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110 E 4th Street
Neligh, NE 68756
Antelope Memorial Hospital (AMH) has a new face on the team.
Ben Johnson, 3rd-year medical student from UNMC, has joined AMH for eight weeks until February 22.
Originally from Crofton, Johnson graduated from high school in 1998. He received his under-graduate degree from Doane College, graduating with a bachelor’s of arts degree in English Literature in May 2002. He then attended UNL, graduating in May 2005 with a bachelor’s of arts degree in German Literature. As part of the degree, Johnson studied the German language and literature as part of an internship at the Jewish Gymnasium in Berlin in 2004. Johnson obtained his master’s degree in Linguistics at Michigan State, graduating in December 2008.
Prior to graduation, Johnson moved to Omaha in Fall 2008 to take medical school prerequisites at UNO and worked as a CNA at Brookstone Meadows in Elkhorn. He began medical school at UNMC in Fall 2014. He plans to graduate in May 2018.
Johnson's hobbies include going to movies, listening to music and reading.
Antelope County has officially made the switch from the township government to a commissioner’s government.
The commissioners started Tuesday’s meeting with a few other changes as well, including a vote to update the phone system at the courthouse.
According to Bill Rahder with Boyd Electric, who worked in Neligh before and installed the phone system at the sheriff’s office, the current phone system has been in place for 10 or 15 years and isn’t running efficiently.
“We have already spent money fixing the problems that is in the main unit downstairs,” Rahder explained.
The current system can have up to 20 lines and the courthouse has 18 in use. Rahder also suggested the possibility of connecting the courthouse with the Sheriff’s office.
“There is a whole private network that goes from here up to the other building for the alert system, so that is already in place,” he said. “So all we would have to do is program this phone system and that phone system to talk to each other. Then you would have the capability to be one big phone system basically.”
County Commissioner Charlie Henery was curious as to how much life the current system could still have.
“When do you feel will the current phones be outdated to where we will have to replace them?” Henery asked.
“They already are.” Rahder responded. “Trying to find parts for that stuff already is really hard to do.”
Rahder said the county had three options: replace the whole system and phones for $16,000, just pay for the licenses to tie the two buildings together for $7,000, or just replace the downstairs system but still use the old phones for $4,000.
Charlie Henery made the motion to replace the whole system and Jerry Schwager seconded. The board passed the motion unanimously.
The commissioners, who were elected by district, voted during the meeting to have at large responsibility for the county. The board also assigned county committees for the term and voted Leroy Kerkman as the new chairman.
During the roadboss report, the board adopted the drug policy that Casey Dittrich had presented previously. Dittrich also explained to the board that the truck involved in a fatal accident near Elgin is a total loss and the board approved for Dittrich to start looking for a replacement.
The next commissioners meeting will be February 7.
A Verdigre native officially joined the Antelope County News team last week.
Adam Maly graduated from Wayne State College in 2013, where he went to school for Broadcast Communications and Journalism.
His duties include newspaper pagination, writing and photography. Maly will spend most days in Orchard, Clearwater and Neligh.
Maly said he is already enjoying his time at the ACN and is most excited to be able to write and edit.
“I very much like working for the Antelope County News so far. Everyone has been very accommodating, and they put up with my constant questions,” he said. “Not one minute has felt like work, although I am accomplishing things.”
Maly, who graduated from Verdigre High School, enjoys playing golf, guitar and video games and is a huge Husker fan.
“Say hello if you see me around town,” he said. “I can be shy around new people, but I do want to get to know the community better.”
High school and junior high trap shooting teams are popping up all across Nebraska and now there is one forming in the Antelope County area.
This team will be for any 7th through 12th grade girls or boys in the area. This team is not affiliated with 4-H Shooting Sports.
Any students in the Holt, Boyd, Knox, Antelope, Wheeler or Rock County area that might be interested in shooting on this team are invited to an informational meeting on Wednesday, January 11 at 7:30 pm at the O’Neill Community Center in south O’Neill.
If you cannot make this meeting there will be more information made available to area schools, area media and also on the internet after the meeting. For more information you can contact John Schindler at 402-340-2027, Tim Gray at 402-340-0527 or Scott Poese at 402-340-3582.
Area school officials have called for one snow day thus far, but it’s not to say there won’t be more.
Dale Martin is the Superintendent of the Clearwater-Orchard and Verdigre district. With locations spread out, he said sometimes there are very different conditions in Verdigre compared to Clearwater and Orchard.
