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Two 2018 Neligh-Oakdale graduates were among the first to test drive the new electric scooters on their college campus this week.
Rachel Higgins and Courtni Heckert, sophomores at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, hopped on the new scooters and cruised around the UNK campus.
Pending contract completion, nine Segway-brand scooters will be available next week for students, staff, faculty and visitors who want to zip around on the two-wheeled transportation devices, according to UNK communications. If the initial launch is a success, up to 11 additional scooters could be added to the rental program.
“One of our biggest goals here at UNK is to keep up with new trends and ensure those offerings are available for students,” said Michael Christen, director of business services at UNK. “We want to meet student demands and be ahead of the game, rather than play catch-up.”
UNK is the first University of Nebraska campus to allow e-scooters.
“They are popular, they add to the student experience and they will set our campus apart from others,” UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen said. “Riding the scooters is a fun, enjoyable experience.”
To rent a scooter, riders must download the Goat mobile app and create an account. Then you simply scan a QR code to unlock the device and away you go. It costs $1 to start a scooter and 15 cents for every minute of use.
A 2016 Neligh-Oakdale graduate was among the graduating class of Northeast Community College’s physical therapist assistant (PTA) program.
Mirissa Hurtig of Neligh was one of 15 students from the Class of 2019 who participated in a recognition ceremony recently where they received their PTA pins before family, friends, faculty and staff in the Lifelong Learning Center on the Norfolk campus.
“As part of their studies, the students took part in 16-weeks of clinical education in order to experience working with patients in hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes, and rehabilitation facilities,” said Tere Karella, faculty member and clinical coordinator for the program.
Karella said students are assigned a clinical instructor who oversees the student during the clinical rotation.
“These clinical instructors are physical therapists and physical therapist assistants who are not paid to be instructors. They volunteer their time with students because they believe in the future of physical therapy,” she said. “Our program would not be in existence if it wasn’t for these clinical instructors.”
The Northeast PTA program worked with over 40 facilities, physical therapists and physical therapist assistants across the United States, most of which are in Nebraska, during the students’ clinical rotation.
Also during the ceremony, Andrea Suhr, faculty member and PTA Club supervisor, outlined the number of meetings, fundraisers, and service learning projects the students took part in over the past year.
Kyle Broadfoot, a physical therapist assistant at Tri Valley Hospital in Cambridge, was the guest speaker at the ceremony.
He told the students professionals like himself learn as much as the students when they work together in clinical education settings.
“(Students) come with a lot of skills and new techniques and we’re always very happy with the things that you teach us. That really speaks to the caliber of this program.”
Broadfoot said the quality of the students who graduate from Northeast is superb and the Northeast PTA program has a good reputation. He told the students, to “be proud of that. Be proud that Northeast is known throughout, not only this state, but across the Midwest as well.”
His wife, Deidra (Brooks) Broadfoot, is a graduate of Northeast’s PTA program.
Paige Wuebben, Hartington, PTA program student president, told her classmates that their instructors have prepared them well.
“All of the sacrifices made were worth it. Because now we are able to go out into the world and do what we love – which is make a difference in the lives of people we encounter. We are the true definition of success.”
Other PTA officers this year were Sara Czarnick, Silver Creek, vice president; Shelby Vesely, Wisner, secretary, Kayla Vancura, Columbus, treasurer; and Rachel Mohlke, Nampa, ID, and Courtney Pick, Hartington, historians.
Other members of the Class of 2019 include Justine Apfel, Norfolk; Brody Forman, McCool Junction; Melissa Franklin, Ainsworth; Trenton Guenther, Niobrara; Haley Haefner, Columbus; Mirissa Hurtig, Neligh; Katie Muehlmeier, Norfolk; Sarah Prohaska, Prague; and Ethan Thomsen, Ord.
Laura Schwanebeck serves as Northeast PTA program director and instructor.
The mobile food pantry, sponsored by various churches, individuals, and businesses in the area, will be dispersing food on Tuesday, Aug. 20, from 4-5:30 p.m. at the American Legion Club in Neligh.
