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

* Edith McCormick, 95, of Valentine later date

* Bill R. Pedersen, 68, of Newcastle, Wyo., formerly of Ainsworth 2 p.m. Oct. 30

* Harry Kenneth Johnston, 69, of Brewster 10:30 a.m. Oct. 29

* Sue Johnston, 66, of Brewster 10:30 a.m. Oct. 29

* Meeting reports located below for:

Oct. 14 Ainsworth City Council

Oct. 12 Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors

Oct. 12 Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education

* Booster doses of Moderna, J&J vaccine now available

(Posted 6;45 a.m. Oct. 26)

The North Central District Health Department will have COVID-19 booster doses available for those who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines who meet the criteria. Pfizer booster doses will continue to be available at all future NCDHD sponsored clinics. Eligible persons will be able to get a single booster dose of once their primary vaccination series is complete. To receive the booster, people must be 65 years of age and older , 18 through 64 years of age at high risk of severe COVID-19 , or 18 through 64 years of age with frequent institutional or occupational exposure to the virus.

Those eligible may choose to receive any authorized or approved vaccine booster dose currently available regardless of which primary series they received.

To save time at the clinic, those attending may print a consent form on the NCDHD website at ncdhd.ne.gov. The forms will also be available at the clinics.

Vaccination clinics are scheduled today (Tuesday) from 1 until 4 p.m. at the Long Pine City Office, from 9 until 11:30 a.m. and from 1 until 4:30 p.m. in the Greater Sandhills Family Healthcare clinic at Atkinson, and from 1 until 4:30 p.m. in the Rock County Clinic at Bassett. A clinic utilizing the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is available from 2 until 4 p.m. Wednesday in the Brown County Clinic, and the Moderna vaccine is offered from 11 a.m. until 12:15 p.m. Thursday in the Cherry County Hospital specialty clinic at Valentine.
Those attending a vaccination clinic are also asked to bring their insurance card with them.

A total of 20,203 people in the nine-county district have now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which represents 56.2 percent of those 16 and older. Another 917 people have received one dose of vaccine in the two-dose series.

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 115 new COVID-19 cases in the district during the past week.

The Cherry County Hospital is offering free rapid COVID-19 testing Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 2 until 3 p.m. To register, call the Cherry County Hospital at 402-376-2525.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff’s Department

(Posted 5 p.m. Oct. 25)

October 17

  • The Brown County Ambulance Association transported an Ainsworth resident to Rock County Hospital.
  • Received a report of trespassing on Mule Deer Road in Brown County.
  • Received report of cattle out on 7 Spring Road, South of Long Pine. Owner was contacted and removed livestock from the roadway.

October 18

  • A subject was booked into Brown County Jail for a court commitment and transferred to Rock County Jail for housing.
  • During a traffic stop on Hwy 20 a speeding citation was issued for speeding 93 in a 65.

October 19

  • Received a call regarding a deer accident that needed to be removed from the roadway. The Nebraska Department of Roads was contacted and removed the animal.
  • Received a report of a vicious dog on Oak Street in Ainsworth that was reported to be chasing children. Deputies made contact with the dog owner and determined the dog was not vicious. A verbal warning was issued.

October 20

  • The Brown County Ambulance Association transferred a rural Brown County resident to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Received a request for a welfare check for an individual at an Ainsworth residence. Individual was located and reported safe at this time.
  • Responded to a two vehicle accident, with no injuries, at the Speedee Mart gas station. The damages were reported being resolved civilly.

October 21

  • The Brown County Ambulance association transferred a Cherry County resident to the Brown County Hospital.

October 22

  • Responded to a vehicle hitting a deer accident on Highway 20, East of Ainsworth. There were no reported injuries, and the vehicle was towed.
  • Received a report involving abuse of an elderly adult. This is an ongoing investigation.

October 23

  • Received a report involving an unknown individual opening bank accounts with an Ainsworth resident’s name. This is an ongoing investigation. Individual involved was encouraged to contact the Attorney General Fraud Line.
  • During a traffic stop on Hwy 183, a citation was issued to an out of state driver for speeding 50 mph in a 35 mph zone.

Weekly Summary:

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

          1-Handgun Permits Applied For

          7-Incident Reports Were Taken

         4-Paper Services Were Served

        93-Phone Calls Were Received

          7-911 Emergency Calls Received

          4-Titles Were Inspected

* Two people, gunman killed Thursday in shooting at Superior

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 22)

Two people were killed during a shooting in Superior Thursday afternoon.

The Nebraska State Patrol, with assistance from the Nuckolls County Sheriff’s Office, Superior Police Department, and Nuckolls County Attorney’s Office, is investigating the incident, which occurred shortly before 2 p.m. Thursday.

The State Patrol responded to assist the Nuckolls County Sheriff’s Department and Superior Police Department with response to an active shooter incident at the Agrex Elevator in Superior. The Superior and Nelson Volunteer Fire departments also responded to the scene. The facility is located at 1401 E. Third St. in Superior.

Upon arrival, investigators located one deceased individual and multiple other victims. The reported shooter was also injured. There were no outstanding suspects at the time investigators arrived on scene.

Preliminary investigation has identified the shooter as Max Hoskinson, 61, of Superior. Hoskinson’s employment with Agrex had been terminated earlier in the day.

Shortly before 2 p.m., Hoskinson returned to Agrex with a handgun and opened fire, striking three individuals. An employee then retrieved a shotgun from an office and returned fire, striking Hoskinson.

One of the victims shot by Hoskinson died at the scene. Another victim was transported by life-flight to Bryan Health West Campus in Lincoln and was later pronounced dead. The third victim has been treated and released from the hospital in Superior. Hoskinson was transported to the hospital in Superior and was pronounced dead there.

The investigation is ongoing, and the names of the victims have not yet been released.

* Commissioners approve new ambulance bid Tuesday

(Posted 2:15 p.m. Oct. 20)

The Brown County Commissioners approved the purchase of a new ambulance Tuesday following a review of two bids received and a recommendation from the Brown County Ambulance Association.

The low bid of $225,997 submitted by Fyr-Tek was approved, with the ambulance association paying the cost of the new ambulance through its operations.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners approved a contract with Big John’s to provide meals to Brown County Jail inmates for lunch and dinner after the restaurant submitted the lone bid for the meal service.

The commissioners discussed a proposal from John Flor to pay past-due solid waste fees to the county if the county agreed to waive future fees. The commissioners rejected that proposal, and County Attorney Andy Taylor will draft a letter to Flor notifying him of the board’s action.

The commissioners discussed a letter the county received regarding opioid settlement funds awarded to the state by private companies selling the drugs. The commissioners approved signing the agreement with the state to receive funds from the settlement.

The board opted to utilize the services of LifeGuard to maintain the county’s defibrillator units and first aid cabinets. The only cost to the county will be when products are replaced.

The commissioners approved a resolution with the Nebraska Board of Public Roads Classifications and Standards of the annual certification of program compliance.

The board tabled several items from Tuesday’s agenda, including a memorandum of understanding between the county and The Nature Conservancy for the Fairfield Creek bridge, adding members to the Brown County Veterans Memorial Committee, and an upcoming Niobrara National Scenic River event after Susan Cook was unable to attend the meeting to provide information.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Nov. 2.

* One perfect card submitted in KBRB Football Contest final week

(Posted 10:30 a.m. Oct. 20)

During the final week of the KBRB Football Contest, one of the area prognosticators submitted a perfect card, correctly picking Purdue’s upset of No. 2 Iowa that tripped up many of the contestants this week.

Andy Smidt was perfect on the 12 high school and college games on the Week 8 contest card. That earns Smidt the $40 first-place certificate.

Five contestants missed one game on the Week 8 card, and that miss was the win by the Boilermakers.

Derek Swan and Shirley Swan of Springview, and Doug Walton, Heather Walnofer and Ann Fiala of Ainsworth missed one game, which sent us to the tiebreaker, Minnesota’s 30-23 victory over the Huskers. Only Shirley Swan correctly picked the Gophers to prevail, and that earns her the $10 second-place certificate. The other four contestants had faith in the Huskers.

Winners may pick up their certificates in the KBRB Studios.

KBRB thanks everyone who submitted cards during the KBRB Football Contest, and thanks to Buckles Automotive, AKRS Equipment and Speedee Mart in Ainsworth, Circle B Livestock in Bassett, the West Plains Bank in Springview, Speedee Mart in Atkinson, and from the Tri County Bank branches in Stuart, Bassett and Atkinson for sponsoring this year’s contest cards.

* Rock County Commissioners discuss audit findings

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 20)

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Rock County Commissioners, the board discussed findings from the recently completed county audit.

The report showed issues with the sheriff’s department petty cash account, the county attorney’s claims for phone, internet and copies, and the Historical Society didn’t have invoices. Sheriff Jim Anderson requested the sheriff’s department petty cash fund be increased to $1,000, which the board approved. The board also approved reimbursing the county attorney $135 for phone and internet and 25 cents per copy.

The audit also flagged the use of county vehicles from work to home by roads department employees. The board approved not allowing county vehicles to be driven between work and home.

Also in the audit findings are adjustments that need to be made to the E-911 and Region 24 funds before those funds can be distributed back to the counties that were part of Region 24.
Roads foreman Darrell Olson discussed enforcement of a state statute requiring property owners to mow road ditches twice per year. The board discussed non-compliance, and Olson said he would visit with the county attorney on the steps the county needs to take against those who do not follow the statute and mow road ditches.
The Nebraska Association of County Officials notified the county it needed to sign up to receive a portion of the opioid litigation settlement funds. Clerk Daunnita Buoy will register Rock County for the funds.

The commissioners approved moving forward with the application to re-license the Rock County Hospital for the year.

Sonny Corkle, Jim McCarvel and Dr. Cyndi Hanson from Northeast Community College met with the commissioners to discuss the workforce development program offered from NECC. Corkle indicated the college offers management, leadership and specialized training for the county. The commissioners encouraged residents to provide Northeast Community College with suggestions for class offerings.

