Ag economy upbeat in 2011, construction projects completed
High commodity prices, and ideal growing and harvesting conditions, buoyed the local economy this past year.
Cattle prices rose and drought and floods, elsewhere in the country, increased demand for grain like corn and soybeans.Local and area contractors kept busy while District 20 completed a $1.1 million renovation project of the Community Building, including an expanded cafeteria, and Gothenburg Memorial Hospital, neared the end of construction of a $2.9 million doctor clinic.
All Points Cooperative finished repairs to bins and elevator legs after two explosions rocked the grain-handling facility a couple of days before the community rang in the beginning of 2011.
Residences and businesses close to the Platte River braced for flooding during spring and summer when above-average snow melt from the eastern Colorado Rockies brought high water to low-lying areas.
More highlights from 2011 include:
First baby of the new year arrived at Gothenburg Memorial Hospital Jan. 3, 2011. Emily Rae, daughter of Wendy Cardenas of Gothenburg was born at 8:06 a.m., weighing seven pounds, five ounces, and was 19 and one-half inches in length. She was welcomed home by five sisters. About two years after the last elevator explosion at Gothenburg’s All Points Cooperative, two blasts rattled downtown businesses once again. On Dec. 29, the roofs of four bins were lifted where explosion vents on elevator legs and roofs bore the brunt of another blast. Officials had not yet known the cause or damage estimates. Members of Gothenburg’s Fire Department were kept busy with the new year. Besides the elevator and a handful of ambulance calls, two fires destroyed local homes. The home of Joe and Patti Herndon received fire and smoke damage from a wood-burning stove, and the home of Kim Nielsen was destroyed when a damaged cord from a television started the blaze.
City crews were called into action when snow began to fall Saturday afternoon. By Monday morning, trucks were transporting loads of snow to a site by the airport from about 10 inches of accumulation. The wintery weather with frigid temperatures also caused numerous accidents with members of the Gothenburg Volunteer Fire Department transporting 17 stranded motorists and assisting with several semi-trucks. Two weeks following the second explosion at the All Points elevator, some operations were able to resume with officials hopeful the cooperative could begin receiving grain again by the next week. The frigid weather had hampered efforts to begin repairs any sooner while the cause of the explosion was still being investigated. Brady was chosen to host the 31st annual Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska (BRAN) 2011. The year’s theme “Killer B Tour” planned to utilize the towns beginning with the letter B. The ride gathers roughly 600 cyclists from 35 different states as well as other countries.
With temperatures in January being conductive to ice skating, local youngsters were seen clearing areas on Lake Helen for skating, creating a winter recreation area. According to Gothenburg Area History book, people have skated on the lake since it was created in 1890. A Gothenburg mother of two, Kim Russman, won $162,000 in the Nebraska Pick 5 game. Russman won the jackpot at Gothenburg’s Time-Saver and planned to use the money for paying off debts. Despite more foreclosures predicted in 2011 nationwide, several local realtors agreed that the crisis had not hit locally. Although sales of homes slowed in 2010, the city’s housing market was considered stable due to Midwestern values. Senior coronation candidates were named including Shelby Eggleston, Janae Wiggins, Jordyn Haake, Kyle Demoret, Cody Ostergard and Tannor Mroczek. A king and queen were to be crowned during coronation ceremonies.
Gothenburg’s City Council members were busy with items that required input by the community. One issue was to gauge whether residents would consider metered water, and another was whether or not to allow for two local bar owners and a restaurant owner to extend hours of selling alcohol until 2 a.m. Gothenburg’s Ray Caldwell received the Lions Melvin Jones Fellowship award. Caldwell was honored for his service to the community by devoting a great deal of time to supporting numerous organizations and activities. Kyle Demoret and Shelby Eggleston were crowned Gothenburg High School coronation king and queen Saturday night after Swede basketball games. Following the royal ceremonies, students celebrated with a dance. Lauren Andres, Gothenburg seventh-grader and a level six gymnast, placed sixth in the floor exercise and was ninth in the all-around competition at the Nebraska Compulsory State Championships in Lincoln.
Gothenburg High School graduates of 2006 and 2002, Levi Fickenscher and Lindsay Evans, were the featured couple in The Times special bridal section. The couple were engaged to be married on March 12 following a creative Post-It Notes proposal. Corey Cooper was the recipient of the 2011 city employee of-the-year award for his leadership as a city worker. Cooper was cited as a hard-worker and a caring individual. District 20 was posed to lose up to $600,000 in state aid next year under budget-tightening proposals in the Legislature. School Superintendent Mike Teahon stated concern but not panic as plans were in place for leaner years. Gothenburg junior Mitch Spiegel joined an elite group of Swede wrestlers after winning his 100th career match at Hastings. Spiegel earned two pins and a forfeit in the 103-pound weight class before pinnig his opponent in his final match for the 100th victory.
