2010 - The year in review

In 2010, Jennie Melham Medical Center in Broken Bow completed a multi-year renovation and addition project, creating a state-of-the-art facility in our region. That was just one of the many positive things that occurred this year. However, 2010 also saw its share of local tragedies. In the next two weeks we will recap some of the stories that made headlines in the Custer County Chief during 2010 - looking at the first six months this week.JANUARY The city of Broken Bow received word they were being awarded just over $261,000 in grant money from the Nebraska Department of Roads for a project designed to connect Melham Park to the rest of the city. A 10-foot wide hiking and biking trail will run north and south on the east side of North 5th Avenue. A dedication ceremony and open house for the newly completed expansion project at JMMMC was held Jan. 17, and included visits from Lt. Gov. Rich Sheehy and Sen. Deb Fischer. Groundbreaking on the new facility took place in July 2008, and the hospital was able to complete the $12 million project while remaining debt free. The citizens of Broken Bow bid farewell to a piece of history when the former Dairy Corner building was demolished. The property is now owned by Viaero Wireless, who plans to build a new store on the site. NPPD announced plans to construct a wind farm in Custer County, with plans to complete the project by 2012. FEBRUARY Employees moved into the new Callaway District Hospital and Medical Clinic in early February. The $3.5 million project was scheduled to be completed in two years, and was actually completed a little ahead of schedule. Residents of the city of Broken Bow saw their electrical rates increase by 14 1/2 percent. That was far below the 29 percent increase requested by the Utility Board. The board explained that regular increases have not been set and the city has fallen behind average Nebraska rates, resulting in the increase. The Broken Bow City Council approved taking a proposed project to the people for vote in May. The project calls for replacing the current city swimming pool with a new 25-meter pool. If passed, the pool won’t be built until 2012. A hostage situation ended with a man committing suicide in the parking lot of the Broken Bow McDonald’s store. The man held his estranged wife and 1-year-old daughter against their will, and when police arrived on the scene he pulled a gun and shot himself.MARCH The Broken Bow City Council approved a request by the utility board to take a year to study its man power usage, income and expenses. The study was triggered by the 29 percent rate increase requested by the board earlier this year. Cedars of Central Nebraska has announced it will close its doors in Broken Bow. The Cedars Richardson House opened its doors in September 1999 as a temporary shelter for children. More than 30 people lost their jobs as a result of the closure. In their first year as a co-op team, the Sandhills/Thedford Knights boys basketball team qualified for the Class D-1 Boys State Basketball Tourn-ament. The Knights lost their first round game to eventual state champion, Freeman. The Broken Bow City Council approved bringing Keno to the city, awarding an operator’s license to Mike Nevrivy of Hastings. An agreement has been reached with Huckleberry’s Hideout to offer Keno at their establishment. APRIL Broken Bow High School/ Middle School Principal Ken Kujath was named 2010 Outstanding Principal of the Year by the Nebraska Rural Community Schools Associa-tion. An early morning shooting in southwest Custer County ended in two men dead. The incident occurred in a home approximately nine miles southwest of Callaway. The Nebraska State Patrol’s SWAT team gained entry to the home and found a 67-year-old male and 33-year-old male dead of gunshot wounds. The younger man’s fatal injury was self inflicted. The city of Broken Bow changed over to a new wastewater treatment facility with a smooth transition. Public Works board member Gene Chapin says the city has been out of compliance in the water treatment plant for years, and the new plant resolves that issue. A new bank opened its doors in Broken Bow. Jeff Varney will serve as President of the new Heritage Bank Loan Production Office. The Broken Bow school board unanimously approved a contract with Jim Berg of Bahr Vermeer & Haecker Architects, Ltd., for the purposes of pre-bond planning. The approval was the next step toward an elementary school project.MAY The Broken Bow Board of Education met in an emergency meeting with only one item on the agenda - the resignation of BBPS Superintendent Dr. Timothy Shafer. Shafer had been with the district 15 years and left to take a position in Kansas, closer to his family. Citizens of Broken Bow voted on a bond to build a new swimming pool, with the final vote so close a mandatory recount could be called for. The final vote was 508 FOR, 504 AGAINST. However, closer examination revealed a mandatory recount only applies to individual contestant races, not issues such as bonds. Therefore, the bond passed. The Loup Valley Conference track meet was held with the Ansley girls crowned LVC team champions, while Sargent came away with the boys title. Ansley Lady Warrior Siera Rohde and Mullen Bronco Brad Wright were each double gold medal winners at the Nebraska State Track and Field Championships in Omaha. Both athletes led their teams to state runner-up trophies. Bill Kann of Lafayette, Tenn., owner of Up the Creek, Inc., has leased the property and equipment of the former Comstock Music Festivals from Jim Trotter. Kann plans to hold a festival on the grounds this summer. After serving Custer County students for more than 120 years, Round Hill School closed its doors for the final time. Round Hill School District was organized in the spring of 1886. There were nine students in the final class at the school.JUNE After being closed by the FDIC, TierOne Bank reopened the next day after being acquired by Great Western Bank. The location and employees of the bank remained the same. After about a year of waiting, the time has finally come for the new fields at the Melham Complex to be engaged by young, aspiring softball and baseball players. The weather had delayed the start of the season for many of the leagues. Heavy rains from Spring storms caused severe flooding in many areas of Custer County and the surrounding area. Governor Dave Heineman issued a disaster declaration, with as many as 66 Nebraska counties considering requesting disaster assistance. Locally, parts of State Highway 2 were closed between Broken Bow and Berwyn due to water over the road, and the bridge north of Taylor fell victim to the high, fast moving water. Several Broken Bow residents gathered to watch the demolition of a long-standing local business, when the old Mead Lumber building was torn down. The building was originally Dierks Lumber, and was built in the early 1900s. The land is now owned by Arrow Seed, who plans to erect a new warehouse on the site. On a 4-1 vote, with one member absent, the Broken Bow Board of Education approved a resolution requesting a special bond election in August. The board approved pursuing an unusual mail-in election for Aug. 10, requesting $9.9 million in bonds. The proposed project would close Custer School and moved K-6 students to an expanded North Park. A trolley car set up on the south side of the square in downtown Broken Bow has brought some familiar tastes back to the community. Owner /operator Jeanette (Sloggett) Birnie is part of the family who owned the old Dairy Queen, then Dairy Corner in Broken Bow for many years. Birnie will be serving the Tastee Burger, made famous at the old family restaurant, as well as a number of other family secret, and community favorite, recipes.