TodaysNews

 

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Service Information can be found on the Obituaries Page

* Jim Troshynski, 75, of Atkinson 10:30 a.m. March 9

* Pauline Schmidt, 96, of Bassett 2 p.m. March 5

* Olive Simonton, 93, formerly of Purdum and Ainsworth 1 p.m. March 2

* Meeting reports located below for:

Feb. 20 Brown County Commissioners

Feb. 13 Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors

Feb. 13 Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education

Feb. 7 Brown County Commissioners

* Fire in Cherry County burns 283 acres

(Posted 7:15 a.m. March 2)

A wildfire on the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge near Pony Lake was reported to the Region 26 Emergency Management & 911 Dispatch office at 2:07 p.m. Thursday. As of Friday afternoon, the fire had burned 283 acres of Sandhills grassland.

Although the point of origin is unknown at this time, the wildfire began off Highway 83 near mile marker 180 north of Brownlee Road.

Fire personnel were successful in holding the fire within the burned area Thursday night. Fire lines were reinforced Friday to hold the fire within the burned area.

Responding to the fire were two U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fire engines, the Nebraska Forest Service engine, Cherry County Emergency Management, and Volunteer Fire Departments from Ainsworth, Cody, Kilgore, Purdum, Thedford, Valentine, and Wood Lake. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

* Area students selected for KHOP program

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

The University of Nebraska at Kearney is once again welcoming a record-breaking group of students into its signature health science program.

A total of 72 high school seniors were recently accepted into the Kearney Health Opportunities Program for fall 2024. These students come from communities across the state – Bridgeport to Norfolk to Hebron – and represent the future of rural health care in Nebraska.

Among the students selected for the KHOP program are Mason Hagan of Bassett, who plans to major in physical therapy; Addison Karo of Stuart, who plans to major in medicine; and Sidney Burkinshaw of Atkinson, who plans to major in medical laboratory science;

This year’s class is the program’s largest-ever, surpassing the 56 students admitted in 2023.

“It’s very promising and exciting to have such a highly talented group of students who are dedicated to practicing health care in rural Nebraska,” said Peggy Abels, director of UNK Health Sciences. “The KHOP program is an important part of the rural health initiatives on the UNK campus that are designed to alleviate the health care workforce shortages in our state. We look forward to working with these future Lopers as they prepare to serve their communities as health care professionals.”

A partnership between UNK and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, KHOP was launched in 2010 as a pipeline program designed to grow the state’s health care workforce by recruiting and training students from rural Nebraska who are committed to practicing in these communities as professionals. The program offers financial assistance, academic support and professional development opportunities, with many participants receiving full-tuition scholarships to attend UNK and guaranteed admission to UNMC.

KHOP members can study in the fields of dental hygiene, dentistry, medical laboratory science, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant and radiography.

Participants also receive a $3,000 room waiver through the KHOP Learning Community. A requirement for freshmen, the one-year residential learning community gives students a chance to explore various health care careers while receiving support and guidance as they transition to college. KHOP members meet with health care providers and tour medical facilities throughout the region, better preparing them for professional school and beyond.

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 3 p.m. Feb. 29)

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

Jose A. Perdomo Bravo, age 29, of Bolivar, Mo., charged with attempting a Class IV felony, sentenced to 30 days in jail with credit for three days served.

Maggie M. Carone, 34, of Northglenn, Colo., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75; also charged with driving too fast for conditions, $100; no valid registration, $25.

Lina L. Dantonio, 41, of Long Pine, speeding 21-35 mph over the limit, $200.

Benjamin V. Carper, 20, of Thayne, Wyo., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Michael A. Douglas, 21, of Ainsworth, no operator’s license, $75; no proof of insurance, $100; no registration, $25.

Courtney W. Sears, 75, of Ainsworth, first offense driving under the influence, $500, sentenced to seven days in jail with credit for one day served, driver’s license revoked for six months, and ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

Luis F. Perez III, 34, of Bassett, first offense driving under the influence, $500, sentenced to six months of probation, driver’s license revoked for 60 days, and ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

Mary A. Nisley, 26, of Statesville, N.C., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Wojciech Szaflarski, 43, of Lockport, Ill., speeding 21-35 mph over the limit, $200.

Wallace E. Wiebesiek, 61, of Ainsworth, improper or defective vehicle lighting, $25; no valid registration, $25.

Kristie G. Hellzen, 34, of Maple Grove, Minn., attempting a Class IV felony, $1,000; possession of marijuana more than 1 ounce but less than 1 pound, $500.

Brooke I. Bennett, 33, of Ainsworth, committing child abuse negligently, sentenced to six months of probation.

Brian T. Sitting-Eagle, 50, of Omaha, first offense driving under the influence, $500, sentenced to seven days in jail with credit for two days served, driver’s license revoked for six months, and ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

Holdyn S. Fhuere, 19, of North Platte, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Rachel L. Collatos, 24, of Long Pine, leaving the scene of an accident/failing to furnish information, $100 and ordered to pay $18.75 in restitution.

Brady J. Ford, 17, of Lake Wilson, Minn., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Casper M. Rehkopf, 24, of Long Pine, no registration in vehicle, $25.

David J. Clark, 64, of Long Pine, violating a stop or yield sign, $75; failure to wear a seat belt, $25.

Christopher J. Walnofer, 51, of Ainsworth, possession of an open alcohol container in a vehicle, $50.

Evan K. Atkinson, 33, of Long Pine, attempting a Class 1 misdemeanor, $150; second degree criminal trespassing, $150.

Dalton L. Cole, 21, of Ainsworth, attempting a Class 1 misdemeanor, $300.

Ryan E. Happold, 14, of Ainsworth, speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Christian Thompson, 20, of Ainsworth, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Mckenzie S. Brown, 22, of Ainsworth, speeding 21-35 mph over the limit, $200.

James E. Worden, 27, of Ainsworth, second degree criminal trespassing, $100.

Justino A. Ortiz Vargas, 33, of Ainsworth, first offense driving under the influence, $500, sentenced to six months of probation, driver’s license revoked for 60 days and ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

Spencer T. Sinner, 33, of Sargent, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

* Brown County issues burn ban

(Posted 12:30 p.m. Feb. 29)

Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala has issued a burn ban for Brown County effective immediately.

Fiala said dry conditions and dormant vegetation coupled with low relative humidity levels and strong winds in the forecast led to the ban being issued.

The ban includes the burning of any brush piles, leaves, bale wrap or yard waste and also bans open pit burning and campfires. No burn permits will be issued until conditions improve.

Fiala said he would provide notice when conditions have improved to the point that the ban can be lifted.

* Burn ban now in effect for Keya Paha County

(Posted noon Feb. 29)

Keya Paha County Emergency Manager Jessica Coyle, in consultation with area fire departments, has issued a burn ban effective immediately for Keya Paha County.

“After consulting with the local fire chief and other officials, the consensus was to issue a burn ban in Keya Paha County until we receive significant moisture, or the conditions change,” Coyle said. “This ban applies to all permitted burning and not to gas grills or barrels. Please use caution and have a garden hose ready when using anything that could cause a spark. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the Keya Paha County Emergency Management Department or your local fire chief.  We appreciate your cooperation.”

The ban includes the burning of brush piles, leaves, bale wrap or yard waste and also bans open pit burning and campfires.

Grills, fireplaces, encircled gas fire pits, wood burning stoves and secured burn barrels with spark arresters are permitted during the burn ban.

Anyone violating the burn ban could be held liable for any damage caused by a fire.

Landowners are encouraged to keep stock tanks full to help supply water to fire departments should the need arise. The Keya Paha County Emergency Management office and area fire departments appreciate the public’s assistance in adhering to the burn ban.

The ban will be lifted when conditions improve and the emergency management office will provide notice when the ban is no longer in effect.

* Betty’s Way Fire now 82 percent contained

(Posted 2:30 p.m. Feb. 28)

Firefighters continued to make progress on the Betty’s Way Fire north of North Platte. Containment Wednesday increased to 82% with approximately 60 people working on managing the large and complex wildfire.

Tuesday’s weather played a major factor in that snow and moisture assisted in suppression efforts, yet wind hampered some suppression tactics. Wednesday’s weather allowed crews to aggressively continue suppression efforts. Fire managers are monitoring fire weather concerns throughout the weekend with the potential of increased winds and decreased relative humidity.

Current operations are focusing on the east area of the fire. Heavy timber like trees have been impacted and continue to burn and put off smoke. In Division K, hand crews and fire engines are aggressively engaged in suppressing timber. In Division R, firefighters are using engines and hand tools to increase the depth of the fire perimeter, eliminating any heat that poses risks to the containment line. In Division Z, firefighters are patrolling the perimeter and confirming there are no other threats to controlled lines. In Division A and Division H, fire engines are patrolling the perimeters making sure the containment line will hold.

Fire managers are currently evaluating primary residences, outbuildings and agriculture/ranch infrastructure to determine the impact.

Nebraska’s Incident Management Team, based on Governor Jim Pillen’s state of emergency declaration, has provided assistance to local agencies with fire suppression. Wednesday’s efforts also included developing a plan once the fire is contained. Pockets of heat and fuels will continue to burn within the perimeter for several days. Smoke will be visible within the fire footprint, but will not pose risks to the fire line and cause it to escape. Fire managers hope to make progress which should allow minimal staff through the night and into the weekend.

* Betty’s Way Fire has burned more than 70,000 acres

(Posted 12:45 p.m. Feb. 27)

At 10:32 a.m. Monday, North Platte’s 911 center received a phone call reporting a wildfire from a resident on Betty’s Way, approximately 8.6 miles northeast of North Platte.

North Platte Fire Department responded with three stations and arrived on scene within 12 minutes. Fire managers established immediate suppression tactics and named the fire the Betty’s Way Fire. North Platte requested mutual aid through the Mid-Plains Mutual Aid District which is comprised of 15 area volunteer fire departments.

Due to red flag warnings and wind speeds in excess of 40 mph, the fire grew rapidly to the east. Evacuations were issued for areas ahead of the fire. As of Tuesday, no injuries were reported.

Additional requests were made to the State of Nebraska and Governor Jim Pillen declared an emergency disaster. This provided additional support from Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, Nebraska Forest Service, Nebraska State Fire Marshal, and cooperating agencies from across the state. Governor Pillen activated the Nebraska Incident Management Team to support the local fire managers on scene.

Region 51 Emergency Management ordered additional support from many Nebraska fire departments. Nebraska IMT began operations on Tuesday to assist in managing additional resources throughout the state. The Nebraska National Guard and Nebraska State Patrol are assisting with aerial support and drone needs.

As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, Betty’s Way Fire is 71,022 acres. The fire is estimated to be 72 percent contained. Fire managers are currently working on assessing the work performed through the past 24 hours. Two primary residences and numerous outbuildings have been destroyed. The incident management team is currently working with ranchers, farmers and residents to address any needs they have. Fire Managers are actively working with the American Red Cross and various state agencies to provide assistance to those affected by the Betty’s Way Fire.

The Nebraska State Fire Marshal’s Agency has determined the fire was human caused, resulting from mowing operations.

* Wildfire burning in Lincoln, Custer counties 

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

Local officials in Custer and Lincoln counties have declared emergencies and requested state assistance due to a large wildfire affecting the area, closing several roads, requiring multiple evacuations and requiring the response of multiple volunteer fire departments from around the region.

The North Platte/Lincoln County Emergency Operations Center was activated and has been monitoring the situation and coordinating resources since the fire started.

The fire, which originated north of North Platte from an unknown cause, is burning on private lands in Lincoln and Custer counties. Governor Jim Pillen approved a state disaster, which allows funds from the Governor’s Emergency Fund to be used to assist in the response.

At the request of county officials, Nebraska’s Incident Management Team, as well as members of the state’s Wildland Incident Response Assistant Team, have been deployed and will assist local responders in the coming days.

Two National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters will be deployed to the fire and begin operations to drop water on the fire beginning Tuesday. Additional aircraft will be used to map the fire to assist teams as they plan the best strategy to fight the fire.

Area fire departments provided assistance, with crews from the Ainsworth, Long Pine, Springview, Bassett and Newport volunteer fire departments making their way south Monday afternoon.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Feb. 26)

February 18

  • Received a report of possible sale of illegal substances. This is an ongoing investigation.
  • Received a report of damage that occurred to a guard rail on Highway 183, near Keller Park.
  • Officer issued a Citation for defective Lighting.
  • Officer issued a Citation for defective Lighting.

February 19

  • Officer responded to a request for a welfare check at a rural property in Brown County. The individual was taken into emergency protective custody and transferred to a mental health facility.
  • Officers issued a Citation for defective Lighting.
  • Officers issued a Citation for leaving the scene of an accident.

February 20

  • Officer responded to a complaint regarding trash and vehicles at a residence on Osborn St. A written warning was issued to the property owners to correct.

February 21

  • Officer responded to a request for traffic control for a cattle crossing West of Ainsworth.
  • A male subject was booked into the Brown County Jail to serve a court commitment.
  • Officer responded to a report of an unauthorized vehicle on the cowboy trail. A verbal warning was issued to the driver.
  • Officers responded to a request for a welfare check on an Individual on Hwy 7 in Ainsworth. The individual was not found in Brown County.
  • Brown County Ambulance transported one individual from a facility in Ainsworth to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call from a rural Brown County address. An Individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital

February 22

  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office responded to a request for assistance from another Agency.
  • A male subject was booked into the Brown County Jail to serve a court commitment sentence.
  • Officer responded to a report of harassment on a male subject in Ainsworth. Both parties were issued a verbal warning to have no future contact.

February 23

  • Officer issued a citation for speeding 87 mph in a 65 mph zone.
  • Officer issued a citation for speeding 46 mph in a 35 mph zone.

February 24

  • Officer responded to a call for motorist assist in Long Pine.
  • Officers responded to a report of a verbal disturbance in Long Pine.

WEEKLY SUMMARY TOTALS
INCIDENT REPORTS:  15
PHONE CALLS: 134
911 CALLS:  7
VIN INSPECTIONS:  7
HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMITS:  7
PAPERS SERVED: 2

* Ainsworth to play Axtell Saturday for district title

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

After defeating Boyd County Thursday, the Ainsworth boys basketball team advanced to the Class D-1 District Finals.

Ainsworth (17-7) is the No. 6 seed in the district finals, and will host No. 11 Axtell (18-6) at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, in McAndrew Gymnasium.

KBRB’s pregame show begins at approximately 4:45 p.m. Saturday on FM 92.7 and streaming live at www.kbrb.net. 

* Commissioners approve charge for removing vehicles

(Posted 3:45 p.m. Feb. 20)

After discussions that spanned several meetings, the Brown County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a resolution that sets a $500 minimum charge if the county roads department has to remove a vehicle from a roadway during inclement weather that is creating a hazard for other motorists.

The resolution authorizes the roads department to remove a vehicle creating a hazard in conjunction with the sheriff’s department, with the vehicle owner charged $500 per hour with a minimum $500 charge.

Commissioner Jeremiah Dailey said the roads department would only be called in to remove a vehicle in the event private towing companies cannot reach the site.

“We aren’t going to be a towing company,” Dailey said. “It is similar to people burning when there is a burn ban and starting a fire. They are cited for any damages.”

Commissioner Buddy Small said the resolution is not intended to punish people trying to travel during emergencies or when trying to feed livestock.

“It is the people out joyriding,” Small said.

Small cited an instance where the county roads department had to rescue two women in their 20s during extreme cold who became stranded when they had no reason to be traveling on county roads.

Small said he heard concerns from a resident about people being stranded and not receiving assistance. Small said that would never be the case, but people would be charged for the county roads crew having to put themselves at risk.

Commissioner Dennis Bauer said, during an emergency, the county will go out to assist people who become stranded.

Motorists who become stranded and have to either be rescued or have their vehicle removed would be issued a citation that includes the county’s charge. If the fee is paid to the county the citation can be dropped.

In other roads items Tuesday, Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin said he included the purchase of a belly dump trailer in his 2023-24 budget and told the board he planned to advertise for bids for the piece of equipment.

Turpin said he budgeted $100,000 for the belly dump trailer, but he said the estimated cost might now end up being closer to the $60,000 to $80,000 range.

Turpin said he had traveled to South Dakota to look at a couple sites where the county could potentially purchase rock. He said a company north of Colome has three-quarter inch to 1 inch rock at a cost of $22.50 per ton. Turpin said he would like to try and get some of that rock next year and potentially mix it with clay to improve road surfaces.

Turpin said he appreciated the public’s patience as gravel roads go through their annual thawing period.

“We have been out blading but it is a work in progress,” the highway superintendent said. “We are hoping the sun shines to dry out the roads. It always gets bad during the spring thaw.”

The commissioners opened sealed bids for armor coating county asphalt roads, approving a bid of $18,747 per mile submitted by Topkote of Yankton, S.D. Figgins Construction of Red Cloud submitted a bid of $21,296 per mile, which was rejected. The county is also responsible for supplying the gravel for the armor coating.

Turpin said Dan Osborne’s crew with Topkote had been good to work with in the past and was willing to take its equipment out into the remote stretches of the county even if it was only to armor coat a small area.

Turpin said the roads department budgets to armor coat between 12 and 15 miles of paved county roads annually.

In other business, Weed Superintendent Scott Erthum discussed noxious weed treatment in the county. He said he read the minutes of a previous meeting regarding the board’s concerns on road ditches being sprayed.

Erthum said there are state regulations he has to follow to keep the county in compliance, and those regulations sometimes compete with his ability to spray ditches.

“I work hard to keep the county in compliance, but I am not making you happy with the road ditches and I want to fix that,” Erthum said.

Erthum said, when he is contacted regarding noxious weeds located in county road right of way, he attempts to get out there the next day to spray.

“We have about four noxious weeds that bloom in the ditches,” Erthum said.

Those weeds include leafy spurge, followed by thistles, purple loosestrife and a second bloom of leafy spurge.

“I keep a record of where we have found infestations in road ditches,” Erthum said. “If people contact you, get a hold of me.”

Dailey said he receives complaints about ditches in the southern part of the county. He asked how much of Erthum’s time is spent on the Niobrara River corridor.

Erthum said he writes grant applications in the spring for the river, but otherwise the river does not take up much of his time. The only time in the summer is spent coordinating with the helicopter crew contracted for aerial spraying.

Bauer said he was open to the possibility of getting a second person certified to assist in spraying ditches for a month or two in the summer.

“We have people spend thousands to spray and then they see weeds in the county road ditches and they get upset,” Bauer said.

Erthum said, “I completely understand. I encourage people to call me if they see anything. I want to make it right and do what you want me to do.”

He said he would accept any help the county is willing to provide, but it may be difficult finding someone willing to become certified for one or two months of work.

Erthum said the Legislature has appropriated additional funding for noxious weed control and has expanded the boundary for spraying assistance from 100 feet of a river channel to the entire flood plain so there may be an ability to assist additional landowners.

Erthum thanked the commissioners for their letter of recommendation to the state association and reported he had been elected as the association’s vice president. He will serve in that role for two years before becoming president of the state association for two years.

In courthouse improvement items, the board approved having Environmental Services of Norfolk test the air quality in several areas of the courthouse for the presence of mold spores or other contaminants.

Bauer said the county has possibly had some issues in the courthouse.

Small said having the air quality tested would determine if there were any issues the county would need to address. The tests will be conducted in several offices on both floors of the courthouse.

The cost included $71 per hour with an estimated two hours of work to complete the testing, $60 per test and $325 in travel expenses.

Small said he had a meeting scheduled for March 6 with Dave Patton with Bats to Rats of Lincoln to address a bat issue in the attic of the courthouse building.

Bauer said the North Central District Health Department had received more than 40 complaints in the north central part of the state regarding humans having potential contact with bats. Bauer said, if a bat is found in someone’s home after they have been asleep and the bat cannot be captured, the rule of thumb is to assume that there has been a potential exposure to rabies and seek preventative treatment.

Small said Patton would inspect the courthouse and provide the county with options for allowing the bats an avenue to leave the attic in the spring but then not be able to return into the building.

The county rejected the lone bid received to purchase a 2000 Ford ambulance from the Brown County Ambulance Association. The lone bid of $1,000 submitted by Grant Kobes was rejected upon the recommendation of members of the ambulance association, who indicated they believed the ambulance was worth more than $1,000. The association will readvertise in an effort to obtain additional bids. One bid was submitted after the deadline. It was not opened since it was received after the advertised deadline.

The board rejected a proposal submitted by Lengemann CPA and Associates to handle the county’s annual audit. The three-year quote submitted by the company was higher than the quote approved during a previous board meeting.

The commissioners approved a NIRMA insurance renewal questionnaire as presented that was filled out by department heads.

The board discussed with department heads the potential for implementing a time management system. While department heads present were in favor of implementing the system to track the time worked by hourly employees, discussion centered on integrating the system without a major interruption to current pay periods.

The commissioners will hold a special meeting at 8 a.m. Friday to open bids on an improvement project at the sheriff’s department. The next regular meeting is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. March 5.

* Traffic Accidents

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

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated two motor vehicle accidents that occurred in early February.

According to the just-released reports, at 12:13 p.m. Feb. 2, a collision occurred in a parking lot off Highway 20 between a 2001 Ford F-150, driven by a 21-year-old Ainsworth woman, and a 2016 Ford Fusion, driven by a 51-year-old Ainsworth man.

No injuries were reported. Damage to the F-150 was estimated at $300. The Fusion sustained approximately $1,500 damage.

The sheriff’s department investigated a vehicle-deer collision that occurred Feb. 4.

According to the report, at 6:43 p.m. on Highway 183 near milepost 202, a 2015 Chevy Traverse, driven by an 82-year-old Ainsworth man, was traveling south in dense fog when the vehicle struck a deer in the roadway.

Damage to the Chevy was estimated at $1,500.

* Brown County Commissioners Tuesday agenda

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

Brown County Commissioners
Meeting 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20
Brown County Courthouse
Agenda

Approve minutes of the 2-6-2024 Commissioner meeting.

Kenneth Turpin – Road Department Update

Resolution regarding emergency assistance in inclement weather – Board

Proposal submitted from Lengemann CPA and Associates for County Audit – Clerk

NIRMA Insurance Renewal Questionnaire – Clerk

Bat removal – Small

Proposal to test air quality in Courthouse – Small

Courthouse hallway flooring maintenance buffing and sealing/polishing – Clerk

Time Management System – Dailey

Approve Claims

Correspondence – Central Nebraska Economic Development District

1:25   Dan Zwiebel – Comments regarding the proposed charges relating to emergency assistance in inclement weather – Zwiebel

1:30     Open sealed bids for Armor Coating – Turpin

1:45     Broadband updates from Nextlink Internet – Ebony Cooksey via phone call

2:00   Open Sealed Bids for sale of Ambulance – Fiala/Goodloe

2:05   Scott Erthum – Annual Report

Public Comment

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Feb. 19)

February 11

  • Officer issued a Citation for improper/defective lighting.
  • Officer issued a Citation for speeding. 81 mph in a 65 mph zone.
  • Officer issued a Citation for speeding. 82 mph in a 65 mph zone.
  • BCSO booked one individual into the Brown County jail for Driving under suspension.
  • One Individual was released on Bond from the Brown County Jail.

February 12

  • Nothing to report

February 13

  • Officer responded to a call in reference to a Harassment claim in Long Pine.
  • Officers responded to a call in reference to Cattle being out on 881st The owner was notified, and cattle secured.
  • Officer responded to a civil matter in Long Pine.
  • One individual was booked into the Brown County Jail for Court Commitment.

February 14

  • Officer responded to a call in reference to individual trespassing.
  • Officer responded to a report of Suspicious Activity on 2nd Street in Ainsworth.
  • Officer responded to a report of Terroristic threats on 2nd St in Ainsworth.

February 15

  • Officer Issued a Citation for no Operators license and no proof of insurance.

February 16

  • Officer Issued a Citation for No Valid Registration.
  • Officer responded to a request for a civil Standby on First Street in Ainsworth.
  • Officer responded to a request for a civil Standby on 429th Ave in Ainsworth.
  • Officer responded to a call from a local business in reference to an accident in their parking lot.

February 17

  • Officer Issued a Citation for Speeding, 80mph in a 65mph zone.
  • Officer Issued a Citation for Improper/Defective lighting.

WEEKLY SUMMARY TOTALS

INCIDENT REPORTS:  12

PHONE CALLS: 115

911 CALLS:  4

VIN INSPECTIONS: 2

HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMITS:  3

PAPERS SERVED: 6

* North Main Street renovation work to begin soon

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

Work will begin soon on North Main Street north of Highway 20 as part of a major renovation in the city in 2024. During Wednesday’s Ainsworth City Council meeting, City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said Myers Construction has been moving pipe and equipment into the area.

“They found an issue right at the treatment plant so we already have a change order,” Schroedl said. “They will be working near the treatment plant for the first couple weeks before they start moving south.”

The project is being conducted in conjunction with a renovation of Highway 7 in Ainsworth by the Nebraska Department of Transportation from the Highway 20 junction south to the south side of the city.

Schroedl said the north portion of the project needs to be completed before the NDOT project gets underway. She said the city would send out information to residents of North Main Street soon regarding logistics for the project and any potential interruptions in utility services.

When the NDOT portion of the project begins, Schroedl said the contractor would start at the Highway 20 junction and work to the south.

The city administrator said she and the engineering company would work to coordinate both projects for the continuity of utility services for residents and businesses.

In a related action item Wednesday, the City Council approved a construction management contract with the Central Nebraska Economic Development District to handle the grant reporting on the project.

Amber Ross with CNEDD said the contract would include managing Davis-Bacon Act requirements, reviewing payroll and interviewing workers. Ross said the contract with CNEDD is paid using grant funds.

In other business, the council gave Schroedl the green light to submit an application to the Brown County Foundation for potential grant assistance with the city’s portion of the Main Street renovation project.

“I just wanted to make sure you were on board,” Schroedl said. “We did not receive any grants for the south portion of the project. It is mostly aesthetic, so there are not a lot of big grant opportunities. This would fit within the purview of the foundation.”

Councilman Kent Taylor, who serves on the Brown County Foundation Board, said the foundation typically has about $80,000 in grant funds to award annually toward various community improvement projects.

Mayor Joel Klammer, who has also previously served on the foundation board, suggested segmenting the cost for the city’s portion of the renovation project and requesting assistance from the foundation for a specific item.

“Give them some options and different portions of the project they may be interested in supporting,” Klammer said.