The goal is to provide free food to those whose needs are great and resources are limited without being restricted by income guidelines. Due to liability reasons, recipients will not be allowed in the building until 3 p.m. Please remember to bring your own boxes.
A traffic stop on Highway 14 near Neligh led to the seizure of several ounces of marijuana and charges against a Colorado resident, according to a press release from the Nebraska State Patrol.
Around 8:45 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 10, a trooper stopped a northbound 2000 Toyota Corolla for Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device (Stop Sign) on Highway 14 in the city of Neligh. After making contact with the occupants of the vehicle, a search was conducted. The search of the car resulted in the discovery of several ounces of marijuana located in a bag of dog food.
A passenger in the vehicle, Joshua Person from Julesburg, Colorado, was cited for More Than an Ounce and Less Than a Pound of marijuana. He was given a court date in the Antelope County Court and released.
A Neligh woman was recently recognized with an art education award.
Stephanie Wanek, a staff developer at the Educational Service Unit 8 in Neligh, will be awarded the Prism Award.
Josephine Langbehn and Jody Boyer, co-presidents of the Nebraska Art Teachers Association (NATA), recently announced Nebraska's 2019-20 Art Education award recipients.
The awards will be presented in conjunction with the Nebraska Art Teachers Association fall conference held on September 27 and 28, 2019 in Nebraska City.
A chip seal project began Tuesday morning on Highway 14, according to the Nebraska Department of Transportation.
State road workers will be applying a chip seal from Neligh to the 14-20 junction. Chip seal is an application of an asphalt binder to a roadway surface, followed by aggregate.
The work is anticipated to take three days. One-lane traffic will occur with the use of a pilot car and flaggers. Motorists should expect to see reduced speed, delays and are reminded to drive cautiously through highway work zones.
A Neligh woman thought she was saving money and helping a local business by using the new Cubbys app on her smartphone. Turns out, it was even more beneficial because she won a year's worth of free gas, too.
Lauren Sheridan-Simonsen of Neligh downloaded the Cubby's app and immediately started receiving three cents off of her gas purchases and other discounts on items. She didn't even realize that everyone who downloaded the app in May would be entered into a drawing for $2,600 in free gas.
She was notified recently by email and was presented the gift cards by Cubby's president Delone Wilson and Neligh manager Kevin Socha on Thursday morning.
Wilson said customers are really excited about the app because not only are their coupons and discounts at their fingertips, but it also offers free items. That's not free with purchase, Wilson clarified, those are items people can receive simply by having the barcode on the app scanned at the register.
"Usually we have two to three items in the store that are free on the app," Wilson said. "They just show the app, scan it and it's free. There are several discounts, as well. It's very simple."
Among the discounts are for the kitchen, including Godfather's Pizza. Socha said the Neligh convenience store is back to having the kitchen open every evening.
The second person charged in the murder of Sydney Loofe is asking to have her trial moved out of Saline County, where her co-defendant was convicted earlier this month.
Bailey Boswell, 25, is requesting a change of venue for her trial, which is scheduled for Oct. 15-Nov. 1, in Saline County District Court at Wilber. Boswell has been charged with first degree murder and improper disposal of human skeletal remains.
Earlier this month, her alleged co-defendant, Aubrey Trail, 52, was convicted of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder after a jury deliberated for less than three hours. He has since requested a new trial, claiming his first one was unfair.
Todd Lancaster, Boswell’s court-appointed lawyer from the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, requested a change of venue on Friday, arguing that a trial in Saline County would violate her right to a fair trial by an impartial jury.
Lancaster said the intense local news coverage of several newspapers, as well as local TV and radio stations, had reported hundreds of stories about the case surrounding Trail’s recent trial.
Her attorney wrote, “There is a pattern of deep and bitter prejudice in the venire,” which would be the jury pool.
"The information revealed in the supplemental questionnaires in Aubrey Trail’s case, in the news stories, and comments section of news outlet internet sites, show an atmosphere of hostility towards (Boswell)," Lancaster continued.
