TodaysNews

 

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Service Information can be found on the Obituaries Page

* Loren Scott Thompson, 62, of Cozad formerly of Ainsworth and Bassett

* Helen A. Sherman, 94, of Ainsworth 1:30 p.m. Dec. 3

* Meeting reports located below for:

Nov. 29 Ainsworth City Council special meeting

Nov. 18 Brown County Commissioners

Nov. 15 Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors

Nov. 15 Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education

Nov. 10 Ainsworth City Council

Nov. 8 General Election coverage

Nov. 2 Brown County Commissioners

* State unemployment rate up slightly in October

(Posted 1 p.m. Nov. 30)

The Nebraska Department of Labor announced Nebraska’s preliminary unemployment rate for October was 2.4 percent. The rate was up 0.2 percentage points from the September rate of 2.2 and was the same as the October 2021 rate of 2.4 percent.

“Total nonfarm employment reached a record high of 1,044,832 in October,” said Commissioner of Labor John H. Albin. “That’s over 2,000 more filled jobs than the prior high reached in June of this year.”

Nebraska’s October unemployment rate of 2.4 percent remains in the top five nationally of lowest unemployment rates.

Minnesota and Utah had 2.1 percent unemployment rates in October to lead the nation, followed by North Dakota and Vermont at 2.3 percent. Nebraska, New Hampshire and South Dakota tied for the fifth-lowest unemployment rates in the county at 2.4 percent in October.

Illinois and Nevada shared the highest unemployment rate in the country in October at 4.6 percent, with Alaska and Maryland both checking in at 4.5 percent.

October’s nonfarm employment in Nebraska was up 8,448 over September and up 28,106 from October 2021. Private industries with the most growth month to month were trade, transportation, and utilities (up 3,121); education and health services (up 1,862); and mining and construction (up 1,385).  Private industries with the most growth year to year were trade, transportation, and utilities (up 6,020); leisure and hospitality (up 5,490); and education and health services (up 4,657).

Over one million Nebraskans have been employed since August of 2020. A total of 1.04 million Nebraskans were working in non-farm employment in October, with 22,637 collecting unemployment benefits.

Brown County’s October unemployment rate of 2.1 percent came in below the state average. Rock County enjoyed the lowest unemployment rate in the area in October at 1.5 percent. The only county in Nebraska with a lower rate in October was Wheeler County at 1.3 percent.

Cherry County’s unemployment rate also ranked among the lowest in the state in October at 1.6 percent, followed closely by Holt County at 1.7 percent.

Both Keya Paha County at 1.9 percent and Boyd County at 2 percent also came in with rates below the state average.

Blaine County had the highest unemployment rate in both the area and the state in October at 3.7 percent.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for October was 3.7 percent, up 0.2 percentage points from the September rate of 3.5 percent and down 0.9 percentage points from the October 2021 rate of 4.6 percent.

* Council approves line of credit for Sandhills Care Center

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

During a special meeting Monday, the Ainsworth City Council authorized Mayor Joel Klammer to sign documents needed to allow for a $450,000 operating line of credit for the Sandhills Care Center for a three-year period.

After voters in both the city of Ainsworth and Brown County approved property tax levies for a five-year period to support the care center, the Care Center Board of Directors put together a plan to operate the facility using a line of credit until the additional property tax funds begin to be collected.

The levies will begin in the 2023 tax year, but most of those tax dollars are not collected until April and August of 2024. To help support the facility’s operations until that time, the board suggested opening a line of credit with a local lender and use the future tax dollars received to pay off the line of credit.

The Sandhills Care Center itself is not authorized to borrow money, so the action by the City Council Monday authorized the mayor to sign the documents for the line of credit, which would be used by the facility as needed over the next three years and capped at $450,000. The Brown County Commissioners, though voting during its meeting last week to authorize the care center board to borrow up to $500,000 as a line of credit, will likely have to take action similar to the city since the care center board itself cannot sign any loan documents.

Councilman Vance Heyer said the question before the council was how much could be safely used in the line of credit that could be paid back using the final three years of the voter-approved property tax levies.

“Depending on the interest rate, you could probably pay back $550,000,” Heyer said. “About $450,000 would ensure there is enough to wind down operations if it comes to that.”

Klammer said Care Center Board Chairman Phil Fuchs visited with him about the facility’s plan.

“It made sense to me,” Klammer said.

Councilman Brad Fiala said he believed a lot of the questions the council had about how the care center planned to operate until the property tax levies started coming in were answered during the special meeting last week.

“It sounds like the board is hopeful it can get close to break-even,” Fiala said.

Fuchs said it was reasonable to believe the facility could achieve that goal.

“There is more confidence in the community now after the vote,” Fuchs said. “Twenty-seven to 28 is our break-even number. With a gradual increase over the next few years I think we can get to that point.”

Fuchs agreed a $450,000 line of credit would give the facility more cushion.

Heyer said the success of the facility now hinges on the number of residents.

“The board has controlled what it can on the staffing side,” Heyer said. “What can be done to help build resident numbers?”

Administrator Penny Jacobs said the care center has relationships with area hospitals and assisted living facilities, and is increasing its social media presence.

Fuchs said the facility has those relationships in place with area medical and assisted living facilities.

“Everything was on hold waiting to see what was going to happen,” Fuchs said.

Following the discussion, the council approved having the mayor sign the documents needed to allow the care center to take out up to a $450,000 operating line of credit. The line of credit would be used to assist operations as needed, with the line of credit converted to a three-year note to be paid off using the final three years of the voter-approved levy.

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

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

November 20

  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, near mile marker 233, one driver was issued a citation for driving under the influence of alcohol and no operator’s license and was booked into the Brown County Jail. Two of the four passengers in the vehicle were also issued citations for possession of an open alcohol container.  The driver later posted bond and was released from jail.

November 21

  • The Brown County Ambulance transported a flight crew from the airport to the hospital and back.
  • Received a report of a vehicle that had driven through a fence, and was abandoned by a water drainage ditch in Ainsworth. The owner of the vehicle contacted the officer and repaired the damaged fence.
  • Received a report of an impersonation scam involving an individual requesting prepaid cash cards to be sent for ministerial aid. This is an ongoing investigation, and the reporting individual was encouraged to call the attorney general fraud line.

November 22

  • Responded to a report of a 1 vehicle rollover accident on Highway 7, near mile marker 28. The Ainsworth Fire and Brown County Ambulance also responded.  No injuries were reported, and the patient refused transport.  The vehicle was considered totaled, and was towed from the scene.

November 23

  • The Brown County Ambulance were paged for a 911 call in Ainsworth and transported one patient to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Provided traffic control for cattle crossing at the intersection of Highway 183 and 20.
  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing near the intersection of 432nd Ave and Highway 20.
  • Received a report of a stranded motorist on Highway 7, near mile marker 28. A tow truck was called for the driver.
  • Responded to a disturbance at an apartment complex in Ainsworth. No citations were issued at this time.
  • Responded to a domestic disturbance in rural Brown County. One male subject was removed from the home.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, near mile marker 247, a Iowa driver was issued a citation for speeding 82mph in a 65 mph zone.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, near mile marker 243, a Nebraska driver was issued a citation for speeding 65mph in a 45mph zone.

November 24

  • Responded to a disturbance at an Ainsworth hotel. One male subject was booked into the Brown County Jail for disturbing the peace.  The male individual was later released on a personal recognizance bond.

November 25

  • The Brown County Ambulance transferred a flight crew from the airport to the hospital and back.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 7, near mile marker 37, a Nebraska driver was issued a citation for speeding 80 mph in a 65 mph zone.

November 26

  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing along Highway 20, near the 9A Spur.
  • Responded to a report of property damage that occurred in the yard of Long Pine home. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Responded to a report of two loose dogs on South Main St in Ainsworth. Both dogs were unable to be identified and were transported to the Ainsworth Vet Clinic.

Weekly Summary
13 – Incident Reports Were Taken
115 – Phone Calls Were Received
3 – 911 Emergency Calls Received
6 – Titles Were Inspected
2 – Handgun Permits Applied For
5 – Paper Services Were Served

* Keys receives award from Northeast Community College

(Posted 2 p.m. Nov. 23)

An advocate for agriculture in Nebraska has been recognized for her contributions to the industry. Anita Keys of Elsmere was named 2022 Ag-ceptional Woman of the Year during Northeast Community College’s Agceptional Women’s Conference recently on the Northeast campus. The announcement was made as part of a video tribute that was played during the opening session of the 14th annual conference.

A special selection committee made up of professionals from agricultural businesses and operations is assembled each year to select the winner from a competitive group of nominees.

“I am humbled and honored to get this award, and to receive it from your peers is something extra special,” Keys said in accepting the award. “It’s one thing to get an award for best yield or best whatever, but this is very special.”

Keys was raised on a farm in Wayne County. After graduating from high school, she attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she met her future husband, Kerry Keys. The couple operate a ranch near Elsmere in southeast Cherry County.

Keys was nominated for the Agceptional Woman award by Karen Grant of Meadow Grove, who was bestowed the honor in 2015. She said Keys was deserving of the recognition.

“Elsmere may be a tiny town out west, but Anita is big on educating about life as a farmer or rancher from her own home to all parts of the United States and the world,” Grant said. “She has connections and is willing to go above and beyond to spread the word of agriculture.”

Keys was a member of the Leadership Education/Action Development (LEAD) 17 program with content focused on economics, government, human relations, communications, international trade, sociology, education, the arts, social-cultural understandings as well as agriculture. She has utilized the knowledge she gained from her experiences with LEAD with others.

Keys is a member of Common Ground Nebraska which is described as, “a group of farm women having conversations about food and how it’s grown and produced.” She also uses social media to explain life on the ranch and discuss how and what they do with their livestock.

“(Anita) can speak with knowledge because she is involved on the ranch helping wherever she is needed,” Grant said.

Keys is also active with IFYE (International Four-H Youth Exchange), which focuses on bringing young people ages 18-25 to the United States to live with up to three families to learn their customs and lifestyles. Students from the United States may also travel to other countries as part of the program. Keys assists in matching farm and ranch families with individuals from other countries in the program. She serves as a substitute teacher and works with 4-H. She chaperoned 4-H members to Life Challenges held in June at the UNL East Campus, an activity she has done for many years.

The Agceptional Women’s Conference is northeast Nebraska’s premier event for women in agriculture, attracting over 400 women annually who come together for a full day of networking, professional development, and personal growth opportunities. This year’s event featured over 20 speakers who discussed issues related to creating predictable profits in an unpredictable industry, nitrates and public health, dedicating one’s life to service, hemp in Nebraska, smartphone photography for the farm or ranch, keys to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, and growing intuitive eaters, among many more options.

* Deer harvest numbers down in the area

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

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission wildlife biologist Kelly Corman discussed the recently completed firearm deer season, indicating harvest numbers declined from a year ago.

The full conversation can be heard below.

* Lions Club to no longer run fair concession stand

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

After years of running the Brown County Fair concession stand as a club fund-raiser, the Ainsworth Lions Club Board of Directors voted Monday to cease running the concession stand during the fair due to difficulty staffing the event during Labor Day weekend.

In lieu of hosting a club Christmas party this year, the Lions Club Board voted to instead donate $1,000 to the Ainsworth Food Pantry.

The board voted Monday to hold future meetings in the Ainsworth Senior Center. For noon meetings, members will need to call the senior center by 9 a.m. on the morning of the meeting to reserve a meal.

Club member Jerry Ehlers reported 753 students were screened during health checks at local schools, with Lions Club members providing 46 total hours of volunteer service.

Ehlers also thanked the 15 Lions Club members who helped take tickets during the four regular season and two home football playoff games at East City Park.

The board approved purchasing its typical allotment of District 38-I raffle tickets. If any of the club’s tickets win, the item will be raffled off with proceeds going to the club’s special projects fund.

The Lions Club Board of Directors will not meet in December, with the next meeting scheduled for noon Jan. 23.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 10:30 a.m. Nov. 21)

November 13

  • The Brown County Ambulance and Ainsworth Fire Department responded to a call for a dog that had fallen through ice, East of Ainsworth in a gravel pit pond. The dog was unable to be rescued.
  • Responded to a report of animal abuse/neglect on 4th St in Long Pine. The puppies were found to be with shelter, and with food and water.
  • Released an inmate from the Brown County Jail after they served 7 days for a Brown County Court Commitment.
  • Released an inmate from the Brown County Jail for serving 2 days of a weekend court commitment.
  • Provided civil standby for a child custody exchange.
  • Responded to a traffic complaint of two vehicles traveling at a high rate of speed, eastbound, on Highway 20, near mile marker 225. Both vehicles were discovered and found to be traveling within the posted speed limit.

November 14

  • The Brown County Ambulance were paged for a 911 call and transferred one patient to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Responded to suspicious activity in the alley between Woodward and Osborne Streets. No criminal activity was found at this time.
  • The Brown County Ambulance were paged for a 911 call and transferred one patient to the Rock County Hospital.

November 15

  • Received a report of theft occurring on South Main St. Deputies spoke with a female suspect who was in possession of the stolen items.  The items were returned, and no charges were filed at this time.
  • Received a report of a car/deer collision on Meadville Ave. No damage was reported to the vehicle.
  • Responded to a report of suspicious activity in a home on 1st St in Ainsworth. No criminal activity was found at this time.

November 16

  • Responded to a domestic dispute in Ainsworth. One male subject was booked into the Brown County Jail for domestic assault, kidnapping, and false imprisonment.
  • The Brown County Ambulance were paged to a Johnstown address. One patient was transported to the Brown County Hospital.

November 17

  • Released an inmate from the Brown County Jail after they posted bond.

November 18

  • The Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call at an Ainsworth address and transported one patient to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Booked a male subject into the Brown County Jail after serving an arrest warrant. The individual was released on a personal recognizance bond.
  • Responded to a report of assault. One male subject was booked into the Brown County Jail for terroristic threats.  The inmate was transferred to a mental health facility.

November 19

  • Responded to a car/deer collision at the intersection of Hwy 20 and 9A Spur. The vehicle did suffer damages but was able to drive away from the scene.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, near mile marker 235, a South Dakota driver was issued a citation for speeding 76mph in a 65mph zone, and no proof of insurance.
  • During traffic stops on Highway 20, near mile marker 246, a Colorado and an Iowa driver were both issued citations for speeding 85mph in a 65mph zone.

Weekly Summary
 10– Incident Reports Were Taken
126– Phone Calls Were Received
 13– 911 Emergency Calls Received
 4– Titles Were Inspected
 1– Handgun Permits Applied For
 5– Paper Services Were Served

* Rock County wins division at CSC Scholastic Contest

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

Rock County High School finished first among the six schools participating in Division 4 of the recent Chadron State College Scholastics Contest. Several Rock County students finished in the top 25 percent of their tests.

Brooklyn Buell finished in the top 25 percent in business law, as did Carter Buell in plane geometry, Dylan Benemerito in physics and Gracie Swanson in both American government and accounting.

* Commissioners approve bid for foundation work

(Posted 7 a.m. Nov. 18)

In addition to meeting with the Ainsworth City Council and Sandhills Care Center Board Tuesday, the Brown County Commissioners tackled several items on their regular agenda and approved bids to repair the foundation of the courthouse building and update the phone system for the clerk’s office and county attorney’s office.

After discussing the issue for several meetings and researching options, the commissioners Tuesday approved a bid of $41,940 from Epp Foundation Repair of Lincoln to try and address a water issue in the courthouse basement.

Commissioner Denny Bauer said two other companies he contacted declined to bid on the project. The only other bid that was submitted was for $44,020 from Saner Plumbing of Ainsworth.

Commissioner Buddy Small said he typically preferred to keep county business local, but Epp Foundation Repair specializes in fixing foundations. Bauer said he too preferred to keep money local but Epp Foundation Repair has been in business a long time repairing foundations.

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus said he believed the board should accept the low bid for the work.

The board also on Tuesday approved a quote from Applied Connective in the amount of $34,000 to upgrade the phone system, wi-fi and cybersecurity system in both the clerk’s office and county attorney’s office. The county received a $5,000 grant for the project, dropping the price to $29,000.

Clerk Travee Hobbs said Applied Connective currently provides the services to three other offices in the courthouse building.

In other business, the board authorized the Brown County Ambulance Association to use a lease-purchase agreement to finance the purchase of a new ambulance, and to issue building bonds to construct and equip a building to house the association’s fleet of ambulances.

The ambulance association will pay off both the ambulance and the building using its operations funds.

After receiving no bids initially, Brown County Sheriff Bruce Papstein reported the sheriff’s department had received two bids to provide meals for inmates in the Brown County Jail. Big John’s submitted a bid of $9.95 for both lunch and dinner. D&B Café submitted a bid of $10 for lunch and $7 for a sack supper. The board approved the bid from D&B Café.

In another law enforcement item, the board approved a Highway 20 law enforcement interlocal agreement. The agreement providing assistance between agencies on Highway 20, has not changed from previous years.

The commissioners set meal reimbursement rates for county employees attending trainings and other functions that require travel. The county will reimburse employees $10 for breakfast, $12 for lunch and $18 for dinner. A resolution will be presented during the board’s next meeting for approval.

Jon Cannon with the Nebraska Association of County Officials updated the board on NACO’s work assisting county governments and lobbying in the Nebraska Legislature.

Bauer told Cannon the state needed to figure out a different way to fund community colleges than using property taxes.

“It takes about $1 million out of Brown County every year,” Bauer said. “Also, school land leases take about $1.5 million out of this county and only about $100,000 comes back.”

Cannon said the state’s current formula for funding public education was great for him as a Lincoln resident, but the formula does not benefit most of the state’s 93 counties.

Governor-elect Jim Pillen has announced his support for changing the school funding formula to more equally provide state funding to all school districts and not just the most populated areas.

In roads items Tuesday, the board approved quotes for the materials and construction of a bridge on 427th Avenue over the Ainsworth Irrigation District canal.

Husker Steel provided a quote of $81,271 for the materials and Norfolk Contracting quoted $52,890 to construct the bridge. Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin said the bridge would be replaced before water entered the canal next year.

The board approved the year-end certification of the highway superintendent to the Nebraska Department of Transportation. Having a Class A highway superintendent gives the county an additional $9,000 in state highway funding.

The commissioners also approved an agreement between the county and the NDOT for land survey corner preservation work.

During his report, Turpin said the roads department is trying to maintain the roughest roads, but continued dry conditions are limiting the effectiveness of the maintenance.

“We hauled water onto the Meadville Avenue detour,” Turpin said. “That seemed to help.”

Turpin said the roads department finished the Moon Lake Avenue project near the Clapper property. He said the department plans to widen the stretch of Road 877 next week as previously discussed to potentially allow Road 877 to be used as a detour route for Highway 20 and Highway 7 traffic.

Turpin said he had inspected nine of the 13 canal bridges, and no major issues have been found thus far.

Treasurer Deb Vonheeder asked the board where to take the next payment for the Meadville Avenue highway bond. The board decided to make the $275,000 payment from the county’s state highway buyback fund, which currently has about $506,000.

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

* AHS students participate in Chadron scholastics contest

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Nov. 18) 

Ainsworth High School took 32 students to Chadron State College on Wednesday, November 9, to compete in Scholastic Day 2022.

The students took 44 tests over a four-hour window. Most tests were multiple choice, a few involved writing a story or an essay, drawing a still life arrangement or performing a musical solo. Students had the opportunity to participate in a poetry open mic session or play board games, pool or ping pong between tests.

Results include Mason Titus winning the Earth Science test and Gracie Kinney placing second in Veterinary Science.

Placing in the top 25% in their tests were Ally Conroy, fourth in both Anatomy and Physiology and Health, Katherine Kerrigan fourth in World History, Sam Titus fourth in Algebra 1, Kieley Walz fourth in Equine Management, Levi Goshorn fifth in Environmental Science and Logan Schroedl fifth in Business Math. Ainsworth High School placed fifth among the nine schools in Division III.

* Care center proposes line of credit as gap financing

(Posted 10 p.m. Nov. 15)

Following the approval by voters Nov. 8 of both a 1-cent Brown County property tax levy and 10-cent city of Ainsworth property tax levy for five years to fund operations of the Sandhills Care Center, the Brown County Commissioners, Ainsworth City Council and the Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors met Tuesday to discuss how to fund the care center’s operations until the tax levies are collected.

While the voter-approved levies will be taxed for the 2023 tax year, the bulk of the funds will not be paid to the county treasurer’s office until April 2024 and August 2024, as the first half of 2023 taxes become delinquent May 1, 2024, with the second half delinquent Sept. 1, 2024.

Care Center Board Chairman Phil Fuchs thanked voters in both the city and the county for their support of the facility.

“That was a positive vote,” Fuchs said. “It was good to see the support. I want to thank the City Council and the commissioners for funding us through the year. It was a difficult year, but we are making progress.”

Fuchs said the question that needed to be answered by the various boards was how to fund the nursing home operations for a year to year and a half until the additional tax levies begin to be paid.

“It looks like we will need to do a line of credit to get us there using those first levy funds to service the loan,” Fuchs said. “The commissioners and the council have both expressed that they do not want to provide any more funds from their budgets. I would recommend we take out a $500,000 line of credit for three years and use the incoming levy funds to pay for the line of credit.”

Fuchs presented cash flow projections for the facility for both 2023 and 2024, showing the facility should be able to stay under the full $500,000 line of credit. The projection shows the nursing home modestly increasing its number of residents from the current 21 to an average of 25 by the end of 2023 and an average of 26 by the end of 2024.

“This leaves us enough room that we can still protect the city and the county at the end if it doesn’t work,” Fuchs said.

Fuchs said the goal of the Care Center Board of Directors is to build the facility’s census to the point where it is self-sufficient. He said the facility would need to average between 27 and 30 residents to be completely self-sufficient.

He reported, as of Dec. 4, the Sandhills Care Center will have zero agency staffing costs as it was able to hire the former agency director of nursing as an in-house employee beginning Dec. 4.

“I believe the support the community has provided will lead to more people choosing to utilize the facility,” Fuchs said.

City Councilman Schyler Schenk asked why the current break-even projection was now 25 to 26 residents when previous projections showed the break-even mark at closer to 23 residents.

Fuchs said costs to operate the care center have risen, from increased wages to be competitive for staff to the cost of goods rising.

“We have increased private pay rates and Medicaid rates have increased, but not enough to keep up with the increased expenses,” Fuchs said.

Care Center Board member Dr. Mel Campbell said the nursing home would receive payments from the federal government for each of the next three years, but the amount and the timing for those payments are not yet known. Fuchs said, since the exact dollars the facility will receive are not yet known, he did not include the additional funding in his projections.

City Councilman Brad Fiala asked, if the care center is able to increase its resident population, would it in turn have to increase staffing.

Fuchs said it would depend on the level of care required for the residents.

“If we get to 27 to 30 residents, we would likely have to increase staffing,” the chairman said.

Campbell said the additional staff would not include registered nurses, who are the highest cost staff to employ.

“It would be mainly CNAs and dietary staff,” Campbell said.

Incoming City Councilman Dustin Barthel asked why a few months showed significant losses while other months projected closer to break-even levels.

Fuchs said the care center pays employees every two weeks, and there are two months each year where there are three pay periods instead of two, which increases expenses for those two months substantially.

Councilman Vance Heyer said the facility definitely appeared to be on a better path than it was in April, May and June.

“This helps us see how you plan to get from now to the levy,” Heyer said. “It clears up some of the confusion between the city and the county. The question is where is the line where we stop it?”

Fuchs said his proposal would cap the line of credit at $500,000. With a total of $200,000 being collected each of the next five years to support the facility, a line of credit up to $500,000 could be paid using those approved levy funds but would still leave the cushion of winding down operations without forcing additional funding from the city and county if the facility is not financially solvent at the end of that period.

“If we go past the $500,000 in three years, the numbers just obviously are not there to turn it around,” Fuchs said. “That would still leave us the cushion needed to wind down operations. The rest of the levy would finish paying off final obligations and protect the city and the county.”

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus asked care center staff if the vote of the people has created more confidence that the facility is supported and would remain open.

Care Center Administrator Penny Jacobs said she had already received an additional referral and the staff have fielded additional phone calls since the levies were approved by voters.

Wiebelhaus said he liked the idea of the line of credit helping the facility where it needed to be.