“They are a little bit north from both Clearwater and Orchard,” Martin said. “And of course conditions can be a lot different there than they would be in the rest of the district. So a lot of the time they may be different as far as what they end up doing school wise. “
Verdigre is their own school; however, Clearwater-Orchard is a consolidated school, so decisions made one site affect the other. With such a large district, Martin needs to be aware of weather conditions and make decisions for both schools.
“It might be the night before, we have seen the forecast, looks like some conditions are coming in,” Martin explained. “Trying to predict when they are going to hit, and then whether its safe to have busses on the road or not.”
Martin says that keeping the line of communication open with other principals near his district is key during the winter storms. He says over the past few years, the communication has gotten better.
“But we try to at least let each other know what we are thinking,” Martin said. “And of course we try to do similar things if it makes sense to do those things together.”
Neligh-Oakdale Superintendent Scott Gregory also said that communication is important, as is making sure that the students are not shorted academically.
“Do the teachers have time to meet the curriculum where they are at?” Gregory said. “Are the students getting the adequate knowledge that they need?”
As to making sure the necessary hours are met, Gregory says that Neligh-Oakdale is well over the necessary 1080 hours for high school and 1032 hours for elementary. He is aware of keeping enough hours in the day, but it is not the main priority.
“Kind of the rule of thumb is that it’s better to be safe than sorry,” Gregory said. “I would rather call school off and have it clear up at 11 and have it be shining, than to be wrong and have kids stranded.”
Both Martin and Gregory agree that it is all about safey.
“In the end its about those kids in those seats,” Gregory said. “That is the most precious commodity. And if you lose a few hours, then that’s ok.”
Vacation policy enforcement was front and center at the Antelope County Supervisor’s meeting on Tuesday.
According to the vacation/sick days policy in the employee handbook, county employees have a maximum of 320 hours of vacation that can accumulate over years. Because the policy hasn’t been enforced, some employees have nearly double those hours.
Antelope County Clerk Lisa Payne said she believes the policy is generally sound but needs one tweak to make it less confusing to the county office, as well as the employees.
“Instead of doing days, we need to do hours,” Payne said. “Especially if we’re going to be changing from eight to 10 hours a day. I think it’s working fine, it just needs to be enforced.”
Antelope County Road Boss Casey Dittrich agreed with Payne, but also did not want to take away the hours that the employees have built up recently.
“It’s owed to them; they’ve earned it,” Dittrich said. “And this is the perfect time to use it when we’re not pushing snow.”
Dittrich said he believes he can handle the enforcement with few problems.
“Give me a year, and I’ll get it cleared up,” he said. “When we talk about this the first of the year, know that it will be completely handled.”
The decision for any policy changes was tabled for next week, when the board plans to assign a policy handbook committee.
During the meeting, the supervisors once again discussed the options of buying a new vehicle for the courthouse or fixing the current vehicle.
According to the employees present at the meeting, the current vehicle leaks water, has mold and isn’t safe to drive.
Koinzan stressed that it would be pointless to get rid of the 2008 vehicle with 166,000 miles to get a vehicle from the same year with 130,000 miles.
“Either fix it or buy one that works,” Koinzan said. “If it is bad, replace it. But please don’t replace it with one that is burnt out already.”
County Assessor Kelly Mueller said that the current vehicle has been taken to OK Tire and Jonny Dodge numerous times for repair.
The board will continue to search for a newer and safer vehicle.
Barb Finn brought attention to the possibility of some changes for the county court office.
“I’m just asking for permission to let Kinnan (Construction) know that he can start with construction for what’s in here,” Finn said while pointing to the bid agreement.
At the meeting, Finn presented bids that included some upgrades for the office including safety glass and other safety features.
Finn explained to the board that the county court office would have safety glass on the front desk. She said there have been issues with people walking around the counter when they shouldn’t be.
Koinzan said that if safety glass is installed in the county court office, then they will have to put safety glass in all the offices. His concern was not being able to have private conversations due to the glass between the county employee and person in front of the counter.
“I think in the future you will be forced to use safety glass,” Finn said. “But you can put the microphones in them.”
Along with the safety glass, there would be a keypad on the door to get behind the front counter.
Barb Finn said that new doors on the south side of the courthouse are needed as well.
“Right now we can put a can of pop in there, and it freezes. There is so much heat that escapes that room,” Finn explained about the south doors.
Ultimately the board voted to move forward with the construction on the county court office.
*This story has been updated to clarify the hours.
“It is important to plan ahead when traveling or being exposed to extremely cold winter conditions,” said Dr. Brad Lockee of Antelope Memorial Hospital. “By taking a few precautions, the risk for frostbite injury may be prevented.
