Cozad Board of Education Passes 2016-2017 Budget

The Cozad Community Schools Board of Education met for a regular meeting on Wednesday, September 14th, 2016.
Prior to the regular meeting a Board of Education Budget Hearing and Budget Summary was conducted at 6:40 p.m.
Cozad residents Kathy Lemmer, Alan Rickertsen and Richard Ristine appeared to voice concerns over the proposed budget. A common theme for all three was that as land valuation rises the tax levy should go down.
“I paid $27,000 into the district for taxes this past year and simply cannot afford to do this any longer,” expressed Rickertsen.
A Tax Request Hearing followed the Budget Hearing.
The regular meeting began with administrative reports.
High School Principal Bill Beckenhauer reported that the high school students had completed two half days of MAPS testing. Similar testing will be conducted in May 2017 to assess students’ learning during the year.
He noted that the Marzano Training for staff members is going well on the first Wednesdays of each month and expressed appreciation to the board members for agreeing to have the high school involved in the early outs on the third Wednesdays of the month so that PLCs could meet involving elementary, middle school and high school staff members.
Homecoming festivities including a downtown pep rally are planned for Friday, September 23rd. Nebraska Shakespeare will be conducting workshops at the high school on Wednesday, September 28th.
On Friday, September 30th the first of two senior seminars will be conducted.
Cozad High School will be hosting the C4 golf district and the C6 softball district competitions.
Middle School Principal Brian Regelin noted that his students are completing their fall MAPS testing and will also be involved in NeSA testing.
An in-service on the ‘Schoolology’ program is planned for Monday, October 3rd.
The first round of CMS Activities classes will begin on Monday, September 19th.
Regelin commended new Transportation Director/Head Custodian Lonnie Dutton on his job performance so far. 
Special Education Director Jill Beckenhauer reported that the Family Night at CEEC on September 6th experienced a great turnout and that home visits have been completed. IEPs are currently being scheduled and conducted.
Activities Director Cory Spotanski reported that 55 of the 130 boys and 37 of the 98 girls in the middle school are involved in a fall sport. 61 of the 142 boys at the high school and 66 of the 149 girls are out for a fall sport. 60 students will take participate on this year’s One Act Team.
He also noted that ticket sales have increased so far this year as compared to last year.
On early release Wednesdays Spotanski and high school athletes will be hosting Character Ed activities for middle school athletes in the high school gym as they wait for their coaches for athletic practices.
Superintendent Joel Applegate reported that the Marzano Training is a two-year program with staff members being assigned to read chapters of the book each month.
Applegate has attended a labor relations meeting in Lincoln and had conducted a Career Ed Tech meeting with teachers since 40 percent of high school students won’t be attending a four-year college after graduation.
Pam Hergenrader has been hired in the Food Service Department.
Salary Advancements were approved for Ashley Simpson, Karen Klein and Susan Armstrong for classes they enrolled in from Doane College and Chadron State College.
A motion made after review of the budgets and having given at least five days notice of a special hearing with the purposes of hearing support, opposition, criticism, suggestions or observations of taxpayers by Ann Burkholder and seconded by Scott Geiser to approve the General Fund, Bond Fund, Depreciation Fund, Employee Benefit Fund, Activities Fund, Special Building Fund and Qualified Capital Purpose Undertaking Fund Budgets for the 2016-2017 school year received unanimous approval from the board members. 
Also approved was a motion to approve the 2016-2017 Tax Request Resolution for the district. The 2016-2017 Proposed Property Tax Request for the General Fund is $8,409,090.83 with a proposed tax rate of 1.000012. The tax rate for 2015-2016 was 0.978978 with a total tax request of $7,796,973.68 for the General Fund.
The Bond Fund(s) K - 12 Tax Request for 2016-2017 is $600,505.04 with a proposed tax rate of 0.269056. The tax request for 2015-2016 was $587,496.31 with a tax rate of 0.269036.
The Special Building Fund Property Tax Request for 2016-2017 is $168,181.82 as compared to $158,770.71 for the last fiscal year. The tax rate for 2016-2017 is 0.020000 that is up slightly from the 0.019935 from the 2015-2016 fiscal year.]
Approval was also granted to several board policy revisions including the Board Policies for Parental Involvement, Title I Parental and Family Involvement, the Option Enrollment Deadline, the Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy and the revision on the Board Policy on Voting.
A second reading will be held concerning the funding for national competitions for students and sponsors. Currently students receive funding from the Cozad School Foundation and conduct their own fundraisers for these competitions. 
The Cozad Education Association received approval as the exclusive bargaining agent for the district’s non-supervisory certificated staff or the 2018-2019 contract year.
Discussion was held on the proposed Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and Wellness Services. 
The EAP is a free and confidential service for employees and their families that provides individual, marriage, family and group counseling. This benefit provides five sessions to the employee and their family members. In addition to traditional counseling, staff members would have the opportunity for holistic wellness services including hypnotherapy, individual and group. Group hypnotherapy would be offered for smoking cessation and weight loss. Other alternative services would include neurobiofeedback (brain training), sessions in a Migun Massage Facility and/or in the Energy Enhancement System.
Board members requested that additional information be gathered by the administration prior to action being taken.
Staff had been surveyed with 50 percent interested in the program with a proposed cost of $35.00 per employee to the district. 
A Board of Education Work Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, October 6th at 6:00 p.m with Marcia Herring with the next regular meeting scheduled for Monday, October 17th at 7:00 p.m.

