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

* Alexa Nicole McKenzie, 16, of Colome, S.D., 10:30 a.m. Oct. 25

* JoLynn Buck, 42, of St. Edward 2 p.m. Oct. 24

* Charles Fernau, 95, of Butte 10:30 a.m. Oct. 23

* Jim Richey, 67, of Wewela, S.D. 10 a.m. Oct. 23

* Lorraine Lopez, 72, of Ainsworth 10 a.m. Oct. 23

* Irma L. Frederickson, 93, of Ainsworth 10 a.m. Oct. 21

* Meeting reports located below for:

Oct. 17 Brown County Commissioners

Oct. 10 Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education

Oct. 5 Ainsworth City Council

Oct. 4 Brown County Commissioners

Sept. 19 Brown County Commissioners

Sept. 14 Ainsworth City Council

{Photo by Jennifer Osborn)

CROSS COUNTRY TEAM WINS STATE - The Ainsworth girls cross country team won the 2017 Class D State Championship Friday at the Kearney Country Club. Pictured are, left to right: Coach Jared Hansmeyer, state individual champion Rylee Rice, CeeAnna Beel, Elizabeth Salzman, Madison Welch, Molly Salzman, Mikki Arens, and assistant coaches Kara Welch and Tami Jacobsen. This is the school's second girls cross country state championship, joining the 2004 team. State cross country results are located on the sports page of the KBRB web site.

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 2:45 p.m. Oct. 19)

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

Tashina Marie Lavellie, age 35, of Valentine, charged with failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, fined $25.

Shannon A. Shultis, 46, of Humbolt, S.D., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

David J. Pennington, 50, of Mesa, Ariz., attempt of a Class 4 felony, $1,000; also charged with possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; and possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Ye Chen, 27, of West Fargo, N.D., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Lynn S. Mary, 57, of Boulder, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

William F. Brant, 44, of Cedar, Minn., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Austin Blades, 21, of Long Pine, licensing a vehicle without liability insurance, $100; failure to use a turn signal, $25; nonresident violation of 30-day immunity, $25.

Bobby L. Hazelwood, 28, of Glenwood, Iowa, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25; nonresident violation of 30-day immunity, $25.

Katherine Jane Pack, 20, of State College, Pa., minor in possession of alcohol, $300; possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Daniel Zamarripa, 35, of Grand Island, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Gregory M. Caulfield, 46, of Ainsworth, speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125; possession of an open alcohol container in a vehicle, $50.

Emrah Karahodzic, 23, of Fargo, N.D., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

SarahA. Haugrud, 26, of Colorado Springs, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Jon E. Anderson, 28, of Bryant, S.D., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

James D. Eckhout, 74, of Amherst, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Conor A. Miller, 35, of Bend, Ore., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Mandy S. Haney, 40, of Dallas, S.D., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Lindale R. Koehn, 52, of Charlo, Mont., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Nicholas Von Blackwood, 36, of Sterling, Va., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Jeffrey R. Backemeyer, 36, of Murdock, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Matthew A. Trotter, 28, of Becker, Minn., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Caryle M. Wilsonanger, 76, of Santa Monica, Calif., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Pedro Chavez Jimenez, 55, of Harvard, no operator’s license, $75; speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Ronny R. Collins, 20, of Englewood, Colo., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Hsae Reh, 18, of Omaha, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Matthew W. Hardesty, 38, of Lincoln, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Dylan C. McCracken, 24, of Glendale, Ariz., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Ashley R. Kristjanson, 32, of West Fargo, N.D., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Jeannette M. Brown, 54, of North Platte, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Cheryl H. Toenyan, 53, of Bayfield, Colo., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Dustin G. Pearson, 37, of Centennial, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Paige M. Bruns, 19, of Springview, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Lori A. Buoy, 51, of Long Pine, second offense driving under the influence, $500, sentenced to 10 days in jail with credit for two days served, six months of probation, driver’s license revoked for 18 months, and ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

Jacob Nelson, 20, of Ainsworth, third-degree assault, sentenced to six months of probation.

Matthew S. O’Nele, 30, of Lincoln, attempt of a Class 4 felony, $1,000.

Ashleigh J. Mientkewicz, 25, of Arvada, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25; no operator’s license, $75.

Amy E. Pitts, 34, of Morrison, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

* Week 7 KBRB Football Contest goes to a tie-breaker as 6 contestants miss just 1 game

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

There has still not been a perfect card submitted through seven weeks of the KBRB Football Contest, though Week 7 did come close. Six contestants missed just one game of the 15 on this week’s card.

Those missing just one game included Mary Beel of Johnstown, Jhett Hollenbeck of Long Pine, Rob Dawkins of Atkinson, and Ruth Kennedy, Carl Chase and Jacque Richey all of Springview.

That sent us to our tie-breaker game, Ohio State’s 56-14 domination of the Huskers.

All six contestants picked the Buckeyes to triumph, so that sent us to the contestants closest to the actual score. Chase picked the Buckeyes, 56-17, missing the total by just three points. That scores Carl Chase the first place, $40 prize.

Jhett Hollenbeck had Ohio State picked by a 48-16, score, missing the final by 10 total points. Hollenbeck edged Rob Dawkins by a single point for the second-place $10 prize, as Dawkins missed it by 11 points with a 48-17 final. Kennedy missed the total by 12 with a 61-21 score. Richey had Ohio State winning, 41-24, missing the total by 25 points, and Beel picked the Buckeyes, 35-21, to miss the final by 28.

Congratulations to Carl Chase of Springview and Jhett Hollenbeck of Long Pine, this week’s winners of the KBRB Football Contest. Winners may pick up their certificates from the KBRB Studios.

Week 8 cards are available from Buckles Automotive, Roadrunner, and the Farmers-Ranchers Cooperative Ampride and Propane and Appliance stores in Ainsworth; from the West Plains Bank of Springview; Circle B Livestock of Bassett; the Central Bar of Stuart; and from the Atkinson Roadrunner.

There is an early deadline for the Week 8 cards, as all of the high school games are scheduled for Thursday. Submit cards to the KBRB Studios by 4 p.m. Thursday. Cards must carry a Thursday postmark this week if mailed.

* Commissioners approve permit for swine farrowing facility, with conditions

(Posted 2 p.m. Oct. 17)

Following weeks of, at times, heated debate on a special-use permit application to construct a sow farrowing facility north of Ainsworth, the Brown County Commissioners Tuesday unanimously approved the permit requested by Jones Finish LLC with several conditions.

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus told those gathered in the Brown County Courtroom this was the toughest decision he has faced during his time as a board member.

“I see both sides,” Wiebelhaus said. “I don’t want to stand in the way of progress, but I don’t want this to turn into a free-for-all. There are ambiguities in the permit, so I want to add conditions.”

Wiebelhaus said he asked Greg Wilke of GJW LLC to meet with Scott Erthum, who resides near the site of the proposed facility, to discuss potential middle ground.

“Their meeting was productive,” Wiebelhaus said.

Among the items agreed to were to invite the neighboring property owners to view the proposed site of the farrowing facility, to have the monitoring wells tested four times annually and notify the neighboring property owners of the test results, and to knife-in all manure applications to farm ground as fertilizer and notify the residents in the area in advance of applying the manure to the fields.

In addition to those items agreed upon, Wiebelhaus said there were additional conditions he wanted included with the permit for it to be approved.

Those included:
* The permit was authorized only to Jones Finish LLC, and could not be reassigned to another operator without going through the application process again.

* The permit authorized only 6,700 head of breeding sows.

* The permit does not allow for any variance of the county’s zoning requirements that any housing units constructed have to include a minimum of 5 acres.

* Test results from the monitoring wells will be submitted to the Brown County Clerk’s office.

* The new permit will rescind the previous special-use permit held by Thad Jones.

* All employees shall be U.S. citizens or have authorization allowing them to work in the U.S.

* The sole purpose of the facility shall be for breeding and farrowing, and not finishing.

* The permit is conditional on the facility receiving approval from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.

* All conditions set forth by the Brown County Planning Commission in their recommendation for approval be adhered to as well.

Wilke told the commissioners those conditions were acceptable to him. He said it is federal law that requires all employees to be legal to work in the U.S.

Wiebelhaus again went through the seven factors the commissioners looked at when determining whether to approve a special-use permit.

Those factors included:

* The permit is compatible with similar uses in the district.

* Not require rezoning of the land.

* Not be detrimental to adjacent property.

* Not depreciate surrounding property value.

* Be compatible with the stated use of the district.

* Not change the character of the district.

* Be in accordance with the county’s comprehensive plan.

Wiebelhaus said some of the factors favored approval of the project. He said the project would negatively affect the value of the structures in the area, but would also likely increase the value of the cropland in the area due to the availability of the manure as fertilizer.

“We try and balance all of these factors,” Wiebelhaus said. “If the conditions are included, these seven factors support putting it in.”
Commissioner Buddy Small said, “No matter what we do, people are going to be unhappy. But, we have to make a decision and deal with the fallout.”

By a 3-0 vote, the board approved the special-use permit application for Jones Finish LLC with the aforementioned conditions included in the approval.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners approved a request by Brad Arens to subdivide 6.7 acres of ground to allow Twin Circle Farms to transfer those acres from the corporation Arens controls to Brad and Mashell Arens personally.

Wiebelhaus said the request satisfied the requirement that the subdivision include at least 5 acres.

The commissioners approved the purchase of a 2008 Chevy pickup with 155,000 miles from First Class Auto at a cost of $10,500 for use by the assessor’s office .

The board received quotes for three vehicles from First Class Auto, and two from Ainsworth Motors.

Assessor Charleen Fox said her department’s first choice was the 2008 Chevy from First Class Auto.

“It sits up high and will help reduce the chance of the vehicle starting a fire with some of the places we have to go,” Fox said.

The commissioners approved renewing membership to the Nebraska Intergovernmental Risk Management Association for an additional three years. Small said the county received a dividend check of $10,601, and would receive an additional $6,364 dividend by renewing its membership for an additional three years.

The dividend serves as a return of a portion of the county’s NIRMA premium when claims submitted to the organization run lower than anticipated.

County Attorney David Streich asked the board to consider allowing him to appoint a deputy county attorney to assist his office for the next 90 days while he handles some medical issues.

“We have three jury trials scheduled back to back for Nov. 9-10, and three more for Nov. 16-17,” Streich said. “My voice is going to be an issue for those upcoming jury trials.”

Streich said he has put some feelers out to attorneys who may be willing to handle a 90-day stint as a deputy county attorney for a rate of $100 per hour, which is equal to the typical rate paid to a public defender. He offered to help cover some of the cost if necessary.

Wiebelhaus said he had worked with numerous county attorneys through his employment with the Nebraska State Patrol, and Streich was among the best he had worked with, as well as one of the most underpaid.

He said some area counties are paying their county attorneys more than $100,000, and Streich is providing the county that service for a little more than $40,000.

The board authorized Streich to find someone willing to assist him for the next 90 days, and declined to have him contribute toward the cost.

The commissioners also approved a revised bid for prisoner meals from Big John’s Restaurant. Big John’s offered to supply a sack lunch for the evening prisoner meal at a cost of $7 in addition to the $9 per meal cost for a hot lunch delivered to the jail.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. Nov. 7.

* Lions Club welcomes new member

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 17)

The Ainsworth Lions Club held its regular monthly meeting Monday, and welcomed new member John Pierce to the club. Pierce was sponsored by Jim Arens.
Recent community activities include picking up trash along Highway 20, spreading new mulch under equipment at the East City Park, and taking tickets at the recent Ainsworth High School football games.
Treasurer Phil Fuchs provided a report on the Brown County Fair concession stand project. Net profits were comparable to profits made in 2016. The Brown County Fair concession stand is one of the major fundraisers for the club. Members expressed appreciation not only to the Lions and volunteers who work the concession stand, but also to the community members who support the stand each year during the Brown County Fair.
Discussion was held about the annual Lions Club Christmas party, which will be held Monday, Dec. 18.
The next regular meeting of the Lions Club is scheduled for noon Monday, Nov. 20, in Local House 20.

* Wednesday traffic stop leads to seizure of 10 pounds of marijuana

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Oct. 16)

The Nebraska State Patrol and Brown County Sheriff’s Department confiscated approximately 10 pounds of marijuana during a traffic stop Wednesday south of Ainsworth.
According to the Nebraska State Patrol, a vehicle was stopped on a speeding charge Wednesday 5 miles south of Ainsworth on Highway 7.
A canine unit from Valentine was brought onto the scene, and gave a positive indication that led to the search of the vehicle.
Troopers uncovered approximately 10 pounds of high-grade marijuana with an estimated value of $50,000. The two occupants of the vehicle, both from Minnesota, were arrested on charges of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and were taken to the Brown County Jail.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

(Posted 6:30 a.m. Oct. 16)

Oct. 8

Responded to a traffic complaint on South Woodward St, Ainsworth.

Investigated a report of suspicious activity on North Wilson St, Ainsworth.

Provided a welfare check on a Long Pine resident.

Responded to a disturbance on North Walnut St, Long Pine.

Oct. 9

Responded to a noise complaint on North Oak St, Ainsworth.

Assisted Ainsworth residents with a report of possible criminal activity on the internet.

Investigated a report of vandalism to a mailbox in rural Ainsworth area.

Responded to a parking complaint at a residence on East 1st St, Ainsworth.

Attempted to locate a possible suicidal subject in Brown County. The NE State Patrol also assisted with this report.

Responded to a report of cattle out on Hwy 183 South of Keller Park.

The Brown Co Ambulance transported two individual patients from the Brown Co Hospital to the Faith Regional Hospital in Norfolk.

Oct. 10

The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued a burn permit for property located North and West of Ainsworth.

Took an individual into Emergency Protective Custody and transported them to Bryan Young in Kearney.

Oct. 11

Received a report of possible child abuse or neglect in Ainsworth.

Responded to a report of a dog at large on North Osborne St, Ainsworth.

Attempted to locate a missing juvenile in Ainsworth. The Ainsworth Fire Dept also assisted with this search.

The Brown Co Ambulance transported an individual from a residence in Ainsworth to the Brown Co Hospital.

The Brown Co Ambulance transported a patient from the Brown Co Hospital to the Great Plains Hospital in North Platte.

Booked a subject into the Brown Co Jail for Possession of Marijuana more than a pound and Possession with Intent to Deliver

 

Oct. 12

Released a subject from the Brown Co Jail on bond.

Oct. 13

Provided traffic control for 180 cow/calf pairs crossing Hwy 20 at Moon Lake Rd.

Investigated a report of a vehicle/ deer accident West of Ainsworth on Hwy 20.

Investigated a two-vehicle accident at the East City Park.

The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued a burn permit for property located West & North of Ainsworth.

Released a subject from the Brown Co Jail on bond

 

Oct. 14

The Brown Co Ambulance transported a patient from the Rock Co Hospital to the Faith Regional Hospital in Norfolk.

The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued a burn permit for property located West & South of Ainsworth.

Investigated a report of suspicious activity on Court St, Ainsworth.

Assisted Long Pine residents with reports of a loud noise.

Weekly Summary
1 - Fix-It Tickets Were Issued.
3 - Handgun Permits Applied For
16 - Incidents Reports Were Taken.
0 - Paper Service Was Served.
154 - Phone Calls Were Received
2 - 911 Emergency Calls Received 
5 - Titles Were Inspected.
0 - Traffic Citations Were Issued.
2 - Verbal & Written Warnings Issued.

* Gentele wins Week 6 KBRB Football Contest

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

Six weeks into the KBRB Football Contest, and the elusive perfect card has still not been submitted. In fact, there was only one card turned in this week that missed two games, and that belonged to Marc Gentele of Ainsworth.

Gentele missed just one game on the high school side, which was Clearwater-Orchard’s 14-12 win over Burwell. His only college miss was Michigan State’s 14-10 upset in the Big House against rival Michigan. That game was the most widely missed on this week’s contest as the Top 10 rated Wolverines were beaten for the first time.

Gentele wins the $40 first-place prize for Week 6.

Figuring out second place was a little trickier, as there were six cards submitted that missed three games. Those cards belonged to Hannah Beel of Johnstown, Darlene Gantt of Stuart, Hazel Chase of Springview, and Ryan Salzman, Brent Goeken and Patty Finley of Ainsworth.

Heading to the tie-breaker, Wisconsin’s 38-17 victory over the Huskers, Goeken, Beel and Chase each correctly picked the Badgers to win, while Gantt, Finley and Salzman had faith in the Huskers.

Beel picked the Badgers to win, 70-14, missing the total by 35 points. Chase and Goeken were extremely close to the 38-17 final, with Chase picking the Badgers, 35-18, and Goeken taking Wisconsin, 35-16. With the two missing the Badgers’ score by three and the Huskers each by one, on the low and high sides respectively, that sent us to our second tie-breaker, which is the card submitted earliest.

Both cards carried a Thursday postmark, so by judge’s ruling, Goeken and Chase will each receive $10 prizes for tying for second place.

Winners may pick up their prizes from the KBRB Studios.

Week 7 cards are available now from Buckles Automotive, Roadrunner, and the Farmers-Ranchers Cooperative Ampride and Propane and Appliance stores in Ainsworth; from the West Plains Bank of Springview; Circle B Livestock of Bassett; the Central Bar of Stuart; and from the Atkinson Roadrunner.

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

* Peterson discusses upcoming school activities during Open Line Tuesday

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

Ainsworth Community Schools Superintendent Darrell Peterson appeared on KBRB's Open Line program Tuesday to discuss notes from Monday's Board of Education meeting and go through upcoming activities on the school calendar.
To hear the report, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Open Line-ACS Mr Peterson 10-10-17.mp3

* Ainsworth graduates score higher than average on ACT

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 10)

The 2017 graduating class at Ainsworth High School who took the ACT scored well above the state and national averages, according to a report presented to the Board of Education Monday.

Superintendent Darrell Peterson reported 26 seniors from the 2017 graduating class took the ACT during their senior year, and finished with an average composite score of 22.1. That is above the state average score of 21.4 and the national average of 21.0.

“Nebraska has one of the highest state average scores, and we were better than the state average,” Peterson said.

The 22.1 average score equaled 2014-15 for the highest in the past five years, and the best average score since the 2010-11 graduating class scored an average of 22.6, which was a 15-year high.

Secondary Principal Bill Lentz said the Ainsworth seniors were equal to the state average in math, and were well above the average in the English, reading and science categories.

For the first time, due to state legislation, all juniors took the ACT during the 2016-17 year, with Ainsworth’s 35 juniors scoring an average of 19.4. That average was just above the state average of 19.3 in the first year all juniors were required to take the test.

Peterson said everybody expected the scores to go down with every student now taking the test, which they did.

Lentz said Ainsworth’s scores did not fall off a lot, even with all students required to take the test.

“We were not disappointed in the scores,” Lentz said.

In other business Monday, Peterson reported lunch participation through the first stage of the school year is pacing 10 percent ahead of the 2016-17 year.

“Breakfast participation is also ahead of last year, and last year was the best breakfast participation we have had,” the superintendent said.

He reported a design company has been contacted to provide options for an ag building, and board members were planning a trip Oct. 26 to view agricultural education facilities built by other schools.

In the only action item on Monday’s agenda, the board approved the annual Multicultural Education Report, which certified to the state the school was providing a multicultural education program to its students. Peterson said there were no real changes from the previous year’s report.

Elementary Principal Mike Wentz reported 90 percent of elementary parents attended the recent parent-teacher conferences, and the teachers made contact with the parents who could not attend.

Lentz reported Mark Adler, the superintendent at Ralston Public Schools, would be in Ainsworth Oct. 24. Adler lost a son to suicide, and Lentz said he does a good job speaking to students on a difficult topic.

Lentz said John Baylor would be in Ainsworth in November for an ACT prep program. Baylor provides an ACT prep program throughout the Midwest.

The secondary principal reported he has started a new intervention program to help students who are struggling. The Student Success Team meets every other Wednesday morning to create interventions to help students struggling in the classroom.

Peterson reported it looked like the school would make the cut line on the number to be eligible to participate in eight-man football for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He said 47 boys in the three class years was the maximum allowed to participate in eight-man football, and that is the exact number for those three Ainsworth grades. He said the enrollment was submitted to the Nebraska School Activities Association Sept. 29.

The Board of Education will hold a work session at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10, for a follow-up community engagement session with representatives from the Nebraska Association of School Boards. The Tuesday session will be held in the school cafeteria.

The next regular meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education is set for Nov. 13. The board meetings will move to 7 p.m. beginning in November and continuing through March.

* Fischer's constituent services rep will host office hours in area Oct. 16

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 9)

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer announced her staff will hold local office hours in Brown, Rock, and Holt counties on Monday, Oct. 16. The office hours serve as an opportunity for constituents to meet personally with Fischer’s staff to receive help with casework and other issues at the federal level.
Tiffany Settles, Fischer’s constituent services representative and outreach coordinator, will hold local office hours at from 10:30 until 11:30 a.m. in the Long Pine City Office, from noon until 1 p.m. in the Rock County Library, and from 2 until 3 p.m. in the Atkinson City Office.

* Work to begin next week on Highway 281 north of O'Neill

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 9)

Weather permitting, work is scheduled to begin the week of Oct. 16 on Highway 281 at Eagle Creek, 18 miles north of O’Neill, according to the Nebraska Department of Transportation.
A&R Construction Co., of Plainview has the $217,487 contract. Work will consist of concrete pavement repair. Traffic will be controlled with reduced speeds and traffic signals.
The anticipated completion date for this project is November. The Department of Transportation’s project manager is Carl Hart of Ainsworth.
Motorists are asked to drive cautiously through construction zones.

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Oct. 9)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a one-vehicle accident that occurred Friday, Oct. 6, in western Brown County.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 9:44 p.m. Friday on Highway 20 approximately 2 miles west of Johnstown, a 2012 Ford sport-utility vehicle, driven by Jessica Bartak, 23, of Long Pine, was traveling east when the vehicle struck a deer in the roadway.
No persons were injured during the accident. Damage to the Ford was estimated at $5,000.

* Sheriff's department seeks information regarding burglaries in Ainsworth, Long Pine

(Posted 12:45 p.m. Oct. 5)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department is seeking information from the public regarding a burglary that occurred early Tuesday morning in Long Pine.

According to the sheriff’s department, sometime between 1 and 8 a.m. Tuesday, someone broke into the Sandhills Lounge by forcibly gaining entry through the building’s south door. The suspect removed several bottles of alcohol and numerous packs of Marlboro Light cigarettes.

The suspect was wearing dark clothing and a back pack.

The sheriff’s department is also seeking information regarding an attempted burglary in Ainsworth that occurred during the overnight hours Wednesday.

Someone attempted to gain entry into the Ainsworth Star-Journal through a back door. The suspect injured himself during the attempt.

Anyone with information regarding either of these matters is encouraged to call the Brown County Sheriff’s Department at 402-387-1440 or Crime Stoppers at 402-382-3121. All callers remain anonymous, and information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for these crimes could result in a cash reward of up to $1,000.

* City Council to revisit properties flagged for nuisance violation abatement

(Posted 12:30 p.m. Oct. 5)

The Ainsworth City Council plans to tour the community and revisit the properties that were scheduled for nuisance violation abatement during the past three years and make a determination on which of those properties will need to have the nuisances abated by the city.

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl told the council Wednesday a few of the nuisance violations flagged for abatement had been addressed by the Board of Health. She suggested the council form a subcommittee to view the properties, with the council opting instead to have Greg Soles and Chuck Osborn view the nuisance properties flagged in 2016, and Deb Hurless and Brian Williams view the nuisance properties identified in 2015.

Hurless said, “Most of it should just be cleanup, and I think the city guys can probably clean some of the places up and bill it back to the property owners. We just need to get it done before the snow hits.”

Williams said, as long as the council members were driving around the city to view the properties flagged for abatement, they may as well check for any new nuisance violations as well.

Mayor Larry Rice asked Schroedl when the sheriff’s department would begin issuing tickets for observed violations to the city’s nuisance ordinances.

Schroedl said the ticket books would be distributed to the deputies as soon as they are finished printing. She suggested that the sheriff’s department issue nuisance citations to the properties now that the city has that option available, in addition to the nuisance abatement orders that were previously issued.

The council gave preliminary approval to rezone four lots in the Woodward’s addition to the city from an R-1 residential zone to an M-1 light industrial zone.

Schroedl said Frontier Diesel owns the four lots and plans to expand its business to the west.

“Frontier Diesel wants to put up a new shop, and right now it is zoned as residential,” Schroedl said.

The Ainsworth Planning Commission recommended the council approve the rezoning. There was a question as to whether the city needed to hold a public hearing on the rezoning, as it was listed on Wednesday’s agenda as a regular business item.

The council approved the rezoning pending the city attorney’s opinion on whether the council needed to hold a public hearing on the rezoning matter.

The council also granted a conditional-use permit for a new building in Hall’s Second Addition, Block 3, Lots 4 and 5. Schroedl said the building will be built for use by a contractor and repair service shop.

The council reappointed Evan Evans and RoseMary Saner to additional three-year terms on the Ainsworth Betterment Committee.

The consent agenda approved Wednesday included approval of a special designated liquor license application for the Sandhills Lounge to serve alcohol during the Sandhills Chapter Pheasants Forever banquet Nov. 3 in the Ainsworth Conference Center.

During her report, Schroedl said she has received several excellent applications for the administrative assistant position the city has advertised to hire. She said she and Rice are starting to conduct interviews and hoped to make a decision by next week.

She reported the city also hired a part-time sanitation worker to fill in temporarily until parks manager JC Clopton can complete his park duties and begin assisting with the sanitation department.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 8.

* Commissioners again postpone decision on permit for swine farrowing facility

(Posted 10 a.m. Oct. 4)

The Brown County Commissioners Tuesday listened to more than three hours of debate on the merits of a special-use permit application to construct swine farrowing barns north of Ainsworth.

Commissioner Buddy Small said he received an email from County Attorney David Streich indicating Streich was waiting to receive opinions from attorneys with the Nebraska Association of County Officials and the Nebraska Intergovernmental Risk Management Association before providing a legal opinion to the board on the permit.

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus said he called the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality in the past week.

“I was under the assumption the permit had already been approved there,” Wiebelhaus said. “I was told a decision will not be made until 10 to 14 days after the public comment period ends, which was yesterday. Dave Streich has recommended we wait to make a decision.”

Commissioner Les Waits said, until he saw the permit approved by the DEQ, he was not prepared to make a decision on the special-use permit.

After stating during a public hearing Sept. 19 that no additional public comment would be allowed, Small Tuesday said he had reversed that decision and would allow additional testimony.

Opening the floor to discussion, Kim Snyder told the commissioners the public’s rights had been violated. Snyder said the Brown County zoning office states that all records for the office are to be kept in the county attorney’s office.

“Those public records may not be kept at a private home or in a vehicle,” Snyder said. “The records must be available to the public for review. It is a depravation of my rights to review and copy these public documents, and has put me at a disadvantage to make comments during the hearings.”

Snyder said, due to the violation, the only remedy for the county was to start the process over.

“Those records were not in the county attorney’s office, and I formally request the current application be thrown out and resubmitted,” Snyder said.

