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February 19, 2013

Dear St. Agnes Family,

Thank you all for the condolences I received due to my sister’s death. It was a sad time for us, but she was ready. The last few years she was wheelchair bound. She lost her husband, Nick, nine years ago. They loved to dance. She kept telling us that she was looking forward to dancing with Nick. So after her death, we all pictured her dancing with Nick and leaving her broken body behind. That image was very comforting.

Our condolences go out to the Girard family on the death of their wife/mother grandmother, Betty. Betty taught art at St. Agnes for several years. She was a fixture around here and will be missed.

Yesterday we had the opportunity of hearing Temple Grandin speak. Temple Grandin, was a brilliant young woman coping with the stigma of autism at a time when it was misunderstood. With the support of her family, Temple dedicated herself to learning and becoming a famed animal behaviorist. Her passion for animals gives her a unique ability to understand them. She fulfills her love of education by teaching about autism and the most humane ways to treat livestock and pets. If you have Netflix there is a movie entitled Temple Grandin that you can watch. It is a wonderful movie.  One of her quotes was, ”I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a good teacher.” She attributes much of her success to the teachers she had in her life. She also stated that, “There is no single magic bullet. A treatment method or and educational method that will work for one child may not work foranother. “ She gave us a great deal of information to think about and to try. It was a beneficial afternoon for all who work with children.

Congratulations to our basketball boys on a very successful season. They won the tournament in Ogallala this past Saturday. They conducted yourselves in a manner that made me proud. Thank you to the coaches, Kevin Oligmueller and J.J. Smith, for sharing your time and effort.

If you have pictures of outside activities and would like them put into the year book, please bring them to school and givethem to Bernie Girard. This includes pictures of dance, 4-H, rodeo , club volleyball or basketball. Most outside activities will qualify. We want your pictures.


Theresa Parker, Principal


city_hall       The Chadron city council has approved on a 4-2 vote a 5-year professional services agreement with Burbach Aquatics for a project to enclose the city swimming pool.

While the agreement covers the project from feasability and conceptual study…which Burbach will do for free…to construction, the city can decide at any point not to move forward. A referendum on moving to construction would be held after the initial study is done.

The 5-year provision means Burbach has the right of first refusal through February 2018 to continue if the council puts the pool project on hold, then decides later to resume work.

City Manager Wayne Anderson says Burbach expects to complete the feasibility study in about 2 months, coming to Chadron several times and meeting with the pool committee that recommended his hiring.

Speaking in favor of the agreement and the pool project were Sherie Blome…who read a letter of support from the Chadron Wellness Committee…and Barb McCartney…a teacher, water aerobics instructor, and coach of the Chadron Sharks swim team.

Both addressed the benefits of an enclosed pool to the community, and emphasized that the contract with Burbach committed the city to only the portion of the project that would determine what was actually being proposed for construction and put a firm price estimate on it.

Voting against the agreement were Mayor Karin Fischer and councilman Levi Grant. Fischer had expressed concerns about contract language for several weeks and said later in last night’s meeting that she just didn’t feel comfortable enough to move forward at this time.

Grant and the one member of the public to speak against the pool idea…retired physician Dr Robert Penor…both focused on the construction side of the proposal, questioning the possible cost, spending priorities for Chadron, and the timing with the upcoming vote on extending the city’s LB-840 sales tax.

Councilman Paris Fisher…no relation to the mayor…says he shares some of those concerns…saying “the timing stinks,” but strongly supports the agreement with Burbach as a way to find out if the city can afford the project.

During last night’s discussion, Fisher suggested amending the agreement to make it clear no fundraising activities for the pool project would begin until after the LB-840 vote.

City Manager Wayne Anderson…who agreed that “the timing stinks”…says Burbach never intended to start that phase until after he completes the phase-1 study, which should be finishing up about the time of the vote. The referendum election would likely be no earlier than late summer or early fall.


city_hallThe Chadron city council has set an April 30th election on 15-year half-cent LB-840 economic development sales tax and accompanying plan for using the revenue. The tax would begin October 1st, 2014…the day after the city’s existing LB-840 tax expires.