Walker's Steak House To Close On September 25th

Starting a new chapter will be Steve Walker, the owner of Walker’s Steak House after the facility closes its doors on September 25th. 
Walker is very thankful for the continued support of patrons from across Dawson County as well as the visitors from far and wide that frequent Walker’s Steak House. “I didn’t realize how many people truly made enjoying a meal at Walker’s a part of their lives,” expressed Steve Walker. “The community of Gothenburg especially has been very supportive of the Steak House from the begining.”
“I will miss the morning preparation work of opening the Steak House with the freshly made products,” stated Walker. “I have made pies and rolls for people to take home and enjoy, but after the business closes, that will be the end of the chapter of working in the food industry.”
Walker’s family has always been a valuable component of the success of Walker’s Steak House, by filling in the gaps as employees whereever needed. Steve has a few employees that still remain from when he ran the Snack Shack as well. His daughter usually took care of the bar side of the business. His son, became a cook after assisting in any way possible while growing up. Steve hopes to spend more time enjoying family and friends, time that he missed during the tenure as a restaurant owner. 
Steve has been deeply involved in the food service and restaurant business for many years. He started working in a Cafe in Gothenburg when he was 10 years old and then worked for his mother in Nita’s Cafe growing up. 
His mom closed the doors to Nita’s Cafe around the time that Steve was set to graduate from high school in 1973. Soon after he graduated from high school, with limited funds available of his own, He approached the First State Bank and was approved for a loan to open up his own cafe.  
After getting the cafe business up and running, it was time for an expansion and Steve moved the business to the former Kelly’s Cafe in 1979. It was eight years later, that he and his sister joined forces to open the Snack Shack in the domed building south of the train tracks in Gothenburg. The Snack Shack remained open for 13 years until family concerns caused Steve to step away from the food business and take care of his daughters while selling cars for a living. 
It was in 1998, that Walker was approached by many individuals that persuaded him to purchase the current Walker’s Steak House that had been closed due to foreclosure after only eight months in operation. I checked with my bankers and was able to secure a loan to purchase the facility and felt that my success of former restuarants along with my knowledge and experience would be a welcome sign to the community of Gothenburg. 
“I felt at the time, that Gothenburg needed a place that could serve fast food as well as a place that patrons could sit down and enjoy a dinner,” explained Walker. 
Walker took on new challenges of being a restuarant owner each day and didn’t quit until he had succeeded. The amount of holiday parties and wedding celebrations that have been hosted by Steve at Walker’s Steak House are too many to count, expressed Steve. He learned early on that it was very important to be flexible in hosting private parties as well as keeping the restuarant open to the public. 
Some of the items that will always be remembered are the homemade pies and rolls, chicken fried steaks, chicken fried chicken, prime rib, homemade onion rings and one of the Snack Shack favorites, the pizza burger. “I tried to carry over the Snack Shack menu into the Steak House menu for patrons to continue to enjoy,” stated Walker. 
Cooking and baking the homemade products that are available on the menu at Walker’s will be moments that Steve Walker will miss after the doors close for the final time at Walker’s Steak House, but then again on the flipside, Walker can’t wait to wake up in the morning’s and have no plans and not have to worry about the every day chores and work of running a steak house. 

