Troopers across Nebraska will be on patrol in the days surrounding the Fourth of July, looking to take drunk drivers off the road.
The Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) and numerous law enforcement agencies around the state will be working together this week to reduce the potential for alcohol-related crashes. NSP’s effort will run from July 3-5 and include troopers all over the state.
“Our state has many incredible celebrations surrounding the Fourth of July,” said Colonel John Bolduc, Superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol. “It’s critical that drivers do their part to keep the fireworks off Nebraska’s roadways. Stay sober or designate a driver.”
The operation will include saturation patrols and vehicle checkpoints on roads in and around counties identified by the Nebraska Department of Transportation – Highway Safety Office (NDOT-HSO) as priority counties because of their high incidences of crashes that result in personal injury or death.
The effort is made possible thanks in part to a grant for $12,000 from NDOT-HSO.
Highway 70 is closed to through traffic as a crane is on site to help lift turbine equipment off the highway after an equipment malfunction.
The incident happened on Friday about 20 miles west of Elgin on Highway 70 and left one lane of traffic closed due to the turbine's location.
Local traffic is allowed through at this time. The turbine is expected to be removed by about 2:30 p.m., according to officials.
Two Antelope County students competed in events at the 2018 FBLA National Leadership Conference, June 28-July 1.
Kim Frey, who will be a senior at Elkhorn Valley this fall, and Rachel Higgins, a recent graduate of Neligh-Oakdale, both competed in Business Communications at the national contest in Baltimore, Maryland.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that federal disaster assistance has been made available to the state of Nebraska to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by a severe winter storm and straight-line winds from April 13 - 18, 2018.
Federal funding is also available to the state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe winter storms and straight-line winds in Antelope, Blaine, Boone, Boyd, Cheyenne, Clay, Custer, Deuel, Fillmore, Garfield, Gosper, Greeley, Hall, Hamilton, Holt, Howard, Keith, Knox, Logan, Loup, Madison, Merrick, Nance, Nuckolls, Pierce, Platte, Rock, Sherman, Valley, Webster, and Wheeler counties.
Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
Constance C. Johnson-Cage has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Johnson-Cage said additional designations may be made at a later date if warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
FEDERAL AID PROGRAMS FOR THE STATE OF NEBRASKA
Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Donald J. Trump's disaster declaration issued for the state of Nebraska.
Assistance for the State and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:
How to Apply for Assistance:
Application procedures for state and local governments will be explained at a series of applicant briefings with locations to be announced in the affected area by recovery officials. Approved public repair projects are paid through the state from funding provided by FEMA and other participating federal agencies.
FEMA's mission is helping people before, during, and after disasters.
Follow FEMA online at www.fema.gov/blog, www.twitter.com/fema, www.twitter.com/femaspox, www.facebook.com/fema and www.youtube.com/fema. Also, follow Administrator Brock Long’s activities at www.twitter.com/fema_brock.
A 40-year-old Elgin man who admittedly "self-medicates" with marijuana had his probation revoked and was sentenced to jail in Antelope County District Court on Wednesday.
Kipp Polston appeared for sentencing on revocation of probation, along with his attorney Dennis Morland of Norfolk. Polston allegedly violated the conditions of his probation when he tested positive for drugs. He was serving a two-year probation sentence on three counts of attempted theft by receiving stolen property, all class I misdemeanors. Polston was originally placed on probation on Sept. 28, 2016.
During the course of his probation, Judge James Kube said the record shows that the defendant missed chemical testing appointments 27 times and tested positive for THC eight times.
"There was just a general unwillingness to participate in the requirements I ordered for probation," Judge Kube said. "Why didn't this work?"
Polston said there were several reasons for missing appointments, including trouble returning from a trip to Arizona as well as family deaths. He also claimed he was diagnosed with a mental illness in his late teens, which he attributes to his drug usage.
"I'm bipolar. Drugs over the counter make me sick," Polston said. "I've been self-medicating, when I need, it with marijuana."
He added that the prescribed medication had terrible side effects that scared him.
When the judge asked him if the marijuana helps with his disorder, he exclaimed, "A lot!"
"It changes me like that," Polston said, snapping his fingers. "I don't do it to catch a buzz."
Judge Kube redirected him by asking why he was stealing items in the first place.
"I didn't steal anything," Polston said. "It was brought to my house when I wasn't home. I didn't know they were taken until two days after the cops came and got them. I didn't know my brother-in-law put them there."
His attorney reminded the court of the incident which happened since the arrests of Polston and his brother-in-law, Kadence Steele.