Frostbite occurs when blood vessels and skin tissue are damaged after exposure to temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, added Dr. Lockee. It can occur quickly or slowly. The speed of a frostbite injury depends upon how cold or windy the temperature conditions are and the length of exposure to those conditions. It most commonly affects the fingers, toes, earlobes, chin, cheeks and nose, which are often left uncovered in cold temperatures.
Frostbite has three stages. Frostnip causes an individual to feel pins and needle sensations with the skin turning very white and soft. This stage produces no permanent damage and may be reversed by soaking in warm water or breathing warm breath on the frostnipped area.
Superficial frostbite causes the skin to feel numb, waxy and frozen. Blistering may occur with ice crystals forming in skin cells. The rest of the skin remains flexible.
Deep frostbite is the most serious stage. Blood vessels, muscles, tendons, nerves and bone may be frozen. This stage can lead to permanent damage, blood clots and gangrene, in severe cases. No feeling is experienced in the frostbit area and there is usually no blistering. Serious infection and loss of limbs frequently occurs after frostbite reaches this stage. However, even with deep frostbite, some frozen limbs may be saved with prompt medical attention.
Antelope Memorial Hospital offers these suggestions to prevent frostbite:
• Wear several layers of clothing when in extremely cold weather. Air pockets between the layers will help retain warmth.
• Avoid going outdoors during extremely cold weather.
• Limit the use of alcohol and smoking tobacco. Alcohol causes blood to cool rapidly while tobacco inhibits circulation to extremities.
• When outside, shield the face and other body parts by wearing protective clothing, scarves, earmuffs, gloves, etc.
• Do not spend extended periods in extreme temperatures when exhausted, intoxicated, wet or under the influence of certain drugs.
“Emergency care should be sought after exposure to extremely cold conditions if skin swelling, blisters, drastic skin color changes or memory loss is experienced,” said Dr. Lockee. “Other concerns requiring medical care include slurred speech, loss of limb function and absence of pain.”
If unable to obtain emergency care promptly, bring patient indoors as soon as possible, added Dr. Lockee. Apply warm towels or immerse the area in circulating lukewarm water for twenty minutes. Do not use hot water or rub the affected area. If blisters are present, leave them intact. Do not hold the affected area near fire as the frostbit area may be burned due to reduced feeling. Later, seek medical care as soon as possible.
For more information, contact Antelope Memorial Hospital or your AMH health care provider.
Future enrollment trends, including optioning students to other districts, has become a hot topic lately.
A potential unification between Ewing, Clearwater-Orchard and Verdigre has led to even more discussion since Dr. Gerald Ehlers presented option numbers with the feasibility study.
At the October Nebraska Unified District #1 meeting Terri Hergert, a board member from Royal, talked about a family living in Royal, who is considering sending their student to Creighton because of the distance driving to Clearwater.
“At the end of the conversation, they said ‘When our child gets to high school, we don’t want them driving to Clearwater when they can go to Creighton,’” Hergert said. “There are people who are looking at that angle, too.”
Option enrollment was originally created as a way for parents to be able to choose the quality of education their child received and find schools that better fit their child’s needs. Nebraska was one of the first states to allow option enrollment in 1989, and rural communities have seen a rise due to long travel times and family bonds.
Antelope County has an interesting tale with option enrollment. Elgin Public has ?? students optioning into the district while Orchard has 27 optioning out.
During a recent feasibility presentation, Ehler said seven students are optioning out of Clearwater and nine optioning in. Orchard has eight students who option into the district.
While 27 optioning out from Orchard appears high, Superintendent Dale Martin said most students are making that choice due to geography, not specifically educational opportunities.
“As far as our situation here, we look at where they typically option to, we have a lot that option to O'Neill,” said Martin. “Some of that is because in Page and Inman, we have families in those areas, and in some cases it’s closer for them to go to O'Neill than it would to go to Orchard.”
But there are still families from Clearwater and Orchard who are optioning their students to other schools, including Neligh-Oakdale, Elgin and Ewing. Martin said families may choose another school because it’s more convenient with their place of employment or because another school might offer a program that the local school doesn’t.
“It’s not something that’s at the top of our lists of concerns,” said Martin. “Obviously, if you have large number out and you don’t really know why, that is maybe you look into it and see if there’s something you can do differently - programs or busing or whatever it might be. We do offer busing basically throughout our district, so I don’t think busing is a concern. And some people come in from Page and Inman just because we do offer busing and O'Neill does not.”
At Elgin, Superintendent Dan Polk said he is proud of the work professionals put in to give each student the attention they deserve, and believes this may be one of the reasons families choose Elgin.
