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Walkers celebrate 50 years on long and winding road

It was 50 years ago that the Beatles played their final show on a rooftop in London and a local schoolteacher founded a walking group with mostly fellow teachers in Hastings for the health of it.

And while the former marked the end of an era, the latter still is going strong on its 50th anniversary, with walkers coming together three times each week to tread the long and winding track at Hastings High School.

Founded by Helen Karloff in 1969, the informal walking club has changed many faces and pairs of shoes through the years. Karloff, who taught at District 15 for most of her 25 years in the classroom, first was joined on the walk by a neighbor who also wanted to stay fit. Maril Freese was among the first walkers in the fold, but has since moved to Lincoln.

Shortly after Karloff and a neighbor began circling the neighborhood together near the now defunct Imperial Mall off Valley Chase Avenue and Park Lane Drive, they were joined by other women — most of them fellow teachers. In short time, the group swelled to double-digit membership.

“One neighbor came out and said, ‘May I walk with you?’ and other neighbors came and joined,” Karloff said. “That’s was how it started, and that’s how it’s kind of run now. You just get out and join.”

Karloff and the remaining 10 regulars — who have since relocated their shared 45-minute stroll each Monday, Wednesday and Friday to the Hastings High track — were joined by Freese to commemorate the group’s 50th anniversary with a coffee gathering at Karloff’s house Aug. 23.

aroh / Amy Roh/Tribune  

Walking club members — from left, Jeanne Loch, Donna Hamburger, Cathy Morgan and Barb Murman — walk at Hastings High School’s track Wednesday morning.

As she reflects on the club’s lengthy run, Karloff said she is as surprised as anyone to see how the impromptu routine she established has stood the test of time. Averaging 75 years in age, some current members have belonged to the group for more than four decades, embracing the time as both an opportunity to keep fit and keep up with the latest happenings in one another’s lives.

In addition to sharing trackside chats under the trees after their walks, the women meet for coffee periodically throughout the year to stay connected as friends. It is one of the perks that has made their longstanding arrangement so rewarding, Karloff said.

“The getting together is very much a part of it,” she said. “We love to get together. If someone has a birthday, we’ll usually have a coffee.”

While many of the schoolteacher walkers initially limited their participation to summer months, Karloff and others have managed to keep their routine going year-round. Their cutoff temperature for walking is generally 20 degrees, though Karloff said most of the women bundle up and brave the elements whenever possible. In years past, the group moved its stroll inside the Imperial Mall when extreme temperatures arose. Days off have been few and far between.

“We walk at 8 in the morning, so it’s usually not too hot then,” Karloff said. “In the winter, we don our long underwear and bundle up, even if it’s less than 20 degrees because we prefer walking outside.”

Pat Kleiber, 81, worked in Hastings Public elementary schools for more than 30 years. Kleiber has been walking with club members for roughly 40 years.

“I love being outside, and I love seeing the change in the weather,” she said. “I love the feeling of exercising my body so that I feel better all day. And the conversation is stimulating.

“I’d rather do this than meet somebody and have coffee and have something that I shouldn’t be eating in my body. I feel like we’re killing two birds with one stone.”

Carolyn McKenzie, 80, has been stepping out with fellow walkers for more than 30 years. Retired after 36 years of teaching, she remembers how an increase in automobile traffic began to impede the group’s walking routine prior to its move to Hastings High track.

“In the summer you needed a place to go exercise, so at that time, we met out by the mall when the local church bell rang,” she said. “That was our signal to walk.”

Eliminating traffic was but one benefit to moving their collective stroll to the rubberized high school track.

Members of the walking group started by Helen Karloff 50 years ago include: front rown (L-R): Carolyn McKenzie, Donna Hamburger, Maril Freese, Helen Karloff, Cathy Morgan; back row (L-R): Jeanne Loch, Mary Congreve, Carol Michael, Barbara Murman, Mary Jo Heishman, Pat Kleiber, Judy Thorsheim

“It’s wonderful,” she said. “It’s softer on your joints!”

While participation from multiple walkers adds accountability to the routine, McKenzie said it is the informal nature of the club that has kept her going all these years.