The council also discussed the potential to add decorative lighting to the first block of North Main Street north of Highway 20 to the Ainsworth Public Library. Decorative lighting is currently not included in the north portion of the project that is not part of the NDOT renovation.

The council approved a quote of $1.67 per square yard for armor coating submitted by Top Kote of Yankton, S.D.

Schroedl said the cost for the armor coating oil and application was up from $1.60 last year. The city also furnishes the gravel for the armor coating.

“We budget $65,000 each year,” Schroedl said. “That used to get us 30 blocks. Now it only does 20-some blocks as the price has gone up.”

Schroedl said the city split the armor coating work between two budget years last year and was able to get more than 30 blocks armor coated. The work typically gets done in the fall.

Councilman Dustin Barthel asked if the city needed to go out for bids for the armor coating work.

Schroedl said another company did some armor coating work for the city following the 2019 flooding, but the work was not done well. She said the city had been satisfied with the work done by Top Kote.

The council determined the city was only locking in the price for the armor coating and not agreeing to a certain amount of work in approving the price per yard. By locking in the price per yard now, the council avoids the potential of oil prices increasing as they typically do during the summer months.

Councilman Brad Fiala said he was satisfied with the work Top Kote has done for the city. He said spending money on armor coating was not an ideal situation, but if the city didn’t armor coat some of the streets they would be lost.

“We need to get a paving district started,” Fiala said.

Schroedl said, after the Main Street renovation project is completed, the city would begin looking at the creation of a paving district to improve some of the asphalt streets in the city that are in poor condition.

The council also approved an administrative subdivision requested by property owner Steve Salzman for ground just north of the city near the wastewater treatment plant.

Schroedl said the original tract is 10.68 acres and the subdivision would create a separate tract of 2.15 acres. She said the property is outside the city limits but is within the city’s one-mile zoning jurisdiction.

In a final action item Wednesday, the council approved the mayor’s recommended reappointments of Kathy Klammer, Jim Arens and Bob Maxwell to the LB 840 Loan Committee for three-year terms that expire Nov. 1, 2026. The mayor said he had visited with all three loan committee members and they were willing to continue serving on the committee.

“They have been doing a good job for us,” the mayor said.

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

* Recent cases from Brown County District Court

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

During Brown County District Court proceedings Tuesday, Shane Cole, age 24, formerly of Ainsworth, was sentenced to two years of probation and 30 days in the Brown County jail after previously pleading guilty to charges of attempted first degree domestic assault, a Class IIIA felony count.

Also in District Court Tuesday, Aaron Fernau, 48, of Ainsworth, entered guilty pleas to two charges – making terroristic threats, a Class IIIA felony, and criminal mischief, a Class I misdemeanor. Fernau will be sentenced April 9 in District Court.

* Care Center receives first tax levy funds

(Posted 1 p.m. Feb. 13)

After borrowing $74,000 from a line of credit during its January meeting, the Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors voted to repay $40,000 of that borrowed amount during its meeting Monday.

The Sandhills Care Center received its first funds from the voter-approved levy that is expected to raise close to $200,000 annually for the next five years. The 2023 tax year was the first year the bond was levied on property after being approved by voters of both the city of Ainsworth and Brown County in 2022.

As property owners pay their 2023 taxes, the care center will receive the levy payments. The care center recently received the first $26,346.

Business Manager Makenzie Crane said the funds will make a difference for the care center and could be used to help make upgrades to the facility like the recently installed Wander Guard system.

The care center paid $25,710 for the installation of the system to Securitas Healthcare. Crane said the funds received in the first levy installment were enough to cover the entire cost of that upgrade to the facility.

The Sandhills Care Center generated $225,290 in revenue during January, with expenses, which included the Wander Guard system installation, amounted to $216,202 for a net profit for the facility for the month of $9,088. The January profit and loss statement does not include the funding received from the city and county tax levies.

The board unanimously voted to repay more than half of the $74,000 borrowed in January from the care center’s line of credit, making a $40,000 repayment on the credit line.

Crane said April would be a three pay-period month so expenses will be elevated for that month. The care center pays its staff every other week, with two months of the year including three pay periods.

Administrator Penny Jacobs reported there are currently 25 residents in the care center, with 13 paying privately, 10 receiving Medicaid assistance, one receiving Medicare assistance and one resident receiving hospice care.

Jacobs said there had been two new residents admitted to the care center since the board’s January meeting, with two residents passing away.

She said the facility received a positive referral Monday and was working on an additional three referrals for new residents.

Of the current residents, 15 are from Ainsworth, three are from rural Brown County, one is from Long Pine, three are from Cherry County and one is from Rock County.

Jacobs said the facility had hired two full-time CNAs since the board’s January meeting and had hired a full-time housekeeper. One CNA resigned from the care center during the past month. Jacobs said some staff members are still putting in a lot of overtime hours, so the facility could still use night shift and weekend CNAs and one or two charge nurses.

Board member Shawn Fernau asked Jacobs if the residents were utilizing the new virtual reality headsets that were purchased. Jacobs said most of the residents love them.

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

* Goochey selected to attend Elks Scholar Service Trip

(Posted 12:45 p.m. Feb. 13)

Ainsworth High School graduate Cameryn Goochey has been selected to take part in the Spring Elks Scholar Service Trip to Philadelphia, Pa.

Goochey was one of 350 Elks National Foundation Legacy Award Scholarship recipients in 2023. Of those receiving Legacy Awards, 20 are selected to attend the service trip, allowing them to serve others in the name of the Elks Organization.

Goochey will travel to Philadelphia March 7-11, and will assist the city’s residents through various organizations while also exploring the city.

In 2015, the Elks National Foundation initiated the service trips, helping Elks Scholars give back while connecting with one another through the National Elks Organization. Goochey said she is excited to represent Ainsworth, the Elks Lodge 1790 and the Nebraska State Elks Association on the service trip.

A freewill donation spaghetti feed to help Goochey with her travel costs to Pennsylvania is scheduled from 5 until 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18, in the Ainsworth Elks.

* Ainsworth withdraws from Southwest Conference

(Posted 7 a.m. Feb. 13)

The Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education voted unanimously Monday to officially exit the Southwest Conference following the 2023-24 school year.

The board has discussed its conference affiliation for the past several meetings, weighing the size and distance of a majority of the conference schools against the opportunities provided by remaining in the conference.

Superintendent Dale Hafer said he attended the Southwest Conference Superintendents meeting in January. He said all of the schools were supportive and voted to allow Ainsworth to withdraw its membership from the conference if the board chose that route.

“I think we’ve done the right thing,” Hafer said. “We have taken our time with this, and we have received a lot of input. I think there will be an opportunity for us to be in a conference in the future.”

Hafer said Activities Director Luke Wroblewski was working to add games to next year’s basketball schedule against O’Neill St. Mary’s, Neligh-Oakdale, Anselmo-Merna and others with the goal of replacing some of the Southwest Conference Schools currently on the basketball schedule.

Hafer said the school plans to keep playing against Valentine, Broken Bow and Cozad, but will likely drop games against other SWC members Ogallala, McCook, Holdrege, Minden and Gothenburg.

He said the school was actively working on additional opportunities in the fine arts as well.

Ainsworth joined the Southwest Conference during the 2005-06 school year following the dissolution of the Rangeland Conference and will complete its 20th and final year in the SWC this year.

In other business Monday, the board approved the replacement of an overhead door for the school’s bus barn on the east side of the campus.

Custodian Joey Finley said the seal at the top of the door gave out at some point and water leaked into the door. Finley said the water leak added weight to the door and caused the Styrofoam inside to expand.

The door no longer opens properly. A technician with Overhead Door Co. of Norfolk inspected the door and suggested it needed to be replaced.

“He has seen this before with west-facing doors,” Finley said.

The building is 16 years old, so there is no longer any warranty on the original door. The board approved the $16,484 quote from Overhead Door Co. to replace the door, using depreciation funds to pay for the purchase.

The board also voted to use depreciation funds to replace an outdated watering reel for the football practice field at East City Park. Finley said the current watering reel was purchased in 1976 and parts to fix it were no longer available.

The board reviewed quotes for a new reel or for placing underground sprinklers at the practice field. Finley recommended a replacement reel, as the school may have issues with broken sprinkler heads from vehicles using the RV dump or parking at the practice field during football games.

“I’m afraid we would get a lot of sprinkler heads broken,” Finley said.

A new reel was also more than $2,000 less expensive than an underground system. The board approved the purchase of a new reel from Flatwater Sales of Ord for $9,924. The school also received a quote of $10,106 for a new reel from Performance Reel LLC of Pensacola, Fla. The underground system bid by Morrison Underground Sprinklers was $12,283.

In a final action item Monday, the board continued its policy review, looking at 16 policies and making no changes.

North Central Development Center Executive Director Kristin Olson met with the board to provide an update on NCDC activities.

Olson said the NCDC is trying to focus on housing and has received Rural Workforce Housing funds from the state for construction and rehabilitation. She said the cost for new construction coupled with high mortgage interest rates made new construction difficult under the program’s current parameters.

“The cost per square foot is really high, as are the costs of demolition,” Olson said.

Olson said the NCDC has also assisted the Ainsworth Child Development Center in its efforts to establish its operation on Main Street, and has assisted all the in-home child care providers in Brown and Rock counties with obtaining available pandemic funding.

Olson reported most of the LB 840 funds in the city of Ainsworth’s account have been put to use in the community. She said taxable sales remain robust so there is money coming into the LB 840 fund along with loans made from the fund being repaid.

She said the NCDC was also helping private property owners with demolition.

“If we can take a property that generates $50 in property tax and get something new built, that helps the tax base,” Olson said.

She said the NCDC has also assisted with the new Rock County Community Center project, and had written or assisted with grant applications that had resulted in $1.8 million in funds being awarded to the area.

The board discussed potential grant projects for the school, including playground equipment and crumb rubber. Olson said grants are available for 50 percent of the cost of crumb rubber for playgrounds.

During his report, Hafer said the district’s lunch account has done well and the board would need to consider upgrades for the cafeteria so its federal funding for the meal program was not jeopardized.

Hafer suggested the board look at replacing the current lunch tables and chairs with dual split-bench cafeteria tables. He said school personnel viewed that style of table while the girls wrestling team participated in the district meet at Gothenburg.

Hafer said the Gothenburg superintendent indicated the school was very happy with that style of table, and it works well for all ages from elementary students to senior citizens.

“They are very comfortable, and they are handicap accessible,” Hafer said. “The round tables are in decent shape but some aren’t the best. There is an opportunity to surplus those to the community. I think there would be some interest in them. Our current setup is pretty labor intensive for our custodial staff.”

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 11.

* KBRB Big Game Contest goes to tiebreaker

(Posted 2:45 p.m. Feb. 12)

While none of the record 190 scores submitted during the annual KBRB Big Game Call-in Contest picked Kansas City’s 25-22 overtime victory over San Fransisco by the exact correct score, it still took being within three points of the final to earn certificates from among the 41 sponsors of this year’s contest.

Six contestants picked Kansas City to win by a 24-21 margin, missing the final by just two total points. That forced us to the tiebreaker to determine this year’s winner, and Les Waits of Ainsworth was the first caller to predict Kansas City to win 24-21. Being quick with the dialing fingers earns Les Waits $225 in gift certificates to sponsoring businesses, a record haul for the KBRB Big Game Contest.

Five other contestants who picked Kansas City to win by a 24-21 margin each earn $100 in certificates for tying for the runner-up spot. Those prognosticators are Keith Ammon of Bassett, Carl Chase of Springview, Nathan Finley of Valentine, and Ashley Titus and Jake Nelson of Ainsworth.

Six contestants were within three points of the 25-22 final score. In tying for seventh place, each of those six contestants earn $50 in certificates to sponsoring businesses. Those six contestants are Judy Graff, Deb Hollenbeck, Marilyn Lund, Harper Larsen, Ezra Ford and Nikki Howard. Judy Graff was the fourth overall score to be submitted Wednesday, and Nikki Howard on Friday was the third to last of the 190 total scores called in during the contest.

Congratulations to those winners of this year’s KBRB Big Game Call-in Contest. Certificates may be picked up from the KBRB Studios or call KBRB at 402-387-1400 to make arrangements to have certificates either delivered or mailed.

There were 11 callers who missed the 25-22 final score by four points to just miss out on this year’s bounty of certificates. Those contestants were Cory Brodbeck, Mary Smith, Ronda Theis, Todd Kicken, Eldon Sylvester, Dave Fowler, Sandy Sisson, Dwight Niemann, Eli Beel, Caleb Zarbarbnicky and Randy Hart. Randy actually correctly predicted the Big Game to go into overtime. He had Kansas City winning, 23-20, to narrowly miss an epic prediction.

KBRB thanks the following sponsors of the Big Game Call-in Contest for making the annual contest possible.

Those businesses are:
Ainsworth Golf Course
Ainsworth Drug
Long Pine Lumber
The L-Bow Room in Johnstown
Needles N Pins
Speedee Mart
Ainsworth Auto Parts – Carquest
H&R Food Center
Yogi’s Place
Husker Meats
Century Lumber Center
Daze of Wine in Atkinson
Scott’s Place in Bassett
Ainsworth Flowers & Gifts
Kelly Gambill Massage Therapy
The Book Peddler
First Stop in Atkinson
The Ainsworth Grand Theater
Ward Plumbing & Heating in Valentine
The Cast Iron Bar & Grille in Stuart
The Silver Circle
Shamrock Nursery in O’Neill
G&V’s Market in Bassett
Palmer Embroidery & Boutique
Bloomin’ Daisies in Stuart
Circle B Livestock in Bassett
Turp’s Automotive in Bassett
Wettlaufer’s Flower Shop and Nursery in Atkinson
Simple Solutions of Long Pine
Ainsworth Motors
MC’s Tees & More in Springview
Something Special by Marilyn in Atkinson
The Sandhills Lounge in Long Pine
The Whistle Stop in Bassett
First Class Auto
The Ainsworth Elks Club
Willow Creek Mercantile
Buckles Automotive
The Springlake Angus Center near Lynch
Red & White Market
The 402 Bar.

* Ainsworth speech team competes at Gordon

(Posted 10 a.m. Feb. 12)

On Saturday, the Ainsworth High School speech team traveled to Gordon to compete in the Gordon-Rushville Invitational. This meet was varsity only, so the novice speakers on the team competed as varsity during the meet.

Of the 11 speeches competing in the tournament, six made it to the finals. Earning medals were William Biltoft (fourth) and Willa Flynn (sixth) in Humorous Prose, Erick Hitchcock (fourth) in Extemporaneous and (fourth) in Informative, Hannah Beel (sixth) in Persuasive, and Hannah Beel and Puridy Haley (sixth) in Duet Acting.

Earning superior ratings were Kiley Orton, Hannah Beel, and Terra Shoemaker in Informative, William Biltoft in Extemporaneous, and Puridy Haley in Persuasive. The team hosts the Ainsworth Invitational Saturday, Feb. 17.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

February 4

  • Officer issued citations to three individuals for Assault.
  • A Nebraska male subject was jailed and issued a citation for violating a Protection Order and Domestic Assault.
  • Officer responded to the site of a car/deer accident on Highway 183.

February 5

  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call to Cedar Street in Long Pine. One Individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Brown County Ambulance transported an Air Crew to the Brown County Hospital and back to the Airport with one patient.
  • Officer responded to a report of vandalism at a local residence.
  • Officers responded to a call in reference to an abandoned vehicle at a local business. The vehicle was towed to a local tow yard.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office received a report of suspected terroristic threats.

February 6

  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call at a local business. One individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Sheriff’s Office received a complaint of barking dogs on Maple St in Ainsworth. A written warning was issued to the owner.
  • Officers responded to a request for traffic control for a cattle crossing West of Ainsworth.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Dept received a call from a Local Business. Officers responded and Brown County Ambulance was paged.

February 7

  • Officer issued a citation for No Valid Registration.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office received a report of an individual not stopping for a school bus when stop sign deployed. Contact was made with the driver and a written warning was issued.

February 8

  • Officer issued a citation for speeding, 85 mph in a 65 mph zone.
  • Officer issued a citation for no valid registration.
  • Brown County Ambulance transported an individual from a local facility to the Brown County Hospital.

February 9

  • Officer issued a citation for no valid registration and no proof of insurance.
  • Officer responded to a reported accident on Main Street in Ainsworth.
  • Officer responded to a report of multiple dogs running down Main Street. Owner was Located and dogs returned.

February 10

  • Officer issued a citation for Stop sign violation.
  • Officer responded to a report of a Verbal Disturbance at a local establishment.
  • Officer responded to a request for traffic control for a cattle crossing East of Ainsworth.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Department received a report of a suspected burglary at a residence in Ainsworth, Residence was found to be Secure.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office received a report of possible vandalism at a residence in Long Pine.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a physical disturbance at a residence on North Main Street in Ainsworth.
  • Officer responded to a report of Suspicious activity on Park Street in Ainsworth.

WEEKLY SUMMARY TOTALS
INCIDENT REPORTS:  20
PHONE CALLS: 117
911 CALLS:  6
VIN INSPECTIONS:  11
HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMITS: 7
PAPERS SERVED: 4

* Arens wins spelling bee with ‘lyricist’ and ‘eclectic’

(Posted 3:15 p.m. Feb. 7)

Ainsworth sixth-grade student Isabelle Arens correctly spelled the words “lyricist” and “eclectic” to win the annual fifth- through eighth-grade Oral Spelling Bee Wednesday in the Ainsworth Community Schools Learning Center.

Arens and eighth-grader Maya Villalobos had a dual for the top spot that lasted numerous rounds after the two spellers outlasted the other 18 students in the competition. Eighth-grade student Raelynn Reagan finished third in the contest.

Arens advances to the Regional Spelling Bee.

Dallyn Dailey won the first-grade spelling bee, with Jaiden Lehn finishing second and Brayden Arens third.

In the second grade, Lawson Rentschler correctly spelled “flake” and “floor” to win the bee. Keegan O’Hare finished second and Santiago Covarrubias third.

In the third-grade bee, winner Sutton Owen correctly spelled “grinned” and “cheese” to win, with Rowan Alberts placing second and Landon Arens third.

Isabella Pike correctly spelled “breathe” and “alley” to win the fourth-grade bee, with Stella Lentz finishing second and Sophia Schroedl in third.

KBRB’s Graig Kinzie served as the pronouncer for the annual spelling bee, with Mary Rau, Susan Scholtes and Amanda Ganser serving as the judges for the competition.

* Appelt selected for Shrine Bowl

(Posted 9:45 a.m. Feb. 7)

The Shrine Bowl of Nebraska Board of Directors released the rosters for the 66th Nebraska Shrine Bowl Game.

Among the players selected for this year’s Shrine Bowl is Ainsworth High School Senior Trey Appelt. A standout defensive lineman and tight end for the Bulldogs, Appelt will play for the North Team, coached this year by Chris Koozer of Norfolk High School.

Among the players joining Appelt on the North team are Tucker Shabram of O’Neill, Trent McCain of Ord, Bryson Gadeken of Neligh-Oakdale and Brice Chaplin of Broken Bow.

The South team is coached by Ryan Gottula of Lincoln Southeast High School.

The 66th annual Nebraska Shrine Bowl will be played Saturday, June 1, in Ron and Carol Cope Stadium on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Kearney.  For more information, visit www.NEShrineBowl.org.

* Commissioners to set fee for freeing stuck vehicles

(Posted 7 a.m. Feb. 7)

The Brown County Commissioners continued discussion Tuesday on creating a charge for the roads department to pull out vehicles that get stuck in the snow on county roads.

Previous discussion centered on the danger created to roads department employees for having to venture out in adverse conditions to assist people who should not have been out on the roads in the first place during or following winter storms.

Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin said he visited with private towing companies. Turpin said Bruce Dannatt with Frontier Diesel charges between $300 and $400 per hour depending on the equipment needed, and Kacey Jones with KC Collision does not have snow-clearing equipment to reach vehicles stuck in snow drifts.

County Attorney Andy Taylor said he believed, if the vehicle was not creating a hazard on the roadway, then the county should not pull it out and the owner should contact a private company.

Turpin said most of the private companies won’t pull people out because of the likelihood of the vehicle owner not paying the bill.

Taylor said, if the vehicle was creating a hazard for other motorists, then the county has to remove it but the county is not responsible for any damage caused when freeing the vehicle.

Commissioner Jeremiah Dailey said the roads department should coordinate with the Brown County Sheriff’s Department to issue citations to motorists who get vehicles stuck when they should not be out on the roads. Dailey recommended a minimum fee of $500 plus another $500 for each additional hour it takes to reach and free the vehicle.

Turpin said he had concerns about vehicles getting abandoned after becoming stuck and then getting covered with snow and either hit by a plow or another vehicle.

Turpin said during the 2022-23 winter season, numerous vehicles became stranded on 430th Avenue.

Commissioner Denny Bauer questioned whether the county needed to include exceptions in any resolution for people with medical emergencies or people trying to reach and feed their livestock.

Taylor said the commissioners would not need to pass a resolution but could simply establish the fee that could then be enforced.

“Each instance will have the ability for the commissioners’ discretion on whether there is a reason to waive the charge,” Taylor said.

No action was taken. The item was placed on the board’s Feb. 20 agenda for continued discussion.

Turpin urged motorists to use caution when traveling county roads as warmer temperatures and melting snow were creating several soft, muddy roads in the county.

“The best thing for the roads is sunshine and some breeze,” the highway superintendent said.

Turpin requested approval from the board to allow the roads department employees to attend a four-day heavy equipment training that would be held in the spring in Rock County.

Turpin said the total cost for all of the roads department personnel to attend the training would be $7,433.

“I think it is a cheap investment,” Turpin said. “I think it would be good for the crew. They may be better than Dustin and I at teaching.”

Turpin said the training included 1-1/2 days in the classroom and 2-1/2 days working with machines.

Dailey said he thought the training would be good for the employees but questioned having the entire roads crew gone for four days. Turpin said, if any situations were to arise, he or Nakoa Fletcher could leave the training to take care of things.

Bauer said the training was a good investment, especially since it was being held close to home. He said the cost would be higher elsewhere if the county had to pay for travel costs and hotel rooms.

The commissioners gave Turpin the go-ahead to have the roads department employees attend the training, which Turpin thought would likely be held sometime in April.

The board continued to discuss the mowing of road ditches in the county. Bauer said he contacted an insurance company and found the cost for a private contractor to obtain $1 million in liability insurance to mow ditches for the county would be $1,500.

At that expense, Bauer said there would likely not be too many people willing to mow the ditches. At $200 per mile, Bauer said there wouldn’t be much left over for a contractor hired to mow 10 miles of road ditch.

Turpin again stated he believed the best way to handle the issue may be for the county to purchase a tractor and mower, mow the ditches not taken care of by the adjacent property owner and charging the landowner for the cost.

No action was taken.

The board opted to postpone opening bids for armor coating work after one company indicated it had just received oil prices and had submitted a bid prior to the deadline but it would likely not be delivered by the postal service in time for Tuesday’s meeting. The commissioners will open armor coating bids during their Feb. 20 meeting.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners approved providing a letter of recommendation on behalf of Weed Superintendent Scott Erthum to serve as the vice president of the Nebraska Weed Control Association. Small said Erthum had been nominated by the Weed Control Association to serve a three-year term, in which he would serve as the association’s president during the third year of the term.

Though not against Erthum serving in the role, both Dailey and Bauer indicated greater attention needed to be paid to spraying county road ditches for noxious weeds, specifically leafy spurge.

Bauer said ranchers are spending thousands of dollars to spray for spurge, then complain to the commissioners about the road ditches never being sprayed.

“I think the weed superintendent needs to focus on spraying road ditches and not the river,” Bauer said. “The river should be the responsibility of the Niobrara Council.”

Bauer said he would not be opposed to the county hiring some part-time help in the summer to help spray road ditches.

Small said he would contact Erthum to attend the next board meeting to put together a plan for spraying ditches.

Blaire Speck with the BKR Extension office presented the board with the Extension’s annual report. Speck said participation in 4-H increased 10 percent from the prior year and participants would no longer be required to be members of 4-H to participate in planned activities.

Sheriff Brent Deibler presented the commissioners with a proposal to increase meal reimbursement rates for employees who have to travel on county business. Deibler said the current rates of $10 for breakfast, $12 for lunch and $18 for dinner did not cover rising meal prices in most instances.

“When officers are traveling for training or prisoner transport, the current reimbursement does not cover their costs,” Deibler said.

The board approved a reimbursement increase to $12 for breakfast, $16 for lunch and $24 for dinner.

Deibler said he also planned to go out for bids to repair brick and mortar on the sheriff’s department building. After windows were replaced, water is still coming in to the building due to brick and mortar issues.

Taylor said interior work cannot be completed in the sheriff’s department building until the brick and mortar is repaired. Since the item will likely carry a cost in excess of $50,000, sealed bids would be required and the county had to advertise for bids for two weeks. He asked the board to schedule a special meeting for Feb. 23 to open the bids to allow work to potentially progress more quickly. The board set the special meeting at 8 a.m. on Feb. 23 to open the bids.

In a final sheriff’s department item, the commissioners approved renewing the annual Highway 20 Interlocal Law Enforcement Agreement.

Deibler said the agreement works well and allows the sheriff’s departments in the area to assist each other when needed.

The board approved accepting the donation of two lots with a building in downtown Long Pine to the county. Taylor said the property belonged to the estate of Sammy Ellis. He said Ellis’s daughter lives in Minnesota and does not want the property.

“She wants to give it to the county to cut the red tape,” Taylor said.

Taylor said the county would be required to foreclose on the property at some point with property taxes not being paid.

“We are going to end up with it anyway,” Taylor said.

He said the building, located at 390 N. Main St. in Long Pine, is in bad shape. When the donation is completed, the commissioners indicated they would contact an adjacent business to see if it had an interest in acquiring the property from the county.

West Plains Bank President Doug Weiss encouraged the commissioners to consider the local banks when taking out loans for equipment.

Weiss said he saw during the board’s previous meeting that it took out an equipment loan through DA Davison and NACO and paid more than $1,400 in fees. Weiss said the local bank has done municipal loans and leases for a long time.

“We could probably provide that financing at about the same rate and without the $1,400 in fees you were charged,” Weiss said.

Dailey said the board was at fault because it didn’t look to compare it anywhere else.

Commissioner Buddy Small said Andy Forney with DA Davison had called to apologize and said the company would visit with the local banks before making any additional loan recommendations to the board.

Turpin said he didn’t realize the local banks would be able to compete with the rate NACO was offering.