“We also are a smaller district but still offer pretty much everything a larger district does,” Polk said. “Thus, we are a choice for parents who want smaller class size and maybe the opportunity for more one-on-one with their students. It's a lot tougher for kids to get lost or not have an advocate in a district as small as ours.”
Smaller class sizes and more student-focused education might be a reason for some students to attend Elgin, but they are not the only school receiving option students. Across the county, parents use the option program to choose a school that fits their family best.
In Nebraska, the laws regulating the option enrollment program are strict, limiting parents to only one option in a student’s scholastic life. These laws also protect schools from undue budget cuts or increases, and students from jumping for school to school in the area.
Martin said students optioning in and out is not a budgetary concern, and he said he believes the program can benefit families.
“You do get option enrollment funding from the state per student base,” said Martin. “If you’re a plus-net option, you're going to get dollars for that. If you’re a minus-net option, you’re not going to see much for that.”
Polk said that because of Elgin’s high numbers of students optioning in, they do receive state aid.
“Elgin gets no equalization state aid, but we do get some option state aid. That's money that goes to schools when they get more option children in than option children out of the district. That is what happens in Elgin.”
Tuesday morning's meeting was the last for some Antelope County Supervisors before they make the switch township government to a commissioner’s government.
The Supervisors had seven board members and the Commissioners will have five. Four members will be part of the transition, and another commissioner will be added. These county officials are responsible for establishing five new districts with substantially equal population.
Eli Jacob has been present for past meetings and will be sworn in as the newest member of the board.
Three supervisors will not transition into commissioners: Greg Koinzan, Neil Williby and Merlin Bolling, who was not present at the meeting.
Neil Williby said he hopes that his time on the Board of Supervisors has helped the residents of Antelope County.
“The goals are always just to make the right decisions for the county, and spending the county’s money in the right form and right fashion,” Williby said. “Working as a team, I feel that we all have tried to do this and I think we have succeeded.”
Williby predicted that the future for the commissioners will be a positive one.
“I think with the group of people there and with Lisa and especially Casey,” he said. “I think that it is going to be a real smooth transition.”
Two Antelope County schools were among the more than 220 individual schools and school districts from across the state that have received special certificates from Secretary of State John Gale recognizing their efforts to honor military veterans. Participants included preschool, elementary, middle and high school students of public and nonpublic schools.
Clearwater-Orchard and Elgin Public Schools were recognized for their efforts in honoring current and former service members.
“I have actively encouraged schools to honor veterans for eight years, by hosting programs and speakers on or near Veterans Day, but I believe this is the largest number of schools that my office has ever recognized at one time,” said Gale.
In addition to performances by school groups, the variety of programs across the state included breakfasts and luncheons for veterans and their families, special displays featuring photos of veterans, flag retirement ceremonies and the presentation of quilts to military members or relatives.
“The heartening thing is that some schools are expanding their activities beyond just Veterans Day,” said Gale. “For example, at Ralston Middle School, students collected toiletries for veterans, which were donated to the Siena Francis House in Omaha. In Gering, students at Lincoln Elementary launched a program in which they adopted a former student who is deployed with whom to correspond throughout the year.”
Gale said the value of such programs is that they have a lasting impact, both on veterans and the students who take part.
“It is important for students to understand the sacrifices of retired and active military members, as well as their families. They may not realize just how many classmates have family members who are deployed, until an event like this comes up,” he said.
Gale got the idea to honor schools back in 2008, when he attended a middle school program in Grand Island. In addition to veterans and military members, notable speakers at schools this year included: U.S. Senator Deb Fischer, U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, Lt. Governor Mike Foley, U.S Representative Jeff Fortenberry, U.S Representative Adrian Smith and Adjutant General Daryl Bohac of the Nebraska National Guard.
Some of the unique activities that schools reported to Sec. Gale included:
· A soldier who recently returned from Afghanistan and presented Central Elementary School in McCook with a flag that he carried aboard the Blackhawk helicopter on which he served.
· Students at Brownell Talbot who held a mock draft as part of a lesson on soldiers who served in Vietnam.
· A former graduate of Pender High School who told students about his role as a guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
· A video featuring 8th graders at Ainsworth Schools who had adopted local veterans and did special projects for them throughout the year.
· A soldier and former Alliance High School graduate who addressed students while deployed, via Skype.
“I applaud the students, educators and staff members who work so hard to put these events together,” Gale added. “It reinforces the importance of community ties and civic engagement in a way that is very interactive and hands-on.”
110 E 4th Street
Neligh, NE 68756