“Do we know about what a 60-day shutdown would cost if it doesn’t work at the end of this?” Wiebelhaus asked.

Jacobs said the expenses for the two months needed to wind down operations and relocate residents would be similar to the facility’s current average monthly expenses.

Commissioner Buddy Small said both the county and the city could take action Tuesday to authorize the Care Center Board to borrow money from a local lender as a line of credit using the voter-approved funds to pay back the line of credit over time.

City Council President Brad Fiala said the city would probably call a special meeting next week to make a decision.

“With the projections we have received, I am more confident now in the numbers,” Fiala said. “The voters spoke, and they want it to move forward. So we need to do that but also protect ourselves if it gets past a certain point.”

Heyer agreed, saying, “The whole purpose of putting it on the ballot was giving the voters a say, and they approved it.”

Campbell said the success of the facility would depend on the confidence of the community.

Following the discussion, the commissioners unanimously voted to approve authorizing the Sandhills Care Center Board to borrow money from a local lender using the levy approved by county voters to pay for the line of credit. The council will act on a similar measure during a special meeting in the next two weeks.

Following the joint session with the commissioners and council, the Care Center Board moved to another room of the courthouse to conduct the remainder of its business.

Fuchs said the care center has an additional $50,000 coming from the city to complete its $125,000 funding commitment, which would help cover an October operating loss of $60,740.

The care center during October generated $181,539 in revenue with expenses of $242,280. The only agency staffing during the month was for the director of nursing position at a cost of $22,612. During April and May of 2022, agency staffing costs exceeded $140,000 monthly.

Jacobs reported, as of Dec. 4, there would be zero agency staffing costs as the care center had hired its former agency director of nursing to the same position in-house, a move that would save the care center approximately $12,000 per month.

Jacobs reported there are currently 21 residents in the care center, with 11 paying privately and 10 receiving Medicaid assistance. Of the current residents, nine were residents of Ainsworth, one was from Long Pine, four were from rural Brown County, two were from Rock County, and five were from Cherry County.

She reported there was one admission of a new resident during the past month, and one resident was discharged home during the month.

The next regular meeting of the Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors is scheduled for 5 p.m. Dec. 12.

* Highway 20 project being prepped for winter

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

The Nebraska Department of Transportation provided an update Tuesday on the Highway 20 construction project in Ainsworth.

A&R Construction is preparing the project for winter and will clean up and reshape remaining dirt entryways and intersections to match the concrete surfacing. Concrete for the Main Street and Hunt Street intersections with Highway 20 as well as additional driveways will be poured when temperatures allow.

On Monday, Nov. 21, the traffic control contractor plans to place temporary stripes on Highway 20 in preparation for the removal of remaining cones and barrels. The striping will take approximately two days to complete.

The electrical contractor will continue to install light pole bases along the north side of the highway.

* Rock County board discusses right of way fencing issue

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

During Tuesday’s meeting, the Rock County Commissioners reviewed the issue of public road right of way being fenced are two separate sets of section lines in the county.

Highway Superintendent Lloyd Smith told the commissioners he would visit with the county attorney regarding the fencing issue and recommend action for the commissioners at a future meeting.

The commissioners heard from Nebraska Association of County Officials Executive Director Jon Cannon, who provided an update on NACO activities. Cannon told the commissioners the NACO Board is comprised of 20 officials across the state and one official who serves as the National Association of County Officials liaison. NACO offers services to county officials across the state so those officials can do their jobs more efficiently & effectively. 

Cannon discussed the importance of Inheritance Tax funds for each county. Nebraska inheritance tax stays in each county to help with unexpected expenses that weren’t included in the budget. Cannon said LB310 passed last year in the Legislature increased the exempt amounts, which will result in fewer dollars collected in each county’s inheritance tax fund. 

County budget preparer Caleb Johnson called the board to discuss amending the Road Bond Fund to pay off a portion or all of the road bonds with disaster money received from the 2019 floods. After discussing with Treasurer Mona Davis, the board opted to make the January bond payment and then discuss the bond fund amendment during its January 17 meeting.

In roads items, the county received an extension from the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency responded on the Jilg culvert project. The roads department received an extension until March 21, 2023, to complete the culvert project.

Clerk Daunitta Buoy presented the commissioners with a master agreement for county surveyor services from the Nebraska Department of Transportation. The board approved the resolution, allowing the NDOT to provide surveyor services to Rock County.

The commissioners reviewed an evaluation of the Rock County Noxious Weed Program from inspector Tim Stortz. Rock County Weed Superintendent Mitch Dean received a 100 percent compliance rating, scoring a perfect 1,000 of an available 1,000 points on the evaluation.

The next meeting of the Rock County Commissioners is scheduled for 9 a.m. Dec. 6.

* School Board hears update from Teammates program

(Posted 7 a.m. Nov. 15)

Representatives from the local Teammates chapter provided the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education an update Monday on the chapter’s efforts to mentor school students.

School counselor Lisa Schlueter said the chapter currently mentors 26 students, and would like to add three additional mentors this year. She said students with a Teammates mentor showed a 78 percent improvement in their grades overall during the 2021-22 school year, with 33 percent fewer absences.

Schlueter said numerous colleges provide scholarships to students who have been Teammates mentees. The program was founded by Tom Osborne and his wife Nancy when he coached the University of Nebraska football team.

Teammates Board member Connie Lentz said mentors meet one-on-one with their mentee once per week, usually during lunch. She said the goal for the program is to have mentors meet with the student at least 24 times during the school year.

“The program is voluntary for all students involved,” Lentz said. “The goal is to build relationships. Teammates is a proven model.”

Lentz said the local chapter tries to award $250 scholarships for each student who completes the program. She said six students are on track to graduate in 2023 who have had mentors.

Lentz thanked the Ainsworth Area Chamber of Commerce for holding a jersey challenge with area businesses and raising $560 for the chapter.

“We are looking for ways to be sustainable and continue to give every teammate a local scholarship,” Lentz said.

Teammates representative Scott Steinhauser said all meetings between mentors and students occur at the school. He said Teammates works to identify the strengths of both the mentee and the mentor and make those matches.

Steinhauser thanked the Board of Education and the school for its support of the program, including providing transportation and a driver when the group takes trips to events.

Anyone interested in becoming a Teammates mentor or contributing financially to the program may contact Schlueter or Steinhauser with Ainsworth Community Schools or any board member.

In other business Monday, social studies teacher, co-activities director and cross country coach Jared Hansmeyer submitted his resignation to the board effective at the end of the 2022-23 school year.

Hansmeyer thanked the board for giving him the opportunity to teach and coach with Ainsworth Community Schools. He wrote in his letter to the board it was time for him to spend more time with his family.

Superintendent Dale Hafer thanked Hansmeyer for his 17 years with the school.

“I understand where Jared is coming from,” Hafer said. “It is going to be tough to replace him, but we all wish him the best.”

The board accepted Hansmeyer’s resignation effective at the end of the current school year.

In the only other action item Monday, the board approved an option enrollment request to allow kindergarten student Haydin Beegle to option out of the district and into the Valentine school district. Hafer said the option to Valentine worked best for the parent’s employment situation.

During his report, Hafer said the board’s transportation, buildings and grounds committee met with the activities directors to discuss the possibility of building a new storage shed west of the East City Park football field to house football, track and grounds items.

Hafer said the building would provide a space for players to go during halftime of football games and during storms.

Hafer said the Booster Club was willing to partner with the school to help fund the construction, and Todd Pollock’s industrial technology students would be tasked with helping to build the structure.

Hansmeyer said the school received permission from the City Council to construct the building.

“We are putting some numbers together, and should have some hard numbers for you at the next meeting,” Hansmeyer said.

Hafer asked, if the Booster Club would be willing to share in the cost, would the board consider matching those funds to get the project completed. No action was taken, as the board will receive estimates on the total cost of the structure during an upcoming meeting.

Hafer reported the district had been included in a regional grant to hold an after-school program funded using ESSER III funding from the federal government. He said the program would be a chance to provide enrichment experiences for students, with the program starting in January.

“This lines up with our strategic plan and stakeholder feedback,” Hafer said. “We will try to maximize those funds but we don’t want to create a funding issue down the road when those grant funds run out.”

Hafer said the program would be funded through 2024, and would likely run for two hours after school Monday through Thursday beginning in January.

The superintendent said he also discussed the best way to use the remainder of the district’s ESSER III funding with the board’s transportation, building and grounds committee. The committee determined, instead of using the funds for building projects, to use the federal funding to continue to update the district’s curriculum and technology.

Hafer said the committee did suggest developing a three- to five-year plan to address playground improvements.

The superintendent reported the new heating system in the elementary school building is working well, though there have been some minor kinks and the district is working with the contractor to fine-tune the system.

Hafer congratulated board members Jessica Pozehl and Frank Beel for being re-elected to the board for additional four-year terms, and congratulated incoming board member Bryan Doke for his election to the board. He also thanked Robby France and John Pierce for putting their names on the ballot to run for the board and encouraged them to consider running again in the future.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 12.

* Recent cases from Brown County District Court

(Posted 7 a.m. Nov. 15)

During recent cases from Brown County District Court, Zachary W. Frazier, age 28, of Ainsworth, was sentenced to 60 days in jail, one year of probation and a $1,000 fine after pleading guilty to a violation of conditions of community supervision, a Class IV felony.

Also in District Court Nov. 8, Thomas E. Wiedell, 74, of Pender, entered a plea of guilty to a pair of charges – a Class IIIA felony count of making terroristic threats and a Class 1 misdemeanor count of carrying a concealed weapon. Wiedell will be sentenced Jan. 10.

* Brown County Commissioners Tuesday agenda

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

5:15    Roll Call.

Kenneth Turpin – Road Department Update

Super structure replacement for Bridge Structure #C000912905 on 427th Avenue, Review quotes from Norfolk contracting Inc. for erection and Husker Steel, Inc for materials – Turpin

Year – End Certification of County Highway Superintendent and Resolution – Turpin

Master agreement between Brown County, NE, and Nebraska Department of Transportation (Land Survey Corner Preservation) & Resolution – Turpin

5:30     Meet with Ainsworth City Council & Ainsworth/Brown Interlocal Board – Small

6:00       Jon Cannon – NACO Update

National Association of Counties membership – Small

Highway Bond Payment – Vonheeder

Prisoner Meal Bids – Papstein

Highway 20 Law Enforcement Interlocal agreement – Papstein

Set new rates for meal reimbursements – Small

Resolution Authorizing and Approving a Lease-Purchase Agreement to Finance the Purchase of an Ambulance, & Resolution to Issue Limited Tax County Building Bonds to construct and equip a building for the Brown County Ambulance Association – Fiala

Bids on Courthouse Basement repair – Bauer

Bids on Wi-Fi, Cybersecurity, and Phone system – Hobbs

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

November 6

  • Responded to a report of a pedestrian walking on Highway 20 near the Highway 183 intersection. The individual received ministerial aid for fuel.
  • Booked an inmate into the Brown County Jail to serve a 7 day court commitment sentence.

November 7

  • Booked an inmate into the Brown County Jail to serve a 60 day court commitment sentence.
  • Investigated an accidental discharge of a handgun. The male subject accidentally shot a small caliber round into his finger.
  • Received and investigated a report of a dog bite that occurred on the 200 block of Pine St in Ainsworth.
  • Released an inmate after bond was posted for terroristic threats and disturbing the peace.
  • Received a report of a suspected illegally shot deer near the intersection of Highway 183 and 881st Road. All information was forwarded to the Nebraska Game & Parks for further investigation.
  • Near the intersection of Main St and 3rd Street in Ainsworth, a citation was issued for reckless driving.

November 8

  • Responded to a traffic complaint regarding a vehicle driving recklessly on Highway 7, near mile marker 33. A citation was issued for speeding 80 mph in a 65 mph zone.
  • Booked an inmate into the Brown County Jail after receiving a 60 day court commitment sentence.
  • Responded to a one vehicle accident deer collision on Highway 20, near mile marker 237.

November 9

  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing on Highway 20, near mile marker 227.
  • Canine Handler and K9 Dutch provided agency assistance to Keya Paha County Sheriff’s Office.
  • Responded to a one vehicle accident involving a one vehicle collision with a bridge guardrail on Highway 20. The vehicle was towed from the scene, considered totaled, and the lone occupant was transferred to the Brown County Hospital via ambulance.
  • The Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call at an Ainsworth hotel. The patient refused transport at this time.

November 10

  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, near mile marker 246, a citation was issued for speeding 80mph in a 65 mph zone.
  • Responded to a domestic disturbance near Park St in Ainsworth. Both parties were separated for the night.
  • During a traffic stop, near the intersection of Harrington and Plainsmain Drive, a written warning was issued for careless driving.

November 11

  • Booked an inmate into the Brown County Jail to serve a weekend court commitment sentence.

November 12

  • The Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call to an Ainsworth address. One patient was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Responded to a noise complaint of loud music in Long Pine. Deputies made contact with the party and they complied with turning the music down.
  • Received a report of a stolen vehicle from Long Pine. The vehicle was later found at a different address in Long Pine.  This is an ongoing investigation.

Weekly Summary
14 – Incident Reports Were Taken
7 – Paper Services Were Served
167– Phone Calls Were Received
14 – 911 Emergency Calls Received
2 – Titles Were Inspected
4 – Handgun Permits Applied For

* Hunters invited to submit photos of their harvest

(Posted 9:15 a.m. Nov. 10)

KBRB invites hunters to email photos from their hunt to display on the annual KBRB Hunting Gallery, sponsored by Tall Tails Taxidermy of Valentine and Holt County Locker.

Email photos to kbrb@sscg.net and include a photo of the hunter with the animal, be it deer, elk or antelope. Include the hunter’s name, the date and county where the animal was harvested, and any additional information such as the number of points if a buck deer or bull elk, or if it is a hunter’s first deer.

Photos will be displayed on the KBRB Sports Page at www.kbrb.net

* City eligible for $1.4 million in assistance for major project

(Posted 7 a.m. Nov. 10)

As it plans a water line, sewer line and paving project for Main Street north of Highway 20 to coincide with the Nebraska Department of Transportation’s 2024 renovation of Highway 7 in downtown Ainsworth, the City Council learned Wednesday the city had been approved for a $433,000 Community Development Block Grant to assist with the paving portion of the project.

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said the Central Nebraska Economic Development District would serve as the grant administrator for the CDBG funds from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

“We have done this before, so we are familiar with the reporting process,” Schroedl told the council. “This is the first step to accept the grant.”

The council approved having the mayor sign the CDBG agreement with the Department of Economic Development, and tabled a general administration agreement with the Central Nebraska Economic Development District as that paperwork was not quite ready to be finalized.

Schroedl told the council the city also received notice it was on track to receive approximately $1.5 million in loan funding from the Nebraska Drinking Water revolving loan fund and $1.5 million in loan funding from the Nebraska Clean Water revolving loan fund to pay for the water and sewer line upgrades under Main Street when the street is renovated.

Of those funds, Schroedl said $675,000 of the drinking water loan is forgivable and $693,000 of the clean water loan is forgivable.

“About 40 percent of both those loans would be forgivable,” Schroedl said. “That is good news for the city.”

With the forgivable portion of the water and sewer line loans, coupled with the $433,000 in CDBG funds to assist with the removal and replacement of Main Street north of Highway 20, the city is in line to receive almost $1.4 million in assistance for those improvement projects. NDOT plans to renovate Highway 7 through downtown Ainsworth in 2024.

In a related item, numerous residents addressed the council regarding their concern with the NDOT proposing Oak Street to South Street as the detour route for Highway 20 traffic during construction on Main Street.

Randall Rathe, who lives on Oak Street, said he was concerned someone would be killed if Oak Street was the route used.

Rathe said residents were concerned about the safety of not only their children, but the children going to and from school who walk on Oak Street.

“Stop signs would have to be changed,” Rathe said. “We just have serious concerns about using that route and we are asking that this be looked at more before this route is set in stone.”

Rathe said Pine Street is a wider street and has been used as the preferred detour route in the past, and there is already no parking allowed on Pine Street.

“The county has agreed it will widen Road 877,” Rathe said, as the width of a portion of Road 877 that would connect South Pine Street west to Highway 7 was deemed by the NDOT not to be wide enough to accommodate the detour traffic.

Mayor Joel Klammer said it is a Nebraska Department of Transportation project, and the city does not select the detour route.

Schroedl said the city tries to collaborate and work together with the NDOT.

“The state has to do coring, testing and environmental reviews on detour routes,” Schroedl said. “The state is liable if they ruin the street.”

Councilman Shawn Fernau said, if the county agreed to widen Road 877, then it was a no-brainer to him that Pine Street to Road 877 should be the detour route.

“I am totally against using Oak Street,” Fernau said.

Councilman Brad Fiala said, if he had children living on Oak Street, he would also be concerned about having that much traffic on that street.

Cody Stec told the council concerned residents hear something different from the state every time there is a meeting on the route.

“They are telling us now there is no other option,” Stec said.

Using Oak Street and South Street for the detour would route Highway 20 and Highway 7 traffic through eight residential blocks, compared to three residential blocks on Pine Street.

Rathe said, “If the state is going to try and use core samples as an excuse, I would like to see the difference between the Oak Street and Pine Street samples. Is the city ok with us proposing using Pine Street to the state?”

City Attorney Rod Palmer said the city could put its foot down and tell the state it would not approve using the Oak Street route.

Councilman Vance Heyer said this is not the first discussion the city has had regarding Highway 20 detour routes.

“We have known about this project for a while,” Heyer said. “We need to pave Pine Street, First Street and our emergency routes. We can’t tell the NDOT what to do, but we can give them options. Those routes already have no parking. It might be too late for the Main Street renovation project, but how many more times are we going to have this discussion? I think Pine Street would be a preferred detour route.”

Audience member Dustin Barthel, who is an incoming council member following Tuesday’s General Election, said he could not imagine having heavy truck traffic going through Oak Street when kids are going to and from school.

“Is there nothing the city can do?” Barthel asked.

Heyer asked, “What are our options as a council? We all think it would be better to utilize Pine Street. I think we could send something from the council that indicates our preference would be Pine Street.”

The council directed the mayor to contact the Nebraska Department of Transportation’s district engineer to indicate the city’s preference that the state use Pine Street and Road 877 as the detour route for the 2024 renovation of Main Street.

In other business Wednesday, the council approved a request from the Ainsworth Bulldog Booster Club and Ainsworth Community Schools to construct a utility building west of the East City Park football field for use by the school.

ACS Activities Director Jared Hansmeyer said the building would be larger than the existing football shed it would be replacing, and would not interfere with access to the RV dump station located in the area. He said the school planned to put in restrooms so the football players would not have to stand in line at the public restroom.

Fiala asked if the school would take care of the ongoing maintenance of the building. Hansmeyer said that would be the plan.

Brown County Ambulance Association member Ann Fiala asked the council if it would consider an interlocal agreement with the county for the construction of a larger ambulance barn to house the association’s fleet of ambulances.

“The county attorney is going to get together with Rod (Palmer) on an interlocal agreement,” she said. “The funds for the ambulance barn would run through the county for the building that would be on city property. The city would be responsible for the shelter of the ambulances, and the county would provide the ambulances.”

Fiala said the ambulance association is paying for both the new ambulance and the building.

“Nothing will really change other than we will have a better building,” she said.

Brad Fiala said the city would pay for the utilities when the building is completed.

Palmer said he had not yet heard from the county attorney, and asked if there had been a previous interlocal agreement between the city and county regarding the ambulance association.

Ann Fiala said she had gone back to before 1972 and no one could come up with any interlocal agreement between the city and county.

Klammer said it was a good idea to have something on paper.

In a matter that has been discussed for several months, the council again looked at a counter proposal from Tower Alliance for a lease on a tower owned by the city in the northern part of Ainsworth.

Palmer said the city had gone back and forth twice with the company on proposals and counter proposals. He said the company had agreed to the city’s suggested lease payment of $8,400 per year, up from the current $5,400 per year, and had agreed to the city’s request for a 3 percent annual increase and also offered a one-time up front payment to the city of $7,500 for increasing the length of the lease.

Palmer said the company was steadfast that the lease needed to be for four additional five-year terms instead of the two five-year terms the city proposed. That would extend the current lease through 2046.

Following discussion on the contract, including a non-compete clause, Heyer proposed the city accept all of the terms proposed by Tower Alliance for the lease with a counter offer of a $12,000 annual lease payment to the city instead of the previously proposed $8,400 lease payment for the city agreeing to increase the lease term by an additional 10 years.

Palmer will present the city’s counter proposal to the company.

In a continued discussion from October’s council meeting, Jean Hunt proposed language she would like to see the city include in its ordinance relating to shelter requirements for pets in the city.

“The complaints are coming when the dog is left outside all day long in all kinds of weather,” Hunt said. “Right now, law enforcement has no way to enforce because there is nothing in the ordinance about structure requirements.”

Schroedl said most of the cities she spoke with regarding dog ordinances have language similar to what the city currently has in its ordinance.

Klammer said simple language in the ordinance is better in the sheriff’s department’s opinion.

Heyer said he would be open to adding some wording to the city’s ordinance but let deputies use their judgment on whether an animal is being care for properly.

Fernau said, if the language is too detailed, he worried about enforcement.

“I think we could add language about adequate shelter, but keep it simple.”

Fiala said the city would never be able to cover every scenario with its ordinance.

The council agreed to have a proposal for potential additional language to the ordinance prepared and presented during the council’s December meeting.

In a final action item, the council approved a resolution signing the year-end certification of the city streets superintendent . Schroedl said the city receives an additional $3,000 incentive payment from the NDOT by having a certified streets superintendent. Lloyd Smith with Niobrara Valley Consultants of Valentine serves as the city’s streets superintendent.

During her report, Schroedl said the city and county had received $27,752 in MFO funding for the fire departments, and the city fire department and rural fire district will also each receive an additional $10,000 thanks to a bill passed by the Nebraska Legislature.

Prior to adjourning, the council discussed a Tuesday, Nov. 15, special meeting with the county and the Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors that will address care center funding moving forward after voters Tuesday approved both the 10-cent city levy and 1-cent county levy for five years.

Fiala said the city and county both need more transparency on the care center’s finances moving forward.

“We need to know what the finances look like every month moving forward,” Fiala said.

That meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 15 to coincide with the regular meeting of the commissioners. Heyer suggested the group use the conference center for the meeting, as it is a larger space than the county’s meeting room in the courthouse. Klammer said he would offer to the county the use of the conference center for the meeting.

