TodaysNews

 

Visitors to the KBRB Web site may listen to live programming, with news broadcasts from 6 until 11 a.m., and from noon to 1 p.m., plus all of our local sports broadcasts.

E-mail us at kbrb@sscg.net

Service Information can be found on the Obituaries Page

* Sammy D. Ellis, 67, of Long Pine

* Donald Ray Fernau, 93, of Ainsworth later date

* Meeting reports located below for:

Jan. 12 Ainsworth City Council

Jan. 10 Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors

Jan. 10 Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education

* Nebraska jobless rate ticks upward in December

(Posted 2:30 p.m. Jan. 26)

The unemployment rate in Nebraska ticked upward in December to 2.6 percent, up 0.1 percent from November’s 2.5 percent rate and up 0.3 percent from December 2021’s rate of 2.3 percent.

Nebraska’s unemployment rate is the sixth lowest in the country. Utah had the lowest unemployment rate in December at 2.2 percent, just ahead of the 2.3 percent jobless rates of North Dakota and South Dakota. Florida and Minnesota tied for the fourth-lowest rate in the country at 2.5 percent, with Nebraska matching Vermont for the sixth-lowest rate.

“Nebraska has seen a 3 percent increase of nearly 31,000 nonfarm jobs over the year,” said Commissioner of Labor John H. Albin. “This is the largest December to December growth since 1984.”

December’s nonfarm employment is down 1,301 over the month and up 30,880 over the year. Private industries with the most growth month to month were financial activities (up 1,088); manufacturing (up 440); and trade, transportation, and utilities (up 363). Private industries with the most growth year to year were mining and construction (up 6,481); leisure and hospitality (up 5,041); and trade, transportation, and utilities (up 3,933).

The state added 657 people to its labor force between November and December, with 1,064,029 either employed or seeking employment. The 1,036,683 people working in non-farm jobs in December was 1,301 fewer than the number employed in November. The number of Nebraskans collecting unemployment benefits rose by 859 to 27,346 in December.

Brown County’s unemployment rate increased in December to 2.9 percent. That is up from 2.0 percent in November.

Rock County had the lowest unemployment rate not only in the area in December but in the entire state at 1.3 percent. On the flip side, Blaine County had the second highest unemployment rate in the state in December at 3.9 percent. Only Banner County’s 4.0 percent rate was higher in Nebraska.

Cherry County and Boyd County had jobless rates of 1.7 percent in December, well below the state average. Holt County’s unemployment rate increased to 2.0 percent, and Keya Paha County’s rate crept upward from the previous month to 2.6 percent.

The national unemployment rate for December was 3.5 percent. This rate was down 0.1 percentage points from the November rate of 3.6 percent and down 0.4 percentage points from the December 2021 rate of 3.9 percent.

* New scam circulating on computers

(Posted 12:15 p.m. Jan. 26)

The Valentine Chamber of Commerce is urging businesses and individuals to be aware of a new scam circulating in the area.

A warning will pop up on your computer screen indicating there is a virus on your computer. The pop up will not leave the screen, and it provides a number to purporting to connect to Microsoft.

The number is not for Microsoft and instead connects you with a scammer who will try to sell you a software fix, and will then contact you indicating you will receive a refund if you provide banking information.

Anyone who has this message pop up on their computer is encouraged not to call the number, and instead shut down and restart your computer.

Anyone with questions or concerns about any email or pop up that seems suspicious should contact a trusted IT professional.

* Speech team finishes fifth at Broken Bow

(Posted 10 a.m. Jan. 23)

The Ainsworth High School Speech Team finished fifth among 18 teams competing Saturday in the Broken Bow Invitational. Coach Heather Lutter said the meet provided a preview of what Southwest Conference competition will look like later in the season. Next Saturday, the speakers will participate in the Gordon-Rushville Invitational.

Individual medal winners Saturday at Broken Bow for Ainsworth were:

Varsity Serious Prose

Dakota Stutzman – 9th

Taylor Allen – 10th

Varsity Extemporaneous

Cole Bodeman – 11th

Varsity Informative

Hannah Beel – 12th

Varsity Entertainment

Cole Bodeman – 2nd

Varsity Persuasive

Katherine Kerrigan – 4th

Varsity Duet

Taylor Allen & Dakota Stutzman – 3rd

Novice Persuasive

William Biltoft – 5th

Superior Ratings

Makenna Pierce – Varsity Informative

Hannah Beel – Varsity Poetry

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 8:45 a.m. Jan. 23)

January 16

  • Received two complaints of excessive dog barking on North Pine Street.
  • Received a report of furniture falling out of a moving vehicle, East of Ainsworth, on Highway 20. The furniture was removed from the roadway and disposed of.
  • Contacted a homeowner on 5th St to remove a vehicle from the street for snow removal.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 7, a Colorado driver was issued a citation for speeding 86 mph in a 65mph zone.

January 17

  • Responded to a parking complaint on 3rd St in Ainsworth. The vehicle was parked in front of a business, and needed to move for snow removal.  The owner was contacted and moved the vehicle.
  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing near the Moonlake Ave and Highway 20 intersection.
  • Released two inmates from the Brown County Jail for time served on county court commitments.
  • Received a parking complaint near the intersection of 5th and Ash St of equipment blocking the view of the intersection. The business owner moved the equipment.
  • Booked an inmate into the Brown County Jail for a protection order violation. They were able to post bond, and were released.
  • Responded to a report of unauthorized selling of a prescription medication. The social media post was taken down, and the individual was trained on appropriate medication advertisement.

January 18

  • The Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call from a Long Pine address. One patient was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Provided traffic control on 4th Street while a vehicle was pulled out of a snow bank.

January 19

  • Responded to a civil dispute over a towing bill. The dispute was settled and payment was received.
  • Responded to a 911 call for a carbon monoxide detector alert. The Ainsworth Fire Chief also responded with testing equipment.  The detector was found to be faulty, and no further action was needed.
  • Responded to a complaint against the City of Ainsworth by a property owner. A statement was received and the reporter was advised to contact the city office.
  • Received a report of a parking complaint on Osborne Street from the City of Ainsworth. The owner of the vehicle was issued a written warning for the parking complaint and moved the vehicle for snow removal.

January 20

  • Responded to a vehicle accident near the intersection of 5th and Maple Street in Ainsworth. No injuries were reported, and minimal damage occurred to both vehicles.
  • Responded to a domestic dispute near South Main Street in Ainsworth. Arrangements were made for parties to separate.
  • The Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call from 427th Road. One patient was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, mile marker 247, a citation was issued to a Nebraska driver for speeding 76 mph in a 65 mph zone, and no operator’s license.
  • During a traffic stop, near the 4th and Main Street intersection, a citation was issued for no proof of insurance.

January 21

  • During a traffic stop near the Highway 20 and 9A Spur intersection, a Nebraska driver was issued a citation for speeding 86 mph in a 65mph zone, and possession of a controlled substance.
  • Responded to a report of suspicious activity on North Main Street in Ainsworth. No criminal activity was found at this time.

Weekly Summary

19 – Incident Reports Were Taken

102 – Phone Calls Were Received

16 – 911 Emergency Calls Received

2– Titles Were Inspected

3 – Handgun Permits Applied For

7 – Paper Services Were Served

* Area musicians selected for UNK Honor Band & Choir

(Posted 10:15 a.m. Jan. 20)

Students from 92 high schools in Nebraska will participate in the annual Honor Band and Choral Clinic hosted by the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s Department of Music, Theatre and Dance Jan. 30.

The event includes 558 high school music students who will work with UNK faculty and guest instructors before performing two public concerts at UNK’s Health and Sports Center. The 5:30 p.m. performance will feature the UNK Wind Ensemble along with the festival and honor bands. The 7 p.m. concert will showcase the UNK Choraleers along with the treble, festival and honor choirs.

Selected to participate from the area are:

Ainsworth – Breanna McLeod, Chloe DeBusk, Kaitlynn Inbody, Kyla Pyle and Makenna Pierce.

Valentine – Grant Springer, Grace Maunu, Kadon Wenig, Marybelle Ward, Nathan Perrett, Neeley Cronin and Titus Maunu.

* Sand Draw bridge replacement project to begin soon

(Posted 2:15 p.m. Jan. 19)

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Brown County Commissioners, Chairman Buddy Small reported the Sand Draw Creek bridge replacement project will begin the week of Jan. 30.

The first phase of the project is the installation of bridge abutments. Meadville Avenue has been closed at Sand Draw Creek since 2019 when flooding destroyed the box culvert at the site.

The board held its annual reorganizational meeting, moving the time the commissioners meet to 8 a.m. for the Board of Equalization and 8:15 a.m. for the Board of Commissioners on the first and third Tuesdays of each month. The board previously met during the mornings, but for the past several years has been meeting in the late afternoon. The new meeting time will become effective with the March 7 board meeting.

Small was reappointed as the board’s chair, with Commissioner Denny Bauer reappointed as the vice chair.

Commissioners were appointed to various boards and committees, with Small representing the county on the Niobrara Council, the KBR Solid Waste and Lexington Area Solid Waste boards, and the Region IV Behavioral Health Board.

Bauer was appointed as the county’s representative on the Central Nebraska Community Services Board, the Area Agency on Aging, the North Central District Health Department Board and the North Central Development Center Board.

Commissioner Jeremiah Dailey will represent the county on the Office of ODD – North Star Region IV Board, the revitalization committee, the countywide law enforcement committee and the Brown County safety committee.

Kenny Turpin was reappointed as the county’s highway superintendent, and Lloyd Smith was reappointed as the county surveyor.

The board approved 13 paid holidays for county employees, as well as any additional holidays approved at the federal level.

Also as part of its annual reorganization, the board approved Homestead Bank, West Plains Bank, Union Bank & Trust and the Nebraska Public Agency Investment Trust as depositories for county funds, and approved the Ainsworth Star-Journal as the county’s official newspaper for the publication of legal notices, with the board also announcing meetings and issues on KBRB Radio and the county’s website.

The board acknowledged the IRS mileage rate for 2023 of 65.5 cents per mile for county employees having to use a personal vehicle for official county business.

The commissioners approved a resolution removing Bruce Papstein and Judy Cole from the sheriff’s department account and adding Brent Deibler and Tanya Cole as signatories on the account.

The board also approved removing Reagan Wiebelhaus and adding Dailey as a signatory on county accounts.

The commissioners approved a resolution transferring a pickup from the county clerk’s inventory to the assessor’s inventory, and approved a home health license renewal form for the Brown County Hospital.

The board voted to renew its contract with Paulson’s Lawn Service for mowing, watering and maintenance of the courthouse grounds.

Brown County Weed Superintendent Scott Erthum presented the annual weed report and evaluation, which the board approved as presented.

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

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 1:45 p.m. Jan. 18)

January 8

  • Booked an intoxicated driver into Brown County Jail. Driver bonded out the next morning.
  • Responded to a report of Hit & Run to rural property north of Ainsworth.
  • Received a 911 call report from Rock County Sheriff Office for an incident in Brown County. The individual calling 911 was contacted and a non-emergency issue was reported and dealt with.
  • Released an inmate at the end of their Weekender stay.
  • Responded to a 911 disturbance call in Ainsworth. Individual left the residence to stay with a friend for the night.

January 9

  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a request in rural Brown County.
  • Responded to a request from the City to have several vehicles moved on 3rd St due to snow piled behind them after streets were cleared.
  • Caller self reporting Hit & Run from rural property north of Ainsworth was given landowner information in order to provide insurance info.
  • Provided traffic control for a funeral procession.
  • Responded to a request for a welfare check in Ainsworth.
  • Transported an individual to Richard Young.
  • Assisted with a welfare check on Ainsworth resident who was found to be safe.

January 10

  • Responded to a dog complaint report on Pine St.
  • Booked an individual into Brown County Jail on a Court Commitment.
  • Responded to a request for a welfare check in Long Pine. Individual was later transported by Brown County Ambulance to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Responded to a report of vandalism in Ainsworth.
  • Received a BOLO report of Hit & Run to State property from Cherry County. Offers responded by watching for the BOLO on Hwy 20.
  • Received information in regards to a protection order violation. A report was made and sent to the Brown County Attorney’s office.
  • Responded to a request for a welfare check on an Ainsworth resident who was found to be at home and safe.

January 11

  • Received a report of reckless drivers in the oneway at Ainsworth Community Schools. Ainsworth Community schools called on follow-up.
  • Responded to a dog complaint report on Pine St.
  • Assisted an individual with fingerprint cards.
  • Responded to a welfare check on a local Ainsworth resident.

January 12

  • Assisted individuals with fingerprint cards
  • Received report from City of Ainsworth of several more vehicles on Walnut St that need to be moved due to need for clearing snow. Owners both contacted and will move them.
  • Received a report of a child locked in a car and was able to get a locksmith to respond.
  • Responded to a Hit & Run report on Woodward St.
  • Assisted Valentine PD with BOLO on an individual with a Warrant believed to be in Brown County.
  • Responded to a dog complaint report on Pine St.
  • Received a report of cattle out on the Meadville detour road. Owner contacted and was already in the process of moving them.

January 13

  • Brown County Ambulance assisted Rock County Hospital with a transfer request to take a patient to Omaha.
  • Responded to a dog complaint report on Pine St.
  • Responded to a welfare check in Long Pine.
  • NDOT responded to a report of debris on the road near the Hwy 20 & Hwy 183 intersection. Debris was removed.
  • Provided traffic control for a funeral procession.
  • Received a report of a vehicle parked the wrong way on Pine St which is a no parking zone. Officer made contact with the owner.
  • Responded to a 2 vehicle accident without injuries on North Main St.
  • Responded to a welfare check in Ainsworth.

