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Dawes County Courthouse - closeupBridges dominate Dawes County’s 1-and-6 year road plan, adopted Wednesday following a public hearing at which no one from the public spoke.

Replacement or refurbishing of three bridges and the removal of one bridge make up the 1-year portion of the plan with replacement of 8 other bridges in the 6-year section.

The bridge slated for removal…the Lemmon Bridge over West Ash Creek…is currently closed. County Road Superintendent Larry Hankin says the wooden structure is rotting with increasing concerns over the stability of the abutment.

One of the three bridges slated for work this year, the Sand Creek Bridge, won’t cost the county anything because Hankin says he’s received confirmation that 100% of the cost will be covered by state and federal funds.

The other two bridges are both on Bethel Road…the Soester Bridge and the Bethel Loop Bridge. The county board Wednesday approved the design for the Bethel Loop Bridge by engineer Larry McCaslin of McCaslin Consulting of Scottsbluff, but also talked with him about expanding his involvement in the project.

They want McCaslin to also be in charge of surveying, material testing, and supervision of compaction work. McCaslin said he could on a per-hour basis, but would need to contract out the actual work. That led the board to ask him to submit his proposal in writing.



Holly Elissa Bruno

Over 300 people are expected Friday and Saturday at Chadron State College for the school’s 24th annual Excellence in Early Childhood Conference…targeted at educators, child care givers, parents, and anyone else who cares for or about children.

This year’s theme is “United We Stand for Children … Yes, We Are Ready – Embracing Social and Emotional Development.”

Friday offers 3 free workshop sessions. Conference organizer and CSC professor Dr Kim Madsen says says participants will choose between one of two presentations running from 3:00 till 5:00.

Jessica La Chere, an early childhood trainer with the Nebraska Department of Education, will lead a session on Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scales, which will provide a basic understanding of what the rating scales are and how they’re used.

UNL extension educator Jackie Guzman’s session is titled Enhancing Emotional Literacy. Her goal is to increase the awareness of participants to the kinds of interactions between adults and young children that help increase the emotional competency of the children.

Friday evening offers another free 2-hour session at 6:30  that Madsen hopes parents will be able to attend.  Scottsbluff psychologist Dr Mark Hald will offer a primer on the Circle of Security…a relationship-based program designed to give parents a “roadmap” to viewing the behavior of their children as communication and not just misbehavior.

There is a fee for Saturday’s daylong portion of the conference…which offers 4 sessions with college or continuing education credits

The featured speaker will be Holly Elissa Bruno…author, attorney, and online radio host who also teaches leadership courses. Bruno will offer 4 different sessions, broken up by lunch a pair of 15-minute “mini-session” with “I am moving, I am learning” activities.

Bruno’s first talk begin at 8 am and is titled Hats off to You: Everyday Miracle Workers in Children’s Lives. It urges Early Childhood professionals to stop and appreciate what they accomplish in the lives of the children they help.

At 10:20, she’ll talk about developing and using Emotional Intelligence – the ability to read people and their emotions since 65-to-90% of human emotion is communicated without words.

After lunch, Bruno will encourage participants to use humor and play to build their brains…basing her presentation on brain research that show fun and lightheartedness can chase the blues and restore enthusiasm.

She’s titled her final presentation at 2:30 “Fired Up or Burned Out: Your Power to Make a Difference,” and will offer tips on avoiding burnout from “caregivers syndrome” and rediscovering enthusiasm for a profession.



Sterling Atkins
Sterling Atkins

About 30 Chadron State College students gathered in the CSC Student Center Tuesday evening to remember their friend and classmate  Sterling Atkins. The freshman from Broken Bow, NE,  died Feb. 9 from a previously undiagnosed heart condition.

Russ Seger, a Chadron pastor and adjunct faculty member who has expertise and a doctorate in the disciplines of death and dying, spoke to the group encouraging them to share stories. “It’s healthy to gather and remember Sterling. The grief may not go away but it won’t hurt as much if you tell stories and begin to manage the loss,” he said.