Harvest Festival Grand Marshalls:


Budget Approved At Lexington Board of Education Meeting

The Lexington Board of Education approved a $50 million budget for the 2016-2017 school year at its meeting Monday night.
The general fund portion of the budget is set at $43 million, which is $10 million more than what the district estimates it spent during the 2015-2016 year.  Exact figures won't be finalized until an audit is completed in November.
Lexington Public School's CFO Erin Heineman said the budget authorizes what can be spent, but is not necessarily what will be spent.  She said LPS commonly budgets with a cushion.
"We build a contingency into the budget fully knowing that's not what we're going to spend," she said.  
In case of an emergency, if something unexpected comes up, money is available without a need to revise the budget, she said. 
"If you budget more and don't spend it, you get to carry it over," said Heineman of another common strategy for the district.
"It's a hedge against unknowns in the future," said Superintendent John Hakonson.
The tax asking in support of the budget is $10,821,592, with $10,730,805 for the district's general fund and $90,787 for the special building fund.  Last year's tax asking was $10,124,189 for the general fund and $85,655 for the special building fund.
Lexington Public Schools will levy $1.04 per $100 valuation for the general fund and 1 cent for the special building fund, for a total levy $1.05. Heineman said $1.05 is the maximum levy, as set by state statute, and is also what LPS levied last year.
Of the levy's impact on taxes, Heineman said the owner of a $100,000 home, would pay $1,050 in school taxes and a landowner with land valued at $1,000,000 would pay $10,500 in school taxes.
Although the levy is the same as last year, specific tax bills may reflect an increase due to a valuation increase, said Heineman, noting Dawson County property valuations increased almost six percent.  She said a home valued at $100,000 a year ago, might be valued at $105,990 this year and school related taxes would go from $1,050 to $1,113, or $63 more. 
In a breakdown of the district's revenue sources, Heineman said 32 percent is from local taxes, for $11,468,742.  The bulk of funding, 67 percent, is from outside sources with $21,179,881, or 60 percent, from the state and $2,480,507, or 7 percent, from the federal programs.
In discussing the budget, it was noted that the district has no bond debt and this is the second year they are not levying any taxes for bonds.  Also, all construction projects are paid off.
In other matters, the board unanimously approved a plan for a courtyard, landscaping and parking lot at Lexington High School to complete the recent addition.  Estimated costs are $100,000.  
Because LPS is $153,932 below the revised  guaranteed maximum price of $4,032,713 for the high school project there is money available to complete the desired improvements, said Hakonson.
He said although the costs won't exceed the GMP, board approval was desired since the plans were additions to what was previously approved.
He said the estimated cost for adding 30 stalls in the parking lot is $65,000 and it is hoped that the concrete can be poured this fall.  Landscaping will be phased in later. 
As owner of the Majestic Theatre, the board approved two purchases for the theater noting the Lexington Community Foundation has fundraising and grant monies available to pay for the items; there is no cost to the district.
The board approved a quote of $21,432 from Tri City Sign Company of Grand Island for a digital sign to be placed on the theater.  They also approved spending up to $60,000  for a canopy, concrete paving and storm sewer improvements through Paulsen, Inc. of Cozad.  Heineman said the City of Lexington intends to assist in the work, either through labor or costs.

