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Owners of Barista's in Hastings living the dream
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Owning Barista’s of Hastings was a dream that was never forgotten and finally realized for Joe and Nikayla Kindig.

Barista’s was opened originally by Susan Overmiller in December 2003.

In 2011, when Joe was a senior in high school, he started working for Overmiller.

Working at Barista’s gave him exactly what he needed at the time.

“I had a pivotal moment in my life where I was looking for a little bit of guidance and the coffee shop industry, more importantly Barista’s, I think definitely gave me that,” Joe said.

It was because of this that Joe continued to work there through his time at Central Community College and Hastings College.

Working at Barista’s influenced his choice in a major, as well.

“I chose my major because I absolutely loved to talk to people,” Joe said. “That’s why I became a communications studies major at Hastings College.”

His love for Barista’s also influenced him to add on a business major.

“After graduation, I knew I wanted to do something that could give back to the community I grew up in,” Joe said.

He took a full-time job somewhere else for three years — all the while hoping that an opportunity to return to Barista’s would work out in his favor.

“I was always hoping to someday make my way back to Barista’s,” Joe said.

It was when he met and married Nikayla, that they “knew that Barista’s was something we one day wanted to be a part of,” Joe said.

This past April that dream was made a reality.

“I had to admit dreams really do come true when I was presented with the opportunity to buy the shop with my wife in April,” Joe said.

Now that the Kindigs owns Barista’s, they want to give back what Barista’s gave to him, to the staff and the community, as well.

“I really hope that Barista’s can be a cornerstone for the town,” Joe said.

They want Barista’s to become a place where people can start their day, where people can bring their family when they come to town and where people stop by before they leave town.

“We want to be that beginning, middle and end always,” Joe said.

They strive to do this by offering the best customer service they can.

“You’re gonna leave, I hope, 10 out of 10 times with the best service possible,” Joe said.

Joe and Nikayla are both from Hastings and they don’t want to live their dream anywhere else.

“Seeing what Hastings has for the future is something that we absolutely wanted to be a part of,” Joe said. “That’s exactly what we did and we’re here to stay for a long time.”

Outgoing councilmen honored
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Mayor Corey Stutte recalled sitting down with Scott Snell for a couple of beers about five years ago to talk about each man running for office.

Stutte already had announced he was running for mayor; Snell was on the fence whether he would run for a seat on the Hastings City Council.

Snell did run and was elected in 2016. He announced earlier this year he would not run for a second term.

New council members Shawn Hartmann and Joy Huffaker were sworn in during the council’s final meeting of the year on Monday, to fill the seats held by outgoing members Snell and Paul Hamelink. Huffaker will represent the Third Ward and central Hastings. Hartmann will represent the Fourth Ward and east Hastings.

City Clerk Kim Jacobitz also swore in incumbent council members Jeniffer Beahm and Butch Eley, as well as Stutte, for new terms during a teleconference meeting.

“I’m really happy you decided to do it,” Stutte said to Snell of running for office. “It’s been such a joy getting to work with you. Your passion for the community of Hastings and Hastings College and everything that goes with it is admirable. You’ve stuck by your guns, and you’ve done a great job representing your ward. We really appreciate everything you’ve done.”

Stutte and council members thanked Snell and Hamelink for their service. Hamelink was not in attendance.

Snell thanked Stutte and the council members with whom he served.

“I learned an awful lot about how the city works,” he said. “I also learned a lot about myself in the process. I wish Joy and Shawn my very best. I will support you two, as well, the best I can. I’m glad you have the courage to run. I’m glad the other members have the courage to serve, as well.”

He described his term as being like a four-year hockey season.

“You got that right, Scott,” Stutte said.

New council members were sworn in and officers were elected at the beginning of the meeting.

Councilwoman Ginny Skutnik was elected president, and Eley was elected vice president.

Skutnik thanked Snell and Hamelink for their service.

“It’s been a real pleasure to work with both of you guys,” she said.

Councilman Chuck Rosenberg thanked Snell.

“I got to know Scott really well,” he said. “I didn’t really know him very well when I got on council, but as a customer, a friend and a former councilman, I wish you the best of luck, Scott.”

Eley thanked them both.

“It’s been a pleasure working with them,” he said. “I’d like to welcome Shawn and Joy to the council. It should be some good times.”

Councilman Ted Schroeder also thanked them both.