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

* Pillen elected governor, Republicans sweep house races

(Posted 7 a.m. Nov. 9)

Regional, State and Federal Races
Voter Turnout – 52.8% with 656,403 votes cast from 1,243,243 registered voters
Brown County – 1,247 of 2,067 for 60.3%
Keya Paha County – 432 of 640 for 67.5%
Rock County – 614 of 1,049 for 58.3%
Cherry County – 2,723 of 3,762 for 72.4%
Holt County – 4,082 of 7,081 for 57.6%
Blaine County 211 of 353 for 59.7%
Boyd 948 of 1,335 for 71%

First District Representative
Mike Flood (R) 124, 591 (58.4%)
Patty Pansing Brooks (D) 88,650 (41.6%)

Second District Representative
Don Bacon (R) 106,963 (52.2%)
Tony Vargas (D) 97,956 (47.8%)

Third District Representative
Adrian Smith (R) 171,743 (78.3%)
David Else (D) 34,653 (15.8%)
Mark Elworth Jr. (M) 12,886 (5.9%)

Governor and Lieutenant Governor
Jim Pillen (R) 387,662 (60.5%)
Carol Blood (D) 228,094 (35.5%)
Scott Zimmerman (L) 25,277 (4%)

State Treasurer
John Murante (R) 418,422 (72.7%)
Katrina Tomsen (L) 156,932 (27.3%)

State Auditor
Mike Foley (R) 417,071 (69.2%)
Gene Siadek (L) 72,049 (12%)
L. Leroy Lopez (M) 113,856 (18.8%)

Attorney General
Mike Hilgers (R) 422,305 (70.4%)
Larry Bolinger (M) 177,593 (29.6%)

Secretary of State
Bob Evnen (R) 483,908

State Board of Education District 7
Elizabeth Tegtmeier 52,753 (70.5%)
Robin Stevens 22,015 (29.5%)

University of Nebraska Board of Regents District 7
Kathy Wilmot 39,279 (54.5%)
Matt Williams 32,876 (45.5%)

Public Service Commission District 5
Kevin Stocker 101,981

Northeast Community College Board of Governors District 2
Carol Sibbel 9,027

Lower Niobrara Natural Resources District At Large
J.J. Pritchett 995 (52.75%)
Bradley Mahon 891 (47.25%)

Amendment 1 (airport revenue)
For 462,302 (78.75%)
Against 124,683 (21.25%)

Measure 432 (Voter ID)
For 418,836 (66%)
Against 214,983 (34%)

Measure 433 (Minimum Wage Increase)
For 368,330 (58%)
Against 264,656 (42%)

* Keya Paha County Election Results

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

Keya Paha County Election Results
Ballots cast – 432 for a 67.5 percent voter turnout

Keya Paha County Public Schools Board of Education (Top three elected to four-year terms)
Blaine Kinney 338
Darcy Wiebelhaus 312
Todd Painter 306

Village of Springview Board of Trustees (Top three elected to four-year terms)
Dustin Foth 93
Melissa Wenger 71
Tom Newtson (write-in) 37

Board of Commissioners East District
John Frederick 130

Board of Commissioners Center District
Corey Nilson 112

County Clerk/Assessor
Suzy Wentworth 373

County Treasurer
Anne Jeanette Painter 398

County Sheriff
Jeff Kirsch 402

Keya Paha County Results for Regional, State and Federal Races

Third District Representative
Adrian Smith (R) 375
David Else (D) 28
Mark Elworth Jr. (M) 7

Governor and Lieutenant Governor
Jim Pillen (R) 317
Carol Blood (D) 37
Scott Zimmerman (L) 23

State Treasurer
John Murante (R) 344
Katrina Tomsen (L) 38

State Auditor
Mike Foley (R) 367
Gene Siadek (L) 17
L. Leroy Lopez (M) 11

Attorney General
Mike Hilgers (R) 373
Larry Bolinger (M) 15

Secretary of State
Bob Evnen (R) 357

State Board of Education District 7
Elizabeth Tegtmeier 273
Robin Stevens 72

University of Nebraska Board of Regents District 7
Kathy Wilmot 234
Matt Williams 113

Public Service Commission
Kevin Stocker 337

Keya Paha County voters opted to retain all judges on the ballot

Northeast Community College Board of Governors
Carol Sibbel 269

KBR Rural Public Power District – Keya Paha County
Lorraine Worth 317

Lower Niobrara Natural Resources District Board of Directors Subdistrict 1
Shaun Higgins 216

Lower Niobrara Natural Resources District Board of Directors Subdistrict 2
Shane Lechtenberg 226

Lower Niobrara Natural Resources District Subdistrict 3
Linda Hoffman 207

Lower Niobrara Natural Resources District Subdistrict 4
Kevin Randa 192

Lower Niobrara Natural Resources District Subdistrict 5
Kent Pavlik 199

Lower Niobrara Natural Resources District Subdistrict 7
Dwain Marcellus 194

Lower Niobrara Natural Resources District Subdistrict 8
Larry Baumeister 197

Lower Niobrara Natural Resources District At Large
Bradley Mahon 98
J.J. Pritchett 81

Amendment 1 (airport revenue)
For 220
Against 128

Measure 432 (Voter ID)
For 369
Against 37

Measure 433 (Minimum Wage Increase)
For 142
Against 269

* Rock County Election Results

(Posted 9:45 p.m. Nov. 8)

Rock County Election Results
Ballots cast – 614 for a turnout of 58 percent

Bassett City Council (Top two elected to four-year terms)
Mike LeZotte 141
Reno Gordon 116
Monte Andrews 103
Kurt Leonard 73

Election of County Surveyor
For election of surveyor 224
Against election of surveyor 304

Rock County Public Schools Board of Education (Top three elected to four-year terms)
Tonya Larson 435
Kristine Beard 406
Mark Klemesrud 403

Rock County Airport Authority (One elected to a two-year term)
Flint Licking (write-in) 10

Rock County Airport Authority (Top three elected to six-year terms)
Bernie Hart 484
Nathan Kreikemeier 342
Steve Kreitman (write-in) 17

Newport Village Board of Trustees (Top three elected to four-year terms)
Chase Broders 25
Waylon Reynolds 18

Rock County Board of Commissioners (Top two elected to four-year terms)
Colby Sybrant 517
Faye Smith 484

County Clerk
Daunitta Buoy 529

County Treasurer
Mona Davis 572

County Sheriff
Benjamin Shelbourn 568

County Assessor
TJ Ellermeier 538

KBR Rural Public Power District – Rock County
Rod Stolcpart 278

Rock County Results for Regional, State and Federal Races

Third District Representative
Adrian Smith (R) 525
David Else (D) 44
Mark Elworth Jr. (M) 10

Governor and Lieutenant Governor
Jim Pillen (R) 502
Carol Blood (D) 63
Scott Zimmerman (L) 18

State Treasurer
John Murante (R) 497
Katrina Tomsen (L) 53

State Auditor
Mike Foley (R) 535
Gene Siadek (L) 34
L. Leroy Lopez (M) 8

Attorney General
Mike Hilgers (R) 540
Larry Bolinger (M) 36

Secretary of State
Bob Evnen (R) 512

State Board of Education District 7
Elizabeth Tegtmeier 217
Robin Stevens 176

University of Nebraska Board of Regents District 7
Kathy Wilmot 172
Matt Williams 294

Public Service Commission
Kevin Stocker 475

Lower Niobrara Natural Resources District At Large
J.J. Pritchett 14
Bradley Mahon 10

All judges on the ballot in Rock County voted for retention

Northeast Community College Board of Governors
Carol Sibbel 362

Amendment 1 (airport revenue)
For 369
Against 159

Measure 432 (Voter ID)
For 475
Against 92

Measure 433 (Minimum Wage Increase)
For 265
Against 318

* Brown County Election Results

(Posted 9:15 p.m. Nov. 8)

Brown County Election Results
Ballots cast – 1,247 for a turnout of 60 percent

City of Ainsworth 10-cent property tax levy for Sandhills Care Center Operations
For 340
Against 266

Brown County 1-cent property tax levy for Sandhills Care Center Operations
For 759
Against 462

Ainsworth City Council (top 2 elected to four-year terms)
Brad Fiala 434
Dustin Barthel 330
Schyler Schenk 251
John W. Mead 116

Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education (top 3 elected to four-year terms)
Bryan Doke 840
Jessica Pozehl 807
Frank Beel 670
Robby France 557
John Pierce 478

Long Pine City Council (top 2 elected to four-year terms)
Linda Alberts 73
Kelsey Carroll 59
Mike Collatos 53
Gayle Buoy 27

Unopposed Local Races
City of Ainsworth Mayor
Joel Klammer 545

City of Long Pine Mayor
Ed Brown 99

Brown County Commissioner (two elected to four-year terms)
Jeremiah Dailey 1,104
Dennis Bauer 924

Brown County Treasurer
Bruce Mitchell 1,134

Brown County Sheriff
Brent Deibler 1,084

Brown County Clerk
Travis Hobbs 1,169

Brown County Assessor
Peggy Gross 1,121

Brown County Attorney
Andy Taylor 1,083

Ainsworth Airport Authority (Top two elected to six-year terms)
Drake Fiala 487
Jason Good 485

Village of Johnstown Board of Trustees (Top three elected to four-year terms)
JoAnn Johnson Parker 15
Brenda Goeken 13
Pamela Lynn Clay 10

Brown County Results for Regional, State and Federal Races

Third District Representative
Adrian Smith (R) 1,055
David Else (D) 88
Mark Elworth Jr. (M) 58

Governor and Lieutenant Governor
Jim Pillen (R) 933
Carol Blood (D) 159
Scott Zimmerman (L) 57

State Treasurer
John Murante (R) 1,036
Katrina Tomsen (L) 135

State Auditor
Mike Foley (R) 1,047
Gene Siadek (L) 59
L. Leroy Lopez (M) 65

Attorney General
Mike Hilgers (R) 1,074
Larry Bolinger (M) 108

Secretary of State
Bob Evnen (R) 1,085

State Board of Education District 7
Elizabeth Tegtmeier 736
Robin Stevens 287

University of Nebraska Board of Regents District 7
Kathy Wilmot 575
Matt Williams 432

Public Service Commission District 5
Kevin Stocker 1,045

Educational Service Unit 17 District 3
Lisa Chohon 412

Educational Service Unit 17 District 5
Jean Pinney 54

KBR Rural Public Power District Board – Brown County
Keith Baker 417

Northeast Community College Board of Governors District 2
Carol Sibbel 888

Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District Subdistrict 2
Justin Hammond 926

Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District Subdistrict 4
Stephanie DeNaeyer 921

Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District Subdistrict 6
Martin Graff 948

Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District At Large
Mark Monroe 913

All judges on the ballot voted for retention in Brown County

Amendment 1 (airport revenue)
For 883
Against 264

Measure 432 (Voter ID)
For 1,006
Against 215

Measure 433 (Minimum Wage Increase)
For 570
Against 646

* Ainsworth City Council agenda for Wednesday meeting

Ainsworth City Council
Meeting 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9
Ainsworth Conference Center

(Posted 8 p.m. Nov. 8)

  • Call to Order
  • I. Routine Business
    • Announcement of Open Meetings Act
    • Roll Call
    • Pledge of Allegiance
  • II. Consent Agenda – All items approved with the passage of one motion
    • Approve minutes from the October 12, 2022 regular meeting
    • Approval of claims
    • Treasurer’s report
    • Department head reports
  • III. Mayor’s Appointments and Report
    • Mayor’s Report
    • Mayor’s Appointments:
      • None
  • IV. Public Hearings
    • None
  • V. Old Business
    • Minimum dog maintenance – Jean Hunt
    • Discuss and consider the counter proposal by Tower Alliance for the American Tower lease with the City of Ainsworth
  • VI. Regular Agenda
    • Consider the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $433,000 for North Main Street paving improvements and authorize the Mayor to sign agreement number 22-PW-001
    • Consider the general administration agreement with Central Nebraska Economic Development District for the North Main Street paving improvement project
    • Discuss and consider a request by Ainsworth Bulldog Boosters and Ainsworth Community Schools for the construction of a building in East City Park – Jared Hansmeyer
    • Update and discussion regarding the ambulance barn and a potential interlocal agreement between the City of Ainsworth and Brown County – Ann Fiala
    • Proposed detour for the Highway 7 project – Randall Rathe and Heather Stec
    • Consider Resolution 22-13:  Signing of the year-end certification of City Street Superintendent 2022
    • Discuss and consider the Sandhills Care Center funding
    • City Administrator/Clerk/Treasurer Report

* Next Highway 20 concrete pour set for Tuesday

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

The Nebraska Department of Transportation provided an update on the Highway 20 construction project in Ainsworth.

A&R Construction plans to pour concrete Tuesday on the north lane at the east end of the project, from Ainsworth Motors east. A total of 405 cubic yards of concrete will be poured during this portion of the paving.

The north intersections of Highway 20 with Meadville Avenue and Ash Street will open to traffic Tuesday.

The electrical contractor continues to install light pole bases.

* Shine a green light Friday in support of veterans

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

By Austin Beard
Brown-Rock Veterans Services Officer

In 1954, President Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming November 11 as Veterans Day, calling on the nation to “solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting and enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”

In the nearly seven decades since, millions more Americans, including residents of Brown, Rock, and Keya Paha Counties have bravely taken up the call to protect and serve. This November 11, we will come together as a nation on Veterans Day to honor and celebrate these brave individuals who have served our country in uniform.

Now more than ever, our veterans and their families need our support. In a time when our country is divided on so many issues, we can all agree that these public servants who risked everything to protect our country and our way of life deserve our support and gratitude. That’s why this year, Brown, Rock, and Keya Paha Counties are joining the National Association of Counties and the National Association of County Veteran Service Officers in launching Operation Green Light for Veterans, an initiative designed to shine a light on the service of our veterans.

Roughly 250,000 members transition out of the armed services each year. In the period following separation from the military, service members face the challenge of transitioning to a post-military civilian life. Tragically, evidence suggests that transitioning veterans are at higher risk for suicide, yet they often do not receive adequate support and resources. Veteran suicides have claimed over 30,000 lives since 2001 alone—four times more than the number of U.S. military personnel who died in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As part of Operation Green Light for Veterans, Brown, Rock, and Keya Paha County is illuminating a green light beginning on November 7th to remind the veterans and their families in our community that we are here for them. We encourage individuals and businesses to join us by changing one light bulb in the entryway of your house or business to a green bulb. By shining a green light, you let veterans know that they are seen, appreciated, and supported. While this event is focused on the week of Veterans Day (November 7th-13th), we encourage individuals to continue to shine the light year-round.

Operation Green Light is also an opportunity to raise awareness of the resources available to veterans and their families. Here in Brown, Rock, and Keya Paha County, we’re proud to serve approximately 500 veterans through our County Veterans Service Office. Throughout the year, our County Veteran Service Officer and county staff are busy connecting our veterans to federal, state, and local benefits, helping them manage employment needs and doctors’ appointments, as well as helping them find veteran peers who can assist with the transition back to civilian life. Veterans and family members can learn more about available services at the Brown County Veterans Service Office.

This Veterans Day, join us in shining a light of hope and support. Join Operation Green Light and let’s turn Brown County green for our veterans. Green light bulbs are available at the Brown County Courthouse. Please contact Austin Beard, Brown/Rock/Keya Paha County Veteran Service Officer, at 402-387-0233 if you would like to obtain a light bulb.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 8:30 a.m. Nov. 7)

October 30

  • Released an inmate from the Brown County Jail after they posted bond.

October 31

  • During a traffic stop with a North Dakota plated vehicle, near the intersection of 4th St and Richardson Dr, 6 subjects were issued citations for possession of controlled substance, and possession of marijuana more than one pound. All 6 subjects were booked into the Brown County Jail.
  • Received a report of failure to pay for a camping spot at East City Park. The individuals were contacted and provided payment.
  • Responded to a report of a vehicle blocking the roadway near the intersection of Kyner and 8th St. in Long Pine.  The vehicle was found to not be a traffic hazard and the owner later had it removed.
  • Responded to a 911 call reporting a physical disturbance on 1st St. in Ainsworth. One male subject was booked into the Brown County Jail on a warrant from Buffalo County and the subject was later released to Buffalo County.

November 1

  • Responded to a report of a reckless driver on Highway 20, near mile marker 251. A Nebraska driver was issued a citation for driving under suspension.
  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing on Highway 20, near mile marker 239.
  • The Johnstown and Ainsworth Fire Departments were paged to a tractor fire South of Hwy 20, on Moonlake Road.
  • Released 6 inmates from the Brown County Jail on bond.

November 2

  • Arrested a subject on a Brown County warrant for terroristic threats, and disturbing the peace. Subject was booked into the Brown County Jail.
  • Released an inmate from the Brown County Jail after serving a 30 day court commitment sentence.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 7, near mile marker 43, a Colorado driver was issued a citation for speeding 78 mph in a 65 mph zone and possession of drug paraphernalia.
  • Responded to a domestic dispute involving stolen saddles. This is an ongoing investigation.

November 3

  • Received information involving an elderly individual in need of assistance.  This is an ongoing investigation and the Department of Health and Human Services have been notified.
  • Released an inmate from the Brown County Jail after serving a 30 day court commitment sentence.
  • Responded to a request for a welfare check for an infant in Ainsworth. The child was found safe, and in appropriate living conditions.
  • The Brown County Ambulance were paged for a 911 call, North of Johnstown, and transferred one patient to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Responded to a stranded motorist on Highway 7, near mile marker 34. Subject had run out of gas.

November 4

  • Responded to a stranded motorist on 423rd Ave. The driver and one occupant were transported back to Ainsworth.
  • Provided traffic control near mile marker 240 for a cattle crossing.
  • Responded to a verbal disturbance on Wilson St. Both parties were separated for the night.

November 5

  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, near mile marker 251, a Nebraska driver was issued a citation for driving under the influence of alcohol. The male subject was booked into the Brown County Jail and later posted bond and released.
  • The Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call in Ainsworth. One patient was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Responded to a report of 50+ head of cattle out on 879th Rd. Traffic control was provided until owners could contain the cattle.

Weekly Summary
22 – Incident Reports Were Taken
7– Paper Services Were Served
174 – Phone Calls Were Received
8 – 911 Emergency Calls Received
2 – Titles Were Inspected
1 – Handgun Permits Applied For

October Summary
2– Accidents                              
14– Arrests
77– Calls for Service
46– Citations were issued
18– Verbal & Written Warnings issued
3– Defect Cards issued
36– Paper Service served
633– Phone calls were received
27– 911 emergency calls received
16– Titles inspected
11– Handgun permits issued

* Council, school board, care center levy on the ballot

(Posted 10 a.m. Nov. 4)

Contested races for Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education and the Ainsworth City Council highlight the local races for Brown County voters, along with tax levy questions for both city of Ainsworth and Brown County voters on whether to support providing continued funding to the Sandhills Care Center.

Four candidates, including two incumbents, are running for two four-year terms on the Ainsworth City Council. Incumbents Brad Fiala and Schyler Schenk have competition to retain their seats on the council from Dustin Barthel and John W. Mead. The top two vote-earners will be seated in January to four-year terms on the council.

Joel Klammer is running unopposed for a full four-year term as the Ainsworth Mayor after being appointed to that position as former council president.

Five candidates, including two incumbents, are running for three four-year terms on the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education.

Board members Jessica Pozehl and Frank Beel are running for additional terms, while current Board President Jim Arens opted not to seek another term on the Board of Education. Also filing for seats on the board are John Pierce, Robby France and Bryan Doke. Three of the five candidates will earn four-year terms.

Both voters inside the Ainsworth city limits and all registered voters in Brown County will see questions on the Tuesday ballot asking whether they support additional property tax levies to support Sandhills Care Center operations.

The question for city of Ainsworth residents asks “Shall the city of Ainsworth be allowed to levy property tax not to exceed 10 cents per $100 in valuation for a period of five years to pay for operational and maintenance costs and other indebtedness of the Ainsworth-Brown County Care Center, doing business as the Sandhills Care Center.”

The 10-cent levy would generate approximately $94,000 in additional total property tax to support the care center.

All voters in the county will see a ballot question that reads “Shall the county of Brown be allowed to levy a property tax not to exceed 1 cent per $100 in taxable property valuation for a period of five years to pay the operations and maintenance costs of the Ainsworth-Brown County Care Center doing business as the Sandhills Care Center.”

Voters inside the Ainsworth city limits will see both the 10-cent city levy and 1-cent county levy questions, while voters outside Ainsworth city limits will only see the 1-cent levy question.

One of the only other contested races in Brown County for the General Election is for two seats on the Long Pine City Council. Four candidates are running for those two seats, including incumbent Linda Alberts. Mike Collatos, Gayle Buoy and Kelsey Carroll are also seeking seats on the Long Pine Council. Current Councilwoman Kathy Papstein did not seek an additional term. The top two vote-earners will be seated on the council.

Long Pine Mayor Ed Brown is running unopposed for another four-year term.

All of the county officials on the Tuesday ballot are running unopposed after several faced contested Republican Primary Elections. All county officials on the ballot are from the Republican Party, and include Andy Taylor for county attorney, Travis Hobbs for clerk, Brent Deibler for sheriff, Bruce Mitchell for treasurer, Peggy Gross for assessor, and Dennis Bauer and Jeremiah Dailey for two seats on the Board of Commissioners.

Also running unopposed are:

* Carol Sibbel for Northeast Community College Board of Governors for District 2

* Justin Hammond for Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District for Subdistrict 2

* Stephanie DeNaeyer for Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District for Subdistrict 4

* Martin Graff for Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District for Subdistrict 6

* Mark Monroe for Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District at large

* Keith Baker for KBR Rural Public Power District for the Brown County Subdivision

* Lisa Chohon for Educational Service Unit 17 for District 3

* Jean Pinney for Educational Service Unit 17 for District 5

* JoAnn Johnson Parker, Brenda Goeken and Pamela Lynn Clay for three seats on the Johnstown Village Board of Trustees

* Drake Fiala and Jason Good for two seats on the Ainsworth Airport Authority

Brown County voters will all cast their ballots Tuesday, Nov. 8, in the Ainsworth Conference Center, with polls open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.

* Bassett City Council race has 4 running for 2 spots

(Posted 10 a.m. Nov. 4)

One of the only locally contested races in Rock County for Tuesday’s General Election is for the Bassett City Council. Four candidates are running for two seats on the City Council. Bassett voters will choose two from among Mike LeZotte, Reno Gordon, Monte Andrews and Kurt Leonard.

There is also a contested race for an at large seat on the Lower Niobrara Natural Resources District Board of Directors. Bradley Mahon and J.J. Pritchett are running for that seat.

Three candidates are running for three seats on the Rock County Public Schools Board of Education, with Tonya Larson, Kristine Beard and Mark Klemesrud the candidates who will appear on the ballot for the three seats.

Two are running for three seats on the Rock County Airport Authority. Bernie Hart and Nathan Kreikemeier will appear on the ballot for six-year terms.

Waylon Reynolds and Chase Broders are the two candidates appearing on the ballot for three open seats on the Newport Village Board of Trustees.

Numerous Republicans are running unopposed for county positions, some of whom were the winners of contested primaries in May.

Republicans Daunitta Buoy for clerk, Mona Davis for treasurer, Benjamin Shelbourn for sheriff, TJ Ellermeier for assessor, and Faye Smith and Colby Sybrant for Board of Commissioners are all running unopposed.

There is no candidate running for county attorney or county surveyor.

Rock County voters will determine whether the county surveyor position will appear on future ballots, as there is a ballot question Tuesday addressing that matter.

The ballot question reads, “Shall Rock County elect a county surveyor to carry out the responsibilities of county surveyor as provided in Section 23-1901 of Nebraska Statutes?”

Voters will choose being either “for” or “against” the election of a county surveyor.

All Rock County voters will cast their ballots Tuesday in the Bassett Fire Hall, with polls open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.

* Ganser awarded UN-L stipend for research project

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

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has awarded stipends to 202 Husker undergraduates to participate in research with a faculty mentor this fall.

Nebraska’s Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experience Program supports undergraduates to work with faculty mentors in research or creative activities. Students receive stipends of $2,400 to engage in intensive research or creative activity for 20 hours per week. The students’ projects span academic disciplines including engineering, chemistry, modern languages and literatures, psychology, art and art history, architecture, special education, and fisheries and wildlife.

Among the students awarded funds through the program is Ainsworth graduate Josie Ganser, a sophomore at UN-L. Ganser was awarded a stipend for a project on the effects of FSH on follicle growth and fibrosis on bovine ovarian cortex cultures.

Students with academic-year UCARE awards will present posters on their research and creative activities at Student Research Days, to be held during the spring semester.

* More Highway 20 concrete to be poured Thursday

(Posted 9 a.m. Nov. 2)

The Nebraska Department of Transportation provided an update on the Highway 20 construction project in Ainsworth.

A&R Construction plans to pour concrete on the north lane of Highway 20 from Richardson Drive east to Ainsworth Motors. The segment will require 800 cubic yards of concrete.

The Highway 20 intersection with Hunt Street is now closed.

The utility contractor is installing storm sewer at the Meadville Avenue intersection, and the electrical contractor is installing bases for light poles on the west end of the project on the north side of the highway.

* Race for governor highlights General Election slate

(Posted 8 a.m. Nov. 2)

The race for Nebraska’s next governor and two ballot initiatives highlight the state and federal races that will appear on the General Election ballot next week.

With Gov. Pete Ricketts completing his second term and unable to run again, Nebraska voters will choose between Republican Jim Pillen, who survived a tight primary against several Republicans, and Democrat Carol Blood. The Libertarian Party also has a candidate for governor in Scott Zimmerman.

The winner will likely be tasked with appointing a U.S. Senator, as Ben Sasse has indicated he plans to resign from the U.S. Senate to become the next president of the University of Florida.

Pillen’s running mate for Lieutenant Governor is Joe Kelly, while Blood’s running mate is Al Davis. Zimmerman’s running mate is Jason Blumenthal.

There are two ballot initiatives and one constitutional amendment for voters to consider on the General Election ballot.

