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Mary Lanning frontline workers receive COVID-19 vaccine
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The chief medical officer at Mary Lanning Healthcare on Tuesday afternoon became the first hospital staff member to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19.

In a news release, Mary Lanning said Dr. Abel Luksan rolled up his sleeve around 3 p.m. and received the shot as several other frontline health care workers watched and applauded.

Luksan and the colleagues and co-workers who followed him all work with COVID-19 patients.

Mary Lanning expected to receive 195 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday. The product started moving around the United States over the weekend after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it for emergency use Friday evening.

Michele Bever, executive director of the South Heartland District Health Department, delivered the vaccine to Mary Lanning Pharmarcy Director Debra Lee.

The Pfizer vaccine must be held at super-cold temperatures before it is thawed prior to use. Those being vaccinated receive an initial shot and then a second shot at a later date.

A determination has been made at the national level that frontline health care workers, including emergency medical services personnel, and residents and staff members at long-term care facilities should be at the head of the line for COVID-19 vaccinations, based on the risks associated with them becoming infected.

Mary Lanning said Tuesday that while details aren’t yet available concerning when its next allocation of vaccine may arrive, the hospital plans to continue vaccinating health care workers as the supply allows.

According to South Heartland statistics, as of Monday a a total of 16 patients were being treated for COVID-19 at hospitals in the health district, which includes Adams, Webster, Clay and Nuckolls counties. Those patients accounted for 42% of all inpatients being treated in the three hospitals, which include Mary Lanning, Brodstone Memorial Hospital in Superior, and Webster County Community Hospital in Red Cloud.

In a news release last week, Bever said a federal program is working with pharmacies to manage the distribution of vaccine to the long-term care facilities.

Following approval of the Pfizer product on Friday, the FDA is planning to take up consideration of a second vaccine, developed by Moderna, this week.

European trip inspiration for new downtown business
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A family trip to Europe sparked the inspiration for an eyewear business in downtown Hastings.

Mikaela Krueger, who has been in the eyewear and eyecare business for 20 years, opened Optika Curated Eyewear, 620 W. Second St., earlier this month.

It was in 2017 that she decided to open her own eyewear shop.

That year she took a trip to Europe with her husband and two daughters that included a tour of four countries. She sought out small optical shops in three of the countries for inspiration and ideas of how she wanted her business back home to be like.

“We designed Optika to feel when you walk in as though you’re walking in a small optical shop in Vienna,” Krueger said.”I wanted clients to walk into our space and feel transported to Europe.“

She said her historic downtown location is perfect in giving her customers the same feel that she had while in Europe.

“Optika is a space dedicated to a sense of comfort and beauty,” she said.

Her shop’s design isn’t the only thing that inspired Krueger on that trip. She offers European products, as well.

“We emphasize beautiful European-designed frames from France and Germany,” Krueger said.

They also offer frames from Spain and a few American lines, as well.

“What we’re doing here at Optika is we have a wide range of quality products at exceptional values,” Krueger said.

Along with high-quality lenses, Krueger said, she wants to make sure she is offering each customer a personalized experience.

“I want to get to know them, to help them find solutions for their eyes,” she said. “Our personal voice is more than just our sound.”

With the culture we live in, music, fashion and even eyewear can all be our voice, she said.

“Uniqueness is what set us all apart,” Krueger said.

She said that is why she wants to help customers find their own style when it comes to lenses.

“I really want people to look at themselves and decide for themselves what’s best for them,” Krueger said.

Krueger has traveled to plenty of places around the world, but, to her, Hastings is special.

“I think after you’ve lived in Hastings even after such a short period of time, people know that Hastings is exceptional,” Krueger said.

Adams County honored for insurance achievement
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Adams County had the best insurance loss ratio for the last five years among the 83 counties served by the Nebraska Intergovernmental Risk Management Association.

The association is a not-for-profit, member-owned and -operated risk management and self-insurance pool designed by and for Nebraska counties which has been expanded to include other select county-related public agencies.

Marshall Tofte, NIRMA communications and events manager, was on hand during the Adams County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday to present Adams County with the outstanding loss history award plaque for 2020, as well as a $1,000 check to apply toward other loss prevention activities in the future.

Tofte took a photo of the supervisors posing with the award in front of the mural outside the supervisors’ meeting room.

The supervisors themselves were impressed with the honor.

“This is pretty awesome,” Board Chairman Lee Hogan said.

Supervisor Dale Curtis said the achievement was especially impressive because of external factors.

