Category Archives: Regional News

Extra Steps Will Be Taken at Nebraska State Fair, After Deadly Ohio Incident

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. – An Ohio State Fair ride that broke apart killing one and seriously injuring several others is no stranger to the Nebraska State Fair and finds officials here looking at tighter safeguards.

The incident in Ohio occurred when the ride called ‘Fireball’ malfunctioned in action, killing one man and sending over a half dozen to the hospital.

“Something like this does make us re-examine the policies and procedures that we use,” says Joseph McDermott, executive director of the Nebraska State Fair.

McDermott tells News Channel Nebraska that procedures involving the ‘Fireball’ ride will likely be ramped up in the wake of the Wednesday accident. He says that their ride operator, Wade Shows Inc. out of Michigan, will be in contact with the manufacturer that makes the ‘Fireball’ ride.

“I would imagine the manufacturer of the Fireball is going to scrutinize those specifications, maybe tighten things down,” says McDermott. “I’m sure some additional steps will be taken before the Fireball, if it comes to Nebraska, will be allowed to open up here in Nebraska.”

The Nebraska fair uses a different ride operator than the one in Ohio, but the ‘Fireball’ ride has been a mainstay in Grand Island the last several years.

McDermott says the process in Nebraska is quite extensive and different than most fairs. Wade Shows Inc. inspects the rides, as do officials with the state of Nebraska, and McDermott says, the rides get additional and comprehensive exams from independent inspectors, who survey all the rides throughout the duration of the fair.

“We do take that extra step to make sure that everything is safe and again, they’re pretty much monitoring these rides throughout the run of the fair,” says McDermott.

McDermott says that there has not been a serious accident at the Nebraska State Fair involving a ride, since the 1960’s.

4-H Rider Accepts Hardships As Part of Horsemanship

SYRACUSE – When the Otoe County Fair’s 4-H horse show started Thursday morning, Autumn Cary had a daunting task ahead of her.

She had been badly  injured  earlier in the month when her horse Trigger reared up and fell, crushing the hand she normally uses to hold the reins. Two days after the accident, the show horse that she had been working with and expected to take to the state fair  was dead.  The horse slipped on mud and ripped ligaments in his ankle.

Her mother calls it a tough couple of weeks, but the 14-year-old Syracuse girl resolved to continue riding, accepting the hardships associated with what she calls her sport.

Cary: “I pretty much fought the surgeon to ride. I like riding. It’s my sport. It’s what I do.”

Cary entered the soggy fairgrounds arena on Trigger, the horse who had fallen on July 14th. The 11-year-old paint’s official name is Pure Country Dust on the show program and he is the horse that Cary first learned to ride with.

Despite having to switch hands and bringing Trigger back to the show ring, Cary prevailed over 10 competitors to emerge as the champion of her horsemanship class.

Soon after, the realities of equestrian danger showed itself. A 10-year-old girl was thrown off a bucking horse and hit the arena fence. She was taken from the arena by  Syracuse Rescue as a precaution.

Anne Bennier , Bailey Boitnott and Olivia Leonard won showmanship championships in their classes.

Bennier showed the champion stock type horse and Valerie Miller showed the top pleasure type horse.

Daisa Schmidt had the top pony.

Jenna Knake

National Main Street Center Director Tours Downtown Beatrice

BEATRICE – A tour of historic downtown Beatrice was on the schedule today for the Director of the National Main Street Center, based in Chicago.

Patrice Frey is CEO of an organization that oversees some 1,600 communities in the United States, that are part of the Main Street program.

:20                  “for myself”

Frey has family members who homesteaded at Hay Springs, Nebraska.  She says part of the challenge for downtowns started back in the 1950s and 60s, when urbanization of communities led to a growth in mall-based business.  She said the growth of online business has added to that challenge for downtown areas.

Beatrice Mayor Stan Wirth, showing exterior renovation work, at Municipal Auditorium

Although not easy, Frey says there is a resurgence being seen in the development of downtown areas.

:25                  “that movement”

This past year, the downtown Beatrice area was added to the National Register of historic places.  Through passage of ordinances dealing with vacant structures and the use of a Nebraska economic development block grant to help refurbish building fronts, officials are working toward reestablishing the downtown as an attraction for shoppers and visitors.  

Frey says the architecture is certainly in place.

:50                  “24-hour experience”

Frey says some communities are having success linking their downtowns to trail systems and riverfront areas.  Once a community has refurbished the physical aspects of a downtown, Frey says a key effort is making sure a downtown is a pedestrian-friendly experience.