In final action items Tuesday, the commissioners signed a settlement agreement with NIRMA for a hail damage claim submitted following a storm in May. NIRMA paid $52,985 to the county for damage incurred to county property by the hail.

The board approved a budgeted transfer of $300,000 from the county’s miscellaneous general fund to the county highway fund.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Feb. 20, with a special meeting scheduled for 8 a.m. Feb. 23.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 11 a.m. Feb. 4)

January 28

  • Officer issued a citation for No Proof of Insurance.
  • Officer responded to a request for a welfare check at a residence on 4th Street in Ainsworth.
  • Officer responded to a report of a vicious dog on Ash Street in Ainsworth. The animal in question was apprehended and taken to the Ainsworth Vet Clinic.

January 29

  • Officer issued a citation for speeding, 45 mph in a 35 mph zone.
  • Officer responded to a report of an abandoned vehicle on Maple Street in Ainsworth. A tow service was contacted to remove the vehicle from the street.
  • Officers responded to a report of a physical disturbance on Cedar Street in Long Pine

January 30

  • Officers responded to a call from the Ainsworth Community Schools in reference to a runaway juvenile.

January 31

  • Officers and the Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call from an individual on Maple Street in Ainsworth.
  • Brown County Ambulance transported an Individual from a residence on Maple Street to the Brown County Hospital.

February 1

  • Officers responded to a request for traffic control during a fire drill at the Ainsworth Community School.

February 2

  • Officers, Brown County Ambulance, Long Pine and Ainsworth Fire Departments responded to a 911 Call in reference to an Overturned Semi tractor trailer on the West end of the Long Pine Hills. The driver of the Semi refused Ambulance Transport. There was severe damage to the guardrail and spilt grain is still to be cleaned up.
  • Officers responded to a report of a hit and run accident at a business on Main Street in Ainsworth.
  • Officers responded to a report of an accident at a business on 4th Street in Ainsworth.

February 3

  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call in reference to an individual who had fallen. The individual was transported from a residence on Mertin St to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Officers responded to a 911 call in reference to a physical altercation taking place on Highway 20 East of Ainsworth.
  • Officers arrested an individual for domestic assault and the individual was booked into the Brown County Jail awaiting bond.

WEEKLY SUMMARY TOTALS
INCIDENT REPORTS:  11
PHONE CALLS: 140
911 CALLS:  7
VIN INSPECTIONS:  7
HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMITS: 2
PAPERS SERVED: 1

JANUARY MONTHLY TOTALS
INCIDENT REPORTS: 75
PHONE CALLS: 603
911 CALLS: 30
VIN INSPECTIONS: 22
HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMITS: 9
PAPERS SERVED: 9

* Drivers urged to watch for accident scene

(Posted 7 a.m. Feb. 2)

Motorists are urged to use caution traveling on Highway 20 in the Long Pine hills as an overturned semi is blocking the westbound lane of traffic.

Emergency responders were paged to the accident at approximately 3 a.m. Friday in heavy fog. Visibility has been reduced since Thursday afternoon.

Flashing emergency lights warn motorists of the crash site as they approach the area. 

* Area students named to Northeast CC Dean’s List

(Posted 7 a.m. Feb. 1)

Northeast Community College at Norfolk announced the President’s Honor List and Dean’s Honor List for both full– and part–time students for the fall 2023 semester.

To be named to the President’s Honor List, students must earn a grade point average of 4.0 and be enrolled for at least 12 credit hours. Students named to the President’s Part–Time list attained a 4.0 grade point average while taking at least six credit hours. Students named to the Dean’s Honor List earned a graded point average of at least 3.75 while taking at least 12 credit hours. Students named to the Dean’s Part–Time list earned a grade point average of 3.75 or above while taking at least six credit hours. Area students named to the Northeast Community College President’s or Dean’s lists for the fall semester are:

PRESIDENT’S HONOR LIST – Full–Time

Ainsworth – Tessa Barthel, Molly Salzman.

Long Pine – William Pfister.

Bassett – Whisper Welton.

Mills – Raden Orton.

Newport – Edward Reynolds.

Stuart – Dalton Clemens, Lexi Schroder.

Atkinson – Brody Deseive.

Naper –Paige Drueke.

Valentine – Wyatt Barnes, Austyn Kieborz.

PRESIDENT’S HONOR LIST – Part–Time

Ainsworth – Taylor Allen, Trey Appelt, Chloe DeBusk, Gus Ganser, Jocelyn Good, Emma Kennedy, Traegan McNally, Mason Titus.

Springview – Heather Hespe, Alveana Wenger.

Bassett – Branson Anderson, Dalya Dearmont, Lily Gudgel, Jade Johnson, Lindsay Wegener.

Newport – Keira Taylor.

Stuart – Dawson Heiser, Addison Karo, Katelynn Kratz, William Paxton, Blake Wallinger.

Atkinson – Sidney Burkinshaw, Makinley Cadwallader, Aubreionna Clouse, Samantha Coffin, Angelique Davis, Caleb Davis, Madison Davis, Luke Klabenes, Rylee Poessnecker, Cadey Schaaf, Lainey Smith.

Naper – Jacob Corrado, Kaylee Hinton.

Butte – Elizabeth Bernt.

DEAN’S HONOR LIST – Full–Time

Springview – Ryan Painter.

Stuart – Whitlee Paxton.

Atkinson – Nacesha Zahnd.

Valentine – Jaycie Cox, Hayden Larabee, Becca McGinley, Nathan Perrett, Jackson Ravenscroft.

DEAN’S HONOR LIST Part–Time

Ainsworth – Addah Booth, Trevor Johnson.

Bassett – Adisyn Anderson, Mason Hagan.

Newport – Tory Thurlow.

Stuart – Gracie Kaup, Luke Ludwig.

Atkinson – Miya Carey, Abigail Mathis, Itzel Sanchez.

Butte – Lanie Lechtenberg.

* Stuart-Atkinson Airport receives federal grant

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

U.S. Senators Deb Fischer and Pete Ricketts announced the Nebraska Department of Transportation will receive $15.3 million in federal funding to enhance and maintain existing infrastructure at 21 airports statewide.
Fischer said, “From Omaha to Chadron, Atkinson to Lexington — Nebraska’s airports connect our communities, ensure accessibility for travel, and grow the rural economy. I was proud to vote for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support Nebraska’s airports. Nebraska continues to see a return on that investment, as our state will now receive $15.3 million to support and maintain essential airports statewide.”

Among the airports receiving funding are the Stuart-Atkinson Municipal Airport and Cram Field at Burwell. The Stuart-Atkinson Municipal Airport received $306,000 in federal funding, while Cram Field received $113,000.

The largest grant of $5.37 million went to Eppley Airfield at Omaha. Lee Bird Field at North Platte received $2.69 million.
Ricketts said, “Nebraska’s airports are essential to our state’s economy. These strategic investments in critical infrastructure will improve safety and support the continued growth of communities across our state.”

* Nebraska in top 5 for lowest December jobless rate

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

Nebraska’s unemployment rate for December was 2.3 percent. The rate was unchanged from the November rate of 2.3 percent and is down 0.4 percentage points from the December 2022 rate of 2.7 percent. Nebraska was ranked fifth in the nation.

North Dakota and Maryland shared the top spot nationally in December with unemployment rates of 1.9 percent. South Dakota sits third at 2 percent, followed by Vermont at 2.2 percent and Nebraska at 2.3 percent.

Rock County had the lowest unemployment rate in the area in December at 1.4 percent, which tied Perkins County and Hayes County in southwestern Nebraska for the best jobless rate in the state.

Brown County’s December unemployment rate of 2.4 percent was just above the state average. Blaine County had the highest unemployment rate in the area in December at 2.9 percent.

Cherry County’s unemployment rate was in the top 10 in the state at 1.6 percent, with Holt County at 1.8 percent. Keya Paha County’s rate at 2.1 percent was slightly below the state average, with Boyd County’s December rate coming in at 2.8 percent.

“Employment in private education and health services in Nebraska reached a new all-time high for the fourth straight month at over 166,000 in December,” Nebraska Commissioner of Labor John Albin said. “Manufacturing employment saw another monthly increase, and total statewide nonfarm employment increased by over 11,000 compared to December 2022.”

Nonfarm employment was 1,054,500 in December, down 925 from November but up 11,473 from December 2022.

Private industries with the most growth from November to December were the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (up 2,441 jobs); private education and health services (up 801 jobs); and manufacturing (up 327 jobs). Private industries with the most over the year growth were the private education and health services sector (up 7,619 jobs), leisure and hospitality (up 2,371 jobs), and trade, transportation, and utilities (up 2,308 jobs).

The national unemployment rate for December was 3.7 percent, unchanged from the November rate but up 0.2 percent from the December 2022 rate of 3.5 percent.

* Area students named to UN-L Deans’ List

(Posted 7:30 a.m. Jan. 30)

More than 6,800 University of Nebraska–Lincoln students have been named to the Deans’ List for the fall semester of the 2023-24 academic year.

Qualification for the Deans’ List varies among the eight undergraduate colleges and the Explore Center. Listed below are the minimum requirements for each entity and the name of its respective dean or director. All qualifying grade-point averages are based on a four-point scale and a minimum number of graded semester hours.

Area students named to the UN-L Deans’ List include:

Ainsworth
Libby Wilkins, sophomore, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, agricultural leadership, education and communication.

Samuel Duane Wilkins, senior, College of Engineering, agricultural engineering.

Bassett
Brooklyn Buell, freshman, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, environmental and sustainability studies.

Jillian Mckenna Buell, junior, College of Journalism and Mass Communications, advertising and public relations.

Gracie Eva Swanson, freshman, College of Business, business administration.

Stuart
Anthony Heiser, freshman, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, PGA golf management.

Cameron Sattler, junior, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, animal science and pre-veterinary medicine.

Atkinson
Emma Alder, junior, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, biochemistry.

Luke Olson, sophomore, College of Business, accounting.

Madeline Ann Rentschler, freshman, College of Business, actuarial science.

Wood Lake
Shyanne Dawn Urbin, senior, College of Engineering, biological systems engineering.

Valentine
Logan Michael Cate, senior, College of Business, supply chain management.

Ryan OKief, junior, College of Business, finance.

Skyler Reagle, senior, College of Business, management.

* Three recent vehicle-deer collisions reported

(Posted 11 a.m. Jan. 28)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated three recent vehicle-deer collisions in the county.

At 7:52 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 25, a 2012 Ford Focus, driven by Jaden Lee, 17, of Ainsworth, was traveling east on Highway 20 near milepost 237 when the vehicle struck a deer in the roadway.

No persons were injured during the accident. The Ford was considered a total loss.

At 10:58 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, on Highway 20 between mileposts 250 and 251, a 2008 Ford Explorer, driven by Kenley Welke, 15, of Long Pine, was traveling east when the vehicle struck a deer in the roadway.

No persons were injured during the accident. The Ford was considered a total loss.

At 6:35 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19, a 2013 Subaru Forester, driven by Andrea Goeken, 65, of Long Pine, was traveling north on Highway 183 near milepost 202 when the vehicle struck a deer in the roadway.

No persons were injured during the accident. Damage to the Subaru was estimated at $5,000.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 10:45 a.m. Jan. 28)

January 21

  • Brown County Sheriff’s Dept as well as the Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call from Walnut St in Ainsworth. One individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital
  • Brown County Ambulance transported a flight crew from the Ainsworth Airport to the Brown County Hospital and back to the Airport.
  • Officers responded to a report of a transient on highway 183. No Individual was located.

January 22

  • Officer responded to a request for traffic control for a cattle Crossing South of Ainsworth.
  • An Individual came to the Brown County Sheriff’s Office in reference to a harassment claim. The individual was advised to fill out a detailed Statement form.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Dept was informed of a counterfeit $100 bill that had been deposited by a local business.

January 23

  • Brown County Ambulance transferred a Patient from the Brown County Hospital to Kearney.
  • Officer responded to a car/deer accident on Highway 20 near Long Pine. No Injuries were reported. Vehicle considered to be a total loss.

January 24th

  • Brown County Court, No Events to report.

January 25

  • Officer issued a citation for speeding 79 mph in a 65 mph zone.
  • Officer responded to a report of a vehicle that had its emergency flasher on and had appeared to have hit something. It was determined that the vehicle had hit a deer. The owner was contacted and had already contacted a tow company to get the vehicle.  No injuries were reported, and vehicle was considered totaled.

January 26

  • Brown County Ambulance transported and Individual from a business on Main St to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Department received a request for a welfare check on an Individual in Ainsworth.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Department received a report of an abandoned vehicle on Highway 7 South of Ainsworth. Vehicle was later towed to a Local Business.
  • Brown County Sheriffs Office received a Life Protect call stating that an individual had fallen outside of a local business. Officer responded and Brown County Ambulance was paged.
  • Officer responded to a call in reference to an injured deer West of Ainsworth.

January 27

  • Brown County Ambulance transported and Individual from Brown County Hospital to the Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney.
  • Received a report of a pickup-deer accident West of Long Pine. The vehicle was drivable, and no injuries were reported.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a domestic dispute. The individual reporting was advised to fill out a detailed Statement Form.
  • Brown County Ambulance transported an individual from Cottonwood Villa to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a male individual randomly stepping out into traffic on highway 20 in Ainsworth, causing vehicles to have to stop and go around him. Officers attempted to contact the individual but were unable to at the time.
  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call from a residence on Main Street in Ainsworth. An Individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a Stolen Semi tractor and Trailer. The driver at last report was in Ainsworth.
  • Officer issued a citation for defective/improper lighting on vehicle.
  • Officer issued a citation for defective/improper lighting and no valid registration on vehicle.

WEEKLY SUMMARY TOTALS
INCIDENT REPORTS:  23
PHONE CALLS: 126
911 CALLS:  2
VIN INSPECTIONS:  7
HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMITS:  1
PAPERS SERVED: 3

* Area students selected for UNK music festival

(Posted 4 p.m. Jan. 22)

Students from 95 high schools in Nebraska will participate in the annual Honor Band and Choral Clinic hosted by the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s Department of Music, Theatre and Dance.

The Jan. 29 event includes 606 high school music students who will work with UNK faculty and guest instructors before performing two public concerts at UNK’s Health and Sports Center. The 5:30 p.m. performance will feature the UNK Wind Ensemble along with the festival and honor bands. The 7 p.m. concert will showcase the UNK Choraleers along with the treble, festival and honor choirs.

The UNK Honor Band and Choral Clinic includes high school sophomores, juniors and seniors selected through auditions.

Area students selected to participate include:

Ainsworth – Colby Beegle, Grace Goodwin, Jordan Beatty, Madison Phares and William Biltoft.

Rock County – Hannah Kaup and Kyla Pyle.

Valentine – Devlin Welch, Grant Springer, Marybelle Ward, Neeley Cronin, Patrick Caley, Sari LaDeaux and Titus Maunu.

* Frederick finishes as season-long NHRA runner-up

(Posted 2 p.m. Jan. 22)

Brad Frederick was named the Division 5 season-long runner-up of the NHRA drag racing series during the year-end banquet Saturday at Kansas City, Mo.

Frederick finished second in the Division 5 Super Street category, which covers Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and portions of Canada.

Frederick posted a runner-up finish during the Topeka races and was a semifinalist during the Earlville, Iowa, stop.

Those two efforts, coupled with several other races where he advanced deep into the competition throughout the racing season, helped place Frederick second overall among the 130 racers competing in the Super Street series for Division 5.

* Flood warning lifted for Smith Falls area

(Posted 11 a.m. Jan. 22)

The National Weather Service has lifted the flood warning for the Niobrara River, allowing Smith Falls State Park in north central Nebraska to reopen its campground and trail to the falls.

The NWS had issued the flood warning Jan. 16 after an ice jam had formed on the river near Sparks downstream from the park. No floodwaters entered the park. River levels will be monitored continually for any changes.

* Property owner injured during Sunday fire

(Posted 8:45 a.m. Jan. 22)

A Sunday fire southeast of Johnstown destroyed an exterior shed full of equipment and injured the property owner who was trying to get equipment out of the shed before it was destroyed.

According to Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala, firefighters were paged at 2:25 p.m. Sunday to the site owned by Dan Clapper 15 miles southeast of Johnstown on Moon Lake Avenue.

Fiala said, upon firefighters’ arrival, the 40-by-60-foot steel shed was completely engulfed in flames. Clapper, who had entered the shed to try and remove equipment from inside before it was destroyed, was transported by private vehicle to the Brown County Hospital for treatment of burns and smoke inhalation.

Fiala said the exterior shed housed two tractors, a skid loader, a bale processer, a side-by-side UTV and other equipment, all of which were destroyed.

The fire chief said a power line was downed onto the roof of the building upon arrival, so firefighters were forced to wait until the line was de-energized before being able to extinguish the fire.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. The Johnstown and Raven-Calamus Volunteer Fire departments also responded to the fire Sunday. Fiala said the Ainsworth firefighters returned to the fire hall just before 6 p.m. Sunday.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

January 14

  • Officer issued a citation for speeding, 82 mph in a 65mph zone.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office received a call of a burglary alarm going of at a residence in Long Pine. The keyholder was notified.

January 15

  • Officer responded to a request for traffic control for a Cattle Crossing 0n Highway 183.

January 16

  • Officer issued a citation to an Individual for driving under revocation, No proof of ownership of vehicle, No valid registration, and No proof of insurance.
  • Officers Arrested an Individual for driving while under revocation, No proof of Ownership of Vehicle, No valid registration, and no proof of Insurance. The Individual was later released on Bond.

January 17

  • Brown County Ambulance transported an individual from their residence on Cedar St to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s office received a complaint of Harassment at a local business.
  • Officers Investigated a parking complaint on East 2nd St in Ainsworth
  • Officers responded to a report of Animal neglect on Norden Ave in Johnstown. The owner was contacted.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a Mailbox being knocked over by County Road crew. County Roads Department was notified.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s office received a report of a traffic hazard in Long Pine as a UPS truck was stuck on a local street. Vehicle was later pulled out and hazard removed.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call in ref to an unconscious female on Cedar St. Brown County Ambulance was paged and Officer responded.

January 18

  • Brown County Ambulance transported an Individual from their residence on Zero St in Ainsworth to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call in reference to an immobile individual needing assistance and taken to Brown County Hospital.
  • Brown County Ambulance transported an Individual from their residence on Maple St in Ainsworth to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Brown County Ambulance transported an Individual from the Brown County Hospital to Kearney Regional Hospital.
  • Officers responded to a request for traffic Control for a cattle crossing South of Ainsworth.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a gas Drive off at a local business. Individual could not be located.

January 19

  • Brown County Ambulance transported an Individual from their residence on Carpenter St in Johnstown to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Brown County Ambulance transported an Individual from their residence on 877th Rd in Ainsworth to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Brown County Ambulance transported an Individual from the Brown County Hospital to the Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney.
  • Officer responded to a welfare check on 4th St in Ainsworth. The individual was found to be ok. 
  • Officer responded to a request for a welfare check on Ash Street in Ainsworth. Subject was found to be ok.
  • Officer responded to a 911 call on Carpenter St. in Johnstown.
  • Officer responded to a report of a car/deer accident on hwy183 South of Keller Park.
  • Officer responded to a call in reference to a possible fire in East end of Ainsworth. It was found to be smoke from a wood stove.
  • Officer picked up Individual on Cedar St and transported to Brown County Hospital ref Welfare Check.

January 20

  • Brown County Ambulance transported an Individual from the Sandhills Care Center to the Rock County Hospital.
  • Brown County Ambulance transported an Individual from the Brown County Hospital to Faith Regional in Norfolk.
  • Brown County Ambulance transported an Individual from their residence on Maple St in Ainsworth to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call in reference to an individual who had fallen down the stairs. Ambulance was paged and Officer dispatched to residence.
  • Brown County Ambulance transported an Individual from their residence on Walnut St in Ainsworth to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Officer responded to a 911 call from Walnut St in Ainsworth.

WEEKLY SUMMARY TOTALS
INCIDENT REPORTS:  20
PHONE CALLS: 143
911 CALLS:  13
VIN INSPECTIONS:  5
HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMITS: 0
PAPERS SERVED: 1

* Take steps to keep water lines from freezing

(Posted 11:15 a.m. Jan. 17)

With the area forecast to see additional freezing temperatures, Ainsworth Water Superintendent Brad Miller encourages residents to take steps to keep their water lines from freezing.

Frozen lines can potentially lead to substantial damage for homeowners. Miller urges residents to either insulate their water lines or keep water trickling during times of extreme cold to help mitigate the chances of having lines freeze.

Miller said there have been several city water customers who experienced frozen water lines during the most recent cold snap.

Anyone seeking information on the best ways to keep water lines from freezing may contact Miller or the city office.

* Commissioners discuss cemetery association issue

(Posted 11 a.m. Jan. 17)

The Brown County Commissioners on Tuesday again discussed a unique item relating to the ownership and operation of a cemetery association.

Amid renewed interest in families wanting to utilize the Highland Grove Cemetery, an issue has arisen regarding the process for being able to place a loved one at the site north of Ainsworth.

Brown County Attorney Andy Taylor said Tuesday state statute handles how cemetery associations are established.

“If there was a prior association, you have to prove it is no longer in existence,” Taylor said. “You have to determine the owner of the land and then get an affidavit from the landowner that the association is no longer in existence.”

Taylor said, once it is established that the previous cemetery association is no longer in existence, steps can be taken to form a new association.

Doris Harris of Rapid City, S.D., formerly of the area, appeared by phone and told the commissioners she had researched the Highland Grove Cemetery. Harris said the land was purchased from the state in 1890 by the Garfield Association and was officially deeded to the association in 1908. Harris said all of the members of the Garfield Cemetery Association have passed away. She said the last burial in the Highland Grove Cemetery occurred in 1978.

“There are about 15 to 20 people who would like to be buried there,” Harris said. “It has been maintained. We would like to see it reestablished.”

Taylor said, if an owner with clear title to the property can be found, that person could sell the site to a new association.

“If the Garfield Cemetery Association actually owns the land, you have to prove that association is no longer in existence,” Taylor said. “Until then, it is in limbo.”

Taylor said he would be happy to assist individuals interested in forming a new association. The new association would have to have at least five members who either live in Brown County or who have family members buried in the Highland Grove Cemetery.

“Most of the case law on this is about a century old,” Taylor said. “The most recent case law was from the 1950s. Most was in the 1920s and ‘30s.”

Taylor asked Assessor Peg Gross who paid the property taxes at the site. Gross said the cemetery site has been exempt from taxation. She said the Garfield Cemetery has filed the exemption form.

Commissioner Dennis Bauer said, if someone has been filing the exemption form every year and the cemetery has been maintained, maybe it could be determined that the Garfield Cemetery Association is still active and it can just be reorganized with additional members.

Taylor said going through the process of the county trying to take possession of the land and then selling it to a new association could take years, so if it can be determined that the former association still exists, that would be the quickest option for moving forward.

Taylor said, until ownership of the site can be determined, there is nothing the commissioners can do.

In another cemetery-related item on Tuesday’s agenda, Marty Graff approached the commissioners regarding potential financial assistance from the county for the ongoing maintenance at the East Woodlawn and Grand Prairie cemeteries near Johnstown.

Graff said he, Jim Jackman, Dave Sherman, Jay Burrows and Rick Goochey were the current members of the association in charge of those two cemeteries.

“Our only income is through donations or selling a lot,” Graff said. “We contract with Jerry Paulsen for mowing. He is very reasonable with us.”

Graff said, within the next 14 years, the association is going to run out of money to maintain the two cemeteries. He said the association has $15,000 in a long-term investment and would like to get to the point that interest from that investment could be enough to sustain ongoing maintenance costs.

Graff requested the county assist with the $2,750 annual cost of maintaining the two cemeteries, which encompass a total of 7-1/2 acres.

Commissioner Jeremiah Dailey asked Graff if the association had tried to raise donations from families associated with the two cemeteries. Graff said donations have been requested in the past, with the association typically receiving enough response to pay for the cost of mailing the donation request letters.

Commissioner Buddy Small suggested Graff submit a letter to the board asking the commissioners to budget for maintenance of the cemeteries during the 2024-25 budget.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners discussed adding a fee for the county having to assist people who become stranded during winter storms.

“The road crew has had to go bail people out of some problems,” Small said. “We should have a policy that charges people we have to pull out when they should not be out there.”

Small said there would be exceptions to a policy for essential workers and people who need to feed their animals.

Sheriff Brent Deibler said it puts everyone at risk when county personnel have to go out in freezing and blizzard conditions to rescue people who should not be out there at 50 below wind chill.

Bauer agreed the county should draw up a resolution for the next meeting and should check with local tow providers to make sure the rate the county would charge to pull someone out wasn’t lower than what private tow truck operators charge.

Dailey suggested an hourly rate of $500 per hour since county employees are put in danger when they get called to pull people out during storms.

Tow truck operator Casey Jones, who was in attendance Tuesday, offered to sit down with the commissioners and share how he charges for towing service.

Taylor said he didn’t believe a resolution was necessary, as the driver of a vehicle that has to be pulled out can be cited on a charge of careless driving and add in the cost of being pulled out as restitution.

“That is the best way to do it,” Taylor said. “We can always then dismiss the criminal charge if they pay the county. You can set a rate as long as it is reasonable. We then issue a citation and will process from there.”

Taylor said adding the criminal charge was the best way to ensure that someone who has to be pulled out pays for the cost. He said, otherwise, people just have a tendency not to pay for the cost of the tow and it is difficult to recoup that cost.

In action items Tuesday, the commissioners approved a resolution authorizing the county to enter into a NACO lease purchase agreement with D.A. Davidson for the purpose of purchasing equipment.

The commissioners plan to purchase an International truck for the roads department at a cost of $162,000. The roads department has $60,000 available as a down payment, with the county financing the remaining $104,311 including fees on a three-year loan at 4.75 percent interest.

Forney said the agreement allows the county to access capital markets for equipment purchases using a program NACO has in place. There is a $700 fee charged by D.A. Davidson to handle the issuance of the note and a $782 fee to NACO.

Bauer suggested the county continue to budget for the upgrade of its equipment on a similar basis using the Nebraska Association of County Officials program.

The board approved a three-year agreement with Caleb Johnson to continue providing budget preparation services to the county. The agreement includes a $300 increase but locks in the $3,800 annual rate for a three-year period. Johnson said there were no other changes to the previous agreement.