"His brother-in-law is the one who committed suicide in the Boone County Jail," Morland said.
The defense attorney said Polston didn't steal items from anyone.
"Steele took everything," Morland said. "My client did use the welder, but he didn't know how it got there. Because of how poorly he did on probation the first time, he's expecting to get a straight sentence today."
Antelope County Attorney Joe Abler agreed about Polston's performance while on probation.
"You put him on probation two years and he didn't take any part of that seriously and he was using marijuana," Abler told the judge. "He either had an excuse as to why he didn't show up or he refused testing or he tested positive."
Judge Kube agreed that Polston was not a good candidate for probation.
"You just made an admission in open court in front of law enforcement that you use marijuana to self-medicate because the other medication scares you," the judge said. "There are states that allow marijuana to be used for medicinal purposes. There are even states that allow marijuana to be used recreationally. Nebraska is neither one of those states."
Judge Kube revoked Polston's probation and sentenced him on his original charges. He was sentenced to 35 days in the Antelope County Jail on each count, to be served concurrently, and was given credit for 25 days previously served. Polston was also ordered to pay a total of $390 in court costs.
The judge encouraged him to seek medical attention.
"I tried to give you a chance with probation," Judge Kube said. "This doesn't address your problem. You should be done with this. I hope I don't see you again."
In other matters, four others appeared in district court on criminal charges.
Tori Starman appeared for a pretrial conference with her attorney Marty Klein. In exchange for guilty pleas, Abler agreed to reduce one of the charges against her. Starman pleaded guilty to one count of attempted possession of a controlled substance-methamphetamine, a class I misdemeanor and two infractions: possession of marijuana, less than an ounce, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Judge Kube adjudged her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and set her sentencing for July 25.
Peggy Schrader appeared for arraignment with her attorney John Vipperman. She pleaded not guilty to one count of possession of a controlled substance-methamphetamine, a class IV felony. Her pretrial conference was set for August 29.
Jacob Humphrey appeared with his attorney Pat Carney. Abler filed a dismissal and the charges against him were dismissed. His bond will be exonerated after the $153 in costs has been paid.
Max Kerkman appeared for a pretrial conference with his attorney Tom Petersen. Due to the defense attorney's trial schedule, Petersen requested a continuance. Kerkman's pretrial conference was set for September 26.
Cycling 200 miles across four counties in five days is impressive. It’s even more impressive when you are just a fourth grader.
At 9 years old, Egan Little is the youngest biker on the 2018 Tour de Nebraska.
This is Little’s first time experiencing a bike tour, as he rode on a tandem bicycle with his mother, Sarah, who has been on RAGBRAI, but never before on Tour de Nebraska. Egan’s father, Lance, is also on the tour.
The three of them traveled from their hometown, Claremont, California, and drove for 16 hours to Colorado and another eight hours to Plainview, where they arrived on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the first day of the 31st annual tour, they biked for 51 miles from Plainview to Neligh, where they stayed the night in the Neligh-Oakdale High School gym.
Also on the trip with them were Lance’s cousins James and John Baylor and John’s children, Antonia and Cameron.
Riding a tandem bike is fairly new to Little, as he started learning this spring. However, he first started learning how to ride a bike when he was about 3 years old.
“I think I just started when I was about 3 or something because I had a balance bike, and that was really nice,” Little said. “And then, I kind of moved on to – well, I never went to training wheels.”
His mother said that when his twin sister, Julia, started riding her bike, Egan immediately followed, and then his older sister, Carrie Anne, decided to join.
“We put his pedals on, and in an hour – less than an hour, 10 minutes – he was riding across the grass at the park,” Sarah said.
This fall, Little will be in fourth grade at Sycamore Elementary School, and since they live about 3 miles from the building, his mother decided they would ride bikes to school together. Little said he’s excited that he can now also ride his bike to his friend’s house.
Little and his sisters’ passion for biking was inspired by an equal enthusiasm from their parents.
His father got into biking when he was 22 or 23 and hopped on a bike for 1,000 miles to get in shape for ski season, Sarah said. When she was a teenager, she developed a love for biking by going with her father. During her junior year of college, Sarah said she rode for 650 miles from Beverly State Beach Park in Oregon to the Golden Gate Bridge.
When Little started to learn how to ride a tandem bike, he said it was different because since the pedals are linked, and they have to decide together where and how fast they travel.
“You don’t have control of where you’re going, and you aren’t usually the person who’s controlling what speed you’re going at,” Little said. “And, you’re not shifting the gears at all. So, it’s kind of just pedalling with the other person.”
