Local News

2014 Year in Review

Every year, the Hebron Journal-Register takes a look back as we prepare to head into another year of news worthy events. This week marks an end-of-the-year tradition as we begin our look back at 2014. In the first of two parts, we will take a look at some of the happenings that occurred from January to June. Next week, we’ll present the rest of the year (July to December).


The year began with the birth of Kailyn Gehle, the 2014 New Year’s baby for Thayer County Health Services. Kailyn was born on Jan 7, at 5:01 p.m. She weighed nine pounds and one ounce. She is the daughter of Hailey and Brandon Gehle of Byron. A New Year’s basket was presented to the family, filled with items from local businesses and organizations.

Deshler native Sandra Wendell was appointed as a board member to the Nebraska Community Foundation (NCF), a statewide organization using charitable giving to build prosperous communities. It serves over 250 communities. Wendell also serves on the board of directors for Reinke Manufacturing Inc., a company started by her parents in southern Nebraska.

At the Thayer County Courthouse, Vicki Jarchow took over the position as the court’s clerk magistrate.

In late January, high winds created issues for local fire departments and city workers. Sustained winds were 35-45 mph while gusts peaked to 50-60 mph. The county was placed under high wind warning during a field fire northeast of Carleton in Fillmore County as well as a field fire in Jefferson County. The wind also caused a city pole to blow over at a residence on First Street in Hebron.
Carleton native Howard Hawks was elected as the University of Nebraska Board of Regents for 2014. Hawks, of Omaha, represents District 2 and was elected to the Board in 2002. He served as vice chairman in 2013.


In February, long-time barber Don Spitler decided to retire. The Deshler man had kept a barber shop on Hebron’s main street since 1965. Spitler graduated from Lincoln Barber College in 1963 then spent two years working at a Geneva barber shop before purchasing a shop in Hebron. The shop is now owned by Mollie Steirlen as a family beauty salon.
Bruning-Davenport and Thayer Central students visited a S.T.E.M. museum hosted at the Davenport school. During this event, the students participated in activities in science, technology, engineering and math (S.T.E.M.). The Davenport gym was transformed to give students a hands-on museum experience. Children went from table to table and experimented with activities that interested them. It was the first year the schools participated in such a program.

Thayer Central excitedly watched as wrestler Cody Krula brought home first place in the 152 weight class at state. Supporters traveled all the way to Omaha to watch Krula compete. Krula faced Bailey Fletcher of Scribner-Snyder then went on to wrestle Tony Steinkraus of Plainview in the semifinal round. In the final round, he competed against Garrett Sonderup of Fullerton.


Thayer County Health Services hired Dr. Randy Waldman in March of this year as a new physician. He graduated from the Texas Tech School of Medicine then practiced in El Paso, Texas, for 18 years. Waldman then moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., where he worked in urgent care before moving to Hebron. Waldman and his wife decided it was time to leave Colorado when the cost of raising their horses there became too high. They now live on a farm just north of Hebron.

The Thayer County Sheriff’s Office was chosen for a $1,800 highway safety grant to assist in obtaining two mobile radar units. The grant was awarded to “prevent traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities at various locations throughout the area,” according to Fred Zwonechek, Nebraska Office of Highway Safety administrator. The mobile radar speed detection equipment provides the Sheriff’s Office with a state of the art system that was to enhance speed control efforts.

The Thayer Central Mixed Chorus traveled to Lincoln to perform at the State Capital. They performed on March 6 as part of the Nebraska Music Education Week at the Capital.

Six Thayer County residents were chosen to go on the Korean War Veteran Honor Flight on March 25. Three of the six were war veterans while the other three were sponsors who helped with fund raising efforts to make the trip possible. Max Gausman of Chester, Kenneth Kerwood of Bruning and John Levendofsky of Hebron were the veterans selected to go. Allison Tietjen and Anne Heitmann who helped with fund raising efforts at Thayer Central schools were asked to go as well as Marge Vieselmeyer of Chester. 460 veterans from 200 towns were asked to the honor flight. Three planes total were filled with sponsors and veterans all from different military branches during the Korean War. After the planes landed in Washington, D.C., the visitors were taken to see the Korean War Memorial, Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam War Memorial.

