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Weekly COVID-19 new case tally dips in South Heartland

The South Heartland Health District recorded 24 new positive cases of the novel coronavirus disease over the last week — down from 30 in each of the two previous weeks.

The new confirmed cases of COVID-19 for April 27 through May 3 included 18 in Adams County, six in Clay County, and zero in Webster and Nuckolls counties, the district health department said in a news release.

The health district encompasses those four counties. Health department headquarters are in Hastings.

Since the first case was reported on March 18, 2020, a total of 4,844 South Heartland residents have been confirmed positive for COVID-19. Those include 3,118 cases in Adams County, 766 cases in Clay, 548 cases in Nuckolls, and 412 cases in Webster.

Michele Bever, health department executive director, also reported the districtwide 14-day average of daily new cases is at 7.6 per 100,000 and has remained just under the district’s goal of 8 per 100,000 for the fifth day in a row.

By county, the 14-day average of daily cases per 100,000 is 8.4 in Adams, 11.5 in Clay County, 0.0 in Nuckolls County and 2.0 in Webster County.

“Overall, this is good news for our four-county region,” Bever said. “But we’d like to see all four counties get below the target 14-day average of eight cases per 100,000 and sustain it there.”

Bever noted that after being below eight new cases per 100,000 for 24 days in a row, Clay County crept up above the goal and has remained there for the past nine days.

Adams County has remained above the target for all but three of the past 33 days.

“Nuckolls’ and Webster’s low average numbers of new cases per 100,000 are helping to bring the overall rate down for the district,” Bever said.

According to South Heartland statistics, 47% of district residents eligible for a vaccine (those age 16 and up) have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 38% of eligible residents have completed their one- or two-dose regimen. Individuals are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving the final dose of the series.

By county, 38.2% of eligible Adams County residents are fully vaccinated — just as are 36.1% of eligible Clay County residents, 39.4% of eligible Nuckolls County residents and 40.3% of eligible Webster County residents.

Bever said 75% of district residents age 65 and older are fully vaccinated.

She is urging residents to do their part for the community’s health by getting vaccinated.

“The COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting COVID-19, which can have serious, life-threatening consequences. Plus, getting a COVID-19 vaccine will help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19,” she said.

Bever took the opportunity in Monday’s news release to share a happy story from her own family that indicates the benefits of being vaccinated.

“As more of us get vaccinated, this helps us get back to normal. After you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing more — like gathering safely indoors without masks with others who are fully vaccinated,” she said.

“Our extended families all got vaccinated so we could gather safely to celebrate my father-in-law’s 100th birthday in Indiana last month. Many of us had not seen each other for over a year or more due to COVID restrictions. It was so wonderful to be together to celebrate this momentous occasion.”

For more local COVID-19 information, visit www.southheartlandhealth.org.

Kids learn track and field
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Elementary-age kids learned about track and field through a new program offered by the Hastings Family YMCA during the last four weeks.

Ty LeBar, sports director at the YMCA, said students in first through seventh grades practiced skills in preparation for the Central Nebraska Youth Track & Field Meet on Thursday.

“The program is set to conclude with the meet,” he said. “It will be a nice completion to the program.”

Practices were divided into four stations, each teaching and performing a different activity. Participants learned about sprints, distance running, long jumps and softball throws, events that will be included in the city’s track meet.

LeBar said the activities are catered to the age groups learning the skills, such as the younger children running shorter distances.

The program is another way the YMCA is working to get kids active to stay healthy.

“It fits into the YMCA’s mission statement,” he said. “It’s a way to put Christian principles into practice in a way that builds a healthy mind, body and spirit.”

He said the program turned into more of a success than he originally imagined. During the planning stages, he imagined the inaugural event would draw around 20 participants.

Instead, around 70 children signed up.

“I was blown away by the amount of participation we had,” he said.

wvraspir / Will Vraspir/Tribune  

Kaden Byers, 9, of Hastings leaps in long jump practice as coach Doug Ourada watches during the YMCA youth track program on Monday at the Hastings High School track.

Various community members had been asking for the YMCA to offer a track program. With the amount of feedback received, LeBar said, he decided to try organizing a program in conjunction with the city track meet.

Not being a track expert, LeBar reached out to area residents who knew more about coaching the sport. He met with around six to eight coaches several times to make the necessary arrangements for the program. He was pleased with their willingness to offer help.

Along with those with track experience, parents also were encouraged to help direct children in the groups. The experienced coaches led practices, and parents volunteered to help the coaches manage the children.

“As an organization, we want to create as many positive family interactions as we can,” LeBar said. “This is a good way for parents to show what it means to give back at the same time as they are having those interactions.”

Kristine Kasperbauer of Hastings brought her 7-year-old son, Soren Beckby, to the practice sessions to see if he would want to follow in his older sister’s track interest.