Several Resident Directors spoke about their humorous memories of the 18-year-old and laughter rippled through the group as four YouTube videos of his pranks and practical jokes were shared by a close friend, Heather Gall.  Gall shared accounts about antics involving Nerf guns and Ghost Peppers. “There wasn’t a day when he wasn’t smiling,” she said.

The CSC Campus Activities Board sponsored the opportunity to share and celebrate Atkins’ life. Aaron Prestwich, interim executive vice president of student affairs said, “The Atkins were obviously a close family. Sterling enjoyed life and made a lot of people smile. He had many close friends and there was a nice turn-out.

—Tena L. Cook, Interim Marketing Coordinator



Agent Orange Registry Health Evaluation for Eligible Veterans – Including Korea VA started the Agent Orange Registry program in 1978 to respond to the health concerns of Vietnam Veterans. VA offers this evaluation to eligible Veterans free of charge. Veterans do not need to be enrolled in the VA health care to get a registry evaluation.

What does a registry evaluation provide?

• A free, specialized health evaluation that includes a medical and military service history, and may include a physical exam and other evaluation as needed.

• Answers to questions about environmental exposures.

• Information about VA health care and other benefits.

Who is eligible for an Agent Orange registry evaluation?

• Vietnam Veterans

• Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ) Veterans.

• Veterans from certain locations in Thailand.

• Veterans from other locations who were exposed during the spraying, testing, or transport of herbicides for military purposes.

How do I get an appointment for a registry evaluation?

• Talk to an Environmental Health Coordinator at any VA medical facility. Call the VA Black Hills Health Care System at 1-800-764-5370 and ask for the Agent Orange Registry Health Evaluation.

Note: A registry evaluation is not a disability compensation exam. A Veteran can file a claim for VA benefits without having had a registry evaluation. Please call the Box Butte County Veterans service office at 762-4154 to schedule an appointment if you believe you have an Agent Orange related problem. It’s better to be safe, than sorry.


Ethan Kaufman    A Cheyenne man has pleaded Not Guilty in Torrington to 4 felony counts in a fatal rollover accident last June just west of the Nebraska-Wyoming state line that killed 2 Scottsbluff teenagers and injured 2 other teens.

22 year old Ethan Kaufman remains free on $50,000 bail on 2 counts of aggravated homicide by a vehicle and 2 counts of drunk driving causing serious bodily injury. No trial date has been scheduled.

Alexis Wheeler and Hallie Anderson…both students at Western Nebraska Community College…were killed while Tyler Hill of Lyman and Stetson Allen of Morrill…both 19…were seriously injured in the accident. All were riding with Kaufman.

Testimony at Kaufman’s preliminary hearing included evidence and witness statements that showed he was legally intoxicated and traveling 99 mph at the time of the accident, and that he may have been texting on his cell phone just prior to losing control of his pickup.



gavel-3     A Chadron man serving a pair of 6-year terms in state prison for sexual assault of a child has now been sentenced 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to federal charges of receipt and distribution of child pornography.  32 year old Robert Fleming remain on supervised parole after his release for the rest of his life.

Fleming was arrested in November 2008 by Chadron police on 6 felony counts of sexual assault of a child following a search warrant raid of his home that saw officers seize DVDs, sex aids, diapers, computers, a digital camera, a cell phone, computer games.

He was convicted in Dawes County District Court in 2009 on 2 counts of 3rd-degree sexual assault of a child and and was given consecutive 5 year terms, but Chadron police continued their investigation…enlisting the FBI to conduct forensic examinations of the computer and other items seized from his home.

The FBI determined that there were 78 videos and 4,000 pornographic images depicting child pornography including prepubescent minors engaged in graphic sexually explicit conduct. That led to federal charges being filed in December of 2011.



Charlie Sampson      Former World Champion Bull Rider and Rodeo Hall of Fame member Charlie Sampson is spending Thursday and Friday at Chadron State College a part of the school’s celebration of Black History Month.

Visit co-organizer and Mari Sandoz Center director Sarah Polak says Sampson…an inner city Californian who used horses as a way to escape violence…will share his inspirational history tonight at 7:00 with a free presentation in Memorial Hall.