80% of the revenue would go toward city infrastructure projects, beginning with the planned $4-million dollar upgrade and expansion of the storm sewer system. 13% would go toward community development and 7% for community betterment projects.

The split is similar to the one for the current LB-840 tax, which earmarks 75% of the revenue to help pay for the new nearly 3-year old Chadron Community Hospital.

Dr John Gamby…the only member on the council when the original LB-840 tax was approved to help fund the new Chadron Community Hospital…cast the only vote against the new version.

Gamby called for a longer time after the end of the current tax before a new one began, especially with the city looking at a possible project to enclose the city swimming pool.

He also complained that past councils and administrations had failed to hold to the pledge of the city’s original 1-cent sales tax that the money would be evenly split between infrastructure and property tax relief.

City Manager Wayne Anderson told Gamby that he’d gone back and checked city records about the 1-cent sales tax and had discovered the actual split was 85-15 for property tax relief, the formula used in preparing the Chadron budget for at least the last decade.


NCAA Logo Chadron State College officials and fans will have to wait a while longer to find out what, if any, penalties the school will receive from the NCAA over alleged fundraising and other violations by former head football coach Bill O’Boyle and the football program.

CSC was scheduled for a hearing this Friday before the NCAA Division II Committee on Infractions in Indianapolis, but Athletic Director Brad Smith says it was notified Monday that the hearing had been postponed with no new date set.

He expects to “eventually find out what’s going on,” but for now the NCAA simply said that the school would be notified when a decision is made on a new hearing date.

Smith had been scheduled to fly to Indianapolis on Tuesday with other CSC officials…including current President Dr Randy Rhine and past President Dr Janie Park…to join him there later in the week.

He says the postponement resulted in some inconvenience and added expense, but that while the school is anxious to get the hearing done and the case concluded, they want to make sure it’s done in a way that’s fair to everyone.

The investigation into the alleged CSC violations began in mid-September 2011 when questions arose over bank accounts set up outside the college to handle money from a fundraising golf tournament that began in 2008.

Chadron State self-reported the apparent violations to the NCAA and suspended O’Boyle as head coach, then announced in December 2011 that his contract would not be renewed.

CSC and the Nebraska State College System hired an outside firm for an internal investigation, then worked with the NCAA on a joint investigation that resulted in a final report issued in July of last year.

The formal NCAA Notice of Allegations followed in September, with the official responses from O’Boyle and the college filed with the NCAA on December 21. Both responses can be seen at the NSCS website.

Chadron State, in its response, says that the school and the NSCS self-reported most of the violations and is in “substantial agreement” that the violations occurred. It also says it fulfilled its obligation to cooperate with the NCAA staff, and has taken appropriate corrective and disciplinary measures.

O’Boyle’s response says he accepts responsibility for the violations and his failure to take additional steps to educate himself on appropriated NCAA procedures, but also says he mistakenly believed his creation of bank accounts outside the college were permissible because Smith had actually started one of the accounts years before.

O’Boyle denies providing any intentionally false and misleading information to Park when questioned about the accounts on September 19, 2011, but says he should have been “completely forthcoming” with information about all the accounts and made a complete disclosure.



Jon Hansen
Jon Hansen

A man who’s been recruiting current and retired service members for Chadron State College the past two years has been named the school’s interim Vice President for Enrollment Management and Markets.

Jon Hansen fills, at least on an interim basis, the post held by CSC President Dr Randy Rhine before being named first interim and then permanent president last year.

Hansen is a retired Army officer with over 22 years of executive leadership, including 10 at state colleges and universities in Nebraska, Illinois, and South Dakota, and who was an ROTC professor of military science for CSC and 3 other schools in the Black Hills.

Dr Rhine says he’s “thrilled” to bring aboard someone with Hansen’s background and knowledge of Chadron State, and confident Hansen will help the school reach its objectives for the coming year. In addition to his regular duties as vice-president, Rhine plans to use Hansen on special projects and initiatives from the president’s office.

Hansen, in turn, says he’s proud to continue his service to the college and excited about the opportunity to lead the CSC Enrollment Management Team…calling them “great folks who care a great deal about helping students and the college.”

He says “continuous improvement, teamwork, and hard work” will will allow the school to continue to grow its enrollment. .