Cheryl Mizner told the commissioners almost 100 percent of the homeowners in the area near the facility are opposed to its expansion.

“I have problems with the special-use permit application not being specific enough,” Mizner said. “The number of additional swine is not included.”

Mizner accused the zoning administrator and Planning Commission of deliberately setting its hearing date the night prior to the commissioners’ meeting to keep people from being able to research the application and speak.

“Planning Commission meetings are set arbitrarily by the zoning administrator,” Mizner said. “Their ethical duties to conduct business have been violated.”

Chris Stewart told the commissioners she visited the Brown County Courthouse Friday and asked for a copy of the permit application. Stewart claimed she was asked by the zoning administrator why she wanted a copy, and then claimed the zoning administrator stated he didn’t have a copy of the permit because it was in his home.

“I asked him to get the permit, and he told us no,” Stewart claimed. “I told him that was a violation of our rights.”

Stewart said a copy of the application was then produced.

“I have video of this interaction,” she said.

Danny Bennett, who has a home one mile south of the proposed expansion site, said it was a mystery to him why the few people with something to gain from this expansion have no compassion for the people who have everything to lose.

“The people in northern Brown County are being asked to bend over and take one for the team for the benefit of a few people,” Bennett said.

Kathy Bennett said, right now, the smell is tolerable.
“When it gets bad, we go inside,” she said. “I am all for improvements in the county, but my heart’s cry is, I don’t want this. We love it out there, and we don’t want to be forced to leave.”

Gene Snyder told the commissioners he believed the entire process was set up so it could slide through as quietly as possible.

“That didn’t happen, and it has caused a lot of hard feelings,” Snyder said. “This has divided the county. We are the collateral damage when we hear that the benefits outweigh the damage. That is not true for the people who live out there.”

Planning Commissioner Pat Schumacher said he had been a member of the commission for more than 20 years, and he was disappointed to hear that people believe something underhanded had gone on.

“That is not the case, I assure you,” Schumacher said.

Schumacher said accusations that he had a business relationship with GJW, creating a conflict of interest that should have kept him from voting on the permit, were unfounded.

Attorney Dave Jarecke, representing GJW, said he disagreed with many of the comments made to the commissioners Tuesday.

“Everybody is here because they want what is best for this county,” Jarecke said. “They want to see something positive for the county, and they want the county to grow.”

Jarecke said the numerous GJW employees in attendance Tuesday were there because they wanted to be there, not because they were told to be.

“They are here because they know their boss does things the right way,” Jarecke said.

He told the commissioners the application has followed the proper procedure, going to a hearing in front of the Planning Commission.

“The application received unanimous support from the Planning Commission,” Jarecke said. “Your job is to take that recommendation and review it on its merits. Your job is to review it to see if it meets the zoning criteria. There is an application process here, and we are following the rules within that process.”

GJW employee Kelsey Evans said, when she moved back to the community, she had difficulty finding employment.

“I didn’t necessarily want to work at the hog farm, but they were hiring,” Evans said. “I love it out there. They provide great benefits, and as a single mom I was able to buy a house, and buy a vehicle. I am contributing to this county. I pay property tax too. I came here to support a good man, and a good company.”

GJW employee Mark Snover said he has heard many different claims about the economics of the proposed expansion.

“I come to this town at least twice a week,” Snover said. “I don’t live here, but I eat here often, I pick up groceries here, I stop at Bomgaars, at Shopko, at Keller’s. If I didn’t work here, I wouldn’t spend any money in your community. I have heard people say that people who don’t live here won’t spend money here, and I want to tell you that is not true.”

Dean Settje with Settje Engineering of Raymond told the commissioners his firm has 31 staff members who handle the construction, engineering and environmental compliance on these facilities.

“We have permitted more than 1,300 facilities,” Settje said. “I want to shed some light on some of the misinformation out there.”

Settje said the application process for these facilities through the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality is well-established.

“The first step covers information about the design of the facility and how it will protect groundwater and surface water,” Settje said. “The facilities are designed to meet the standards, and then inspected to ensure the facilities are meeting the specifications.”

He said the facilities are constructed to ensure there is no run-off.

“This will be a closed facility, with a lagoon,” Settje said. “It is almost impossible to have run-off. We put in a synthetic liner to ensure the holding pond does not leech into the groundwater. We have built more than 100 of these facilities across the state, and we have not had any problems.”

Settje said his company also serves as a third-party groundwater monitor.

“GJW is required to test the monitoring wells through a third party,” Settje said. “The county is not required to test, and the Natural Resources District is not required to test. The wells are tested twice each year to make sure the facility is not having an influence on the groundwater.”

Wiebelhaus asked what the remedy would be if a groundwater violation was detected.

Settje said, “We had this in Kearny County several years ago with a 30-year-old pond that did not have a liner. The DEQ contacted the owner, and a plan was designed to remove the old pond and put in a new pond with a liner. That was done in 2012, and the problem is now gone.”

Settje said the system planned for construction at this site was the best available, and was one of the most costly.

“Greg Wilke has never had an environmental violation,” Settje said. “His track record is spotless. He is as good as it gets when it comes to his track record.”

Jarecke told the commissioners, in terms of the special-use permit that was recommended for approval by the Planning Commission, it was important to note there were conditions included with that recommendation.

Those conditions, Jarecke said, include that the facility comply with all DEQ rules, comply with all state and federal rules, and comply with all NRD rules.

He encouraged the commissioners to consider the permit on its merits.

Wiebelhaus said he has received more than 100 phone calls regarding the permit, with the opinion divided right down the middle.

“Would the sides that are so strongly for this and so strongly against this be willing to sit down and try to work something out?” Wiebelhaus asked. “I think there is some middle ground somewhere. I would love to see that happen, and it would probably be better to try that first instead of both sides putting all their eggs in one basket with a decision from us.”

GJW owner Greg Wilke said he would be willing to meet with homeowners in the area, but he stressed to the commissioners there was a timetable for the project, and if a decision was not rendered soon he would have to look at constructing the facility in another county.

“With the genetics we have and the export opportunity, there is a timetable here,” Wilke said. “If the commissioners would agree to make a decision at your next meeting, I am willing to meet with people every day until then. Let’s work on finding a solution. I wish the county would have specific rules in place instead of regulating based on emotion.”

Small said the county attorney wants to seek additional information, and he intended to wait until the county attorney receives those answers before voting on the permit application.

Wiebelhaus said he wanted the two sides to meet and try to work something out to minimize the harm to area property owners. He encouraged Wilke to meet with Scott Erthum to try and find some middle ground.

“Scott seems to be the most reasonable person here who is opposed to this,” Wiebelhaus said.

Wilke and Erthum agreed to meet and discuss the project.

The commissioners took no action, and the item will be placed on the board’s Oct. 17 agenda.

* Commissioners approve seeking bids to replace assessor's pickup

(Posted 7 a.m. Oct. 4)

For the second time in as many meetings, the Brown County Commissioners Tuesday spent more than three hours listening to people’s opinions regarding a proposed swine farrowing facility north of Ainsworth, but again opted to take no action on the special-use permit application submitted by Thad Jones.

KBRB will have a complete rundown of the testimony given to the commissioners during Thursday’s newscast.

In other items Tuesday prior to the board moving to the courtroom to handle the overflow crowd for the special-use permit discussion, the commissioners discussed purchasing a pickup for the county assessor’s office after Deputy Assessor Peggy Gross said their current pickup was experiencing major problems.

Gross said the 1994 GMC pickup was leaking oil and red transmission fluid.

“It has some major problems,” Gross said.

Assessor Charleen Fox said her office needed a reliable, four-wheel drive vehicle as it took numerous trips into the countryside this time of year to assess rural houses and outbuildings.

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus said it didn’t make sense to put $3,000 worth of repairs into a $500 pickup.

The board agreed to advertise for a used pickup, and Wiebelhaus said he would visit with both local vehicle dealers to get informal bids on used pickups or SUVs.

The commissioners met with Brown County Rural Fire Chief Doug Rau, and gave the go-ahead for the rural fire district to purchase 1 acre of property in the northwest corner of the Highway 7 and Elsmere Road intersection for the construction of a new Raven Fire Hall.

Rau said the fire hall would be set back 25 feet from the property line. The board discussed whether any kind of zoning approval was needed, but since the building was not a residence, the typical 5 acres of property required for a subdivision was not required.

The commissioners accepted the resignation of Brown County Weed Control Superintendent Matt Wambold after one season in the position. Wambold also submitted his resignation as a deputy sheriff effective Oct. 10.

The board discussed advertising for the weed superintendent position, but opted to wait until January as a superintendent would not be needed again until the spring.

Treasurer Deb Vonheeder presented the commissioners with the annual distress warrant report and delinquent tax report.

Vonheeder said, for the first time since she has been treasurer, all distress warrants were collected. She said there was a total of $20,584 in delinquent property tax from the 2015 year and prior.

The board acknowledged both reports.

Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin provided the board with an annual report of Brown County Roads Department activity that was to be submitted to the Nebraska Department of Transportation.

Turpin said the report was required for the county to receive its highway allocation funding from the Department of Transportation, which amounted to $581,624 for the 2016-17 year, with an additional $57,301 in federal highway street buyback program funding and $34,917 in bridge buyback funds.

The board approved having Turpin submit the report.

Turpin said the roads department has been blading roads and repairing small washouts after the recent moisture the county received.

“A lot of culvert problems have been showing up with all the rain,” Turpin said. “We have beavers plugging some culverts. We will apply for a permit and try to get them trapped.”

Commissioner Buddy Small discussed purchasing a 55-gallon drum of mineral oil to place onto the new concrete at the Brown County Courthouse to help protect against any damage from spreading salt on the concrete to remove ice.

Small said the drum of mineral oil would cost $550, but he did not mind spending that to protect the $28,000 of new concrete the county recently had poured at the courthouse. The board approved the purchase.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. Oct. 17. Again, KBRB will have a report from the three hours of discussion on the swine farrowing facility permit application north of Ainsworth during Thursday’s newscast.

* Estill, Beel win KBRB Football Contest for Week 5

(Posted 10:30 p.m. Oct. 3)

Through five weeks, KBRB continues to stump the best football prognosticators in the area, as three misses were good enough to be in the running for the prizes in the Week 5 Football Contest.

Seven cards had three incorrect games chosen. Those cards belonged to Marc Gentele and Brent Goeken of Ainsworth, Jenny Beel of Johnstown, Carl Chase of Springview, Richard Cleary and Jim Slaymaker of Atkinson, and Jean Estill of Amelia. Slaymaker missed one high school game and two on the college side, while the other six contestants had two incorrect picks on the high school side and one miss on the college side.

That sent us to the tie-breaker, Nebraska’s 28-6 victory over Illinois. All seven had Nebraska picked to win. Picking a score of 31-17 Huskers to miss the total by 14 points was Jean Estill of Amelia. Jean wins the $40 first-place prize for the week.

Picking a Husker victory by a 27-21 score to miss the total by 16 points, Jenny Beel of Johnstown takes the second-place, $10 prize.

Brent Goeken and Carl Chase each missed the total score by 18 points, Richard Cleary missed by 25 points, Jim Slaymaker by 28, and Marc Gentele missed the total by 31 points.

Thanks to everyone for playing, as there have been a huge number of cards turned in each week.

Winners may pick up their certificates from the KBRB Studios.

Week 6 KBRB Football Contest Cards are available from Buckles Automotive, Roadrunner, and the Farmers-Ranchers Cooperative Ampride and Propane and Appliance stores in Ainsworth, the West Plains Bank of Springview, Circle B Livestock of Bassett, the Central Bar of Stuart, and from the Atkinson Roadrunner.

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

* Agenda for Wednesday's Ainsworth City Council meeting

(Posted 10 p.m. Oct. 3)

Ainsworth City Council agenda
Meeting 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4
Ainsworth Conference Center

I.                    ROUTINE BUSINESS

a.       Announcement of Open Meetings Act

b.      Roll Call

c.       Pledge of Allegiance

 

II.                  CONSENT AGENDA – All items approved with the passage of one motion.

a.       Approve minutes from the September 13, 2017 City Council Meetings

b.      Approval of Claims

c.       Approval of end of fiscal year 2016-17 claims

d.      Treasurer’s Report

e.      Department Head Reports

f.        Application for special designated liquor license for Sandhills Lounge to serve alcohol at the Ainsworth Conference Center for the Pheasant Forever Banquet on November 3, 2016 from 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

 

*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 of the Agenda.

 

III.                MAYOR’S APPOINTMENTS AND REPORT

a.       Mayor’s Report

b.      Ainsworth Betterment Committee (3-year term) – Reappointment of Evan Evans and RoseMary Saner with terms ending 10/14/2020

 

IV.                PUBLIC HEARINGS

a.       None

 

V.                  OLD BUSINESS

a.       Review of abated properties from 2014, 2015 and 2016

 

VI.                REGULAR AGENDA

a.       Consider the recommendation by the Planning Commission regarding:

                                                             i.      Rezoning of Woodward’s Block 1, Lots 6, 7, 8 and 9 from an R-1 to an M-1

                                                           ii.      Granting of a conditional use permit for contractor and repair services on Hall’s 2nd Addition, Block 3, Lots 4 and 5

b.      City Administrator/Clerk/Treasurer Report

* September is seventh wettest in city's history

(Posted 11 a.m. Oct. 2)

Ainsworth Weather Observer Gerry Osborn recorded 4.85 inches of moisture in September, making the month the seventh wettest September in the city's history.
The year-to-date moisture total rose to 26.75 inches, which is 6.59 inches above the average through the first nine months of the year.
To hear the complete September weather summary, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Weather Observer Gerry Osborne September 2017 summary.mp3

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

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

Sept. 24

  • Assisted an individual with a report of the possible violation of a protection order.

    Sept. 25

  • Received a report of a Long Pine resident possibly needing assistance from Adult Protective Services.

  • The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued a burn permit for property located East and North of Ainsworth.

    Sept. 26

  • Assisted an individual with a report of threats in Brown County.

  • Responded to a report of two dogs running at large on North Main St Ainsworth.

  • Responded to a report of a stray dog on East 1st St Ainsworth.

    Sept. 27

  • Provided traffic control for 100 head of cattle crossing Hwy 20, West of Ainsworth.

  • The Brown County Ambulance transported a patient from the Brown Co Hospital to Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney.

    Sept. 28

  • Responded to a report of a possible abandoned vehicle on Hwy 20 East of Hwy 183.

  • Investigated a report of suspicious activity on Hwy 20 in Ainsworth.

  • Assisted the US Marshall’s Office with the service of a federal warrant.

  • Arrested a subject on a Buffalo Co Warrant and booked them into the Brown Co Jail, on hold.

  • Assisted an elderly Ainsworth resident with a faulty fire alarm.

    Sept. 29

  • Investigated a two-vehicle accident without injury on 2nd & Oak St in Ainsworth.

  • Responded to a disturbance at the courthouse.

  • Responded to a report of a vehicle that was broken down on Hwy 20 near Johnstown.

    Sept. 30

  • Provided a civil standby while subjects collected personal property from a residence on Oak St Ainsworth.

  • Investigated a hit and run accident on 3rd & Pine in Ainsworth. A citation was issued for leaving the scene of an accident.

  • Investigated a report of juveniles without proper supervision in Long Pine.

  • Investigated a report of property damage in Long Pine.

  • Responded to a report of a reckless driver, West of Ainsworth.

  • Assisted an out of county resident with a report of a disturbance in Ainsworth

    Weekly Summary
    0 - Fix-It Tickets Were Issued.
    2 - Handgun Permits Applied For
    20 - Incidents Reports Were Taken.
    4 - Paper Service Was Served.
    133 - Phone Calls Were Received
    2 - 911 Emergency Calls Received 
    3 - Titles Were Inspected.
    1 - Traffic Citations Were Issued.
    5 - Verbal & Written Warnings Issued.

    October Summary
    7 - Arrests
    88 - Calls for Service 
    16 - Citations were issued
    3 - Defect Cards issued
    8 - Handgun permits issued
    18 - Paper Service served
    700 - Phone calls were received
    24 - 911 emergency calls received
    13 - Titles inspected
    31 - Verbal & Written Warnings issued

* Traffic Accident

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

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a two-vehicle accident that occurred Saturday, Sept. 30, in Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 1 a.m. Saturday on East Second Street east of the Pine Street intersection, a 2003 Ford sedan, driven by Thomas Ward, 37, of Ainsworth, was traveling west and struck a parked 2009 Freightliner semi, owned by GBH Trucking of Ainsworth.
No injuries were reported. Damage to the Ford was estimated at $2,500. The Freightliner sustained approximately $1,500 damage.

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 1:15 p.m. Sept. 29)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a two-vehicle accident that occurred Friday, Sept. 29, in Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 7:57 a.m. Friday on East Second Street at the Oak Street intersection, a collision occurred between a southbound 1983 Dodge pickup, driven by Bill Worden, 53, of Ainsworth, and a westbound 2003 Chevy Impala, driven by Elizabeth Goshorn, 44, of Ainsworth.
No injuries were reported. Damage to the Dodge was estimated at $50. The Chevy sustained approximately $1,000 damage.

* State Supreme Court fails to reverse decision denying licenses to White Clay stores

(Posted 1:15 p.m. Sept. 29)

The Nebraska Supreme Court published its decision Friday in Kozal v. Nebraska Liquor Control Commission, effectively upholding the commission’s denial of the liquor license renewal applications of the four liquor stores at Whiteclay.

The Supreme Court determined that it lacked jurisdiction over the appeal because the Lancaster County District Court first lacked jurisdiction. Further appeal under the Administrative Procedure Act is no longer viable for the storeowners. The result is the four liquor stores at Whiteclay will remain without liquor licenses.  

In response to the decision, Attorney Gen. Doug Peterson said, “Having properly applied the law, the Nebraska Supreme Court rightly vacated the District Court’s order regarding the Whiteclay liquor licenses.  I commend the work of Solicitor General Jim Smith and Assistant Attorney General Milissa Johnson-Wiles in this case. Today’s decision affords an opportunity to write a hopeful chapter in the story of Whiteclay.” 

Nebraska 43rd District State Sen. Tom Brewer, in whose district the stores are located, said, “I think Nebraska has lived up to its state motto today: Equality before the law. The Supreme Court ruling has brought law and order to a forgotten corner of Nebraska. I was glad to see the law applied to Whiteclay with the same enthusiasm it would have been applied to any other part of the state. I’m glad the era of suffering and disgrace is over in Whiteclay.”

Brewer said, since beer sales ended in April, new businesses have started in White Clay and condemned buildings have been razed.

“The predicted flood of alcohol-related problems in surrounding communities has not materialized,” Brewer said. “Streets once plagued with public intoxication, vagrancy, assaults, rape, and unsolved murder are now peaceful. The drain on Sheridan County emergency services and law enforcement is a fraction of what it once was. The healing of a town once called ‘The Skid Row of the Plains’ has started.”

Brewer said the root cause of the problems in Whiteclay are over a century old and didn’t magically disappear by closing a beer store. 

“The fact there is a State Line in the middle of this discussion cannot stop the inter-state and inner-agency solutions we need to work toward,” Brewer said. “I will continue to work in close partnership with concerned citizens in the district, other senators in the Legislature, with Sheridan County officials, with Gov. Ricketts, with representatives from the South Dakota Legislature, with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and with the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe. The Court Decision has given us an opportunity we must build upon, something I really look forward to continuing.”

* Assistance available for livestock producers with hail-damaged pastures

(Posted 9 a.m. Sept. 28)

Area livestock producers who received hail from the recent storms on their grass pastures can apply for the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program.
Tom Chohon, County Executive Director of the Ainsworth Farm Service Agency Office, said the program provides financial assistance to producers who had to remove livestock from the hail affected pastures or had to feed additional quantities of feed to maintain the livestock until additional feed becomes available.
A notice of loss must be filed within 30 calendar days of the disaster event. Additionally, landowners with take-in cattle may or may not qualify, depending on the lease arrangement, for the ELAP program.
For more information, contact the Ainsworth FSA Office at 402-387-2242, ext. 2.

* Klein awarded Air Force Achievement Medal

(Posted 8:15 a.m. Sept. 28)

Air Force Capt. Kevin E. Klein has been decorated with the Air Force Achievement Medal.
The medal is awarded to individuals for performing meritorious service, acts of courage, or other outstanding achievements or accomplishments on behalf of the Air Force.
Klein is currently serving as Alpha Assistant/Flight Commander, B1-B Wing Staff Officer with 34th Bomb Squadron, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D. He has served in the military for five years.
Klein is the son of Sheryl and Milton Klein of Valentine.

* Pilot in Saturday plane crash identified as 69-year-old Wisconsin man

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 27)

Brown County Attorney David Streich on Tuesday identified the pilot killed Saturday in a crash northeast of the Ainsworth Regional Airport.
Streich said the plane that crashed Saturday morning was piloted by Dr. Robert Cook, 69, of Kenosha, Wis.
While Cook’s primary residence was Kenosha, he did also own property in Brown County.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Sept. 27)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a one-vehicle accident that occurred Saturday, Sept. 23, southwest of Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on 430th Avenue at the Road 877 intersection, a 1997 Ford Escort, driven by Grace Porter, 19, of Ainsworth, was traveling south and attempted to turn east onto Road 877 when the vehicle slid off the roadway and into the south ditch.
Two passengers in the Ford – Rebecca Hefflinger, 36, of Ainsworth, and Elizabeth Coran, 19, of Ainsworth, were treated at the Cherry County Hospital for injuries suffered during the accident.

* Lentz appears on Open Line Tuesday

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

Ainsworth High School Principal Bill Lentz was KBRB's guest Tuesday for Open Line. To hear the conversation, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Open Line-ACS Mr Lentz 9-26-17.mp3

* Gambill picks perfect tie-breaker score to win Week 4 KBRB Football Contest

(Posted 1:45 p.m. Sept. 26)

There was a five-way tie atop the standings this week in the KBRB Football Contest. It was another tough week to pick games, as the top cards turned in missed three games on the Week 4 card.

Mary Gambill of Ainsworth and Russ Richey of Springview were perfect on the high school side, and each missed three of the college games. Brett Swan of Springview, Stan Pennington of Ainsworth, and Renae Glidden of Ainsworth each missed West Point-Beemer’s win over O’Neill on the high school side, but missed just two games each in the college contests.

All five contestants missed TCU’s victory on the road at Oklahoma State, and all five also missed Central Florida’s 38-10 victory over Maryland.

That took us to the tie-breaker, Nebraska’s 27-17 victory over Rutgers. All five contestants had Nebraska winning. Mary Gambill picked a perfect tie-breaker score of 27-17 to capture the first-place $40 prize.

The second place $10 prize came down to a single point. Russ Richey had the Huskers winning, 24-17, missing the total by three. Brett Swan picked the Huskers, 31-17, missing the total by four. That gives Russ Richey second place and the $10 prize.

Stan Pennington had the Huskers picked to win, 24-10, missing the total by 10 points, and Renae Glidden had the Huskers picked to win, 35-10, missing by 15 points.

Winners may pick up their certificates from the KBRB Studios.

Week 5 KBRB Football Contest Cards are available from Buckles Automotive, Roadrunner, and the Farmers-Ranchers Cooperative Ampride and Propane and Appliance stores in Ainsworth; the West Plains Bank of Springview; Circle B Livestock of Bassett; the Central Bar of Stuart; and the Atkinson Roadrunner.

Week 5 cards must be delivered to the KBRB Studios by 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29, or carry a Friday postmark.

* June taxable sales trend downward in most area counties

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

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of June 2017 and June 2016 Net Taxable Sales
for Nebraska Counties and Selected Cities

County
or City

2017
Net Taxable
Sales

2016
Net Taxable
Sales

Percent
Change

2017
Sales Tax
5.5%

2016
Sales Tax
5.5%

Blaine

94,285

86,132

9.5

5,185.69

4,737.27

Boyd

1,045,521

1,139,860

(8.3)

57,503.83

62,692.47

Brown

3,222,655

3,736,029

(13.7)

177,246.35

205,481.85

Ainsworth

2,969,352

3,473,103

(14.5)

163,314.62

191,020.88

Cherry

7,681,652

8,220,618

(6.6)

422,491.30

452,134.51

Valentine

7,295,073

7,942,424

(8.2)

401,229.35

436,833.71

Custer

9,078,151

8,961,201

1.3

499,298.96

492,866.78

Broken Bow

7,302,669

6,922,501

5.5

401,647.17

380,737.98

Holt

10,115,751

11,217,593

(9.8)

567,079.59

616,968.40

Atkinson

1,910,551

1,906,353

0.2

105,080.52

104,849.63

O'Neill

6,774,677

7,563,916

(10.4)

372,607.60

416,015.75

Keya Paha

321,762

279,824

15

17,696.95

15,390.36

Rock

806,383

882,099

(8.6)

44,351.17

48,515.53

Valley

3,880,240

3,920,550

(1.0)

212,966.45

215,630.51

Ord

3,453,286

3,416,140

1.1

189,483.92

187,887.90

State Total

$2,601,060,593

$2,832,226,630

(8.2)

$143,506,661.03

$155,800,393.34

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of June 2017 and June 2016
Motor Vehicle Sales Tax Collections by County

County
or City

2017
Net Taxable
Sales

2016
Net Taxable
Sales

Percent
Change

2017
Sales Tax
5.5%

2016
Sales Tax
5.5%

Blaine

56,679

172,942

(67.2)

3,062.59

9,469.61

Boyd

425,182

325,333

30.7

23,379.66

17,855.10

Brown

678,255

737,137

(8.0)

37,569.20

40,825.04

Cherry

942,074

1,019,497

(7.6)

52,144.31

56,476.34

Custer

$2,390,264

$2,034,317

17.5

$132,315.83

$112,635.79

Holt

2,729,216

2,483,331

9.9

151,127.57

137,663.05

Keya Paha

275,642

167,143

64.9

15,152.76

9,157.87

Rock

509,590

363,732

40.1

28,117.23

19,984.58

Valley

1,022,785

1,097,413

(6.8)

56,589.72

60,737.77

State Total

$363,382,156

$352,373,853

3.1

$20,160,517.49

$19,546,601.67

* Kenosha, Wis., man believed to have piloted plane that crashed Saturday

(Posted noon Sept. 25)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department released additional information Monday regarding the plane that crashed Saturday after taking off from the Ainsworth Regional Airport.

The sheriff’s department believes the lone occupant of the Mitsubishi MU-2B-40 aircraft was a Kenosha, Wis., man. After taking off between 10:15 and 10:25 a.m. Saturday, investigators believe the crash occurred at approximately 10:30 a.m.

The aircraft was reported missing to the sheriff’s department at 1:34 p.m., and the crash site was found by a local resident at 6:15 p.m. approximately 2 miles east and 3 miles north of the airport.

The plane had been en route to North Dakota, and had stopped at the Ainsworth Regional Airport to refuel.

The crash is being investigated by both the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. Weather conditions at the time of the crash included a low cloud ceiling, poor visibility and scattered rain, however the cause of the crash has not yet been determined.

