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PaperWorks moves into former HEDC spec building

Operations in the new PaperWorks Industries warehouse are now underway.

Central Logistic Services played host to an open house Feb. 28 to celebrate completion of the building out of the former HEDC speculative building to allow for the expansion of PaperWorks’ footprint in Hastings.

The 97,500-square-foot building in Industrial Park North was empty during the open house, but Matt Lonnemann, supply chain manager for PaperWorks in Hastings, said work was to begin on March 2 with trucks delivering roll stock.

The plant had stored roll stock on site in its 160,000-square-foot plant at 2000 Summit Ave., in Industrial Park West, which takes up a good bit of space.

“This is actually huge for us because this will allow us to consolidate all of our warehouse operations,” he said. “It’s really going to allow us to keep up with demand now that’s on the plant here.”

CLS closed on purchasing the HEDC spec building in May 2019 and will lease the building to PaperWorks. Not engaging in property acquisition itself allows PaperWorks to put more funds into the operation of the business.

“It’s really exciting,” said Cody Smith, chief operations officer for CLS. “This has been three or four years in the making, from the very beginning. It’s really nice to see it complete and the tenant excited to be in here and part of it and utilize it right away.”

Sean Ablott and Flatland Sales served as general contractor to finish the warehouse to PaperWorks’ needs. Smith said all of the subcontractors were from Hastings or the surrounding area.

“Not only did it help us and the local PaperWorks, but it also helped all those subcontractors here in town,” Smith said. “We did as much as we possibly could locally.”

Lonnemann said PaperWorks’ Hastings location had about a 20% increase in demand just in the past year.

“This was really sort of necessary,” he said of the added space.

Teena Kucera, interim general manager for PaperWorks in Hastings, said the new warehouse gives PaperWorks greater flexibility.

“We’re more flexible to react to the customer demand without waiting for the raw materials to get done or having enough finished goods on hand to be able to meet that demand,” she said. “It gives us flexibility to do that with it all here, located where we can store more and obviously frees up space there if we need more capacity (at the Industrial Park West location).”

Lonnemann said the warehouse allows PaperWorks to increase efficiencies throughout the production system.

“We’re able to run longer instead of a lot more just shorter runs,” he said. “We’ll pick up a lot of production efficiencies as well.”

Because initial construction of the spec building was a Community Development Block Grant project, PaperWorks is required to create at least eight new jobs within 24 months as a result of the CDBG-assisted project. The jobs must be held by or made available to low- to moderate-income individuals.

“We do not anticipate a problem with that at all,” Lonnemann said.

Former HEDC executive director Dee Haussler initiated construction of the spec building more than a decade ago.

“We’re excited there’s activity out here, not only with this project but what it means to the entire area with opportunities now for new businesses, new buildings,” HEDC executive director Michael Krings said. “All of this stuff is pretty contagious as you kind of get this activity going. It’s great for this project. It’s great for PaperWorks and CLS. It’s also great for any of the future stuff that’s going to come just because of what’s going on out here. We expect this to parlay into a lot more projects.”

Transportation to and from the warehouse is aided by the recent completion nearby of Utecht Circle and Utecht Avenue, which open up 25 acres of industrial speculative property.

“Now we just wait and see,” Krings said of future development in the area.

He has had conversations with representatives of businesses looking for industrial property in Hastings.

“Now that we have all these acres available it becomes a possibility,” he said.

The PaperWorks representatives said they are encouraged by the support they have received from the Hastings community.

“We’ve had a lot of help,” Kucera said. “Everybody’s been eager to get it done. They wanted us to be ready to go. They’ve supported us a lot. From a community perspective — whether it be the CLS guys, HEDC — we’ve had a lot of support in making sure we can move as quickly as we needed to be able to.”

With the PaperWorks warehouse now in use, Lonnemann said he looks forward to a greater presence in Hastings.

“It’ll allow us to put the name out there and let everybody know we’re growing and that we’re eager to continue to be a part of the Hastings community here,” he said. “I look forward to it.”

