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News
Adams County property tax joint public hearing set for Sept. 26
  • Updated

Adams County residents soon should be receiving postcards with details about an upcoming joint public hearing brought about by LB644.

LB644 was passed by the Nebraska Legislature in 2021 for the purpose of increased transparency for political subdivisions with property tax requests that increase by a certain amount over the previous year. This is the first year for the joint public hearing.

In Adams County, the joint public hearing will be 6 p.m. Sept. 26 in the county boardroom on the second floor of the Adams County Courthouse, 500 W. Fourth St.

Counties had between Sept. 17 and Sept. 28 to hold the joint public hearings. Political subdivisions have until Sept. 30 to submit final, adopted budgets to the state.

Notice of the joint public hearing must be provided by:

  • Sending postcards to all affected taxpayers from the county assessor
  • Posting notice on the county’s website in counties where the population is more than 25,000
  • Publishing notice in a legal newspaper of general circulation in the county by the county clerk

Political subdivisions participating in this year’s hearing include Adams County, the city of Hastings, Adams Central Public Schools, Hastings Public Schools and Silver Lake Public Schools.

County Clerk Ramona Thomas will take minutes during the meeting. She said a representative from the Adams County Board of Commissioners will oversee the meeting.

Any entity participating in the hearing is required to send one representative, which could be a single presenter.

Thomas anticipates whoever is presiding over the meeting will call up each political subdivision one at a time. The subdivision representative will present the budget and supporting documentation and ask for public comment.

No action will be taken.

“It’s just the public hearing to receive public comment and to present the budget,” she said.

Thomas said the public hearing is intended to make it clearer to members of the public how their taxes will be affected.

She received her own postcard from Custer County, where she owns property.

“It clearly states how much my taxes will be affected,” she said.

Adams County had to send notice to Hall, Kearney and Clay counties that Adams Central will hold its public hearing on Sept. 26 because Adams Central’s boundaries extend into those other counties.

“It’s very intertwined, not only with multiple elected officials here in the county, but then we also have to network with neighboring counties where boundaries overlap,” Thomas said.

Whether a political subdivision needs to participate is determined if the entity’s tax request is above the allowable growth percentage. Allowable growth percentage is a 2% increase, plus a permitted real growth percentage increase.

The real growth percentage increase is determined by the 2022 real growth value as determined by the county assessor divided by the prior year’s total real property valuation.

“It’s all very new and confusing,” Thomas said.

The vendor Adams County selected to print the postcards still was working on the postcards earlier this week but anticipated completing them by the end of the week.

The postcards need to be mailed by Sept. 19, which is seven days in advance of the public hearing.

Thomas said going through the process for the first time has been a learning experience

“That seems to be the story for every county, because it is confusing,” she said.


News
Blue Hill thrift store donating to local causes
  • Updated

BLUE HILL — Offering items like home goods, children’s books and racks and racks of different kinds and sizes of clothing, the Blue Hill Treasure Trove is meeting a couple of needs here locally.

The store’s grand reopening began Thursday and continued Friday and Saturday. The thrift store reopened about a month ago in its current location, 546 W. Gage St., which previously housed a bowling alley.

The Blue Hill Treasure Trove was founded in 2019.

lbeahm / Laura Beahm/Tribune  

Marilyn Alber shows a binder detailing donations made to different causes in Blue Hill Friday during the Treasure Trove’s grand reopening.

“We saw a need in the community for affordable goods, clothes in good condition for people to buy, but we also wanted to be able raise funds to donate to worthy causes in our community,” board member Sara Macklin said. “We feel like it meets both of those needs really well.”

Since 2019, Blue Hill Treasure Trove has donated nearly $22,000 to needs in the community such as Blue Hill School playground equipment, the school backpack program, the new community aquatic center and the Blue Hill Volunteer Fire Department.

The new space is nearly three times larger than the previous space, including area used for storage that eventually could be used for shopping.

The displays are easier to access than before, which makes for a more comfortable shopping experience.

“There’s more room for more people,” board member Marilyn Alber said.

lbeahm / Laura Beahm/Tribune  

Bobcat and Husker apparel are two very popular items at Blue Hill Treasure Trove.

Macklin said there might be a few more things on display now.

“Surprisingly enough, we probably fit almost all of the stuff in our old space; it was just harder to see,” she said.

Board members said the Husker and Blue Hill Bobcat clothing racks are the most popular in the store.

The Blue Hill Treasure Trove closed for a few months during the beginning of the pandemic.

Donations to other organizations are temporarily suspended to help cover construction costs.

“We are taking donations to go toward the expenses of remodeling,” board member Paige Hansen said.

Donations of either the financial or material kind can be taken to the store itself, or given to one of the seven board members. Other board members include Sarah Weddingfeld, Mandy Ockinga, Sharon Pavelka and Yvonne Kranau.

