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* Ainsworth April weather summary

(Posted 7:45 a.m. May 2)

Ainsworth Weather Observer Jim Baker provided a report on April’s weather. The audio is located below.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 6:15 a.m. May 2)

April 24

  • A written warning was issued for improper or defective vehicle lighting on Highway 20 near mile marker 243.
  • Received reports of a cow on the roadway of Meadville Ave. The owner was contacted and removed the cow from the roadway.
  • Responded to a request for agency assistance from Blaine County in pursuit of a Colorado plated vehicle traveling in excess speeds of 100 mph. On Highway 7, near mile marker 38, Brown County Deputies were able to stop the vehicle.  One male subject from Colorado was issued a citation from Blaine County for possession of a stolen vehicle, and flight to avoid arrest.  This subject was booked into the Brown County Jail and is currently being housed for Blaine County and has received a $25,000 cash bond.

April 25

  • Responded to a one vehicle accident collision with a gate on 881st rd. No injuries were reported and the vehicle was not able to drive away from the scene.

April 26

  • Released an inmate from the Brown County Jail for time served on a court commitment.
  • Received reports of two seperate homes in Ainsworth having chickens within the city limits. Both individuals were contacted and asked to remove them or citations could be issued for city ordinance violation.
  • Responded to a report of an unauthorized vehicle on a property in Long Pine. A vehicle description and pictures of the tire tracks were obtained but no criminal activity was found at this time.

April 27

  • The Brown County Ambulance responded to a page for a 911 call in Ainsworth. One individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Responded to a request for a welfare check at a Long Pine address. The Brown County Ambulance also responded and transported one individual to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Issued a written warning for speeding 11-15 mph over the posted speed limit on Highway 20 near mile marker 240.
  • Issued a citation for speeding 6-10 mph over the posted speed limit on Highway 20 near mile marker 248.

April 28

  • Brown County Dispatchers made calls to remind dog owners from 2021 to register their dogs for the 2022 year. Deputies will be performing dog license checks soon.
  • Received reports of stolen pressure washer valued at $1500, south of Johnstown. This is an ongoing investigation.

April 29

  • Issued a citation for speeding 93 mph in a 65 mph zone on Highway 7 near mile marker 38.
  • Provided civil standby for a tenant to remove personal property from a dwelling.
  • Issued a citation for speeding 11-15 mph over the posted speed limit at the intersection of Highway 20 and 430th Ave.

April 30

  • Responded to an alarm at an apartment complex in Ainsworth. The alarm was found to be accidental and the individual was reported safe.
  • Provided traffic control for a funeral escort.
  • Received a request for increased security watches for a rural Brown County agricultural business.
  • Issued a citation for speeding 11-15 mph over the posted speed limit on Highway 183 near mile marker 201.

Weekly Summary:
0– Burn Permit Issued (by all Brown Co Fire Depts)
3– Handgun Permits Applied For
8– Incident Reports Were Taken
9-Paper Services Were Served
106– Phone Calls Were Received
3 – 911 Emergency Calls Received
1– Titles Were Inspected

APRIL Monthly Summary:
3– Accidents                             
5– Arrests
59 – Calls for Service
11 – Citations were issued
8– Verbal & Written Warnings issued
3– Defect Cards issued
27– Paper Service served
502– Phone calls were received
22– 911 emergency calls received
18– Titles inspected
10– Handgun permits issued

* Music department participates in District Music Contest

(Posted 2 p.m. April 28) 

On April 22, the Ainsworth High School music department participated in district music at West Holt High School.

Ainsworth entered 23 entries for the day. Entries are scored on a 1-5 scale. A superior, or a 1, being the best and a 5 being the lowest score that can be received.

The high school choir received a superior rating (1) and received a state medal for their large ensemble performance. This can be achieved when a large ensemble receives a superior rating by all three judges. The band received a rating of excellent (2) for their large ensemble performance.

Music students participated in solo and small ensemble performances. Students receiving a superior (1) rating on their vocal solos were Cameryn Goochey, Gavin Olinger, Breanna McLeod, Makenna Pierce, Preselyn Goochey and Jasmine Porter. Students receiving a superior (1) rating on their instrumental solos were Gavin Olinger-trumpet, Chloe DeBusk-cello, and Ian Finley-tuba.

Students receiving superior (1) ratings for ensemble performances were the women’s ensemble, Gavin Olinger and Kyla Pyle, Cameryn Goochey and Makenna Pierce, Gavin Olinger and Makenna Pierce, and Jasmine Porter, Kaitlynn Inbody, and Breanna McLeod. Ian Finley and Allison Taylor received a superior rating on their tuba and euphonium instrumental duet.

Students receiving an excellent (2) rating on their vocal or instrumental solos or small ensembles were Preselyn Goochey and Kyla Pyle; Breanna McLeod-Flute; Kyla Pyle, Jasmine Porter and Breanna McLeod; and Kaitlynn Inbody and Ian Finley.

* Ainsworth finishes 3-2 at State Quiz Bowl

(Posted 6:30 a.m. April 28) 

The Ainsworth High School Quiz Bowl team competed in the State Quiz Bowl Wednesday at Hastings.

Two teams represented each Educational Service Unit across the state, with a total of 30 teams in the competition. Ainsworth was defeated by Mead in its first match, putting the Bulldogs in the consolation bracket.

In that bracket, Ainsworth defeated Minden, Nebraska City Lourdes and Kearney High to reach the quarterfinals.

Their quarterfinal match paired the Bulldogs against Lutheran High Northeast. The score was tied at the end of the round, forcing a tiebreaker question. Ainsworth lost the tiebreaker and was eliminated, ending the day with three wins and two losses. Elkhorn South won the State Quiz Bowl Championship with Bellevue East placing second and Nebraska Lutheran third.

Ainsworth’s season included winning the ESU 17 Quiz Bowl, tying for third at the Northeast Community College Quiz Bowl, and placing fourth in the Southwest Conference. The team’s season concluded with a record of 16 wins and 9 losses.

Competing for Ainsworth at state were Caleb Allen, Ben Barrow, Ben Flynn, Ty Schlueter, Libby Wilkins, Ian Finley, Cole Bodeman and Mason Titus. Other team members were Alyssa Erthum, Haley Schroedl, Dakota Stutzman, Morgan Kinney, Logan Schroedl and Ethan Fernau.

* Nebraska’s unemployment rate lowest in state history

(Posted 1:15 p.m. April 27)

The Nebraska Department of Labor announced Nebraska’s unemployment rate for March is 2.0 percent. The rate is down 0.1 percentage points from the February rate of 2.1 percent and down 0.6 percentage points from the March 2021 rate of 2.6 percent. Unemployment data goes back to 1976, and the rate is the lowest on record for Nebraska. Nebraska’s March rate is tied for lowest rate in the country.

“The number of people employed statewide has reached another record high,” said Commissioner of Labor John H. Albin. “Both the statewide labor force employment of 1,037,823 and the Lincoln metro’s employment of 186,996 are record highs.”

Nonfarm employment, a count of filled jobs, was 1,017,795 in March, up 4,546 over the month and up 24,891 over the year. Private industries with the most growth month to month were mining and construction (up 1,842); leisure and hospitality (up 1,484); and trade, transportation, and utilities (up 1,364).  Private industries with the most growth year to year were leisure and hospitality (up 6,763); trade, transportation, and utilities (up 6,419); and education and health services (up 3,434).

Brown County’s March unemployment rate was above the state average at 2.7 percent. Blaine County had the highest rate in the area with 3.1 percent of the labor force receiving unemployment benefits.

Keya Paha County had the lowest March unemployment rate in the area at 1.6 percent. Cherry County, at 1.7 percent, Rock County at 1.8 percent and Holt County at 1.8 percent also had unemployment rates lower than the state average. Boyd County’s March unemployment rate of 2.1 percent was just above the state average.

“Nebraskans roll up their sleeves and get the job done,” Gov. Pete Ricketts said. “Nebraskans’ determination to grow our communities has resulted in state revenues far exceeding projections over the past year. With these stronger-than-expected revenues, we were able to deliver historic tax relief this legislative session. We’re successfully creating jobs, cutting taxes, and growing opportunities for the next generation here in Nebraska.”

Nebraska has 69.8 percent of its labor-age population employed, which is the highest percentage of labor force participation in the country. The state’s employment to population ratio at 68.5 percent is also the best in the nation.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March was 3.6 percent, down 0.2 percentage points from the February rate of 3.8 percent and down 2.4 percentage points from the March 2021 rate of 6.0 percent.

* FFA awards members during annual banquet Monday

(Posted 8:45 a.m. April 27)

During its annual banquet, the Ainsworth FFA program recognized chapter members for awards and accomplishments.

Ty Schlueter and Thomas Ortner were named the FFA members of the year by advisor Emily Whipple.

Chapters Stars included Ty Schlueter in Ag Production, Thomas Ortner in Agribusiness, and Elizabeth Wilkins in Ag Placement.

Zoe Shankland and Deann Haley were bestowed with honorary FFA degrees.

Hannah Beel was named the chapter’s Star Greenhand.

* Four AHS athletes earn rare 12 sports letters during careers

(Posted 7 a.m. April 27)

Six seniors were recognized Tuesday with 12-sport athlete awards during the annual Ainsworth High School All-Sports Tailgate Party, meaning they participated in three sports during all four years of their high school career.

Caleb Allen, Gabe Allen, Madelyn Goochey, Kaitlyn Nelson, Cash Reynolds and Ty Schlueter earned the 12-sport athlete awards Tuesday. Four of those athletes – Caleb Allen, Goochey, Nelson and Reynolds – pulled off the extremely rare feat of earning letters in those three sports during all four years. Allen earned four letters in football, basketball and track; Reynolds in football, basketball and golf; and Goochey and Nelson both earned four letters in volleyball, basketball and track. Schlueter and Gabe Allen were both one basketball letter shy of earning 12 letters, finishing their careers with 11 letters.

Cross country coach Jared Hansmeyer kicked off the awards event by naming senior Ty Schlueter the boys Most Valuable Player and sophomore Katherine Kerrigan the girls MVP. Schlueter capped his undefeated senior season with the 2021 Class D State Championship and was named to the Super State Team, while Kerrigan won her second straight district championship, won a state medal, and was named to the Class D All-State Team.

Four-year letter winners in cross country were Schlueter, Ben Flynn, Tommy Ortner and Alyssa Erthum.

Hansmeyer recognized Schlueter and Erthum as the Team Player Award winners.

Girls golf coach Heather Lutter named senior Haley Schroedl as the team’s MVP. Senior Allison Taylor earned four letters in girls golf.

Coach Jessi Owen named senior Cash Reynolds as the football team’s MVP. Reynolds was also named the defensive MVP and the Teammate of the Year. He set the school record with 87 tackles during his senior season.

Owen named Caleb Allen the team’s offensive and special teams MVP. During his career, Allen set the school record in total rushing yards with 2,516 and total passing yards with 3,461. Allen was the team’s starting quarterback during all four years of his career.

Caleb Allen, Gabe Allen and Reynolds were four-year football letter winners.

Volleyball coach Jeri Graff named senior Madelyn Goochey the team’s MVP. Senior Summer Richardson earned the team’s Hustle Award, and junior Cameryn Goochey received the team’s Heart Award. The most improved volleyball player was freshman Braxton Fletcher.

Graff reported Madelyn Goochey set the school record in career points from the service line. Kaitlyn Nelson set the school’s career kills record, and Summer Richardson set the Ainsworth High School career set assists record. Senior Maia Flynn set the school’s single-season record for digs.

Four-year letter winners in volleyball were Kaitlyn Nelson, Madelyn Goochey, Summer Richardson and Libby Wilkins.

Turning to winter sports, wrestling coach Todd Pollock named junior Landon Holloway the boys wrestling MVP, and freshman district champion and state medal winner Jolynn Pozehl the girls wrestling MVP. Pollock jokingly said his two girls wrestlers set all the school wrestling records this year, as this was the first year for girls wrestling as an NSAA sport.

Girls basketball coach Julie Micheel named sophomore Kendyl Delimont as the team’s MVP. She was also named the team’s offensive MVP. Madelyn Goochey was named the defensive MVP, and Libby Wilkins received the team’s Heart Award. Most improved girls basketball players were freshman Preselyn Goochey and senior Evelyn Sanchez Arellano.

Kaitlyn Nelson set the school record in career rebounds with 696. Four-year letter winners in girls basketball were Bria Delimont, Madelyn Goochey, Kaitlyn Nelson and Libby Wilkins.

Boys basketball coach Jake Nelson named sophomore Carter Nelson as the team’s MVP. Sophomore Traegan McNally earned the offensive MVP award, and Caleb Allen was pegged as the defensive MVP. Sophomore Trey Appelt received the most improved player award.

Ty Schlueter was presented the Bryent Wilkins Teammate Award.

Four-year letter winners in boys basketball were Caleb Allen, Ben Barrow and Cash Reynolds.

Both the girls basketball and boys basketball teams won their sub-district tournaments and were district runners-up.

In spring sports, coaches present the previous year’s awards since the seasons are still in progress.

Track and field coach Jake Nelson named Carter Nelson the boys MVP. Nelson won the all-class gold medal in the high jump at the 2021 Nebraska State Track and Field Championships. Kaitlyn Nelson, a state runner-up in the discus, was named the girls MVP.

The Ashley Ford and Andrew Ford Track and Field Teammate of the Year awards were presented to seniors Eden Raymond and Ty Schlueter.

Nelson named Carter Nelson the 2021 boys jumper of the year. Caleb Allen was the sprinter of the year, Ty Schlueter the distance runner of the year and Carter Nelson the thrower of the year. On the girls side, Eden Raymond was the jumper of the year, Cameryn Goochey the sprinter of the year, graduate Cee Anna Beel the 2021 distance runner of the year, and Kaitlyn Nelson the thrower of the year.

Boys golf coach Julie Micheel named Cash Reynolds the team’s 2021 MVP.

In the final awards presented, senior Bria Delimont was named the school’s female lifter of the year. Freshman Aidan Jackman and sophomore Traegan McNally shared the male lifter of the year award.

The John Nelson Sportsmanship Awards were presented to seniors Cash Reynolds and Kaitlyn Nelson.

* Nearly 20,000 acres burn Friday in largest of several fires

(Posted 10 a.m. April 25)

Lightning Friday evening ignited several fires in the listening area, the largest of which burned nearly 20,000 acres in southwestern Brown County, northern Blaine County, northeastern Thomas County and southeastern Cherry County.

According to Raven Volunteer Fire Department Chief JW Bowen, the fire Friday evening originated from a lightning strike near the Loup River in Blaine County and was pushed quickly north by winds gusting at more than 50 mph.

Bowen said the fire burned between 18,000 and 20,000 acres but was primarily contained to Sandhills pasture ground. Bowen said no damage to structures was reported, and landowners were still trying to assess if any cattle were lost.

While a couple fire rigs had mechanical issues, no firefighting equipment was damaged during the response. Numerous departments from several counties provided mutual aid as the fire moved through the West Calamus Road and Moon Lake Avenue areas in southwestern Brown County.

Bowen said Willow Lake helped to stop the fire’s northward progress, and firefighters were able to contain it and get the head end stopped at that location. Firefighters remained on scene until approximately 6 a.m. Saturday.

“I want to thank all of the agencies that responded to these fires,” Bowen said. “Everyone deserves praise for getting them out as quickly and safely as possible. At the end of the day, everyone came home.”

Several fires also ignited in Rock County due to lightning strikes Friday, including one that burned approximately 3,000 acres southwest of Rose.

According to Bassett Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jim Stout, firefighters received the first call of smoke and flames at 6:30 p.m. Friday 3 miles south and 7 miles west of Rose.

Stout said that fire moved quickly to the north-northwest pushed by gusting southeast winds.

“We called in enough trucks and departments that we were able to get it stopped,” Stout said. “We caught it at a spot where the terrain wasn’t as difficult and we were able to stop it. We got lucky. Unfortunately, we didn’t get much rain with it.”

Stout said about a dozen departments provided mutual aid assistance in responding to the fire, and the fire was contained by about midnight Saturday. Firefighters were back mopping up remaining hot spots at 5:30 a.m. Saturday.

“We didn’t have any large shelterbelts that it got into, so we lucked out there,” Stout said.

The Bassett fire chief said three additional fires ignited Friday evening from lightning strikes, burning a total of about 600 acres northwest of Rose. No structures or equipment were reported damaged by any of the fires in Rock County Friday.

Despite a little rain over the weekend, the area remains extremely dry. Burn bans continue for both Brown and Rock counties, and residents are urged to be mindful of the fire danger.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 8:30 a.m. April 25)

April 17

  • Received a report of cattle on the roadway near 888th Rd and 434th Ave intersection. Owners were contacted and removed them from the roadway.
  • A male South Dakota driver was issued a warning for speeding on Highway 7 near mile marker 42.

April 18

  • Received a report of cattle on the road way near Highway 20 and mile marker 244. The owners were contacted and Nebraska State Patrol assisted with traffic control as they were removed from the roadway.

April 19

  • Ainsworth City Offices has advised the gym floor will be resurfaced starting Sat April 23rd and closed thru Tue May 10th. City Office hours will remain the same at 9am-12pm & 12:30pm-4:30pm M-F.
  • Released an inmate from the Brown County Jail after they posted bond.
  • Received a complaint regarding blowing dust from an Ainsworth business.
  • Assisted new residents to Ainsworth with 2 VIN inspections.
  • Received a report of a dog attacking another dog near the Elm St and 6th intersection.

April 20

  • Transported an inmate to Cherry County for holding.
  • Released 2 inmates from the Brown County Jail after they posted bond.
  • Assisted an individual with an unwanted family member on their property. Family member agreed to leave.
  • A juvenile transported to another facility after a DHHS intake.
  • Received a report of a dog attacking another dog near the Cowboy Trail.
  • Assisted an individual with a VIN inspection.
  • Provided civil standby for an individual to recover personal belongings from local residence.
  • Provided civil standby at rural Brown County residence.