The sheriff’s department was assisted by the Nebraska State Patrol, the Ainsworth and Johnstown Volunteer Fire departments and a local pilot Saturday in a search for the aircraft.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

(Posted 6:45 a.m. Sept. 25)

Sept 17

  • Investigated a one-vehicle / deer accident on Hwy 183.

  • Investigated a one-vehicle accident at the Shopko parking lot.

  • Performed an attempt to locate a missing juvenile in Long Pine.

    Sept 18

  • Investigated a hit and run accident at Pump and Pantry.

  • Assisted another agency with an investigation.

  • Investigated a report of possible suicidal subjects in Ainsworth.

  • Received a report of a possible probation violation in Ainsworth.

  • Investigated a report of possible animal neglect or abuse in rural Ainsworth.

  • Assisted an Ainsworth resident with a report of a suspicious subject in an alley behind residence.

  • Responded to a disturbance on Court St in Ainsworth.

  • Assisted an Ainsworth resident with a report of an item located near an Ainsworth residence.

  • Received a report of possible child abuse or neglect in Ainsworth.

    Sept. 19

  • The Brown Co Ambulance transported a patient from the Brown Co Hospital to Faith Regional Hospital in Norfolk.

  • Released a subject from the Brown Co Jail as their sentence was complete.

    Sept. 20

  • The Brown Co Ambulance transported an air ambulance crew to the Brown Co Hospital then back to the airport with a patient.

  • Responded to a disturbance on Main St Ainsworth. Two subjects were arrested and booked into the Brown Co Jail for 3rd Degree Assault, Fighting by Mutual agreement, Disturbing the Peace, Disorderly Conduct, and one of the subjects was cited for Theft.

  • Investigated a report of theft of medications in Ainsworth.

  • Investigated a report of threats in Ainsworth.

    Sept. 21

  • Investigated a report of possible suicidal subjects in Ainsworth.

  • Released 2 subjects from the Brown Co Jail on bond.

  • Responded to a disturbance on North Wilson St Ainsworth.

    Sept. 22

  • Assisted an individual with a dog complaint near East City Park, Ainsworth.

  • Responded to a report of suspicious activity on South Maple St Ainsworth.

  • Received a report of possible stolen property on North Elm St Ainsworth.

  • Received a report of possible abuse or neglect of an elderly person in Brown Co.

  • Released a subject from the Brown Co Jail as their sentence was complete.

    Sept. 23

  • Investigated a report of a missing aircraft in Brown County. The Ainsworth & Johnstown Fire Depts also assisted with this search.

  • Investigated a report of a one-vehicle accident with injury on a county road near Long Pine.

  • The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued a burn permit for property South and East of Ainsworth.

    Weekly Summary
    0 - Fix-It Tickets Were Issued.
    2 - Handgun Permits Applied For
    25 - Incidents Reports Were Taken.
    1 - Paper Service Was Served.
    175 - Phone Calls Were Received
    5 - 911 Emergency Calls Received 
    5 - Titles Were Inspected.
    4 - Traffic Citations Were Issued.
    2 - Verbal & Written Warnings Issued.

* Crash site involving missing plane located in Brown County, pilot believed deceased

(Posted 9 p.m. Sept. 23)

A crash site believed to be that of a plane missing following takeoff Saturday morning from the Ainsworth Regional Airport has been located in Brown County.

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department was notified that a plane that took off Saturday morning from the Ainsworth Regional Airport did not reach its destination.

Sheriff Bruce Papstein said the 10-seat plane took off between 10:12 a.m. and 10:28 a.m. Saturday with just the pilot on board. The plane was headed to North Dakota.

A suspected crash site was located in Brown County Saturday evening. Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala said the site will be secured until investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration can arrive to investigate. Those investigators are expected to reach the site by Sunday afternoon.

Papstein said the pilot of the plane is suspected to have died in the crash.

A search began Saturday after the plane did not reach its destination. It was not located on radar, or at any airport along its anticipated route.

Papstein said attempts were made to coordinate the location of the pilot’s cellular phone, but to no avail.

The FAA activated a search and rescue team. The suspected crash site was discovered in Brown County only a few miles from the Ainsworth Regional Airport.

The pilot’s name has not been released pending notification of relatives and the arrival of the FAA investigation team.

* Homecoming royalty chosen for area schools Friday

(Posted 10:30 p.m. Sept. 22)

Emily Fay was crowned Rock County High School homecoming queen Friday following the North Central Knights’ victory against Osmond. Whitten Giles was named the Rock County homecoming king.
Kylin Munger was crowned Keya Paha County High School homecoming queen, with Vincent Plotz named the homecoming king.
During halftime of West Holt’s victory over Boyd County Friday, Bryce Kerkman and Bailey Krause were crowned homecoming king and queen for the Huskies.

* North Central homecoming culminates with football game Friday

(Posted 10:30 a.m. Sept. 22)

Homecoming for the North Central Knights wraps up with the homecoming football game Friday against Osmond.
Candidates for Rock County High School Homecoming Queen area Caitlin Orton, Emily Fay, Skylar Cosgrove, Jadyn Bussinger and Rhegan Shankland.
King candidates are Ben Beard, Griffin Smith, Tristen Tarrell, Walker Shaw and Whitten Giles.

* Boil water notice lifted for Bassett

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 22)

Bassett residents may once again use water from the city’s water system with no restrictions.
After a boil-water notice was issued by the city following a Sept. 13 positive test for E. coli bacteria, subsequent testing has shown no presence of E. coli or coliform bacteria. The corrective measures taken by the city have been effective, and the water is now safe for consumption again without boiling.

* City to begin armor coating streets Thursday

(Posted 9:30 a.m. Sept. 20)

The city of Ainsworth will armor coat streets Thursday and Friday, beginning at 7 a.m. each day.

The city asks residents to remove all cars and other vehicles off of the streets that are scheduled for armor coating. Those streets include:

North Maple Street between Sixth and Eighth streets

North Oak Street between Sixth and Eighth streets

Eighth Street east to Ash Street

Elm Street south to Seventh Street

Seventh Street east to Ash Street

North Main Street from Fourth to Sixth streets

Third Street from Pine to Harrington streets

Second Street from Cedar to Harrington streets

 

Any vehicles not moved prior to the armor coating work may be removed at the owner’s expense. Anyone with questions may contact the city office at 402-387-2494.

* Board hears more than 2-1/2 hours of testimony on proposed hog facility expansion

(Posted 9:15 a.m. Sept. 20)

More than 50 people attended a public hearing Tuesday in the Brown County Courtroom regarding a proposed expansion of a swine operation north of Ainsworth.

Thad Jones submitted a special-use permit application to construct two additional farrowing barns in the northeast quarter of Section 34, Township 32 North, Range 22 West in Brown County.

The Brown County Planning Commission unanimously recommended the permit be approved following a meeting of that board Monday, but the final decision rests with the Brown County Commissioners, who held a public hearing Tuesday.

Several spoke in support of the project, but several residents who live in the vicinity said they were opposed to the project due to the smell associated with more hogs in confinement in the area.

Jones, who applied for the special use permit, said four generations of his family have lived on the land where the expansion is being proposed.

“The farmers are benefiting from the manure, and it lowers their cost of production,” Jones said. “Every generation should try and better the previous one, and that is what we are trying to do. This is a win-win for the area.”

Greg Wilke, the owner of GJW LLC and the driver of the expansion, said his company continues to use technology to the best of its ability to mitigate the smell. Questioned on why the proposed project would utilize outdoor lagoons instead of pits underneath the complex like the first barn built north of Ainsworth, Wilke said the latest research from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln showed using an outdoor lagoon allowed the company to dilute the waste more quickly and reduce the odor instead of using a pit under the building.

“We have a great reputation worldwide for our genetics,” Wilke said. “This farrowing facility will be a $14 million project, and these animals will be sent worldwide.”

Wilke said, in the swine production industry, GJW was actually one of the smaller facilities up and down Highway 20.

“China now owns 40 percent of the hogs in the U.S., and 40 percent of the packing plants,” Wilke said. “If you go down Highway 20, the hog farms are owned by companies from Minnesota and Illinois. They don’t play nice, they just tell you they will see you in court.”

Representing GJW, attorney Tom Herzog presented the commissioners with information showing GJW currently pays $308,024 in property tax annually, with that total to increase further if the project is approved. He also presented the board with a letter from Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District Manager Mike Murphy supporting the project.

“Odor control today is superior to the odor control from 20 years ago,” Herzog said. “Mr. Wilke’s comments show you he looks for the most modern technology to mitigate the smell. It is not realistic to say there won’t be odor, there will be. If you are going to be in the livestock industry, there is no standing still. Without economies of scale, the business model will not work. The strength of this county is agriculture. If we stymie our local people’s efforts to grow, your county will wither and die.”

Several property owners within a few miles of the facility asked the commissioners to deny the special-use permit application.

Gene Snyder said he lives within two miles of the proposed facility, and is against the project because of the smell it would create.

“Once it is in, it is done,” Snyder said. “When is big enough, big enough? You are looking at this from an economic standpoint for the money it could bring in as opposed to the quality of life for the people who live out there. I think you will sacrifice the people out there for the economic benefit of the county.”

Snyder said he has a right to enjoy his property without that smell.

“If it has to go to court, then that is where it will go,” Snyder said.

Tammy Painter, who lives three miles from the facility, said she was not opposed to the current facility, just the expansion.

“I think if you only talked to the landowners out there and not all the people with other interests, most are against this,” Painter said. “There might only be six or seven landowners out there, but we feel like we need to have our voices heard. Greg has done great things for the community, but more hogs are going to lead to more of a smell out there. We like the freedom of living out there, being able to hang our clothes on the clothesline.”

Painter asked the commissioners not to only consider the property tax dollars that would be generated by the expansion, but to consider the property tax dollars already being paid by the people who own land in that area.

Scott Erthum, who lives two miles south of the proposed facility, said he does not disagree that Wilke has been a pillar of the community.

“We are ok with the facility now,” Erthum said. “We smell it, but we can put up with it. I was appalled the Planning Commission members said last night they had not even read the full application. Local government is supposed to protect the people, and I find that a dereliction of their duty. I don’t think the zoning administrator should be advocating and pushing for a project.”

Erthum said this will be like a permanent easement against the property owners who live in the area, and he said the commissioners had previously voted against allowing a permanent easement.

“People talk about how wonderful this will be for the economy,” Erthum said. “When employees are bussed in from O’Neill, work and then are bussed back, that does not help our economy. I just don’t want to see my environment and the environment of my neighbors impacted.”

Wayne Carpenter, who lives 4-1/2 miles south of the proposed site, said most of the established homesteads in the area are surrounded by trees.

“We don’t have a lot of smell now, but the smell settles into the trees and then you have it all the time,” Carpenter said.

Heather Painter, who lives north of the GJW facility south of Ainsworth, said the smell is awful when the lagoons are pumped.

“I think what Greg has done for the community is awesome,” Painter said. “But I think the little people need a voice. I support young people coming in to the community, but Ainsworth does not have an abundance of housing. If they are not living here, then they are not supporting the businesses. This facility will decrease the value of the land around it. We deal with this every day. This would be a nice facility, but I think about the little people it is going to affect.”

Larry Coleman, a veterinarian who said he has been involved with the GJW operation and the Wilke family for more than 25 years, told the commissioners most of the GJW operations are small compared to their competitors.

“The Wilke family has done a tremendous job improving the land around their farms,” Coleman said. “They spend countless dollars above what is required to try and mitigate the smell.”

Coleman said the genetic line of female pigs produced by the Wilke family is in high demand across the country, and are sold out years in advance.

“People around the globe are aware of GJW, and they are a model for animal health and animal quality in their industry,” Coleman said. “The grain produced here can be fed locally, producing jobs and creating high-value products. They care for their animals, and their facilities are world-class. Their employees are engaged, and the animals are treated well and have the highest productivity. People don’t eat the corn and soybeans grown here. That grain has to be fed to livestock.”

LaNeah Orellana told the commissioners she moved to Ainsworth to work for GJW, and also works at the Sandhills Care Center.

“I know this will have an effect, but I think people should be more accepting,” Orellano said. “We have Hispanics, black people, Native Americans, and we all work together like a family.”

Craig Freeman said he has watched Ainsworth get smaller every year.

“The businesses that support the businesses in town are all ag businesses,” Freeman said. “Forty families are going to be here with this project, they will go to the grocery stores and to the other businesses. If we say no, these businesses will go somewhere else, and so will the people. And then, there will be nothing left here.”

Kevin Price said he has worked in Wilke’s barns.

“Yes, they stink,” Price said. “But, everyone benefits from GJW doing well. As agriculture grows, there are fewer of us to do the work. Everyone in this room is affected by agriculture. Not letting him expand because you say he is big already is like saying you can’t build a second bathroom in your home because you don’t need it.”

Jack Raymond said he came to the hearing to support Mr. Wilke.

“He has been a great community man,” Raymond said. “He uses cover crops, minimum tillage, and the manure from his facility makes the crop land here highly productive.”

Jim Arens Sr. said it was important for grain farmers like himself to have a place to go with the corn they produce.

“It is tough now anyway, and it would be even tougher without these places to take our corn,” Arens said.

Don Shiloski, a grain marketer who works with GJW, said there are currently 15,000 bushels moving through the facility each week.

“I feel fortunate to be able to work with people like the Wilke family,” Shiloski said.

John Glidden said he moved to the community to work for Wilke in 2008.

“I have hired a majority of the people who work out there,” Glidden said. “Economies of scale projects like this are a necessity in agriculture.”

Glidden asked the GJW employees to stand, with more than 20 people in the hearing standing.

GJW employee Traci Alberts said, after moving back to the community, she found a company that was morally sound, and she wanted in.

“I have seen the impact my hometown is having on a worldwide industry,” Alberts said. “People were having to drive after our first expansion, but they all live here now. I think this expansion is a great thing for Brown County.”

Graig Kinzie said he has invested his future in this area by buying a business here.

“We have all chosen to live in a rural area,” Kinzie said. “We have chosen not to drive an hour each way to work in white-knuckle traffic, or to listen to the constant noise of living in a city, or to have the air-quality issues that are present in cities. The trade-off is, we live in an agricultural area, and there is sometimes a smell that comes with that.”

Kinzie said he sympathized with the property owners in close vicinity to the proposed project, but said the area cannot afford to turn away from a company willing to invest millions of dollars and create quality jobs here.

Tonny Beck said project expansions like what is being proposed do have a direct effect on all of the other businesses in the area.

“Personally I am in favor of this, and I have clients on both sides of it,” Beck said. “These facilities are designed to protect the groundwater underneath them. It is important for people to understand how the risks to groundwater are mitigated. The Department of Environmental Quality oversees these permits, and requires the company to have monitoring wells.”

Beck said the company knows in real time if there is any leakage from a lagoon.

“Those wells are shallow, and they let us know exactly what is happening directly below the lagoon,” Beck said. “There is a poly-membrane lining the pits that protects any contaminants from entering the ground.”

Planning Commission member Pat Schumacher said he felt the need to defend the Planning Commission after hearing some of the testimony before the commissioners.

“We set up our zoning regulations that were approved by the commissioners,” Schumacher said. “We have worked through numerous special-use applications, and they all go through the same process. The zoning rules are designed to benefit the most people. We believe the cost to benefit ratio on this project is unbelievably high, and that is why we recommended it be approved.”

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus said there are seven factors he will look at when making a decision on the application, including if the use is compatible with similar uses in the district, if the project requires rezoning, if it will be detrimental to neighboring property, if it will negatively impact neighboring property value, if it is compatible with the intended use in the district, and if it is in accordance with the county’s comprehensive plan.

“My in-laws live in southwest Minnesota,” Wiebelhaus said. “They have hog confinements, and so do their neighbors. When we go up there, the smell takes your breath away. I don’t disagree it is good to have a place for our grain, but how many are too many? I don’t want to cross that line after it is too late.”

Wiebelhaus said, if the county has to look at this project purely from an economic standpoint, does that mean it would have to accept having a meat packing plant come in the county?

“We had an expansion to the south 2 or 3 years ago,” Wiebelhaus said. “There were a few neighbors who didn’t want it, but more people wanted it than not. Now we go north, and there are a different group of neighbors who don’t want it, and the same people are in favor. What about the next group, and the next? I find that tough, and that is in my head when I make my decision.”

Commissioner Les Waits said his main concern was the safety of the groundwater.

“Tonny Beck talking about monitoring the water answered my questions,” Waits said.

Commissioner Buddy Small said, “I know how important agriculture is. I know how important it is to grow the county economically. If we stopped trying to advance, the county would go backward. I can’t say how this decision will come out. I see both sides.”

Small said the commissioners would make a decision at 10 a.m. during the board’s Oct. 3 meeting, and would not allow any additional testimony during that meeting.

* Missing just 1 game, Taylor wins Week 3 KBRB Football Contest

(Posted 3 p.m. Sept. 19)

Grant Taylor of Long Pine missed just one game on the Week 3 KBRB Football Contest Card, giving him the best card submitted through three weeks of the contest and landing him the $40 first-place prize.

Taylor’s lone miss was picking LSU to win on the road at Mississippi State in the college ranks. Taylor was perfect on the six games in the week’s high school games. He did have Nebraska picked to win the tiebreaker, but only by a touchdown. With his being the only card with one miss, the tie-breaker did not come into play for the first time this year.

The tie-breaker did come into play for the second-place $10 prize, as there were 11 cards turned in that had two games picked incorrectly. Those 11 cards belonged to Andrew Walton, Allen Privett Sr. and Laura Privett, all of Ainsworth; Carl Chase, Hazel Chase and Mike Swan of Springview; Terry Hollenbeck and Deb Hollenbeck of Long Pine; Jorden Hollenbeck of Bassett; Jared Hipke of O’Neill; and Andrew Murphy of Amherst.

Of all 11 cards with two misses, only one picked the Northern Illinois upset of Nebraska in the tie-breaker game. Picking against the Huskers, thanks to the Big Red’s 21-17 loss, earns Laura Privett the $10 second-place prize. She had Northern Illinois winning, 28-21. The other 10 cards all had the Huskers winning the tie-breaker.

The Florida State and Miami game on the Week 3 card was postponed due to the weather, so that game did not count on this week's score.

Congratulations to Grant Taylor of Long Pine and Laura Privett of Ainsworth. Winners may pick up their certificates from the KBRB Studios.

Week 4 KBRB Football Contest Cards are out now and available from Buckles Automotive, Roadrunner, and the Farmers-Ranchers Cooperative Ampride and Propane and Appliance stores in Ainsworth; the West Plains Bank of Springview; Circle B Livestock of Bassett; the Central Bar of Stuart; and the Atkinson Roadrunner.

Week 4 cards must be delivered to the KBRB Studios by 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22, or carry a Friday postmark.

* Commissioners ask for $2.86 million in property tax, $76,000 less than 2016-17

(Posted 2:30 p.m. Sept. 19)

The Brown County Commissioners Tuesday approved the 2017-18 budget, asking property owners for $2.86 million in tax to support the general fund and the voter-approved Brown County Hospital addition bond.

The 2017-18 tax request is $76,459 less than the $2.94 million the commissioners requested to support the 2016-17 budget and hospital bond.

With the valuation in the county rising only slightly, from $824 million to $829 million, the tax request results in an overall levy of 34.5 cents for every $100 in valuation. The levy decreased from 35.7 cents per $100 in valuation during the 2016-17 budget year.

One cent of levy results in $82,903 in property tax collected by the county, up from $82,438 in 2016-17.

Of the $2.86 million in property tax requested, $2.21 million will go to support the county’s general fund, with $400,000 in property tax going to pay for the hospital addition. The general fund levy is just over 29 cents, with the hospital bond requiring 4.8 cents of levy.

The county decreased the levy for the Brown County Rural Fire Protection District from 4 cents per $100 in valuation to 3.5 cents. The rural fire district will receive $268,225 for the 2017-18 year, down from $305,731 from a 4-cent levy in 2016-17.

The Brown County Agricultural Society will receive $53,630 in property tax to support the fairgrounds, which amounts to a levy of about six-tenths of one cent.

The total budget for 2017-18 fiscal year is just over $24 million, though the actual amount of money disbursed will likely be much less. That $24 million includes the Brown County Hospital’s $15.2 million budget.

For comparison purposes, the county actually spent $15.8 million during the 2016-17 fiscal year, which includes $10.2 million in hospital expenditures. The county spent $2.79 million from the general fund in 2016-17, and $1.51 million from the roads department. Both of those figures were below actual disbursements of $3.21 million from the general fund and $1.98 million from the roads fund in 2015-16 respectively.

The Brown County Hospital’s actual disbursements during 2016-17 were $10.1 million, up from $9.9 million in 2015-16.

The $15.8 million spent collectively during the 2016-17 year was down from $16.6 million spent during the 2015-16 fiscal year.

As of July 1, the county had $4.63 million in bonded debt, which all relates to the voter-approved hospital addition. There are eight years of bonded debt remaining on the hospital bond. The hospital has previously assisted in paying the bond, contributing enough during the last refinancing of the bonds to shave one year of debt from the total.

The county also has several interlocal agreements, including $70,000 to be a part of the Nebraska Intergovernmental Risk Management Agency, $402,890 for public safety in an agreement with the city of Ainsworth, $31,350 for its share of the BKR Extension budget, $16,000 for  the Region 24 Emergency Management Agency, $80,000 to the Sandhills Care Center, and $11,000 to the Ainsworth Public Library.

Following Tuesday’s public hearing, the commissioners approved the 2017-18 budget, property tax request and allowable increase of restricted funds.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners heard from Rich Einspahr, who owns a home in southern Brown County south of the West Calamus Road.

Einspahr requested the county to provide him with an accessible road to his home from West Calamus Road.

“I am not asking for a paved highway, just something that is accessible,” Einspahr said. “Emergency services could not get to our place right now.”

Einspahr said the 2-1/2 mile stretch from the West Calamus Road to his home currently requires four-wheel drive. His current trail road crosses property owned by Larry Saner and Manford Peters.

“There is a cemetery out there also that people use,” Einspahr said.

Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin said there has never been a dedicated road in that location.

“It would take us probably a month or more of work to build something,” Turpin said.

Commissioner Buddy Small asked Turpin to meet with County Attorney David Streich and determine if the county has any responsibility to construct a road at that location.

Commissioner Les Waits said Troy Peters and Wilber Saner both contacted him and were against having a road constructed across their property.

During his report, Turpin said he would again contract with Madison’s Great Western for propane for the Johnstown roads shop. He said the 1,800 gallons of propane could be contracted at a cost of $1.20 per gallon.

Turpin said some of the roads department employees would again work four, 10-hour shifts instead of five, eight-hour shifts beginning in October.

The commissioners then moved to the Brown County Courtroom for a public hearing regarding a special-use application for Thad Jones to construct and operate two additional swine barns and a holding pond in the northeast quarter of Section 34, Township 32 North, Range 22 West in Brown County.

The commissioners did not take any action following Tuesday’s more than 2-1/2 hour public hearing on the item, and placed it on the board’s Oct. 3 agenda for a vote on the application.

KBRB will have information from that public hearing on its Thursday newscast.

* Lions Club continues work to improve playground equipment

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

During its recent meeting, Larry Rice updated the Ainsworth Lions Club Board of Directors on playground equipment installed and maintained by the Lions at East City Park and the Courthouse Park.

Rice reported the two remaining bags of crumb rubber mulch would be used under and near the playground equipment near the swimming pool. However, he said two bags would not spread far. Rice said he hopes to have the mulch and some railroad ties in place this fall. The park committee is working with a local landscaper and is looking for some funding sources to complete the project.  Evan Evans will investigate obtaining some more mulch with the use of grant funds.

Rice also told the board the Lions Club used to have an enclosed playpen type structure near the baseball fields. It was removed several years ago and there are no plans to use it at the park. Rice said there is an individual interested in the structure to use a dog pen.  The board approved offering to sell the playpen.

Evans reported the newly installed swing set at the courthouse park needs some more concrete.  He will contact Chuck Osborn, set a date for the project, and let members know.

Shannon Sorenson, chair for the “Adopt-A-Highway” program, scheduled the fall Highway 20 cleanup for 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 30. Members are asked to meet at the Ainsworth Auto Parts parking lot on Highway 20.

Ticket takers for the Sept. 29 Ainsworth home football game are Rhonda Lechtenberg, David Spann and Evan Evans.  Ticket takers should be at the gate at 5:45 p.m.  Ticket takers are still needed for the Oct. 13 home game. Contact Jerry Ehlers if able to assist. 

A thank you note was received from TeamMates Mentoring program for the contribution of $300, which was approved last spring as a donation after the All-Sports Tailgate Party.

Jim Arens reported on the recent Brown County Fair concession stand project. He expressed gratitude for all the members’ help and the volunteer help. Monday was the busiest day, as per reports from previous years. Some suggestions have been made to the Brown County Ag Society as to some small electrical and lighting improvements. There was also some discussion about informing the Ag Society about the southeast refrigerator and the standing cooler, which did not seem to be cooling their contents. Arens said profits would likely be near the profits made the past two years.

The District 38-I Individual Assistance Fund, chaired by Gary Wittenbach, will again conduct its annual raffle fundraiser. The board approved having the club purchase all the raffle tickets, as in the past, with the proceeds from any winning raffle ticket to be donated to a charitable organization.

Roland Paddock presented Jim Arens with a Centennial Membership Pin, which celebrates membership recruitment. Members reported five community members have inquired about membership recently. Applications will be made available to those interested.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Lions Club Board of Directors is scheduled for Oct. 16.

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 1:15 p.m. Sept. 18)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a two-vehicle accident that occurred Monday, Sept. 18, in Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department, at 7:55 a.m. Monday on Highway 20 at the Pump & Pantry entry way just east of the Main Street intersection, a 2014 Chevy sedan, driven by Tashina Lavallie, 35, of Valentine, was traveling west and attempting to turn south into the Pump & Pantry parking lot when it collided with an eastbound 2011 Ford sport-utility vehicle, driven by Erin Moody, 40, of Ainsworth.
No injuries were reported. Damage to the Chevy was estimated at $1,000. The Ford sustained approximately $1,200 damage.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

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

Sept 10

    Took an individual into emergency protective custody and transported them to the Faith Regional Center in Norfolk.

    Investigated a report of an individual urinating in public, near a business in Ainsworth.

    Responded to a possible disturbance in rural Johnstown area.

 

Sept 11

    Responded to a report of two dogs running at large and possibly attacking a smaller dog, on North Main St Ainsworth.

    Attempted to locate a subject with minor children, for a welfare check.

    Investigated a report of theft of tools from a vehicle on North Walnut St, Ainsworth.

    Investigated a two-vehicle accident without injury on North Osborne St Ainsworth.

    Investigated a two-vehicle accident with injury on North Main St Ainsworth. The Ainsworth Firemen and Brown Co Ambulance also responded.

    The Brown Co Ambulance transported an individual from an accident on Main St to the Brown Co Hospital.

    Investigated a report of a possible health code violation in Ainsworth.

    Arrested a subject for driving under suspension, possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia and booked them into the Brown Co Jail.

    The South Brown Co Fire Dept issued a burn permit for property located South of Long Pine.

    Booked a subject into the Brown Co Jail on a court ordered commitment.