A building at the corner of Avenue I and Highway 30 that was once used as a gas station and car repair business, a restaurant, a craft store and temporary store for selling fireworks, as well as the old motel building behind it, were demolished, changing the looks of the corner. Dawson Tire Service Inc. planned to use the area for parking. Average retail gasoline prices continued to rise with Nebraska rising 9.4 cents per gallon over two weeks, averaging $3.22 per gallon. The national average increased 2.9 cents and was 56.7 cents per gallon higher than one year earlier. Gothenburg hunter education instructor Craig Finke received an appreciation honor from members of the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission. Finke had been a volunteer hunter safety teacher with over 20 years of dedicated service. Owner of Lakeside Fun Center Chad Kolbo bowled a perfect 300 game during a Wednesday night league on Jan. 19. The avid bowler had reached the same goal four previous times before but this was the first time at Gothenburg.
A 2008 Gothenburg High School graduate, Alex Peyton, who served in Iraq with the Battlefield Surveillance Brigade in the U.S. Army military, presented an American flag to Gothenburg Public Schools during a ceremony. The flag was flown over the Contingency Operating Base Adder in Tallil, Iraq, and Peyton wanted to present the flag as “a symbol of freedom.” Longtime Gothenburg veterinarian Dr. Roger Dudley, accepted a position as the state epidemiologist for the Bureau of Animal Industry and sold his business, the Gothenburg Animal Hospital, to the owners of Eastside Animal Center with Drs. Randy Burge and Ryan O’Hare. Members of District 20 Board of Education had proposed an expansion to the school’s cafeteria area. Plans included increasing dining space, adding a commons area and moving the kitchen to the south part of the community building as well as updating bathrooms and areas east of the gymnasium.
Gov. Dave Heineman visited Gothenburg Public Schools to present an award for parental involvement at Dudley Elementary. Heineman congratulated the school for how involved its parents and community are with an All Lines Interlocal Cooperative Aggregate Pool award, noting Gothenburg was one of only two schools to receive the award. Owner of Gothenburg Livestock, Wendall Brott, noted he had never seen cattle prices so high during his quarter century in the business. The market was at an all-time record peak, good news for both sellers and buyers. Driving the price surge was cited as low supplies and high demand. Four Gothenburg residents were among 23 individuals from Cozad to North Platte arrested for distribution of controlled substances during a CODE (Cooperative Operation for Drug Enforcement) task force operation. The large bust was executed with an undercover operation that began over one year earlier.
A newly-formed club at Gothenburg Junior-Senior High School was formed, Visual Arts Club (VAC) with 27 members under art director Travis Coe. Members of the club have traveled to Omaha and attended artist shops and museums. A trip to the Denver Art Institute was also being planned. The club offers students a different activity as well as exploring the opportunities available in the field. The Gothenburg Police Department received two hand-held alcohol breath-testing units through a traffic safety grant award. The department was awarded the new instruments to assist their personnel in identifying potential violators by utilizing the latest in technology. With a 49-47 win over Wauneta-Palisade, the 2010-11 Brady girls basketball team earned a return trip to the state tournament in Lincoln. The Eagles team took a 20-4 record into the Class D-2 tournament seeded as eighth. Average retail gasoline prices in Nebraska had risen 15.6 cents per gallon during the previous week, averaging $3.40 per gallon.
Gothenburg, along with Lexington and Cozad, had earned recertification approval for another five years as economic development certified communities. A collaborative effort among the communities helped each town reach the requirements of the program, sponsored by the Nebraska Diplomats. The Sun Theatre was presenting a weekend showing of the movie “Just Go With It,” staring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, in which a local 1988 Gothenburg High School graduate, Ben Gill, had produced some of the music. Gill’s music was present in the movie as well as the trailers. Earning a trophy and individual medals were the Lady Eagles who finished fourth in Class D-2 with coaches Lance Arterburn and Darcee Miller. The Brady team had upset the No. 1 seeded team in first round at state but fell in the semi-finals, finishing the season with a 21-6 record and a state ranking best in school history.
District 20 Board of Education officials okayed plans for a Community Building remodel. Plans include renovating 12,000 square feet of the food service kitchen, cafeteria, concession and restroom facilities. Also included is a remodel of the weight room, adding 750 square feet for more equipment. Officials hoped construction could begin this summer and be finished when school begins in August. The last of the grant money was spent, $1,000,909 was invested by business owners to improve their businesses. Facades and energy-efficient improvements were made. Officials stated the more attractive buildings invite people to the downtown area. The beginning of spring sports season at Gothenburg High School saw 15 returning letter winners on the boys track team, 14 on the girl’s team, and the boys golf team boasted 22 members for the season. Gothenburg Youth Trap Team opened the 2011 Mid-Nebraska Trap Shooting Conference season with 15 team members under new coaches Larry Simants and Allen Jensen.
Gothenburg Memorial Hospital officials donated a gazebo to the City of Gothenburg which was to be placed at the public swimming pool. The gazebo had been on hospital grounds east of long-term care wing and was moved to make room for the new doctor’s clinic. City crews planned to pour a concrete pad south of the pool for the gazebo which will then become part of a fenced-in deck area. Before the demolition and rebuilding for the new doctors’ clinic could get under way, asbestos had to be removed from an area of the south wing which was expected to be completed within one week. Board members signed contracts for $2.9 million project which was under the projected estimates and was expected to take about 10 months to finish. Members of the Swede speech team finished nine points ahead in District B-6 competition and were standing at the top for the fourth year in a row winning the crown, and sending nine individuals in eight events to state competition. Seven Brady speech team members qualified for state competition after capturing the D1-6 crown.
