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Water -- liquid, frozen or lacking -- leads top local stories of 2007

Saturday, December 29, 2007

McCook celebrated its 125th birthday in 2008 with a number of events and water continued to take center stage, in the form of spring flooding, the Legislature's water bill LB701 and new property taxes on home and land owners to pay for water sent to Kansas.

JANUARY

Jan. 2 -- The year opened up with area residents coping with more than a foot of snow that hit Southwest Nebraska over New Years Eve. An earlier ice storm Dec. 19 caused hundreds of tree branches to break off and power to fail at a some homes, but most of the McCook area escaped the massive power failure that occurred in Holdrege and other Nebraska communities. The heavy snow caused the roofs to collapse at Klein's Motor and Electric and three of Fairacres Greenery nurseries.

Jan. 2 -- Beginning in 2007, Shary Skiles became the sixth publisher in the 96-year-history of the McCook Daily Gazette.

Jan 2 -- Two new council members joined the McCook City Council at its first meeting of the year. Lonnie Anderson and Colleen Grant began their four-year terms, along with Mayor Dennis Berry who was re-elected. Councilman Marty Conroy, who was appointed by Berry in 2006 to fill the vacancy created by Councilman Bill Longnecker's resignation, also began his two-year term. Conroy later resigned in September and Mayor Berry appointed Jack Rogers as his replacement.

Jan. 10 -- Larry Shields and Shane Messersmith joined re-elected board member Greg Larson in the McCook School Board.

Jan. 10 -- The McCook School Board voted to hire an education consultant to examine McCook Public Schools' "Reading First" elementary reading program. The "Reading First" program had came under fire by parents in 2006. The education consultant recommended improvements in communication and organization and small changes in the implementation of the program.

Jan. 16 -- McCook's city staff lent the Holdrege Public Schools a 68 kw trailer-mounted generator, which McCook had purchased during the Y2K scare. Officials from the Holdrege Public Schools has asked if the city could lend the school the generator, said City Manager Kurt Fritsch and the immediate response was yes. Fritsch and McCook Public Works Supervisor Dob Neuhaus drove the generator to Holdrege, still coping with power outages from the ice storm.

Jan. 17 -- MOOREFIELD -- The Medicine Valley Economic Development Corp. announced that Wolverine Ethanol LLC of Troy, Mich., planned to build an ethanol plant at Moorefield. The plant, named "Hi-Line Ethanol," will be located on 200 acres of land on Highway 23 at Moorefield. It will consume more than 35 million bushels of corn and produce 100 million gallons of ethanol annually and employ 35 to 35 people.

Jan. 18 -- District 44 State Senator Mark Christensen introduced his major water bill, LB 701, in the Nebraska Legislature

Jan. 22 -- Another five to eight inches of snow fell on McCook and space was running out at the parking lot of the Jaycee Ball complex where snow is usually piled, said Public Works Director Kyle Potthoff. The area has been battered by snow nearly every weekend since Dec. 30 and crews begin to pile snow at the the south end of McCook Regional Airport.

Jan. 31 -- Road crews from the Work Ethic Camp have logged in 2,915 hours for December, Raleigh Haas said, warden of the work ethic camp. Many of those hours were used helping out around the city hauling branches after the ice storm and shoveling snow, he said. Road crews have worked a total of 205,140 hours since 2001, saving agencies in the community a total of $1.05 million, based on minimum wage at $5.15.

FEBRUARY

Feb. 8 -- Specialist Randy J. Matheny, a 2004 MHS graduate, died Feb. 4 when an improvised explosive device detonated next to the armored security vehicle in which he served as a gunner. The Nebraska Army National Guard, which Matheny joined on March 28, 2005, posthumously promoted Matheny to the rank of sergeant.

Feb. 12 -- Two Work Ethic Camp offenders left the Work Ethic Camp and were tracked through snow and canyons in their escape attempt. Red Willow County deputies captured the two men, who were hiding in a vehicle in a farmyard. Both were returned to their respective counties to face charges of probation violation.

Feb. 22 -- The McCook College Foundation established the Randy J. Matheny Memorial Patriot Scholarship as an enduring pledge to preserve remembrance and to recognize and honor the devotion and service of Randy J. Matheny to his country. The Foundation matched a $5,000 anonymous donation from a McCook family to launch this ongoing memorial scholarship. On Dec. 12, the McCook College Foundation received a donation of more than $7,500 which consisted of all memorial funds received by the Matheny family at the time their son and brother was killed.