The commissioners approved a resolution transferring $59,660 from the ambulance fund to the debt services fund to make the first bond payment on the new Brown County Ambulance Association building. The board also approved a $1,000 transfer from the county’s general fund to the county medical fund.

The commissioners approved having Small as chairman sign a document for the Brown County Hospital allowing the hospital’s home health state license to expire. Hospital Administrator Mirya Hallock said, to keep the home health license, the hospital has to keep a nurse on call at all times. She said the hospital has had one actual referral for its home health program since March, and that referral was from Sargent.

“The license ends Jan. 31,” Hallock said. “It is not cost effective for us to keep that license. We need to send a letter to the state that we are no longer continuing that service.”

The board approved having Small sign the letter to the state.

The commissioners acknowledged the 2024 IRS mileage rate of 67 cents per mile to reimburse county employees who have to use their personal vehicle in a work-related capacity.

Prior to adjourning Tuesday, the board held its annual reorganizational meeting for 2024, approving Small to continue serving as the board char with Bauer as vice chair.

The board approved 13 holidays for 2024, and will continue to meet on the first and third Tuesdays of each month beginning with the Board of Equalization at 1 p.m. and the Board of Commissioners at 1:15 p.m.

The Ainsworth Star-Journal was approved as the official newspaper for publication of county legal notices, with KBRB Radio and the Brown County web site serving as additional sources for county announcements.

West Plains Bank, Homestead Bank, Union Bank & Trust, NPAIT and NFIT were approved as depositories for county funds.

Kenny Turpin was reappointed as the county highway superintendent and Lloyd Smith with Niobrara Valley Consultants of Valentine will continue as the county surveyor.

Small will represent the county on the Niobrara Council, the KBR Solid Waste Board, the Lexington Area Solid Waste Board, and the Region IV Behavioral Health Board.

Bauer will represent the county on the Sandhills Care Center Board, the Central Nebraska Community Services Board, the North Central District Health Department Board and will attend Brown County Hospital Board of Trustees meetings.

Dailey will represent the county on the Safety Committee, the North Central Development Center Board, the North Star Region IV Board, the county-wide law enforcement committee, and the revitalization committee.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Feb. 6.

* Ice jam causes flood warning at Smith Falls

(Posted 12:15 p.m. Jan. 16)

The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for Smith Falls State Park in north-central Nebraska until further notice.

An ice jam on the Niobrara River near Sparks, Nebraska, may cause minor flooding in low-lying areas near the river, including the Smith Falls campground.

For the safety of park visitors, access to the falls and campground temporarily are closed until the flood warning is lifted.

* Brown County Commissioners Tuesday agenda

(Posted 9 a.m. Jan. 15)

Brown County Commissioners
Meeting 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16
Brown County Courthouse
Agenda

Approve minutes of the 1-2-2024 Commissioner meeting.

Kenneth Turpin – Road Department Update

Enforcement of mowing of roadside ditches – Turpin

Review the current County policy regarding sick, vacation, compensatory time and tuition reimbursement – Bauer

Acknowledge mileage rate for 2024 of $0.67 per mile – Clerk

Resolution to transfer money from Ambulance Fund to Debt Services Ambulance Building $59,660 – Treasurer

Approval to wire Ambulance Barn Bond Payment in the amount of $59,660 – Treasurer

Scott Erthum – Annual Reports

Transfer $1,000 from Miscellaneous General in the General Fund to County Medical in the General Fund – Clerk

Approve Claims

1:30      Reorganization of Highland Grove Cemetery Association

Discuss East Woodlawn and Grand Prairie Cemeteries – Marty Graff

1:45      Signature on Home Health State License – Hallock

2:00       Consider a resolution authorizing the County to enter a NACO lease purchase with D.A. Davidson for the purpose of acquiring equipment and related matters

2:10      Open Reorganization meeting: D/A Reorganization meeting – Official Banks, Radio, Newspaper, Website; Set 2024 Holiday dates, BOE and Commissioner meeting dates, appoint Commissioner Chairman & Vice Chairman, appoint county surveyor, appoint County Highway Superintendent and committee representatives – Clerk

2:30        Caleb Johnson – Budget Renewal

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 3:45 p.m. Jan. 14)

January 7

  • Brown County Ambulance transported an Air Crew from the Ainsworth Airport to the Brown County Hospital and back to the Airport with a patient.
  • Officers responded to a report of a Physical Disturbance at a local apartment complex.

January 8

  • Officer Issued Citation for speeding 80mph in a 65mph zone, Driving too fast for the conditions, and No Valid registration.

January 9

  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a call on East 5th St in Ainsworth. An Individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Dept. assisted another agency in Identifying a subject.
  • Officers responded to a request for traffic control for a cattle crossing East of Ainsworth.
  • Officers responded to an Alarm going off at a local business. Everything was found to be secure.

January 10

  • Brown County Ambulance transported an Air Crew from the Ainsworth Airport to the Brown County Hospital and back to the Airport with a patient.
  • Officers provided traffic control to assist a Jackknifed vehicle on Hiway 20 West of Ainsworth
  • Officers provided traffic control to assist a semi to enter Hiway 20 from Wilson St.
  • Officers responded to a request for a welfare check on 879th rd in Ainsworth. Individuals were found to be ok.

January 11

  • Brown County Ambulance transported an Individual from the Sandhills Care Center to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Officers responded to a call for a welfare check on Oak St in Ainsworth. Individuals were found to be OK.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Dept released inmate being held for another Agency.

January 12

  • Officers responded to a call for a welfare check on a driver of a broken down vehicle on Pine St in Ainsworth. Officers were unable to contact the Individual.

January 13

  • Individual in Office to fill out a Statement Form in reference to an individual being harassed at a local business.

WEEKLY SUMMARY TOTALS

INCIDENT REPORTS:  13

PHONE CALLS: 130

911 CALLS:  6

VIN INSPECTIONS:  1

HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMITS: 1

PAPERS SERVED: 0

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 10:30 a.m. Jan. 11)

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

Jason W. Dubery, age 42, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, charged with speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, fined $25.

Michael F. Davis, 71, of North Sioux City, S.D., overtaking/passing prohibited, $25.

Timothy K. Hughes, 26, of Rutherfordton, N.C., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Meemanage S. Fernando, 36, of Fargo, N.D., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Chelsi S. Daniels, 32, of Dayton, Texas, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Wallace E. Wiebesiek, 61, of Ainsworth, failure to comply, $50.

Antonio J. Lemieux, 61, of Green River, Utah, disturbing the peace, $500.

Timothy G. Taylor, 45, of Newport, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Candelario Marquez Chavez, 55, of La Luz, N.M., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

David G. Kramer, 62, of Sterling, Colo., speeding 21-35 mph over the limit, $200.

Aquilino Aquino Gomez, 33, of Ainsworth, speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Marc E. Burggraff, 45, of Flandreau, S.D., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Christopher D. Fernandez, 48, of Lincoln, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25; also charged with no operator’s license, $75.

Javier A. Verano Camargo, 25, of New Port Richey, Fla., no operator’s license, $75.

Erin J. Painter, 22, of Ainsworth, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Sean R. Kirby, 38, of Bennett, Colo., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Richard C. Mendenhall, 53, of Denver, Colo., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Gregory C. Irwin, 41, of Ainsworth, first offense driving under the influence, $500, also sentenced to seven days in jail with credit for one day served, driver’s license revoked for six months, and ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

Dustin S. Privett, 26, of Ainsworth, no motorcycle operator’s license, $75.

Caesar D. Macias-Avila, 50, of Arvada, Colo., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Benjamin T. Hecht, 24, of Ainsworth, failure to yield the right of way, $25.

Alexander T. Colfack, 25, of Paxton, domestic assault – intentionally causing bodily injury, sentenced to seven days in jail with credit for three days served.

Shane H. Urbin, 22, of Wood Lake, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Brent H. Guetz, 62, of Golden, Colo., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Timothy Medina, 29, of Aurora, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25; no operator’s license, $75.

* Council approves CARC six-month LB 840 report

(Posted 7 a.m. Jan. 11)

During a light agenda Wednesday, the Ainsworth City Council approved the six-month report submitted by the LB 840 Citizen Advisory Review Committee.

Marcus Fairhead, representing the CARC, told the council money from the LB 840 fund has gone to work in the community.

“There have been a significant amount of loans, and some grants as well,” Fairhead said. “All loans are current. The program is doing what it is designed to do. Facades are improving, it is allowing businesses to stay locally owned, and it is helping recruit professionals.”

Fairhead said sales tax collections have been healthy and building the LB 840 fund. The fund generates revenue through a voter-approved one-half cent sales tax.

Fairhead said the Citizen Advisory Review Committee had some preliminary discussions about the potential of the LB 840 fund being able to assist Main Street commercial property owners with water and sewer line replacements during the Nebraska Department of Transportation’s renovation of Highway 7 in Ainsworth.

Fairhead said the committee hoped the business owners would consider replacing the lines while the street is torn up instead of running the risk down the road of needing to replace lines and tear up the new concrete.

North Central Development Center Executive Director Kristin Olson said infrastructure assistance is an allowable use of LB 840 funds according to the state plan. The council discussed providing assistance similar to the way the program helps business improve their façade. The façade program provides a grant of up to $10,000 to assist businesses with up to 50 percent of the cost of improving their building frontage. Numerous businesses on the Highway 20 and Main Street corridors have utilized that program to improve their buildings.

The CARC includes Fairhead, Mark Kovar, Roger Lechtenberg, Jennifer Schuett and Lacey Marbry.

The city also has an LB 840 loan committee, which reviews all loan and grant applications to the program and makes a recommendation to the council on whether or not to approve the application. That committee consists of Jim Arens, Kathy Klammer, Bob Maxwell, Dane Sears and Kirk Peterson.

Fairhead said the terms of Arens, Klammer and Maxwell expired in November and those three loan committee members would need to be reappointed if they were willing to continue serving on the committee.

Mayor Joel Klammer said one of the members would be easy for him to check with, and he would try to get a hold of the other two members to see if they are willing to continue on the committee. Committee members are recommended for appointment by the mayor.

During his report, Klammer discussed snow removal in the city. The mayor said there were a few issues that caused the city to take a little longer than usual to remove the snow from the center of Main Street. He said the city may look at some additional equipment that would speed up the snow removal process.

Councilman Kent Taylor said he was pleased the city got around and cleared all the side streets.

Councilman Brad Fiala said he had some residents ask him why the city leaves a light layer while cleaning the streets. Fiala said, due to the condition of numerous city streets, the crew cannot put the blade all the way down. He said the blade would take chunks of the streets with it if it put the blade all the way down onto the pavement.

Klammer also reported the city’s Board of Health was back in gear and revisiting properties on the city’s nuisance list. He said he hoped to see additional properties in the city cleaned up.

During her report, City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said the city received 39 building and demolition permits during 2023, which amounted to $1.2 million in new construction. She said three permits were outside city limits but within the city’s 1-mile zoning jurisdiction, nine permits were for commercial properties, with the remainder for residential projects in the city limits.

Schroedl reported the city made the final payment on its 2013 water bond. She said that would free up between $50,000 and $90,000 from the city’s debt service. She said the city’s remaining debt service obligations amounted to about $110,000 annually.

She said the portion of the city’s 1 percent sales tax to relieve debt service from property taxes brings in about $240,000 per year. Schroedl said there was approximately $523,000 in the debt service fund, which will be used to help with the debt on the Main Street renovation project the city will incur in conjunction with the work being done by the NDOT.

Schroedl reported A&R Construction was awarded the contract for the Highway 7 renovation project by the NDOT, and work would begin in the spring as scheduled. Completion on the project is anticipated in November.

A&R Construction placed a bid of $8.54 million for the work.

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

* Hafer provides update from school board meeting

(Posted 7:30 a.m. Jan. 10)

Ainsworth Community Schools Superintendent Dale Hafer provided an update from Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting. The conversation with KBRB’s Graig Kinzie is located below.

* Pospichal named to Buena Vista Dean’s List

(Posted 7:45 a.m. Jan. 10)

Buena Vista University of Storm Lake, Iowa, announced its Dean’s List students for the fall semester. To be named to the Dean’s List, students must carry at least a 3.5 grade point average and take a minimum of 12 credit hours.

Among the students named to the Dean’s List for the fall semester is Dolan Pospichal of Bassett.

* Ainsworth City Council Wednesday agenda

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

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

  • Call to Order
  • I. Routine Business
    • Announcement of Open Meetings Act
    • Roll Call
    • Pledge of Allegiance
  • II. Consent Agenda – All items approved with the passage of one motion
    • Approve minutes from the December 13, 2023 regular meeting
    • Approval of claims
    • Treasurer’s report
    • Department head reports
    • Cemetery Certificates

* Any item listed on the Consent Agenda may, by the request of any single Council member, be considered as a separate item under the Regular Agenda section

  • III. Mayor’s Appointments and Report
    • Mayor’s Report
    • Mayor’s Appointments:  None
  • IV. Public Hearings
    • Hearing to review the Citizen Advisory Review Committee’s (CARC) 6-month report on the LB 840 program
  • V. Old Business
    • None
  • VI. Regular Agenda
    • City Administrator/Clerk/Treasurer Report
  • VII. Adjourn

* Care center borrows from line of credit

(Posted 7 a.m. Jan. 9)

For the first time in almost a year, the Sandhills Care Center Board of Directors had to borrow from a line of credit to cover its expenses.

The care center generated $224,552 in revenue during December with expenses of $272,481 for a net loss for the month of $47,929.

Business Manager Makenzie Crane said $40,000 in retention bonuses the board approved during its December meeting from federal recruitment and retention funds the facility received were paid out during December, which played a role in the deficit.

The care center was required to spend the federal dollars on recruitment and retention efforts by March or it would have forfeited the funds. The board kept enough of the federal funding to pay for its advertising expenses through March but opted in December to use the remainder to provide bonuses to employees.

Crane said, while the numbers aren’t where she would like them to be for the month, the care center was also waiting on a large payment from Medicare that had not yet arrived, so it was not reflected in the revenue for the month.

Administrator Penny Jacobs said Medicare is required to audit five claims each year for each facility that receives Medicare dollars. She said Medicare delays payment until each audit is complete. She said one Medicare claim was audited in October, there were three audited in November, and she anticipated the fifth would be audited in December.

Once the audits are complete, Medicare will release the payments to the care center.

Board President Tom Jones said the care center’s resident numbers were about where they needed to be for the facility to break even.

“We would be close to that if we had received the Medicare payment,” Jones said. “There is a lot of extra work with that, and then they hold up your income.”

Jacobs reported there are currently 25 residents in the Sandhills Care Center, with 13 paying privately, 11 receiving Medicaid assistance, one receiving Medicare assistance, and one resident was Medicaid pending.

The administrator said the facility had admitted three new residents since the board’s December meeting, and one resident had passed away. She said 15 current residents are from Ainsworth. Six are from Cherry County, two are from rural Brown County, one is from Long Pine and one is from Rock County.

Director of Nursing Sara Mayhew said there was no longer any agency staffing in the facility, as all employees were now in-house.

Mayhew said the care center had to be somewhat selective on the residents it was able to admit, especially when it comes to patients with dementia and behavioral issues. She said if residents have major behavioral issues, staffing levels have to be increased. She said the facility simply can’t afford to admit some Medicaid patients with expensive medication needs, as Medicaid does not reimburse the care center for the cost of those medications.

“Unfortunately, there are some residents we just can’t take,” Mayhew said. “This is a good place to be. I hope the community gives us a chance to care for their loved ones. There is a lot of heart in that building.”

Jacobs said the care center hired a full-time charge nurse during the past month, as well as part-time PRN nurses and CNAs and a part-time housekeeper. She said the facility was still in need of a full-time housekeeper, a maintenance director, CNAs and nurses.

The board approved a transfer of $74,537 from its line of credit to cover the facility’s expenses. Jones said he would visit with the treasurer’s office about how the funds collected from the voter-approved bond from the county and the city would be distributed to the care center once they are paid by property owners.

This is the first year the 1-cent bond for county property owners and the 10-cent bond from city property owners is being collected. Jones will look at how the treasurer distributes those funds to the care center once the property tax is paid.

During action items Monday, the board approved a security system policy and a social media policy for the facility.

The security system policy lays out who has access to the video. There is no audio utilized through the security system, only video.

The social media policy includes parameters that photos of residents cannot be posted to social media by individual employees of the facility. Jacobs said, before the care center can post any photos of residents to its own social media pages, the facility has to have a release signed by the families.

Jacobs reported the Wander Guard system has been installed. There is some staff training being completed, then residents will receive wristbands and the system will be active.

Brown County Attorney Andy Taylor provided the board with a review of the Open Meetings Act, in particular the utilization of executive sessions.

Taylor said executive sessions can be used for certain business, such as protecting an individual’s reputation, discussing pending litigation, contracts or facility security issues.

Taylor said no minutes are taken during executive sessions, and the board cannot take any action during an executive session.

Taylor said the one item that gets public boards into trouble more than anything else is the issue of protecting someone’s reputation. He said the person being discussed in executive session does have the right to be included in the session to defend themselves if necessary. Taylor said that individual also has the right to have the discussion in open session instead of in executive session.

Taylor said the individual does not have to be included for the entire executive session, but they do have to have the opportunity to be included and present their side of the issue.

Taylor said the reason for an executive session has to be stated clearly before entering the session, and no other items can be discussed during the executive session.

The board thanked Taylor for providing more clarity on the Open Meetings Act requirements for executive sessions.

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

* Collared female lion harvested north of Long Pine

(Posted 2:15 p.m. Jan. 8)

The 2024 mountain lion hunting season in Nebraska’s Niobrara Unit closed Jan. 7 when the harvest sublimit of one female was met.

A 6-year-old collared female lion was shot north of Long Pine. The season opened Jan. 2.

In accordance with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s management objectives, the harvest of mountain lions allows the population to remain resilient and healthy, while slowing growth in the Niobrara Unit, and halting growth or moderately reducing the population size in the Pine Ridge Unit.

The Niobrara Unit was added to the Pine Ridge Unit for mountain lion hunting for the first time for the 2024 season. The Niobrara Unit encompasses parts of Brown, Cherry, Keya Paha, Rock and Sheridan counties.

Mountain lion presence has been documented in the Niobrara River Valley of north central Nebraska since 2001. There has been a resident reproducing population there since 2013 and information gathered through research suggests a population that is growing and will be resilient to harvest.

This is the state’s seventh mountain lion harvest season; the first was in 2014. No mountain lions have been harvested in the Pine Ridge Unit this season as of Jan. 7.

Season 1 in the Pine Ridge Unit will continue through the end of February. The season will end immediately if the annual harvest limit of four mountain lions or sub-limit of two females are reached. An auxiliary season would be held March 16 through the end of March if the annual harvest limit or female sub-limit are not reached during Season 1.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 1:45 p.m. Jan. 7)

December 31

  • Brown County Ambulance transported an Air Crew from the Ainsworth Airport to the Brown County Hospital and back to the Airport.
  • Brown County Ambulance transported a patient from the Brown County Hospital to St. Elizabeth’s in Lincoln.
  • Officer responded to a 911 call from a local establishment regarding an Individual Disturbing the Peace
  • Officer responded to a vehicle fire on Maple St in Ainsworth, Fire extinguisher was deployed.
  • Ainsworth Fire Department responded to a vehicle fire on Maple St in Ainsworth.

January 1

  • Officer issued a citation for speeding, 78 mph in a 65 mph zone.
  • Officer issued a citation for improper or defective lighting, failure to display proper number of plates, and No proof of Insurance.
  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a call to a residence on third St in Ainsworth, Individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.

January 2

  • Officers responded to a call concerning a suspicious vehicle on 429th Ave in Ainsworth. Individual was checking Cell Phone Networks
  • Officers responded to a report of disorderly conduct in Ainsworth.
  • Booked and Individual into Brown County Jail for Court Commitment.

January 3

  • Brown County Ambulance and Brown County Sheriff’s Department responded to a residence on 2nd St in Ainsworth, an Individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Officers responded to a request for traffic control for a cattle crossing on Highway 7 south of Ainsworth.
  • Brown County Dispatch received a call regarding a strong smell of gas in the area. Gas Company and Fire Dept. informed.

January 4

  • Officers responded to a request for traffic control for a cattle crossing West of Ainsworth.
  • Officer performed a Motorist Assist in Long Pine.

January 5

  • Brown County Ambulance transported an Individual from the Brown County Hospital to the Individual’s residence on 3rd St in Ainsworth.

January 6

  • Officer Arrested Individual on an Out of State Warrant.

WEEKLY SUMMARY TOTALS

INCIDENT REPORTS:  10

PHONE CALLS: 124

911 CALLS:  10

VIN INSPECTIONS:  3

HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMITS: 5

 PAPER SERVICE: 4

MONTHLY SUMMARY TOTALS

INCIDENT REPORTS: 57

PHONE CALLS: 524

911 CALLS: 32

VIN INSPECTIONS:  9

HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMITS: 10

PAPER SERVICE: 10

YEARLY SUMMARY FOR 2023

INCIDENT REPORTS:  1048

PHONE CALLS: 6938

911 CALLS:  466

VIN INSPECTIONS:  207

HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMITS: 128

PAPER SERVICE:  181

* Jelinek receives degree from UNMC

(Posted 9 a.m. Jan. 4)

Diplomas were conferred to more than 400 University of Nebraska Medical Center students on Dec. 15.

Addressing the graduates at the ceremony, UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, said, “This day reminds me, and hopefully reminds all of you, that achievement of a goal, particularly a lifetime-defining goal, takes talent, it takes time, it takes tenacity, and it takes real perseverance.”

Among the students graduating from the UNMC was Kassidy Jelinek of Atkinson, who received a master’s degree in physician assistant studies.

* Rock County Commissioners reorganize for 2024

(Posted 2:45 p.m. Jan. 3, report from meeting minutes)

The Rock County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday. The Annual Reorganization meeting was held.

Wade Hollenbeck was nominated for Chairman and Colby Sybrant for Vice Chairman. The board approved those nominations.

The board declared the first and third Tuesday of each month as their regular meeting date with the exception of one meeting on the third Tuesday of January & July. And a third meeting on June 27 for the end of the fiscal year and December 27 for the end of the calendar year. Meetings will start at 9 a.m.

The commissioners approved the Rock County Leader as the official newspaper of the county and designated the county website rockcountyne.gov as an additional method of providing notice of board meetings. Hollenbeck, Faye Smith and Sybrant were approved as signatories of the imprest checking account at The Tri-County Bank.

Applications for investment of funds were received from The Tri-County Bank, NFIT (Union Bank & Trust), Sandhills State Bank & NPAIT. The board approved resolutions declaring the Tri-County Bank, NFIT (Union Bank & Trust), NPAIT of Lincoln and the Sandhills State Bank as County Depositories.

County Road Wage & Equipment Rental scale was reviewed & tabled until the January 16 meeting.

The commissioners appointed Lloyd Smith of Niobrara Valley Consultants as the county’s Highway Superintendent for 2024. Smith was appointed as the County Surveyor for 2023-2026 during the 2023 reorganization meeting.

The board appointed Hollenbeck to represent Rock County on the Niobrara Council & North Central District Health Department boards.

Smith will represent the county on the Northeast Nebraska Area on Aging Governing Board, the Region IV Mental Health Board & the North Central Development Center Board.

Sybrant was appointed to represent Rock County on the Central Nebraska Community Services Board & as the county’s Emergency Management designee.

Waylon Reynolds, Interim Road Foreman gave road updates. Maintainer repairs that are needed was discussed. Applications for the road foreman position were reviewed and the board appointed Reynolds as the Road Foreman with an hourly wage of $27 per hour.

Sheriff Ben Shelbourn met with the Commissioners to discuss the law enforcement interlocal agreement between the sheriff’s department and the city of Bassett. The commissioners, clerk and sheriff will attend the Bassett City Council meeting at 7 p.m. January 10.

Assessor TJ Ellermeier met with the Commissioners on a tax correction. Acting as the Board of Equalization, the commissioners approved the splitting of the parcel in question evenly by adding a new parcel.

The next meeting of the Rock County Commissioners is scheduled for 9 a.m. Jan. 16.

* Commissioners discuss mowing road ditches

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

The Brown County Commissioners on Tuesday again discussed the topic of property owners who fail to mow the county road ditches adjacent to their property twice per year as required by county ordinance.

Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin said he had talked to several people but had not found anyone interested in contracting with the county to handle mowing ditches that are not taken care of by the adjacent property owner.

Commissioner Buddy Small said he had visited with a NIRMA representative, who indicated anyone serving as a sub-contractor for the county to mow the ditches would need to have a liability insurance policy. Small said that would likely serve as a deterrent to anyone interested in mowing the ditches for the county.

Commissioner Denny Bauer said it might be a possibility for the county to cover the cost of the liability insurance policy to help find someone willing to handle the work.

Small said he asked the county attorney to research if the county could issue fines to those who do not follow the ordinance of mowing adjacent ditches twice annually.

Turpin estimated, after looking back, there were approximately 50 miles of county road ditches that were not mowed by property owners in the past year. Turpin said it would be nice if the county had a tractor and mower so the roads crew could handle the mowing for those who don’t mow themselves and then assess the cost of doing so to the property owner.

As he did during the previous meeting, Commissioner Jeremiah Dailey said he was opposed to spending the money for a tractor and a mower and having the county crew do the mowing.

No action was taken, as the commissioners indicated they would check with potential sub-contractors on their interest in mowing if the county covered the cost of the liability insurance policy. The item was placed on the board’s Jan. 16 agenda.

During his report Tuesday, Turpin said the roads department had spent the past week plowing snow from the roads. He said there were some deep drifts on the roadways, especially in the western portion of the county.

Turpin said the roads crew had also completed some repair work on both the Long Pine and Johnstown roads department buildings. Turpin said windows that were broken during the May hailstorm at the Long Pine shop were replaced, and several repairs, including a door replacement, were completed at Johnstown.

“We saved some money doing those ourselves instead of hiring it out, and we should save on heating bills,” Turpin said. “The Johnstown shop already feels a lot warmer now, and it looks a lot better.”

Turpin reported $38,051 in repairs were completed on one of the county’s motor graders, and the county’s 1998 scraper had $15,068 in repair work. Turpin said, even with some repairs, having the scraper saves the county money instead of having to hire a contractor for scraper work.

The highway superintendent reported the Nebraska Department of Transportation annually sends personnel to inspect 2 to 3 percent of the county’s bridges. Turpin, who serves as the county’s primary bridge inspector, said he received a 98.7 percent compliance grade on the inspection work he performed.

