News That Matters To Antelope County - Your News. Your Way. Every Day!
110 E 4th Street
Neligh, NE 68756
By Natalie Bruzon
Watching your property burn is not something anyone hopes for.
Unless, of course, you started the fire.
Ron Crumly, owner of Crumly Land and Cattle, is one of hundreds of landowners who uses prescribed fires to control the invasive eastern red cedar tree population on his properties.
Last spring, one of his fires lost control.
“When we did our burn line we came up to that border then we went east over to that corner, and the fire was advancing that way,” said Crumly about the fire last spring. “I don’t know if the wind got a little way and the wind switched to this direction and switched west. There’s a field of CRP right over there, CRP is government set aside acres that the grass is really tall, but anyway it’s really a tinder box. It’s just all this tall dead grass. So we had a big wide lane here but somehow a spark from in here from a tree pile or something that burned floated over and fell on that and it started it on fire. We had to call the fire department and they always come and help. And we got it put out right away over there. But accidents happen.”
Out of control fires are always a risk with burning fields, especially since, as Crumly reiterated, the wind isn’t always predictable. However, according to Crumly and to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC), the benefits far outweigh the risks.
“I maybe did the first burn 35 years ago,” said Crumly. “We have been constantly trying to cut cedar trees, burn cedar trees, mow cedar trees for that long a time period.”
PRESCRIBED FIRES are one of the most effective ways to control pest growth on properties. For Crumly, it’s been an instrumental way of keeping his land clean and at full-capacity for cattle.
“Normally you can run seven cows to an acre for cattle production,” Crumly explained. “In (an overgrown place), I bet it would take about 15 to 20 acres to support a cow because you don’t have any grass underneath all those trees. So you’ve lost 70% of the grazing ability of that pasture. We don’t want our pastures to get to look like that.”
For Nebraska cattle ranchers, running an operation has become increasingly expensive as production prices rise and revenue falls.
“Running pasture is expensive. Like I said, we’ve spent tens of thousands dollars on tree removal. Just the property taxes alone on this land are $40,000 a year,” said Crumly. “Of course that helps support the schools, the fire department, so we pay a lot of expenses to managing a ranch.”
Although prescribed burns can be expensive, Crumly said that in the long run it’s the most cost-effective way to keep his land productive.
“We will probably be able to increase the amount of cattle per acre by 10 to 20 percent as a rule after you’ve burnt and got the cedars cleaned out,” Crumly explained. “That makes a lot of difference as far as making the payments on land and making those property tax payments.”
According to Crumly, prescribed fires can cover hundreds of acres of land, although he usually burns between 100 to 200 acres at a time. Landowners sometimes hire a professional, but for Crumly the expense and timing inconvenience isn’t worth it.
“The guys who do it professionally, it costs about $30 an acre to get the guy from Broken Bow to come here and do it for you,” Crumly said. “I know the outfit that comes in from California, they just charge $5,000 a day no matter what. And they have a lot of people in those crews and a lot of machinery.”
Crumly said he usually has a team of three to six people helping with burns.
“We have three four wheelers with water tanks on them, we have a pickup with a water tank on it and that’s the main water sources that we have,” Crumly said. “You try to go slow and use the wind to your advantage but sometimes winds change sometimes fires create their own wind. So it’s not always easy to keep it under control.”
As a member of a small community, Crumly understands the strain on a volunteer fire department, and says his team takes every precaution possible to keep their fires controlled. Furthermore, high taxes on lands and donations contribute to the local community.
“If things go wrong, then we a lot of times have had to call the fire department to come and help us and that’s always a little bit of an issue because it’s a volunteer fire department,” Crumly explained. “And these guys take off from their jobs to come out and help you do your work that wasn’t an accidental fire, I set the fire. So it’s kind of touchy, but we try to contribute heavily to those fire departments. We make regular donations to try to help those guys out with buying equipment and pay them for their time.”
THE NGPC ENCOURAGES landowners to use prescribed burns as a way of controlling their land, and according to Crumly plan on burning a section of Ashfall Beds State Park early this spring to control an overgrowth of cedars.
They also hold regular workshops around the state for landowners.
Pheasants Forever and the NGPC will be hosting a basic prescribed fire training at the UNL Extension Office in Neligh on Wednesday, Jan. 18. Workshop speakers will discuss how fire can be used to benefit the land manager’s objectives and give a step-by-step breakdown of how to safely plan a prescribed fire.
The workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A $10 registration fee covers all training and training materials, refreshments, and a noon meal. Attendees are asked to please pre-register to reserve a meal.
According to Pheasants Forever Biologist Ryan Lodge, the reasons for learning to use fire are adding up.