MARCH

March 1 -- Letters mailed from the McCook Post Office will be hand-cancelled with a stamp featuring the Quasquicentennial Logo, kicking off McCook's year long celebration of its 125th birthday. The stamp also featured a bison and an airplane similar to the Gazette's "Newsboy."

March 6 -- Judge Cloyd Clark, County Court Judge for Nebraska's 11th Judicial District in Southwest Nebraska, announced his retirement effective June 1, 2007.

March 13 -- The McCook Public Schools board of education decided not to operate the Fitch (the former District 8) attendance center for the 2007-08 school year and beyond. The motion is worded so that the Fitch center could reopen if the Nebraska Legislature reverses the closing of the state's Class I schools

March 15 -- By 47-0, the Nebraska Legislature approved LB 83 on an emergency basis, which allows inmates in state penitentiaries to earn an earlier release if they finish the 120-day program at the Nebraska Department of Corrections Work Ethic Camp in McCook.

March 20 -- Community Hospital announced the the completion and opening of the $3.8 million Rehabilitation Center.

March 28 -- McCook Community College Science Instructor Jim Garretson announces he will offer a special topics class later in the year, "Physics 2990: Creation Science" at McCook Community College The science class looks at the same evidence that evolutionary science looks at, but from a biblical perspective. Garretson later decides not to offer the class.

APRIL

April 5 -- Sen. Mark Christensen's water bill, LB 701 , is advanced to the full Legislature for debate.

April 11 -- Gov. Dave Heineman, along with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and Nebraska Rural Development Commission, awarded $224,942 to 10 partnerships through the Building Entrepreneurial Communities Act.They include two local projects: Chase and Perkins counties received $8,115 to provide educational and technical assistance that targets rural sustainability to existing business owners and entrepreneurs. Cambridge-McCook Vision 2010 Initiative, a partnership among the cities of Cambridge and McCook, received $60,000 to produce a regional strategy for developing business and engaging youth and young adults in entrepreneurship and community leadership. The Cambridge Economic Development Board, McCook Economic Development Corporation and Hormel Family Foundation will provide the match.

April 11 -- The McCook School Board voted to offer vocational agriculture classes at McCook High School in the fall, an issue in the last school board election.

April 20 -- Anne Paine of Oxford and Paul Wood of McCook are the top two finalists who were interviewed for the position of Red Willow County Court Judge, created by pending retirement of County Court Judge Cloyd Clark. Other candidates were D. Eugene Garner of Culbertson, Thomas P. Patterson of Cambridge and Joel W. Phillips of Wallace.

April 23 -- School was postponed at McCook Senior Hight until 9:50 a.m., due to vandalism over the weekend. Cooking oil and other substances were spilled on the floor and poured on items, computers and books were damaged and desks were moved. In June, eight senior students were fined for the act.

April 23 -- Russell Park is officially opened, at the former baseball practice lot on East Fifth between East J and K. The park, built in honor of Carson Russell, a long-time McCook attorney, was a collaborative effort between his son Marty Russell of Castle Rock, Colo., the McCook Community Foundation and the City of McCook.

April 24 -- County and city officials met at the McCook Public Safety Center to discuss options and share resources concerning the overnight deluge of rain in the area.Unofficial reports of up to six inches of rain in a short time overnight were received, with pea-sized hail in McCook and nearly continuous lightning. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation office in McCook reported 3.55 inches of rain, 2.32 at Hugh Butler Lake, 2.55 inches at Harry Strunk Lake and 1.92 at Swanson Reservoir.

April 25 -- Officials continue to monitor the Republican River at Barnett Park, which was rising over its banks in Bartley and Cambridge. The river, which normally runs about 4.5 gage height in McCook, rose five feet in about 12 hours before topping out at 9.7 feet, seven inches above flood stage.The flooding of the Republican River in the McCook area results in the emergency rescue of a man who lives in a camper on one of the sand bars in the river. About nine or 10 roads are washed out, with some areas reporting up to four to six inches of rain

MAY

May 1 -- The McCook Quasquicentennial Committee hosted a "Party on the Bricks" celebration on West C Street, began with thousands of ping pong balls dropped from the top of a buildings. Eager participants lined the street for their chance to collect a ping pong ball for prizes and discounts. Contestants also officially signed up and were professionally shaved for the beard growing contest. The party continued in the evening with Blackwater Haze and a beer garden.

