Current News

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

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

* Stanley Weander, 65, of Ardmore, Okla. 1:30 p.m. March 6

* Meeting reports located below for:

Feb. 18 Brown County Planning Commission

Feb. 11 Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education

Feb. 11 Ainsworth City Council

Feb. 9 Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors

* Sheriff’s department receives $50,000 USDA grant

(Posted 1:45 p.m. Feb. 24)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department was awarded a $50,000 USDA Rural Development grant to help upgrade technology in the sheriff’s department office and in its fleet of vehicles.

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said, “I am happy to announce the Brown County Sheriff’s Department received a federal grant from the USDA. It will allow them to acquire new mobile communications equipment and continue keeping their community safe.”

The investments from USDA Rural Development will allow the sheriff’s department to purchase a fully integrated records management system, computer aided dispatch system, mobile data terminals and electronic citations.

Sheriff Bruce Papstein said the total project will cost approximately $67,000, with the sheriff’s department using 911 funds to provide the local match required to receive the grant funding.

Papstein said the grant money will provide significant upgrades to the department’s technology, including the installation of a records management system for the office and computer aided dispatching systems in each patrol vehicle.

“The CAD system in each vehicle will allow deputies to issue citations, incident reports and accidents reports from their vehicle and send them directly to the county attorney,” Papstein said. “Everything is kept on one system. We will be able to search past incident reports and eliminate papers files.”

Papstein said the system will speed up investigation times, allowing deputies to search for past incident reports and be able to quickly identify when the sheriff’s department had contact with an individual on a previous complaint.

The sheriff said the department has been scanning logs from the past two years into its computer system, and the new software will allow those logs to be searched digitally instead of deputies having to search through paper records.

He said, as additional departments around the area integrate similar systems, those departments will be able to share information with each other directly through the computerized system.

* Ainsworth finishes second in home speech invitational

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

The Ainsworth speech team hosted its annual invitational meet Saturday. Ainsworth finished second among the seven teams competing.

Ainsworth results Saturday were:

Varsity

Informative: Ben Flynn – 1st and Eden Raymond – 5th

OID: Cody Kronhofman, Maren Arens, Dakota Stutzman, and Eden Raymond – 2nd and Josie Ganser, Logan Hafer, Brandt Murphy, Cody Scott, and Elli Welke – 5th

Humorous Prose: Brandt Murphy – 5th

Poetry: Alyssa Erthum – 3rd and Ellie Welke – 5th

Extemporaneous: Libby Wilkins – 1st and Josie Ganser – 2nd

Persuasive: Alyssa Erthum – 1st and Logan Hafer – 2nd

Serious Prose: Dakota Stutzman – 1st 

Entertainment: Allison Taylor – 5th and Maren Arens – 6th

Novice

Serious Prose: Taylor Allen – 1st

Persuasive: Sophie Wilson – 1st and Cole Bodeman – 3rd

Humorous Prose: Cameryn Goochey – 2nd

Informative: Makenna Pierce – 2nd

Entertainment: Cole Bodeman – 2nd

Duet: Taylor Allen & Katherine Kerrigan – 2nd and Maia Flynn & Cameryn Goochey – 4th

* NCDHD confirms 20 COVID-19 cases since Thursday

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

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 20 new COVID-19 cases in the district since last reporting Thursday. Among the new cases were seven in Cherry County, five in Holt County, and one new case was reported in both Brown County and Rock County. NCDHD still encourages district residents to wear a mask in public places or where social distancing is difficult and practice social distancing while out in public.

There have been 49 COVID-19 cases confirmed in the nine-county district in the past two weeks, and 4,240 cases overall. Of those, 2,973 people have recovered and 72 have died due to complications from the virus.

COVID-19 testing is now being administered from 1 until 3 p.m. on Mondays at the Rock County Fairgrounds. Pre-registration for testing at www.testnebraska.com is highly encouraged, but not required.

The O’Neill second dose clinic scheduled for Friday, Feb. 19, was rescheduled for this Friday, Feb. 26, with appointment times remaining the same. 

NCDHD is focusing on those 65 years of age and older and tier 1 of the 1B community partners, which includes first responders, those working in the utilities sector and educators.

In the district, 6,490 people have received their first dose of vaccine, and another 2,753 people have received both doses. 

More than 52,844 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered last week in Nebraska. As of Monday, more than 344,165 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given to those in Phase 1 priority groups, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Additionally, as of Monday 107,807 Nebraskans have completed vaccination which represents 7.3% of Nebraskans aged 16 years of age and older. 

This week, Nebraska is scheduled to receive 18,720 Pfizer and 18,400 Moderna primary doses.

DHHS has a website available so Nebraskans can register and get notified when COVID-19 vaccinations begin in their area.

As of Monday, 211,237 Nebraskans have registered to receive the vaccine at vaccinate.ne.gov,

Those interested in registering will need to provide name and contact information, date of birth and answer health questions used to help determine priority group eligibility. Any information entered is strictly confidential and used solely for this purpose. Friends, family and caregivers are encouraged to assist others with vaccine sign-up if needed. The DHHS Information line is available to assist with signup by calling 833-998-2275. People may also visit their local senior center or public library for assistance in registering. 

Local health departments and retail pharmacy partners are offering vaccines for Nebraskans 65 and older. Vaccination will expand to other 1B priority groups as supplies allow. Other groups include those working in critical industries including: first responders, educators and daycare providers, those in the utilities and transportation sectors, corrections staff, and those working in food processing and at grocery stores.

A total of 135 sites across Nebraska receive vaccine shipments.

Community clinics with scheduled appointments are the primary way vaccine doses are given while vaccine supplies remain limited in order to help ensure all doses can be used in the required timeframe. Community clinics are staggering appointments to observe social distancing and are providing space for monitoring after vaccination.

Mild side effects like a sore arm and fatigue are some of the most common symptoms with COVID-19 vaccines. While many people will have no symptoms, for others there can be headaches, chills or a fever. These side effects are normal and a sign your body is building protection, and you should feel better within a few days.

Those receiving their first dose are reminded to keep their vaccination record card in a safe place and take it to their second dose appointment.

The Pfizer vaccine was 95% effective and the Moderna vaccine 94% effective in phase three clinical trials. Comparatively, the flu vaccine is generally 40 to 60% effective. Two doses are needed to reach full effectiveness against COVID-19, and the same brand of vaccine must be administered for both doses.

* State vaccine portal reaches 200,000 registrations

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

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 Vaccination portal reached and exceeded the milestone of 200,000 Nebraskans registered for the COVID-19 vaccine as of Thursday evening.

“This is a significant moment in Nebraska’s effort to mitigate COVID-19 and ensure access to the vaccine,” said DHHS Chief Information Officer Lori Snyder. “It means the systems we have put in place are reaching Nebraskans and making the process of getting the vaccine as easy and equitable as possible for residents.”

Launched the last week of January, www.vaccinate.ne.gov is the state’s official COVID-19 vaccine registration portal.  Those who have registered for vaccination with their local health department do not need to register a second time using the state site, as information will be transferred between local health departments and DHHS.

Nebraska is updating its Vaccine Phasing guidance to provide further information and expectations as to when the general population will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Health departments are currently in Phase 1B, vaccinating those over 65 years old or working in critical infrastructure. Comorbidity categories are not included in Phase 1B. As Phase 1B continues, Nebraska is finalizing plans to vaccinate the general population.

* Just 9 COVID cases confirmed since Monday by NCDHD

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Feb. 19)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of nine new COVID-19 cases in the district since Monday. Among the new cases were two in Cherry County, two in Holt County and one new case was confirmed in Brown County.

NCDHD reported 245 people recovered from the virus during the past week. Among the recoveries were 38 people in Holt County, 34 in Cherry County, 16 in Brown County, 13 in Boyd County, eight in Rock County and five people recovered from the virus in Keya Paha County.  

A total of 44 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the past two weeks, and 4,225 confirmed cases have been reported overall in the nine counties covered by the North Central District Health Department. Of those, 2,973 people have recovered and 72 deaths have been attributed to the virus.

NCDHD reported planned shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine for vaccination clinics will not be arriving in the district as scheduled due to sub-zero weather conditions and power outages. Affected COVID-19 vaccine clinics have been or will be rescheduled to a later date. Appointment times and locations will remain the same on the new clinic dates unless otherwise communicated. NCDHD expects that vaccine shipping delays may impact vaccine clinics into next week. Clinics have been rescheduled in O’Neill, Pierce, Bloomfield and Neligh.

Due to the number of clinics and appointments scheduled, NCDHD relies on an automated service for notifying those who are scheduled for appointments. District residents with appointments for upcoming clinics should expect an automated phone call from 402-336-2406 to the contact information provided through the registration process detailing clinic status information or further instructions. If you receive an automated call from NCDHD and your same appointment time will not work for you on the rescheduled date, call NCDHD at 402-336-2406. Otherwise, no call back is needed.

District residents are asked to check local media sources for the most up-to-date information available. 

NCDHD is focusing vaccinations on those 65 years and older and tier 1 of the 1B community partners including first responders, those in the utilities sector, and educators.

In the district, 6,173 people have received the first dose of vaccine, and 2,484 people have received both doses. Just shy of 7 percent of the district’s population 16 years and older have received both doses.

Gov. Pete Ricketts on Thursday provided an update on coronavirus vaccination efforts in Nebraska. The state is currently in Phase 1B of its vaccination plan, with the majority of vaccines being administered to Nebraskans age 65 and older.

“Age is the single biggest factor in determining who is most likely to be severely impacted by the coronavirus,” Ricketts said. “That’s why we’ve been focusing on vaccinating Nebraskans in the 65+ age category. Our local health departments are focusing at least 90% of their efforts on this age group right now. As we look forward to vaccinating the general population, we’ll continue to prioritize vaccinations based on age.”

Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Incident Commander Angie Ling reported on the state’s recent and upcoming vaccine allocations. 

“Starting next week, we’ll be counting the extra doses in the Pfizer vial,” Ling said. “Each vial will now count as having six doses instead of five doses. Our Pfizer allocation for next week will increase to 18,720 primary doses, and our Moderna allocation will increase to 18,400 primary doses. We’re adjusting our second dose ordering schedule. Instead of having these doses arrive 7-10 days before we can use them, we’ll have them arrive within the window of time when we can use them.”

Ling said the majority of vaccines have not arrived to Nebraska this week due to issues at distribution sites and inclement weather. 

“We did receive two shipments of Pfizer vaccine on Monday, and these doses will be used in our scheduled clinics,” Ling said. “The supply issues are occurring nationwide; they’re not unique to Nebraska. Every effort will be made to catch up as soon as possible, while safely delivering the vaccines.”

DHHS Deputy Director of Public Health Felicia Quintana-Zinn shared an update to the state’s vaccination plan. Once Phase 1B has been completed, the state will prioritize Nebraskans ages 50-64 for vaccination.

“Nebraska is updating its Vaccine Phasing guidance to provide further information and expectations as to when the general population will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” Quintana-Zinn said.

Health departments are currently in Phase 1B, vaccinating those over 65 years old or working in critical infrastructure.  Comorbidity categories are not included in Phase 1B. As Phase 1B continues, Nebraska is finalizing plans to vaccinate the general population. 

With the increasing amount of vaccine supply, Nebraska is expecting to be able to move to the general population in April or May.

Preliminary Nebraska residents’ mortality data shows that COVID-19 caused or was a main contributing factor in 1,801 Nebraskan deaths, with approximately 97% of those deaths occurring in those over 50 years of age.

After Phase 1B is complete, Nebraska will begin to vaccinate the general population. 

“To continue to ensure that our population is protected, we’ll prioritize 50- to 64-year-olds prior to vaccinating the remainder of the population, those 16- to 49 years old,” Quintana-Zinn said.

* Hearing held on livestock facility setbacks, action tabled

(Posted 7 a.m. Feb. 18)

Following a public hearing Wednesday, the Brown County Planning Commission opted to table making any recommendations to the Brown County Commissioners on a new comprehensive plan for the county and amendments to the county’s zoning regulations.

Zoning Administrator Tom Jones said Brown County’s original comprehensive plan and zoning regulations were written in 1992.

“It needed to be redone,” Jones said. “Zoning regulations have been amended over the years, but there is nothing in those regulations on wind turbines or solar panels, and the way agriculture is changing needs to be accounted for.”

Jones said the firm Hanna Keelan of Lincoln worked with the Planning Commission to create an updated comprehensive plan, and the amendments to the county’s zoning regulations would be based off what a study conducted by the company found and what was included in the comprehensive plan.

“Setbacks on livestock facilities will be the hot topic,” Jones said.

The zoning administrator said the Planning Commission took the topic of setbacks very seriously.

