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Men presumed drowned near Guide Rock

GUIDE ROCK — Authorities have recovered the body of one of two men presumed drowned near the Guide Rock Diversion Dam, according to the Webster County Sheriff’s Office.

The man was found Sunday morning about a quarter- to a half-mile east of the dam, located south of Guide Rock.

The search continues for a second man also presumed to have drowned on Friday.

The Sheriff’s Office responded to the call of a possible drowning on Friday about 3:45 p.m.

Sheriff Troy Schmitz said three men were fishing near the dam when they lost their footing, being pulled by the undertow. Another member of their group used a fishing net to help one of the men get to shore, but the other two men were pulled underwater before the net could be cast again.

Authorities haven’t released the identities of the men, but indicated one of the presumed drowned men was from Grand Island and the other lived in the Hastings or Blue Hill area.

The rescued man was taken to a hospital while the search began.

Law enforcement from Webster and Nuckolls counties responded Friday, as well as emergency responders from Guide Rock and Red Cloud and rescue divers from Hebron and Deshler.

The search continued into the evening and had to be suspended until daylight on Saturday.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission then joined in the hunt using a boat with side sonar equipment. Rescue divers from Grand Island also arrived to assist.

“We appreciate all the help we’ve gotten from everybody,” Schmitz said.

He said rescuers have spent hundreds of man hours using kayaks, air boats and foot patrol to scour the area searching for any sign of the missing men.

About 9:25 a.m., searchers found the remains of one of the men east of the dam.

Schmitz said the search will continue Monday morning.

“We’ll keep searching and doing everything we can to find him to get him back to his family,” he said.


News
Webster County Fair Rodeo a success

BLADEN — The Webster County Fair was blessed with perfect weather.

That includes the rodeo, which started 7:30 p.m. each night Thursday through Saturday.

“We’ve had great weather, were really fortunate,” said Wade Gibson, treasurer of the Webster County Agricultural Association.

Gibson spoke as rodeo fans streamed into the arena on Saturday night, the final night of action, when the temperature was about 80 degrees.

lbeahm / Laura Beahm/Tribune  

Jordan Dassinger of Heartwell competes in barrel racing Saturday night at the Webster County Fair Rodeo in Bladen.

“It went really well,” he said.

An arena packed full of fans watched the action in the dirt and on the adjoining big screen.

The Webster County Rodeo is a Kansas Pro Rodeo Association sanctioned rodeo.

“It’s a legacy here,” Gibson said. “It’s heritage. We’ve done it for years. It’s our biggest event. It draws a lot of people in from a lot of different areas and it’s a good time. Good family fun.”

The Webster County Fair took place the week after Adams County Fairfest.

“The Adams County Fair was last week and had scorching weather, so we were really fortunate we had great weather, no rainouts,” Gibson said. “Today’s been the warmest day of all three. Attendance numbers, I’d say, have been on par with what we’re getting in a normal year.”

Rodeo representatives tried something new this year to draw bull riders.

“Obviously bull riding’s one of the most popular events in rodeo,” Gibson said.

To draw in more bull riders, the rodeo covered their entry fees.

lbeahm / Laura Beahm/Tribune  

Eddie Grummert of Jansen, Neb. competes in Bull Riding Saturday night at the Webster County Fair Rodeo in Bladen.

“That helped,” Gibson said. “We had a lot more bull rider numbers this year, so that was good.”

In the past, the rodeo struggled to get four or five for three nights.

This year there were four bull riders Thursday, five on Friday night and six on Saturday, which totaled about three times what the rodeo normally sees.

lbeahm / Laura Beahm/Tribune  

Casey Graf is herded toward the finish line by Kile Woolridge (left) and Cameron Graf (right), all of Kearney, during the Wild Cow Race Saturday night at the Webster County Fair Rodeo in Bladen.

The Blue Collar Band performed Friday night after the rodeo. The band Borderline performed after the rodeo Saturday night.

“It was a pretty good fair overall,” Gibson said. “We’ve had great participation on the 4-H and FFA side as well, a lot of animals, livestock, static exhibits.”


News
Soccer festival ends with dedication of new scoreboards

The Jonathon Reiber Memorial Soccer Festival may have reached its end but its memory lives on with a pair of new scoreboards at the Hastings High School soccer fields.

The 19th and final festival took place Saturday.

Festival organizer Jason Marr of Omaha said while normally four scholarships are given each year, seven scholarships totaling $16,000 were given away this year. The $16,000 raised is more than double the previous-high donation mark of $7,000 for scholarships.

Including funds for the two electronic scoreboards, more than $30,000 was raised this year.

The seven scholarships handed out Saturday bring the festival total to an even 100 over the course of 19 years, totaling more than $100,000.

The Jonathon Reiber Memorial Soccer Festival came a day after the 20th high school reunion for the Hastings High School class of 1999 — of which Marr and Reiber were both part.

“Overall the day was as good as we could possibly plan for,” Marr said in an interview Sunday afternoon.

He established the festival in memory of his friend and classmate who was killed by a drunk driver Sept. 16, 1999, when he was 19 years old.

Marr said ending the festival after the same number of years that Reiber was alive seemed like the right decision.

Creating an awareness of the hazards of drinking and driving is a goal of the festival.