 

Sept 12

    The Brown Co Ambulance transported an individual from a residence on North Ash St to the Brown Co Hospital.

    The Brown Co Ambulance transported an individual from a residence on North Osborne to the Brown Co Hospital.

    Investigated a one-vehicle accident without injury on Hwy 183.

    Investigated a report of vandalism to a residence in Long Pine.

    Received a report of possible child neglect or abuse in Ainsworth.

    Responded to a report of possible gun shots in Long Pine.

    Released a subject from the Brown Co Jail.

 

Sept 13

    The Brown Co Ambulance transported a patient from the Brown Co Hospital to the Great Plains Hospital in North Platte.

    The Brown Co Ambulance transported an individual from a residence on West 5th St to the Brown Co Hospital.

    The Brown Co Ambulance transported a patient from the Brown Co Hospital to the Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney.

    Provided traffic control for 100 head of cattle crossing Hwy 7 South of Ainsworth.

    Received a report of possible child neglect or abuse in Ainsworth.

    Responded to a barking dog complaint on North Oak St Ainsworth.

    Investigated a report of suspicious activity at the East City Park.

    Responded to a security alarm going off at a business on Main St Ainsworth.

    The Raven Fire Dept issued a burn permit for property located South & East of Ainsworth.

    Arrested a subject on a Bench Warrant for failure to appear and booked them into the Brown Co Jail. The subject was released on bond.

 

Sept 14

    Assisted a subject with a report of a scam involving the sale of a vehicle on Craig’s List.

 

Sept 15

    The Brown Co Ambulance transported an individual from a residence on South Main St to the Brown Co Hospital.

    The Brown Co Ambulance transported a flight crew from the Ainsworth Airport to the Brown Co Hospital and then back to the Airport with crew & patient.

    Received a report of an individual possibly needing assistance from Adult Protective Services.

 

Sept 16

    The Brown Co Ambulance transported a flight crew from the Ainsworth Airport to the Brown Co Hospital and then back to the Airport with crew and patient.

    Released a subject from the Brown Co Jail as their sentence was complete.

    Cited a subject for driving under revocation in Ainsworth.

    The Long Pine Fire Dept issued a burn permit for property located on the Northeast edge of Long Pine.

 

Weekly Summary

0 - Fix-It Tickets Were Issued.

3 - Handgun Permits Applied For

22 - Incidents Reports Were Taken.

4 - Paper Service Was Served.

178 - Phone Calls Were Received

9 - 911 Emergency Calls Received 

3 - Titles Were Inspected.

3 - Traffic Citations Were Issued.

0 - Verbal & Written Warnings Issued.

* Traffic Accidents

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

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated two motor vehicle accidents on Sunday, Sept. 17.

At 6:50 a.m. Sunday on Highway 183 approximately 3 miles north of the Highway 20 intersection, a 1997 Dodge Dakota, driven by Robert G. Maxwell, 32, of Springview, was traveling south when the vehicle struck a deer in the roadway.

No persons were injured during the accident. Damage to the Dodge was estimated at $1,000.

At 2:40 p.m. Sunday, the sheriff’s department investigated a one-vehicle accident that occurred in Ainsworth.

A 2011 Ford pickup, driven by Shawn Fernau, 43, of Ainsworth, struck a light pole in the Shopko parking lot.

No injuries were reported. Damage to the Ford was estimated at $1,500. The light pole, owned by Shopko, sustained approximately $50 damage.

* Recent cases from Brown County District Court

(Posted 12:30 p.m. Sept. 15)

During Brown County District Court proceedings Tuesday, Roque Rodriguez, age 23, appeared for sentencing after previously being convicted of possession of more than 1 pound of marijuana, a Class IV felony; and obstructing a peace officer, a Class I misdemeanor.

Rodriguez was sentenced to a term of not more than 180 days in the Brown County Jail for the felony conviction, with credit for 94 days served. He was also ordered to pay court costs of $2,047 within 180 days of his release from jail.

On the misdemeanor count, Rodriguez was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine within 180 days of his release from the Brown County Jail.

Rodriguez ran from a traffic stop on Dec. 29, 2016. Serving a search warrant on the vehicle he fled, deputies found more than 2 pounds of marijuana.

Also in District Court Tuesday, Maureen Jackman, 44, of Ainsworth pleaded guilty to a Class IIA felony count of burglary, and also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief. Jackman will be sentenced in District Court Dec. 12.

Craig Bernbeck, 48, of Long Pine, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a Class IV felony charge of attempted terroristic threats. He also pleaded guilty to a class IV felony charge of possession of a controlled substance. Bernbeck will be sentenced Nov. 14 in District Court.

* Fifth annual Team Jack Radiothon raises more than $85,000

(Posted 9:30 a.m. Sept. 15)

The fifth annual Team Jack Radiothon Thursday raised at least $85,000, with some donations still coming in.

In addition to raising much-needed funds for child brain cancer research, the Radiothon raises awareness for pediatric cancer.

Thanks to the participation from stations all over Nebraska, donations ranging from $5 to $1,000 came in from every area in the state and even into Kansas and Iowa.

Larry the Cable Guy swung by the event and in addition to live interviews, donated $5,000 to Team Jack Foundation from his Foundation.

Out of Sidney, A Night of Hope Cancer Walk donated $5,000, helping Sidney win the hourly challenge for the fifth year in a row.

The grand prize winner was Brandon Morel of Humphrey. Instead of the trip to Cancun, Morel opted for the $2,500 cash and then donated it back to the Team Jack Foundation.

One of the final calls came in at just past 6 p.m., with the Westerkamp family making a $7,500 donation.

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 9:15 a.m. Sept. 15)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a one-vehicle accident that occurred Tuesday, Sept. 12, northeast of Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 5:17 a.m. Tuesday on Highway 183 approximately 6 miles north of the Highway 20 intersection, a 2017 Chrysler van, driven by James Howard, 58, of Blair, was traveling north when the vehicle left the roadway and entered the east ditch, where it hit an embankment at the intersection of 436th Avenue.
No injuries were reported. The Chrysler, owned by PV Holding Corp. of Kansas City, Mo., was considered a total loss.

* City to shut off water at 10 a.m. for residents between Herrington and Glenn

(Posted 7:45 a.m. Sept. 14)

The Ainsworth Water Department plans to shut off water to residents who live from First and Herrington streets east to First and Glenn streets, north to Second and Glenn streets and back west to Second and Herrington streets.
The water shut-off will begin at approximately 10 a.m. this morning and last until repairs to a leaking curb stop are made.

* Ainsworth City Council asks property owners for $294,000 for 2017-18 budget

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

The Ainsworth City Council Wednesday approved a $5.02 million budget that asks property owners in the city for $294,565.

The city finished the 2016-17 year spending $3.16 million, which was about $800,000 more than the $2.38 million spent during the 2015-16 fiscal year.

The city will likely not come close to spending the $5.02 million budgeted, but is required to budget as if it would spend all of the funds in its various accounts.

The city carried a cash reserve of $3.57 million into the 2017-18 budget year, after having a cash reserve of $4.05 million following the 2015-16 year.

The $294,565 in property tax requested by the city amounts to a levy of 47 cents per $100 in value on the property located inside the city limits. The amount of property tax requested is about $12,000 more than the $282,250 requested for the 2016-17 budget year, with the levy remaining the same at 47 cents per $100 in valuation.

The city’s overall valuation increased by $2.77 million for the 2017 tax year, which amounts to just over 2 percent and allows for the $12,315 in additional property tax collection without raising the levy. The total valuation in the city increased from $60 million to $62.7 million.

The general fund budget does include an $80,000 line item to provide additional support to the Sandhills Care Center, matching the $80,000 allocated by Brown County.

The $5.02 million budget includes $805,610 for the streets department, $700,050 for the water department, and $439,780 for the wastewater department.

The city has a total of $555,000 in bonded debt. That debt was incurred through streets and sewer projects.

Following the budget hearing and property tax request hearing, the council unanimously approved the 2017-18 budget and approved an additional 1 percent increase in the city’s restricted funds.

In other business Wednesday, the council approved two grant requests from the LB 840 program, both directed to the North Central Development Center.

The NCDC requested $75,000 in LB 840 funds to support its operating budget, and an additional $12,500 for demolition assistance.

NCDC Director Kristin Olson said the LB 840 Loan Committee met Sept. 8 and recommended both applications be approved.

She said the city previously agreed to provide a total of $50,000 annually over a five-year period to the NCDC Housing Committee to support the demolition of dilapidated structures in the city.

Olson said the five-year commitment has now expired, and requested the city renew its demolition assistance for an additional five years. The council approved the five-year commitment of $12,500 annually from the LB 840 fund, and $25,000 annually for the next five years from the city’s general fund.

Olson said she has made a request for the remaining $12,500 annually to the Ainsworth Betterment Committee, which will make a recommendation to the council on the request during its next meeting.

The council approved a bid from Schumacher Brothers Fencing to purchase and install 88 feet of fencing that is 6-feet tall for the west side of the mini park on Main Street. Schumacher Brothers Fencing submitted a bid of $1,552 for the fencing and the labor to install it. Council President Chuck Osborn said the fencing was sold at cost, and Schumacher Brothers Fencing discounted the cost of the labor to install it.

Osborn said he also received quotes from Century Lumber and William Krotter Lumber to sell the city fencing at cost, but neither of those quotes included installation and were both higher than the Schumacher Brothers Fencing quote.

He said he would like to make sure the city has the blessing of the Burdick family before proceeding with the installation, as the lot was originally donated to the city by the late Arden Stech.

Scott Steinhauser and Marilyn Williams presented the council with information on the Brown County Foundation Fund’s current Sherwood Foundation challenge for its unrestricted endowment fund.

Williams said the foundation has raised more than 80 percent of its $500,000 goal, with the Sherwood Foundation providing $1 in matching funds for every $2 raised by the foundation.

“With 15 months to go, we have raised over $400,000, with the Sherwood Foundation already matching $200,000,” Williams said.

The interest generated by the endowment fund is then used to support community projects, with the principal remaining untouched.

Steinhauser said the endowment account has eclipsed the $1 million mark overall.

“The first time we awarded grants, they were for $100 each,” Steinhauser said. “Now we have about $28,000 per year to put back into the community. We are earning about 4.5 percent interest on the principal.”

Instead of having an annual application period to request grant funds, Williams said organizations can now submit an application anytime they have a project.

The council reappointed Pat Lentz to another five-year term on the Community Redevelopment Authority, and approved the appointment of high school junior Rebecca Taylor to a two-year term on the Ainsworth Betterment Committee.

An agenda item to review the properties in the nuisance abatement protocol from the 2014-16 years was tabled until the October council meeting, which was moved ahead a week to 5 p.m. Oct. 4 due to a scheduling conflict with a conference City Administrator Lisa Schroedl plans to attend.

Schroedl reported the city hired Ryan Farris as a part-time, temporary employee for the sanitation department and for general help while the city has full-time employees out with injury.

Mayor Larry Rice reported the garbage crew has requested that all residents place their household waste into plastic bags first instead of dumping trash directly into the large trash containers.

 

* Osborne receives Black Hills Energy Chairman's Award

 

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

 

Three Black Hills Corp. employees in Nebraska received the company’s highest employee honor from company chairman and chief executive officer David R. Emery. Black Hills Corp. is the parent company of Nebraska natural gas utility Black Hills Energy.

Among those receiving this year’s Chairman’s Award is Jerry Osborne, a service specialist in Atkinson.

The distinction acknowledges superior professional achievement and community service while supporting the development of a culture that recognizes performance, reinforces company values and standards, and promotes teamwork.  

“The Chairman’s Award recognizes employees who exemplify our mission, vision and values,” Emery said. “This year’s recipients exhibit the attributes we hope to cultivate throughout our organization: They’re values-driven, generous with their time, strong in character and focused on making life better for our customers and our communities.”  

Emery has been presented the award annually for seven years and selected this year’s honorees from 91 peer-nominated employees throughout the company’s nearly 3,000 employees.

* Boil water notice issued for Bassett

(Posted 6:45 p.m. Sept. 13)

A boil water notice has been issued for Bassett residents using the city's water system after E. coli bacteria was detected in a water sample taken this month.
The presence of E. coli bacteria indicates water could be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Residents should bring water to a boil for a full minute before cooling or using.
The city is working with the state's drinking water program to identify the source of the bacteria and return the water system to compliance. The city will notify residents when the boil water notice is lifted.

* Sandhills Care Center anticipating $100,000 Medicaid reimbursement

(Posted 1:15 p.m. Sept. 12)

The Sandhills Care Center should receive a Medicaid reimbursement infusion of close to $100,000 following the completion of a cost report for the facility.

Administrator Stephanie Rucker told the Sandhills Care Center Board Monday the auditors sent back the new cost report, and that report has been mailed to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

“It may be the first or second week of November before we receive the additional Medicaid reimbursement,” Rucker said. “It will be close to $100,000. Also, our Medicaid reimbursement rate will get adjusted up to the maximum following the completion of the cost report.”

Rucker reported there are 15 residents in the center, with one new resident admitted in August. One resident was discharged home, and one resident passed away.

She provided the board with August financial data, showing revenue of $99,904, with an additional $1,506 raised through donations and fund-raising events. Total expenses in August were $123,226, leaving the facility with a net loss in August of $21,816.

Board Chairman Phil Fuchs said the facility was keeping its expenses in check.

“The income is what is lagging,” Fuchs said.

He said the budget projected a loss of $29,000 for August, so the actual loss was shy of that and was not unanticipated.

“Fall tends to be a time that nursing homes pick up residents,” Fuchs said.

Rucker said staffing is stable for the facility, but they continue to have to use agency nursing to fill overnight hours.

“We have not had any luck getting nurse applications even offering the sign-on bonus,” Rucker said. “We are willing to up the sign-on bonus to $3,500 for night shift nursing, but I just think there is a shortage of nurses statewide.”

Rucker said she would like to again look at the possibility of bringing in an international nurse.

“There are five RHD facilities that now have an international nurse,” Rucker said. “It is going well for all five of those facilities.”

Capital Campaign Committee Chair Rolland Paddock said he has been approached by members of two families who have a loved one in the facility.

“They told me they are very happy with the care their loved ones are receiving,” Paddock said.

Brown County Hospital Administrator Shannon Sorensen praised Rucker and her staff for integrating the residents of the care center into the community.

“We are seeing the residents out and about in the community more and more,” Sorensen said. “I know that takes a lot of work, but that is great that they are getting to remain involved in the community.”

Renovation Committee Chair Dick Schipporeit said he recently looked at the care center’s roof.

“The only possible leaks right now could be where the shingles are damaged, but that would only run into the soffit,” Schipporeit said. “It should not damage the interior of the building.”

Fuchs said the capital campaign committee could work with the renovation committee to raise money in advance, and try and plan to replace the shingles on the facility next spring.

“It has probably been 20 years or more since that roof was last shingled,” Fuchs said. “We have some people willing to donate labor, and Century Lumber is willing to sell us shingles at cost, but it will still likely be a $15,000 to $20,000 project. If we plan for that project next spring, it gives us some time to raise the funding.”

Rucker reported the new bathtub for the center was set to ship Sept. 29. Paddock said the community has not yet heard back from the state on its application for tax credits for the project, but the capital campaign committee will move forward and raise money for the cost of the tub.

With board member Buddy Small absent Monday, the board approved updating the West Plains Bank signature cards for the board’s checking account to include the current board officers and clerk Travee Hobbs.

Board member Chuck Osborn said the city of Ainsworth’s budget does include an $80,000 line item for the nursing home, which would be available to the facility after Oct. 1. The Brown County Commissioners allocated $80,000 to the facility as part of its 2017-18 budget, which began July 1.

The next meeting of the Sandhills Care Center Board will be held at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11.

* Monday collision on Main Street prompts civil defense siren in Ainsworth

(Posted noon Sept. 12)

A two-vehicle collision in Ainsworth Monday sent one person to the Brown County Hospital with minor injuries.

According to the Brown County Sheriff’s Department report, at 4:28 p.m. Monday, Sept. 11, at the intersection of Main and Second streets, a collision occurred between a 2013 Chevy sedan, driven by Kenneth H. Chase, 87, of Elsmere, and a 2000 Mitsubishi sedan, driven by Walter Mauch, 62, of Ainsworth.

The Chase Chevy was eastbound on Second Street and attempted to turn north on Main Street when the collision occurred with the Mauch Mitsubishi, which was southbound on Main Street.

A passenger in the Mitsubishi, Natasha Mauch, 20, of Ainsworth, was transported by the Brown County Ambulance Association to the Brown County Hospital for injuries suffered during the accident.

Both the Chevy and the Mitsubishi were considered total losses.

* Hollenbeck, Salzman are KBRB Football Contest Week 2 winners

(Posted 11:45 a.m. Sept. 12)

It was another tough week for our area prognosticators during the KBRB Football Contest. The card maker again threw some changeups at the pickers. Three misses were the best cards turned in by our area football fans in the 15 games on the Week 2 Football Contest Cards, and there were only two of those cards.

Ryan Salzman of Ainsworth and Britt Hollenbeck of Long Pine each missed three games on the card. Both missed Boone Central’s victory over O’Neill in the high school ranks, and Oklahoma’s win over Ohio State on the college side. Salzman also missed Duke’s win over Northwestern, and Hollenbeck missed Valentine’s victory over St. Paul.

That sent us to the tie-breaker, Oregon’s 42-35 win over the Huskers. Both Hollenbeck and Salzman picked the Huskers to win. Hollenbeck picked a score of 31-24 Nebraska, missing the total by 22 points. Salzman had the Huskers, 28-22, missing the total score by 30 points. That gives Britt Hollenbeck of Long Pine the first-place, $40 gift certificate and the Week 2 win. Ryan Salzman of Ainsworth receives the runner-up $10 certificate.

There were a handful of contestants who missed four games this week, including Ron Fernau and Andrew Walton of Ainsworth; Todd Hollenbeck, Terry Hollenbeck and Brent Goeken of Long Pine; Walker Shaw and Jordan Hollenbeck of Bassett; and Brett Swan of Springview.

The Boone Central and Valentine wins were the most widely missed on the high school side, and the Northwestern and Ohio State losses as well as Notre Dame’s loss to Georgia were the most widely missed on the college side.

Winners may pick up their certificates from the KBRB Studios. Week 3 KBRB Football Contest Cards are out now and available from Buckles Automotive, Roadrunner, and the Farmers-Ranchers Cooperative Ampride and Propane and Appliance stores in Ainsworth; the West Plains Bank of Springview; Circle B Livestock of Bassett; the Central Bar of Stuart; and the Atkinson Roadrunner.

Week 3 cards must be delivered to the KBRB Studios by 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, or carry a Friday postmark.

* Peterson discusses 2017-18 school budget on Open Line

(Posted 10:30 a.m. Sept. 12)

Ainsworth Community Schools Superintendent Darrell Peterson appeared on the school day edition of Open Line Tuesday, discussing the 2017-18 budget hearing and other items from Monday's meeting of the Board of Education.
To hear the report, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Open Line-Mr Peterson-9-12-17.mp3

* School Board adopts 2017-18 budget, with property owners saving $666,000

(Posted 7 a.m. Sept. 12)

Brown County property owners will pay $666,631 fewer tax dollars to support the 2017-18 Ainsworth Community Schools budget than they paid during the 2016-17 school year following the adoption Monday of a $9.62 million budget by the Board of Education.

The school addition bond is now completely paid, keeping the district from having to tax almost $300,000 on property in the county. The district did, however, include $247,474 in a special building fund for anticipated repairs to the current school buildings.

Taxpayers will pay just shy of $5.35 million to support the school’s general fund, which is more than $600,000 less than the $5.96 million paid to support the 2016-17 general fund.

With the overall valuation in Brown County rising only 0.06 percent for the 2017 tax year, compared to the more than 20 percent valuation increases the county had been experiencing, the 2017-18 levy rate to support the school district is 68.9 cents for every $100 in property valuation.

“The $5.3 million we are asking for the general fund is actually less than what it was two years ago,” Superintendent Darrell Peterson said. “Our levy has continued to go down, and we are actually taxing $666,000 less than we did last year. The bond fund dropped off, so we no longer have to pay on that, but we did add about 3 cents in the special building fund for some projects we have identified with the buildings.”

Total general fund disbursements for the 2017-18 year of $9.62 million is higher than the $9.36 million from the 2016-17 school year.

While the district has not received any substantial state aid since the 2013-14 school year, the district did pick up $53,537 in state assistance for the 2017-18 school year. That figure was zero the prior year.

The school district’s levy just two years ago was 95 cents per $100 in value. That levy rate is now 26 cents lower. The addition bond required more than 9 cents of levy during the 2016-17 year, but the bonds for the building addition are now completely paid.

Audience member Frank Beel said he appreciated that the district’s levy continues to drop.

“I am also glad you are setting aside some money for your ag building,” Beel said. “I think that is important.”

Following the public hearings, the board approved the 2017-18 budget and property tax request.

Peterson presented the board with options to make temporary repairs to the roof of the ag building, which has been leaking.

Options ranged between $20,000 and $30,000 for substantial roof repairs. With the board indicating a desire to construct a new ag building, the board opted to try and have any current holes patched to get through this year, with the superintendent estimating patching the current roof would only cost $1,000 to $1,500.

Board President Dan Dailey said he believed the district should simply patch the roof for now and plan for a new building next year.

Board member Jim Arens said, “It seems like a bad use of money to put that much into that building if we are looking at doing something else next year. Patching it might make some difference, but it is not going to fix it.”

Peterson said he would start looking into building plans for a new facility and provide the board with options on what it wants to do.

Board member Mark Johnson said getting plans would be a good start so the board could get an idea of which direction it wants to go.

Teacher Nichole Flynn thanked the board and the superintendent for allowing students to travel to Kearney for the solar eclipse. She presented Peterson with a tee shirt from the event and a bound folder with thank-you letters from the students.

“This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for these students,” Flynn said.

Sarah Williams and Sarah Carpenter presented the board with a report on the summer school program offered by the district.

Williams said summer school offerings were expanded this year, with two, three-week sessions that went five days each week instead of one, three-week session that went four days each week.

“The summer lunch program averaged 57 students and seven adults per day in June, and 51 students and seven adults per day in July,” Williams said.

Carpenter said 13 student volunteers assisted with summer school, and numerous volunteers from the community came in to provide learning opportunities for the students.

“We had a week of art projects with the art guild, and a technology week with a drone presentation from the ESU,” Carpenter said. “We made trips to Cottonwood Villa and to the care center, and we were able to take a trip to Ash Falls thanks to the Brown County Foundation.”

Carpenter said about 30 students attended summer school each day during the June session, and 28 per day attended during July.

During his report, elementary principal Mike Wentz told the board the elementary school has set a goal for the year to increase students’ vocabulary and comprehension. Students are given a pretest of vocabulary words, where even the top students may get only five of the 25 correct. Toward the end of the year, the students will be retested with the same words to gauge their progress.

“A majority of the words on the list each teacher created are new to these kids,” Wentz said.

Wentz also told the board the district has a few students with English language deficits to start the year.

“We have been working with them, doing assessments to see where they are,” Wentz said. “A couple students are being immersed in the English language.”

He said the goal was to bring them up to speed quickly with the language so they could be integrated into all the classes. Currently, they are being integrated into math, choir and physical education classes.

Peterson reported the Nebraska School Activities Association is changing its enrollment regulations, and are going to count the boys only for enrollment in boys sports such as football.

“We might actually be eligible for eight-man football next year and not have to opt down,” the superintendent said.

Board member Brad Wilkins said he felt like the kids were getting a better experience playing eight-man football.

“It feels like we are competing at the right level,” Wilkins said.

Peterson thanked the Beel Brothers Ranch for donating the first animal for the district’s local beef program. He said the district still needs additional donations of animals and money for processing to continue to serve students locally raised beef.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Community Schools Board of Education is scheduled for 8 p.m. Oct. 9.

* Murphy, Martinson named homecoming royalty for Ainsworth High School

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

Marley Murphy and Wyatt Martinson were crowned homecoming queen and king for Ainsworth High School Friday following the Bulldogs’ come-from-behind win in overtime against Hemingford.
Luke Peters and Claire Steinhauser were crowned homecoming prince and princess.
The other homecoming finalists were Maria Harthoorn, Jaycee Dillon, Morgan Osborn, Jacob Sinsel, Blake Schipporeit and Bo Painter.

* August is second wettest in Ainsworth's recorded weather history

(Posted 9 a.m. Sept. 8)

Ainsworth Weather Observer Gerry Osborne reported the city received 6.59 inches of rain during August, the second wettest August in the city's history behind only 1981. The rainy August comes just two months after the city experienced the driest June in its history when just over a half-inch of rain fell and the temperature gauge hit 90 degrees or better for 26 straight days.
To hear the complete August weather summary, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Gerry Osborne August 2017 weather.mp3

* Ainsworth grad Burdick appointed Eighth District County Court Judge by Ricketts

(Posted 11:45 a.m. Sept. 7)

Ainsworth High School graduate Kale Burdick has been appointed as a county court judge for the Eighth Judicial District County Court, based out of O’Neill.

Burdick was appointed by Gov. Pete Ricketts after previously being nominated as one of three finalists for the position.

Burdick, 32, is currently an Assistant Attorney General at the Nebraska Department of Justice. He is also a Special Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Nebraska. Burdick is a member of the Nebraska County Attorneys Association, and serves on the association's Legislative Committee.

Burdick holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business-Sociology, Cum Laude, from Nebraska Wesleyan University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Nebraska College of Law.

Burdick replaces Judge Alan Brodbeck on the bench. Brodbeck retired recently from the position.

 

* Ainsworth High School homecoming royalty to be crowned Friday

 

(Posted 11:45 a.m. Sept. 7)

 

Ainsworth High School is in the middle of homecoming week, with homecoming royalty crowned during the Bulldogs’ football game Friday against Hemingford.

This year’s king candidates are seniors Jacob Sinsel, who was nominated by A-Club; Luke Peters, fine arts nominee; Wyatt Martinson, fall sports nominee; Blake Schipporeit, vocational club nominee; and Bo Painter, senior class nominee.

Candidates for Ainsworth High School homecoming queen are Morgan Osborn, A-Club nominee; Marley Murphy, fine arts nominee; Claire Steinhauser, fall sports nominee; Maria Harthoorn, vocational club nominee; and Jaycee Dillon, senior class nominee.

The annual homecoming dance follows the football game Friday.

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 10 a.m. Sept. 7)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a one-vehicle accident that occurred Saturday, Sept. 2, in Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 10 p.m. Saturday at the Pump & Pantry parking lot, a 2010 Dodge pickup, driven by Shannon Hagemann, 36, of Albion, was backing from a parking stall when the front of the pickup struck a light pole.
No injuries were reported. Damage to the Dodge was estimated at $5,000. The light pole, owned by the Nebraska Public Power District, sustained approximately $500 damage.

* Rural firefighters express frustration to commissioners over way funds are allocated

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

Members of the Johnstown, South Pine and Calamus volunteer fire departments again discussed with the Brown County Commissioners Tuesday how property tax funding was being allocated by the Brown County Rural Fire Protection District Board, and asked the commissioners to help negotiate a reallocation of funding to each of the six departments within the rural fire district.

