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

2016 in review part 2


The second half of 2016 was a whirlwind of activity in Kimball. Businesses opened, grew and closed, a fugitive from Florida was apprehended, Kimball hired a new doctor, lost an administrator and a police chief in the same month, and offered those positions to new prospects just two months later.

Kimball saw changes in the size of the Western Nebraska Observer and saw changes in leadership nationally, statewide and locally. The futures of the Kimball Event Center and Keep Kimball Beautiful were uncertain; the Kimball Ambulance Service was given new governing bodies and Pokemon Go got its 15 minutes of fame (barely).

July 7, 2016

As Kimball loses one business, another one is ready to open its doors...almost.

Kimball Distribution NOW site, formerly Challenger Industries has been closed down.

According to Aaron Cook, branch manager in Kimball, the company purchased three Challenger Industries locales, including one in Sterling, Colo., one in Cheyenne, Wyo., and Kimball. The sale was made public knowledge on August 1, 2015.

Each of these locations supplied pipe valves and fittings to oil, gas and industrial industries.

On Tuesday, June 28, Cook got the call that the company was consolidating the locations, effectively closing the Kimball site due to geography and a lack of strong growth in Nebraska customer base.

“They are consolidating us with Cheyenne,” he said. “They will still service the state of Nebraska from there.”

Currently four employees remain at the Kimball location and Cook said that he cannot answer for their future, but they may be given an offer to relocate – it is simply unknown until mid-August.

The silver lining is the reopening of the long closed Travel Shoppe, under new ownership and name.

Triangle Partners, the partnership between John Morrison, Bob Abramson and Rich Flores, will soon reopen the the gas station with card-only pumps, according to Morrison.

However, he added that once they get everything ready they will reopen the convenience store as well. Morrison expects that to take a few months.

July 14, 2016

William Charles Parry, 22, of Lakeland, Fla. was arrested on Thursday, July 7 without incident following a multi-agency manhunt lasting more than three hours.

Parry was arrested as a fugitive of justice from Florida on felony charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

He was traveling with a female minor at the time of his arrest and had made claims that they were married.

These most recent charges stem from a report of a missing female juvenile on June 9, 2016 to the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office in Florida.

The two had traveled to the Kimball area and had been camping at the Oliver Reservoir Recreation Area for about a week, according to Kimball County Sheriff Harry Gillway, and were looking for jobs in Kimball.

Following a report of suspicious circumstances, Gillway performed a license plate search and was notified that the car was linked to a missing teen from St. Lucie County, Fla.

The Kimball County Sheriff’s Office made contact with the couple in downtown Kimball when both parties attempted to flee. While the juvenile was apprehended immediately, Parry escaped custody.

Members of the Kimball Police Department, the Nebraska State Patrol and the U.S. Marshal Service joined the Kimball County Sheriff’s Office to search for Parry.

July 21, 2016

Pokemon Go, a new location-based, augmented reality game, has people out of the house and exploring new places in search of the fictional characters with mystical powers.

Not since the introduction of the Wii have gamers been as active. While encouraging many to get out and walk about, the craze may not be all fun and games.

In addition to distracting players from work and even driving it seems that some who have caught Pokemon Go mania have difficulty even walking safely.

Two men in their early 20s were recently rescued after falling off a Northern California cliff while trying to catch the characters. Instead of paying attention to the landscape around them, they were focused on their phones and the closest fictional character.

The official Pokemon Go website cautions players to be safe, never play while riding bikes, hoverboards or driving a car. The warning urges gamers to always be aware of surroundings and encourages group and team play.

In the Nebraska Panhandle the craze has already prompted billboards on the side of Highway 71 as well as Interstate 80 warning drivers to pay attention to the task at hand, not Pokemon.

Downtown Kimball is a hive of activity with Pokemon “hunters” of all ages as tweens, teens, young adults and even military men have caught the bug driving them, alone and with their team, to the downtown area on foot, bikes, boards and in cars and humvees because, they “gotta catch ‘em all”.

August 4, 2016

Last week’s storms may have missed the city of Kimball but it was still devastating to many other parts of the county. Fields were leveled, full grown trees snapped in half, buildings damaged and vehicles totaled.

On the evening of July 27, the first of two quick but hard hitting storms struck the southwestern part of Kimball county. These areas included Bushnell, Oliver Lake and thousands of acres of farmland.

Amid concerns for the future of the Kimball Landfill, Keep Kimball Beautiful (KKB) Director Larissa Binod asked the Kimball City Council to grant the $2 monthly fee originally agreed upon from each household and further asked that the fee be granted annually without future request.

With a budget shortfall of nearly $100,000 due mainly to a vast reduction in sales taxes but also with 30 to 45 percent decreased utility revenues, the council is considering drastic cuts to several departments, many of which do not pay for themselves at the end of each year.