Gothenburg Public Schools boasted two top award recipients among 180 school districts and educational service units at the Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association conference. Randy Evans was honored as principal of the year, and Ernie Blecha was named music educator of the year. Both were also honored at a reception at the high school which gave the public an opportunity to congratulate them. Members of the Gothenburg Volunteer Fire Department recognized those who served including special recognition of three brothers who had served over 40 years each: Larry Franzen, 40 years; Lyle Franzen, 44 years; Dale Franzen, 40 years. Ryan Ostendorf, GHS junior, was selected to attend the American Legion Cornhusker Boys’ State, and Tyrel Grasz was selected to participate from Brady High School. The Swede speech team ended its season by taking runner-up honors during the Class B State Speech competition with a team total of 88 points.
Ground was broken Saturday for the new $3.2 million medical clinic that would be attached to Gothenburg Memorial Hospital where the newly-closed Long Term unit was located. The ceremony featured a number of speakers who keyed on the aspect of investing in the future. The anticipated completion date was set for February of 2012. Gothenburg’s Pamida store welcomed a new manager, Nathan Push. Push, originally of Lincoln, took over managing from Lori Hoesel, who remained as an assistant manager. Before arriving at Gothenburg, Push managed a Pamida store in York, and prior to that was assistant manager in Beatrice. Nebraska corn farmers intended to plant 9.5 million acres of corn this year, an increase of 350,000 acres from one year earlier, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The numbers showed it would be the most corn acres planted by Nebraska farm families since the early 1930’s.
Gothenburg’s Sun Theatre received a facelift with some repairs over the past week. Four new windows were installed with repairs on another along the south and west sides of the building as well as cracks being fixed on the facade. School officials had decided that the land given to the Gothenburg Public Schools Foundation was to be seeded and watered with an underground sprinkler system. The area would also be fenced. The decision was a temporary solution as ideas for the property were three- to 10 years down the road. Students at Brady High School were treated to a sweet prom with the theme, “Candy Land.” The services of a chauffeur with an old-fashioned horse and buggy were offered for couples attending the dance which reflected decorations of the theme. Average retail gasoline prices in Nebraska had risen again 13.4 cents per gallon during the week, averaging $3.81 per gallon. The national average increased 7.7 cents, leaving prices 93.5 cents per gallon higher than one year earlier.
For the fifth consecutive year, the Gothenburg Times took top honors in its circulation class in the Nebraska Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest. The Times earned 24 total awards, the most ever for the newspaper, during the annual NPA convention in Lincoln. Honors included nine first place awards, 11 seconds and four thirds. The 2011 Gothenburg High School junior/senior prom took place Saturday with the theme, “It’s All About Tonight.” Class members met for punch parties prior to the banquet and dance at the homes of Roger and Kayleen Dudley and Tim and Trish Maline. Swede eighth grader Tiani Reeves set a new record for Gothenburg junior high girls long jump with a mark of 18 feet, four inches. Not only did Reeves surpass her own record for junior high girls but also jumped farther than any Gothenburg High School girl in the school’s history.
The annual First State Bank Easter egg hunt took place at the city four-plex where three age divisions scrambled for candy and coins contained in plastic eggs. Three bikes were also given away in each age group to children who found special eggs. During a final vote of whether or not to increase hours of alcohol sales in Gothenburg, City Council members passed the proposal with a vote of three to one. The proposal had prompted much discussion and testimony for the past three months. With its passage, new hours were to be 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 10 p.m. on Sundays. Gothenburg Public Schools and the Brady library were informed they were to each receive some of a $1 million grant through the Union Pacific Foundation for the Principals’ Partnership program. Funds were being planned to send GHS principal Randy Evans to a summer conference, and help to put new energy-efficient siding on the Brady library building.
Members of District No. 20 School Board accepted a bid for the cafeteria expansion and community building remodel project. A $1.1 million bid was accepted fro Paulsen, Inc. with demolition of the cafeteria to begin as early as the following week with completion set for Aug. 17. According to officials of the Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District, stream flows in the Platte River basin were to remain high all summer, continuing our constant flood watches/warnings. Snow pack in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Wyoming—with runoff that feeds the North and South Platte rivers—were far above average at 171% of normal, pointing to a lot of water coming down the river all summer. The Swede boys track team left a unique mark on the Gothenburg program earning four straight Southwest Conference titles with a blowout win scoring in each of the 17 event and multiple medalists to finish with 188 team points.
One of the largest classes in recent Gothenburg High School history was to take a final stroll together during graduation ceremonies. Seventy-nine graduates were to gather May 15 for commencement in the Community Building. Opening remarks were to be presented by Haydon McKenney with Tanner Schwanz to give the closing address. Class members chose colors of dark purple and metallic silver with a tiger lily as the class flower. Gothenburg was one of 33 locations included in the 2011 Nebraska Passport program, which promotes opportunities for summer across the state. Travelers were encouraged to pick up a souvenir passport, and to win prizes and collect stamps from each location visited. Delaney Harm of Gothenburg and her father Jeff Harm won the parent/youth division of the Nebraska State Final Family Doubles Bowling tournament. The pair were qualified to compete at the state division in Louisville, KY. Three Gothenburg bowlers also earned scholarships including Harm, Drake Brand and Shelby Johnston.