Hansen and his wife, Laura, have been married for 20 years and have three children at home: David, Jon W. and Elizabeth.



Stars of Tomorrow    The Chadron Kiwanis Club has entry forms available for its annual Stars of Tomorrow talent contest, coming up on Sunday, April 7 in the Chadron High School Auditorium.

There are four age levels…Division I K-3, Divisison II 4-6, Division III 7-9, and Division IV 10-12. The top three placewinners in each division will be awarded trophies, with the Division IV winner advancing to the regional contest April 28 in Loveland, Colorado, and receiving a $150 scholarship. The Division IV 1st runner-up gets a $75 scholarship.

There is no entry fee for the Stars of Tomorrow. Acts can be soloists or groups, and should last no more than about five minutes. Entry forms are available from Duane Gardener at West Second Appliance in Chadron, and must be received by Monday, April 1.



NSP logo    There was an unintended BBQ of sorts Friday morning about 8:00 near Dix. The Nebraska State Patrol says a semi with a trailer of boxed meat was eastbound on Interstate 80 when a tire on the trailer blew near the Dix interchange and caught fire.

The driver was able to stop safely, unhook the tractor, and move it away…but the trailer and the meat both burned. The driver was unhurt, but the loss to the trailer and its load were put at $150,000.



Prairie Wind Casino LogoAn Alliance man got an extra special Valentine’s Day gift this year as he won over a million dollars on a slot machine at the Prairie Wind Casino on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Gordon “Bud” Thompson says he was waiting for his wife of 60 years, Donna, after they’d been playing for a while on Valentine’s Day when he decided to try a few spins on a progressive machine…the 3-reel stepper “Freedom Rings.”

Commotion ensued, but Thompson says he didn’t realize what had happened right away…and was ecstatic when he learned he’d won a million dollars…$1.037, 375.93 to be exact.

A loyal customer of Prairie Winds for the past 18 years, Thompson says a family meeting will decide how they spend the month…adding that his wife, 3 sons, 12 grandchildren, and 17 great-grandchildren are extremely excited and amazed by his over a million dollar win.


Alliance City Manager J.D. Cox says city Staff needs to have a clear direction on the future of the Alliance Community Garden, located on the east side of 2700 Big Horn Avenue, so he has requested the city council discuss the issue at its upcoming Thursday night meeting.

“For years the garden was operated with the understanding that little or no staff involvement would be required,” he said. “Yet, for the last couple of years, I noticed the hours of City staff time being spent at the garden.  Last year, I learned that the City was incurring substantial costs in water, so we moved to curtail this fact and it was shared with Council.”

Cox says additional concerns are:

Numerous complaints have been received concerning the site being unsightly, overgrown and not properly maintained;
With the push/demand for housing, this is a prime location for such (not a garden);
Last year, the gardening group was close to not being able to pay their water bill and was able to  be resolved without argument at the eleventh hour; and
Last year, Council agreed to establish a temporary board to oversee operations; that board has ceased to exist, unless it is either reauthorized or codified into perpetuity.

Cox says there are several options, including:

Leave Community Garden in the same location & operationally unchanged;

Leave Community Garden in the same location & change the operations (different management);
Move Community Garden to another City location;
Close Community Garden and allow to be run privately without City involvement.

Other locations identified include:

West 10th Street, near the City’s 10th Street Substation
Homestead Addition

Cost to Move:

Investments have previously been made to install water services
Estimate to establish water services at a new location – 3 Services X $6000/service is approximately $18,000.

Thursday night’s council meeting begins at 7 p.m., and will be televised live on Charter Cable Channel 6.



St Sen Al Davis
St Sen Al Davis

A bill by State Senator Al Davis of Hyannis requiring the state to do more to fight and prevent wildfires in the most remote corners of the state is scheduled for a hearing this Friday before the legislature’s Natural Resources Committee.

LB-634…the Wildfire Control Act of 2013…requires the Nebraska Forest Service to contract with private companies to station single-engine air tankers near Chadron and Valentine for firefighting.

The agency would also have to thin state forests to reduce the wildfire risk, expand its training programs for residents and volunteer firefighters, and create an incident-management team that would help respond to future wildfires.