January 14

  • Responded to a report of suspicious activity in Ainsworth.
  • Provided traffic assistance for cattle crossing on Hwy 7.
  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a request at a local business.

Weekly Summary
11 – Burn Permits
21 – Incident Reports Were Taken
184 – Phone Calls Were Received
7 – 911 Emergency Calls Received
4 – Titles Were Inspected
3 – Handgun Permits Applied For
1 – Paper Services Were Served

* Rock County approves hiring help for snow removal

(Posted 1:30 p.m. Jan. 18)

The Rock County Commissioners on Tuesday approved hiring additional emergency help for the roads department to remove snow. Glen May and Jim Stout were hired to assist the roads department in removing snow at a rate of $20 per hour.

Roads Foreman Darrell Olson reported the department is getting wings placed on all snow plows to help push drifts off roadways in the county.

During discussion on the Carns Bridge replacement project across the Niobrara River, Rock County’s projected share of the bridge replacement is $1.05 million.

Emergency Manager Traci Booth discussed the potential to declare a snow emergency for the county.

The commissioners Tuesday held their annual reorganization meeting, Meetings will be held at 9 a.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of the month, with additional meetings June 29 and Dec. 28 for the end of the fiscal and calendar years.

The board approved the Rock County Leader for official county notice publications in addition to posting notices on the county website. The Tri County Bank, Sandhills State Bank and NPAIT were approved as depositories for county funds.

The commissioners approved wages for the roads department as well as rates for renting equipment with operators. Lloyd Smith was reappointed as the Rock County Highway Superintendent and as the county surveyor. Smith discussed informal quotes received for bridge work south of Newport. The board opted to accept formal bids for the work. Bids will be opened Feb. 21.

Commissioner Wade Hollenbeck was appointed to represent Rock County on the Niobrara Council and the North Central District Health Department.

Commissioner Faye Smith was appointed to the Northeast Nebraska Area Agency on Aging Board and the Region IV Mental Health Board.

Commissioner Colby Sybrant was appointed to the Central Nebraska Community Services Board. Sybrant was also appointed as the county’s authorized representative to DR4420 relating to the 2019 flooding.

Sheriff Ben Shelbourn met with the commissioners regarding the potential replacement of the department’s 2015 patrol vehicle. The board voted to table the item to seek more information on a replacement.

The board met with budget preparer Caleb Johnson, Treasurer Mona Davis and Clerk Daunitta Buoy regarding paying off the first road bonds that were established following the 2019 flooding. The item was tabled as Buoy will contact bonding company DA Davidson for the amount needed to pay off the bond.

The commissioners approved the 2022-23 weed report as presented by Weed Superintendent Mitch Dean. The board also approved a special designated liquor license application requested by Niobrara Valley Vineyard for a wine tasting during the Sandhills Ranch Expo June 21-22.

The commissioners approved the Rock County Hospital’s home health license renewal.

The board tabled an agenda item on repairing the courthouse ramp. The county will publish a request for bids to repair the ramp and stair rails.

Acting as the Board of Equalization Tuesday, the commissioners approved a tax exemption for the Tangier Shrine Temple.

The next meeting of the Rock County Commissioners is scheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 7.

* Chamber recognizes community members with awards

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

The Ainsworth Area Chamber of Commerce recognized individuals and businesses Saturday with awards during a gala in the Elks Lodge.

Cole Bodeman was named the chamber’s Youth of the Year, given to a well-rounded, responsible youth who demonstrates exceptional achievements in academics, community/organizational involvement, and leadership.

Larry Rice was named the Senior Citizen of the Year. The award recognizes an individual who has been influential in the growth of the community, who has served as a positive role model for others, and who personifies Ainsworth’s spirit.

GJW/Sandy Pines was recognized as the Ag Business of the Year, demonstrating outstanding leadership in agribusiness, reaching into the community to help with local events and promoting agriculture within the community.

Ainsworth Family Dental received the Outstanding Business of the Year Award in recognition of its contributions to the economic growth and quality of life in Ainsworth and its exhibition of professional conduct, community involvement and exceptional customer service.

The Chamber Give Back Award, presented to Gene and Rhonda Buechle with the Moon Lake Wildlife Ranch, recognizes an outstanding business, organization or community member who consistently goes above and beyond to bring special services, opportunities and events to the area that enrich the culture and bring joy to community members.

The awards were presented to the community members during the chamber’s annual meeting. A silent auction to raise funds for the chamber was held in conjunction with the event.

* Speech team places third at Valentine

(Posted 8:45 a.m. Jan. 16)

The Ainsworth High School Speech Team kicked off the season at the Valentine Icebreaker Tournament Saturday.  

Team placed third out of six teams.

Individual results:

Varsity Serious Prose

Taylor Allen – 1st

Dakota Stutzman – 3rd 

Novice Serious Prose

Preselyn Goochey – 1st

Varsity Poetry

Hannah Beel – 5th

Brianna Starkey – 6th

Varsity Extemporaneous

Emma Kennedy – 4th

Novice Extemporaneous

William Biltoft – 1st

Varsity Entertainment

Cole Bodeman – 3rd

Varsity Persuasive

Katherine Kerrigan – 2nd

Varsity Informative

Makenna Pierce – 2nd

Hannah Beel – 6th

Varsity Duet

Taylor & Dakota – 1st

Cole & Cameryn – 2nd

Varsity OID

Tessa Barthel, Kat Kerrigan, Makenna Pierce, and Brianna Starkey – 1st

* Northeast to offer free credits to high school students

(Posted 7 a.m. Jan. 13)

The Board of Governors at Northeast Community College has approved a plan to offer free dual enrollment classes to high school students enrolled in early college beginning in the 2023-24 academic year.

Dual enrollment includes dual credit courses, which are most often taken in area high schools and taught by instructors who meet Northeast’s qualifications outlined by the College’s accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission. HLC is the accrediting body for all public institutions in the state of Nebraska and establishes the required credentials for all instructors teaching college level courses.

Additionally, dual enrollment courses include high school students who choose to take a college-level course, not necessarily for high school credit. More and more students are choosing to take college-level classes online, virtually and at any Northeast location. In Fall 2022, 48 high schools in the 20-county service area offered Northeast dual credit classes at their locations with 1,867 students enrolled in early college.

In Spring 2021, the Nebraska Legislature began to provide funds directed to support dual enrollment offered by the state’s six community colleges. In Spring 2022, the Unicameral then provided the community colleges with $15 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to accelerate their efforts to offer free dual enrollment. Metro Community College led the way by offering free college courses to all high school students beginning in Fall 2022. Likewise, the ARPA funds will allow Northeast to make free dual enrollment a reality in Fall 2023. 

“Experiencing success in college level work for high school students can be the catalyst for choosing to attend college,” said Dr. Leah Barrett, Northeast president. “Eighty-six percent of the students in our service area who are successful with an early college class go on to college. Dual enrollment is a tool for us to improve the college-going culture in northeast Nebraska.” 

Dr. Jami Jo Thompson, superintendent of Norfolk Public Schools, said early college courses have always been a great opportunity for students to earn college credit during high school, but many of the district’s families could not afford to take advantage of the opportunity. 

“Making dual credit courses free is a game changer for those students! I am looking forward to seeing the positive impact that this will have on our lower-income students, and I anticipate that it will lead to a higher number of those students choosing to attend post-secondary education,” she said.

Makala Williams, director of early college at Northeast, said the College offers many different subjects as dual credit classes, including academic transfer, as well as career and technical education courses. 

“Many of our area high schools have their own instructors who have obtained the appropriate credentials to teach college level courses in addition to high school courses. This gives high school students a wonderful opportunity to earn both high school and college credit simultaneously. Students can work with their school counselors to learn what dual credit courses are offered in their respective schools.”

Williams said the credits students earn through the early college program may be used towards a degree at Northeast or transfer to another college or university.

“It allows students to become familiar with the college environment before their first day as a college freshman.”

While early college at Northeast Community College will be at no cost to high school students, they will be responsible for any books, tools or fees associated with a course.

* Recent cases from Brown County District Court

(Posted 12:30 p.m. Jan. 12)

During Brown County District Court proceedings Tuesday, Thomas E. Wiedell, age 74, of Pender, appeared for sentencing after previously entering a guilty plea to a Class IIIA felony count of making terroristic threats, and a Class I misdemeanor count of carrying a concealed weapon. Wiedell was sentenced to 20 days in jail, 18 months of probation, was ordered to obtain a psychological evaluation, complete an anger management class and repay Brown County $1,500 for the cost of his defense counsel.

Matthew K. Zimmerman, 22, of Long Pine, entered pleas of guilty in District Court Tuesday to a Class IV felony count of attempted assault on a peace officer and a Class 1 misdemeanor count of carrying a concealed weapon. Zimmerman will be sentenced in District Court March 14.

* Council recommends Pine Street as NDOT detour route

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

After months of discussion amid concerns from residents, the Ainsworth City Council voted Wednesday to send a letter to the Nebraska Department of Transportation expressing the council’s preference to have Pine Street to Road 877 be the detour route during the 2024 renovation of Main Street.

The NDOT had selected Oak Street to South Street as the detour route it would use when Highway 7 is renovated in Ainsworth. Numerous residents living along Oak and South streets expressed their concerns to the council about that route.

Mayor Joel Klammer said there was good discussion between the council and the public, and he met with Mark Kovar at NDOT expressing residents’ concerns. Klammer said, if the council wanted to take an official position on the detour route, the NDOT would need something in writing from the council.

Newly elected Councilman Dustin Barthel said he did not think the NDOT should use Oak Street as the detour route. Councilman Shawn Fernau said he agreed.

Council President Vance Heyer said Pine Street is a better, more natural detour route.

“There is already no parking on Pine Street, and it is wider,” Heyer said.

The council unanimously voted to send a letter to the Nebraska Department of Transportation expressing the council’s preference that Pine Street to Road 877 be used as the detour route during the Main Street construction as opposed to the NDOT’s preferred route of Oak Street to South Street.

In other business Wednesday, the council approved recodifying its general ordinances and publishing those ordinances in book form.

Jim McNally with Municipal Code Services of Neligh said it had been 12 years since the council last updated its ordinances in book form. McNally said approving the ordinance and resolution would allow the company to update the city ordinance books from that time to the present.

“We do this for 165 to 170 towns in Nebraska,” McNally said. “We handle about 90 percent of this work in the state. It is the second time we will have updated your ordinances.”

McNally said it was a three-step process for the council to update its ordinance books. The first was to adopt the ordinance recodifying the city’s general ordinances, wave the three separate readings of the ordinance, and then approve the resolution directing the city clerk to have the ordinances published in book form.

The council approved all three steps to have the city’s ordinances recodified in book form. Each council member will receive a copy of the updated code book, as will the Brown County sheriff. Copies will be available to the public in both the city office and the Ainsworth Public Library.

The council approved a special condition from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development related to the Community Development Block Grant the city received for a paving project on North Main Street in conjunction with the Highway 7 renovation project in Ainsworth.

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said the special condition requires the city to conduct a fair housing activity to receive the grant funds.

“This is just one more requirement of the CDBG grant,” Schroedl said.

Schroedl said the Department of Housing and Urban Development has a list of eligible activities the city could undertake to fulfill the requirement. She proposed publishing notice in the newspaper that the city supports fair housing laws and listing those laws. Doing so fulfills the grant requirement.

In old business, the council again tabled a counter proposal from American Tower Alliance for the lease on a tower owned by the city.

Schroedl said she talked to newly appointed City Attorney Michael Sholes.

“He asked for a little more time to review the proposal,” Schroedl said. “He plans to call the American Tower Alliance contact and then provide us with a recommendation.”

Schroedl said Sholes has handled a similar lease agreement for the city of Atkinson.

The council approved recommendations from the mayor to appoint Ainsworth High School student Jocelyn Good to a two-year term on the Ainsworth Betterment Committee and to appoint Brent Deibler as the city’s chief of police and nuisance abatement officer after Deibler was sworn in as the new Brown County sheriff.

During her report, Schroedl said the streets department removed 240 loads of snow off Main Street and the first blocks of Second and Third streets following the first snow storm, and had already removed another 240 loads of snow following the second storm.

“They are working to try and get the water flowing as the snow melts,” Schroedl said.

Klammer said he appreciated the work of the city crew and community members in clearing snow from streets and sidewalks.

“There have been a lot of skid steers out moving snow,” the mayor said.

Councilman Brad Fiala took the oath of office Wednesday after he was absent in December when Barthel and Klammer took the oath after being elected in November.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth City Council is scheduled for 5 p.m. Feb. 15.

* Care Center Board advances $60,000 from line of credit

(Posted 1:15 p.m. Jan. 10)

The Sandhills Care Center is unfortunately back in search of a director of nursing after the facility’s DON passed away recently.

Members of the Care Center Board of Directors expressed their condolences during Monday’s meeting, and Administrator Penny Jacobs said one of the facility’s current registered nurses has agreed to handle the director of nursing duties for the time being.

“We are compliant with the state,” Jacobs told the board. “We won’t have to solicit an agency. We have people willing to step up.”

Jacobs said the facility is currently advertising for a permanent replacement as the director of nursing, and could also use one or two charge nurses and help in both the housekeeping and dietary departments.

