Planning for a potential new jail dominated discussion at Coffee and Conversation with the Adams County Board of Supervisors.
The event, sponsored by the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce, took place Saturday morning at Pastime Lanes in front of an audience of about 15 people.
Supervisor Scott Thomsen, who chairs the county’s building and grounds committee, introduced on Saturday the planning steps for a new jail that have occurred.
He assembled a 15-member citizen committee that will begin meeting next month and look at different facets of the project, including how it will be paid for.
Members of the Adams County Board of Supervisors voted 6-1 in June to proceed with phase 2 of a formal jail study with Prochaska Associates architecture firm of Omaha for $15,000. Supervisor Chuck Neumann dissented, expressing concern that it hadn’t been determined yet how the jail would be paid for.
Neumann reiterated that concern Saturday.
“How are we going to pay for it? That’s probably the biggest thing,” he said. “I look out here. There’s not that many taxpayers but each one it’s pretty important to them. How are we going to pay for it? I hope it’s not with property tax.”
Thomsen on Saturday called Neumann the smartest member of the county board.
“When he raises concerns you have to listen,” he said. “That doesn’t mean I always agree with everything he says, but you at least have to listen to what he says because he does know what he’s talking about.”
Thomsen said the county could levy a half percent sales tax for certain items pertaining to infrastructure, including a new jail.
He said should the committee and the county choose to go with a sales tax it would be countywide and would be in effect until the jail is paid off.
His hope is the method for paying for the jail would be put to a public vote in 2020.
Right now, the county is looking at a new, 144-bed jail.
“Which is obviously quite a bit larger than the one we have now, but it is projected in 20 years we will probably end up growing past that,” Thomsen said. “Even though Adams County’s population is not projected to grow that much, the jail population is.”
Representatives from two other counties told Thomsen they would look to Adams County to house excess inmates.
He said the going rate for housing inmates from other counties is $70 to $100 a day per inmate.
“That would be another way to help pay for the cost of the jail,” he said.
Supervisor Dale Curtis said Adams County has needed a new jail for 30 years.
The state has grandfathered in the decades-old, 40-bed Adams County jail.
Thomsen said District Court Judge Stephen Illingworth has had to cancel court proceedings in the past because water was leaking through the ceiling from the jail, which is on the third floor of the courthouse, into the second-floor courtroom.
Inmates also are walked through public spaces from the jail to the courtroom, which creates safety issues.
“If the state of Nebraska would say ‘We’re going to revoke your grandfather clause,’ stop and think what that’s going to do to us,” Curtis said. “Every single prisoner has to go out. Then we’ll have to start this process and it’ll cost a heck of a lot more a year or two or three down the road.”
Thomsen previously said a new 144-bed jail would mean the addition of about 30 middle class jobs to the Adams County community.
“It’s been forever. Hastings doesn’t get the restaurants,” he said. “They don’t get the clothing stores. A lot of these restaurants and clothing stores don’t come to Hastings because there’s not enough middle class paying jobs to support the restaurants or clothing stores.”
While he’s not in favor of increasing taxes, Thomsen said a new jail is needed.
“I’m a taxpayer too; I hate paying taxes,” he said. “I think we’re so far overtaxed it’s ridiculous, but nonetheless this is something we need and I guess I’ll have to fork over my share too.”
Other topics addressed Saturday included road projects, the county budget and employment.
The next Coffee and Conversations with the county board will be Sept. 7.
Before announcing final placing of the nine round robin showmanship participants, Adams County extension educator Elizabeth Janning told the 4-H’ers they should all be proud to have even qualified for the competition.
“Being able to represent means you put a lot of time in, you worked hard throughout the summer and most likely throughout the years to be able to get to where they are,” she said in an interview after the competition Sunday afternoon. “So, this is just one day, one glimpse of their work they put together for years.”
To qualify for round robin, participants need to place as grand or reserve champion in senior showmanship in one of the livestock categories during Adams County Fairfest earlier in the week.
In each of the species shown during round robin — goats, sheep, cattle and swine — the nine competitors were divided into two heats, one with five competitors and one with four.
The competitors drew to see who participated in which heat each time. Those in the second heat had to stay in the livestock office, away from the show arena, during the first heat.
The competitors also could not show their own animals during round robin.
In addition to goat, sheep, cattle and swine, senior showmanship winners from the horse show also participated in round robin.
Placing high in the competition was a big deal for the top two finalists this year.
Elizabeth Trausch, 19, who graduated from Silver Lake High School in May, placed second.
“It’s definitely an honor to be in round robin. My siblings before me they were all in round robin,” she said. “It feels really great representing my species and being held in this high honor. It feels awesome.”
This was after she placed fourth or fifth in the competition a few years ago.
“Being able to move up the line, it feels really good,” Trausch said.
The first time Trausch qualified for round robin she qualified showing beef.
This year, she represented sheep. Trausch actually placed third in senior sheep showmanship.
Chase DeVries, who won sheep showmanship, drew swine for his representation in the round robin competition after placing reserve champion in swine showmanship.
Trausch also is well-versed in the different species. She showed swine at Fairfest too.