“Many Nebraska landowners feel they are losing the fight against invasive eastern red cedar. Fire is a cost effective and economical way to control cedar trees while also maintaining the health of your pasture,” said Lodge. “Wildlife that favor open grasslands, like pheasants, bobwhite quail and grouse are also enhanced when trees are controlled.”
By Natalie Bruzon
Linda Barton Keil describes herself as a small-town girl at heart.
Her life, however, has been anything but small.
When Keil first moved away from Orchard after graduating in 1964, she never imagined she’d cross paths with some of the world’s most influential people.
Keil first moved to Oklahoma City and then Tennessee with her husband, Richard Keil of Inman. Eventually, they found their way Denver, Colorado, where Keil first started working for American Industrialist Marvin Davis’s son-in-law, Nebil Zarif. What seemed at the time like a temporary paycheck turned into a life-changer for the Keils.
“I was sent on a temp assignment there,” said Keil. “Mr. Davis’s son-in-law was Turkish. He had this personality, not a very good one towards women. He couldn’t keep anybody working for him. So he had me interviewing women for him, but they just had to be a certain this or certain that, and it was ridiculous. So finally he just said, ‘This is ridiculous, Ms. Linda. You know what I want, you work for me!’”
Not long after Keil started working for Zarif, Marvin Davis bought Twentieth Century Fox and moved out to California along with his daughters and son-in-laws.
“I started working for him and his wife and I just took care of everything. Absolutely everything. And then Mr. Davis bought Twentieth Century Fox and moved to California and he of course wanted all his children to come with him so they went out there too,” explained Keil. “And I continued working for his office for a while and they called and wanted me to come up and they took us out and I just couldn’t see myself in LA. Plus, we had two kids still in high school and I said I wasn’t going to move them and I just needed to be here in Denver so we came back and I went to work for an attorney.”
For Keil, family always came first, and moving two of her daughters who were still in school to a different state didn’t seem like a good idea at the time. However, some time later things changed.
“Then one day he called me and it was just a good time,” Keil said. “My husband had left his job and it was just the right moment that he called and he made me all these offers. Mr. Davis’s private airplane was a 727 and he had gutted it and it was like a flying hotel suite. Absolutely beautiful. And he told me that we or our children could fly back and forth anytime on that because it came and went from Denver to LA twice a week.”
After talking it over, the Keil family came to an agreement that could work for them. Keil moved out to California with her husband and youngest, while her daughter who was finishing up her senior year stayed to live with her sister.
“I chaperoned as many school activities living out there in California as I would living (in Denver),” said Keil, who used the Davis private jet to make more than frequent visits to Denver.
“I worked out there for him until 2004. Nancy and her husband Nebil ended up getting a divorce which was really messy,” explained Keil. “About three months before, I had quit because I knew what was going on and I just didn’t approve of it so I just left. Then after she found out that he had been having numerous affairs she left him too.”
Keil had become a regular in the famil,; however, and Nancy Davis was set on keeping her around. So, after receiving various offers she couldn’t resist, Keil agreed to go back to work for Davis.
“I ended up doing that and one of the things was that I could make my own hours or I could work from home,” said Keil. “So most of the time I worked from home unless we were having a big event or anything. I would go into the office twice a week.”
It was during this time that Keil became acquainted with some of President Ronald Reagan’s staff, who had an office in the same building where she worked. Eventually, they convinced Keil she needed to work for them, and she became the assistant to the director of the Ronald Reagan Foundation.
“I worked for the director and he thought of all his employees as not his staff but his colleagues and so anybody that would come to the library, because we had freedom awards every year, so one year it went to Colin Powell and one year to Margaret Thatcher and you know people like that,” said Keil. “He would introduce us to them as these are my colleagues. So that’s how we got to meet so many world leaders.”
Keil had the opportunity to meet some of the most influential people in the world, including President Ronald Reagan. She attended big parties, and enjoyed lunches out with Reagan and his staff.
Although one could argue that Keil’s life is a series of coincidences, Keil says she has her small-town values to thank.
“I never lost sense of my upbringing and I believed in loyalty,” said Keil. “I didn’t talk or spread rumors in the office or anything. I was just there to work and be loyal to who I worked for.”
When it comes down to it, Keil never lost touch with her roots. Family was her number one priority, and when her recently-widowed daughter said she needed to move to be closer to her husband’s grave, Keil and her husband didn’t hesitate to quit their jobs and make the move with her.
Today, Keil is back in Denver, Colorado, with her husband and family. However, there’s a part of her that still considers her friends in Orchard home.
“It was a shock moving to Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, but I never lost my country girl upbringing I was still me. I didn’t let anybody change it,” Keil concluded. “I love coming back (to Orchard), it just means the world to me.”
By Carrie Pitzer
During Monday night's Orchard board meeting, the board received an update on the grant application regarding improving the Internet speeds available in Orchard.