Amendment 1 asks voters to amend the state’s constitution to authorize any city, county or other political subdivision that owns or operates an airport to use its revenue for the purpose of developing or encouraging the development of new or expanded regularly scheduled commercial passenger air service. Voters will check a box for or against that constitutional amendment.

Ballot Measure 432 asks whether the Nebraska Constitution should be amended to require that, before casting a ballot in any election, a qualified voter shall present valid photographic identification in a manner specified by the Legislature. Voters will choose whether they are for or against that measure.

Ballot Measure 433 asks whether a Nebraska state statute establishing a minimum wage for employees be amended to increase the state minimum wage from the current $9 per hour to $10.50 per hour for 2023, $12 per hour for 2024, $13.50 per hour for 2025 and to $15 per hour on 2026 and be thereafter adjusted to account for increases in the cost of living. Voters will opt either for or against that measure.

Very few state races pit a Republican against a Democrat in the General Election. State Treasurer John Murante is being challenged by Katrina Tomsen from the Libertarian Party.

Republican Mike Hilgers faces Legal Marijuana NOW representative Larry Bolinger in the race to replace retiring Attorney General Doug Peterson.

Three candidates are running for state auditor to replace Charlie Jansen, who chose not to seek another term. Republican Mike Foley, the current lieutenant governor, faces Libertarian Gene Siadek and Legal Marijuana NOW candidate L. Leroy Lopez.

At the federal level, Third District Rep. Adrian Smith faces a challenge from Democrat David Else and Legal Marijuana NOW candidate Mark Elworth Jr. in the General Election for another two-year term in Congress.

The District 2 House race pits incumbent Republican Don Bacon against Democrat State Sen. Tony Vargas.

The District 1 House race is a rematch from the special election won by Republican Mike Flood over Democrat Patty Pansing-Brooks earlier this year after Jeff Fortenberry was convicted of a federal crime and resigned from the seat.

Area voters will help choose a new Regent for the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, with Matt Williams and Kathy Wilmot running for the six-year term in District 7.

Robin Stevens is running for another term on the State Board of Education for District 7 and faces a challenge from Elizabeth Tegtmeier.

Kevin Stocker is running unopposed for a six-year term on the Nebraska Public Service Commission for District 5.

* Commissioners agree to widen Road 877 for detour route

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Nov. 2)

Several Ainsworth residents asked the Brown County Commissioners to widen a portion of Road 877 just south of Ainsworth so the road could be considered as part of the detour route the Nebraska Department of Transportation would implement during the renovation of Highway 7 in downtown Ainsworth.

Following a stakeholder meeting with the NDOT last week, residents were told the current preferred route for the detour was utilizing Oak Street to South Street to reconnect Highway 20 with Highway 7 on the south edge of Ainsworth.

Oak Street resident Randall Rathe told the commissioners Tuesday residents asked the NDOT about the possibility of using the wider Pine Street as the detour route, which had been used in the past. Rathe said the NDOT representatives said Road 877, which runs east and west to the south of Ainsworth and would connect Pine Street with Highway 7, was not wide enough in one stretch to be used as the detour route.

“They said the road had been elevated and narrowed,” Rathe said. “We would like the county to widen that road so that route can be considered. They believe right now Road 877 is too narrow for two semis to meet.”

Resident Troy Peters said Oak Street is in a residential neighborhood, and is narrower than Pine Street.

Terry McGill said parking is already prohibited on Pine Street.

Commissioner Denny Bauer said he spoke with NDOT District Engineer Mark Kovar, who indicated only about 1,000 feet on the west end of Road 877 was not wide enough to be considered as the detour route.

“They said they would also have to core into Pine Street to see if it could handle that truck traffic,” Bauer said.

Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin said the narrow part of Road 877 was along Dan Woods’ property.

“We would just need to haul some dirt in to get the additional width in that spot,” Turpin said.

Eldon Sylvester said using Oak Street would have traffic diverted through five extra blocks of residential neighborhoods instead of using Pine Street, which would have three blocks of residential area.

Rathe said he understood the decision ultimately rested with the Nebraska Department of Transportation, but he would at least like the Pine Street detour route to be an option.

Resident Calista Wilson said South Street has substantial washboard issues, and using the gravel street as the Highway 20 and Highway 7 detour would ruin the street completely.

“They would have to widen the South Street and Oak Street intersection,” Wilson said. “That is my mother’s property, and we will not let that happen.”

Bauer said he had no problem with the roads department widening the stretch of Road 877 so it could be considered as the detour route.

“We should try to get it done as soon as possible,” Bauer said. “Then the shoulders would have plenty of time to firm up.”

Turpin said, with only about 1,000 feet of the road needing to be widened, the project would not take long.

In other business Tuesday, Brown County Ambulance Association representative Ann Fiala asked the commissioners to consider an interlocal agreement between the city of Ainsworth and the county to house the ambulances owned and operated by the association.

Fiala said the ambulance association is working on a building to house the association’s fleet, as the new ambulance is too large for it to fit in the current ambulance barn with the rest of the fleet.

She said the association had been working with bonding companies on a loan structure for the building and new ambulance. She said the ambulance association would pay for the bond, no tax dollars would be used.

“The new ambulance arrives in December,” Fiala said. “If the command trailer could be stored at the airport, the third ambulance could be stored in the back of the fire hall for now. That would be the most convenient for us. We will see if the fire department and the city will allow us to pursue that route.”

Fiala asked the board if the association could sell its surplus ambulance to another ambulance association, as doing so would bring more than the association would receive by trading in the surplus ambulance on the new one.

The commissioners agreed to allow the ambulance association to sell the ambulance and use the proceeds to help offset the cost of the new ambulance. County Attorney Andy Taylor said the board would just need to follow proper procedure, since the county oversees the ambulance association’s budget and the ambulance was officially owned by the county.

Taylor said he would work with the association and the city’s attorney on the interlocal agreement.

During his report, Turpin said the roads department is trying to maintain washboard roads, but it is difficult due to the lack of moisture.

“We have some soft spots on Moon Lake Avenue and the Norden Road, and south of Long Pine,” Turpin said.

He said the department has been hauling clay onto Road 428, and planned to finish that project this week. The department also added culverts on Road 888 and 430th Avenue. He said the hog farm is paying for those culverts so they can run hose through them instead of the hose running across the road.

Turpin said Moon Lake Avenue had some erosion issues near Dan Clapper’s property. He said the roads department was hauling clay to that area to try and firm up that portion of the road.

The highway superintendent said he had received quotes to replace the canal bridge on 427th Avenue. The material quote was $81,271 with the installation to cost $52,890. The item was placed on the board’s Nov. 15 agenda for consideration.

In a road-related action item Tuesday, the commissioners, with Reagan Wiebelhaus absent, approved the Standardized System of Annual Reporting and authorized Chairman Buddy Small to sign the document.

Turpin said the document was necessary for the county to receive its highway allocation funding from the state. Included in the report is the cost of repairing the county’s equipment. He said, while there had not been many repairs required on the county’s fleet of motor graders because they are newer, several county vehicles required substantial repair work.

Turpin said the county’s 1991 Mack truck had $21,000 in repairs during the past year. There were $32,289 in repair and tire costs for the county’s International truck. The county’s 2005 Freightliner truck required $21,000 for repair work and tires, and the 2006 Freightliner had $19,000 in repair work and tires.

The board Tuesday heard a presentation from Adam Jurgens with Hamilton Telecom of Aurora, who provided a quote for a new phone system, IT support and cybersecurity for the clerk’s office and the county attorney’s office. The board has been getting quotes from several companies on the project. Small said he would trust the clerk and county attorney to review all the proposals when they are received and make a recommendation to the board.

“Those officials know what will work best for them,” Small said.

Bauer said he received a proposal and quote from Epps Foundation Repair of Lincoln on the water issues in the courthouse foundation. The county would need three comparable bids before proceeding with any project.

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

* Stuart, West Holt FFA members among best in nation

(Posted 3 p.m. Nov. 1)

During the National FFA Convention at Indianapolis, Ind., last week, Stuart’s Will Paxton took home a gold medal in extemporaneous speaking, finishing fourth in the nation. Ben Paxton earned a silver medal in creed speaking, placing inside the top 16 in the country.

West Holt also had a pair of teams finish among the best in the nation. The Huskies Nursery Landscape team of Sadie Jarecke, Isaac Pistulka, Tyler Jelinek and Ian Laetch picked up a gold medal finishing among the best in the country.

The Ag Communications team for West Holt earned a silver medal. Team members are Abby Thiele, Sam Coffin, Marybelle Hamilton and Maddie Davis.

More than 60,000 FFA members attended the annual national convention at Indianapolis.

* Brown County Commissioners agenda for Tuesday

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Nov. 1)

Brown County Commissioners
Meeting 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1
Brown County Courthouse
Agenda

5:15   Roll Call.

Kenneth Turpin – Road Department Update

Approve Standardized System of Annual Reporting (SSAR) and authorize Chairman to sign. – Turpin

5:20  Adam Jurgens – Hamilton Telecom – Wifi, Cybersecurity and phone system quote – Hobbs

5:30 Troy Peters & Randal Rathe – Concerned Citizens regarding the Highway 7 project through main street detour route

5:45   Ann Fiala – Ambulance Building – Interlocal agreement 

Discussion on water issue in the Courthouse Basement – Bauer

* Several deer check stations to be open in the area

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Nov. 1)

Deer hunters are reminded to locate their nearest in-person check stations prior to hunting during the nine-day firearm season this year.

All deer harvested during the Nov. 12-20 season must be accompanied by the hunter and taken to a check station no later than 1 p.m. on the day following the close of the season.

Check stations in the area this year include Husker Meats in Ainsworth, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission office in Bassett from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., the Rock County Sheriff’s Department in Bassett from 5 until 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, The Turbine Mart in Springview, The Valentine Fish Hatchery, C&S Repair and Torpin’s Rodeo Market in O’Neill, and The Firehouse Café in Butte.

Game and Parks staff will collect lymph nodes from select harvested deer to sample for chronic wasting disease at check stations in the Frenchman, Pine Ridge, Upper Platte and Plains units. They also will take samples for CWD and meningeal brain worm in the Buffalo, Platte and Republican units.

When checking in a deer, the permit and check station seal number or check station verification number must be retained when transporting all or a portion of the carcass to a point of permanent storage or processing.

Deer harvested during the Nov. 5-7 Special Landowner season must be checked via Telecheck; the website and phone number to contact are printed on the permit.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Oct. 31)

October 23

  • Responded to a request for a welfare check in Long Pine. The individual was reported safe at this time.
  • Responded to suspicious activity near South St in Ainsworth. Deputies issued a verbal warning to a male subject about future trespassing.

October 24

  • During a traffic stop near mile marker 242 on Highway 20, a citation was issued to a Nebraska driver for speeding 83mph in a 65 mph zone and no valid registration or insurance.

October 25

  • Responded to a report of harassment. One male subject was warned to stay away from the property.
  • During a traffic stop near the intersection of Osborne and 4th St, a Nebraska driver was issued a citation for failure to stop, and no valid registration and insurance.
  • Responded to a request for a welfare check. The individual was found and reported safe at this time.

October 26

  • Responded to a report of an aggressive dog on Elm St. The owner of the dog arrived shortly after deputies to take the dog home.

October 27

  • Received a report of dumped coyote carcasses on a rural property in western Brown County. All information was passed to the Nebraska Game & Parks.
  • During a traffic stop near mile marker 237 on Highway 20, a Nebraska driver was issued a citation for speeding 78mph in a 65 mph zone.

October 28

  • Responded to a 911 call reporting a domestic assault that occurred in rural Brown County. One male subject was issued a citation for domestic assault and booked into the Brown County Jail.
  • Provided traffic control near the intersection of 874th Rd and Highway 7 for a cattle crossing.
  • Responded to a 911 call reporting a motor vehicle had struck a bicyclist on Highway 20. The Brown County Ambulance also responded and transported one individual to the Brown County Hospital. The driver of the motor vehicle was issued a citation for no operator’s license.
  • Johnstown, Raven, Calamus, and Ainsworth Fire Departments were paged for a mutual aid response to a grass fire near East Calf Creek road in Cherry County.  All units were recalled back to their barns before reaching the fire scene.
  • The Brown County Ambulance transferred a patient from the Brown County Hospital to Kearney, NE.

October 29

  • Received a report of a property dispute involving a landowner and the individual leasing the pasture. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Booked an inmate into the Brown County Jail for a weekend court commitment.
  • Responded to two complaints of a loose dog that had been reported near Dawes and Osborne Streets. Deputies were unable to locate the dog.
  • Received a report involving a civil dispute between a landlord and tenants. The issue was resolved and no civil standby was needed.
  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing near mile marker 227 on Highway 20.
  • Responded to a report of an unauthorized highway vehicle driving in excess speeds and erratically on 6th St. Deputies made contact with the driver to advise to stop.

Weekly Summary

21 – Incident Reports Were Taken
168– Phone Calls Were Received
6 – 911 Emergency Calls Received
8 – Titles Were Inspected
4 – Handgun Permits Applied For
3 – Paper Services Were Served

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 2:15 p.m. Oct. 27)

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

Leyton J. Tuma, age 20, of Gretna, charged with possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, fined $300; also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Kenneth Voss, 75, of Long Pine, driving during revocation, sentenced to 12 days in jail.

Darrin P. Healey, 54, of Gordon, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25; no valid registration, fined $25 and sentenced to 18 days in jail; no operator’s license, $75.

Broden Skinner, 51, of Minatare, assault, sentenced to 30 days in jail with credit for eight days served.

Colt M. McCann, 23, of Valentine, possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Bryon W. Painter, 50, of Ainsworth, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

James E. Polen, 21, of Ainsworth, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75; possession of an open alcohol container in a vehicle, $50.

Terryn K. Vester, 28, of Norfolk, speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Kendyl J. Delimont, 17, of Ainsworth, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Michael J. Ripley, 25, of Springview, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Man T. Lai, 56, of Silver Spring, Md., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

* Nebraska unemployment rate among best in nation

(Posted 4:15 p.m. Oct. 26)

The Nebraska Department of Labor announced Nebraska’s unemployment rate for September is 2.2 percent. The rate is up 0.1 percentage points from the August rate and is down 0.3 percentage points from the September 2021 rate of 2.5 percent.

“Nebraska saw another large over-the-year increase in employment in September,” said Commissioner of Labor John H. Albin. “The number of unemployed workers is down 2,000 compared to a year ago, and we continue to see an uptick in people re-entering the labor force.”

Brown County’s September unemployment rate held steady at 2 percent.

Rock County again enjoyed the lowest unemployment rate in the area with 1.3 percent of the eligible workforce collecting unemployment benefits in September. Rock County’s rate, along with Hayes County, tied for the lowest among the state’s 93 counties. Four counties had rates at 1.4 percent in September.

Cherry County’s unemployment rate was below the state average at 1.6 percent, as was Holt County’s at 1.8 percent. Keya Paha County’s jobless rate in September was 1.9 percent. Boyd County’s 2.2 percent rate was equal to the state average. Blaine County had the highest unemployment rate in the area in September at 3.3 percent.

Blaine County’s rate was the second highest in the state, ahead of only the 3.4 percent rate in Banner County.

Over 1 million Nebraskans have been employed since August of 2020. Nonfarm employment, a count of filled jobs, was 1,034,979 in September, up 6,803 over the month and up 26,650 over the year.

Private industries with the most growth month to month were education and health services (up 1,286); trade, transportation, and utilities (up 461); and information (up 344).  Private industries with the most growth year to year were education and health services (up 5,229); professional and business services (up 5,150); and trade, transportation, and utilities (up 5,137). 

The national unemployment rate for September is 3.5 percent, down 0.2 percentage points from the August rate and down 1.2 percentage points from the September 2021 rate of 4.7 percent.

Minnesota enjoyed the lowest unemployment rate in the nation in September at 2.0 percent. Utah and Vermont tied for second with their 2.1 percent rates. Nebraska, New Hampshire and North Dakota followed at 2.2. percent.

The highest unemployment rate in the country belonged to Illinois in September at 4.5 percent. Alaska and Nevada were both at 4.4 percent.

* Hafer, Stracke named to agricultural youth council

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 26)

One way the Nebraska Department of Agriculture supports the next generation of ag leaders is through the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council, a group of college students working together to share their passion and knowledge about agriculture with young people across the state. NDA is proud to sponsor NAYC and announce the 2022-23 Council members.

Among this year’s youth council members are Logan Hafer of Long Pine, who was named the vice president of alumni relations, and Madison Stracke of Stuart, who was named the vice president of the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute improvement and promotions.

“The future of agriculture relies on the next generation of producers, innovators, educators and leaders, and these NAYC members have a bright future in ag,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman. “NAYC has a long-standing tradition of excellence in Nebraska, and I look forward to watching these Council members grow their leadership skills.”

Youth council members coordinate and participate in a wide range of ag-focused activities and events throughout the year. They visit elementary schools to talk about where food comes from, take students on farm tours to experience life on a farm, and visit with high school students about career opportunities in agriculture.

Selected as head counselors are Jadyn Fleischman of Herman and Ethan Kreikemeier of West Point, with Taylor Ruwe of Hooper named youth council president.

The primary focus of the is to coordinate the annual Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute, a five-day summer conference for high school juniors and seniors with speakers, workshops and networking opportunities. The youth institute is in its 52nd year and is the longest running event of its kind in the nation.

“The student leaders who serve on youth council dedicate their time to promoting Nebraska agriculture and providing valuable insight and advice to young Nebraskans about the many different careers available in Nebraska’s ag industry,” said Christin Kamm, NDA Director of Communications and youth council advisor. “Agriculture is the largest industry in Nebraska, and NDA continues to look for and find ways to bring, keep and support people in the ag industry.”

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 9:45 a.m. Oct. 24)

October 16

  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, near mile marker 247, a South Dakota driver was issued a citation for possession of an open alcohol container.
  • A Nebraska driver was issued a citation for failure to report an accident, no valid registration or insurance, and driving under suspension.
  • Received a report of invasion of privacy involving poorly positioned home security cameras. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Responded to a stranded motorist near the intersection of 4th St and Osborne St. Deputies gave the driver a ride to a hotel, and the vehicle was towed.

October 17

  • The Brown County Ambulance was paged to Meadville Ave and transferred one patient to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Received a report of witness tampering. A report was sent to the Brown County Attorney’s office.
  • Responded to a domestic physical altercation. No citations or arrests were made at this time.  Arrangements were made for both parties to stay in different locations for the night and a report will be sent to the Brown County Attorney’s office.

October 18

  • The Brown County Ambulance were paged two separate times for 911 calls. Both runs transported a patient to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing on West Highway 20.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, near mile marker 247, a Nebraska driver was issued a citation for speeding 78mph in a 65 mph zone.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, near mile marker 249, a Nebraska driver was issued a citation for speeding 51 mph in a 35 mph zone.

October 19

  • Received a report of a phone scam involving Publisher’s Clearing House claiming the individual had won money. They then want the individual to purchase a prepaid card to receive their winnings.  This is a scam, don’t send prepaid gift cards with the promise of money in return.
  • Booked an inmate into the Brown County Jail after receiving a 30 day court commitment sentence from District Court.
  • Released two inmates from the Brown County Jail after receiving time served in County Court.
  • The Brown County Ambulance picked up a flight crew from the Airport and transferred them to the Brown County Hospital to pick up a patient.
  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing on West Highway 20.
  • During a traffic stop near the intersection of 4th and Osborne Streets a Nebraska driver was issued a citation for no valid registration, and no proof of ownership.
  • Responded to a report of a one vehicle deer collision near the intersection of Highway 20 and 9A Spur. Airbags were deployed, the vehicle was towed from the scene, but no injuries were reported.

October 20

  • Responded to a physical altercation on the 200 Block of Woodward Street. One Nebraska male was issued a citation for 3rd Degree Assault and booked into the Brown County Jail.  The suspect then posted bond and was released.
  • Responded to a report of trespassing. Deputies made contact with two individuals who were suspected to have stolen property in their possession.  No criminal activity was found at this time.

October 21

  • Responded to a request for a welfare check on South Main St in Ainsworth. Deputies made contact with the individual and reported them safe.
  • Responded to a report of domestic physical altercation in Ainsworth. No citations or arrests were made at this time, but a report will be sent to the Brown County Attorney’s office.

October 22

  • Responded to a 911 call reporting suspicious activity of an unknown individual attempting to make access into their home. Deputies found an intoxicated male who was confused about where he was going.  No arrests or citations were issued.
  • The Long Pine Fire Department was paged to a woodpile on fire. The fire was extinguished quickly.
  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing on Highway 20, near mile marker 234.

Weekly Summary
21 – Incident Reports Were Taken
5– Paper Services Were Served
128 – Phone Calls Were Received
9 – 911 Emergency Calls Received
2 – Titles Were Inspected
3– Handgun Permits Applied For

* Concrete to be poured Wednesday on Highway 20

(Posted 3 p.m. Oct. 21)

The Nebraska Department of Transportation provided an update on the Highway 20 construction project in Ainsworth.

A&R Construction is planning to pour concrete Wednesday on the north lane of the highway between Ash Street and Pine Street. The section will require 420 cubic yards of concrete to be poured.

On Tuesday, the north Highway 20 intersections of Ash Street and Meadville Avenue will close to traffic. Additional street intersections with new concrete will open to traffic when the concrete is cured enough to handle the weight.

The utility contractor is installing storm sewer in the Meadville Avenue intersection area.

* Area students enroll at UNMC

(Posted 11:45 a.m. Oct. 21)

The University of Nebraska Medical Center welcomed 1,273 new students this fall as they made a commitment to the health professions and began educational programs at Omaha, Lincoln, Kearney, Scottsbluff and Norfolk. Students are enrolled in programs for medicine, nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, allied health professions and graduate studies.

Area students enrolled at UNMC this fall include:

COLLEGE OF MEDICINE
Bassett — Megan Erickson

COLLEGE OF DENTISTRY
Dentistry Program
Atkinson — Kendra Kozisek

College of Nursing Northern Division (Norfolk)
Spencer — Alyssa Ludwig

GRADUATE STUDIES
Bassett — Courtney Knox
O’Neill — Sarah Pribil

Physical Therapy
Valentine — Rebecca Higgins

Radiography Kearney Campus
O’Neill — Makayla Hilker

* Ainsworth awarded $433,000 for street improvements

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

The Nebraska Department of Economic has awarded $2 million in Community Development Block Grant funds to five communities under the 2022 Public Works Opportunity. Projects include a hike/bike trail, a senior center and street improvements.

The city of Ainsworth was awarded $433,000 for street improvements. The city is preparing to improve Main Street beginning at the intersection of Highway 20 and Main Street, following Main Street to the north, and ending at the entrance to the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

A federal Department of Housing and Urban Development program, administered by DED on behalf of Nebraska’s non-entitlement communities, CDBG dollars exist to help communities tackle projects that enhance public health and safety, economic well-being, local vitality and quality of life.

All of the funded communities demonstrated a solid approach to community development within their project designs and showed that through collaboration, much needed facility and infrastructure improvements are attainable.

Grant funds were also awarded to Bartlett for street improvements, Filley for street improvements, Wayne for the expansion of a trail system, and Wood River to renovate a building into a community senior center.

* Hansmeyer submits perfect card to win Week 8

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

The second perfect card of the season was submitted during the final week of the KBRB Football Contest. Lanay Hansmeyer of Long Pine picked all 14 high school and college games correctly during Week 8, successfully picking Illinois to beat Minnesota, LSU to win on the road at Florida, and Michigan State to clip Wisconsin on the college side in games that tripped up numerous contestants.

For submitting a perfect contest card, Hansmeyer earns the $40 first-place certificate for the week.

Two contestants missed just one game on the card, which sent us to the tiebreak game, Nebraska’s 43-37 loss to Purdue. Both Tiffani Naprstak of Johnstown and Heath Rudnick of Ainsworth missed just one game on the Week 8 card, with both incorrectly picking Florida to win at home over LSU.

Naprstak picked the Boilermakers in the tiebreaker to beat Nebraska, 24-21, while Rudnick took the Huskers by the same 24-21 score. By picking the winning team correctly, Naprstak earns the $10 second-place certificate.

A total of 13 contestants missed two games on the final week card. Winners can pick up their certificates from the KBRB studios.