One of just 6 black members when he joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in 1977, the 5-4 Sampson became the first black cowboy to win a PRCA world title in 1982. He retired in 1994 and was elected to the Hall of Fame 2 years later.

Sampson’s career saw him ride at the Crawford Old West Trails Rodeo, and Polak says he’s bringing some of his memorabilia and cowboy gear with him to Chadron.

While in Chadron, Sampson…who turns 56 this summer…will talk with Chadron State students, address the younger students who will be there Thursday for the Western District History Day Competition, and join the CSC Rodeo Team for its Black Tie Calf Fry Friday night. Polak hopes his presence brings the Calf Fry a bigger crowd.

For tickets to the Calf Fry, contact CSC Rodeo Coach Dustin Luper at (308) 432-6286.

Cowboy Boots at BootBarn.com!


Col. Sankey, Trooper Flick
Col. Sankey, Trooper Flick

The Nebraska State Patrol has bestowed its Honorable Service Award on two troopers…one of them from the Panhandle…who injured in the line of duty last year.

Trooper Timothy Flick #382, Troop E- Scottsbluff and Trooper Brian Detlefsen #478, Troop B- Norfolk were presented their awards by Patrol Superintendent Colonel David Sankey at recent troop meetings.

Trooper Flick was honored for his actions during the 14-hour June 12 armed robbery and standoff at the Thiele Pharmacy in Alliance, as he was wounded in the torso and arm by gunfire from robbery suspect who died in a shootout with police.

Trooper Detlefsen was honored for his actions during a December 18 incident involving an individual using a tractor to destroy property in rural Antelope County. His cruiser was rammed by the tractor at a high rate of speed, causing the air bag to deploy.  Detlefsen suffered a laceration to his head requiring medical treatment.

Colonel Sankey says that while the two situations were very different, the response from Flick and Detlefsen was similar…with both officers demonstrating “their bravery, courage and self-sacrifice in the face of danger and in the protection of others.”

The Nebraska State Patrol’s Honorable Service Award was established to bestow recognition to commissioned officers who, while in the performance of their duties, are injured or killed while encountering deadly force or bodily harm.


Del Penlerick (left) and Bill Heitz.
Del Penlerick (left) and Bill Heitz.


Bill Heitz and U-Haul have been synonymous in Alliance for 56 years.

That changes today (Wednesday), as Midwest Farm Service-Alliance takes over the operation.

Del and Lorna Penlerick were investigating a way to expand their business, and taking over the U-Haul franchise was not a complicated yes when they were approached to consider the idea.

Over time we learned that Bill was looking to slow down,” Penlerick said. “Steve McDonaugh, our outdoor power equipment manager, will oversee the U-Haul operation for us.”

Penlerick says he knows he has big shoes to fill.

There will be a little bit of a transition period, but Bill has been very gracious in helping us out,” he added.

Those needing the services of U-Haul may begin stopping at Midwest Farm Service-Alliance at 1107 Flack Avenue to rent the familiar orange and black trailers and trucks.


csc scorecard     Chadron State College scores well in the U.S. Department of Education’s new College Affordability and Transparency Center rating system, with all four of its indicators near or better than the national average.

President Barak Obama announced the new scoring system to judge public and private post-secondary institutions in his recent State of the Union address.

Chadron State President Dr Randy Rhine says the school is proud of its ability to provide students with a quality and affordable education.

Interim executive director of student services Sherry Douglas says student success is the core goal with a singular focus on it from free tutoring to residential life programming to scholarship support.

At CSC, the average net price (what students pay after grants and scholarships are subtracted from the cost to attend) came in well below the national average at $9,125 per year.

As a result, the median level of student borrowing is far below the national average at just $118.41 per month and the 11.3% student loan default rate is more than 2-full points under the average, while the 5-year graduation rate of 45.6% falls within the medium range of those schools which primarily award bachelors’ degrees nationwide.

The College Affordability and Transparency Center rankings for Chadron State and all other schools are available online at the college scorecard.

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