Lowell Schroeder, community planner with the Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District, and Carrie Pitzer of Pitzer Digital, LLC are preparing a survey for Orchard residents and businesses that will provide necessary data for the grant application for the Nebraska Public Service Commission in regard to the needs of the community.
Pitzer told the board they plan to send surveys through the Village office, have surveys available online and publish them in The Orchard News. The data will then be compiled and included in the documentation.
“In order to move forward with the application, we have to put together budgetary numbers for the project,” Pitzer said. “We have people working on the cost analysis, so our next step is to survey the community. We have to provide data as to what the need is for Internet for residents and businesses.”
The board members read the proposed survey questions and added to the questionnaire. The survey will be available soon.
By Carrie Pitzer
While it may not be news to residents, it is now official: Orchard is suffering from a housing shortage.
Brenda Jensen, a certified community planner for Miller & Associates in Kearney, used Monday’s Village of Orchard meeting to go over the recently completed housing study.
Each housing study provided research analysis for housing grant opportunities for CORE Development. Orchard is one of 11 community members working to improve housing in the communities served by CORE.
Jensen reviewed the 37-page document during the house study’s public hearing and told board members housing is a crucial aspect of the prosperity of Orchard. Whether it is identifying needs for new market-rate housing or ways to encourage development of affordable housing options, Jensen said Orchard must work to constantly assess and improve the Village’s housing market.
“These are conversations you should be having with local employers to determine how the local housing market is affecting their ability to expand their business or retain employees,” Jensen said. “The housing market really does have an impact on local businesses. It shows the business owners that you as a community care and want them here.”
The study included population trends as well as economic impacts. Jensen said while Orchard’s population decreased 3.1 percent from 2000 to 2010, she said a .32 percent growth is feasible in the future.
“If your population were to grow to 404 people by 2025, you would still have a need to construct 21 homes,” she said. “It’s not that you need 21 additional homes, you need homes to replace the ones that need demolished.”
Regardless of growth, new homes or rehabilitated homes are still necessary due to the conditions. Jensen said about 40 percent of Orchard’s homes were built prior to 1940. The median home value is $42,900 — about $35,000 less than Antelope County’s median value.
Orchard isn’t seeing the population decreases that others are. Brunswick has decreased -22.9 percent from 2000 to 2010 while Royal is down 16 percent. Inman is down 12.8 percent, and Ewing has decreased 10.6 percent. Page has increased 5.7 percent.
“A .32 percent growth rate is feasible for Orchard. You have a great school district that you’re a part of. You have a lot of employment opportunities, but you’re also really close to larger communities and people do commute if they can’t find employment in Orchard,” Jensen said. “That’s a positive thing because that means people want to live in your community and want to send their kids to school here.”
Jensen said proximity to employment opportunities tends to be a very important factor for residents and potential residents. Labor force and housing are complementary forces that are essential to the self-sustainability of each community.
The 2010-2014 ACS estimated 4.9 percent were unemployed, which is silightly lower than the national rate of 6.1 percent, according to the study. The mean commute time to work is 15.3 minutes.
The mean household income in Orchard is $33,438, which is below the county’s average of $45,417. The state’s average is $52,400.
In order to make housing market improvements, Jensen said the village should work to meet specific goals. Jensen outlined those goals as being as follows:
• Clean up vacant lots and uninhabitable properties.
• Enforce property up-keep through nuisance abatement program
• Work with local businesses to determine housing needs for employees
• Continue owner-occupied housing rehabilitation program
• Inventory infill lots and promote infill development
• Encourage utilization of funding opportunitis for renters, homeowners and developers
• Create investment group to develop spec homes
• Develop purchase-rehab-resell program
• Locate areas for future residential development
Jensen talked to the board about ways area communities have worked to improve housing. Stuart has private individuals building spec homes while Elgin is working to rehab homes to resell.
Jensen said there are many types of funding and assistance programs available to the community and property owners from local, regional, state and federal programs.
Among the programs mentioned were the Northeast Nebraska Community Action Partnership, Habitat For Humanity Revitalization, Prairie Gold Homes, USDA Rural Development, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Nebraska Investment Finance Authority, Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District, CORE Development and Tax Increment Financing.
The OC TeamMates will have a Soup/Sandwich Supper Fundraiser on Friday, January 13th at the O-C vs. Humphrey LHF basketball games.
Serving starts at 5:00pm and goes until the food is gone. There will be chili, cream of potato, & chicken noodle soups, sandwiches, bars and a drink for a free will donation.
Don't miss out on the opportunity to support your local TeamMates chapter!
By Natalie Bruzon
To build or not build?
That’s the question Clearwater-Orchard attempted to answer during Monday night’s meetings.
However, the decision became complicated when, during Orchard’s Original Board meeting, the board unanimously voted to accept a statement read by Candace Hoke stating that Orchard board members will not discuss building a new structure at this time.