Twenty-six area students  headed to the Nebraska State Speech Championships on March 28. Twelve of those students were from Bruning-Davenport, six were from Thayer Central and four students were from Deshler. Bruning-Davenport came home with a first place finish. The competition was held at the University of Nebraska-Kearney.

The end of March also marked a busy time for firefighters. On March 26, a number of grass fires broke out in Thayer County. Windy conditions and dry air contributed to the fire danger. One of the biggest fires took place six miles south of Deshler. The Deshler Fire Department as well as those from Hebron, Byron, Carleton, Chester and Shickley helped get the blaze under control. The fire burned 400 acres. Later, firefighters from Hebron, Gilead and Belvidere were called to a fire near Willard Park where flames had rekindled from a previous fire. Around that same time, Davenport Fire was called out to a grass fire near Road 4500 and Road Y then to another fire near Road 5100 and Road U. Carleton Fire was also called for mutual aid.


April marked the end of a historic barn that sat near Bruning since the turn of the century. The old building was torn down after being in the area since 1905. Originally, the barn was located in Bruning as a livery barn but was moved outside of Bruning in the 1930s. The barn was considered a landmark for the Bruning community.

Seth Wiedel of Hebron and Emily Wong were named Nebraska Male Female Student Athletes of the Year at the Student-Athlete Recognition Banquet Lincoln. Over 700 people attended the 24th annual banquet which announced the most prestigious team awards. Wiedel was NU’s recipient of the Big Ten Medal of Honor. It is the college’s most exclusive award and the first of its kind. It is to recognize student athletes for academic and athletic excellence. Wiedel and Wong were the fifth and sixth Huskers to earn the honor since Nebraska joined the Big Ten Conference in 2011.


In May, Thayer Central was listed as one of the best high schools in Nebraska in a report from the U.S. World and News Report. The report was based on scores of student to teacher ratio and math and reading proficiency tests. Thayer Central had 77 percent proficiency in reading which gave them a 3.2 score on the report’s scale. In math, Thayer Central had 73 percent proficiency which gave them a 3.2 rating. The school also had a ten to one student/teacher ratio which earned it a bronze ranking.

Patrons of Thayer Central Community Schools also chose not to allow a $12.9 million renovation bond during the primary election. The vote was very close but ended any forward movement of the plan by only 45 votes. School officials stated they would use an approximate $6 million contingency plan instead for improvements.


June witnessed the retirement of County Court Judge J. Patrick McArdle of Wilber, Ne., after more than 31 years on the bench. Judge McArdle served on the county court in Wilber and the surrounding counties since 1983.

The Thayer Central Titans golf team defended its state title by winning the Class D NSAA Golf Tournament at the Kearney Country Club links. The team finished its first 18 holes on day one with 332 for the lead and a two-point advantage going into day two.

In 2014, Hebron recovered from its lost status as having the world’s largest porch swing. Hebron forfeited the title to Rob Mahy of Meaford, Ontario, Canada, in 2012. In March, the Revitalize Hebron committee decided to transform Hebron’s main attraction by adding the porch to the swing. Brad Kent, of Kent Construction, spent several weeks in June at Roosevelt Park putting a porch on the Hebron swing. Volunteers and city workers also came up the weekend before July 4 to paint and stain the swing for the city’s Independence Day celebration.

The Hebron City Council approved plans for the Stastny Community Center during its June meeting. JEO Consulting Group representatives presented a finalized outline of the 10,935 square foot pre-manufactured metal building to the board. The cost range was sited between $1.6 million and $1.8 million while construction costs and furnishings would range from $1.8 million to $2 million. The project is still under construction.

The Hebron Senior Legion games took place in June at the Hebron Sports Complex. Six teams competed at the baseball games including Bruning-Davenport/Shickley, Concordia, Doniphan-Trumbull, Geneva, Sutton and Hebron. Funds collected from the event went toward the American Cancer Society. Renovations were made for the tournament including taking down the outfield fence and replacing it with a heavier fence and raised it from four to six feet tall. New bullpens were also built next to the dugouts for pitchers to warm up in.

Follow up next week to review the 2014 year from July to December.

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