With up to 2,500 cubic feet of water per second expected to roar down the Platte during the upcoming week, dwellers along the Platte, including KOA Campground owners Barry and Gwen McDiarmid, were hoping that it would not flood too badly. Above average snow melt from the eastern Colorado Rockies was causing the areas along the river to be affected. The stone marker entrance sign at the south entrance into Gothenburg received a new larger “Welcome” plastic sign which was attached to the stone marker. Information letters were made taller by sandblasting and painted to make them more visible to motorists. Eight Swede boys, four individual boys and two relay teams, earned a trip to compete at state track and field competition in Omaha. Three senior Swede girls would also be competing at state as well as 11 Brady Eagles who were sending athletes in nine events.
Dawson County received an “A” for its economic health. Based on increased valuation of property in 2010, county assessor officials remarked that the local economy remained in good health compared to most of the rest of the nation and even eastern Nebraska. The overall valuation for Nebraska increased 4.8% compared to 6.9% in Dawson County. A Gothenburg attraction was featured in the May/June 2011 issue of Nebraska Life Magazine. The 17-page article entitled, “Living Large in Nebraska” took readers along on a mission to determine how we were living it up in Nebraska with a list of the top 20 attractions. Topping the list was the world’s largest plow, on display at Gothenburg’s Sod House Museum. Members of the Swede boys track team finished fifth in Class B of the state championship meet with 29 total points, the best state finish since 2003. Placing in the girls state track meet was Gothenburg’s Joslyn Oliver who finished second in the Class B high jump and earned her fourth state medal.
The annual Memorial Day program was conducted at the Gothenburg Cemetery with contributions from veterans organizations and young people from the community. Mike Sayer served as master of ceremonies and Bill Hayward provided the invocation. Some of the property for business sites in Terry’s Business Park, across the street from the Comfort Suites Hotel, was under water due to a release from Lake McConaughy into the Platte River. Flooding had also occurred in the KOA Campground and properties in low areas in south Gothenburg with more flooding expected by the weekend. A total of 38 teams battled extremely windy conditions for the 18-hole Memorial Day four-person scramble golf tournament at Wild Horse Golf Club. The team of Preston Foser, Josh Weaver, Brian Schimick and Mike Shore breezed to the title shooting a 56 for a five-stroke victory. Gothenburg’s Jamey Kennicutt had picked up his first IMCA Northern SportMod A Feature win at the Dawson County Raceway in Lexington.
As more water was expected to arrive in the area, workers from the Nebraska Department of Roads were out in force south of Gothenburg creating a berm and building up an access road that wound north and west of K.O.A. Campground/British Imports Store in an effort to protect I-80 from flooding. For the first time in its 32- year history, the National Pony Express Association had decided to postpone the annual re-enactment of the famous mail ride due to an outbreak of a dangerous and contagious equine virus. Officials postponed the event until August to allow for the incubation period of the virus. Bicycle riders from Nebraska and several other states turned the football field in Brady into their own tent village on Saturday as the 31st Bike Ride Across Nebraska (BRAN) kicked off in Brady with more than 800 riders, staff and crew on a seven-day journey to Waterloo.
A local couple organized a clothing drive to help victims of the May 22 tornado that devastated Joplin, MO. Craig and Kassy Wilson were overwhelmed with the amount of donations and drove a 20-foot trailer, filled with 16,000 pounds of clothing, bedding and towels, to Joplin. A new building was under construction at the Gothenburg Airport at Quinn Field. Work was underway on a new 9,480 square-foot hangar that could house six planes with additional space for storage. The airport currently had three hangars but was in need of more space. A total of 45 new trees were planted along Highway 47 from I-80 interchange to 10th Street. Planting the trees to enhance the entrance into town was part of the city’s comprehensive plan. A new larger scoreboard was installed at Gothenburg High School’s football field. The 25-foot board could also communicate with the schools’ track timing system to display winning times during meets. Future plans included raising funds to add a message board.
Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were meeting with city officials and property owners to share information and predictions of what could come as water levels were high all around the city, and were expected to remain high. Corps were expecting water to reach between the 10-year and 50-year flood stage. Branches from trees in Ehmen Park as well as around town were being hauled away while several trees were stripped of branches during a thunderstorm that produced 43 mph winds. Gothenburg emerged unscathed, however, from the storm system that spawned several tornadoes, hail and heavy rains throughout central Nebraska. A newly formed church called Trinity Lutheran Church was locally organized. Russell Saltzman of Kansas City, MO, was called to help members as a temporary pastor, advisor and mentor. The group had been meeting at the Seventh-day Adventist Church until a permanent worship space could be obtained.