“We the Orchard Original Board appreciate everyone’s support and input throughout this process,” read Hoke. “At this time, we cannot justify asking for a bond to build any new structure. Our kids will not be educated any better in a new building. We are open to possibly expanding our reorganization and unification in the future with the inclusion of Verdigre. Right now spending millions of dollars is simply not necessary and would require all schools to consolidate first.”
The feasibility study included Clearwater, Orchard, Ewing and Verdigre. Questions have been raised recently as to whether Verdigre should still be included. Clearwater, Orchard and Verdigre presently make up the Nebraska Unified District #1.
Immediately following Monday’s original board meetings, which occurred in separated rooms at the Orchard site, the two advisory boards came together for their regular meeting. Members from all communities involved were given an opportunity to share their thoughts about the school’s future in light of the feasibility study and Orchard’s recent vote.
Kevin Schrunk, vice president of the Ewing board, was present and asked the Orchard advisory board for clarification on how they will move forward.
“I guess I’m just kind of concerned. What’s your reasons and what’s your thinking of it,” Schrunk said. “Because the way I see it, some numbers we were just kind of punching around, there’s a tremendous amount of savings I think in the long term of doing this.”
Schrunk continued on to point out the amount of savings Pete Funk, Ewing board member, had calculated could be accrued if the schools merged and built a new building.
“Pete Funk was working with some numbers, and he kind of showed me last night that with this figuring we could probably save about $115 million a year, or roughly about 20 percent,” Schrunk said. “If you kind of ballpark, that’s kind of a three-year bond savings out of every five . . . I think you should be more proactive with the kids. I think you’d have better curriculum in the new school; I think more kids would benefit out of it, too. I think we just need to be good neighbors with each other.”
It was mentioned several times that many young families in the community came together on Saturday night to discuss the future of the schools. Chris McKillip of Clearwater stood and shared his sentiment after attending that meeting, saying that the conversation was positive and he hopes the positive spirit continues.
“(On) Saturday evening I attended a meeting with I’m going to say 40 or so parents of mainly younger kids in the school system,” said McKillip. “There were probably about two hours worth of positive, honest discussion about what everyone wanted for their children as far as education. (The) consensus was, everyone felt that we should pick a location, and people weren’t really concerned about where it was located as long as it’s decided and that we stay together. That was the important thing. I hope talks like that continue in the future I really felt like it was a positive experience to sit down face to face with people we hadn’t really discussed it with before. I was just happy to attend it.”
According to Stephanie Cleveland, other community members felt that a meeting of that kind should have been more widely advertised. While she wasn’t against a meeting or anything that was discussed, Cleveland said she thinks these conversations should be public for everyone to provide input.
To close the public discussion, Amy Ahlers asked people to stand in support of the schools staying together. Although not everyone stood in support, photos show about 70 percent of the audience stood when asked.
As an agenda item, the Advisory boards formally discussed the feasibility study, as they had not officially put the topic on their agenda since the study was presented last month.
“A couple my board members asked to put this on here. We’ve never sat down as a group to talk about the feasibility study,” said Clearwater Principal Mike Sanne about the agenda item. “We’ve talked about it at meetings when Gerry Ehlers was here but have not talked about it as a group to see where we’re at. I know it was on your original board meeting agenda as it was for ours. I think we have some questions moving forward here. What is the advisory’s responsibility? What is unified responsibility? I think those are some questions that we all have.”
Orchard’s former secretary and newly-voted treasurer Nate Schwager addressed the vote Orchard had taken earlier that night, saying that the board felt other issues should be resolved before moving forward with a new building.
“As far as our decision to no longer pursue building a school, we feel like we have a couple issues that we need to take care of here first,” Schwager explained. “We’re not saying that we’re not interested in building five or 10 years down the road, but let’s take care of this now and maybe Ewing comes into the unification, maybe they don’t. I guess Pete (Funk) made it really clear the other day that they’re only interested if we build a new school, but I think there were several options in the feasibility study. There were a lot of numbers presented, and we don’t feel comfortable moving forward with constructing a new building at this time.”
Regina Krebs, who presented the Clearwater board with a lot of information to consider during their original board meeting, spoke out about Clearwater’s decision to not take anything off the table and continue pursuing all options.
“I want to applaud you on having such a handle on the pulse of your public to make a decision like that with basically, as far I’m concerned, no public meeting setting,” said Krebs. “But I’m sure your community feels completely at ease knowing that you know their intentions so well. I was really kind of feeling a little disconnected from my constituents at this point because I can’t make that call. I simply didn’t have the information that I felt comfortable in making that call, I had way too many questions. So, I had put those together. I have presented those at our meeting as far as how I think we should move forward, and I’ve got them put together. But again, I guess at this point in time I’m not sure that I want to necessarily move forward and cause any more issues.”