Thanks to this year’s sponsors for making the KBRB Big Game Contest possible: Buckles Automotive, AKRS Equipment and Speedee Mart in Ainsworth; from Circle B Livestock and the Tri County Bank in Bassett; from West Plains Bank in Springview; from the Tri County Bank in Stuart; and from Speedee Mart and the Tri County Bank in Atkinson.

* Concrete to be poured Thursday from Oak to Ash streets

(Posted 11:30 a.m. Oct. 18)

The Nebraska Department of Transportation provided an update on the Highway 20 construction project in Ainsworth.

A&R Construction plans to pour concrete for the north lane of the highway on Thursday from Oak Street east to Ash Street. The section will include 350 cubic yards of concrete being poured.

The Oak Street north intersection with Highway 20 will close to traffic Wednesday. The Meadville Avenue and Ash Street intersections will remain open.

Additional intersections will be reopened to traffic when the concrete has cured enough to handle the weight of traffic.

The utility contractor is installing storm sewer and making other utility improvements between Ash Street and Pine Street before that section is ready for concrete to be poured.

The NDOT will provide additional updates as the project progresses.

* Ainsworth garbage customers asked to adhere to changes

(Posted 11 a.m. Oct. 18)

The city of Ainsworth reminds customers that the new garbage totes have now been delivered, and customers are asked to place the new totes curbside for pickup.

There have been some changes to the pickup route, so customers are reminded they must have their garbage placed curbside for pickup by 7:30 a.m. on the day of pickup, and to remove the totes from curbside by 6 p.m. on the evening following pickup. The totes are to be placed for pickup where they were originally placed by the city when delivering them to customers.

There will be no more alley pickup, with the exception of customers on Main Street in downtown Ainsworth.

Trash placed into the totes must be bagged, as the new truck picks up the totes and empties them into the top of the truck. Any garbage not bagged will blow out on windy days.

The city thanks customers for helping to implement the changes as the city transitions to its new garbage truck and driver. Anyone with questions is asked to contact the city office at 402-387-2494.

* Brown County Commissioners agenda for Tuesday

(Posted 10:30 a.m. Oct. 18)

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

5:15             Roll Call.

Acknowledge posting of Open Meetings Law.

Pledge of Allegiance.

                 Approve minutes of the 10-4-2022 Commissioner meeting.

                 Kenneth Turpin – Road Department Update

5:20      Tad Stearns – Hospital License Renewal – Mirya Hallock

5:30      Austin Beard – NACO, NACVSO, Operation greenlight

5:40    Cody Griffith with EZIT Solutions, bid presentation for cybersecurity, wifi and phone systems.

* Saturday fire burns 60 acres south of Long Pine

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

Numerous area fire departments responded Saturday to a grass fire south of Long Pine.

According to Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala, at approximately 5 p.m. 15 miles south of Long Pine on property owned by Bob Alberts, a fire started in a marsh from an apparent hot ricochet while people were shooting target practice.

The fire burned through the marsh and into a pasture. The South Pine Volunteer Fire Department received mutual aid assistance from the Long Pine, Ainsworth, Johnstown, Raven, Calamus, Bassett, Newport and Springview fire departments.

Approximately 60 acres burned Saturday, but no structures were damaged. The Ainsworth firefighters returned to the fire hall by 7 p.m. The South Pine department stayed longer to monitor the burn area and make sure it did not reignite.

Fiala said the area remains extremely dry, and conditions are not expected to improve this week with dry and warming conditions in the forecast.

“It doesn’t take much right now to start a fire,” Fiala said.

A burn ban remains in effect for the entirety of Brown County.

* Ainsworth hosts Loomis Thursday in D-2 playoffs

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 17)

The Ainsworth Bulldog football team capped off an undefeated regular season Friday with a 50-14 victory over Boyd County.

Ainsworth earned the No. 3 seed in the Class D-2 West Bracket, and will host No. 14 seed Loomis (3-5) at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, at East City Park.

Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for students. No passes will be accepted. Following the first round, the 16 winning teams will be reseeded into a statewide bracket, seeded 1 through 16.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 17)

October 9

  • Responded to a report of an unauthorized off road vehicle on North Walnut street in Ainsworth. Deputies were unable to locate the vehicle.
  • Received a traffic complaint that occurred on Woodward street in Ainsworth. The suspect’s vehicle spun their tires in front of a business, causing rocks and gravel damages to parked vehicles and the business front.  A report was filed with the Brown County Attorney’s office.

October 10

  • Responded to a rural Brown County address to assist an agency for an individual having a medical emergency.
  • Received reports of harassment in Long Pine. This is an ongoing investigation.

October 11

  • Provided traffic control on Highway 20, near mile marker 246, for an oversized load exiting and entering the highway.
  • Booked an inmate into the Brown County Jail after receiving a court commitment sentence from District Court for 30 days.
  • The Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call at a Long Pine address. One individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.

October 12

  • The Brown County Ambulance transferred one individual from a Woodlake address to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Transferred a loose dog from 3rd street to the Ainsworth Vet Clinic.
  • Served an order to correct for city ordinance violations involving the removal of trash, debris, and unlicensed vehicles on Ash street in Ainsworth.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 7, near mile marker 40, a Nebraska driver was issued a citation for speeding 80mph in a 65 mph speed zone.
  • During a traffic stop on Hwy 20, near mile marker 241, a Nebraska driver was issued a citation for speeding 73mph in a 45 mph zone.

October 13

  • Responded to a report of vandalism that occurred to a parked car on Main St in Ainsworth. Minimal damage occurred and this is an ongoing investigation.
  • Responded to a disturbance at a gas station in Ainsworth. One male subject is no longer allowed access to the business.

October 14

  • Responded to a report of a one vehicle deer collision on Highway 183, near mile marker 199. The vehicle was able to drive away from the scene.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, near mile marker 246, a Nebraska driver was issued a violation for improper/defective vehicle lighting.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, mile marker 247, a Colorado driver was issued a citation for speeding 83mph in a 65 mph zone.
  • Responded to a physical disturbance in Ainsworth.

October 15

  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, mile marker 243, a Nebraska driver was issued a citation for speeding 50 mph in a 35 mph zone.
  • Responded to a report of criminal mischief on 4th St. A report was sent to the Brown County Attorney’s office.
  • All Brown County Rural Fire Departments responded to a grass fire, approximately 11 miles South of Long Pine.
  • During a traffic stop near the intersection of Harrington and 4th Street in Ainsworth, a California driver was issued a citation for speeding 48mph in a 35 mph zone.

Weekly Summary
17 – Incident Reports Were Taken
113 – Phone Calls Were Received
5– 911 Emergency Calls Received
2 – Titles Were Inspected
1– Handgun Permits Applied For
7– Paper Services Were Served

* After third reading, the bird’s the word in Ainsworth

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 13)

Following the third reading Wednesday, the Ainsworth City Council adopted an ordinance that will allow residents to raise chickens for egg production.

Residents will now be allowed to keep up to six laying hens as long as they don’t run afoul of the ordinance’s parameters, which require the resident to obtain a permit from the city and provide proof that the birds will be kept in an approved enclosure.

Councilman Vance Heyer said, “We have had this issue on the agenda since May. There have been plenty of opportunities for people to comment.”

Mayor Joel Klammer said the process undertaken by the city to change its ordinance regarding poultry was thorough.

“I think the process was thorough and we came up with some good guidelines,” Klammer said.

Residents wanting to raise egg-producing hens may contact the city of Ainsworth office for information on the permitting process. The permit costs $20 annually.

In other business Wednesday, the council approved a five-year lease of the north 25 feet of the city’s mini park on Main Street to the Ainsworth Child Development Center.

The development center, which already owns 25 feet of green space immediately south of its building on Main Street north of the mini park, requested to lease or purchase the additional square footage to expand its planned playground for those attending the center.

Child Development Center Board representative Karen O’Hare said the group received a Communities for Kids grant, which it can use to purchase fencing for its planned playground.

“We would like you to consider allowing us to lease the lot next to ours to fence in and double the amount of playing space we have,” O’Hare said. “Ideally, we are looking at the winter of 2023-24 to start construction.”

Councilman Schyler Schenk said the mini park would still be large enough to host other events if the city were to lease the north 25 feet to the child development center.

Heyer said there is 100 feet total of green space, with the development center already owning 25 feet.

“We have a group that can use it, I think we should let them use it,” Heyer said.

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl asked O’Hare to visit with her prior to ordering the fencing materials to make sure they meet city codes, and a building permit would be needed for the fence prior to construction.

The council approved a five-year lease of the requested area for $1 per year with an auto renewal of that lease unless either party requests that it end. The lease would be terminated if the group ceases to operate a child care facility.

The council approved, with Councilman Shawn Fernau abstaining, a recommendation from the LB 840 Loan Committee to award a façade grant in the amount of $3,573, which would cover half the cost of improvements for a building owned by Bruner Frank Law on Main Street.

Schroedl said the façade improvements would include awnings and signage. She said the loan committee recommended approval of the façade grant.

Fernau said he abstained from the vote on the item because he was the general contractor for the work that is being done.

The council received just one bid for surplus fencing stored at East City Park. The council approved the $150 bid for the fencing submitted by Richard Pirnie.

The council tabled a counter offer made by Tower Alliance to extend a tower lease agreement between the company and the city.

City Attorney Rod Palmer said the council issued a counter proposal in May to Tower Alliance’s original proposal to extend the current lease by 20 years. Palmer said the council offered an additional 10-year lease following the expiration of the current lease in 2036. To extend the lease, the city requested $700 monthly with a 3-percent increase annually.

“They came back with four, five-year terms instead of two, would increase the rent to $8,400 annually as we suggested with the 3 percent increase each year, and would also provide a $7,500 one-time payment,” Palmer said.

The city attorney said the company also requested a non-compete clause be included in the new lease, along with a confidentiality agreement and the right of first refusal on future leases.

The council tabled the proposal in order to obtain additional information on the terms of the confidentiality agreement and non-compete clause.

In a final action item Wednesday, the council approved a resolution of program compliance with the Nebraska Board of Public Roads Classifications and Standards. Schroedl said certifying that the city keeps the documents is a requirement for the city to receive its allocation of state highway funds.

“This certifies that we keep these records available if the NDOT ever wanted to inspect them,” Schroedl said.

Jean Hunt asked the council to amend its pet ordinances to require shelter requirements for dogs.

“Some dogs are out in the wind, in the rain, in the cold and in the heat with no shelter,” Hunt said.

Heyer said the city’s current ordinance already requires that pets be provided adequate care.

Hunt said, “I am asking for specific language in the ordinance that requires people to have a dog house or a shed, some kind of shelter. I don’t want it to be a judgment call on whether these dogs are being cared for.”

Both Fernau and Councilman Brad Fiala said they had also noticed instances of pets being left outside in the elements.

“I know there have been times I have felt sorry for some of the pets I see in town,” Fiala said.

Fiala said anyone who sees a pet they think is being mistreated can contact the city’s animal control office, which is the sheriff’s department.

“I personally don’t think anyone should be allowed to have more than two dogs in town, so I think if you open up this ordinance it could get dicey,” Fiala said.

Schroedl said the city licenses dogs and cats, but there is no permit process to have a dog or a cat like there is now for the ordinance the city just passed allowing poultry. She said there is some vagueness in the city’s ordinance regarding the care of dogs because there can be so much of a difference in the size of dogs.

Currently, if someone lodges a complaint about how a pet is being treated, the sheriff’s department makes a visual inspection. If they don’t feel the animal’s care is adequate, the owner is contacted and given time to remedy the situation. If the situation is not corrected, the pet owner faces a potential citation.

Klammer told Hunt the city would look at the language in the ordinance.

“If you find language somewhere else, let us know and we can look at it,” Klammer said.

Keith Baker addressed the council asking it to allow restricted parking in front of Dawn’s Family Practice on Main Street.

“I am a client of Dawn’s Family Practice,” Baker said. “I see Ainsworth Drug has 30-minute parking in front of their building. Dawn had a sign in front of her business, and someone sent the sheriff.”

Heyer said the sign in front of the business said parking was reserved for Dawn’s Family Practice and violators would be towed.

“She has no right to place a sign like that out there,” Heyer said. “I am not in favor of giving special parking access up and down Main Street.”

Klammer said the business was advised she could request 30-minute parking from the council.

“It is public parking,” the mayor said. “I am aware of a couple other businesses putting up private parking signs in front of their business on public streets. That doesn’t work.”

Baker said exceptions should be made for medical facilities. He said a main issue was a neighboring business’s employees parking in front of the clinic during the day.

Heyer said maybe the neighboring businesses could just talk to each other and see if they could work something out.

The council discussed the curb in front of the business, and that anyone who needed handicapped parking would have to park on the end of the block anyway to obtain access to ramps onto the sidewalk. The council also asked if the business had parking space in the alley behind the business that might provide better access to handicapped patients entering the building.

Klammer said the council could potentially consider at a future meeting debating whether to limit parking on Main Street to one hour or two hours. Fiala asked who would enforce that kind of time limit.

No action was taken.

During his report, Klammer said he had an issue with the way the city was being discussed as it related to its funding support for the Sandhills Care Center.

“In April, the city promised $80,000 in funding from its 2021-22 budget,” Klammer said. “That funding was provided in May. In June, during a special meeting, the county voted to provide $250,000 to the care center if the city would pay the county back. We agreed to pay the county back. The city did not have any budget authority beyond what had already been provided.”

Klammer said, July 5, the city and county discussed various funding options to try to make it work, but no action was taken.

“I have heard the city substituted the $125,000 that we agreed to pay back to the county for $80,000,” Klammer said. “I am not sure where that substitution is getting painted. We have provided all the support we can.”

Fernau said the county had provided $80,000 for the 2022-23 budget year and the $125,000 and wants the city to match that funding commitment.

Heyer said, if the bond questions are approved in November, the city and county need to have a process for how funding the care center is agreed to between the two entities.

“We cannot be obligated to provide funding by the county,” Heyer said. “Presuming this keeps moving along, we all need to be on the same page. The way this is going now is not sustainable, we need to have a process in place.”

Schroedl said she had a conversation with Brown County Commissioner Buddy Small before the county’s $125,000 check to the care center was deposited, explaining the city’s position. She said the county still moved forward with that funding.

Since it was not an action item on the agenda, no action was taken.

During her report, Schroedl said the city was in the process of delivering the new garbage totes to residential and commercial customers. She said the city is placing the totes where they would like customers to place totes during pickup.

She said the city had hired Jade Egle to operate the new garbage truck. She said she appreciated everyone’s patience as the city transitioned the community to the new totes and truck.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth City Council is scheduled for 5 p.m. Nov. 9.

* Additional Highway 20 concrete to be poured Friday

(Posted 2 p.m. Oct. 12)

The Nebraska Department of Transportation provided an update on the Highway 20 construction project in Ainsworth.

A&R Construction plans to pour concrete Friday on the north lane of the highway from Court Street east to Oak Street. The pour includes 835 cubic yards of concrete.

The Wilson Street north intersection with Highway 20 is now open to traffic, as is the Osborne Street north intersection. The Main Street intersection north of Highway 20 is now closed to traffic.

The utilities contractor is in the process of installing new storm sewers and making utility improvements between Elm Street and Pine Street.

* Nine contestants tie for top spot during football contest

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

The tie-break score carried extra weight during Week 7 of the KBRB Football Contest after nine contestants missed just one of the 14 high school and college games on the card.

There were contestants in the running from several communities, led by five one-miss cards from Springview. There were also contestants missing one game from Ainsworth, Johnstown, Stuart and Atkinson.

All nine contestants correctly picked Nebraska to beat Rutgers. The closest to the actual 14-13 final score was a pick of 24-21 submitted by Olivia Beel of Johnstown that missed the final by 18 points. Beel earns the $40 first-place certificate for Week 7.

Sydney Quinn of Ainsworth picked a 35-14 final, missing the total by 22 points to earn the $10 second-place certificate. Brett Swan, Michelle Aduloju, Crystal Stout and Kristie Mundorf, all of Springview, each missed the total score by 25 points. Lois Kaup of Stuart missed the total by 29, followed by Carl Chase of Springview, who missed by 32 points, and Ross Burkhalter of Atkinson, whose score of 35-31 Huskers missed the total by 39 points.

Winners may pick up their certificates from the KBRB Studios or make arrangements for the KBRB sports crew to drop off cards if unable to make it to Ainsworth. Certificates may be redeemed from any of the KBRB Football Contest Card sponsors.

Week 8 KBRB Football Contest cards are available now from Buckles Automotive, AKRS Equipment and Speedee Mart in Ainsworth; from Circle B Livestock and the Tri County Bank in Bassett; from West Plains Bank in Springview; from the Tri County Bank in Stuart; and from Speedee Mart and the Tri County Bank in Atkinson.

The deadline to submit football contest cards is 4 p.m. Thursday if dropping off at the studio or the cards must carry a Thursday postmark if mailed. This is the final week of the KBRB Football Contest. Thanks to everyone for playing and to all our contest sponsors.

* Counterfeit bills again found in Valentine

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

The Valentine Police Department has reported additional instances of counterfeit currency being passed in Valentine.

One of the recent fake bills discovered looked like an actual $20 bill, however upon closer inspection the bill had written on it, “This not is NOT legal tender. It is to be used for motion pictures.”

The printing indicating the bill was fake was included above the signature on the lower left side of the counterfeit bill.

Business operators are asked to examine bills carefully before accepting and report any suspicious currency to the Valentine Police Department at 402-376-3055.

* Ainsworth City Council Wednesday agenda

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

Ainsworth City Council
Meeting 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12
Ainsworth Conference Center
Agenda

  • Call to Order
  • I. Routine Business
    • Announcement of Open Meetings Act
    • Roll Call
    • Pledge of Allegiance
  • II. Consent Agenda – All items approved with the passage of one motion
    • Approve minutes from the September 14, 2022 regular meeting and the September 30, 2022 special meeting
    • Approval of claims
    • Treasurer’s report
    • Department head reports
  • III. Mayor’s Appointments and Report
    • Mayor’s Report
    • Mayor’s Appointments:
      • None
  • IV. Public Hearings
    • None
  • V. Old Business
    • Consider Ordinance 1551:  An ordinance to amend section §3-301 of the Ainsworth Municipal Code regarding poultry; chickens; permit requirements and restrictions – 3rd and final reading
  • VI. Regular Agenda
    • Open and consider sealed bids received for surplus fencing materials
    • Consider the recommendation by the LB840 Loan Committee to approve façade grant application #22-02 in the amount of $3,573.05
    • Consider Resolution #22-12 – Annual certification of program compliance and signing resolution with the Nebraska Board of Public Roads Classifications and Standards (NBCS)
    • Discuss and consider a land lease of lot 7, block 3, Original Town of Ainsworth, with the Ainsworth Child Development Center, Inc. – Karen O’hare
    • Minimum dog maintenance – Jean Hunt
    • Discuss and consider the counter proposal by Tower Alliance for the American Tower lease with the City of Ainsworth
    • 30-minute parking and general parking on Main Street – Keith Baker
    • City Administrator/Clerk/Treasurer Report
  • VII. Adjourn

* Care Center in the red during September, cuts agency costs

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 11)

During its final meeting before voters go to the polls to decide whether to provide property tax levies to support the facility, the Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors learned Monday the only agency position the care center would be paying moving forward was the director of nursing.

Administrator Penny Jacobs told the board the care center hired its former agency assistant director of nursing for a similar position in-house, and the last of the facility’s agency CNA contracts was being paid as part of the October claims.

“Going forward, we are down to just the DON for agency positions,” Jacobs said.

Board Chair Phil Fuchs said the agency director of nursing has indicated, if the bonds to fund the facility’s operations are approved by voters in November, she may be willing to sign on as a full-time employee of the care center upon the completion of the agency contract.

“We are losing the agency CNA expenses,” Fuchs said. “That should get us closer to breaking even each month. We have seen a drastic drop in the monthly shortfall. We have made several positive changes, and are working to get to the point where we at least break even most months.”

During September, the Sandhills Care Center generated $190,225 in revenue with expenses of $224,503 for an operating loss for the month of $34,278.

The care center still paid $51,422 in agency staffing in September, though Jacobs some of that was for previous contracts that just had claims submitted, but the largest portion of agency staffing costs remains the director of nursing position.

To pay all claims for the month will require a $72,481 transfer from the care center’s interlocal account. The care center hopes to be able to fulfill those obligations using $125,000 committed by the city of Ainsworth.

Board member Buddy Small said he found the numbers to be confusing and has felt that way for some time. He questioned why the board needed to transfer more than $72,000 when the loss for the month was $34,000.

Fuchs said, since the care center board only meets once per month, claims are included so they can be paid in a timely manner and late fees avoided. He said the financial report combines a profit and loss report for the month with bills from September and October that need to be paid.

“It can be confusing,” Fuchs said.

Board member Shawn Fernau said it would also help him to make sense of the financial reports to see the bank transactions to see the deposits made and where the money was spent.

Jacobs said she would provide the board with copies of the care center’s monthly bank statements in addition to the other financial reports so the members could see all the deposits and expenditures made each month.

Small asked Fernau, who is the City Council’s representative on the board, when the city planned to provide the $125,000 to match what the county had provided.

Fernau said he believed the payment was scheduled to be made this month. He said he would make sure the claim was included on the list during the council’s meeting scheduled for Wednesday.

Small asked why the city opted not to make an $80,000 annual contribution like the county had already done for the 2022-23 fiscal year.

“What is the city going to do to maintain parity with the county?” Small asked.

Fuchs said, there were no official motions, but the care center board was told the city would provide the $80,000 for the 2022-23 budget during a joint meeting of the council and the commissioners in April.

During a joint meeting of the entities in June, Fuchs said it was determined that amount would not be enough to cover the facility’s operations for the year and the two groups agreed to each provide a one-time additional contribution of $125,000.

Fuchs said the city, instead of providing both the $80,000 and $125,000 commitments, substituted the original $80,000 with the $125,000, leaving its contribution $80,000 shy of what the county contributed.

“We were counting on that additional funding to get us through the fiscal year,” Fuchs said. “If we were to get that other $80,000 from the city we were planning on, that would get us close to June or July.”

Jacobs reported there were currently 21 residents in the Sandhills Care Center, with eight residents paying privately, three receiving Medicare assistance and 10 residents receiving assistance from Medicaid.

Of the 21 residents, 13 were residents of Brown County, including eight city of Ainsworth residents, one Long Pine resident, and three from rural Brown County. Six care center residents previously resided in Cherry County, and two were from Rock County.

She said the care center was working to admit another member of the community as a new resident.

“We are just waiting on the Medicaid application to be approved,” Jacobs said. “We anticipate that the spouse would likely soon follow after that resident is admitted.”

Jacobs reported, during the past month, the care center had filled two openings in its dietary department, one CNA position, and had filled its business manager opening. The board approved removing Dawn Pierce and adding new business manager Makenzie Crane to the facility’s signature cards.

During the Nov. 8 election, residents of the city of Ainsworth will be asked whether to provide 10 cents in additional property tax levy to the Sandhills Care Center for a five-year period, generating just shy of $100,000 in annual operating revenue for the facility.

Brown County residents will be asked whether to provide 1 cent in additional property tax levy for a five-year period, which would supply the facility with just shy of $100,000 in annual operating funds.

The next meeting of the Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors is scheduled for 5 p.m. Nov. 14, during which time the board will know whether or not those bond questions were approved by voters in the county and the city of Ainsworth.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

October 2

  • Responded to Elm St in Ainsworth for a reported fire in the backyard. Deputies made contact with the homeowner and the fire was extinguished.
  • Provided civil standby in Long Pine for exchange of property.
  • Received a report of an abandoned vehicle near the 183/20 Highway Junction. The owner was contacted and had the vehicle towed.
  • Issued a notice to correct a city ordinance violation on 5th St in Ainsworth.
  • All Brown County Fire Departments were paged for mutual aid assistance in Blaine and Thomas Counties.

October 3

  • The Brown County Ambulance were paged to a 911 call from an Ainsworth gas station. The patient refused transport at this time.
  • Received an animal neglect complaint for dogs not having shelter. Deputies made contact with the owner and determined the dogs to be in good health and having shelter at night time.
  • Responded to a report of a missing juvenile from the Ainsworth High School. The juvenile was located and reported safe.