Jacobs said, since the December board meeting, the care center had hired one full-time registered nurse, one PRN and one CNA.

During December, the care center generated $220,088 in revenue, however, $49,751 of that total was a one-time bonus payment from Medicaid. Expenses of $237,623 left the care center with a net loss for December of $17,534. Jacobs reported the facility received $5,100 in donations during December.

With the $49,751 received prior to the board’s December meeting, the Care Center Board had to borrow only $10,000 from its line of credit established following approval of additional property tax levies by both Brown County and city of Ainsworth voters.

With the $49,751 in additional Medicaid money already having been utilized, the board Monday voted to advance an additional $60,000 from its line of credit to cover current expenses.

The county and the city voted to allow the care center to borrow up to $450,000 as a line of credit to operate the facility, and use funds from the incoming levy to repay the line of credit.

Board Chairman Phil Fuchs said the facility was at 20 residents for much of December before increasing its census to the current 22 residents.

“We projected we would be three residents higher than we currently are,” Fuchs said. “It boils down to we need to have more residents. Unless we get the resident population up, the line of credit is not going to make it the three years we projected.”

Board member Buddy Small said increasing the census is what is needed, but it just doesn’t seem to happen.

Fuchs said the city of Ainsworth has paid $80,000 less than the county in support of the care center, and he asked board member and City Councilman Shawn Fernau to address that funding disparity with the City Council.

“It would be nice to have them commit to something so it is a level playing field with the county,” Fuchs said. “Even if it is over a two-year period, we are going to need those funds.”

Jacobs reported the facility did admit two residents during December and was working on two additional referrals, one a resident of Ainsworth and the other a Valentine resident.

Of the 22 current residents, Jacobs said 11 pay privately, eight receive Medicaid assistance, two are pending Medicaid assistance, and one resident receives Medicare assistance.

Discussion turned to snow removal, as Jacobs reported the snow at the facility was not removed in a timely manner during the most recent snowstorm.

Fuchs said the city agreed to clear the streets leading to the facility, and the county had agreed to clear the circle drive. He asked Small if the county would start clearing the circle drive again.

Fernau volunteered to have the crew from his business remove the snow from the care center’s sidewalks free of charge.

In the only other action item, the board discussed a salary increase for Jacobs to keep her pay in line with similar-sized facilities.

Fuchs said the board approved a 15 percent salary increase for Jacobs during August and said at the time it would address an additional increase in the future. Fuchs said the administrator is currently paid less than the director of nursing and some registered nurses, who are paid an hourly wage.

Small said, with the facility already struggling to pay its bills, he did not believe an additional salary increase was a good idea.

The board then entered into executive session, and took no action following the completion of the session.

The next meeting of the Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors is scheduled for 5 p.m. Feb. 13.

* New board member seated Monday, committees assigned

(Posted 7 a.m. Jan. 10)

After three terms, Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education President Jim Arens exited the board Monday, with Bryan Doke taking the oath of office and Brad Wilkins elected as the new board president.

Mark Johnson was elected vice president of the board during its organization Monday, and Scott Erthum was elected as the board’s secretary/treasurer.

In addition, board members were seated on various committees Monday. Frank Beel, Erthum and Jessica Pozehl will continue on the curriculum, Americanism and multicultural committee. Pozehl, Wilkins and Johnson will serve on the transportation, building and grounds committee. Pozehl, Doke and Beel will serve on the activities and athletics committee. Wilkins, Johnson and Doke will serve on the budget and finance committee. Representing the board on the negotiations and personnel committee are Wilkins, Pozehl and Erthum. The board’s policy committee will consist of Erthum, Johnson and Doke.

Beel will represent the board on the North Central Development Center Board of Directors, with Doke serving as the alternate representative. Wilkins will serve as the board’s government relations network representative.

The board also approved its annual appointments Monday, including naming the Ainsworth Star-Journal and KBRB Radio for official publications. The West Plains Bank, Homestead Bank, Union Bank & Trust and the Nebraska Liquid Asset Fund were approved as depositories for district funds.

The board approved authorizations to the superintendent and treasurer, and named Laurie Witte, Dedra Stoner and Superintendent Dale Hafer as recording secretaries for board meetings.

The board established regular meeting dates for the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. from November through March and at 8 p.m. from April through October.

In other action items, the board recognized a review of board member code of ethics, and approved the district’s 2021-22 audit report as presented. Hafer said the district, in addition to its typical audit, also underwent a federal audit due to the federal grant funds it received during the year.

“It was an uneventful audit,” Hafer said. “There were no issues. Dedra and Laurie do a great job tracking and getting everything prepared for the audit.”

Following an executive session, the board approved contracts for the 2023-24 school year for both Elementary Principal Ben Wright and Secondary Principal Steve Dike.

Hafer reported the district has hired Luke Wroblewski as the activities director for the 2023-24 school year. Wroblewski is currently an administrator with Keya Paha County Public Schools. Hafer said the district received nine applications and interviewed four candidates for the position.

The superintendent reported a leak surfaced in the elementary roof following all the snow, but the leak was not related to the recent seam repairs that were made to the roof. He said Guarantee Roofing will work to identify the area where the leak is occurring, but will have to wait until the snow clears away.

Hafer said the district received a donation from the Weichman family that will be put toward improvements to the Learning Center. Activities Director Jared Hansmeyer said the learning center upgrades will start next week, as one of the items the district was waiting to be delivered arrived this week.

Hansmeyer said requests for bids have also been sent for the construction of a new storage shed at East City Park, and those bids would likely be available for review during the board’s February meeting.

Wright reported 26 students attended the first day of the afterschool program Monday.

“I think the numbers will continue to grow,” Wright said.

The district received federal grant funds to initiate the afterschool program. Wright said five staff members plan to assist with the program daily as it gets underway. Hafer said part of the grant requires at least one staff member for every 15 students in the program.

During his report, Dike said the district had to make some changes to the schedule with all the snow days to get semester tests completed, but he complimented the students and staff on their effort to complete the first semester exams. Semester test days were reduced from the scheduled three down to two.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 13.

* Elks Hoop Shoot winners qualify for district event

(Posted 2:45 p.m. Jan. 9)

One of the larger turnouts of shooters in several years took toed the line Sunday during the annual Ainsworth Elks Lodge Hoop Shoot.

Free-throw shooters ages 8 to 13 competed for a chance to advance to the Elks District Hoop Shoot Jan. 21 at Cozad.

In the girls shoot, Jaylee Good won the 12- to 13-year age division, connecting on 15 of 25 free-throw attempts. Payton Sears finished second with 11 makes and Addilyn Doke took third with six made shots.

Julieta Carranza won the girls 11-12 bracket with Livia Vonheeder in second. Kimberlyn Doke won a five-shot shoot-off over Elsie Graff to win the girls 8-9 division. Bella Pike took third.

On the boys side, Jaxon Rucker won a shoot-off over Nash Hesse of Valentine after both made 14 of 25 free throws. Rucker went 3-for-5 in the shoot-off, with Hesse making one. There was also a shoot-off for third place after both Zaine Evans and Aiden Buckendahl made 10 of 25 in regulation. Buckendahl made 3 of 5 in the shoot-off to take third place.

Blake Hansmeyer won the boys 10-11 division, with Rex Lammers second and Baden Pike third. Easton Lammers won the boys 8-9 division, followed by Carter Johnson in second and Myles Fatile in third.

The six winners have the opportunity to participate in the District Hoop Shoot Jan. 21 at Cozad for a chance to advance to the Elks State Hoop Shoot.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

January 1

  • Received multiple reports of a reckless driver, Eastbound on Highway 20, near the Brown and Cherry County Line. The Nebraska State Patrol later located the vehicle, and issued a citation for driving under the influence of alcohol.  The Nebraska driver was booked into the Brown County Jail, where they later posted bond and were released.

January 2

  • Responded to a report of a loose dog in a business parking lot. With no identification, the dog was taken to the vet clinic.  The dog was picked up later by its owner.
  • Responded to a report of stuck vehicles on 4th Street and Hwy 20 near mile marker 250. Traffic control was provided until a tow truck was able to remove them.
  • Responded to a report of a vehicle fire near the Dawes and Main Street intersection. The Ainsworth Fire and Ambulance also responded.  A citation was issued for driving under the influence of alcohol to a Nebraska driver.  The driver was booked into the Brown County Jail, and later released after posting bond.

January 3

  • The Brown County Ambulance responded to a page for a lift assist in Ainsworth. No transportation was required at this time.
  • Provided traffic control at the Main and 4th Street intersection for a stuck semi while they waited for the tow truck.

January 4

  • The Ainsworth Fire responded to a report of a struck gas line on Walnut St, and remained on scene until Black Hills Energy could make the repair.
  • Received a report of two loose dogs in the East City Park. With no identification, the dogs were transported to the vet clinic, and later claimed by their owner.

January 5

  • Received information in regards to a protection order violation. A report was made and sent to the Brown County Attorney’s office.

January 6

  • Responded to a request for a welfare check on Hull St. The individual was located safe, and ministerial aid was contacted to further assist.

January 7

  • Received a report regarding information of a protection order violation. A report was made and sent to the Brown County Attorney’s office.

Weekly Summary

10– Burn Permits

6– Incident Reports Were Taken

139 – Phone Calls Were Received

15 – 911 Emergency Calls Received

0– Titles Were Inspected

1 – Handgun Permits Applied For

5– Paper Services Were Served

* Brewer previews Nebraska Legislature session

(Posted 10:15 a.m. Jan. 5)

Nebraska 43rd District State Sen. Tom Brewer discussed the bills he plans to introduce in the Nebraska Legislature this session, as well as the work he plans to undertake as chair of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee and some of the bigger topics the body will debate this session.

The conversation between Col. Brewer and KBRB’s Graig Kinzie can be heard below.

* Commissioners to hold public hearing on road vacation

(Posted 7 a.m. Jan. 4)

The Brown County Commissioners will hold a public hearing Feb. 7 on the potential vacation of a portion of dedicated county road south of Long Pine after reading a report on the road’s usage.

Brown County Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin submitted a report on the usage of Road 38 between Sections 19 and 24 of Township 29 North Range 21 West. A former county bridge and 100 feet on either side of the bridge were previously vacated by the county in 1997.

Turpin’s report indicated there is very little if any vehicular use of the portion of county road. Vacating the road would not result in any property owners becoming landlocked, and the report indicated the county’s liability would be reduced by vacating the approximately 2,000 feet of dedicated road.

Turpin’s report suggested the commissioners schedule a public hearing on vacating the road to see if there was any public opposition. All adjacent landowners will be notified by mail of the public hearing.

Commissioner Denny Bauer said the stretch of road is nothing more than a trail that goes to Long Pine Creek.

“No one uses it,” Bauer said. “The bridge is gone, and you can’t even tell that it is a road.”

By a 2-0 vote with Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus absent, the board voted to hold a public hearing on the road’s vacation during its Feb. 7 meeting.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners approved an interlocal agreement with Rock County for a deputy emergency manager. Jessica Pozehl has been hired to fill the role of assisting Emergency Manager Traci Booth.

Commissioner Buddy Small said the interlocal agreement is the same as the two counties share for the emergency manager.

The Rock County Commissioners approved the interlocal agreement during its most recent meeting.

In a final action item Tuesday, the commissioners approved a $250,000 transfer from the county’s miscellaneous general fund to the county highway fund.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Jan. 17.

* Plows are out, travel still not advised on county roads

(Posted 1:45 p.m. Jan. 3)

Brown County Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin said county snow plows have started trying to open county roads, but travel is still not advised until the crews have had a chance to make progress.

Turpin said it would likely be a while before motorists could again safely travel on county roads. The highway superintendent will keep KBRB updated with the progress made by the roads department.

* Fire destroys vehicle Monday night in Ainsworth

(Posted 10:30 a.m. Jan. 3)

A vehicle fire Monday night on the south side of Ainsworth prompted the response of the Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department.

According to Assistant Chief Justin Nickless, at approximately 11:15 p.m., a vehicle fire was reported in the 200 block of South Main Street near the Dawes Street intersection.

Nickless said a Chevy van became stuck in the snow, and the fire started as the driver tried to get the vehicle freed.

The Chevy was considered a total loss. Firefighters kept the fire from spreading, and returned to the fire hall at approximately 12:15 a.m. Tuesday.

* Travel on Brown County roads not advised

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

Brown County Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin reported Tuesday morning that travel on county roads is not advised.

Turpin said county plows will not head out until the snow subsides and the wind dies down. He asked motorists to refrain from using county roads until the plows have a chance to make it out. The roads department will respond to emergencies but travel is not advised.

Stay tuned to KBRB for further updates from the Brown County roads department.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Jan. 3) 

December 25

  • Responded to a report of vandalism that occurred to an apartment window on Hall St in Ainsworth. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Received a barking dog complaint from 6th St in Ainsworth. The dog owner’s were contacted and the issue was resolved.

December 26

  • Received a report of a vehicle accident with property damage in Ainsworth. No damage occurred to the vehicle, no injuries were reported, but damage to a telecommunications box did occur.

December 27

  • Responded to a report of an abandoned vehicle on 430th Ave that was partially blocking the roadway. Owner’s were contacted and removed the vehicle.
  • A Nebraska driver was issued a citation for speeding 80 mph in a 65mph zone on Highway 20.
  • Received a vehicle parking violation complaint on 6th Street for a camper. The owner was contacted and later removed it from the street.
  • Booked two individuals in the Brown County Jail for county court commitment sentences.