Rock Sworn In As New Cozad Police Officer At Council Meeting

City Attorney Scott Trusdale swore in Police Officer Kayla Rock at the Cozad City Council meeting on September 19, 2016. Rock graduated from Logan View High School in Hooper, NE and then enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. She will be attending the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center for certification this December. 
Dawson Area Development Director Jen McKeone presented the annual DAD report. Housing in Cozad as well as Dawson County continues to be a focus, and McKeone noted that one goal for next year is to complete the duplexes at the former Cozad Middle School site.
Under Old Business, discussion continued on the proposed ordinance concerning the parking of trucks and non-motorized vehicles between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. on a street that the Governing Body has designated to be within the ‘residential district’ except to load or unload. City Attorney Trusdale had made changes to the ordinance that was tabled at the September 6th meeting. Although Police Chief Randy Adams was okay with the revised ordinance, Councilmember Brian Montgomery expressed concerns about enforcing it. Council members voted to move it to a second reading at the next regular meeting and continue analyzing and pondering the ordinance.
Under New Business, a special designated liquor license was approved for McFarland Family Farms, LLC (Mac’s Creek Winery) for October 6, 2016 from 4:00 – 9:00 p.m. at 829 Meridian in downtown Cozad.
Mayor Nancy Meyer’s appointment of Patty Wolfe to the Library Board to replace Katie Parsh as recommended by the Library Board was also approved.
Approval was granted for the Cozad Chamber of Commerce to block off 8th Street between H and F Streets as well as Meridian Street from 7th to 10th Streets for the annual Spook Night on Monday, October 24 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Alleys in this area will also be closed to ensure safety for the children.
Under Reports, Water Commissioner Dallas Nichols reported that two new employees have joined his department, Shane Schukei and Michael Phillips. They are currently in the process of replacing 20-year-old water meters.
“It costs $103.00 to repair old meters plus labor as compared to $120.00 for new ones,” explained Nichols. I’ll be budgeting for these annually.
Nichols also reported that a bid opening would be held on Thursday (today) for the lift stations.
Lights Commissioner Britt German reported that the substation at the former Monroe’s was recently tested and came out “good and clean”.
Councilmember Charlie Block reported that he had met again with Paulsen representative Joe Welch concerning the west wall of the 100th Meridian Museum. It is hoped that the project may still be completed this fall.
Wilson Public Library Children’s Librarian Jessica Wall will become a full time employee at the library effective October 10th.
The next regular meeting for the council will be on Monday, October 3, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

Gatewood To Vacate Dawson County Deputy Attorney Post

Dawson County Deputy Attorney Kate Gatewood announced her resignation at the September 14, 2016 Dawson County Commissioners meeting. Gatewood has accepted a job with the Department of Banking and Finance for the State of Nebraska. She and her husband will be relocating to Lincoln. The commissioners expressed their appreciation to Gatewood for her services and expertise the past three years.
Under Committee Reports, Commissioner Butch Hagan reported that the proposed construction project at the landfill has been canceled because it was not properly advertised. He is working on a Community Block Grant for restrooms at the Dawson County Fairgrounds.
Commissioners Hagan and Bill Stewart, Dawson County Clerk Karla Zlatkovsky and Deputy County Attorney Kate Gatewood met with representatives from the Dawson County Visitors Committee, including chamber directors and Dawson Area Development personnel. Discussion continued on the policies and responsibilities of dispersing tourism dollars generated by lodging taxes in the county.
Efforts are being made to streamline the claims process and make the chambers aware that the county has the authority to make decisions regarding the tourism funds.
A resolution was approved for First Bank & Trust Company, Cozad, to recall $25,000 of collateral and replace it with $45,000 of collateral.
Dawson County Sheriff Gary Reiber appeared with the August 2016 crime reports.
Total services were up from last month with 1,135 services rendered. 189 inmates were booked and 1,898 LEC Dispatch Calls for Service were answered.
Dawson County Treasurer Sharon Wood to verify the sheriff’s distress warrant report. Uncollected distress warrants total $40,906.03.
Wood also presented properties that were three years or older to issue County tax sales and to begin the foreclosure process. 
The commissioners based on Wood’s recommendation approved a resolution to strike delinquent personal property taxes.
A public hearing for the purpose of hearing support, opposition, criticism, or suggestions relating to the propped 2016/2017 County Budget began at 8:30 a.m.
Rural Cozad resident Alan Rickertsen appeared to express concerns regarding the budget. Rickertsen noted that he appreciated the county for holding the property taxes level that he is still paying more each year due to increased valuation of his farm/ranch property. 
After discussion, a resolution was passed to adopt the 2016/2017 county budget. The total 2016/2017 proposed property tax request is $10,174,669.07 with a proposed tax rate of 0.306403. The tax rate is identical to the 2015/2016 rate with the tax request for the 2015/2016 fiscal year having been $10,174,668.66.
Highway Superintendent Randy Deans opened the two bids for asphalt for multiple segments of county roads near Gothenburg and in the City of Gothenburg. 88 per cent of the price tag is to be reimbursed through county funding and 12 per cent by the City of Gothenburg. The project has a completion date set for October 27, 2017.
Werner Construction of Hastings presented a bid of $3,343,599.77. Paulsen Inc. of Cozad’s bid was 43,018,716.30. The engineer’s estimate for the project was $3,010,834.91.
Deans will check out to make sure that specifications are met in each bid and present them at the next city council meeting in Gothenburg before asking the commissioners to award the project to either bidder at the September 30, 2016 meeting.
The interlocal agreement between Dawson County and Central NE Public Power District was approved.
Dawson County Assessor John Moore reported that no bids have been received regarding the vehicle for the Assessor’s Office.
Two dormant funds were closed following the approval of the commissioners: County Relief and Veteran’s Aid Relief.
Highway Superintendent Randy Deans was given the green light to study the use for vacating Rd 410 between mile marker 754 and 755 near Farnam. There are no power lines or buildings along the road and signed petitions have been submitted to keep people off of the road for hunting and trash disposal.
The Dawson County Board of Equalization met prior to the Dawson County Board of Commissioners. The commissioners approved the request for tax correction for personal property owned by Douglas Stamm.
The next regular meeting for the Dawson County Board of Commissioners is scheduled for Friday, September 30, 2016 at 8:00 a.m. in the Commissioners Room in the Dawson County Courthouse in Lexington, NE.