April 21

  • Assisted an individual with a VIN inspection.
  • Provided traffic control for a funeral procession.
  • Assisted an owner catch their escaped dog near East City Park.
  • Responded to a report of individuals harassing others as they drove by them multiple times on Main St.

April 22

  • Assisted rural Brown County resident to find the owner for dogs that showed up at his farm.
  • Assisted Ainsworth resident with loose dog on Cedar St.
  • Responded to a report of a pickup driving on the Cowboy Trail south of the Brown County Hospital.
  • Received a complaint regarding blowing dust from an Ainsworth business. The business was contacted.
  • Assisted an individual with a VIN inspection.
  • South Pine Fire Dept, Long Pine Rural Fire Dept, Raven Fire Dept and Ainsworth Fire Dept all provided mutual aid to a fire in southeastern Rock Co.
  • Calamus Fire Dept provided mutual aid to a fire which started in Blaine Co.
  • Calamus Fire Dept & Johnstown Fire Dept responded to fire in southwestern Brown County. Later mutual aid was provided by Raven Fire Dept, South Pine Fire Dept, Long Pine Rural Fire Dept, Ainsworth Fire Dept, and many more departments from as far as Broken Bow and Cody Kilgore fire districts.
  • Responded to a report of individuals hanging out at the Ainsworth Community Schools parking lot.
  • An Ainsworth male driver was issued a warning for speeding.
  • Relayed a message to Rock Co Sheriff office of a reported tree on fire near MM 254 on Hwy 20.
  • Responded to a report of a speeding driver through town on Hwy 20.
  • Officers dispatched to patrol north Brown Co for signs of smoke and fire due to lightning.
  • Brown Co Ambulance Association dispatched to standby at Raven Firehall due to south Brown Co fires.

April 23

  • Southwestern Brown Co fires continued into the early morning hours before it was contained by multiple fire departments along with a decrease in wind and some light rain.
  • Assisted an individual with found dogs on Hwy 20. The owner was contacted and picked them up.
  • Assisted an individual with a scam call. Provided the 800# for Atty General.
  • Assisted an individual with unauthorized credit card use.
  • Provided welfare check on a juvenile in Ainsworth. All was found to be just fine.
  • Dispatched Raven Fire Dept to mop up a smoldering spot in southwestern Brown Co from the previous night’s fire.
  • A female driver was issued a warning for no valid operator’s license with her in Ainsworth.
  • Responded to noise complaint at north Main St. No excessive noise was found.

Weekly Summary:

0 – Burn Permit Issued (by all Brown Co Fire Depts)

          4 – Handgun Permits Applied For

15 – Incident Reports Were Taken

7 -Paper Services Were Served

185 – Phone Calls Were Received

6 – 911 Emergency Calls Received

7 – Titles Were Inspected

* Numerous fires ignite Friday, fanned by gusting winds

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

The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency provided updates on numerous fires that were started by lightning Friday and fanned by gusting winds.

Purdum fire in Blaine, Cherry, Brown and Thomas Counties

Five fires of unknown sizes were reported in this region. The Wildland Incident Response Assistance Team responded as well as 20 volunteer fire departments were on scene. There are reports of two or three damaged fire trucks. Most mutual aid has been sent home and a small crew is doing mop up and the fire was considered out as of 1 p.m. on Saturday.

The largest of the fires Friday burned in southwest Nebraska. The Road 702 Fire is estimated at 50,000 acres. A Multi-Mission Aircraft from Colorado is currently flying the fire and will be able to provide a more accurate size as well as identify locations within the fire area where hot spots exist. This will allow firefighters to focus on areas that still pose a risk to life and property. 

As a fire gets larger and additional resources are brought in, the fire is broken into geographic areas called Branches and Divisions to help focus suppression efforts and to help with supervisory span of control. We will use these terms in our updates to provide specific information about each part of the fire perimeter. Branches and Divisions will be shown on the fire maps.

Branch I (West side)-  Branch I encompasses the area from Cambridge west along the fire edge and south to Lebanon. Firefighters in this area are continuing to secure existing firelines by mopping up any hotspots that remain.  Primary areas of concern are timbered draws especially in the Republican River breaks.

Branch III (East side)- Branch III encompasses east and south perimeters of the fire from Cambridge south to Wilsonville and into Kansas.  Firefighters in this area are continuing to mop up and secure the fireline along the Republican River and US-6 working south towards Wilsonville. Areas of concern are timbered draws and hay bales near the fire edge.  Additional operations personnel are scouting the fire edge south of Wilsonville and coordinating with resources in Kansas.

Evacuations and Fire Restrictions: All evacuations have been lifted at the time of this update.

Elsie Fire, Perkins and Dundy counties

Four fires on farm grounds and cattle grazing land near the Lincoln County line and highway 23 burned nearly 5,000 acres and is 90 percent contained. Four firefighters suffered non-life-threatening injuries while fighting the fire. The Elsie Fire Department is demobilizing.

Burt County Fire

The Burt County Fire started near Lyons and continued to Macy. Several houses were threatened and there has been loss of structures. Eighteen volunteer fire departments responded. Winds were blowing 60 mph. Macy was evacuated and a shelter in set up at the Walthill School, but the evacuation has now been lifted. The fire is 75% contained. Four injuries (one hospitalization) were reported all non-life-threatening and one fire truck was destroyed.

Scotts Bluff County

The Scotts Bluff fire was out as of 1 p.m. on Saturday. One non-residential structure was lost and eight power poles were down resulting in three to four residents without power.

Cheyenne and Deuel counties fires

Three fires that started between Sunol and Lodgepole (between Ogallala and Sidney) resulted in the evacuation of some rural residents. The fire was three miles from the Colorado boarder. Northwest wind gusts of 65 mph helped spread the fire. There was some power and communications losses as a result with the fire which was reported extinguished as of midnight.

Rising City Fire

A fire at 2670 D Road in Rising City started Saturday when a frontend loader bucket sparked on a concrete pad next to a hay facility. The fire spread to calving sheds rapidly. Two firefighters were sent to the hospital for smoke inhalation and a few firefighters were treated for eye irritation. The fire was believed to be extinguished around 2 a.m. Sunday but flared up late Sunday morning due to wind changes. Approximately 100 calves were lost. There was damage to the hay facility and several calving sheds.

* Commissioners approve bid for Sand Draw Creek bridge

(Posted 7:15 a.m. April 20)

The Brown County Commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday accepting a more than $2 million low bid to place a bridge at the Sand Draw Creek crossing on Meadville Avenue.

The box culvert at the site was damaged during flooding in March 2019 and then completely destroyed by September flooding that year. Meadville Avenue has been closed for that stretch since that time with traffic detoured a mile west to cross Sand Draw Creek.

The Nebraska Department of Transportation, which bid the project, opened three bids for a bridge at the site. The low bid of $2,122,910 was submitted by Dickson Construction of Correctionville, Iowa.

Midwest Infrastructure of Lincoln placed a bid of $2,443,108, and Simon Contractors of Cheyenne, Wyo., bid $2,498,000 for the project.

The commissioners approved the low bid from Dickson Construction. Federal dollars will cover 80 percent of the cost of construction, leaving the county responsible for $424,580.

Work on the bridge and approaches is slated to begin between June and October, depending on the availability of materials.

In other roads items Tuesday, Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin reported the roads department has been working on several regrading projects, and raised up a portion of West Calamus Road.

Turpin reported ditch work was completed on 429th Avenue, and the department planned to replace a culvert on 430th Avenue in the next week. He reported he received permission from a property owner to obtain material to widen Road 877 just south of Ainsworth that had previously been used as the main detour route for Highway 7 when Main Street is closed.

The commissioners, with Reagan Wiebelhaus absent, discussed the county’s allocation of American Rescue Plan Act funds and how those funds should be spent.

Clerk Travee Hobbs reported the county is scheduled to receive a total of $573,000 in ARPA money, and Treasurer Deb Vonheeder said the first half of the funding has been received.

Both Hobbs and Vonheeder advocated for at least some of the funding to be used to make repairs to the courthouse. Commissioner Buddy Small agreed the roof work needed at the courthouse could be covered using the funds, as well as work to try and keep water out of the basement of the building.

Hobbs said the funds can be used for infrastructure projects and other general expenditures. The ARPA money cannot be used for debt service.

Emergency Manager Traci Booth asked the commissioners to use some of the leftover funding after completing larger projects with the ARPA money to purchase new radios for the county’s fire departments and emergency responders.

The board did not take any official action on how to use the federal funds.

The commissioners approved the state evaluation of Weed Superintendent Scott Erthum. Erthum said he narrowly missed a perfect evaluation score because there was one open weed mitigation file at the state that pre-dated his time as weed superintendent.

Erthum said there was potential for the area weed management group to receive substantial grant funding for mitigation projects this year, as the Legislature allocated $3 million in COVID funding for noxious weed projects.

He said the area weed management group planned to apply for funding to purchase drones to conduct aerial surveys.

“There are 27 different weed management groups in the state,” Erthum said. “I don’t think they would bat an eye if we applied for $100,000 of that $3 million.”

Erthum said the drones would substantially reduce the cost of aerial surveying, as using a helicopter for surveys currently costs $2,500 per hour.

During the Board of Equalization meeting that preceded the regular meeting, the commissioners heard from landowners questioning the way their rural properties were valued, citing a report from the Nebraska Property Tax Administrator that questioned the way the county assessor arrived at some valuations.

The report and opinions of the state property tax administrator are prepared annually and presented to both the county and to the Nebraska Tax Equalization Review Committee, which settles disputes between property owners and counties related to property valuation.

Property owners Bob Hunt and Tim Iverson questioned why parcels they owned were classified as recreational after that class of property increased by more than 300 percent.

They cited portions of the state tax administrator’s report that said the methods used in reclassifying some parcels as either rural residential, recreational or agricultural were unclear.

Assessor Terri Van Houten said each classification of property is valued based on how similar properties are selling.

“Some had major changes,” Van Houten said. “Some of those properties had not changed in value for 30 years.”

She said it is natural for counties that have properties change classification to have findings from the state administrator.

“There are a few counties that have this every year,” Van Houten said.

Audience member John Gross said there were only two counties in the state that have this kind of finding from the tax administrator, with Brown County being one of the two.

Hunt said the report showed the county was not meeting standard practices. He said he was concerned some properties were being taxed more than they should be.

“I think it is a sorry state that we have reached this point,” Hunt said.

Iverson questioned why some smaller parcels in the county were reclassified as recreational instead of agricultural. He said he owned a smaller parcel that has been used for agriculture forever that was reclassified.

The state administrator’s report cited concerns on how some residential and agricultural parcels were classified and indicated it would work with the county assessor to clarify the valuations for the next assessment year.

Small, citing advice from the Brown County attorney, said the commissioners did not plan to make a decision regarding the report until after the Tax Equalization Review Committee had made a decision on the findings from the tax administrator.

“TERC is going to make a decision on this report,” Small said. “They are an entity unto themselves. They can either agree with Ruth Sorensen’s report or not.”

Commissioner Denny Bauer said TERC serves basically as a third-party arbitrator.

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

* Lions Club finalizes list of directors, officers

(Posted 1:45 p.m. April 19)

During its meeting Monday, the Ainsworth Lions Club Board of Directors voted to finalize the ballot for 2022-23 officers and directors. Lions Club members will vote up or down on the proposed slate of candidates.

Dale Hafer was nominated as the Club President for the upcoming year, succeeding Bob Beatty, who will transition to the past president post.

Steve Dike has been nominated as the president-elect. Club members nominated to continue in their current posts include secretary Jerry Ehlers, recording secretary Kim Bejot, treasurer Phil Fuchs, lion tamer Steve Salzman and membership chair Bill Lentz.

Vance Heyer was nominated to succeed Dwain Grunke as the club’s tail twister.

Members nominated to the club’s board of directors for two-year terms are Rolland Paddock and Roger Lechtenberg. If elected, they would join Larry Rice and Amy Dike on the club’s board.

In other business Monday, the club continued to make plans for the annual Ainsworth High School Tailgate Party April 26. Event assignments have been given to members. All lions are asked to help set up for the event at 2 p.m. Tuesday, with serving to begin at 6 p.m. in McAndrew Gymnasium.

Representatives from the Ainsworth Child Development Center provided the club with an update on the group’s efforts to raise funding for the planned center. The group has currently raised $320,000 toward its $1 million goal. When fund-raising is complete, the group can use the funds to secure additional grant dollars for the project.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Lions Club Board of Directors is scheduled for noon May 17.

* Ainsworth fire chief discusses burn ban

(Posted 9:30 a.m. April 19)

Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brad Fiala appeared on KBRB to discuss the burn ban that has been issued for the county.
The burn ban will remain in effect until conditions improve. The ban includes all open burning, such as campfires, fire pits and trash burning.
The conversation is located in the audio link below.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

April 10

  • Responded to a report of a missing hay trailer, West of Ainsworth along Highway 20. The trailer was taken without permission but later returned in the week and the owner was reimbursed for its rental fee.
  • Responded to a request for a welfare check on a suspected unattended infant near the 500 block of Walnut St in Ainsworth. Deputies found the infant to be safe and with their family.
  • Responded to a neighbor dispute near North Main St in Ainsworth. Deputies spoke with both parties and advised them to avoid contact with each other at this time.

April 11

  • The Brown County Ambulance Association were paged to an Ainsworth facility. No transport was made.
  • Received a request for a security check on a rural residence near Long Pine.
  • K9 Handler Deputy Calder and K9 Dutch went to Cherry County for agency assistance.
  • The Brown County Ambulance Association was paged after a lifeline button was activated for a Long Pine home. One individual was transported to the Rock County Hospital.
  • Responded to a one vehicle accident in Ainsworth in the alley between Maple and Walnut. As the vehicle was driving, a construction company that is currently working near the Highway 20 and Highway 7 intersection unintentionally dropped a tree onto the vehicle.  No injuries were reported.  While the vehicle did obtain body damage, it was able to drive away from the scene.
  • Received a parking complaint from the 100 block of Elm St in Ainsworth. The vehicle was blocking access to the mailbox.  The caller was advised there is not currently a city ordinance for obstructing access to a mailbox, but if it becomes an issue for the United States Postal Service to be able to deliver mail to advise the Sheriff’s office.

April 12

  • One male Brown County Jail inmate was sentenced to the Nebraska State Penitentiary and transferred.  Another male inmate received a time served sentence for theft by unlawful taking.  This subject is currently being held for Stevens Point, Wisconsin Police Department for active arrest warrants, awaiting extradition.
  • Provided traffic control for a funeral procession.

April 13

  • Received a report of lost property along Highway 20 of a gray bag containing drills and saws. Please contact the Sheriff’s office if located.
  • The Brown County Ambulance Association were paged to an Ainsworth facility and transferred one individual to the Brown County Hospital.

April 14

  • Responded to a request for a welfare check on an Ainsworth resident believed to be in Cherry Co. The individual was located and reported safe.

April 15

  • A male subject was booked into the Brown County Jail and released on a $1000 personal recognizance bond for a Brown County arrest warrant.
  • Responded to a report of domestic assault at a South Main St address in Ainsworth. One male subject was booked into the Brown County Jail for strangulation.

April 16

  • On Highway 183, near mile marker 197, a Deputy completed a traffic stop on a South Dakota plated vehicle. One male subject, the driver of the vehicle, was issued a citation for speeding 11-15 mph over the posted speed limit, possession of drug paraphernalia, and the driver and one female passenger were both cited for possession of marijuana 1 oz or less.
  • On Highway 7, near mile marker 41, a Deputy completed a traffic stop on a South Dakota plated vehicle. Deputies seized over 3 lbs of marijuana from the vehicle.  One male subject and one female subject from South Dakota were booked into the Brown County Jail for possession of marijuana over 1 lb.
  • A male subject from Battle Creek, NE was issued a citation for careless driving near the intersection of 4th and Main St in Ainsworth.

Weekly Summary:

0– Burn Permit Issued (by all Brown Co Fire Depts)

0– Handgun Permits Applied For

17– Incident Reports Were Taken

4-Paper Services Were Served

90– Phone Calls Were Received

5– 911 Emergency Calls Received

3– Titles Were Inspected

* Area students earn scholarship offers from UN-L

(Posted 7:15 a.m. April 15)

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has set a record in offering more than 6,800 university-wide scholarships to the 2022 graduating class from Nebraska high schools and other first-year admits. Nearly two out of three first-year admitted resident students have been offered an academic scholarship for the upcoming school year.

“We see these awards as an investment in their future and in our communities they will serve after graduating,” said Patrick Winter, associate vice chancellor for academic services and enrollment management. “We are proud of everything these students have accomplished and know they will do big things here at Nebraska.”

As part of a broad academic scholarship and need-based aid strategy for recruiting highly qualified students, President Ted Carter recently announced the University of Nebraska is permanently extending the deadline to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to June 1.

“We want students and families to know Nebraska is here to help make a distinctive Big Ten college education affordable and accessible,” said Justin Chase Brown, director of Scholarships and Financial Aid and interim director of Husker Hub.

Area students receiving scholarship offers from UN-L are:

Ainsworth
Maren Arens, Husker Power.
Bria Delimont, Husker Power.
Alyssa Erthum, Regents.
Shawna Fernau, Husker Traditions and Pepsi.
Benjamin Flynn, Regents.
Gavin Olinger, Husker Power.Thomas Ortner, Husker Power.
Eden Raymond, Regents.
Summer Richardson, Husker Traditions.
Shelly Saner, Husker Power.
Tylan Schlueter, Regents.
Haley Schroedl, Regents.
Allison Taylor, Husker Traditions.
Elizabeth Wilkins, Regents.

Rock County
Mackinzie Arnholt, Husker Power.
Hannah Keller, Husker Power.
Carson Shaw, Husker Power.

Stuart
Emma Alder, Nebraska Career and Regents.
Grace Alder, Regents.
Katilynn Kaup, Regents.
Cameron Sattler, Regents.
Abigail Tubbs, Regents.

West Holt
Sadie Jarecke, Regents.
Courtney Kellner, Husker Power.
Caid McCart, Husker Traditions.
Lucas Olson, Regents.