The board approved a contract with Applied Connective for IT services and will register an ne.gov domain as requested by the Nebraska Secretary of State’s election division.

The commissioners appointed Glen May to cast the county’s ballot during the December NACO conference, and appointed Buoy to serve as the administrator of the county’s Empower Retirement Plan.

The next meeting of the Rock County Commissioners is scheduled for 9 a.m. Nov. 2.

* Agenda for Tuesday’s Brown County Commissioners meeting

(Posted 9 a.m. Oct. 19)

Brown County Commissioners
Meeting 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19
Brown County Courthouse
Agenda

05:15 – 05:20             Roll Call;

Acknowledge posting of Open Meetings Law;

Pledge of Allegiance;

Approve minutes of the 10-5-2021 Commissioner meeting;

                                    Kenneth Turpin – Road Department Issues

5:30                            Susan Cook, Acting Supervisor – Niobrara National Scenic River event

5:45                            Approve bid for new Ambulance – Fiala

                                    Approve new member to serve on Brown County Veteran’s Memorial Committee to fill vacancy – Kaiser

                                    Landfill Fees: John Flor – Taylor

                                    Services from Terry Holt representing LifeGuard MD USA to maintain all Brown County AED’s and first aid cabinets – Hobbs

6:00                            Tyson Larson – discussing options and fees for road, planning and zoning tabs on G-Works – Turpin

                                    Sign Big John’s Food Service Contract – Papstein/Hardy

                                    Annual Certification of Program Compliance and sign Resolution with the Nebraska Board of Public Roads Classification & Standards (NBCS) by October 31, 2021 deadline – Turpin

                                    Approve Standardized System of Reporting (SSAR) as required by State Statute and authorize Chairman to sign – Turpin

                                    MOU between Brown County and Nature Conservancy

                                    RE: bridge – Taylor

                                    Opioid litigation settlement – Taylor

* Several COVID vaccination clinics available this week

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

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 106 new COVID-19 cases in the district during the past week.

NCDHD will be commencing its Community Health Assessment process and would like to invite the public to attend the November 12 meeting to share insight on the health and wellness of the community. This will be from 1 until 3 p.m. in the Holt County Annex at O’Neill.

Walk-in COVID vaccination clinics are available around the area this week, including from 1 until 4:30 p.m. today (Tuesday) in the Rock County Clinic. Vaccinations are available Wednesday from 9 until 11:30 a.m. and from 1 until 4:30 p.m. in the Greater Sandhills Family Health Care clinic at Bassett, and from 2 until 4 p.m. in the Brown County Hospital clinic.

Vaccinations will be administered from 11 a.m. until 4:45 p.m. Friday in the West Holt Memorial Hospital at Atkinson.

A total of 55.6 percent of those over the age of 16 in the nine-county district have now been fully vaccinated, with 19,974 people completing the vaccination series. Another 203 people have received one dose in a two-dose vaccine series.

The Cherry County Hospital is offering free rapid COVID-19 testing from 2 until 3 p.m. Mondays and Fridays. To register, call the Cherry County Hospital at 402-376-2525.

* Council hears concerns from residents on feed mill dust

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 14)

The Ainsworth City Council on Wednesday heard concerns from residents living near the Central Valley Ag feed mill. Residents told the council the dust created from the feed mill was at times overwhelming.

Troy Larson told the council he had a petition signed by 28 residents in the area asking the city to take action to remedy the situation.

“I am not here trying to close them down or make them move, but I think something needs to be done,” Larson said. “Maintenance has not been good since they lost Bill Worden. The street is covered every day with the dust coming out of the blower.”

Larson said people in the area cannot wash their vehicles because they are immediately coated by the dust.

Councilman Brad Fiala, who lives within a half a block of the feed mill, said, “I washed my pickup last week, and there was a yellow film all over it the next morning. We couldn’t open our windows at all this summer. I have talked to the manager, they are aware of it. With the previous owner, it was never this bad.”

Ann Fiala said, speaking on behalf of Cottonwood Villa, there is a yellow film that settles across everything near that facility when there is a north wind.

“I am concerned about the air quality across town,” she said. “I realize they provide a lot of jobs, I just think more needs to be done to protect the air quality. It has not been this bad in the 27 years we have been there.”

Mayor Joel Klammer said he contacted the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy, and this issue would fall under their air quality authority.

“It sounds like the feed mill operated for many years without this much of an issue,” Klammer said. “I would be happy to contact the NDEE if you get me a copy of the petition.”

Councilman Vance Heyer said a call to the CVA corporate office might be appropriate to let them know if the problem is not corrected the NDEE would be asked to get involved.

Councilman Schyler Schenk said he works with the CVA regional CEO on occasion, and could speak to him about the issue as well.

The council did not take any official action.

In other business Wednesday, the council discussed options for either replacing the city’s garbage truck or contracting for garbage pickup with J&J Sanitation.

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl presented the council with the projected revenue, expenses, benefits and drawbacks for purchasing either a rear-loading garbage truck, a multi-pack truck or contracting with J&J Sanitation.

Schroedl said the current truck, a 2012 model, has a lot of wear and tear and has had several repair bills.

“It needs to be replaced one way or the other or we will just keep having to sink more money into repairs,” the city administrator said.

She said staffing was the biggest current issue the city faced with its current truck, which requires a driver and two riders.

“We have a lot of workman’s comp claims, and those part-time positions are tough to fill and keep filled,” Schroedl said. “We end up having to pull existing staff, which causes other issues.”

Schroedl said the multi-pack truck has a side arm that can pick up totes, and only one person would be needed to run the truck.

“That truck would be more efficient, and would cut down on wages and workman’s comp claims.”

The cost of the rear-load truck and 900 tote cans would be $182,225, with the cost of the multipack truck and the 96-gallon totes coming in at $478,045.

Schroedl said the city could use some of its COVID relief funding toward the purchase of the truck to cut down on the increase it would need to make to garbage rates.

Schroedl said, under a contract for service with J&J Sanitation, the city would bill residents $12.25 per month to cover the solid waste costs with the KBR Solid Waste Committee, with J&J Sanitation charging residential customers an additional $11 per month for pickup service, $27.30 per month for commercial pickup and $54.60 per month for heavy commercial pickup.

Purchasing a truck, Schroedl estimated the cost to residents at $17.88, $34.13 for commercial and $68.25 for heavy commercial.

Councilman Shawn Fernau said he liked the idea of having identical totes for each residence. He said he was leaning toward contracting for the service because, if the garbage truck were to break down, J&J Sanitation would have another one in and running the same day.

Heyer said he was in favor of a contract with J&J Sanitation because finding staff to operate the garbage truck was a nightmare.

Schenk said he believed if the city went with a contract for its garbage service, there would be no going back.

Fiala said he would like to see a current quote from J&J Sanitation, as the numbers used were quoted in 2020.

“I would also like to see if we could get a three-year contract to lock in the price before we make a decision,” Fiala said.

Klammer said he hoped the conversation Wednesday would generate some feedback from the public to help the council reach a decision. The matter was tabled until the council’s November meeting.

The council discussed lighting options for the Highway 20 renovation project scheduled for 2022. The Nebraska Department of Transportation presented the city with several options for light poles.

For an added cost of $5,891 to the city, the light poles would be outfitted with festoon power outlets so Christmas lights could be mounted and plugged in. For $30,635 total cost, the light poles would include the outlets as well as flagpole holders and banner brackets.

For a total added cost of $80,630, the light poles would include all the aforementioned features and would also be painted with a bronze topcoat.

Schroedl said the price quotes came from the second round of bid letting conducted by the NDOT after it did not receive any bids during the first round of bid letting.

“I think the festoon outlets are a must,” Schroedl said. “Those are needed for Christmas lighting.”

By a 3-1 vote with Schenk against, the council opted to have the light poles include the outlets, flag holders and banner brackets for a cost of $30,635. Schenk indicated in his vote against that option that he would have preferred to spend the additional funds to have the light poles painted.

The council renewed its contract for LB 840 program services with the North Central Development Center by a similar 3-1 vote, with Schenk against.

NCDC Director Kristin Olson said 19 applications to the LB 840 program had been processed during the past year of the contract, with the council voting to fund 15 of those requests. Two applications were denied, and two were withdrawn by the applicant.

“There was a total of $851,247 awarded, and all applications require a 50 percent match, so that is over $1.7 million that was invested into the community,” Olson said. “The façade grants are smaller than the business loans, but the highway and downtown business corridor is showing the efforts that have been made to improve building exteriors.”

NCDC Board member Graig Kinzie requested an increase of $10,000 for the new contract to $60,000, which he said would allow the board to advertise for a part-time person to assist the director.

He said the county had increased its contribution to help provide a part-time employee, and the board had voted to increase its minimum contribution level for partners from $2,500 to $5,000, which would also help produce the funds needed to add the position.

Kinzie said in previous years, the NCDC had received between $65,000 and $75,000 annually from the LB 840 fund, so the $60,000 request was still below prior years. He said the contract approved previously had included $50,000 and an additional 1 percent of the amount of funding awarded up to a total of $60,000. He said the NCDC had operated on the $50,000 and had not billed for the 1 percent additional.

NCDC Board Chairman Kim Buckley encouraged the council to think of the contract as an investment, with the returns to the community increasing with the additional funding by allowing the director to have the time to work on large-impact projects instead of also having to handle all the routine office work.

Olson said it had been a good year, and the goal of allocating LB 840 funding to get it out and working in the community instead of sitting in an account had been achieved.

Fiala said it was good to see the program working and the money being put to work. He said it was important to the community that the LB 840 program be renewed before it expires in 2023.

In a related item, the council approved three LB 840 applications as recommended by the LB 840 loan committee.

The three façade grant applications were for amounts of $9,782, $10,000, and $10,000 with the applicant responsible for providing an equal amount of funding for the improvement projects.