May 8 -- Gov. Dave Heineman announced his appointment of Anne Paine of Oxford to serve as a County Judge in the 11th Judicial District, to replace Judge Cloyd Clark, who retired after 34 years

May 9 -- The McCook School board accepted the resignation of Superintendent Dr. Don Marchant, effective immediately, at a special school board meeting. The board decided to look for an interim superintendent and later asked Central Elementary/McCook Junior High Principal Dennis Berry, to act as superintendent temporarily, which he agreed to do.

May 10 -- James Watt II, of Everton, Ark., was sentenced in Hitchcock County District Court to 12 months in the state pen for causing the death of Alan T. Roller, 59, of Champion, on the afternoon of Halloween 2006. Roller's pickup, eastbound on Highway 6, struck Watt's semi-tractor trailer rig broadside after Watt's rig, southbound on Highway 25, failed to stop at a stop sign at the intersection of Highways 6 and 25 north of Trenton and south of Hayes Center.

May 15 -- The McCook Public Schools board of education voted during its regular meeting to discontinue the school's involvement with the controversial Reading First grant program, effective at the end of the school year.

May 21 -- Christopher R. Botsford, 20, and Clayton L. Pierson, 18, both of McCook, died in a one-vehicle rollover accident three miles south of Trenton Dam. They were ejected from a northbound Ford Explorer that rolled multiple times after its driver, Jonathan N. Peterson, 19, of Fort Lewis, Washington, lost control and the SUV ran off the highway. Peterson, also known as Jon McCart and a former resident of McCook, died as a result of his injuries May 25.

May 29 -- LB701 was signed by the governor and made available to be used by the Natural Resources Districts. It allows NRDs to levy additional property taxes on homes and property and occupation taxes on irrigated acres, to be paid back by bonds.The specific projects for which these bonds can be used are to lease or purchase groundwater use rights and surface water use rights, with the water purchased to be sent to Kansas so Nebraska can maintain compliance with the Republican River Compact. The bonds could also be used to purchase or lease the management of an irrigation district, to pay for vegetation management or to fund augmentation projects.

May 30 -- Travel in Hayes County is "at your own risk," after torrential rains Monday and again Tuesday carved huge crevices in country roads and compromised bridges through-out the county.The heavy rains also necessitated two evacuations near Culbertson and flooded roads near Palisade. Eight inches of rain was reported, on top of the 2-11 inches of rain that fell two days earlier.

JUNE

June 3 -- After three, one-hour interviews, McCook Public Schools board of education members agreed to negotiate a one-year interim superintendent's contract with David Schley, superintendent of Centura Public Schools at Cairo

June 12 -- Board members of The Middle Republican Natural Resources District approve the purchase of surface water from irrigators for $8.6 million.The NRDs bought 8,000 acre feet from the Frenchman Valley for $640,000, 26,000 acre feet from the Frenchman Cambridge for $7.8 million and 2,000 acre feet from Riverside for $126,000. The water was sent to Harlan County Reservoir to be released to Kansas.

June 15 -- The first-ever Business Plan Competition, sponsored by the Hormel Family Foundation, awarded $25,000 to "Game On," a retail game business, online store and game room. The winning proposal was presented by Cody Dame, Tanner Lytle and Ciprian Galarneau. All three are electronic gamers, who said they would market the latest games in their business.

June 21 -- A $76,000 federal grant would help create a business incubator in downtown McCook.The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Rural Development announced that the grant will help create the Center for Entrepreneurship - E-Ship Center, on the third floor of the Keystone Hotel. The money will go toward furniture and technology equipment like computers and supplies, according to Rex Nelson, executive director of the McCook Economic Development Corp.

June 26 -- The McCook Pub-lic Power telecommunications tower, at 370 feet, was erected at a cost of $340,000. MPPD first requested a variance for the tower from the city in 2005, which was denied. The city cited possible conflict with future funding and ceiling limits of the instrument landing system at the McCook Airport. MPPD subsequently sued the city but in January of 2007, the McCook Board of Zoning and the city council gave their approval, with the stipulation that MPPD correct or remove the tower if it affects operations or funding at the airport.

June 30 -- After years of below average precipitation, the area was benefitting from a resurgence in precipitation in 2007, with the total year-to-date moisture reaching 15.12 inches as of June. That is more than twice as much rain as the 6.92 inches which had fallen by this date in 2006.

JULY

July 4 -- An old-fashioned baseball game, sponsored by the Quasquicentennial Committee and the Chamber of Commerce, draws hundreds to the Jaycee Ball Complex.