“I guess I didn’t miss too much,” Turpin said.

Dailey congratulated Turpin on the high marks.

“That lets you know how you are doing so you don’t have to worry about it,” Dailey said.

Turpin reported he had $54,000 remaining in the roads department’s asphalt budget, and planned to contract for crack sealing work on the Elsmere Road asphalt.

“The crack sealing is worth it,” Turpin said. “It gets the cracks sealed up and keeps water from getting under it.”

Turpin said the declining price of fuel had also helped the roads department budget this year.

In action items Tuesday, the commissioners approved a county burial application for the late Jane Williams.

The board approved removing retired Assistant Treasurer Janice Devall from the treasurer’s checking account. Treasurer Bruce Mitchell said the bank needed something in the board’s minutes before it could remove Devall from the account.

The board approved tuition reimbursement in the amount of $1,500 for county employee Zach Welch. The county has a policy that provides tuition assistance to full-time county employees who further their education.

The board also approved the county’s property, vehicle, mobile and remote schedules for its NIRMA insurance policy as presented.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Jan. 16.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

December 24

  • No events to report

December 25

  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a request for a lift Assist at an Ainsworth residence.

December 26

  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office and Ainsworth Fire Department responded to a report of a gas meter being hit on Second St in Ainsworth.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s office responded to a report of a non-injury Rollover Accident South of Ainsworth.

December 27

  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a call on Elm St in Ainsworth. An Individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Officer responded to a report of Fraud/Impersonation at a local establishment.

December 28

  • Officer issued citation for passing in a no passing zone.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a Vehicle in the ditch west of the Long Pine Spur. The vehicle was later moved.
  • Officers responded to a request for traffic control for a cattle crossing West of Johnstown.
  • Officers responded to a request for a welfare check on Ainsworth resident. Individual was found to be OK

December 29

  • Officers responded to a request for traffic control for a cattle crossing East of Long Pine.
  • Officers responded to a request for traffic control for a funeral in Ainsworth.

December 30

  • Officer issued citation for speeding, 74 mph in a 65 mph zone.
  • Received a report of a threat against an individual.

WEEKLY SUMMARY TOTALS

INCIDENT REPORTS: 9

PHONE CALLS: 127

911 CALLS:  7

VIN INSPECTIONS: 0

HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMITS:  2

* Brown County Commissioners Tuesday agenda

(Posted 9:15 p.m. Dec. 29)

Brown County Commissioners
Meeting 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 2
Brown County Courthouse
Agenda

1:15             Roll Call.

Acknowledge posting of Open Meetings Law.

Pledge of Allegiance.

Approve minutes of the 12-19-2023 Commissioner meeting.

Kenneth Turpin – Road Department Update

Enforcement of mowing of roadside ditches – Turpin

Mold in Courthouse Basement – Dailey

County Burial application – Jane Williams –  County Attorney

Tuition Reimbursement – Zach Welch – Welch

Motion to  remove Janice DeVall from the signature card at Homestead Bank for the Treasurer’s checking account – County Treasurer

Review property, vehicle, mobile/remote schedules for 2024 NIRMA Ins. Policy – County Clerk

Approve Claims

Public Comment

* Brewer provides update as Legislature convenes

(Posted 11 a.m. Dec. 28)

Nebraska 43rd District State Sen. Tom Brewer provided a detailed update on the upcoming session of the Nebraska Unicameral. Brewer discussed the implementation of the constitutional carry bill approved by the Legislature during the 2023 session and talked about bills he was working on for 2024. The conversation with KBRB’s Graig Kinzie is located below.

Brewer also discussed several items the Legislature may address during the session as well as the situation in Ukraine after the retired colonel made his fifth trip to the war-torn country. That portion of the conversation is located below.

* City asks for vehicles to be removed from Main Street

(Posted 11:15 a.m. Dec. 28)

The city of Ainsworth plans to clean snow out from curbs and gutters beginning at 6 a.m. Friday. The city asks that all vehicles be removed from Main Street no later than 6 a.m. Friday to allow crew unimpeded access.

The city also encourages businesses to make sure there is a clear path to their dumpster. For the city truck to be able to empty the dumpster, it must be able to reach it. Businesses with snow impeding the path to the dumpster will not have their dumpster emptied.

* Nebraska jobless rate again among best in nation

(Posted 12:30 p.m. Dec. 27)

Nebraska’s unemployment rate for November is 2.3 percent. The rate is up 0.1 percentage points from the October rate of 2.2 percent and is down 0.4 percentage points from the November 2022 rate of 2.7 percent.

Nebraska is tied with New Hampshire for the fifth-lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 2.3 percent. Maryland has the best jobless rate in the country at 1.8 percent, slightly ahead of North Dakota’s rate of 1.9 percent.

South Dakota is third in the country at 2 percent, followed by Vermont at 2.1 percent.

Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in the country at 5.4 percent. California at 4.9 percent, Illinois and New Jersey at 4.7 percent, and Alaska at 4.4 percent round out the bottom five.

The national unemployment rate for November is 3.7 percent, down 0.2 percent from the October rate. The rate is up 0.1 percentage points from the November 2022 rate of 3.6 percent.

Brown County’s unemployment rate of 2.4 percent in November is slightly higher than the state average. Blaine County at 2.5 percent and Loup County at 2.6 percent had the highest rates in the area. Banner County in western Nebraska had the highest unemployment rate in Nebraska in November at 3.1 percent.

Keya Paha County and Boyd County matched the statewide average in November at 2.3 percent.

Rock County enjoyed the lowest unemployment rate in the area at 1.5 percent. That rate trailed just Grant County in the Sandhills at 1.4 percent for the lowest in the state.

Both Cherry County at 1.6 percent and Holt County at 1.7 percent were well ahead of the state average and were among the top counties in the state for unemployment rates.

In addition to the unemployment rate and nonfarm employment, the Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program has released average monthly employment counts for employers covered by unemployment insurance. 

“Average monthly covered employment surpassed 1 million for the first time at 1,013,004,” said Commissioner of Labor John H. Albin. “Nonfarm employment also continues to trend upward.”

Nonfarm employment was 1,054,827 in November, up 1,595 over the month and up 11,134 over the year.  Private industries with the most growth month to month were trade, transportation, and utilities (up 2,518 jobs); private education and health services (up 2,271 jobs); and financial services (up 73 jobs).  Private industries with the most over the year growth were private education and health services (up 6,451 jobs), manufacturing (up 1,792 jobs), and leisure and hospitality (up 1,551 jobs).

* Property owners reminded to clear sidewalks

(Posted 7 a.m. Dec. 27)

The city of Ainsworth reminds residents and property owners they are required to remove snow or ice accumulations from public sidewalks and ramps to crosswalks within 24 hours after the snowfall has ended.

Business owners are allowed 5 hours or by 6 a.m. Vehicle owners are asked to keep vehicles off side streets to allow for easier snow removal. This is a friendly reminder from the city of Ainsworth – please be a good neighbor and keep your sidewalks free of snow and ice so they are safe for pedestrian travel.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 7 a.m. Dec. 26)

December 17

  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a call at a local establishment in Ainsworth. An Individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Officer issued a Citation for speeding 78mph in a 65 mph speed zone.
  • Brown County Sheriffs Office received a report of possible extortion/blackmail from a local resident.
  • Officer conducted a security check on an installation west of Johnstown.

December 18

  • Officer issued a Citation for no valid registration and improper/defective lighting.

December 19

  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a possible physical disturbance in Long Pine.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office received a report of Vandalism near Johnstown.

December 20

  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a request for a lift Assist on Elm St in Ainsworth

December 21

  • Brown County Ambulance transported a patient from the Brown County Hospital to the Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney
  • Officers responded to a report of theft and vandalism at a residence on Meadville Road in Ainsworth.
  • Officer responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle on Raven Rd

December 22

  • Officer issued a citation for speeding 76 mph in a 65 mph zone.
  • Officer issued a citation for improper/defective lighting and no valid registration.

WEEKLY SUMMARY TOTALS

INCIDENT REPORTS: 10

PHONE CALLS: 103

911 CALLS:  2

VIN INSPECTIONS:  4

HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMITS:  4

PAPERS SERVED: 2

* Major winter storm to hit area

(Posted 7:30 a.m. Dec. 24)

A major winter storm is now expected to hit the area beginning early Sunday morning and lasting into Wednesday morning.

Travel will be difficult, as accumulating snow and gusting winds will create visibility issues and make roads ice and snowpacked.

A winter weather advisory is in effect for Sunday, Dec. 24. That will upgrade to a blizzard warning for Christmas Day, Tuesday and into early Wednesday morning.

Accumulation of 1 to 3 inches of snow is expected Sunday, with the bulk of the snow anticipated for Monday, when 8 to 13 inches of snow could fall. An additional 2 to 4 inches of snow is possible Tuesday, with total snow accumulation of 9 to 16 inches expected.

Winds could gust as high as 55 mph Monday and Tuesday. Travel should be restricted to emergencies only during the blizzard warning. Anyone who must travel is urged to have a winter survival kit in the vehicle and stay with the vehicle if becoming stranded.

* Area students named to UNK fall dean’s list

(Posted 1:45 p.m. Dec. 21)

The University of Nebraska at Kearney announced students who earned a place on the dean’s list for the fall 2023 semester.

Students who are on the dean’s list must have completed 12 credit hours or more of classes with a 3.5 grade-point average or better on a 4.0 scale.

Area students named to the dean’s list for the fall semester at UNK are:

Ainsworth – Raven Stewart
Johnstown – CeeAnna Beel
Purdum – Elizabeth Smith
Stuart – Jordyn Laible and Trenadi Dodds
Atkinson – Alexis Monasterio and Kelcie Osborne
Dunning – Mikayla Clang and Amanda Payne
Valentine – Logan Muirhead, Rhiannon Painter, Elli Springer, Rhea Benson and Tessa Krolikowski
Naper – Zander Kluckman
Butte – Heather Atkinson

* Turpin discusses mower purchase for road ditches

(Posted 3 p.m. Dec. 19)

Brown County Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin discussed with the commissioners Tuesday potentially purchasing a mower and leasing a tractor to mow road ditches when property owners do not comply with the county’s requirement to mow ditches adjacent to their property.

Turpin said most property owners in the county were very good about mowing the ditches twice each year as required, but there were a few who didn’t mow despite being contacted.

In the past, the county has hired subcontractors to mow the ditches and bill the cost of doing so to the property owners who did not mow.

Turpin discussed the possibility of the roads department buying a mower and leasing a tractor as needed to handle the mowing, then billing the cost of the county’s time to the property owner.

Commissioner Buddy Small asked Turpin how many road miles were not mowed this year as required. Turpin said there were probably 10 miles that were not mowed and would catch snow.

Commissioners Denny Bauer and Jeremiah Dailey indicated they were both in favor of the county continuing to sub-contract for the mowing and then billing the property owner for the cost.

Small encouraged Turpin to see if there was anyone interested in serving as a sub-contractor to mow the ditches that weren’t handled by the property owners.

Bauer said the ditches needed mowed, and it was not fair to most of the people who take care of the mowing as required if the county didn’t enforce the mowing requirement on those who don’t.

The item was placed on an upcoming agenda for potential action by the board.

During his report, Turpin said he had heard back from Lance Harter, who indicated the county would not have to conduct a full speed study on Meadville Avenue since it was only proposing an increase to the speed limit from 50 to 55 mph, which is within county road guidelines.

Turpin reported the roads department planned to work on Road 877, widening the road in spots and making some adjustments before the road is used as a detour route for Highway 7 traffic in 2024.

“If the weather stays nice, we are also going to try and do some work on 426th Avenue near Brian Vogelsang’s,” Turpin said.

Turpin said he had also talked to Grant Kobes regarding the isolated lands designation approved by the commissioners. Turpin said Kobes indicated he would get a proposal to the county to look at sometime soon for a route for the road to be constructed.

In other business Tuesday, Small said he had submitted 19 requests for funding assistance to the Nebraska Intergovernmental Risk Management Association. Small said 11 requests were approved for funding for a total of $5,475 from the NIRMA assistance program. Among the projects approved were the purchase of security cameras, cyber security equipment, steel-toed boots, bullet-proof vests, flashlights, an evidence locker and a generator.

The commissioners, with Dailey abstaining, approved a request from Blaire Speck with the BKR Extension office to appoint Dustin Dailey to the BKR Extension Board to represent Brown County.

Speck said Dailey would replace Brad Arens on the Extension Board after Arens completed his second term.

The board also reappointed Charlie Kyser to another three-year term representing Brown County on the Northeast Area Agency on Aging. Small said Kyser was nominated by the Ainsworth Senior Center and has served as a county representative since 2015.

The commissioners recognized Melissa Freudenburg as the new deputy treasurer and approved adding her as a signatory on the county treasurer’s checking account with Homestead Bank.

The board also approved ACH direct deposit forms with Homestead Bank as presented by Deputy Clerk Becky Hardy. Hardy said the forms had to be completed on an annual basis.

The board acknowledged the annual report submitted by the Central Nebraska Economic Development District and acknowledged quarterly groundwater test results for the Sandhills Elite Genetics site from the Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District.

Bauer said the quarterly test results showed nitrate levels at 3.8 parts per million, well below the 10 parts per million threshold for human consumption set by the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy.

Bauer said the quarterly result of 3.8 ppm was up slightly from the 3.0 ppm test the previous quarter. He said the test results since 2019 have typically been in the 2 to 3 ppm range, with a low of 1.6 ppm and a high of 6.4 ppm.

In a final action item Tuesday, the board approved sign permits with the Nebraska Department of Transportation for the Discover the Sandhills sign located near milepost 251 on Highway 20 and the KBR Solid Waste sign located near milepost 243 on Highway 20.

Small reported John Kolb with CP Bat Mitigation of Omaha would make a trip to Ainsworth Jan. 9 to view the courthouse roof and the bat issue the county has experienced. Small said the company installs cones so the bats can get out of the attic but not back in to the building.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Jan. 2.

* CWD found for first time in Rock, Blaine counties

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

Chronic wasting disease surveillance conducted in central and north-central Nebraska during the November firearm deer season detected 31 positive cases in deer.

A total of 603 samples were collected from harvested deer at check stations in the Sandhills, Keya Paha, Calamus East, Calamus West and Loup West Deer Management Units. CWD was detected for the first time in Rock, Blaine and Thomas counties.

CWD surveillance in Nebraska takes place in five to seven units each year, rotating to a different part of the state each year. To view the 2023 CWD results, identified by the deer seal number, visit OutdoorNebraska.gov; search for “CWD.”

Currently, there is no strong evidence CWD poses a risk for humans; however, public health officials recommend that human exposure to the CWD infectious agent be avoided as they continue to evaluate any potential health risk. People should remain cautious in how they handle, process and consume deer. Hunters and commercial processors should avoid butchering or processing deer that spreads spinal cord or brain tissue to meat or to the environment.

CWD is a prion disease that attacks the brain of infected deer, elk and moose. Animals in the late stages of CWD often are emaciated, show erratic behavior and exhibit neurological irregularities. However, due to the slow advancement of the disease, infected deer may not show symptoms. CWD always is fatal to the infected animal.

Hunters can help prevent the spread of CWD by using proper carcass disposal methods. CWD prions, the infectious proteins that transmit the disease, can remain viable for months or even years in the soil. Hunters should field dress animals at the place of kill, avoid spreading spinal cord or brain tissue to meat, and to dispose of the head (brain), spinal column and other bones at a licensed landfill.

CWD was first discovered in Colorado in 1967 and in Nebraska in 2000 in Kimball County. Since 1997, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has tested more than 57,000 deer and more than 400 elk, with 1,269 deer and 19 elk testing positive for CWD to date. At this time, CWD has been detected in free-ranging deer and elk in 57 counties. No population declines have been attributed to the disease.

More in-depth information on CWD can be found at cwd-info.org or cdc.gov.

* Scammers spoofing Rock County Hospital number

(Posted 7 a.m. Dec. 19)

Similar to warnings from the Brown County Hospital last week, the Rock County Hospital has received reports a scammer has spoofed the hospital’s phone number and is making calls in the area trying to obtain personal information. 

The scammer has also been referencing Medicare enrollment when placing these calls. Spoofing is a tactic that involves a scammer fooling caller ID by making an incoming call appear like it is coming from a different number. In this case, caller ID may show the call is coming from the Rock County Hospital’s 402-684-3366 number.

Do not provide any personal information if you receive such an unexpected call appearing to be from the Rock County Hospital. The hospital will never contact you asking for that information.

Anyone receiving an unexpected call appearing to be from the Rock County Hospital is asked to hang up and call the hospital at 402-684-3366.

* Saturday chimney fire damages home in Ainsworth

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

The Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department responded to a report of a chimney fire Saturday evening in Ainsworth.

According to Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala, at 5:50 p.m. Saturday, a chimney fire was reported at 631 E. First St. in a house owned by Justin Ludemann.

Fiala said boards near where the chimney met the stove pipe got hot and caught fire inside the wall. He said firefighters removed the sheet rock in the area around the chimney, extinguished the fire and removed the hot embers from the stove pipe.

Fiala said the chimney had been recently cleaned, but the pipe was not insulated when the fireplace was constructed years ago by a previous owner, which caused the boards near the pipe to get hot and ignite.

Firefighters remained on site until approximately 7 p.m. Fiala said the home sustained smoke damage along with damage around the stove and chimney area.

Fiala encouraged those with wood-burning stoves to make sure they are cleaned regularly.

* Brown County Commissioners Tuesday agenda

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

Brown County Commissioners
Meeting 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 19
Brown County Courthouse
Agenda

Roll Call.

Approve minutes of the 12-5-2023 Commissioner meeting.

Kenneth Turpin – Road Department Update

Bat removal from the courthouse update – Small

Central Ne Economic Development District – Annual Report

Recognize Melissa Freudenburg and approve her to be added to the Treasurer’s Homestead Bank checking account as a signer

Review/Approve ACH Direct Deposit forms with Homestead Bank

Nomination to the Northeast Nebraska Area Agency of Aging Advisory Board – Small

Sign Permit #802002517NB renewal, “Discover the Sandhills” sign located near mile marker 251 and #802002437NB “KBR Solid Waste” near mile marker 243.

Correspondence Letters – Middle Niobrara Natural Resource

District – groundwater testing results

Approve Claims

1:30 p.m.  BKR Extension – Approval/Appointment of new Board member

* Area students receive degrees from UN-L

(Posted 7 a.m. Dec. 18)

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln conferred 1,172 degrees during commencement exercises Friday and Saturday in Pinnacle Bank Arena.

The 1,159 graduates are from 48 countries, 39 U.S. states and more than 150 Nebraska communities.

Chancellor Rodney D. Bennett presided over the ceremonies.

Area students receiving degrees from UN-L include:

Ainsworth
Samuel Duane Wilkins, College of Engineering, Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering with highest distinction.

Springview
Alexis Nicole Rutar, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Science.

Wood Lake
Kaylee Wheeler, Graduate Studies, Master of Science.

Stuart
Alex Edward Jarecke, College of Journalism and Mass Communications, Bachelor of Journalism.

Morgan Nicole Wallinger, College of Business, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with high distinction.

Atkinson
Lindsey Jelinek, College of Education and Human Sciences, Bachelor of Science in Education and Human Sciences with distinction.

Valentine
Trevor Ormesher, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Bachelor of Science in Animal Science.

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 7:45 p.m. Dec. 17)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a vehicle-deer accident that occurred Dec. 8.

According to the sheriff’s department report, at 7:52 a.m. Dec. 8 on a private driveway near the Elsmere Road, a 2018 Chevy Traverse, driven by Ashley Smith, 33, of Ainsworth, was traveling north headed toward the Elsmere Road when the vehicle struck a deer.

No persons were injured during the accident. The Chevy sustained approximately $1,500 damage.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 7:45 p.m. Dec. 17)

December 10

  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a call on 429th Ave in Ainsworth. An Individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a Call on Highway 7 South of Ainsworth. An Individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Officers Arrested an individual for Criminal Mischief and Disturbing the peace. The individual was later released on Bond.
  • Brown County Ambulance transferred an air crew from the Airport to the Brown County Hospital and back to the Airport.

December 11

  • Officer issued a Citation for speeding 59 mph in a 35 mph Zone. A Citation was also issued for not having proof of Insurance.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office received a Report that Stolen Property from Long Pine had been located in Norfolk. This is being investigated by the Nebraska State Patrol

December 12

  • Brown County Ambulance transferred a Patient from the Brown County Hospital to Kearney.
  • Officer responded to a request for traffic control for cattle crossing west of Ainsworth.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Department and Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call to a Business on Highway 20.
  • Brown County Ambulance transported 2 Individuals to the Brown County Hospital from a business on Highway 20 in Ainsworth.
  • An individual was booked into the Brown County Jail on Domestic Assault charges.

December 13

  • An individual was booked into the Brown County Jail on Domestic Assault charges.
  • Officer responded to a report of an Accident at a local business.
  • An Individual was released on Bond from the Brown County Jail.
  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a call for service in Johnstown. An Individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital

December 14

  • Officers responded to a call for an escort for moving the Coleman House to its new location.
  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a call on N Main St in Ainsworth. An individual was transported from the residence to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a Church sign in Ainsworth being vandalized.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s office responded to a request for a Welfare check on an individual in Long Pine. The individual was found to be ok

December 15

  • Officer issued a citation for speeding 36 mph in a 25 mph zone.
  • Officer issued a citation for speeding 79 mph in a 65 mph zone.

December 16

  • Officer arrested an Individual on numerous drug charges on a Traffic stop.
  • An individual was booked into the Brown County Jail on numerous drug charges.
  • Ainsworth Fire Department responded to
  • Brown County Ambulance was on Standby at a structure fire on First St in Ainsworth.
  • Ainsworth Fire Dept responded to a report of a chimney fire on First St in Ainsworth.

WEEKLY SUMMARY TOTALS

INCIDENT REPORTS: 22

PHONE CALLS: 143

911 CALLS:  10

VIN INSPECTIONS:  0

HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMITS:  3

PAPERS SERVED: 3

* NSAA names Academic All-State participants

(Posted 9:15 a.m. Dec. 14)

Each year since 2006, the Nebraska School Activities Association and the Nebraska Chiropractic Physicians Association recognize students who have been nominated by their schools, based on their individual academic excellence, leadership, and significant contributions made to their NSAA activity.

Since its inception, the program has grown at a steady pace with 2,838 students earning the award in 2006-2007 to 7,541 students honored during the 2022-2023 season. During the 2023 fall season, 2,790 students received Academic All-State recognition.

In total, approximately 104,882 students have received the award during the past 18 years.

Area students named Academic All-State for the fall season include:

Ainsworth
Emma Kennedy and Katherine Kerrigan in Girls Cross Country, Trey Appelt and Sam Titus in Football, Jordan Beatty and Jaden Lee Appleman in Girls Golf, Taylor Allen and Cole Bodeman in Play Production, and Jocelyn Good and Kendyl Delimont in Volleyball.

Keya Paha County
Angela Frick in Girls Cross-Country, and Brenna Caulfield in Play Production.

Rock County
Mason Hagan and Andrew Rowan in Boys Cross Country, Keira Taylor in Girls Cross Country, Kol Otten and Zak Swanson in Football, Sydney Sybrant and Kade Wiiest in Play Production, and Adisyn Anderson and Bridget Lewis in Volleyball.

Stuart
Luke Ludwig in Boys Cross-Country, Benjamin Paxton and Hunter Tubbs in Football, Lacey Paxton and William Paxton in Play Production, and Brynn Almgren and Lacey Paxton in Volleyball.

West Holt
Carter Gotschall in Boys Cross Country, Madison Davis in Girls Cross Country, Mason Crumrine and Drake Nemetz in Football, Brooklynn Butterfield and Miya Carey in Girls Golf, Sidney Burkinshaw and Mary Hamilton in Play Production, and Makinley Cadwallader and Addison Karo in Volleyball.

Sandhills
Rhett McFadden in Football, Rhett McFadden and Charlsie Teahon in Play Production, and Charlsie Teahon in Volleyball.

Valentine
Will Sprenger and Grant Springer in Boys Cross Country, Alexis Long and Samantha Sprenger in Girls Cross Country, John Lloyd Fulton and Mitchell Kluender in Football, Kaetryn Bancroft and Kaylee Hanson in Girls Golf, Kaylee Hanson and Isabella Ringhoff in Play Production, and Jessa Klabenes and Finley Mosner in Volleyball.

* Council discusses parking ban on Pine Street

(Posted 7 a.m. Dec. 14)

The Ainsworth City Council heard from the pastor of the Ainsworth Assembly of God Church Wednesday requesting that parking on Pine Street be allowed during funeral services and Sunday services held in the church.

Pastor Gary Graesser said those attending the church have parked on Pine Street for numerous years because parking at the church is limited.

“I know the no parking signs have been up since before I came here,” Graesser said.

Graesser said someone else was cited recently for parking on Pine Street. He said the sheriff advised the church people should not park on Pine Street anymore.

“We never had any issues with previous sheriff’s department administrations,” Graesser said. “He was nice about it but he asked us not to park there. It is somewhat of a hardship not to be able to park there on Sundays or during funeral services.”

Graesser said those attending the church can park along Second Street, but it does create a substantial walk for some.

Council member Brad Fiala said no one would be able to park on Pine Street next year when it is being used as a detour for Highway 7 traffic during construction on Main Street.

“Once that is over, maybe we could look at changing the ordinance to allow parking on Sundays from 11 to 1 in that block,” Fiala said. “I understand parishioners need a place to park.”

Graesser said he understood there was an accident on Pine Street where a driver hit a vehicle that was parked on the street.

Fiala said that accident likely was a factor in the sheriff’s department enforcing the parking ban on the street.

Graesser said just a slight change to the ordinance to allow a two-hour window on Sundays to park would be a big help to the church.

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said the prohibition on parking on Pine Street was actually created by a resolution from a previous council and was not a city ordinance.

“That just makes it different procedurally,” Schroedl said. “It is probably easier to change than an ordinance.”

Councilman Dustin Barthel said, while the council could not consider any changes until after the Highway 7 detour is over, maybe the council could allow parking on one side of Pine Street.

“It is a fairly wide street,” Barthel said. “Parking on both sides would make it tight.”

Mayor Joel Klammer said the city would have to be careful on any changes since Pine Street was one of the city’s emergency routes.

“We will see if we can get something figured out that is workable,” Klammer said.