The council also approved a recommendation from the Ainsworth Betterment Committee to award $40,000 in ABC funding to the Ainsworth Lions Club to assist in the construction of a community fishing pond east of the Brown County Hospital on the south side of East City Park.

Kinzie, representing the Lions Club, said the county roads department planned to begin excavating the site to use some of the material this fall, with much of the work commencing in the spring of 2022.

Kinzie said he had applications submitted for equal amounts with the Brown County Visitors Committee and the Brown County Foundation. He said, if the three applications are awarded, coupled with private donations received and in-kind contributions that had been offered, the project should be fully funded.

In addition to the 2.75 surface acres, the project includes a supplemental water well, a handicap accessible fishing pier and a picnic shelter as well as trails around and to the pond and landscaping.

The council voted to recommend to the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission that a special designated liquor license be approved for the Ainsworth Elks Club for the Pheasants Forever Banquet Nov. 5 in the Conference Center.

The council also approved an administrative subdivision for Lot 12, Block 26, in Osborne’s Addition. Schroedl said a garage on the lot actually is sitting 10 feet onto an adjoining lot. She said the subdivision cleans up the issue for a pending sale, with the neighboring property owner agreeing to sell the footage needed to clean up the lot line and get the garage fully onto one lot.

The council also approved the mayor’s recommended appointments of Judy Walton to a five-year term on the Ainsworth Housing Authority, Kwynn Shelbourn and Bryan Doke to three-year terms on the Ainsworth Betterment Committee, and high school student Dakota Stutzman to a two-year term on the betterment committee.

During her report, Schroedl encouraged residents to complete the water survey that had been placed on their doors. The survey requires a 100 percent response rate. She said people could also call the city office to complete the survey if they had not yet done so.

Schroedl said the committee had a draft agreement it presented to Three River for a new cable franchise agreement. She said she hoped to have that agreement on the November agenda for the council to consider.

That meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Nov. 10.

* Five perfect cards submitted in KBRB Football Contest

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 14)

Five perfect cards were submitted during Week 7 of the KBRB Football Contest.

Adam Beel, Olivia Beel and Becky Schelm of Johnstown, Shane Kinnick of Ainsworth and Russ Richey of Springview all picked the 12 high school and college games on the Week 7 card correctly.

That sent us to the tie-breaker, Michigan’s 32-29, late victory over the Huskers. Of the five perfect cards, only Olivia Beel correctly picked the Wolverines to win, so that earned her the $40 first-place certificate.

Of the four contestants who sided with the Huskers, Adam Beel picked a score of 32-27 to miss the final by eight total points. That earns him the $10 second-place certificate. Schelm missed the total by 10 points, Kinnick by 12 points and Richey missed the final score by 24 total points.

Winners may pick up their certificates from the KBRB Studios.

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

Week 8 cards have an early deadline and must be returned to the KBRB Studios by 4 p.m. Thursday or carry a Thursday postmark if mailed. This is the final week of the KBRB Football contest.

* NCDHD confirms 171 COVID cases during past week

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

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 171 new COVID-19 cases in the district during the past week.

COVID vaccination clinics are scheduled today (Wednesday) from 2 until 4 p.m. in the Brown County Hospital Specialty Clinic, from 2 until 6 p.m. in the Atkinson Community Center drive-through, and from 3:30 until 5:30 p.m. in the Butte Community Center. Thursday, vaccinations are available from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. in the Cherry County Hospital specialty clinic, and from 2 until 5 p.m. in front of the swimming pool at Bassett. Vaccinations will be administered Friday from 11 a.m. until 4:45 p.m. in the West Holt Memorial Hospital at Atkinson.

NCDHD is offering the 3rd dose boosters for Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to those over the age of 18 who meet the following requirements:

Person must have received Pfizer for the first series of 2 vaccines

Person must have received last Pfizer dose at least 6 months prior

AND Person falls into one of the following categories:

People who should receive the booster: people 65 years and older, residents in long-term care settings, people aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions

People who may receive the booster based on their individual benefits and risks: people aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions, people aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting

Just a reminder that those people who are immunocompromised are still able to get their 3rd dose 28 days after the second shot; this applies to both Pfizer and Moderna.

Cherry County Hospital is offering free rapid COVID-19 testing Monday and Friday from 2 until 3 p.m. To register, call the Cherry County Hospital at 402-376-2525. Cut off for registration is noon the day of testing.

* Care Center Board votes to provide health insurance benefit

(Posted 1:45 p.m. Oct. 12)

In an effort to attract potential new employees and retain current staff, the Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors on Monday voted to provide a health insurance premium benefit to all full-time employees.

With the care center spending close to $30,000 during September on agency staffing, the board discussed becoming competitive with other businesses in the health care industry by offering insurance benefits.

“With about $30,000 in nursing pool costs, you would have to about fill every open position and get rid of the nursing pool costs to make it work,” board member Tom Jones said. “The danger comes if we offer this benefit and we still have to use the nursing pool. We need to treat our people right. We should probably do this, but it is probably not going to save us financially.”

Board Chairman Phil Fuchs said offering health insurance benefits would be more a long-term solution to trying to reduce the agency staffing the care center is currently having to utilize.

“With the limited number of employees already in heath care, if we don’t offer benefits they go somewhere that does,” Fuchs said. “A lot of other facilities pay 85 percent of the insurance premium.”

Board member Buddy Small said the board was between a rock and a hard place, trying to be competitive for employees but facing a difficult financial road.

“If we do this, and several months into it we still can’t staff and we run out of money, taking the benefit away would be unfair,” Small said. “I am reluctant because of our limited funds, but I think we have to do it.”

Fuchs said the care center was doing better than its budget projections for the 2021-22 fiscal year thus far.

“We haven’t had to use much of our reserve,” Fuchs said. “I am confident we have the funding to make it through the year if we do this.”

Board member Dr. Mel Campbell said, if the board was trying to make the care center a viable long-term institution, it needed to be competitive to try and attract employees.

“If things don’t turn around in the next year, we may have to look at closing the doors,” Campbell said.

Care Center Administrator Penny Jacobs said the board offering a health insurance benefit would be a huge step in the right direction in trying to recruit and retain employees.

“Only three employees are currently getting insurance through Lyons,” Jacobs said. “They have to pay the full premium currently.”

Jacobs said the board needed to make the decision soon if it planned to offer benefits, as the Lyons open enrollment period begins soon and if employees did not sign up within that window, they would have to wait a full year.

“We have had to turn away a few potential residents due to staffing shortages,” Jacobs said. “We need two nurses, three CNAs, a cook, two dietary aides, a laundry person and a housekeeping person. The core people we have there are getting burned out.”

Following the discussion, the board unanimously approved offering 85 percent of the single health insurance premium cost to full-time employees, which currently would amount to $516 per month. Employees opting for a family policy would still receive the $516 benefit.

In other business Monday, the board approved a bid from Saner Plumbing and Iron to replace a water heater in the care center.

Fuchs said the care center has two water heaters. One was replaced more than a year ago, and the other water heater had now started to leak.

Saner Plumbing submitted a bid of $11,259 for the water heater and installation. Lytle’s Plumbing submitted a bid of $11,697 for the water heater and installation. After concluding the two bids represented similar quality water heaters, the board approved the low bid from Saner Plumbing.

The board approved paying a claim of $55,565 to Ainsworth Electric Motor for the new generator and installation, which Fuchs said has now been completed.

“The generator is up and functioning,” Fuchs said. “We can now request the grant funding from the USDA. We will pay the invoice when the grant funds are received, which shouldn’t take a long time.”

The USDA grant will cover 75 percent of the cost of the generator, roughly $44,642. The care center will be responsible for $10,923. The project cost came in about $600 lower than Ainsworth Electric Motor’s original bid.

The board also voted to declare the old generator as a surplus item to be sold on the Big Iron Auction web site along with other county equipment.

Fuchs said the old generator’s motherboard malfunctioned a few weeks ago. The cost to replace it would be $1,000 or more, so instead of replacing it the board opted to just note the malfunction when auctioning the generator.

During September, the Sandhills Care Center generated $140,143 in revenue, with expenses of $137,532 for a net operating margin of $2,611 for the month. The facility spent $26,024 on agency staffing during September.

Jacobs reported there are currently 17 residents in the care center, with six paying privately, 10 receiving Medicaid assistance and one resident on hospice care. She said there were no new admissions during September, one resident was discharged home and one resident passed away.

Jacobs reported Makenzie Crane is in training as the facility’s new business manager.

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

* School receives reimbursement funds for laptop computers

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

Ainsworth Community Schools Superintendent Dale Hafer told the Board of Education Monday the school has received $161,005 in ESSR II funding reimbursement from the recent purchase of laptop computers for the high school and the cost of FastBridge and EduClimber subscription services.

Hafer said the federal funding allowed the district to outfit each high school student with a new laptop, with the older laptop computers being given to junior high students.

The laptop replacement was something the district would have done without the federal funding, so using those funds to replace the computers will save the district from having to collect property tax dollars for the laptops.

Hafer said the school has $20,227 of ESSR II funding remaining, with $6,939 of that total allocated for the second year of the FastBridge and EduClimber subscriptions.

The superintendent said the district is getting options for replacing the elementary school’s heating and air-conditioning system and making playground improvements with federal funding from ESSR III.

The school has several hundred thousand dollars available in federal funding from that program, and plans to make upgrades to the facility that would have otherwise required property tax dollars to complete.

Hafer also told the board Monday the school’s audit has been completed. He thanked Lori Witte and Dedra Stoner for their work to have everything prepared for the audit.

Activities Directors Jared Hansmeyer and Scott Steinhauser submitted a report to the board that indicated winter sports classifications had been released. Ainsworth will compete in Class D in wrestling this year, with the girls basketball team competing in Class C-1 and the boys basketball team competing in Class D-1 due to lower school enrollment than the girls. In the three high school grades counted by the NSAA, there are 67 girls in the sophomore through senior classes while there are just 41 boys in those three classes. The NSAA now separates boys and girls to determine competitive classes as opposed to the previous method of taking the overall class numbers.

