Local News

Highlights of the 2014 Year Part Two

This week we continue our year in review with a look at the second half of 2014.


Thayer County Commissioners named George Gerdes as the new roads superintendent. Gerdes, who was previously the assistant superintendent of the county department, replaced retiring Richard Heinrichs. Gerdes started on the grading crew with Heinrichs 16 years ago. He became the assistant superintendent 14 years ago.

Chester artist Cindy Chinn created a 8 x 10 foot acrylic mural for the newly restored Majestic Theatre. The mural is set at a backlot of a western film in production. She personalized the canvas using people she knows such as her artistic partner Art Whitton, shown as the cameraman, and her brother Allen Chinn, shown as the sound man.

The 2014 Cornhusker State Games, the state’s biggest amateur sporting event of the summer, 14 athletes represented the county at the 30th annual state venue. Contestants from Thayer County competed in five sporting events including archery, bowling, Energy 5K, Energy Walk, and track and field. Represented communities included Davenport, Deshler, Hebron and Hubbell.

The Thayer Central Board of Education accepted a $21,450 bid from True View, a security company providing a new security camera system for the school. The agreement was originally for 31 cameras but by the end of the meeting, the board approved an additional six outside cameras. In keeping with security, the board also discussed transitional changes for the school parking lot to accommodate a safe way for students to cross between buildings. Students were using a crosswalk to walk from  the elementary building to the high school building. Officials chose to put up a barrier for the crosswalk.


In August, Hebron saw the retirement of bakers Randy and Diane Smith. Diane got her first job in what was the Wilcox Bakery in Hebron when she was in high school. At Fairbury College she met Randy Smith, a young man who just happened to be raised in the bakery business. The two married a few short months later and took over the Fairbury bakery in 1979, and in 1983 gained the one in Hebron. The Smiths hung up their aprons for good  on Aug. 9 and closed the local business.

The Thayer County extension board celebrated 100 years of education this year. Extension boards were started in 1914 through the Smith-Lever Act and Rep. A.F. Lever of South Carolina. The act was established as a means of placing professional educators in local communities to improve lives.

Hebron resident Dru Melvin qualified for both the National Finals Rodeo and Canadian finals. Melvin is a professional bulldogger, which means he wrestles 450 to 650 pound longhorn steers to the ground on the run. As of August 25, Melvin is fourth in the PRCA World standings. NFR took  place at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, the 10-day event kicked off Dec. 4. Melvin competed at the venue eight years ago; however, his shoulder was in a brace due to an injury.


Hebron Secrest Library applied for and was awarded a Libri Grant from the Libri Foundation, a national non-profit organization that donates new, high quality children’s books to small rural public libraries through its “Books for Children” program. The Libri Foundation provides all participating libraries with a book list of about 600 titles to make selections. The Foundation will match sponsorship funds up to $350 on a two-to-one ratio. Local residents Jeremy and Jeannine Voss offered to fund the grant sponsorship portion in full.

Carleton’s Milo Day celebration returned this September and with it, the Milo Queen contest. Since 1953, the Milo Queen contest has been a tradition of Milo Day in Nebraska’s Milo Capital, Carleton. The contest allows high school junior and senior young women to participate in an afternoon of interviews, evening gown, fun activities and a community service project. This year, Megan Swartzendruber (Miss Shickley) was crowned Milo Queen.

The Hebron City Council approved a project to widen Dove Road for better access to the proposed community center. The project will cost approximately $121,746. The narrow roadway into Hebron’s business area in the northern part of town is viewed as confusing for many drivers and widening the road with turn lanes should alleviate the confusion. Hebron’s project is to simply make a wider area for traffic to either turn into the community center driveway which will be located on the north side of Dove Road, or the business plaza driveway already located on the south side of the road.

On Sept. 8, the Hebron City Council chose not to pass an ordinance that would prohibit body art establishments in Hebron. The council was split in its decision: Representatives Kurk Wiedel, Robert Dodes and Larry Fangmeier voted yes to prohibit such establishments while Doug Huber, Rich Koch and Jay Bauer voted no. Mayor Shane Day broke the tie by voting no to the prohibition. Deshler also did not pass the ordinance. Some were not so supportive of the decision, however, and a petition was circulated around Hebron calling for a special meeting with the council. However, at the meeting, the city council stuck to their decision and chose to still allow for body art establishments.

The Thayer County Board of Commissioners resolved to change the property tax request for the next budget year, beginning July 1. The commissioners resolved to increase the property tax by three percent. The levy went down from 23 to 17.

