Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Looking back - 2017 in review


January 4, 2018

"Isn't it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different.." C.S. Lewis

Taking a look back at the year behind us, we see many stories of success, hope and growth and a few that we will surely be glad to leave in the past.

Jan. 5, 2017

Jordan Cluff double winner

for Kimball wrestling

by Tom Southard

The Kimball High wrestling team hosted Hershey and Chase County in a double dual wrestling match to close out the pre-Christmas part of the season with Jordan Cluff, a double winner for the home team.

Cluff, wrestling at 106 pounds, pinned his Hershey opponent in :55 seconds, then moved up a weight class to 113 and pinned his Chase County opponent in 5:01.

Kimball went up against Hershey in their first dual of the night and lost 51-30, but actually won three of the five matches that took place as the two teams did not match up in most of the weight classes. Trevor Ryschon at 126 won by fall in 1:40 and Jaden Mohr at 132 won by fall in 2:42. Garrett Pedersen at 120 lost 6-4 in overtime and Eric Escajeda lost by fall in 2:23. Isaak Glanz at 182 and Steve Bateman at 195 both won by forfeit.

Chase County won over Kimball 57-12 with Cluff recording Kimball's only win on the mat. Pedersen won by forfeit to account for the other points.

Kimball coach Wade Brashear said, "As one can notice from the match sheet with Hershey, there were not a lot of matches as the two teams only matched at a few weights. Overall we wrestled well against Hershey. We have definitely showed improvement from the beginning of the year, and over years past."

Coach Brashear went on to say, "In the second dual we took on Chase County and this turned out to be a tough dual for us as we came away with only one victory. Chase County has had a solid wrestling tradition for a long time and this year's squad is no exception. We should have competed much better, but our effort and focus was not as high as it was in our first dual with Hershey."

Kimball was without sophomore Toby McManigal and senior Logan Stahla, who were both out due to medical reasons. The Horns will be back in action today (Thursday) at the WTC Tournament in Mitchell and will participate in the Garden County Invitational this Saturday.

Jan. 12, 2017

Dan Dean is Kimball's

new City Administrator

by Tonia Copeland

The Kimball City Council considered Mayor Keith Prunty's appointment for City Administrator during a special meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 3.

Prunty offered the position to Dan Dean just prior to the new year, and Dean accepted the offer, but the decision was not made final until last Tuesday, when council unanimously approved the appointment. Dean will begin duties, upon completion of his 30-day notice for his current position, on Feb. 6.

Council further considered the contract negotiations performed with the appointment. With input from City Attorney Kent Hadenfeldt and City Clerk/acting City Administrator Rosie Russell, few changes were made to former City Administrator Daniel Ortiz's contract.

During negotiations, the starting salary was increased from $80,000 to $85,000 annually and both Dean and his wife will receive health insurance benefits immediately.

Additionally, while the contract had previously been written to include 60 days notice prior to leaving the post, Dean asked for that requirement to be reduced to 30 days. In the end, Prunty and Dean agreed to split the difference and require 45 days notice prior to leaving the appointment.

Feb. 2, 2017

Congratulations, it's a boy!

Jayden Martin Serrano

was born on January 17, 2017 to Sheena Erickson and Shane Seranno. Jayden weighed 7 lbs. 13 oz. and was 20 3/4 inches long. The first baby of 2017 was happily welcomed by sister, Macy, 6 and brother, Blayden, 4.

Prizes awarded this year to Jayden and his family are: Sportsman's Liquor, a bottle of champagne; Kimball Health Services, a triple photo album and guest book; Java Blend, one XLG (3 topping) pizza; The Diner, a $20 Gift Card; FirsTier Bank, $50 savings account; Larsen's Jewelry Store, an engraved silver baby cup; PointsWest Bank, $100 savings account; Hometown Floral & Hometown Hardware, a bouquet or plant; Main Street Market, a $15 Gift Card; Kimball State Bank, $20 in Chamber Bucks; Kimball Auto Parts, see Norm for your gift; and a 1-Year subscription to the Western Nebraska Observer.

Feb. 23, 2017

Stolen vehicles used

to commit additional crimes

by Tonia Copeland

Four stolen vehicles in one week in Kimball County led to the recovery of a stolen Dodge pickup from Sedgwick, Colo., behind the Dix Bible Church according to Kimball County Sheriff Investigator Anthony Osborn.

This vehicle was recovered within 24 hours of being reported stolen, and it contained items believed to have been taken during recent burglaries in Kimball County.

At that time, Sheriff Harry Gillway said, "We believe the suspects are driving the second vehicle stolen from Dix. We did collect evidence from the stolen vehicle recovered on Thursday and hope to have suspects in custody soon."