Renovation began in April. Bowling alley planks were removed May 1.

“Really we made a lot of progress in a short amount of time,” Macklin said.

The work was done through volunteer labor. The project also employed a lot of local contractors.

“They’ve been very easy to work with and very motivated to help us get open as soon as we could,” she said.

Completion of the work occurred much quicker than anticipated. Board members thought the store might reopen around Thanksgiving.

lbeahm / Laura Beahm/Tribune  

Fall themed decor is displayed at Blue Hill Treasure Trove Friday.

Board members are auctioning off on eBay items that were in the bowling alley, including flooring, pinsetters and a Pepsi menu board displaying the cost of hamburgers at 60 cents.

“All of the proceeds will help defray construction costs, so we can start donating back to the community as soon as we can,” Macklin said.

Auctions started Friday and will last a week.

The Blue Hill Treasure Trove typically is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

“We’d love to have more volunteers so we could expand our hours,” Macklin said.

Word is spreading throughout south central Nebraska about the Blue Hill Treasure Trove.

“People are finding out about us and seeing we are worth the trip from Hastings or surrounding areas to come check us out,” Macklin said.

There are some students who come in and shop for free because they are in need. Board members also open up the store if there is a fire or similar event and take care of the affected family.

“It’s amazing the things we get donated to us,” Alber said. “Even things that still have tags.”


International
AP
Queen's death is reminder of disappearing WW II generation
The long good-bye for Queen Elizabeth II is a reminder of a broader truth playing out with little fanfare across Britain: The nation is bidding farewell to the men and women who fought the country’s battles during World War II
  • Updated

LONDON — The long goodbye for Queen Elizabeth II is a reminder of a broader truth playing out with little fanfare across Britain: The nation is bidding farewell to the men and women who fought the country’s battles during World War II.

The queen, who served as a mechanic and truck driver in the last months of the war, was a tangible link to the sailors, soldiers, airmen, marines and others who signed up to do their bit in a war that killed 384,000 service personnel and 70,000 British civilians.

But like the queen, even the youngest veterans of the war are now nearing their 100th birthdays, and a steady stream of obituaries tells the story of a disappearing generation.

“It’s extraordinary how that sense of the passing of time is felt very keenly at the moment,” said Charles Byrne, director general of the Royal British Legion, the nation’s largest armed services charity.

“The queen was a personification of that generation … and with her passing, it just drives home the sense that time is moving relentlessly, as it does.”

That loss is, perhaps, felt more widely in the United Kingdom than a country like the United States, because the U.K.’s very existence was threatened during the war. Bombs fell on cities from London to Belfast, women were conscripted into war work and wartime rationing didn’t end until 1954.

Elizabeth, who famously saved ration coupons to make her wedding dress in 1947, led a ceremony of remembrance for all the nation’s fallen service personnel each year on the anniversary of the end of World War I.

“She is the epitome of that sense of service and stoic contribution,” Byrne said. “And that is treasured more than ever.”

British authorities don’t know exactly how many World War II veterans are left because the nation’s census takers didn’t track military service until last year. Those figures are due to be released next month.

The Royal Air Force says it knows of only one surviving Battle of Britain pilot, the men Winston Churchill immortalized as “the few” who helped turn the tide of the war. Group Captain John Hemingway celebrated his 103rd birthday in July.

But the number of survivors is dwindling.

Among those who died this year were Henriette Hanotte, who ferried downed Allied pilots across the French border as they made their way home. And Harry Billinge, who was just 18 when he joined the first wave of troops to land on Gold Beach in Normandy on D-Day, as well as Douglas Newham, who survived 60 bombing raids as a Royal Air Force navigator, but was haunted by those who didn’t return.

It was a time of shared sacrifice. Then-Princess Elizabeth, like many teenagers, had to persuade her father to let her join the army in 1945.

When Elizabeth turned 18, King George VI exempted her from mandatory military service because he said her training as the heir to the throne took precedence over the wartime need for manpower.

But the princess, who began her war work at 14 with a broadcast to displaced children and later tended a vegetable garden as part of the government’s “Dig for Victory” program, got her way.

She enlisted in the Auxiliary Territorial Service in February 1945 and trained to become a military truck driver and mechanic. The ATS was the largest of the auxiliary services deploying women to non-combat rolls such as clerks, drivers and dispatch riders to free up men for front line duties.

The first female member of the royal family to serve in the armed forces, Elizabeth was promoted to honorary junior commander, the equivalent of an army captain, after completing five months of training. But the war ended before she could be assigned to active duty.

On May 8, 1945, Princess Elizabeth appeared in uniform on the balcony of Buckingham Palace as the royal family greeted the crowds celebrating Germany’s surrender. That night, she and her sister, Princess Margaret, slipped out of the palace to take part in the festivities.

