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Committee sees design for possible new jail north of courthouse

Members of the Citizens’ Jail Committee saw a “pre-schematic” design Tuesday for a possible multi-level Adams County Justice Center that would be constructed just north of the Adams County Courthouse.

Representatives from Omaha architecture firm Prochaska & Associates shared that design at the county’s Wallace Elementary building during the second meeting of the Citizens’ Jail Committee.

The design has space for 154 beds divided between space for work release, minimum-security, medium-security and maximum-security inmates.

Both genders could be housed there. Men and women would just be separated by sight and sound.

The Citizens’ Jail Committee is tasked with making a recommendation for a new jail facility, the funding for which would be put to a public vote.

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.

The design for 154 beds is based on the most efficient usage of the space available. That amount of beds is slightly more than the 146 Prochaska is proposing based on demographics and anticipated need over the next few decades.

The proposed jail designs are still preliminary.

Even the anticipated cost has a wide margin.

A 146-bed facility is projected to cost $23.8 million to $29.5 million.

The current Adams County jail, which was constructed in 1962, has out-of-date infrastructure and is non-compliant with state regulations. The only reason it can stay open is because it is grandfathered in to stay in operation under old rules.

The current jail has a 37-bed capacity with another three beds for booking and three special purpose beds.

Additional inmates are housed in other counties’ jails.

Unlike the current Adams County Jail, which has manual locks and a hallway that circles around several cells, the proposed design for a new jail would have master control areas at the center of the area where jail staff look out on several inmate areas.

Weighing a couple different measurement methods, Prochaska projected the need to be 162 beds by 2039 and 188 by 2049.

In recommending 146 beds for Adams County, the Prochaska report states the jail must increase in size to provide the county with a lasting facility while preventing costly inmate transport and boarding, but not be oversized if the forecast is not realized over time.

“I’ve done this enough to trust the system,” Curtis Field, Prochaska principal-in-charge told committee members.

Also on hand Tuesday was Chris Harrifeld, field representative for the Jail Standards Division of the Nebraska Crime Commission.

He said when he heard Adams County was looking into possibly constructing a new jail, he calculated a round project size of 150 beds.

“They’re not trying to sell you more beds than you need,” Harrifeld said.

If the forecast proves true over time, it is the goal of Adams County and Prochaska to provide a pre-planned addition into the 146-bed facility only to meet future demand, if needed, and to hopefully extend the initial investment into the 146-bed facility well beyond the standard facility life-expectancy of 20-40 years.

Harrifeld said by constructing a new jail, Adams County would become a de facto regional jail.

Several of the county jails in smaller, surrounding counties are around 100 years old. The Clay County Jail was constructed in 1923, Fillmore County in 1893, Franklin County in 1926 and Webster County in 1889.

The Citizens’ Jail Committee meets next 6:30 p.m. Nov. 12. Committee members will see more design options.

Before that Nov. 12 meeting, committee members will look at Seward County’s new jail.

Hastings College introduces Fine Arts Hall of Fame

Hastings College will begin a new tradition during its homecoming this weekend with the introduction of a Fine Arts Hall of Fame.

On Oct. 13, three Hastings College alumni will be recognized and inducted into the new hall of fame for their contributions to the Hastings communities through their talents in fine art.

The inductees must also demonstrate “outstanding work in their field,” said Annette Vargas, associate dean of arts and humanities at Hastings College.

Vargas helped get the hall of fame started.

The Fine Arts Hall of Fame was put together to promote the arts at the college. Vargas, who also is a professor of theater, said the arts are one of the centers of excellence at the college. The centers of excellence is the college’s term for highlighted programs.

“If we’re going to have a center of excellence, we should have a hall of fame just like athletics does,” Vargas said.

The committee for choosing this year’s inductees was made of emeriti and current faculty for music, theater and art — which are the same three categories within the hall of fame. Vargas said the committee went through a long list of alumni last spring and voted the list down to three people.