“This is an agricultural county,” Jones said. “We don’t want to cripple our ag economy, but we also don’t want to turn our county into a place where people don’t want to live. We understand what agriculture means to this county, and you have the right to do what you want to with your land, as long as it is not detrimental to your neighbor.”

Jones said the main amendments to the county’s zoning regulations would be recommendations for some sort of setback requirements for livestock facilities requiring a special-use permit, though he said the distances for any setbacks were not set in stone. He said the commission would likely recommend the county begin utilizing an industry standard animal unit system when permitting facilities.

Other items that would be addressed in the amendments to zoning regulations would be setbacks and a decommissioning plan for wind towers, and a requirement that easements be filed before an applicant can move forward with a special-use permit.

Jones said the updated regulations would also address perpetual conservation easements

“We don’t think anything should be perpetual,” Jones said.

He said an easement can’t reduce the land’s ability for production or natural allowed uses.

The commission then opened a public hearing on both the comprehensive plan and the proposed amendments to the county’s zoning regulations.

No one asked to speak regarding the new comprehensive plan, but several residents provided their opinions on livestock facility setbacks to the Planning Commission.

Marsha King, Jack King Sr., Jack King Jr. and Colt King each urged the Planning Commission to implement stringent setbacks for livestock facilities, and to use property lines and not dwellings when measuring the distance for those setbacks.

“Setbacks are needed, and not just a half-mile,” Jack King Jr. said. “Don’t ruin people who have made a life here for 100 years. They need to be 4 miles from the property line.”

King Jr. said Brown County is a cattle county, and he had nothing against anyone who wanted to build a cattle feeding operation.

“Pigs, sheep, chickens – no way,” King Jr. said.

Marsha King urged the commission to incorporate setbacks, and to think of the families living in the county, not the corporations who want to build confinement operations.

Tom Bejot, a part owner in Bejot Feedlot west of Ainsworth, said the family’s current feed yard could likely not be expanded with setback requirements.

“We try to do the best job we can do and not cause problems,” Bejot said. “We are starting another generation, and they might want to expand.”

Bejot said, if his family were to buy ground and build another feed yard in a different area, would the Planning Commission protect the facility with setbacks that kept people from building homes close to the facility so its future expansion could not be blocked by another property owner.

Jones said the recommended regulations would be reciprocal.

“No one would be able to come in and build a house within that setback area of your lot unless you would give them a waiver,” Jones said.

Bejot said if remote areas of the county become the only places where livestock operations can be developed, the county needed to be prepared to have substantial additional road maintenance costs.

Troy Peters told the commission he believed setbacks were important.

“For people who have lived here all their lives, it is not fair for a hog operation to move in,” Peters said. “That is huge when Tom (Jones) said we don’t want to make this a place where people don’t want to live.”

Peters said livestock operations now are all big corporations.

“It is the big boys now, the corporations,” Peters said. “It is not family operations. That is what I have the issue with regarding animal feeding.”

Kim Snyder said setbacks were a difficult, contentious subject, but she was glad to see the issue being addressed.

“Keep the people who made this county what it is in mind,” Snyder said.

Former zoning administrator Dean Jochem said the Planning Commission was able to operate without setbacks for the 19 years he served as zoning administrator by examining each permit.

“I don’t think you have the right to control everyone around you,” Jochem said. “With these setbacks, you can buy 5 acres and build a house, then control what happens on the 2-1/2 miles around you. That doesn’t sound right. Buy your own setbacks.”

Jochem said people could control the land around them by purchasing it if they feel that strongly about what happens near them in the country.

Jochem said people can give themselves a buffer near their country homes by building their homes in the middle of their property and not right next to the property line.

“These are things we can do ourselves without expecting our neighbors to do it for us,” Jochem said. “I built a house on the corner of my property instead of in the middle, and I had a feedlot get built across the intersection. Whose fault is it that my house is close to that feedlot?”

Jochem said it bothered him that someone from outside the area could come in, buy 5 acres, build a house, and then control everyone around them.

Steve Bartak said he believed in setbacks so people interested in building a livestock facility know what the rules are when looking for a site.

“I would ask you to consider different setbacks based on the type of manure produced, liquid vs. solid,” Bartak said.

Jones said the county could not implement different setbacks based on the type of manure produced, but it could have different setbacks based on whether the livestock feeding operation is an open lot or whether it is in an environmentally controlled facility.

Following the comments from the public, Planning Commission member Brad Wilkins said setbacks put things on autopilot and take the decision on each project out of the hands of the Planning Commission and the Brown County Commissioners.

“For the last 19 years we have not had setbacks,” Wilkins said. “I believe each project should be looked at on its own merits. Arbitrary setbacks won’t serve us well. I think we can look at livestock siting matrix data. These projects become emotional and turn neighbor against neighbor. It shouldn’t be that way. We should evaluate each project.”

Wilkins said, if he wanted to build a house on the half-section of property he owns, the way these setbacks are written, he would have to get permission to do so from Rolling Stone Feed Yard.

“To hardwire this in creates real problems,” Wilkins said.

Brown County Commissioner Denny Bauer said, with setbacks, the current cattle feedlots in the county would not be able to expand in the future.

“I worry about the beef industry in this county if we stifle growth,” Bauer said.

The commissioners held a special meeting in conjunction with the hearing, so all three board members could attend.

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus said he was in favor of the county creating setbacks.

“If these boards pick and choose, it becomes a popularity contest, and these boards take the heat,” Wiebelhaus said. “I think there needs to be some rules established.”

Wiebelhaus said it has not been cattle feedlot operations that have created the issues during the last 11 years.

Planning Commissioner Mark Miles said his family has a feedlot, and he is the fifth generation to be a part of that feedlot.

Miles said he took issue with people claiming young people don’t want to move back to this area because of animal feeding operations.

“I think that is false, and we need to stop it,” Miles said of using young people moving back as an argument against livestock feeding operations.

“We can all say we have been here a long time,” Miles said. “The margins are different now. You have to have a larger facility to make it work. There are families with facilities in this county, not just corporations.”

Miles said the Planning Commission could not create setbacks by species, but he said the commission is allowed to create different setbacks for environmentally controlled housing vs. open lot housing for the animals.

Bauer asked the Planning Commission to consider creating setbacks on environmentally controlled facilities but not on open lots. Wiebelhaus said that was an idea he could get behind and support.

Following the discussion, the Planning Commission, by a 4-2 vote with members Miles, Wilkins, Jim Carley and Linda O’Hare voting in favor and members Pat Schumacher and Steve Bejot voting against, tabled for 60 days making a recommendation to the Brown County Commissioners on the comprehensive plan, and voted unanimously to table action for 60 days on the amendments to the zoning regulations.

Wilkins said he would like to gather more information on both items.

Schumacher said the purpose of Wednesday’s public hearing was not to make a decision right away, but to gather information from the public.

The Planning Commission will schedule a special meeting within the next 60 days to vote on recommendations to make to the Brown County Commissioners, who will then hold an additional public hearing on the comprehensive plan and zoning regulation amendments before making a final decision on both items.

* COVID infections slowing in Nebraska

(Posted 5:45 a.m. Feb. 18)

The statewide total of COVID-19 cases is 197,746 as of Tuesday. There were 32 COVID-19-related deaths in Nebraska reported in the past seven days, for a total of 2,018. To date, a total of 142,335 Nebraskans testing positive for COVID-19 have recovered.

COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to decline in the past week, with Nebraska hospitals caring for an average of 200 COVID-19 patients per day over the past seven days. Averages in prior weeks were 265, 322, and 402 COVID-19 patients.

The daily average of new positive cases in the past week currently stands at 231, compared to 367 daily cases last week, and 548 and 567 cases a day in recent weeks. 

Dr. Gary Anthone, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for DHHS, said, “Nebraskans made good progress in helping limit the spread of COVID-19 in the past few months, which has helped reduce the pressure on our health care community. While our vaccination effort moves forward and more Nebraskans are protected each week, limiting opportunities for the virus to spread is still critical in our everyday lives. Wearing a mask, washing hands, and staying home when you’re sick remain our best defenses against COVID-19.”  

All Nebraska counties are now vaccinating Phase 1B priority groups. Local health departments are offering COVID-19 vaccines for Nebraskans 65 and older, and vaccination will expand to other 1B priority groups as supplies allow. Other groups include those 18 and older who are at high-risk for severe COVID-19, and those working in critical industries including: first responders, educators and daycare providers, those in the utilities and transportation sectors, corrections staff, and those working in food processing and at grocery stores.

Federal officials haven’t yet released new allocations for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Federal Retail Pharmacy Program in Nebraska.

This week, Nebraska is receiving 30,100 first doses, including 11,700 Pfizer and 18,400 Moderna doses, and second dose shipments scheduled total 29,350. A total of 125 sites across Nebraska receive vaccine shipments.

Nebraska’s 19 local health departments are coordinating vaccination for Phase 1 priority groups.

Community clinics with scheduled appointments are the primary way vaccine doses are being given to help ensure all doses can be used in the required timeframe. Community clinics will stagger appointments in order to observe social distancing and provide space for monitoring after vaccination.

Mild side effects like a sore arm and fatigue are some of the most common symptoms with COVID-19 vaccines. While many people will have no symptoms, others may experience headaches, chills or a fever. These side effects are normal and a sign your body is building protection, and you should be feeling better within a few days.

Nebraskans are reminded a second vaccine dose is needed to complete vaccination, which research shows provides the best protection against COVID-19 symptoms and potential complications.

As of Tuesday, more than 303,400 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given to those in Phase 1 priority groups. More than 96,800 Nebraskans 16 or older, about 6.5 percent of the population, have completed vaccination. 

Nebraskans can register online to be notified when COVID-19 vaccination is available in their area. Available at vaccinate.ne.gov, more than 197,000 registrations have been received so far.

* New shelter installed at Merritt’s Cedar Bay

(Posted 10:45 a.m. Feb. 17)

Visitors to Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area have a new place to gather the shade.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission recently installed a new 988-square-foot shelter at the Cedar Bay area.

The $100,000 cost of the project was equally divided between the Game and Parks Capital Maintenance Fund and a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Cedar Bay, which features 46 campsites, is one of eight campgrounds at the 2,900-acre reservoir.

The new shelter is the second significant improvement at the Sandhills attraction during the past two years. Last summer, the recreation area received a new concrete shower house at the Willow Cove Campground.

Merritt Reservoir is 26 miles southeast of Valentine on Nebraska Highway 97.

* Rolling blackouts will again be implemented Wednesday

(Posted 9 a.m. Feb. 17)

The Nebraska Public Power District has announced that rolling blackouts will again be conducted throughout Nebraska as the utility has moved to an Energy Emergency Level 3.

Electrical service at various locations will be interrupted for 45 minutes or longer until further notice as the Southwest Power Pool deals with a peak in demand.

Customers are urged to reduce their power consumption this morning in an effort to decrease demand.

* More than 92,000 Nebraskans have completed vaccination

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

More than 55,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered last week in Nebraska. As of Monday, more than 293,300 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given to those in Phase 1 priority groups, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

As of Monday, 92,373 Nebraskans have completed vaccination, which represents 6.2% of Nebraskans aged 16 or older.  

This week, Nebraska is scheduled to receive 30,100 first doses, including 11,700 Pfizer and 18,400 Moderna doses.

A total of 29,350 second dose shipments are expected, which includes 5,850 Pfizer doses released from the federal program for long-term care vaccinations.

DHHS has a website available to help Nebraskans register to be notified when COVID-19 vaccination begins in their area. Available at vaccinate.ne.gov, more than 193,700 registrations have been received so far.

Those interested in registering will need to provide name and contact information, date of birth and answer health questions used to help determine priority group eligibility. Any information entered is strictly confidential and used solely for this purpose. Friends, family and caregivers are encouraged to assist others with vaccine sign-up if needed, or people may visit their local senior center or library for assistance in signing up online.

All Nebraska counties are vaccinating Phase 1B priority groups.

Local health departments and retail pharmacy partners are offering vaccine for Nebraskans 65 and older. Vaccination will expand to other 1B priority groups as supplies allow. Other groups include those 18 and older who are at high-risk for severe COVID-19, and those working in critical industries including: first responders, educators and daycare providers, those in the utilities and transportation sectors, corrections staff, and those working in food processing and at grocery stores.

DHHS is allocating doses via an existing vaccine network that includes local health departments, federally-qualified health centers, community-based clinics, and tribal health care centers across the state. A total of 125 sites across Nebraska receive vaccine shipments.

Nebraska’s 19 local health departments are coordinating vaccination for Phase 1 priority groups.