No action was taken, but the council indicated it would consider some changes to the parking restrictions after Pine Street is done being used as a detour for Main Street traffic.

In other business Wednesday, the council discussed purchasing an automatic locking system for the north door of the Conference Center.

Klammer said he and Schroedl met with Sheriff Brent Deibler, Commissioner Denny Bauer and County Attorney Andy Taylor to discuss the law enforcement contract between the city and county and the city’s belief that locking and unlocking the conference center was a part of the sheriff’s department’s duties through the contract.

The sheriff’s department previously notified the city that it would no longer lock and unlock the conference center and cemetery gates daily.

“We believed that was part of our agreement,” Klammer said. “The sheriff felt that should not be part of their duties.”

Klammer asked the county, as a compromise, that the city be able to deduct the cost of installing an automatic locking system from one of its upcoming monthly payments since the sheriff’s department would no longer secure the building.

“Denny indicated he felt that was reasonable but said he was just one commissioner,” Klammer said.

Schroedl presented the council with a quote from Safe-N-Secure Security Equipment of Sioux Falls, S.D., for an automatic locking system for the north door of the Conference Center.

The system would include a keypad and reader, so key fobs could be issued to those wanting to use the Conference Center at a cost of $5.50 each. The quote for the system is $3,960.

“People could be assigned a fob or card and go in and out through the north door,” Schroedl said. “We can set times for the door to automatically lock. It is not going to help with securing the building each night.”

She said the system might deter the issues the city encountered with transients trying to gain access to the building late to shelter for the night.

Fiala said, if the sheriff’s department was not going to secure the Conference Center, then the city had to go with an option like this.

Barthel said the city could also place the lights on a timer so they shut off at a certain time. He said the hall and stairway lights could be left on so people could see to exit.

“It is disappointing we are having to even talk about this,” Barthel said. “We haven’t had to deal with this in years.”

Councilman Kent Taylor said, if the city planned to have the doors locked at all times, that would lead to a large number of fobs being issued.

“I like the idea of the door locking automatically at 10 p.m.,” Taylor said. “Then you wouldn’t need the fobs.”

Barthel said he liked the idea of leaving the door locked permanently.

“I still want people to use it, but the school doesn’t leave their doors unlocked,” Barthel said. “That would keep people out who shouldn’t be in there.”

Klammer said the council didn’t need to decide immediately the procedures for when to lock and unlock the door. He suggested the council allow the administrator to proceed with ordering the equipment and the council can discuss the policy it wanted to adopt at a future meeting.

Schroedl said she was waiting on one more quote for a locking system. She suggested allowing the office staff to select a system if the cost stayed under $5,000.

The council approved up to $5,000 for the purchase of an automatic locking system, with the mayor and administrator selecting what they felt was the best option.

The council approved a $1,313 ABC grant to the E&L Baseball Program for a scoreboard upgrade at the south baseball field.

The Ainsworth Betterment Committee recommended the city approve the grant. Brandon Evans, representing the E&L program, said the new scoreboard was nothing fancy but it would allow for wireless operation.

“We have been raising some money to replace that outdated scoreboard on the south field,” Evans said. “The Elks and Legion came up with some money, and we got some money from the KBR Operation Roundup.”

Evans said electricity was already available at the site for the new scoreboard. He said there may be some value in the old scoreboard to be used for parts if the city wanted to try to sell it online.

In final actions item Wednesday, the council approved a retainer with attorney Heather Sikyta to continue serving as the city’s LB 840 attorney. Sikyta is utilized on an as-needed basis at an hourly rate of $175.

Schroedl said Sikyta’s services have not been needed a lot, but the city did have her help out on an LB 840 loan application in the past year.

“We only use her when we need her,” Schroedl said.

Klammer said Sikyta was an expert on the LB 840 program and assists other communities in that capacity as well.

The council approved Klammer’s recommended appointments for the remainder of his term, which included Dr. Mel Campbell as the municipal physician, Michael Sholes as the city attorney, Andy Taylor as the prosecuting attorney, Schroedl as the city administrator, Brad Miller as the water and sewer superintendent, Kevin Shaul as the street foreman, Lloyd Smith as the streets superintendent, Bruce Papstein as the city’s representative on the KBR Solid Waste Board, the Ainsworth Star-Journal and KBRB Radio for city publications, and the West Plains Bank, Homestead Bank, Union Bank & Trust, the Nebraska Public Agency Investment Trust and NFIT as the city’s bank depositories.

The council discussed the fact that Campbell was retiring from his medical practice. Klammer said the only duty he could find for the municipal physician was serving on the city’s Board of Health. Klammer said he had spoken with Campbell, who was agreeable to continue serving on the Board of Health.

During her report, Schroedl told the council the city’s application for a $433,000 downtown revitalization grant for the Main Street project was not selected for funding.

“We were told ahead of time we would likely not be awarded,” Schroedl said.

She said the Department of Economic Development was looking more to award water, sewer and public safety projects with those funds this year.

Schroedl reported the lawsuit the city filed against Brahmer Contracting on the city street shop addition has now been settled. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

She said LARM, the city’s liability insurance provider, and ALICAP, the Ainsworth Community Schools’ liability insurance provider, made an offer on a joint lawsuit filed against the city and the school by someone who fell on a sidewalk in front of the school in 2021. She said that lawsuit was ongoing, as she had not received word that the offer had been accepted.

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

* Hospital reports scammers spoofing phone number

(Posted 10:15 a.m. Dec. 13)

The Brown County Hospital has received reports that a scammer has spoofed the hospital’s phone number and is making calls in the area trying to obtain personal information.

Spoofing is a tactic that involves a scammer fooling caller ID by making an incoming call appear like it is coming from a different number. In this case, caller ID will potentially show the call indicate that it is coming from the hospital’s 402-387-2800 number.

Do not provide any personal information if you receive such an unexpected call appearing to be from the hospital. The scammer has been referencing Medicare enrollment when placing the calls. The Brown County Hospital would never make that type of call.

If you have any suspicion, simply hang up the phone and call the hospital at 402-387-2800 or the clinic at 402-387-1900.

* Nolles named to Farm Bureau Leadership Academy

(Posted 10:15 a.m. Dec. 13)

Ten farmers, ranchers, and agribusiness professionals from across Nebraska have been selected for Nebraska Farm Bureau’s 2024 Leadership Academy. They will begin a year-long program starting Feb. 15-16 at Kearney.

“The goal of leadership academy is to equip the future leaders of Farm Bureau with the tools they need to successfully advocate for agriculture, connect with members and embody the grassroots mission. The opportunities to serve in leadership roles in Farm Bureau and our state are vast and Leadership Academy provides participants the opportunity to develop the skills needed to step into those roles and positively impact their local communities,” said Audrey Schipporeit, NEFB’s director of generational engagement and facilitator of the 2024 Leadership Academy.

Academy members will participate in sessions focused on leadership development, understanding the county, state, and national structure of Farm Bureau and its grassroots network, policy work on agricultural issues, and the importance of agricultural literacy. The group will also travel to the Capitols in Lincoln and Washington, D.C. to visit with elected officials and agency representatives.

“We congratulate this group of diverse individuals and are excited to support their passion, ambition, and dedication to agriculture. We can’t wait to see the positive impact they will have on their communities, state, and world,” Schipporeit said.

The 2024 Nebraska Farm Bureau Leadership Academy members include Katie Nolles, a member of Boyd County Farm Bureau. Nolles is a sixth-generation rancher and an agricultural education teacher. She graduated from Rock County High School and the University of Nebraska – Lincoln with a degree in agricultural education and will graduate with a master’s degree in school counseling from Chadron State College in May of 2024. Nolles also raises cattle alongside her family on the ranch.

* Roof repairs lead to steep November loss for care center 

(Posted 2:45 p.m. Dec. 12)

With the payment of more than $71,000 in roof repairs falling during November, the Sandhills Care Center experienced a steep loss during the month but weathered the expense without have to reissue funds from a line of credit.

During November, the care center generated $237,598 in revenue with expenses of $347,729 for an operating loss of $110,130 for the month. Included in the expenses was a $71,384 claim to repair the facility’s roof from hail damage in May. The care center’s previous property insurance policy carried a $100,000 deductible for building damage. The board of directors has since lowered that deductible to $50,000 and voted Monday to contribute $5,000 to a new line item it created for capital improvements and repairs.

The $5,000 will be kept in a separate account, with the board indicating it planned to make a contribution to the line item as part of its annual budget process. Instead of purchasing a deductible buy-down policy, the board instead opted to establish the new line item to have funds available should a future building expense arise.

Administrator Penny Jacobs told the board Monday there are currently 23 residents in the Sandhills Care Center, with 14 hailing from Ainsworth, five from Cherry County, two from rural Brown County, and one each from Long Pine and Rock County.

Since the previous board meeting, Jacobs said the facility hired two full-time CNAs and two additional prospective CNAs had received applications after completing their training. She said the facility also had a part-time RN and part-time PRN in the works. Jacobs said the care center could still use a full-time charge nurse and additional CNAs. She said two CNAs left the facility without notice and another CNA’s employment was terminated during the past month.

Discussion turned to federal funds the care center received from the American Rescue Plan Act that can only be used for employee recruitment and retention. The care center received two installments totaling $86,935 in federal funding. Of that, $38,852 has been spent to recruit new employees or provide bonuses to current employees.

The remaining $48,082 must be spent before March 2024 or it has to be returned. Business Manager Makenzie Crane told the board the facility averages about $1,800 in advertising for additional employees and continues to offer sign-on bonuses for new employees and referral bonuses for staff members who refer an employee who is then hired.

Board member Bruce Papstein asked if the ARPA money could be used to provide additional bonuses to those who continue to work in the care center. Crane said that is part of the purpose of the funding, to reward employees who stay with the facility.

An additional ARPA recruitment and retention payment is anticipated in 2024.

Board member Shawn Fernau proposed providing bonuses for good attendance. Board member Dr. Mel Campbell said providing a bonus to employees based on a percentage of the number of hours they have worked might be the fairest way to provide retention incentives. He said that would provide a larger bonus to staff members who have put in more hours covering shifts.

Director of Nursing Sara Mayhew said she had an urgent need for additional registered nursing staff. Mayhew, who commutes from Valentine daily, told the board she has had five days off total in the six weeks she has served as the director of nursing.

“I knew what the hours were going to be for the first three months when I signed on,” Mayhew said. “I hope to keep building the team.”

Mayhew said all the departments in the nursing home stepped up when another round of COVID hit the facility. She said, while the wages the care center provides its staff are excellent and extremely competitive, there is simply a shortage of people in the healthcare workforce. She said registered nurses are currently being offered $10,000 to $15,000 sign-on bonuses on the low end industry wide.

With a deadline to spend the ARPA recruitment and retention funds by March, the board unanimously approved putting $40,000 toward a bonus pool for current employees according to the ARPA guidelines based on the number of hours worked during the previous two months.

The board tasked Jacobs and Crane with structuring the bonuses for the staff members and having Board Chair Tom Jones sign off on the structure before the bonuses are released.

The board approved an amended quote for its previously approved Wanderguard System. The quote was amended to include a new keypad for the front door of the facility that locks the door when a resident wearing a bracelet approaches. Despite the increase for the keypad, Jacobs said the Wanderguard System bid from Securitas Healthcare of $24,932 was still the most competitive of those the care center received.

The board tabled action on approving a policy for the new security camera system that was recently installed. Crane reported the system is fully installed and is up and running. She presented the board with a draft policy related to the camera system, including how it would be used and who would have access.

Board member Denny Bauer said he believed the policy needed to spell out directly that the board would have access to the system as part of its oversight function, which Crane said would be included.

The board tabled approving the policy to check on what is legal regarding the recording of audio in addition to video recording in common areas. No resident rooms or private areas are monitored.

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

* School Board approves participation in pilot project

(Posted 7 a.m. Dec. 12)

The Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education approved a memorandum of understanding with Educational Service Unit 17 Monday, allowing the school to serve as a pilot for a data collection and distribution project.

Jeff McQuistan with ESU 17 told the board he was approached by ESU 6 to participate in the early stage of the project, which aims to provide school districts with a real-time dashboard of their district’s educational data.

“The Department of Education years ago worked to put together a school data dashboard for districts, but it never got off the ground,” McQuistan said. “I felt Ainsworth was in the best position to pursue this for ESU 17 as a pilot school. The data generates growth and professional development. The hope is when we get all these pieces together you can see the improvement you want to see.”

Superintendent Dale Hafer said he was excited to have the district serve as one of the two pilot schools for the project along with Waverly Public Schools out of ESU 6.

“The board has worked hard with student data, as has the administrative team,” Hafer said. “This is the next step to grow our data literacy and use it to make instructional decisions and be impactful. This is a unique opportunity for us. We will learn some good stuff.”

Board President Brad Wilkins asked what assessments would be used for the pilot project.

McQuistan said the state assessment data and ACT data would be the primary student data utilized, with additional data layered in.

Board member Mark Johnson said the district currently receives assessment data from the Nebraska Department of Education. He asked how this project would differ from what the district already receives from the state.

McQuistan said the information the district receives from the Department of Education comes just once per year. He said this data is more involved and can be accessed in real time.

Board member Frank Beel asked if participating as a pilot school for the project would lead to additional work for staff.

Hafer said it would not be an additional burden for the district’s staff.

“It is a little extra work on our part, but it will be worth it,” Hafer said.

Board member Jessica Pozehl asked when the pilot project would begin.

McQuistan said no data has been uploaded at this point.

“I don’t have a specific answer for that yet,” he said. “It may be as early as next year, it may be a year or two.”

Hafer said, by this time next year, the district may be able to start utilizing the results.

“There are no specific names shared, just demographic data,” the superintendent said.

Wilkins said it was a brilliant concept and would allow staff to be trained to address gaps based on what the data shows.

Following the discussion, the board unanimously approved the memorandum of understanding with ESU 17 to provide the student data to the service unit for the pilot project.

In other business Monday, the board approved the review of the district’s policies as presented.

Following an executive session and evaluation, the board approved a contract with Hafer to continue serving as the district’s superintendent for the 2025-26 school year. Hafer’s current contract ran through the 2024-25 school year, the board approved adding another year to the existing contract as is standard practice for superintendents.

During his report, Hafer told the board the part to finish the new boiler installation has now arrived and the new boiler should be operational Thursday. He reported Guarantee Roofing is making progress on the two sections of the school’s roof damaged during the May hail storm. Hafer said the roof work should be completed by Tuesday, as the district was fortunate good weather held to allow the work to be completed.

Activities Director Luke Wroblewski reported one team had pulled out of the Summerland Holiday Tournament, so the tournament would now be a three-day triangular. West Holt will play Summerland Dec. 28, followed by Ainsworth taking on West Holt Dec. 29 and Ainsworth facing Summerland Dec. 30.

Prior to the regular meeting agenda, the board held a work session on several items that required no board action.

In addition to discussing some building and grounds items, including repairs to a door on the bus barn and the replacement of an irrigation reel or installing underground sprinklers for the football practice field, a main topic for the work session was discussion of the district’s third application to join the Niobrara Valley Conference for sports and activities.

Hafer said the Niobrara Valley Conference Administrators met Nov. 20 to entertain Ainsworth’s third attempt to join the league.

“We gained a couple more votes, with 10 in favor and six against,” Hafer said. “We needed 12 votes.”

To be accepted as a new member to the NVC, Ainsworth needed 75 percent of the conference’s member schools to approve the application. While some members of the conference participate in activities as a cooperative, each school district receives a vote.

“Rock County, Keya Paha County, West Holt, Boyd County, Summerland and Neligh were super supportive of trying to get us in,” Hafer said.

The six districts voting against Ainsworth’s entry into the NVC were Elgin Public, Niobrara, Santee, Chambers, Wheeler Central and Stuart.

Hafer said it is an uncertain time, as some districts may be willing to form something new that includes Ainsworth. At the same time, some eastern schools have invited several current members of the NVC to join a new conference.

“Plainview, Hartington-Newcastle and Laurel-Concord-Coleridge extended an invitation to Neligh-Oakdale, Summerland, Elkhorn Valley and West Holt to form a new league,” Hafer said.

He said there were eight schools discussing the potential formation of a new conference that would take some members away from the NVC. A decision would likely be made in January, with the new league not forming until the 2025-26 school year.

“The crux is, where do we go from here?” Hafer said. “Do we wait and see what happens with this new conference? If it doesn’t happen, other schools may want to start something new.”

Hafer said participation numbers in some sports are trending downward and it would be challenging in some activities to remain in the Southwest Conference.

Wroblewski said the volleyball contracts are signed for next year. Basketball for next year is where a decision would be need to be made soon.

Hafer said the district could opt to become independent and try to find some games to replace some of the Southwest Conference schools on the basketball schedule.

“There is some concern about staying in the Southwest Conference due to our size,” Hafer said. “Others think it is worth it to stay and give individuals a chance to excel in a conference.”

Pozehl asked what the chances were of Ainsworth being able to extend an invitation to other schools and forming something new.

Hafer said the eastern schools currently considering a new conference would not be interested in including Ainsworth.

He said West Holt was almost a deal-breaker for them as being too far west but then Creighton opted to stay in its current conference so they extended an invitation to West Holt.

Hafer said the MNAC, which includes Sandhills-Thedford and Mullen among numerous other schools, was not interested in adding anyone to its conference.

Board member Bryan Doke said, “When we look at our participation numbers, we tell kids they have to go to Minden on a Tuesday and then back to Ogallala on a Saturday and play schools three times our size. I am not sure we are doing our kids a service by staying in the Southwest Conference. Parents have to take a day off work to watch their kids.”

Johnson said, for stability, it might be best to stay in the Southwest Conference for another year.

“Then we will know what happens with the new league to the east,” Johnson said.

Doke said he would like to see what going independent looks like for both sports and fine arts.

“When do we need to make a decision?” Doke asked.

Regarding fine arts, Hafer said being independent would not affect speech much, but it would be a challenge for play production.

“In music, we would need to be creative to find opportunities,” Hafer said. “In basketball, it would boil down to not playing teams that are Class B even though we might not be saving many miles.”

Wroblewski said, by going independent, the district would need to potentially pick up eight games. He said Broken Bow and Cozad would likely be willing to keep Ainsworth on their schedules even if Ainsworth was no longer in the conference.

“We just need to be transparent with the Southwest Conference,” Wroblewski said. “They will be flexible with us. It is only one game for them to fill in their schedules. The Southwest Conference understands where we are coming from.”

Hafer said the Southwest Conference schools have been very good to work with, as Ainsworth and Valentine joining the conference years ago most likely kept the Southwest Conference from folding.

“It sounds like what I am hearing is we may have run our course in the Southwest Conference.” Hafer said.

Beel affirmed, saying he would like to see other options for the board to consider.

Wilkins asked Hafer if he would put feelers out to other schools that Ainsworth was interested in forming a new conference.

Hafer said he had already had discussions with some schools, but he would reach out to some other schools as well.

“Ten to 15 years from now, things are probably going to look a lot different with more cooperatives,” Hafer said.

The item will potentially be included during January’s board meeting as an action item. That meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 8.

* Boil water notice lifted for Bassett customers

(Posted 9:45 a.m. Dec. 11)

The boil water notice that has been in effect for residential and commercial customers in Bassett has now been lifted.

During routine testing, the Bassett water system tested positive for the presence of E. coli bacteria in November, which prompted a boil water notice to be issued. That notice has been in effect for several weeks, but has now been lifted.

The city chlorinated its water system, and subsequent testing has resulted in the boil water notice being lifted.

* Wilkins named Chancellor’s Scholar at UN-L

(Posted 7 a.m. Dec. 11)

Twenty University of Nebraska–Lincoln students will be recognized as Chancellor’s Scholars during the undergraduate commencement ceremony Saturday, Dec. 16, in Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Chancellor’s Scholars are students who have maintained a 4.0 grade-point average on all collegiate work at the University of Nebraska and elsewhere.

Among the 20 students receiving the recognition is Samuel Wilkins of Ainsworth, who will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural engineering.

* Area students to graduate Friday from UNK

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Dec. 11)

Graduate and undergraduate degrees will be conferred for 446 winter graduates at University of Nebraska at Kearney commencement exercises 10 a.m. Friday (Dec. 15) at UNK’s Health and Sports Center.

Area students scheduled to graduate from UNK Friday are:

Atkinson – Kelsi Jo Williams, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in education specializing in early childhood inclusive.

Wood Lake – Lauren Ferguson, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in education specializing in elementary education.

Valentine – Tracy Leigh Grooms, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

December 3

  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a request for lift assistance in Long Pine
  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a call to Carpenter St in Johnstown. An individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  •  

December 4

  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office responded to a request for traffic control for a cattle Crossing West of Ainsworth.
  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a call at a Main Street Business. An individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.

December 5

  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office received a call concerning Drugs at a local establishment, The complaint is currently under investigation.
  • A Burn Permit was issued for an individual to burn tree piles North of Ainsworth.
  • A burn Permit was issued for an individual South of Long Pine.

December 6

  • An Individual was booked into the Brown County Jail to serve a Court Ordered sentence.

December 7

  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office received a report of vandalism at a local complex. This is currently under investigation.
  • Brown County Dispatch received a 911 call to the Ainsworth Community Schools. Officers and Ambulance personnel were advised.
  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call from the Ainsworth Community Schools. An Individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Office responded to a Request for traffic control for a cattle crossing East of Ainsworth

December 8

  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a call for a transfer of air crew from the airport to Brown County Hospital and then back to the airport.
  • Brown County Sheriff’s Department was advised of a Car/Deer Accident on Elsmere Road. The vehicle was drivable, so owner was going to meet Officer in Ainsworth to file report.

December 9

  • An Individual was released from the Brown County Jail after Completing their sentence.

WEEKLY SUMMARY TOTALS

INCIDENT REPORTS:  12

PHONE CALLS: 117

911 CALLS:  6

VIN INSPECTIONS:  5

HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMITS:  1

PAPERS SERVED: 2

* Area schools fare well in state standards assessment

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

The Nebraska Department of Education released the Nebraska Student-Centered Assessment System results and the Accountability for a Quality Education System Today and Tomorrow, or AQuESTT classifications today. Both reports provide insight into how students are performing academically on Nebraska’s state standards.

NSCAS English language arts, mathematics and science are rigorous assessments with high expectations for postsecondary readiness. NSCAS ELA and mathematics are given in grades three through eight. NSCAS science assessments are given in fifth and eighth grades and Nebraska juniors take the ACT assessment.

This year the NDE had the opportunity to set new cut scores, the scores that determine levels of proficiency. This happens anytime there is a new assessment or a significant change in an existing assessment. The English language arts assessment was new for 2022.

The new cut scores better reflect student achievement in Nebraska when compared to students nationally. For years Nebraska has been near the top of the National Assessment of Educational Progress assessments and rank high when compared to other states that test the majority of their students on the ACT.

The following are among the key findings from this year’s NSCAS:

58% of Nebraska students across in grades 3-8 were considered proficient in English Language Arts (performing at the On Track or Advanced level), and 61% were proficient in math.

More than 70% of Nebraska students in grades 3-8 were proficient on the NSCAS science assessment.

At the high school level, Nebraska’s juniors were 46% proficient in ELA, 42% in math, and 49% in science.

Moving forward, there will still be a need to focus on specific student groups that show large achievement gaps.

27% of students with disabilities were proficient in English Language Arts, and 29% were proficient in math.

43% of students who qualified for free or reduced lunch were proficient in ELA and 45% for math.

30% of English learners were proficient in ELA, and 33% were proficient in math.

“While Nebraska’s statewide assessments showed student and school growth and improvement, it also showcased the need for focused efforts in several areas,” said Education Commissioner Brian Maher. “We need to continue to work together as a state to provide the best possible opportunities for every student to succeed and be prepared for life after school.”

In addition to assessment results, Nebraska released accountability ratings. State and federal law require the NDE to annually classify and designate schools to provide signals for specific supports. Nebraska’s system, AQuESTT – helps ensure all students across all backgrounds and circumstances have access to opportunities and access. AQuESTT annually classifies schools and districts as Excellent, Great, Good, and Needs Support to Improve.

A breakdown of classifications indicated that 303 (27 percent) of schools were classified as Excellent, 437 (40 percent) were Great, 288 (26 percent) were Good, and 76 (7 percent) were designated as Needs Support to Improve.

Ainsworth Community Schools was classified as Great. A total of 62 percent of Ainsworth students were proficient in English, above the state average of 58 percent. A total of 71 percent of Ainsworth students were proficient at math, well above the state average of 61 percent. Only 43 percent of Ainsworth students tested as proficient in the state science standards, below the state average of 70 percent.

Ainsworth juniors taking the ACT tested above the state average in English, math and science, with 56 percent of juniors reaching the benchmark in English compared to the 46 percent state average, 62 percent of juniors hit the mark in math compared to 42 percent in the state, and 71 percent of juniors reached the science standard, well above the state average of 49 percent.

A total of 97 percent of Ainsworth students graduated, well above the state average of 87. A total of 54 percent of students then attended college, below the statewide average of 73 percent.

Keya Paha County Public Schools was also classified in the Great category.

For Keya Paha County students, 44 percent tested proficient in English, below the 58-percent state average. A total of 66 percent of students were proficient in math, above the state average of 61 percent, and 67 percent were proficient in science standards, just below the state average of 70 percent.

Keya Paha County’s junior class ACT results were withheld due to the number of students taking the test. The school’s graduation and college-going rates were also withheld due to the size of the classes.

Rock County Public Schools received the top classification of Excellent from the state, placing the top 27 percent of the state.

A total of 62 percent of Rock County students tested proficient in English, above the 58 percent state average. In math, 64 percent of students were proficient, also above the state average of 61 percent. A total of 57 percent of Rock County students were proficient in science, below the state average of 70 percent.

Rock County juniors taking the ACT were above the state averages in all three areas, with 67 percent hitting the benchmark in English, above the 46 percent state average; 62 percent made the math standard, above the 42 percent state average; and 70 percent hit the science benchmark, above the state average of 49 percent.

A total of 90 percent of Rock County students graduated, above the state average of 87 percent, with 89 percent of students going to college, also above the state average of 73 percent.

* North Central RC&D awarded tire amnesty grant

(Posted 1:30 p.m. Dec. 6)

The Upper Elkhorn Natural Resources District and the North Central Nebraska RC&D Council were awarded a $115,720 tire amnesty grant from the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy. 

After receiving notice the grant funds were awarded, the NRD and RC&D will move forward with a spring tire amnesty event at Newport. The grant allows for the collection of 600 tons of tires from the region, including residents of all counties in north central Nebraska. 