:09                  “ten-fold”

There are always financing issues for improving a downtown, but Frey says the investment can come from several sources.  Those include city support in the area of funding and recruitment of business.   Support from businesses themselves and investment through community charitable organizations or individuals can also help spur downtown development.

Frey went on a walking tour of the downtown area Thursday morning, with members of the local Main Street Beatrice organization and Mayor Stan Wirth.  The group also took an interior tour of a building being renovated at 3rd and Court.

The National Main Street Center is a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  The center offers technical assistance, research, education and other help to local main street programs.

Suspect Arrested in Vacant Beatrice Manufacturing Plant Burglary

BEATRICE –  Beatrice Police have arrested a suspect caught in the act of allegedly taking copper, from inside the former Hoover Group plant building in south Beatrice.

Chief Bruce Lang says officers had received a report of a possible stolen vehicle and were checking to see if the vehicle was parked near the former Hoover Group Manufacturing building.

Lang says officers went there, and did not find the vehicle, but a police sergeant noticed an open door.

:11                  “to apprehend him”

Police arrested 52-year-old Charles Fisher, of Beatrice.

:04                  “copper wiring”

Lang says police happened upon the theft, in progress.

:09                  “in progress”

Police arrested Fisher for trespassing, burglary, possession of burglar tools, carrying a concealed weapon, possession of a weapon by a prohibited person and possession of a weapon in the commission of a felony.

Lang says the weapon was a knife, with a blade greater than four inches in length. Police had gotten a previous call about potential theft from the building.

:08                  “the problem”

The suspect, Fisher was acting alone.

Norfolk Rainfall Nearly Breaks Century-Old Record

NORFOLK – Some much-needed moisture came to Norfolk Wednesday morning in near-record numbers.

The National Weather Service says 1.23 inches of rain fell in Norfolk Wednesday morning. That is just three-hundredths of an inch away from the record for July 26th, set back in 1905.

The rain is a welcome sight as drought continues to spread into Nebraska. The latest drought monitor map released by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska showed that almost a quarter of Nebraska, including most of northeast Nebraska, is experience moderate drought conditions.

Wednesday’s heavy rain still leaves Norfolk short of the July monthly average by over an inch.

Rainfall was much heavier to the south. The City of Columbus reported over three inches of rain had fallen by noon, and areal flood advisories were issued for streams and creeks in Platte, Colfax, Dodge, Butler and Saunders counties.

Jump in Aircraft Expected For Eclipse, at Beatrice Municipal

BEATRICE – Another product of the interest in the upcoming full solar eclipse, is the level of air traffic expected to come into the Beatrice Municipal Airport.   The events of August 19th through the 21st are pointing toward a lot of airplanes arriving for the festivities.

:24                  “everything in order”

Beatrice Municipal Airport Manager Diana Smith says the facility is getting around three to six calls per day, sometimes more, inquiring about the airport.

Smith says most of the incoming air traffic is expected to arrive the morning of the eclipse, on August 21st…..though a few additional planes will fly in for the weekend events around the area.   She expects eclipse day to be a heavy air traffic day.

:08                  “all at once”

Smith says the airport has had contact with pilots from as far away as both the east and west coasts, including the Los Angeles area.

:09                  “it’s a small jet”

Smith says she expects most of the aircraft flying in for the celestial celebration will be single-engine and twin-engine propeller aircraft.

:05                  “won’t run out, there”

The Beatrice Municipal Airport will be using its’ diagonal runway to park the overflow of aircraft coming to the facility.   Smith says that 100-foot-wide runway is slated to be replaced in the coming months with a 75-foot wide runway, with construction planned in 2018.  The airport previously upgraded the main runway, with the help of Federal Aviation Administration funding.

The Beatrice Municipal Airport was named Nebraska Airport of the Year for 2016…the second time the local airport has won the honor.  It was the first general aviation airport in Nebraska to be awarded, back in 1992.


Congressman Smith to Hold Farm Bill Listening Sessions

Washington, D.C. (Courtesy of Congressman Smith’s office)– As part of his 2017 Farm Bill Listening Tour, Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) will host August listening sessions in Broken Bow, Beatrice, and South Sioux City.

The Farm Bill Listening Tour provides Third District constituents an opportunity to visit with Smith, ask questions, and share their thoughts on the future of agriculture policy. Nebraska Director of Agriculture Greg Ibach will also join the discussions.