State prosecutors have not responded nor has Judge Vicky Johnson yet ruled on the motion for a change of venue. Boswell’s next hearing is set for Aug. 9 in Saline County District Court. She is currently being held without bond in the Saline County Jail.
Neligh-Oakdale will hold a special meeting at the end of the week for the purposes of selecting a superintendent and a director of education for the upcoming school year.
The meeting is scheduled for Friday, July 26 at 7 p.m.
According to the agenda, board members will discuss and/or take action on approving a contract for Bill Kuester as the interim superintendent and Ron Beacom as the director of education.
There will no longer be a Fall Festival or Bread ‘n Jam Festival in Neligh.
On Monday, the Neligh Mill Fall Festival organizers announced that the event has been canceled “due to lack of interest, support and attendance.”
“We thank all that supported us and attended the fall festival, also known as the Bread ‘n Jam Festival, in the last 15 years, but great things sometimes have to come to an end,” the statement read. “But, please continue to support the Neigh Mill, take a tour. It is a treasure right here in Neligh.”
Aubrey Trail’s attorney filed a motion for a new trial in Saline County District Court today, claiming his client didn’t have “a fair trial.”
Trail, 52, was convicted of first-degree murder and criminal conspiracy to commit murder after a nearly four-week jury trial in Wilber.
Ben Murray filed a motion for a new trial at 10:24 a.m. on July 17. The court filing states that there were numerous reasons affecting the defendant’s substantial rights:
Calvary Bible Church is hosting a free one-day VBS on Saturday, July 20th, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Children will explore the truth “God Gives Good Gifts” during this western themed day. All children who have completed Kindergarten to 6th Grade are welcome. Lunch is provided.
Calvary Bible Church is located at 1100 E. 3rd St., in Neligh.
"Mark, did you know there is a dinosaur in the backyard?"
Jennifer Ervin of Neligh didn't think she would ever utter those words, but that was the question she posed to her husband on Tuesday morning.
After a storm blew through Neligh on Monday night, a large green, inflatable dinosaur was lying among the downed debris from the couple's black walnut trees.
Mark Ervin said he spotted it around 8 a.m. when he went out to walk their dog, Sully, but had taken a different route home and had forgotten it was there until his wife asked him about it.
The Ervins are currently keeping the dinosaur safe until it is claimed.
"I used my old skills as a lifeguard to revive and resuscitate him," Mark joked. "I only assume it’s a him... we placed him on our porch in hopes that, should some family be out looking for him, they’d see him and claim him. He’s quite happy here though. I do not discount the possibility, given our proximity to the park, that, like Sully, he got to too big and expensive to feed and was abandoned by the river. Not to mention the imminent threat he may have posed to little children and small dogs…"
In all seriousness, Mark said you may stop by or text him at 402-929-0786 to claim the dinosaur.
The Neligh Public Library invites the public to a free concert on Thursday night, featuring familiar tunes with a tropical twist.
Joey Gulizia will perform music at 7 p.m. in the library using a steel drum, electronic woodwinds and various percussion instruments.
An Omaha native, Gulizia has played music professionally since he was 10 years old. He has worked for the Nebraska Arts Council as an artist-in-schools from 1979 to the present.
In 1996, Gulizia received the Governor's Arts Award for excellence in education. He has performed on many cruise ships and traveled extensively. His music can be heard on jingles for TV and radio and for many CDs.
Library director Jennifer Norton said this program is being brought to the library by a special partnership between the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Library Commission and a number of NAC roster artists who have generously offered to volunteer their services.
"Libraries in communities directly impacted by this spring’s floods are eligible for one free artist program from May through July 31," Norton said. "This program is entirely free of charge to local libraries."
After a special meeting and one-hour executive session Monday night, it is still unclear who will lead the Neligh-Oakdale School District next month.
The board voted 6-0 to create a director of education position on a motion by Cory Furstenau and second by Kenny Reinke after exiting executive session.
Following that decision, board members unanimously approved designating responsibilities for the purposes of hiring the positions of a director of education and an interim superintendent.
However, no one was hired for the positions on Monday.