“Just submitting the application would not have been possible without the partnership of the Upper Elkhorn NRD, the Rock County Commissioners, the Newport Village Board, Rock County Agronomy and Stuart Fertilizer,” RC&D Executive Director Kim Burge said.

Burge said the RC&D Council meets Dec 13 and will set a date for the spring tire amnesty.

* Commissioners approve regulations for fishing pond

(Posted 3:30 p.m. Dec. 5)

After discussions spanning several meetings, the Brown County Commissioners Tuesday adopted a set of rules and regulations for the community fishing pond constructed on county property east of the Brown County Hospital.

Sheriff Brent Deibler presented the board with what he termed some common-sense regulations for those utilizing the pond to follow.

Deibler’s proposed regulations included having the pond open to the public from sunrise to sunset daily, with no alcohol, no fires, no motorized watercraft and no vehicles permitted beyond the parking lot.

The parking area will be located on the east side of the pond near the handicap-accessible pier that has been installed.

“I tried to keep it to bare bones, common-sense stuff,” Deibler said.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will be in charge of regulating the fishery, as it will handle the ongoing fish stocking. The Game and Parks Commission has indicated the pond will be initially stocked in the spring of 2024 with bluegill, largemouth bass and channel catfish.

Commissioner Jeremiah Dailey said the rules the sheriff proposed looked fine to him. He said he would like to see added that the county is not responsible for any accidents.

“The simpler we make it, the easier it is to understand,” Dailey said.

Commissioner Buddy Small said he didn’t believe any kind of watercraft should be allowed. Dailey said he was fine with Deibler’s suggestion of no motorized watercraft, which would allow the use of kayaks, canoes and other non-motorized watercraft.

Commissioner Denny Bauer said he wanted the people using the pond to have fun.

“Having kids out there having fun is better than them sitting in a house watching a screen,” Bauer said.

Small said he contacted an attorney with the Nebraska Intergovernmental Risk Management Association, which handles the county’s liability insurance. Small said included in the email was the county being protected from liability through state statute by not charging the public to utilize the community pond.

Following the discussion, the commissioners unanimously approved the regulations proposed by the sheriff, adding the county is not responsible for accidents.

In other business Tuesday, Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin reviewed the roads department’s snow removal policy.

“When I took over as highway superintendent, I came up with a snow removal plan at the direction of the commissioners,” Turpin said. “We hadn’t had a bad snow year until last year. We should probably review and discuss it each year.”

Turpin said the policy is the roads department does not open up private driveways during snow events.

“Last year we opened up a few driveways, and the policy says we shouldn’t be doing that,” Turpin said. “If it is an emergency, that is a different situation. We will always help in an emergency.”

Commissioner Jeremiah Dailey said opening driveways is a nice courtesy for the roads department to perform, if time allows.

Audience member Roland Paddock, a former commissioner, said previous boards had the roads department open driveways as a courtesy to taxpayers.

“If the plow went by, they removed the snowbank at the road,” Paddock said.

Small said he didn’t believe it was a good idea to have the county opening private driveways.

“Emergency situations are one thing, but that adds a lot of time and expense,” Small said.

Turpin said the roads crew tries not to push snow onto people’s driveways, but the V plows the department operates only push snow a couple ways.

Bauer said he liked the idea of the county helping out residents who don’t have tractors, but he was concerned about the county’s equipment damaging mailboxes.

Emergency Manager Traci Booth said some counties charge people if county equipment is used to pull vehicles out that get stranded in the snow.

“It is really no different than having to call a tow truck,” Booth said.

Bauer said he didn’t have a problem with the county charging in non-emergency situations.

Following the discussion, the commissioners opted not to make any major changes to the roads department’s snow removal policy.

Turpin said the department tries to stick with the policy, but he can alter it depending on the conditions.

During his report, Turpin said the roads department repaired the Ponderosa Road bridge. He said the roads crew replaced the sheet piling around the abutments.

“That should buy us some time,” the highway superintendent said. “That bridge was built in 1935 along with the bridge at the state park. It should last another 10 years or so.”

Turpin said he planned to have the roads crew get snow fences up before the ground freezes.

He also reported one of the county’s motor graders had some engine problems, and it would cost approximately $35,000 to repair the engine.

In final action items, the commissioners approved a resolution transferring $185,064 from the county’s bridge buyback fund and $88,941 from the inheritance tax fund to make the Dec. 15 Meadville Avenue asphalt bond payment of $274,006.

The board also approved making a $217,566 payment on the Brown County Hospital addition bond from the hospital fund.

The board approved renewing a sign permit through the Nebraska Department of Transportation for the “Discover the Sandhills” sign located along Highway 20 near milepost 226. The sign was purchased and is maintained by the Brown County Visitors Committee.

County Attorney Andy Taylor told the commissioners complaints have been received from courthouse employees regarding bats in the building.

“It is becoming a serious hazard and it needs to be addressed as soon as possible,” Taylor said. “They may be endangered or protected so they might have to be relocated, not exterminated.”

Small said he visited with four companies on solutions to removing the bats and the county would indeed have to relocate the bats instead of exterminating them.

 Small said he would have more information for the board to consider during its next meeting after the courthouse roof repair work was complete.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Dec. 19.

* Six advance to District Hoop Shoot from local contest

(Posted 7 a.m. Dec. 4)

The Ainsworth Elks Hoop Shoot was held Sunday, with six youth ages 8 to 13 advancing to the upcoming District Hoop Shoot.

Zaine Evans won the boys 12-13 year-old age division, with Payton Sears winning the girls 12-13 division.

Kimberlyn Doke won the girls 10-11 age division, with Blake Hansmeyer advancing to the district shoot from the boys 10-11 division.

Jett Hansmeyer will join his brother at the district shoot after winning the boys 8-9 division, and Sutton Brodbeck took first in the girls 8-9 division to advance.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

November 26

  • No activity recorded.

November 27

  • Officer responded to a request for traffic control for a cattle Crossing East of Ainsworth.
  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a call on 2nd St in Ainsworth. Individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital

November 28

  • Officer responded to a request for traffic control for cattle crossing East of Ainsworth.
  • Officer responded to a report of Suspicious activity at a local business.
  • Officer responded to a report of a vehicle blocking an intersection West of Ainsworth. The owner was contacted, and the vehicle moved.

November 29

  • Officers on scene at the Ainsworth Community Schools for Lockdown Drill.
  • Officers responded to a call for a welfare check on a Long Pine Resident. The individual was found to be ok.
  • Officer responded to a report of a Car/Deer accident west of Johnstown.

November 30

  • Officers issued a Citation for speeding 75 mph in a 65 mph zone, no proof of Insurance, No Valid registration, and Expired operator’s license.

December 1

  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a call on Osborne St in Ainsworth, Individual was taken to the Brown County Hospital.

December 2

  • Officers issued a Citation for speeding 81 mph in a 65 mph zone.
  • Officers responded to a call for Funeral Escort in Ainsworth.
  • Officer issued a Citation for speeding, 51 mph in a 35 mph zone.
  • Officer received a report of Stolen property at a residence in Long Pine. This incident is under investigation.

WEEKLY SUMMARY TOTALS

INCIDENT REPORTS:  10

PHONE CALLS: 93

911 CALLS:  8

VIN INSPECTIONS:  5

HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMITS:  3

PAPERS SERVED: 1

Monthly Summary Totals for November

INCIDENT REPORTS: 53

PHONE CALLS:  475

911 CALLS:  33

VIN INSPECTIONS: 13

HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMIT: 19

PAPERS SERVED: 10

* Long Pine bridge replacement contract awarded

(Posted 2:45 p.m. Dec. 1)

The Long Pine Bridge repair project has been awarded to Iowa Civil Contracting, Inc., of Victor, Iowa. Work will include reconstruction of the bridge abutments, new guardrail, bridge deck overlay, along with other minor repairs needed to preserve the structure.

Work is projected to start on April 22, 2024. Initial work will consist of installing temporary supports to jack up the ends of the bridge to correct settlement and accommodate reconstruction of the bridge abutments.

This initial work can be performed with traffic and may require temporary lane closures. Once the bridge ends are temporarily supported the bridge will be closed to traffic.

The contractor cannot completely close the bridge to traffic prior to May 28, 2024, and Highway 20 must be reopened to traffic by Aug. 30, 2024. During the closure period traffic will be detoured utilizing Highway 183 and Highway 7, the detour will begin three miles west of Long Pine using Highway 183 north towards Springview then Highway 7 to Bassett. Once bridge abutment reconstruction is complete a bridge deck overlay will be applied, this work is anticipated to occur in the fall under traffic with temporary lane closures.

Specific information regarding this project will be provided as the construction start date approaches.

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 1 p.m. Nov. 30)

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

Matthew K. Zimmerman, age 23, of Long Pine, charged with no operator’s license, fined $100.

Norman W. Holden, 56, of Conifer, Colo., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Mark Y. Peterson, 58, of Highlands Ranch, Colo., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

John W. Bunch, 19, of Clarkson, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75; also charged with failure to use a seat belt, $25.

Valene L. Cole, 22, of Ainsworth, following too close, $50; no license on person, $25; failure to use a seat belt, $25; failure to stay in lane, $25.

Scott D. Cino, 63, of Spring Valley, Calif., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Michalla L. Barnes, 21, of Broken Bow, violate hunting or fishing regulations, $100.

Wayne A. Paulson, 45, of Long Pine, commercial vehicle marking violation, $50; improper or defective vehicle light, $25.

Daniel D. Dailey, 67, of Long Pine, commercial vehicle brake violation, $50.

Ashley N. Kolessa, 35, of Valentine, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Juan C. Machacuay Zavala, 37, of Greeley, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Justin J. Aguirre, 31, of Hendrum, Minn., attempting a Class 4 felony, $1,000; possession of marijuana more than 1 ounce but less than 1 pound, $500.

Phillip A. Martinez, 20, of Ainsworth, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75; licensing a vehicle without liability insurance, $100; reciprocity, $25.

Katelyn B. Richards, 25, of Elk Point, S.D., failure to use a child passenger restraint, $25; driving on the shoulder of the highway, $25.

Dustin S. Privett, 26, of Ainsworth, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Justen W. Nokes, 44, of Juniata, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Dreidy M. Macias Vega, 38, of Atkinson, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Yahiy H. Pizano, 21, of Wood River, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75; no operator’s license, $75.

Michael J. Boettner, 44, of Omaha, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Connor P. Healey, 29, of Libertyville, Ill., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $75.

* Traffic Accident

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

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a vehicle-deer accident that occurred Wednesday, Nov. 29.

According to the sheriff’s department report, at 7:27 p.m. Wednesday on Highway 20 near milepost 230, a 2011 Honda Odyssey, driven by Anna Marie Maas, 40, of Valentine, was traveling east when the vehicle struck a deer in the roadway.

No persons were injured during the accident. The Honda was considered a total loss.

* State’s jobless rate remains among best in nation

(Posted 1:15 p.m. Nov. 29)

Nebraska’s unemployment rate for October is 2.2 percent. The rate is up 0.1 percentage points from the September rate of 2.1 percent and is down 0.5 percentage points from the October 2022 rate of 2.7 percent.

Brown County’s unemployment rate of 2.7 percent in October is pacing above the state average. Rock County tied with Grant County for the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 1.5 percent in October, behind only the 1.3 percent rate of Wheeler County.

Blaine County, on the flip side, experienced the highest unemployment rate in the state in October at 3.7 percent, just ahead of the 3.6 percent rate for neighboring Thomas County.

Cherry County and Holt County each registered 1.8 percent unemployment rates in October to stay better than the state average. Boyd County at 2.4 percent and Keya Paha County at 2.5 percent were both slightly above the state rate.

“Employment in private education and health services reached a new all-time high of over 163,000 in October,” said Commissioner of Labor John H. Albin.  “Total statewide nonfarm employment increased by nearly 7,000 over the month.”

Nonfarm employment, a count of filled jobs, was 1,053,548 in October, up 6,949 over the month and up 13,041 over the year.  Private industries with the most growth month to month were trade, transportation, and utilities (up 2,077 jobs); private education and health services (up 987 jobs); and professional and business services (up 903 jobs).  Private industries with the most over the year growth were private education and health services (up 4,188 jobs), leisure and hospitality (up 3,195 jobs), and manufacturing (up 1,864 jobs).

The counts of employed and unemployed in the labor force are based on a survey conducted by the Census Bureau regarding employment status.

The national unemployment rate for October is 3.9 percent, up 0.1 percent from the September rate. The rate is up 0.2 percentage points from the October 2022 rate of 3.7 percent.

Nebraska has the sixth lowest unemployment rate in the country. Maryland’s 1.7 percent rate was the lowest in the country in October, followed by North Dakota at 1.9 percent. South Dakota and Vermont tied for the third-best rate in the country at 2 percent, followed by New Hampshire at 2.1 percent and Nebraska.

Nevada experienced the highest unemployment rate in the country in October at 5.4 percent. California’s rate at 4.8 percent was the second worst, followed by New Jersey and Illinois at 4.6 percent, and Alaska at 4.3 percent.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 10:30 a.m. Nov. 26)

November 19

  • Officer issued Citation for speeding, 88mph in 65 mph zone.
  • Officers Investigated a Hit and Run Accident on Oak St. This incident is under investigation.
  • Officers Investigated an Accident on 1st St in Ainsworth where Vehicle came in contact with a power pole
  • Brown County Ambulance transferred an Individual from the Brown County Hospital to Kearney Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney.
  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a request for a lift assist on 4th St in Ainsworth. One individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Officers responded to a report of Child Abuse and neglect in Ainsworth, One Individual was arrested and Booked into the Brown County Jail.
  • Officers issued a Citation for speeding. 79 mph in a 65 mph zone.
  • Officer responded to a report of a stray dog on Oak St in Ainsworth, dog was taken to the Ainsworth Vet Clinic.

November 20

  •  

November 21

  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a request for a lift Assist on 4th St in Ainsworth.
  •  
  • Officer issued a Citation for Defective Lighting on Vehicle.
  • Officer responded to a request for Traffic Control for a Cattle Crossing West of Ainsworth
  • Officer responded to a report of Suspicious Activity on Wilson St.

November 22

  • Officer issued a Citation for speeding, 77 mph in a 65 mph zone.
  • Officer issued a Citation for no Valid Registration.
  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a call on 4th St in Ainsworth, Individual was transported to the Rock County Hospital.

November 23rd

  •  

November 24

  • Received a report of a Life One Pendant being activated. Contacted the Individuals family and everything was found to be ok.
  • Received a call to a local feedlot where an individual had fallen and was unresponsive. Officers and Brown County Ambulance were Dispatched.
  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a Call to a local feedlot. Individual refused transport to BCH.
  • Received a call requesting Ministerial Assistance for a room/Advised Individual of Contact # for Ministerial Assistance.
  • Received a call reporting an Individual had gone off the Road on Richardson Road. Advised no injuries and they were home and would pick up the car in the morning.
  • Officer Issued a Citation for speeding, 44 mph in a 35 mph zone.

November 25

  •  

WEEKLY SUMMARY TOTALS

INCIDENT REPORTS:  7

PHONE CALLS: 85

911 CALLS:  5

VIN INSPECTIONS:  3

HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMITS: 7

PAPERS SERVED: 2

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 10:30 a.m. Nov. 26)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a one-vehicle accident that occurred Nov. 19 in Ainsworth. According to the sheriff’s department report, at 6:39 p.m. Nov. 19 at the intersection of First and Maple streets, a 2005 Kia Sorento, driven by Taylor Allen, 17, of Ainsworth, was traveling east on First Street when the vehicle left the roadway and struck a power pole.

Allen suffered minor injuries during the accident, but medical transportation was not required. The Kia was considered a total loss. The accident disrupted power service to approximately 60 Nebraska Public Power District customers for about 30 minutes.

* Commissioners again discuss fishing pond rules

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

During a light agenda Tuesday, the Brown County Commissioners again discussed the topic of potential rules and regulations for the community fishing pond that has been established on county property just south of East City Park east of the Brown County Hospital.

Brown County Emergency Manager Traci Booth said she was asked to research regulations in place at other community ponds across the state. Booth said any regulations in place are basically different for each pond. She said most were established by park boards in the communities.

“Most ponds have Game and Parks fishing regulations,” Booth said. “In some places, minors under 13 must be accompanied by an adult. A majority of them do not allow swimming.”

Booth suggested the county follow any regulations the city has in place for use of East City Park.

“We could just have continuity with the city park,” Booth said.

Commissioner Buddy Small said he felt the pond should be low key with a minimum of noise that could disturb neighbors.

“There should be no alcohol, that’s common sense,” Small said.

Small also advocated for the pond to be open from dawn until dusk only, with no motorized vehicles other than the parking area and no boats.

The board, with Commissioner Jeremiah Dailey absent Tuesday, discussed people using the pond to ice fish or ice skate. Commissioner Denny Bauer said he had been approached by several residents wanting to ice skate. Small asked who would determine when it was safe for people to ice fish or ice skate.

Bauer said people would have to use their own judgment.

Brown County Sheriff Brent Deibler said trying to enforce restrictions on how old children have to be before they can fish without adult supervision would be difficult. In addition to not allowing alcohol, Deibler said he would recommend not allowing campfires since there will be no camping at the site.

Brown County Attorney Andy Taylor suggested the commissioners contact the county’s liability insurance carrier, NIRMA.

“They have probably done this before and may have some recommendations for you,” Taylor said.

No regulations were adopted. The board placed the item back on its Dec. 5 meeting agenda.

In other business Tuesday, Scott Goodloe with the Brown County Ambulance Association approached the board about establishing a commercial account with Black Hills Energy for heating of the new ambulance barn under construction.

“The furnaces are installed, and a separate gas meter will be connected for the building,” Goodloe said.

Goodloe asked who he needed to work with in the courthouse to set up an account for the building and have the statements paid through the ambulance association line item.

Small suggested Goodloe visit with Deputy Clerk Becky Hardy on getting the account established.

In a final action item, Treasurer Bruce Mitchell asked the commissioners which line item in the county budget they wanted to use to make the $273,986 payment that is due for the Meadville Avenue bond.

Bauer suggested the payment be taken from the county’s inheritance tax fund. Mitchell said he would need to have the county attorney draw up a resolution giving the treasurer the authority to make the payment from that fund.

Taylor said he would draft the resolution and have it ready for the board to consider during its Dec. 5 meeting.

* Fischer receives State Award of Merit from NSIAAA

(Posted 7 a.m. Nov. 21)

Rock County Public Schools Activities Director Kayla Fischer recently received the State Award of Merit from the Nebraska State Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association during the group’s fall conference at Kearney.

The State Award of Merit is presented to an NIAAA member who demonstrates outstanding leadership and meritorious service and achievement in the vocation of interscholastic administration.

Nate Larsen, NSIAAA President, said, “Kayla is in her fifth year as our NSIAAA District III representative and has done a tremendous job in that role. Kayla has taken several leadership training courses, earned her CAA certification, and serves on our NSIAAA DEIB committee. In addition to her role with the NSIAAA, Kayla serves as the District III Representative on the Nebraska Coaches Association Board. As no surprise to those of us who know Kayla, the NCA says she is always willing to roll up her sleeves and help with any situation and has been crucial in the continuing growth of the NCA.”

In addition to serving as the activities director at Rock County, Fischer is also the dean of students.

* Brown County Commissioners Tuesday agenda

(Posted 1:45 p.m. Nov. 20)

Brown County Commissioners
Meeting 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21
Brown County Courthouse
Agenda

Roll Call.

Acknowledge posting of Open Meetings Law.

Pledge of Allegiance.

Approve minutes of the 11-7-2023 Commissioner meeting.

Approve minutes of the 11-16-2023 Special Commissioner   meeting.

Approve Claims

Kenneth Turpin – Road Department Update

Ambulance Association: Utilities for new Ambulance Building

Rules and Regulations for Community Fishpond

Approval to pay Highway Bond & which account to pay it from

Public Comment

* Kilmer sentenced to life in prison

(Posted 7 a.m. Nov. 20)

Kevin Kilmer, 27, was sentenced by Judge Mark Kozisek in Cherry County District Court at Valentine Friday for the 2021 murder of Ruth Wittmuss, 52, which occurred at Kilgore.  The trial took place in August of this year. 

Kilmer was sentenced to life in prison for the first-degree murder conviction and an additional 10-14 years for the use of a weapon to commit a felony conviction. 

The case was investigated by the Cherry County Sheriff’s Department, the Nebraska State Patrol, with the assistance of the Valentine Police Department and other local agencies. The Cherry County Attorney’s Office and the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office prosecuted the case. 

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

November 12

  • Brown County Sheriff’s Department responded to a request for traffic control for cattle crossing west of Johnstown.
  • Brown County Ambulance transferred an air crew from the Ainsworth Airport to the Brown County Hospital and back to the Airport.
  • Officer issued a Citation for speeding. 67 mph in a 50-mph zone.
  • Officer issued a Citation for speeding. 77 mph in a 65-mph zone.
  • Officer issued a Citation for speeding. 53 mph in a 35-mph zone and improper use of School Permit
  • Officer issued a Citation for no proof of Insurance.

November 13

  • Officer responded to a report of trespassing on East 4th
  • Officer responded to a report of trespassing on North Main Street.
  • Brown County Dispatch, dispatched Officers and Ambulance to a 911 call on 3rd St in Ainsworth.
  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 page on 3rd Street in Ainsworth.
  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a call to Park St in Ainsworth, Individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.

November 14th

  • No activity.

November 15

  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a residence on 4th Street in Ainsworth. The individual was transported to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Brown County Dispatch dispatched Officers and Brown County Ambulance to a residence in Long Pine in reference to a 911 Call.
  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a 911 call in Long Pine.
  • Received a report of a possibly stolen Firearm in Ainsworth.
  • Received a report of possibly missing Hay. This is still under investigation.
  • Received a report of a dog bite. The dog involved was owned by the victim.

November 16

  • Responded to a report of a barking dog on East 5th street, The owner was given a verbal warning.
  • Responded to a request for a welfare Check on an individual. The Individual was found to be OK.

November 17

  • Officer issued a Citation for speeding. 80 mph in a 65-mph zone.
  • Officer Issued a Citation for Defective Lighting

November 18

  • Officers provided Traffic Control for a Cattle Drive through the Long Pine Hills to County Line.
  • Officers responded to a request for a welfare check on Oak St in Ainsworth
  • Brown County Ambulance transported an individual from residence on Oak St in Ainsworth to the Brown County Hospital.

WEEKLY SUMMARY TOTALS

INCIDENT REPORTS:  17

PHONE CALLS: 133

911 CALLS: 8

VIN INSPECTIONS:  2

HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMITS:  5

PAPERS SERVED: 5

* City of Bassett under boil water order under further notice

(Posted 2:50 p.m. Nov 16)

During the month of November 2023, the City of Bassett found E. coli bacteria indicating the need to look for potential problems in water treatment or distribution. When this occurs, they are required to conduct an assessment to identify problems and to correct any problems that were found during these assessments.

Do not drink the water without boiling it first. Bring water to a boil for one minute, and let cool before using, or use bottled water.  Boiled or bottle water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and food preparation until further notice.

The City of Bassett will inform you when test results show no further contamination and you no longer need to boil your water.  For additional information regarding this notice, interested persons may contact Matt Franklin at 402-382-0089.

* Care Center continues to see solid financial numbers

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

Despite having to pay more than $71,000 to replace its roof, the Sandhills Care Center generated a profit during October, finishing the month with revenue of $308,068 and total expenses of $271,321 for an operating margin of $36,747 for the month.

October’s revenue included a $37,184 American Rescue Plan Act grant, which Administrator Penny Jacobs said was the second of three ARPA installments from the federal government. Jacobs said those grant dollars must be used toward employee recruitment and retention efforts. Jacobs said the care center offers a sign-on bonus for new employees and a referral bonus for current employees who refer someone, and the facility will continue that program using the ARPA dollars.

Business Manager Makenzie Crane said the care center provided $11,000 in incentive payments through those programs in 2022 and has provided $9,000 in sign-on and referral bonuses thus far in 2023.

“I will put some numbers together and we can talk about what you want to do next month,” Crane said.

Jacobs said offering some kind of retention bonus to employees who have stayed with the facility through the pandemic would also be an option the board could consider.

Jacobs introduced new Director of Nursing Sara Mayhew, who complimented Jacobs and the board for the amount of care she has seen for the residents of the Sandhills Care Center.

“You have so much heart in that old building with your caregivers,” Mayhew said. “It is huge. I know how devastating it is to be in a community that loses its long-term care facility. Staying open here through all of this is so important.”

Mayhew said she has been in healthcare since 1995 and worked at Pineview in Valentine for 22 years before that facility closed.

Mayhew said she was in the process of trying to recruit additional nurses to the care center that she knows personally and would work with the schedule to try and cut down on overtime hours.

“I would like to be able to hire one RN and one night LPN and completely remove all agency staffing again,” Mayhew said.

Jacobs said, during the past month, the care center hired two full-time CNAs and a part-time CNA in addition to bringing Mayhew on staff as the full-time director of nursing. She said an agency LPN’s employment was recently terminated.

Jacobs reported there are currently 25 residents in the Sandhills Care Center, with 13 paying privately, 10 receiving Medicaid assistance, one receiving Medicare assistance and one resident was Medicaid-pending. She said the care center admitted two new residents during October, discharged two residents and experienced three resident deaths during the past month.

The Board of Directors Monday approved offering a 401-K retirement plan to employees as an additional benefit. While there will initially be no employer match to the retirement program, the board left the door open to potentially including an employer match in the future if finances allow.

Employees have the option to place 3 percent of their paychecks automatically into a 401-K retirement account through Slavic 401 of Florida. Jacobs said five employees immediately indicated an interest in contributing to a retirement plan when approached. She said employees could opt out of the plan if they chose and could also increase or decrease the amount of their contribution.

Jacobs said offering the plan would be a potential help in recruiting new staff members.

The board approved the 2022-23 audit as prepared by Lutz and Co. PC of Grand Island. Board Chair Tom Jones said the facility’s audit showed no deficiencies other than the standard lack of segregation of duties over financial controls that all small governmental entities receive.

The board discussed its insurance plan, as the facility’s deductible for roof damage was lowered from $100,000 to $50,000 for future claims. The board discussed whether to add $40,000 in deductible buy-down coverage at an additional cost of $4,800 annually but opted instead to establish a capital improvement line item in its budget and try to contribute to that line item each year through its budgeting process to account for any building maintenance or repair projects.