July 5 -- With wheat harvest in full swing, yields ranged from 50 to 70 bushels per acre, and some fields are topping 85 bushels per acre, said Doug Brown, the operations manager for Frenchman Valley Farmers Co-op in McCook, Culbertson and Perry.Wheat prices are at high levels, with a cash price of $5.20 per bushel at the Frenchman Valley elevator in McCook. That represents a significant jump over the past two years, with the July 3rd cash price in McCook standing at $3.09 per bushel in 2005 and $4.78 per bushel in 2006.

July 10 -- The City of McCook has hired local attorney Nate Schneider as the new City Attorney, replacing Rhonda Vetrovsky.

July 14 -- McCook experiences four days of rain in a row, with 16.39 inches of rain recorded so far -- 6.92 inches ahead of last year at this time in McCook, and 3.79 inches ahead of normal for the month of July -- statistically the wettest month of the year.

July 21 -- Dan Childers, a Sebring, Fla. developer of golf courses and owner of a custom car detailing chain, held his grand opening for the Rayburn Building, formerly the Eastward Elementary School. Childers purchased the school for $60,000 and poured $1 million into the structure, renovating it into time share condos.

July 24 -- A grant of approximately $1.3 million was awarded to the South West Weed Management Area by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to accomplish the vegetation management task set forth in LB701. This is one of several tools which will help our chances of future compliance with Kansas in the Republican River Compact, said Sen. Mark Christensen in a press release.The project offers -- with permission from landowners -- the opportunity to control water-hogging saltcedar, phragmites, eastern red cedar and Russian olive on the Republican River channel and within 100 feet of both banks.

July 25 -- President Bush on Tuesday declared parts of Southwest Nebraska a major disaster area and ordered the federal government to supplement state and local recovery from storms that struck May 28 through June 2. The declaration includes Dawson, Frontier, Hayes and Hitchcock counties.

July 25 -- A fatal collision occurred a half-mile east of Trenton on U.S. Highway 34. Clark A. Spanel, 25, of Hastings was killed when his westbound SUV crossed the centerline and collided with an eastbound semi tractor-trailer rig driven by Samuel James, 50, of Bluehill.

July 27 -- If the money can be raised, state officials have given the go-ahead for the construction of a new $9.5 million events center at McCook Community College. The Coordinating Commission for Post Secondary Education voted to approve Mid-Plains Community College proposal for construction of the project, a 40,000-50,000 square foot event/athletic center. The structure would be located in Kelley Park. A minimum of $7 million in private donations, $500,000 in capital improvement property tax funds, and a facilities corporation of up to $2 million are proposed as the source of funds

AUGUST

Aug. 1 -- J street was closed from West 10th to U.S. Highway 83 for construction. The construction was financed by $550,000 of city sales revenue. It involved the replacement of the asphalt pavement with 8 inches of concrete, installing handicap ramps where needed and replacing private water service lines under the new pavement.

Aug. 1 -- Dr. George Garlick of Curtis announced the formation of a Curtis-based company, Frontier Technologies LLC. The cutting-edge technology firm will develop holographic ultrasound technologies for the veterinary medicine and food quality fields and be based on the campus of the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture.

Aug. 3 -- Nick O'Dea, 19, and Jesse Randolph, 21 were killed in a two-motorcycle accident on a county road in north-central Red Willow County.

Aug. 4 -- FEMA reimburses McCook $49,844.39 for costs relating to the December ice storm.

Aug. 20 -- Red Willow County receives the first of three FEMA reimbursements for the damage caused by flooding in the spring. The first payment Aug. 20 is $29,461.29, followed by a Sept. 27 payment of $33,197.72 and $24,316,75 on Dec. 11

Aug. 24 -- Raleigh Haas, Warden of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services Work Ethic Camp in McCook, resigned his position, effective Oct. 6, 2007.

Aug. 29 -- Hayes Center - Ryan Ridlen, 17, who just started his senior year of high school, died as the result of in a car-truck accident as he drove himself and his sisters to school. His two younger sisters were treated at Good Samaritan Hospital at Kearney.

SEPTEMBER

Sept. 12 -- The Middle Republican Natural Resources District directors approved the 2007-08 budget by 9-2, at $4.7 million. This includes an additional .0472 per $100 property valuation, for a total of $10.866 per $100 in property valuation for homes and property in Red Willow, Furnas, Hitchcock, and Frontier counties. The approved budget also includes $7.13 per irrigated acre in occupation taxes. The new property tax rate and newly enacted occupation taxes will be used to generate an estimated $2.7 million, the MRNRD portion of the $9 million the three Republican River Natural Resources District agreed to pay for surface water rights.