October 4

  • The Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call in Ainsworth and transported one patient to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Responded to a request for a welfare check on a rural Brown County resident. The individual was located and reported safe.
  • The Brown County Ambulance was paged to an Ainsworth business on Main St. The patient refused transport at this time.
  • Issued a verbal warning to an Elm St resident for a loose dog.
  • Received a report of child neglect in Ainsworth. With the help of DHHS this is an ongoing investigation.
  • Provided assistance to a motorist in the Pine Glen Public Hunting grounds with a flat tire.

October 5

  • Released an inmate from the Brown County Jail to an arresting agency from Texas. The male subject had been held here for a Texas Parole warrant, with no bond.
  • Arrested a male subject on an arrest warrant for failure to appear on Main St in Ainsworth. The bond was set at $2500.
  • Responded to a report of a loose dog chasing individuals walking on Ash St in Ainsworth. Deputies made contact with the owner and it was determined the dog was loose accidentally.  A safety plan was made so it could be prevented in the future.
  • The Brown County Ambulance picked up a flight crew and transported them to the hospital and back to the airport.

October 6

  • Issued a notice to correct for a city ordinance violation on Maple St in Ainsworth.
  • Responded to a report of an off road motorcycle on Elm St in Ainsworth. Deputies made contact with the driver and issued a verbal warning.
  • Responded to a noise complaint of barking dogs on 7th St in Ainsworth. The owner was contacted and the issue was resolved.

October 7

  • Picked up an inmate from Madison County Jail and transported the subject back to the Brown County Jail. The subject was arrested in Madison County for a Brown County warrant for failure to appear.  Bond was set at $500.
  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing on Highway 7, near mile marker 27.
  • Received a report of offroad vehicles, without flags, driving on 4th St. Deputies made contact with drivers and they displayed their flags before moving again.
  • Provided a civil standby for a custody exchange of an infant.
  • Responded to a report of unauthorized bulldozing of a building in Ainsworth. Deputies found the property owner’s to be in compliance with removal of the building.

October 8

  • Booked an inmate into the Brown County Jail for a weekend court commitment.
  • Responded to a report of guns being fired in an unsafe direction near Long Pine. The individuals firing the weapons were found to be shooting in a safe direction, and no further action was needed.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 7, near mile marker 40, a citation was issued to a Colorado driver for no operator’s license and speeding 80mph in a 65 mph zone.

Weekly Summary
15 – Incident Reports Were Taken
159  – Phone Calls Were Received
5 – 911 Emergency Calls Received
0– Titles Were Inspected
3 – Handgun Permits Applied For
11– Paper Services Were Served

* Bovee fire 97 percent contained

(Posted 9 a.m. Oct. 7)

The Bovee Fire in the Nebraska National Forest near Halsey is 18,930 acres and is now 97% contained. The fire is completely surrounded by fireline. Firefighters continue to work on improving the line, mopping up, and patrolling.

Structure protection forces have completed assessments and will focus on chipping fuels near structures. Residents should note that even though the fire is approaching full containment, smoke may be visible in the interior of the fire for some time. This is normal and does not present a threat. 

Division A: An Unmanned Aerial System or drone found no heat near the line Thursday. Today, firefighters will continue to patrol the line and mop up any heat sources that may be found.  

Division Z: There is one small area of heat remaining inside the fireline on the south end of this division. Though inside the fireline, this heat source accounts for the 3% of the fire that remains uncontained. Today, firefighters will grid this area to ensure all hotspots are found and mop them up. The remainder of the Division will be patrolled. Hazard tree mitigation will occur on Road 201 and Trail 112. 

Division L: The drone found two heat sources Thursday in the shelterbelt on the north end of the Division. Crews quickly mopped them up. Today, the focus will be on patrolling the fireline and mopping up any other hot spots that may be found. 

There are no current evacuations on the Bovee Fire. 

Highway 2 is open, but use caution as there will continue to be fire traffic in and around the fire area. 

An Area Closure encompassing the entire Bessey Ranger District is in place on the Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands. Fire restrictions are also in place on various parts of the Forests and Grasslands.

* Bovee fire now 94 percent contained

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

The National Forest Service reported Thursday the Bovee Fire has burned 18,861 acres, a slight reduction from Wednesday’s report due to better mapping.

Containment has risen to 94%. Fireline now encircles the entire fire perimeter, but a few short sections are not fully secure, leaving containment 6% short of complete. The remaining areas are a priority as crews and engines continue to strengthen firelines and cool any remaining hotspots.

Mop-up, patrol, and hazard mitigation will continue on the contained portions of fireline. Structure protection forces will continue to assess and secure around structures, as well as remove burned hazard trees from roads and trails to improve safe access. Wednesday was the final shift for the night crew, as there is no longer a need. Night shift personnel will be rested and deployed elsewhere 

Division A: Fireline construction was completed Wednesday. There is one hotspot near the line that crews are working on Thursday. Other personnel will patrol the perimeter with UTVs looking for additional areas of heat. A specialized wildfire drone will also be used to search for pockets of significant heat inside the perimeter.  

Division Z: Fireline was completed around the south end Wednesday, tying into Division A. One hotspot remains near the line, and firefighters are mopping it up Thursday. Other staff will continue to patrol the perimeter to ensure no other hotspots arise. 

Division L: Engines will be positioned on high terrain on the north end of the fire line to look for any smoke that may become visible. Firefighters on UTVs and a drone will also be utilized to search for hot areas. There remains an area of heat in the shelterbelt on the north end of the fire, and firefighters will make that area a priority to mop up Thursday. 

 There are no current evacuations on the Bovee Fire. Highway 2 is open, but use caution as there is heavy fire traffic in and around the fire area. 

* Work scheduled for Highway 12 east of Sparks Monday

(Posted 12:30 p.m. Oct. 5)

Weather permitting, work will begin Monday, Oct. 10, on Highway 12 east of Sparks between mileposts 18 and 22, according to the Nebraska Department of Transportation.

Western Engineering Company of Harlan, Iowa, has the contract. Work includes grading, asphalt overlay and seeding. Traffic will be maintained with a pilot car and flaggers. Anticipated completion is November.

Motorists are reminded to drive cautiously in and near work zones, to buckle up, and to put phones down.

* Burn ban in effect, fire pits in Ainsworth now also banned

(Posted 10 a.m. Oct. 5)

Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala reminds Brown County residents that a burn ban remains in effect for the entirety of the county. Fiala reported Wednesday he has been receiving questions after some rain in the area on whether the ban is still in effect.

“The burn ban will likely remain in place until we get some consistent snow cover,” Fiala said.

The fire chief reported the burn ban now also covers the city of Ainsworth. Previously, covered fire pits were being allowed inside the city limits. However, Fiala said numerous fire pits have been observed with no screen covering, so the burn ban now includes all of the county and fire pits in Ainsworth are no longer allowed.

Those who violate the burn ban could be held liable if they have a fire that causes any property damage, and violators could also face fines and criminal charges.

More than 80 percent of the state of Nebraska is in some form of drought, with topsoil and subsoil moisture levels deemed to be short or very short.

* Bovee fire 56 percent contained, 18,000 acres burned

(Posted 10 a.m. Oct. 5)

As of Wednesday morning, the Bovee Fire in the Nebraska National Forest near Halsey now stands at 18,932 acres and is 56% contained. Continued cool and moist weather Tuesday allowed firefighters to make additional progress on completing containment lines. Over the next few days, work will gradually shift from fireline construction to line reinforcement, mopup, patrol, and hazard mitigation. Structure protection forces will remain in place to complete damage assessments and finish hazard mitigation around structures within the fire area. The night shift will continue patrolling to ensure structures and firelines are secure. 

Division A: This western side of the fire, south of Highway 2, is mainly on National Forest lands. Fireline construction was essentially completed in this area Tuesday. Crews will work on widening and strengthening these lines to be sure the fire cannot breach them. Some crew members will begin removing hazards along roads and trails by felling burned trees and removing downed trees from access corridors. A few remaining hotspots nearest to Highway 2 and along State Spur 86B will be cooled down and mopped up. 

Division Z: The eastern side of the fire, south of Highway 2, is also primarily on National Forest lands. Crews are continuing to make progress on completing direct fireline construction in this area. This will likely take one to two more shifts to complete. Once completed, the lines will be strengthened and hazard mitigation will occur similarly as in Division A. 

Division L: This portion of the fire is north of Highway 2 on mostly private land with grassy fuels. Fireline is substantially completed in this Division. Engines and firefighters on UTVs will continue to patrol the fire perimeter to make sure the fire’s edge remains secure. Additional firefighters will work on the few remaining hotspots in shelterbelt areas on the north end of the Division. 

All evacuations on the Bovee Fire have been lifted. Highway 2 is open, but use caution as there is heavy fire traffic in and around the fire area. 

* Close week for the KBRB Football Contest winners

(Posted 8 a.m. Oct. 5)

It was a tough week to pick winners during Week 6 of the KBRB Football Contest. Of the 14 games on the card, the closest pickers were correct 12 times. Five contestants missed two games on the Week 6 card, which sent us to the tiebreaker, the Huskers’ 35-21 victory over Indiana.

Travis Mundorf, Kristie Mundorf and Kallie Mundorf of Springview, Jenny Beel of Johnstown and Kathy Bennett of Ainsworth all had faith in the Huskers to beat Indiana after missing just two of the 14 games on the card.

That sent us to the second tiebreaker, the closest to the actual score. Jenny Beel picked a 28-24 Husker win, missing the 35-21 score by just 10 total points. That earned Beel the $40 first-place certificate for Week 6. Kathy Bennett and Travis Mundorf picked identical 31-28 Husker wins to miss the total by 11 points and tie for second. Both Bennett and Travis Mundorf will receive $10 second-place certificates. Kristie Mundorf, at 21-17, missed the total by 18 points, and Kallie Mundorf, at 20-16, missed the score by 19 points

Winners may pick up their certificates from the KBRB Studios or make arrangements for the KBRB sports crew to drop off cards if unable to make it to Ainsworth. Certificates may be redeemed from any of the KBRB Football Contest Card sponsors.

Week 7 KBRB Football Contest cards are available now from Buckles Automotive, AKRS Equipment and Speedee Mart in Ainsworth; from Circle B Livestock and the Tri County Bank in Bassett; from West Plains Bank in Springview; from the Tri County Bank in Stuart; and from Speedee Mart and the Tri County Bank in Atkinson.

The deadline to submit football contest cards this year is 4 p.m. Thursday if dropping off at the studio or the cards must carry a Thursday postmark if mailed.

* Tubbs, Nemetz named Believers & Achievers by NSAA

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 5)

Currency and the Nebraska School Activities Association announced the 2022-23 Believers & Achievers. Believers & Achievers is a state-wide program designed to give recognition to Nebraska’s future leaders.

Beginning in October and continuing through April, 48 Nebraska high school seniors will be recognized as Believers & Achievers.

Among the 48 finalists is Stuart High School senior Chiana Tubbs and West Holt High School senior Maci Nemetz.

From those 48 finalists, eight will receive $500 scholarships from Currency to use for the college or university of their choice at a scholarship banquet to be held April 23.

These students will be recognized at NSAA State Championships throughout the 2022-23 activities year and on a poster sent to all NSAA member schools.

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

* Forest Service provides update on Bovee Fire

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

An update on the Bovee Fire provided by the National Forest Service:

Special Note: Rocky Mountain Complex Incident Management Team 1 assumed management responsibility for the Bovee Fire at 6 p.m. Monday. The team is one of three CIM teams in the Rocky Mountain geographic area.

Current Situation: The Bovee Fire is approximately 15,000 acres and is 30% contained. Monday, cooler, less windy weather and light rainfall aided firefighters in their suppression efforts. Dozers, engines, and hand crews made good progress on fireline construction on the northern and eastern flanks of the fire, and work began on the western side. This work continued Tuesday, and a night shift will also be in place to patrol and ensure that structures and firelines are secure 

On large, complex fires, supervisors divide the fire perimeter into divisions to provide for better management and safer operations. Daily updates will describe the fire’s activities and suppression actions within each division.

Division A: This western side of the fire south of Highway 2 is mainly on National Forest lands. Tuesday, two hotshot crews, dozers, and engines are building direct fireline as they work towards containment of this portion of the fire perimeter. They will utilize meadows and other natural fire breaks to the extent possible to speed their progress. 

Division Z: The eastern side of the fire south of Highway 2 is also primarily on National Forest lands. Dozers are building direct fireline working south from the river break where conditions allow. Engines will be utilized as additional support. 

Division L: This portion of the fire is north of Highway 2 in mostly grassland fuels. Volunteer Fire Departments have been working to contain this area. As of Tuesday, the area is mostly in mop up and patrol status, but five engines will also work on areas of heat remaining in woody draws on the north end of the fire. 

Weather,  Fuels, and Fire Behavior:  
A warming trend will occur through mid-week, with cooler weather returning on Thursday. Fuels dampened by recent rain and high humidity will be unable to sustain fire spread. Fire behavior Tuesday was limited to creeping and smoldering. 

Evacuations, Closures, and Fire Restrictions: 
All evacuations on the Bovee Fire have been lifted. Highway 2 is open. Drive with caution, as there may be heavy fire traffic and smoke in the area. 

* Monday update on Bovee fire

(Posted 12:30 p.m. Oct. 3)

Federal, state, and local firefighters are aggressively attacking the 15,000-acre Bovee Fire, which ignited Sunday afternoon in the Nebraska National Forest about 3 miles south of the Bessey Ranger District office.
The Bovee Fire was reported at 12:38 p.m. on October 2, and quickly spread up to 15 miles north, pushed through dry fuels by gusty south winds. Structure protection efforts by Forest Service and local firefighters successfully defended the historic Bessey Nursery and CCC Campground. Unfortunately, the lodge and camper cabins of the Nebraska 4H Camp were destroyed, along with the Scott Lookout Tower. The fire’s cause is under investigation.
“We had a good night last night and made a lot of progress on the east and north,” said Incident Commander Brian Daunt. “Monday’s focus is holding those lines, and constructing line to the west of the fire.”
More than 100 firefighters are on scene, including two Type I Interagency Hotshot Crews, 10 engines, a dozer, and a fire suppression module. Air tankers were used Sunday to drop retardant and slow the fire’s spread, and will be available as needed. Colorado’s Multi-mission Aircraft was scheduled to fly the fire Monday afternoon to provide detailed infrared mapping of the fire perimeter.
Weather conditions were much more favorable for firefighters Monday, with highs in the 70s and lighter winds. The Rocky Mountain Complex Incident Management Team, led by Incident
Commander Dan Dallas, has been activated to take command of the Bovee Fire, and is mobilizing en route to the incident.
Nebraska Highway 2 has been reopened between Thedford and Halsey. To protect public and firefighter safety, the Nebraska National Forest has closed the entire Bessey Ranger District to the public during the Bovee Fire.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

September 25

  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing on Highway 20, near mile marker 228.
  • Responded to a request for an accident report involving a broken windshield in a parked vehicle.

September 26

  • Received a report of suspected social security fraud. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Responded to a disturbance on South Main St in Ainsworth. One female was issued a citation for possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana less than 1oz, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

September 27

  • Responded to a report of suspicious activity on Wilson St in Ainsworth. No criminal activity was found.
  • Released an inmate from the Brown County Jail after they received a personal recognizance bond.
  • Responded to a city ordinance violation of parking longer than 24 hours on a city street near 7th and Maple streets. Deputies made contact with both owners of the vehicles.
  • Notice was issued to a vehicle owner on Elm St in Ainsworth for expired vehicle plates.
  • Responded to a request for an accident report on Elm St in Ainsworth. One vehicle had minor damages after being struck by an unknown vehicle. 

September 28

  • Transported a loose dog on 6th st to the Ainsworth Vet Clinic.

September 29

  • The Brown County Ambulance transported a patient from the Sandhills Care Center to the Brown County Hospital.
  • K9 Handler and K9 Dutch provided agency assistance to an allied agency. Controlled substances were found.
  • Responded to a request for a welfare check on Meadville Ave. The individual no longer lives at that residence.

September 30

  • The Brown County Ambulance transferred a patient from the football field to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Assisted Nebraska State Patrol on a traffic stop on Highway 7.

October 1

  • During a traffic stop near Ash St in Ainsworth, a Nebraska female was issued a citation for driving under the influence of alcohol and booked into the Brown County Jail.

Weekly Summary
13– Incident Reports Were Taken
155 – Phone Calls Were Received
3 – 911 Emergency Calls Received
5– Titles Were Inspected
0 – Handgun Permits Applied For
7 – Paper Services Were Served

September Summary
1– Accidents                              
10– Arrests
73– Calls for Service
22– Citations were issued
36– Verbal & Written Warnings issued
8– Defect Cards issued
25– Paper Service served
569– Phone calls were received
34– 911 emergency calls received
25– Titles inspected
0– Handgun permits issued

* Large fire burning in the National Forest near Halsey

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

All volunteer fire departments in the area were called Sunday to provide mutual aid to the fast-moving Bovee fire in the Bessey Ranger District at the Nebraska National Forest near Halsey.

The fire, which the National Forest Service says was likely human-caused, began Sunday afternoon and was quickly fanned by a southwest wind. The fire is currently estimated at more than 15,000 acres. It jumped Highway 2 and continued burning to the northeast. The fire prompted the closure of Highway 2 between Dunning and Thedford Sunday.

Multiple large tankers and single-engine air tankers were dispatched to assist Sunday evening. Resources from the South Dakota State Wildland Fire Team and the Black Hills National Forest were also dispatched to assist with the wildfire.

The village of Halsey was evacuated Sunday, as were all campgrounds in the National Forest. KBRB will provide more information as it becomes available.

* Concrete to be poured Tuesday on Highway 20

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

The Nebraska Department of Transportation provided an update on the Highway 20 construction project in Ainsworth.

A&R Construction plans to pour concrete Tuesday on a portion of the north lane on the west end of the project from Wilson Street to Court Street. The pour will include 360 cubic yards of concrete.

The north intersection of Osborne Street with Highway 20 will close Monday. The utilities contractor is installing storm sewer and utility improvements from Court Street east to Main Street.

Access to Rodeway Inn is available from Hunt Street to East Fifth Street. The route is marked.

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 1:30 p.m. Sept. 29)

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

Matthew C. Wimmer, age 46, of Detroit Lakes, Minn., charged with two counts of violating a stop or yield sign, fined $75 on each count.

Reyes Escarcega Molina, 38, of Colorado Springs, Colo., violating a stop or yield sign, $75; also charged with speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Michael R. Spotted Bear, 22, of Ainsworth, possession of an open alcohol container in a vehicle, $50.

Alejandra Alonso Cruz, 32, of Long Pine, failure to use a child passenger restraint, $25.

Patricia K. Gabbard, 72, of Riverside, Calif., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Martha L. Boyle, 70, of Hoisington, Kan., no park permit, $25.

Christopher S. Purdum, 38, of Wichita, Kan., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Kenneth E. Jefferis, 67, of Long Pine, no valid registration, $25.

* State, national unemployment rates tick up in August

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 28)

The Nebraska Department of Labor reported Nebraska’s preliminary unemployment rate for August was 2.1 percent. The rate was up 0.1 percentage points from the July rate and was down 0.4 percentage points from the August 2021 rate of 2.5 percent.

Nebraska’s August rate is the fourth lowest in the country. Minnesota has the lowest rate in the nation at 1.9 percent in August, followed by New Hampshire and Utah at 2.0 percent. Nebraska is tied with Vermont for the fourth lowest rate in the country at 2.1 percent. New York has the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 4.7 percent.

“The number of employed workers in the state increased by over 16,000 since August 2021,” said Commissioner of Labor John H. Albin. “Nebraska also saw an uptick in new entrants in the labor force from July to August.”

Brown County’s unemployment rate of 2.2 percent is just above the state average. Rock County has the lowest rate in the area with just 1.4 percent of workers claiming unemployment benefits. Cherry County and Holt County are close behind at 1.6 percent. Keya Paha County and Boyd County each matched the state average with an August rate of 2.1 percent. Blaine County has the highest unemployment rate in the area in August at 2.9 percent.

Thurston County, at 3.6 percent, had the highest unemployment rate in the state in August. The lowest rate in the state belonged to tiny Grant County in the Sandhills at 1.2 percent.

Over 1 million Nebraskans have been employed since August of 2020.

Nonfarm employment, a count of filled jobs, was 1,029,051 in August, down 3,238 over the month and up 16,336 over the year. Private industries with the most growth month to month were financial activities (up 877), mining and construction (up 718), and information (up 385). Private industries with the most growth year to year were professional and business services (up 3,387), leisure and hospitality (up 3,162), and education and health services (up 3,142). 

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August is 3.7 percent, up 0.2 percentage points from the July rate and down 1.5 percentage points from the August 2021 rate of 5.2 percent.

* Cherry County vineyard receives CDBG funding

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

Just over a mile south of rural Nenzel, members of a five-generation family serve as vintners in north central Nebraska. Specialty wines at Niobrara Valley Vineyards tell the story of the Nollette family’s ranching roots. Cowgirl Blush and Sweetheart Red are just two of the vineyard’s wines that portray the family’s life in the Sandhills since the turn of the 20th century.

More than 100 years later, the Nollettes are expanding their company’s footprint with an expansion project. This week, Lt. Gov. Mike Foley helped celebrate the project’s groundbreaking with Gregory and Cindy Nollette, Cherry County officials, members of the Central Nebraska Economic Development District and the Department of Economic Development.

A new campsite, walking paths and restrooms are part of the $736,089 project, which will include assistance from a federal Community Development Block Grant for Tourism Development. Program funding is facilitated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and administered by DED.

“We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate on projects designed to showcase why we choose to call Nebraska home,” Foley said. “The story of Niobrara Valley Vineyards started with an entrepreneurial family’s vision to welcome visitors to our state. Cherry County and CNEDD leaders brought tourism dollars to the table for this project, which solidified efforts to invigorate development in this region.”

In addition to the ongoing development of infrastructure and amenities on the property, the $385,039 Community Development Block Grant will create Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility. The funding assistance will create two full-time jobs for low to moderate income employees. The employees will provide staffing for the winery’s new tasting room and event center, which will be funded through private investments.

“Public and private partnerships are often a cornerstone of tourism development in our state and encourage Nebraskans to play a role in regional growth,” said CDBG Manager Steve Charleston. “The CDBG-Tourism Development program has become increasingly competitive over the past several years and has helped fund projects in other Nebraska communities, such as Gothenburg, Hastings and Ogallala. We are anxious to help facilitate similar growth in Cherry County through Niobrara Valley Vineyard’s expansion.”  

The CDBG-Tourism Development program requires visitation from 2,500 people per year. The program also helps fund historic restorations, scientific and educational interpretive sites, cultural and heritage sites, and facilitates the removal of architectural barriers.

* Hansmeyer wins Week 5 football contest in a tiebreak

(Posted 3 p.m. Sept. 27)

After the first perfect card was submitted in Week 4, no one was able to pick all 14 games correctly during Week 5 of the KBRB Football Contest. In fact, only two contestants checked the right boxes on 13 of the 14 games.

Lanay Hansmeyer of Long Pine and Byron Pfister of Long Pine each missed just one game on the Week 5 card, with Hansmeyer missing Texas Tech’s home victory over Texas on the college side, and Pfister picking Valentine to beat O’Neill on the high school side in a game the Badgers lost by a point to the Eagles.

With two contestants missing one game, that sent us to our tiebreaker, Ohio State’s 52-21 triumph over Wisconsin with Nebraska on a bye. Both Hansmeyer and Pfister correctly picked the Buckeyes to win. Hansmeyer’s prediction of 35-21 missed the total by 17, while Pfister had the Buckeyes picked 35-14, missing the total by 24 points. By virtue of the tiebreaker, Lanay Hansmeyer wins this week’s $40 first-place certificate and Byron Pfister picks up the $10 second-place certificate.

Five contestants missed two games to finish just out of the running. They included Tony Allen of Ainsworth, Travis Mundorf and Crystal Stout of Springview, and Mark Hysell and Russ Burkhalter of Atkinson.

Winners may pick up their certificates from the KBRB Studios or make arrangements for the KBRB sports crew to drop off cards if unable to make it to Ainsworth. Certificates may be redeemed from any of the KBRB Football Contest Card sponsors.