“For the first time, with some initial numbers, it is a half million dollar shortfall in the electric utility that we have to figure out before we adopt a budget,” City Administrator Daniel Ortiz explained.

Additionally, the council faces covering nearly $65,000 in cell closure costs at the Kimball Landfill, according to council member James Schnell, leading council to consider other waste options.

“The City of Kimball says that they have given Keep Kimball Beautiful, in various ways, $174,285.92 since January 2013. I do believe that Keep Kimball Beautiful’s honor of that has gleaned us over $500,000 worth of grants,” Binod said. “We use a lot of volunteers to provide the labor pool. We have a volunteer board of directors. We are an affiliate of Keep Nebraska Beautiful (KNB) and Keep America Beautiful (KAB),” she said.

August 25, 2016

According to the The Daily Freeman-Journal of Webster City, Iowa, Kimball City Administrator Daniel Ortiz has accepted the position of city manager in that city.

In the Jan. 13, 2016 edition of the Ames Tribune of Ames, Iowa, Ortiz-Hernandez was listed as one of three candidates interviewing for the assistant city manager position in Ames out of nearly 100 applicants.

On Aug. 10, 2016 Webster City, Iowa radio station listed Ortiz-Hernandez as one of six seeking the city manager position and just six days later The Daily Freeman-Journal of the same city announced that Ortiz-Hernandez was offered and has accepted the position in Webster City, Iowa.

In that publication Ortiz-Hernandez is quoted: “I think part of the reason I applied is because I have such a diverse background. Coming from a city of 50,000 and currently managing a city of 2,500 with a wide array of services and departments like electric, water, and sewer, I felt that skill set matched up well with what the community was looking for,” said Ortiz-Hernandez. “My wife and I currently have a ten-month old and we’re expecting a second child in December or January so we really want to be in a community where we can raise our family.”

In the Freeman-Journal story, Webster City mayor John Hawkins is quoted as saying that Ortiz-Hernandez has accepted the position and will begin pending contract approval at the next City Council meeting.

When asked if the news was correct, via email, Ortiz replied, “My resignation has not been tendered. Nothing is official unless I tender my resignation.”

September 1, 2016

A new doctor specializing in pain management is coming to Kimball. Dr. Timo Quickert, MD, is an interventional radiologist and pain management specialist from Johnstown, Colo. Dr. Quickert will be seeing patients in the new Kimball Health Pain Clinic located at Kimball Health Services, which opened on Aug. 24.

“Dr. Broomfield (medical director at Kimball Health Services) and I first started considering a non-narcotic pain clinic over a year ago,” Kimball Health Services CEO Ken Hunter said. “We knew the government was going to put out new tougher guidelines with respect to prescriptions. It now appears that a recommendation is going to be no narcotic prescriptions for more than a seven-day supply. We began interviewing doctors around nine months ago. I visited Dr. Quickerts offices six months ago and was very impressed. Dr. Broomfield has always believed in treating the cause vs. all the problems that come from longterm use of narcotics.”

According to a recent news release, Dr. Quickert is board-certified with more than 10 years of experience in interventional radiology. His wife, Julie Quickert, is a board-certified acute care nurse practitioner who specializes in caring for patients with vascular and pain problems. Together they operate clinics in Johnstown, Colo., Haxtun, Colo., Bridgeport and now Kimball.

September 22, 2016

Kimball Police Chief Darren Huff has been placed on paid administrative leave, according to City Administrator Daniel Ortiz, who could offer no further information.

A confidential source alerted Western Nebraska Observer staff that Huff was under investigation due to actions prior to and during the traffic stop, though that has not been confirmed by the City Administrator, County Attorney, Nebraska State Patrol or State Attorney General’s office.

September 29, 2016

Everything changes - evolves really. Everything from popular hairstyles to electronics change, and newspapers must do the same.

The Western Nebraska Observer is evolving, and next week we will unveil our newest change – a compact, easier to handle format measuring approximately 11 by 22 inches.

This fun new design mirrors the sizes of many newspapers across the nation that have already made this change - including the New York Times.

This new size won’t effect the amount of local news in the Observer, and the print will remain as easy on your eyes as it will be in your hands.

October 13, 2016

Former Kimball Police Chief Darren Huff’s last day as an employee of the City of Kimball was Thursday, Oct. 6, according to City Administrator Daniel Ortiz.

Huff tendered his resignation, dated October 7, 2016, and addressed to the Kimball Mayor and City Council, which reads in part: “It is with mixed emotions that I resign from the position of Kimball’s Police Chief. I am ready to move forward with the next chapter of my life and making more time for my family.”

The resignation letter alluded to two complaints that may have been forwarded to the Nebraska State Patrol for investigation. He added in the letter that after speaking with the investigators, his understanding was that the complaints were deemed unfounded.