Community clinics with scheduled appointments are the primary way vaccine doses are given while vaccine supplies remain limited in order to help ensure all doses can be used in the required timeframe. Community clinics are staggering appointments to observe social distancing and are providing space for monitoring after vaccination.

Mild side effects like a sore arm and fatigue are some of the most common symptoms with COVID-19 vaccines. While many people will have no symptoms, for others there can be headaches, chills or a fever. These side effects are normal and a sign your body is building protection, and you should be feeling better within a few days.

Those receiving their first dose are reminded to keep their vaccination record card in a safe place and take it to their second dose appointment.

The Pfizer vaccine was 95% effective and the Moderna vaccine 94% effective in phase three clinical trials. Comparatively, the flu vaccine is generally 40 to 60% effective. Two doses are needed to reach full effectiveness against COVID-19, and the same brand of vaccine must be administered for both doses.

COVID-19 vaccines are not yet available to the public and it’s expected to be late spring before mass vaccination begins.

* Area airports receive grant funding through COVID relief

(Posted 3:15 p.m. Feb. 16)

The Nebraska Department of Transportation received guidance from the Federal Aviation Administration regarding a recent allocation of the $2 billion made available under the FAA’s Airport Coronavirus Response Grant Program.

The funding was approved by Congress in late December as part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriation Act. Nebraska airports will receive $12.5 million in grant allocations from the act.

The Ainsworth Regional Airport received $13,000 in grant funding. The O’Neill and Valentine airports also received $13,000 in funding.

The Rock County Airport and the Stuart-Atkinson Municipal Airport each picked up $9,000 in grant funding. A total of 72 airports in Nebraska received funding.

The funds will provide economic relief to Nebraska airports affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The FAA will make grants to all airports that are part of the national airport system, including all commercial service airports, all reliever airports, and some public-owned general aviation airports.

* NPPD President provides update on planned blackouts

(Posted 1 p.m. Feb. 16)

Nebraska Public Power District President Tom Kent on Tuesday provided an update on how NPPD plans to implement targeted power outages to help balance an overloaded power grid.

* Power disrupted in Bassett, Long Pine

(Posted 9:15 a.m. Feb. 16)

Power service was interrupted Tuesday morning for KBR Rural Public Power and NPPD customers in the Bassett and Long Pine areas.

Power outages may continue unannounced through the day today as the Southwest Power Pool tries to cut back demand to match capacity.

* NPPD reports power will be interrupted Tuesday

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

The Nebraska Public Power District announced Tuesday morning, in an effort to maintain system reliability, NPPD has been informed by the Southwest Power Pool that emergency coordinated interruptions of service will be required Tuesday.

The 30-minute interruptions of service will occur in real-time, so NPPD will have little, if any, advance notice of where the power interruptions will take place.

The Southwest Power Pool has declared an Energy Emergency Alert Level 3 effective immediately for the entire 14-state balancing authority area.

System-wide generating capacity has dropped below the current load of approximately 42 gigawatts due to extremely low temperatures and inadequate supplies of natural gas.

The Southwest Power Pool will work with member utilities to implement controlled interruptions of electric service throughout the region.

This is done as a last resort to preserve the reliability of the electric system as a whole. Individuals in the service territory should take steps to conserve energy use and follow their local utilities’ instructions regarding conservation, local conditions and the potential for outages to their homes and businesses.

The Southwest Power Pool is currently forecasting a morning peak of 44.6 gigawatts of power consumption at 9 a.m. CST

* Just 12 COVID-19 cases reported by NCDHD since Thursday

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

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 12 new COVID-19 cases in the district since last reporting Thursday. Among the new cases were three in Holt County, and one new case was reported in both Keya Paha and Cherry counties. There were no new cases reported in Brown, Rock and Boyd counties.

There have been 48 COVID-19 cases confirmed in the nine-county district in the past 14 days.

Those interested in receiving COVID-19 vaccines may sign up online at www.ncdhd.gov.

The NCDHD is focusing on those 65 and older and in tier 1 of the Phase 1B. This includes first responders, utilities, homeless shelter, corrections staff, and educators.

A total of 7,952 vaccinations have been administered in the district, with 5,722 first doses and 2,230 people receiving both doses of the vaccine.

Those who need assistance completing the online survey may visit their local library or senior center.

NCDHD staff reiterate to the district that public health preventative measures have not changed even though the state has moved into the DHM “Green” phasing. NCDHD still encourages district residents to continue to wear a mask in public places or where social distancing is difficult as well as practice social distancing while out in public.

* Agenda for Brown County Commissioners meeting

(Posted 2:45 p.m. Feb. 15)

Brown County Commissioners
Meeting 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16
Brown County Courthouse
Agenda

05:15 – 05:20             Roll Call;

Acknowledge posting of Open Meetings Law;

Pledge of Allegiance;

Approve minutes of the February 2, 2021 Commissioner meeting;

                                    Kenneth Turpin – Road Department Issues

5:30                            Open Sealed Bids for 2021 Armor Coating  – Turpin

5:40                            Andy Forney – DA Davidson, John Werner, Brown County Hospital CEO, Hospital Bond refinance options – Hobbs

5:45                         Tobin Buchanan &/or Matt Fisher – First National Capital Markets introduction

                                RE: Bonds

                                Combine future Cost of Living with Evaluation wage increases – Bauer

                   Resolution for Brown County to withdraw from Region 24 Interlocal Agreement – Taylor

                  Resolution to designate Brown County as a Second Amendment Sanctuary County – Taylor

                 Sign letter to Corey Steel, State Court Administrator – Small

                                    Approve Claims

                                    Public Comments

* NCDHD confirms 21 COVID-19 cases since Monday

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

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 21 new COVID-19 cases in the district since last reporting Monday. Among the new cases were six in Holt County and one in Keya Paha County. There were no new confirmed cases in Brown, Rock, Cherry and Boyd counties.

NCDHD confirmed 182 people recovered from the virus in the past week. Among the recoveries were 24 people in Holt County, 16 in Boyd County, 10 in Brown County, nine in Cherry County, seven in Rock County, and two people recovered from the virus in Keya Paha County.

NCDHD received word that three people died in the district during the past week. They included a man in Holt County and a man and a woman in Knox County.

There have been  71 COVID-19 cases reported in the past two weeks, and 4,204 total cases in the district. Of those 2,715 people have recovered and there have been 72 deaths attributed to the virus in the nine counties covered by the NCDHD.

The Test Nebraska COVID-19 testing clinic date has changed at the Rock County Fairgrounds, and tests will be conducted from 1 until 3 p.m. on Mondays at the fairgrounds.

Pre-registration for testing at www.testnebraska.com is highly encouraged, but not required.

The North Central District Health Department reminds those in the district of the Nebraska COVID-19 vaccine registry, located at www.ncdhd.ne.gov. Anyone is welcome to register at this time. NCDHD is focusing on 65+ and tier 1 of the 1B community partners. This includes first responders, utilities, homeless shelter, corrections staff, and educators.

7,342 vaccinations administered

5,366 1st dose in series administered

1,976 2nd dose in series administered

5.5% of the population 16 and older completing vaccination in the district

Those who need assistance filling out the online registration may visit their local library or senior center. 

NCDHD would like to reiterate to the district that public health preventative measures have not changed though the state has moved into the DHM “Green” phasing. NCDHD still encourages district residents to continue to wear a mask in public places or where social distancing is difficult as well as practicing social distancing while out in public.

* Board asked to allow junior high dual sports participation 

(Posted 2:45 p.m. Feb. 11)

The Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education Thursday discussed a request to allow junior high students to participate in more than one sport during seventh and eighth grade.

Clint Painter thanked the board for the opportunity to discuss the issue, and said his sixth-grade daughter would like to play volleyball and run cross country in the fall as a seventh-grader and asked him to see if the board would allow that to happen.

Painter said he talked to his brother, who coaches in the Pierce School District. That district lets junior high students participate in more than one sport at the same time. He said he also talked to an Ainsworth graduate now living in Atkinson, whose daughter was allowed to play volleyball and run cross country in middle school.

“That actually led her to run cross country in high school, and she had a good year,” Painter said. He said, if doing both would not have been an option, she likely would have been on the volleyball team instead of qualifying for state cross country.

Elementary Principal Curtis Childers said O’Neill allows junior high students to play more than one sport. There, the team sport took the priority, then the athlete completed a workout on their own for the individual sport and could then compete in cross country meets.

“About 25 percent of the football kids run the cross country meets in middle school in O’Neill,” Childers said. “They had two high school state cross country qualifiers that would have played football if they had not been given that opportunity in middle school.”

Secondary Principal Steve Dike said he would like to see the district allow students to dip their toes in the water of more than one activity if they are interested.

“If you lose them in seventh grade in cross country, you don’t usually get them back if the other sport doesn’t work out for them,” Dike said.

Superintendent Dale Hafer said the issue mainly boils down to sitting down and working out the details.

“We want to make sure the junior high coaches can work with each other,” Hafer said. “We don’t want one program to be the one that has to make all the changes. They all have to work together to make it work.”

Hafer said the change would be for the junior high level only, as the Nebraska School Activities Association does not allow dual participation during the same season at the high school level.

Board member Brad Wilkins said he would like to see junior high students have that opportunity if they are interested in more than one sport.

Board member Jessica Pozehl said the change would also allow girls who may be interested also try junior high wrestling at the same time as basketball since girls high school wrestling was now an NSAA sanctioned sport.

Hafer said the district would look into the issue further and include it on a future agenda for potential approval.

In other business Thursday, the board approved the purchase of new reading curriculum from Amplify after receiving a recommendation from the curriculum committee.

Hafer said the new reading curriculum was the culmination of a months-long effort by the principals and staff. The curriculum committee was presented three curriculum options on Jan. 27, and the Amplify quote was the top choice for 80 percent of the group and was the second option for the remaining members.

“This was pretty clearly the top pick,” Childers said.

Childers said, through negotiation, Amplify agreed to reduce its asking price from over $150,000 down to the proposed quote of $122,363.

Board member Scott Erthum said the Amplify proposal checked all the boxes the district needed.

The board approved the $122,363 reading curriculum purchase, which will be paid for through stimulus funding received through the CARES Act and the second round of COVID relief funding.

Hafer said the district received $67,692 in the first round of CARES Act stimulus funding, and would receive another $237,407 in funding during the second round. He recommended, in addition to the reading curriculum, the funds be used to update the district’s one-to-one laptop computers for the high school.

“It is cleaner for us to focus that funding on the reading series and the laptops,” Hafer said.

The board approved teaching contracts for special education for both Tasha Kruse and Rachel Williams for the 2021-22 school year. Hafer said Kruse was being hired to replace Teresa Halley, who had previously submitted her resignation effective at the end of the current school year.

Hafer said Williams was currently employed by the Educational Service Unit 17 but spends 100 percent of her day in the Ainsworth buildings. He said the district is hiring Williams, at her request. The district currently pays ESU 17 for Williams’ contract. Hiring her instead of contracting would give the district more future flexibility in the special education department and the district would realize a savings in having her on staff instead of contracted through ESU.

Tobin Buchanon of First National Capital Markets presented the board with a finance resolution to issue certificates of participation to pay for the upcoming window replacement, gym floor replacement and carpeting project.

Buchanon said since the items were considered equipment instead of a brick and mortar addition project, the certificates of participation functioned a little differently than the lease-purchase agreement the district used to finance the agriculture and industrial technology building addition project.

The certificates of participation function more as bonds. The district would receive a lower interest rate than the lease-purchase agreement. That rate is currently less than 1 percent at 0.75 percent interest over a seven-year term.

Buchanon recommended the district issue the certificates right away to lock in the low interest rate.

The district had previously agreed to the window and gym floor replacement project not to exceed $665,000. The board voted to approve the resolution as presented and issue the certificates of participation.

The board voted to proceed with declaring two sheds on school grounds as surplus and advertise to sell them by sealed bids. Hafer said he had been approached about the district selling the sheds.

Board member Mark Johnson said everything fits in the bus barn, and the district no longer had a need for the two sheds. The board approved declaring the sheds surplus equipment and advertising them for sealed bids.

The board appointed Frontier Diesel, First Class Auto, Ainsworth Motors and Joey Finley to serve as mechanics for district vehicle inspections.

The board approved annual items setting meeting dates for the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. from November through March and at 8 p.m. from April through October; approving the Ainsworth Star-Journal as its official publication for legal notice and KBRB for promotion of meetings; the West Plains Bank, First National Bank and Union Bank and Trust as depositories for district funding; and authorizations to the superintendent and district treasurer.

During his report, Childers said parent-teacher conferences would be held March 1 after being postponed Monday due to boiler issues in the building.

“We need to get them done before the fourth quarter starts, and March 1 looks like about the only date possible to schedule them without conflicts,” Childers said.