Youth were appearing throughout the city with a new summer activity. A snowboard on wheels, a RipStik called an XBoard. The newest summer-time toy was a two-wheeled board that resembled a skateboard. It had two platforms called decks joined by a metal bar with two wheels that rotated independently. The activity was comparable to snowboarding or surfboarding. Members of the newly reorganized Gothenburg Roping & Riding Club were readying the grounds for the Pony Express Rodeo on July 3 and 4. Volunteers worked on repairing bleachers and putting on a new red roof and fresh paint to the announcer’s booth. The rodeo each night was to begin with mutton busting and a calf scramble. Sixty-one cars, pickups and motorcycles filled two city blocks at Ehmen Park and attracted a large crowd to raise nearly $2,000 for the first Classic Cars For A Cure car show. Proceeds were to benefit the 17th Annual American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Dawson County.
Gothenburg celebrated the July 4 holiday with several activities including a barbecue and the annual Pony Express Rodeo. The celebration ended with a fireworks display at Lake Helen by members of the Gothenburg Volunteer Fire Department. The Monsanto Learning Center, which opened just two years earlier south of Gothenburg, earned a global award for game-changing initiatives in agriculture. Chandler Mazour, manager, received the Sustainable Yield Pledge Award which was for second place in a 130-nominee category for the center’s water conservation and nitrogen utilization as more yields with fewer inputs. Gothenburg’s Sun Theatre received a new look with a fresh coat of paint after a refurbishing project that included masonry repair as well as the replacement of windows. The project cost $5,000 and was done to protect the structure of the aging building as well as for aesthetics.
Members of Gothenburg City Council voted to bury overhead power lines underground, if homeowners agreed to the project. If not, electric poles and lines would become the property of homeowners and their responsibility to maintain. The council also decided to pay up to 75% of the cost of conversion. Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality officials confirmed that a type of blue-green algae had been detected in Lake Helen. The algae can cause sickness in humans and potential death to animals that drink the water. As a result, city officials erected a sign warning residents of the possible dangers. In their final regular-season match up of the summer, the Gothenburg Juniors baseball team took a 5-11 record into the American Legion Area 6 tournament. Members of the Senior Melons team ended their regular season with a 16-2 record and a 12-game winning streak to enter the tourney seeded seventh in Area 6.
Forty youngsters, who were to begin kindergarten in the fall, enrolled at Gothenburg Public School’s Kindergarten Jump Start program, which debuted the previous year. The program teaches academics and social skills as well as school routines such as how to stand in a line. Members of the Children’s Acting Troupe presented, “The Granny Awards” at the Gothenburg Public School Performing Arts Center. The production featured over 50 area youths and marked the final performance of the group, which had entertained audiences for many years under the direction of Ernie Blecha and Trudy Else. The Gothenburg TeamMates mentoring program turned 10 years old and the group was to celebrate the milestone with members of the team who got the program started. The “Perfect 10” anniversary celebration coincided with the 10th annual Adrian Fiala Husker Heritage Golf Tournament at Wild Horse Golf Club.
Gothenburg’s new airport manager accumulated 32,687 flight hours, has owned 52 helicopters and another 50 fixed-wing aircraft. Dennis Brown and his wife, Carol, came to Gothenburg after living in the Canadian Arctic, Alaska, Mexico, Guam, Wyoming and Estes Park, CO. Brown also wrote the pilot for the popular television series “Northern Exposure,” based on characters he knew in Talkeetna, AK. As of Oct. 1, the city building inspector would no longer locate property stakes for residents, as the decision was made by members of the city council. Reasons stated included potential liability issues and the time spent. Property owners were being encouraged to seek a surveyor. The Dawson County Fair proved successful for area 4-H members in spite of excessive hot temperatures. Some top competitors included Holly McPheeters who earned a purple ribbon for a flower arrangement and Emily Keiser’s steer was reserve champion market beef while 11 Gothenburg 4-H’ers won Clover Four honors.
City of Gothenburg employee of 38 years, Connie Dalrymple, was honored and received a plaque for being named West Central Nebraska Development District’s Clerk of the Year. “Gothenburg is fortunate to have a clerk with Connie’s professional qualities and abilities,” said CJ Poltack of WCNDD. A public hearing was set for Sept. 1 for a special use permit by the Geronimo Wind Energy company to construct a meteorological tower south of Gothenburg. The 197-foot tower would record sustainable wind for a possible wind farm location. Dawson County’s Relay for Life event took place at the Haymaker Stadium in Cozad, chaired by April Headley of Gothenburg. This year’s fund raising had exceeded the goal with $95,528 raised. Construction of a 9,480 square-foot hangar was completed at Quinn Field at the Gothenburg Airport. The new hangar had space for six bays as well as storage area. The old hangar was to be demolished to provide space for tie-down aircraft.
The former District 100R school building, located four miles north of town, was sold to Wesley and Brandon Block. Members of District 20 school board accepted the bid from Blocks who purchased the building for personal use. Four computers, the city’s power load management and fire alarm systems were zapped by a lightning strike July 27 at the city building. As of Friday, the fire alarm and security systems were repaired and officials were to replace the computers and fix the load management system as soon as possible. Wild Horse Golf Club crowned a new club champion of Jeff Holsten of Gothenburg who captured the men’s title with an 18-hole score of 68. Theresa Coyle of Gothenburg won the women’s championship title after shooting an 18-hole gross score of 80. Gary Fritch, also of Gothenburg, won the silver tee flight and shot a hole-in-one on hole No. 4 during the competition.