The bill, which has 8 co-sponsors, is part of a rethinking of the state’s approach to wildfires in the wake of last summer’s massive blazes that threatened property, strained local budgets and disrupted businesses that rely on tourism. It comes as forestry officials warn that Nebraska may face massive wildfires on a regular basis in the future.

State Forester and Nebraska Forest Service director Scott Josiah says the state will likely see larger and more intense “mega fires” in coming years for a variety of reasons. Heat, drought and climate change play a role, he says, but so does the spread of eastern red cedar trees – a pine with needles and resin that are both highly flammable.

Josiah says the recent fires are “just so much bigger than what we’ve faced before” and represent “a new normal.” As a result, he says fire departments will need more equipment and resources.

Federal forestry officials in northwest Nebraska are also increasingly concerned that they’ll see a repeat of the fires that scorched thousands of acres of pastureland and wooded areas.

Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands Supervisor Jane Darnell says the persistent drought is a threat in two ways…drying out fuels and preventing cattle from grazing, which helps thin the vegetation. “We haven’t had a big snow season this year,” she says, “so we’re going to be dependent on spring moisture.”

Last year, emergency responders relied on a single-engine plane based in Hot Springs for quick responses while larger tankers flew in from elsewhere.

The single-engine planes carry between 600 and 800 gallons of flame retardant, water or foam, not enough to extinguish a large blaze but able to knock out ones fires in hard-to-reach areas, such as canyons or thick forests, and to soak grass quickly to slow down flames and even keep them from advancing.

Valentine Rural Fire Chief Terry Engles says his department struggled all summer with fires that dipped into canyons in the Sandhills that were too treacherous for ground crews, forcing crews to wait for the growing fires to eventually emerge into more open areas.

Engles says the rugged terrain and valleys in the Sandhills also delayed ground-crew response times, which allowed the fires to spread…adding that a small tanker stationed at Valentine could get to fires in 10 minutes that it might take ground crews an hour to reach.

Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands fire-management officer Brian Daunt says many fires last year burned extremely hot because of the amount of fuel on the ground. He says the small tankers “can definitely buy time to get ground forces in, and save property that we might not otherwise have been able to.”

That’s why the Forest Service has given the Chadron airport a grant to cover the cost of a mixing system for retardant and pumps to fill a small tanker. The Hot Springs-based plane used the Chadron airport several times last year under a mutual aid agreement.

Supporters of the Davis bill argue that stationing such planes full-time in Valentine and Chadron during the fire season would allow them to respond more quickly to protect lives and property while reducing the need for Nebraska to competed with other states for the larger planes.

Davis, who represents much of the Sandhills as well as Dawes, Sheridan, and eastern Box Butte counties, says last summer’s fires “just got out of control so quickly,” explaining that it was very dry, hot and windy, and…took a long time to get in the big tankers that played the big role in containing most of the fires.

He thinks the state probably needs “need to be a little more aggressive with that in the future,” and feels the price tag on his bill is reasonable…about $1.7 million for the air tankers, volunteer training and surplus firefighting equipment called for in his bill.

Nebraska experienced 1,570 wildfires last year that burned a total of 786 square miles – an expanse nearly seven times the size of Omaha, according to the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency.

NEMA spokeswoman Jodie Fawl said 98% of the wildfires were caused by lightning strikes, while the combined cost of ground-level firefighting, aerial suppression and mutual aid from other states cost Nebraska more than $11 million.

Many local departments had to dip into their cash reserves as they raced from one wildfire to another, causing their fuel and equipment-maintenance costs to soar…and not just in northwest Nebraska.

Firefighters in Thedford in the Sandhills spent an estimated $10,000 on fuel alone, compared to $1,500 in a typical summer, and responded to about 40 fire calls when they normally receive eight or 10. Local crews in Brown County blew through their $155,000 annual firefighting budget.

Davis says the fires also took an economic toll on Nebraska that isn’t measured as easily, pointing out that volunteer firefighters hold regular jobs or own businesses, and some were forced to leave their work unattended for more than a week.

Canoeing businesses along the Niobrara River in northern Nebraska were forced to close as flames roared through the river valley, and tourism at Lake McConaughy dropped because of several nearby fires.


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