Sept. 22 -- Mid-Plains Community College students are now able to earn an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business completely online, thanks to recent approval by the Higher Learning Commission.

Sept. 23 -- Family and friends of McCook High School's late, beloved golf coach, Ron Coleman, gathered in Lincoln for Ron's induction into the Nebraska Sports High School Hall of Fame.

Sept. 24 -- A dog breeder who was denied a special exception for his kennel had filed a lawsuit against the city. Daniel Miller filed the lawsuit and asks that the city reverse its denial. A May 15 trial is scheduled.

Sept. 27 -- Bill Zahl, branch president of MNB-Stratton, confirmed that a local grocery store has been approved for a $70,000 loan by the Hitchcock County Regional Development Plan board. A November opening is planned for the store, which will be located in the building formerly occupied by Paul's Grocery and C&K's Supermarket.

Sept. 28 -- Gusty winds and rain could not dampen the spirit of McCook's annual "Heritage Days" weekend celebrations Sept 28-29. During the weekend celebration, the bronze, life-sized sculpture of Sen. George Norris was dedicated.

OCTOBER

Oct. 2 -- A transaction was completed with Charter Communications to made Great Plains Communications the new cable television and broadband Internet provider in McCook

Oct. 2 -- Barbara Lewien was named warden for the Department of Corrections Work Ethic Camp in McCook. She takes the place of Raleigh Haas, who resigned.

Oct. 3 -- A woman from Mount Horeb, Wis. who turned up in McCook after vanishing from her job the day before made up the story about being abducted at gunpoint, said officials with the McCook Police Department. The woman was later returned to relatives in Wisconsin.

Oct. 3 -- Kasey Jo Warner, 28, a biology teacher at McCook Community College and a former volleyball coach at Arapahoe High School, died when a westbound car, driven by a 34-year-old Herchel Huff, 34, of Grant/Holbrook struck her on a county road southwest of Arapahoe at about 7:15 p.m. Huff pleaded not guilty to motor vehicle homicide, fourth offense driving while intoxicated and other charges. Trial is set Feb. 5 and 6, 2008 in Furnas County.

Oct. 16 -- Kyle Serocki, originally of Olathe, Kan., was sentenced to not less than two years but not more than 60 months to the Nebraska Department of Corrections, in connection to a two-vehicle accident that resulted in the death of Nicholas Mead, 25, of Cambridge. Serocki pleaded no contest in a plea agreement to the felony charges of motor vehicle homicide and leaving the scene of an injury or fatal accident. On Oct. 7, 2006, Sercoki's vehicle struck Mead four miles west of Indianola on U.S. Highway 6 and 34 while Mead changed a tire on the shoulder of the road. Serocki's blood alcohol level was tested at more than twice the legal limit, at .18. The legal limit is .08

Oct. 18 -- Lemoine and Geri Anderson, who owned and operated Anderson Motors Inc. in McCook for 42 years, worked with the Nebraska Community Foundation to develop an innovative plan to provide for a gift of $346,431 to the McCook Community Foundation's endowment. An initial grant of $13,000 from the endowment was made at the Annual Banquet of the McCook Community Foundation. The Andersons were honored for making the largest gift in foundation history. The contribution will be used to make annual gifts to worthy community projects.

Oct. 23 -- A lawsuit is filed in the Nebraska Supreme Court that challenges the constitutionality of the property tax levy of LB701, the legislative bill that taxes home and property owners in the Republican River Basin. "Friends of the River," nine landowners in the Republican River Basin area, filed the lawsuit and contend that the real estate property tax provisions of LB701 violate Nebraska's constitution as it uses property taxes to pay for a state issue, the Republican River Compact with Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado.

Those named in the lawsuit included county officials in Red Willow, Dundy, Hitchcock, Frontier, Furnas and Harlan counties, The state Department of Natural Resources, and the Upper, Middle and Lower Natural Resources District in the Republican River Basin. The State Supreme Court declines to hear the case and the suit is later filed in Lancaster District Court in Lincoln. A hearing has been set for January 24, 2008.

Oct. 25 -- Thanks to business and individual contributions, McCook City Firefighters reached their goal of raising $4,000 for the World Championship Firefighter Combat Challenge in Las Vegas. Members of the City Fire Department qualified for the finals and competed in the Championship finals in Las Vegas Nov. 8.