December 28

  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing on Highway 20, near the 435th Ave intersection.
  • Provided a civil standby at a business near Ainsworth, for a disturbance.
  • Received a report of a protection order violation. A report will be sent to the Brown County Attorney’s office.
  • During traffic stops, citations for no proof of insurance and defective vehicle lighting were issued.

December 29

  • Johnstown and Ainsworth Fire Departments responded to a report of a pickup fire, approximately 10 miles South of Johnstown.
  • The Brown County Ambulance made a transfer to Cherry County Hospital.
  • During traffic stops, warnings were issued for speeding, and one citation for failure to renew registration.

December 30

  • The Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call from Long Pine, and transferred one patient to the Rock County Hospital. Later that day, the ambulance also made a transfer to Kearney, NE.
  • Booked two inmates into the Brown County Jail for county court commitment sentences.
  • Served an arrest warrant for Assault-3rd Degree on 1st St in Ainsworth. The male subject was booked into the Brown County Jail and released on a personal recognizance bond.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 7, near mile marker 39, a Colorado driver was issued a citation for speeding 74 mph in a 65 mph zone, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

December 31

  • Received a report of a hit and run accident on North Main St in Ainsworth. The vehicle that left the scene was later located in a hotel parking lot.  Deputies made contact with the South Dakota driver, who was issued a citation for leaving the scene of an accident.  No injuries occurred.
  • The Brown County Ambulance met the Blaine County Ambulance, at mile marker 15 on Highway 7, to transfer a patient to the Brown County Hospital.
  • The Brown County Ambulance transported a flight crew from the airport to the hospital to pick up a patient for two separate occurrences on this day.
  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing at the 427th Ave and Highway 20 intersection.

Weekly Summary
20 – Burn Permits
11 – Incident Reports Were Taken
154 – Phone Calls Were Received
7 – 911 Emergency Calls Received
2 – Titles Were Inspected
2 – Handgun Permits Applied For
6 – Paper Services Were Served

December Summary
4– Accidents                              
3– Arrests
38– Calls for Service
10– Citations were issued
15– Verbal & Written Warnings issued
2– Defect Cards issued
9– Paper Service served
647– Phone calls were received
36– 911 emergency calls received
6– Titles inspected
14– Handgun permits issued
53– Burn Permits

* Agenda for Brown County Commissioners meeting Tuesday

(Posted 9 p.m. Dec. 30)

Brown County Commissioners
Meeting 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 3
Brown County Courthouse
Agenda

05:15 – 05:20             Roll Call.

                                    Approve minutes of the 12-20-2022 Commissioner meeting.

                                    Kenneth Turpin – Road Department Update

                                    Road Study Report for Rd#38 – Turpin   

5:30                            State Mandatory reports & State Evaluation – Erthum

                                    Brown/Rock Interlocal Emergency Manager Deputy Agreement – Booth

                                    Budgeted Transfer of $250,000.00 from Miscellaneous General within the General Fund to County Highway Fund.

                                    Approve Claims

                                    Public Comment

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 12:15 p.m. Dec. 29)

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

Tayler M. Clarke, age 25, of Gurnee, Ill., charged with speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, fined $75; also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Philip G. Deverick, 47, of Long Pine, speeding 21-35 mph over the limit, $200.

Andrew D. Walton, 21, of Ainsworth, speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Jayden D. Garett, 22, of Neligh, third-degree assault, sentenced to 20 days in jail with credit for three days served.

Kegan Y. Macfee, 35, of Kearney, assault by mutual consent, sentenced to one year of probation.

Dwayne R. Asmus, 58, of Hoskins, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Edmund L. Ng, 52, of Las Vegas, Nev., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Jonathan P. Lechtenberg, 36, of Imperial, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Laban R. Metzger, 19, of Sabatha, Kan., first offense driving under the influence, $500, also sentenced to seven days in jail with credit for one day served, driver’s license revoked for six months, and ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

Trenton J. Kiefer, 21, of Randolph, third-degree assault, sentenced to 30 days in jail with credit for three days served.

Mason L. Kiefer, 22, of Randolph, third-degree assault, sentenced to 30 days in jail with credit for three days served.

Lois A. McCann, 48, of Valentine, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Mercedes M. Mascarenas, 31, of Denver, Colo., possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300.

Jake M. Beyer, 19, of Morrill, Kan., possession of an open alcohol container in a vehicle, $50.

Xia Xiong, 36, of Coon Rapids, Minn., speeding 21-35 mph over the limit, $200.

Stephanie M. White, 52, of Centennial, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Thomas J. Gilgenbach, 61, of Littleton, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Jeremy L. Baker, 49, of Rye, Colo., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Dakota M. Holaday, 22, of Massena, Iowa, speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Serna Leasl Eduardo Luis, 33, of LeMars, Iowa, possession of an open alcohol container in a vehicle, $50.

* North Central RC&D completes recycling events

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

North Central RC&D collection activities were halted during the pandemic but are back on track, helping members of six area counties recycle.

“We hosted three household hazardous waste and multiple paper shredding events this fall”, President Mike Burge said. “The household hazardous waste collections were held in our eastern service area of Spencer, O’Neill and Stuart. A total of 38 drums of hazardous waste was collected in two days. Red Willow HHW of McCook was the vendor for the collection. They see to the proper recycling or disposal of all that was collected.”

O’Neill and the villages of Spencer and Stuart helped in the organization of the collections and had volunteers present. The collections were made possible thanks to a grant from the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy that paid for half the cost.

The other North Central RC&D collection this fall was the annual paper shredding along Highway 12 and Highway 20.

“We did not collect as much with the paper shredding as we have in the past,” Burge said. “We don’t know if we have helped people catch up with shredding or why the numbers were smaller. However we did collect 70 bins of documents that were destroyed on site. With more and more need for privacy protection, it was rewarding to hear the multiple comments of appreciation for offering this outlet.”

Communities that offered the paper shredding included Springview, Naper, Butte, Spencer, Bristow, Merriman, Valentine, Bassett, Stuart, Atkinson and Inman.

Security Shredding Services provided the on-site shredding.

Burge said there was a significant increase in the cost of the paper shredding this year. Donations from those who dropped off paper to shred helped pay the cost, with funds from the RC&D covering the remainder of the cost.

“The RC&D would like to say thank you to all those supporting these events, either financially or by volunteering their time,” Burge said. “It is encouraging to see the interest in recycling throughout our six counties. We look forward to supporting more recycling events in 2023.”

* More than 1 million Nebraskans employed in November

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

The Nebraska Department of Labor announced Nebraska’s preliminary unemployment rate for November was 2.5 percent. The rate was up 0.1 percentage points from the October rate of 2.4 percent and up 0.1 percentage points from the November 2021 rate of 2.4 percent.

Nebraska’s 2.5 percent unemployment rate matched Vermont for the fifth lowest in the country. Utah had the lowest unemployment rate in November of 2.2 percent, followed by Minnesota and North Dakota at 2.3 percent and South Dakota at 2.4 percent.

Nevada had the highest unemployment rate in the nation in November at 4.9 percent, with Illinois at 4.7 percent.

The national unemployment rate for November was 3.7 percent, the same rate as the October rate and down 0.5 percentage points from the November 2021 rate of 4.2 percent.

“Total nonfarm employment in Nebraska reached another record high of 1,048,406 in November,” said Commissioner of Labor John H. Albin. “This is the second consecutive month of record nonfarm employment in Nebraska.”

November’s nonfarm employment in the state is up 2,554 over the month and up 29,117 over the year.  Private industries with the most growth month to month were trade, transportation, and utilities (up 3,030); other services (up 527); and mining and construction (up 474).  Private industries with the most growth year to year were mining and construction (up 5,869); leisure and hospitality (up 5,286); and trade, transportation, and utilities (up 5,003).

Over one million Nebraskans have been employed since August of 2020. The counts of employed and unemployed in the labor force are based on a survey conducted by the Census Bureau regarding employment status.

Brown County’s unemployment rate in November came in below the state average at 2.2 percent. Rock County had the lowest rate in the area in November at 1.4 percent and was second only to Hayes County’s 1.3 percent for the lowest rate in the state.

All area counties with the exception of Blaine County came in below the statewide unemployment rate average in November, with Cherry County at 1.7 percent, Keya Paha County and Holt County at 1.9 percent, and Boyd County matching Brown County at 2.2. percent.

Blaine County’s 3.2 percent unemployment rate in November was the second highest in the state behind the 3.3 percent rate in Banner County.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 4:30 p.m. Dec. 26)

December 18

  • During a traffic stop on Highway 7, a citation was issued to a South Dakota driver for speeding 81 mph in a 65 mph zone.

December 19

  • Received a report of a stranded motorist near the intersection of 885th Rd and 435 Ave. Due to weather conditions the Brown County Sheriff’s Office and tow services were unable to assist.  The Brown County Roads Department was called out to plow the driver out.
  • Responded to multiple calls reference two loose dogs sighted at multiple locations in the Northeast part of Ainsworth. Deputies transported both dogs to the Ainsworth Vet Clinic.  The owner, with the help of a social media post, later claimed and picked up the dogs.
  • The Brown County Ambulance transported one patient from Norden Ave to the Brown County Hospital.
  • The Brown County Ambulance provided a lift assist on Elm St in Ainsworth.
  • Provided a welfare check on Felton St in Ainsworth. The individual was reported safe.
  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing at mile marker 245 on Highway 20.
  • Responded to a suspected protection order violation in Ainsworth. A report was made and will be sent to the County Attorney’s office.

December 20

  • Received a parking complaint from a vehicle parked on Richardson Drive. The owner was contacted and removed the vehicle.
  • Provided traffic control West of Johnstown on Highway 20 for a cattle crossing.
  • Released an inmate from the Brown County Jail after they posted bond for assault and terroristic threats.
  • During four separate traffic stops, written warnings were issued for speeding.

December 21

  • Received a report of a heater taken from a parked vehicle. This is an ongoing investigation.

December 22

  • Received a report of dogs without shelter in Long Pine. Information was given to the animal control officer of Long Pine.
  • The Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call and transported a patient from North of Ainsworth to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Received a report of an abandoned vehicle on Highway 7, near mile marker 13. The vehicle was found to be removed from the roadway.
  • Received a report of a vehicle left on the Dump Road, after getting stuck in a snow drift. The driver was picked up and the vehicle later removed.
  • Near the intersection of 426th Road and 880th Rd, a vehicle with three occupants became stuck in a snowdrift. Deputies were unable to reach the vehicle to assist, and the Brown County Roads Department responded to plow the vehicle to the highway.

December 23

  • The Brown County Ambulance transported a patient from the Brown County Hospital to the Rock County Hospital and back.
  • The Brown County Ambulance picked up a flight crew from the airport and transported them to the hospital to pick up a patient and take back to the airport.
  • During two traffic stops, written warnings were issued for speeding.

December 24

  • Responded to a suspected domestic altercation at an Apartment complex on 4th St in Ainsworth. No citations were issued at this time.
  • The Brown County Sheriff’s Office and Brown County ambulance personnel responded to a 911 call in Ainsworth. A juvenile was pronounced dead at the scene. No foul play was suspected.

Weekly Summary
9 – Incident Reports Were Taken
197 – Phone Calls Were Received
9 – 911 Emergency Calls Received
1 – Titles Were Inspected
1 – Handgun Permits Applied For
0 – Paper Services Were Served

* Power outage reported in Keya Paha County

(Posted 8:15 a.m. Dec. 22)

(Update 8:30 a.m.) – KBR General Manager Bob Beatty reported power was restored to Keya Paha County customers at 8:25 a.m.

KBR Rural Public Power customers in Keya Paha County lost power at approximately 5:30 a.m. Thursday. 

KBR Rural Public Power General Manager Bob Beatty reported a line went down south of the Burton substation affecting power customers in Keya Paha County.

Beatty said at 7:45 a.m. Thursday KBR linemen are working on the line, and hope to have it repaired and power restored to customers soon.

Highways in Cherry County and west are closed today to blowing and drifting snow. Travel is not advised. Several vehicle accidents have been reported on Highway 183, Highway 20 and Highway 137 that have either blocked lanes of traffic or closed portions of highways.

* Commissioners vote 2-1 to provide bonus to road workers

(Posted 1 p.m. Dec. 21)

The Brown County Commissioners and other elected officials engaged in a discussion Tuesday on whether to provide additional compensation to county employees who worked during the four days the courthouse was closed due to the weather.

Commissioner Buddy Small said hourly county employees are paid on days the courthouse is closed due to weather conditions.

“The sheriff’s department and roads department don’t get anything extra for working on those days,” Small said.

Each elected official oversees their own staff, while the commissioners are responsible for the roads department and custodian. Small proposed providing a bonus to each roads department employee who worked while the courthouse was closed.

Commissioner Denny Bauer said he did not have a problem with providing a bonus payment.

“I wouldn’t be opposed to a set figure for everyone,” Bauer said. “That is easy.”

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus said working during inclement weather is already included in the job description for roads department employees.

“They do a great job, and I thank them,” Wiebelhaus said. “But they know what is expected coming in.”

Wiebelhaus said the roads department already had the opportunity to receive overtime and be paid one-and-a-half times their normal wage for working additional hours following the winter storm.

Incoming Commissioner Jeremiah Dailey said he agreed with Wiebelhaus that working during winter storms was part of the job description for the roads department.