Alyssa Erthum, Ben Flynn and Ty Schlueter were selected as the Ainsworth High School winners of the NSAA Believers and Achievers Award. Erthum was selected as one of the 48 statewide Believers and Achievers.

In the only action item Monday, the board approved the second reading of a substitute teacher policy that increases pay for substitute teachers to $135 per day. Long-term substitutes receive $145 per day if they sub for the same teacher for 10 consecutive days or more.

The board will hold a work session at 6 p.m. Nov. 8 ahead of its regular meeting at 7 p.m.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff’s Department

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

October 3

  • The Brown County Ambulance Association provided standby coverage at the East City Park football field.
  • Received reports of an erratic driver on 2nd St. Vehicle was not located at this time.
  • Received a report of a vehicle on fire W of Johnstown on Southwest Rd. The Johnstown Fire Department and Ainsworth Fire Department responded. Vehicle was extinguished.

October 4

  • Responded to an animal neglect complaint at Main St. & Woodward St. in Ainsworth. Animal in question was reported safe at this time.
  • Responded to a report of a disturbance on 2nd Street in Ainsworth. A civil dispute had occurred. Individuals involved were issued verbal warnings.

October 5

  • Responded to a request for a welfare check on two juvenile individuals at a rural Brown County residence. Individuals were reported safe at this time.
  • K9 Unit Dutch assisted an allied agency with multiple search warrants resulting in the seizure of several ounces of a controlled substance (methamphetamines).
  • Investigated a report of a vehicle/deer accident near the Ainsworth Regional Airport. No Injuries were reported at this time.

October 6

  • Responded to a report of an erratic driver passing farm equipment on Meadville Ave. Vehicle was reported not located at this time.
  • Investigated a report of possible theft of monetary property involving a Brown County resident. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Investigated a report of possible adult abuse or neglect at an Ainsworth residence. This is an ongoing investigation.

October 7

  • Received a report of possible maltreatment involving a Long Pine resident. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Responded to a request for a welfare check at an Ainsworth residence.

October 8

  • During a traffic stop at 4th & Pine St., a subject was issued a citation for Open Alcohol Container.
  • Responded to a request for a welfare check on an individual at N Elm St. in Ainsworth. Individual was reported safe at this time.
  • During a traffic stop on 3rd & Harrington St., a subject was issued a citation for Minor In Possession Alcohol and Negligent Driving. Subject was released to a responsible caretaker at this time.

October 9

  • During a traffic stop on Hwy 20 & N Cedar St. a subject was issued a citation for speeding 38 in a 25, driving left of center, Possession of Marijuana more than One Ounce, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. A second individual was issued a citation for Possession of Marijuana more than One Ounce and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
  • The Brown County Ambulance Association transported a rural Ainsworth resident to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Responded to a report of an alarm sounding at an Ainsworth business. No criminal activity was reported at this time.

Weekly Summary:

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

           2-Handgun Permits Applied For

           17-Incident Reports Were Taken

           8-Paper Services Were Served

           114-Phone Calls Were Received

           7-911 Emergency Calls Received

           2-Titles Were Inspected

* Two bids received for new ambulance

(Posted 2:15 p.m. Oct. 7)

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Brown County Commissioners, the board opened two sealed bids for a new ambulance. Ann Fiala and Darlene Miller were present representing the Ambulance Association. Bid #1 in the amount of $243,602 was submitted by American Response Vehicles. Bid #2 in the amount of $225,997 was submitted by Fyr-Tek. The Ambulance Association will review the bids and specifications and make a recommendation during the Oct. 19 commissioner meeting.

Becky Hardy informed the commissioners of the First Concord HRA payment revision that takes effect Nov. 1. The board acknowledged First Concord’s HRA Health Insurance deductible buy-down payment revision.

The board approved a budgeted transfer of $200,000 from the Miscellaneous General Fund to the County Highway Fund.

Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin discussed the possible purchase of a roads department tab on the GWorks website, called Simple Roads. Turpin will ask Tyson Larson to present the program benefits, explanation of costs and annual fees to the commissioners at a future meeting.

The Commissioners opened one bid for prisoner meals. Big John’s Restaurant submitted the lone bid in the amount of $9.50 for each noon hot meal, and $8.50 for each evening sack lunch. The board approved the bid.

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

* Brewer discusses special session, 43rd District boundaries

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

Nebraska 43rd District State Sen. Tom Brewer visited with KBRB’s Graig Kinzie to discuss the recently completed special session of the Legislature that focused on legislative and congressional district boundaries following Census data.
To hear the conversation, click on the audio link below.

* Two perfect cards submitted in Week 6 Football Contest

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

Two perfect cards were submitted during Week 6 of the KBRB Football Contest. Both Hazel Chase of Springview and Olivia Beel of Johnstown were spot on with their picks of the 14 high school and college games on the Week 6 card.

That sent us to the tie-breaker to determine the first- and second-place certificates, Nebraska’s 56-7 thumping of Northwestern. Olivia Beel correctly picked the Huskers, by a 32-17 score. Unfortunately, Chase forgot to fill in the tie-breaker score, so Beel earns the $40 first-place certificate and Chase will pick up the $10 second-place prize.

Six contestants, including Mike Swan, Kristie Mundorf, Brett Swan and Crystal Stout of Springview; Roger Brink of Atkinson; and Chris Raymond of Ainsworth missed one game on the Week 6 card to just miss out.

Winners may pick up their certificates from the KBRB Studios.

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

Week 7 cards must be returned to the KBRB Studios by 4 p.m. Friday or carry a Friday postmark if mailed.

* Rock County receives FEMA flood reimbursement funds

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

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Rock County Board of Commissioners, a draft of the county audit was presented. Board Chairman Jim Stout & Treasurer Mona Davis signed the $2,824 adjustment to financial statements to include monies held by County Officials not including the County Treasurer.  Davis also discussed Road Funds with the Commissioners & County Government Day which will be held October 20.  The Treasurer received $563,471.87 from FEMA for 2019 Floods. The board approved transferring $360,000.00 ($30,000 for backhoe & $330,000 for 2019 flooding)) to the Inheritance Tax Fund and $200,000.00 to the BKR Bridge Fund from the Road Fund to replace money borrowed.

The board approved certifying levies per $100 of valuation: General – .276295 with a tax request of $1,827,479; Library – .017078 with a tax request of $112,959; Road Bond – .044017 with a tax request of $291,137; Hospital Maintenance – .046372 with a tax request of $306,719; Hospital Bond – .019983 with a tax request of $132,174; Ambulance Replacement – .010000 with a tax request of $66,142. Total Levy – .413745 with a total tax request of $2,736,611. Airport – .001076 with a tax request of $7,120; Ag Society – .004687 with a tax request of $31,001; Rock County Rural Fire Dist. – .014000 with a tax request of $58,676; Gracy Rural Fire Dist. – .018000 with a tax request of $10,543 & Newport Rural Fire Dist. – .018000 with a tax request of $28,154; City of Bassett – .499995 with a tax request of $125,875; Village of Newport – General- .449972 with a tax request of $9,688 – Sinking – .318993 with a tax request of $6,868 for a total levy of .768965 and a total tax request of $16,556; Rock County Public Schools – General – .551650 with a tax request of $3,627,585 – Special Building Fund – .007644 with a tax request of $50,267 for a total levy of .559294 and total tax request of $3,677,852.

An application for road crossing, approach, culvert & parallel occupancy permit was approved. The road crossing is located in the SW quarter of Section 1, Township. 31N, Range. 20, West in Rock County.

Traci Ganser, Brown/Rock Emergency Manager met with the Commissioners on an appointment letter for the State.  The Commissioners signed a letter appointing Ganser as Rock County’s Emergency Manager.

The board conducted its Quarterly Jail Inspection.

Credit card limit for the Sheriff’s Office was discussed.  The credit limit is not enough for some of their online purchases. The board approved raising the Sheriff’s Office credit limit to $5,000.

SLFRF Administration point of Contact & Authorized Representative was discussed. Clerk Daunitta Buoy asked that another office help with the task. The Assessor’s Office offered to be the second point of contact.  The Clerk will remain the Authorized Representative.

* Several COVID vaccination clinics available this week

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 5)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 94 new COVID-19 cases in the district during the past week.

Several vaccination clinics are scheduled this week in the nine-county district, including from 1 until 4:30 p.m. today in the Rock County Clinic at Bassett, from 9 until 11:30 a.m. and 1 until 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Greater Sandhills Family Healthcare Clinic at Bassett, from 11 a.m. until noon Wednesday in the Ainsworth Senior Center, from 3:30 until 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Ainsworth Conference Center, from 2 until 4 p.m. Wednesday in the Brown County Hospital, from noon until 6 p.m. Thursday at the Valentine United Methodist Church parking lot, and from 11 a.m. until 4:45 p.m. Friday in the West Holt Memorial Hospital.

A total of 19,449 people residing in the nine-county district are fully vaccinated against the virus, representing 54.1 percent of those 16 years of age and older. Another 520 people have received at least one dose in a two-dose series.

The CDC has endorsed a recommendation for a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine in certain populations and recommends a booster dose for those in high risk occupational and institutional settings.
Currently, NCDHD is waiting for official orders to start administering the booster dose. When available, the individuals who qualify for a booster does are:

people 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of Pfizer vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer primary series,

people aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer primary series,

people aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks, and

people aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.

The Cherry County Hospital is offering free rapid COVID-19 testing. This service will be offered Mondays and Fridays from 2 until 3 p.m. To register, a patient should call the Cherry County Hospital at 402-376-2525 or Cherry County Clinic at 402-376-3770.