His favorite session was the long jump, where he got to land in the sand.

“He usually wouldn’t sign up for the track meet,” she said. “Now that he’s been exposed to it, it’s piqued his interest.”

The Central Nebraska Youth Track & Field Meet will be Thursday at the Hastings High track, organized by the Hastings Parks and Recreation Department.

The event promotes physical fitness, participation, friendship and sportsmanship for boys and girls 8-13 years old, according to the city’s website. Field events start at 4:30 p.m. with running events to start after field events conclude.

There is no entry fee, but pre-registration is required. No entries will be accepted on the day of the event. Entry forms are available at the Parks and Recreation office, 2015 W. Third St.

Thunderstorms bring rain, hail to region
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Thunderstorms packing heavy rain and hail led to some flash flooding Sunday evening and overnight, giving parts of Tribland the first taste of severe weather many locations had experienced in some time.

Golf ball-size hail was reported in Minden at 7:48 p.m. Sunday, while pea-size hail fell later in Hastings, said Jeremy Wesely, meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Hastings office.

A heavy band of rain brought precipitation totals of 3.5-4.5 inches to the Minden, Heartwell and Kenesaw areas, with localized flash flooding.

Accumulated hail slush on a front porch in central Minden was more than 2 inches deep Sunday evening, and Minden city streets were green Monday morning with battered and fallen tree leaves.

Roadway flooding and stranded vehicles were reported two miles east-northeast of Juniata.

All flooding had receded by Monday morning, Wesely said.

Severe wind reports for Sunday night’s storm were confined mainly to an incident on the south side of Aurora where landspout tornado winds blew in garage doors on a storage unit.

Ron Pughes, Adams County Emergency Management director, said Monday morning he had locations in the Kenesaw and Prosser vicinities where flash flooding had been reported, and found things in decent shape.

“It looks pretty darn good,” Pughes said, reporting that some roads were soft but all flooding had receded. He noted that the ground was dry prior to the rain.

After a thirsty April, Sunday’s rain was welcome — even though it will stop spring planting activity for a period of time.

“It’s a good start to the year,” Wesely said. “Obviously, March was extremely wet and April was dried out, so this is a good push to start May out with.”

From Jan. 1 through 1 a.m. Monday, Hastings had received 12.91 inches of precipitation. Average is 5.57 inches, so Hastings currently is running 7.34 inches above normal, Wesely said.

Here’s a sampling of rainfall totals from around Tribland, collected by the National Weather Service and Nebraska Rainfall Assessment and Information Network:

Northeast of Minden: 4.40 inches

East of Heartwell: 4.25

Southeast of Kenesaw: 1.57

Southeast of Prosser: .94

Northwest of Juniata: 2.32

West of Hastings: 2.09

West of Clay Center: 1.97

Southeast of Harvard:1.73

Northeast of Doniphan: 1.08

Northwest of Giltner: 1.48

Southeast of Grafton: 1.60

Southeast of Lawrence: 1.85

Northwest of Superior: 1.50

Franklin: 2.23

North of Riverton: 1.44

Southeast of Davenport: .64

Commissioners give ok to Eds Farm Subdivision
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A proposed subdivision near Hastings would allow the center pivot irrigation system already on the ground more room to operate, plus give a young family the opportunity to purchase and renovate the present house.

Members of the Adams County Planning and Zoning Commission voted 8-0 at their regular meeting on Monday to recommend approval of Eds Farm Subdivision concurrent with the vacation of Phils Forge.

Commissioner Karen Struss was absent.

Applicant Edwin Gartner of 8820 N. Baltimore Avenue would like to replat Phils Forge. This would allow for a pivot to travel near the property, at 8650 N. Showboat Blvd.

Phils Forge, which was platted in 2002, contains 7.17 acres. The proposed plat would contain 6 acres.

The proposed Eds Farm Subdivision contains an existing house, agriculture buildings, and a well and septic system. A barn will be removed from the pivot path.

Commissioners Henry Wilson and Dean Rolls encouraged Gartner to have an impact easement on the ground to protect the farmland there from the whims of future residents.

“If these people, who have the house, become unfriendly to the landlord, then they could make it rough on him to farm someday,” Wilson said.

Commissioners also unanimously recommended approval of the Rempe Acres Subdivision at the northeast corner of Crystal Lake Avenue and Sundown Road.

Applicant Michael Anderson of Ayr would like to subdivide a tract that would contain 4.30 acres. Anderson wants to sell the tract to his employee, Nick Rempe, who would move a residence on the tract.

The commissioners voted unanimously to table the conditional use permit application for a warehouse and residence in the mixed use district in Lot 2 of the West Fork North 4th Subdivision because no representative for the applicant was present on Monday.

Zoning Administrator Judy Mignery also updated board members on the Lincoln Subdivision, which is an administrative plat in Roseland.