Assessor Terri Van Houten said she believed the fairest way would be providing the roads department employees with a paid day off to be used in the future instead of paying a bonus.

“They could either earn a comp day or treat it like a holiday,” Van Houten said.

Clerk Travee Hobbs said she assumed hourly workers did not get paid if they didn’t come in to work, but she said it has always been left up to each official.

“I was in here, and I worked remotely,” Hobbs said. “That is part of the job. We are on salary.”

Small said Sheriff Bruce Papstein paid his deputies a bonus through his budget for working during the four days the courthouse was closed. While it is up to each department on how to compensate employees in their elected office, it was the responsibility of the commissioners to determine compensation for the roads department and custodian.

Retiring County Treasurer Deb Vonheeder said she didn’t have the luxury of not working for the four days the courthouse was closed.

“I am leaving so I am going to say some things,” Vonheeder said. “I think it is ridiculous to close the courthouse when you have someone from each office who lives in town.”

Small said, if one person falls at the courthouse during a storm the county would get sued.

“We need to be cognizant of the safety of county residents,” Small said. “I am comfortable with what we did.”

Small said the Cherry County, Rock County and Keya Paha County courthouses were also closed following the snowstorm and the accompanying wind.

By a 2-1 vote with Wiebelhaus against, the board approved paying a $500 bonus to each roads department employee for working while the courthouse was closed.

In his vote against, Wiebelhaus said, “Are you opening up a can of worms that this will now be the expectation for every storm?”

Wiebelhaus also addressed an issue he said the commissioners planned to address after his departure from the board. He said the county would likely consider a proposal at a future meeting to provide the roads department employees with bonuses based on their safety record for the year and not damaging equipment.

“I think taking care of equipment should be an expectation,” Wiebelhaus said.

Small said there have been several instances of equipment needing to be repaired or damage occurring that the county had to pay for, and he wanted to provide some kind of incentive to employees who take good care of their machines.

Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin questioned who would determine whether an employee had earned a bonus for taking care of equipment. He said some pieces of equipment have had mechanical issues on their own that resulted in issues, such as an accelerator that sticks and causes damage to a shop door.

“Some guys do the jobs that are more dangerous, and the chance of them tipping over or having an equipment issue increases,” Turpin said. “How do you determine whether something is neglected?”

Turpin said, when he worked for a road construction company, each employee received a safety bonus if they didn’t damage equipment and if they didn’t hurt themselves or others on the job.

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

In other business Tuesday, based on a recommendation from Brown County Hospital Board Chairman Brent Deibler, the commissioners appointed Kirk Peterson to a six-year term on the Hospital Board of Trustees. Peterson replaces Jim Walz. The commissioners also reappointed John Gross to a six-year term on the hospital board.

Deibler said he had also been questioned about being on the Hospital Board now that he was an incoming elected official, and a question had been raised regarding Gross being able to be on the hospital board with his wife being an incoming elected official.

County Attorney Andy Taylor said there was no problem with Deibler and Gross continuing to serve on the hospital board, which is a volunteer position.

“That is right in state statute,” Taylor said. “It is clearly stated in statute 32-604.”

University of Nebraska Extension Educator Hannah Smith recommended Kelly Gambill be appointed to a three-year term on the BKR Extension Board of Directors. Smith said Gambill would replace Gary Luther, whose term is expiring.

The board appointed Gambill to a three-year term on the Extension Board. Smith reported the university had hired an additional educator, Blair Speck, to fill a vacancy in the BKR office. Smith said Speck, a Lexington area native, would start employment Jan. 3.

Vonheeder told the commissioners the sheriff had collected delinquent personal property distress warrants on eight parcels, with $2,094 in delinquent property tax collected.

Vonheeder reported there was $215,000 in delinquent property tax in the county that had not yet been paid from the 2021 tax year. The second half of those taxes became delinquent Sept. 1.

During his report, Turpin said the roads department had worked to trim trees on Meadville Avenue on the hill approaching the Niobrara River.

“That seemed to help some with the snow and ice,” Turpin said. “We will try to get more of that done after we get all the snow plowed.”

Turpin said the roads department basically had to wait until Friday when the wind subsided to begin opening county roadways.

“We moved snow Friday, Saturday, and some guys were out Sunday,” the highway superintendent said. “We are trying to get everything pushed back and ready for the next round of snow.”

Small thanked Turpin for getting into a plow himself to clear snow, even though that was not in his job description as highway superintendent. He also thanked Turpin for going out at 2 a.m. during the storm and rescuing two people whose vehicle was stranded in a ditch.

“You may have saved those people’s lives,” Small said.

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

* Brown County Commissioners agenda for Tuesday

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Dec. 20)

Brown County Commissioners
Meeting 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 20
Brown County Courthouse
Agenda

5:15  Roll Call.

Kenneth Turpin – Road Department Update     

5:30  BKR Extension – appoint new board members – Hannah Smith

5:35   Propose two names to serve 6 year terms on Hospital Board – Brent Deibler, Board Member

2022 Distress Warrants Report – Vonheeder

Compensation for Brown County Road Department employees 

* City provides guidance on garbage route

(Posted 1:30 p.m. Dec. 19)

The city of Ainsworth is asking for the public’s help to ensure garbage can be picked up efficiently in the city.

Reminders from the city refuse department include:

When placing your garbage tote out for collection, place the hinges towards the house side, not the street side.

The city will not pick up bags or garbage that are not in a tote or a dumpster. If you have more garbage than your tote can hold, call the city office.

With the recent snow, residents are asked to clear the snow in front of all dumpsters. If there is not a clear path, the city cannot roll the dumpster to the truck for emptying.

The city thanks residents and businesses for all assistance in making sure the new garbage truck can run efficiently.

In another reminder, the city offices will be closed Monday, Dec. 26, and Monday, Jan. 2. Those Monday garbage routes will be picked up on Tuesday, Dec. 27, and Tuesday, Jan. 3.

* Area students receive degrees from UN-L Saturday

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

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer told the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s December graduates to chase their ambitions, be unafraid of failure, stay humble and embrace opportunities.

The Husker alumna delivered the keynote address during the undergraduate commencement ceremony Dec. 17 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Fischer, the senior senator from Nebraska, told graduates to consider their dreams and passions and chart a course toward them. She noted that there is no perfect answer and that passions might change over time, but what matters is that the graduates never stop challenging themselves to find purpose and fulfillment.

“Each of us has a calling,” she said. “And sitting here today, you may not know what your calling is right now. But I promise you — if you have the courage to listen, one day you will hear it. And you will feel it in your core.”

Fischer, who serves on the Armed Services, Commerce, Agriculture, Rules and Ethics committees, urged the graduates to not be afraid of failure. She shared one of her favorite sayings: “Life’s tough — get a helmet.”

“No one is saying it’s easy,” she said. “But your capacity to weather those storms and bounce back, that’s critical. Because if you let fear of failure guide you, it’ll weigh you down and you will not be able to fly.”

Fischer said that too often it’s easy to settle into routines because they are comfortable and easy.

“Resist that temptation,” she said.

Fischer, the top Republican on the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, said that whatever the graduates pursue or wherever life takes them, they should remain humble. Everyone has something to offer, she said.

“No matter where you are in life, treat everyone — everyone — with dignity and respect,” she said. “We never know where someone is in their life’s journey or what they may be facing that day.”

Fischer said when she meets with students from Nebraska, she is often asked for advice.

“My response is this: If you work hard, if you do what you love, opportunities will present themselves, you will be happy, and you will be successful,” she said. “So say ‘yes’ to those opportunities.”

Area students who graduated Saturday from UN-L include:

Ainsworth

Rebecca Anne Taylor, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science with high distinction.

Long Pine

Jacy Elizabeth Hafer, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Education.

Atkinson

Cameron David Gilley, College of Engineering, Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering.

Butte

Melissa Marie Sextro, College of Arts and Sciences, Bachelor of Arts degree.

Valentine

Blaire LeAnn Speck, Graduate Studies, Master of Science degree.

Chance Loil Tankersley, College of Business, Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.

* Area students graduate from UNMC

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

Diplomas were conferred on nearly 400 University of Nebraska Medical Center students Friday during commencement in Baxter Arena at Omaha.

Area students receiving degrees from UNMC are:

UNMC COLLEGE OF NURSING NORTHERN DIVISION
Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Atkinson — Emily R. Burk (With Distinction)
Newport — Brook Doke (With High Distinction)

* Area students named Academic All-State by NSAA

(Posted 8:15 a.m. Dec. 19)

The Nebraska School Activities Association announced the student recipients of the Fall 2022-23 Academic All-State Awards. Since 2006, the program has recognized students who meet the criteria for nomination by their school in the season of their activity.
Each year the NSAA recognizes students during fall, winter, and spring seasons who are nominated by their schools for their individual academic excellence, leadership, and significant contributions in their NSAA activity.

Area student-athletes named Academic All-State by the NSAA for fall activities are:

Ainsworth
William Biltoft in boys cross country, Emma Kennedy and Katherine Kerrigan in girls cross country, Trey Appelt and Riggin Blumenstock in football, Jordan Beatty in girls golf, Cameryn Goochey and Dakota Stutzman in play production, and Cameryn Goochey and Dakota Stutzman in volleyball

Keya Paha County
Hannah Linse in volleyball

Rock County
Mason Hagan and Raden Orton in boys cross country, Keira Taylor in girls cross country, Branson Anderson and Dylan Benemerito in football, Carter Buell and Olivia Strand in play production, and Allie Cosgrove in volleyball

Stuart
Luke Ludwig in boys cross country, Benjamin Paxton and William Paxton in football, Sydney Estill and William Paxton in play production, and Sydney Estill and Lacey Paxton in volleyball

West Holt
Carter Gotschall and Tyler Jelinek in boys cross country, Madison Davis in girls cross country, Jack Hoffman and Isaac Pistulka in football, Miya Carey in girls golf, Maci Nemetz and Isaac Pistulka in play production, and Maci Nemetz and EmiLee Walnofer in volleyball

Sandhills
Connor Sutton in boys cross country, Andrew Furrow in football, Andrew Furrow and Taylor Weber in play production, and Taylor Weber in volleyball

Boyd County
Will Nelson and Ethan Zeisler in boys cross country, Natasha Zeisler in girls cross country, Timothy Atkinson and Zander Kluckman in football, Trevor Goesch and Liz Kersch in play production, and Paige Drueke and Amelia Hoffman in volleyball

Valentine
Harvey Fast Horse and Grant Springer in boys cross country, Alexis Long and Grace Maunu in girls cross country, Connor Kreutner and Ashton Lurz in football, Mekallyn Bancroft and Jaycie Cox in girls golf, Taylor Battershaw and James Woodraska in play production, and Lainey Egelhoff and Malika Monroe in volleyball

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

December 11

  • Provided assistance to a Nebraska State Patrol trooper on a traffic stop on 4th St in Ainsworth. A Nebraska driver was issued a citation for driving under the influence of alcohol and booked into the Brown County Jail.  They later posted bond, and were released.
  • Released an inmate from the Brown County Jail after they completed a 4 day court commitment sentence.

December 12

  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing on Highway 183, near mile marker 202.
  • Received a report of a juvenile in possession of stolen property. The juvenile later returned the property, and a report will be sent to the Brown County Attorney’s office.

December 13

  • Released an inmate from the Brown County Jail after serving a 6 day court commitment sentence.
  • Received a 911 call for a stranded motorist. With the assistance of an interpreter we were able to understand they were stranded on Highway 12, near Norden.  All information was then transferred to the Keya Paha County Sheriff’s Office for further assistance.

December 14

  • Received a report of a stranded semi and trailer on Highway 20, near Woodlake. Due to weather conditions assistance was delayed, but tow truck information was provided.
  • Responded to a report of cattle on the roadway on Highway 183, mile marker 195. Due to poor weather conditions, deputies provided traffic control until owner’s could reach the location to ensure cattle remained off the highway.
  • Received a request for a welfare check for an individual suspected of having a mental health crisis. The Brown County Sheriff’s office and Nebraska State patrol made contact with the individual, and reported them safe at this time. 
  • Received multiple reports of stranded motorists on Meadville Ave. The Brown County Roads Department assisted the motorists so they could continue clearing the roads of blowing snow.
  • The Brown County Ambulance were paged to an Ainsworth address. No transport was needed at this time.
  • Responded to a report of an individual laying in a snowbank, in front of a Main Street business. The individual was transported home by a Deputy.

December 15

  • Released an inmate from the Brown County Jail after serving a 38 day court commitment sentence.
  • Provided agency assistance in transferring medications from the Rock County line to meet with another transporter in Ainsworth, who was taking them to a senior living facility in Valentine.
  • Received a report of a stranded motorist on Highway 20, near the Ainsworth Airport. A tow truck was called for assistance.
  • Provided traffic control for cattle on roadway at milemarker 195 on Highway 183.
  • Responded to a 911 call reporting a stranded motorist on 3rd St in Ainsworth. Traffic control was provided by deputies while the tow truck removed the car from a snowbank.
  • The Brown County Ambulance was paged to a Long Pine address, and one patient was transported to the Brown County Hospital.

December 16

  • Received a report of a stranded motorist on Highway 7, near mile marker 38. Deputies were unable to locate any vehicle in need of assistance.
  • The Brown County Ambulance responded first to an Ainsworth address for a lift assist. They later responded to the same address and transported the patient to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Released an inmate from the Brown County Jail after completing a 38 day District Court commitment sentence.
  • Booked a weekend court commitment into the Brown County Jail.
  • Received a report of multiple vehicles parked on 1st Street in Ainsworth. Deputies made contact with the drivers and the vehicles were moved off the street.