Jake Graff, a member of the Johnstown department, said the main issue the volunteer departments have is with the way the rural fire board distributes the tax dollars allocated through the annual levy on property in the county.

“Johnstown has $21,000 in its account, and that is money we have raised ourselves,” Graff said. “Those aren’t taxpayer dollars. We have taxpayers in our area asking why their property tax dollars are not being used to help the Johnstown department.”

Graff said the rural fire board is trying to require volunteer firefighters to sign on to standard operating guidelines, but is not providing any funding to the volunteer departments.

“They are threatening that if we don’t sign, they won’t allow us to serve on the fire department,” Graff said.

Brown County Attorney David Streich said the rural fire board does not have the authority to tell each volunteer department who can serve.

“Even though there are multiple fire departments in the county, they all operate under one district,” Streich said. “There has been a common levy since at least the 1960s.”

Johnstown firefighter Wade Buechle asked if each volunteer fire department could receive the property tax dollars within its coverage area, but Streich said current Nebraska legislation does not allow smaller districts to be created from larger districts.

“It would require a legislative change to be able to try and make each fire department separate from the rural fire district,” the county attorney said.

Johnstown fireman Duane Sedlacek said the Johnstown department could operate on a 2-cent levy, saving property owners in that coverage area money from the 3.5-cent to 4-cent levy that is currently being collected.

“I am not sure where all that money is going, because it is not going back to us at the Johnstown department,” Sedlacek said.

South Pine Department volunteer Jeep Cozad said, currently, the volunteer firefighters are personally paying for fuel and repairs to fire department vehicles because there is not enough money in the account to cover the expense before the department can try to receive reimbursement through the rural fire district.

Representing the firefighters, attorney Todd Flynn told the commissioners the issue boils down to the rural fire departments do not feel they are able to adequately provide fire coverage for their area without receiving a proper share of funding from the rural fire district.

“These firefighters want to illustrate to you that the funds are not being spent to best provide fire protection to the public,” Flynn said. “The bottom line is, the Johnstown, South Pine and Calamus departments are operating on a fraction of the funding they should receive. These departments are just asking for equality.”

Flynn urged the commissioners to try to broker negotiations with the Brown County Rural Fire Board to come up with an annual allocation of funding to each department to address the concerns that have been raised.

“This is the third time we have come to the commissioners for assistance,” Flynn said. “I find it telling there is no rural fire board representation at this meeting. We are willing to negotiate with the rural board.”

Flynn said the treasurer’s report during the most recent rural fire board meeting indicated the rural district had more than $680,000 in funding between its general account, sinking fund and CDs.

The commissioners agreed to hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13, in the Ainsworth Fire Hall to coincide with the next meeting of the Brown County Rural Fire Protection District Board.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners appointed Brent Diebler to the Brown County Hospital Board of Trustees to fill the remainder of Crystal Dailey’s term, which expires in 2020. Dailey recently resigned from the Board of Trustees after accepting an employment position that created a conflict of interest for her to continue serving on the board.

Hospital Administrator Shannon Sorensen and Chief Financial Officer Lisa Wood presented the commissioners with information from the recently completed 2017 fiscal year for the Brown County Hospital.

Wood reported the hospital generated $9.57 million in revenue during the 2017 fiscal year, which was down $181,845 from 2016’s operating revenue. Expenses of $9.87 million were $32,407 less than 2016, for an operating loss of $304,459.

The expenses include the interest payments for the hospital addition bond. When the taxpayer-approved bond addition money is figured into the equation, the hospital finished the 2017 fiscal year with an operating margin of 2 percent, or $194,432.

Wood reported the hospital has 167 days of operating cash on hand, and another 62 days of cash in its current accounts receivable.

Sorensen and Wood presented the commissioners with the 2018 fiscal year budget approved by the Board of Trustees, which calls for $9.95 million in operating expenses and projects operating revenue of $9.8 million or a net operating loss of $151,020.

When factoring in the voter-approved addition bond contribution, the hospital would have an operating margin of $304,480.

Capital improvements in the hospital’s 2018 budget total $614,500, and include $130,000 for upgraded medication dispensing cabinets for the pharmacy, $85,000 for an upgraded security system for the facility, and $85,000 toward continuing its electronic medical records implementation.

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus asked about the decline in inpatient days, which Wood said was a trend in the medical field as services move more toward an outpatient basis. She provided the commissioners with information on the declines nationwide since 2008 of inpatient volumes. Changes in health care reform have led to fewer inpatient days and more days spent in observation status and outpatient care.

The commissioners opened sealed bids Tuesday for meal service provided to the jail. Big John’s Restaurant submitted the lone bid of $9 for each lunch and $9 for each dinner delivered to the jail.

Following discussion, the board voted to contract with Big John’s for $9 for each lunch delivered, with the sheriff’s department serving an evening meal to inmates.

The board voted to ratify action taken during an emergency meeting Aug. 31, providing a levy of 3.5 cents to the Brown County Rural Fire Protection District and $53,630 to the Brown County Agricultural Society, with $20,000 of that allocation going to reimburse the Inheritance Tax Fund for money the Agricultural Society used to upgrade the fairgrounds arena.

The board approved signing a letter of support for the Sand Draw box culvert replacement project as part of the Long Pine Creek Watershed project through the Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District.

In other action items Tuesday, the commissioners approved a resolution to purchase the delinquent real estate taxes from 2015 on one parcel in the county, and approved a budgeted transfer of $300,000 from the county’s general fund to the highway fund.

Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin reported the roads department has been fixing roads that washed out with the recent rains, and is hauling clay to put on the Moon Lake Road, West Calamus Road and Mule Deer Road.

Turpin reported the county has put 1,608 hours of use on its excavator since purchasing the machine, which would have cost the county $225,000 or more had it rented an excavator for those amount of hours.

Prior to adjourning, the commissioners announced an opportunity for the community to name the new canine unit purchased by the sheriff's department.

County residents may call the county clerk's office at 387-2705 or the treasurer's office at 387-2650 and vote to name the dog Dutch, Riggs or Rudy. The deadline to call in a vote is 5 p.m. Thursday.

The commissioners have a special meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 13 in the Ainsworth Fire Hall. The next regular meeting of the board is set for 8:15 a.m. Sept. 19.

* Hollenbeck, Shaw take top spots in KBRB Football Contest

(Posted 1 p.m. Sept. 5)

It was a tough opening week of games for the KBRB Football Contest. With some perceived upsets in both the college and high school ranks on the Week 1 cards, there were no perfect cards submitted.

In fact, missing two games was good enough to win a prize for the week. The most widely missed games were Maryland’s upset of Texas in the college ranks, and Arcadia-Loup City’s two-point win over Valentine in the high school portion of the card.

Bassett pickers had the best prognosticator glasses for the week, with Harlee Hollenbeck and Kim Shaw each missing two games. Hollenbeck missed both the Arcadia-Loup City and the Maryland wins, while Shaw missed on South Loup’s win over Ainsworth and Colorado’s 17-3 win over in-state rival Colorado State.

That sent us to the tie-breaker, Nebraska’s 43-36 victory over Arkansas State. Again, the scores were close. Hollenbeck picked the Huskers to win, 41-16, while Shaw had the Huskers, 42-13. By a two-point tie-breaker margin, Harlee Hollenbeck of Bassett is the Week 1 winner of the $40 KBRB Football Contest, with Shaw receiving the second-place $10 prize.

Week 2 KBRB Football Contest cards are available now from Buckles Automotive, the Farmers-Ranchers Cooperative Ampride and Propane and Appliance stores, the Ainsworth Roadrunner, West Plains Bank of Springview, Circle B Livestock at Bassett, the Central Bar of Stuart, and from the Atkinson Roadrunner.

Week 2 cards must be submitted to the KBRB Studios by 4 p.m. Friday or carry a Friday postmark if mailed.

* Sheriff's department makes 2 DUI arrests during 'You Drink & Drive, You Lose'

(Posted 11:45 a.m. Sept. 5)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department, through funding provided by the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety, participated in the national “You Drink & Drive, You Lose” crackdown from Aug. 8 through Sept. 4. The campaign is designed to increase public awareness and make roadways safer by removing impaired drivers.

The sheriff’s department joined law enforcement officers nationwide in an effort to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on the roadways during the Labor Day holiday period.

Three deputies worked a total of 71 hours of overtime during the campaign, and made one arrest on a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol and one on a charge of driving under the influence of drugs.

In addition, the sheriff’s department issued nine citations to motorists on speeding charges, one on a charge of careless driving, two for failing to signal a turn, two on charges of driving during revocation, one on a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia, and one motorist was arrested on a charge of possession of a concealed weapon.

The sheriff’s department also issued 73 warnings during the enforcement period. The department used regular enforcement, saturation patrols and an enforcement zone during the campaign.

Brown County Sheriff Bruce Papstein thanks motorists for doing their part to make roads safer by always designating a sober driver.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

(Posted 8:30 p.m. Sept. 3)

Aug. 27

  • Received a request for traffic control for cattle crossing Hwy 20 West of Johnstown.

  • The Ainsworth Firemen responded to a report of a fire alarm going off at the Ainsworth Grade School.

  • Received a report of a lost dog in rural Ainsworth area.

  • Received a report of a truck passing through Brown Co, with a possible short in the lights.

    Aug. 28

  • Investigated a report of a possible suicidal subject in Ainsworth.

  • Responded to a report of a runaway juvenile in Ainsworth. The subject was located.

  • Received a report of a cow out on the county road South of Long Pine.

  • Responded to a report of a reckless driver on Hwy 20.

  • Responded to a report of a juvenile driving recklessly around the Ainsworth School.

    Aug. 29

  • Investigated a report of suspicious activity on East 1st St Ainsworth.

  • Performed a traffic stop on a possible intoxicated driver.

  • The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued a burn permit for property located West of Ainsworth.

  • The Johnstown Fire Dept issued a burn permit for the Brown Co Fairgrounds.

  • Assisted a Long Pine resident with a report of a stray dog. The report was turned over to the Long Pine Mayor. 

    Aug. 30

  • Responded to a report of a vehicle speeding in a work zone, South of Ainsworth.

  • Received a report of lost cattle in rural Ainsworth area.

    Aug. 31

  • Assisted an individual with a report of possible criminal activity in Ainsworth.

  • Booked a subject into the Brown Co Jail on a court ordered commitment.

  • Received a report of stray dogs on West 3rd St Ainsworth.

  • Responded to a report of a possibly aggressive dog on North Osborne St Ainsworth.

    Sept. 1

  • The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued a burn permit for property located East & North of Ainsworth.

  • The Brown Co Ambulance Svce transported a patient from the Brown Co Hospital to the Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney.

  • Received a dog complaint on N Maple St Ainsworth.

    Sept 2

  • Issued a citation for minor in possession in Johnstown.

  • Investigated a report of an accident without injury at Pump and Pantry.

    Weekly Summary
    3 - Fix-It Tickets Were Issued.
    2 - Handgun Permits Applied For
    13 - Incidents Reports Were Taken.
    10 - Paper Service Was Served.
    188 - Phone Calls Were Receive
    0 - 911 Emergency Calls Received 
    7 - Titles Were Inspected.
    6 - Traffic Citations Were Issued.
    26 - Verbal & Written Warnings Issued.

    August Summary
    8 - Arrests
    99 -Calls for Service 
    11 - Citations were issued
    10 - Defect Cards issued
    9 - Handgun permits issued
    46 - Paper Service served
    740 - Phone calls were received
    22 - 911 emergency calls received
    19 - Titles inspected
    53 - Verbal & Written Warnings issued

* Sorensen receives Masters Degree in health care administration

(Posted 9 a.m. Aug. 31)

Clarkson College of Omaha announced Shannon M. Sorensen of Ainsworth graduated Aug. 5 with a Master of Science degree in health care administration.
Sorensen received the Academic Excellence Award, and she is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success Sigma Alpha Pi Interdisciplinary Honor Society.
Sorensen is the Brown County Hospital administrator and chief executive officer.

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 2 p.m. Aug. 30)

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

Lucas S. Tilak, age 24, of Fargo, N.D., charged with speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, fined $75.

Mardi Lee Temperley, 53, of Austin, Minn., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Destiny K. Norris, 25, of Lincoln, disturbing the peace, $300.

Karki Deepak, 24, of Marshall, Minn., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Jennifer L. Karnett, 37, of Omaha, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Victoria H. Sise, 31, of Buena Vista, Colo., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Chase C. Gill, 31, of Sioux City, Iowa, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Bethaney J. Moessner, 59, of Elkhorn, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Chandler L. Ritche, 19, of Sargent, speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125; also charged with driving left of center, $25.

Gerald M. Salzer, 52, of Sauk Rapids, Minn., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Alison Vandeutekom, 36, of Fredrick, Colo., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Joshua B. Donald, 40, of Melville, Mont., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Sarah J. Flynn, 22, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Tristin L. Fobroy, 31, of Ainsworth, third-degree assault, $100.

Glenn L. Johnson, 56, of Ainsworth, disturbing the peace, costs-only judgment.

Joseph S. Ward, 36, of Ainsworth, disturbing the peace, sentenced to five days in jail with credit for one day served.

Micah J. Ellengerger, 27, of Norfolk, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Pedro R. Solis-Rodriguez, 27, of Albuquerque, N.M., speeding 21-35 mph over the limit, $200.

Amanda P. Walthour, 29, of Aurora, Colo., possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Ramon J. Lamar, 36, of Howells, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Jacob J. Fernau, 18, of Ainsworth, negligent driving, $25.

Justin W. Boone, 21, of White Oak, Texas, attempt of a Class 4 felony, $1,000; also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Bradley A. Gambill, 52, of Johnstown, careless driving, $100.

Seth Strinni, 58, of Fredrick, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Bonnie C. McConkey, 65, of Aurora, Colo., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Theresa J. Beckmann, 28, of Tempe, Ariz., speeding 21-35 mph over the limit, $200.

Mark Brandt, 56, of Omaha, no park permit, $25.

Charles J. Grafton, 40, of Ainsworth, attempt of a Class 4 felony, sentenced to six months of probation.

Larry E. Tschetter, 48, of Hartford, S.D., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Mark W. McNally, 61, of Ainsworth, first offense reckless driving, $500 and sentenced to six months of probation.

* Work to begin Thursday on Highway 91 between Taylor and Burwell

(Posted 7 a.m. Aug. 30)

Weather permitting, work is scheduled to begin Thursday on Highway 91 at the junction of Highway 183 at Taylor extending east to the junction of Highways 11 at Burwell, according to the Nebraska Department of Transportation.
Monarch Oil, of Omaha has the $451,055 contract for micro-surfacing the lanes, which is a preventative treatment that seals and smooths the road.
Traffic will be maintained with flaggers and a pilot car. The project is anticipated to be completed in September.
The Department of Transportation project manager is Carl Hart of Ainsworth. Motorists can expect delays, reduced speed and are urged to use caution while driving through construction zones.

* Schlueter appears on KBRB's Open Line school-day edition Tuesday

(Posted 7 a.m. Aug. 30)

Ainsworth Community Schools guidance counselor Lisa Schlueter appeared on KBRB's Open Line program Tuesday, discussing the upcoming homecoming week activities as well as ACT and college financial aid information.
To hear the report, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Open Line-Mrs Schleuter-8-29-17.mp3

* KBRB Football Contest begins

(Posted 7 a.m. Aug. 28)

The KBRB Football Contest Cards are back! Week 1 cards are available now from Buckles Automotive, the Farmers-Ranchers Cooperative Ampride and Propane and Appliance stores, Ainsworth Roadrunner, the West Plains Bank of Springview, Circle B Livestock of Bassett, the Central Bar at Stuart, and at the Atkinson Roadrunner.
Pick the winners of the high school and college games and the tie-breaker score, and you could win the weekly $40 first-place prize or the $10 weekly runner-up prize.
The deadline to submit cards to the KBRB Studios is 5 p.m. Friday, or the cards must carry a Friday postmark.

* Lions Club accepts new members, installs new playground equipment

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

The Ainsworth Lions Club received membership applications from Rick and Millicent Orvis during its recent meeting. They were sponsored by Vergil Heyer. The Ainsworth Lions Club now consists of 38 members.

The club received a thank-you note from the family of the late Scott Ritter for the Melvin Jones Fellowship recognition. The Melvin Jones Fellowship was presented to Ritter’s family members during the club’s annual family picnic July 17. A total of 20 members and 18 guests attended the annual picnic. The 2017-18 officers and directors were seated during that event.

Todd Mundhenke reviewed the preparation and serving of the meal during the Ainsworth High School alumni banquet held June 24.

A park playground work session was held Aug. 19 with Evan Evans, Rita Paddock, Roland Paddock, Larry Rice, Brian Williams, Chuck Osborn, Todd Mundhenke, Brenda Mundhenke and Jerry Ehlers assisting. A swing and a bench were installed at the Courthouse Park. Plans continue for the installation of borders around all the playground equipment at the Courthouse Park and East City Park. 

The Lions Club operated a concession booth during the Airport Authority’s 75th anniversary celebration July 29, with Gary Kinzie, Jerry Ehlers, Larry Rice, Vergil Heyer, Roland Paddock, Rita Paddock, Todd Mundhenke, David Spann, Bill Lentz, Connie Lentz, Steve Hapner, Phil Fuchs and Rhonda Lechtenberg assisting. 

The “Adopt-A-Highway” cleanup project along Highway 20 east of Ainsworth will be held Sept. 24 or Oct. 1.  Project chair Shannon Sorenson will announce the exact date soon.

Plans for the concession booth at the Brown County Fair were presented by chair Jim Arens. A worksheet is being prepared. Arens will contact members while setting the schedule.

Jerry Ehlers presented a worksheet for varsity football ticket takers. The signup worksheet will be sent to all members for ticket takers on Sept. 1, Sept. 8, Sept. 29, and Oct. 13.

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Lions Club is scheduled for Sept. 18.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

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

August 20

Responded to a report of suspicious activity on South Walnut St Ainsworth.

  • Provided Public Service by securing a business, with an open door, after hours.

  • Responded to a report of a cattle pot parked in residential area, Ainsworth.

  • Assisted an Ainsworth resident with a report of suspicious activity on East 4th St Ainsworth.

  • Investigated a report of a possible protection order violation in Ainsworth.

  • Released a subject from the Brown Co Jail as their sentence was complete.

    August 21

  • Investigated a report of a bull that had been struck by a vehicle in rural Ainsworth area.

  • Received a request for security checks on a residence in Ainsworth.

  • Investigated a hit and run accident that occurred West of Ainsworth.

  • Booked a subject into the Brown Co Jail on a court ordered commitment.

  • The Brown Co Ambulance transported an individual from a residence on East 4th St, Ainsworth, to the Brown Co Hospital.

  • The Brown Co Ambulance transported an individual from a residence in Hidden Paradise to the Brown Co Hospital.

    August 22

  • Responded to a report of an injured deer on Hwy 183 near Keller Park.

  • The Brown Co Ambulance responded to an emergency call in Hidden Paradise. No one was transported at that time.

    August 23

  • Removed unsupervised juveniles from the Ainsworth Conference Center.

  • Responded to a report of suspicious activity on North Elm St Ainsworth.

  • Cited an individual for driving under revocation near Long Pine Spur on Hwy 20.

  • Arrested a subject for driving under the influence and booked them into the Brown Co Jail.

  • The Ainsworth Fire Dept responded to a report of a fire alarm going of at the Ainsworth Grade School.

    August 24

  • Released a subject from the Brown Co Jail on bond.

  • Responded to a request to remove an unwanted subject from the Brown Co Hospital.

  • Received a request for a civil standby on North Main St Ainsworth.

    August 25

  • Released a subject from the Brown Co Jail as their sentence was complete.

  • The Brown Co Ambulance responded to a report of a lifeline alert. No one was transported at the time.

  • Received a report of a cow out on Meadville Ave, North of Ainsworth.

    August 26

  • Cited an individual for driving under revocation on Hwy 20 West of Ainsworth.

  • The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued 2 burn permits. #1 for property located East and North of Ainsworth. #2 for property located East of Ainsworth.

  • The Brown Co Ambulance transported a patient from the Brown Co Hospital to the Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney.

    Weekly Summary
    3 - Fix-It Tickets Were Issued.
    1 - Handgun Permits Applied For
    14 - Incidents Reports Were Taken.
    11 - Paper Service Was Served.
    143 - Phone Calls Were Received
    6 - 911 Emergency Calls Received 
    4 - Titles Were Inspected.
    3 - Traffic Citations Were Issued.
    11 - Verbal & Written Warnings Issued.

* Burdick, Borders among nominees for open judgeship in Eighth Circuit Court

(Posted noon Aug. 23)

The Judicial Nominating Commission for the County Court, Eighth Judicial District, provided three names for the Governor’s consideration for a vacancy on the court: Michael S. Borders, Broken Bow; Kale B. Burdick, Lincoln; and Martin V. Klein, Petersburg.
Borders, in addition to his private law practice, currently serves as the public defender for Brown County. Burdick is an Ainsworth High School graduate and is currently employed by the Nebraska Attorney General's office.
The Eighth Judicial District consists of Blaine, Boyd, Brown, Cherry, Custer, Garfield, Greeley, Holt, Howard, Keya Paha, Loup, Rock, Sherman, Valley and Wheeler counties.
The primary place of office for the judicial vacancy is O’Neill. The vacancy is due to the retirement of Judge Alan L. Brodbeck.

* Lentz discusses eclipse field trip, school activities during Tuesday Open Line

(Posted 10:15 a.m. Aug. 22)

Ainsworth Community Schools Secondary Principal Bill Lentz appeared on KBRB's Open Line program Tuesday, discussing the trip middle school students took to Kearney for Monday's eclipse, and highlighting some upcoming activities at the school.
To hear the report, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Open Line-ACS Mr Lentz 8-22-17.mp3

* Sheriff's Department participating in 'You Drink & Drive, You Lose' crackdown

(Posted 7 a.m. Aug. 21)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department is once again participating in the “You Drink and Drive, You Lose” enforcement crackdown on impaired driving. Through funding provided by the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety, the sheriff’s department will focus on removing impaired drivers from the roadway through Sept. 4.

The sheriff’s department will enforce all traffic laws and aggressively monitor for impaired driving. On average, there is one alcohol-related fatality on the nation’s roadways every 51 minutes. Drunk driving takes a terrible toll on the country, killing almost 10,000 people each year. This tragic loss of life can be reduced if impaired drivers are removed from the roadway.

Anyone who sees a suspected drunk driver is encouraged to immediately contact local law enforcement by dialing 911. Anyone who sees someone about to drive impaired is encouraged to take the keys and help make other arrangements to get the person where they are going. Anyone who plans to drink should always designate a sober driver first.

Research has shown that high-visibility enforcement, like the “You Drink and Drive, You Lose” campaign, can reduce alcohol-impaired driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent. By joining the nationwide enforcement, the sheriff’s department is making roadways safer during the Labor Day holiday period.

Impaired drivers face jail time, the loss of their driver’s license and steep financial consequences including higher insurance rates, attorney fees, court costs and potential job loss.

Brown County Sheriff Bruce Papstein said driving impaired is not worth the risk, so don’t take the chance. He encouraged motorists to drive sober, or get pulled over.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

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

Aug 13

Responded to a report of suspicious activity in the Subway parking lot.
  • The Brown Co Ambulance transported an Ainsworth resident to the Brown Co Hospital.

  • Responded to a report of a homemade go-cart racing around Long Pine.

  • Received a report of an unlicensed vehicle being driven in Long Pine.

  • Investigated a report of juveniles racing around Long Pine in an UTV.

  • Released a subject from the Brown Co Jail, as their sentence was complete.

  • Booked a subject into the Brown Co Jail on an arrest warrant for stalking.

    Aug 14

  • Investigated a report of vandalism to the Post Office in Long Pine.

  • Assisted individuals with a report of trespassing in rural Ainsworth area.

  • The Brown Co Hospital transported an Ainsworth resident to the Brown Co Hospital.

  • Assisted a Brown Co resident in locating lost livestock.

  • Transported a dog to the Ainsworth Veterinary Clinic. The owner claimed the dog.

  • Investigated vandalism to a vehicle on North Wilson St Ainsworth.

  • Assisted with an out of control juvenile in Ainsworth.

  • Released a subject from the Brown Co Jail on bond.

    Aug 15

  • Investigated a report of a possible domestic assault in Ainsworth.

  • Received a report of suspicious activity on Main St Ainsworth.

  • Assisted Health & Human Services with a welfare check on Brown Co residents.

  • Investigated a report of harassment in Ainsworth.

  • Responded to a report of a juvenile dispute at the Ainsworth Community Center.

  • Responded to a report of a domestic assault in rural Brown Co.

  • Responded to a report of a domestic disturbance in Ainsworth.

  • A subject was taken into emergency protective custody and transferred to the Faith Regional Center in Norfolk.

    Aug 16

  • Assisted a subject with a report of suspicious activity in Long Pine.

  • Received a report of an unrestrained child in a vehicle in Long Pine.

  • Investigated a report of suspicious activity at the Courthouse Park, Ainsworth.

  • The Ainsworth Fire Dept issued a burn permit for property located in rural Brown Co.

    Aug 17

  • Investigated a report of a possible assault at a business in Ainsworth.

  • Received a report of a subject possibly needing adult protective services in Brown Co.

  • Responded to a report of suspicious activity in Long Pine.

    Aug 18

  • Received a report of a possible truant juvenile.

  • Investigated a report of a missing juvenile from Ainsworth.

  • A dog was transported to the Ainsworth Veterinary Clinic. The dog was claimed by it’s owner.

  • Responded to a report of juveniles driving recklessly in rural Ainsworth area.

  • Investigated a report of possible child neglect or abuse.

  • Assisted a Brown Co resident with a report of possible threats.

  • Released a subject from the Brown Co Jail on bond.

    Aug 19

  • The Brown Co Ambulance transported a Long Pine resident to the Brown Co Hospital.

  • Responded to a report of a gas drive off from a service station in Ainsworth.
     
    Weekly Summary
    4 - Fix-It Tickets Were Issued.
    3 - Handgun Permits Applied For
    31 - Incidents Reports Were Taken.
    10 - Paper Service Was Served.
    176 - Phone Calls Were Received
    8 - 911 Emergency Calls Received 
    1 - Titles Were Inspected.
    0 - Traffic Citations Were Issued
    12 - Verbal & Written Warnings Issued.

