BLADEN — When Josh Drake, a teacher at Silver Lake Elementary School, asked what his students thought of their new school, the consensus was loud and clear.
“Awesome,” most of the students said.
Those who didn’t say anything nodded their heads excitedly and with big grins on their faces.
Students moved chairs and books into their new elementary building Friday after getting approval from the fire marshal the day before.
The Silver Lake students started school for the fall semester Aug. 21. Up to now, classes have been conducted in buildings at the Webster County Fairgrounds, a couple of blocks away from the elementary.
“Stay out of the mud. We don’t need to mud on the brand-new carpet,” Drake told his students as they walked between the buildings.
The Silver Lake School District demolished the old elementary school building April 29, with a few weeks of the spring semester left to finish. Students finished out that semester on the fairgrounds while demolition and construction crews got to work.
The old building was torn down because of accessibility issues and its age.
The schedule for the new elementary was ambitious, according to Josh Cumpston, superintendent. The original plan was to move students into the new building by Sept. 12. But the construction company, Ayars and Ayars Inc., managed not only to meet that schedule, but to beat it by two weeks.
On Friday, a previously scheduled half-day, students got the chance to explore their new classrooms. Older students helped move small items, like books and chairs. Faculty helped move larger objects like desks and television sets.
Cumpston said when the older students found out they were moving, they were excited to help. He said giving the kids their moving tasks already has contributed to their pride and ownership in the new building.
The younger students, after walking over to their new school, got tours of building. As the teacher and paraeducators showed the students around, the kids looked in every nook and cranny. Whenever a new door was opened, the students gathered around the door frames, trying to see over one another.
“This place is big,” said one of the second-graders.
The classroom sizes were significantly bigger than the temporary classrooms on the fairgrounds.
But there still is work left to do for the rooms and hallways. All the white-painted walls were bare as of Friday morning, missing the classroom posters and decorations. Faculty will be going into the building over the weekend to decorate.
The student council also will help decorate.
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning has been added to the new building.
Students moving into the building marks the end of Phase 1 for the building. Phase 2 is expected to finish sometime in December. During Phase 2, construction will continue, though Cumpston said the more distracting operations like drilling and hammering will happen outside of school times. The school also will do some touch-ups to paint and cleaning.
Construction crews and students will be separated by the temporary walls.
The west side of the school is open, and will be where parents can drop kids off. The east side is separated by a temporary fire wall. In the east side, administrative offices and a few other classrooms are being built.
After Phase 2, the east side will be used for student pick up and drop off.
A few rooms are being used for multi-purpose. The library currently has a wall divider so two separate classes can go on at the same time. The concession stand will serve as the lunch serving location, and the gymnasium — the only part of the old building that was not demolished — will be the lunchroom.
Classes in the new building start Tuesday, after the Labor Day weekend.
Hastings Economic Development Corp. has made changes to its business expo to make the event appeal to more people.
The business expo and social will take place 3-7 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Hastings City Auditorium, 400 N. Hastings Ave.
The event is open to any industry and any employer within Adams County. Industries represented so far include manufacturing, agriculture, insurance, local start-up companies, utilities, health care, pharmaceutical sales, construction, health and beauty.
“We have a variety already,” said Maggie Vaughan, HEDC director of talent solutions.
In addition to employers, organizations like MentoringWorks, Hastings Young Professionals, Hastings Family YMCA and YWCA of Adams County, Nebraska Department of Labor and other employment services in the Hastings community will be present.
“Obviously we want those job seekers and those that are looking for opportunities within the community to attend the business expo, but it’s more than that it’s understanding the community of Hastings and the businesses that make us thrive, understanding who they are and what they do,” Vaughan said.
As of Friday, she said, space remained available for about 15 more organizations to participate.
Anyone interested in attending or participating in the event can go to inspiredbyhastings.com/expo2019.
The business expo is part of Hastings Week, formerly known as Welcome to Hastings Week, organized by Hastings Young Professionals.
“We’ve taken off the ‘welcome to,’ just because we want it to seem more like an overall, community-wide event whether you are new to Hastings or you’ve been here a while,” said Vaughan, who is also vice president for Hastings Young Professionals.
Holding the business expo in the late afternoon and evening is another change meant to accommodate more people. The event previously took place in late morning and early afternoon.
“I think having that 3 to 7 as the timeframe for this allows for more people to attend rather than in the middle of the work day, which can be really difficult,” she said.
New to the event this year is the social aspect.
Local breweries First Street and Steeple will be at event serving alcohol.
“Not only will they be able to talk to people about who they are and what they do and even some part time positions they may have available, but they will also be serving alcohol at the event,” Vaughan said. “It’s a social. It’s careers. It’s also just overall awareness and exposure of the businesses in Hastings.”
There will be a ‘Last Hour Happy Hour’ featuring half-price drinks to get people in at a time when attendance may otherwise decline.
Lemonade and iced tea will be free. This is a family-friendly event.
The entire event is meant to promote awareness of the local business community and opportunities within Hastings.
“Within the bucket of opportunities we are having employers that do have openings to fill focus on three main things: Current openings, careers and internships,” she said.
Staff and wire
LINCOLN — State health officials are reporting an outbreak of the mumps in Nebraska.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services says in a news release that at least 30 cases of the highly contagious illness have been identified — 2 ½ times the number of cases reported in the state for all of 2018. Most of this year’s cases occurred among people attending a wedding in northeastern Nebraska and in a workplace in southeastern Nebraska.
The South Heartland District Health Department reports there has been one probable case of mumps identified in Hastings.
Jessica Warner, disease surveillance coordinator, said a person with a probable case presents clinical symptoms and has had contact with a confirmed case. Confirmation is made through laboratory testing.
Mumps is a virus that causes swollen glands, puffy cheeks, fever, headaches and, in severe cases, hearing loss and meningitis. It can spread quickly through coughing and sneezing.
The health agency recommends people get vaccinated to avoid contracting the virus. People also are urged to avoid sharing drinking glasses and eating utensils, among other things.
Symptoms generally occur 16-18 days after exposure.