December 17

  • Provided traffic control for a semi and trailer on 4th St in Ainsworth, until a tow truck could arrive.
  • Provided traffic control near the 427th Ave and Highway 20 intersection for a cattle crossing.
  • Received a report of an abandoned vehicle on 881st Rd. The owner was contacted and later removed the car.

Weekly Summary
17 – Burn Permits Issued
6 – Incident Reports Were Taken
138 – Phone Calls Were Received
12 – 911 Emergency Calls Received
0 – Titles Were Inspected
3 – Handgun Permits Applied For
1 – Paper Services Were Served

* Travel not advised on county roadways

(Posted 7 a.m. Dec. 15)

Brown County Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin reported Thursday that travel on roads in the county is not advised.

Turpin said 430th Avenue between Road 884 and Road 885 is closed as four vehicles and a tractor are all stuck in the middle of the road.

The highway superintendent said travel on any county road is not recommended at this time. The wind has to subside before the roads department can get roads opened up for travel.

Turpin will provide updates as the roads department is able to get out and get roads in the county cleared.

* City Council approves blight study for Main Street

(Posted 7 a.m. Dec. 15)

After two months of discussion, the Ainsworth City Council Wednesday approved a change to a city ordinance regarding pet ownership, adding language that requires dog owners to provide shelter from the weather when leaving their dogs outside.

The ordinance adds language to the city’s ordinance on pet ownership stating that it shall be the duty of every person owning a dog to provide adequate shelter.

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said Sheriff Bruce Papstein felt the language addition would help the sheriff’s department with enforcement efforts.

“This language is not vague,” Schroedl said.

Councilman Vance Heyer said the addition specifically adds a shelter component to the ordinance, while Councilman Schyler Schenk said he believed the additional language was unnecessary and already addressed in city code.

By a 2-1 vote with Schenk against and Councilman Brad Fiala absent, the council approved the addition to the ordinance and waived the three readings of the ordinance.

In other business Wednesday, the council approved having Mayor Joel Klammer sign a professional services agreement with Bobbi Pettit of Five Rule Rural Planning to conduct a blight and substandard study for a portion of the city, primarily in the Main Street corridor.

Schroedl said a blighted and substandard study is used primarily for Tax Increment Financing projects, but having the Main Street corridor classified as blighted would add points to the city’s score on a potential Community Development Block Grant redevelopment application.

Schroedl said the city has received a $433,000 CDBG grant to assist with paving a portion of North Main Street north of Highway 20, and has secured $3 million in loan funding for the water and sewer line portion of the project, with more than $1.3 million of that loan classified as forgivable.

“The portion we don’t have funding for yet is the upgraded lighting, decorative concrete and landscaping,” Schroedl said.

Schroedl said the last time the city had a blighted and substandard study and used the TIF program was for the Pamida project on the east side of the city.

The council approved the agreement with Five Rule Rural Planning not to exceed $5,500 for the study.

LB 840 Citizen Advisory Review Committee representative Marcus Fairhead presented the council with a six-month review of the program.

Fairhead said all is well financially with the LB 840 program as all loans are current and money from LB 840 is being put to work in the city.

Fairhead said, after the LB 840 program was renewed by voters for another 15 years, the committee reviewed the program’s internal policies and procedures and recommended some updates. He said the changes to the policies and procedures mainly updated verbiage from the state program regarding eligible activities.

Fairhead said there were no changes to the LB 840 plan itself, as any changes there would require a vote of the people.

The council accepted the six-month report on the program that included the updates to the policies and procedures.

In old business items, the council approved authorizing the mayor to sign a general services agreement with the Central Nebraska Economic Development District for administration of the Main Street CDBG paving project.

The council also approved authorizing the mayor to sign special conditions paperwork with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development allowing the city to unlock the North Main Street CDBG funding.

The DED also sent notice requesting the city clarify the scope of the North Main Street project, as the city’s public hearing notice listed the scope of the paving as one-half mile in one instance and as 1 mile in a second instance.

The council approved clarifying that the North Main Street paving project is for one-half mile.

The council tabled action on a counter proposal from Tower Alliance for an extended lease agreement after the company rejected the city’s latest counter proposal for further increased lease payments to extend the company’s lease on a city-owned tower to 2046. The item was tabled to allow incoming City Attorney Michael Sholes a chance to review the correspondence between the city and the company and make a recommendation.

Sholes was approved as the city’s new attorney as part of the mayor’s appointments for his new term in office. Sholes, who also serves as the city attorney for Atkinson, replaces longtime City Attorney Rod Palmer.

The other appointments remain the same, with Dr. Mel Campbell as the municipal physician, Andy Taylor as the prosecuting attorney, Schroedl as the city’s administrator/clerk/treasurer, Brad Miller as the water and sewer superintendent, Kevin Shaul as the streets foreman, Lloyd Smith as the streets superintendent, and Papstein as the city’s representative on the KBR Solid Waste Board. The appointments also included the West Plains Bank, Homestead Bank, Union Bank & Trust, the Nebraska Public Agency Investment Trust and NFIT as depositories for city funds, and the Ainsworth Star-Journal and KBRB Radio for publication of city notices.

The council approved numerous appointments to various committees and boards, including:

* The reappointment of David Spann and Mary Ritter to three-year terms on the Ainsworth Betterment Committee.

* The reappointment of Jim Hoch and the appointment of Les Waits and Bill Burchell to the Cemetery Board and Tree Board for three-year terms. Burchell and Waits replace Gerry Osborne and Marvin Ohlrich.

* The reappointment of Pat Lentz to a five-year term on the Community Redevelopment Authority.

* The reappointment of Dane Sears and the appointment of Kirk Peterson to three-year terms on the LB 840 Loan Committee. Peterson replaces Dustin Barthel, who was elected to the City Council.

* The reappointment of Earl Brown to a five-year term on the Ainsworth Housing Authority Board.

* The reappointment of Harlin Welch Jr. and the appointment of Kent Taylor to three-year terms on the City Planning Commission. Taylor replaces Hunter Martin, who moved from the community.

Following the old business items on the agenda Wednesday, Klammer and newly elected Councilman Dustin Barthel were sworn into office. Barthel replaced Schenk for the remainder of the items on the agenda.

By a 2-0 vote with Heyer abstaining, the council then approved Heyer as the council president.

The council approved an amendment to the city’s insurance policy, increasing the benefit to employees who decline city-provided health insurance. Schroedl said the city currently offered $100 per pay period for employees who decline city health insurance. The city pays the $663 monthly health insurance premium for employees and 80 percent of the premium cost for spouses and dependents.

Schroedl said the $100 per pay period figure was established when Medicare supplement policies were $200 per month. Those supplemental policies for employees who qualify for Medicare are now $270 per month, so she recommended the council increase the benefit to $135 per pay period for employees who decline the city’s health insurance. Even with the increased benefit, Schroedl said the city still saved substantially on employees who decline city-provided insurance.

The council approved a continued agreement with Sikyta Law Office of Ord to provide attorney services for the city for the LB 840 program. Klammer said Heather Sikyta specializes in the LB 840 program. Schroedl said the city had not had to utilize Sikyta’s services frequently but was a good resource on the LB 840 program guidelines when questions arose.

The council tabled several items due to the weather. Those items included an ordinance recodifying the city’s general ordinances and a resolution to print and publish new ordinance books as representatives from Municipal Code Services of Neligh were not able to make Wednesday’s meeting due to the weather.

The council also tabled discussion on a nuisance property and potentially dangerous building as the resident who requested the item be placed on the agenda was not able to make it to Wednesday’s meeting due to the weather.

During his report, Klammer said he met with Nebraska Department of Transportation District 8 engineer Mark Kovar regarding the planned detour route for the Main Street renovation project. Klammer said Fernau and resident Randall Rathe also attended the meeting, which he said was cordial.

“If the city wants to take an official position on the detour route, the NDOT would like something in writing,” Klammer said.

The council opted to place the item on its Jan. 11 agenda.

During her report, Schroedl said 56 properties originally received notice for having potentially vacant property under a city ordinance passed this year.

The city administrator said some of those properties were rehabilitated and rented and some of the properties sold. She said 40 property owners would receive second notices under the ordinance.

Schroedl said building inspector Bill Carr and Sheriff Bruce Papstein have been reviewing the properties before the next round of letters go out. Owners of properties deemed vacant can be fined $250 every six months. Schroedl said most of the remaining properties are also included on the city’s list of properties with nuisance violations.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth City Council is scheduled for 5 p.m. Jan. 11.

* Ainsworth City Council Wednesday agenda

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Dec. 14)

Ainsworth City Council
Meeting 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14
Ainsworth Conference Center
Agenda

  • I. Routine Business
    • Announcement of Open Meetings Act
    • Roll Call
    • Pledge of Allegiance
  • II. Consent Agenda – All items approved with the passage of one motion
    • Approve minutes from the November 9, 2022 regular meeting, the November 15, 2022 special meeting and the November 28, 2022 special meeting
    • Approval of claims
    • Treasurer’s report
    • Department head reports
  • III. Mayor’s Appointments and Report
    • Mayor’s Report
    • Mayor’s Appointments:
      • Ainsworth Betterment Committee (ABC 3-year term, 2-year student term) – Reappointment of David Spann and Mary Ritter with terms ending October 14, 2025
      • Cemetery Board/Tree Board (3-year term) – Reappointment of Jim Hoch with term ending December 9, 2025; and appointments of Les Waits and Bill Burchell with terms ending December 9, 2025
      • Community Redevelopment Authority (5-year term) – Reappointment of Pat Lentz with term ending September 27, 2027
      • LB840 Loan Committee (3-year term) – Reappointment of Dane Sears with term ending November 1, 2025; and appointment of Kirk Petersen with term ending November 1, 2025
      • Housing Authority (5-year term) – Reappointment of Earl Brown with term ending August 7, 2027
      • Planning Commission (3-year term) – Reappointment of Harlin Welch with term ending December 2, 2025; and appointment of Kent Taylor with term ending December 2, 2025
    • Annual appointments for the term of the Mayor:  Dr. Melvin Campbell – Municipal Physician; Michael Scholes – City Attorney; Andy Taylor – Prosecuting Attorney; Lisa Schroedl – City Administrator/Clerk/Treasurer; Brad Miller – Water/Sewer Superintendent; Kevin Shaul – Street Foreman; Lloyd Smith – Street Superintendent; Bruce Papstein – KBR Solid Waste; West Plains Bank, Homestead Bank, Union Bank, Nebraska Public Agency Investment Trust, NFIT – Bank Depositories; Ainsworth Star Journal, KBRB Radio Station – Publication
  • IV. Public Hearings
    • Hearing to review the Citizen Advisory Review Committee’s (CARC) 6-month report on the LB 840 program
  • V. Old Business
    • Consider Ordinance 1556:  Minimum shelter requirement
    • Discuss and consider the counter proposal by Tower Alliance for the American Tower lease with the City of Ainsworth
    • Consider the general administration agreement with Central Nebraska Economic Development District for the North Main Street paving improvement project
    • Review and consider the special conditions from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development for the Community Development Block Grant awarded to the City of Ainsworth for the North Main Street paving improvement project including:  The Authorization to request release of funds; Grantee information sheet; 24 CFR 58.6 – Other requirements; Finding of exempt activity; Statutory checklist; FFATA; and Financial management certification
  • VI. Regular Agenda
    • Oath of Office for incoming Council members and Mayor
    • Nomination and appointment of Council President
    • Discuss and consider Ordinance 1557:  Recodifying the general ordinances of the city
    • Discuss and consider Resolution #22-14:  Directing the City Clerk to cause Ordinance 1557 to be printed and published in book form by Municipal Code Services of Neligh, NE
    • Discuss and consider the agreement for legal services with Sikyta Law Office, LLC and Resolution #22-15 authorizing the Mayor to sign the retainer agreement for LB840 attorney services
    • Discuss and consider nuisance properties/dangerous buildings – Lisa Chohon
    • Discuss and consider the professional services agreement with Five Rule Rural Planning
    • Discuss and consider an amendment to the insurance policy regarding health insurance waiver benefit
    • City Administrator/Clerk/Treasurer Report
  • VII. Adjourn

* Sandhills Care Center Board approves facility review

(Posted 1 p.m. Dec. 13)

Following an executive session Monday with representatives from the Brown County Hospital Board of Trustees, the Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors voted to engage the services of Brice Betke with Rural Med to review the care center and its financials to identify areas for potential cost savings.

Board Chairman Phil Fuchs said, in addition to finding areas where the care center could potentially trim some expenses, Betke will look at areas where the care center can improve both its facility and the services it offers.

During the open session portion of Monday’s meeting, the board learned the facility had received an additional Medicaid payment of $49,751 from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. The additional payment was pursuant to LB1014 passed by the Legislature using American Rescue Plan Act funds awarded to the state.

The additional Medicaid funding helped soften a November that had a third payroll and saw expenses more than $60,000 above revenue.

The care center generated revenue of $176,089 in November with expenses of $238,486 for a net loss of $62,396 for the month.

Fuchs said the line of credit for the facility to operate has been approved by both the Brown County Commissioners and the Ainsworth City Council. He said they were currently finalizing the paperwork on the line of credit.

“That should be done in the next week,” Fuchs said.

