Category Archives: Regional News

Homestead National Monument of America Hosts Fiddlers


BEATRICE – The Tallgrass Prairie Fiddle Festival marked 19 years of music at the Homestead National Monument of America, Saturday.   The contest features junior, senior and legend divisions along with acoustic bands, held outside the Education Center of the monument, under a tent in the courtyard.

Chief Park Ranger Susan Cook says music and homesteading go together.

:18                  “story, alive”

The musical duo of Debby Greenblat and David Seay have emceed the festival since its’ beginning.  Participants compete in divisions depending on how many years they’ve been playing.   Contestants are eligible to win a free violin, provided by Nancy Rohn and the Friends of the Homestead organization.

The Coffin Family Foundation provides funding for the festival’s prize money and other support for the event.  The fiddle festival also is supported by the Nebraska Arts Council and Eastern National.

:13                  “the summer”

In addition to the upcoming Homestead Days celebration events at the monument, the National Park Service attraction will play a key role in activities in August, during a full solar eclipse.   The Homestead will be an official NASA viewing site.

:14                  “being changed”

Judges for this year’s Tallgrass Prairie Fiddle Festival were Chris Sayre, Steve Hanson and Terry Keefe.  The afternoon competition followed fiddle and harmonica workshops during the morning.

Seven who threatened Omaha referee John Higgins identified, referred to local authorities and FBI

Seven people who threatened basketball referee John Higgins after an NCAA tournament game in March have been identified. Information on them will be referred to authorities in their jurisdictions and to the FBI’s Omaha field office, a Nebraska prosecutor said Friday.

Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov said the identities were ascertained after a lengthy investigation following Kentucky’s 75-73 loss to North Carolina in the South Region final in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 26. Polikov did not release the names.

Kentucky coach John Calipari criticized the officiating after the game. Higgins, of Omaha, saw his La Vista-based roofing company inundated with harassing emails, phone calls and voicemails, including death threats against Higgins and his family.

“Based on the investigation’s findings, our office has determined that no local charges will be filed and that pursuit of any criminal charges would be best served by deferring to authorities in the appropriate jurisdictions,” Polikov said in a statement to the Associated Press. “The length of the investigation was drawn out due in part to the large volume of potential evidence requiring analysis, and the multi-jurisdictional issues arising from the multiple states in which the communications originated.”

Polikov said at least two media outlets were identified as promoting and posting a video montage that exposed Higgins’ contact information.

“This information has been referred to the Federal Communications Commission for further investigation of the potential violations related to applicable federal communications regulations,” Polikov said.

Polikov did not say where the seven individuals live or where the two media outlets are based.

About 3,000 phone calls came into Higgins’ office in the two days after the game. Sheriff’s investigator Matt Barrall estimated 75 percent were from Kentucky area codes.

Higgins’ business also received a flood of bogus negative online reviews, causing his Google rating to plummet. Higgins’ website got more than 28,000 hits in the days after the game, and he was forced to take his business Facebook page down.

The Sarpy County sheriff’s department provided extra patrols around Higgins’ office in the days following the game, and Omaha police did the same near Higgins’ residence.

Higgins, reached Friday, said he had no comment other than to say he appreciated the work local law enforcement did on the case.

Copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Falls City Pool Open for Business on Saturday

FALLS CITY – The water has been poured, the lifeguards have been trained, everything is set up for the Falls City Aquatic Center to open on Saturday.

The pool, located on the north edge of town, will open this Saturday and remain open until Labor Day.

Manager of the pool Roger Lampe has been hard at work training life guards and getting everything ready for opening day. He says he’ll get some relief on Saturday.

“Tomorrow, I guess it’s just finally (exhales), I can take a breath,” says Lampe.

Fans of the aquatic center will be glad to hear that all the popular features of the pool are returning including the two slides, diving board and the rope area.

Lampe says one of the unique things about the Falls City pool is that it attracts people from many different area communities and labels it as a destination location in southeast Nebraska.

“You go out into our parking lot anytime of the day, and you do see license plates from Missouri, Kansas and all the surrounding counties,” says Lampe.

And an excuse to get out of the house in the dead heat of summer.

“Younger families come back to town to visit their parents or grandparents, rather than just sitting around the house, they’ve got somewhere to go,” says Lampe.

New Census Numbers Show Decreasing Populations in Most SE Nebraska Towns

The United States Census Bureau released figures this week that show decreasing populations in cities and villages throughout southeast Nebraska.

The town of Peru took the biggest decrease in the area, as census numbers show a 9.5% population decrease since the 2010 census. The town’s population was recorded at 865 in 2010, numbers show the population is now 782.

The city of Auburn’s population dropped by over 160 residents, going from 3,460 people, to 3,299. That is a decrease of 4.65%. Falls City had a smaller decrease of 2.57%.

Pawnee City’s population dropped by -5.9%, Tecumseh saw a decrease of -2.74% and Humboldt’s population decreased by 4.44%. Plattsmouth saw a very incremental decrease, with their population going down by 0.35%.

A few city did see slight increases in their populations. Nebraska City went from 7,289 people in 2010, to now 7,347, a 0.8% increase.

The city of Syracuse saw the biggest upswing, surpassing 2,000 residents for possibly the first time ever. The town increased its population by 3.34%, since 2010.

The increase in Syracuse’s population could speak to a recent trend in the data that shows populations increasing in towns and cities close to Lincoln. Hickman and Waverly have recently seen large increases.

For more information, check out the census bureau’s data RIGHT HERE.