* Tubbs receives Nebraska Medicaid Provider Award

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

Governor Pete Ricketts, Department of Health and Human Services Director Dannette R. Smith, and Director of the DHHS Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care Kevin Bagley on Monday recognized four doctors with Nebraska Medicaid Provider awards. The awards recognize outstanding providers within Heritage Health Adult, Nebraska’s Medicaid program.

“The winners of the Nebraska Medicaid Provider Awards delivered great customer service and responsibly stewarded taxpayer dollars,” Ricketts said. “They help deliver on DHHS’ mission to help Nebraskans lead better lives.  Thank you to each of the award winners for your contributions to improving services for the people of Nebraska.”

Dr. John Tubbs with Greater Sandhills Family Healthcare was one of the four providers recognized Monday.

Nebraska Total Care identified Dr. Tubbs as its nominee for the Governor’s Medicaid Award.  Dr. Tubbs graduated from Ross University School of Medicine and completed his residency in Family Medicine at Creighton University School of Medicine. After he completed his residency in 2002, Dr. Tubbs went into practice with Midtown Family Practice at Omaha.  In 2005, he and his wife, Erica, chose to move to north central Nebraska to provide medical care to a more rural population. They have clinics at Stuart, Atkinson, and Bassett and are enjoying the opportunity to continue offering quality medicine to the communities.

Dr. Tubbs is the winner of the NTC 2020 Physician Summit Award, which is presented to a doctor within the organization’s statewide network. The award recognizes the provider who has produced the highest Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set quality scores across multiple key measures.  Dr. Tubbs has been a provider in NTC’s network since the plan’s inception on January 1, 2017, and he has demonstrated a commitment to delivering high-quality services and meeting rural health needs for the Medicaid members in his communities.

* Werner submits resignation as Brown County Hospital CEO

(Posted 10:15 a.m. Oct. 4)

The Brown County Hospital Board of Trustees will begin the process of hiring a new administrator after current CEO John Werner notified the board he would resign from his position effective Oct. 15.

Serving in the position for more than three years, Werner notified the board he would pursue another job opportunity that returns him closer to his family.

John Gross, a member of the Board of Trustees, said the board is confident the hospital’s current leadership team can effectively maintain day to day operations until an interim administrator is brought on board while a larger search commences for a permanent replacement.

“John put us on very sound financial footing, expanded our operations and implemented a number of internal procedures to enhance accountability,” Gross said. “He improved staff relations and board development, and he strengthened our community outreach.”

Gross said Werner led the hospital through the COVID crisis, keeping the staff together, managing the federal funding that came down and the uncertainty that came with it, and led the hospital into a stronger position as a result.

Werner led the transition into a new electronic medical records system and worked through the process of being able to continue to have an avenue to provide professional recruitment dollars for new providers.

“The board wishes John and Miriam the best and thanks him for the work he did to advance the hospital and the community,” Gross said.

Gross said Werner’s final day as administrator is Oct. 15, and the hospital’s current leadership team will oversee day to day operations until an interim administrator is hired.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff’s Department

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 4)

September 26

  • Received a report for a noise complaint located in Hidden Paradise. Noise was located in the pavilion; a live, planned event concert.
  • Brown County Ambulance Association responded to an Ainsworth residence. No transfer was made at this time.
  • Provided traffic control for a cattle crossing moving 150 pairs of cattle across Highway 20.
  • Received a report of a dog at large between Dawes and Woodward Street. Deputies were unable to locate the dog at this time.
  • Released a subject from Brown County Jail.
  • Received a report of a vehicle traveling West on Highway 20 at excessive speeds. Deputies were unable to locate the vehicle at this time.
  • During a traffic stop on Hwy 20 an individual was issued a citation for Possession of Marijuana less than one ounce, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

September 27

  • Received a report of trespassing that had occured at a rural Ainsworth residence. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Received a report for a loose dog in need of assistance on Ulrich St. The dog was taken to the Ainsworth Vet Clinic and later returned to its owner.
  • Received a report for a loose dog on 2nd St. The owner was contacted and the dog was returned.
  • Received a report of a pickup and trailer traveling East on Highway 20 near mile marker 217 with no tail lights. Deputies were unable to locate this vehicle.
  • During a traffic stop, an individual was issued a citation for Marijuana less than one ounce, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

September 28

  • Released a subject from Brown County Jail.

September 29

  • During a traffic stop on Hwy 20, a subject was issued a citation for Driving Under the Influence. Subject was arrested and booked into the Brown County Jail.
  • The Ainsworth Fire Department responded to a bale/pasture fire North of Ainsworth.
  • Released a subject from Brown County Jail.
  • Investigated a two vehicle accident with no injuries at an Ainsworth business.
  • Investigated a one vehicle deer accident on Highway 20 with no injuries.

September 30

  • Received a report of two dogs loose near 1st & Pine Street. Deputies were unable to locate dogs.
  • Responded to a report of a vehicle blocking an alleyway near Ainsworth High School and 2nd St. The vehicle was located and had been moved, no longer blocking the alleyway at this time.
  • Received a request for a welfare check on a rural Brown County resident. Individual was located and reported safe.
  • Responded to a request for a welfare check on a Long Pine resident.

October 1

  • Received a report of a loose dog at Pump and Pantry gas station. Dog owner was contacted and returned home with the dog.
  • Responded to a report of an individual lighting off fireworks on Hall Street in Ainsworth.

October 2

  • Received a call reporting a semi hauling bales traveling westbound on highway 20 was about to lose some of it’s loaded bales. Deputies made contact with the vehicle and volunteer personnel responded to assist with readjusting the bales.
  • Received multiple reports of a pickup that lost a large amount of trash from the pickup bed. Caller advised trash was picked up.
  • Multiple citations for speeding were issued.

Weekly Summary:

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

2-Handgun Permits Applied For

13-Incident Reports Were Taken

0-Paper Services Were Served

167-Phone Calls Were Received

8-911 Emergency Calls Received

3-Titles Were Inspected

September Monthly Summary:

7– Accidents

13 -Arrests

73– Calls for Service

20– Citations were issued

5– Defect Cards issued

10– Handgun permits issued

11– Paper Service served

779– Phone calls were received

41– 911 emergency calls received

21- Titles inspected

13- Verbal & Written Warnings issued

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 2:15 p.m. Sept. 30)

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

Shane T. Hamling, age 23, of Wood Lake, charged with speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, fined $75.

Gerald W. Burdeski, 66, of Moorhead, Minn., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Tristian N. Ramey, 17, of Crawford, Texas, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Roxanne H. Theisen, 60, of Long Pine, no park permit, $25.

Stuart E. Kissick, 37, of Scottsbluff, speeding 36 mph or more over the limit, $300.

Larry G. Saner, 68, of Ainsworth, commercial vehicle brake violation, $50.

Paul J. Embick, 49, of Long Pine, first offense driving under the influence, $500, also sentenced to seven days in jail, driver’s license revoked for six months and ordered to install an ignition interlock device; also charged with third degree assault, sentenced to 30 days in jail with credit for three days served.

Vance A. Heyer, 29, of Ainsworth, first offense driving under the influence, $500, six months of probation, ordered not to drive for 60 days, and ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

Mutdambabyon M. Maasha, 46, of Cambridge, Mass., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Kathleen L. Book, 53, of Prairie Grove, Ark., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Magdiel Sanchez, 33, of Ainsworth, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Bruce D. Schendt, 56, of Omaha, speeding 21-35 mph over the limit, $200.

Jerod C. Waterman, 32, of O’Neill, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Mariah J. Wenaas, 33, of Fargo, N.D., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Kyle A. Hollenbeck, 19, of Ainsworth, speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

* Nine submit perfect cards during KBRB Football Contest

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 29)

Contestants were dialed in during Week 5 of the KBRB Football Contest, with a staggering nine contestants picking a perfect card.

With only a couple real toss-up matchups on the card this week in both the high school and college games, Travis Mundorf, Logan Mundorf and Brett Swan of Springview; Kim Shaw of Bassett; Maxine Brink of Atkinson; Jenny Beel, Olivia Beel and Tiffani Naprstak of Johnstown; and Ann Fiala of Ainsworth all submitted perfect cards for Week 5.

That sent us to the tie-breaker, Nebraska’s 23-20 overtime loss to Michigan State, clutching defeat out of the hands of victory by allowing a punt return touchdown after the Husker defense had not yielded a single first down in the second half.

Of the nine perfect cards, only three picked Michigan State to win, and it was the three Johnstown contestants.

Jenny Beel had the Spartans, 24-14, to miss the total by seven points. That earned her the $40 first place certificate for the week. Tiff Naprstak picked Michigan State by a 28-17 margin, missing the total by eight points to pick up the second-place $10 certificate. Olivia Beel had the Spartans to win, 31-28, missing the total by 16 points.

Winners may pick up their certificates from the KBRB Studios.
Week 6 contest cards are available now from Buckles Automotive, AKRS Equipment and Speedee Mart in Ainsworth, Circle B Livestock in Bassett, the West Plains Bank in Springview, Speedee Mart in Atkinson, and from the Tri County Bank branches in Stuart, Bassett and Atkinson.

Week 6 cards must be returned to the KBRB Studios by 4 p.m. Friday or carry a Friday postmark if mailed.

* Nebraska’s jobless rate the lowest in the U.S. in August

(Posted 1:30 p.m. Sept. 28)

The Nebraska Department of Labor announced Nebraska’s preliminary unemployment rate for August is 2.2 percent. The rate is down 0.1 percentage points from the July 2021 rate of 2.3 percent and down 1.8 percentage points from the August 2020 rate of 4.0 percent.
Unemployment data goes back to 1976, and the August rate is the lowest on record for Nebraska.

“Nebraska’s unemployment rate continues to be the lowest in the nation and has now reached a new record low for our state,” Governor Pete Ricketts said.  “There’s never been a better time to find a job in Nebraska. With tens of thousands of openings, Nebraskans and people across the country have a chance to find the opportunity of their dreams here in the Good Life.”