For the fourth month in a row, Gothenburg’s net taxable retail sales grew by double digits at 11.4% over the same time frame a year earlier. It was also the 10th month in a row of positive growth for Gothenburg. Two new teachers joined Gothenburg Schools. Tom Scott of Valentine will be teaching social studies in grades 10-12. Scott will also be the new head wrestling coach. Amy Harrison, a Gothenburg para educator for the past three and one-half years, will be the new high ability learning teacher. Brennan Costello, 2011 graduate of GHS, earned the degree of premier distinction from the National Forensic League, highest degree of membership in recognition of sustained excellence. The achievement placed him at the top half of one percent of student members. With the first winning season since 2006 and the best record over the past decade, the Senior Melons ended their season at 18-4. The team boasted a 12-game winning streak over the summer and the No. 1 seed in Class B Area 6 tournament. Although just short of their state goal, team members could be proud of a great season.
First day enrollment at District No. 20 decreased 12 students with a total of 900 students K-12. Enrollment numbers had steadily increased at Gothenburg Schools for the past 10 years, however, the graduation of last year’s largest class had been a factor in the decrease on the first day of school this year. The seventh grade boasted the largest number of students at 75 followed by 72 in the 10th grade. Personalized service with extensive global knowledge meet under one roof at RTI, a new computer business in Gothenburg. The new business opened on the west side of the Skyview Farms building at 717 Eighth St. with manager Brett Meyer and sales consultant Kayla Willis. RTI is owned by Skyview owners Koby and Carrie Rickertsen with five employees including two technicians. Riders involved in this year’s re-ride of the Pony Express exchanged mail Friday morning at the Midway Station south of Gothenburg. Normally ridden in June, the event was delayed due to an outbreak of an equine virus in May.
District 20 students fulfilled math and reading expectations by meeting and exceeding standards on the state NsEA (Nebraska State Accountability) tests. On a first-ever NsEA math test, local students in third through seventh and 11th grades were above the average state scores. Fifth graders had the highest average in both math and reading. A new committee of Gothenburg Community Playhouse members launched a $100,000 fund drive to raise money for a digital projector, a drop-down screen and other upgrades to the Sun Theatre. The pledge drive was necessary as the 35-millimeter film was set to become obsolete in two years time, and the theatre would no longer be able to show movies. Gothenburg Public School students got their first taste of the newly renovated cafeteria. The completion of an expanded dining hall included renovations of 12,000 square-feet of cafeteria, kitchen and concession areas. Students were to receive more options with three different lines for entrees plus and salad/sandwich bar.
A substantial rise in property valuation in District 20 meant school patrons had the means to pay more to support education, according to how the state-aid formula worked. The proposed 2011-12 budget called for a spending increase of $479,254. Property owners were to also pay more to support city services as the proposed budget was poised to rise nearly 24% with sewer improvements. Residents were also looking at a proposed increase of 6.5% in electrical rates and a 3% rise in water rates. Dawson County got one step closer to being the home of a wind energy farm as county commissioners approved a special use permit for Geronimo Wind Energy to construct a test tower five miles east and two miles north of Farnam. The 197-foot meteorological tower was to measure sustainable wind to determine the best turbine layout to optimize wind power.
Rising above a sea of corn stalks south of Gothenburg was a one-of-a kind structure at the Monsanto Water Utilization Learning Center called a rain-out shelter. The rain-out shelter was likened to a greenhouse without the glass and having world-class automation. Once completed, sensors in the 80x160-foot shelter can detect rain and move the structure over plots to create a controlled environment and monitor exact amounts of moisture to help design drought-tolerant products. As part of a ReTree Nebraska celebration, a walk tour through the trees was planned at Ehmen Park, hosted by members of the Gothenburg Tree Board and Kennedy Landscape Services. Participants were to learn about selecting and caring for plants and were to also take part in planting a black oak tree in the park. Media specialists at District 20 were busy upgrading the curriculum to reflect the needs of the 21st Century digital learners. Adjustments were needed as technology continues to change with a focus on responsible social networking and safe use of the Internet.
Theme of the 97th annual Harvest Festival was in honor of Husker football coach Bo Peline, “Husker ‘Bo’Nanza.” Activities included entertainment, the children’s parade, food booths, games and more as well as the annual Gothenburg parade with the TeamMates mentoring organization as the grand marshal. RTI Computer Sales & Service was judged best business float. City Council members approved $250,000 in sales tax funds to help offset equipment costs of Gothenburg’s Frito-Lay plant who installed a $4 million cleaning system that cleans corn before it goes into dryers, as was the cause of a fire one and a-half year earlier. The new system also insured a better quality and safer product as well as additional safety for employees. Members of Gothenburg’s Airport Authority were looking at a possibility of bringing a CAP (Civil Air Patrol) plane to the city. The patrol is a volunteer search and rescue organization that also encourages people to learn to fly. CAP also offers a cadet program for ages 12 through 20.