Student's raise money for Remi

For almost two years, Remi the therapy dog has been more than a four-legged friend. She has been a shoulder to cry on and a reassuring hug when a student at Hastings Middle School has a rough day.

“If kids are crying in her room, Remi will just come up and make things easier,” said Manny Silva, an eighth-grader. “She’s comforting.”

So when the golden retriever dislocated her hip and needed surgery, Manny and Rylan Nordby, a fellow eighth-grader, wanted to return the support that Remi had given to hundreds of students.

“She helped not only us through hard times, but she’s helped other kids,” Manny said. “She’s done a lot for everybody.”

aroh / Amy Roh/Tribune  

Counselor Stephanie Jacobson thanks Manny Silva (left) and Rylan Nordby for their fundraising efforts to help with veterinary bills for her golden retriever, Hastings Middle School’s therapy dog, Thursday at the school.

On Thursday, Manny and Rylan surprised Stephanie Jacobson, a counselor at the middle school and Remi’s owner, with a check for over $1,500 to cover surgery expenses.

“My heart has swelled with so much gratitude and love,” Jacobson said about the donation.

Remi has been HMS’s official, certified therapy dog for almost two years. Remi usually can be found in the halls as students go to class, or in Jacobson’s office. Students can earn the right to spend extra time with Remi and eat lunch with her too.

“She is everyone’s dog when she’s here and she loves it,” Jacobson said.

But Remi hasn’t been able to go to school because of her recent injury.

“There’s a quote a teacher told me, ‘The building is so lonely without Remi,’ ” Jacobson said.

lbeahm / Laura Beahm/Tribune  

In this Feb. 26, 2019, file photo, therapy dog Remi lounges in the hallway during a passing period at Hastings Middle School.

Last winter, Remi slipped on ice, dislocating her hip. After Jacobson took Remi to the veterinarian, they found that Remi had hip dysplasia, a condition where the hip socket doesn’t fully hold the ball of the thigh bone. The condition is common for golden retrievers.

Remi underwent surgery earlier this year to fix her condition, and Jacobson said the surgery was a success. Remi is currently having difficulty walking and is going through doggy physical therapy to strengthen her legs.

Remi’s positive impact, however, has traveled beyond the school. With the help of TLC Pet Care, Stephanie found a group of veterinarians who volunteered to treat Remi for a low cost.

aroh / Amy Roh/Tribune  

Manny Silva and Rylan Nordby presented a monetary gift to Stephanie Jacobson to help with veterinary bills for Hastings Middle School’s therapy dog Thursday at the school.

“It’s about Remi and Stephanie,” said Tammy Craig, veterinarian at TLC Pet Care. “It takes a village and we’re just the people in the background helping out.”

Rylan and Manny raised the money through donations and selling door signs and dog treats.

Rylan built and sold Hastings Middle School themed door signs with the help of his mother and brother.

“My brother’s a carpenter, so he cut out stuff and we just got painting,” Rylan said.

Manny, with the help of his family, made and sold dog treats.

Many people simply donated money to help Remi, Manny said. Several teachers donated money too.

Jacobson said she is planning to get a wagon for Remi to lay in and visit school. She hopes taking Remi to school will help her recovery.

Jacobson said she plans to donate the funds to a local group that helps animals and pets. Jacobson said she is grateful for the support Remi has received.

Remi also visits the Grand Island Library once a month.

Trump set to sign $8.3B bill to fight coronavirus outbreak

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is expected to sign an $8.3 billion measure to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak. The legislation would provide federal public health agencies money for vaccines, tests and potential treatments, and help state and local governments prepare for and respond to the threat.

The Senate passed the measure Thursday to help tackle the outbreak in hopes of reassuring a fearful public and accelerating the government's response to the virus. Its rapid spread is threatening to upend everyday life in the U.S. and across the globe.