The national unemployment rate for August was 5.2 percent. Nebraska’s labor force participation rate of 68.4 percent is third behind North Dakota and South Dakota. The state’s employment to population ratio of 66.9 percent is the best in the country.

“The number of unemployed individuals has been dropping since July of last year and is now at 22,364, which is the lowest it has been since 1998,” Commissioner of Labor John H. Albin. “Labor force employment was up to 999,563 in August, the highest level since March of 2020 prior to the pandemic.”

In the area, Brown County’s unemployment rate was 1.8 percent in August, below the state average. Just 1.1 percent of Rock County’s labor force is unemployed, and Keya Paha County’s rate in August was just 1.5 percent.

Both Cherry County and Holt County had an unemployment rate of 1.3 percent in August, and Blaine County also checked in at 1.3 percent. Boyd County’s unemployment rate of 1.7 percent gave all north central Nebraska counties an unemployment rate lower than the state average. There remain numerous open employment positions in all area counties.

The counts of employed and unemployed in the labor force are based on a survey conducted by the Census Bureau regarding employment status. Both individuals who are claiming unemployment benefits and those who are not claiming can be counted as unemployed based on their survey responses. Individuals who are not working and are not seeking work are not considered part of the labor force and are not included in the unemployment rate calculation. Nonfarm employment, a count of filled jobs, was 1,019,012 in August, up 4,896 over the month and up 33,460 over the year. Private industries with the most growth month to month were education and health (up 1,672); trade, transportation, and utilities (up 1,334); and professional and business services (up 1,173). Private industries with the most growth year to year were leisure and hospitality (up 7,638); education and health (up 7,236); and trade, transportation, and utilities (up 6,460).

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August is 5.2 percent, down 0.2 percentage points from the July rate of 5.4 percent and down 3.2 percentage points from the July 2020 rate of 8.4 percent.

Employers looking for qualified applicants are encouraged to post their jobs for free on NEworks.nebraska.gov and partner with their closest job center to take advantage of programs geared at recruiting, upskilling, and expanding their workforce.

* NCDHD confirms 132 COVID cases during past week

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 28)

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 132 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the nine-county district during the past week.

Seven of those cases were confirmed in Brown County, with 35 percent of those tested in the past week coming back positive for the virus.

Three cases were confirmed in Rock County, two in Cherry County, 28 in Holt County and two in Boyd County. There were no confirmed cases in Keya Paha County during the past week.

COVID-19 vaccination clinics are scheduled from 9 until 11:30 a.m. and from 1 until 4:30 p.m. today (Tuesday) in the Greater Sandhills Family Healthcare clinic at Atkinson, and from 1 until 4:30 p.m. today in the Rock County Clinic. There is also a vaccination clinic from 11 a.m. until noon Thursday in the Cherry County Hospital Specialty Clinic, and a drive-through clinic from 1 until 6 p.m. Friday in the parking lot of the North Central District Health Department office at O’Neill.

The Cherry County Hospital is offering free rapid COVID-19 testing. This service will be offered Monday and Friday from 2 until 3 pm.  To register, a patient should call the Cherry County Hospital at 402-376-2525 or Cherry County Clinic at 402-376-3770 and press pound to be connected to the registration voicemail.  Cut off for registration is noon the day of testing.

The CDC has endorsed recommendations for a booster shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in certain populations and recommends a booster dose for those in high risk occupational and institutional settings. The FDA authorization and CDC’s guidance for use are important steps forward as we work to stay ahead of the virus and keep Americans safe.
Currently, NCDHD is waiting for official orders to start administering the booster dose. When available, NCDHD will notify all media sources. When available, the individuals who qualify for a booster does are:

people 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer primary series,

people aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer primary series,

people aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks, and

people aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff’s Department

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Sept. 27)

September 19

  • Assisted individuals involved in a civil dispute involving a minor child.
  • Received a report of a struck gas meter on Meadville Ave. The Ainsworth Fire Department responded. Gas line was shut off.
  • Received a report of cattle out two miles South on Hwy 7. Owner was contacted and returned cattle to the pasture.

September 20

  • The Brown County Ambulance Association transported an Ainsworth resident to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Received a report of possible abuse or neglect at an Ainsworth residence. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Received a report of a dog at large East of Ainsworth on Hwy 20. Dog was not located at this time.

     September 21

  • The Brown County Ambulance Association transported an Ainsworth resident to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Assisted an individual who had found a dog on the loose. Owner was contacted and the dog was returned to the owner.
  • The Brown County Ambulance Association provided standby coverage at the Ainsworth Football Field.

September 22

  • Investigated a report of possible suspicious activity at an Ainsworth residence. No criminal activity was reported at this time.
  • The Brown County Ambulance Association transported an Ainsworth resident to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Released a subject from the Brown County Jail.
  • Investigated a vehicle accident without injuries at N Maple St.
  • The Brown County Ambulance Association transferred a patient from Brown County Hospital back to the patients residence.
  • Responded to a request for a welfare check at an Ainsworth business. The Brown County Ambulance Association also responded. No transport was made at this time.

September 23

  • The Brown County Ambulance Association responded to an Ainsworth residence providing patient assistance. No transport was made at this time.
  • Received a report of possible child abuse or neglect at a rural Brown County residence.
  • Released a subject from the Brown County Jail.
  • Responded to a report of a verbal altercation regarding an animal dispute at an Ainsworth residence on S Hall St. Property management was notified of the issue between individuals involved. No criminal activity to report.

September 24

  • The Brown County Ambulance Association transferred a patient from an Ainsworth residence to Avera St. Anthony’s Hospital in O’Neill. Patient was then transferred back to residence.
  • Received a report of possible child abuse or neglect at an Ainsworth residence.
  • Received a report of a grass fire on 440th Avenue E of Long Pine. The Long Pine Rural Fire Department responded and the Ainsworth Fire Department was initiated. The fire was extinguished.
  • Received a report of a dog on the loose near 4th & Oak St. Owner was contacted and returned home.
  • Received a report of an individual laying in a ditch West of Brown County’s jurisdiction. Cherry County was notified.
  • Received a report of a gas drive off from an Ainsworth gas station. Subject in question was not located at this time.
  • The Brown County Ambulance Association provided standby coverage at the Ainsworth Football Field.

September 25

  • Responded to a report from an allied agency of a possible stolen vehicle. Incident evolved into a hit and run accident with a possible intoxicated subject. Subject was located on Hwy 20 E of Johnstown. Subject was arrested and issued a citation for Driving Under Influence. Vehicle was reported not stolen at this time. Subject was booked into the Brown County Jail.
  • Responded to a report of a possible domestic dispute at an Ainsworth residence. Individuals involved were separated and given verbal warnings. No criminal activity was reported at this time.
  • Received multiple reports of noise complaints involving an erratic driver who was also speeding excessively in multiple locations in Ainsworth. Subject in question was located, arrested, and issued a citation for Driving Under Influence and Negligent Driving. Subject was booked into the Brown County Jail.

        Weekly Summary

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

                    1 – Handgun Permits Applied For

                  17 – Incident Reports Were Taken

                    7 – Paper Services Were Served

                 168 – Phone Calls Were Received

                   10 – 911 Emergency Calls Received

                    4 – Titles Were Inspected

* Cherry Street work begins soon in Valentine

(Posted 12:45 p.m. Sept. 24)

Weather permitting, work will begin October 4 on Highway 83 in Valentine. Paulsen, Inc. of Cozad has the $8.3 million contract and the $1.68 million Valentine utilities contract. Work includes grading, utilities, concrete pavement, culverts, electrical and seeding.

Work this fall will focus on Cherry Street improvements to accommodate detoured traffic when work begins in the spring on Highway 83 on Main Street in Valentine. A public information meeting will be held prior to construction starting on Main Street to go over phasing and scheduling details.

Work on Cherry Street includes widening intersection radiuses where Cherry Street intersects with Highway 20 and Highway 83 and minor storm sewer work and repairs to concrete pavement. Expect temporary closures on portions of Cherry Street to allow for this work. Anticipated completion of Cherry Street detour preparation is December 1.

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

* Lions Club to work on park playground borders Saturday

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 23)

Roland Paddock was presented the Ainsworth Lions Club Member of the Year Award during Monday’s meeting. Club President Bob Beatty made the presentation to Paddock for his volunteer work with the club.

The Lions Club has scheduled a playground workday for 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 25, at East City Park. The club will work on borders and crumb rubber mulch for the park’s playground equipment.

Connie Lentz provided a report on the trash pickup event held east of Ainsworth along Highway 20, and Jim Arens presented a report on the concession stand results from the Brown County Fair.

Jerry Ehlers encouraged members to consider helping to take tickets during home Bulldog football games.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Lions Club is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 18.

* Six head to tie-breaker during Week 4 KBRB Football Contest

(Posted 12:15 p.m. Sept. 21)

Six contestants missed two games to tie atop the Week 4 standings in the KBRB Football Contest.

While a slew of pickers missed three games on the Week 4 card, just six, including Shirley Swan and Jacque Richey of Springview, Lois Kaup of Stuart, Roger Brink of Atkinson, and Shane Kinnick and Heather Walnofer of Ainsworth, missed two games.

That sent us to the tie-breaker, Oklahoma’s 23-16 victory over the Huskers. All six contestants correctly picked the Sooners to win. Heather Walnofer picked a score of 35-17 to miss the total by 13 points. That earned her the first place, $40 certificate. Shane Kinnick picked the Sooners, 34-14, missing the total by 14 points to earn the second place $10 certificate. Jacque Richey had the Sooners, 37-16, missing the total by 15. Lois Kaup picked a 37-14 Sooner victory to miss by 16 points as the top four contestants were within three points of each other. Roger Brink had Oklahoma to win, 42-7, to miss by 28 points, and Shirley Swan picked a 56-21 Sooner romp to miss by 38 points.

Winners may pick up their certificates from the KBRB Studios or make arrangements to have the certificates delivered by the KBRB sports crew.