Sendoff Scheduled for Dawson County Hero Flight September 28th

A sendoff luncheon for the latest Dawson County Hero Flight is slated for September 28th. A free will donation meal will be served, starting at noon at the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles in Lexington. 
A short program will begin around 1 p.m. with the veterans loading up for their memorable tour around 2 p.m. 
Dawson County Hero Flight is organized for the sole purpose of honoring America Veterans for sacrifice and service above self. There are 25 veterans, along with their escorts that will travel to our nation’s capitol, Washington D.C. from Omaha on September 28th and return back to Lexington on October 1st. 
Some of the activities include stops at the World War II, Korean and Vietnam Memorials; Army/Navy Club, Wreath Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, visits to the USAF, USMC and Navy Memorials; FDR Memorial, the Smithsonian Institure and many more. 
Hero Flight Veterans
Roger Wahlgren,Gothenburg; Jerry Hemphill, Cozad; Max Weismann, Holdrege; Reginald Yates, Ashland; Clayton Schubert, Wilcox; Melvin Abels, Kearney; Roger Koch, Cozad; Gary Hosick, Cozad; Charles Licking, Lexington; Gary Moritz, Lexington; Darrell Bliven, Lexington; Raymond Kounovsky, Lexington; Rodney Holtz, Lexington; Gary Reiber, Lexington; Gerald Lauby, Lexington; Lester Elliott, Cozad; Charles DeHarty, Eustis;  David Baack, Cozad; Carroll Landstrom, Axtell; Ron Leininger, Lexington; Dale Block, Gothenburg; Richard Ostergard, Gothenburg; Winston Simon, Gothenburg; William Jensen, Lexington; and Fredrick Ward, Lexington.  

Fallen Soldiers Traveling Wall Visits Cozad:


Cozad Volunteer Fire Department Hosts Mock Drill On Sunday


'Never Forget Walk Travels Through Cozad

Doing something that he always wanted to do with Benny, Army Infantry veteran Michael Crosby is walking across America with Bo Balling on the American Discovery Trail, which spans from Florida to San Francisco, California. 
This past week, Colton Derr of Cozad observed the pair walking along Highway 30 and gave them a ride into Cozad, where the Derr family assisted the Crosby and Balling to have a weekend they won’t soon forget during Hay Days. 
Crosby and his lifelong friend Benny enlisted in the military together and always talked of walking across America. During their second tour in Iraq, Benny was killed by an IED. 
The ‘Never Forget Walk’ that Crosby and Balling are on, isn’t about raising funds. It’s more about crossing something off of their bucket lists of and seeing America one step at a time. Screen_Shot_2016-09-16_at_9.03.35_AM.png