Sandhills
Brea Branic, Husker Power.
Lindsay Cody, Husker Traditions.
Rebecca Smith, Husker Power.
Courtney Swisher, Husker Traditions.
Reece Zutavern, David.

Valentine
Benjamin Butcher, Husker Power.
Sarah Butler, Husker Power.
Renee Fisbeck, Husker Power.
Conner Fowler, Husker Power.
Matthew Gibson, Husker Power.
Tessa Krolikowski, Husker Power.
Becca McGinley, Husker Power.|Cody Miller, Husker Power.
Holden Mundorf, Husker Power.
Madelyn Pilakowski, David.
Sean Springer, David.
Kaylee Wenig, Husker Power and Nebraska Achievement.

* Recent cases from Brown County District Court

(Posted 12:30 p.m. April 14)

During Brown County District Court proceedings Tuesday, El Paso Jimmy One Feather, 26, of Ainsworth, was sentenced to decades in prison after previously being found guilty on four felony counts.

One Feather was sentenced to 30 to 40 years in the Nebraska Department of Corrections on a Class II felony count of first degree sexual assault. In addition, One Feather was sentenced to between 10 and 16 years in prison on a Class IIA felony count of incest, and three years in prison on a Class IIIA felony count of child abuse.

One Feather received 10 to 20 years in the state penitentiary consecutive to the other sentences for a Class II felony count of attempted visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct. One Feather was remanded to the custody of state corrections to begin serving the sentences.

Also in District Court Tuesday, Josiah D. Harvath, 32, of Stevens Point, Wis., entered a guilty plea to an amended count of attempted theft by unlawful taking, a Class IIIA felony. Harvath was sentenced to 108 days in jail, a $50 fine and was ordered to pay $1,828 in restitution to Ainsworth Motors.

Harvath was not released from custody Tuesday due to an outstanding warrant from the state of Wisconsin.

James Wilson-Parker, 27, of Long Pine, entered a guilty plea to a count of second offense driving under the influence with a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 or greater. Wilson-Parker will be sentenced in District Court June 14.

* Fire chief announces burn ban during council meeting

(Posted 7 a.m. April 14)

During Wednesday’s meeting of the Ainsworth City Council, Councilman Brad Fiala, who also serves as the chief of the Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department, announced the fire department has implemented a countywide burn ban.

Due to the extremely dry conditions and strong winds seemingly daily, no burning of any kind will be permitted until conditions improve and the spring green-up occurs.

The burn bans means no campfires, fire pits, trash burning or open burning of any kind will be permitted.

Anyone who violates the burn ban could be held liable for any damage if a fire were to spread.

In other business Wednesday, the council discussed a proposal from Tower Alliance to extend a lease on city property on the north side of Ainsworth near the wastewater treatment plant where a cellular tower is located.

Since 2006, the city has received $450 per month to lease the approximately 3 acres of city ground that hosts the tower site.

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said Tower Alliance wants to extend the current lease for seven additional five-year terms. The city does not own the tower itself, only the ground where the tower is located.

The company offered a one-time $7,500 signing bonus in addition to the continued monthly lease payments to extend the agreement, or Mayor Joel Klammer said the company offered a one-time payment of $50,000 for a perpetual lease without the city receiving monthly payments.

“That doesn’t sound like a very good option,” Klammer said.

City Attorney Rod Palmer said the initial lease signed in 2006 had a term of five years and gave Tower Alliance the right to extend the lease for five additional five-year terms. Palmer said Tower Alliance indicated Verizon wireless wanted a guarantee that the site would be available through at least 2040 in order to invest in placing 5G equipment at the site.

Following discussion of potential counter offers and having future lease payments increase by 2 percent annually, the council opted to table the item to obtain more information on any similar lease agreements that other communities may have.

The council Wednesday received five bids on surplus metal it advertised for sale. The metal came off of the city’s streets shop addition on First Street that had to be removed and replaced.

Of the five bids received, two actually shared the highest bid of $1,200. Both Spencer Schenk and Gary Jones submitted identical bids of $1,200 for the metal. The other three bids ranged from $517 to $1,098.

The council discussed how to proceed with two bidders sharing the top bid. Instead of opting to flip a coin to see which of the two bidders would receive the metal, the council, by a 3-0 vote with Councilman Schyler Schenk abstaining, opted to contact the two top bidders and give just those two bidders the opportunity to submit another sealed bid starting at $1,200. Any additional bids received from Jones or Spencer Schenk would be opened during the council’s May meeting.

In a related item, the council again entered into executive session to discuss the repair work that had to be done to fix the streets shop addition. Prior to entering into executive session, Fiala said the council directed Palmer to send the original contractor a letter following the March council meeting requesting a response within 15 days.

Palmer said the city did not receive a response from that letter.

Following the executive session, the council directed Palmer to pursue legal action against Brahmer Contracting and Construction to recoup the cost of repairing the city street shop addition.

In a final action item, the council approved a well permit for Don Painter to replace a well west of Ainsworth within the city’s 1-mile zoning jurisdiction.

Painter said the original well at the site was destroyed during the 2019 flooding. He said Beck’s Well and Irrigation recommended moving the new well to higher ground, and would also handle removing the old well.

During her report, Schroedl said the city had hired Doug Petty for the open assistant operator position at the wastewater treatment plant. Petty began work Monday.

Schroedl reported the city’s Board of Health met recently and would be sending letters to owners of property where violations of city code were found.

She reported the city has already approved building permits in the amount of $154,000 in estimated improvements for 2022. She said the city has several additional building permit applications that are under review.

Schroedl reported traffic on Fifth Street has increased due to Highway 20 construction beginning. The added traffic has caused some issues since there are no stop or yield signs for traffic on Fifth Street or the intersecting north-south streets. The council will address potential solutions during its May meeting, which is scheduled for 5 p.m. May 11.

* Groups meet to discuss care center funding options

(Posted noon April 12)

With staffing a continued struggle and agency costs impacting its financial outlook, the Sandhills Care Center Board held a joint meeting Monday with the Brown County Commissioners and the Ainsworth City Council to discuss the 2022-23 budget and the potential to ask voters for funding to support ongoing operations.

“We have to discuss the financial crisis we currently have at the care center,” Board Chair Phil Fuchs said. “We have come a long way since the care center closed.”

Fuchs said there have been countless hours donated by community members to rehabilitating the nursing home and getting it reopened for residents after it closed several years ago, as well as monetary donations and financial commitments from the city and county.

“Agency staffing has ballooned nationwide due to facilities facing a shortage of nurses,” Fuchs said. “Several nursing homes have already closed this year, and several more could close by the end of the year.”

Fuchs said the COVID pandemic and government mandates have been difficult, and Medicaid reimbursement has not kept up with rising costs nursing homes are incurring. He said each position filled by an agency costs the nursing home more than double an in-house employee, and costs to operate a nursing home have risen substantially.

“We are going to need additional funding to operate past July,” Fuchs said. “If we had 24 residents instead of our current 20 and 40 percent less agency staffing, we wouldn’t be here. Things can change quickly.”

Prior to the current fiscal year, Fuchs said the care center had been operating at break-even or better, and the facility had not requested funding from the city or the county since 2018.

When agreeing to jointly own and operate the nursing home, the city and county each agreed to provide $80,000 annually in funding to support the nursing home’s operations for a five-year period. The nursing home has been in operation for five years, but the two entities have only had to provide the $80,000 on three occasions.

Fuchs said the 2022-23 budget projects a shortfall of $371,000, based on current residency and costs to operate.

“We do expect additional COVID relief money, but we have no idea how much or when it might come,” Fuchs said. “Several nursing homes are holding on by a thread right now.”

Administrator Penny Jacobs said Medicaid began providing an additional $20 in reimbursement per resident per day in January, and the facility increased rates for residents paying privately by $75 per day. The Legislature also overrode a veto from Gov. Pete Ricketts and the state is scheduled to provide an additional 15 percent reimbursement rate increase to facilities.

Brown County Commissioner Buddy Small said the county did include $80,000 for the nursing home in its current 2021-22 budget, and could also provide its fifth-year funding commitment of an additional $80,000 beginning with the new budget year in July.

“We also have $125,000 in discretionary funds that are available to the commissioners,” Small said. “About $25,000 of that has been allocated to other projects. It would take two of three commissioners to vote in favor of using those funds.”

Mayor Joel Klammer said the city also budgeted $80,000 for the current fiscal year to support the nursing home, which could be made available. The city’s 2022-23 fiscal year does not begin until October.

Councilman Vance Heyer said the initial agreement between the city and county got the nursing home reopened and to this point.

“Now we can decide if and how we want to fund it in the future,” Heyer said.

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus asked what percentage of the facility’s nursing shifts are currently being covered by agency staffing. Jacobs said about 95 percent of nursing shifts were filled through agency staffing.

Wiebelhaus said, “Would it make sense to increase what you pay nurses to try and compete and get your own staff?”

Jacob said the nursing home has increased pay and benefits, but the bottom line is the facility is not even getting any applications for nursing positions.

Councilman Schyler Schenk asked why the Bassett Long Term Care Center is getting applicants and the Sandhills Care Center is not.

Small said he had been asked several times about having the hospital operate the nursing home, similar to how it was structured in Rock County. He asked Brown County Hospital Chief Financial Officer Tad Stearns to address the issues it creates for the hospital if it were to take on the care center.

Stearns said, with two buildings, not much would be gained by combining operations.

“The cost is the main factor,” Stearns said. “Long-term care reimbursement from the state does not pencil out.”

Having a nursing home also would affect the reimbursement rates the hospital receives for several of its services, which would cost hospital operations several hundred thousand dollars annually.

Stearns said the hospital’s interim administrator talked to a couple administrators elsewhere in the state that also operate nursing homes, and both indicated they were losing money. One of those hospitals was contemplating closing its long term care.

“If you don’t have 40 residents, it just doesn’t work at all,” Stearns said.

Audience member Randall Rathe asked if the nursing home was out recruiting new potential residents since several other facilities had closed.

“Do you have someone out talking to hospitals and telling them that you have room to accept new residents?” Rathe asked.

Jacobs said she visits with hospitals, but the care center was not out actively recruiting for new residents because the facility doesn’t have enough staffing. She said some residents require a level of care that would make it difficult on the staff the care center does have available were those residents to be admitted.

Audience member John Gross, a Brown County Hospital Board member, said the area was churning out local students into the medical field, those students just aren’t returning to the area to work when they finish school.

“We can’t compete with the per diem that the agencies offer,” Gross said. “That is all tax-free money.”

Councilman and Care Center Board member Shawn Fernau said the care center could increase wages by $5 to $8 per hour and it would still be much cheaper than what the facility has to pay for agency staffing.

“If we raised the wages for every position, wouldn’t that make it more competitive?” Fernau asked.

Fuchs said the care center had already raised its wages and was also now offering health insurance for full-time employees.

“We may need to keep doing more,” Fuchs said. “I hope we can get to the point where we can reduce agency staff, but we aren’t there. It is very attractive to work for an agency.”

Audience member Susan Stec said the group did not realize the draw for nurses to work for an agency. Nurses can work a seven-day week and make enough during that week they don’t have to work the rest of the month. She questioned why nurses would ever want to work a standard 40-hour work week when they can work somewhere for seven days and make enough to stay home with their kids the rest of the month.

Fuchs said the groups needed to decide if they wanted a nursing home to remain in the community.

“I feel like this is important for us to have in the community, just like a school or a hospital,” Fuchs said. “A commitment from the county and the city also provides the stability we need.”

Discussion turned to placing a question on the upcoming General Election ballot and letting voters decide whether to provide continued support to the care center through a property tax levy.

County Attorney Andy Taylor said, the way the care center is currently structured, both the city and the county would have to request a ballot question.

“There could be issues if one subdivision has it pass and the other does not,” Taylor said.

He said the council and the county could opt to create a new legal entity for the care center and that entity would then be able to put a question on the ballot.

“Then it would just be one request,” Taylor said.

Clerk Travee Hobbs said the most cost-effective way to have a ballot initiative would be to place the question on the General Election ballot in November. The groups could opt to hold a special election prior to or after the General Election, but there would be added costs to go that route.

Following the discussion, Fuchs said he would work with the city and the county to request the funding that the two entities had already budgeted for the nursing home.

“That funding will get us through to getting a question on the ballot,” Fuchs said.

He asked Taylor if he would be willing to start the process of forming a separate legal entity for the nursing home for the city and the county to consider. That entity, if formed, could then request a property tax levy question be placed on an upcoming ballot.

Following the joint meeting between with the council and the commissioners, the Care Center Board Monday reviewed the March financials, approved claims for the month and a transfer of $84,384 from its interlocal account to the care center operating account. The care center has approximately $120,000 remaining in its reserve fund after making the $84,384 transfer.

Fuchs said the budget had estimated a loss of $103,000 for the month so the money the board needed to transfer was a little lower than what it had anticipated.

The board also approved adding Business Manager Dawn Pierce to the care center’s operating checking account.

Jacobs reported the care center has 19 current residents, with eight paying privately and 11 receiving Medicaid assistance. There were no admissions and one death since the March board meeting.

The care center generated $145,559 in revenue during March. Agency staffing expenses alone during the month totaled $149,039. Total expenses in March of $238,526 led to a loss of $92,966 for the month.

Jacobs said the contract for the previous agency director of nursing had expired, and a new agency director of nursing would start April 25. A current agency nurse agreed to serve as the director of nursing for the two-week period until the new agency director of nursing arrives.

She said the facility needs a permanent director of nursing, as well as RNs, LPNs and CNAs. She said she did have some new employees hired for the dietary department once background checks are completed.

The administrator said the facility would have a new nurse and CNA from Mullen who will start after the Mullen facility closes later this month. She said a current member of the housekeeping staff was taking the course to become a CNA.

Jacobs said the facility was anticipating a new resident April 19 who would arrive from the Mullen facility that is closing.

The next meeting of the Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors is scheduled for 5 p.m. May 9.

* School Board tables action on roof repair

(Posted 7 a.m. April 12)

The Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education on Monday discussed repairing a section of the elementary building’s roofing but ultimately tabled action until the board’s May meeting.

Superintendent Dale Hafer told the board a report from Heartland Roofing showed a seam on the elementary roof had deteriorated. While a new roof for the building would run between $400,000 and $500,000, Hafer said Heartland Roofing suggested a smaller project to repair and reinforce the seams.

Hafer said the repair would likely extend the life of the roof between five and 10 years, with Heartland Roofing providing a five-year warranty on the work.

The superintendent said a representative from Guarantee Roofing was going to be at the school looking at another portion of the roof, and agreed to provide an additional opinion on potential options for the board to consider on the elementary roof.

“I would like to see if he agrees with the solution of doing the seam work to extend the life of the roof before we decide,” Hafer said. “I would recommend tabling this to next month so I can have some additional information for you.”

Board President Jim Arens said he agreed it was likely a good idea to wait for a second opinion before acting.

Board member Brad Wilkins said, one way or another, the roof needed to be fixed.

“A second opinion will probably indicate that as well,” Wilkins said. “We could authorize it in May, but I don’t want to ignore it for too long.”

The board voted to place the item on its May 9 meeting agenda.

In the only other action item on Monday’s agenda, the board made an adjustment to its committee assignments. Board member Jessica Pozehl agreed to replace board member Frank Beel on the negotiations and personnel committee.

With Beel’s wife being hired as a member of the district’s staff, the committee assignment was changed to avoid any potential conflict of interest that may arise.

During his report Monday, Hafer said the new video scoreboard in McAndrew Gymnasium had been installed and was used during the Grand March at prom. He thanked the Booster Club and the businesses who assisted in purchasing the video board.

The superintendent reported Todd Pollock and some of his students would help build 4×5-foot closets in the elementary classrooms to house the new furnace units that would be installed this summer, with assistance from custodian Joe McMurtrey. Building the closets in-house would save the district several thousand dollars compared to hiring a contractor to build the closets to house the units.

Hafer said he was waiting for bids from two local concrete businesses to replace the concrete on the south side of the building. The district completed several concrete projects last year, and Hafer said the south side was the final portion slated for replacement. He said the estimate for that portion of the concrete replacement last year was between $12,000 and $15,000.

Elementary Principal Ben Wright said the school would conduct kindergarten roundup differently this year, with parents of potential incoming kindergarten students invited to a meeting at 6:30 p.m. May 2 in the school cafeteria. Wright said incoming kindergarten students would come in with their parents in August to familiarize themselves with the classrooms before school started.

Wright said the change was made to focus on getting the parents the information they needed before the summer, but to get the kids in the school a week or so before class started to get them excited and meet their teacher.

During his report, Secondary Principal Steve Dike reported Jaylee Good was the winner of the Americanism Essay Contest for junior high students sponsored by the Ainsworth American Legion and Homestead Bank. Good qualified for the state contest.

Activities Director Scott Steinhauser reported senior Libby Wilkins had been voted in as the Nebraska State FFA vice president for the 2022-23 year, and Wilkins and Maren Arens were state champions in swine production and employment skills respective at the State FFA Conference.

Steinhauser also reported the Ainsworth High School Quiz Bowl team won the Educational Service Unit 17 competition to qualify for the State Quiz Bowl contest April 27 at Hastings. The team competes in the Southwest Conference Quiz Bowl April 13 at Cozad ahead of the state competition.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education is scheduled for 8 p.m. May 9, with an American Civics and Americanism Committee meeting being held just prior to the regular meeting.

* Firefighters respond to hay fire Friday

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

Ainsworth and Long Pine firefighters responded to a hay fire Friday at Rolling Stone Feed Yard.

According to Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Randy Johnson, at approximately 11:50 a.m. Friday, firefighters received a report of fire starting in a grinded hay pile.

Johnson said Rolling Stone Feed Yard employees were grinding hay when the fire started. The grinder was moved from the scene and saved.

With strong wind and low relative humidity, fire conditions were extreme, and Johnson said the Long Pine Volunteer Fire Department was called in to assist Ainsworth firefighters.

Johnson said the fire was contained to the concrete Quonset that contained the hay pile. He said firefighters were able to save some of the grinded hay.

