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Missing inmate arrested in Hastings

An inmate who left the minimum-security Community Corrections Center in Lincoln two weeks ago was arrested early Monday morning by Hastings police while he was loading groceries into his van.

Anthony Mattison, 30, was reported missing after leaving the corrections center on June 29. According to a news release from the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, he is serving a six- to 11-year sentence for theft by receiving stolen property out of Platte County. His tentative release date was February 2025. A parole hearing had been set for March 2020.

Mattison was arrested without incident at 4 a.m. Monday in the Walmart Supercenter parking lot, 3803 Osborne Drive West, and is being held in the Lancaster County Jail in Lincoln. His case will be referred to the county attorney’s office for the determination of any additional charges.

He initially attempted to make contact with his parents at their home in Hastings, but his mother, fearing for her safety, would not answer the door, said Hastings Police Sgt. Mark Hinrichs.

“We got a call from his mother, so we knew he was in the area,” Hinrichs said.

Mattison’s van later was spotted in the Walmart parking lot, where Hastings Police Sgt. Kyle Williamson and Officer Edgar Sandoval waited for him to return to the vehicle.

“Officers set up away from the the van waiting for him to return,” Hinrichs said. “He was unloading his groceries into the van with Officer Sandoval standing there watching him. When he finished, Officer Sandoval pushed the door shut, and it startled him. He didn’t realize the officer was watching him and gave up.”

Following his arrest, Mattison was placed in the custody of the Adams County Sheriff’s Office and later was picked up by Lancaster County deputies, Hinrichs said.

CCC-L is one of two community custody facilities operated by the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services. Community custody is the lowest custody level and the least restrictive facility.

Inmates are allowed to participate in work opportunities and to attend school and religious services with prior approval and without direct supervision.

Creativity on display at open class entry day

Like many Adams County residents, Christine Cook took time Monday to bring to the Adams County Fairgrounds projects she completed recently.

The rural Hastings woman brought in flowers, succulents and cacti as well as a refinished chair as her Open Class entries at Adams County Fairfest.

“I’m retired, so for me it’s fun,” said the former social worker for Catholic Social Services. “It’s just fun to bring stuff in and show it off.”

She’s brought in Open Class entries off and on for years.

“Even our kids, when they were in 4-H I brought stuff for Open Class,” she said.

Her multi-colored wooden chair is an accent piece for her deck, which matches the teal cushions she has for furniture there.

“I thought it was just such an interesting chair because of the way it’s made,” she said. “It was the only one at the thrift store, so I thought it needed saved.”

The chair is on display at the fairgrounds’ activities building with a “before” photo.

“That’s what it started out as, pretty ugly,” Cook said.

The Monday following the Fairfest parade is known as Open Class Entry Day — when from noon to 8 p.m., residents in Adams County at least 5 years old bring in entries to participate within the hundreds of specified categories.

The exhibits will be judged Tuesday and released July 22. The fair begins Wednesday and continues through Sunday.

“I am never disappointed,” Open Class Superintendent Robin Stroot said. “I am always surprised at the creativity, just the ideas, and I get ideas and I look at it and think ‘Wow, how did they do that?’ ”

With no preregistration, the area superintendents have no idea what to expect when they show up to entry day.

“For us it’s like a treasure hunt sometimes,” Stroot said. “We see things that are unique. We’ve had so many unique things through the years.”

That creativity is on display in the baking category where superintendent Phyllis O’Dey saw entries Monday that incorporated lace made of sugar, as well as pineapple muffins and zucchini snickerdoodle bread.

“Some really unusual recipes have come in,” she said. “We’re strong on cakes and breads this year.”

With about three hours left to go in entry day, O’Dey said she actually had not received as many cookies as in past years.

A few baking categories were removed from the offerings this year, including lard biscuits and date cake.

“I marked off things we haven’t received in the last 10 years,” O’Dey said.

As she spoke Monday afternoon, Stroot was making iced tea to accompany the meal she would serve later to all of the volunteers who help with Open Class Entry Day.