The positions were created to replace outgoing Supt. Scott Gregory who resigned last month to accept a position at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kan. Gregory's resignation takes effect Aug. 5.
President Ryan Koinzan said he did some research after last week's meeting to determine what the requirements are for a superintendent certification, and since that time, a committee has reviewed "what their options are."
The Neligh Church of Christ will have Vacation Bible School, July 15-18, at the church from 7 to 9 p.m.
Classes will be offered for kids in grades K-6. This year's theme is "ROAR! Life is wild — God is good."
There is no fee to attend; however, there will be a free will offering taken each night with all proceeds going to Group Cares and World Vision to bring health care and food to infants in Zimbabwe.
For more information, please call Cheri Cornett at 402-887-4317 or Carolyn Pedersen at 402-887-4653.
The mobile food pantry, sponsored by various churches, individuals, and businesses in the area, will be dispersing food on Tuesday, July 16, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the American Legion Club in Neligh.
The goal is to provide free food to those whose needs are great and resources are limited without being restricted by income guidelines. Due to liability reasons, recipients will not be allowed in the building until 3 p.m. Please remember to bring your own boxes.
Any weather related changes relating to that day will be announced over the local radio stations and on Facebook by accessing the local newspapers online editions.
The Neligh-Oakdale School Board has set a special meeting to address the superintendent vacancy.
The meeting has been set for Monday, July 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the board meeting room.
Agenda items include “discussion of action: director of education and interim superintendent approval” and “organization of administration and related hiring for established positions.”
After prosecutors successfully got a conviction in the Sydney Loofe murder trial on Wednesday night, her family members said they are overwhelmed with gratefulness for the support they have received.
Here is what they told the ACN on Thursday:
"The family of Sydney Loofe would like to thank the community of Wilber, Saline County, and all of our family and friends in Neligh and the surrounding area for the incredible amount of support that we’ve received throughout this ordeal. We’ve felt nothing but love and appreciated your kind words and generous acts. We would also like to thank all of the law enforcement agencies, the FBI, the Attorney General’s office, and the jurors for all of their hard work. The friendships we’ve made are priceless."
The Sydney Loofe family showed signs of relief as they were spared sitting through more hours of trial Thursday.
Aubrey Trail, 52, waived his right to a jury trial on the aggravation phase, which means a panel of three judges will later decide whether he will receive a sentence of life in prison or the death penalty.
The jury was then excused and thanked for their service.
The jury began deliberations Wednesday afternoon to determine the fate of Aubrey Trail, who is charged with first-degree murder in death of Sydney Loofe.
The jury was handed the case at 3:53 p.m. in Saline County District Court and is now sequestered. Jurors may deliberate until 9 p.m. Wednesday before continuing Thursday, if they have not reached a decision.
There are more than 800 pieces of evidence for the jury to consider in the case.
His attorney advised him against it, but Aubrey Trail was adamant that he wanted to testify in his own defense on Tuesday — his first court appearance since slashing his neck two weeks ago.
"I understand it is your wish to waive your right to remain silent?" Judge Vicky Johnson asked him. To which Trail responded, "It is, your honor."
His attorney, Joe Murray, said his client wished to testify, "despite our wish to the contrary," and he called Trail to the stand.
Trail, 52, and Bailey Boswell, 25, are charged with first-degree murder in the death of Sydney Loofe.
Sitting in a black wheelchair, Trail sat in handcuffs in front of the defense table with two long, red wounds visible on the right side of his neck. Judge Johnson addressed his June 24 “outburst” before the day’s proceedings began.
“You will be restained for the balance of this trial,” she explained. “If you are disruptive again, you will be removed.”
Tuesday started with the prosecution wrapping up its case with more testimony from the state’s witness, FBI agent Mike Maseth. He said several jail letters had been written back and forth between Trail and Boswell while both were incarcerated in the Saline County Jail — some of which were found in the jail library, under the rec room door and in Boswell’s cell. The first one was found in March 2018.
Most of the letters were written by Trail to Boswell, relaying what he told the police and what her story should be when it came to details of Loofe’s death. He instructed her to destroy the letters after she read them.