During Tour de Nebraska, Little rode on the back of the tandem, while his mother took over the front and navigated.
His mother said she first heard of the tour through John Baylor when he called Lance about it and said he couldn’t make it to RAGBRAI, but could do Tour de Nebraska.
Little enjoyed the first day of the tour, but said the first 10 miles and the final stretch, as well as a flat tire at the end provided some difficulties.
“It felt good. It’s just the first 10 miles or so were a bit hard because I didn’t have enough calories in me and it was raining pretty hard,” he said. “And when I took my jacket off, my windbreaker, the water had all stuck to my windbreaker and it was sticking to my skin.”
According to Little, during the last portion of the ride to Neligh, the shoulder was narrow to bike on and the rumble bars took up a lot of room.
“There was like 2 inches of the road without actual bumps,” he said.
For Little, this is the first time that he remembers being in Nebraska, and he said he appreciates its open space.
“I really think it’s nice because where we live, it’s not really open. And when one town ends, there’s immediately another town,” Little said. “And with Nebraska, it’s just, like, a 10-mile pause between a town.”
The only downside that he sees to the state is the odor that the cows leave.
“The only really negative part is I like the animals, but the cows, they have a lot of manure,” Little said.
His mother said she has been to Nebraska seven or eight times and that its nature is stunning.
“I think it’s beautiful,” Sarah said. “It’s really nice to be out in the countryside and to be driving by farms and not seeing cars everywhere, and houses everywhere and buildings everywhere, but to see the birds flying around and the trees. I love it.”
During the last 10 miles, she said they had a companion from Omaha who talked about his trip to Montana and Wyoming. Little said they kept a moderate speed, which allowed them to have brief conversations with other bikers.
“A lot of the time, we had a moderate pace with other people, and we had a short conversation with them where we would go ahead or they would go ahead. And, that was nice,” Little said.
He said he had a good conversation with another participant who talked with him about her favorite bike company in Arkansas.
“It’s just fun to meet other people, and it’s fun to see the different types of bikes and see what people have to say about bikes,” Little said.
Once they complete Tour de Nebraska, the family is hoping to get two more tandem bikes and train to do RAGBRAI together next summer with the additions of Little’s aunt and sisters.
David Wood is not a believer in love at first sight.
Yet, when he first laid eyes on her, there was an immediate, undeniable voice in his head telling him to talk to her.
“She introduced herself, and was like, ‘Hi, I’m Karen,’” Wood said. “And, it was just such an impactful moment, and it was like the crazy Hollywood effects with some extra dazzle to the whole thing.”
On his 10th consecutive ride in Tour de Nebraska, Wood met his wife, Karen Griffin, who was on the tour for the first time with her son, Jason, in 2012.
Jason, who is now 26, was an undergrad student at Nebraska Wesleyan studying computer science. He and Wood instantly bonded, as Wood used to teach computer science there.
“They just hit it off and were talking and riding for hours together about computer science,” Griffin said.
Throughout the trip, Wood and Griffin kept bumping into each other and making conversation. Then, on the last day, they exchanged phone numbers at a lunch stop along the way from Neligh to Madison.
Since Wood is vegan and Griffin is gluten intolerant, they worked out a system and swapped different parts of their meals, he said. Prior to leaving the bar, they wrote their numbers on coasters and then returned to Lincoln, where they both resided.
Upon arriving back home, Wood said he immediately threw his bike shorts in the wash without remembering he had left the coaster in his pocket.
“Suddenly, I just thought, ‘Oh no, my coaster is in there. I just threw away her phone number; it’s in the washing machine,’” Wood said. “So, I ran out and try to fetch it out of the washing machine, and by then, it’s just like pulp.”
Luckily, his disappointment didn’t last long, as he received a call from Griffin the next day saying they should get together.
She said her son was comical about them dating.
“Jason was funny,” she said with a grin. “At one point later that year, I said, ‘Oh, by the way, David and I are dating now.’ He goes, ‘That’s not fair, he was my friend first.’ It was really funny.”
Griffin and Wood returned to the same tour the next year, where they were chosen for the spirit award at the end of the ride.
“They have a spirit award that they give for someone who sort of epitomizes the ride,” Wood said. “So, they gave it to Karen and I the next year because we were sort of notorious for being a couple and, you know, having broad smiles on our faces the whole time.”
For another two years, they continued to date and go on the bike tour. Wood said they decided they wanted to live and spend the rest of their lives together, but they weren’t certain if they wanted to get married yet.
