stretch from Newport north at a cost of $5.2 million.

* Highway 20 from Long Pine to Atkinson, 34.9 miles of microsurfacing at a cost of $2.3 million.

* Highway 20 in Cherry County from Eli to Nenzel, 20.8 miles of microsurfacing at a cost of $1.42 million.

* Highway 11 in Holt County from Atkinson south, 6.1 miles of milling and resurfacing at a cost of $2.78 million.

There are numerous projects included in the five-year DOT plan for District 8. Those are projects the DOT plans to address sometime between 2020 and 2024.

Include are:

Highway 20 projects

* 1.4 miles of concrete paving in the city of Ainsworth at a cost of $5.65 million.

* Rehabilitation of a bridge near Long Pine at a cost of $1.4 million.

* Culvert repair on Willow Creek west of the Long Pine State Recreation Area at a cost of $570,000.

* 70 miles of microsurfacing in Cherry County at a cost of $4.98 million.

* 50 miles of microsurfacing east and west of O’Neill in Holt County at a cost of $3.56 million.

Highway 7

* Milling and resurfacing of 7.2 miles in Ainsworth and south at a cost of $3.86 million.

* 40 miles of microsurfacing from Ainsworth to Brewster at a cost of $5.46 million.

* Resurfacing and reconstruction of 7.8 miles in Rock County from the border with Keya Paha County south at a cost of $9 million.

* Resurfacing of 5.1 miles in Rock County from the Niobrara River south at a cost of $1.34 million.

* Resurfacing of 4.3 miles in Keya Paha County from the Rock County line north at a cost of $2.81 million.

Highway 12

* Resurfacing of 11.2 miles in Keya Paha County from Norden east at a cost of $6 million.

* Resurfacing of 12.7 miles in Keya Paha County from Burton east at a cost of $7.47 million.

* Resurfacing of 3.5 miles in Cherry County from Sparks east at a cost of $1.66 million.

* Bridge work in Cherry County on the Minnechaduza Creek at a cost of $2.29 million.

Highway 183

* Resurfacing of 10.1 miles in Rock County from Bassett south at a cost of $3.77 million.

* Resurfacing of 6.4 miles in Rock County from Rose south at a cost of $2.63 million.

* Microsurfacing of 17.6 miles in Rock County from Rose north at a cost of $1.65 million.

* Resurfacing and bridge work on 4.3 miles in Keya Paha County from the Niobrara River north at a cost of $3.46 million.

All of the projects in the five-year plan in District 8 carry a cost of more than $135 million.

“It’s an exciting time for Nebraska as we continue to make historic levels of investment in our roads and bridges,” said DOT Director Kyle Schneweis.  “Gov. Ricketts along with state and local leaders have made funding for infrastructure a priority, and we’re putting every dollar to work in the most efficient and effective way possible to build a safe and modern transportation system.”

DOT is responsible for nearly 10,000 miles of roads and 3,500 bridges. In the coming Fiscal Year 2019, the agency will focus on protecting prior investments that have been made in Nebraska’s statewide transportation network. 

The DOT Program Book is published annually and reflects projects that have been selected for construction based on need and projected funding availability.  Funding for DOT projects comes from the State Highway Trust Fund, Build Nebraska Act, Transportation Innovation Act, and federal funds.

* Long Pine Council approves additional summer hours for city dump

(Posted 7 a.m. July 6)

By Dan Kamppinen

The Long Pine City Council on Thursday approved extending the city’s dump hours during the summer.

Currently, the dump is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The council approved expanding the schedule to Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday and on-call on Sunday.

Additionally, the council approved hiring Gary Hutcheson to clean up the dump for $175 per hour. The council indicated it would likely take Hutcheson a half a day to do the cleanup.

In other business Thursday, the council approved having Municipal Code Services of Neligh revise the city’s ordinance book.

The council received a report that the North Central District Health Department is undergoing mosquito surveillance in Holt and Cherry counties and as of June 25 there have been no West Nile Virus positive mosquitoes.