* Area counties show mixed taxable sales results in May

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

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of May 2017 and May 2016 Net Taxable Sales
for Nebraska Counties and Selected Cities

County
or City

2017
Net Taxable
Sales

2016
Net Taxable
Sales

Percent
Change

2017
Sales Tax
5.5%

2016
Sales Tax
5.5%

Boyd

946,885

1,027,824

(7.9)

52,078.79

56,530.46

Brown

2,700,605

2,730,352

(1.1)

148,533.50

150,169.54

Ainsworth

2,507,342

2,601,513

(3.6)

137,904.00

143,083.36

Cherry

5,772,010

5,610,116

2.9

317,460.90

308,556.88

Valentine

5,625,774

5,467,198

2.9

309,417.85

300,696.26

Holt

9,005,769

9,641,222

(6.6)

495,317.86

530,267.82

Atkinson

1,539,066

1,511,534

1.8

84,648.79

83,134.53

O'Neill

6,356,978

6,603,195

(3.7)

349,634.09

363,175.99

Keya Paha

219,507

253,379

(13.4)

12,072.91

13,935.87

Rock

601,802

529,212

13.7

33,099.16

29,106.72

Valley

3,406,632

3,286,060

3.7

187,365.01

180,733.54

Ord

3,050,376

2,784,948

9.5

167,770.89

153,172.31

State Total

$2,486,653,924

$2,348,569,032

5.9

$136,738,544.20

$129,299,292.92

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of May 2017 and May 2016
Motor Vehicle Sales Tax Collections by County

County
or City

2017
Net Taxable
Sales

2016
Net Taxable
Sales

Percent
Change

2017
Sales Tax
5.5%

2016
Sales Tax
5.5%

Blaine

148,747

20,101

640

8,117.06

1,084.73

Boyd

429,126

492,332

(12.8)

23,619.01

27,144.30

Brown

681,707

760,444

(10.4)

37,648.26

42,131.52

Cherry

1,486,750

1,407,488

5.6

82,116.69

77,898.90

Holt

2,752,139

2,631,310

4.6

152,319.63

145,741.40

Keya Paha

308,790

203,727

51.6

16,975.40

11,197.97

Rock

240,430

492,791

(51.2)

13,257.68

27,192.87

Valley

699,055

885,685

(21.1)

38,665.44

49,063.33

State Total

$365,983,291

$339,061,618

7.9

$20,300,657.56

$18,806,864.04

* School Board hears information on opening of 2017-18 year at Ainsworth

(Posted 5:30 p.m. Aug. 16)

By Larry Rice

"Off to a good start" seemed to be the theme of Ainsworth Community Schools personnel addressing the board of education at their meeting Monday. Monday marked the first day for students for the 2017-2018 school year.

Elementary Principal Mike Wentz announced that current enrollment for K-6 is 199 students plus 23 in the Little Paws preschool.

Superintendent Darrell Peterson reported that the school has received some drug forfeiture money and thus will be donating $5,000 to the Brown County Fund to help purchase a drug dog for the Brown County Sheriff’s Department. He said "we are excited about this new tool in fighting drug use in the county and will regularly use this dog at the school."

He also announced plans and procedures to allow students to witness the Solar Eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21. Arrangements have been made for middle school students grades 5-8 to take a field trip to the University of Nebraska Kearney. Parents will have a choice, by signing a permission form, to allow or not allow their student to participate in the field trip and view the eclipse or not to participate and stay in Ainsworth. UNK will provide a free lunch, safety glasses and reserved seating in UNK Cope Stadium. All other students will be allowed to view the experience here and the school will provide safety glasses.

Co-Activities Directors Scott Steinhauser and Jared Hansmeyer presented designed logos with original artwork for the school consideration in addition to information on opening events and activities. Girls golf team opens at the O’Neill Invitational Aug. 17. Football and volleyball at Ravenna August 25. Cross country hosting an invitational on August 31.

A video program and information was presented to the board of education by the Ainsworth TeamMates board members Wade Alberts, Lisa Chohon, Lisa Schlueter, Shannon Sorensen, Scott Steinhauser and Brad Wilkins. They reported that TeamMates has been a part of the school system since 2014. Currently there are 21 student mentees meeting weekly with an adult mentor. This program is currently serving students in grades 5 thru 10. They need more volunteer adult mentors and anyone interested or wanting more information about the program should contact any of the TeamMates leaders.

In action items for the school board, they approved second reading policy on school food procurement, school wellness policy, and meal charge policy.

The board also approved option enrollment requests for 8th grade student Hardin Voss to attend Rock County, 2nd grade student Ray Warren to Sandhills and kindergarten student Ellie Dillion to Rock County.

The board also approved the staff teaching, coaching, sponsor and other extracurricular activity assignments.

The board will hold a special meeting 7:30 p.m. August 30 to approve final expenditures for the 2016-17 school year and public hearings on the proposed 2017-2018 budget and tax request 8 p.m. September 11 followed by the regular monthly board meeting.

* Taylor receives scholarship from Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation

(Posted 1 p.m. Aug. 11)

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation awarded the Nebraska Rural Radio Foundation Scholarship in Honor of Max & Eric Brown to Sasha Taylor of Ainsworth. 

The $2,000 scholarship awards non-traditional students, age 25 or older, living in Nebraska’s rural communities. Taylor is pursuing a nursing degree through Mid-Plains Community College at the Valentine Extended Campus.

Taylor’s long term goal is to remain on the family farm with her husband and children and continue to raise them in the rural lifestyle. After her youngest child starts kindergarten, she wants to make a positive commitment to the quality of life in rural Nebraska by providing access to healthcare close to home.

“There is a need for nurses in my community, and I have a passion for helping people,” Taylor said. “This scholarship will help me pursue training to be a nurse in my home community, and I am grateful for the support of my education and my community’s continued success.”

Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, said, “Sasha has shown a commitment to rural Nebraska and agriculture. It is because of outstanding individuals like Sasha that the future of Nebraska is in good hands.”

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation took over the Nebraska Rural Radio Foundation Scholarship in Honor of Max & Eric Brown when the Nebraska Rural Radio Foundation dissolved in April of this year.

* Council approves moving forward with nuisance code notices, citations

(Posted 7 a.m. Aug. 10)

The city of Ainsworth will begin issuing notices for nuisance violations and unlicensed vehicles after the City Council Wednesday approved moving forward with drafts of two notices that will be enforced by the sheriff’s department.

City Administrator Lisa Schroedl presented the council with drafts of two potential notices property owners would be issued if they are found to have nuisance violations or unlicensed vehicles on their property.

Brown County Sheriff Bruce Papstein said he spoke to the Gothenburg Chief of Police.

“Their officers approach property owners with these notices if they see something,” Papstein said. “The property owner is then issued a citation if the junk is not removed within five days or a vehicle within 30 days.”

Mayor Larry Rice said he is seeing numerous trailers and boats that are unlicensed, and asked if those would be handled the same way as vehicles. Papstein said anything that is required to be licensed would fall under the notice.

“On vehicles, we would just as soon have the judge handle the order before we go onto private property and remove a vehicle,” Papstein said. “Not many go to court, but some people do contest the order.”

Audience member Jim Arens said there was a small group of residents who have been meeting to look for ways to help improve the community.

“The nuisance issue is something we felt needed to be moved on right away,” Arens said.

Audience member Mark Miles said, if some of the penalties for the violations were more strict initially, it would likely lead to better compliance.

“We think there needs to be better follow-up,” Miles said.

Rice said moving forward with the notices and issuing a few citations would likely lead to more people cleaning things up.

Schroedl said city ordinance says fines for nuisance violation citations could range up to $500.

Papstein said Gothenburg seems to get along pretty well with the system it has in place.

“It can become a continuous process instead of breaking the city down into quadrants,” the sheriff said. “So that everything is uniform, I think the notice should be issued by the city office staff and then delivered by the officer so each officer is not doing something different.”

The council agreed to have City Attorney Rod Palmer and County Attorney David Streich go through the two proposed notices to see if any changes were needed. The item will be placed on the council’s next agenda to approve having the sheriff’s department issue the notices.

In a related item, the council discussed going back to review the nuisance abatement orders the city issued to property owners in 2014, 2015 and 2016 to see if the violations had been addressed or if the city needed to abate the violations and assess the cost to the property owner.

Rice said the City Council issued two abatement notices in 2014, nine in 2015, and five in 2016 after property owners did not clear the violation upon initial contact.

Schroedl said she would get the letters from those notices put together on what the property owners were required to abate. The council could then see if the owner complied, or if the city needed to take further action.

Councilwoman Deb Hurless said, even though the city has not followed through on some of the violations, the city could still send letters to those who did not comply informing them the city would abate the nuisance violation and charge the cost to the property owner if the problem is not addressed.

Rice said the Board of Health has also been touring the city, addressing additional properties that were not included on the abatement lists.

Councilman Chuck Osborn said the council should go back through all the previous violations during its next meeting.

In other business Wednesday, the council approved the low bid of $25,600 submitted by Miller and Associates of Kearney to update the city’s comprehensive plan and conduct a housing study.

Hanna-Keelen of Lincoln submitted a bid of $36,000. Lincoln firm JEO Engineering bid $52,840 for the work, and RDG Planning of Omaha supplied a bid of $55,800.

Schroedl said she had worked with both Miller and Associates and JEO Engineering during her time with the city, and was happy with the services they provided.

Judy Peterson with Central Nebraska Economic Development District said the city could apply for NIFA funds for up to 30 percent of the cost of the housing study, and could apply for a Community Development Block Grant to cover up to 25 percent of the cost of the comprehensive plan update.

As part of the CDBG application, Peterson said the city would need to approve policies relating to procurement procedures and code of conduct, a citizen participation plan, an excessive force certification, a financial management certification, a four factor analysis assessing limited English proficiency and language assistance plan, and a residential anti-displacement and relocation assistance plan.

The council approved those plans as presented by Peterson.

The council scheduled a special meeting for 4 p.m. Aug. 22 to conduct a public hearing on the CDBG application, as required.

Also on Wednesday, the council discussed a proposal from Barry Harthoorn to install sprinklers in the mini park and look at fencing for the west side of the park on Main Street between The Connection and the theater building.

Rice said it was 98 feet between the theater building and The Connection. The council agreed to get quotes from area businesses for the fencing and installation.

The council acknowledged the receipt of the 2017-18 Sandhills Care Center budget as presented by Osborn, who serves as the city’s representative on the Care Center Board.

Graig Kinzie approached the council to discuss the possible implementation of a community garden. Kinzie said he owned a 75-by-100-foot lot to the north of his new studios, and would be willing to donate the lot to the city to be used as a community garden.

“A lot of communities are putting in these community gardens, and I think it is a nice idea for people who may not have the yard space to have a garden of their own,” Kinzie said.

No official action was taken, but the council agreed to discuss the project.

In a final action item Wednesday, the council reappointed Earl Brown to a five year term on the Ainsworth Housing Authority as recommended by Rice.

During her report, Schroedl said the sewer line replacement project near Red & White Market and J’s Keggers was nearing completion.

She said rain slowed the project, but the remainder of the cement should be poured by Friday if there were no more weather delays.

Kenny Eggers, who owns J’s Keggers, expressed his disappointment with the time it has taken to complete the project.

“When this started, I was told it was going to be done in a month,” Eggers said. “Now it is almost two months. We are losing business, and so is Red & White. We are both down anywhere from 10 percent to 14 percent. That is like being closed one day per week.”

Water Superintendent Brad Miller said it was certainly not an ideal situation, but the city was doing the best it could to get the sewer line replaced.

Schroedl also reported the Ainsworth Swimming Pool would close for the season Aug. 13, as virtually all the pool staff are high school students and classes begin on Monday.

The council scheduled a budget workshop for 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 16, in the Conference Center.

The next regular meeting of the Ainsworth City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 13.

* Fischer visits area Tuesday, discusses health care, USDA programs on KBRB

(Posted 7:30 a.m. Aug. 9)

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer held listening sessions Tuesday at Ainsworth and Bassett, discussing the Affordable Care Act and other items with those in attendance.
Fischer also visited with KBRB's Graig Kinzie Tuesday, delving deeper into the Senate failing to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, as well as the president's proposed budget that called for severe cuts to the USDA.
To hear the report, click on the audio links below:

audio clips/US Sen Deb Fischer - Health Care.mp3

audio clips/US Sen Deb Fischer - USDA.mp3

* Schneider wins Dennis Roggasch Memorial Horseshoe Pitching Tournament Sunday

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

Carolyn Schneider of Cody was the winner of the annual Dennis Roggasch Memorial Horseshoe Tournament Sunday during the Rock County Fair. Schneider received the Memorial Traveling Trophy during the double-elimination event. A total of  21 pitchers took part.
Jim Sybrant of Bassett finished second in the tournament, followed by Malinda Hodge of Rose in third, Jeremy Roggasch of Long Pine fourth and Lloyd Schneider of Cody in fifth.

* Hansmeyer discusses start of fall activities during Tuesday Open Line program

(Posted 11 a.m. Aug. 8)

Ainsworth Community Schools Activities Director Jared Hansmeyer on Tuesday talked about the opening of the fall sports season during the Tuesday school edition of Open Line.
To hear the report, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Open Line-ACS Mr Hansmeyer-8-8-17.mp3

* Rock County Foundation has scholarships available for graduates

(Posted 9:30 a.m. Aug. 7)

Rock County High School graduates are reminded to request scholarship funds for the 2017-18 school year.
Rock County 2017 graduates need to submit enrollment verification of at least 12 hours. Graduates from 2014, 2015 and 2016 are required to submit enrollment verification along with a transcript showing a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale.
Information can be emailed to Jan Foster at mjfoster@abbnebraska.com, mailed to Jan Foster at PO Box 581 Bassett, NE 68714 or given to Brandi Hollenbeck at Rock County High School.

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 7 a.m. Aug. 7)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a two-vehicle accident that occurred Thursday, Aug. 3, west of Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 9:46 p.m. Thursday on Highway 20 approximately 8 miles west of Ainsworth, a 1999 Kenworth semi, driven by Aaron J. Micek, 45, of Shelby, was traveling east when two tires on the semi’s trailer blew. A 2000 Mitsubishi sedan, driven by Connie Mauch, 61, of Ainsworth, was traveling east and struck the tire debris in the roadway.
No injuries were reported. Damage to the Mitsubishi was estimated at $1,000.

* ASAP conducts tobacco compliance checks in Brown County

(Posted 3:15 p.m. Aug. 4)

Within the past month, the Area Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition implemented the Reward & Reminder program in Antelope, Knox, and Brown counties. Reward & Reminder used youth to conduct tobacco compliance checks in their communities.
The purpose of the program is to reward clerks who checks IDs with a small gift card, and to remind clerks who fail to check IDs of the importance of asking for identification.
Brown County had a compliance rate of 90 percent, and the following retailers were rewarded: Sandhill Lounge, Anderson Market, Longhorn Bar, Silver Circle Bar, Red & White Market, Pump N Pantry, Roadrunner, J’s Keggers, H&R Food Center and Ampride.

* Fischer to host listening session in Ainsworth Tuesday

(Posted 3 p.m. Aug. 4)

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer announced she will hold a listening session from 10 until 11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8, in the Ainsworth Conference Center.
The session offers local Nebraskans a forum to share their views and speak directly with Fischer with questions or concerns.

* Brown, Rock 4-Hers report from the fair

(Posted 10:45 a.m. Aug. 3)

KBRB's Crystal Sell visited with BKR Extension Educator Chandra Murray and members of the Brown County and Rock County 4-H programs about the exhibits they have on display at the Rock County Fair.
To hear the reports, click on the audio links below.

audio clips/BKR-4H Fair interviews-8-2-17 cut 1.MP3

audio clips/BKR-4H Fair interviews 8-2-17 cut 2.MP3

audio clips/BKR-4H Fair interviews 8-2-17 cut 3.MP3

audio clips/BKR-4H Fair interviews 8-2-17 cut 4.MP3

audio clips/BKR-4H Fair interviews 8-2-17 cut 5.MP3

* Brown, Rock, Keya Paha commissioners contribute funds to support Niobrara Council

(Posted 7 a.m. Aug. 3)

The Niobrara Council learned during its recent meeting that the Boards of Commissioners for Brown, Rock and Keya Paha counties had each agreed to provide $3,000 in funding to the council to help address its projected budget shortfall.

Executive Director Kallie Kieborz reported many of the action items to address the budget shortfall approved in June have already been implemented, including the council moving its office to the old Cherry County Courthouse. Changes to Kieborz’s group health insurance policy were also made July 1 as approved by the council.

The council discussed drafting a press release to send to Gov. Pete Ricketts, State Sen. Tom Brewer, the Nebraska Legislature’s Appropriations Committee and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to provide information regarding the council’s budget shortfall and lobby for an increase to the council’s base appropriation. A draft will be presented during the council’s August meeting.

A committee has been meeting relating to potential uses for the Rocky Ford park area. Potential plans include a day-use area, portage area and landing. The committee has been working with Big Muddy Workshop to develop plans. The council approved having Big Muddy Workshop travel to Valentine to meet with outfitters regarding plans for Rocky Ford.

The council determined a TNC woodland thinning project application was consistent with the desired future conditions for the Niobrara National Scenic River.

The council also determined an application from Gene French to construct a storage shed in the Meadville area on the south side of the river was consistent with the future desired conditions for the scenic river.

The next meeting of the Niobrara Council is scheduled for 1 p.m. Aug. 17 in The Peppermill at Valentine.

* Commissioners hold executive session to discuss pending Nature Conservancy litigation

(Posted 2:15 p.m. Aug. 1)

The Nature Conservancy has filed a Petition in Error against the Brown County Board of Commissioners after the board voted to deny a perpetual conservation easement that was to be included in the sale of Niobrara Valley Preserve land to a neighboring landowner.

The commissioners Tuesday met in executive session with Brown County Attorney David Streich and Zoning Administrator Dean Jochem to discuss the filing against the county. Following the executive session, the commissioners voted to have Streich contact the Nebraska Intergovernmental Risk Management Agency to assign council under the county’s insurance policy to investigate the filing by The Nature Conservancy.

In other business Tuesday, Gary Kelly complained to the commissioners about the condition of the approaches to the new bridge across the irrigation canal on 429th Avenue.

Kelly said the bridge is lower than the approach and makes it too rough to drive equipment and vehicles across the bridge.

Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin said the small drop is due to the county utilizing the existing substructure of the previous bridge.

“Had we replaced it all, it would have been an extra $200,000,” Turpin said.

Kelly said, if the money was spent to replace the bridge, it should result in a smoother surface. He also told the board there was now water standing on a road he travels frequently due to the roads department pulling up ditches and not properly regrading the slope.

Turpin said the roads department has more than 500 miles of roads to maintain with limited manpower.

“None of the roads are absolutely perfect,” Turpin said. “That is not unique to this county.”

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus said the board had heard Kelly’s complaints, but constant bickering would get nowhere. Turpin said he would look to see if it was possible to mill off some of the asphalt on the approaches to the bridge to address Kelly’s concerns.

During his report to the board, Turpin said the roads department is finishing up the Richardson Drive project, with an auto gate, two culverts and the seeding of the roadsides being the only remaining portions of that large improvement project.

He said the roads department would also begin an asphalt overlay on a portion of South Pine Avenue this week.

“That will all then be armor coated next week,” the highway superintendent said.

Commissioner Buddy Small told Turpin there were three dead trees on the Sandhills Care Center property that needed to be removed. He asked if the county roads department, working with the city of Ainsworth streets department, could remove the trees safely or if the care center would need to contract for their removal.

Turpin said, while there was no guarantee a tree would fall exactly where planned, he said he would work with City Streets Foreman Monte Goshorn and the departments could likely handle the tree removal project.

In the only other action item Tuesday, the board approved an agreement between the county and the state of Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services for child support enforcement service.

The Plum Creek 4-H Rangers presented the county sheriff’s department with a check for $801.50 Tuesday to be used toward the purchase and training of a K-9 unit for the sheriff’s department. The group raised the funds during the Farmers-Ranchers Cooperative’s 100th anniversary celebration events Saturday.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. Aug. 15.

* July one of the hottest on record; late rains lead to above-average precipitation total

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

Ainsworth Weather Observer Gerry Osborne reported Ainsworth saw 26 consecutive days with temperatures reaching 90 degrees or higher, breaking a record of 25 consecutive days in 2012.
Two significant rains in the final week of the month led to much-needed relief from June's paltry .54 of an inch total and the first three weeks of July, which were also dry.
With the 2.35 inches July 25 and an additional 1.08 inches five days later on July 30, Ainsworth finished with 4.20 inches of rainfall, which is more than a half-inch better than normal. Year to date precipitation moved back ahead of normal to 15.31 inches, .36 ahead of the average.
To hear the complete report, click on the audio links below.

audio clips/Gerry Osborne July 2017 weather summary.mp3

* Mobile food pantry coming to Ainsworth Tuesday afternoon

(Posted 6 p.m. July 30)

Food Bank for the Heartland is partnering with Farm Credit Services of America to host a mobile food pantry in Ainsworth on Tuesday, Aug. 1, from 2 until 4 p.m. at the Church of the Nazarene, 253 N. Elm St.

FCSAmerica is funding the mobile pantry, and employees from the financial cooperative’s O’Neill office will volunteer to distribute approximately 4,000 to 5,000 pounds of food free to individuals and families in need.

The mobile pantry is for people living in Brown County and surrounding communities. Those in need of the service are invited to bring boxes or bags to assist in carrying the food they receive. No identification is required to receive food.

Food Bank for the Heartland’s mobile pantry program delivers food directly to communities that have a high need but limited food resources. The one-day distribution is free, and in Brown County will include spaghetti, tomato sauce, canned pork and beans, cereal, pancake mix and other shelf-stable products along with perishable items, including a variety of fresh produce and bakery items.

FCSAmerica is hosting 14 mobile pantries across the Food Bank’s service area in Nebraska and western Iowa, beginning in June and running through October.

“Farm Credit Services of America is an extraordinary community partner,” said Ericka Smrcka, Food Bank for the Heartland’s director of network and client services. “The ongoing support of the company and its dedicated employees enable the Food Bank to distribute much-needed resources to help local families through our Mobile Pantry program. Thank you to Farm Credit Services of America and the community of Ainsworth. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue serving Brown County.”

Results of a study supported by the Conagra Brands Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the Nielsen Company show approximately 14.8 percent, or 460 people, in Brown County are at-risk for hunger. Map the Meal Gap 2017 is a study from Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization, which provides data on a county level. Of the more than 1.8 million people living in the 93 counties served by Food Bank for the Heartland, there are approximately 213,840 struggling with hunger according to study results.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

(Posted 5 p.m. July 30)

July 23

  • Booked A Subject Into The Brown Co Jail, On Charges Of Driving Under The Influence 2nd Offense. The Subject Was Later Released On Bond.

  • Investigated A Report Of Vandalism To A Vehicle East & South Of Ainsworth.

  • Responded To A Report Of The Possible Theft Of A Bicycle From East City Park.

  • Investigated A Report Of The Theft Of A Vehicle On East 1st St Ainsworth.

  • Assisted An Ainsworth Resident With A Report Of Suspicious Activity.

  • Responded To A Noise Complaint In The Long Pine State Park. Arrested And Booked A Subject Into The Brown Co Jail, On Charges Of Disturbing The Peace. The Subject Was Released Later On Bond.

  • Responded To A Report Of Suspicious Activity In Rural Ainsworth Area.

    July 24

  • Booked A Subject Into The Brown Co Jail, On Charges Of Driving Under The Influence. The Subject Was Released Later, On Bond.

  • Booked A Subject Into The Brown Co Jail, On Charges Of A Probation Violation.

  • Investigated A Report Of Suspicious Activity At A Residence On North Maple St, Ainsworth.

  • Responded To A Report Of A Disturbance In Rural Ainsworth.

  • Provided Traffic Control For The Springview Ambulance At The Intersection Of Hwy 183 And Hwy 20.

  • Assisted Subjects With A Report Of Possible Illegal Activities In Brown Co.

  • Provided A Civil Standby While Subjects E

  • The Ainsworth Firemen responded to a report of a fire Northwest of Ainsworth.

    July 25

  • Released A Subject From The Brown Co Jail.

  • Responded to a report of shots being fired in Hidden Paradise.

  • The Ainsworth Firemen and Brown Co Ambulance responded to a report of a fire at Red & White.

  • The Ainsworth, Long Pine, Johnstown, Raven, & Calamus Fire Depts. responded to a report of a fire at Pine Glen.

  • The Ainsworth & Long Pine firemen responded to a report of a fire East and North of Ainsworth.

    July 26

  • Assisted an Ainsworth resident with information on possible storm damages to property.

  • Investigated a 2 – vehicle accident without injury at the Dollar General Parking lot.

  • Provided a welfare on a Long Pine resident.

    July 27

  • Assisted Holt Co Law Enforcement with a burglary investigation.

  • Received a report of possible child abuse or neglect in Ainsworth.

  • Responded to a report of cattle out on Hwy 183.

    July 28

  • Assisted Ainsworth residents with a report of a possible suicidal subject.

  • Responded to a report of a disturbance at the East City Park, involving juveniles.

    July 29

  • Responded to a dog complaint on West 6th St Ainsworth.

  • The Sheriff’s Office, Brown Co Ambulance, and Ainsworth Firemen responded to an emergency call on East 2nd St Ainsworth.

  • The Brown Co Ambulance responded to an emergency call at the Ainsworth Airport. No one was transported from the scene.

    Weekly Summary
    1 - Fix-It Tickets Were Issued.
    0 - Handgun Permits Applied For
    25 - Incidents Reports Were Taken.
    6 - Paper Service Was Served.
    192 - Phone Calls Were Received
    8 - 911 Emergency Calls Received 
    6 - Titles Were Inspected.
    3 - Traffic Citations Were Issued
    4 - Verbal & Written Warnings Issued.

* Recent cases from Brown County Court

(Posted 3 p.m. July 27)

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

William E. Ross, age 61, of Dover, N.H., charged with speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, fined $25.

Jill R. Hudson, 45, of Long Pine, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Whitley M. McBride, 22, of Ainsworth, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Joel D. West, 23, of Omaha, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Riley O. Christensen, 19, of St. Paul, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Ashley J. Vidal, 19, of Omaha, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Nancy E. Hansmeier, 58, of Mikea, Minn., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Andrew M. Funke, 17, of Long Pine, two counts of negligent driving, fined $25 for each count.

Mark E. Finney, 44, of Anselmo, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Hope J. Jarvis, 22, of Lincoln, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Ui R. Jung, 45, of Englewood, Colo., speeding 16-20 mph over the limit, $125.

Dominic B. Henry, 19, of Ainsworth, minor in possession of alcohol, $300.

Victorinia J. Dixon, 44, of Johns Creek, Ga., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Jacob R. Nelson, 19, of Ainsworth, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Karen M. Kader, 49, of Omaha, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Kimberly A. Quillan, 35, of Omaha, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Jeffrey Wayne Case, 31, of Safford, Ariz., speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $25.

Gavin R. Larson, 19, of Long Pine, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Joel V. Boldrey, 29, of Lee Summit, Mo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Jeff R. Schuette, 27, of Denver, Colo., speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Chelsie L. Pratt, 26, of Sauk Rapids, Minn., attempt of a Class 4 felony, $1,000; possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, $300; possession of drug paraphernalia, $100.

Daniel W. Kraft, 53, of Fond Du Lac, Wis., first offense reckless driving, $500.

Jonathan A. Ford, 28, of Ainsworth, speeding 11-15 mph over the limit, $75.

Florentine F. Blue Thunder, 59, of Valentine, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Brittani N. Beegle, 18, of Ainsworth, minor in possession of alcohol, $300.

Riggin C. Temple, 19, of Ainsworth, attempt of a Class 4 felony, sentenced to five days in jail and one year of probation.