“Baby, we’ve got to make you look like the victim in this,” he wrote. “We have to make it look like I brainwashed you. We have to make people hate me and feel sorry for you.”
Trail wrote some of the letters in code using a scrambled alphabet and numbers on the first line that corresponded with the letter below it. The letter explaining the code which called Boswell “Bro” was discovered in the jail, which made it possible for Maseth and the FBI to decode the other letters found.
The letter from Boswell appear to be written after she found the decoder, “Hey Daddy. I’m sorry I didn’t catch your letter sooner. The bro threw me off. When you say video, you mean snuff video or porn video? The rest is understood.”
Maseth said Trail used information from each FBI interview to recreate new stories about how Sydney’s death occurred. Maseth said the defendant originally denied any involvement, but his story evolved as he was given more details of police evidence against him. “Sometimes there is information he can glean from me talking to him,” he said. “We talked about going to Clay County, so now this letter is Trail telling her what he told law enforcement.”
After Maseth’s testimony, a break was taken and the state rested. Murray argued that the state hadn’t met their burden of proof, making a motion to dismiss the case. The judge overruled and the jury was brought back into the courtroom.
The defense called its first witness, Terra Gehrig, a friend of Sydney’s. She testified about Sydney’s drug use and the fact that she had used online dating apps before. “For our generation, that’s something that’s normal,” Gehrig explained to Murray.
On the cross examination, Sandra Allen of the Attorney General’s Office asked what she knew about Sydney’s sexual activity. Gehrig said Sydney was “very timid and very shy.”
“She would have to know them for a long period of time,” the witness said.
Allen then presented text messages between Sydney and Gehrig on Nov. 15, 2017, the morning of Sydney’s date with Boswell.
“She said she’s down for anything, so I hope she doesn’t have a boyfriend,” Sydney texted about her date.
Two clerks from the Grand Weaver Hotel in Falls City testified next, claiming they had seen Sydney with Trail and Boswell as early as the spring of 2017.
Trail was the final witness in Saline County District Court that day — where he changed his story once again.
He told a new story of how he met Sydney back in March of 2017. All of his previous statements indicated he hadn’t met her Boswell brought her to their apartment on Nov. 15, 2017. Trail now claims she was crying at the register in Menards and he “saw an opportunity” to have Sydney make phone calls for his antique business. He said she later decided she didn’t want to be involved with their illegal antique business and “it didn’t end well.”
Trail claims Boswell later reconnected with Sydney on Tinder, but Sydney didn’t recognize her at first because her photo didn’t resemble her. He said she “freaked a little” when she realized it was Boswell picking her up on Nov. 14, but then she “calmed down.”
After Boswell picked up Sydney for their second date on Nov. 15, Trail said Sydney wanted to talk to him so they drove to Wilber.
“I wanted to talk to her after the way it ended last time,” he said. “Sydney’s problem was she was too sweet. She didn’t really fit in with us, but Bailey really liked her.”
Trail said Sydney shut off her phone about an hour after she arrived at their Wilber apartment.
Then he changed his story another time. Trail said Sydney didn’t die as a result of a sexual fantasy gone wrong with two other girls present.
He said his previous story was “total bullsh--,” a “total fabrication.” Trail said it was just the three of them and he choked Sydney with a gray extension cord, their own sexual fantasy gone wrong. He claims it occurred around 12-1 a.m. Trail has been convicted of 4-5 felonies and said he was worried that no one would believe his story with that kind of a criminal background. He claimed he tried to fit her body in a trunk and when that didn’t work, he dismembered her on the kitchen floor with a saw similar to a hacksaw around 4-5 a.m. Trail said he sent Boswell out for more bleach and trash bags and her remains were bagged and carried out to the car in a plastic tote that afternoon.
He said he had no idea where they were going to dump her remains. Again, Trail changed his story in which he previously stated the body was taken to a sacred place near a cemetery. He said the remains were eventually placed in “high grass” along some country road. Trail claims he later threw out any saws, knives or “anything that looked suspicious” in a wooded field between Plattesmouth and Nebraska City.