Krebs was also one of the board members who originally requested that the feasibility study be put on the advisory agenda, saying that she felt the boards should talk about it publicly.
“I was just simply surprised when I looked at the agenda that with this being our first opportunity in a public meeting to discuss the study that it didn’t even appear in our agenda at the time,” said Krebs. “However I’ve been told that the Orchard board had made their decision prior to the meeting, and I was warned not to attempt to persuade you otherwise.”
Sanne looked to the Orchard board for direction, in light of their vote to stop discussions on a new building.
“So if Clearwater is interested in keeping moving forward, where do you think we go from here or what do we do?” asked Sanne.
Schwager responded, telling the board that “it’s a decision you’re going to have to make,” to which Thiele responded that at this point, Clearwater would like to continue considering every option.
“We don’t want to take anything off the table at this point. Does a new building seem daunting? Yes. But is that the only answer? No,” Thiele said.
Orchard board member Kristi Schutt brought to light the fact that Ewing at one point said that although they would like to unify with Clearwater-Orchard, they would also like to see Verdigre taken out of the mix.
“I guess one of my concerns is that when I talked to one of the Ewing board members, and Regina was there, the first thing out of their concern was they don’t want Verdigre in our unification,” said Schutt. “And I guess I feel that Verdigre has been in it with us for 17 years, and I don’t think building a building is necessary to get rid of Verdigre. That was one of my main concerns and I told that gentleman that also. I do not want to get rid of Verdigre just because we’re building a building. What are your feelings on that also?”
Thiele responded saying that the Clearwater board has not talked about eliminating Verdigre. The board does feel, according to Thiele, that all options should be discussed before taking any options “off the table.”
The advisory boards ended the conversation with a motion to adjourn the meeting.
Because Superintendent Dale Martin was not present at the meeting, questions regarding what responsibilities the board has in making a decision like that could not be clarified. However, the Unified Board has the feasibility study on its agenda for the next meeting, set on January 16, at 6 p.m. in Orchard.
By Adam Maly
The feasibility study was among items on both the Clearwater and Orchard original board meetings on Monday.
Meeting at the same time in separate rooms at the Orchard site before a joint meeting was held, the Clearwater board speant roughly a half hour discussing the study.
Clearwater board members were generally in favor of continuing the feasibility study and keeping their options open.
“I’m not ready to take anything off the table,” Amy Thiele said. “We need to try to tie down some costs on a new building.”
Advisory board member Regina Krebs presented the board with some additional research. She also expressed interest in furthering research on what a larger district could mean for student curriculum.
“The state has always held that 390 is an ideal number of students,” Krebs said. “If the state is calling that an ideal situation, what does the curriculum look like in an ideal situation?”
Krebs told the board she would like to have an active conversation with counselors, teaching staff and other communities on what career path opportunities could be gained from an increase in students in the district.
“Now would be a really good time to research,” she said. “Can we offer anything additional to our kids?”
Another point of discussion was the cost per student currently and going forward in the district.
According to the 2015-16 ASR, the financial report turned into the department of education every year, the actual cost per student in the Clearwater-Orchard district was about $18,000. That’s higher than other area schools, which averaged around $14,000 per student, according to Krebs.
The budget per student for 2016-17 is set for $21,000, which would leave some savings per student if the actual cost reflects last year’s numbers. The advisory board agreed that the high cost per student is a question for the superintendent to help answer.
The board adjourned the meeting with a consensus to keep an open mind in considering all options presented in the feasibility study.
During the meeting, Marty Kerkman was also voted to be the Clearwater representative for the Unified Board.
Lloyd Porter never claimed to be a hero. That’s because, he said, the heroes of World War II are still there.
Lloyd, who served in six major battles during World War II and received several medals for bravery, died in 2010 in Kearney at the age of 86. He helped liberate the largest concentration camp in Germany, along with several prisoner of war camps.
He may not have called himself a hero, but his son, Jerome, disagreed. In fact, Jerome thought so much of his father that he followed in his footsteps and enlisted in the military while most waited to be drafted.
“He’s my hero,” Jerome said. “When I got out of the high school, I went right into the service like he did. I enlisted right into the Air Force and served in Vietnam.”
A 1942 graduate of Orchard High School, Lloyd’s story is kicking off a new series in our newspaper, highlighting Antelope County alumni, both living and deceased.
From Orchard To Europe
Lloyd was born in Page to Charles Edwin and Minnie (Brookhouser) Porter. He attended District 68 and later graduated from Orchard. He married Bernice S. Cleveland in 1944 during furlough before heading off to Europe.
Jerome said his father grew to be a World War II history buff but didn’t talk much about his service unless he was asked.