“It’s really no commitment,” she said. “I guess you just feel like you need the exercise and it’s fun to do it with your friends. It goes much faster than if you’re walking by yourself.”

Judy Thorsheim, 79, of Hastings taught in Hastings Public elementary system for more than 50 years with her husband, Jon. A walking club veteran for more than two decades, she is among those die-hard members who refuse to allow inclement weather to stop them in their tracks.

“We’re not afraid of the cold,” she said. “We walk outside pretty much rain or wind. The weather doesn’t stop us much unless it’s icy or there’s too much snow on the track.”

Retired these past 19 years, she said she has grown to value the friendships she’s forged on the track. Post-walk conversations serve to keep walkers connected to one another’s lives, families and latest happenings within the community.

“We like to say we’re solving all the problems of Hastings and the world,” she said with a laugh. “We know all about each other’s families and where we’re going on vacation and all that sort of thing.”

She said she feels especially blessed to be healthy enough to participate in the tri-weekly ritual, knowing there are others who no longer can because of health issues.

“At our age, there are a lot of people who can’t do it anymore,” she said. “We figure as long as we can do it, we will.”

Tribune e-Editon Plus, 'a whole new experience'

The Hastings Tribune is changing the way online subscribers receive their daily dose of local coverage.

The first daily newspaper in Nebraska to launch an e-Edition online in 2001, the Tribune is now rolling out its latest offering — the Tribune e-Edition Plus, which features the latest digital technology designed to enhance the total newspaper experience for its subscribers.

Readers can sample the new product free online at before it becomes exclusive to paid print or online subscribers on Sept. 3. The new product is included as part of the Tribune’s subscriber package that includes print newspaper delivery. The e-Edition Plus product also can be purchased separately as a stand-alone product.

“Subscribers of the e-Edition Plus will have a whole new experience that they just can’t have in print alone,” Tribune Publisher Darran Fowler said. “We’re capable of doing so much more than we could before with our e-Edition and we’re still learning how to include some of those features, but with the start of school we figured it’s time to turn it loose and work on those things as we go forward.

“I really do think this is our future and subscribers are going to like it.”

Unlike the previous e-Edition, which was strictly a PDF replica of the newspaper, the e-Edition Plus includes a text tab that gives subscribers access to additional story, photo, video or audio content that wasn’t possible to include before.

In addition, Fowler said, readers will immediately notice how crisp and sharp everything appears and that text, photos and advertisements can all be made larger in the text version.

As before, access to the PDF or page version of the e-Edition remains available to those most comfortable simply scrolling from page-to-page to read what’s going on locally.

“The new e-Edition Plus is just a really nice, smooth way to look at your community newspaper wherever you’re at,” said Laura Beahm, who is a Tribune photographer and a part of the Tribune’s web development team. “It’s convenient. You get all that extra content that you wouldn’t get otherwise.

“As a photographer, it’s really nice to know that more of our photos can now be seen. The idea is that we are covering a lot of people in our community and want to get as many photos of them in the paper as we can. That hasn’t always happened because of space. This way, we’re going to get more kids’ faces in there, more names.”

lbeahm / Laura Beahm/Tribune  

This screen grab shows options on the Tribune e-Edition Plus menu.

Nick Blasnitz, who is the Tribune sports editor and also a member of the web development team, said the e-Edition Plus gives him the opportunity to include never-before-available footage and comments from players and coaches as another way to tell a story.

“It’s a more fulfilling experience to read the newspaper in a way that draws your attention to other elements of the story,” he said. “There will be extra photos within the story that when we run out of room in the paper don’t get in. And maybe some extra key plays that were important in the game but did not get into the story. You’ll really get the full story through e-Edition Plus.”

Doug Edwards, the Tribune’s IT manager, said readers of all ages will appreciate the simplicity of navigating the new Tribune e-product. Designed to enhance the readers’ overall media experience, the e-Edition Plus can be mastered by most novices with just a few simple clicks, he said.

“It’s very easy to learn,” Edwards said. “Once you do it a few times it will be second nature. Access is very easy.

“It opens to all the e-Edition pages of the day, with an archive available for the past 30 days. Simply click on the page. You can then read the newspaper page by page or read the text version, or go back and forth between the two.”