“Without their encouragement I would not be on City Council,” said Schroeder, who was elected in 2018. “After the mayor asked me would I consider running, I got phone calls very quickly from Paul and Scott. Again it’s been a great experience, so I greatly thank you guys for encouraging me. I really am excited about you — Joy and Shawn — coming onto the City Council. It’s been a joy. You’re going to learn a lot, and I think you’ll find it’s a great experience.”

Stutte said Hamelink has a lot to be proud of.

“The success up at the airport over the last couple of years wouldn’t be possible without Paul pushing as hard as he did,” Stutte said. “Under his liaisonship, I guess you could say, he did a great job of helping bring the fixed base operator to town. If you go out to the airport at any one time now, you’ll see some pretty cool looking planes out there. I think we’ve seen an increase in traffic.”

He said both Hamelink and Snell also did a great job pushing economic development in Hastings.

“I’m so proud of the work you both have done,” Stutte said. “It’s a privilege to call you both friends. I look forward to continue to work with you, just in different roles, in the future.”

He congratulated Huffaker and Hartmann, as well.

“I know they are both going to do good work,” he said.

As vaccine arrives, South Heartland announces five more deaths to virus
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Excitement across the United States Monday concerning the first vaccinations for the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, was tempered locally by word of five additional deaths related to the viral infection in the South Heartland Health District.

In a Monday night news release, the district health department reported the deaths of two Clay County women in their 90s, an Adams County woman in her 90s, an Adams County man in his 70s and an Adams County woman in her 70s.

All five had underlying health conditions, and all had been included in district statistics on new cases previously.

Their deaths bring to 42 the total number of health district residents who have succumbed to COVID-19 since last spring.

“Our hearts go out to these families who lost their loved ones to COVID-19,” said Michele Bever, health department executive director.

The health district encompasses Adams, Webster, Clay and Nuckolls counties.

South Heartland recorded 90 new laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 for Friday through Monday. The new cases included 47 in Adams County, 19 in Clay, 19 in Nuckolls and five in Webster.

The health district’s test positivity rate for the week ending Dec. 12 was 14.8%, down from 16.8% for the previous week.

In the neighboring Two Rivers Public Health District, tallies of new cases in Tribland counties for Thursday through Sunday included nine in Kearney County, two in Franklin County and two in Harlan County.

Meanwhile, frontline health care workers at Mary Lanning Healthcare in Hastings should receive their long-awaited vaccinations for COVID-19 Tuesday or Wednesday, the hospital announced Monday.

Deb Lee, MLH pharmacy director, said the hospital expects to receive an initial shipment of 195 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday, and that officials hope the vaccinations can be administered by the following day.

The first doses are earmarked for staff members in such areas of the hospital as the emergency room and Intensive Care Unit.

“It will be given only to those who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients at this stage,” Lee said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer product for emergency use on Friday evening. Trucks and airplanes moved the vaccine across the United States over the weekend, and many shipments of the product — which is kept in glass vials and must be held at super-cold temperatures — arrived at their destinations on Monday.

The first shipment arrived in Nebraska about 6:55 a.m. Monday, the state Department of Health and Human Services announced in a news release. The state agency is working with local health districts, federally qualified health centers and hospital systems on the delivery process.

Two hospital systems administered the first vaccines on Monday, and others were expected to follow suit on Tuesday.

“We are all very excited that the Pfizer vaccine has begun to arrive in Nebraska,” said Danette R. Smith, NDHHS director. “And although this marks the beginning of what we hope will be an end to this pandemic, we cannot forget that we must continue to slow the spread. We must continue to be responsible and wear a mask, and we must avoid the three Cs: crowded places, close contact and confined spaces.”

Officials at the national level have determined that frontline health care workers and long-term care facility residents and staff members should be given top priority for vaccination.

Since March 18, a total of 3,411 residents of the South Heartland Health District have been confirmed positive for COVID-19. The pace of new cases being diagnosed has been surging since late summer.

On Monday night, Bever, the health department official, identified some good news in the tally of new cases for Friday through Monday.

“There are fewer positive tests — a little more than half as many — reported to us over the past four days compared to the four-day period the previous weekend,” she said. “This decrease is good news, especially since we are two weeks past Thanksgiving weekend, when the number of exposures could have been high. This might reflect residents being diligent during the holiday, keeping their gatherings small and practicing prevention.”

Last week’s dip in the positivity rate — that is, the percentage of tests administered that come back positive — also was welcome news.

“This is going in the right direction overall,” Bever said. “Let’s keep working on this downward trend in our communities — don’t let up on preventing COVID everywhere you go.”