The board again discussed methods for evaluating the performance of the administrator. Jacobs said other staff members do have performance reviews conducted, and there are performance reviews for nursing staff.

The board looked at potential forms it could use for help in evaluating the administrator’s performance.

Board member Dr. Mel Campbell said he liked the idea of having department heads also provide the board with a review of the administrator. Board members will review potential forms to use to help guide the evaluation.

Campbell said his wife has been involved with helping care for a resident in the facility recently. Campbell said she was very complimentary of the care that resident was receiving.

Jacobs discussed the recent purchase of four sets of virtual reality goggles to help calm some residents who experience behavioral issues. Jacobs said the VR equipment through Mynd VR was initially expected to be a monthly charge, but the facility was billed $5,392 for a full year’s subscription to the service.

“There are a lot of applications,” Jacobs said. “The goggles can take a resident wherever they want to go.”
She said the facility had run out of ways to try and calm a couple residents. She said the goggles worked to calm those residents down and helped to minimize the risk to staff and resident safety during those instances.

Board member Shawn Fernau said he liked the idea, that it gives residents a change of scenery. Jacobs said all residents of the facility would have the opportunity to utilize the virtual reality equipment.

The board discussed the amount the administrator was able to spend before having to come to the board for approval. Jacobs said there was enough money in donated funding to pay for the purchase. She said the purchase was essentially made to assist staff in managing residents with behavioral issues.

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

* School Board approves track resurfacing work

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

The Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education on Monday approved improvements to the track at East City Park that will last seven to eight years.

Superintendent Dale Hafer told the board Joey Finley had brought to his attention that a few cracks were starting to develop in the track. Hafer said the track surface had not undergone structural spraying since 2015.

“The applications last about seven or eight years,” Hafer said. “It is time to do something again. This application will take care of the cracks and be good for another seven or eight years.”

Hafer said Fisher Tracks reported the foundation of the track was still in good shape, and the district could make an additional surface application seven or eight years from now before the board would need to consider redoing the entire track.

The $83,917 bid from Fisher Tracks includes cleaning the track, filling all cracks, making any minor repairs to the surface that are needed, priming the track with a polyurethane primer and applying two coats of polyurethane structural spray to the surface. The coating work carries a five-year warranty.

Hafer recommended the board use depreciation funding to handle the cost of the spraying instead of taking the money from the district’s general fund. The board unanimously approved the quote from Fisher Tracks.

With the track surfacing being the only action item on Monday’s agenda, the only other discussions with the board were held with the principals, activities director and superintendent.

Activities Director Luke Wroblewski said the school would host Southwest Conference one-act play performances Nov. 21.

“There will be some high-quality performances,” Wroblewski said.

He said Monday was the first day for winter sports practices. He reported there were no girls from North Central who came to participate in high school girls wrestling after the board had approved co-oping with North Central for that sport. Junior high girls wrestling does not begin until January.

High School Principal Steve Dike reported the social studies program did an excellent job putting together the Veterans Day program Friday and involving veterans in the community into the program.

During his report, Hafer said the old boiler is still being used as the company is waiting on one single part to arrive before being able to switch over to the new boiler that has otherwise been installed.

He said the district made the switch from air-conditioning to heating when the weather turned colder in late October. He said, with the warmer temperatures now being experienced in the area, the building is getting a little warm in the afternoons even though the boiler is not heating the building.

Hafer reported Guarantee Roofing will be on site this week to repair the high school roof as well as the western half of the gym roof. He said the cost of those weather-related repairs are being covered by insurance.

The superintendent reported the district’s audit has been completed by Dana F. Cole, which found no issues. Hafer thanked Dedra Stoner and Lacey Marbry in the office for providing the auditors with any additional information they requested.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 11.

* Sheriff’s department to participate in Click it or Ticket

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Nov. 13)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department, through funding by the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety, will participate in the National “Click-It or Ticket” Mobilization.  The Enforcement dates for the campaign are November 22-26. The campaign is a national program to increase public awareness and make our roadways safer. 

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department is joining with other state and local law enforcement officers and highway safety advocates across the nation to help save more lives by strongly enforcing seat belt laws around the clock, especially at night.  

While this year’s Click It or Ticket enforcement mobilization runs from November 22-26, motorists should know that deputies are out enforcing seat belts laws year-round.

The national Click It or Ticket mobilization has increased seat belt use and saved lives over the years, but there is still much more that can be done. High-visibility enforcement and encouraging loved ones to buckle up can turn thousands of lives lost into many more lives saved.

The sheriff’s department thanks everyone for doing their part to make our roads safer by always wearing your safety belts and making sure everyone under the age of 18 is buckled up. 

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Nov. 13)

November 5

  • Received a 911 call from an Individual on Main North Main Street requesting an Ambulance. Brown County Ambulance was paged.
  • Brown County Ambulance transported an Individual from their residence on North Main Street to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Issued a Citation for Speeding, 77 mph in a 65 mph Zone.
  • Received a call from a local Institution regarding two individuals who were obviously impaired. A deputy was dispatched.

November 6

  • Received a call from a Local Institution requesting an Ambulance to take an Individual to the Brown County Hospital. Brown County Ambulance was Paged.
  • Brown County Ambulance transported an Individual from a Local Institution to the Brown County Hospital
  • Received a report of a deer needing to be dispatched approximately one-half mile West of Ainsworth. A deputy was dispatched to the location.
  • Responded to a request for a welfare check on an Individual in Ainsworth. The individual was found to be ok.
  • Responded to a report of Child Abuse in Ainsworth, this incident is still under investigation.

November 7

  • Received a call from the Nature Conservancy regarding a Large Controlled Burn 10 Miles south of Highway 20 on Moon Lake Road.
  • Issued a Citation for not having the proper number of Plates on the vehicle.
  • Released an inmate from the Brown County Jail on Bond

November 8

  • Received a 911 Call for an Ambulance to respond to an Individual coming in and Out of Consciousness South of Long Pine. Dispatcher Paged Ambulance
  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a call South Of Long Pine to an individual going in and out of consciousness South of Long Pine.
  • Received a call regarding a dead deer in the westbound driving lane about a mile west of the 183 Junction. Officer was dispatched to the location.
  • Responded to a call regarding an unauthorized vehicle on an Individuals Property in Ainsworth.

November 9

  • Received a call regarding a hit and run accident in Ainsworth as well as for a vehicle that still had out of state plates even though the owners had been living here for over 6 months.

November 10

  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a call to bring an Air crew in from the Airport to the Brown County Hospital and return them to the Airport.
  • Responded to the report of a Dog found in Ainsworth. The owner was found, and Dog returned.

November 11

  • Received a Call regarding an Individual who had locked his keys in his car. Dispatcher gave the Individual the Phone Numbers of local Locksmiths.
  • Received a call regarding a black cow out on Meadville Ave. Owner was contacted and Cow put back in.
  • Officer responded to a request for a security check at a Long Pine residence.
  • Officer advised dispatch of an open door at a local business. A keyholder was called and the building was secured.

WEEKLY SUMMARY TOTALS

INCIDENT REPORTS:  8

PHONE CALLS: 130

911 CALLS:  9

VIN INSPECTIONS: 3

HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMITS:  2

PAPERS SERVED: 1

* Game and Parks district manager previews deer season

(Posted 2:15 p.m. Nov. 9)

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Northeast District Manager Lucas Negus visited with KBRB’s Graig Kinzie to preview the firearm season.

The conversation is located below.

* Council approves housing rehab application

(Posted 7:15 a.m. Nov. 9)

The Ainsworth City Council tackled a fairly light agenda Wednesday, approving an applicant to its housing improvement loan program.

For those who qualify based off their income or their age, the city of Ainsworth has a pool of either zero percent or low interest funds available for housing improvements. The applicant must live in the home that is being improved.

Based on a recommendation from the city’s housing committee, the council approved an applicant to receive a $25,000 loan to make home improvements at zero percent interest for a period of 20 years.

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl said the city has around $150,000 available to loan for housing improvements. She said there are 11 current loans, and money repaid is then used to make additional loans for owner-occupied home improvements.

“We have had very few issues collecting payments on these loans,” Schroedl said.

In other business Wednesday, with councilman Dustin Barthel absent, the council approved a special designated liquor license request for the Ainsworth Elks to serve alcohol Jan. 13 in the Ainsworth Conference Center during the annual Ainsworth Area Chamber of Commerce gala.

The council approved an administrative subdivision of 5.89 acres at a pivot corner located in the northeast quarter of Section 35, Township 30 North, Range 22 West.

Mayor Joel Klammer said the property is outside the city limits but is a part of the city’s jurisdiction.

Schroedl said the city handles zoning issues within a 1-mile radius of city limits. She said the application complies with the city’s zoning regulations, which require a minimum of 3 acres for a subdivision.

The council approved signing its year-end certification of its streets superintendent to submit to the Nebraska Department of Transportation. Schroedl said that by certifying to the state that the city has a streets superintendent, the city receives an additional $3,000 in highway allocation funding. Lloyd Smith with Niobrara Valley Consultants in Valentine serves as the city’s streets superintendent.

In a final action item Wednesday, the council approved allowing Schroedl to place reserve funds held by the city into products that provide a higher interest rate. Schroedl said the council approved moving fire department reserve funds into a higher interest certificate of deposit during its previous meeting. She said the city has $318,341 in additional reserve funds spread across various accounts that could be placed into either CDs or an NFIT money market account at Union Bank & Trust.

Schroedl said interest rates on CDs are currently 5.25 percent, but the council could opt to place the funds in the NFIT account which provides quicker access to the funds if needed and pay interest monthly at a current rate of 5.15 percent. The NFIT interest rate could fluctuate monthly, while the CD locks in the interest for the full term of the CD.

The council gave Schroedl the authority to place the funds into either CDs or an NFIT account as she sees fit.

During her report, Schroedl said the city continues to have issues with the fire suppression system in the Conference Center. She said a fire sprinkler pipe broke in the attic above the mechanical room, damaging the ceiling. She said the ceiling would need to be cut out to repair the line.

Schroedl said the fire pump in the suppression system also failed and water leaked in the mechanical room. She said major damage was avoided, but substantial repairs to the system would be needed. She told the council the city may have to replace the fire panel on the system, and she recommended installing a concrete barrier in the mechanical room to keep water from flowing onto and damaging the gym floor like has happened in the past.

Schroedl said the city’s 2022 audit was finally filed last week by Dana F Cole Co. The company had filed for extensions to complete the audit, but Schroedl said, had it not been filed by Nov. 5, the city would have lost $150,000 in highway allocation funding from the state. She said the 2023 city audit with AMGL of Grand Island would be conducted Dec. 6-7.

The city administrator reported she is still working to try and obtain $526,000 in reimbursement from FEMA relating to flooding in 2019. She said she had to resend all of the city’s documentation to the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency for the sixth time as the case worker assigned to the city keeps changing.

Schroedl said she continues to try and set a time for the law enforcement contract committee to meet. She said it has been difficult to find a time when everyone is available.

Schroedl said she has been locking the community center at night, but it is being locked earlier than it was when the sheriff’s department was securing the building.

“Locking it up at 8 p.m. is probably not going to work this winter with the building being used for basketball and walking later in the evening,” Schroedl said.

She said there have been issues with individuals trying to remain in the building to sleep, and the response time for the sheriff’s department to remove those individuals has been between 45 minutes to an hour at times.

She thanked Brian Delimont and Amy Salzman for agreeing to open the conference center in the mornings so it can be utilized, including the weekends.

Klammer said the city representatives would discuss the issue when the committee meets.

Councilman Brad Fiala requested residents remove trailers and campers parked on side streets prior to the onset of snow in the city. He said, during the winter, city crews having to plow around campers and trailers parked on side streets creates areas where streets have only one driving lane open.

Prior to adjourning, the council entered into executive session to consider potential settlement of litigation through the League Association of Risk Management, which handles liability issues for the city.

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

* Meadville Avenue speed limit to potentially increase

(Posted 4:30 p.m. Nov. 7)

By a 2-1 vote Tuesday, the Brown County Commissioners approved having Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin move forward with a study to potentially raise the speed limit on Meadville Avenue from 50 mph to 55 mph.

Turpin said the quote he received for the engineering study was $3,500, though he said he might be able to reduce the cost of the study if the company allows him to conduct some of the work needed.

Commissioner Jeremiah Dailey said the board needed to make a final decision on both the speed limit and how far to extend the 35 mph reduced speed zone on the south end of the asphalt.

“My thoughts are to make it 55 mph and move the 35 mph zone north farther,” Dailey said.

Commissioner Buddy Small said he believed the board should leave the speed limit at 50 mph.

“There is not much time savings over 7 miles going 55 mph instead of 50 mph,” Small said. “People are going to drive how they are going to drive, until they get caught. My position is we leave it at 50 mph.”

Turpin said, while there is new asphalt and a new bridge on Meadville Avenue, the road was not widened.

Commissioner Dennis Bauer said he did not believe there was any safety difference increasing the speed limit to 55 mph instead of 50 mph. He said it might actually encourage some drivers to slow down to 55 to 59 mph and believe they wouldn’t be at risk of getting cited. He said, at 50 mph, most drivers are just going to speed.

“I have had way more people ask me to increase it,” Bauer said of the speed limit. “I have driven it. It is hard to go 50 mph.”

With Small voting against, the board approved having the engineering study done to increase the speed limit on Meadville Avenue to 55 mph and for Turpin to recommend an extension of the 35 mph zone on the south end of Meadville Avenue just north of Ainsworth.

Turpin said it may take a couple months to complete the study, and reminded motorists the speed limit remains at 50 mph until the study is complete and final action is taken by the commissioners.

In other business Tuesday, John Erikson with the Nebraska Forest Service visited by phone with the board regarding a grant application he was working to submit on behalf of Brown, Rock and Keya Paha counties for tree removal to lessen the risk of wildfire within 3 to 4 miles of the Niobrara River corridor.

Erikson said, while the river corridor would be a focus of the application, the grant would be versatile and would give the commissioners the authority to approve tree removal projects deemed necessary that are located outside the river corridor.

Erikson said the application is ready to submit and should be competitive. He said there would likely be between 450 and 500 proposals submitted, with about 200 receiving funds for tree removal. Each county would receive $1 million in funding.

“If funded and the project moves ahead, I would like to have a forester involved with the contractor to make sure the documentation is solid,” Erikson said. “It would be the same thing we do on any of our wildland projects.”

If awarded, there would be no cost to the landowners approved by the commissioners for the tree removal. The grant would reimburse the property owner or the county for 100 percent of the cost.

Erikson said the Nebraska Forest Service has existing paperwork that could be modified to serve as an application for landowners if the grant funds are awarded.

Erikson said, after the application is submitted, the U.S. Forest Service checks the applications to determine eligibility. The applications are then sent to a scoring committee during the first part of December.

From there, the applications are ranked and recommended for approval by the Secretary of Agriculture in February. The announcement of the applications funded would be made in the spring, with the funds available in July or August of 2024. Work would not begin until the funds are received.

Brown County Deputy Emergency Manager Jessica Pozehl said the commissioners would still decide which projects in Brown County move forward. She said the grant program would be completely voluntary and would not be forced on any landowners.

The board approved allowing the Nebraska Forest Service to apply for the Stop the Burn grant funding on behalf of Brown County.

The commissioners again discussed making repairs to the Brown County Courthouse roof, and ran into more roadblocks on approving a portion of the work yet this fall.

Dailey said he believed a portion of the work needed to be completed this fall. He said there are gaping holes around the vents with missing rubber boots. In addition to replacing the rubber boots and main cap, all the sealing work needed to be done this fall while the weather holds.

Dailey said Shawn Fernau Construction had agreed to perform the work identified as needing to be completed this fall.

Bauer said, if the board deemed some of the work to be emergency repairs, the commissioners would need to specify which repairs were an emergency.

“Stopping the leaking now would be reasonable, but we need to spell out in the motion exactly what needs to be done and provide a timetable,” Bauer said.

County Attorney Andy Taylor said, since the scope of the work was in excess of $10,000, the commissioners would still need to solicit three informal bids, even though the county had previously advertised for bids for the larger roof repair project.

“When you change the scope of the project, you have to go back out for three informal bids,” Taylor said. “I didn’t write the rules, I am just trying to advise you so you don’t get in trouble.”

Small said the county has tried and tried to find someone willing to do the repair work.

“We found one business willing to do it,” Small said. “No one else was interested after we advertised.”

Taylor said the board held an executive session during its previous meeting to discuss the fact that the owner of the construction company was currently facing charges in court and would potentially have access to the building where documents relating to the case were located.

He said having to find three informal bids was nothing against the contractor who had agreed to the work, the county would have had to go through that process no matter the contractor.

Small said it was unfortunate because, without a pending court case, the work would have already been completed by now.

Dailey moved to have Shawn Fernau Construction move forward with the scope of work identified. That motion died for lack of a second.

Bauer said, “I have to take the county attorney’s advice. That is what he is here for. I am not going to vote to move forward when the attorney is telling us not to. That would be counterproductive.”

The board instead called for a special meeting at 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, and will work in that time to contact additional contractors in an effort to obtain more bids on the modified scope of work. The board would then make a decision during that meeting with the goal of having the work start Nov. 17 to take advantage of the weather.

In other action items Tuesday, the board approved renewing the county’s membership with the Nebraska Intergovernmental Risk Management Association for liability and property insurance coverage. The board acknowledged a letter received from Keating/O’Gara regarding a potential case against the county on behalf of Ruth Micheel. Taylor said NIRMA is aware of the issue and will represent the county in the matter.

The commissioners approved renewing an interlocal agreement with the Lexington Area Solid Waste Agency.

The board also approved a license renewal application for the Brown County Hospital. Hospital Administrator Mirya Hallock said Dr. Kenny Wasmund was now on staff and seeing patients. She said Dr. Campbell would continue to see patients through December and would then stay on after that as the chief of staff to assist where needed.

Hallock said finding adequate staffing is an issue for the hospital as it is for most medical facilities currently. She said the hospital was working with Northeast Community College to have classes held in Ainsworth to assist with training people for needed positions.

The board approved a county burial application for Leslie Bomar. Taylor advised the board to approve the claim. He said Jim Hoch wanted to know ahead of the service if the county approved the application so the bill would get sent to the county instead of the family.

Treasurer Bruce Mitchell presented distress warrants to the commissioners. Mitchell said 48 past-due personal property tax reminders had previously been sent out. After those letters were sent, the number of delinquencies dropped from 48 to six. After going through the sheriff’s department, all but two of the delinquencies had been collected. The two outstanding distress warrants amounted to $226 in personal property tax.

During his report, Turpin said the roads department had extended the culverts on a portion of Meadville Avenue.

Bauer thanked Turpin for widening that area, as it could have led to a potential issue.

“I have had several compliments on the road and the new bridge,” Bauer said.

Turpin said the roads department had been hauling clay on several roads to combat soft spots that had formed. He said the department had also hauled dirt on Rauscher Avenue at Don Fling’s property. Small said he had spoken with Fling, who indicated he was pleased with the way the project was progressing.

Bauer asked Turpin if the county had recouped all of its flood reimbursement money from FEMA and NEMA. Turpin said, off the top of his head, there was about $300,000 that was still outstanding.

“Everything has been turned in, we are just waiting on them to reimburse,” Turpin said.

Bauer asked Turpin to put together an update on the projects that have not yet been reimbursed and present it to the board during an upcoming meeting.

“It would be good to have an update on where we stand,” Bauer said.

In two roads related items, the board approved signing a Standardized System of Annual Reporting, which Turpin said was required for the county to receive its federal highway allocation funding.

The board also approved the year-end certification of Turpin having served as the county’s highway superintendent. Turpin said, by approving the certification, the county receives an additional $9,000 in reimbursement from the state for having a certified highway superintendent on staff.

The commissioners scheduled a special meeting for 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, to tackle the courthouse roof repair project. The next regular meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Nov. 21.

* Nelson named to All-American Bowl

(Posted 3:15 p.m. Nov. 7)

Ainsworth High School senior Carter Nelson has been selected to compete in the 2024 High School Football All-American Bowl and will be recognized with a virtual jersey presentation as part of the Road to the Dome digital series.

The episode with Nelson airs at 7 p.m. CST Wednesday on the All-American Bowl social media platforms.

The Road to the Dome Tour will recognize all 100 All-Americans with virtual jersey presentations during an eight-week series that will be released weekly through various digital and social platforms across NBC Sports.

Having been selected to play in the 24th edition of the All-American Bowl, Nelson will play in the annual East vs. West matchup inside the Alamodome at San Antonio, Texas. The 2024 All-American Bowl will be played January 6 and will air live on the NBC television network and Peacock streaming service.

* Brown County Sheriff’s Department weekly summary

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

October 29

  • Officer responded to a request for a Civil Standby in Long Pine.

October 30

  • Officer issued a Citation for speeding, 79 mph in a 65-mph zone.
  • Long Pine Rural Fire Department Assisted with the burning of Logs and Brush at the Long Pine Dump
  • Brown County Rural Fire Dept Issued a burn permit for 1.5 miles West of Ainsworth
  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a call from a local facility to transport an individual to the Brown County Hospital.
  • Brown County Ambulance Transported a Flight Crew from the Ainsworth Airport to the Brown County Hospital and back to the Airport.

October 31

  • Brown County Ambulance responded to a call from a local facility to transport an individual to the Brown County Hospital
  • Brown County Ambulance Transported a Flight Crew from the Ainsworth Airport to the Brown County Hospital and back to the Airport.
  • Officers responded to a report of theft at a local business. This is an Ongoing Investigation.
  • Brown County Officers were called on to Assist in locating a Violent Individual. Individual was later Located in Valentine

November 1

  • Officer issued a Citation for speeding, 88 mph in a 65-mph zone.
  • Officers were requested to assist another agency locate missing Juveniles. Cherry County later confirmed that the Juveniles had been located.
  • Officers responded to a report of a Domestic Disturbance at a Local Business. This incident is currently under investigation.

November 2

  • Officers Investigated a report of Domestic Disturbance at a local business. This Incident is currently under investigation.
  • Officers responded to a request for a welfare check on a local individual. The individual was found to be Ok.
  • Officers responded to a 911 call on Meadville Ave. Upon arrival at the location that the call came from, an I-Phone was found on the Roadway, and it was indicating that it was calling 911.  Owner of Phone was located, and Phone was returned.

November 3

  • Officers responded to a call regarding suspicious activity behind a Business on Highway 20
  • Officers arrested and Individual for Possession of a Controlled Substance, (Methamphetamine) and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. The individual was then Booked into the Brown County Jail.
  • Received an anonymous report of a vehicle with Oversized Load Banner and Illegal Plates being worked on at a local business. This report was turned over to Nebraska State Patrol for further investigation.

November 4

  • Sheriff’s Office Personnel attended CPR refresher Class.
  • Received reports of an Individual walking Eastbound on Highway 20. Officer had contact with the Individual and advised him what organization to contact to get aid.

WEEKLY SUMMARY TOTALS

INCIDENT REPORTS:  13

PHONE CALLS: 113

911 CALLS:  07

VIN INSPECTIONS:  2

HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMITS:  3

PAPERS SERVED: 3

Monthly Summary Totals for October

INCIDENT REPORTS: 95

PHONE CALLS:  677

911 CALLS:  36

VIN INSPECTIONS: 10

HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMIT: 17

PAPERS SERVED: 10    

* Fire department responds to vehicle accident Oct. 25

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

A two-vehicle accident Wednesday, Oct. 25, prompted the response of the Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department and the Brown County Ambulance Association.

According to the Brown County Sheriff’s Department, at 5:13 p.m. Oct. 25 on Highway 7 near milepost 37, a 2023 SUV, driven by an 85-year-old Ainsworth man, was traveling north when the vehicle struck the mower attachment of a Nebraska Department of Transportation tractor located in the east ditch.

The collision with the mower caused the SUV to roll approximately four times, going through a fence and coming to rest approximately 75 feet from the roadway.

The driver, who was wearing a seatbelt, was transported by the Brown County Ambulance Association to the Brown County Hospital.

The SUV was considered a total loss. The NDOT mower sustained minor damage.

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department has not released the name of the driver.

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 2 p.m. Nov. 1)

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

Ryan W. Tague, age 50, of New Lenox, Ill., charged with speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, fined $75.

Owen R. Pruss, 19, of Fremont, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Efrain Avina-Abarca, 57, of Lexington, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Cooper W. Filipek, 21, of Rapid City, S.D., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Joan T. Bauer, 66, of Spalding, speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Martin Carreon Jr., 25, of West Fargo, N.D., attempting a Class 4 felony, $1,000; also charged with possession of marijuana more than 1 ounce but less than 1 pound, $500.

Jensen R. Williams, 19, of Ainsworth, minor in possession, $300.

Eric M. Borer, 64, of Stuart, speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Mark R. Osiochain, 41, of Omaha, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

George W. Chamberlain, 20, of Ainsworth, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Christian Altamirano Arevalo, 42, of Ainsworth, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Gaylen S. Lewis, 49, of Ainsworth, unlawful or fictitious display of plates, $50; no valid registration, $25.

Jay C. Burrows, 68, of Ainsworth, speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Tylor D. Larson, 24, of Alexandria, Minn., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Elijah M. Clay, 18, of Bassett, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Miguel A. Nataren Martinez, 37, of Goddard, Kan., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

* Ainsworth students compete at Chadron Scholastics

(Posted noon Nov. 1)

Thirty-two Ainsworth High School students competed in Scholastic Day at Chadron State College on October 25. The students took 49 tests and earned third place as a school in Division IV. There were 900 students from about 40 schools competing. Tessa Barthel placed first in the Teaching Presentation competition, earning a medal, a scholarship to Chadron State College, and a sweatshirt. Second place medals were won by Breanna Fernau in Teaching Presentation and Cole Bodeman in American Government.

Placing in the top 25% of their tests were:

Gracie Kinney – 4th in Veterinary Science,

Cole Bodeman – 5th in Advanced Mathematics,

Katherine Kerrigan – 5th in World History and 8th in Psychology,

Korah Dunbar – 5th in Nutrition & Family Health,

Megan Jones – 5th in Animal Science,

Makenzy Cheatum – 5th in Equine Management and 6th in Environmental Science,

Mason Titus – 6th in Business Communication/Vocabulary, and

Emma Kennedy – 8th in Psychology.

Top ten placings, not in the top 25%, included Chloe DeBusk – 8th in Music, and Hannah Beel – 9th in Accounting.

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