Oct. 29 -- Republican River Basin Natural Resources Districts learn that Ameritas Financial will not issue $9 million in bonds it planned to use to pay irrigators for the surface water sold to the NRD's. The bonding company cited the pending litigation that challenges the constitutionality of LB 701. Irrigators who sold their water are scheduled to be paid the first week of December.

NOVEMBER

Nov. 13 -- McCook Public School nurse Dawn Garcia said that MPS has implemented additional cleaning and disinfecting schedules for certain higher-risk areas of the school to address outbreaks across the country of the antibiotic-resistant strain of staph infections. Garcia reports no known cases of MRSA in McCook schools

Nov. 13 -- City voters approved renewing the current one cent sales tax and an additional half cent tax at the Nov. 13 special election.

The one-cent tax, set to terminate in October 2008, was renewed for 10 years; the half cent tax is also in effect for 10 years. Revenue from the one cent tax will be split between property tax relief and city improvement projects. Revenue from the half cent tax, set to begin in July 2008, will be split between the city for improvements and an economic development plan.

Nov. 17 -- The McCook Bison and Crete Cardinals go head-to-head for the Class B Championship title at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. Crete came away with a 14-7 victory, the first overtime game ever in the Nebraska Class B title game. This was the fifth time the McCook Bison football team made it to the Class B final in six years. McCook won back-to-back state titles in 2002 and 2003.

Nov. 19 -- Red Willow County Commissioners unanimously voted to have Chief Deputy Attorney General Dave Cookson defend Red Willow County in the pending lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of LB701. Cookson will defend Red Willow County and other counties named in the lawsuit.

Nov. 21 -- The Hormel Family Foundation announced that its second annual business plan competition will take place June 6, 2008, at the Hormel Business & Technology Center on the McCook Community College campus. Start-ups and existing local business owners are encouraged to submit their business ideas

Nov. 23 -- Don Harpst and his wife, Alice, challenged the McCook Community Foundation to raise $75,000 by Dec. 31. If they are successful, the Harpsts will donate an additional $25,000, increasing the total given in the campaign to $100,000.

Nov. 23 -- Lena Mihm, 91, died at Community Hospital of McCook after she lost control of her westbound SUV on snow-covered roads. The vehicle crossed the center lane of U.S. Highway 6-34, on the hill west of Culbertson, and it struck an oncoming SUV driven by James Majors, 58, of Wauneta. Majors and other occupants of his vehicle were airlifted to a Lincoln hospital.

Nov. 27 -- The Republican River Riparian Partnership conference is held in McCook. Various speakers,including ranchers, wild-life experts, state and local officials, address the various issues surrounding the Republican River.

Nov. 30 -- Mid-Plains Community College met with representatives from North Lindsey college in England to sign a Global Education Partnership Agreement. The agreement will allow the exchange of students, staff and administration between North Lindsey and MPCC.

DECEMBER

Dec. 3 -- A project worth about $9 million may be in the near future for McCook, if property near the airport is selected for a new joint National Guard Center and ArmyReserves facility. City Manager Kurt Fritsch announced at the Dec. 3 council meeting that the city has offered to donate 37.6 acres of city-owned property east of airport along U.S. Highway 6 and 34 for the facility. He expected a response from the Nebraska National Guard in the near future.

Dec. 8 -- A Governor's Ball and First Ladies Tasting Tea is planned by the Quasquicentennial Committee and the McCook Chamber of Commerce, as the final events of McCook's 12th birthday. A snowstorm prevents Sen. Ben Nelson and Gov. Dave Heineman from attending but the festivities are still enjoyed by numerous residents.

Dec. 12 -- Jacob R. Brennan died as a result of a one-vehicle accident, when his pickup crossed the centerline of U.S. Highway 6-34 about 31⁄2 miles west of Culbertson, entered the south ditch and hit an embankment.

Dec. 17 -- Red Willow County commissioners took steps to demand repayment of the $300,000 the county loaned to start a helicopter kit company three years ago.Pawnee Aviation is late 12 payments on a $200,000 loan and late four payments on a $100,000 loan.Rex Nelson, executive director of the McCook Economic Development Corp., that oversees the county's loan program, said he will bring updated financial information and a work-out plan to the commissioners meeting Jan. 28

Dec. 20 --The McCook Economic Development Corp. announced that it has received a federal government grant of $1,578,500 for the purchase and renovation of the historic Keystone Hotel. The award will fund half of the cost of renovating the Keystone. The other half of the $3.1 million project will come from local bank financing, charitable contributions, tax increment financing and city funding.


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