During his report, Hafer said questions were starting to surface about the district continuing to mandate masks in the buildings for students, staff and visitors since COVID cases are declining.

Hafer said the quarantine guidelines from the health department remain in place that would require students and staff without masks to quarantine should contact tracing find they were in close contact with someone who tested positive.

“We haven’t had any issues with the kids regarding the masks,” Hafer said. “Unless the quarantine rules change, these are still the guidelines we are working under.”

The superintendent said the district has been asked to prioritize its staff for COVID vaccinations in the coming weeks. He recommended the district continue the mask mandate at least through the end of the winter sports season.

Childers said the most difficult calls administration has had to make this year are having to have kids quarantine when they wore masks but another student didn’t.

Dike said the mask mandate has eliminated a lot of the contact tracing the district has to undertake when there is a positive case.

Erthum said it was easier now that students and staff are all in masks to have them stay in the masks for a while.

Board President Jim Arens said, once everyone has had the opportunity to be vaccinated, the district can revisit the issue, but he said the district’s staff and students would not be under a mask mandate by the start of the next school year in August.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 8.

* City Council approves agreements for solar array

(Posted 7 a.m. Feb. 11)

The Ainsworth City Council on Wednesday signed agreements with a solar company and the Nebraska Public Power District to move forward with the construction of a solar array on the south side of East City Park.

The council approved a site lease agreement between the city and Solar Bundle One LLC, a subsidiary of solar power company GRNE of Lincoln, and a community solar project agreement with NPPD.

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said, with the agreements in place, construction on the solar array would likely begin in March and would take two to three months to complete.

The site lease agreement with Solar Bundle One is for 20 years, and the project agreement with NPPD is for 25 years.

Catherine Kathol with NPPD said the GRNE proposal for the project had the most attractive pricing and the company has previous experience with similar solar projects in the state.

The power generated by the solar panels will actually cost less than NPPD’s base power rate, Kathol said.

Kathol said there will be roughly 500 shares available, and the average homeowner could purchase six shares, as each share represents approximately 150 kilowatt hours and the average home uses about 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per month.

Kathol said there are no up-front costs for the city other than providing the site for the project, and the city has no maintenance costs as GRNE is responsible for any maintenance required on the solar array.

She said NPPD will set up open houses and help to advertise and sell the shares from the solar project. Those interested in receiving shares of the electricity produced by the solar array will receive a credit on the monthly power bill since the cost to produce the solar power is less expensive than NPPD’s base rate. Kathol said that should make the solar power shares more attractive to the public.

The council approved both agreements and authorized the mayor to sign on behalf of the city.
Following a public hearing Wednesday, the council approved a resolution for the city’s one- and six-year streets plan as presented by city streets superintendent Lloyd Smith.

The one-year streets plan includes concrete paving on First Street from Main to Pine Streets, Third Street from Maple to Oak streets, Harrington Street from First Street to Highway 20, Eighth Street from Maple to Ash streets, Elm Street from First to Sixth streets, Pine Street from First Street to Highway 20, and concrete paving on Seventh Avenue.

Concrete paving would require the city to create a paving district, which the council discussed with Smith Wednesday.

Councilman Brad Fiala said streets that have a lot of truck traffic, like First Street and Pine Street, would need concrete. Fiala said the city could opt to grind the current asphalt and do an overlay on some of the other streets.

The council discussed trying to time the project to coincide with the Nebraska Department of Transportation’s rehabilitation of Highway 20, which would save on mobilization costs.

The council agreed to discuss putting together a paving district and finding grant sources such as a Community Development Block Grant application to help offset a portion of the cost.

A paving district would also levy an assessment to property owners with frontage on the streets scheduled for improvement. If a paving district is created, more than half of the footage would have to be opted out by property owners for the paving district to fail.

The city’s six-year plan includes armor coating for several streets, and concrete paving for Maple Street from First Street to Highway 20.

In other business Wednesday, the council approved a recommendation from the LB 840 Loan Committee to provide a demolition grant to a business for up to 50 percent of the cost to demolish a structure on a property in the city, with the grant amount capped at $10,000.

Schroedl said an eligible business is acquiring the property and applying for demolition assistance. She said the grant funds could not be used for site acquisition costs but could assist with the cost to demolish structures on the property and infill to get the property leveled for future development.

North Central Development Center Executive Director Kristin Olson said it was encouraging to see the private sector step up and assist in demolition projects.

The council also approved two ABC funding requests recommended by the Ainsworth Betterment Committee. The first provides $30,000 into the new swimming pool account, which Schroedl said the ABC Committee had been making annually to build a fund to replace the city swimming pool. She said, with the $30,000 approved Wednesday, there is nearly $500,000 in the swimming pool fund.

The council also approved a $60,000 application for ABC funds from the North Central Development Center to demolish dilapidated structures in the city and ready sites for development.

The ABC Committee did include a condition with its recommendation for approval that the properties where the funds are utilized remain on the city’s property tax roll.

“This application would allow the NCDC to assist the city in clearing nuisance properties,” Olson said. “We hope to work with the fire department to burn some of the structures to save on the debris removal costs.”

Olson said property owners who have structures on the city’s nuisance property list have already contacted the NCDC about donating those properties.

“The property owners will have to provide some investment, as they have responsibility for helping to clean up those sites, so we should get $120,000 of work out of this,” Olson said of the $60,000 in grant funding.

Fiala said the Board of Health had identified a few nuisance properties that were located side by side, which could work well for development if the NCDC could acquire and clear both properties.

NCDC Board member Graig Kinzie said the NCDC would not maintain ownership of the properties, and any properties the NCDC agreed to acquire would have an ownership exit plan in place before the acquisition is completed.

The council unanimously approved the grant request.

The council also approved updated program guidelines for the city’s owner-occupied housing rehabilitation revolving loan program and a fair housing activity for the program. Schroedl said the updates to the program guidelines account for changes made at the state level to the program and allows the city to place more than $26,000 in funds remaining in the CDBG re-use loan program into the housing rehabilitation program and close the re-use loan account.

The council tabled a presentation on the city park and swimming pool study, as a representative from Miller and Associates was unable to attend Wednesday’s meeting.

The council approved Mayor Joel Klammer’s recommended reappointments of Doug Weiss and Shirley Crone to three-year terms on the city’s Board of Adjustment, the reappointments of Bruce Papstein and Cody Goochey to three-year terms on the Park Board, and the appointment of Rod Worrell to a six-year term on the Municipal Golf Course Foundation Account Committee.

During her report, Schroedl said she submitted a drawdown to FEMA in the amount of $519,250 for street repairs resulting from the 2019 floods.

Schroedl said the funding from FEMA helped to cover the cost of armor coating streets and replacing the asphalt on Harrington Street. The city was also able to recoup the costs for city staff and city equipment hours used to patch streets damaged during the flooding.

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

* COVID hospitalizations, cases continue to decline

(Posted 6:15 a.m. Feb. 11)

The latest statewide total of COVID-19 cases is 194,632 as of Tuesday. There have been 55 COVID-19-related deaths in Nebraska reported in the past seven days, for a total of 1,986. To date, a total of 141,239 Nebraskans testing positive for COVID-19 have recovered.

COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to decline in the past week, with Nebraska hospitals caring for an average of 265 COVID-19 patients a day over the past seven days. Averages in prior weeks were 322, 402, and 444 COVID-19 patients.

The daily average of new positive cases in the last week was 294, compared to 543 daily cases last week, and 564 and 744 cases a day in recent weeks. Averages for positive cases are now based on test dates instead of lab reporting date, which provides a more precise view of COVID-19 cases. 

Anyone who has not completed vaccination and may have been exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine and get tested.

All Nebraska counties are now vaccinating Phase 1B priority groups.

Phase 1B includes several priority groups. Right now, local health departments are offering vaccine to Nebraskans 65 and older. This phase also includes people 18 and older who are at high-risk for severe COVID-19, and those working in critical industries, including: first responders, educators and daycare providers, those in the utilities and transportation sectors, corrections staff, and those working in food processing and at grocery stores.

Nebraska is receiving 31,625 first doses this week, including 14,625 Pfizer and 17,000 Moderna doses. This includes 2,925 Pfizer doses released from the Federal Pharmacy Program that had been reserved for long-term care vaccinations. The remaining 8,775 doses will be released over the next two weeks and be distributed among local health departments for Phase 1B first dose vaccinations.

Second dose shipments scheduled for this week total 23,500.

A number of Nebraska pharmacies are scheduled to receive their first shipment of vaccine doses at the end of this week as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. Pharmacies participating in the program will receive a total of 5,700 first doses and will be able to vaccinate those 65 and older.

Nebraskans are cautioned that retail pharmacy doses will be very limited for some time.

DHHS is allocating doses via a vaccine network that includes local health departments, federally qualified health centers, community-based clinics, and tribal health care centers across the state. A total of 125 sites across Nebraska receive vaccine shipments.

Nebraska’s 19 local health departments are coordinating vaccination for Phase 1 priority groups.

Community clinics with scheduled appointments are the primary way vaccine doses are being given to help ensure all doses can be used in the required timeframe. Community clinics will stagger appointments in order to observe social distancing and provide space for monitoring after vaccination.

Mild side effects like a sore arm and fatigue are some of the most common symptoms with COVID-19 vaccines. While many people will have no symptoms, others may experience headaches, chills or a fever. These side effects are normal and a sign your body is building protection, and you should be feeling better within a few days.

Those receiving a first dose are reminded a second dose is needed to complete vaccination, which research shows provides the best protection against COVID-19 symptoms and potential complications.

COVID-19 vaccines are not yet available to the public and it’s expected to be late spring before mass vaccination begins. DHHS has a website available to help Nebraskans register to be notified when COVID-19 vaccination is available in their area. Available at vaccinate.ne.gov, nearly 175,250 registrations have been received so far. 

Those 65 and older who have registered for vaccination with their local health department do not need to register a second time using the state site. Local health departments and DHHS are working to migrate all registrations.

Those who are 18 to 64 with a high-risk medical condition are asked to register using the state site to help ensure proper prioritization in Phase 1B.

Those interested in registering will need to provide name and contact information, date of birth and answer health questions used to help determine priority group eligibility. Any information entered is strictly confidential and used solely for this purpose. Friends, family and caregivers are encouraged to assist others with vaccine sign-up if needed, and the DHHS Information line can assist those with limited technology, language or Internet access, and is available by calling 833-998-2275.

As of Tuesday, more than 246,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given to those in Phase 1 priority groups. More than 74,000 or 5% of Nebraskans 16 or older have completed vaccination.

Testing continues to be crucial to limiting the spread of COVID-19. Anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19, anyone experiencing any symptoms, those planning to travel, or those who are returning from travel are encouraged to schedule a COVID-19 test.

Free testing is available at more than 60 Test Nebraska sites across the state.

Visit Testnebraska.com to schedule an appointment. Those with questions about testing, or who need help completing the online assessment, can call the Test Nebraska hotline at 402-207-9377.

* Yankowski sentenced on 2 counts related to shooting death

(Posted 1:45 p.m. Feb. 10)

During Brown County District Court Tuesday, Nathan J. Yankowski, age 28, of Long Pine, was sentenced on two felony counts related to the shooting death of Logan Maring, 18, of Merna.

Yankowski received a sentence of 15 to 20 years in the Nebraska Department of Corrections on a Class 2 felony manslaughter count.

Yankowski was also sentenced to 18 to 30 years in the Nebraska Department of Corrections on a Class 1D felony unlawful discharge of a firearm count.

The sentences will be served concurrently.

Also during District Court Tuesday, Quinn G. Wyant, 24, of St. Cloud, Minn., entered guilty pleas to a Class 4 felony charge of possession of a controlled substance and a Class 3 misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana more than 1 ounce but less than 1 pound. Wyant will be sentenced in district court April 13.

Cassius L. Russell, 27, of Ainsworth, had his post-release supervision revoked and will be sentenced March 9.

Andrew T. Roepke, 21, of North Platte, had his post-release supervision revoked and will be sentenced March 9.

* Area students named to UN-L Deans’ List for fall semester

(Posted 7 a.m. Feb. 10)

Nearly 6,800 University of Nebraska–Lincoln students have been named to the Deans’ List for the fall semester of the 2020-21 academic year.

Qualification for the Deans’ List varies among the eight undergraduate colleges and the Explore Center.

Area students named to the Deans’ List for the fall semester include:

Ainsworth

Jack Arens, senior, Dean’s List, College of Engineering, computer engineering.

Rebecca Anne Taylor, sophomore, Dean’s List, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, environmental restoration science.