As freshmen, Marr and Reiber were part of the first Hastings High soccer team to play games on the fields just west of the high school. Before then Hastings High played its games at Watson Elementary, Marr said.

While the fields have been greatly improved since that first year, Marr said scoreboards were a key identity piece that was missing.

“Twenty years later, the fact they didn’t have scoreboards? It felt like something big was missing,” he said.

lbeahm / Laura Beahm/Tribune  

Jason Marr (center) helps unveil a scoreboard Saturday morning during the 19th annual Jonathon Reiber Memorial Soccer Festival at Hastings High.

He came back to Hastings for a game recently to promote the festival. While at the game he had to ask for the score.

“We shouldn’t have to do that at a high school event,” he said. “This gives a sense of pride to the teams, to the school, letting people know ‘This is our field. This is Hastings High and you’re in our house now.’ ”

The scoreboards carry the message “In Memory of Jonathon Reiber. Please don’t drink and drive.”

Tracy Douglas, activities director and assistant principal for Hastings High School, was present at the festival Saturday morning and was thankful for the efforts of the Reiber Festival organizers to raise funds for the new scoreboards.

“It’s just really impressive,” she said. “When you travel around to different soccer complexes — to have two fields that are in great condition, side by side like this plus to have these high-dollar scoreboards is a big deal.”

Marr said he threw together the first festival in about a month.

“I didn’t know 19 years later we’d be doing this,” he said.

He thanked his mother Saturday for her support getting the festival off the ground.

“She is the engine and gears behind this happening,” he told the couple hundred people who gathered for the unveiling of the new scoreboards.

Another goal of the festival is to remind players the festival is more about the how the game is played than it is about actually winning — an ethos Reiber embodied when he played.

“If you’re going to play a game, you should give it your all,” Marr said. “You should hustle, you should try to win, but don’t lose sight of the game and how you play. That’s just as important, if not more important than winning itself.”

Marr thanked the Hastings community for its support of the event.

“There is a piece of July that’s always going to be missing,” he said. “It’s been a huge part of my life the last 19 years, over half my life. It’s very sad to see it end, but it does feel like the right time.”

While the Jonathon Reiber Memorial Soccer Festival has come to an end, the Hastings Family YMCA would like to continue a soccer tournament with the same emphasis.

lbeahm / Laura Beahm/Tribune  

Jason Marr, president and founder of the Jonathon Reiber Memorial Soccer Festival, speaks about Reiber’s legacy Saturday morning at Hastings High.

Ty LeBar, sports director for the Y, was on hand Saturday morning gathering email addresses for potential participants in the next incarnation of the event.

That the YMCA is looking to pick up the event seems fitting to Marr and to Doug Reiber, Jonathon’s father.

“I hope the Y does something because that is where we began,” Doug Reiber said.

He coached his son and Marr in Y youth soccer.

Doug Reiber was blown away by what the festival has become.

“I’m impressed with the whole thing,” he said. “I’m impressed with, over the course of 19 years, the amount of scholarships we’ve given away and the support from the Hastings community.”

That support is appreciated and humbling, he said.

“I expect it from here because I’m from here,” said Doug, who now lives in Lincoln.

He also was impressed by the new scoreboards.

“It’s beautiful; it’s wonderful,” he said. “Jonathon would be so pleased because he had so many hours he put on these fields. To have that there is amazing.”


News
Firefighters practice with controlled house fire

Hastings firefighters practiced their skills and worked toward firefighter certification with a live training session Saturday at 702 S. Chicago Ave.

Firefighters with Hastings Fire and Rescue trained at the house most of the day. Trainers used the building to show firefighters firsthand about the way fires can grow.

“We started looking at a fire from the time it starts to the way it grows to the entire room,” said Fire Chief Brad Starling.

The training included examining the smoke and any visible flames to predict what is most likely occurring inside. Armed with that information, firefighters used the correct tools and techniques to combat the blaze.

Windows in the building had been removed and boarded up prior to the exercises for the safety of the firefighters.

lbeahm / Laura Beahm/Tribune  

Hastings Fire and Rescue Chief Brad Starling watches as a structure at 702 S. Chicago Ave. burns Saturday. The property, owned by the City of Hastings, was first used for training.

Working with the Nebraska State Fire Marshal’s Office, firefighters were able to work toward Firefighter I certification.

“We don’t get a lot of opportunities to be in control of a fire from start to finish,” Starling said. “It’s still dangerous, but not to the level of a real fire. We can experiment with different things.”

The department conducted about nine or 10 exercises in the house before it ultimately was burned to the ground. The single-story house had been condemned by the city, which took ownership of the property with plans to clean it up for resale.

Through the day, spectators from the neighborhood came and went to watch the progress. More people stayed to watch as the final fire was ignited to burn the house down.

lbeahm / Laura Beahm/Tribune  

Hastings Fire and Rescue firefighter Nick Hoendervoogt, Captain Craig Oswald and Lieutenant Paul Ishii watch as the flames spread from the garage while burning a structure at 702 S. Chicago Ave. following live training Saturday.

Firefighters continued practicing as the garage then house went up in flames. They sprayed water on a neighboring house and nearby vehicles to prevent damage from the heat of the blaze. They kept the fire under control until it consumed the house and then extinguished the smoldering remains.