According to a report of critical access hospitals, of 1,326 hospitals surveyed about five financial indicators, Gothenburg Memorial Hospital was one of 32 that performed better than benchmark in a three year time-frame. A newly formed color guard at Gothenburg High School gave members a chance to participate in a different kind of extracurricular activity. The color guard group, sponsored by elementary teacher Kara Libich, also performs during half-time at home football games and in parades with the high school band. Homecoming activities were underway at Gothenburg High School with the theme “We Didn’t Start the Fire, but We Are Going to Put it Out.” Seniors chosen as Homecoming candidates were Dane Ehlers, Ernie Galvan, Tyler Aden, Sariad Baca, Makayla Franzen and Erica Houchin. King and queen were to be crowned at the Swede football game against Cozad.
One of Gothenburg’s newest businesses, Dayton Phoenix, had been thriving during the recent economic downturn, in fact, the Gothenburg facility was up to 20 employees with space for more growth. The facility also welcomed a new manager, Michael Griffith, a 1976 Cozad High School graduate. Members of the Gothenburg High School media production class planned, filmed and edited a school promotional video that included students in grades 7-12 to help promote school spirit and show there’s a place for every person at GHS. The video would be posted on the school’s website and be played at school events and graduation as well as a possible post on YouTube. Homecoming 2011 took place with the theme, “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” Crowned king and queen were Ernie Galvan and Saraid Baca after the Swedes shut out Cozad 14-0. Heidi Teahon qualified for the Class C state golf tournament after a 104 total to tie for seventh, ending at eighth place, in the C-4 District meet.
Extreme high winds on Thursday resulted in 60 mph gusts causing numerous problems throughout town including tree and fence damage. The wind gusts also brought an antique World War II fully-restored airplane to Gothenburg as Charlie Gay of Pennsylvania was forced to land at Gothenburg Airport with his 1943 Stinson Gullwing. He remained grounded during the high winds and had to tether his plane to the ground. The City had entered into an agreement with the U.S. Corps of Engineers to evaluate and protect against Platte River flooding in the Gothenburg area through a comprehensive plan. The plan includes assembly and development of scope of future work needed for potential flood risks and recommended projects. A 2008 Gothenburg High School graduate, Skip Hecox, son of Pat and Deb Hecox of Gothenburg was crowned homecoming king at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln during halftime of the Nebraska-Ohio State football game.
The realization that Gothenburg would lose its only theatre without upgrading to a digital projector was the driving force behind a campaign spearheaded by Dudley Elementary students. The “Dimes for Digital” campaign kicked off where students were raising money through chores and community projects as well as competing classes. Over $2,200 had been raised in just two weeks time. High commodity prices were helping Gothenburg area farmers to receive record income for this year’s crop. Also contributing were ideal growing and harvesting conditions. The forecast was predicted at a record $5.4 billion with expectations of remaining strong for two years. The Swedes softball team earned a trip to state tournaments after receiving the C-6 District Championship trophy. The team’s 24 wins were a school record. Gothenburg senior cross country runner Brett Dockweiler won the C-4 District individual title and led the Swedes to a second-place team finish and a trip to state.
The Alpha Club, organized in Gothenburg in 1898, and later became the Gothenburg Women’s Club, had dissolved due to changing times. The club was forced to fold in September from sagging membership. Trudy Greene, oldest member of the organization who joined in 1948, stated that technology has changed communication which had also been a factor in the club’s disbanding. The Farnam Post Office was one of 3,700 the U.S. Postal Service was looking at to discontinue. Sixty-six residents attended an informational meeting to learn how to possibly stop the action, concerned about the closing effects on their town. If the post office was closed, a Eustis mail carrier would deliver to Farnam or they would rent a box in another town such as Gothenburg. Gothenburg senior Brett Dockweiler ended his cross country career with a runner-up finish at the Class C state race, the second best in school history. Dockweiler’s time of 16:26.3 earned him the silver medal.
A balmy Halloween with temperatures reaching 77 greeted over 450 ghouls and goblins downtown Gothenburg during the Munchkins Masquerade, sponsored by the Gothenburg Chamber of Commerce and participating businesses. A new environmental science class at Gothenburg High School provided students the opportunity to begin a new project of recycling. Students made large bins for collecting plastic bottles and once a week collect boxes of used paper to take to the city recycling bins. The Swedes first-round win at the Class C-1 football playoffs added the 100th victory for Coach Craig Haake. Haake began teaching at Gothenburg in 1993 and served as co-head coach with Roger Koehler, who stepped down in 2001. The past 12 of 18 seasons, Haake has led his team into the post-season including a trip to Class C-1 state finals in 2002. Members of the Swede volleyball team ended their season with a record of 12-18, after a second-round loss of the C1-11 subdistrict tournament.