Throughout the weekend, investigators continued following up on citizens' reports, and on Sunday, Feb. 19, a caller reported seeing a 2016 Ford F-250 matching the description of one of the stolen vehicles, according to Osborn.

Investigators followed up on that call and after two hours and a short foot chase, the Nebraska State Patrol was able to make a stop and arrest one male suspect, Javier Campos, and one female suspect, Atinot Staman.

That same night the suspects, who are also wanted in Sedgwick County and Logan County, Colorado, as well as, in neighboring Cheyenne County, led investigators to the red Ford Taurus that was also stolen from Dix and is thought to be used in burglaries in at least three other counties.

March 9, 2017

The real fans show up year after year

by Tom Southard

High School sports are a large part of what holds small towns together and the fans that show up event after event play such a large part in the success of these programs. You have the Family Fans who take their turn of attending as long as some young member of their claim is active. I speak of the Moms and Dads, Grandmas and Grandpas, Aunts and Uncles, brothers and sisters. Then you have the true call town sports fan who turns out year after year simply to enjoy watching and cheering on the kids, while supporting the school and enjoying watching young athletes perform.

I have been amazed through the years observing the support of so many of the Kimball area fans, especially the group of older fans who have their regular seats and are there game after game. If they are not there, you wonder what is wrong, and you ask other fans in attendance where they might be. I speak now only of the home games, but you will see these same faces at many of the away contests as well, and when it comes to conference tournament time, or district tournament time, there they are, ready to cheer and support. The list is long but a special few that come to mind are Fayann Cain and Donna Talbott, both former teachers in the Kimball School System. And there is Les Reemts, who usually sat right by my wife Karen and myself. And back behind us and up a few seats, Bob and Bill Mueller, and members of their family. Rollie Hager had his special seat at most home games, and Mike and Phyllis Greenwood were usually among the first Kimball fans in the gym or stadium at home and away games.

I touched on it recently about the special atmosphere when the Kimball Band performed and the cheer leaders do their special routines at half time, and how the student body gets going as the cheer leaders direct them. This is such an addition to the athletes who play the games, and once again, a salute to all the fans who turn out in all kinds of weather, showing good sportsmanship as they cheer the kids on, and partake of the food offerings and the cake raffles. You all did a great job again this year. Don't Quit! See you at the next event.

March 16, 2017

Banner County considers

four day school schedule

by Tonia Copeland

With more rural schools in the tri-state area opting to move to a four-day school week, the Banner County School Board hosted a community meeting on Thursday, March 9, to examine the potential benefits and pitfalls of the same, though this decision solely falls on the school board, as a vote is not required.

"I would like to thank you all for coming. We appreciate your time," board president Charity May said. "I would like to remind you that we are simply here to listen; we don't have the answers."

Dozens of residents showed up for the meeting, and with a nearly packed cafeteria, the discussion began with the introduction of Dr. LeAnn Smith, a 20-year educator, from Albin, Wyo.

Smith, a teacher and administrator, began by listing some of the positive impacts she has seen in two schools, one in Colorado and the other in Wyoming, that transitioned to four-day school weeks.

Teacher recruiting and retention was the main goal at the Colorado school that Smith addressed.

"Thirteen years later, they are still on their four-day week and they like it very much," Smith said.

In Albin, her most recent post, the decision was made when curriculum changes demanded an excess of teacher time. Because teachers were pulled out of class, substitutes were used, and students' education suffered, according to Smith.

Moving to a four-day school week freed one day for teachers to deal with curriculum changes without taking teacher time away from students and saved that district nearly $70,000 over the course of two years.

April 6, 2017

Borrow pit, mining

regulations to be amended

by Tonia Copeland

Current Kimball County Zoning regulation section 5.02 states that an asphalt or concrete batch plant and borrow pits used temporarily and exclusively for the completion of a public road improvement project is allowed in A1 and A2 agriculture zoning districts and in section 5.03 borrow pits are listed as a conditional use with the approval of a permit.

However, when the Planning Commission began working on zoning regulations for Kimball County, landowners were told that if their property was used in a certain manner, it would be "grandfathered in" as a conditional use until such a time as it was no longer used in that way.

In 2010 the Planning Commission, with the help of PADD, wrote the zoning regulations after the Kimball Mayor, council president and economic development director approached the Kimball County with a request for zoning for business development, according to Planning and Zoning Administrator, Sheila Newell.

Rick Soper, Chairman of the Kimball County Board of Commissioners at the time, asked the planning commission to come up with regulations at that time, Newell said, and the planning commission invested many hours working on county zoning and adding definitions according to state statute. The zoning regulations were finally adopted that year and the document has been amended a couple of times since.