Week 5 contest cards are available now from Buckles Automotive, AKRS Equipment and Speedee Mart in Ainsworth, Circle B Livestock in Bassett, the West Plains Bank in Springview, Speedee Mart in Atkinson, and from the Tri County Bank branches in Stuart, Bassett and Atkinson.

Week 5 cards must be returned to the KBRB Studios by 4 p.m. Friday or carry a Friday postmark if mailed.

* COVID-19 cases prevalent in the NCDHD area

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

The North Central District Health Department was made aware of 132 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in the nine-county district during the past week.

Those who have yet to be vaccinated have several opportunities to do so this week, including today (Tuesday) from 1 until 4:45 p.m. in the Rock County Clinic at Bassett and from 1 until 4:30 p.m. in the Springview Community Center.

On Wednesday, vaccinations will be administered from 9 until 11:30 a.m. and from 1 until 4:30 p.m. in the Greater Sandhills Family Healthcare clinic at Bassett. Friday, vaccinations are available from the North Central District Health Department office at O’Neill from 1 until 6 p.m.

The number of people fully vaccinated in the district is slowly climbing, with 51.7 percent of those 16 and older now completing vaccination in the nine-county district. A total of 18.569 people are fully vaccinated, and 292 people have received one of the two-dose series.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff’s Department

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Sept. 20)

September 12

  • Issued a City Ordinance Violation correction notice for grass and weeds on 1st Street.
  • Received a report of cows out on Highway 7, 18 miles South. Owner was contacted, and cows were returned to pasture.
  • Received a request for a welfare check for an Ainsworth resident. Individual was located and reported safe.
  • Released a subject from Brown County Jail.

September 13

  • Provided a civil standby for a dispute at an Ainsworth business.
  • Responded to a report of suspicious activity on Meadville Avenue. A subject was arrested and issued citations for Assault on an Officer, Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, and Resisting Arrest. Subject was booked into the Brown County Jail.
  • Deputy Calder and K9 Dutch provided agency assistance for Burwell High School.
  • Booked a subject into the Brown County Jail for a court commitment.
  • Received a report of possible child abuse/neglect in Ainsworth. This is an ongoing investigation.

September 14

  • Investigated a report of animal neglect in rural Brown County. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • The Brown County Ambulance Association responded to a call for service at an Ainsworth residence. No transfer was made at this time.
  • Received a report of a dog at large. Owner was contacted and the dog was returned home.
  • Assisted an individual involved in a civil matter regarding a property dispute.
  • Received a report of an animal noise complaint involving dogs barking.
  • Received a report of stolen or missing property found that had been previously reported missing.

September 15

  • Responded to a request for civil standby at an Ainsworth residence regarding a property dispute.
  • Responded to a request for a welfare check for an individual at an Ainsworth residence. Individual was located and reported safe.
  • Received a report of a possible underage driver that had been traveling on the Bar 25, Red Wing, and Camp Witness roads. Vehicle was not located at this time.

September 16

  • Received a barking dog complaint on 7th St in Ainsworth. Owner was contacted and given a verbal warning.
  • Received a report of horses out along Hwy 20 near Johnstown. Owners were located and horses were safely removed from the highway.
  • Received a report of a possible scam from an Ainsworth resident involving a fraudulent business. No criminal activity was reported at this time.
  • Investigated a report of a one occupant vehicle accident with injury on Hwy 7. The Ainsworth Fire Department responded providing traffic control. The Brown County Ambulance Association also responded and transported individual involved to the Brown County Hospital.

September 17

  • Ainsworth Ambulance Association transferred a patient from Brown County Hospital to Ainsworth Regional Airport.
  • Received a complaint from an Ainsworth resident that an individual was discharging a BB gun within city limits. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Booked a subject into the Brown County Jail on an arrest warrant. Subject was later released from the Brown County Jail on bond.
  • Received a report of a dog at large found on Hwy 20. Dog was taken to Ainsworth Vet Clinic awaiting to be claimed.
  • Received a call regarding two calves out on South Hwy 7. Owner was contacted and calves were returned to pasture.
  • The Brown County Ambulance Association provided standby coverage for the Ainsworth High school football game.
  • Investigated a report of possible theft of money from a vehicle parked at an Ainsworth residence. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • The Ainsworth Fire Department responded to a truck on fire located just off Hwy 7 near an Ainsworth business. Vehicle fire was put out.

September 18

  • During a traffic stop on 1st & Walnut Street in Ainsworth an individual was cited for Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor and Expired Registration. A second passenger was cited for Minor in Possession of Alcohol.
  • Received a report of possible harassment involving a juvenile. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Received a report of possible theft involving a number of innertubes that were taken from a Hidden Paradise cabin. Call the Crime Stopper Line with any information regarding this incident at 402-382-3121.
  • Investigated a report of a noise complaint E of S Ulrich Street. Individuals involved were given a verbal warning.

        Weekly Summary

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

                  3 – Handgun Permits Applied For

                 16 – Incident Reports Were Taken

                   3 – Paper Services Were Served

               222 – Phone Calls Were Received

                   9 – 911 Emergency Calls Received

                   6 – Titles Were Inspected

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 2:45 p.m. Sept. 17)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a one-vehicle rollover accident that occurred Thursday, Sept. 16, south of Ainsworth and prompted the response of the Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department.

According to the sheriff’s department report, at 4:20 p.m. Thursday on Highway 7 near milepost 33 south of Ainsworth, a 2003 Dodge Ram, driven by Lavern Borntreger, 22, of Elsmere, was traveling north when the driver lost control of the vehicle. The Dodge left the roadway and entered the west ditch, where it struck a culvert and rolled.

Borntreger was transported by the Brown County Ambulance Association to the Brown County Hospital for evaluation.

* Sheriff’s department makes 4 DUI arrests during campaign

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

Through funding provided by the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety, the Brown County Sheriff’s Department participated in the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement Aug. 20 through Sept. 6.

The campaign is a national program to increase public awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence.

Law enforcement officers nationwide joined in an effort to reduce the number of deaths and injuries during the Labor Day holiday period. Three Brown County deputies worked 75-1/2 hours of overtime during the campaign.

The sheriff’s department made four arrests on charges of driving under the influence during the enforcement period. In addition, one individual was arrested on outstanding warrants, one was arrested on a charge of domestic assault, two were cited on charges of possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia, two were cited on charges of possessing an open alcohol container in a vehicle, and 12 motorists were cited on speeding charges.

The sheriff’s department made a total of 49 traffic stops during the enforcement, with 29 motorists receiving warnings. The sheriff’s department used regular enforcement, saturation patrols and an enforcement zone during the campaign.

Brown County Sheriff Bruce Papstein encourages everyone to do their part to make roadways safer by always designating a sober driver.

* Wednesday town hall identifies priority projects 

(Posted 2 p.m. Sept. 16)

Members of the Brown County Community Foundation hosted a town hall meeting Wednesday with more than 30 members of the public to discuss the community’s strategic plan and projects that should be pursued to improve the area’s economy and lifestyle.

KC Belitz from the Nebraska Community Foundation told those in attendance the city of Ainsworth’s retail pull factor was quite strong, 54 percent higher than the state’s average per capita.

“That is a big number,” Belitz said. “There are a lot of people driving in to Ainsworth. It is a huge opportunity.”

Belitz also provided data showing Brown County has among the highest percent of single mothers living in poverty, at 18 percent.

“That number is higher than other communities,” Belitz said in discussing ways to provide additional support to that demographic.

The data collected also shows the biggest outmigration from Brown County occurs when high school students leave for college.

“Then you start to get them back,” Belitz said. “You have a good number of people over the age of 50 moving back into the county.”

Belitz said housing appeared to be a need in the county, as it is in most of rural Nebraska. He reported most of the city’s housing stock rates in adequate to poor condition.

“There have been nine new houses built in the city since 2010,” Belitz said. “On the other side, the number of seasonal homes in the county increased from 123 in 2010 to 205 in 2018.”

Ainsworth High School students presented results from a youth survey given to students to show their likelihood of considering Brown County as a destination to live and work.

“Jobs are going to be the biggest factor in getting youth to return,” student Ty Schlueter said.

Alyssa Erthum said the survey showed the majority of students are actively involved in the community, but about one quarter of students are not involved.

“There is potential there to include them,” Erthum said.

The survey results showed 45 percent of Ainsworth High School students indicated a small community is their ideal place to live, with 41 percent opting for a medium size community.

A total of 34 percent of the students who completed the survey indicated they were somewhat or extremely likely to live in the area, while about the same number were undecided.

Jerry Ehlers presented information on the actionable items that came from the most recent town hall meeting in 2016.

Ehlers said the main projects identified that year were rebuilding the theater and getting the nursing home reopened after it had closed in 2016.

Ehlers said the North Central Development Center was able to obtain a Main Street property, which was renovated and turned into a theater. The ownership of that property was then turned over to a non-profit corporation consisting of volunteers who operate the theater.

The NCDC was also able to obtain the closed nursing home property from the building’s owner and facilitated the creation of a partnership between the city of Ainsworth and Brown County to own and operate what became the Sandhills Care Center. Ehlers lauded the city and county for agreeing to reopen the needed business in the community.

With housing identified as another main issue, Ehlers said the NCDC obtained ownership of a site near the Brown County Hospital that became the site of the Trailside Estates townhomes. Ownership of that property was transferred to a private investor group, and there is currently a waiting list to get into one of the newly constructed units.

Ehlers said the NCDC Housing Committee constructed three new homes and one new business since the last town hall, and 12 old homes and one old business in Ainsworth were demolished to create additional space for future development.

Ehlers said city and county infrastructure were identified as priority issues in 2016, and the city of Ainsworth had completed a sewer improvement project and replaced the water meters in the city since that time. The school constructed a new agriculture and industrial technology addition to its facility, and the county has been working to repair critical roads infrastructure damaged during flooding in 2019.

Developing future talent was identified in 2016, and Ehlers said the KBR Leadership Academy formed to develop future community leaders and is entering its fifth year.