The board approved using $10,000 from the line of credit to pay current bills. The commissioners and City Council approved allowing the care center to use up to $450,000 as a line of credit during the next three years to aid in operations, with the line of credit paid by funding received from the voter-approved property tax levies that will generate $200,000 annually, half from property inside the city limits and half from the county at large.

Administrator Penny Jacobs informed the board Medicaid was increasing its reimbursement rate to nursing homes in January, and the facility would need to adjust its private pay rates to keep pace with the Medicaid increase.

“The new Medicaid reimbursement rates will be higher than any of our private pay rates,” Jacobs said. “We have not had any rate increases since we started providing wage increases.”

Jacobs said private pay rates should stay above Medicaid reimbursement rates, and she recommended a 30 percent increase in private pay rates to help make up for the wage increase the facility provided to employees.

Fuchs suggested raising private pay rates by a flat $50 per day.

“I don’t want to overcharge,” Fuchs said. “I want to make it workable for both sides.”

Board member Tom Jones said he was also leaning toward a $50 per day rate increase.

Jacobs said there would be another Medicaid reimbursement rate increase July 1, 2023. Fuchs said the board could then address private pay rates at that time if they would need to again be adjusted.

The board approved a $50 per day increase in private pay resident rates. Jacobs said she would send notice to the families, which was required before rates could increase.

In a final action item Monday, the board approved opening a separate savings account with Homestead Bank to deposit memorial money donated to the care center. Jacobs said that money had previously been deposited into the care center’s general account and she would like to see it deposited into a separate account so it could be designated for improvements for residents.

The board approved having Fuchs, Jacobs and board member Buddy Small as signatories on the account.

Jacobs reported there were currently 20 people residing in the Sandhills Care Center. The facility had one admission during November and two residents passed away.

She reported 11 residents were paying privately, with eight residents receiving Medicaid assistance and one receiving Medicare assistance.

Eight residents are from Ainsworth, three are from rural Brown County, one is from Long Pine, six are from Cherry County and two residents are from Rock County.

Jacobs reported the facility could use additional help in the housekeeping department, and was always ready to hire additional charge nurses and CNAs.

She reported the former agency director of nursing is now working in the same position as an in-house DON, which will save the care center approximately $10,000 per month from what it cost to have the DON through the agency.

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

* Walker announces retirement after 38 years

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Dec. 13)

After 38 years with Ainsworth Community Schools, elementary school teacher Debra Walker announced her retirement effective at the end of the 2022-23 school year, submitting a letter to the Board of Education that was read during Monday’s meeting.

Walker is currently teaching first grade at Ainsworth Elementary. The board thanked her for her years of service to Ainsworth Community Schools.

The board Monday approved the sale of two 1-acre parcels following a Nov. 22 auction. Board President Jim Arens said the board had previously authorized he and Superintendent Dale Hafer to handle the sale of the two parcels, which were formerly dedicated for rural schools.

During an auction Nov. 22, Arens said the District 18 parcel was purchased for $10, and the District 53 parcel was purchased for $3,500.

Arens said the properties will be transferred through special warranty deeds.

Following negotiations between representatives of the board and the Ainsworth Education Association, the board Monday approved a two-year negotiated agreement for certified staff for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 school years.

The parties agreed to a $700 increase in the base salary rate for the 2023-24 school year, with another $700 increase for the 2024-25 school year. Additionally, certified staff will be able to increase their accumulated amount of sick leave from 48 days to 50 days.

Hafer said the contract agreement is similar to where most schools are falling. The average agreement is falling between 3.3 percent and 4.18 percent, and Hafer said the district’s increase of 3.67 percent is pretty standard.

“Valentine and Rock County both went up $1,000 per year,” Hafer said. “We are falling right in the middle.”

The $700 base rate increase will result in $144,066 in additional staffing expenses for the 2023-24 school year based on having the same staff as the current year.

Board member Scott Erthum, who served on the district’s negotiating committee, said the negotiations with the Ainsworth Education Association were not adversarial at all.

“There was good discussion from both sides,” Erthum said. “I think it worked out well.”

In a related action item Monday, the board approved a two-year contract with Hafer following an executive session to continue serving as the district’s superintendent.

Activities Director Scott Steinhauser reported the Ainsworth Mock Trial team went 2-1 in its three trials to finish in fifth place among the 12 teams competing in the Nebraska State Mock Trial Championships. The team’s only loss was to Class A Omaha Creighton Prep, a team that reached the state championship trial.

During his report, Hafer said the district plans to interview two internal and two external candidates for the activities director position for the 2023-24 school year.

He reported Amanda Ganser will serve as the after-school program coordinator. The program is being funded using ESSER III funds, with a targeted launch date of Jan. 9.

Hafer said the principals are working with teachers and Educational Service Unit 17 staff to review the district’s math curriculum in preparation for purchasing new math curriculum using ESSER III funds. Hafer said the math curriculum was something the district needed to update regardless, so being able to use the ESSER funds would keep the district from having to use general funds.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 9.

* Area students set to graduate from UNK

(Posted 8:15 a.m. Dec. 12)

Graduate and undergraduate degrees will be conferred for 405 winter graduates at University of Nebraska at Kearney commencement exercises 10 a.m. Friday in the UNK’s Health and Sports Center.

Area students scheduled to graduate from UNK Friday include:

Ainsworth
Elizabeth Salzman, graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in education degree in health and physical education.

Butte
Sydney Atkinson, graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in education degree in business, marketing and information technology education.

Valentine
Solveig Perrett, graduating with a Master of Science degree in biology.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Dec. 12)

December 4

  • Responded to a 911 call reporting an individual in need of assistance at an apartment complex in Ainsworth. The Brown County ambulance also responded and provided lift assistance, and no transport was needed.
  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing at the intersection of Highway 20 and 427th ave.

December 5

  • Responded to a disturbance at an apartment complex in Ainsworth. One subject was removed from the facility.
  • Responded to a report of two loose dogs blocking traffic on Main St in Ainsworth. Both dogs were taken to the Ainsworth Vet Clinic, and were unclaimed.  Live Love Wag will place the dogs up for adoption.
  • The Brown County Ambulance responded to a senior living facility and transported one patient to the Brown County Hospital.
  • During a traffic stop on 4th St in Ainsworth, a NE driver was issued citations for reckless driving and minor in possession.
  • Deputies made contact with a vehicle on First Street in Ainsworth for speeding, operating a vehicle to avoid arrest, Minor in Possession, and Driving While Intoxicated.   The subject driver was booked into the Brown County Jail.

December 6

  • Received a call of a loose dog on Dawes St in Ainsworth. The dog was taken to the Ainsworth Vet Clinic.  The dog was later claimed by its owner.
  • Responded to a report of a hit and run accident that occurred in a business parking lot in Ainsworth. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Received a report of a reckless driver on Highway 20. Deputies made contact with the elderly driver and no violations were observed.

December 7

  • Received an ordinance violation complaint of a camper parked on Ash Street in Ainsworth. Deputies were able to make contact with the owner, who agreed to move the camper.
  • Provided traffic control near the intersection of Norden Ave and Highway 20 for a cattle crossing.
  • Booked a male subject into the Brown County Jail, after he received a 6 day jail sentence for driving under the influence of alcohol.

December 8

  • No reportable news.

December 9

  • The Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call from a business parking lot. One patient was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Received a report of a phone scam where a subject falsely claimed to be a family member and requested the victim send money to them. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Booked two inmates into the Brown County Jail to serve two day weekend court commitments.
  • Provided a civil standby for a custody exchange.

December 10

  • Provided traffic control for a funeral procession.

Weekly Summary
1 – Burn Permits Issued
13 – Incident Reports Were Taken
 115– Phone Calls Were Received
 4– 911 Emergency Calls Received
3 – Titles Were Inspected
6 – Handgun Permits Applied For
2 – Paper Services Were Served

* Commissioners approve line of credit for care center

(Posted 2:45 p.m. Dec. 8)

Following discussion Tuesday, the Brown County Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution authorizing a $450,000 line of credit for the Sandhills Care Center.

The move follows similar action taken last week by the Ainsworth City Council. With voters in both the city and the county approving $100,000 annual property tax levies to support the facility’s operations for a five-year period, the line of credit will help the care center operate until those tax dollars begin to be collected. Any money used from the line of credit will be repaid from part of the future property tax funds collected.

The commissioners approved the resolution that authorizes Chairman Buddy Small to sign documents for the line of credit on behalf of the county.

In other business Tuesday, Shawn Jacobs with the National Weather Service presented a Storm Ready Award to Brown County. The award is a result of work performed by Emergency Manager Traci Booth. Brown County is now designated as a storm-ready county by the National Weather Service.

Brett Younkin asked the commissioners to close a county road that has not been maintained in many years. The board agreed to begin the process of closing the road and directed Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin to conduct a study of the road’s usage.

Brown County Treasurer Deb Vonheeder discussed the upcoming Highway and Hospital Bond payments the board. The commissioners approved a resolution transferring $274,317 from the Highway Buy Back Fund to the Highway Bond Fund to make the bond payment.

The board then approved having the treasurer make both the Brown County Hospital bond and highway bond payments.

The board acknowledged Treasurer-elect Bruce Mitchell be added as a signatory on county bank accounts.

Following bid openings during its Nov. 15 meeting, the commissioners approved a food service contract for prisoner meals with D&B Café of Ainsworth, and the board approved a resolution setting rates for reimbursement for meals and lodging for employees on official county business. The county will reimburse employees $10 for breakfast, $12 for lunch and $18 for dinner.

The board appointed Zach Welch to serve as the Vice Chairman of the 911 Board until Sheriff-elect Brent Deibler takes office Jan. 5.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Dec. 20.

* Rock County Commissioners approve equipment purchase

(Posted 7 a.m. Dec. 7)

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Rock County Commissioners, the board approved the purchase of a sod mulcher that attaches to the front of a maintainer.

Capital I submitted the lone bid for the piece of equipment at $40,322, which was approved. The county will use American Rescue Plan Act funds for the purchase.

The board received three bids for a batwing rotary mower. Sandhill Equipment submitted a bid of $23,500, with AKRS Equipment bidding $24,999 and Mitchell Equipment providing a bid of $25,900. Commissioner Glen May made a motion to purchase the mower from Sandhill Equipment, but that motion died for lack of a second and the item was tabled.

The commissioners received three bids for culverts on the Jilg Road project. The board accepted the low bid of $20,303 from Midwest Steel for the materials. Ace/Eaton submitted a bid of $38,631 and B’s Enterprises bid $32,927.

Sheriff Jim Anderson and Sheriff-Elect Ben Shelbourn discussed the Highway 20 law enforcement interlocal agreement with the board. The board approved continuing the interlocal agreement.

With a newly hired deputy graduating from the Law Enforcement Academy, the commissioners approved a raise for the deputy to 85 percent of the sheriff’s salary.

Doug Fox and Jim Keller met with the commissioners to discuss the Soldier/Sailor Fund. Fox and Keller told the board three veterans in the county have incurred major medical expenses recently. The County Veterans Service Committee would like to assist the veterans with funds from the Soldier/Sailor Fund. The board tabled action until the Veterans Service Committee has a meeting to approve aid for the veterans.

The open Rock County Attorney position was discussed. The position will be advertised and current County Attorney Avery Gurnsey will stay on in the position until a replacement is found.

Susan Cook with the National Park Service met with the Commissioners. The Carn’s bridge progress was discussed. The county, National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are waiting on the Federal Highway Administration to proceed on the project.

Maddie Hughes and Jordan Arndt from Zelle HR Solutions met with the commissioners to discuss HR services available for employers. The employee handbook was discussed. Hughes and Arndt will review the employee handbook and present a proposal to the county.

Hospital Administrator Stacey Knox met with the Commissioners regarding Mary Roggash’s term on the Rock County Hospital Board of Directors that is expiring. The board approved reappointing Roggasch for an additional six-year term.

Knox told the commissioners the Rock County Hospital purchased the former Tri County Bank building to be used as the hospital’s retail pharmacy.

Emergency Manager Traci Booth along with Shawn Jacobs and Jacqueline Gomez from the National Weather Service at North Platte were on hand to name Rock County as a storm ready county. Booth reported Jessica Pozehl was hired for the Emergency Manager deputy position to be shared by Brown and Rock counties.

Action on the interlocal agreement with Brown County for a shared deputy emergency manager was tabled until the board’s Dec. 20 meeting.

Clerk Daunnita Buoy reported the county’s preapplication for the CDBG Infrastructure Match Program for the 2019 floods had been accepted.  The county is listed as Tier 3. Tier 1 and Tier 2 will take precedence over Tier 3, but the application is on file if there are excess funds available.

Buoy reported the county applied for funds available from the Local Assistance Consistency Fund and was awarded $100,000, with half awarded this year and half in 2023.

The next meeting of the Rock County Commissioners is scheduled for 9 a.m. Dec. 20.                                                                              

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Dec. 5)

November 27

  • Received a report of cattle out on the Airport Rd, North of Johnstown. The owner was contacted, and the cattle were removed from the roadway.
  • Provided a civil standby in Ainsworth for a property exchange.
  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing on Highway 20, near the 434th and Highway 20 intersection.
  • Received a report of vandalism that occurred to a vehicle. Minor damage occurred, and this is an ongoing investigation.

November 28

  • Received a report of an individual driving a motor vehicle on the Cowboy Trail. Deputies were able to identify the individual and the driver was contacted.
  • Received a request for a welfare check on an infant child believed to be in Ainsworth. The child was found to be in Cherry County and reported safe.