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

The deadline to submit football contest cards this year is 4 p.m. Thursday if dropping off at the studio or the cards must carry a Thursday postmark if mailed.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 6:15 a.m. Sept. 26)

September 18

  • Responded to suspicious activity on South Main St in Ainsworth. No criminal activity was found.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, near mile marker 243, a NE plated vehicle was issued a citation for speeding 60mph in a 35 mph zone.

September 19

  • Responded to a report of suspicious activity near an apartment complex in Ainsworth. Deputies were unable to locate any subjects in the area.
  • Responded to a report of trespassing on a property along Highway 183. This is an ongoing investigation.

September 20

  • During a traffic stop near the 4th St and Richardson Drive intersection, a Nebraska driver and passenger were issued citations for possession of marijuana 1 oz or less and possession of drug paraphernalia.
  • Responded to a report of a juvenile sexual assault. One male subject was booked into the Brown County Jail and bond was set at $50,000 cash.  This is an ongoing investigation.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, near mile marker 245, a Colorado driver was issued a citation for possession of marijuana 1 oz or less, no proof of insurance, and defective vehicle lighting.

September 21

  • The Brown County Ambulance was paged for a 911 call in Ainsworth and transferred one individual to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Responded to a motorist assist on Highway 7. No accident report was needed but a tow truck was dispatched.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, near mile marker 245, a Washington driver was issued a citation for speeding, and driving under the influence of alcohol. The subject was booked into the Brown County jail and later posted bond and was released.

September 22

  • Responded to suspicious activity on Elm St in Ainsworth. Deputies made contact with two individuals on 4th St and found no criminal activity at this time.
  • Responded to a report of a juvenile having a mental health crisis.
  • Responded to a report of juvenile enticement. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, mile marker 238, a South Dakota driver was issued a citation for speeding 85mph in a 65 mph zone.

September 23

  • Responded to a report of suspicious activity at a hotel in Ainsworth. Deputies responded and found no criminal activity.
  • Provided civil standby for a property dispute in Ainsworth.
  • Responded to a report of a disturbance in Ainsworth. The individual was separated from the rest of the party for the night.

September 24

  • Booked a male subject into the Brown County Jail on an arrest warrant. Bond was set at $1000.
  • Booked a female subject into the Brown County Jail for a weekend court commitment.
  • The Raven Fire Department sent a truck to respond to a report of smoldering hay bales.
  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing on Highway 7 near mile marker 13.

Weekly Summary:
0 – Handgun Permits Applied For
16- Incident Reports Were Taken
4 – Paper Services Were Served
156 – Phone Calls Were Received
12- 911 Emergency Calls Received
4 – Titles Were Inspected

* Initial segment of north lane to be poured Tuesday

(Posted 11:45 a.m. Sept. 22)

The Nebraska Department of Transportation on Thursday provided an update on the Highway 20 construction project in Ainsworth. A&R Construction, now in Phase III of the project, plans to pour concrete from Pine Street to Richardson Drive Tuesday on the north lane of the highway.

A total of 650 cubic yards of concrete is slated to be poured Tuesday. Once that stretch of paving is complete, A&R Construction will begin preparing Wilson Street to Main Street for concrete.

Beginning Monday, direct access to Rodeway Inn will be closed for up to two weeks until the new concrete is cured enough for vehicles to drive on it. Access to Rodeway Inn will be available from the east entrance to the hotel utilizing Hunt Street and East Fifth Street. The route will be marked.

The storm sewer contractor plans to close the Wilson Street intersection Monday for utility improvements and storm sewer installation. Meadville Avenue will remain open during that time for truck traffic.

* Care Center runs in the red during August financial report

(Posted 12:15 p.m. Sept. 21)

The financial outlook was again top of mind Friday for the monthly meeting of the Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors. While many agency staffing positions have now been filled with its own hires, the care center still incurred more than $55,000 in agency staffing costs during August and overall losses for the month were over $58,000.

During August, the care center generated $183,923 in revenue, with expenses of $242,441 for a net loss of $58,518. The care center’s financial report did show a $10,000 donation that was made to the facility, and the facility is planning on $125,000 in previously committed support from the Brown County Commissioners to get the facility to the November General Election where voters will be asked whether they want to support the nursing home through property tax levies.

Care Center Board Chairman Phil Fuchs said the care center hired its former agency assistant director of nursing for the same position. He said the current agency director of nursing was potentially interested in full-time employment with the care center pending the outcome of the public votes in November.

“If we can get a director of nursing hired, we would be finished with agency staffing and would be closer to making things work,” Fuchs said.

Fuchs said the city of Ainsworth also budgeted $125,000 to match the county’s committed contribution, but did not include the other $80,000 in funding as the county had as part of its 2022-23 budget.

The board discussed the upcoming General Election ballot questions. City of Ainsworth voters will be asked whether to provide 10 cents in a property tax levy for the next five years to support the facility’s operations, while voters in the county who reside outside the city limits of Ainsworth will be asked whether to provide 1 cent in property tax levy for five years to support the nursing home.

Fuchs reported the county tax would levy $10 in property tax for every $100,000 in property valuation, while the levy on property inside the city limits would amount to $110 in tax for every $100,000 in property owned.

Fuchs reminded the board these levies would replace the annual $80,000 contributions the city and the county had been making from their general funds to support the care center. Should both levy questions be approved by voters, the tax would be levied beginning with the 2023 tax year and the nursing home would begin to receive the funds when 2023 taxes are paid. Those taxes become delinquent in May and September of 2024.

Administrator Penny Jacobs reported Friday there were 22 residents in the Sandhills Care Center, and the care center had the potential for two additional admissions during the next week.

The next regular meeting of the Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors is scheduled for 5 p.m. Oct. 10.

* Wilkins named homecoming candidate at UN-L

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

Twenty senior students have been selected as University of Nebraska–Lincoln homecoming royalty finalists.

Among the UN-L homecoming king candidates is Sam Wilkins, an Ainsworth High School graduate majoring in agricultural engineering and agricultural economics.

The royalty winners will be elected by the student body in an online vote Sept. 28 and 29. They will be crowned Oct. 1 at halftime of the Nebraska vs. Indiana football game, which kicks off at 6:30 p.m. in Memorial Stadium.

* Allen submits perfect card in KBRB Football Contest

(Posted 1 p.m. Sept. 20)

The first perfect card was submitted during Week 4 of the KBRB Football Contest. Navigating some toss-up matchups on both the high school and college side of the card, Terry Allen of Ainsworth picked all 14 games correctly on the Week 4 card to earn the $40 first-place certificate.

Five contestants missed just one game on the Week 4 contest card, which sent us to the tie-breaker, Oklahoma’s 49-14 domination of the Huskers.

All five contestants who missed one game had the Sooners correctly picked to win. Maxine Brink of Atkinson and Roger Brink of Atkinson picked identical scores of 35-7 Sooners to miss the total by 21 points. Mark Hysell of Atkinson picked a 42-7 Sooner final, missing the total by 14 points. Derek Swan of Springview had the Sooners pegged, 52-24, missing the total by 13 points. Byron Pfister of Long Pine had the Sooners to win, 42-17, missing by 10 points. Pfister was the closest to the actual score and takes home the $10 second-place certificate.

Winners may pick up their certificates from the KBRB Studios or make arrangements for the KBRB sports crew to drop off cards if unable to make it to Ainsworth. Certificates may be redeemed from any of the KBRB Football Contest Card sponsors.

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

The deadline to submit football contest cards this year is 4 p.m. Thursday if dropping off at the studio or the cards must carry a Thursday postmark if mailed.

* City to armor coat 21 blocks Wednesday

(Posted 9 a.m. Sept. 20)

The city of Ainsworth streets department asks vehicle owners to keep all vehicles off 21 blocks of streets that are planned for armor coating work on Wednesday.

TopKote will be in Ainsworth Wednesday placing armor coat gravel on the designated blocks of city streets. Vehicles must be removed from the streets prior to the armor coat work beginning Wednesday morning.

Streets scheduled for armor coating Wednesday are:

First Street from Walnut to Pine streets
Glen Street from First to Second streets
Ash Street from First to Second streets
Woodward Street from First to Second streets
Third Street from Osborne to Woodward streets
Fifth Street from Court to Woodward streets
Fifth Street from North Main to Elm streets
Sixth Street from North Main to Oak streets
Oak Street from Sixth to Seventh streets
Seventh Street from Maple to Oak streets
Seventh Street from Elm to Ash streets

* Brown County Commissioners agenda for Tuesday

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Sept. 20)

Brown County Commissioners
Meeting 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20
Brown County Courthouse
Agenda

5:15             Roll Call.

Kenneth Turpin – Road Department Update

Mowing road ditches – Small

Chandler Schmidt, Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District – Update on Sand Draw Creek Stabilization – Small

Annual Report on Distress Warrants & Striking taxes on a parcel – Vonheeder

Approve 2022-2023 Inventories for County Attorney & STOP – Hobbs

Nomination/Election of NIRMA Board Members – Small

MASA – Employer Benefit Agreement – Hardy

Liquor control commission epayment authorize Brown County Clerk Hobbs to sign – Hobbs

Approve Claims

* Commissioners approved 2022-23 budget, tax request

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Sept. 20)

Following public hearings Monday, the Brown County Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt a $26.9 million budget that will ask property owners in the county for $3.19 million in tax.

A little more than half of the approved budget is the Brown County Hospital budget. The hospital’s $13.7 million budget is included in the county’s overall budget.

The county asked for $2.79 million in property tax to support its general fund, with $397,958 in property tax supporting the voter-approved hospital addition bond. The hospital bond payments will be completed following the 2024-25 fiscal year.

The $3.19 million in property tax the county requested is approximately $126,000 more than the $3.06 million requested for the 2021-22 budget. While the tax asking increased by about 4 percent, the county’s overall budget of $26.98 million was only 0.21 percent above the $26.92 million budget approved for 2021-22.

The overall property valuation in the county jumped by more than $100 million, increasing 11.26 percent from $894.1 million to $994.8 million. While a small percentage of that increase was due to new construction, the vast majority of the valuation increase was due to increased value on existing property.

With the more than $100 million in valuation increase, the county’s property tax levy rate decreased despite the $126,000 in additional tax asking. The levy rate dropped from 34.3 cents per $100 in property value to 32.1 cents per $100. The levy rate declined by 6.44 percent. Had the county asked for the same amount of property tax as it did to support the 2021-22 budget, the levy rate would have been 30.8 cents per $100 in property value.

The county actually spent $19.47 million during the 2021-22 fiscal year, down slightly from the $19.69 million spent during the 2020-21 fiscal year.

The Brown County Hospital spent $11.55 million during the 2021-22 fiscal year, down slightly from $11.67 million spent during 2020-21.

The county spent $3.74 million from its general fund during the recently completed year, up from $3.09 million spent during 2020-21. The roads department spent $2.21 million, up from $1.74 million spent during 2020-21.

The 2022-23 budget includes $2.48 million in capital projects, which is the Meadville Avenue asphalt replacement project. Another $634,625 is budgeted for the county’s bridge fund, which includes the county’s share of the Meadville Avenue bridge project on the Sand Draw Creek as well as the replacement of a bridge over the Ainsworth Irrigation District canal.

With the approval of the 2022-23 budget, the county created $745,277 in unused budget authority, which is property tax dollars the county could have collected if it had maximized its allowable budget increase but instead chose to keep in the pockets of property owners.

Audience member Don Fling asked the commissioners which part of the budget included support for the Sandhills Care Center.

Commissioner Buddy Small said the county had provided $80,000 in funding to the Sandhills Care Center for the current fiscal year, which had been processed in July. He said the board had previously agreed to provide an additional $125,000 if needed, which would come from the county’s inheritance tax.

Fling said he disagreed with money going from the inheritance tax fund to support the nursing home.

“The county has other sources of income other than inheritance tax,” Fling said. “I don’t think that fund should be used for the nursing home.”

Fling said the Legislature initially approved a tax on inheritance that was to be used for county road improvements. He said the Legislature changed the provisions after 100 years to allow counties to use inheritance tax funds in any way they saw fit.

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus said he was not in favor of drying up the county’s inheritance tax fund to support one entity, but he said the county knew when it decided to reopen the nursing home in cooperation with the city that the nursing home would likely not be a money maker.

“When he first talked to us about doing this, Ron Ross told us nursing homes in small communities don’t make money,” Wiebelhaus said. “The question becomes how much are we willing to spend to provide that service.”

Both Commissioners Buddy Small and Denny Bauer said they would not agree to provide any additional support to the nursing home than what has already been provided.

“What we promised to do a few meetings ago is as far as I am willing to go,” Small said.

Bauer said, “That goes for me as well, I won’t vote for any more funds from the inheritance tax. We have to draw a line in the sand somewhere.”

Both the commissioners and the Ainsworth City Council voted to have ballot questions appear on the November General Election ballot that would provide approximately $100,000 from each entity for the next five years in voter-approved levies to support the nursing home. If passed by voters, the $100,000 from each entity would replace the $80,000 in general funds per year each entity had been providing the care center.

Small said the nursing home faces two main problems, those being not having enough residents to pay for operational expenses, and having to hire too many agency nursing positions.

“Managing the care center has been very trying,” Small said. “If it was a private business, it would have been closed by now. The lack of staff is what has been so devastating financially.”

Following discussion on the budget and property tax request, the board approved the 2022-23 budget and property tax request.

The commissioners meeting in regular session at 5:15 p.m. today (Tuesday).

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 19)

September 11

  • Brown County Ambulance transferred a rural Brown County resident to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Conducted a welfare check on an Ainsworth resident. Found to be okay.

September 12

  • Responded to a report of vandalism to a mailbox in Ainsworth.
  • Brown County Ambulance transported a patient from the Sandhills Care Center to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Received a report of property theft from the Village of Johnstown. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Advised Ainsworth Street Dept of a street sign in Ainsworth that needs to be reset or replaced.
  • Received a report of a motorized vehicle on the Cowboy Trail. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Responded to a Lifefone fall alert at a local resident. Resident was found to be fine as this was a false alarm.
  • Responded to a request for an accident report at a business on Highway 20. No injuries were reported.
  • Responded to a report of Vandalism on 4th St in Ainsworth. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Booked an individual into the Brown County Jail on an Arrest Warrant out of TX.

September 13

  • Received a report of dead deer on Highway 20 near Plum Creek. The NE State Dept of Roads was advised and disposed of the deer.
  • Provided a Civil Standby at a local Ainsworth residence.
  • Received a report of an individual driving recklessly at Ainsworth Community Schools. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Transported a stray dog to the Ainsworth Vet Clinic.

September 14

  • Received a report of vandalism to a Stop Sign in rural Brown County. Brown County Dept of Roads was advised. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Received a report of possible assault at Ainsworth Community Schools between students. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Received a report of 1 vehicle accident without injury on Highway 7. Local business contacted to assist with airing some tires.
  • Received a report of Civil Dispute over personal property at a residence in Hidden Paradise. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Long Pine Rural Firemen responded to a possible fire in a storm drain in Long Pine. There was not a fire present.

 September 15

  • K-9 Dutch & handler conducted drug checks at Ainsworth Community Schools.
  • Assisted a business with questions about oversized loads in Brown County by getting him in contact with the Superintendent of Brown County Roads Dept.
  • Booked an individual into Brown County Jail on an Arrest Warrant.

 September 16

  • Provided traffic control for the Homecoming Parade on Main Street.
  • Responded to a 2 vehicle accident without injury on Highway 20 in Ainsworth.
  • Received a report of a possible assault on a student by another student at Ainsworth Community Schools. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a request for transfer of an Ainsworth resident to Brown County Hospital.
  • Released an inmate on appearance bond.
  • Contacted campers at Long Pine State Park to put out their campfire due to the current fire ban and reference posted signs.
  • Responded to a suspicious vehicle parked at a stop sign for a long length of time. Booked an individual into Brown County Jail on an Arrest Warrant. Later released on an appearance bond.

 September 17

  • Responded to a telephoned report of a civil dispute at an Ainsworth residence. Officers were unable to locate anyone in a civil dispute.
  • Responded to a report of suspicious juvenile activity in Ainsworth. The individual was spoken to and no other action was needed.
  • Brown County Ambulance transported a patient from Sandhills Care Center to the Rock County ER.
  • Booked an individual into Brown County Jail following arrest on a DWI violation. Later released on Appearance Bond.

Weekly Summary
18 – Incident Reports Were Taken
113 – Phone Calls Were Received
6 – 911 Emergency Calls Received
2 – Titles Were Inspected
0 – Handgun Permits Applied For
3 – Paper Services Were Served

* City asks for $427,617 in property tax for 2022-23 budget

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

The Ainsworth City Council Wednesday approved a $6.67 million budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year that will ask property owners inside city limits for $427,617.

Following public hearings Wednesday, the council approved the budget and property tax levy, which will maintain a levy rate of 45 cents per $100 in property valuation inside city limits and an additional 5 cents in levy for interlocal agreements.

The levy rate is the same as approved for the 2021-22 fiscal year. With the total value of property inside city limits increasing by a little more than 1 percent from $93.7 million to $95 million, the city will capture just shy of $6,000 in additional property tax by keeping its levy the same.

The property tax asking increases from $421,773 for the 2021-22 fiscal year to $427,617 to support the 2022-23 budget.

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said, “Even with all the things we have going on, the council decided to keep the status quo and stay at a 45-cent levy.”

Schroedl said the big project included in the 2022-23 budget is a paving project on North Main Street between Fourth Street and Seventh Street that will coincide with water and sewer line replacement in that stretch. The city plans to replace the water and sewer lines under the remainder of Main Street in 2024 when the Nebraska Department of Transportation renovates Highway 7 in Ainsworth.

“We hope to get some grant funds to help offset some of those expenses,” Schroedl said. “The budget, otherwise, is pretty similar.”

The city has $1.76 million in bonded debt, which includes a water bond and a USDA loan from a wastewater improvement project that was completed within the past two years. Schroedl said the bond on the last paving project has been paid, and the water bond will be paid off following next year’s budget.

As part of the sales tax the city collects, six-tenths of 1 percent of that 1.5 percent tax goes toward paying off city debt, keeping property taxpayers from having to shoulder the full burden of debt service.

While the city approved a $6.67 million budget Wednesday, actual expenditures are sure to be substantially lower. The city must budget to spend every dollar from every fund under its control, even though the likelihood of doing so is remote.

The city actually spent a touch over $3.5 million during the 2021-22 fiscal year, which was substantially less than the $5.72 million spent during the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Schroedl said flood repairs from the 2019 flooding and a portion of the wastewater improvement project were paid for during the 2020-21 budget, which was why it had substantially higher disbursements than the recently completed 2021-22 budget year.

Following public hearings, the council approved the budget and property tax request and voted to increase the city’s restricted funds by an additional 1 percent, which are funds the city could have asked for in property tax but did not.

In other business Wednesday, the council approved updated garbage service rates and plans to roll out new totes to residential and commercial customers within the next few weeks.

Residential customers will be charged $20 per month for garbage service per 64-gallon or 96-gallon tote requested. Residential customers with one tote having their garbage picked up the standard once per week will pay $20 per month. The city will supply the customer with the tote of their choosing, either 64-gallon or 96-gallon.

All garbage must be bagged before being placed in the totes, and all pickup will be from curbside with the new garbage truck. There will be no alley pickup service.

“The new truck picks up and empties the totes on the top of the truck,” Schroedl said. “The garbage has to be bagged or it will blow all over.”

Schroedl said customers will have from 6 p.m. the day before their pickup day until 6 p.m. on the day of pickup to have their totes curbside. Other than that window, totes are to stay near the residence and not at the curb.

When totes are delivered to residences, the city will place the tote where they would like the resident to place the tote for pickup. Residents are asked not to park vehicles in front of any totes during pickup days. Garbage outside the totes will not be picked up by the city, so residents are encouraged not to place additional bags of trash next to the totes.

Commercial customers who have dumpsters will be charged $65 per month per dumpster for once per week pickup service. The cost is an additional $65 per month if the dumpsters are emptied twice per week.

Schroedl said the city plans to send out letters to all garbage service customers explaining the changes. The city opted to keep its garbage service in-house and purchase a new truck that can be operated by one employee instead of contracting for garbage pickup from a private company.

Residential customers had been paying $14.30 per month for garbage service. Heavy commercial customers with dumpsters had paid $54.60 per month and an additional $13 per month to rent a dumpster. The new $65 rate for commercial customers includes the dumpster rent.

Councilman Schuyler Schenk said, even with the increased costs for most customers, having the city handle garbage pickup was still less expensive than the proposal the city received from the private service.

Schroedl said the new rates should generate approximately $355,800 in revenue annually. Expenses to pay for the truck, operate the truck and pay for the cost of the solid waste is approximately $331,000. She said the city will pay $76,807 annually for the next five years for the new truck.

Schroedl said the city is currently interviewing candidates to operate the new truck, and the city plans to have the operator in place and the new truck in service by Oct. 1.

Anyone with questions regarding garbage pickup may contact the city office.

In other action items Wednesday, briefly, the council:

* Held the second reading of Ordinance 1551 that would amend city code to allow residents to keep up to six laying hens inside city limits. The ordinance will be read for a third time in October before being adopted.

* Approved Ordinance 1552 which renews the city’s economic development program and the Citizens Advisory Review Committee. Residents voted by a nearly 90 percent margin to renew the city’s LB 840 local option sales tax during August, and the action taken by the council renews the program for an additional 15 years.

* Approved, in a related item, Ordinance 1553 that renews the one-half cent sales tax upon transactions inside the city limits for an additional 15-year period.

* Approved a special designated liquor license request for the Silver Circle Bar for a dance Oct. 22 that will also close the alley west of Main Street behind the business.

* Approved a special designated liquor license requested by Sandhills Lounge for the annual Pheasants Forever banquet scheduled for Nov. 4 in the Ainsworth Conference Center.

* Approved a 3-cent levy for the Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department through an interlocal agreement with the Brown County Rural Fire Protection District. Under the agreement, for the city and rural fire district to receive Mutual Finance Organization funding from the state, the Ainsworth Fire Department and rural fire district must have a matching levy of at least 3 cents for at least one year of the three-year agreement. Schroedl said the county has agreed to provide the matching 3-cent levy to the rural fire district for this budget cycle for the entities to qualify for the state MFO funding.

* Approved having North Central Development Center Director Kristin Olson apply for a USDA Rural Development grant on behalf of the city to purchase a quick response multi-use vehicle. Councilman Brad Fiala said the rural fire district cannot apply for the grant for the grass rig because the county is not at its maximum property tax levy. The city, which is at its levy cap, would qualify for the grant and would own the truck. He said it would be used to assist during vehicle accidents and to help provide traffic control. The city would own the truck, and the rural fire district would pay to outfit the truck if the $50,000 grant is awarded.

* Approved allowing Ainsworth Community Schools to place up to four handicap parking spaces at the East City Park football field to allow for handicapped parking.

* Approved declaring chain link and vinyl fence being stored at East City Park as surplus equipment that will be sold by sealed bid. Schroedl said the surplus equipment will be advertised, with bids accepted until Oct. 11.

* Approved designating Schroedl as the city’s voting representative during the annual members meeting of the League Insurance Government Health Team.

The Ainsworth City Council will hold a special meeting at noon Sept. 30 to pay claims and close out the 2021-22 fiscal year. The next regular meeting of the council is scheduled for 5 p.m. Oct. 12.

* Shaw wins KBRB Football Contest second straight week

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

For the second week in a row, Kim Shaw of Bassett was the top prognosticator during the KBRB Football Contest. There were some notable upsets on the Week 3 contest card, especially in the college ranks, and no one submitted a perfect score. For the second straight week, two misses among the 14 games on the card put contestants in the running for the weekly prizes.

Shaw, husband JT Shaw of Bassett, and Kurtis Mizner of Springview each missed two games on the Week 3 card. That took us to our tie-breaker, Georgia Southern’s 45-42 victory over Nebraska that cost Husker coach Scott Frost his job.

All three contestants thought Nebraska would win. That sent us to our second tie-breaker, the closest to the actual score. JT Shaw had the Huskers picked to win, 28-17, missing the total by 42 points. Mizner had the Huskers pegged, 30-20, missing by 37 points. Kim Shaw had the Huskers’ 42-point total picked to the number, but was 24 points off Georgia Southern’s total with her 42-21 prediction.

Kim Shaw earns the $40 first-place certificate for the second straight week, while Mizner picked up the $10 second-place prize.