“We weren’t quite sure, you know, marriage – we’ve sort of been there, done that,” he said. “And, we’ve seen the downside of it, too, because we were both divorced, and so it’s like, ‘We don’t need to get married, we’ve had kids, there’s no sort of point in that.’”
However, when Christmas of 2015 rolled around, they changed their minds. Griffin said all of their kids were home for the holiday, including her son, Jason, and her younger son, Victor, 20, as well as Wood’s children, Claire, 27, Evan, 25, and Francis, 23.
“We were thinking about doing it in the summer of 2016, but all of our kids were home for Christmas,” Griffin said. “And so, we realized with five children between us, ‘When are they all going to get together again?’”
She then contacted their friend who also does Tour de Nebraska, Stephanie Stacy, a Supreme Court Justice in Lincoln. Three days later, Stacy married them in the Supreme Court in Lincoln.
According to Griffin, it was such a spontaneous decision that they didn’t have time to get rings, so that section was crossed out of the ceremony and they purchased them later.
Ever since 2012, the couple has gone on the tour every year as an anniversary celebration of how they met, including this year’s tour.
“We sort of say the Tour de Nebraska is our anniversary reunion and we’re like, ‘Oh good, all of our friends made it back here,’” Wood said.
Throughout the years, they have built old and new friendships, he said.
“On a bicycle and on Tour de Nebraska, you kind of get to know someone better because you have all of this downtime to talk and everything’s exposed; you have nothing to hide,” Wood said. “It’s just the best place to catch up and meet people and get to know people.”
Not only do they get to meet friendly faces, but they also take time to appreciate the charm of small towns in Nebraska, according to Wood.
“It’s just great, the small towns and just being intimate with the small towns and just being away from things,” he said. “It’s just nice to be able to interact and get to know the different parts of Nebraska and small town Nebraska.”
Griffin also said she appreciates how the tour allows for people to view parts of the state that they wouldn’t normally recognize.
“The tour is just a great way for anyone to get out and see these parts of Nebraska that you don’t get to see when you’re driving on I-80,” she said. “It’s just a beautiful state.”
In addition to Tour de Nebraska, they also enjoy going on week-long bike tours through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Outdoor Adventures, where they’ve been to Oregon, Maine, Wyoming and other destinations.
Griffin, who works as a geologist for Olsson Associates, and Wood, who is a computer software engineer for Nelnet, have had a zeal for biking years before they went on tours together.
From when he was a child through the beginning years of college, Wood said he was fervent about biking, but fell out of the routine when he was first married and had children. However, he got back into it before going on Tour de Nebraska, as he would ride on increasingly long routes.
Griffin said some of her best childhood memories came from riding her bike, and later on, she enjoyed working as a tour guide in college.
“I have been cycling in Lincoln since I grew up, and I used to work as a tour guide on bicycle tours in college,” she said. “I’d take high school kids on bike tours in Europe; it was a great summer job.”
As for future biking endeavors, the couple plans on continuing their yearly tradition of participating in Tour de Nebraska.
In July, they will go on another Outdoor Adventures bike ride to northern Minnesota, Wood said.
However, next year, they want to travel even further and take their children along with them, Griffin said.
“Next year, I think we want to go to Italy,” she said. “My sister, Jane, and her husband lead historic, art and food tours in Florence and different parts of Italy. We want to go and do a bike ride with them.”
The Sandhills Legion Riders will be hosting their annual poker run on Sunday, July 1.
The poker run will start at Riverside Park in Neligh. Registration starts at 9 a.m. and is $10 per hand. Participants will depart at 10 a.m.
The Young Men's Club Pancake Feed is also being held from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Riders who participate in both Bloomfield's and Sandhill's Poker Runs, June 30 and July 1, will be automatically entered into a drawing for $100.
“Bubble time.” “Hammer the grammar.” “Circle, bubble, quick check.” “OK, cowboy.”
These popular phrases may ring a bell to numerous current and former high school students.
Many people know John Baylor for creating “OnToCollege” ACT and SAT prep courses, writing several books, hosting the OTC Show and being the voice of University of Nebraska volleyball.
What they may not realize is that Baylor also has a passion for bike riding.
While riding in this year’s Tour de Nebraska, Baylor said a teacher and a student recognized him in Royal. He said it’s very gratifying when people recognize him because he is trying to leave an impact.
“When I’m recognized, it suggests I’m making a difference in the lives of the school and perhaps the lives of their own family members, perhaps themselves,” Baylor said.