Kimball County has now begun the process of amending the sections, as well as adding definitions that will restrict the use of borrow pits for commercial use.

April 20, 2017

Brady Kilgore sets school record at WTC track meet

by Tom Southard

Brady Kilgore won the Western Trails Conference 110 meter hurdle race this past Thursday at Mitchell with a career best time of 14.59 seconds and in so doing, improved a 31-year-old Kimball High record set by Jeff Fiehtner way back in 1986! Fiehtner set his record of 14.7 way back in 1986 and it has held up until Kilgore used a strong tail wind to help him establish the new record time. The talented Kimball High sophomore was close to setting a new WTC record as well, as Drew Gilliland ran 14.50 just one year ago.

This was certainly the highlight of the meet for Kimball, but it was a day of several outstanding marks by Kimball athletes. Kilgore not only won the 100 meter highs, but also the high jump with another personal best height of 5'11" and ran third in the 300 meter hurdles with a time of 42.35 seconds. He also finished fourth in the long jump with a leap of 18'6.5". Quite a day for the quiet young man just getting settled into his high school track career.

Hannah Biesecker came through with a personal best jump in the long jump to win the event at 16'10.5", but since she was nursing a slight leg injury, she sat out of the high jump, an event she could probably have placed in, but did run fifth in the 100 meters with her time of 12.98.

Jaden Mohr improved his personal best mark in the pole vault by a full foot, placing third in the vault at 12'6", the same height as the second place medal winner. In his junior year, Mohr gets better all the time. He also ran sixth in the 110 meter hurdles with his time of 20.43.

Jaden Withrow was nursing a sore leg also but still was a double winner taking the triple jump at 41'10.25" and the long jump at 20'8". He limited his jumps to just a few and took no jumps in the finals of the triple jump. Zachery Wagner finished second in the triple jump at 38'9" and took only one jump before telling the officials he was done, as he also had a very sore knee that was bothering him. It caused him to sit out of the relay event he was scheduled to participate in.

Kyle Spicer ran some great times in the sprints, but finished sixth in both the 100 and 200 meter dashes with times of 11.03 and 23.46. The WTC field of sprinters is loaded with talent, all of whom welcomed the strong tail wind that helped create good times. Spicer was joined by Withrow, Logan Stahla and Jake Jenkins to run second in the 4 x 100 relay with a time of 45.98 as they pushed the highly touted Mitchell team to the finish line with the Tiger team winning in 44.10.

May 4, 2017

Kimball could become

a recreation destination

by Tonia Copeland

Recreation was high on the list for the Kimball City Council at their regular meeting on Tuesday, April 18. Council heard one local company's offer to build at Janicek Dam before hearing a request to limit access to Gotte Park.

"We would like to build a remote control course (at Janicek Dam)," said Jerry Deines, manager of Z&S Construction. "It would keep kids off the street with them (remote control cars) and it would be in a safe spot."

Deines said the company wished to complete the project at no cost to the City of Kimball. Z&S would do all the work, donate the equipment, maintain the course and if the course is not used or is not well-maintained, they would also be responsible for dismantling it.

"We would just donate the time to clean it up, put the top soil back and get it planted," Deines said. "It won't cost you guys anything. I don't know about liability though."

The ground would be bladed and caliche would be hauled in to build up the parking area, according to Deines, but since lighting would be an issue, the course would remain daytime use only until such a time that lighting is installed out there.

Though there is not a local RC club or racing circuit, if built, the track would be the only one in the region and was well received by council as a potential weekend destination for avid RC racers, making Kimball a destination and potentially bolstering local economy.

"I think it is phenomenal. Anything Z&S does, they have done top-notch and they continue to support this community," Kim Baliman said. "And what if this could bring 200 people to an event over the course of a weekend?"

"I have had a lot of interest from people in Sidney and Scottsbluff, that would come use it and help get events organized," Deines said.

This is just one of several ideas for the use of the property, including a dog park and walking trail.

May 18, 2017

District considers capital projects for summer completion

by Tonia Copeland

The Kimball High School will soon receive a facelift, in the form of new windows that will be installed in eight east and west classrooms this summer.

Superintendent of Kimball Schools, Marshall Lewis, discussed the capital improvement project with the Kimball Board of Education at their regular meeting on Thursday, May 11.

Two companies were considered for the project, Simonton Windows and Pella. Simonton was chosen as the more cost effective solution.

The Kimball High School Ag shop also has Simonton Windows that were installed a few years ago.

"We were really happy when they went in," Lewis said.