Britt T. Hollenbeck, 16, of Long Pine, speeding 6-10 mph over the limit, $25.

Emma G. Lucht, 20, of Ainsworth, minor in possession of alcohol, $300.

Chaz D. Richardson, 27, of Murdock, Minn., attempt of a Class 4 felony, $1,000; possession of marijuana more than 1 ounce, $300.

* Traffic Accident

(Posted noon July 27)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a two-vehicle accident that occurred Wednesday, July 26, in Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 8:05 p.m. Wednesday at the Dollar General parking lot, a 1999 Ford sport-utility vehicle, driven by Brenda Erwin, 58, of Ainsworth, was backing from a parking space and struck a parked 2003 Chevy sport-utility vehicle, owned by Troy Happold of Ainsworth.
No injuries were reported. Damage to the Ford was estimated at $1,000. The Chevy sustained approximately $300 damage.

* Area fire departments battle canyon fire in heat, wind Tuesday

(Posted 8 a.m. July 26)

A Monday night lightning strike caused a fire to break out Tuesday afternoon north of Long Pine as the weather warmed and a south breeze picked up.

More than 50 acres of timber and grass burned, as firefighters from eight area departments responded and a SEAT plane located at Valentine made two trips dropping fire retardant on the perimeter of the fire to slow its spread.

Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala said smoke was reported at 1:20 p.m. Tuesday on the west side of the Pine Glen Wildlife Management Area at the edge of a canyon on property owned by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Bar 25.

“Most of the area was actually accessible for our trucks,” Fiala said. “There were a few spots where we had to send crews in by foot. There were numerous burning trees, and there were about 20 tree piles that were cut in different spots, and all of those were on fire.”

Fiala said crews from the Ainsworth, Long Pine, Bassett, Newport, Springview, Johnstown, Raven and Calamus fire departments worked to suppress the fire, and were on scene for almost 8 hours.

The SEAT plane made two drops, and a third drop was cancelled as weather in the Valentine area prohibited the plane from make the third trip.

Fiala said firefighters had the fire extinguished by the time it started raining Tuesday night.

Firefighters had just returned to their respective fire halls when the Ainsworth department was called out again at approximately 9:45 p.m. to a report of smoke in the Bone Creek canyon east of Keller Park and Highway 183.

Fiala said it rained in the area, and firefighters were unable to locate the exact source of the smoke after it got dark.

“That is something we will go back and investigate today (Wednesday),” Fiala said.

The day started for firefighters at 12:05 p.m. Tuesday, with a report of smoke in Red & White Market on Highway 20.

Fiala said an electrical cord to a light in one of the grocery store’s coolers shorted out and began to smoke. Power was cut, and damage was limited to the malfunctioning cord.

Despite the beneficial rain Tuesday night, the area remains in heightened danger for fire. The weather forecast appears to give somewhat of a respite over the next seven days, with temperatures topping out in the mid 80s and a few days having a decent chance for additional rainfall.

* Firefighters called out Monday night to report of possible smoke from lightning strike

(Posted 7:45 a.m. July 25)

The Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department was briefly called out Monday night to a report of a possible lightning strike causing smoke in the Niobrara River valley west of Meadville near Hazel Creek.

Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala said the possible smoke was reported at approximately 9:25 p.m. Monday in a remote area on the south side of the river, and it was raining too hard for firefighters to reach the site.

“We are hoping the rain took care of it, but we may get an airplane up this morning as there were a lot of lightning strikes along the river,” Fiala said. “We are also going to send a couple guys out today to see if they can spot anything.”

Fiala said, if lightning struck any trees that may still have the possibility of igniting, it will probably become apparent today as the temperatures rise.

Members of the public are encouraged to call in if they see any smoke along the river valley, as early notification will give firefighters a better chance to get a fire put out before it spreads in the dry conditions.

* Most area counties see taxable sales, motor vehicle sales declines in April

(Posted 12:30 p.m. July 24)

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of April 2017 and April 2016 Net Taxable Sales
for Nebraska Counties and Selected Cities

County
or City

2017
Net Taxable
Sales

2016
Net Taxable
Sales

Percent
Change

2017
Sales Tax
5.5%

2016
Sales Tax
5.5%

Boyd

811,715

910,758

(10.9)

44,644.45

50,091.79

Brown

2,482,928

2,584,558

(3.9)

136,561.26

142,150.87

Ainsworth

2,318,244

2,440,209

(5.0)

127,503.62

134,211.66

Cherry

4,631,605

4,591,776

0.9

254,738.67

252,548.06

Valentine

4,435,269

4,430,654

0.1

243,940.10

243,686.27

Holt

8,217,278

8,929,890

(8.0)

451,950.79

491,144.74

Atkinson

1,382,651

1,615,946

(14.4)

76,045.96

88,877.20

O'Neill

5,662,670

6,296,121

(10.1)

311,447.12

346,287.03

Keya Paha

217,279

230,443

(5.7)

11,950.38

12,674.39

Rock

514,176

497,690

3.3

28,279.75

27,652.77

State Total

$2,336,655,860

$2,290,661,641

2

$128,686,142.83

$126,578,345.27

Nebraska Department of Revenue
Comparison of April 2017 and April 2016
Motor Vehicle Sales Tax Collections by County

County
or City

2017
Net Taxable
Sales

2016
Net Taxable
Sales

Percent
Change

2017
Sales Tax
5.5%

2016
Sales Tax
5.5%

Blaine

161,312

43,397

271.7

8,817.97

2,332.18

Boyd

386,051

422,352

(8.6)

21,263.98

23,260.89

Brown

606,166

644,877

(6.0)

33,408.79

35,686.74

Cherry

912,691

1,110,621

(17.8)

50,668.44

61,437.01

Holt

2,076,788

2,228,072

(6.8)

115,121.42

123,333.55

Keya Paha

106,305

285,452

(62.8)

5,816.13

15,736.90

Rock

191,805

437,013

(56.1)

10,557.72

24,039.81

State Total

$336,426,119

$346,644,842

(2.9)

$18,663,351.20

$19,228,091.91

* Paddock installed as Lions Club president for 2017-18

(Posted 6:45 a.m. July 24)

The Ainsworth Lions Club held its annual family picnic July 17 at East City Park, with 20 members and 18 guests present.

The officers and directors for the 2017-18 year were installed. Roland Paddock will serve as the Lions Club president for 2017-18

Outgoing President Brian Williams read a proclamation from Dr. Jitsuhiro Yamada, chair of the Board of Trustees for the Lions Club International Foundation, awarding a Melvin Jones Fellowship in the name of the late Loren Scott Ritter, a longtime member of the Ainsworth Lions Club. Marla Ritter and members of the Ritter family were present to accept the award. 

The Lions Club will provide a concession stand for the Airport Authority’s 75th anniversary celebration from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday, July 29.  Volunteers for morning and afternoon shifts are asked to e-mail their availability to Jerry Ehlers.

Evan Evans, playground equipment chair, requested a work day be set for 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug, 19, at the Courthouse Park to install a swing set and a park bench. 

The next meeting of the Ainsworth Lions Club is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 21 in Local House 20.

 

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

 

(Posted 6:45 a.m. July 24)

 

July 16

  • Assisted with a report of an uncontrollable juvenile in the Ainsworth area.

  • Responded to a report of cattle out on Hwy 20 by the Long Pine Spur.

  • Assisted an Ainsworth resident with a wild life complaint.

  • Received a report of a juvenile standing along Hwy 20 in Ainsworth.

    July 17

  • Assisted a Brown Co resident with information on a Protection Order.

  • Received a report of cattle out on Hwy 20 West of Plum Creek.

    July 18

  • Responded to a report of a dog running at large on North Elm St Ainsworth.

  • The Ainsworth Fire Dept responded to a report of a possible gas leak, in the alley, behind a residence in Ainsworth.

  • Assisted Drug Court Personnel with a search of property in Brown County.

  • Received a report of cattle out on Meadville Ave., North of Ainsworth.

  • The Brown Co Ambulance transported an individual, from the corner of Hwy 20 and Cedar St, to the Brown Co Hospital.

    July 19

  • Investigated a report of a dog being outside in the extreme heat, without water and proper shelter.

  • Received a report of cattle out on Hwy 183 near 889th Rd.

  • Investigated a report of a dog bite in Ainsworth.

  • Released a subject from the Brown Co Jail, as the charges were dropped.

    July 20

  • Responded to a report of a domestic disturbance in rural Brown Co.

  • Investigated a report of theft of a go-cart in Ainsworth.

  • Responded to a report of a possible intoxicated driver in Long Pine.

  • Provided a welfare check on an Ainsworth resident.

    July 21

  • Received a report of cattle out on Hwy 20 East of the Ainsworth Golf Course.

    July 22

  • Assisted Long Pine residents with a report of a goose running loose and chasing people.

  • Responded to a report of Brown Co residents burning without a burn permit.

  • Responded to a report of dogs running at large in Hidden Paradise, causing personal damages and injuries to an individual at the resort.

    Weekly Summary
    0 - Fix-it tickets were issued.
    2 - Handgun permits applied for
    10 - Incidents Reports were taken.
    8 - Paper Service was served.
    140 - Phone calls were received
    6 - 911 emergency calls received 
    3 - Titles were inspected.
    2 - Traffic Citations were issued.
    14 - Verbal & Written Warnings issued.

* Governor's office issues emergency proclamation due to the dry conditions

(Posted 8:30 a.m. July 21)

The Governor’s office has issued an Emergency Proclamation associated with abnormally dry conditions in Nebraska. This proclamation activates provisions of the State Emergency Operations Plan and will allow the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency to address unmet needs caused by dry conditions and the resulting wildfire activity.

“Wildfires this spring have reduced some of the resources used to suppress wildfires,” NEMA Assistant Director Bryan Tuma said. “State and local officials have expressed concern about both dry conditions and the need for resources that will quickly mitigate wildfire outbreaks.”

The emergency proclamation allows NEMA to replenish the state’s inventory of fire retardant material used in the Single Engine Air Tanker during aerial fire suppression flights. It also allows the adjutant general of Nebraska, Daryl Bohac, who is also NEMA’s director, to activate elements of state government and emergency management resources to deal with the emergency and to use funds from the Governor's Emergency Fund should a wildfire start anywhere in the state.

“As a member of the Great Plains Interstate Forest Fire Compact and the Emergency Management Assistant Compact, we have been called upon to use our resources and equipment to aid with firefighting in other states already this season,” Tuma said. “And while we will recoup those costs at the end of the fire season, we need to make sure our inventory stays at adequate levels for the rest of the fire season. This proclamation give us even greater flexibility regarding wildfire suppression as the dry conditions increase.”

* Thursday marks the 5-year anniversary of the Fairfield Creek wildfire

(Posted 3 p.m. July 19)

Friday, July 20, 2012, is a date most in Brown County will remember, as a lightning strike sparked the first flame in what became the more than 70,000-acre Fairfield Creek Complex wildfire in the Niobrara River valley.
For more than 10 days, firefighters from more than 100 volunteer departments across several states aided by state and federal resources battled 100-degree heat and gusting winds as fire engulfed the river valley.
Five years later, with hot and dry conditions serving as a grim reminder of the conditions that existed in July 2012, KBRB looked back on the wildfires with Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala and Springview Fire Chief Scott Hallock. The fire chiefs looked back on the effort to fight the 2012 wildfires and discussed how the departments' equipment has been upgraded to better equip the volunteers for the next outbreak.
To hear the reports, click on the audio links below.

audio clips/Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala.mp3

audio clips/Springview Fire Chief Scott Hallock.mp3

* Commissioners receive funding allocation requests from taxing entities

(Posted 7 a.m. July 19)

The Brown County Commissioners received funding allocation requests Tuesday from the two additional county entities that have taxing authority.

The Brown County Rural Fire Protection District requested a property tax allocation of 3.5 cents, which is down one-half cent of levy from the past few years. The 3.5 cents of tax levy to the rural fire district matches what the Ainsworth City Council plans to award to the Ainsworth Volunteer Fire Department.

The city and county typically try and award the same allocation to their respective firefighting organizations to receive the full allocation of MFO funding from the state.

In addition to the 3.5 cents in levy requested by the rural fire district, the Brown County Agricultural Society requested $33,600 in property tax funding to support the operation of the Brown County Fairgrounds, and an additional $20,000 for improvements to the fairgrounds that had been previously agreed to by the commissioners. That $20,000 will be repaid to the County Inheritance Tax Fund, as the agricultural society took on a large improvement project at the fairgrounds arena and borrowed funds from the inheritance tax fund with the agreement to pay it back with a $20,000 annual allocation over a period of three years.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners signed an interlocal agreement with the Region 24 Emergency Management Agency. Brown County is responsible for 19 percent of the Region 24 budget, with the remainder divided between Cherry, Rock, Keya Paha and Boyd counties.

Sandhills Care Center Board Chairman Phil Fuchs presented the commissioners with the proposed 2017-18 care center budget. The county and city of Ainsworth jointly own and operate the nursing home.

Fuchs said the care center budget shows the facility continuing to be in the red for the next five to six months as the resident population builds. The second half of the fiscal year budget projects the facility to reach the break-even point and slowly start to turn a profit.

“We feel like we have the expense projections pretty well pegged,” Fuchs said. “We have good personnel in place, and we are expecting to use less and less agency nursing. The variable we have is projecting the number of residents.”

Fuchs said, until the occupancy in the facility comes up, the nursing home will continue to lose money.
There are currently 16 residents in the Sandhills Care Center, and the facility needs 20 or more to hit the break-even mark financially.

“If we can reach the occupancy level we are projecting in this budget, we will start operating in the black,” Fuchs said.

He said the facility has the funding to withstand the projected losses for the first six months of the fiscal year, as the care center received approximately $100,000 in additional Medicaid funding, and was pledged $80,000 from both the county and the city for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

“We are assuring people we are here for the long haul,” Fuchs told the board.

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus asked if there was a possibility for the nursing home to work with the Brown County Hospital to utilize some of the hospital’s nursing staff on an outsourcing basis to cover some of the shortfall the care center has that forces the facility to pay for the higher-priced agency nursing.

Fuchs said he would visit with Brown County Hospital Administrator Shannon Sorensen and Sandhills Care Center Administrator Stephanie Rucker to see if that would be a possibility.

In roads department items Tuesday, the board approved an agreement with the Nebraska Department of Roads for the inspection of a fracture-critical bridge in the county.

Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin said the roads department is in the final stretch of its Richardson Drive improvement project.

“We have a little erosion control work to do yet,” Turpin said.

He said the roads department will begin patching some of the county’s asphalt roads this week. He asked the board for permission to purchase a brush attachment for the county’s skid steer to allow the department to get all the gravel cleared away from the spots they want to patch. The commissioners told Turpin to move forward with the $4,450 purchase.

Turpin said the roads department bladed a few areas of the county that received rain last week.

“If we get rain, we will scrap any other plans we have and get the roads bladed,” the highway superintendent said.

Turpin reported Oak Creek Engineering submitted a quote to engineer a culvert replacement project on 881 Road west of Ainsworth.

“Those culverts are in bad shape, and they aren’t big enough,” he said. “We are going to put in larger culverts, so we have to get a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.”

Oak Creek Engineering submitted a quote of $3,200 to handle all the engineering and permitting work on the project.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. Aug. 1.

* More than 13,000 pounds of electronic waste collected Friday

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

The North Central Nebraska RC&D hosted electronic waste collections at Springview, Bassett and Valentine Friday, collecting more than 13,000 pounds of waste.

Springview collected 1,560 pounds, Bassett had 3,380 pounds dropped off and the day wrapped up at Valentine with 8,370 pounds of electronic waste. This translates to 13,310 pounds of electronic waste being recycled instead of going into landfills. The collections, along with the April collection at O’Neill, brings the total electronic waste recycled in the area to 28,350 pounds.

RC&D Council President Mike Burge said, “We decided to put our focus on recycling and reusing efforts, and these are just our first steps. We are pleased with the efforts so far and are already working on future projects. We hope to offer collections like this for a variety of recycling items on a regular basis, but are still working on details.”

The RC&D Council has established a directory for the six counties in its coverage area: Brown, Boyd, Cherry, Holt, Keya Paha and Rock. The directory lists locations where items to be reused or recycled. The directory can be found online at www.nercd@org.

Burge thanked the volunteers who assisted with the electronic waste recycling events at each location.

“Special thanks to Lynn Sobotka in O’Neill, Bill Barnes in Springview and Sally Davis-Jackson in Bassett,” Burge said. “They coordinated everything, including getting the word out, recruiting help and helping during the collection time.”

Neil Westcott, NK Waste and Recycling, handled the trucking Friday at the collections sites and will transport the load to Grand Island. Electronic waste items may still be taken to NK Waste & Recycling at Valentine, as Wescott is not hauling the collected waste immediately. Those with small items may leave inside the recycling building.

The electronics collected will all go to E-Stroyed at Grand Island to be processed.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

(Posted 7:15 a.m. July 17)

July 9

+          Released a subject from the Brown Co Jail on bond.

+          Assisted an individual with a report of a bag located at a business in Ainsworth.

+          The Ainsworth, Johnstown, Raven, Calamus, & Wood Lake Fire Depts assisted with fires, located South of Johnstown.

 

July 10

+          Investigated a vehicle / Calf accident without injury West of Ainsworth.

+          Assisted an individual with a report of the possible theft of money.

 

 

July 11

+          Investigated a report of the possible sexual assault of a minor in Ainsworth.

+          Responded to a report of juvenile males fighting in Ainsworth.

+          Investigated a two-vehicle accident in Ainsworth.

+          The Ainsworth Fire Dept responded to a report of a fire North and west of Ainsworth.

+          Booked a subject into the Brown Co Jail on a court ordered commitment.

+          The Brown Co Ambulance transported an individual from a business to the Brown Co Hospital.

+          The Brown Co Ambulance transported a patient from the Brown Co Hospital to Faith Regional Hospital in Norfolk.

 

July 12

+          Assisted an individual with a report of suspicious activity on East 4th St, Ainsworth.

+          Booked a subject into the Brown Co Jail, on hold for Blaine Co. The subject was arrested for driving under the influence.

+          The Ainsworth and Long Pine Rural Fire Depts issued burn permits for the KBR
Solid Waste Station and the Long Pine City Dump.

 

July 13

+          Assisted Ainsworth residents with a report of possible harassing text messages received on a cell phone.

+          Arrested and booked two subjects into the Brown Co Jail, for possession of a controlled substance.

 

 July 14

+          Received a report of possible child abuse or neglect in Brown County.

+          Released 3 subjects from the Brown Co Jail on bond.

+          Assisted Long Pine residents with a report of possible damaged property.

+          Investigated a two-vehicle accident without injury on Hwy 20 in Ainsworth.

+          Investigated a vehicle / deer accident that occurred West of Ainsworth.

+          Responded to a report of vandalism to vehicle tires in Ainsworth.

+          Received a report of possible elderly abuse or neglect in Ainsworth.

+          The Brown Co Ambulance transported a patient from the Brown Co Hospital to the Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney.

 

July 15

+          Arrested a subject for disturbing the peace and booked them into the Brown Co Jail.

+          Responded to a report of a dog at large on Ulrich St Ainsworth. The dog was transported to the Ainsworth Veterinary Clinic.

+          Responded to a report of a possible intoxicated driver in Hidden Paradise.

+          The Brown Co Ambulance responded to a report of a subject possibly needing assistance on Woodward St Ainsworth. No one was transported from the scene.

 

Weekly Summary

2 - Fix-it tickets were issued.

0 - Handgun permits applied for

19 - Incidents Reports were taken.

6 - Paper Service was served.

205 - Phone calls were received

9 - 911 emergency calls received 

3 - Titles were inspected.

1 - Traffic Citations were issued.

1 - Verbal & Written Warnings issued.

* Traffic Accident

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

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a two-vehicle accident that occurred Friday, July 14, in Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 5:23 p.m. Friday at the entryway to Ampride from Highway 20, a collision occurred between a 2012 Chevy pickup pulling onto Highway 20 from Ampride, driven by Joshua Titus, 40, of Ainsworth, and a 2018 Toyota Rav 4, driven west on Highway 20 by Samuel Zarate, 27, of Elkton, S.D.
No injuries were reported. Damage to the Chevy, owned by the Ainsworth Irrigation District, was estimated at $600. The Toyota sustained approximately $1,300 damage.

* Highway 7 asphalt replacement project scheduled to begin Monday

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

Weather permitting, work is scheduled to begin Monday on Highway 7, approximately 19 miles south of Ainsworth and extending 12 miles north between mileposts 24 and 36, according to the Nebraska Department of Transportation.
Werner Construction of Hastings has the contract for the $2.8 million project, which includes milling, asphalt overlay, guardrail repair and rumble strips. There will be a 10-foot width restriction, lane closures will be in place and traffic maintained with flaggers and a pilot car. The anticipated completion date is late September.
The Department of Transportation’s manager for this project is Michael Rudnick of Ainsworth.
Work is also scheduled to begin July 24 on Highway 183 north of Taylor between mileposts 135 and 143.
Werner Construction has the $2.3 million contract for milling, asphalt paving and bridge deck overlay. During the paving work, there will be temporary lane closures, with traffic maintained by flaggers and a pilot vehicle. During the bridge deck overlay, single-lane traffic will be maintained with traffic control devices. A 12-foot width restriction will be in place throughout the project, which is anticipated to be completed in October.
The Department of Transportation’s manager for this project is Dan Ziska of O’Neill. Motorists can expect delays and are advised to use caution while driving through all construction zones.

* City of Ainsworth to pursue 2 major water and sewer improvement projects

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

The Ainsworth City Council plans to pursue two major water and sewer projects after discussing priorities from a study generated by JEO Engineering.

During Wednesday’s meeting, the council went through six projects identified by JEO Engineering, and decided to focus on pursuing the installation of electronic-read water meters for the entire community, and cure-in-place pipe for numerous older sewer lines that have experienced problems with tree roots and other drainage issues.

Councilman Greg Soles said he believed the city should pursue at least one major project, since there are Community Development Block Grant funds potentially available to cover the engineering costs. The CDBG grant could pay for 25 percent of the cost of the project, which is substantial with the two projects identified each carrying a price tag of more than $700,000.

“Those funds may disappear soon,” Soles said. “I think we should try for those funds.”

Mayor Larry Rice asked City Administrator Lisa Schroedl if the city’s water superintendent identified a priority project from among those proposed by JEO Engineering.

Schroedl said Water Superintendent Brad Miller would like to see the electronic-read meters installed, as it takes two city employees more than a week each month currently to travel around the city and manually read the meters.

“I think the cure-in-place line replacement is a higher priority than the meters,” Schroedl said. “We spend close to $30,000 each year with Johnson Service to have them come in and trim tree roots and foam the lines. That foam kills the good bacteria at the treatment plant.”

Soles asked if the city could try and undertake both projects. Schroedl said, if the city sections out the cure-in-place pipe lining project over a few years, then she believed the city could pursue both.

The council voted to move forward with both the installation of the electronic-read water meters and the cure-in-place pipe improvement project with JEO Engineering.

In other business Wednesday, the council visited with Rick Goochey regarding an east-west alley located just west of Main Street behind his business that connects the alley west of Main Street with Woodward Street.

“There is still an alley there, but at times I can’t get to the back of my building because the alley is blocked,” Goochey said.

He said, during the fire Christmas night at the Fernau Construction building, firefighters could not get a truck behind the building due to the alley being blocked.

“I think if the junk was cleaned up and we opened that alley up, it would help take care of the problem,” Goochey said.

He said the city did go through and blade the alley to smooth it out, but the alley now angles north onto private property because vehicles are blocking the actually alley on the west end.

Soles said the property owner needs to be contacted and given a certain number of days to clear the alley so the city can maintain it.

Schroedl said she would contact the property owner and the renter about cleaning up the items from the alley.

The council took no official action.

The council did approve a resolution to renew its liability insurance and workman’s compensation insurance with the League Association of Risk Management.

Schroedl said, while the city signed a three-year contract with LARM last year, the resolution adds another year to the contract at a 5 percent discount if the city agrees not to go out for competitive bids for its liability and workman’s compensation insurance prior to the end of the three-year period.

She said the city’s premium with LARM will increase for the next fiscal year, as city employees did incur several injuries early in the previous year that were reported.

With the 5 percent discount, the city’s premium is $71,936 for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

The council reappointed Greg Soles to the LB 840 Loan Committee for a three-year term and appointed John Pierce to a three-year term on the LB 840 Loan Committee to replace Diane Huston.

The council also approved the appointment of Avery Gurnsey to provide legal services for LB 840 loan projects.

During her report, Schroedl said the city is replacing old sewer line along Highway 20 in front of J’s Keggers and Red & White Market. In addition to the replacement of 310 feet of sewer main line, the city will add a manhole and replace two storm drains.

Prior to adjourning, the council set a budget workshop for 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 16. The city will approve its 2017-18 budget in September.

The next regular meeting of the City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 9.

* Lightning strike causes 20-acre fire northwest of Ainsworth Tuesday

(Posted 7:45 a.m. July 12)

A lightning strike Tuesday evening ignited a fire northwest of Ainsworth that burned close to a home.

According to Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala, at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, a fire was reported approximately 6 miles north and 3 miles west of Ainsworth on property owned by Charlie Cleal.

Fiala said a lightning strike ignited grass in a field. The fire burned 20 acres, but Fiala said firefighters stopped the fire just shy of reaching a grove of trees located near the Cleal home and outbuildings.

“If that fire had reached the trees, it could have gotten pretty large,” the fire chief said. “It poured rain on us on the way out there, but the Cleal property did not receive any of that rain, just a lightning strike.”

Firefighters returned to the Ainsworth Fire Hall by 9:45 p.m. The area remains extremely dry, even with a few areas receiving a shot of rainfall Monday and Tuesday evenings. The 10-day forecast calls for temperatures to remain in the mid 90s or warmer on eight of the 10 days, with only slight chances for moisture.

* Ainsworth City Council agenda

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

Ainsworth City Council
Meeting 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 12
Ainsworth Conference Center
 

I.                    ROUTINE BUSINESS

a.       Announcement of Open Meetings Act

b.      Roll Call

c.       Pledge of Allegiance

 

II.                  CONSENT AGENDA – All items approved with the passage of one motion.

a.       Approve minutes from the June 14, 2017 City Council Meeting

b.      Approval of Claims

c.       Treasurer’s Report

d.      Department Head Reports

 

*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 of the Agenda.