This is his third time riding in the tour with his two children, Antonia, 14, and Cameron, 12. Baylor is also a five-time participant in RAGBRAI, which is a bike ride across Iowa.
Baylor said he loves small towns in northeast Nebraska and when he saw the route, he wanted to make sure he and his children got signed up.
On Wednesday, they rode for 51 miles and stopped in Neligh and stayed the night in the Neligh-Oakdale High School gym.
During the day’s trip, Baylor said he rode on a tandem bike with his son, while his daughter rode on his other tandem bike with his brother, James. On Thursday, they switched, and Baylor rode with his daughter.
Baylor said he enjoys riding on a tandem bike because he is better able to converse with his children, and they help encourage him to keep pedaling.
“They’re critical because my energy level wanes a little, and they’ll say, ‘Help! Hill!’ and jump right in,” he said. “And, sometimes they’ll notice that I’m fading and they’ll say, ‘Come on, dad.’”
Riding with his children helps strengthen their relationship, Baylor said.
“It just deepens my connection with my children, and it lets me see them grow before my eyes and it builds their character,” he said.
For most of his life, Baylor has been biking and he said it helps build friendships through shared challenges.
“I particularly love these trips that are organized, which allow me to bring my family,” he said. “Because to me, deep friendships and relationships are typically the product of shared challenge. And, this is a challenge.”
His love for biking goes back to when he was in high school and would ride his bike as an escape.
“I remember in high school, when I would just need to get away, I would always choose my yellow Schwinn 1974-ish 10 Speed, and I would go about 12 miles one direction and about 12 miles back,” Baylor said.
He also didn’t get a car until he was 25, so biking was his main form of transportation, he said.
According to Baylor, riding a bike provides a feeling of liberation and doesn’t take as much of a toll on the body.
“A bike doesn’t hurt your knees and lets you go so quickly and see so much,” Baylor said. “And you can pretty much go as fast as you can. So, I love it.”
In addition to keeping him in shape, he said rides like Tour de Nebraska are a great way to get to know people in their purest form.
“There’s just great comradery on these rides because everyone is kind of stripped down to just their basic bike-riding selves,” Baylor said. “No one’s driving any fancy cars and no one’s living in a fancy house.”
He said he appreciates the beauty of Nebraska and its small towns and thinks the tour is a great way to bring more people in to see the state.
“I think it’s great for the state because the more people see, especially outer Nebraska, the more they’re going to realize this is absolutely one of the most beautiful states in the country,” Baylor said.
The AKSARBEN Foundation, along with Nebraska Farm Bureau and the Nebraska Association of Fair Managers, announced 138 honorees for the 2018 Nebraska Pioneer Farm and Nebraska Heritage Farm Awards. These awards recognize Nebraska farm families who have consecutively held ownership of land in the same family for at least 100 years (Pioneer) or 150 years (Heritage), respectively.
Five Antelope County families will be honored with Pioneer Awards this year: Gordon C. Baker; Sharon A. Klein, Linda L. Varn, Larry A. Braband and Kathy M. Fullerton; Clee and Monique Wolske and Randy Kossmann; Clifford and Carol Strahm; and Heithoff, Inc.
Since its inception in 1956, nearly 10,000 farm families statewide have received the Nebraska Pioneer Farm Award. The Nebraska Heritage Farm Award, established in 2014, has been awarded to nearly 75 farm families. “We look forward to recognizing and awarding these Nebraska farm families each year. The dedication and perseverance demonstrated by these families is a testament to the strong Nebraska values that set our state apart and have been making AKSARBEN proud, for over 120 years,” said Sandra Reding, AKSARBEN Foundation President.
Partnering with AKSARBEN in sponsoring these awards each year, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson has said, “Nebraska Farm Bureau is proud to help sponsor these farm family awards. Nebraska Farm Bureau’s heritage and continuous mission is to serve Nebraska farm and ranch families, and these awards recognize the commitment to preserve and build Nebraska agriculture for future generations.”
Each honoree receives an engraved plaque and gatepost marker as permanent recognition of this milestone. The awards are presented during the annual county fair in which the land is located.
Local Pioneer Awards honoring 100 years:
Antelope County - Gordon C. Baker
Antelope County - Sharon A. Klein, Linda L. Varn, Larry A. Braband and Kathy M. Fullerton
Antelope County - Clee and Monique Wolske and Randy Kossmann
Antelope County - Clifford and Carol Strahm
Antelope County - Heithoff Inc.
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