Firefighters remained on scene until approximately 5 p.m. Friday, and returned to the site several more times to work on remaining hot spots.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

April 3

  • Responded to a request for a welfare check for an Ainsworth resident. The individual was contacted and reported safe.
  • During a traffic stop, on Highway 7 near mile marker 43, a written warning was issued for speeding 6-10 mph over the posted speed limit.

April 4

  • Responded to a noise complaint near Fullerton St in Ainsworth. Deputies were unable to locate any noise violation.
  • The Brown County Ambulance Association transferred a patient from the Brown County Hospital to Yankton, SD.
  • An Ainsworth resident brought a loose dog to the Sheriff’s Office. The dog had no tag identification and was taken to the Ainsworth Vet Clinic where it was later reunited with its owner with the help of Live Love Wag.
  • Received information of loose dogs that were suspected of killing chickens just outside the Ainsworth city limits. The owners of the dogs were issued a citation for dogs at large and failure to license.

April 5

  • The Brown County Ambulance Association was paged to a 911 response for an Ainsworth resident. One individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • A transient was picked up at the Rock/Brown County line on Highway 20 and brought back to the Sheriff’s office and was provided with ministerial aid services.
  • The Brown County Ambulance Association transferred a flight crew from the Airport to the Brown County Hospital to pick up a patient.
  • Responded to a report of a runaway juvenile in Ainsworth. The juvenile was located and returned to their home.
  • Responded to a domestic disturbance at an Ainsworth business. Deputies were able to resolve the issue for both parties to leave the business amicably.

April 6

  • Received a report of smoke coming from the basement at an Ainsworth home. The Ainsworth Fire Chief responded and no further action was needed.
  • Received a report of a power line that had blown down and was now on top of an Ainsworth resident’s home. All information was forwarded to Nebraska Public Power for further assistance.
  • The Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call for an Ainsworth residence. One individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Booked an individual into the Brown County Jail to serve time for a court commitment.

April 7

  • Responded to a report of an uncontrollable juvenile in Ainsworth. Deputies responded and provided assistance to a mother with the juvenile.
  • Received a report of bank fraud. The individual was encouraged to contact the Attorney General Fraud line for further assistance.

April 8

  • The Ainsworth Fire Department was paged for a hay pile on fire North of Ainsworth. The Long Pine Fire Department was paged later for additional assistance.
  • Received a report of suspected animal abuse/neglect in Long Pine. Deputies responded to the location and found the animal to be in good health. 
  • During three separate traffic stops, two individuals were issued warnings for speeding, and one issued a citation for no valid registration.
  • Responded to a motorist in need of assistance at the Highway 20 and 7 junction.

April 9

  • Responded to a domestic dispute in Long Pine. Both individuals were separated for the night.
  • Responded to a 911 call for assistance of an elderly individual in Rock County. The individual was located and reported safe.

Weekly Summary:

0– Burn Permit Issued (by all Brown Co Fire Depts)

        2– Handgun Permits Applied For

14– Incident Reports Were Taken

1-Paper Services Were Served

95– Phone Calls Were Received

7– 911 Emergency Calls Received

5– Titles Were Inspected

* Reports received of counterfeit bills being passed in area

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

The Valentine Police Department encourages businesses to be vigilant and inspect cash thoroughly to look for potential fake currency after several counterfeit bills have been passed in the area.

On March 27, two fake $20 bills were passed at Dollar General in Valentine and three fake $20 bills were passed at a business in Kilgore. On April 1, a fake $50 bill was passed at Speedee Mart in Valentine.

Both the Chadron Police Department and the Tripp County, S.D., Sheriff’s Department have also reported instances of counterfeit bills being passed. Some fake bills in those locations were $100 bills.

Anyone who suspects someone of attempting to use a counterfeit bill is encouraged to contact law enforcement immediately.

* Rock County to host Missoula Children’s Theater

(Posted 3 p.m. April 7)

The Bassett Arts Council is again sponsoring the Missoula Children’s Theater and its production of “Red Riding Hood” with Rock County Public Schools students portraying characters in the play.

Rock County kindergarten through high school students may try out for parts at 4 p.m. Monday, April 18, in the elementary gym. There are parts available for 50 students.

Students are asked to register through the Bassett Arts Council Facebook page. Questions may be directed to Susan Stibor.

Volunteers are also needed to help students practice their parts Monday through Friday.

The public performance of “Red Riding Hood” is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, April 23, in the high school.

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 2:45 p.m. April 7)

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

Nathaniel R. Clark, age 49, of Somerset, Ky., charged with speeding 21-35 mph over the limit, fined $200.

Michael Holt, 51, of Highlands Ranch, Colo., speeding 21-35 mph over the limit, $200.

Michael K. Keck, 35, of Ainsworth, no valid registration, $25.

Matthew S. Moody, 55, of Ainsworth, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25; also charged with failure to use a seat belt, $25.

Skylar B. Gallegos, 19, of Springview, attempting a Class 4 felony, sentenced to 18 months of probation; no operator’s license, $100; speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Roman Rostocki, 68, of Chicago, Ill., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Arthur S. Olive, 23, of Montevideo, Minn., attempting a Class 4 felony, $1,000; possession of marijuana more than 1 ounce but less than 1 pound, $500.

Janell K. Stoeger, 50, of Valentine, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Bobby Belt, 30, of Valentine, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Victor W. Hedlund, 61, of Omaha, first offense driving under the influence, $500, also sentenced to six months of probation, driver’s license revoked for 60 days, and ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

Kenneth D. Voss, 75, of Long Pine, first offense refusal to submit to a test, $500 and sentenced to seven days in jail with credit for seven days served.

Wytama S. Fault, 35, of Webster, Fla., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25; possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300.

Olivia R. Diedrichsen, 21, of Malcolm, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75; possession of marijuana more than 1 ounce but less than 1 pound, $500; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Juan A. Delacruz Rodriguez, 31, of West Fargo, N.D., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Grant E. Stahla, 29, of Lincoln, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Charles E. Dickau, 78, of Brewster, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25; no valid registration, $25.

Steven K. Syzmonski, 65, of Littleton, Colo., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

David P. Renfrew, 54, of West Fargo, N.D., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Marc J. Eckart, 56, of Stevens Point, Wis., theft by receiving stolen property more than $500, sentenced to 54 days in jail with credit for 55 days served.

Jason Hoctor, 39, of Plattsmouth, criminal mischief more than $500 but less than $1,500, ordered to pay $1,034 in restitution; disturbing the peace, sentenced to six months of probation.

Gregory C. Irwin, 40, of Ainsworth, disturbing the peace, $250.

Randell L. Swett, 36, of Long Pine, no valid registration, $25.

Trust N. Tripp, 41, of Ainsworth, false reporting, sentenced to 60 days in jail with credit for four days served.

Houston L. Oleary, 22, of Roseau, Minn., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Courtney K. McLeod, 35, of Ainsworth, three counts of having a dog running at large, $50 on one count and costs only on the other two counts; three counts of no rabies vaccine, costs only judgment on each of the three counts.

Amber S. Kruger, 37, of Springview, taking or possessing fish without a permit, $100.

Trinity J. Arpan, 26, of Sioux Falls, S.D., driving under the influence with a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 or greater, $500, also sentenced to 30 days in jail with credit for 30 days served, driver’s license revoked for one year, and ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

* Eleven to be inducted into  Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame

(Posted 7 a.m. April 7)

The 2022 class of the Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame has been chosen, and 11 Sandhillers will be inducted June 11.

Inductees for 2022 include three living residents and eight who have passed away. Bill Manning of Cherry County is among the living inductees, as are Dave Knight of Keith County and Mick Phillips of Garfield County.

Inductees who have passed away include the late Mike Welker and Bill Gallino of Cherry County, the late Lowell Minert of Blaine County, the late Bill White and Rita White of Grant County, the late Dave Cambell of Wheeler County, the late Walter Gibbons Sr. of Custer County, and the late George Winters of McPherson County.

The Hall of Fame induction banquet is scheduled for 6 p.m. June 11 in the Cherry County Fairgrounds 4-H building at Valentine.

* Rock County Board approves jail window replacement

(Posted 7 a.m. April 7)

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Rock County Commissioners, the board approved a quote from Sandhills Glass to replace three windows in the Rock County Jail.

A prisoner recently broke three windows in the jail. The commissioners received several bids to replace the windows, one from Town & Country Construction for $6,407, six proposals from Bartak Glass ranging from $3,010 to $8,500, and three bids from Sandhills Glass ranging in cost from $4,900 to $7,500.

The board approved the $7,500 bid from Sandhills Glass, which is an upgrade from the window varieties that were broken. The Nebraska Intergovernmental Risk Management Association provided the county with $5,890 toward the cost of the window replacement.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners approved a 2-acre subdivision located in Section 16, Township 30 North, Range 18 West in Rock County.

After discussing potential options to repair Twin Lakes Road, the board approved having Miller & Associates conduct a cost-analysis report for the different repair options.

The commissioners approved the Rock County Hospital Long Term Care license renewal after meeting with Hospital Administrator Stacey Knox.

The board approved an agreement with the Nebraska Department of Transportation for tie-out work and monument establishment. The NDOT will pay the county $1,100 for the tie-out work and $1,100 to reestablish the monument.

Pam Bourne from NIRMA met with county officials regarding the employee handbook. Bourne explained the handbook provided guidelines for county employees, but each office was responsible for establishing its own procedures. Following the discussion, the board approved having the county dispatchers clock sheriff’s department deputies in and out when on duty or when called out.

The board approved a special designated liquor license request for the Bassett Country Club June 14-16 during the Sandhills Ranch Expo. The commissioners approved having ACE as the county’s natural gas supplier.

Acting as the Board of Equalization, the commissioners approved a motor vehicle tax exemption for a vehicle owned by the Rock County Senior Center.

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

* Commissioners approve purchase of International semi

(Posted 7 a.m. April 6)

The Brown County Commissioners on Tuesday approved the purchase of a 2023 International semi for the roads department.

After tabling the bid provided by Cornhusker International Trucks of Norfolk during its previous meeting, the board approved the $140,420 bid Tuesday.

Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin said he and roads department employee Dustin Craven traveled to Boone County to view a similar semi and talk with the roads department employee there who was the primary driver. Turpin said the Boone County employee indicated he had not had any problems with that model of semi. Turpin recommended the board approve the bid from Cornhusker International Trucks, which was the only bid the county received for a semi.

The initial price quoted was $138,957, but Turpin said the quote had to be adjusted upward from the time it was originally provided due to the rising price of steel.

In other roads department items Tuesday, the board, with Commissioner Denny Bauer absent, approved having Chairman Buddy Small sign a reimbursement agreement with the Nebraska Department of Transportation for emergency projects performed on federal aid routes. While the agreement provides the county with several hundred thousand dollars in reimbursement for costs to repair damage from 2019 flooding, Turpin said the county did not receive full reimbursement for the South Pine Avenue and Moon Lake Avenue repair work.

Turpin reported reimbursement on those two projects was more than $200,000 shy of the costs to perform the repairs. He said the reasoning was the timeframe for completing repairs, but he said the repairs could not be completed in the state’s designated time because water remained over the roadways on both routes.

The commissioners also discussed a potential detour route for Highway 20 and Highway 7 traffic on Road 877 south of Ainsworth that would then connect with Pine Street. County Attorney Andy Taylor said Sheriff Bruce Papstein felt Road 877 was currently too narrow for detour traffic after the county made improvements to raise the roadway. Turpin said he planned to visit with a nearby property owner to see if the roads department could obtain material to try and widen Road 877 so it would work as a detour route.

In other business Tuesday, Nancy Steinhauser and Karen O’Hare representing the Ainsworth Child Development Center provided the commissioners with an update on the non-profit group’s work to establish a childcare center in the community.

Steinhauser said the group was currently visiting with business owners to obtain donations for the project and would soon begin an area-wide capital campaign to raise money for the project.

The group has secured the Technologent building on Main Street, and plans to trade that building to the Ainsworth Nazarene Church in exchange for The Connection building on Main Street.

Steinhauser estimated it would take a total of $1 million for the purchase and required renovation, and the group had currently raised $283,000, including a $200,000 grant from the Scott Foundation. A portion of that grant was used to purchase the Technologent building.

The childcare center would include an in-house preschool as well as childcare, and at capacity would have room for 46 children with 10 full-time staff members.

Steinhauser said having a childcare center was a huge need for the community to be able to recruit professionals with families to the area, and there was currently a shortage of in-home childcare providers in the community.

O’Hare said there is already a wait list of 35 children for the center, but that could change depending on when the funds are raised and the facility opens. O’Hare said the group was working with Ainsworth Community Schools and Lunchtime Solutions to provide meal service to the facility, which would save a substantial amount from the center having to install a commercial kitchen and hire a cook.

Small and Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus thanked the group for the update on the project.

In final action items Tuesday, the board approved renewing a sign permit with the Nebraska Department of Transportation for a sign adjacent to Highway 20 in eastern Brown County.

Treasurer Deb Vonheeder reported a recent public tax sale of delinquent property taxes raised $36,141 for the county. Purchasers of delinquent property taxes either receive 14 percent interest when the property owner pays the delinquent tax, or a lien can be filed on the property. Vonheeder reported 29 parcels with delinquent taxes had those delinquent taxes purchased.

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

* Highway 20 renovation in Ainsworth begins Thursday

(Posted 4:15 p.m. April 5)

Weather permitting, work is scheduled to begin Thursday on Highway 20 in Ainsworth, according to the Department of Transportation.

A & R Construction Co. of Plainview is the contractor. The project will be constructed in three phases and will include pavement repair, culvert work, ADA compliant curb ramps, sidewalks, gutters and shoulder replacement. A sewer collection system will be constructed. Surfaced drives and intersections will be removed, combined, or relocated with new surfacing. The three-lane section of Highway 20 will be extended on the west side of Ainsworth, to approximately 500 feet west of Wilson Street, and on the east side of Ainsworth, to approximately 1,800 feet east of Richardson Drive.

Traffic will be maintained with lane closures and traffic control devices. Temporary intersection and driveway closures will be required. Work is scheduled to be complete by the fall of 2023.

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

* Goochey, Flynn crowned prom royalty Saturday

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

During Saturday’s Ainsworth High School Prom, Madelyn Goochey and Ben Flynn were crowned the prom queen and king following the Grand March in McAndrew Elementary.

The candidates for prom queen were Goochey, Alyssa Erthum, Maia Flynn, Eden Raymond, Haley Schroedl and Elizabeth Wilkins. King candidates were Flynn, Caleb Allen, Ben Barrow, Tommy Ortner, Cash Reynolds and Ty Schlueter.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 6:30 a.m. April 4)

March 27

  • The Minden Police Department served a Brown County bench warrant for driving under suspension. The individual posted their $500 cash bond and received a court date.
  • The Brown County Ambulance Association transferred a flight crew from the airport to the Brown County Hospital to pick up a patient and take back to the airport.
  • Responded to a report of juveniles that had accessed an unutilized building in Ainsworth. The juveniles were issued a verbal warning to stay off of the property.
  • Responded to an agency assist for Blaine County Sheriff’s office. Blaine County received a traffic complaint involving a suspected impaired driver and conducted a traffic stop on Highway 7 near mile marker 10.  During the traffic stop Blaine County issued the driver a citation for driving under the influence of alcohol.  Brown County then transported the suspect to the Brown County jail for holding.

March 28

  • Received a report of a property damage occurring to an unoccupied home in Ainsworth. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Received a report of a stolen item of small monetary value from an Ainsworth home.

March 29

  • Custer County Sheriff’s Office served a bench warrant issued from Brown County. The individual posted their $500 cash bond and received a court date.
  • Released an inmate from the Brown County Jail on a personal recognizance bond of $1000 and received a court date.
  • Received a report of a one vehicle deer collision on Highway 20 near mile marker 225. The vehicle was unable to drive away from the scene.  No injuries were reported.

March 30

  • Responded to a report of a hit and run accident that occurred to mailboxes, on Highway 20 near mile marker 249.

March 31

  • Responded to a report of burglary and theft occurring on a property in Southern Brown County. Deputies were unable to make contact with one person of interest.  This is an ongoing investigation.

April 1

  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing at the Highway 20 and 426th Ave intersection.

April 2

  • Responded to a report of a two vehicle accident that occured in Long Pine. Both vehicles had visible damage but were able to drive away from the scene. No injuries were reported.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20 near mile marker 236, a Nebraska State Patrol trooper issued a citation for speeding and driving during revocation. The individual was booked into the Brown County Jail then released after posting 10% of their $10,000 bond and received a court date.
  • Received a report involving an elderly individual suspected of living in unfit conditions. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Responded to a request for a welfare check on an Ainsworth individual.  The individual was located and reported safe.
  • Responded to a traffic complaint, on Highway 20, near the 9A spur. Deputies were unable to make contact with the reported reckless driver before they entered Rock County.  All information was forwarded to the Rock County Sheriff’s office for further investigation.
  • Responded to a complaint of wildlife cruelty in Ainsworth. Four juveniles received a verbal warning to not interfere with the wildlife.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20 near mile marker 246, a citation was issued for speeding 6-10 mph over the posted speed limit.
  • The Brown County Ambulance Association was paged for a 911 call near Meadville Ave. One individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Responded to a noise complaint on Wilson St in Ainsworth. One person of interest was located and issued a verbal warning.
  • Responded to a two vehicle accident that occurred at the Community Center in Ainsworth. No injuries were reported and both vehicles were able to drive away from the scene.

Weekly Summary:

1– Burn Permit Issued (by all Brown Co Fire Depts)

        2– Handgun Permits Applied For

11– Incident Reports Were Taken

8-Paper Services Were Served

93– Phone Calls Were Received

3– 911 Emergency Calls Received

6– Titles Were Inspected

March Monthly Summary

2– Accidents

0– Arrests

51– Calls for Service

7– Citations were issued

0– Defect Cards issued

14– Handgun permits issued

14– Paper Service served

556– Phone calls were received

32– 911 emergency calls received

28– Titles inspected

5– Verbal & Written Warnings issued

* Takeover day winning bidders

(Updated 2 p.m. April 1)

Winning bidders are asked to pick up and pay for their items in the Chamber of Commerce office in the Cassel Building on Main Street all day today (Friday), and from noon until 4 p.m. on Monday or Tuesday. The baked goods are available for pickup at KBRB Friday.