During a report from the board of health, the council heard a nuisance violation update on a residence in the 400 block of North Ash Street. The property owner removed a partial deck, but still has to do some more cleaning and yard work, and a partial structure on the property is still standing.

The council discussed concerns regarding the abandoned grain bins near the Cowboy Trail. They are run down and the first call to the owner did not yield any results. There is also concern in town about standing water around town attracting mosquitoes.

The council tabled taking any action on raising the water turn on and turn off fees from $25.

The council gave the go-ahead to Paul Carpenter to build an addition to his home. The addition is 40 by 23, and would not impede the alley.

Mayor Ed Brown reported Lesa Dillion bought and fixed a new bike rack that is now at the tennis courts. The tennis courts also got a new net this past week. The only piece that needed to be repaired was the crank.

Travis Electric completed its portion of the lagoon electrical project. It passed inspection Tuesday.

Brown reported the rainy weather has been tough on drainage and dirt road maintenance. The streets department plans to add gravel when the streets dry out.

The recycling trailers are available at the old city shop, and Brown reminded residents to break down boxes because space is limited.

The next meeting of the Long Pine City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 2.

* Liquor license holders in Brown County 100 percent compliant in State Patrol checks

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

Through the Region 4 Substance Abuse Prevention Block Grant, the North Central District Health Department and the Area Substance Abuse Prevention coalition contracted with the Nebraska State Patrol to conduct alcohol compliance checks in Cherry, Brown, Keya Paha and Rock counties.

The checks are designed to increase retail compliance with Nebraska alcohol laws and reduce underage access to alcohol.

The Ainsworth Golf Association, Ampride, J's Keggers, Roadrunner, Pump n' Pantry 26, Silver Circle Bar, Longhorn Bar, Shopko Hometown, Pizza Hut, Local House 20, L-Bow Room, Anderson Market and the Sandhills Lounge in Long Pine all passed, resulting in 100 percent compliance for Brown County.

Cody's Husker Hub, Kilgore Bar, Sparks Store, Sharp Outfitters, Prairie Club, Waters Edge and Merritt Dam Trading Post, Casey's General Store #2731, Conoco, Corner Pub, Henderson's IGA, Wright's Bait Shop, Sandhill Oil, Scotty's Ranchland, Sharp Liquor, Speedee Mart, Plains Trading Company, Shopko Hometown, Pizza Hut of Valentine, Valentine Veteran's Club, Berry Bridge Resort, Brewer's Canoers , Coachlight Inn, The Bunkhouse, Peppermill, Crazy George, and Frederick Peak Golf all passed resulting in a 92.86% compliance rate for Cherry County.

In Keya Paha County, all five licensees were checked; however, only one was open at that time. Turbine Mart passed its inspection resulting in a 100% compliance rate for Keya Paha County.  Four of the six alcohol licenses in Rock County were open for the inspection. G & V's Market, Scott's Con., Inc., The Corral Bar, and Bassett Country Club all passed their checks, resulting in 100% compliance for Rock County.

* Traffic Accidents

(Posted 9:15 a.m. July 4)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a pair of recent motor vehicle accidents in Ainsworth.

The first occurred sometime between 6 p.m. June 23 and 6:30 a.m. June 24 on Fullerton Street in Ainsworth. An unknown vehicle struck a parked 2009 Ford Explorer, owned by Teresa Crocker of Ainsworth.

Damage to the Ford was estimated at $1,000.

The second accident occurred at 1:08 p.m. June 28 on South Pine Street. A 1988 Chevy sport-utility vehicle, driven by James Newport, 83, of Long Pine, was traveling south when the vehicle left the roadway, struck a fence, a corner post, mailbox and a second fence before coming to rest in the east ditch.

Newport was transported to the Brown County Hospital by the Brown County Ambulance Association.

Damage to the Chevy was estimated at $700.

* Commissioners accept Streich's resignation; appoint Herzog county attorney

(Posted 5:45 a.m. July 4)

By Dan Kamppinen
The Brown County Commissioners on Tuesday accepted, with reluctance, David Streich’s resignation as Brown County Attorney effective at 5 p.m. July 12.

