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Dallas Brass members performing as artists-in-residence in Hastings
  • Updated

W hen a musician plays an instrument it’s important to perform with consistency and think about how best to perform individually as well as contribute to a group.

Those were among the lessons members of the Dallas Brass ensemble imparted to Hastings High band members during a clinic the morning of Sept. 12.

“You’ve got to be fixated on what you want to do,” horn, alto horn and flugelhorn player Juan Berrios said.

Dallas Brass members also worked with Hastings Middle School students participating in their artist-in-residence program.

The group also offered a mini-performance and an informal question-and-answer session the evening of Sept. 12 at First Presbyterian Church in conjunction with the Hastings Community Music Academy.

Dallas Brass musicians conducted master classes for Hastings College music students on Sept. 12.

The Dallas Brass will performed a concert Sept. 13 at the Hastings Senior High School auditorium. It included special performances by students from Hastings Middle School, Hastings High School and Hastings College.

Trumpet player DJ Barraclough said a musician can seek out inspiration and examples of perfection almost anywhere.

He talked about watching a video on YouTube of the first-ever perfect darts game.

“It’s really not enough to wait for those perfect moments to happen,” he said. “You can find motivation everywhere.”

Dallas Brass members also encouraged the young musicians to seek out musicians and performances they particularly like and emulate those performances as a way to improve their own play.

In answering a question from a student about their favorite music, several of the Dallas Brass members said they love a wide variety of music.

Michael Levine, Dallas Brass founder and musical director, said music is like food.

“The more you appreciate, the more there is to enjoy,” he said.

Dallas Brass plays traditional brass instruments with a full complement of drums and percussion, accessing a wide range of styles including classical, Dixieland, swing, Broadway, Hollywood and patriotic music.

The ensemble has performed for presidents and has been featured on national television.

One emphasis for Dallas Brass’s artist-in-residence stop in Hastings is small ensembles.

With small ensembles, the musicians get to take ownership of how the music sounds.

“It opens up a whole new dimension of musicianship,” Levine said.

Middle school band director Troy Ehmke selected six Hastings High band members over the summer for two trios, one brass and one woodwind. The trios each performed one song on stage Monday and received instruction from Dallas Brass members.

“It was a really nice experience,” said Victor Le, who played trombone in the brass trio.

Justine Bierman, who played flute in the woodwind trio, said the Dallas Brass members had a different approach from band directors in Hastings, even if the content was the same.

“It was nice to see a new perspective of how to be better at your instrument from someone who does this for a living,” she said.

Le and Bierman said they both appreciated the lesson of being mindful of one’s own performance as a musician as well as how best to serve the group.

Bringing Dallas Brass to Hastings came about after HPS bands began performing small ensemble concerts due to the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, pandemic, which for a time made it impossible to have large ensembles.

Then, Ehmke and high school band director Erin Beave attended a music educator conference in Chicago.

Ehmke asked his fellow educators about good trio and small ensemble books to use, and he was referred to Levine, who established Harmony Bridge, a three-tiered, small ensemble music program.

Ehmke invited Dallas Brass to perform as part of the district’s artist-in-residence program.

Dallas Brass is on tour now, with performances in Papillion, Kearney and Sidney.

This artist-in-residence program includes support from sponsors such as the Hastings College Foundation, Hastings Public Schools Foundation, Nebraska Arts Council, Hastings Community Arts Council, Hastings Public Schools Music Department, First Presbyterian Church, Hastings Band Parents, Hastings College Music, Coach’s Corner and Hastings Community Music Academy.

Dallas Brass members come from all over the country and Puerto Rico.

“It was great to hear the fact that they’re all from different parts of the world and even different states and they grew up differently because that’s who our kids are,” Ehmke said. “The fact that (the students) have similar lives to the professionals that they could be in those shoes, as well.”

The lessons from Dallas Brass members aren’t unlike the lessons Hastings High musicians get from their band directors every day.

“A lot of the stuff, it’s like we tell them that every single day to do this,” Ehmke said. “It’s that reassurance that we know what we’re talking about. Coming from someone else it really helps.”

More information on the Dallas Brass can be found online at

Hastings man dies in grain silo accident
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ROSELAND — A 34-year-old Hastings man died Monday afternoon in a grain silo accident at CHS Agri Services Center in Roseland.

The Adams County Sheriff’s Office reported Travis Thelander died after becoming trapped inside a corn silo on the CHS property. Thelander was pronounced dead upon recovery of his body.

Since Thelander was an employee at CHS, the incident is considered a workplace death and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was notified to conduct an investigation.

Multiple fire and rescue agencies reported to assist in the rescue efforts about 4:05 p.m.

Fire departments from Roseland, Holstein and Hastings responded to the scene as well as the Adams County Sheriff’s Office and Adams County Emergency Management.

An autopsy is pending. Investigators will work to determine how Thelander became trapped.

Council selects finalists for city administrator job
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The Hastings City Council has narrowed its search for a new city administrator to four finalists.