October 27, 2016

Kimball Event Center discussion resumed at the recent Kimball City Council meeting, on Tuesday, Oct. 18.

Board member Christy Warner is leading a committee of 12 members dedicated to saving the facility after budget cuts were made that could shut it down at the end of the year, due to a 40 percent loss of sales tax.

“We had a couple of meetings with citizens that had some concerns and we got a lot of feedback,” Warner said. “We recently made some positive changes in operations at the Event Center. It is still a lot of work to do to see whether we can save it or not.”

Warner added that City of Kimball Special Projects Coordinator Amy Baker built a website and a Facebook page for the Event/Fitness Center in the eventuality that it remains open past the end of the year.

“We are unable to make a recommendation at this very moment, but we are working very hard to see what we can do with the Event Center,” Warner said.

Currently the facility is booked through December and those commitments are being honored.

November 3, 2016

New health providers, expanded hours and new management are in the works for residents seeking medical care in Pine Bluffs and surrounding communities.

Pending approval from three state and federal agencies, the newly-renamed “Pine Bluffs Health Clinic” is set to open Jan. 2 under the management of Kimball Health Services.

KHS is developing an agreement with Cheyenne Regional Medical Center to lease the 4,500-square-foot facility at 117 E. Fourth St, currently known as the University of Wyoming Tri-County Medical Center.

The entire plan hinges on the approval of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and in turn, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and the Wyoming Department of Health. Their approval would allow KHS to reach across the state line and operate the facility as a certified “rural health clinic,” Hunter said.

November 10, 2016

With a total 1,672 ballots cast in Kimball County, the 2016 preliminary results are in.

On the Presidential Ticket, Donald J. Trump/Michael Pence took Nebraska and won Kimball County with a total of 79.48 percent.

Republican Representative Adrian Smith won the District 3 congressional race here at home with 98.79 percent. Steve Erdman won the District 47 race for Legislature with 73.78 percent of the votes.

Timothy Nolting will continue serving as a Kimball County Commissioner.

A close race for the Kimball City Council replaced John Morrison with Kim Baliman and retained James Shields on that board. Baliman received 34.11 percent of the vote with Shields tallying 33.99 and Morrison coming close with 31.49 percent.

The Kimball County Agricultural Society asked for an excess levy to support their work, but the vote was not in their favor, as 56.81 percent of the votes were against that support.

December 1, 2016

Dave Parshall took the third Village of Dix board seat following the Nov. 8 election and a subsequent automatic recount and tie-breaker.

According to Deputy Clerk, Josie Morgan, there was an automatic recount for the third board position because the votes were so close.

Gail Dunkle took the first seat with a total of 51 votes with Linda Rasmussen gaining the second seat on that board with 50. Dave Parshall and Maida Gotfrey tied for the third open seat, with 47 votes each.

The names of the two tied candidates were placed in a hat, as statute requires, by Kimball County Clerk Cathy Sibal and the name was drawn from it was awarded the third available board position.

December 15, 2016

Although residents of Kimball and the surrounding areas may not notice an immediate change in the ambulance service, significant changes are planned and will continue for several months to come.

Though the ambulance service has been working well within their budget and despite having 21 dedicated, qualified employees that have been praised by locals and county officials alike, Kimball County Ambulance Service will be be transitioning into a service that more closely resembles that of a larger city’s ambulance service.

After several meetings with both representatives and legal council of each entity plus three rough drafts reviewed and edited, the following is a brief outline of the contract dated Dec. 6, 2016 and signed by Ken Hunter, CEO of Kimball Health Services (KHS), John Mentgen, CEO of RWMC and Larry Engstrom, Chairman of the Kimball County Commissioners concerning the Kimball County Ambulance. This contract will take effect April 1, 2017 and will continue for no less than three years.

December 29, 2016

Kimball Mayor Keith Prunty has chosen Dan Dean for Kimball’s City Administrator.

Prunty offered the position to Dean this week, Dean accepted the offer, and a special council meeting will be scheduled for next week for council approval.

Dean, the former Town Manager of Mead, Colo., has more than 30 years of experience in local government management. Dean has been a city manager in Colorado, Nebraska and Oregon and holds a master’s degree in public administration from Indiana University.

He is currently the interim town administrator of Paonia, Colo., and has been in that position since Sept. 1, 2016.

“I was really excited to be chosen and I look forward to working with the Mayor and the community,” Dean said. “I have a lot of experience in small communities.”

His overall impression of Kimball was positive. He said the community has a nice feel to it, he is impressed with the City of Kimball staff and he enjoys how well Kimball is maintained.

Andy Bremer was appointed as the Chief of Police for Kimball. Bremer has been serving as chief since former Police Chief Darren Huff resigned on October 7, 2016.


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2020

Rendered 03/06/2021 12:36