“I’m just really excited that we get to honor our great alumni, especially all three of them who have given back so much to the college,” Vargas said.

Moving forward, the committee likely will be formalized and will accept nominations, similar to the Athletic Hall of Fame, Vargas said.

Three alumni will be inducted into the hall of fame: Ruth Moore, class of 1969; Gary Staab, class of 1989; and Michael Tushaus, class of 1998.

Moore, of Hastings, is being honored for her contributions through music in Hastings and in Grand Island. Moore was a professor of music at Hastings College from 1988 until retirement in 2016. Moore has played the piano at a long list of campus and community events, including chapel services, Handel’s “Messiah, Pro Rege and Baccalaureate.

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Gary Staab glues the head of an ammonite he sculpted onto its shell at the Hastings Museum in this photo taken May 21, 2013. Staab is being inducted into the Hastings College Fine Arts Hall of Fame this weekend.

Moore continues to share her musical talent as organist for First Presbyterian Church in Grand Island and as an accompanist at the Walnut Middle School, also in Grand Island.

Staab, of Kearney, Missouri, is being honored for his contribution through art. A sculptor with a focus on biology, Staab has created models of natural history and prehistoric life for museums, including the mosasaur skull and the Xiphactinus, a prehistoric fish, at the Hastings Museum. His art has also been featured at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Institute, Disney Animation and National Geographic.


Michael Tushaus works on the set of “Abigail” as a cinematographer.

Staab currently works as a freelance sculptor at Staab Studios in Kearney, Missouri.

Tushaus of Las Vegas, Nevada, is being honored for his work in theater. A recipient of five Emmy awards from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Heartland and Pacific Southwest Chapters, Tushaus has worked as a director, editor, composer and producer.


Michael Tushaus poses recently with the regional Emmy award he won from the NATAS Heartland Chapter for directing the commercial spot for Prairie Books & Gifts in Hastings. Tushaus is being inducted into the Hastings College Fine Arts Hall of Fame this weekend.

Tushaus founded Digisphere Productions in 2013, providing different resources for video and film production.

The three-person class will be recognized at a 11:30 a.m. Oct. 13, followed by a ceremony at 12:30 p.m. in the Jackson Dinsdale Art Center. Staab’s work will be put on display in the center until Nov. 2.

Tickets for the ceremony are available for purchase through the alumni office at Hastings College.

Following the ceremony, Ghislaine Fremaux, an assistant professor of art in painting at Texas Tech University, will give a lecture at 2:30 p.m. in the Wilson Center auditorium.

Man in stolen truck leads authorities on chase through three counties

An Omaha man was jailed Tuesday in York after reportedly leading law enforcement on a chase through Clay, Fillmore and York counties Monday night and into the wee hours of Tuesday morning.

The Nebraska State Patrol reported that Scott Rector, 49, allegedly fled from authorities first in a stolen truck and later on foot.

After crashing the straight truck he was driving into a ditch near Z Road between 18th and 19th roads on the York/Hamilton County line, he headed out on foot into a cornfield.

The location of the truck crash is roughly six miles northeast of Hampton or seven miles northwest of Bradshaw.

After Rector allegedly took off on foot, personnel from several local agencies and NSP searched the area and eventually found him hiding in a culvert in the early morning hours.

State troopers were able to identify him at the scene using the mobile Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or AFIS, device.

Monday night’s pursuit began around 9:45 p.m. when the Sutton Police Department received a report that a stolen straight truck was in the area, the State Patrol reported. Officers found the truck and tried to make a traffic stop, but the vehicle fled.

Officers began a pursuit and followed the truck over county roads, east into Fillmore County and eventually north into York County.

The chase involved sheriff’s officers from Clay, Fillmore and York counties at various times and covered a total of 56 miles.

When Rector eventually was located in the culvert, he was arrested on suspicion of willful reckless driving, flight to avoid arrest and possession of stolen property. He was lodged in the York County Jail.