The money would pay for a multifaceted attack on a virus that is spreading more widely every day, sending financial markets spiraling again Thursday, disrupting travel and potentially threatening the U.S. economy's decade-long expansion.

Thursday's sweeping 96-1 vote sends the bill to the White House for President Donald Trump's signature. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., cast the sole “no” vote. The House passed the bill Wednesday by a 415-2 vote.

The plan would more than triple the $2.5 billion amount outlined by the White House 10 days ago. The Trump proposal was immediately discarded by members of Congress from both parties. Instead, the bipartisan leadership of the House and Senate Appropriations committees negotiated the increased figure and other provisions of the legislation in a burst of bipartisan cooperation that's common on the panel but increasingly rare elsewhere in Washington.

“In situations like this, I believe no expense should be spared to protect the American people, and in crafting this package none was,” said Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala. “It's an aggressive plan, a vigorous plan that has received an overwhelming positive reaction.”

Trump was sure to sign the measure, which has almost universal support. It is intended to project confidence and calm as anxiety builds over the impact of the virus, which has claimed 12 lives in the U.S.

“The American people are looking for leadership and want assurance that their government is up to the task of protecting their health and safety," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

The impact of the outbreak continues to mount. The British government is considering suspending Parliament for five months in hope of limiting the spread of the virus in the United Kingdom.

The legislation would provide federal public health agencies money for vaccines, tests and potential treatments, including $300 million to deliver such drugs to those who need it. More than $2 billion would go to help federal, state and local governments prepare for and respond to the coronavirus threat. An additional $1.3 billion would be used to help fight the virus overseas. There's also funding to subsidize $7 billion in small business loans.

Other dollars would be directed to help local officials prepare for the potential worsening of the outbreak and subsidize treatment by community health centers. Medicare rules would be loosened to enable remote "telehealth" consultations whereby sick people could to get treatment without visiting a doctor.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., whose state is at the center of the crisis, praised the bill because it “will increase access for public lab testing, help pay for isolation and quarantine, help pay for sanitizing in public areas, better track the virus and those who might come into contact with it, help labs who are trying to identify hot spots, and limit exposure."

The legislation contains a hard-won compromise that aims to protect against potential price gouging by drug manufacturers for vaccines and other medicines developed with taxpayer funds. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar would have the power to make sure commercial prices are reasonable. Azar is a former drug industry lobbyist.

Democrats said other steps may be needed if the outbreak continues to worsen.

"This may be a first step because we have issues that relate to unemployment insurance for people who are put out of work." Pelosi said as she signed the bill to send it to Trump.

“We have only about 27% of people in this country who have paid sick days. So if they have to go home what is going to happen to them and their families?” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.

DeLauro said Pence responded that he would raise the issue with the president.

The bill seeks to restore $136 million that the Department of Health and Human Services cut from other accounts such as heating subsidies for the poor to battle the virus.

The legislation comes as carping over the administration's response to the outbreak is quieting down. Lawmakers in both parties had faulted a shortage of tests for the virus and contrasting messages from Trump and his subordinates. In an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News on Wednesday, Trump downplayed the lethality of the virus, saying the World Health Organization's updated estimate of a 3.4% death rate in coronavirus cases is “a false number."

“Now you're starting to see rapid deployment of tests, which makes me feel better, quite honestly," said Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., a doctor. “I think their communications are a little better. As long as the president doesn't contradict the experts and the scientists who know what they're doing, things will get better."

Trump defends his rhetoric in 1st TV town hall of 2020

SCRANTON, Pa. — President Donald Trump defended the administration’s response to the coronavirus and his confrontational style of name-calling political opponents as he fielded questions Thursday from select members of the public in his first TV town hall of the 2020 election cycle.

Trump, who regularly calls his top Democratic presidential opponents “Sleepy Joe” and “Crazy Bernie,” was asked whether he could deliver his message without the controversial rhetoric. “When they hit us, we have to hit back. I really feel that,” Trump said in response to the first of two questions about civility. “You can’t turn your cheek.”