“He talked about crossing the Rhine River and the concentration camps,” said Jerome, who was Lloyd and Bernice’s only child.
Lloyd was interviewed in 2006 about his military service. The interview is available through the Library of Congress.
Lloyd said his life changed when he was drafted into the Army at the age of 18. He trained in Alabama then assigned to the 89th Infantry Rifle Division and sent to Europe.
“My infantry division shipped out of Boston, Mass. Our next stop was Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. The 89th was assigned to Third Army under Gen. George S. Patton, Old Blood and Guts, they called him,” Lloyd said.
He and his fellow soldiers battled through France - Lexingburg, Belgium, Battle of the Bulge. They crossed the Rhine River to invade Germany at 2:30 a.m. at St. Goar on March 26, 1945. With 25 riflemen paddling, they pushed out toward Germany alongside 8,000 other infantrymen who were all within the distance of 20 miles along the river.
“The German machine guns opened up, 20 mm and mortars.We drifted down the river. Our paddles were shot to pieces, and the soldier ahead of me was hit square in the head. Others were wounded and screaming,” Lloyd said.
The boat tipped over in the river, forcing those still alive “to swim to the shore, which was full of dead soldiers. Most of the boats didn’t make it across.”
Lloyd said millions of shells were shot over the river that morning. Of the 25 soldiers in his boat, 18 were either killed or drowned.
Life of A Rifleman
Jerome said his father served as “the point man and was very good with the rifle.” While Lloyd was humble about his abilities, his medals tell the story for him. He has many - but no purple heart.
He was never shot, but he did come close many times. Jerome still has a bullet as proof.
“There was this one time a German officer shot at him, but it went through the canteen. It didn’t hit him - just the canteen,” Jerome said. “After taking care of the guy, he dug the bullet out of the tree behind. I still have the bullet.”
Lloyd said he trained as a sniper and served as a rifleman first scout. His M1 rifle - his buddy, as he called it - went everywhere he did, even the latrine.
It was a lonely life, he said, up front watching for Germans. Scouts behind him were often killed, but he always managed to get by.
It was also a rough life. On the good days, they slept in barns next to animals as lice crawled all over their bodies. They would go weeks without bathing and eventually have to be fumigated to kill the lice crawling on them.
The bad days meant they would sleep in holes with candles lit to keep warm. Lloyd said the water in the holes would freeze overnight.
“You had to keep moving. You were infantry. I don’t think I rode in a motor vehicle any further than a mile or two. I walked all of the time and crawled on my belly,” he said.
Some of the experiences in Europe carried over to Lloyd’s home life, including his dislike of cheese.
“When he was over there, they were starving and came into this house and there were eggs and cheese,” Jerome said. “He got deathly sick and thought he was going to die. He never touched cheese again - not even a cheeseburger. Anything with cheese was out of the realm.”
Communication was difficult during World War II. Lloyd spent most of his time reading maps, not letters. But when the mail arrived, there was always plenty for him.
“My wife wrote to me practically every day. When I got overseas, she continued to write every day, but I’d only get mail in bunches. There were weeks I wouldn’t get any mail,” he said.
Christmas 1944 was especially difficult for him. While history books talk about the Christmas truce and how German and American soldiers found peace together temporarily, Lloyd remembered the Battle of the Bulge and what life was like for him.
“Eisenhauer said we’ll be home by Christmas, but that didn’t turn out that way because the Germans made the break through with the biggest tanks I’d ever seen in my life. The tanks weighed 60 tons,” he said. “We lost a lot of people in just that one battle.”
On May 8, 1945, the Third Army reached Zwickau, Germany, on the Elbe River where 100,000 German Nazis surrendered.
Eventually the war ended. Lloyd remembered the day the war ended. Everyone cheered and celebrated.
But it was another 9 months before Lloyd was sent back home to Orchard. “If you were an infantryman, you were there to kill Germans,” he said.
And if you were an infantryman, “there was still work to do.” With is rifle in hand, Lloyd continued to hunt Nazis. But now, it was so they could stand trial.
The 89th Infantry liberated the largest concentration camp in Germany. Lloyd could smell it miles away. The death, the poison lingered. Lloyd spoke of “tubs of gold” outside the camp, where gold fillings were removed from the teeth of victims and melted down.
He said the liberated several other concentration camps, as well as American prisoner of war camps.
Back To Nebraska
After two years in Europe, Lloyd was discharged from the Army. He returned to his home north of Orchard in June 1946.
“I was sure happy to be home, but yet I missed every one of them. The heroes are still over there,” he said.
Jerome said the transition was difficult for his father, like most veterans. There were various games the family didn’t play, including popping balloons. The sudden sounds bothered Lloyd.
Jerome said his father had nightmares at times. Again, an understandable effect of the war.