Beatrice 17-Year-Old Arrested, After Pursuit Ends in Crash

BEATRICE – A 17-year-old Beatrice youth was arrested after crashing his vehicle in an early morning pursuit by law officers.

Gage County Sheriff’s Deputy Coltin Bebensee was attempting to stop a vehicle observed driving suspiciously near 6th and Dorsey in north Beatrice, at around 1:28 a.m., Thursday.

As the deputy was turning his patrol car around, the driver turned onto 9th Street from Dorsey, and accelerated at a high rate of speed southbound.

The driver failed to see a dead-end barrier just south of Darwin Street, smashing into the concrete barrier at high speed.  Air bags activated in the vehicle.

The driver and passengers in the vehicle were treated for minor injuries at the scene, by Beatrice Fire and Rescue.    The driver was arrested for flight to avoid arrest, driving under the influence of alcohol and an open container violation.

Beatrice Police assisted the Gage County Sheriff’s Office in the investigation of the incident.

Memorial Day Services Planned in Beatrice, Virginia and Filley

BEATRICE – A Memorial Day Service will be held Monday morning, at Evergreen Home Cemetery in east Beatrice.

The program put on by the Gage County Veteran’s Service office, Veterans organizations and the Beatrice Cemetery Association, begins at 10:30 a.m., Monday.

Volunteers are encouraged to help put in place American Flags at the Gage County Courthouse grounds and the Veteran’s Memorial Park along South 6th Street.   The flags will be put in place at 6:30 a.m, Monday….and will be taken down at 5:30 p.m.

American Legion Fisher Post 367 will hold Memorial Day Services at the Virginia and Filley Cemeteries, Monday.   The Virginia ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m., followed at 10:30 a.m. at Filley.  Freeman Public Schools Junior Ashley Parde will be the guest speaker.  She is an FFA Chapter President, is active in volleyball and speech and is an assistant Sunday School Teacher at Zion Lutheran Church, of Pickrell.

After the Memorial Day Service at Filley, the public is invited to a covered dish lunch at the American Legion Hall in Virginia, beginning at 11:30 a.m.

Beatrice High School O-Zone Floor to Include Business Logos

BEATRICE – Beatrice Public Schools will be joining a growing list of high schools and colleges that allow advertising logos on their gym floor.

This summer, the floor is being refinished at the Beatrice High School O-Zone, and for the first time, four businesses will have logos on the court on either side of the half-court line.  The center of the court will include the Orangemen knight, sword and shield logo.

District Business Manager John Brazell says four local businesses have purchased spots on the floor.  They are Pinnacle Bank, Security First Bank, Edward Jones and Husker Rehabilitation.

:09                  “a year”

The funds from the advertising will be used to pay for the floor refinishing, plus provide some additional money to refinish a practice gym floor, next year.

Each logo design is approved by the business and they are each 16-square-feet in size.  The center court Orangemen logo will be 27-by-20 feet.   Superintendent Pat Nauroth cautioned school board members that everyone will have an opinion about the center design…some will like it, some may not.

The O-Zone floor refinishing work is expected to get underway in July.

Beatrice High School Random Drug Testing Program Closer to Approval

BEATRICE – A random drug testing program for Beatrice High School students participating in sports and activities could be approved by the Board of Education in July.

The draft program has undergone legal review and a few revisions.   Assistant Beatrice High School Principal Bob Sexton says one of the changes would stipulate that if a student drops from the random testing program, they would not be able to participate in a sport for one year.

:26                  “staying in the program”

There would be an appeal process for failed drug tests, but a student would not be eligible to participate in their chosen activity while that appeal is pending.

The drug testing program is being implemented, school officials say, to address illegal drug use, but Superintendent Pat Nauroth says it’s also part of a larger goal.

:19                  “parts of that”

Sexton says his goal is to improve the climate and culture at school, and students themselves may play a role through their participation in the random drug testing program.

:17                  “other kids”

School Board members say they have received positive feedback about the prospect of the random drug testing policy, with some parents saying the program should also take place at the middle school level.   For now, school officials would start the program at the high school.

Beatrice Educational Foundation Hires Director, After-School Program Coordinator

BEATRICE – The Beatrice Educational Foundation has hired a retired teacher and current Beatrice School Board member to head an after-school program and fundraising efforts.   Doris Martin’s hiring as Executive Director and After School Coordinator was affirmed by the Beatrice Board of Education, Thursday night.

Andrew Carrothers of the B-E-F says the grant-funded after-school program will begin operating this coming school year.  He says Martin’s familiarity with the district, its’ administrators and faculty will be a plus.

:23                  “the foundation”

Martin will oversee the after-school program and be executive director for the foundation.   Beatrice Public Schools Business Manager John Brazell says the position is funded by Extended Learning Opportunities and 21st Century grants, along with program fees, partnership support and foundation money.

Brazell says Martin can continue to serve on the Beatrice Board of Education.

:10                  “foundation position”

Martin would have to abstain from discussion and votes on any matters considered by the school board that affect her foundation job.  She will be contracted by the Beatrice Educational Foundation.  No salary level was mentioned for the B-E-F position.

Driver on the hook for $10,000-plus in damage after trip through fresh cement

A driver in Lincoln on Wednesday made the mistake of driving around construction barriers and landing in a fresh plot of cement.

Damages were estimated in excess of $10,000 to the construction project near 48th Street and Old Cheney Road in southeast Lincoln.

The driver will be billed for the damage to the street, a city official said.