Winning bidders from the All-Day Items
Buckley Steel – One day rental of a skid steer, excavator, telehandler or lift – Trevor Wilson $250

Buckles Automotive – A NAPA Carlyle 3-1/2 ton floor jack – Ethan Shaw $210

State Farm Insurance, Union Bank & Trust, Ainsworth Vision Clinic, West Plains Bank, April Good with Lashley Land & Recreational Brokers, Jeep & Lynn Cozad, and Homestead Bank – Two full-size kayaks, oars, Nebraska State Park pass, a 12-pack cooler with ice packs and metal koozies – Kelsey Dailey $530

Frontier Diesel – A portable rolling tote bag with an eight-piece screwdriver set, a four-piece plier set, a hammer, a hacksaw, LED cap light, metric and standard wrench & socket set, regular and needle-nose vise grips, 16-foot tape measure, utility knife and blades, a 10-inch crescent wrench, and two Frontier Diesel tee shirts and caps – Sherm Goochey $500

Husker Meats, Bomgaars and KBRB Radio – A full-size Pit Boss pellet grill, rib-eye steaks, Kansas City strip steaks, pork chops, smoked brisket, boneless smoked pork butt, cheddar brats, plain brats, bacon ranch brats, Dutch Country bologna, Red Barn bologna, cheese summer sausage, cheddar snack sticks, pepper snack sticks and honey siracha snack sticks – Penny Waits $1,200

First Class Auto – An emergency kit, includes a 1,000-amp jump starter, 4-ton bottle jack, tow rope, first aid kit, ice ripper, Nebo light, Carlyle wrench, 9-in-1 screwdriver, whisk broom, tarp straps, car scents, gorilla tape, cable ties, glass cleaner all packed into a 60-liter tote, plus an oil change and a wash job from First Class, plus a $100 gift card to Pump & Pantry, $100 to J’s Keggers and $100 to Conoco, and a First Class cup, cap and gloves – Sherm Goochey $800

Winning bidders from the 1 p.m. hour
Husker Meats – 10 pounds of hamburger – Glenn Johnson $45
Subway – Six certificates for 6-inch sub sandwiches – Glenn Johnson $45
KBRB – Two tickets to the Husker Spring Game – Jeep Cozad $50
Sandhills Lounge – A homemade cheesesteak – Erin Lambrecht $25
Middle Niobrara NRD – 10 starter size trees – Susan Hoover $45
Ainsworth Motors – A front-end vehicle alignment – Glenn Johnson $60
Mimi’s Sweets (Amanda Koch) – Two dozen cookies – Steph Kinzie $65
Devine Health Care – A 15-minute clinic visit – Andrew Paddock $35
J Dean’s Gallery – A $20 gift certificate – Megan Cleal $18

Winning bidders from the noon hour
Gross Seed Co. – A 5-pound bag of Super Turf II grass seed – Marlin Reed $15
Canyon Creek Bar & Grill – A pan of homemade bread pudding – Rhonda Theis $40
State Farm Insurance, Union Bank & Trust, Ainsworth Vision Clinic, West Plains Bank, April Good with Lashley Land & Recreational Brokers, Jeep & Lynn Cozad, and Homestead Bank – An Ainsworth Swimming Pool family pass, floaties, cooler, popsicles and koozies – Ashley Wright $95
KBRB – Two tickets to the Husker Spring Game – Jeep Cozad $50
Hills & Trails FCE Club – 10 dozen cream cheese mints – Tiff Naprstak $30
J Deans Gallery – A $20 gift certificate – Sheri Gann $18
Simple Solutions – A wireless mouse and keyboard and a $25 gift certificate – Joyce Stahl $40
Ainsworth Lions Club – Two tickets to the All-Sports Tailgate Party – Connie Goochey $20
H&R Food Center – A large vegetable tray – Pam Schmitz $37
Kelsey Carroll Custom Wood – Hand-craft wood art piece – Nicole Johnson $60
Travis Electric – A rechargeable LED work light – Glenn Johnson $30
O’Hare Ranch – A pint of homemade salsa and chips – Clint Painter $50
Rolling Stone Feed Yard – A $25 beef draft – Becky O’Hare $23
O’Hare Ranch – A pint of homemade salsa and chips – DJ Hladky $50

Winning bidders from the 11 a.m. hour
Bayer Crop Science – Two mini mag flashlights – Ben Crane $50
Ainsworth Lions Club – Two tickets to the Tailgate Party – Robert Wright $20
Bonnie Finley – A lemon pie and a pecan pie – Coralene Kinzie $50
Brown County Ag Society – Weekend pass to the Brown County Fair – Kathy Modaff $35
The Mundhenke Agency – Ninja air fryer package – Jami Haskell $161
One-half dozen of Vicki Schipporeit’s chubbies – Roger Magary $65
Daniels Manufacturing – Two metal gate closures – Dave Clark $40
Ainsworth Elks Club – A $25 gift certificate – Doug O’Hare $23
J’s Keggers – Wine basket – Tracy Sklenicka $26
Simple Solutions – A $25 gift certificate and wireless mouse – Dave Clark $33
Husker Meats – 5 pounds of pork sausage – Pat Gibbs $50
Red & White – A 16-piece bucket of deli chicken – Amber Happold $25
Ainsworth Motors – A front-end alignment – Craig Smith $65
Madison’s Great Western – A $25 beef draft – Erin Lambrecht $23

Winning bidders from the 10 a.m. hour
Elm Street Ambitions – Two graphic tee shirts, corduroy shacket and a brimmed hat – Sherm Goochey $75
One-half dozen Vicki Schipporeit homemade chubbies – Todd Schermeier $75
Husker Meats – 5-pound box of frog legs – Dwain Grunke $60
Devine Healthcare – 15-minute clinic appointment – Becky Magill $35
Ainsworth Motors – Front-end vehicle alignment – Sherm Goochey $60
Home Health – All-purpose first aid kit – Karen O’Hare $10
Gross Seed Co. – 5-pound bag of Super Turf II grass seed – Tracy Sklenicka $30
Madison’s Great Western – $25 beef draft – Steve Gann $23
Employees of the Sandhills Care Center – Mini chocolate lava and strawberry lemonade bunt cakes – Traci Booth $40
Middle Niobrara NRD – 10 starter-size trees – Tracy Nelson $75
KBRB – Two tickets to the Husker Spring Game – Jeep Cozad $20
Bonnie Finley – A dozen homemade cinnamon rolls – Karen O’Hare $55
Cross Fire Forge – A forged outdoor cooking tool set – Ryan Fowler $125
Rangeland Rehab – Tens 7000 unit and consultation – Glenn Johnson $50
Husker Meats – 5-pound box of crawfish – Jami Haskell $65
Rolling Stone Feed Yard – $25 beef draft – Mike Pepper $23

Winning bidders from the 9 a.m. hour
GJW – A half hog, fully processed – Roger Magary $400
Ainsworth Family Dental – kid’s electric toothbrush – Karen O’Hare $62
Husker Meats – 10 pounds of mountain oysters – Clint Painter $80
Brown County Ag Society – Weekend pass to the county fair – Ryan Fowler $30
H&R Food Center – A large fruit tray – Clint Painter $50
Dawn Family Practice – A fasting wellness package – Tracy Nelson $45
O’Hare Ranch – A pint of homemade salsa and chips – Ashley Wright – $51
Bonnie Finley – A dozen homemade cinnamon rolls – Dianah Schrad $80
Rolling Stone Feed Yard – A $25 beef draft – Jeanne Smith $23
Middle Niobrara NRD – 10 starter-size trees – Robert Wright $65
Brown County Hospital – Entry into the Hospital Golf Tournament June 17 – The Mundhenke Agency $250
Travis Electric – Rechargeable LED work light – Todd Stahl $45
Red Apron (Kate Ortner) – A dozen jumbo chocolate chip cookies – Rhonda Theis $55
KBRB – Two tickets to the Husker Spring Game – Jeep Cozad $20
Bonnie Finley – Homemade coconut pie and sour cream raisin pie – Greg Nahrstedt $50
Office Products – Callaway golf bag – Cory Brodbeck $135
Season’s Restaurant – A $50 gift certificate – Ainsworth Flowers & Gifts $46

Winning bidders from the 8 a.m. hour
AKRS Equipment – Riding lawn mower inspection & kit – Chara Sisson $230
Bonnie Finley – One dozen cinnamon rolls – Kurt Johnson $105
Fitness First – One month membership – Sherm Goochey $10
Red & White Market – 16-piece bucket of deli chicken – Dorothy Kinney $15
Brown County Emergency Management – Road kit – Glenn Johnson $30
Century Lumber – Two sawhorses – Sherm Goochey $30
Husker Meats – A 5-pound box of frog legs – Karen O’Hare $25
Rolling Stone Feed Yard – $25 beef draft – Tyler Johnson $23
Ainsworth Grand Theater – $25 in gift certificates – Lacey Marbry $23
Middle Niobrara NRD – 10 starter-size trees – Trevor Modaff $60
Pam and Denny Bauer – Two Husker volleyball tickets – Tracy Sklenicka – $225
William Krotter Co. – Bushnell Range Finder – Kurt Starkey $120
Daniels Manufacturing – A Daniels sprinkler – Glenn Johnson $45
A half dozen Vicki Schipporeit chubbies – Chelsey Lane – $50
The Book Peddler – Pioneer Women cookbook – Jo Dailey $15
Ainsworth Community Schools – 2022-23 activities pass – Karen O’Hare $40
Madison’s Great Western – $25 beef draft – Mary Lou Hughes – $23

Winning bidders from the 7 a.m. hour
Daniels Manufacturing – Two metal gate closures – Dr. Marty Moravec $46
KBRB Radio – Two tickets to the Husker spring game – Jeep Cozad $20
Ainsworth Motors – Front-end alignment – Glenn Johnson $80
Middle Niobrara NRD – Certificate for 10 trees – Jo Swanson $55
One half dozen Chubbies from Vicki Schipporeit – Casey Johnson $45
Devine Healthcare – 15-minute clinic visit – Lindsey Fernau $40
Bomgaars – 10 broiler chicks and chick feed – Larry Ziegler $15
Husker Meats – 5-pound box of crawfish – Jeremey O’Hare $20
Madison’s Great Western $25 beef draft – Beverly Smith $23
Sandhills Sage $25 gift certificate – Karen O’Hare $23
Elks Club $25 gift certificate – Wilma Andrews $23

* Nebraska jobless rate best in the nation

(Posted 6:45 a.m. March 30)

The Nebraska Department of Labor announced Nebraska’s preliminary unemployment rate for February is 2.1 percent, seasonally adjusted. The rate is down 0.1 percent from the January rate of 2.2 percent.
“The number of employed workers in Nebraska’s labor force reached an all-time high of 1,034,720 in February,” said commissioner of Labor John H. Albin. “Employment is up 20,747 from February 2021.”
The counts of employed and unemployed in the labor force are based on a survey conducted by the Census Bureau regarding employment status.
Nonfarm employment, a count of filled jobs, was 1,012,785 in February, up 13,395 over the month and up 28,858 over the year. Private industries with the most growth month to month were leisure and hospitality (up 2,123); professional and business services (up 1,901); and trade, transportation, and utilities (up 1,364).
The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February 2022 is 3.8 percent, down 0.2 percentage points from the January 2022 rate of 4.0 percent. The national unemployment rate is down 2.4 percentage points from the February 2021 rate of 6.2 percent.

Brown County’s unemployment rate in February at 2.9 percent actually came in higher than the state average. Blaine County had the highest unemployment rate in the area at 3.4 percent in February.

Rock County, Keya Paha County and Cherry County each had rates of 1.6 percent unemployed in February, sharing the lowest rate in the area. Holt County’s rate was 1.7 percent in February, and Boyd County had an unemployment rate of 2.1 percent in February.

Throughout the pandemic, we slowed the spread of the virus while allowing people to lead a more normal life,” said Gov. Pete Ricketts.  “We avoided using the heavy hand of government to impose lockdowns, statewide mask mandates, or vaccine passports.  This gave businesses the freedom to stay open and serve their customers.  Recent labor numbers prove that this approach has worked.  There are now 12,000 more Nebraskans employed in our workforce than there were in January 2020—before the pandemic began.  Thanks to the hard work of Nebraskans, we’ve successfully grown our state despite facing the greatest public health emergency of the past century.”

Nebraska’s unemployment rate tied Utah for the lowest in the country in February. Nebraska’s labor force participation rate, with 69.7 percent of working-age adults currently employed, leads the nation.

* NCDHD confirms just 8 COVID cases during past week

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

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of just eight new COVID-19 cases in the nine-county district during the past week.

Any individual with immunocompromising conditions is eligible for a second COVID-19 booster dose three months after their first booster dose.

A vaccination clinic is scheduled from 2 until 4 p.m. today (Tuesday) in Mid-Plains Community College at Valentine, from 2 until 4 p.m. Wednesday in the Butte Community Center, and from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Thursday in the NCDHD office at O’Neill.

The North Central District Health Department received accreditation from the Public Health Accreditation Board. The PHAB is the nonprofit organization that administers the national accreditation program, which aims to advance and transform public health practice by championing performance improvement, strong infrastructure, and innovation.

“We are so pleased to be recognized by PHAB for achieving the rigorous national standards that are set forth,” said Roger Wiese, NCDHD Director. “As a Nationally Accredited Public Health Department, NCDHD can reassure the community, partner organizations, and elected officials that the work and services provided are responsive to the needs of north central Nebraska.”

The national accreditation program, which receives support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, sets standards against which the nation’s governmental public health departments can continuously improve the quality of their services and performance. Over 80 percent of the U.S. population is served by a health department that has undergone PHAB’s rigorous, multi-faceted, peer-reviewed assessment process to ensure it meets a set of quality standards and measures.  

Often called the “backbone” of the public health system, local public health departments are on the front lines of communities’ efforts to protect and promote health and prevent disease and injury. Across the nation, health departments provide services aimed at promoting healthy behaviors, preventing diseases and injuries, and preparing for and responding to public health emergencies.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 8:45 a.m. March 28)

March 20

  • The Brown County Ambulance Association was paged for response to a 911 call at an Ainsworth facility. One individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Received a report of an unauthorized motor vehicle in Long Pine. The driver was reported to not be wearing a helmet, while also transporting a juvenile that was riding in front of the driver without head protection.  Deputies were unable to make contact with this vehicle.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, near mile marker 238, a written warning was issued for speeding.

March 21

  • The Brown County Ambulance Association was paged for a 911 call at a Long Pine residence. One individual was transported to the Rock County Hospital.
  • The Long Pine Fire Department sent one truck for mutual aid assistance at the fire located near Page, NE.
  • During a traffic stop at the Highway 20 and Highway 183 junction a warning was issued for driving left of center

March 22

  • Received multiple reports of cattle on the Highway 20 and the 427th intersection. The owner was contacted and removed them from the roadway.
  • The Ainsworth, Johnstown, and Long Pine Fire Departments were paged for mutual aid assistance for Keya Paha County near Highway 12, West of Norden. Raven, Calamus, and South Pine Fire Departments were also paged for mutual aid assistance for Purdum Fire Department, South of Woodlake, near Goosecreek road. 
  • Received a report of suspected elder abuse or neglect of an Ainsworth resident. This is an ongoing investigation.

March 23

  • The Brown County Ambulance Association were paged to a 911 call at an Ainsworth residence. One individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Participated in the Nebraska statewide tornado drill from the National Weather Service. All fire departments were paged and tornado sirens were blown as a test.
  • Received reports of a physical altercation that had taken place at the Ainsworth High School. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Received a report that an arrest warrant issued from Brown County had been served by the Scottsbluff County Sheriff’s Office in Gering, NE. The individual was issued an arrest warrant for stalking, witness tampering, and violating a protection order.  The individual was released after posting bond.
  • Responded to a report of suspected vandalism to a vehicle parked at an Ainsworth business.  No criminal activity was found at this time.
  • The Brown County Ambulance Association were paged to an Ainsworth residence after receiving a 911 call from LifeAlert notifications. One individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, near mile marker 251, a written warning was issued for driving on shoulder of highway.

March 24

  • The Brown County Ambulance Association transported an air crew from the Airport to the Brown County Hospital to pick up a patient and transfer back to the Airport.
  • Received a report of illegal dumping occurring on 881st, 882nd, Rauscher and Norden Ave roads. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Received a complaint regarding a city ordinance violation in Ainsworth. This is an ongoing investigation.

March 25

  • An arrest warrant was served that was issued from Brown County. The individual was booked into the Brown County Jail, and released on a personal recognizance bond.
  • Received a report of a civil dispute regarding ownership of a vehicle.
  • During a traffic stop near the Highway 20 and 183 junction, on a Minnesota plated vehicle, K9 Dutch indicated a positive alert. The driver and one passenger in the vehicle were both issued citations for possession of marjuana.
  • Responded to a report of a traffic complaint on Oak St in Ainsworth. The suspected vehicle was located and the driver was issued a citation for disturbing the peace.

March 26

  • Received a report of a domestic dispute in rural Brown County. Deputies provided civil standby for one individual to remove their belongings from the property.
  • Responded to a 911 call for a suspected burglary in Long Pine. The caller reported an unknown vehicle had driven by the property several times and someone had tried to gain access into the home.  Deputies were unable to locate a suspect at this time.
  • Received a report of vandalism at a main street business in Long Pine. Deputies did find property damage and this is an ongoing investigation.
  • Responded to a mental health incident in rural Brown County. The Brown County Ambulance Association was paged for standby but the individual refused transport.
  • Weekly Summary:

0– Burn Permit Issued (by all Brown Co Fire Depts)

        3– Handgun Permits Applied For

16– Incident Reports Were Taken

5– Paper Services Were Served

126– Phone Calls Were Received

7– 911 Emergency Calls Received

6– Titles Were Inspected

* Schroedl accepted to Kearney Health Opportunities Program

(Posted 8:15 a.m. March 25)

The University of Nebraska at Kearney recently accepted 46 high school seniors into the Kearney Health Opportunities Program.