“I was handed a well-oiled machine from Joyce Harrenstein, who was the original superintendent,” Stroot said.

Adams County Open Class is held in high regard across the state, Stroot said.

“I couldn’t do this without the volunteers,” she said. “They’re an amazing group of people. It makes Adams County’s Open Class really special. We have been known to be one of the best counties in the state for Open Class.”

Representatives from other county fairs have visited Fairfest to see the Open Class displays.

“It’s a compliment to the people of Adams County to share their talents and bring their items in,” Stroot said.

HPS board approves policies second readings

The Hastings Public Schools Board of Education approved multiple policy second readings, approved a district administrator as board secretary and reaffirmed its parental involvement policy after the annual public hearing during its July board meeting.

All members of the board were present for Monday’s meeting at the City Building.

The board approved the second reading of nine policies. All policies were adjusted following recent legislation.

Three policies pertained to previous tobacco, drug, and student discipline policies. The policies now contain language similar to legislation when referring to electronic nicotine devices.

Jeff Schneider, HPS superintendent, said the school is introducing curriculum to students, as well as to staff and parents.

“Its going to be a community effort,” Schneider said.

Two policies pertained to standing committees. The first policy renames the standing committee on American Civics, and the second policy sets guidelines for the standing committee’s operation.

Two policies pertain to military families and recruiters. The first policy allows extra ability for families moving due to military motivations to be admitted at HPS. The second policy requires parents to opt out of the school’s providing contact information for military recruiters.

“If somebody does not want their child’s information released, they would need to give us something in writing stating that,” Schneider said. “Between Dr. (Thomas) Szlanda (Hastings High School principal) and I, we cannot recall one request.”

Another updated policy affirms Nebraska legislation protecting HPS employees’ ability to share wage information.

The last policy adjusts the district’s food procurement program.

The board approved David Essink, director of human resources, as the board secretary. Essink began in his new position July 1 after serving previously as principal of Hastings Middle School.

The board also reaffirmed its policy regarding parental involvement. The board is required to conduct an annual hearing on the subject. No one spoke during the hearing.

In other business, the board approved a five-year contract with Eakes Office Solutions for office equipment services and supplies. The contract calls for a monthly payment of $10,490.67 from HPS to Eakes. Schneider said the contract would save the district $18,000 per year.

The board will have its next work session on Aug. 15.

Planning commission addresses condition violation penalties

The Hastings Planning Commission took action Monday to clarify the penalties for violations of conditions incorporated into a conditional use permit.

Commissioners voted 9-0 during their meeting Monday to recommend approval of proposed Ordinance No. 4598, which would amend city code to clarify penalties for violations of conditions. Commissioner Gavin Raitt was absent, but alternate Willis Hunt was present.

Development Services Director Don Threewitt said the code amendment comes from similar language in the city code in Norfolk. Hastings City Administrator Dave Ptak and City Attorney Clint Schukei both spent time in Norfolk as city attorney.

“It’s clean, it’s clear, and makes the penalties as clear as you can get,” Threewitt said.

The amendment specifically clarifies that violation of permit conditions is a violation of the zoning ordinance and would be subject to Hastings city code, which reads: “Any person who shall violate, neglect or refuse to comply or who resists or opposes the enforcement of, any of the provisions of this code shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof, be fined any sum not more than $100 for each offense. Every day on which such violation, neglect or refusal shall continue, shall be deemed as a separate and distinct offense.”

The Hastings City Council is scheduled to act on the recommendation during the council’s Aug. 12 meeting.

Also during the meeting, Commissioners voted 8-1 to recommend the final plat for the Pioneer Trail Flats Second Subdivision, a replat of Lot 3 of the Pioneer Flats Subdivision in North Park Commons. Hunt dissented.

The commissioners also unanimously approved the Preliminary plat for Trail Ridge Subdivision. The subdivision is the single-family housing component of North Park Commons.