Six contestants missed three games on the card to just miss out on the top spot. They included Brett Swan and Crystal Stout of Springview, Don Schmaderer of Stuart, Mark Hysell of Atkinson, and Dianah Schrad and Kathy Bennett of Ainsworth.

Winners may pick up their certificates from the KBRB Studios or make arrangements for the KBRB sports crew to drop off cards if unable to make it to Ainsworth. Certificates may be redeemed from any of the KBRB Football Contest Card sponsors.

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

The deadline to submit football contest cards this year is 4 p.m. Thursday if dropping off at the studio or the cards must carry a Thursday postmark if mailed.

* School asks for fewer property tax dollars, levy drops

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 13)

The Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education approved a $14.8 million budget for the 2022-23 year that will ask property owners in the district for $6.67 million in property tax, which is slightly less in property tax than was requested to support the 2021-22 budget.

Coupled with a substantial increase in total property value in the district, the district’s property tax levy will drop by about 8 cents to 68.4 cents per $100 in property value.

“We felt we were conservative with our budget and cognizant of our taxpayers,” Superintendent Dale Hafer said during Monday’s public hearing on the budget. “We offset the increase in costs in some places. We absorbed some positions, and we have seven new staff members who start at a lower salary than those retiring who had a lot of experience.”

The board approved a budget that asks for $6.099 million to support the general fund and $569,447 to support the special building fund for a total ask of $6,669,414. That is slightly less than the $6,671,702 requested for 2021-22.

With total valuation inside the district’s boundaries increasing by more than 11 percent from $876.2 million to $974.5 million, the property tax levy dropped from 76.1 cents per $100 in property valuation in 2021-22 to 68.4 cents for the 2022-23 year. That represents about a 10 percent decrease in the levy rate.

“ESSR funding has helped us,” Hafer said. “We spent those funds on things we would have otherwise had to use general funds, and we will keep doing so. There is an opportunity for us to maintain a level tax asking for a while, but that can be a little hard to predict. There are sometimes unforeseen expenses.”

The school district is scheduled to receive a paltry $47,337 in state aid for the 2022-23 year.

The $9.58 million actually spent during the 2021-22 fiscal year was about $150,000 more than the $9.43 million spent during the 2020-21 fiscal year. Some of the increase in actual disbursements came from the district using its allotment of American Rescue Plan Act funding, which was used to purchase curriculum and replace laptop computers.

The district has $1.9 million in payments remaining for the agriculture and industrial technology building addition. Those payments will end following the 2025-26 fiscal year. The district pays just over $560,000 annually using its special building fund to pay for that addition. This year, the $563,752 payment for the building addition represents 5.8 cents in property tax levy.

“I feel good about what we have done with the budget and where we are headed,” Hafer said. “We are accomplishing our strategic plan and moving the district forward.”

Following the public hearings on the budget and property tax request, the board unanimously approved both Monday.

In other business Monday, the board approved allowing the sale of any surplus property, with lower value items being offered to the public and surplus items with a potential higher value coming to the board to decide whether to offer for sale through sealed bid or by auction.

Hafer said the board in the past has given him the authority to sell smaller items as needed, such as surplus chairs and tables.

“Anything of significant value we bring to you to decide,” the superintendent said.

Board member Brad Wilkins said, “I just encourage you to be as transparent as possible so anyone who would like to has a chance to put in a bid.”

Hafer said that was how the district tried to handle all surplus items.

The board approved an option enrollment request Monday allowing freshman Sidon Brock to option into the Keya Paha County District.

Secondary Principal Steve Dike reported teacher Roberta Denny had been nominated for and received an Outstanding Educator Award from Yale University. Denny was nominated for the award by Yale freshman and Ainsworth High School graduate Alyssa Erthum. Denny was one of just 48 educators in the country to receive the award from the university.

Dike also reported the community betterment day that is typically held in May has been moved to the fall this year to try and take advantage of more scheduling opportunities and better weather. This year’s betterment day, which sees students go out into the district’s communities to perform community service work, is scheduled for Sept. 21.

During their report, Activities Directors Jared Hansmeyer and Scott Steinhauser reported the Learning Center is scheduled to receive an upgrade thanks to a donation from the Weichman family. New stage lights will be put up, and an upgrade will be made to the audio system in the Learning Center. That work is scheduled for Jan. 16-20.

During his report, Hafer said an isolation valve in the boiler room failed, which caused a leak of propylene glycol as well as damage to two pumps and electrical inputs. He said the district has filed an insurance claim, and the boiler is again up and running while parts to repair the issue have been ordered.

“That glycol is about three times more expensive now than it was when we originally put it in to the system,” Hafer said.

He reported the new elementary HVAC system is working nicely to cool the elementary building.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education will begin with a curriculum and assessment retreat at 7 p.m. Oct. 10 followed by the board’s regular meeting at 8 p.m.

* Ainsworth homecoming royalty candidates nominated

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 13)

Candidates for Ainsworth High School homecoming queen and king were unveiled Monday during Royalty Night. Candidates are nominated by various clubs and groups and include: Emma Sears and Jensen Williams who were nominated by the A Club, Cameryn Goochey and Ethan Fernau who were nominated by the Senior Class, Saylen Young and Landon Holloway who were nominated by fall sports, Lauren Ortner and Colten Orton who were nominated by the vocational clubs, and Makenna Pierce, Dakota Stutzman and Ian Finley who were nominated by fine arts. There was a tie between Pierce and Stutzman for the fine arts queen nomination so both were nominated.

The homecoming queen and king will be crowned following the Bulldog football game Friday against Niobrara-Verdigre.

* Phase 3 north lane work to begin on Highway 20

(Posted 1:45 p.m. Sept. 12)

The Nebraska Department of Transportation reported Monday work on Phase 3 of the Highway 20 construction project in Ainsworth will soon commence.

According to the NDOT, A&R Construction plans to switch westbound traffic to the center lane of Highway 20. Both eastbound and westbound traffic will be traveling on the new concrete, as both the south lane and center lane of the project have been completed.

For Phase 3, A&R Construction will renovate the north lane of the highway in similar fashion to the way the south lane was constructed during Phase 1.

As construction on Phase 3 progresses, intersections and business access points will change.  A 5-foot buffer zone will be maintained between westbound traffic in the center lane and the work on the north lane of the project.

* Road work to begin Sept. 19 south of Bassett

(Posted 1:45 p.m. Sept. 12)

Weather permitting, work will begin Monday, Sept. 19, on Highway 183 south of Bassett, from mile posts 172 to 183, according to the Nebraska Department of Transportation.

Western Engineering Company of Harlan, Iowa has the contract. Work includes asphalt overlay,

culvert pipe, curb and gutter, grading and seeding. Traffic will be maintained with a pilot car and flaggers. Anticipated completion is November.

Motorists are reminded to drive cautiously in and near work zones, to buckle up, and to put phones down.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 12)

September 4

  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, near mile marker 236, a Kansas driver was issued a citation for driving under the influence of alcohol. The driver and passenger were both cited for minor in possession of alcohol.
  • Responded to a report of an abandoned one vehicle rollover accident on Highway 7. No injuries were reported but the vehicle was considered to be totaled. 
  • Released three inmates from the Brown County Jail on bond and another inmate for a weekend court commitment.
  • Responded to a verbal disturbance at the Brown County Hospital.
  • Responded to a report of vandalism that occurred to a vehicle in Long Pine.
  • Received a report of a recovered handgun near Long Pine. Efforts are being made to locate the owner.

September 5

  • Responded to a motorist complaint on West Highway 20 involving 2 Indiana plated vehicles passing on the right hand side of the highway. Deputies were unable to locate the vehicles in question.

September 6

  • The Brown County Ambulance was paged to transport a patient from the Sandhills Care Center in Ainsworth to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Provided a civil standby for a landlord and tenant property dispute.
  • Issued a city ordinance notice to correct for properties on Osborne and Ash streets in Ainsworth.
  • Responded to a report of theft involving a purse that was stolen from a vehicle. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Received a request for a welfare check on an infant. The infant was found safe and determined to be in another county with a parent.
  • Provided civil standby for an individual to gather personal belongings.

September 7

  • An Ainsworth resident reported a reckless driving vehicle deliberately swerving at a pedestrian. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Responded to Elm St in Ainsworth for a report of two loose dogs. Deputies were unable to locate the dogs.
  • Responded to a report of a disturbance on Main St in Ainsworth. The Brown County Ambulance was also paged and transferred one individual to the Brown County Hospital.  A report was filed with the Brown County Attorney.

 September 8

  • The Brown County Ambulance was paged to the Sandhills Care Center and transferred one individual to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Provided traffic control on 4th St for an oversized equipment hauler.
  • Received a report of suspicious activity that occurred at an apartment complex in Ainsworth. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Responded to an abandoned vehicle on Norden Avenue. The owner of the car was reached and came to remove the car from the roadway.

 September 9

  • The Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call in Long Pine. The patient denied transport at this time.
  • Responded to a domestic disturbance in rural Brown County. No charges were filed at this time.

 September 10

  • Responded to a report of suspicious activity on 6th St in Long Pine. This is an ongoing investigation.

 Weekly Summary
18 – Incident Reports Were Taken
140– Phone Calls Were Received
10– 911 Emergency Calls Received
1– Titles Were Inspected
0 – Handgun Permits Applied For
4 – Paper Services Were Served

* Shane selected for LEAD Nebraska group

(Posted 11 a.m. Sept. 8)

Nebraska Leadership Education/Action Development Group 41 participants have been announced by the program’s director, Dr. Terry Hejny. The two-year program will begin in September. 

Among the participants in LEAD Nebraska is Amber Shane of Atkinson.

The newest members of Nebraska’s premier two-year agricultural leadership development program are involved in production agriculture and/or agribusiness in Nebraska.  

“I am excited to get started with them as it appears that Class 41 is filled with outstanding individuals from throughout our state. Our task will be to prepare and motivate them for future leadership roles in their community, our state, and beyond,” Hejny said. 

LEAD Fellows will participate in 12 monthly three-day seminars across Nebraska, a 10-day national study/travel seminar and a 14- to 16-day international study/travel seminar. The goal of the program is to develop problem solvers, decision makers, and spokespeople for Nebraska agriculture and beyond. 

Seminar themes include leadership assessment/potential, natural resources, energy, communication, agricultural policy/finance, international trade, Nebraska’s political process, social/cultural issues, agribusiness and marketing, information technology, advances in health care, the resources and people of Nebraska’s Panhandle and other areas designed to develop leaders through exposure to a broad array of current topics and issues and how they interrelate.

* West Nile detected in Holt County mosquito pool

(Posted 9:15 a.m. Sept. 8)

The North Central District Health Department reported West Nile Virus has been detected in mosquitoes in Holt County near O’Neill.

Residents should take precautions to protect themselves from mosquitoes by limiting time spent outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants if outdoors at dusk or dawn, applying mosquito repellant (DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus), and getting rid of standing water where mosquitoes may breed.

A mosquito dashboard with more information is maintained at www.ncdhd.ne.gov

* Meadville Avenue asphalt project delayed until spring

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 7)

The Brown County Commissioners learned Tuesday the Meadville Avenue asphalt overlay project will likely not begin until the spring of 2023.

During his written report Tuesday, Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin indicated Western Engineering would most likely not be able to get started on the paving project this fall, as was initially agreed to when the bid was awarded.

Commissioner Denny Bauer said having the work done next spring instead of this fall might not be a bad thing, as the Sand Draw Creek bridge project was scheduled for March. If the bridge work gets completed first followed by the paving, then the bridge approaches would be in better shape as opposed to those approaches likely needing to be redone if the paving work had been done ahead of the bridge work.

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus agreed.

“It will be better if the bridge is done first,” Wiebelhaus said. “We can keep the same contract with them but just not enforce the late penalty.”

Turpin also reported the roads department has been conducting some cold-mix overlay and patching work on both Meadville Avenue and South Pine Avenue. He reported the department is mixing some additional cold-mix asphalt with the money the commissioners put back into the roads department budget that the board initially cut.

In other business Tuesday, Bauer reported on courthouse building issues, including leaks into the basement and bats getting into the building.

“It baffles me where the water is coming from,” Bauer said. “It hasn’t rained, and the water is not coming from the sprinkler system.”

The commissioners discussed the possibility of there being a leaking water pipe somewhere that is creating the water issue. Bauer said EPP Concrete from Lincoln will inspect the courthouse Oct. 26 and make recommendations on what needs to be done. The board will then go out for bids on a repair project.

Bauer said he had been turned down by two companies when trying to find someone to come take care of the issue with bats getting into the courthouse. A bat was recently discovered in the judge’s chambers.

Bauer said he was waiting for a return call from another company that specializes in bat issues. Commissioner Buddy Small told Bauer to also check with Olson’s Pest Control.

The board Tuesday locked in 2,000 gallons of propane through a contract with Madison’s Great Western. By paying 10 cents per gallon up front, the county locked in a price of $1.99 per gallon for the propane.

The commissioners approved a resolution to conduct a delinquent tax sale on 34 parcels after the owners had not paid property taxes for at least three years. The 34 parcels have a total of $7,396 in delinquent taxes.

The board approved providing burial expenses for a county resident, and approved authorizing Small to sign an agreement with the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission to allow those applying and reapplying for liquor licenses in the county to apply online.

The commissioners discussed a $26,296 claim from the Nebraska Department of Transportation for work completed on the Sand Draw Creek bridge project on Meadville Avenue. Small indicated the money should come from either the county’s disaster fund or the inheritance tax fund.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Sept. 20. That meeting will include the 2022-23 budget hearing and property tax request.

* Week 2 Football Contest ends in a first-place tie

(Posted 2 p.m. Sept. 6)

Week 2 of the KBRB Football Contest featured some close matchups in the high school and college ranks and a couple of upsets. No perfect cards were submitted, and those who missed two of the 14 games on the card were in the running for the weekly prize certificates.

Five contestants missed two games on the Week 2 Football Contest card, which sent us to the tie-breaker, Nebraska’s 38-17 home victory over North Dakota.

Three Ainsworth contestants, including Doug Walton, Mike Schrad and Kathy Bennett, missed two games, as did Kim Shaw of Bassett and Derek Swan of Springview.

All five picked the Huskers to win. Swan missed the total by 22 points with his 52-25 prediction. Bennett missed by 13 points, picking the Huskers, 28-14. Walton missed the total by 11 with his 42-10 guess.

That left Shaw and Schrad, who were both extremely close to the actual score. Shaw guessed a 42-17 final, hitting North Dakota’s score precisely and missing the Husker total by just four. Schrad had the Huskers picked perfectly and missed North Dakota’s score by just four with his 38-13 prediction.

With the two contestants tied, both will receive a $40 first-place certificate this week.

Winners may pick up their certificates from the KBRB Studios or make arrangements for the KBRB sports crew to drop off cards if unable to make it to Ainsworth. Certificates may be redeemed from any of the KBRB Football Contest Card sponsors.

Week 3 KBRB Football Contest cards are available now from Buckles Automotive, AKRS Equipment and Speedee Mart in Ainsworth; from Circle B Livestock and the Tri County Bank in Bassett; from West Plains Bank in Springview; from the Tri County Bank in Stuart; and from Speedee Mart and the Tri County Bank in Atkinson.

The deadline to submit football contest cards this year is 4 p.m. Thursday if dropping off at the studio or the cards must carry a Thursday postmark if mailed.

* Oak Street, Ash Street intersections to close Tuesday

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 6)

The Nebraska Department of Transportation provided an update on the Highway 20 construction project in Ainsworth.

A&R Construction plans to close the Ash Street and Oak Street intersections today (Tuesday) in preparation for pouring concrete Wednesday. A&R Construction will pour 315 cubic yards of concrete Wednesday on that portion of the center lane.

The contractor also plans to complete the final segment of pavement at the Main Street intersection today. The four-way stop will remain in place until the work is complete.

* Brown County Commissioners agenda for Tuesday

(Posted 4 p.m. Sept. 5)

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

5:15              Roll Call.

Acknowledge posting of Open Meetings Law.

Pledge of Allegiance.

Approve minutes of the 8-2-2022 Commissioner meeting.

Approve minutes of the 8-29-2022 Special Commissioner meeting.

Kenneth Turpin – Road Department Update

Discuss & Update on Meadville Avenue Paving Project – Turpin

Approve 2022-2023 Inventories – Hobbs

Resolution for County Tax Sales – County Treasurer and Delinquent Taxes Report – Treasurer

Resolution to approve payment for County burial expenses for Elizabeth Pike – Taylor

Basement Water leakage issue – Bauer

Pest control – Bats – Bauer

Liquor control commission epayment authorize Chairman Small to sign – Hobbs

Acknowledge First Concord Non-Discrimination Testing & Fees

Processing Nebraska Department of Transportation Claim – Hardy

Propane Contract with Madison’s Great Western – Small

Acknowledge Central Nebraska Economic Development District Annual Report – Hobbs

Approve Claims

Budget Discussion/Revision if needed – Hobbs

County Website – Hobbs

Public Comment

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 4 p.m. Sept. 5)

August 28

  • Released two inmates from the Brown County Jail on bond.
  • Responded to a center pivot watering the roadway on Meadville ave. Owners were contacted to resolve the issue.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, a Nebraska driver was issued a citation for driving under the influence of alcohol and possession of a controlled substance. The subject was booked into the Brown County Jail and later posted bond and was released.
  • A second traffic stop on Highway 20, a Illinois driver was issued a citation for speeding 88mph in a 65 mph zone.
  • The Long Pine Fire Department was called to extinguish a campfire that was left unattended in the Long Pine State Park.

August 29

  • A loose dog was reported at 2nd and Oak St in Ainsworth and taken to the Vet Clinic.
  • Provided civil standby on Wilson St in Ainsworth for a property owner.
  • Issued verbal warnings to two Ainsworth residents for unauthorized parking.
  • Responded to a traffic complaint on Highway 20 for a reckless driving vehicle. Deputies made contact with the driver and a warning was issued for driving over the shoulder.
  • Responded to a two vehicle accident in a business parking lot in Ainsworth. Both vehicles had minimal damage, and no injuries were reported.

August 30

  • Received a report of child abuse/neglect in Ainsworth. All information was transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services, and no charges are being issued at this time.
  • Responded to two center pivots watering the roadway complaints and both owners were contacted to resolve the issue.

August 31

  • Responded to a report of an individual burning weeds in the Ainsworth city limits. The homeowner was issued a verbal warning to not start anymore fires, and reminded we are in a burn ban.
  • Responded to a suspicious vehicle activity on Highway 7. The vehicle in question was unable to be located.
  • During a traffic stop on highway 20, a citation was issued to a Nebraska driver for speeding 45mph in a 35 mph zone and possession of drug paraphernalia.

September 1

  • Issued 4 city ordinance violations notices to Ainsworth homeowners.
  • The Brown County Ambulance were paged for a 911 call from an Ainsworth home. One individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Assisted a stranded motorist on Highway 183 in need of fuel.

September 2

  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, a Colorado driver was issued a citation for speeding 79 in a 65 mph zone.
  • Responded to a traffic complaint of an individual not stopping at the posted signs in the construction zone at the 4th and Main St intersection. One Nebraska driver was issued a citation for failure to obey a traffic control device. 
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, a Nebraska driver was issued a citation for speeding 77mph in a 65 mph zone. Both driver and passenger were also issued citations for open containers.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, a Nebraska driver was issued a citation for speeding 81 in a 65 mph zone.
  • The Brown County Ambulance transferred a flight crew from the Airport to pick up a patient at the hospital.
  • Booked an inmate into the Brown County Jail for a court commitment.

September 3

  • Responded to a request for a welfare check for a male subject recklessly operating a vehicle with an unrestrained infant passenger in rural Brown County. Deputies made contact with the driver and the infant was found safe.  The driver of the vehicle was booked into the Brown County Jail and issued citations for driving under the influence of alcohol, child abuse/neglect, resisting arrest, and open container.
  • The Brown County Ambulance provided standby for the Brown County Fair and Rodeo.
  • During a traffic stop on Richardson Drive in Ainsworth, a male driver was booked into the Brown County Jail and issued a citation for driving under the influence of alcohol and speeding 21-35 mph over the posted speed limit.
  • The Brown County Ambulance transferred a patient from the Brown County Hospital to Kearney, NE.

Weekly Summary
20 – Incident Reports Were Taken
128– Phone Calls Were Received
3 – 911 Emergency Calls Received
2 – Titles Were Inspected
2 – Handgun Permits Applied For
4 – Paper Services Were Served

August Summary
4– Accidents                              
8– Arrests
74– Calls for Service
17– Citations were issued
11– Verbal & Written Warnings issued
1– Defect Cards issued
19– Paper Service served
581– Phone calls were received
36– 911 emergency calls received
20– Titles inspected
6– Handgun permits issued

* Options for public to report potential school threats

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 2)

As the new school year is now in full swing, the Nebraska State Patrol and Nebraska Department of Education are reminding parents, students, and school officials of the options available to report school or student safety issues.  

“The safety of our schools is vital to everyday life in Nebraska,” said Colonel John Bolduc, Superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol. “It takes partnership from teachers, students, parents, and the community to keep our schools safe. If you become aware of a threat of school violence, report it immediately.”

The Nebraska State Patrol has multiple options available for people to report threats of school violence or any suspicious activity surrounding Nebraska’s schools. Those incidents can be reported to the State Patrol’s Nebraska Information Analysis Center by calling 888-580-6422 or online at sars.nebraska.gov. Reports or tips can be made anonymously.

The Nebraska Department of Education also has multiple tools available to help keep schools and students safe. The Safe2Help program is another way to report threats of school violence, but Safe2Help can also handle a broader array of school issues, such as bullying or behavioral concerns. The Safe2Help program can be found at safe2helpne.org or by calling 833-980-SAFE.

Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis or who may be having suicidal thoughts is urged to contact the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988 on any phone.

“There is tremendous cooperation already in place between our schools, law enforcement agencies, and other partners to ensure the safety of Nebraska’s schools,” Bolduc said. “Let’s all work together to make this a safe and successful school year across the state.”

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 2:45 p.m. Sept. 1)

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

Waylin Fajardo Sarceno, age 30, of Des Moines, Iowa, charged with speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, fined $75.

Owen D. Clark, 19, of Papillion, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Stacy Reed, 43, of Atkinson, violation of probation, probation revoked and sentenced to 10 days in jail.

Kevin Evans, 35, of Ainsworth, possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Gavin R. Larson, 24, of Ord, possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100; possession of an open alcohol container in a vehicle, $50.

Tamela J. Ritter, 51, of Haymarket, Va., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Leon Hood, 36, of Fresno, Calif., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $25.

Jonah J. Krause, 42, of Aberdeen, S.D., attempting a Class 4 felony, $1,000; possession of marijuana more than 1 ounce but less than 1 pound, $500; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100; possession of an open alcohol container in a vehicle, $50.

Michael A. Walsh, 32, of Highlands Ranch, Colo., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

James M. Horvatich, 20, of Gretna, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75; possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Caleb M. Munger, 20, of Moorehead, Minn., two counts of attempting a Class 4 felony, fined $1,000 on each count; possession of marijuana more than 1 ounce but less than 1 pound, $500; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100; minor in possession, $300.

Ashley Happold, 27, of Ainsworth, two counts of third-degree assault, sentenced to six months of probation on each count.

Curt G. Stufft, 59, of Ainsworth, first degree criminal trespassing, sentenced to 15 days in jail.

* Ainsworth Board of Education recognized Wednesday

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 1)

The Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education was recognized with the Nebraska Association of School Boards Excellence Award during the NASB area membership meeting Wednesday at Valentine.

To qualify for the award, all board members must be active participants in ongoing professional development in board leadership and service. Board members must be active on the state level with leadership opportunities in addition to going above and beyond monthly board meetings on the local level. 

Superintendent Dale Hafer said the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education has engaged with and provided opportunities to district stakeholders related to student data, facilities, budget, curriculum, and many other aspects of leadership through the strategic planning process.

The crystal plaque presented to the Board states:  “In recognition of their commitment to achieving excellence in board leadership through continuing education, the Nebraska Association of School Boards recognizes the efforts of the members of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education.”

Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education members are Jim Arens, Frank Beel, Scott Erthum, Mark Johnson, Jessica Pozehl, and Brad Wilkins.

          Mon-Sat – 8 a.m. until 7 p.m.
          Sunday – 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.