His attorney asked him how people are supposed to know if he’s telling the truth this time and Trail replied, “You have to decipher what you believe.”
On the cross, Doug Warner of the Attorney General’s Office said that every time new information comes to light, Trail feels the need to come up with another explanation.
“Isn’t true, Mr. Trail, that your performance today is your biggest con?” Warner asked. “That you are just going to throw sh-- at the wall and see if it sticks?”
“I don’t care what you believe,” Trail responded.
At the adjournment, the judge told the jury that evidence will finish up on Wednesday, followed by closing arguments. She will then instruct the jury on the law before they begin deliberations. The judge asked them to pack a suitcase, “enough for two nights.”
As evidence from Sydney Loofe’s autopsy was revealed Monday, one of her murder suspects was once again absent from his own trial.
Aubrey Trail “has decided not to appear again today” Judge Vicky Johnson told the jury in Saline County District Court when the proceedings resumed after the four-day weekend.
Testimony centered around Sydney’s cause of death and the tools used in her dismemberment as the prosecution neared the end of its witnesses.
FBI agent Mike Maseth testified again as Tinder and text messages were briefly discussed. He said Trail’s co-defendant Bailey Boswell created the Twitter account “Audrey” — the account she used to communicate with Sydney — on Nov. 8, 2017. This was exactly one week before their final date.
Nov. 15, 2017 was also the day Boswell texted K.B., “I won’t see you. I will be busy for the next few days.” Maseth said that text was sent at 10:34 a.m.
One minute after that text, Trail and Boswell checked out at Home Depot in Lincoln with a hacksaw and replacement blades, a box cutter, blades for a utility knife, a 3 pack of plastic drop cloths and tin snips.
Sydney’s dismembered body was discovered in rural Clay County on Dec. 4, 2017. Pathologist Dr. Michelle Elieff conducted her autopsy on Dec. 7, she said.
Before Elieff took the stand on Monday, the judge warned the jury.
“It may be difficult to look at some of these photos, but it’s important that you understand the state’s contention,” Johnson said.
Screens projecting the photos were pointed towards the judge and jury. The one facing the audience was shut off.
Elieff walked the jurors through a Powerpoint presentation of the autopsy. She said the body was dismembered into at least 14 pieces, 13 of which were found. In her findings, Elieff said she discovered possible signs of a struggle, including blunt force trauma on the top of her head near the back, a torn earlobe, broken hyoid bone in the neck, abrasions and bruising on her back and ligature marks on the tops of her wrists.
“She died of homicidal means, including strangulation,” she said. Elieff continued by saying “homicidal means is a death at the hands of another.”
When Trail’s attorney, Joe Murray, cross examined her, he suggested that some of the injuries could also be consistent with “rough sex” or “erotic asphyxiation,” including the broken bone in her neck.
“The hyoid bone is deep into the tissue of the neck,” Elieff countered. “It would be very uncommon to fracture it. Very uncommon for mutual consent.”
Dr. Steven Symes, a forensic anthropologist and tool-marking expert, conducted studies on Sydney’s remains after the autopsy was complete. During his testimony, he also had photos of his work and demonstrated where cuts were made on a skeleton model.
Symes determined that three tools were used in her dismemberment: a knife, a hacksaw and a scissor-like cutting tool similar to one used to cut trees.
He said the hacksaw likely had a blade with about 24 teeth per inch.
Mike Guinan of the Attorney General’s Office presented a hacksaw like the one Trail and Boswell purchased at Home Depot on Nov. 15, 2017. Symes said it was consistent with the classification of saw used in the dismemberment. Guinan introduced the box cutter and tin snips like the ones the couple purchased, and Symes indicated they could be classified as the other two tools used.
When asked how long it would take to complete the dismemberment, he didn’t know an exact amount of time.
“There were a lot of cuts here, so it would take a lot of time,” Symes said. “That’s all I can say.”
He said counting “false stars” and “clean cuts,” he estimated roughly 64 cuts were made.
“That’s more than I usually see,” Symes said.