Gothenburg Memorial Hospital officials were expecting to ring in the new year with a new doctor’s clinic as the $2.9 million addition was to be substantially completed by Dec. 30. Once finished, the structure would house room for eight practitioners, 21 examination rooms, two treatment rooms and a laboratory. The former Fiesta Foods grocery store opened after a transformation to expand NSG to the downtown location by Norm and Colleen Geiken and family. The building was remolded to include an atrium, 11 offices, a spacious meeting room, kitchen, a conference and exercise room and more. The meeting room and kitchen facilities were also available to the business community to rent for events. The second round of the Class C-1 state football playoffs saw Gothenburg upsetting undefeated Ogallala with a successful two-point conversion in a quadruple overtime. The Brady girls volleyball team became the D2-5 district champions and qualified for the state tournament in Grand Island.
Dudley Elementary students created cards that they gave to veterans following a program honoring them on Veteran’s Day. Harry Byrd, Jr., a Gothenburg High School graduate and retired U.S. Army sergeant, was the guest speaker. Byrd was in the U.S. Pentagon when the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building on Sept. 11, 2002. The “Dimes for Digital” campaign to help purchase a digital projector for the Sun Theatre, received $1,551 raised by fifth grade students, and a total of $5,213 collected by all the elementary grades. As a reward, the fifth-grade class was treated to a free movie, free popcorn and drinks at the theatre. Members of the Swede football team ended their 2011 season with a 6-5 record after a fall to Minden in the state quarter-finals. A third place trophy and medals capped off the season for Brady Eagles volleyball team finishing with a 27-5 record and a No. 2 state ranking.
Gothenburg youngsters were visited by Runza Rex at the Gothenburg Public Library Story Hour session. Runza Rex presented library officials with a check for $316 to purchase both print and audio books for the children’s library. The local Runza Restaurant raised the funds as part of a national campaign, “Great Books for Great Kids” to promote the importance of reading and literacy. Owners of Gothenburg’s Comfort Suites Hotel, Terry Jessen and Diana Unterseher, were readying a two-acre site north of the hotel to build a new restaurant/sports bar as well as an outdoor patio dinning area and gift store. The couple were challenging Gothenburg Improvement Company stockholders to invest in the upcoming project. Ten Gothenburg football players were recognized among the best in the CI-9 district. Four Swedes earned all-district on offense, three on defense and honorable mention. The Swedes had the second most players receiving votes.
A growing community was one reason for the opening of a new Gothenburg business. Gothenburg Hometown Z Wireless formally opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, located at 925 Lake Ave. The business offers cell phones, accessories and services. Gothenburg Memorial Hospital opened a new room for sleep disorder studies. The local hospital performs an average of six sleep studies per month and were testing on the acute wing where disturbances could be heard. The new room is located in the newly remolded east wing where quiet and comforts greet patients. As part of a fund-raising event to raise money for a digital projector and other improvements to the Sun Theatre, a Gibson guitar autographed by singer song-writer B.B. King, was to be sold at a silent auction. The guitar was made possible by Walter King, nephew of the legendary B.B. King, and his friend, Gothenburg’s Letti Wees.
With Christmas approaching, several activities had taken place in Gothenburg to kick-off the season. Holiday Magic on Main Street brought people to the annual Jingle Bell Parade with rides and visits with Santa Claus. Numerous businesses downtown shared treats during the Tea & Tidbits, and gingerbread houses were on display at the library. Efforts to raise $140,000 for a life-sized Pony Express rider cast in bronze was to begin at a reception Friday. The sculpture is to be erected at Ehmen Park. Nebraska Pony Express Riders Association selected Gothenburg to become the home of the statue, designed by Gary Ginther of Cambride. Ginther also designed small replicas and belt buckles of the statue. Despite their bus breaking down and arriving late, members of the Gothenburg High School one-act cast persevered and placed third at the District B-6 competition. The cast performed “The Adventures of Perseus,” garnering 10 outstanding performer awards.
Barry McDiarmid, operator of KOA Campground, along with his wife Gwen and volunteers, were preparing the area for the annual holiday light extravaganza. Shining Light Christmas light display was celebrating its 10th year anniversary. This year’s event included new donated displays. A Dawson County resident was the new owner of a guitar owned and autographed by famous blues singer B.B. King. The resident’s bid of $8,000 was added to another $17,000 raised at a silent auction event, which brought the new digital projector and improvement project fund-raiser to almost $150,000. Gothenburg City Council members decided that it was not worth narrowing a portion of Lake Avenue nine feet when it’s repaved. Officials planned to re-pave three blocks between Fourth and Seventh Streets and to narrow it to save tax payers money. However, concerns of narrowing the street outweighed on the decision.
Snow for a white Christmas was not expected, according to the National Weather Service of Hastings. Unlike the previous year, when more storm systems brewed, colder air had not moved in to settle like it had during the winter of 2010. On Christmas Day the past year, 50 percent of the United States was covered by snow. This year’s forecast predicted sunny with highs in the 40s. Over 70 families received ingredients for a nutritious holiday meal as a part of the Christmas Food Baskets Program, sponsored by the Gothenburg Rotary Club. Community volunteers packed and delivered the boxes. Nearly $5,000 was raised during this year’s Gothenburg’s Shares campaign. Gothenburg High School English teacher Roxanne Whiting and speech language pathologist Carol Keiser received a grant for learning how to recognize and teach the different learning abilities of students. They will travel to Florida in January to learn more about the method known as differentiated learning and pass that knowledge on to other local teachers.