But Lloyd never complained — about anything — according to his son. Even when he was sick toward the end of his life, he laughed.
Lloyd and his family left Orchard in 1956 when he landed a job with the Nebraska Department of Roads at a weigh station. Later he transferred to the state’s vehicle department and eventually oversaw much the state’s driver license examination area.
He retired to Arkansas in 1987 but returned to Nebraska in 2003 due to health problems. Six years after his death, Bernice still lives in Kearney in the same retirement community she shared with her husband.
And Jerome, along with his wife Janet and their children, still treasure Lloyd’s memory. Jerome looks at his father’s medals every week as he visits his mother.
“He’s my hero and he’s my children’s hero. He was quite a guy,” Jerome said.
The weather didn’t co-operate in December to do story hour for the children, but that didn’t stop library director Donna Hamilton from having some fun.
Hamilton, who had planned a special Christmas Open House, kept the craft materials out and available, along with the snacks she had prepared, and let children complete their crafts on their own time. Thirteen students completed their Christmas Ornament during the school break.
Hamilton is also planning for the new year, and has some exciting events in store.
Coming in the new year, the Orchard Quilt Group will be putting on a mini Quilt Show in the back room of the Library.
The show will be set up on the January 11 and will be available for a month, giving the community time to take advantage of the beautiful display.
Hamilton also dedicated the last part of 2016 to putting some new books on the shelves, such as Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, which is a new movie just out in the theaters.
Several books were also donated by library patrons. In the new year, Hamilton is also planning a Story Hour for sometime late in January or early February.
Editor’s Note: While most would agree kids come first in education, it’s impossible to deny that taxes are a close second, especially as the talks to between Clearwater, Orchard, Ewing and Verdigre continue. Here’s a closer look at the financial impact of the options presented in the feasibility study.
By Natalie Bruzon
Money talks, and the financial aspect of the potential unification between Clearwater, Orchard, Ewing and Verdigre conversation is becoming louder.
But what exactly would the cost be if Ewing unified with the Nebraska Unified #1 district?
Dr. Gerald Ehlers presented the feasibility study last month and returned to answer questions. Both times he has made one thing clear — students are his priority.
When looking at the different options, financial repercussions from concepts presented in the study are one of the major concerns on the three communities’ minds.
“We need to focus on the kids, and what we can do by working together, we all win,” said Ehlers during the December 19 special meeting. “Kids win, parents win, patrons win, communities win. Are there sacrifices to get there? Yes, there are.”
Looking at the Costs
When Ehlers first presented the study, he highlighted three concepts, each with various options. The first concept, Concept A, presented options with only Clearwater-Orchard. Concept B brought Ewing into the mix and explored various options with all three sites. Option C looked at the expenses of a new school, called a Cornfield School.
Currently, the Unified District has a general fund levy of .6255 and Ewing has a general fund levy of .6942.
Ewing also has a Special Building Fund tax rate of .0261 and the Unified District has a Special Building Fund tax rate of .0252. Clearwater has a Qualified Capital Purpose Fund tax rate of 0.0151.
When adding the special fund tax rates and qualified capital purpose fund tax rate to each community’s tax levy, Clearwater landowners pay .6658 in taxes, Ewing pays .7203 in taxes and Orchard pays .6507.
Concept A would have no effect on current tax levies, as all that option explored was site location for Clearwater-Orchard. However, both Concepts B and C would affect taxpayers.
Option B: Clearwater-Orchard and Ewing
Under Concept B, Ehlers presented six different options, each with various site locations. While all three sites would have grades PK-4, each option showed a different location for the middle school and high school.
During the December 5 meeting, Ehlers said all options under Concept B provided “a significant decrease in the general fund tax rate for the Ewing school system and a small decrease for Nebraska Unified #1 school system.”
By unifying, Ewing and Clearwater-Orchard would combine resources and FTEs and therefore cut down on budget expenses.
The six options under Concept B explore different site location combinations for the middle school and high school using the three sites.
Options B-1, 4, 5 and 6 would see the general fund tax levy decrease to $.5998. There would still be special building funds added to this, but overall tax rates would still be lower than current tax rates.
In Options B-2 and 3, the general fund tax levy of $0.5958, slightly lower than for the other options. The lower rate is for not utilizing Ewing facilities for the middle or high school, as one of Ewing’s buildings would not be used, so maintenance costs would not factored in.
Overall, Concept B would lower the general fund levy for both sites, although Ewing would see the greatest change. Clearwater-Orchard would see a decrease of $.0257 or $.0297 and Ewing would see a decrease of $.0944 or $.0984.
Concept C: Cornfield School
The third concept explored the possibility of building a new “cornfield” facility for Ewing and Clearwater-Orchard. This school would house various grade levels, depending on the option considered. By adding Ewing, the assessed valuation of Ewing, Clearwater and Orchard would be $1,123,160,167.