Samuel Duane Wilkins, sophomore, Dean’s List, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, agricultural economics; Dean’s List, College of Engineering, agricultural engineering.

Long Pine

Jacy Hafer, sophomore, Dean’s List, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, agricultural education.

Bassett

Brandie Rae Messersmith, freshman, Dean’s List, Explore Center, undeclared undergraduate.

Newport

Katherine Elizabeth Osbon, senior, Dean’s List, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, hospitality, restaurant and tourism management.

Springview

Alexis Nicole Rutar, freshman, Dean’s List, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, veterinary science and pre-veterinary medicine.

Stuart

Peyton Alder, junior, Dean’s List, College of Arts and Sciences, biological sciences and psychology.

Alison Paige Stracke, senior, Dean’s List, College of Arts and Sciences, biochemistry.

Madison Stracke, freshman, Dean’s List, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, agricultural education.

Morgan Wallinger, freshman, Dean’s List, College of Business, accounting and agribusiness.

Atkinson

Brandon Jelinek, junior, Dean’s List, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, grassland ecology and management.

Jake Tanner Judge, senior, Dean’s List, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, mechanized systems management.

Jenae Osborne, junior, Dean’s List, College of Journalism and Mass Communications, advertising and public relations.

Butte

Melissa Sextro, sophomore, Dean’s List, College of Arts and Sciences, English.

Wood Lake

Mariah Del Hogenson, senior, Dean’s List, College of Education and Human Sciences, elementary education.

Valentine

Riley Kate Beel, senior, Dean’s List, College of Arts and Sciences, biological sciences.

Logan Michael Cate, freshman, Dean’s List, College of Business, supply chain management.

Nathan Miller, sophomore, Dean’s List, College of Arts and Sciences, psychology.

Dillion Muirhead, freshman, Dean’s List, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, agricultural and environmental sciences communication; Dean’s List, Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts, emerging media arts.

* Agenda for Wednesday’s Ainsworth City Council meeting

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

Ainsworth City Council
Meeting 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10
Ainsworth Conference Center
Agenda

  1. ROUTINE BUSINESS
    1. Announcement of Open Meetings Act
    2. Roll Call
    3. Pledge of Allegiance
  1. CONSENT AGENDA – All items approved with the passage of one motion.
    1. Approve minutes from the January 13, 2021 regular meeting
    2. Approval of Claims
    3. Treasurer’s Report
    4. Department Head Reports
  • MAYOR’S APPOINTMENTS AND REPORT
    1. Mayor’s Report
    2. Mayor’s Appointments
      1. Board of Adjustment (3-year terms): Reappointment of Doug Weiss and Shirley Crone with terms ending 1/1/2024
      2. Municipal Golf Course Foundation Account Committee (6-year terms): Appointment of Rod Worrell with term ending 1/1/2027
  • Park Board (3-year terms): Reappointment of Bruce Papstein and Cody Goochey with terms ending 1/1/2024
  1. PUBLIC HEARINGS
    1. One and Six-Year Street Improvement Program: Resolution #21-03
  1. OLD BUSINESS
    1. Discuss and consider updated program guidelines for the owner-occupied housing rehabilitation revolving loan program
  1. REGULAR AGENDA
    1. Presentation of the Ainsworth City Park and Swimming Pool Study – Miller & Associates
    2. Nominate and consider the City of Ainsworth’s Designated Representative for Ainsworth’s membership in Central Nebraska Economic Development District (CNEDD)
    3. Consider approval and authorization of the Mayor to sign the Site Lease Agreement between the City of Ainsworth and Solar Bundle One, LLC for the development of a solar array
    4. Consider approval and authorization of the Mayor to sign the Community Solar Project Agreement between the City of Ainsworth and Nebraska Public Power District
    5. Discuss and consider the recommendations by the LB840 Loan Committee:
      1. Approve #21-01 Demolition Grant in the amount of 50% of the total project cost up to a maximum of $10,000
    6. Discuss and consider the recommendation by the Ainsworth Betterment Committee (ABC):
      1. Approve $30,000 to be contributed to the City of Ainsworth pool fund
      2. Approve $60,000 to the North Central Development Center (NCDC) for a demolition program for dilapidated structures with a condition that properties where ABC funds are used remain on the City property tax roll
    7. Consider approval of a new corporate manager application, which was submitted to the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission from Pizza Hut
    8. Consider a Fair Housing activity for the owner-occupied housing rehabilitation program
    9. City Administrator/Clerk/Treasurer Report

* Ainsworth team qualifies for State Envirothon

(Posted 10:30 a.m. Feb. 9)

Between Feb. 3-5, Nebraska high school students competed around the state during a virtual regional Envirothon competition demonstrating natural resources knowledge by identifying trees, labeling fish anatomy and determining soil structure.

The winning teams from each Envirothon region as well as eight wildcards – selected based on their competition scores – qualify to compete at state.

The Ainsworth Envirothon team qualified as a wild card to state, as did Chambers, and Burwell and Ord qualified their teams by winning the Northeast and Central regions respectively.

Other state qualifiers are Milford, Arthur County, Concordia, two teams from Sidney, two teams from Norris, Pender, St. Paul and Tri County.

Traditionally, Nebraska’s six regional Envirothon competitions are hosted in conjunction with district agriculture education contests. Due to the pandemic, the contest went virtual with teams taking online, timed tests. High school students compete on five-member teams in seven environmental areas including: soils, aquatics, forestry, wildlife, range, policy and a current environmental issue.

Qualifying teams will compete at the Nebraska Envirothon, which is currently scheduled for Lake Wanahoo near Wahoo April 28. During the state competition, teams compete in hands-on environmental testing stations as well as prepare and deliver an oral problem-solving presentation focusing on “Water Resources Management: Local Control, Local Solutions.”

The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) Foundation awards cash prizes to the top three teams at the state competition:

First Place: $1,500
Second Place: $1,000
Third Place: $500

The Nebraska Envirothon Steering Committee recognizes the extenuating circumstances due to COVID-19, and will follow guidance from federal, state and local officials regarding the virus and whether a virtual alternative of the State Envirothon will be necessary.

* Families now allowed to visit care center on Wednesdays

(Posted 7 a.m. Feb. 9)

The Sandhills Care Center is now allowing families to visit their loved ones in the building, as Interim Administrator Tina Rehkopf told the Board of Directors Monday visitations are being scheduled by appointment on Wednesdays.

Rehkopf said families can schedule a half-hour with their loved one in the building’s sun room, and the center tries to accommodate for families visiting from out of town by allotting extra time. If any time slots on Wednesdays are open, families can schedule additional time. She cautioned that, if a staff member tests positive for COVID-19, the facility will have to go back into quarantine and visitations will no longer be allowed.

Chief Operating Officer Kent Taylor said staff members are tested once each week.

“Vaccination status makes no difference to CMS,” Taylor said.

Taylor reported those willing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine received their second vaccination shots on Feb. 2 and are now fully inoculated.

Taylor reported surveyors were in the facility recently.

“We have not received the final results,” Taylor said. “We had a few things they found that were correctable. That was the same for the fire marshal. There were some things he pointed out that were very correctable.”

Taylor said a new activities director has been hired but it is not yet finalized. The new activities director should start next week. The facility was still working to find a director of nursing.

New Administrator Penny Jacobs was in attendance Monday and told the board she was not planning to come in and make major changes right away.

“My priority is to keep COVID out of the building so we can continue to have families visit and keep the residents happy,” Jacobs said. “My No. 1 goal is to get a director of nursing hired, and to build census.”

Taylor said he would remain in the facility for a short time to assist with the transition to Jacobs as the administrator. Taylor reported there are currently 18 residents in the care center, with five paying privately, one receiving assistance from Medicare and 12 receiving Medicaid assistance.

Board Chairman Phil Fuchs said the care center had received preliminary approval on its grant application to the USDA to replace the facility’s generator.

Fuchs said the care center had some additional paperwork it now needed to fill out.

“When we fill out the paperwork required for the agreement, we will get a letter showing we have been approved,” Fuchs said.

He said the grant will cover $48,300 of the estimated $64,500 cost to replace the generator. The care center will be responsible for covering $16,200.

Once the care center receives the final approval letter from the USDA, which Fuchs expected would arrive in the next week or two, he will solicit bids for the project. He said he hoped to move ahead with the project this spring.

The new generator will provide power to the entire facility, which the current generator does not.

During January, the Sandhills Care Center generated $126,061 in revenue and received $24,034 in federal stimulus funding through the CARES Act. Expenses for the month were $128,672 for an operating margin, including the grant funding, of $21,423.

Business manager Sarah Schipporeit said expenses were down in January because the care center only had to utilize $1,810 in agency nursing for an LPN two days per week during the month. She said the facility is losing a CNA, so if that position can’t be filled the care center would likely have to use an agency for a CNA position.

The next meeting of the Sandhills Care Center is scheduled for 5 p.m. March 8.

* More than 48,000 Nebraskans vaccinated last week

(Posted 7 a.m. Feb. 9)

More than 48,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered last week in Nebraska. As of Sunday, more than 234,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given to those in Phase 1 priority groups, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

As of Sunday, 68,355 Nebraskans have completed vaccination, which represents 4.61% of Nebraskans aged 16 or older.  

Nebraska has been notified that initial shipments to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Federal Retail Pharmacy Program will arrive at the end of this week. Participating retail pharmacies will be able to vaccinate those 65 and older.

Later this week, the state expects to receive 5,700 doses for retail pharmacy vaccinations. DHHS expects to release allocation details soon. Nebraskans are cautioned that retail pharmacy doses will be very limited for some time.

Retail pharmacy doses will be in addition to the state’s weekly allocation of first and second doses being administered by Nebraska’s 19 local health departments. This week, Nebraska is scheduled to receive 28,700 first doses, including 11,700 Pfizer doses and 17,000 Moderna doses, and a total of 23,500 second dose shipments.

In addition, the state is receiving doses released from the Federal Pharmacy Program used by the CDC to vaccinate residents and staff at long-term care facilities. The 11,700 doses being released will provide 5,850 first and second doses, and be allocated to local health departments to support Phase 1B vaccinations.

DHHS has a website available to help Nebraskans register to be notified when COVID-19 vaccination begins in their area. Available at vaccinate.ne.gov, more than 165,800 registrations have been received so far.

All Nebraska counties are now vaccinating Phase 1B priority groups.

Phase 1B priority groups include those 65 and older, those 18 and older who are at high-risk for severe COVID-19, and those working in critical industries, including: first responders, educators and daycare providers, those in the utilities and transportation sectors, corrections staff, and those working in food processing and at grocery stores.

Those who are 18 to 64 with a high-risk medical condition and live outside of Lancaster County are asked to register using the state site to help ensure proper prioritization in Phase 1B.

Those interested in registering will need to provide name and contact information, date of birth and answer health questions used to help determine priority group eligibility. Any information entered is strictly confidential and used solely for this purpose. Friends, family and caregivers are encouraged to assist others with vaccine sign-up if needed. The DHHS Information line is available by calling 833-998-2275. 

DHHS is allocating doses via an existing vaccine network that includes local health departments, federally-qualified health centers, community-based clinics, and tribal health care centers across the state. A total of 125 sites across Nebraska receive vaccine shipments.

Nebraska’s 19 local health departments are coordinating vaccination for Phase 1 priority groups.

Community clinics with scheduled appointments are the primary way vaccine doses are given while vaccine supplies remain limited in order to help ensure all doses can be used in the required timeframe. Community clinics are staggering appointments to observe social distancing and are providing space for monitoring after vaccination.

Mild side effects like a sore arm and fatigue are some of the most common symptoms with COVID-19 vaccines. While many people will have no symptoms, for others there can be headaches, chills or a fever. These side effects are normal and a sign your body is building protection, and you should be feeling better within a few days.

* NCDHD reports 20 new COVID-19 cases Monday

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

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 20 new COVID-19 cases in the district since last reporting period on Thursday. Among the new cases were four in Holt County, two in Brown County, two in Cherry County, and one new case was reported in both Rock County and Keya Paha County.

There have been 70 confirmed cases in the nine-county district in the past two weeks, and 4,183 confirmed cases overall. Of those, 2,533 people have recovered and 69 people have died due to complications from the virus.

NCDHD’s Test Nebraska COVID-19 testing times and locations have changed starting this week. For a smooth flow of clinic traffic in O’Neill Mondays through Wednesdays from 8:30 until 10:30 a.m., attendees should enter the clinic through the alley south of the Armory.

Clinics at the Rock County Fairgrounds have been moved from Tuesdays to Mondays from 1 until 3 p.m.

Pre-registration for testing at www.testnebraska.com is highly encouraged, but not required. 