Local health care and emergency service professionals, as well as  those from several other professions, came from all over the state to train at Thayer County Health Services for hazmat safety response course. The Hospital First Receiver Course worked with health professionals on how to properly handle situations involving hazardous and toxic materials. The most common for these professionals to see in this area is farm chemicals.Because of the expenses, only three of these classes are offered a year. “Victims,” covered in a dark mystery liquid, approached the suited trainees. The volunteers were given bright yellow bracelets and had to remove all clothing before stepping into nearby tents for the next phase (volunteers wore swimsuits underneath their clothes). While in the tents, the victims were immediately rinsed off so all traces of chemicals were removed from their skin and hair.


In October, the Hebron Journal-Register decided to do something unique in honor of breast cancer awareness month. The paper was printed on pink paper and focused on TCHS radiologists’ efforts to bring awareness and education about breast cancer featured local breast cancer survivor, Brenda Kerns.

A groundbreaking ceremony for Region V was held on 2nd Street and Olive Avenue. The location is for a new service building for the organization. Region V is a community based organization that provides support for individuals with developmental needs.

The District One Probation team volunteered to clean out the upper level of the Hebron Blue Valley Community Action building. The probation team, which covers 11 counties, scrubbed and swept the space as part of “pay it forward” projects they do.

Harvest was in full swing in October. Harvest was a week to ten days behind, particularly with the soy crop. Dry land beans had yielded 40-55 bushels an acre, irrigated beans had yielded 60-75 bushels per acre and dry land corn had yielded 140 bushels and in some fields almost 200.

On Oct. 18, 12 local youths, along with over 20 volunteers, came together for the Pheasants Forever Four Seasons youth mentorship hunt. The youths were selected by the chapter’s youth program chair who tries to pick youths who were not avid hunters or have not had the opportunity to hunt. Each youth was partnered with a mentor for the hunt and three of the youths brought back pheasants.

The Thayer Central Torch 2014 Yearbook won the Cornhusker Award for Class D from the Nebraska High School Press Association.

The Thayer Central Lady Titans as well as Adam Hellbusch traveled to Kearney for the cross country state meet. The girls placed sixth overall.


At the beginning of November, Nebraska had the general election. In Thayer County, Rep. Ben Sasse won the vote as Nebraska’s senator as well as Rep.Adrian Smith for Congress and Rep. Pete Ricketts for governor.

Nebraska also took on vote as to whether or not to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8 in January 2015 and $9 in January 2016. The tallies differentiated by a mere 89 votes, but in the end the county voted in favor of raising the wage.

For Veterans Day, a Thayer Central sixth grade class presented local World War II veteran Lloyd Farnstrom, Hebron, with a quilt they had been working on since the beginning of October.

The Bruning Community Foundation hosted an open house for a new fitness center in Bruning. The Bruning State Bank decided to donate money to the foundation in honor of chairman of the board Frank Bruning’s 50th year in banking. The building the foundation purchased was the former Memorial Funeral Home. The building was refurnished with new flooring, a security system, as well as other house cleaning projects. Equipment was donated by the Mary Lanning Hospital and community members.

The Village of Davenport found themselves without a grocery store in mid-November. Local businessman Harold Stone decided to use  his facility as a temporary grocery store until the community decided their next move. To do this, Stone teamed with Steve Anderson of Central Market in Hebron and Tim Sorsen of Sorsen’s Corner Market in Edgar.

The BDS Eagles football team played at the Class D1 state finals on Nov. 24. Though the Eagles suffered a loss, the coaches and player were proud to have been able to participate in making football history.


Hebron business Blue Valley Bowl celebrated their 50th anniversary. The owners, Janice and Dale Klaumann, are the second generation to run the business. Janice’s parents, Henry and Florence Driewer, purchased the business on Dec. 1, 1964.

At the Dec. 3 ECAP (Entrepreneurial Communities Activation Process) meeting, the results from an October county wide survey were revealed.ECAP is a two-year research project by UNL examining the eight characteristics communities need to move forward and be successful: culture of change, leadership, sense of place, infrastructure, digitally connected, education workforce, entrepreneurial support systems and community vision. The survey was part of that research and received about 270 responses back. During these ECAP meetings, attendees create goals for the community, prioritize their dreams for the area and have open communication about what they would like for the future of the county.

The 2014 December school board meeting was marked as school board president Tom Tipton’s last as an official. Tipton served on the board for 22 years and chose to retire. Taking Tipton’s place as president is Brad Cooper, the non-incumbent that won the open slot. He is a physical therapist at the County Hospital.

Hebron local Dru Melvin claimed the top prize in round ten in Steer Wrestling at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) this December in Las Vegas. Melvin placed in five of the ten rounds which earned him nearly $40,000 in prize money. He ended up finishing ninth in the world for the 2014 rodeo season.

This week marks the beginning of 2015. Here’s to another great year in Thayer County!

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