Fox News, the president’s favorite network, hosted the live event in Scranton, Pennsylvania, a rare instance where the president answered questions from the public.

The first question, from an undecided voter, was about the administration’s response to the virus. The number of the cases in the U.S. stood at about 200 on Thursday, including 12 deaths — 11 in Washington state and one in California.

“Everybody has to be calm. It’s all going to work out,” Trump said, sounding defensive at times as a pair of Fox News journalists pressed him on the issue. “We hope it doesn’t last too long.”

It was Trump’s first 2020 visit to Pennsylvania, a battleground state he won by about 44,000 votes in 2016. He did particularly well in northeastern Pennsylvania, where Scranton and Wilkes-Barre have long anchored a strong Democratic presence.

The state is home turf to former Vice President Joe Biden, who spent his first 10 years in Scranton before his family moved to Wilmington, Delaware. An electric billboard proclaimed “Scranton is Joe Biden country.”

Biden’s prospects of winning the Democratic presidential nomination surged in the past week after he won South Carolina and then 10 of 14 states on Super Tuesday. Asked about the Democratic race, the Republican Trump said several times that he was “mentally” prepared to take on Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“I was ready ... and now I have a whole different deal,” Trump said at the event, which was scheduled before Biden’s resurgence. Trump chose Scranton as the setting.

He blamed Elizabeth Warren, who dropped out of the Democratic race Thursday, for hurting Sanders’ chances by not folding her campaign sooner.

Tickets to the town hall were distributed through the Eventbrite website and Fox confirmed questions were selected from people who submitted them via the website. The audience seemed overwhelmingly supportive of Trump, greeting the president with thunderous applause and “USA, USA” chants.

One female questioner told Trump it was “truly an honor” to have him in Scranton. “Just don’t tell my husband,” she said. Another woman said she’s been on the “Trump train” since he announced his candidacy in June 2015. A male Democrat who crossed over to vote for Trump in 2016 shook his head “no” when one of the moderators asked whether Democrats could win back his vote.

Democrats weren’t content to cede the stage. A political action committee supporting Democratic candidates planned to run a new ad on Fox News just before and after the town hall in targeted Pennsylvania markets and in Washington featuring a Pennsylvania veteran who voted for Trump in 2016 but no longer supports him. It’s part of American Bridge PAC’s latest $10 million wave of ads in key swing states aimed at cutting into Trump’s margins with white, working-class voters.

During the town hall, Trump fielded other questions about immigration, health care, federal regulations and more. Asked if he cared about the national debt, which has grown under his tenure despite a chugging economy, Trump said he would focus on the issue in a second term and would like to refinance the debt. He shifted blamed to Democratic President Barack Obama.

Trump said he last spoke with his predecessor at the Washington funeral of former President George H.W. Bush. “I sat next to him and I said ‘Hello,’ and then I said ‘Goodbye,’” Trump said, as the audience laughed at his tone. “I didn’t like the job he did.”

Told that he can’t reduce the debt without cutting entitlement programs, like Social Security, Trump said, “We will be cutting.” It was not immediately clear whether he was referring to the mandatory spending programs, discretionary federal spending or both.

But White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham sought to clarify when one report said he was seeking to cut entitlements. “Fake news — POTUS was taking about cutting deficits, NOT entitlements,” Grisham tweeted.

During a lightning round, Trump, a self-proclaimed germaphobe, said he’s gotten over his aversion to hand-shaking, even during the age of the coronavirus.

“You can’t be a politician and not shake hands,” the president said. “The bottom line is I shake anybody’s hand now. I’m proud of it.” He also said he misses being able to walk down the street.

Trump regularly watches Fox News but has been critical of its polling from late February that showed him losing to the five leading Democratic candidates at that point. “Worst Polls, just like in 2016 when they were so far off the mark, are the @FoxNews Polls,” Trump tweeted.


Associated Press writer Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.