The Tribune e-Edition Plus is published promptly by 5 a.m. Monday through Saturday.

Fowler said that while the e-Edition Plus can be accessed by going to the Tribune’s website, it can also be conveniently delivered directly via email to subscribers.

That way, he said, when they check their inbox on their smart phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer, they can read that day’s newspaper whenever it fits best into their busy schedules, making it easier to keep informed with what is going on locally.

“We realize people don’t always have time to read the paper in the morning before they start their day, so this way we can email it directly to them so that it will always be with them to read as they find time,” Fowler said. “Our e-Edition Plus is a totally different, unique experience for all ages to keep up with what’s going on in their school, community and neighborhood.

“We still have some bugs to work out and we’ll get better at it as we go, but we’re really excited to be able to offer this to our subscribers.”

Committee hears pitch for new jail

Members of the recently formed Citizens’ Jail Committee received an introduction Wednesday to the shortcomings of the current Adams County Jail as well as a timeline to recommend a new jail during an upcoming election.

Scott Thomsen, member of the Adams County Board of Supervisors who chairs the county’s building, grounds and equipment committee, instigated the push to begin planning for a new jail.

“We actually needed a new jail 25, 30 years ago,” he said in an introduction at Wednesday’s meeting.

The current jail, which is about 60 years old, is rated with a 37-bed capacity. There are also three beds for booking and three special purpose beds.

The county board in June approved proceeding with phase II of a formal jail study with Prochaska Associates architecture firm of Omaha for $15,000.

Entering phase II of the study follows the conclusion of phase I, which also cost $15,000. County board members approved phase I in March 2018.

Phase II included the formation of a citizens’ committee to look at new jail options and funding possibilities.

After learning about five potential design options at future meetings, committee members will be tasked with deciding how to finance a new jail and how to market it to the public in an election.

The target is to have a design concept recommended to the county board at the end of January 2020 in advance of the May 12, 2020, primary, or possibly a special election in summer 2020.

Four representatives from Prochaska were on hand at Wednesday’s meeting to provide a presentation reviewing the condition and compliance issues of the existing sheriff’s office and jail.

The recommendation from Prochaska is to build a 146-bed facility with a plan to eventually expand to 200 beds.

For 2018, the peak inmate total was 105 inmates. The average daily population was 64.2 inmates.

The committee includes 12 citizens, plus Thomsen, fellow Supervisor Lee Hogan and Sheriff John Rust.

Committee member Lyle Fleharty was selected chairman and Jamey Hamburger to be vice chairman at Wednesday’s meeting.

Committee members toured the existing jail at the conclusion of the meeting.

Including what is budgeted for 2019, $4.75 million has been spent to house Adams County prisoners in other county jails since 2007. The annual amount spent has increased from $59,701 in 2007 to $730,000 budgeted for 2019.

That amount doesn’t include transportation.

“We spend an awful lot of money housing prisoners elsewhere,” Thomsen said.

According to numbers in the Prochaska presentation, Adams County spent $598,785 to house prisoners in other counties during 2018.

“When you have 35 to 40 prisoners housed elsewhere, you can see transportation costs are just enormous,” Thomsen said.

He estimated, including transportation, close to $1 million is spent per year housing prisoners in other county jails.

“Right now that $1 million is every one of your tax dollars going to other counties,” Thomsen told the committee members.

Adams County has housed inmates in Hall, Phelps, Buffalo, Clay, Franklin and Dawson counties. Juveniles are housed at the Northeast Nebraska Juvenile Detention Center in Madison County.

“So they get our tax dollars to use in their county, to give people more jobs,” Thomsen said. “We’re going to have to have a new jail sooner rather than later. We should be using that $1 million right now to be paying that jail off instead of giving it to other counties. Just the maintenance we have in that little facility is getting more and more costly all the time.”

The current Adams County jail has out-of-date infrastructure and is non-compliant with state regulations. The only reason it can stay open is because it is grandfathered.

Cell doors can only be opened or closed by hand, with a key.

The committee’s next meeting is 6:30 p.m. Oct. 8 in the district court room of the Adams County Courthouse.