“It takes a lot of volunteers to get all these projects done,” Ehlers said. “We try to coordinate with those volunteer groups to identify potential resources available.”

Leanne Maxwell with the Brown County Community Foundation discussed the $100,000 anonymous donation that was made to the foundation’s endowment account.

“We want to double down that donation with another $100,000 over the next three years,” Maxwell said. “We are already well on our way, with over $20,000 pledged.”

Maxwell said there was now $2.2 million in the foundation’s endowment account, with the interest from the account used to fund community betterment projects. She said the foundation is now able to award $75,000 each year to projects that better Brown County.

Devyn France and Karen O’Hare from the Ainsworth Child Development Center provided an update on that group’s effort to establish a new child care center in the community.

France and O’Hare said there was a substantial need for additional daycare options in the community, and the group was in the process of trying to secure a site for the development of a childcare center.

“We received our non-profit status in August,” France said.

She said the group has teamed with the Community For Kids group out of Lincoln to provide technical support, and had entered into a contract with both Wilkins Architects and the Lund Company for architectural design assistance and project management when a site is identified.

She said contributions to the group would be tax deductible, and a funding push would begin for the childcare center when a site was secured and cost estimates determined to get the facility operational.

Following the presentations, those in attendance were broken into small groups to determine the areas that should be of priority moving forward. The top issues identified included increased childcare, housing development, improved technology, capturing value-added agriculture, enhanced recreational opportunities and renewing the LB 840 sales tax program, which otherwise sunsets in 2023.

Ehlers encouraged those in attendance to consider volunteering to help with projects in those emphasized areas, and said the strategic planning group would provide guidance and resources.

* Week 3 KBRB Football contest decided in tie-breaker

(Posted 1:15 p.m. Sept. 15)

Three contestants tied for the top spot during Week 3 of the KBRB Football Contest.

Roger Brink of Atkinson, Kurtis Mizner of Springview and Travis Mundorf of Springview each missed just one of the 16 games on the Week 3 contest card. They each were perfect picking the seven college games featuring Big 10 teams.

That sent us to the tie-breaker to determine the winner, Nebraska’s 28-3 victory Saturday over Buffalo. All three picked the Huskers to win. Mundorf’s score of 27-21 Huskers missed the total by 19 points. Brink picked the Huskers, 35-14, missing the total by 18 points. Mizner pegged the Huskers for a 30-17 victory, missing the total score by 16 points.

Via the tie-breaker score, Kurtis Mizner of Springview wins the $40 first-place certificate. Brink earns the second-place, $10 certificate.

Winners may pick up their certificates from the KBRB Studios or make arrangements to have the certificates delivered by the KBRB sports crew.

Week 4 contest cards are available now from Buckles Automotive, AKRS Equipment and Speedee Mart in Ainsworth, Circle B Livestock in Bassett, the West Plains Bank in Springview, Speedee Mart in Atkinson, and from the Tri County Bank branches in Stuart, Bassett and Atkinson.

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

* Mobile food pantry set for Tuesday at Long Pine

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Sept. 15)

Food Bank for the Heartland is partnering with Farm Credit Services of America to host a free Mobile Food Pantry at Long Pine from 3:30 until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21, or until food runs out. The mobile pantry will be located at The Palace on Main Street in Long Pine.

The one-day distribution provides shelf-stable products such as bread, canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, and assorted produce. Items will be directly placed into vehicles. Recipients are asked to stay in their vehicle with the trunk open. The pantry is available to anyone living in Brown County and the surrounding communities. No identification is required to receive food.

Food Bank for the Heartland and FCSAmerica are committed to helping families and individuals struggling with food insecurity. Funding from FCSAmerica will allow employees to distribute approximately 12,000 pounds of perishable and shelf-stable food, which is enough to serve 300 households.

“Because of the extraordinary support of FCSAmerica and its dedicated staff, Food Bank for the Heartland can distribute critical staples to individuals with limited resources through our Mobile Pantry program,” said Brian Barks, president and CEO of Food Bank for the Heartland. “As families deal with the lingering effects of COVID-19, coupled with rising gas and food prices, we remain committed to offering emergency and supplemental food throughout our 93-county service area. Thank you to FCSAmerica and the community of Long Pine. We are grateful for the opportunity to provide fresh and shelf-stable food to Brown County.”

According to Feeding America’s 2021 Map the Meal Gap study, approximately 12.6% of residents in Brown County are at-risk for hunger.

* City of Ainsworth to armor coat streets Friday and Monday

(Posted 1 p.m. Sept. 14)

The city of Ainsworth streets department will armor coat numerous city streets Friday, Sept. 17, and Monday, Sept. 20.
Residents are asked to remove vehicles from the following streets on those two days to allow the streets to be oiled and graveled. Vehicles not moved have the potential to be towed to allow the work to commence.

Streets scheduled for armor coat work include:

Oak Street from First to South streets

Dawes Street from Maple to Oak streets

Walnut Street from South to Front streets

First Street from Osborne to Wilson streets

Wilson Street from First to Fourth streets

First Street from Pine to Harrington streets

Second Street from Wilson to Woodward streets

Second Street from Walnut to Elm streets

Second Street from Park to Fullerton streets

Third Street from Harrington Street to Richardson Drive

Fifth Street from Woodward to Main streets

Eighth Street from Elm to Ash streets

Maple Street from First to Fourth streets

Maple Street from Fifth to Sixth streets

Walnut Street from Fifth to Sixth streets

Elm Street from Seventh to Eighth streets

Elm Street from First to Second streets

The Ainsworth Conference Center alley between Fourth and Fifth streets

* Commissioners approve 2021-22 budget Monday

(Posted 12:45 p.m. Sept. 14)

The Brown County Commissioners on Monday approved a 2021-22 general fund budget of $4.73 million following a public hearing.

The budget calls for $2.675 million in property tax to support the general fund and an additional $392,010 in property tax to service the bond payments on the Brown County Hospital building addition approved by voters.

The total property tax asking of $3.06 million is up from $2.89 million in property tax collected to support the 2020-21 budget, an increase of $173,590 in tax collected. The commissioners noted $100,000 of that total is money the county will allocate to replenish its inheritance tax fund, which the board utilized to pay for repairs to the county roads system caused by flooding in 2019.

The overall valuation in Brown County increased from $830.8 million to $894.1 million, and 1 cent in levy equates to $89,418 in property tax for the 2021-22 fiscal year compared to the $83,080 for 1 cent in levy in 2020-21.

The general fund will account for 29.9 cents in tax levy per $100 in valuation, and 4.3 cents in levy will support the hospital addition bond payments.

The county’s total levy of 34.3 cents is slightly lower than the 34.8 cents levied for the 2020-21 fiscal year. Had the county left its property tax asking equal to 2020-21, the levy would have dropped to 32.3 cents due to the increase in total property valuation in the county.

In addition to the 34.3 cents in levy for the general fund and hospital bond, the Brown County Rural Fire Protection District will receive 2.5 cents in levy, amounting to $200,115, and the Brown County Agricultural Society will receive $70,000 in funding, which represents seven-tenths of 1 cent in property tax levy.

The county has $1.92 million in bonded debt remaining, with $21,543 in interest.

During the 2020-21 fiscal year, the county spent $19.69 million, up from $16.69 million spent during the 2019-20 fiscal year. As a reminder, the Brown County Hospital’s budget is included in the overall county budget even though the hospital has a self-sustaining operation and does not receive property tax with the exception of the voter-approved bond for the addition project, which has three years of payments remaining.

The county spent $3.09 million through its general fund in 2020-21, up from $2.83 million in 2019-20. Roads department spending in 2020-21 was down slightly compared to 2019-20, from $1.75 million to $1.74 million. The county spent $376,965 from its inheritance tax fund, down substantially from the $1.15 million spent from that fund during the 2019-20 fiscal year. The vast majority of those expenditures over both years were to pay for repairs from damage sustained by county roads during 2019 flooding, and the main factor in the county budgeting $100,000 to begin to replenish the funds spent from the inheritance tax account. It will take several years of budgeting from the county’s general fund to repay the money it used from the inheritance tax fund, which is the only fund the county has to pay for unforeseen expenses such as flood damage without having to issue bonds.

The Brown County Hospital disbursed $11.67 million during the 2020-21 fiscal year, up from $9.78 million in disbursements during the 2019-20 fiscal year. The hospital’s budget of $10.9 million for 2021-22 is included in the county’s overall budget.

The Brown County Ambulance Association’s budget of $185,131 for 2021-22 is also included in the county’s overall budget. The ambulance association is also self-sustaining and does not receive property tax support. The association spent $120,242 during the 2020-21 fiscal year, up from $94,948 in 2019-20.

Following the budget hearing Monday, the commissioners, with Reagan Wiebelhaus absent, approved the 2021-22 fiscal year budget and property tax request.

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

* Ainsworth, Rock County announce homecoming candidates

(Posted 10:30 a.m. Sept. 14)

Ainsworth High School has announced homecoming royalty for 2021. Candidates are Eden Raymond and Cash Dailey representing the senior class, Maia Flynn and Cash Reynolds representing the A Club, Summer Richardson and Ty Schlueter representing fall sports, Alyssa Erthum and Ben Flynn representing fine arts, and Libby Wilkins and Tommy Ortner representing vocational clubs.

The Ainsworth High School homecoming parade is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday followed by a pep rally.

Rock County High School has announced the 2021 homecoming queen and king candidates.

Candidates for homecoming queen are Hannah Keller, Riley Teel, Kambrey Smith and Brielle Bussinger. Homecoming king candidates are Troy Reynolds, Payton Ebert, Dolan Pospichal and Levi Lewis.

* School Board budget does not increase tax asking

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 14)

The Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education did not ask property owners for additional tax dollars to support the 2021-22 school year budget, and with the overall valuation in the district increasing by $63 million, the district’s tax levy dropped by 6 cents per $100 in valuation.

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