“That’s a hard thing to obtain because you can’t control everything,” he said.

Also during the meeting, the supervisors voted 4-0-2 to approve an architectural services agreement between Adams County and Prochaska and Associates of Omaha for the Adams County Justice Center. The action includes removing references to “former” county board member Scott Thomsen as the contact person for the county, because Thomsen will remain in office until his successor, Harold Johnson, is sworn in on Jan. 7, 2021.

Supervisor Eldon Orthmann was absent. Thomsen and Supervisor Chuck Neumann abstained.

An item to approve a contract with Thomsen to continue working on the justice center project, for which he has served as coordinator for several years, at $1,200 per month was removed from the agenda. According to state statute, the county can’t hire an elected official for such a role while the official is still in office.

In other business, the supervisors:

  • Unanimously approved appointing Erika Knott, Neal Gerloff, Robin Stroot and Ashley McCarter to the Extension Board. Gerloff, Stroot and McCarter are new members.
  • Unanimously approved, as the board of equalization, five tax list corrections.
  • Unanimously approved, as the board of equalization, 306 annual motor vehicle exemptions. That number is down from 312 in the previous year.

Hastings College had the most exemptions with 43. Other agencies with large numbers of exemptions include Mary Lanning Healthcare with 32 and Head Start with 23.

  • Unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the issuance of general obligation bonds not to exceed $4.1 million for the long-term financing of the county’s rural road bonds. Including all fees, the interest rate is .95%
  • Unanimously approved awarding the bid for six culverts to Contech of Wahoo and Topeka, Kansas, for $20,578. Contech was the lowest of three bids.
  • Unanimously approved awarding the county’s 2021 asphalt contract for around six miles to Werner Construction of Hastings for $1.008 million. The county’s portion of the project is $922,585. The project also includes sections in the Juniata and Ayr village limits. Werner had the lowest of two bids.

Unanimously approved closing the courthouse on Dec. 24.

Volunteers prepare food for those in need
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Nearly crawling over the side of the shopping cart, 3-year-old Finn Johnson eagerly reached for a can of tuna to help his sister and parents distribute food into boxes that will go out to local individuals and families being assisted this holiday season by the Goodfellows.

Finn and his sister, Harper, 7, were among the youngest volunteers who helped Tuesday evening at the Adams County Fairgrounds.

Their parents, Josh and Bailey Johnson, said the activity was a good learning experience for children. The kids counted out supplies for each box and practiced listening to directions. As they grow, their parents hope to instill in them the idea of giving back to those in need.

“We want to show them giving is important,” Bailey said. “We’re grateful for what we have and want to give back to others.”

Josh is an attorney with the Conway, Pauley & Johnson P.C. law firm, which was well-represented among the volunteers helping pack food into boxes on Tuesday.

Lawyer Doug Pauley said he was happy to see so many of the employees come out to help, a tradition started in the company four years ago. He said they try to do group activities through the year, and this one benefits the community as well as team spirit.

“They seem to enjoy it, especially this year,” he said. “Anytime you can be involved in giving back, it’s great.”

Volunteers placed bulk food items into shopping carts and distributed each item through about 533 boxes being filled to provide several days’ worth of food to about 277 individuals and families being served this year.

lbeahm / Laura Beahm/Tribune  

Seven-year-old Harper Johnson adds Tuna Helper to boxes Tuesday night at the Adams County Fairgrounds while volunteering for Goodfellows.

Toys will be included for families with children, having been donated from people in the community at collection bins distributed through the city. Participating families have the option of picking up their boxes on Friday or having them delivered Saturday morning.

Volunteers wore face coverings, and fewer people could be involved compared to previous years, due to the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, pandemic and directed health measures.

Hastings’ Goodfellows program is organized by the management and staff of the Hastings Tribune to serve individuals and families in need during the holiday season. On Dec. 18-19, the individuals and families will receive boxes filled with food, along with toys for children, to make Christmas and the holidays a little brighter.

The program began in 1926 when Hastings Daily Tribune Publisher Adam Breede and editor Harry Smith decided to serve as “good fellows” to less fortunate families. As Breede and Smith discussed the idea with people around town, more people and businesses got involved. Before long, the Goodfellows program became a Hastings tradition that continues today.

Sande Bibeau recently joined the Hastings Tribune as a marketing consultant, and this was her first year helping with the program. She said the program reminded her of similar efforts to help people in need during her 25 years in Florida.

“I wanted to be able to find something like this to help others,” she said. “This is a really good cause.”