The board moved to appoint Tom Herzog as the new county attorney effective at 5:01 p.m. July 12 for an indefinite period of time. The board approved to pay Herzog the standing salary for Brown County attorney and mileage compensation of 55 cents per mile.

Streich will be hired and appointed as Deputy Brown County Attorney under Herzog at a rate of $55 per hour. The commissioners voted to hire Kim Schweers as a part time legal secretary for Brown County at $15 per hour.

Brown County Hospital Administrator John Werner presented the 2018-19 budget for the hospital. One version of the budget projected $11 million in revenue and $10.5 million in expenditures. The other version, which the Brown County Hospital Trustees approved, projected total revenue of $9.1 million and expenditures of $9.7 million. The hospital currently has $516,000 coming in through their current bond measure which puts them in the black by $423,000.

The commissioners discussed the interlocal agreement between Brown, Rock and Keya Paha counties regarding the BKR Extension office. Brown County was contacted by another county about having to pay the Extension. It was suggested the Brown County pays the lump sum and the other counties pay them back.

The percentage of the Extension budget paid by each county is based on the land area and population. The board discussed raising the other counties’ contributions by 1 or 2 percent and drop Brown County’s accordingly. Brown County would add a line item for a processing fee. The new agreement could be ready in about a month and would be presented during the Aug. 7 board meeting.

The board authorized having Commissioner Buddy Small sign to opt into the class action lawsuit on collection of payments in lieu of taxes from the federal government.

Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin updated the commissioners on road department issues. With the rain, Turpin said road crews have been blading and clearing gravel.

Turpin said the roads department is running reminders in the newspaper and on KBRB to make landowners aware of their responsibility to mow road ditches.

Discussion on making repairs to a bridge at Camp Witness was tabled until the next meeting.

The Commissioners also approved the 2018 Under Water Bridge Inspection agreement with the Nebraska Department of Transportation.

In a final action item, the commissioners voted to keep the safety committee the same and re-elect members after Jan. 1.

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

* West Holt Memorial Hospital receives $3.2 million USDA loan for improvements

(Posted 9:15 a.m. July 2)

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $237 million in 119 rural community service facilities in 29 states.  Nebraska has five recipients totaling more than $11 million.
Among the Nebraska projects, the West Holt Memorial Hospital at Atkinson was awarded a $3.2 million loan that will make improvements to the 17-bed critical access hospital. Improvements will include the construction of a specialty clinic that will allow patients to obtain services in a more confidential manner.
The hospital can provide epidural steroid injections, which can decrease the need for opioid medications. These services will assist in the hospital’s ability to recruit pain management providers. The surgical suite and lab will be enlarged, and the waiting room and multipurpose areas renovated. The enhancements will better serve comprehensive health care to more than 10,000 people in a medically underserved area in north central Nebraska.
“At USDA, we believe in rural America and in the promise of small towns and the people who call them home,” Hazlett said. “Under Secretary Perdue’s leadership, we are committed to being a strong partner to local leaders in building healthy, prosperous futures for their communities.”

* 4.2 magnitude earthquake measured Friday night in Custer County

(Posted 6:45 a.m. July 2)

The U.S. Geological Survey measured a 4.2 magnitude earthquake Friday that was centered in Custer County.
The USGS reported the quake occurred at 11:20 p.m. Friday and was centered 23 miles west of Broken Bow.
The quake was reportedly felt as far east as Grand Island, and as far west as Ogallala.

* Ainsworth records almost 29 inches of moisture in 2017

(Posted noon Jan. 3)

Ainsworth Weather Observer Gerry Osborn reported 2017 was warmer and wetter than the normal, with several months well above average for moisture. June and November, however, were among the driest in the city's history, and Ainsworth suffered through an extreme heat wave in July when the highest temperature of the year, 107 degrees, was recorded on July 19.
The final day of 2017 was the coldest for the year, when the mercury dropped to 15 below. That represents a 122-degree difference between the warmest and coldest readings of 2017.
To hear Osborn's complete report, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Gerry Osborn 2017 Weather Summary.mp3

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