“Sound agriculture policies are a crucial part of ensuring farmers and ranchers have the resources they need to succeed,” Smith said. “As Congress prepares to draft a new Farm Bill, I look forward to receiving direct input from Third District producers. Getting these policies right will help producers overcome challenges they face and ensure the Third District remains the top-producing agriculture district in the country.”

Broken Bow Farm Bill Listening Session on Tuesday, August 1 at the Cobblestone Hotel & Suites 2750 S. 27th Avenue, Broken Bow, NE, 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (CDT). Media availability at 2:30 p.m. (CDT)

Beatrice Farm Bill Listening Session on Thursday, August 3 at the Homestead National Monument Education Center 8523 W. State Highway 4, Beatrice, NE, 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.(CDT). Media availability at 2:30 p.m. (CDT)

South Sioux City Farm Bill Listening Session on Wednesday, August 23 at City Hall 1615 1st Avenue, South Sioux City, NE, 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (CDT). Media availability at 2:30 p.m (CDT)

Information about the Farm Bill Listening Tour is also available on Smith’s website at For questions about these events, please contact Smith’s Grand Island office at (308) 384-3900.

Rural and City Fire Personnel Sent to Early Morning Flareup

BEATRICE – Beatrice Rural Fire Department personnel and city equipment were sent to a small fire early this morning, northwest of Beatrice.

A city fire captain says the call first came in as a structure fire, but turned out to be a grass fire along a lagoon, next to a confinement building.

Jeff Van Winkle says about one-acre of ground was burned, but there was no damage to the confinement building.  Fire officials say the flareup was likely a rekindling of a previous fire a few days ago.

The fire call came in at 12:19 a.m., sending rural firefighters to the area of Southwest 61st and West Hickory Road, about three miles northwest of Beatrice.

There was no significant damage, and no injuries reported.  Firefighters and equipment were on scene for about 45 minutes.

Barbecue Draws Big Crowd, at Gage County Fair

BEATRICE – About 3,000 tickets were distributed for Tuesday night’s Ag Appreciation Barbecue, a kick-off gathering at the Gage County Fair.  People lined up for a meal at the livestock barn on the fairgrounds.

:16                  “working for them”

Christie Rice is Communications Director for the Beatrice Area Chamber. She says the event also recognizes the area’s ties to agriculture as the number one industry in the state. 

Rice says the chamber gets a lot of volunteer support and business sponsorship for putting on the barbecue each year, at the fair.

:16                  “the time”

This year is an exceptionally busy one for the Beatrice Area Chamber.   Along with Homestead Days, the upcoming eclipse, Rice says, is drawing a lot of daily contact with the local chamber.

:20                  “our community”

Rice says the organization has gotten numerous hits on a special eclipse website from all over the world, wanting information about the events August 19th and 20th and on the day of the eclipse, August 21st.

Tuesday night, a car show was held on the grounds of the fair and Wagner Shows Midway is set up on the north grounds.

This year’s county fair theme is Celebrate the Good Life at the 2017 Gage County Fair.  Events on the opening day today include the 4H and FFA Broiler Show at the Poultry Complex and the 4H Bucket Calf Show at the Main Barn.  Judging of Open Class exhibits continues today, along with entry and weigh-in deadlines.

Tonight’s grandstand entertainment features the group, High Valley, at 8 p.m.   Gage County Ag Society honors, Pioneer Farm Family and Friends of the Fair recognition is also on tonight’s schedule at the grandstand.

Tecumseh Plans “Night At the Museum” For Afternoon Eclipse

NEBRASKA CITY – The Johnson County Historical Society is planning “Monday Night at the Museum” for the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21.

Historical Society President Sarah Williamson said it may be 1:30 in the afternoon, but it will seem like night for 2 minutes and 29 seconds in Tecumseh.

Williamson: “The last solar eclipse of this kind was 99 years ago. It truly will be a once in a lifetime experience.”

Steve Diesso, former president of the Milwaukee Astronomical Society, will be making a presentation before the eclipse beginning at 10 a.m.

Diesso will explain the phenomenon of a solar eclipse and what we can expect. He will also have special camera equipment for photographing the eclipse.

Johnson County Central has graciously offered the use of the football field, restrooms and concession stand in support of this special museum event. The bleachers will be available, but we encourage that you bring lawn chairs or blankets if you prefer. The sun will be overhead, so viewing will not be obstructed.

The museum will be providing viewing glasses for safety. Normal sunglasses do not provide the safety that is needed.