 

III.                MAYOR’S APPOINTMENTS AND REPORT

a.       Mayor’s Report

b.      Consider appointment of Avery Gurnsey as the legal service provider for the City of Ainsworth LB840 funds

c.       Economic Reuse Plan Review Committee/LB840 Loan Committee (3 year terms) – Reappointment of Greg Soles; Appointment of John Pierce for the seat vacated by Diane Huston with terms ending 11/1/2019

 

IV.                PUBLIC HEARINGS

a.       None

 

V.                  OLD BUSINESS

a.       Consider projects identified through the Sewer Study conducted by JEO through the SRF Grant and annotate the top priority for application for funding

 

VI.                REGULAR AGENDA

a.       Rick Goochey – discussion of the East/West alley between Woodward Street and Main Street which runs behind Goochey Plumbing

b.      Discuss and consider the League Association of Risk Management (LARM) renewal coverage proposal for the 2017-18 Pool Year – Resolution #17-06

c.       Set date for the 2017-18 Budget Workshop

d.      City Administrator/Clerk/Treasurer Report

* Brown County District Court proceedings

(Posted 2:30 p.m. July 11)

During Brown County District Court proceedings Tuesday, David J. Clark, age 57, of Long Pine appeared for sentencing after having been previously convicted of third offense driving under the influence, a Class 3A felony.
Clark was sentenced to 60 days in jail, two years of probation, fined $1,000, and had his driver’s license revoked for 10 years. Clark will be allowed to drive after 45 days by installing an ignition interlock device. He was also ordered to undergo an alcohol evaluation, attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and participate in additional programming.
Roque Rodriguez, 23, of Huron, S.D., pleaded guilty in District Court Tuesday to charges of possession of marijuana more than 1 pound, a Class 4 felony; and obstructing a peace officer, a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Rodriguez will be sentenced in Brown County District Court Sept. 12.

* Sandhills Care Center Board approves $1.54 budget for 2016-17

(Posted 6:45 a.m. July 11)

The Sandhills Care Center Board approved a $1.54 million budget Monday for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

The budget approved anticipates a shortfall of approximately $130,000, which board chairman Phil Fuchs said would mainly occur during the first few months of the fiscal year.

“We are getting about $100,000 from Medicaid,” Fuchs said. “The $80,000 from the county is here, and we will receive another $80,000 from the city. We will have the resources to cover the projected losses until the cash flow becomes positive. We are in this for the long haul.”

Fuchs said the facility is holding its expenses in line, the biggest unknown is projecting the number of residents who will utilize the facility during the upcoming fiscal year.

“The number of residents will make the difference on whether we will be profitable this year or not,” Fuchs said.

The $1.54 million budget projects $1.41 million in income for an operating loss of $130,000, which Fuchs said will be covered by the additional Medicaid funding and the contributions from the city of Ainsworth and Brown County, which jointly operate the care center.

The budget begins by anticipating revenue from 15 residents, and projects having income from 17 residents by September, 21 residents by December and 28 residents by June of 2018.

“We feel we have the potential to grow the resident population back into the high 20s or the low 30s,” Fuchs said.

Administrator Stephanie Rucker said, after admitting one resident in June and one thus far in July, there are now 16 residents in the facility.

“We are working with the staff to find ways that our facility can stand out, and go above and beyond other facilities in the area,” Rucker said.

She said she has preliminary approval to utilize professional recruitment funding from the North Central Development Center through the LB 840 program to offer $1,500 sign-on bonuses for one registered nurse and one LPN, which would allow the facility to get away from having to use any contract nursing services.

In addition to approving the budget Monday, the board, with Fuchs abstaining, approved a $50,000 line of credit with the First National Bank to give the facility some financial flexibility until the $100,000 in additional Medicaid funding arrives.

In other business Monday, capital campaign committee chairman Rolland Paddock reported new air conditioning units have been ordered for the facility. Rucker reported five of the new units have arrived.

Paddock said, “We are 60 days out to get the new bathtub, as they are all custom made. The money has been pledged, but we have held off on ordering the tub because new state tax credits became available July 1. We are waiting to hear back from the state on whether our application for those tax credits has been approved.”

North Central Development Center Executive Director Kristin Olson said the facility cannot enter into a signed agreement for the tub until the state approves the tax credits or it would lose the ability to provide the state tax credits for those who donated funding for the new bathtub.

Paddock said donors have pledged the funding needed for both the bathtub and the air conditioning units.

During her report, Rucker said the Sandhills Care Center has scheduled a picnic for the public at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 3 to visit with the residents and view the facility.

The next meeting of the Sandhills Care Center Board is scheduled for 4 p.m. Aug. 14.

* Sheriff's department seeks information in Long Pine residential burglary

(Posted 2:30 p.m. July 10)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department is seeking information regarding a residential burglary that occurred between July 1 and July 2 at Long Pine.
According to the sheriff’s department, sometime between 5 p.m. July 1 and 8:30 a.m. July 2, someone broke into a residence in the 400 block of North Main Street and stole a roll top desk. The desk was light brown in color.
Entry to the home was gained through the front door.
Anyone with information on who is responsible for the burglary is asked to contact the Brown County Sheriff’s Department at 402-387-1440 or call Crime Stoppers at 402-382-3121. All callers remain anonymous, and information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for this, or any other, crime could be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000.

* Free conservation field day scheduled for July 26 at GJW Farms

(Posted 2:15 p.m. July 10)

The University of Nebraska Extension is partnering with local landowners, the Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District, Nebraska Forest Service, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Nebraska Environmental Trust to host a conservation field day from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Wednesday, July 26, at GJW Farms south of Ainsworth.

“The overall goal of the field day is to introduce landowners in the Middle Niobrara Natural Resource District to conservation practices applicable to that area,” University of Nebraska - Lincoln graduate student Linda Schott said.

The different agencies and groups are working together to illustrate the ways soil health, water quality and crop production can be improved utilizing conservation practices. For many of the practices, cost share is available.

There will be several demonstrations and topics presented, primarily focusing on practices being studied and implemented as part of the Long Pine Creek Watershed impairment plan to improve soil health, water quality and erosion.

A two-year on-farm research project being led by Schott and Amy Schmidt, Nebraska Extension specialist, will be highlighted during the event. The project involves using woodchips generated during forest management activates, alone or co-mingled with livestock manure, to improve soil health and water quality in the MNNRD.

“Landowners, producers and their advisors who attend, will learn about this and other conservation practices that may be appropriate to incorporate into land management systems for improved agronomic yields, water conservation, rangeland improvement and other benefits,” Schott said.

Lunch will be provided and, while there is no cost to attend, registration is requested.

To register for free online, visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/UNL726

 * Traffic Accidents

(Posted 9:45 a.m. July 10)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a pair of recent motor vehicle accidents.
At 4:30 p.m. Monday, July 3, at the Roadrunner parking lot in Ainsworth, a collision occurred between a 2013 Chevy sedan, driven by Kenneth Chase, 87, of Elsmere, and a 2016 Nissan sport-utility vehicle, driven by Dawn Curtis, 55, of Clearwater.
No injuries were reported. Damage to the Chevy was estimated at $150. The Nissan sustained approximately $2,500.
At 4:28 p.m. Saturday, July 8, on Highway 20 approximately 6 miles east of Ainsworth, a 2013 Cadillac sedan, driven by Windy Grieser, 48, of O’Neill, was traveling east when the vehicle struck a deer in the roadway.
No persons were injured during the accident. Damage to the Cadillac was estimated at $3,000.

* Lightning starts fire east of Springview Sunday

(Posted 8:30 a.m. July 10)

The Springview Volunteer Fire Department was called to a fire Sunday afternoon east of Springview.
While the official report is still being completed, Springview Fire Chief Scott Hallock said the fire 10 miles east of Springview likely started due to a lightning strike at 5 p.m. Sunday. The grass ignited and burned into two cedar tree groves serving as shelter belts for a home.
Hallock said the fire burned hot enough to melt the siding on the home. The Springview Fire Department received mutual aid assistance from the Newport Volunteer Fire Department, and firefighters remained on scene until 11:30 p.m. cutting down and extinguishing burning trees.

* Lightning strikes spark 4 fires southeast of Wood Lake Sunday

(Posted 7 a.m. July 10)

Lightning sparked four fires Sunday evening southeast of Wood Lake and prompted the response of five area fire departments.

According to Ainsworth Fire Chief Brad Fiala, just before 6:30 p.m. Sunday, the fire department received a call of fires burning on property owned by Jim Morris southeast of Wood Lake near the Brown County and Cherry County line.

Lightning strikes ignited four fires, with two of the fires being quickly extinguished. Firefighters from the Wood Lake, Johnstown, Ainsworth, Raven and Calamus departments battled the other two grass fires. Fiala said one fire burned approximately 20 acres of grass, while the largest fire burned approximately 50 acres of grass.

“We are automatically calling for mutual aid on all fire calls right now, due to the conditions,” Fiala said.

The fires burned only grass, and no property damage was reported.

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

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

July 2

  • Responded to a report of a disturbance on West Dawes St Ainsworth. A subject was arrested and booked into the Brown Co Jail for Disturbing the Peace.

  • Assisted Ainsworth residents with a report of suspicious activity on North Main St.

  • Received a report of possible child neglect or abuse in Ainsworth.

  • An Ainsworth resident dropped off a backpack that was abandoned along the Cowboy Trail.

    July 3

  • Responded to a report of a possible abandoned vehicle, parked East and North of Ainsworth.

  • Investigated a two-vehicle accident without injury at the Road Runner parking lot.

  • Received a request for public assistance, when a party was dropped off on Hwy 20 West of Ainsworth.

  • Responded to a report of suspicious activity on North Maple St, Ainsworth.

  • Booked a subject into the Brown Co Jail on a court ordered commitment.

  • Released a subject from the Brown Co Jail on bond.

  • Received a report of an endgun from an irrigation system, watering the roadway, South of Long Pine.

  • The Ainsworth and Long Pine Rural Fire Depts, responded to assisted Keya Paha with a report of a canyon fire.

July 4

  • Responded to a report of a stray dog at the fireworks stand, between Cedar St and Ash St, Ainsworth.

  • Received a report of juveniles riding ATV’s in Long Pine.

  • Received a report of a fire, caused by a lit cigarette, South of Long Pine. The property owners put it out before reporting it.

  • Responded to a report of a dead deer impeding traffic West of Johnstown.

    July 5

  • Provided a civil standby while an Ainsworth resident gathered personal property.

  • Responded to a traffic complaint near the Long Pine turn off.

  • Received several complaints of fireworks littering city streets in Ainsworth.

    July 6

  • Attempted to locate a missing person in Ainsworth. The subject was located.

  • Investigated a report of a missing or stolen desk from a residence in Long Pine.

  • Responded to a report of 2 dogs running at large on North Park St, Ainsworth.

  • Investigated a report of possible vandalism to a door at the Courthouse park bathrooms.

    July 7

  • Provided a civil standby while an Ainsworth resident gathered personal property.

  • Booked a subject into the Brown Co Jail for possession of a controlled substance and carrying a concealed weapon 1st offense. 2 subjects were cited for possession of marijuana 1 oz or less and paraphernalia.

  • Booked a subject into the Brown Co Jail for driving under the influence, 2nd offense.

    July 8

  • Responded to a report of a juvenile driving recklessly on a UTV in Long Pine.

  • Investigated a vehicle deer accident on Hwy 20 near the Long Pine turn off.

  • Released a subject from the Brown Co Jail on bond.

  • The Brown Co Ambulance transported a patient from the Brown Co Hospital to the Great Plains Hospital in North Platte.

    Weekly Summary
    1 - Fix-it tickets were issued.
    1 - Handgun permits applied for
    16 - Incidents Reports were taken.
    6 - Paper Service was served.
    156 - Phone calls were received
    2 - 911 emergency calls received 
    2 - Titles were inspected.
    1 - Traffic Citations were issued.
    6 - Verbal & Written Warnings issued.

Jacce Beck (right) was awarded the KBRB Athlete of the Year by station owner Graig
Kinzie following a vote of the Ainsworth head coaches, high school staff and A Club members.

* Beck named KBRB Athlete of the Year

(Posted 7 a.m. July 7)

Ainsworth graduate Jacce Beck has been selected as the 2016-17 KBRB Athlete of the Year following a vote from Ainsworth High School coaches, staff and A-Club members.

Beck was a standout athlete on the football field, earning all-district recognition during his junior and senior years.

Football coach Jake Nelson said it was Beck’s work ethic and attitude that led to the coach nominating him for the annual award.

On the track, Beck became just the third athlete in school history to eclipse the 50-foot threshold in the shot put, as he recorded a throw of 50-feet-5 during the season on his way to winning a district title in the event.

Created by former KBRB owner Larry Rice, the KBRB Athlete of the Year is voted on by the school’s head coaches, high school faculty and A-Club. The Athlete of the Year is chosen from among the senior class based on numerous criteria, including lettering in two varsity sports for two years or more and participating in multiple sports. The criteria also take into account classroom work, leadership, character, service, coach-ability, personal conduct, and being drug and alcohol free.
Beck's name will appear on the KBRB Athlete of the Year plaque located in the high school, and he receives a $250 scholarship to his college of choice, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

* State Patrol conducts tobacco, alcohol compliance checks

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

Investigators with the Nebraska State Patrol completed alcohol and tobacco compliance checks in several counties in north central Nebraska.

The effort ran from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, in Antelope, Boyd, Brown, Cherry, Holt, Keya Paha, Knox, Pierce and Rock counties, funded in part by multiple grants from the North Central District Health Department for a total of $12,760.

The State Patrol checked 135 businesses for tobacco compliance, resulting in 19 businesses selling tobacco to a minor. The failure rate was 14 percent. NCDHD provided two grants totaling $8,360 for the enforcement.

The patrol also checked 47 businesses for alcohol compliance, resulting in five businesses selling alcohol to a minor. The failure rate was 11 percent. NCDHD provided a $4,400 grant for the enforcement.

The checks included golf courses, liquor stores, bars, grocery stores, convenience stores and restaurants.

* DOT releases 1- and 6-year improvement plan; Highway 20 in Ainsworth pushed back

(Posted 2:15 p.m. July 5)

Nebraska Department of Transportation Director Kyle Schneweis released the fiscal year 2018 Surface Transportation Program Wednesday.

The 2018 State Highway System Program is published at $481 million and is funded from state and federal highway user taxes and fees. The DOT plans to take in $230 million in federal funds, coupled with $186 million in state highway funds, $63 million in Build Nebraska Act funding and $2 million from other sources.

A total of 100 projects will be let to contract on the State Highway System during fiscal year 2018.

All eight DOT projects in District 8 for the 2017-18 fiscal year are located in Keya Paha and Holt counties.

In Keya Paha County, the DOT will mill and resurface 9.4 miles of Highway 12 east and west of Burton at an estimated cost of $4.2 million.

A 7.1-mile milling and resurfacing project is scheduled for Highway 183 starting at the Highway 12 junction and moving north to the South Dakota state line. That project carries an estimated $2.9 million price tag.

Highway 183 will also receive micro-surfacing work for 11.6 miles north and south of Springview.

The other project in Keya Paha County is 9.7-miles of milling and resurfacing on Highway 137 from the Niobrara River north at a cost of $3.1 million.

The projects in Holt County include 7.5 miles of milling and resurfacing on Highway 281 from the Chambers junction south at a cost of $1.06 million. Highway 281 will also receive micro-surfacing work for 17.4 miles between Chambers and O’Neill at a cost of $884,000.

Highway 11 is scheduled for 8.5 miles of milling and resurfacing north and south of Holt Creek at a cost of $3.3 million, as well as a 6.4-mile stretch from Amelia north at a cost of $3.1 million.

The eight projects in District 8 carry a total estimated price tag of $25 million.

The Highway 20 resurfacing project in Ainsworth was moved to the six-year plan, so it will be 2019 at the earliest before new concrete is poured on Highway 20 in Ainsworth. That is a $5.2 million project.

There are 39 projects on the DOT’s six-year plan for District 8. The following is a brief glimpse at those projects.

Highway 7

8.4 miles of milling and resurfacing from Brewster north, $3.3 million.

31.5 miles of micro-surfacing from Ainsworth south, $2.3 million.

7.2 miles of milling and resurfacing in Ainsworth and south, $3.8 million.

4.3 miles of milling and resurfacing from the Rock and Keya Paha County line north, $2 million.

5.3 miles of milling and resurfacing from the Niobrara River south, $2.6 million.

Highway 20

1.4 miles of concrete paving in Ainsworth, $5.2 million.

Culvert repair on Willow Creek near the Long Pine State Recreation Area, $600,000.

Long Pine bridge rehabilitation, $870,000.

34.9 miles of micro-surfacing from Long Pine to Atkinson, $2.3 million.

Joint repair and grinding in O’Neill, $390,000.

50.7 miles of micro-surfacing east and west of O’Neill, $3.9 million.

58.3 miles of micro-surfacing east and west of Valentine, $4.3 million.

12.8 miles of micro-surfacing from Merriman west, $1 million.

20.8 miles of micro-surfacing from Eli to Nenzel, $1.6 million.

Lighting at the Inman weigh station, $110,000.

Highway 183

4.3 miles of milling and resurfacing from the Niobrara River north, $3.4 million.

6.4 miles of milling and resurfacing from Rose south, $2.6 million.

17.6 miles of micro-surfacing from Rose north, $1.8 million.

10.1 miles of resurfacing from Bassett south, $3.7 million.

13.9 miles of micro-surfacing north and south of Taylor, $1.4 million.

Highway 137

8 miles of milling and resurfacing from the Keya Paha River to the South Dakota line, $3.6 million.

13.6 miles of resurfacing and bridge work from Newport north, $4.8 million.

Highway 12

Bridge replacement on Minnechaduzza Creek, $2.2 million.

3.5 miles of milling and resurfacing from Sparks east, $1.4 million.

11.2 miles of milling and resurfacing from Norden east, $6 million.

Culvert replacement in Bristow, $210,000.

8.6 miles of milling and resurfacing from Lynch to Monowi, $3.8 million.

Highway 11

6.1 miles of milling and resurfacing from Atkinson south, $3.2 million.

7.3 miles of milling and resurfacing in Butte and north, $2.6 million.

 

Additional projects in District 8 are scheduled in the six-year plan for Highway 83 and Highway 61 in Cherry County, Highway 96 in Loup and Garfield counties, and Highway 281 in Holt County. The 39 projects in the six-year plan for District 8 carry an estimated total price tag of $120 million.

* Monday fire destroys 3 buildings in Niobrara River valley in Keya Paha County

(Posted 9:30 a.m. July 5)

An electrical short in a well house caused a fire in the Niobrara River valley in Keya Paha County Monday that burned three buildings and prompted the response of four area fire departments.

Springview Fire Chief Scott Hallock said the fire was reported at 3:45 p.m. Monday on property owned by Lee Voss 2 miles east and 7 miles south of Springview in the river valley.

Hallock said an electrical short started a fire in a well house. The fire spread to a machine shop full of tractors and combines and also started another storage building on fire.

“We were able to keep the fire out of the tree line,” Hallock said. “It was still fairly green on the river bottom. If it would have been another week or so later, it could have been much worse.”

The Springview Volunteer Fire Department received mutual aid assistance from the Ainsworth, Long Pine and Bassett departments, and the fire was contained to the three structures and approximately 4 to 5 acres of grass. The three buildings were all destroyed, as were the contents of all the buildings.

Hallock said the Springview department remained on scene until approximately 11 p.m. Monday while the State Fire Marshal’s Office completed its investigation.

The Bassett Volunteer Fire Department was called to a report of a grass fire on the Fourth of July northeast of Bassett.

Fire Chief Jim Stout said, at 2 p.m. Tuesday, a disc mower had a bearing go out, which started grass on fire 6 miles east and 1 mile north of Bassett on property owned by Mark Klemsrud.

Stout said the firefighters got the flames knocked down quickly, holding the fire to less than 1 acre.

“We got lucky, as there wasn’t much wind,” Stout said. “Not having a lot of wind has been about the only thing we have had going for us lately.”

The fire danger in the area remains extremely high, and the 10-day forecast calls for temperatures to remain in the 90s with only slight chances on a couple days for any moisture.

June was the driest in the recorded history of Ainsworth, with just .54 of an inch of rain received during the month.

* Brown County Hospital to participate in emergency exercise July 19

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

During its recent meeting, the Brown County Hospital Board of Trustees learned the hospital will be one of more than a dozen local emergency agencies involved in an emergency simulation exercise July 19.

The simulation will help hospital staff and emergency responders prepare for a large-scale emergency event.

Matt Lentz discussed the purchase of a security system for the hospital campus. The board approved a proposal from Protex Central to secure all external doors of the hospital’s three buildings and the pharmacy door.

Administrator Shannon Sorensen provided the board with an update on enhancements to the specialty clinic. She also reported new signs around the hospital’s emergency entrance have been installed.

The board approved a request to allow Dr. Daniel Wik from My Pain Doc to receive Brown County Hospital privileges in pain management, and approved a request from Elizabeth Nelson, FNP-C, to resign from the hospital’s affiliated staff and change her status to a reference provider, which allows her to order outpatient diagnostic services at the Brown County Hospital.

The board worked on the 2017-18 fiscal year budget, and agreed to provide merit-based wage increases to employees of an average of 3 percent , not to exceed a system-wide increase of $75,000. The raises would be contingent upon the hospital achieving an operating margin of 1.5 percent or better.

The next meeting of the Brown County Hospital Board of Trustees is scheduled for July 17.

* Ponderosa Road closed west of Long Pine

(Posted 5:30 a.m. July 4)

The Brown County Roads Department has closed Ponderosa Road west of Long Pine due to a bridge issue over Willow Creek.
Ponderosa Road is closed until further notice from Highway 20 east to Willow Ridge Road. Barricades have been set up.

* Commissioners approve merit-based pay increases for roads employees

(Posted 2 p.m. July 3)

During a brief meeting Monday, the Brown County Commissioners awarded merit-based pay increases to members of the roads department.
Following an executive session with Highway Superintendent Kenny Turpin, the board approved the pay increases for the 2017-18 fiscal year, which began July 1.

Turpin reported the roads department is continuing work on the Richardson Road improvement project.

“It is going well,” Turpin said. “We are hauling clay and getting it covered with rock. We may be done with that project in a couple more weeks. It will be a big improvement.”

Turpin said the roads crew was able to blade roads in a few places that received some rainfall.

“It has been so dry, some places are getting a lot of washboards,” Turpin said.

Commissioner Reagan Wiebelhaus said the roads department should probably plan to drop everything else and blade roads if the county receives any significant rainfall, to which Turpin affirmed that was his plan.

Turpin told the commissioners he also planned to have the roads crew overlay a few spots on the South Pine Avenue asphalt.

“We are going to try it, and if it works well there we may try it a few places on the Meadville Road,” the highway superintendent said.

He also reported he included a pickup purchase for the Johnstown shop in the 2017-18 budget, as that pickup is not in very good shape.

“I didn’t know if the sheriff’s department was going to replace a pickup this year,” Turpin said. “I budgeted for one, but if the sheriff’s department is replacing one we can see if we can get their old one and take that out of our budget.”

In other business Monday, Walton Concrete began work on replacing portions of the sidewalk and entryway at the courthouse, and the commissioners asked the public to use the south entry to the courthouse until the new concrete is poured and cured.

The board opted to take no action after visiting with the sheriff and county attorney on a proposal from Lancaster County Youth Services.

Prior to adjourning Monday, the board continued work on the 2017-18 budget. The budget will be finalized following a public hearing in September.

The next meeting of the Brown County Commissioners is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. July 18.

* June is driest in Ainsworth's recorded history

(Posted 1:30 p.m. July 3)

June 2017 will go on record as the driest June in Ainsworth's history, according to Weather Observer Gerry Osborne.
Just .54 of rain was measured during the month, which is 2.75 inches below the expected average. During the 2012 drought, that June was the third driest in the city's history with .73 of an inch of rain.
The year-to-date moisture total is 11.11 inches, now .27 of an inch below the average after being well above average through the first five months of the year.
The warmest day of the month was June 21, when it hit 95 degrees. Just three days later on June 24, it dipped to 46 degrees for the month's low mark.
To hear the complete June summary, click on the audio link below.

audio clips/Gerry Osborne June 2017 Weather.mp3

* Weekly summary from the Brown County Sheriff's Department

(Posted 6:45 a.m. July 3)

June 25

  • Assisted individuals with a report of a subject throwing fireworks, from a vehicle, at juveniles.

  • Responded to a report of a bull out on North Wilson St Ainsworth.

  • Investigated a report of domestic assault in Ainsworth.

    June 26

  • Investigated a report of a possible break in, at a residence in Ainsworth.

  • Assisted individuals with a report of a possible sighting of a lost dog in Ainsworth area.

  • Booked a subject into the Brown Co Jail on a court ordered commitment.

  • The Ainsworth & Long Pine Firemen responded to assist Rock Co Firemen with a canyon fire.

    June 27

  • Received a report of harassment by the use of a cell phone.

  • Investigated a report of possible sexual assault in Brown Co.

  • The Brown Co Ambulance transported an Ainsworth resident to the Brown Co Hospital.

    June 28

  • Investigated a report of an assault in Ainsworth. A subject was arrested and booked into the Brown Co Jail for Assault 2nd degree.

  • Responded to a fireworks complaint at East City Park.

  • Arrested and booked a subject into the Brown Co Jail, on an arrest warrant, for issuing bad checks. The subject was released on bond.

    June 29

  • Investigated a two-vehicle accident without injury on 3rd & Walnut St Ainsworth.

  • Investigated a two-vehicle accident without injury on Main St Ainsworth.

  • Arrested two subjects for Possession of a Controlled Substance and booked them into the Brown Co Jail.

  • The Brown Co Ambulance transported an individual from Super 8 Motel to the Brown Co Hospital.

  • The Brown Co Ambulance transported a patient from the Brown Co Hospital to the Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney.

  • Released a subject from the Brown Co Jail on bond.

    June 30

  • Investigated a report of possible animal abuse in Ainsworth.

  • Assisted a Long Pine resident with a fireworks complaint.

  • The Brown Co Ambulance transported an Ainsworth resident to the Brown Co Hospital.

    July 1

  • Responded to a report of an animal that had been struck by a vehicle, East of Ainsworth on Hwy 20.

  • Assisted Ainsworth residents with information on an out of control juvenile.

  • Responded to a disturbance in Long Pine.

  • Released a subject from the Brown Co Jail as their sentence was complete.

  • Released two subjects from the Brown Co Jail on bond.

    Weekly Summary
    1 - Fix-it tickets were issued.
    8 - Handgun permits applied for
    22 - Incidents Reports were taken.
    16 - Paper Service was served.
    199 - Phone calls were received
    8 - 911 emergency calls received 
    1 - Titles were inspected.
    3 - Traffic Citations were issued.
    7 - Verbal & Written Warnings issued.

    June Monthly Summary
    19 - Arrests
    77 -Calls for Service 
    18 - Citations were issued
    0 - Crime Stopper call received
    6 - Defect Cards issued
    14 - Handgun permits issued
    33 - Paper Service served
    785 - Phone calls were received
    43 - 911 emergency calls received
    20 - Titles inspected
    43 - Verbal & Written Warnings issued

* Traffic Accident

(Posted 6:30 a.m. July 3)

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigated a two-vehicle accident that occurred Thursday, June 29, in Ainsworth.
According to the sheriff’s department report, at 11:26 a.m. Thursday on Ash Street north of the Fourth Street intersection, a 2004 Chevy pickup, driven by Waldo Osterman, 86, of Ainsworth, was backing from a parking space and struck a southbound 2011 Honda sedan, driven by Jeremiah Sullivan, 41, of Ainsworth.
No injuries were reported. Damage to the Chevy was estimated at $100. The Honda sustained approximately $1,500 damage.

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