Council members chose the finalists after reviewing applications from about 13 candidates, as well as several other pieces of information.

The names of the finalists and alternates are remaining confidential until the candidates agree to move forward in the search process.

Working with Patty Heminover with search firm Baker Tilly, council members listed their top four candidates Monday. The candidates were identified by number.

There was a lot of agreement among the council members and Mayor Corey Stutte as to who the top candidates were.

Among the four finalists, one person was selected by all nine elected officials. The other three finalists had eight votes, and three other candidates each received one vote.

Baker Tilley reviewed 34 applications for the position. There were 41 applicants for the job, but seven withdrew early in the search process.

Heminover said Baker Tilley gathered information about the position. That included the job description as well as meeting with the council and the mayor to get information about what they are looking for in the next city administrator.

Baker Tilley identified some of the opportunities the selected candidate would work with when starting the job and then conducted a national search for a month.

That meant advertising with organizations the city belongs to locally and nationally.

Baker Tilley used social media to contact potential applicants.

“And then of course we get on the phone and start calling people we feel are qualified for the position,” Heminover said.

She said the recent pandemic has borne something out when it comes to hiring.

“What we’ve found through the pandemic are more people are wanting to coming home to their home state,” she said. “So maybe there are people that have left the state for some reason and want to come back to Nebraska.”

Applicants applied online with resumé and cover letter.

The search firm developed a questionnaire related to what council members were looking for.

“You can’t really get as much information from a resumé and cover letter, specifically for the things we were looking for,” Heminover said.

The search also included a due diligence report, asking candidates if they were OK with the published salary but also asked if there were any terminations or separations in previous jobs or potentially embarrassing information.

Baker Tilley also conducted one-way interviews.

“The candidates don’t necessarily like this because they are talking to a computer,” she said.

Candidates sit at a computer and get up to three minutes to answer each question that they don’t know ahead of time.

Once that three minutes is up, or the candidate stops, the interview goes to the next question.

The council was given materials with some of the resumés, cover letters, questionnaire, due diligence and the link to the one-way interview.

“So you have a lot of information,” Heminover said. “Now is the time to narrow the candidates down to who you would like going forward.”

Heminover said she would contact the finalists after the council meeting and ask if they were still interested in moving forward.

Once candidates say yes, Heminover would work with the city to release the finalists’ information to the public.

Finalist interviews could begin as early as next week.

“There’s still a few things we’re still just working out,” she said.

Stutte established an interview panel including two council members, two utility board members, two planning commission members and two community members as well as staff.

“I feel like we have a very well-qualified group of people to interview these four people and move forward from there,” he said.

Councilman Matt Fong said he appreciated the search process.

“It was a really nice, thorough process,” he said. “Being through lots of other hiring processes in several other jobs I’ve worked through, it was nice to see variety of ways to view the candidates.”

Heminover said the intent was for council members to feel comfortable with the finalists.

“You’re going to feel like when you invite the candidates in it’s like you already know them because you have so much of the vetting process,” she said.

HPS budget sees slight decrease over previous year
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Hastings Board of Education members approved a budget for 2022-23 that is slightly less than the previous year.

School board members voted 8-0 at their regular meeting Monday to approve a budget of $75.680 million. Board member Tracey Katzberg was absent.

The 2021-2022 budget was $76.756 million. Superintendent Jeff Schneider explained during the school board work session on Thursday that is because the district had more money in the special building fund for the Morton project a year ago than it has now.

The special building fund will begin the 2022-23 fiscal year with a balance of $2.2 million, compared to $5.476 million a year ago.

“That fund is mostly dwindled as the project is just about complete,” he said.

The general fund showed growth of 2%, $55.292 million compared to $54.137 for 2021-2022.

Schneider reminded board members on Thursday the budget is a plan of expenditures.

“It’s not specifically what we’re going to spend, but a plan,” he said. “I would remind you that we are not allowed to spend over the amount we budget. So when we build a budget we build in cushion because we don’t know every expenditure we’re going to run into.”

Action on the property tax levy won’t come until October.

The district’s recommended tax rate — which remains unchanged — includes $1.12 per $100 taxable valuation for the general fund, which is the $1.05 state maximum plus 7-cent override, 20 cents per $100 for general obligation bond funds and 2.2 cents per $100 for the qualified capital purpose undertaking fund for a total levy of $1.342.

With a property tax valuation increase of about 10.5%, Hastings Public Schools is among political subdivisions to participate in the public hearing 6 p.m. Sept. 26 in the Adams County Board meeting room to explain the tax asking as part of LB644.

The increase in valuation looks like it would mean an additional $1.5 million collected in local taxes.

The problem is the state aid formula, however. The state figures the cost to run a public school district and then subtracts available resources to come up with the amount of state aid provided.

Also during the meeting, board members heard a report from Hastings Middle School principal Shelli Pfeifer about de-escalation and engagement procedures being implemented this year at the middle school.

Board members also unanimously approved revised wording to the district wellness policy.

Those changes include identifying district goals for school meals, physical education and information about the school wellness committee and district wellness committee.