Among those students is Ainsworth High School senior Haley Schroedl, who will enter KHOP in nursing.

A partnership between UNK and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, KHOP is a pipeline program designed to grow the state’s health care workforce by recruiting and training students from rural Nebraska who are committed to practicing in these areas after professional school.

Participants are awarded full-tuition scholarships to attend UNK and guaranteed admission to UNMC if all requirements are met.

They receive additional assistance, along with a $2,000 room waiver, through the KHOP Learning Community. A requirement for freshmen, the one-year residential learning community gives students a chance to explore various health care careers while receiving support and guidance as they transition to college. KHOP members also meet with health care providers and tour medical facilities in the Kearney area.

“We are very excited to welcome this highly talented and exceptional group of students into the KHOP program next fall,” said Peggy Abels, director of UNK Health Sciences. “It is great to see these future professionals dedicated to providing high-quality health care for rural Nebraska.”

* Area students named Academic All-State by NSAA

(Posted 7 a.m. March 25)

Each year since 2006, the Nebraska School Activities Association and the Nebraska Chiropractic Physicians Association recognize students who have been nominated by their schools, based on their individual academic excellence, leadership, and significant contributions made to their NSAA activity by recognizing them with the NCPA Academic All-State Award.

Area students named Academic All-State by the NSAA are:

Ainsworth
Caleb Allen and Ty Schlueter in boys basketball, Cameryn Goochey and Elizabeth Wilkins in girls basketball, and Alyssa Erthum and Benjamin Flynn in speech

Keya Paha County
Ryan Painter in boys basketball

Rock County
Dolan Pospichal in boys basketball, Brooklyn Buell and Allie Cosgrove in girls basketball, Hannah Keller and Carson Shaw in speech, and Branson Anderson and Ben Klemesrud in wrestling

Stuart
Anthony Heiser and Cameron Sattler in boys basketball, Taya Schmaderer and Lexi Schroder in girls basketball, and Grace Alder and Taya Schmaderer in speech

West Holt
Tyler Jelinek and Nate Wallinger in boys basketball, Landyn Mlady and Maci Nemetz in girls basketball, Caid McCart and Nate Wallinger in speech, Asher McCart and Isaac Pistulka in wrestling, and Madison Davis in girls basketball

Sandhills
Andrew Furrow in boys basketball, Taylor Weber in girls basketball, and Miriam Ganoung and Courtney Swisher in speech

Boyd County
Timothy Atkinson and Zander Kluckman in boys basketball, Bentley Adams and Natasha Zeisler in girls basketball, and Zoe Kaczor and McKenzie Snyder in speech

* Reduced speed zones on Highway 20 extended

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

Drivers on Highway 20 are asked to take notice that reduced speed limit signs east and west of Ainsworth have been extended farther from the city limits.

According to Carl Hart with the Nebraska Department of Transportation, extending both the 35 mph and 45 mph reduced speed zones east and west of the city are being done ahead of the Highway 20 rehabilitation project.

Hart said a turn lane will be extended east past the Bomgaar’s parking lot on the east side of the city, and west to Wilson Street in western Ainsworth as part of the rehabilitation project. With the turn lanes scheduled for extension, both the 35 mph and 45 mph reduced speed limit signs were extended farther east and west.

Hart said, while a definite start time for the construction project has not been determined, the Nebraska Department of Transportation anticipates work will start sometime in mid April. He said the start date will depend on when A&R Construction of Plainview, the contractor for the project, completes prior projects.

Hart said two lanes will remain open for traffic at all times. Portions of Highway 20 will be widened to accommodate the extended turn lanes. The contractor will begin by replacing the south lane. When that lane is complete, work will begin on the center turn lane with traffic split. The north lane will be the final portion of the project. Hart said work would begin on the west end of the city and move east.

Those businesses and property owners who will be directly affected by the construction work will be invited to a stakeholder meeting from 5 until 7 p.m. April 5. Representatives from the NDOT and A&R Construction will be present to answer questions.

* New COVID cases lowest since June 2020

(Posted 4:15 p.m. March 21)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of just four new COVID-19 cases in the nine-county district during the past week, and there have been just 15 total cases confirmed in the past two weeks.

A vaccination clinic is scheduled from 2 until 5 p.m. Wednesday in the Ainsworth Conference Center, and from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Thursday in the NCDHD office at O’Neill.

NCDHD offers scheduled COVID-19 Testing through TotalWellness on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in the NCDHD office by appointment only.

Any individual with immunocompromising conditions is eligible for an additional COVID-19 booster dose three months after their first booster dose. Anyone with questions about eligibility or when to get a booster dose is encouraged to contact a medical provider or the NCDHD at 402-336-2406.

* Stuart wins Class D-2 State Speech Championship

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

The Stuart Broncos won the Class D-2 State Speech Championship Friday, picking up nine medals and scoring 146 points to win by 42 points over runner-up Potter-Dix. The Broncos landed finalists in six of the nine events, and had three events with two speakers in the medal round.

Will Paxton won the state title in entertainment speaking, earning the top rank from all three judges in the final round. Grace Alder made it two medals in the event, finishing fourth in entertainment speaking for the Broncos. Paxton also snagged a third-place medal in extemporaneous speaking Friday.

Taya Schmaderer landed the Broncos’ second gold medal, earning the first-place ranking and perfect scores of 50 from all three judges in persuasive speaking. Chiana Tubbs grabbed a third-place medal in persuasive speaking to give Stuart 36 team points in that event.

The Broncos also scored two medals in informative speaking, with Chiana Tubbs landing the silver medal and Emma Alder finishing fourth.

The Stuart oral interpretation of drama team of Katilynn Kaup, Taya Schmaderer, Abigail Tubbs and Sydney Estill picked up a fourth-place medal in Class D-2.

Estill took home fourth place in serious prose.

Competing for Sandhills High School, Becca Smith earned a sixth-place state medal in poetry.

Chambers and O’Neill St. Mary’s finished third and fourth respectively from the Niobrara Valley Conference Friday, giving the NVC three of the top four team spots in Class D-2.

Wausa ran away with the Class D-1 State Championship Friday, finishing with 202 points. Runner-up Humphrey was nearly 100 points back with 106.

Competing for Rock County in Class D-1, Hannah Keller finished with a silver medal in informative speaking.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 6:30 a.m. March 21)

March 13

  • Received a suspicious vehicle report from Wilson St. in Ainsworth. Upon arrival the vehicle had already left the area and no criminal activity was found.

March 14

  • Received a report that an Ainsworth business received an unsolicited and lewd phone call from an out of state number. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Received a report of a loose dog at an Ainsworth business. The owner was contacted and picked up the dog.

March 15

  • K9 Handler Deputy Calder and K9 Dutch provided agency assistance for the Keya Paha Co Sheriff’s office.
  • Responded to a report of a counterfeit bill at an Ainsworth bank.

March 16

  • The Brown County Ambulance association was paged three times for 911 calls in Ainsworth. They also provided a transfer crew from Brown County Hospital to Kearney, NE.
  • Released an inmate from the Brown County jail.
  • Received a report of suspected child abuse/neglect. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Responded to a report of a loose dog on Woodward St in Ainsworth. The dog was taken to the Ainsworth Vet Clinic.  With help from Live, Love, Wag the dog was reunited with its owner.
  • Received a motorist complaint of a speeding driver. Deputies were unable to make contact with the vehicle.
  • Responded to a 911 call for a two vehicle accident in rural Brown county, Northwest of Johnstown. No injuries were reported and an accident report was completed.

March 17

  • The Brown County Ambulance Association were paged for a 911 call to an Ainsworth home. One individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Received a motorist complaint of a vehicle blocking the roadway on Meadville Ave. The vehicle was found to be pulled off to the side of the road with appropriate hazard lights in use. 
  • Received a purse that was left at an Ainsworth business. The owner was located and picked it up the following day.
  • Responded to a report of piles of hay left in the roadway near the intersection of 6th and Woodward St in Ainsworth. Deputies were able to remove it themselves.

March 18

  • Received a report of an unauthorized motor vehicle operated by a juvenile in Long Pine. The unlicensed driver was also reported to be transferring another juvenile.  This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing at the intersection of Hwy 20 and 427th ave.
  • Received a request for a welfare check for an individual who lives in Keya Paha County. The Keya Paha County Sheriff’s office was informed of the request and reported the individual to be safe.
  • Deputies completed a traffic stop on a North Dakota plated vehicle for speeding on Highway 7, near mile marker 38. The driver of the vehicle was issued a citation for 11-15 mph over the posted speed limit.  The driver and all 3 passengers were also issued citations for possession of marijuana over 1 oz, and possession or use of drug paraphernalia.

March 19

  • Deputies completed a traffic stop on an Arizona plated vehicle for speeding on Hwy 7, near mile marker 40. The driver was issued a written warning for speeding 11-15 mph over the posted speed limit.
  • Received a report of a scam call from a Winner’s Circle Lottery. The scam caller claims the individual has won a large amount of money, but must first send a cashier’s check to an address before receiving their prize.  The individual was encouraged to report this to the Attorney General Fraud line.
  • Received a report of a protection order violation. A report was made and all information was forwarded to the Brown County Attorney’s office.

Weekly Summary:

0– Burn Permit Issued (by all Brown Co Fire Depts)

        5– Handgun Permits Applied For

15– Incident Reports Were Taken

9– Paper Services Were Served

123– Phone Calls Were Received

9– 911 Emergency Calls Received

7– Titles Were Inspected

* Bulldogs land 3 medals at Class C-1 State Speech

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

Ainsworth finished eighth Thursday in the Class C-1 State Speech Championships at Kearney, with the Bulldogs bringing home three medals from the state meet. David City scored 142 points to win the team title, with Malcolm finishing second with 124 points.

The Bulldog speakers landed two medals in persuasive speaking, with Elizabeth Wilkins finishing third in the state and Alyssa Erthum placing fifth. Wilkins landed a second medal, taking sixth place in extemporaneous speaking.

Also competing for the Bulldogs, Ben Flynn missed a trip to the finals by one spot, finishing seventh in entertainment speaking with the top six qualifying for finals.

Makenna Pierce was 11th overall in the preliminary rounds in informative speaking.

Competing for West Holt, Asher McCart and Caid McCart just missed finals in duet acting, placing seventh overall in the preliminary rounds. Caid McCart also narrowly missed the medals in humorous prose, finishing in seventh place overall.

Sidney Burkinshaw landed in the 12th spot in the preliminary round in informative speaking, and Violet Schwager was 12th in poetry. Maci Nemetz earned a 13th-place finish in persuasive speaking.

Abigail Olson competed in serious prose, finishing in 17th place, and Hannah Olson placed 18th in entertainment speaking in the preliminaries.

* Rock County Board approves drainage study

(Posted 10:30 a.m. March 17)                                                                                

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Rock County Commissioners, the board approved a proposal from JEO Engineering for an additional drainage study to address water going over Road 854 near the intersection of 444th Avenue.

The drainage study will look at moving culverts to provide a different avenue for the water that at times goes across Road 854 to cross in Sections 24 and 25, Township 26 North, Range 20 West.

The commissioners also discussed Twin Lakes Road and approved a resolution to make repairs from the county’s emergency relief program.

The board approved a quote from Hometown Repair to replace the engine in the county’s 2012 Dodge Ram pickup.

Weed Superintendent Mitch Dean requested the commissioners approved submitting a letter to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture in opposition to the use of non-native phragmites. A city in Nebraska planned to use non-native phragmites as part of an erosion control system for its wastewater treatment plant.

The commissioners approved a special designated liquor license request for Niobrara Valley Vineyards to serve wine during the Sandhills Ranch Expo June 15-16.

The board approved a subdivision requested by Scot Iverson to sub-divide 2 acres from a tract in Section 13, Township 30 North, Range 18 West.

Treasurer Mona Davis reported 20 parcels were sold during a request delinquent tax sale. The county raised $27,144 from the sale of delinquent 2020 taxes. Those purchasing the delinquent taxes either receive 14 percent interest when the property owner pays the delinquent tax, or a lien can be placed on the property.

The board met with several county employees regarding language in the employee handbook. The commissioners will contact Pam Bourne to schedule a teleconference further discuss the employee handbook during the board’s April 5 meeting.

Sheriff Jim Anderson met with the board regarding quotes to replace the windows recently broken in the jail by an inmate. No action was taken on the quotes.

The next meeting of the Rock County Commissioners is scheduled for 9 a.m. April 5.

* Commissioners approve permit for cellular tower

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

The Brown County Commissioners Tuesday approved a special-use permit for a cellular phone tower to be constructed in northeastern Brown County.

Rick Bailey, representing Industrial Tower West of Fort Morgan, Colo., said his company constructs towers primarily for Viaero, and the new tower would fill a coverage gap between Ainsworth and Springview.

The tower will be constructed approximately 9 miles northeast of Ainsworth, west of Highway 183 near Keller State Park.

Bailey said, while Viaero will be the primary cell carrier using the tower, it will be constructed to allow two additional carriers to utilize it if desired. Bailey said the company was purchasing the ground where the tower is planned.

The Brown County Planning Commission recommended the special-use permit be approved, and the board unanimously approved the permit following a public hearing.

In other business Tuesday, the board approved a bid from Walton Concrete to replace portions of sidewalk around the Brown County Courthouse. Commissioner Buddy Small said he spoke with three contractors about providing quotes, and two submitted bids for the project.

Walton Concrete submitted a bid of $11,021, and Benny Burdick provided a bid of $11,505. The commissioners approved the low bid for the sidewalk replacement.

The board approved a subdivision request submitted by Doug Weiss for property west of Ainsworth on the south side of Highway 20 located in a portion of Section 23, Township 30, Range 23. Weiss said he purchased 26-1/2 acres and wanted to split the parcel into 19-acre and 7-acre parcels because he planned to sell the smaller acreage that includes a house.

The commissioners approved the subdivision request as both sub-divided parcels would be above the county’s 5-acre minimum parcel size threshold.

During his report Tuesday, Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin said the roads department was getting close to completing the Richardson Road Project.

“We have some fencing, gravel and erosion control work to complete,” Turpin said.

He reported the roads department continued to try to blade and drag gravel roads to help with roughness, but the lack of moisture was an issue.

Turpin reported he received notice from FEMA that the county would receive a total of $160,695 in reimbursement for costs the roads department incurred repairing Hidden Paradise Road, Raven Road, Bar 25 Road and Beel Lane following the March 2019 flooding. Turpin said the roads department completed those repair projects without hiring a contractor.

The highway superintendent reported FEMA also will provide $56,190 in reimbursement to the county for the flood repair work the roads department completed on Road 877.

Turpin said he was appealing the reimbursement amounts the Nebraska Department of Transportation agreed to provide on South Pine Avenue and Moon Lake Avenue. NDOT indicated it would provide $24,650 in reimbursement for the flood damage repairs the county made on South Pine Avenue, but Turpin said the roads department had more than $240,000 in repairs to that road. The commissioners questioned if a digit was inadvertently left off by the NDOT.

Turpin reported NDOT offered $113,470 in reimbursement for flood repairs on Moon Lake Avenue. Turpin said the county spent $226,000 to repair that road.

“They are going to review both projects and get back to me,” Turpin said. “We repaired both those roads with our forces.”

In final action items Tuesday, the board designated Travee Hobbs as the county’s Designated Employer Representative. The designation is a requirement from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The board also approved a budgeted transfer of $250,000 from the miscellaneous general fund to the county highway fund.

The board tabled agenda items related to safety committee appointments, as County Attorney Andy Taylor said there were some federal regulations the county first needed to comply with before officially appointing safety committee members.

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

* Care Center Board discusses 2022-23 budget

(Posted 11:15 a.m. March 15)

Anticipating the Sandhills Care Center may potentially need funding support from the city of Ainsworth and Brown County to support its 2022-23 budget, the Care Center Board of Directors Monday asked the county commissioner and city council representatives on the board to check with their respective boards on a joint meeting to preview the upcoming year’s budget and discuss funding options.

Board Chairman Phil Fuchs said he was working with Administrator Penny Jacobs to identify the potential numbers for the next fiscal year budget, which begins in July.

“We can get through June or July with our current reserves, but we probably need to get our budget put together for next year and present it to the city and county and see what they may be willing to do,” Fuchs said. “I have had Penny work on a budget review with all the added expenses we are having with agency staffing. Those costs eat up our reserves pretty quickly.”

With the current resident census coupled with the costs of paying agency staffing, the projection for the remainder of the current fiscal year shows the care center continuing to operate at a loss, with a projected operating loss from March through June of $175,102.

In its only action item, the board Monday approved a transfer of $30,810 from its reserve account to its operating account to cover a shortfall from February. The care center has a reserve balance of approximately $204,000 after making the transfer.

Board member Buddy Small said, if things stay the same as they are currently, the $80,000 the city and county had each previously pledged to support the care center would not be enough.

“Again, it is the cost for agency help that jumps out,” Small said. “It may be considerably more if you approach the city and county for funds than it was previously.”

The care center had not asked for the $80,000 from each entity to support operations for the past two years.

Fuchs said, up until January, the care center had been able to operate without having to dip into its reserves. Revenue and COVID relief funds had allowed the facility to operate at a break-even point or better.

However, in the past few months, agency staffing costs have ballooned and the nursing home has been operating at a loss. During February, the care center generated $155,913 in revenue with expenses of $209,137 for a net loss for the month of $53,223. The care center spent $104,639 on agency staffing costs during February, with Jacobs reporting the care center is paying agencies for its director of nursing, two LPNs and additional CNAs.

Jacobs said staffing remains the biggest challenge, as the care center is in need of charge nurses, CNAs, and a director of nursing. She said staffing shortages are an industry-wide issue for nursing homes, with chronic shortages across the country.

She said the care center hired Dawn Pierce as its business office manager, and would have an LPN and CNA coming to the facility in April with additional potential employees when the nursing home at Mullen closes. The Mullen facility is closing its doors April 23.