When approaching showmanship, Trausch said it’s important to put your best foot, or hoof, forward.
“Each animal has their own quirks and details you have to follow,” she said. “Really, for showmanship it’s making your animal look as good as you can before you move on to making yourself look presentable to the judge.”
DeVries, an 18-year-old recent graduate of Sandy Creek Public Schools, said it’s cool to participate in round robin and be able to show the different species at the fair and showcase what you can do with them.
“It’s really cool to end the fair with it because this is my last year of 4-H,” he said. “To go out with some success is pretty fun.”
He showed sheep and hogs at the county fair this year.
Of the two, sheep are his favorite because his family raises show lambs.
“I’m just around them a lot more than pigs,” DeVries said.
His older brother, Calvin, previously won round robin, narrowly defeating Chase to win round robin a few years ago.
“It’s nice to come to the fair after all your hard work all summer and have some success,” Chase said.
For Janning, who has worked with all of these 4-H’ers over the years, round robin is a little nerve-racking.
“I never know how it’s going to turn out,” she said. “These youth I’ve known for quite a while. You get that relationship with them and so you’re rooting for them all.”
SMITH CENTER, Kan. — While “4-H Throwback” has proven to be a popular theme at this year’s Smith County Free Fair here, 4-H’ers say that’s not because they fear for the future of the program in their county.
In fact, the Smith County 4-H program is on an upswing, said two soon-to-be 4-H alumni as they were busy filling water balloons for an all-club water fight on the fairgrounds Saturday afternoon.
“I feel like there are a lot more kids participating than usual and a lot more kids are getting involved,” said Adalynne Haresnape of Lebanon, Kansas, a member of the Solomon Valley Beavers 4-H Club and president of the Jewell County 4-H Council.
Kyle Sasse of Athol, Kansas, a member of the Heart of America Club who also serves on the 4-H Council, said after some years when participation seemed to be ebbing, 4-H in Smith County has new blood and new life.
“There’s finally more younger kids coming in,” Sasse said.
Haresnape and Sasse both graduated in May from Smith Center High School and are completing their final county fair as 4-H members today. But they said they are pleased with the direction of the program and gave Risa Overmiller, the county’s 4-H program coordinator, some of the credit.
“I feel like we’re doing more promotion than usual, and Risa’s really good about getting kids involved,” Haresnape said, noting Overmiller’s efforts to get out into the county’s schools throughout the year doing enrichment and outreach programming with students.
This year’s fair theme is “4-H Throwback.” Overmiller said the 4-H Council came up with the idea and urged family members and 4-H alumni from throughout Smith County to contribute their photographs, newspaper clippings and other memorabilia for display at the fair.
“The 4-H Council gets to pick the theme for the fair,” Overmiller said. “The council kids came up with the idea: ‘Why don’t we do throwback and collect old pictures?’
Contributions came from everywhere. For example, the Busy Bees Club was able to pull out the large suitcase stuffed with materials that serves as its archives. Many other items came from individuals, however.
“We put it in the paper, we sent emails, we said ‘talk to your grandmas and grandpas,’ ” Overmiller said.
The result was several displays that included many yellowing newspaper clippings (many from the Tribune, by the way); old photos and brochures; and many 4-H promotional pieces from years gone by.
A Tribune clipping from 1990 included a photo of young Calee Wick, the child of longtime Smith County Extension Agent Sandra Wick, playing in a dirt pile during the fair. An old advertisement from the late 1940s or around 1950 congratulated El Dean Holthus, a well-known Smith County resident now in his mid-80s, on an award-winning beef project. A brochure from yesteryear proclaimed “4-H Clubs need you in 1946.”
Overmiller, who is in her second year as 4-H program coordinator, said the memorabilia displays were a hit with fairgoers — especially the old photos showing what today’s older people looked like when they were young.
“I think the older people like to look at the old pictures and remember when,” she said.
But Overmiller, who has been involved with the Smith County Free Fair in some capacity for all of the 16 years she has lived in the county, said Smith County 4-H doesn’t have to hang its hat entirely on days gone by.
While there are just three 4-H clubs left in the county, reflecting a larger trend toward more independent members, Overmiller said, 4-H overall is holding its own.
“We have good numbers,” she said. “We are at 109 members (countywide). We have one of the strongest 4-H programs in the Post Rock District.”
The Post Rock District also includes Jewell, Osborne, Lincoln and Mitchell counties in northern Kansas.
Besides the water balloon fight, Saturday afternoon’s fair agenda also included the 4-H and open cat show, an archery shoot, a 4-H lifeskills judging contest, and a 4 p.m. photo shoot of all Smith County 4-H’ers, among other activities.
Haresnape and Sasse reflected briefly on their final fair as 4-H’ers.
“It’s a weird feeling,” Haresnape said of participating in her last fair. “It’s kind of bitterweet. We’ve been doing it for so long.”
She plans to attend Kansas State University this fall, majoring in kinesiology.
Sasse said he may be done with 4-H, but he will remain involved in showing cattle as he attends Colby Community College in Colby, Kansas, majoring in animal science and being part of the livestock judging team.
The fair ends today with the round-robin showmanship contest, the livestock premium auction and a community supper.