* Lutz wins annual KBRB Big Game Contest

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

With Tampa Bay dominating Kansas City, 31-9, and providing quarterback Tom Brady with his seventh NFL Championship ring and fifth Big Game MVP trophy, none of our area prognosticators saw the blowout coming.

In fact, from the 155 scores called in during the KBRB Big Game Contest, 94 picked the Chiefs and just 61 thought Tampa Bay would prevail. The closest to the actual score was six points away, which in some years would be just enough to land a contestant in the top 10 for the prize pool.

This year, it was Joe Lutz of Bassett who was closest to the actual score, picking the Buccaneers to win, 30-14, and missing the 31-9 final by six points. Lutz wins $175 in gift certificates for winning this year’s contest.

Allen Privett of Ainsworth took second, just one point behind Lutz, picking the Bucs to win 29-14. Privett received $100 in gift certificates as the runner up.

Robin Schuetz of Ainsworth finished third with her prediction of a 34-14 Tampa Bay victory, missing by eight points.

Monte Ohlmann of Valentine (32-17) and Josh Titus of Ainsworth (30-17) tied for fourth place in the contest missing the final by nine total points.

Kim Shaw of Bassett and Erin Allen of Ainsworth both picked identical finals of 28-17 Tampa Bay to tie for sixth. Jason Anderson of Bassett, Brad Miller of Ainsworth and Callie Mundorf of Springview each missed the total by 12 points to finish in the top 10 and snag a $25 gift certificate to one of our Big Game sponsors.

KBRB thanks the businesses who sponsored this year’s big game contest and to everyone who called in a score prediction. Winners may pick up their gift certificates from the KBRB Studios or call to make arrangements to have the certificates brought with the sports crew to the gym nearest you.

* Area students named to UNMC Dean’s List

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

The University of Nebraska Medical Center has announced its fall 2020 dean’s list for students enrolled in nursing, dentistry, pharmacy and the allied health professions.
To qualify for the dean’s list, nursing and the allied health students must be enrolled for 12 or more hours during the semester and have a grade point average of 3.75 or above.
The following is a list of students, their hometowns and the colleges in which they are enrolled. 

College of Nursing Northern Division (Norfolk) 
Ainsworth – Payton Allen

College of Nursing Kearney Division 
Stuart – Maycey Forker

College of Nursing Lincoln Division 
Atkinson – Shaely Thiele

* No new COVID cases reported in BKR counties Thursday

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

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 19 new COVID-19 cases in the district since Monday. Among the new cases were nine in Holt County, one in Cherry County and one new case was reported in Boyd County. There were no new cases confirmed in Brown, Rock or Keya Paha counties.

The health department reported two people died in the district from virus complications: a woman from Knox County and a man from Pierce County.

The NCDHD reported 122 people recovered from the virus during the past week. Among the recoveries were 14 in Holt County, nine in Brown County, nine in Cherry County, four in Rock County, four in Boyd County, and one person recovered from the virus in Keya Paha County.

The NCDHD reminds people they can register for vaccination at www.ncdhd.ne.gov.

For those 65 and older who already registered with NCDHD, do not sign up with the state. NCDHD will continue to schedule those vaccinations. For those 65 and older who did not sign up on the NCDHD site, sign up on the new Nebraska registry, located at www.vaccinate.ne.gov.

Those who registered on the NCDHD vaccine list but are not over the age of 65 need to register on the new Nebraska registry. 

The speed of vaccine disbursement depends on vaccine availability.

Now through Mid-May: Phase 1B- Vaccine will be allocated to those 75 years and older, 65 years and older, those with pre-existing conditions, first responders, those in the education sector, and those working in grocery stores, food processing facilities, utilities, transportation, and postal service.

Mid-April to May: Phase 1C- Vaccines will be allocated to those in congregate settings.

May to October: Phase 2 – Vaccine will be made available to the general public.  

For assistance completing the online signup, contact the local library or senior center.

* COVID cases, hospitalizations trending downward

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

The statewide total of COVID-19 cases is 192,042 as of Tuesday. There have been 26 COVID-19-related deaths in Nebraska reported in the past seven days, for a total of 1,931. To date, a total of 137,684 Nebraskans testing positive for COVID-19 have recovered.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have continued to decline in the past week, with Nebraska hospitals caring for an average of 322 COVID-19 patients a day over the past seven days. Averages in prior weeks were 402, 444 and 481 COVID-19 patients.

The daily average of new positive cases in the last week was 455, compared to 562 daily cases last week, and 745 and 896 cases a day in recent weeks. Averages for positive cases are now based on test dates, instead of lab reporting date, which provides a more precise view of COVID-19 cases. Data from previous days is updated as lab results are received.  

Dr. Gary Anthone, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for DHHS, said, “We’re still in the early days of this vaccination effort and so it’s critical we continue to limit virus spread. Wearing a mask, washing hands, and staying home when you’re sick are our best defense against COVID-19.”

Anyone who has not completed vaccination and may have been exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine and get tested.

As of Tuesday, more than 198,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given to those in Phase 1 priority groups. More than 55,000 or 3.71% of Nebraskans 16 or older have completed vaccination.

This week, Nebraska is receiving 30,125 first doses, including 14,625 Pfizer and 15,500 Moderna doses. Second dose shipments scheduled for this week total 25,825, including 14,625 Pfizer and 11,200 Moderna doses.

In addition, 5,800 Pfizer doses initially allocated to the Federal Pharmacy Program in Nebraska will be released this week, with 11,700 Pfizer doses released in the next two weeks. These doses will be used to support vaccination for Phase 1B groups.

DHHS is allocating doses via a vaccine network that includes local health departments, federally qualified health centers, community-based clinics, and tribal health care centers across the state. A total of 125 sites across Nebraska receive vaccine shipments.

Nebraska’s 19 local health departments are coordinating vaccination for Phase 1 priority groups.

First dose vaccinations for Phase 1A groups are being finalized, and second dose clinics are being scheduled appropriately to complete vaccination in the coming weeks.

All Nebraska counties are vaccinating Phase 1B priority groups this week. Phase 1B includes those 65 and older, those 18 and older who are at high-risk for severe COVID-19, and those in critical industries, including: first responders, educators and daycare providers, those in the utilities and transportation sectors, corrections staff, and those working in food processing and at grocery stores.

Those who’ve received a first dose are reminded that a second dose is needed to complete vaccination, which research shows provides the best protection against COVID-19 symptoms and potential complications.

Community clinics with scheduled appointments are the primary way vaccine doses are being given to help ensure all doses can be used in the required timeframe. Community clinics will stagger appointments in order to observe social distancing and provide space for monitoring after vaccination.

COVID-19 vaccines are not yet available to the public and it’s expected to be late spring before mass vaccination begins.  

The Pfizer vaccine was 95% effective and the Moderna vaccine 94% effective in phase three clinical trials.

New this week, a Vaccine Allocation Scorecard is now available on the DHHS COVID-19 Vaccine Information page to help track administration of doses allocated by DHHS to Nebraska’s local health districts and the CDC’s Federal Pharmacy Program.

The Federal Pharmacy Program contracted pharmacy staff to help administer COVID-19 vaccine to residents and staff at long-term care facilities. Doses for long-term care facilities came out of the state’s total vaccine allocation, which totaled 46,800 first doses and 46,800 second doses.

The scorecard provides the number and percentage of first and second doses administered by all local health districts and the Federal Pharmacy Program. Allocations are updated weekly and doses administered is updated daily.

 DHHS has a website available to help Nebraskans register to be notified when COVID-19 vaccination begins in their area. Available at vaccinate.ne.gov, more than 140,600 registrations have been received so far.

Those 65 and older who have registered for vaccination with their local health department do not need to register a second time using the state site. Local health departments and DHHS are working to migrate all registrations.

Those who are 18 to 64 with a high-risk medical condition and live outside of Lancaster County are asked to register using the state site to help ensure proper prioritization in Phase 1B. Residents of Lancaster County should register using the local health department’s online vaccine registration option.

Those interested in registering will need to provide name and contact information, date of birth, occupation, and answer health questions used to help determine priority group eligibility. Any information entered is strictly confidential and used solely for this purpose. Friends, family and caregivers are encouraged to assist others with vaccine sign-up if needed, and the DHHS Information line can assist at 833-998-2275. 

Nebraska is monitoring for new and emerging COVID-19 strains, which appear to be more contagious, but do not appear to result in more severe COVID-19 cases. None of the three variants have been identified in Nebraska so far. 

Genomic sequencing of positive samples is used to identify and confirm new strains, such as those first identified in Brazil, South Africa and the U.K. The state began sending positive COVID-19 samples to the CDC in December as part of its surveillance for emerging strains. In early January, Nebraska purchased equipment for the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory to begin in-state monitoring for emerging strains, and recently expanded in-house genomic sequencing capacity.

Testing continues to be crucial to limiting the spread of COVID-19. Anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19, anyone experiencing any symptoms, those planning to travel, or those who are returning from travel are encouraged to schedule a COVID-19 test.

Free testing is available at more than 60 Test Nebraska sites across the state.

 Visit Testnebraska.com to schedule an appointment. Those with questions about testing, or who need help completing the online assessment, can call the Test Nebraska hotline at 402-207-9377.

* No new COVID cases reported in BKR counties Monday

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

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 17 new COVID-19 cases in the district since last reporting Thursday. Among the new cases were five in Holt County, one in Cherry County and one new case was reported in Boyd County. There were no new cases reported in Brown, Rock and Keya Paha counties.

There have been 124 cases confirmed in the past two weeks, and 4,144 cases overall in the nine-county district. Of those, 2,411 people have recovered and 67 have died from virus complications.

For those 65+ who already registered with the NCDHD, they do not sign up with the state vaccination web site. NCDHD will continue to schedule vaccine appointments. If you are 65+ and did not sign up with NCDHD, please sign up on the new Nebraska registry.

If you registered on the NCDHD vaccine list but are not over the age of 65, you will need to register on the new Nebraska registry.

If you are interested in the COVID-19 vaccine, all ages and all professions are welcome to sign up on the new Nebraska web site. The governor’s tiered phasing guidance will still be utilized to determine who is vaccinated first.

The speed of vaccine disbursement depends on vaccine availability.

Vaccine is currently being allocated to those 75 years and older, 65 years and older, those with pre-existing conditions, first responders, those in the education sector, and those working in grocery stores, food processing facilities, utilities, transportation, and postal service.

Mid-April to May: Phase 1C- Vaccine will be allocated to those in congregate settings.

May to October: Phase 2 – Vaccine will be made available to the public.

There are a couple NCDHD survey sign-ups located on at www.ncdhd.ne.gov the health department will continue to utilize. If an individual was in Phase1A and did not receive the vaccine but is now interested, complete the Phase1A survey. If an individual is unable to make the second dose appointment, which is located on the back of the vaccine card, complete the unable to make second dose survey and the health department will work to find you a different appointment.

Those who need assistance completing online registration may visit their local senior center or library. 

On Friday, Gov. Pete Ricketts announced Nebraska’s transition from “blue” to the “green” phase of Nebraska’s COVID-19 response plan. The COVID-19 response plan links restrictions in the Directed Health Measures to the percentage of staffed Nebraska hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. The 7-day rolling average of hospitalized COVID-19 patients fell under 10%, which is the “green” phase marker. This is not necessarily a risk assessment for the NCDHD district, but a reflection of the current State DHM color.

New DHM include the following change: The maximum capacity for indoor gatherings, including youth extracurricular activities, goes from 75% to 100%.

Organizers of gatherings of 500 or more people (1,000 or more in Douglas County), must still submit a reopening plan to their local health department—and receive approval—before holding their events.  Aside from this requirement, there are no restrictions on gatherings/venues in the “green” phase of the state’s plan.  However, guidance is still in place and recommended.

Nebraskans who’ve been fully vaccinated (received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine) do not have to quarantine after a close contact.  Instead, they will be in the “self-monitor” category, which involves wearing a mask for 14 days from the date of exposure and monitoring for symptoms. Nebraskans who have recovered from the coronavirus in the past three months do not need to quarantine after a close contact, though they’re encouraged to monitor for symptoms.

* 48,000 Nebraskans have received both vaccine doses

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

More than 46,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered last week in Nebraska. As of Sunday, more than 184,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given to those in Phase 1 priority groups, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

As of Sunday, nearly 48,250 Nebraskans have completed vaccination, which represents 3.25% of Nebraskans aged 16 or older.  

First dose vaccinations for Phase 1A priority groups are being finalized, and second dose clinics are being scheduled appropriately to complete vaccination in the coming weeks.

Beginning this week, all Nebraska counties expect to be vaccinating Phase 1B priority groups. Nebraskans notified that vaccination is available in their area are encouraged to schedule an appointment through their local health department.