Board member Dr. Mel Campbell said staffing shortages have been the driving force behind numerous recent nursing home closures in Nebraska, including at Valentine.

In addition to the potential for new employees, she said the care center is working on referrals for two residents currently residing in the Mullen facility. The care center was also working on another referral for a resident of an assisted living facility at Valentine.

However, Jacobs said the care center did receive resignations from four current CNAs. She said one was moving from the community, one was retiring, and two were leaving to open a daycare in the community.

The Sandhills Care Center has 20 current residents, down from 22 in January. Jacobs reported the care center did receive a $7,100 payment from Medicaid that covered an increase in reimbursement rates from January. The state approved a $20 per day per resident Medicaid rate increase for facilities operating in Nebraska, and backdated the increase to the beginning of 2022.

A $75 per day rate increase for residents paying privately takes effect moving forward, as that change was made to bring the private pay rate in line with the Medicaid reimbursement rate. Without the increase to private pay rates, the facility risked having its Medicaid reimbursement reduced.

Fuchs said the next step is to get cash flow projections put together for the 2022-23 fiscal year and see what the facility’s financial needs may be.

Small said, if the care center would likely not be able to support its operations moving forward, then residents of the county needed to make a decision on whether they want to continue supporting the nursing home operations with tax money.

Campbell said a ballot initiative, if approved by voters, could potentially establish a tax levy for the facility. When the city and county agreed to reopen the facility after its closure, each entity agreed to provide $80,000 in funding support annually for a period of five years from their respective general funds.

Clerk Travee Hobbs said an initiative could be included as a question on the General Election ballot in November, with voters choosing whether to support the facility’s operations with a general property tax levy.

Fuchs asked the board’s city and county representatives to work on a date that would work for the city council and the commissioners to hold a joint meeting to discuss the care center’s 2022-23 budget and potential funding needs.

The next meeting of the Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors is scheduled for 5 p.m. April 11.

* School Board approves 6 new staff members for 2022-23

(Posted 7 a.m. March 15)

The Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education approved six new staff members for the 2022-23 school year, filling all its anticipated certified openings.

During its meeting Monday, the board approved the resignation of fifth-grade teacher and MTSS coordinator Kelli Gibson, who submitted her resignation after 16 years to pursue an opportunity with Educational Service Unit 17, and the resignation of special education teacher Tasha Kruse, who accepted a position with O’Neill Public Schools.

The board approved contracts for Kelsey Riesen as the school’s elementary counselor and MTSS coordinator, Sara Salzman for an elementary special education opening, Britley Beck to fill a second grade teacher position, Wade Alberts for physical education, Hailey McBride for art, and Jennifer Beel as an elementary classroom and art teacher.

Most of the new hires are either Ainsworth High School graduates themselves or have ties to the area.

Superintendent Dale Hafer said the contracts approved Monday fill all the anticipated openings for 2022-23, though it would still be another month to know for sure whether there would be additional openings. He said the district will have one fewer certified staff member for the 2022-23 year, with 45 full-time certified staff hired compared to the 46 employed for the current year.

Hafer said the district would have one fewer position in the special education department, as the numbers of students utilizing special education services can be covered without an additional hire in that department.

In other business Monday, the board approved the purchase of 65 MacBook Pro computers for district staff members to replace models that are four years old.

Hafer said the district will use ESSR III federal funding for the laptop purchase, which was something the district would have needed to do anyway.

“We are trying to use the ESSR funds for expenses we would have anyway, and provide some relief to taxpayers on those purchases by using these ESSR funds,” Hafer said. “We knew this was something we needed to do, and it is an approved use for the ESSR funds.”

The 65 laptops and four years of Apple Care Plus cost $113,620, with the board using a portion of the $530,936 in federal ESSR III funding to pay for the purchase.

Science teacher Betty Bower provided the board with an update on a course she took and implemented into her classroom as a STEM Ambassador through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Bower said she took a weather and climate course through the university, and implemented lessons into her earth science curriculum.

“The students did research and critical thinking,” Bower said. “This tries to get the kids to think critically, and makes the work interesting.”

Bower said the students were assigned a country and had a debate on ways that country could either adapt to changing climate or innovate.

Secondary Principal Steve Dike said it was exciting to see the science students develop those critical thinking skills, working as a team and critically analyzing information.

In other action items Monday, the board approved an option enrollment request for Savanna Stamp to allow her three children to continue to attend Rock County Public Schools after the family recently moved from that district into the Ainsworth district.

The board approved the second reading of policy updates as recommended by the Nebraska Association of School Boards, and approved the 2022-23 school calendar. Hafer said there were no recommended changes to the calendar from the version presented to the board during its February meeting.

During his report, Hafer told the board the district used the final $13,800 in ESSR II federal funding to pilot a few new smartboards and interactive televisions to see if that would be something the district would want to utilize in the future instead of overhead projectors.

Board President Jim Arens reported he has been working with Attorney Avery Gurnsey on transferring ownership of the three remaining 1-acre rural school parcels the district still owns.

Arens said two of the three parcels, including a parcel south of Ainsworth that has an old school building still on it, have language that calls for the parcels to revert back to the previous property owner when the school is no longer utilizing the property. He said two of the three parcels have no improvements.

Arens said he is keeping the county assessor updated on the progress of transferring the parcels.

Activities Director Jared Hansmeyer told the board the company plans to install the new video scoreboard in McAndrew Gymnasium March 23. The Ainsworth Booster Club purchased the video scoreboard, with the school board approving paying the cost for the wiring.

Prior to the regular meeting, the board was served a meal by Lunchtime Solutions and presented with information on the meal service being offered to students by the company.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education is scheduled for 8 p.m. April 11.

* COVID cases continue downward trend

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

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 11 new COVID-19 cases in the district during the past week, continuing the downward trend in cases. A total of 33 cases were confirmed during the past two weeks.

The NCDHD has a vaccination clinic scheduled from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Thursday in the health department office at O’Neill, and the Ainsworth Conference Center will host a vaccination clinic next week from 2 until 5 p.m. March 23. 

Any individual with immunocompromising conditions is eligible for an additional COVID-19 booster dose three months after their third dose.

NCDHD continues to offer COVID-19 Testing through TotalWellness on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays by appointment only in the district office at O’Neill. The testing can be utilized by symptomatic/exposed individuals or for those in need of a COVID-19 test for travel.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

March 6

  • Provided assistance to a stranded motorist on 435th ave in rural Brown County.
  • Responded to a complaint of a dog at large on 1st st in Ainsworth.

March 7

  • Received a report of a coyote in distress in the roadway on Highway 20 near mile marker 267. This information was forwarded to the Rock Co Sheriff’s Office and the Nebraska Game & Parks.
  • The Brown County Ambulance Association picked up an aircrew at the airport and transferred them to the Brown County Hospital to pick up a patient and return them back to the airport.
  • Received a request for a welfare check at an Ainsworth address. The individual was located and reported safe.
  • Responded to a one vehicle accident near Main St and 2nd St intersection in Ainsworth. Airbags did deploy but no injuries were reported.

March 8

  • Received a traffic complaint regarding a semi not stopping at an intersection at 883rd and Meadville Ave. Deputies were unable to locate the vehicle.
  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing at the intersection of Highway 20 and 432nd Ave.

March 9

  • No reportable news

March 10

  • Responded to a suspicious activity report on 6th St in Long Pine. Deputies were unable to locate the reported subjects.
  • Received multiple reports of a scam call regarding Publisher’s Clearing House advising individuals they had won a large amount of money and will be awarded this after sending in a money card. Subjects were advised these were scam calls and to report it to the Attorney General Fraud line.
  • Responded to a report of cattle on the roadway at 430th Ave, North of Ainsworth. The owner’s were contacted and removed them from the roadway. 
  • Received a request for a welfare check at a Long Pine address. The individual was located and reported safe.
  • Responded to a traffic complaint of a vehicle driving in excess speeds and in a reckless manner. The driver of the vehicle was located and issued a verbal warning.

March 11

  • Booked a subject into the Brown County Jail for a court commitment.
  • Received a report of a gas drive off at an Ainsworth self serve station. The individual was located and returned to the station to resolve the issue.
  • Provided assistance for an individual to help catch their dog that had escaped. The dog was caught and returned to their owner.
  • Responded to a request for dispatching a deer that had been struck by a motorist. No damage occurred to the vehicle.
  • The Brown County Ambulance were paged to a 911 call at an Ainsworth residence. One individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.

March 12

  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing near Highway 20 and 423rd Ave intersection.
  • Raven Fire Department carried out a controlled burn near Paradise Valley Rd, South of Ainsworth. The Ainsworth Fire department also assisted.

Weekly Summary:

2– Burn Permit Issued (by all Brown Co Fire Depts)

        2– Handgun Permits Applied For

7– Incident Reports Were Taken

3– Paper Services Were Served

123– Phone Calls Were Received

6– 911 Emergency Calls Received

9– Titles Were Inspected

* Council approves ballot initiative for LB 840 renewal

(Posted 7 a.m. March 10)

Following a public hearing Wednesday, the Ainsworth City Council unanimously approved a resolution to set in motion the renewal of the city’s LB 840 program, with a special election to renew the economic development program Aug. 9.

Members of the LB 840 Citizen Advisory Review Committee discussed the updates that were made to the plan to account for changes at the state level.

CARC member Marcus Fairhead said the committee reviewed the current plan and made a few updates, which were reviewed and approved by the city’s LB 840 attorney Heather Sikyta.

“There are some things in small communities that are difficult for commercial lenders to help out with,” Fairhead said. “This program is very beneficial to help keep businesses local.”

CARC member Roger Lechtenberg said he had no idea how many areas the LB 840 program could help in the community until he became a member of the Citizen Advisory Review Committee.

“I think it is in the community’s interest to use this program to be competitive,” Lechtenberg said.

Outgoing CARC member Kathy Worrell echoed that sentiment.

“We need to keep the program going,” Worrell said. “A lot of money has been spent to benefit the community.”

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said there would not be many changes to the program in terms of functionality.

“It looks pretty much the same,” Schroedl said. “It will now include workforce housing as a qualifying activity. Otherwise, it is very similar to what we have been doing. It would continue the one-half cent sales tax.”

Schroedl said the public hearing and resolution were the first steps in the process. If the resolution is approved by the council, a special election will be organized by the county clerk. She said the city has budgeted for the cost of the special election knowing it was coming up for renewal.

Mayor Joel Klammer thanked the members of the committee and others who are working on the program’s renewal.

Following the hearing, the council read the resolution into the record and approved its passage. The special election ballot will include two propositions that read: 1. Shall the city of Ainsworth renew the Economic Development Program as described by appropriating annually from a one-half percent local option sales tax approved by voters for a period of 15 years? 2. Shall the city of Ainsworth continue to impose a sales and use tax of one-half percent for a period of 15 years upon transactions within the city which are subject to state sales tax, to be utilized for the Economic Development Program activities as described in Proposition 1?

Schroedl said both measures have to pass for the program to continue.

The LB 840 program was approved by voters in 2008 for a 15-year period. That period ends in March 2023. The council’s unanimous passage Wednesday sets up the Aug. 9 special election that, if approved, will continue the LB 840 program for another 15 years beginning in April 2023.

In a related item Wednesday, the council approved a recommendation from the Ainsworth Area Chamber of Commerce to appoint Jennifer Schuett to a four-year term on the LB 840 Citizen Advisory Review Committee. The chamber recommends the appointments of two CARC representatives. The terms of Kathy Worrell and Colleen Lentz are ending. Klammer said the chamber will recommend another appointment to the CARC in addition to Schuett.

The council approved a portion of a façade improvement grant from the LB 840 program in the amount of $2,042 after denying the full $10,000 application by a 3-2 vote after determining a portion of the work had already been completed.

Schroedl said the application was for the renovation of a downtown business, with door and window replacement, painting and a sign.

“This was tabled by the loan committee a couple times,” Schroedl said. “The doors and windows had already been installed. The applicant discussed with the committee the availability of materials and labor on why they had proceeded.”

The loan committee recommended the application be approved with an exception to the program guidelines that state work cannot have been completed prior to the application being approved.

Klammer said the application was received in late November 2021, and the windows were installed a week after that. Klammer and Schroedl said the program guidelines clearly state work is not eligible for the program if it has already been completed.

Councilman Shawn Fernau said he agreed with the committee’s recommendation. As a contractor, Fernau said he was sympathetic because he knows how difficult it is currently to obtain materials and a contractor to install.

Councilman Schyler Schenk said supply chain issues could be viewed as an extenuating circumstance in this case.

“The gun was jumped a little bit, but I think it should be an exception,” Schenk said.

Councilman Vance Heyer said he understood the supply chain issues, but the façade program is a government program and there are guidelines that need to be followed.

“It is a good project,” Heyer said. “Part of it just doesn’t qualify because the work is already done.”

Councilman Brad Fiala agreed, saying, “It is a great project, but our job is to make sure we stick to the rules.”

Fiala said the city has the guidelines in place because an exception was made in the past that opened up a can of worms and led to the council allowing applications for work that had already been completed.

The council set a hard deadline of December 31, 2020, for those exceptions to be approved.

“We would need to go back and discuss amending the plan before we could approve this,” Fiala said.

Greg Nahrstedt told the council the reason the windows were installed was because the contractor could not make it back to Ainsworth for several months and there would be no guarantee that the materials would be available at that time.

Dawn Nahrstedt said no one knows how long supply chain issues are going to persist.

“We ordered a back door, and it still isn’t here,” she said. “I would request you change the rules until the supply chain issues change. It could impact a business’s decision to buy a building and invest in improving the community.”

Fernau moved to approve the loan committee’s recommendation to approve the full $10,000 grant application, which would cover half the cost of all the façade improvement work.

By a 2-2 vote with Fernau and Schenk in favor and Heyer and Fiala against, the issue was decided by the mayor, who voted to deny the full application.

Schroedl said not all of the façade work had been completed, and there were parts of the application that would still qualify for the grant funds.

By a unanimous vote, the council then approved awarding the façade grant in the amount of $2,042 to cover 50 percent of the cost of the work that has not yet been completed.

In other business, the council approved declaring 45 pieces of metal siding measuring 3 feet by 30 feet, 30 pieces measuring 3 feet by 16 feet, and ridge caps and gutters as surplus equipment and offering the metal for sale by sealed bid.

The surplus metal came after the city streets shop was redone following the initial expansion work.

Following an executive session, the council approved directing City Attorney Rod Palmer to contact the original contractor on the street shop addition project to recover the cost of the repairs that were made.

In a final action item Wednesday, the council selected engineering firm Olsson Associates to perform design engineering for the city on the upcoming Main Street/Highway 7 renovation project.

Klammer said Olsson Associates was the only company to submit a proposal following the city’s request for qualifications. He said the city has worked closely with Olsson Associates on numerous projects, including the recently completed wastewater improvement project.

Schroedl said the council will hold a special meeting at noon March 16 to approve a contract with the company now that the city has selected Olsson Associates for the project.

She said the Nebraska Department of Transportation has tentatively scheduled the project for 2024, with a bidding date of August 2023.

During her report, Schroedl said Buckley Steel has completed all the building repairs to the city street shop addition. She reported an employee resigned Feb. 25, so the city is advertising for a full-time position as a wastewater treatment plant assistant and is also advertising for part-time help in sanitation. She said the city will also advertise soon for part-time seasonal help.

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

* Brown County District Court proceedings

(Posted 6 a.m. March 10)

During Brown County District Court proceedings Tuesday, Amber R. Christ, age 48, of Garden City, Kan., entered a guilty plea to a Class IV felony charge of possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine. Christ was fined $1,000 plus court costs.

Gregory C. Irwin, 40, of Ainsworth, entered a plea of guilty to a Class IV felony charge of attempted assault by strangulation. Irwin was sentenced to 90 days in the Brown County Jail.

Robert Barkwill, 30, of Ainsworth, appeared for sentencing Tuesday after previously entering guilty pleas to charges of possession of a controlled substance, a Class IV felony; possession of drug paraphernalia, an infraction; and possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, an infraction. Barkwill was fined a total of $1,400 on the three counts in addition to court costs.

* Graff elected as NARD vice president

(Posted 10 a.m. March 9)

The voting members of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts Board of Directors elected new officers during their board meeting March 7.

The NARD Board consists of representation from each of the Nebraska’s 23 Natural Resources Districts. The board meets five times throughout the year and helps guide the association and NRDs in decision making that protects lives, property and the future of Nebraska’s natural resources.

The NARD Board elected Dr. Orval Gigstad from the Nemaha NRD as president. Gigstad has served on the Nemaha NRD Board since 1993 and the NARD Board since 1996.

Marty Graff of the Middle Niobrara NRD was elected as vice president of the NARD Board. Graff has served on the Middle Niobrara NRD Board 27 years and on the NARD boards since 2018.

Joel Hansen of the Lower Elkhorn NRD was elected secretary-treasurer of the NARD Board. Hansen brings a unique perspective to the board as the Street & Planning Director for the City of Wayne where he has worked for more than 27 years. He has served on the Lower Elkhorn NRD board 15 years.

* Sixth-grade students qualify for State National History Day

(Posted 9 a.m. March 8)

Six Ainsworth Middle School students submitted projects to the district level of the National History Day contest, and winners were announced during a virtual awards ceremony Wednesday, March 2.

All three projects received first, second, or third place during the district contest, qualifying them for the state competition.

Landon Stephen earned the top spot in the district for his junior individual exhibit titled “Containing Communism: The Truman Doctrine.”

Bear Rea and Jaxon Rucker earned second place for their junior group documentary titled “Buffalo Bill: Icon of the American West.”

Mickal Crisman, Easton McMillin and Carson Koch received third place for their junior group exhibit titled “Homesteading in Nebraska.”

Sponsor Nichole Flynn said, “I’m so proud of these sixth-grade students for putting in the extra time and effort that it takes to compete in National History Day.”

Over the next few weeks, the six students will work to submit their projects to the state contest, which will take place April 9 at Lincoln.