Lexington Woman Sentenced On Motor Vehicle Homicide

At her sentencing in Dawson County Court on Monday, Krystal Saunders of Lexington was ordered by Judge Kent Turnbull of North Platte to be on probation for two-years in exchange for her no-contest plea to motor vehicle homicide, spend five days in jail each year on significant dates and do 200 hours of community service along with paying $9,340 in restitution. 
The charges stem from an SUV-pedestrian death that occured in August of 2015. 

Hay Days Celebrated In Cozad


Lead Based Paint Testing Proposals Discussed At Cozad City Council Meeting On Tuesday

The Cozad City Council met for a regular meeting on Tuesday, September 6, 2016.
No one appeared during the public hearing in regards to the proposed 2016-17 fiscal budget.
Council members approved to increase the restricted fund amount of one percent above the two and one-half percent allowed by the state statues.
The 2016-17 fiscal budget was approved as advertised and filed as required.
Approval was also given for the resolution setting the property tax requesting for fiscal year 2016-17.
Council members considered the proposals received to perform technical and professional services to meet requirements for Lead Based Paint testing in up to ten homes per the OOR Grant.
The proposal by CDS was accepted. The initial testing fee is $600 per home. $400 is charged for a risk assessment and $200 for clearance testing. It was noted that some homes would not require all three of these procedures.
Approval was granted for the ordinance pertaining to compensation and salaries as well as the resolution establishing municipal wages for the 2016-17 fiscal year.
Ashley Wolf’s application for membership in the Cozad Volunteer Fire Department received approval.
The application submitted by Mac’s Creek Winery & Vineyards for a special designated liquor license for September 29, 2016 at Rustic Milling & Crafts was approved.
The next regular meeting for the council is scheduled for Monday, September 19, 2016 beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the City Office Building.

Gothenburg To Host Harvest Festival 2016 This Weekend

Taking a trip back in time will happen in Gothenburg this weekend with the 2016 Harvest Festival theme being, ‘Vintage Gothenburg, A Tour Through Time’. The annual Harvest Festival will coincide with the 2016 Nebraska State Hand Cornhusking Contest that will also be held in Gothenburg this weekend. 
It all starts on Thursday with the Kennedy Landscape Services Garden Fest from 5-7 p.m. 
Friday evening, the whole family is invited as Eastside Animal Center hosts the 14th Annual Dog & Jog at Lake Helen at 8 p.m. 
Getting started bright and early, the Lions Club is hosting a pancake breakfast starting at 7 a.m. and the Hand Cornhusking competition will start at 8:30 a.m. 
The Hand Cornhusking competition will be held at the Hecox Farm southwest of Gothenburg. Along with the highlighted event, there will be craft and food vendors, kiddie pedal pulls, antique tracor and horse drawn implement demonstrations and a kids zone. 
The always popular Grand Parade will start at 10:30 a.m. with the entries traveling down Lake Avenue. 
Following the parade, The Gothenburg First United Methodist Church will host a Quilt Show from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday. The annual church dinner will be held following the parade as well. 

Reading Olympics Torch Run:


Nebraska Legislative Forum To Be Held In Gothenburg On September 21st

Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry staff members, in cooperation with the Gothenburg Community Development Office, will present the organization’s annual legislative forum in Dawson County at noon on Wednesday, Sept. 21, at Walker’s Steakhouse and Lounge in Gothenburg. 
For more than three decades, the State Chamber has conducted these forums across the state. This year, State Chamber staff will visit 28 Nebraska communities. 
The forums allow the Chamber to gather input from business leaders on issues of concern, while providing summaries of recent state legislation and reviews of how Nebraska is performing in key areas of economic competitiveness. 
District 36 State Sen. Matt Williams of Gothenburg, who has announced he will run for the Legislature’s speaker position during the next session, will attend.
To make reservations, contact the Gothenburg Chamber office at 308-537-3505. The cost to attend the event is $15 to cover the cost of the meal.

Kearney Cinema



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