Funding for the windows, a total of $43,000, will be taken from the "windows, carpet and lights" budget which has a total allowance of $60,000.

Additionally, a small carpet project at Mary Lynch Elementary will be completed after school is dismissed for summer.

According to Lewis, this project should take only a day or two to complete and has been done in three different places because it was so well liked.

"We've had no kids fall down coming in after a snowy day," said Mary Lynch Principal Mike Mitchell. Mitchell added that the carpet is much easier to clean.

The board took from the table the outdoor concession stand renovation project.

June 1, 2017

Kimball golf team takes

runner-up honors at State Tournament

by Tom Southard

The Kimball High Boy's Golf Team brought home their share of honors from this year's Nebraska State Class C Golf Tournament held at the Meadowlark Hills Golf Course in Kearney this past week. As a team, Kimball finished in second place with their two-day score of 648 to earn the runner-up trophy presented by the NSAA, trailing only the winning team from Lincoln Lutheran that shot 639. On this note, the Lincoln Lutheran team is made up of all five seniors, while Kimball will lose only one senior in Jordan Greenwood and returns three juniors and one senior for next year.

The Longhorns played as consistent as you could ask for shooting 324 both days, and as individuals, they did what they needed to do to stay in contention. Senior Jordan Greenwood closed out an extraordinary career of being an individual state medalist all four years finishing in a tie for third place this year, and he showed the determination, and skill, of a champion in coming back the second day to achieve his success and lead the Longhorns to the runner-up finish. The young man who is headed to Southeast Community College in Beatrice on a full ride Golf Scholarship, shot 40-41=81 on the first day of play in very windy and cold weather conditions, but came back strong on day two with a round of 37-37=74 to achieve his two day total of 155.

Kimball had three players who not only earned their state runner-up medals, but also individual top 14 medals. Sophomore Zane Anthony had one of the top scores of day one shooting a round of 37-41=78 and finished up on day two with a round of 41-42=83 for a two day total of 161 to finish in a tie for 10th place. His sophomore team mate, Dillon Wise shot 41-39=80 on day one and 43-40=83 on day two for his two day total of 163 and a tie for 15th place.

It was quite special to have three individuals earn top 15 medals, but it was even more special that as a team the Longhorns shot the scores they needed to bring home the runner-up trophy to put in the School Trophy Case. Andrew McCloud has one more season remaining and he probably showed the most improvement of all the Kimball golfers this year and had a very good tournament. Andrew shot 42-40=82 on day one and came back with 42-45=87 on day two for his total of 169 to finish 34th overall. Sophomore Izaac Reuter played consistent both days shooting 47-43=90 on day one and came back with 42-48=92 on day two for a total of 182 to place 56th in the entire field.

June 22, 2017

Board of Ed considers increased

expectations and random drug testing

by Tonia Copeland

The Kimball Board of Education discussed increasing academic expectations as well as providing additional support to struggling students during High School Principal Eugene Hanks' report at the June 12 board meeting.

"Is there anyway we can raise the academic bar?" board member Brad Reader asked Hanks," I know we did that a couple of years ago with the 'no F' policy."

Hanks suggested that a committee be formed, similar to the committee formed when the current policy was adopted, to review the policies and how best to increase academic expectations. The previous committee included the activities director, principal, superintendent, counselor, teachers, board members and parents.

"We can get a group of stakeholders together to look, not only at that, but all the different things that tie into it," Hanks said. "Items, in addition to the eligibility policy, the committee could look at would be the no zero policy, homework policy – quality assignments vs. busy work and possible intervention like tenth period like we do now. Those are things to discuss and tie them in together."

Board members asked if educators' input could be obtained over the summer, though Hanks said that it would be difficult to do so over their summer break and he further suggested that the subject would require a significant amount of time.

Though the board attempted to pin down a concrete time line in the near future, Hanks reiterated that more time would likely be needed for educator involvement.

"My recommendation would be to look at it in the first quarter, or the second quarter, because we can go back and make a change," Hanks said.

According to staff, conversations at the High School regarding increased expectations and support are already ongoing, but to choose a few stakeholders without hearing the majority of ideas would not be highly effective.

"As staff, I really think High School staff members need time to discuss this. There are a lot of thoughts, a lot of ideas about what is working and what is not," vocal music teacher Kristi Hiles-Smith said. "There has got to be some general discussion first, then put together a committee with stakeholders. I don't know what the time line would be for that, but I think there are a lot of people with valid ideas to be heard."

The board settled on Superintendent Marshall Lewis' suggestion to set a goal for policy changes by the end of the first high school quarter or junior high trimester with an absolute deadline to have changes implemented by the end of the first high school semester.


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