DHHS has launched a website to help Nebraskans register to be notified when COVID-19 vaccination begins in their area. The site has received more than 100,000 registrations so far.

Nebraskans eligible for Phase 1B who have not already registered with a local health department are encouraged to register on the state site, available at vaccinate.ne.gov.

Phase 1B priority groups include those 65 and older, those 18 and older who are at high-risk for severe COVID-19, and those working in critical industries who are unable to work remotely, including: first responders, educators and daycare providers, those in the utilities and transportation sectors, corrections staff, and those working in food processing and at grocery stores.

Those 18 to 64 with a high-risk medical condition who did not log medical conditions when registering with their local health department are encouraged to use the state website to register and help ensure prioritization in Phase 1B. DHHS will migrate registration lists to the appropriate local health department.

Registration allows individuals to receive updates, scheduling information and follow-up reminders about vaccination. Those registering will need to provide name and contact information, as well as a date of birth, occupation and answers to health questions used to determine priority group eligibility. Any information entered is strictly confidential and will be used solely to determine phase eligibility for the vaccine.

Family members and caregivers are encouraged to assist others with vaccine sign-up if needed. The DHHS Information line is available to help those with limited or no phone or Internet access. The registration site is available to Nebraska residents only.

This week, Nebraska is scheduled to receive 27,200 first doses, including 11,700 Pfizer doses and 15,500 Moderna doses. Second doses shipments scheduled for this week total 22,900, including 11,700 Pfizer doses and 11,200 Moderna doses.

More than 115 sites across Nebraska receive vaccine shipments.

Local health departments are coordinating vaccination for Phase 1 priority groups.

Community clinics with scheduled appointments will be the primary way vaccine doses are given while vaccine supplies remain limited in order to help ensure all doses can be used in the required timeframe. Community clinics are staggering appointments to observe social distancing and are providing space for monitoring after vaccination.

COVID-19 vaccines are not yet available to the public and it’s expected to be late spring before mass vaccination begins.

The state is following the recommendations of CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Priority groups and timing projections remain tentative and will be adjusted as federal recommendations are issued and as vaccine shipments are scheduled.

* Fernau wins Ainsworth Spelling Bee Friday

(Posted 7 a.m. Feb. 1)

Correctly spelling the words “meditation” and “wrath,” Kaitlyn Fernau won the annual Ainsworth Spelling Bee for fifth- through eighth-grade students Friday in the Learning Center.

Emma McMurtrey finished second with Mason Painter in third place. Fernau won the right to advance to the Nebraska State Spelling Bee.

Addilyn Doke won the fourth grade spelling bee, correctly spelling “sixty” and “wrist” to win. Bailee Rea finished second and Kristofer Hitchcock third in the fourth-grade bee.

The third-grade bee was a back and forth competition between Paul Denny and Leighton Konkoleski. Denny eventually took first by correctly spelling “division” and “operation.” Konkoleski placed second, followed by Callen Pierce in third.

Landre Stephen was the winner in the second grade. Stephen correctly spelled “length” and “because” to win over Ursula Morales. Trypp Schmitz placed third.

Sophia Schroedl correctly spelled “store” and “dove” to win the first-grade spelling bee. Gracie Gillespie took second and Elsie Graff third.

* New state registry available to sign up for COVID vaccination

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

The North Central District Health Department would like to apprise the district of the Nebraska COVID-19 vaccine registry, located at www.vaccinate.nebraska.gov.

For those 65+ who already registered with NCDHD, do not sign up with the state. NCDHD will continue to schedule your vaccine. If you are 65+ and did not sign up with NCDHD, please sign up on the new Nebraska registry, located at www.vaccinate.nebraska.gov.

If you registered on the NCDHD vaccine list but are not over the age of 65, you will need to register on the new Nebraska registry.

If you are interested in the COVID-19 vaccine, all ages and all professions are welcome to sign up on the new Nebraska registration. The governor’s tiered phasing guidance will still be utilized to determine who is vaccinated first.

If you need assistance registering, it is recommended you contact a family member or friend for help. Your local senior center and library can also assist. A third option for help registering is to contact the state hotline at 833-998-2275.

If you register on the new Nebraska site, e-mail and physical address are required. If you do not have an e-mail address, use a family member’s e-mail. If you do not have a family member to assist, you may use register@ncdhd.ne.gov. Please do not call NCDHD to confirm if your registration went through.

The speed of vaccine disbursement depends on vaccine availability.

Mid-January to Mid-May: Phase 1B- Vaccine will be allocated to those 75 years and older, 65 years and older, those with pre-existing conditions, first responders, those in the education sector, and those working in grocery stores, food processing facilities, utilities, transportation, and postal service.

Mid-April to May: Phase 1C- Vaccines will be allocated to those in congregate settings.

May to October: Phase 2 – Vaccine will be made available to the public.

There are a couple NCDHD survey sign-ups located on at www.ncdhd.ne.gov that NCDHD will continue to utilize. If an individual was in Phase1A and did not receive the vaccine but is now interested, please complete the Phase1A survey. If an individual is unable to make the second dose appointment, which is located on the back of the vaccine card, please complete the unable to make second dose survey and we will work to find you a different appointment.

* Ainsworth finishes second in Gordon Speech Invitational

(Posted 1 p.m. Jan. 31)

The Ainsworth speech team competed in the Gordon-Rushville Invitational Saturday. The all-varsity tournament offered a preview of the district competition, with five of the eight schools in Class C1-6, along with six other schools participating.

Ainsworth speech coach Heather Lutter said the team competed well and brought home the runner-up plaque for Class C/D schools, as well as claiming the second spot overall.  

Next Saturday, the speech team will compete in the West Holt Invitational.

Varsity Results:

Informative: Ben Flynn – 2nd 

OID: Cody Kronhofman, Maren Arens, Dakota Stutzman, and Eden Raymond – 3rd

Humorous: Brandt Murphy – 5th

Poetry: Alyssa Erthum – 2nd

Extemporaneous: Josie Ganser – 1st

Persuasive: Alyssa Erthum – 2nd

Serious: Taylor Allen – 5th

Class C/D Team: Runner-Up

* NCDHD confirms 19 COVID-19 cases since Monday

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

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 19 new COVID-19 cases in the district since the last reporting Monday. Among them were five new cases in Holt County, four in Cherry County and one new cases was reported in Keya Paha County. There were no new confirmed cases in Brown, Rock or Boyd counties.

NCDHD reported two Knox County COVID-19 deaths: a woman in her 70s and a man in his 90s.

NCDHD reported 152 people recovered from the virus in the district during the past week. Among the recoveries were 29 people in Holt County, 22 in Cherry County, 19 in Boyd County, 15 in Brown County and four people recovered from the virus during the past week in Rock County.

There have been 124 COVID-19 cases confirmed in the district during the past two weeks, and a total of 4,127 cases overall. Of those, 2,411 people have recovered and 67 have died due to virus complications.

There have been 270 total cases in Brown County, with 159 recoveries and four deaths. Rock County has had 148 cases, with 95 recoveries and two deaths. There have been 43 confirmed cases in Keya Paha County with 15 people recovering and no deaths reported. Cherry County has had 400 confirmed cases, with 252 recoveries and seven deaths. Holt County is second only to Knox County in the nine-county district in the highest number of cases with 799. Of those, 517 people have recovered and 14 have died. A total of 182 Boyd County residents have been confirmed with COVID-19, with 110 recoveries and three deaths.

As of Thursday, 4,390 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the NCDHD coverage area, with 3,700 of those being first doses. If anyone, at any age, is interested the COVID-19 vaccine, visit www.ncdhd.ne.gov to complete the appropriate survey. There are additional surveys for those in Phase1A who want their first dose and for anyone unable to make their second dose appointment. For assistance completing the survey, contact your local senior center or library.

NCDHD is currently in Phase1B, providing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to individuals 75 years and older. NCDHD will notify the public as NCDHD transitions to each phase. The speed of transition depends heavily on vaccine availability.

Mid-January to Mid-April: Phase 1B- Vaccine will be allocated to those 75 years and older, 65 years and older, those with pre-existing conditions, first responders, those in the education sector, and those working with critical infrastructure.

Mid-April to May: Phase 1C- Vaccine will be allocated to vulnerable populations and those in congregate settings.

May to October: Phase 2 – Vaccine will be made available to the public. 

* Ricketts appoints Beck, Keim to state boards

(Posted 2:45 p.m. Jan. 28)

Governor Pete Ricketts announced Thursday recent appointments he has made to fill Nebraska’s boards and commissions.

Among the appointments was Tonny Beck of Ainsworth. Beck was appointed to the Water Well Standards and Contractors’ Licensing Board.

Duane Keim of Valentine was appointed to the Board of Educational Lands and Funds, but that appointment is subject to the approval of the Nebraska Legislature.

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 10:30 a.m. Jan. 28)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a one-vehicle accident that occurred Tuesday, Jan. 26, west of Johnstown.

According to the sheriff’s department report, at 11:18 a.m. Tuesday on Highway 20 approximately 2 miles west of Johnstown, a 2007 Ford Expedition, driven by Vernon Wood, 73, of Bassett, was eastbound when the vehicle left the roadway due to icy conditions and rolled in the south ditch.

No injuries were reported but the accident prompted the response of the Ainsworth and Johnstown Volunteer Fire departments and the Brown County Ambulance Association.

The Ford was considered a total loss.

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 10:30 a.m. Jan. 28)

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

Stephen Z. Gideon, age 72, of Burwell, charged with being over the bag limit on fish or small game, fined $200 and ordered to pay $125 in liquidation damage.

Bobby B. Harmon, 58, no address listed, failure to appear, sentenced to two days in jail with credit for two days served.

Ryan J. Connell, 41, of Long Pine, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Walter W. Marti, 79, of Lakespur, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Devin A. Hohman Reimer, 26, of Aurora, Colo., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Migdalia Quinones Torres, 52, of Betavia, Ill., speeding 21-35 mph over the limit, $200; attempting a Class 4 felony, $1,000; first offense reckless driving, $500.

Stetson L. Allen, 31, of Ainsworth, first offense reckless driving, $500.

Donna R. Bennett, 65, of Tucson, Ariz., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Danetta J. Rice, 47, of Ainsworth, speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

* Daily COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations decline

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

The latest statewide total of COVID-19 cases is 188,122 as of Tuesday. There have been 55 COVID-19-related deaths in Nebraska reported in the past seven days, for a total of 1,905. To date, a total of 133,206 Nebraskans testing positive for COVID-19 have recovered.

While still elevated, COVID-19 hospitalizations are continuing to decline, with Nebraska hospitals caring for an average of 402 COVID-19 patients per day during the past seven days. Averages in prior weeks were 444, 481 and 522 COVID-19 patients.

The daily average of new positive cases in the last week was 706, compared to 788 daily cases last week, and 948 and 1,036 cases a day in recent weeks.  

Dr. Gary Anthone, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for DHHS, said, “We’re still in the early days of this vaccination effort and so it’s critical we continue to limit virus spread. Wearing a mask, washing hands, and staying home when you’re sick are the best tools to fight against COVID-19.”

Anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine and get tested.

Later this week, DHHS will launch a website to help Nebraskans register to be notified when COVID-19 vaccination begins in their area. Gov. Pete Ricketts will be joined by DHHS leaders to discuss the site during a news conference on Friday.

Registration is not done on a first come, first served basis. Many local health departments have offered electronic signup for vaccine notification, and those 65 and older who have signed up do not need to register a second time. Local health departments will work with DHHS to migrate all registrations.

However, those 18 to 65 with a high-risk medical condition are asked to register using the state site to best ensure proper prioritization in Phase 1B. Family members and caregivers are encouraged to assist with vaccine sign-up if needed.

Those interested in registering will need to provide name and contact information, date of birth, occupation, and answer health questions used to help determine priority group eligibility. Any information entered is strictly confidential and used solely for this purpose. The DHHS Information line will be available to help assist those with limited or no phone or Internet access. 

Most areas in the state have completed first dose vaccinations for Phase 1A groups, and second doses will be scheduled appropriately to complete vaccination in the coming weeks. 

By the end of this week, all Nebraska health care workers will have had the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. More than 26,000 of Nebraska’s health care workers have received their second dose to complete vaccination.

Residents and staff at 455 long-term care facilities have received their first vaccine dose. The state directed 11,700 Pfizer second doses from this week’s vaccine allocation to the Federal Pharmacy Program to support second dose clinics, which will help complete vaccinations for long-term care facilities and close out the Federal Pharmacy Program.

In addition, this week Nebraska is receiving 11,700 Pfizer first doses, 11,800 Moderna first doses, and 11,200 Moderna second doses.