November 29

  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing near the Highway 183 and 20 junction.
  • The Brown County Ambulance were paged to a senior living facility in Ainsworth and transported one patient to the Brown County Hospital.

November 30

  • Responded to a report of a dog that was left in the elements without shelter. The owner was contacted and put the dog inside.
  • Received a report of a suspicious vehicle on Highway 7, near mile marker 33. After contacting the driver a citation was issued for driving under the influence of alcohol, and then booked into the Brown County Jail.  The driver later posted bond and was released.
  • The Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call at an apartment complex in Ainsworth. One patient was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Received a request for a welfare check on a male subject in rural Brown County. The individual was contacted and reported safe.

December 1

  • Received a report of a fuel drive off. Deputies were able to contact the driver of the vehicle, and the driver returned to the station to pay their bill.
  • Received a report of two uncontrollable juveniles in Ainsworth. Deputies contacted both juveniles, a report was sent to the Department of Health and Human Services, and a meeting with a crisis counselor was set up.

December 2

  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, a citation was issued for speeding 74 mph in a 65mph zone and no valid registration to a Nebraska driver.

December 3

  • Booked an inmate into the Brown County Jail for a 15-day weekend court commitment.
  • Provided traffic control near Johnstown for cattle crossing Highway 20.
  • During a traffic stop on Highway 20, near mile marker 248, a Nebraska driver was issued a citation for speeding 75 mph in a 65mph zone.

Weekly Summary
 2– Burn Permits Issued
10 – Incident Reports Were Taken
121– Phone Calls Were Received
5 – 911 Emergency Calls Received
2 – Titles Were Inspected
1 – Handgun Permits Applied For
3 – Paper Services Were Served

Monthly Summary
4– Accidents                              
12– Arrests
63– Calls for Service
17– Citations were issued
12– Verbal & Written Warnings issued
1– Defect Cards issued
31– Paper Service served
603– Phone calls were received
41– 911 emergency calls received
18– Titles inspected
8– Handgun permits issued

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 2 p.m. Dec. 1)

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

Dylan W. Poland, age 27, of Valentine, charged with driving under the influence with a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 or greater, fined $500, also sentenced to seven days in jail, driver’s license revoked for one year, and ordered to install an ignition interlock device; also charged with driving during revocation or impoundment, sentenced to seven days in jail.

Caleb Hespe, 27, of Springview, first offense driving under the influence, $500, sentenced to six months of probation, driver’s license revoked for 60 days and ordered to install an ignition interlock device; reckless driving, $500; speeding 21-35 mph over the limit, $200.

Carolyn A. Rayman, 23, of Ainsworth, speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Amber M. Polen, 39, of Ainsworth, second offense driving under the influence, $1,000, one year of probation, driver’s license revoked for 18 months, ordered to install an ignition interlock device; driving during revocation or impoundment, sentenced to 60 days in jail and one year of probation.

Darin M. Pick, 47, of Hartington, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Gloria J. Smith, 80, of Ainsworth, no operator’s license, $75.

Slobodan C. Milosevic, 60, of Schaumburg, Ill., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Sierra C. Eaton, 29, of Burwell, attempting a Class 4 felony, $1,000.

Glenn L. Johnson, 62, of Ainsworth, third-degree assault, six months of probation.

Aleksey S. Mayster, 31, of Fort Pierre, S.D., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Jada L. Miles, 20, of Watertown, S.D., attempting a Class 4 felony, $1,000; possession of marijuana more than 1 ounce but less than 1 pound, $500; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Aaron W. Johnson, 22, of Watertown, S.D., attempting a Class 4 felony, $1,000; possession of marijuana more than 1 ounce but less than 1 pound, $500; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Wanda A. O’Rourke, 59, of Wounded Knee, S.D., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Savanna R. Ost, 19, of Bassett, taking or possessing fish without a permit, $100.

Gordon S. Campbell, 39, of Colorado Springs, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

* State unemployment rate up slightly in October

(Posted 1 p.m. Nov. 30)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Council approves line of credit for Sandhills Care Center

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It made sense to me,” Klammer said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

November 20

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

November 21

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

November 22

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

November 23

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

November 24

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

November 25

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

November 26

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

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

* Keys receives award from Northeast Community College

(Posted 2 p.m. Nov. 23)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Deer harvest numbers down in the area

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

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

The full conversation can be heard below.

* Lions Club to no longer run fair concession stand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

November 13

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

November 14

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

November 15

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

November 16

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

November 17

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

November 18

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

November 19

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

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

* Rock County wins division at CSC Scholastic Contest

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

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

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

* Commissioners approve bid for foundation work

(Posted 7 a.m. Nov. 18)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* AHS students participate in Chadron scholastics contest

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Nov. 18) 

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

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

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

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

* Care center proposes line of credit as gap financing

(Posted 10 p.m. Nov. 15)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Highway 20 project being prepped for winter

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

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

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

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

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

* Rock County board discusses right of way fencing issue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* School Board hears update from Teammates program

(Posted 7 a.m. Nov. 15)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Recent cases from Brown County District Court

(Posted 7 a.m. Nov. 15)

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

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

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

November 6

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

November 7

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

November 8

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

November 9

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

November 10

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

November 11

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

November 12

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

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

* Hunters invited to submit photos of their harvest

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

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

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

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

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

(Posted 7 a.m. Nov. 10)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Pillen elected governor, Republicans sweep house races

(Posted 7 a.m. Nov. 9)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Secretary of State
Bob Evnen (R) 483,908

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

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

Public Service Commission District 5
Kevin Stocker 101,981

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

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

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

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

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

* Keya Paha County Election Results

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

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

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

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

Board of Commissioners East District
John Frederick 130

Board of Commissioners Center District
Corey Nilson 112

County Clerk/Assessor
Suzy Wentworth 373

County Treasurer
Anne Jeanette Painter 398

County Sheriff
Jeff Kirsch 402

Keya Paha County Results for Regional, State and Federal Races

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

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

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

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

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

Secretary of State
Bob Evnen (R) 357

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

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

Public Service Commission
Kevin Stocker 337

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

Northeast Community College Board of Governors
Carol Sibbel 269

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

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

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

Lower Niobrara Natural Resources District Subdistrict 3
Linda Hoffman 207

Lower Niobrara Natural Resources District Subdistrict 4
Kevin Randa 192

Lower Niobrara Natural Resources District Subdistrict 5
Kent Pavlik 199

Lower Niobrara Natural Resources District Subdistrict 7
Dwain Marcellus 194

Lower Niobrara Natural Resources District Subdistrict 8
Larry Baumeister 197

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

Amendment 1 (airport revenue)
For 220
Against 128

Measure 432 (Voter ID)
For 369
Against 37

Measure 433 (Minimum Wage Increase)
For 142
Against 269

* Rock County Election Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

County Clerk
Daunitta Buoy 529

County Treasurer
Mona Davis 572

County Sheriff
Benjamin Shelbourn 568

County Assessor
TJ Ellermeier 538

KBR Rural Public Power District – Rock County
Rod Stolcpart 278

Rock County Results for Regional, State and Federal Races

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

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

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

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

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

Secretary of State
Bob Evnen (R) 512

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

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

Public Service Commission
Kevin Stocker 475

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

All judges on the ballot in Rock County voted for retention

Northeast Community College Board of Governors
Carol Sibbel 362

Amendment 1 (airport revenue)
For 369
Against 159

Measure 432 (Voter ID)
For 475
Against 92

Measure 433 (Minimum Wage Increase)
For 265
Against 318

* Brown County Election Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unopposed Local Races
City of Ainsworth Mayor
Joel Klammer 545

City of Long Pine Mayor
Ed Brown 99

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

Brown County Treasurer
Bruce Mitchell 1,134

Brown County Sheriff
Brent Deibler 1,084

Brown County Clerk
Travis Hobbs 1,169

Brown County Assessor
Peggy Gross 1,121

Brown County Attorney
Andy Taylor 1,083

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

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

Brown County Results for Regional, State and Federal Races

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

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

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

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

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

Secretary of State
Bob Evnen (R) 1,085

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

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

Public Service Commission District 5
Kevin Stocker 1,045

Educational Service Unit 17 District 3
Lisa Chohon 412

Educational Service Unit 17 District 5
Jean Pinney 54

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

Northeast Community College Board of Governors District 2
Carol Sibbel 888

Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District Subdistrict 2
Justin Hammond 926

Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District Subdistrict 4
Stephanie DeNaeyer 921

Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District Subdistrict 6
Martin Graff 948

Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District At Large
Mark Monroe 913

All judges on the ballot voted for retention in Brown County

Amendment 1 (airport revenue)
For 883
Against 264

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

Measure 433 (Minimum Wage Increase)
For 570
Against 646

* Ainsworth City Council agenda for Wednesday meeting

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

(Posted 8 p.m. Nov. 8)

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

* Next Highway 20 concrete pour set for Tuesday

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

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

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

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

The electrical contractor continues to install light pole bases.

* Shine a green light Friday in support of veterans

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

By Austin Beard
Brown-Rock Veterans Services Officer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

October 30

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

October 31

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

November 1

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

November 2

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

November 3

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

November 4

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

November 5

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

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

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

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

(Posted 10 a.m. Nov. 4)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also running unopposed are:

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

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

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

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

* Mark Monroe for Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District at large

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

* Lisa Chohon for Educational Service Unit 17 for District 3

* Jean Pinney for Educational Service Unit 17 for District 5

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

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

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

* Bassett City Council race has 4 running for 2 spots

(Posted 10 a.m. Nov. 4)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Ganser awarded UN-L stipend for research project

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

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

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

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

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

* More Highway 20 concrete to be poured Thursday

(Posted 9 a.m. Nov. 2)

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

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

The Highway 20 intersection with Hunt Street is now closed.

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

* Race for governor highlights General Election slate

(Posted 8 a.m. Nov. 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Commissioners agree to widen Road 877 for detour route

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

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

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

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

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

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

Terry McGill said parking is already prohibited on Pine Street.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Stuart, West Holt FFA members among best in nation

(Posted 3 p.m. Nov. 1)

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

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

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

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

* Brown County Commissioners agenda for Tuesday

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

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

5:15   Roll Call.

Kenneth Turpin – Road Department Update

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

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

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

5:45   Ann Fiala – Ambulance Building – Interlocal agreement 

Discussion on water issue in the Courthouse Basement – Bauer

* Several deer check stations to be open in the area

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

October 23

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

October 24

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

October 25

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

October 26

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

October 27

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

October 28

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

October 29

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

Weekly Summary

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

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Nebraska unemployment rate among best in nation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Hafer, Stracke named to agricultural youth council

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 26)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

October 16

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

October 17

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

October 18

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

October 19

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

October 20

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

October 21

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

October 22

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

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

* Concrete to be poured Wednesday on Highway 20

(Posted 3 p.m. Oct. 21)

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

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

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

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

* Area students enroll at UNMC

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

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

Area students enrolled at UNMC this fall include:

COLLEGE OF MEDICINE
Bassett — Megan Erickson

COLLEGE OF DENTISTRY
Dentistry Program
Atkinson — Kendra Kozisek

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

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

Physical Therapy
Valentine — Rebecca Higgins

Radiography Kearney Campus
O’Neill — Makayla Hilker

* Ainsworth awarded $433,000 for street improvements

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Hansmeyer submits perfect card to win Week 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Concrete to be poured Thursday from Oak to Ash streets

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

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

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

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

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

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

The NDOT will provide additional updates as the project progresses.

* Ainsworth garbage customers asked to adhere to changes

(Posted 11 a.m. Oct. 18)

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

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

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

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

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

* Brown County Commissioners agenda for Tuesday

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

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

5:15             Roll Call.

Acknowledge posting of Open Meetings Law.

Pledge of Allegiance.

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

                 Kenneth Turpin – Road Department Update

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

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

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

* Saturday fire burns 60 acres south of Long Pine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Ainsworth hosts Loomis Thursday in D-2 playoffs

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 17)

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

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

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

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 17)

October 9

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

October 10

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

October 11

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

October 12

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

October 13

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

October 14

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

October 15

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

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

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

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 13)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No action was taken.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Additional Highway 20 concrete to be poured Friday

(Posted 2 p.m. Oct. 12)

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

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

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

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

* Nine contestants tie for top spot during football contest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Counterfeit bills again found in Valentine

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

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

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

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

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

* Ainsworth City Council Wednesday agenda

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

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

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

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

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 11)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It can be confusing,” Fuchs said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

October 2

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

October 3

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

October 4

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

October 5

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

October 6

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

October 7

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

October 8

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

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

* Bovee fire 97 percent contained

(Posted 9 a.m. Oct. 7)

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

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

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

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

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

There are no current evacuations on the Bovee Fire. 

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

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

* Bovee fire now 94 percent contained

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Work scheduled for Highway 12 east of Sparks Monday

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

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

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

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

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

(Posted 10 a.m. Oct. 5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Posted 10 a.m. Oct. 5)

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

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

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

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

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

* Close week for the KBRB Football Contest winners

(Posted 8 a.m. Oct. 5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Tubbs, Nemetz named Believers & Achievers by NSAA

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Forest Service provides update on Bovee Fire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Monday update on Bovee fire

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

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

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

September 25

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

September 26

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

September 27

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

September 28

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

September 29

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

September 30

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

October 1

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

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

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

* Large fire burning in the National Forest near Halsey

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

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

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

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

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

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