During the December 5 meeting, Ehlers discussed potential costs of the schools that would require a bond. An analysis of facility needs and projected costs was prepared with the assistance of Bahr Vermeer Haecker Architects of Lincoln while the tax rate was assisted by Ameritas and calculated at a 20-year bond at 5 percent.
Board members spoke to Ehlers, as they felt the estimated cost for a new building and the bond interest rate were too high. Therefore, during the December 19 meeting Ehlers presented adjusted costs for the “cornfield” school.
Option C-1 looked at constructing a new facility for grades PK-12, which Ehlers described as being located in a “central location,” possibly along the Orchard Road. According to the report, this would allow the three communities to combine resources and expand the high school curriculum. It would also result in a “substantial decrease in the general fund tax rate for the Ewing school system and the Nebraska Unified #1 school system.”
Originally, the facility was estimated at $38,804,220 with a 20 year bond at five percent. However, during the December 19 meeting Ehlers adjusted the cost to cost to $30,764,340 with a 20-year bond at 3.5 percent interest. The lower estimate was made by reducing the number of classrooms and adjusting the cost of contingencies.
The bond levy for Concept C-1 would be $0.1905 and the general fund levy would be $0.53, leaving an overall levy increase of $0.095. The annual increase to Clearwater and Orchard taxpayers for every $100,000 in valuation would be $95.00. Ewing taxpayers would see a valuation of $26.30 per $100,000
In Option C-2, the three sites would house their own grades PK-4 while grades 5-12 would be in the new facility. Originally, the facility was estimated at $30,637,035. However, during the December 19 meeting Ehlers presented an adjusted estimate of $24,481,890 with a 20 year bond at a 3.5% interest rate.
As in Concept C-1, the adjusted estimate came from a reduction of classroom space and contingencies.
The bond levy for Concept C-2 would be $0.1517 and the general fund levy would be $0.6188, leaving an overall levy increase of $0.145. The annual increase to Clearwater and Orchard taxpayers for every $100,000 in valuation would be $145. Ewing taxpayers would see a valuation of $76.30 per $100,000.
Ehlers presented a new option under Concept C during the December 19 meeting. Previously, the board hadn’t considered a 7-12 building, but Ehlers showed that could be a compromise between a 5-12 and an all-grades school.
The numbers would vary little from Option C-2. The bond levy for Concept C-3 would be $0.1445.
One of the major considerations for any of the options in Concept C, according to the feasibility report, would be the bond needed for the new facility.
“In order to finance a new school facility, a bond would need to be approved by the legal voters in the Ewing, Clearwater, and Orchard school districts to provide the necessary funding,” Ehlers said during the December 5 meeting.
Nate Schwager, Loan Officer at Bank of Orchard and secretary for the Orchard Board, said that he believes a new school would be hard to pass in Orchard.
“With the cost of building a new school, how much money we’ve put into this one, and just looking at the need for a new school, I would say that iit would be very tough to pass building a new school in our district,” said Schwager. “ . . . Just talking to people around town there is very little support for it at this time.”
Concept D: Pk-4 at one site
Ehlers presented a new concept to the board during December 19 meeting. Previously, the Unified Board had agreed that parents would not like the idea of sending their elementary students to a site out of town. However, the board decided during their December meeting to explore all options, and asked Ehlers to present the feasibility of uniting with Ewing and choosing one site for Pk-4.
Option D-1, the only option presented under Concept D, assigned the high school to Clearwater, Pk-4 in Ewing and 5-8 in Orchard.
This would reduce the general fund levy to 0.563. Annual savings to Clearwater and Orchard taxpayers for every $100,000 in valuation would be $62.50. Ewing would see savings of $131.20 per $100,000.
What does this mean?
Ehlers has met with the boards various times throughout the course of the month, and each time he has further clarified the concepts in the feasibility study and given the boards more information.
The financial information presented with each concept may also seem like the culminating factor in what decision to make, but other factors, such as projected enrollment and job prospects, should also contribute to the decision made.
Ehlers reiterated that a lot of a school’s budget is dedicated to salaries, and many of the options in the feasibility study would cut down on the need for full-time employees because the three sites could share teachers.
However, this could also mean a cut in jobs which could lead to a drop in enrollment.
“It’s detrimental because the first teachers to go are the young ones who have the kids or who are going to start families here,” said Schwager. “So you’re going to talk about eliminating a third of the workforce of the biggest employer in town and that’s pretty detrimental.”
This goes to show that in making a decision for the future, the boards will take various factors into consideration, not just finances.
The Unified Board will meet on January 16, during which they will further discuss the feasibility study and site location. The meeting will be in Orchard at 6 p.m.
110 E 4th Street
Neligh, NE 68756