Phase 1B priority groups include those 65 and older, and those aged 18 and older who are at high-risk for severe COVID-19.  

Phase 1B also includes those working in critical industries who are unable to work remotely, including: first responders, educators, those in the utilities and transportation sectors, and food processing workers.

Local health departments are coordinating vaccination for Phase 1 priority groups.

Community clinics with scheduled appointments will be the primary way vaccine doses are given while supplies remain limited to help ensure all doses can be used in the required timeframe. Community clinics will stagger appointments in order to observe social distancing and provide space for monitoring after vaccination.

COVID-19 vaccines are not yet available to the public and it’s expected to be late spring before mass vaccination begins.

The Pfizer vaccine was 95% effective and the Moderna vaccine 94% effective in phase three clinical trials. Comparatively, the flu vaccine is generally 40 to 60% effective. Neither vaccine contains a live virus and cannot give individuals COVID-19. 

Two vaccine doses are needed to reach full effectiveness against COVID-19, and the same brand of vaccine must be administered for both doses. Thus far, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for those 16 and older, and the Moderna vaccine approved for those 18 and older. 

As of Tuesday, nearly 143,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given to those in Phase 1 priority groups. As of Tuesday, 1.78% of Nebraskans aged 16 or older have completed vaccination.

Testing continues to be crucial to limiting the spread of COVID-19. Anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19, anyone experiencing any symptoms, those planning to travel, or those who are returning from travel are encouraged to schedule a COVID-19 test.

Free testing is available at more than 60 Test Nebraska sites across the state.

Those planning international travel are advised that travelers returning to the U.S. are now required to provide proof of a COVID-19 test taken no more than 3 days before their return flight. Returning travelers need to present either a negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to their airline before boarding.

The order applies to all passengers two years and older traveling to the U.S., including citizens and permanent residents.

* NCDHD confirms 50 new COVID-19 cases in the district

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

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 50 new COVID-19 cases in the district since last reporting Thursday. Among the new cases were seven in Holt County, four in Cherry County, and two new cases were reported in both Rock County and Boyd County. There have been no new confirmed cases in Brown County and Keya Paha County since Thursday.

The NCDHD received confirmation a Knox County woman in her 90s died following COVID-19 complications. She becomes the 65th death from the virus in the nine-county district.

There have been 189 cases reported in the past 14 days and 4,108 COVID-19 cases overall in the district. Of those, 2,259 people have recovered from the virus.

The NCDHD Test Nebraska COVID-19 clinic at Bassett Tuesday has been cancelled due to the weather.

NCDHD transitioned into Phase1B to provide COVID-19 vaccine to individuals 75 years and older. Those 75 and older may visit the NCDHD website to sign up for a vaccination appointment. Those who need help may contact their nearest senior center or library. Those in the general public who can receive a vaccine at a moment’s notice may also sign up on the NCDHD web site. Those who have already received the first dose of vaccine but who are unable to attend their second dose appointment are asked to visit the NCDHD website and provide information on the second dose survey.

NCDHD will notify the public as it transitions to each phase. The speed of transition depends heavily on vaccine availability.

Mid-January to Mid-April: Phase 1B- Vaccine will be allocated to those 75 years and older, 65 years and older, those with pre-existing conditions, first responders, those in the education sector, and those working with critical infrastructure.

Mid-April to May: Phase 1C- Vaccines will be allocated to vulnerable populations and those in congregate settings such as colleges/universities.

May to October: Phase 2 – Vaccine will be made available to the public.

More than 31,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered last week in Nebraska. As of Sunday, more than 137,000 doses have been given to those in Phase 1 priority groups, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

With the exception of Douglas and Lancaster counties, most areas in the state have completed first dose vaccinations for Phase 1A priority groups, with second doses scheduled appropriately to complete vaccination in the coming weeks. 

 More than a quarter of Nebraska’s 90,000 health care workers have completed vaccination so far, with more than 24,000 receiving their second dose of vaccine.

Residents and staff at 455 long-term care facilities have received their first vaccine dose. This week, Nebraska will direct 11,700 Pfizer doses to the Federal Pharmacy Program support second dose clinics at long-term care facilities across the state.

In addition to the Pfizer shipment, Nebraska is scheduled to receive 11,800 Moderna first doses and 11,200 Moderna second doses this week.

Later this week, DHHS will launch a website to help Nebraskans register to be notified when COVID-19 vaccination begins in their area.

Registering will allow individuals to receive updates, scheduling information and follow-up reminders about vaccination. Those interested in registering will need to provide name and contact information, as well as a date of birth, occupation and answers to health questions used to determine priority group eligibility.

Family members and caregivers are encouraged to assist others with vaccine sign-up if needed. Any information entered is strictly confidential and will be used solely to determine phase eligibility in administering the vaccine.  

Nebraska has expanded Phase 1B groups to match federal recommendations. Phase 1B includes those 65 and older, those 18 and older who are at high-risk for severe COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists a number of medical conditions known to increase the risk for severe COVID-19.

Phase 1B also includes those working in critical industries who are unable to work remotely, including: first responders, educators, those in the utilities and transportation sectors, and food processing workers.

Local health departments are coordinating vaccination for Phase 1 priority groups.

Community clinics with scheduled appointments will be the primary way vaccine doses are given while the vaccine supply remains limited to help ensure all doses can be used in the required timeframe. Community clinics will stagger appointments in order to observe social distancing and provide space for monitoring after vaccination.

COVID-19 vaccines are not yet available to the public and it’s expected to be late spring before mass vaccination begins.

To follow Nebraska’s COVID-19 vaccination progress, visit the COVID-19 Vaccination dashboard. As of Sunday, 1.64% of Nebraskans aged 16 or older have completed vaccination. Thus far, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for those aged 16 and older, and the Moderna vaccine approved for those aged 18 and older. 

The Pfizer vaccine was 95% effective and the Moderna vaccine 94% effective in phase three clinical trials. Comparatively, the flu vaccine is generally 40 to 60% effective. Neither vaccine contains a live virus and cannot give individuals COVID-19. Two vaccine doses are needed to reach full effectiveness against COVID-19, and the same brand of vaccine must be administered for both doses.

* Speech team competes virtually Saturday 

(Posted 10:30 a.m. Jan. 25)

The Ainsworth High School speech team competed in a virtual meet hosted by Broken Bow High School Saturday. Coach Heather Lutter said the tournament always offers challenging competition, and is a great opportunity for the speakers. 

Varsity
Poetry: Alyssa Erthum – 11th
Persuasive: Alyssa Erthum – 4th
Oral Interpretation of Drama: Maren Arens, Cody Kronhofman, Eden Raymond and Dakota Stutzman – 4th

Novice
Humorous Prose: Cameryn Goochey – 12th
Informative: Makenna Pierce – 7th
Serious Prose: Taylor Allen – 3rd
Persuasive: Cole Bodeman – 11th

Saturday, the speech team will compete at the Gordon-Rushville Invitational.

* Area students named to NECC fall semester lists

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

Northeast Community College in Norfolk has released the President’s Honor List and Deans’ Honor List for both full and part-time students for the Fall 2020 semester.

To be named to the President’s Honor List, students must earn a grade point average of 4.0 and be enrolled for at least 12 credit hours. Some 221 students made the President’s Full-time Honor List this past fall semester. Students named to the Deans’ Honor List must have earned a grade point average of 3.75 or above and be enrolled for at least 12 credit hours. A total of 258 students were named to the Deans’ Honor List.

Another 297 students named to the President’s Part-Time list attained a 4.0 grade point average while taking at least six credit hours, and 82 students named to the Deans’ Part-Time list earned a grade point average of 3.75 or above while taking at least six credit hours.

Area students receiving first-semester recognition at Northeast Community College are:

President’s List Full-time Students
Ainsworth – Grant Stec and Jenna Williams.
Bassett – Brendan Bussinger.
Stuart – Ethan Sattler.
Atkinson – Ellie Burkinshaw and Daniel Clemens.
Valentine – Kara Mccann.

Dean’s List Full-time Students
Ainsworth – Adriana Hood, Caeleb Irwin and Sonya Shurter.
Johnstown – Henry Beel.
Springview – Miah Wiebelhaus.
Bassett – Brodee Fleming and Lauryn Stanton.
Stuart – Wyatt Paxton.
Atkinson – Hannah Brotsky and Ashley Larby.
Naper – Hannah Drueke and Gina McCarthy.
Butte – Trevor Brooks and Evan Reiman.
Valentine – Chase Olson.

President’s List Part-time students
Ainsworth – Alyssa Erthum, Shawna Fernau, Brandt Murphy and Elizabeth Smith.
Johnstown – CeeAnna Beel.
Long Pine – Logan Hafer and Byron Pfister.
Springview – Hunter Wiebelhaus.
Bassett – Jaya Nelson.
Atkinson – Jackson Butterfield, Kamry Neptune, Haley Peek and Max Roberts.
Butte – Kaesin Ellwanger, JoAnn Koenig and Audrey Mohr.

Dean’s List Part-time students
Ainsworth – Josie Ganser.
Long Pine – Gavin Olinger.
Bassett – Jillian Buell.
Atkinson – Brianna Rentschler.
Butte – Samanda Pickinpaugh.

* NCDHD confirms 38 COVID-19 cases since Monday

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

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 38 new COVID-19 cases in the district since last reporting Monday.

Among the new cases were nine in Holt County, three in Boyd County, and one new case was reported in both Brown County and Cherry County. There were no new confirmed cases in Rock County and Keya Paha County.

NCDHD announced 138 people recovered from the virus since Thursday. Among those recovering were 24 residents of Brown County, 22 Holt County residents, 14 in Cherry County, seven in both Keya Paha County and Boyd County, and four people recovered from the virus during the past week in Rock County.

There have been 184 cases confirmed in the nine-county district in the past two weeks, and 4,058 north central Nebraska residents have been confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 overall. Of those, 2,259 people recovered from the virus and 64 died.

There have been 270 confirmed cases in Brown County, with 144 people recovering and four deaths. Rock County has had 146 confirmed cases, with 91 recoveries and two deaths. Keya Paha County has had 42 confirmed cases with 15 people recovering. Holt County is second only to Knox County for the most confirmed cases in the district with 787. Of those, 488 people have recovered and 14 have died. There have been 392 confirmed cases in Cherry County, with 232 recoveries and seven deaths. Boyd County has experienced 180 confirmed cases, with 91 people recovering and three deaths.

The NCDHD has transitioned into Phase1B to provide COVID-19 vaccine to individuals 75 years and older. Individuals 75 and older and employees of businesses in Phase 1B are asked to visit the North Central District Health Department web site to sign up for a vaccination clinic. Those in the general public may register who could potentially receive a vaccine at a moment’s notice if there is extra available during a vaccination clinic.

Those who need assistance completing a survey may visit their local library or senior center. NCDHD recognizes federal partners added the 65 years and older and those with underlying health conditions categories into Phase 1B.  NCDHD requests those populations wait until February to sign up on the statewide registry.

NCDHD will notify the public as it moves to each new phase of vaccinations. The speed of transition will depend heavily on vaccine availability.

The general public will likely not have the ability to receive a vaccination until May. 

* Ainsworth mock trial team opens its delayed season

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

The Ainsworth Mock Trial team opened its season in a virtual trial Wednesday, representing the defense in “The State of Nebraska vs. Chris Hall.”

Hall, a high school student at Goldenrod High School in Nebraska, is a star basketball player and straight A student vying for class valedictorian.

Hall was charged with a felony count of possession of a controlled substance after being reported by fellow student Taylor Jennings, also a straight A student and tied with Hall in the valedictorian race, of possessing a suspicious substance in a school classroom.

The State of Nebraska prosecutes Hall on the felony charge, while the opposing side defends Hall against the charges. Witnesses include the two students, the high school principal, a school resource officer, a fellow student, and a chemistry teacher/basketball coach.

The Ainsworth Mock trial team consists of attorneys Alyssa Erthum, Cody Kronhofman, Haley Schroedl and Levi Goshorn, and witnesses Elizabeth Smith, Brandt Murphy, Dakota Stutzman and Gracie Petty.

Coaches are Katie McClure and Graig Kinzie with Brown County Attorney Andy Taylor serving as the team’s attorney coach and Nebraska Bar Association Sponsor. Former coach Mary Rau is also providing assistance.

Ainsworth is currently competing in preliminary rounds against teams from outside its region and will compete against Valentine in February for the Region 4 championship and a berth in the 12-team Mock Trial State Championships in March.

Teams will not learn the outcomes of the preliminary round trials until after the season.

This year’s trials, due to the pandemic, are all being conducted virtually via Zoom.

 

 

 

 

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