* Stuart wins Class D2-3 District Speech championship

(Posted 7 a.m. March 8)

Class D2-3 District Speech
Stuart High School
Team Sweepstakes
1. Stuart, 302; 2. Wynot, 194; 3. Sandhills, 88; 4. Verdigre, 58; 6. Niobrara, 54; 6. Tie between Wheeler Central and Allen, 30; 8. Keya Paha County, 10.

Stuart (302)
Persuasive Speaking – Taya Schmaderer – District Champion
Entertainment Speaking – William Paxton – District Champion
Serious Prose – Sydney Estill – District Champion
Extemporaneous Speaking – William Paxton – District Champion
Informative Speaking – Chiana Tubbs – District Champion
Oral Interpretation of Drama – Abigail Tubbs, Katilynn Kaup, Sydney Estill and Taya Schmaderer – Second place
Duet Acting – Benjamin Paxton and Elly Steinhauser – Second place
Persuasive Speaking – Chiana Tubbs – Second place
Informative Speaking – Emma Alder – Second place
Extemporaneous Speaking – Dawson Heiser – Second place
Poetry – Lacey Paxton – Third place
Humorous Prose – Abigail Tubbs – Third place
Serious Prose – Katilynn Kaup – Third place
Entertainment Speaking – Grace Alder – Third Place
Oral Interpretation of Drama – Benjamin Paxton, Elly Steinhauser, Gracie Kaup and Hunter Tubbs – Fourth place
Humorous Prose – Lacey Paxton – Fourth place
Duet Acting – Addisyn Ketteler and MaKayla Menke – Sixth place
Poetry – Ashlyn Kaup – Sixth place

Keya Paha County (10)
Humorous Prose – Emily Hespe – Sixth place

* Keller qualifies for state speech for Rock County

(Posted 7 a.m. March 8)

Class D1-3 District Speech
Wausa High School
Team Sweepstakes
1. Wausa, 336; 2. Bloomfield, 132; 3. Holy Family, 108; 4. Boyd County, 68; 5. Lyons Decatur, 66; 6. Emerson-Hubbard, 36; 7. Rock County, 32.

Rock County (32)
Informative Speaking – Hannah Keller – Second place
Persuasive speaking – Kyra Anthony – Fourth place

Boyd County (68)
Oral Interpretation of Drama – Brooklyn Eckert, Brynn Almgren, Elizabeth Kersch, McKenzie Snyder and Zoe Kaczor – Fourth place
Entertainment Speaking – Brynn Almgren – Fifth place
Serious Prose – Amelia Hakl – Fifth place
Duet Acting – Elizabeth Kersch and Zoe Kaczor – Sixth place
Informative Speaking – McKenzie Snyder – Sixth place
Serious Prose – Elizabeth Kersch – Sixth place

* Ainsworth places second in district speech Saturday

(Posted 6:45 a.m. March 8)

Class C1-6 District Speech
Ainsworth High School
Team Sweepstakes
1. Boone Central, 236; 2. Ainsworth, 148; 3. Sutherland, 136; 4. Bridgeport, 130; 5. Gordon-Rushville, 58; 6. Mitchell, 48; 7. Valentine, 28; 8. Chase County, 26.

Ainsworth (148)
Extemporaneous Speaking – Elizabeth Wilkins – District Champion
Persuasive Speaking – Alyssa Erthum – District Champion
Informative Speaking – Makenna Pierce – Second place
Entertainment Speaking – Ben Flynn – Third place
Serious Prose – Taylor Allen – Fourth place
Extemporaneous Speaking – Alyssa Erthum – Fifth place
Oral Interpretation of Drama – Ben Flynn, Dakota Stutzman, Eden Raymond and Maren Arens – Fifth place
Duet Acting – Cameryn Goochey and Cole Bodeman – Sixth place
Humorous Prose – Maia Flynn – Sixth place

* West Holt takes second in district speech meet

(Posted 6:45 a.m. March 8)

Class C1-4 District Speech
Battle Creek High School
Team Sweepstakes
1. Crofton, 206; 2. West Holt, 166; 3. Laurel-Concord-Coleridge, 152; 4. Battle Creek, 140; 5. Elkhorn Valley, 62; 6. Norfolk Catholic, 48; 7. Ord, 36.

West Holt (166)
Humorous Prose – Caid McCart – District Champion
Duet Acting – Asher McCart and Caid McCart – Second place
Entertainment Speaking – Hannah Olson – Third place
Poetry – Violet Schwager – Third place
Serious Prose – Abigail Thiele – Third place
Persuasive Speaking – Maci Nemetz – Third place
Informative Speaking – Sidney Burkinshaw – Third place
Entertainment Speaking – Madeline Rentschler – Fourth place
Extemporaneous Speaking – Nate Wallinger – Fifth place
Informative Speaking – Aubrei Clouse – Sixth place

* COVID cases remain low in NCDHD area

(Posted 6:45 a.m. March 8)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 22 new COVID-19 cases in the district during the past week, as cases continue to be low in the nine counties served by the NCDHD. No deaths from the virus were reported in the past week, with 140 people deemed to have recovered from the virus. There have been 56 total confirmed cases in the past two weeks.

Any individual with immunocompromising conditions is eligible for an additioanl COVID-19 booster dose three months after their third dose. Contact your medical provider or NCDHD at 402-336-2406 for more information.

NCDHD is offering scheduled COVID-19 testing through Total Wellness on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. PCR and Rapid tests are available in the NCDHD office by appointment only. Testing can be utilized by symptomatic/exposed individuals or for those in need of a COVID-19 test for travel. To register, visit https://login.registermytime.com/tw/ncdhd or call the NCDHD office at 402-336-2406.

A vaccination clinic is scheduled from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Thursday in the NCDHD office at O’Neill.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

February 27

  • Released an inmate from the Brown County Jail for a 15 day court commitment of time served.
  • Ainsworth Fire Department responded to a grass fire of a flare up of tree piles that were ignited previously for a burn permit.
  • Responded to a report of harassment in Ainsworth.

February 28

  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing on Hwy 183 near Keller Park and also on Hwy 20 and Norden Ave intersection.
  • The Brown County Ambulance Association responded to two 911 calls for service on this day; both requiring transport to the Brown County Hospital.
  • The Ainsworth Fire and Long Pine Fire Departments were paged to a grass fire 7 miles North on Highway 183 and 1 mile West for a flare up from a previous days issued burn permit of some tree piles.

March 1

  • Responded to a report of cattle out on Highway 183 near mile marker 200. Deputies were able to remove the cows from the roadway and the owner was contacted for further assistance.
  • Received several reports of an abandoned vehicle in an alley between Woodward and Main Street. The owner was contacted and removed the vehicle.
  • Received reports of unauthorized motor vehicles driving on city streets in Ainsworth.

March 2

  • The Brown County Ambulance Association were paged to an Ainsworth facility and transported one individual to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Received multiple reports of smoke sightings Southwest of Ainsworth. It was determined to be a controlled burn in Cherry County.

March 3

  • Responded to an abandoned one vehicle accident near the South entrance to Hidden Paradise where the car had struck a power pole. After determining who was the driver/owner of the vehicle the driver was issued a citation for driving during revocation, no valid registration, failure to properly report an accident, possession of marijuana 1 oz or less, and possession or use of drug paraphernalia.
  • Received a scam report from an Ainsworth resident.
  • Provided civil standby for a tenant and landlord in Ainsworth.
  • Responded to a domestic dispute in a rural Brown County home.
  • Responded to a vehicle deer collision on Hwy 20 near mile marker 247. No injuries were reported and the vehicle was towed.
  • Responded to reports of harassment on an Ainsworth resident. One subject was contacted and issued a verbal warning.

March 4

  • The Brown County Ambulance association was paged for a lift assist in Long Pine. No transfer was needed. They also responded to a 911 call for an Ainsworth address and transported the individual to the Brown County hospital.
  • Provided civil standby for a tenant to remove belongings.
  • Responded to an employee dispute near Highway 20/183 Junction.
  • The Long Pine and Ainsworth Fire Departments were paged to a 911 call reporting a structure fire. Rock County Fire Department were also requested after the location was determined to be in Rock Co.  Upon arrival it was determined to be a grass fire.
  • Provided assistance for a motorist on Highway 20.

March 5

  • Received a gas drive off report from an Ainsworth gas station.
  • Received a report of a dog bite that had occurred in Arnold, NE.
  • Responded to a suspicious vehicle report in Ainsworth. Deputies made contact with the vehicle and reported no criminal intent.
  • Received a report of a motorist that had driven off the roadway on Highway 20 West of Ainsworth. No injuries were reported and the vehicle was not damaged.

Weekly Summary:

1– Burn Permit Issued (by all Brown Co Fire Depts)

        6– Handgun Permits Applied For

10– Incident Reports Were Taken

1– Paper Services Were Served

136– Phone Calls Were Received

11– 911 Emergency Calls Received

4– Titles Were Inspected

February Monthly Summary

7 – Accidents

2 – Arrests

52– Calls for Service

13– Citations were issued

2 – Defect Cards issued

11– Handgun permits issued

18 – Paper Service served

480 – Phone calls were received

25 – 911 emergency calls received

        16– Titles inspected

        9– Verbal & Written Warnings issued

* Sandhills Care Center receives five-star rating from CMS

(Posted 8:15 a.m. March 7)

The Sandhills Care Center has received an overall five-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, according to the latest reports published by the federal agency.

Created “to help consumers, their families, and caregivers compare nursing homes more easily and to help identify areas about which [they] may want to ask questions,” the CMS rating system publishes reports on the nursing home compare page at medicare.gov.  The most recent ratings incorporate data reported through December 31, 2021.

The nursing home compare web site features a quality rating system that gives each nursing home a rating of between one and five stars. Nursing homes with five stars are considered to have much above average quality and nursing homes with one star are considered to have much below average quality.

Created by CMS in 2008, the rating system uses information from health care surveys, quality measures, and staffing.  Today, the five-star rating system has expanded beyond consumer use.  Non-consumers, such as state regulators, health care insurers, lenders and investors, use five-star ratings to determine incentive payments, referral networks, and financial loans.

The Sandhills Care Center is one of the 51 nursing homes in Nebraska to currently be rated as a five-star facility of the 195 facilities operating in the state.

* Long Pine firefighters respond to Friday grass fire

(Posted 8 a.m. March 7)

Originally paged Friday to responders as a structure fire, the Long Pine Volunteer Fire Department responded to what was actually a small grass fire in Rock County.

According to Long Pine Rural Volunteer Fire Department Chief Matt Pozehl, at approximately 2:30 p.m. Friday, firefighters responded to a location 2 miles south of RK Feeders in Rock County to a burn pit that had gotten away from a property owner and spread toward a grove of cedar trees.

Pozehl said the property owner had the fire mostly extinguished by the time firefighters arrived on scene. No damage was reported, and firefighters were on scene less than an hour.

* Brown County Commissioners approve letter of opposition

(Posted 3 p.m. March 3)

During a brief meeting Tuesday, the Brown County Commissioners approved sending a letter of opposition regarding the use of invasive phragmites. The letter was recommended by Weed Superintendent Scott Erthum.

Budget preparer Caleb Johnson discussed LB 644 and LB 1250 in the Nebraska Legislature that may affect timelines regarding budgets and tax asking.

Emergency Management Director Traci Booth recommended herself, Kenny Turpin, Dennis Bauer, Bruce Papstein and BJ Nilson to the Brown County Safety Committee. The board will act on the recommendation with a resolution during its March 15 meeting, which begins at 5:15 p.m.

* Rock County Commissioners approve construction project

(Posted 2:45 p.m. March 3)

The Rock County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a $2,685 quote from JT Construction to build a support for the upstairs storage area of the county roads shop. The board also received an update on the Carns Bridge project, which is scheduled for construction in 2023. Rock County will be responsible for 10 percent of the cost of the bridge, with Keya Paha County responsible for 10 percent of the cost and federal and state disaster funding covering the remainder.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners approved having Alexandria Grant process Nebraska Intergovernmental Risk Management Association claims on behalf of the county. NIRMA required an official appointment to handle claims, as the board discussed with Sheriff Jim Anderson and Deputy Sheriff Ben Shelbourn the estimated cost to replace windows of the Rock County Jail damaged recently by an inmate. Due to the estimated cost of replacing the three windows, the board will be required to obtain three bids for the window replacement.

Gene DeBolt met with the commissioners regarding section line issues between Sections 11 and 14 and between Sections 12 and 13 both in Township 30 North, Range 18 West.

The county has a minimum maintenance road in that area, and fencing creates a potential access issue. The item was tabled until more information was obtained. The board had previously approved having county surveyor Lloyd Smith locate the section line markers in the area.

Budget preparer Caleb Johnson met with the board to discuss Rock County’s 2022-23 budget. Johnson provided the commissioners with an update on LB 644 in the Nebraska Legislature that could have an impact on the county’s budget preparation. The E911 Fund and Emergency Management funds will be removed from the county’s line-item budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year.

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

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 2:30 p.m. March 3)

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

Logan M. Gleason, age 18, of Lake Forest, Ill., charged with speeding 21-35 mph over the limit, fined $200.

Amanda Galasso, 32, of Fergus Falls, Minn., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Amber D. Hollenbeck, 27, of Bassett, no habitat or aquatic stamp, $50.

Gregory Irwin, 40, of Ainsworth, possession of an open alcohol container in a vehicle, $50.

Richard E. Wingard III, 33, of Sauk Rapids, Minn., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75; attempting a Class 4 felony, $1,000; possession of marijuana more than 1 ounce but less than 1 pound, $500; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Amanda M. Jacobs, 36, of Sauk Rapids, Minn., attempting a Class 4 felony, $1,000; possession of marijuana more than 1 ounce but less than 1 pound, $500; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Cara J. Unruh, 35, of Ainsworth, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Isaiah K. Adams, 18, of Pierce, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Shane L. Lewis, 24, of Ainsworth, abandon or cruelly neglect an animal, $1,000.

Haley R. Stanley, 18, of Ainsworth, minor in possession, sentenced to two days in jail.

Samuel Dalager, 20, of Becker, Minn., attempting a Class 4 felony, $1,000; possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Eric I. Rivera Sanchez, 23, of Montevideo, Minn., attempting a Class 4 felony, $1,000; possession of marijuana more than 1 ounce but less than 1 pound, $500.

Cortney A. Wendel, 19, of Pennock, Minn., attempting a Class 4 felony, $1,000; possession of marijuana more than 1 ounce but less than 1 pound, $500.

Charles E. Dickau, 78, of Brewster, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Jose A. Cano Gomez, 39, of O’Neill, violating or stop or yield sign, $75; no operator’s license, $75.

Brandon E. Kelley, 33, of Longmont, Colo., possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Derreck J. Dodd, 23, of Norfolk, speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Matthew L. Hulst, 40, of Denver, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Rylan A. Hobbs, 18, of Ainsworth, violating a stop or yield sign, $75.

Elizabeth A. Pike, 61, of Long Pine, possession of an open alcohol container in a vehicle, $50.

* Erthum wins conference title Monday

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

The Ainsworth speech team participated in the Southwest Conference Meet Monday at Broken Bow. Alyssa Erthum is the Southwest Conference champion in persuasive speaking. Other medalists Monday for the Bulldogs were:

Libby Wilkins – 5th in Extemporaneous

Dakota Stutzman – 6th in Serious Prose

Ben Flynn – 6th in Entertainment 

Taylor Allen – 7th in Serious Prose

Alyssa Erthum – 7th in Extemporaneous

Ainsworth hosts district competition Saturday, March 5, in the high school. The event is open to the public.

* Area facilities participate in free colorectal screening

(Posted 9:45 a.m. March 1)

The survival rate for colon cancer is 90 percent when it is caught in the early stages. Unfortunately, only 40 percent of cases are being diagnosed during that early window. CHI Health Good Samaritan and several area health care facilities have joined forces during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month to increase screening.

March 14-25, men and women ages 45 to 75 are encouraged to call 800-658-5169 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to request a free colorectal cancer screening test kit.

Participants will be mailed an at-home Fecal Occult Blood Test kit with easy-to-follow instructions requiring three consecutive samples. Good Samaritan will then analyze completed tests for microscopic signs of blood, a potential sign of colorectal cancer, and inform participants and their primary care physicians of the results.

Participating facilities include the Brown County Hospital and Ainsworth Family Clinic, the Rock County Hospital and West Holt Medical Services of Atkinson.

Colorectal cancer is the third most frequently diagnosed cancer in both men and women and the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. If everyone age 45 or older had regular screening tests, at least 60 percent of those deaths could be avoided.

If you have a history of polyps and/or colon cancer in your family, talk with your doctor about earlier and more frequent screening. Recommended screening options include: home screening test every year, a flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years and a colonoscopy every 10 years. A colonoscopy is still the most effective way to detect colon cancer. People who are in good health with life expectancy of more than 10 years should continue regular colorectal cancer screening through the age of 75. People ages 76 through 85 should make a decision with their medical provider about whether to be screened, based on their overall health and prior screening history. People over 85 should no longer get colorectal cancer screening.

* Graff advances in ‘The American’ competition

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

Ainsworth graduate Sydney Graff is competing in The American, an annual rodeo held each year at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The American has the richest single-day payout in all of western sports.

Competing in breakaway roping, Graff finished 29th in the opening round among 506 qualifying riders. She advances to the semifinals and will compete at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Over the course of qualifier events across the country, competitors battle for what could be the biggest single-day paycheck of their careers. Owned by Teton Ridge, *The American* is a true open competition. The event brings together top professional rodeo athletes in a winner-take-all showdown.

The top 10 contestants in the world receive invitations. Hopeful contestants can also pay an entry fee to compete in qualifying events throughout the year. In past years, nearly 4,000 entries competed at 70 qualifying events to make The American.

The semifinals are held at Cowtown Coliseum in the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards. Approximately 700 contestants compete over four days for the chance to advance and compete for the $2 million side pot.

 

 

 

 

      Mon-Sat – 8 a.m. until 7 p.m.
     Sunday – 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.