“We cheered the king and queen on the balcony and then walked miles through the streets,” she later recalled. “I remember lines of unknown people linking arms and walking down Whitehall, all of us just swept along on a tide of happiness and relief.”

Many of those who took part in that joy are now gone.

Among them is Frank Baugh, a Royal Marine who helped guide a landing craft to Sword Beach during the June 6, 1944, D-Day landings. He later campaigned for a memorial to be built to commemorate the 22,442 men and women who died under British command during the Battle of Normandy.

A few months before his death in June at 98, Baugh toured the British Normandy Memorial, which overlooks the beach where he fought.

“I would like to see children coming all of the time,” he said. “Because they’re the people we need to tell what’s happened, and those lads that didn’t get back — to remember them.”


Opinion
Andy Raun: Whether they stay a season or a lifetime, great teachers leave their mark

This afternoon, Anne Bohlke’s family, friends and colleagues will honor her life and bid her farewell in a service at Hastings’ First Presbyterian Church.

Bohlke, 78, died Sept. 10 of complications following a stroke. She now joins the throng of Hastings educators who have gone on before many of their students to explore new vistas of the other side of life.

Bohlke, a native of New York state, graduated from high school in Minnesota and throughout the years received degrees from Carleton College, Brown University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She taught high school English in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York state before moving to Hastings with her family in 1980 and teaching at Hastings Senior High. She then moved on to Hastings College, where she spent 29 years first as an English professor, then associate vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty. She retired in 2012. She was known throughout her teaching years in Hastings as Anne Fairbanks.

I knew Dr. Bohlke casually, interacting with her professionally and socially on several occasions through the years. (I know other members of her family far better.) Clearly, she was held in high esteem as a teacher and academic adviser and for her support of literacy, education in general and Hastings College in particular. At HC, she received the Distinguished Senior Faculty Award in 2004 and the Vondrak Outstanding Advisor Award in 2006, and just this year was inducted into the college’s Pro Rege Society.

In reading her obituary in Friday’s Tribune, I was struck by a couple of passages.

The first described her love for teaching at the high school level, and the “particular joy” she found “opening up the world of reading to students who never before believed they could learn to read.”

The second passage described the rewards Bohlke found in a life of scholarship.

“Imagine — we’re actually paid to read good books and talk about them!”, she was known to say.

Anne Bohlke loved helping students gain the tools they need to learn for themselves throughout their lives. Meanwhile, she gave herself the gift of lifelong learning through literature.

This academic year, we will celebrate the 150th anniversary of public schools in Hastings, the 140th anniversary of the founding of Hastings College, and the 56th anniversary of the opening of the vocational-technical college at Hastings that now is part of Central Community College.

The history of all our educational institutions is marked by the influence of great teachers — men and women who found their way to Hastings from anywhere and everywhere, stood up in classrooms full of impressionable young (and not so young) people, and helped them to grow not only in knowledge and skill, but also in insight and wisdom for life to come.

Some of our teachers are hometowners; others have come to us across many miles and even oceans. All bring with them a variety of life’s experiences and intellectual gifts that make them who they are, along with attitudes and opinions that, if shared, may be examined and evaluated by their students to take or leave. Either way, our lives are changed and most often enriched by what they have brought to us.

To my mind, the best teachers are those who help us learn not what to think, but how to think — and how self-discipline, discernment and empathy do not stifle, but rather enrich and empower a life of enthusiasm, curiosity and growing ability. These teachers earn our respect by what they teach us, and they gain our affection by the ways they demonstrate their belief in our potential, their appreciation for our own life’s experiences, and their care for our well-being as individuals.

I have many stories to tell about the teachers and mentors in my own life. Some I’ve already shared; others I may save for another day.

For now, however, I tip my cap to the teachers who have helped to build the Hastings area’s institutions of learning, enlivened our communities with their many forms of service, and stirred the minds and souls of generations of students.

Many great scholars and teachers spent a year or two or a season of life in Hastings or the region; then, like Odysseus, they dipped their oars back into the sea and traveled on to a new adventure.

Others — and there are too many to name — became lifers in Hastings. Even in retirement, they kept on leading our churches and organizations, kept on supporting our causes, kept on going to the well for their own intellectual and spiritual growth.

They kept on learning, kept on teaching, and mentored the next generation of leaders to follow in their footsteps.

Some, like Anne Bohlke, even found their way to the high school gym on Friday nights to watch their grandchildren play some basketball.

With homecoming season upon us, let’s give thanks for our schools and all they mean to our community. And let’s remember with gratitude the men and women who have stood at the front of the class, helping to make those schools vital with their unique and varied talents. May God bless them all.

Andy Raun is editor and news director at the Hastings Tribune. Contact him at 402-303-1419 or araun@hastingstribune.com.


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