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Veterans honored at downtown parade

Supporters braved the chilly morning air to cheer on military service members Saturday for the Veterans Recognition Parade in downtown Hastings.

Doug Billesbach of Hastings came out to watch a friend who served in Korea drive a truck through the procession of parade entries.

“I’m here to support him and all the other guys,” he said. “I’m proud of them.”

Marching bands from local high schools offered patriotic music selections for the audience.

Colleen Dygert of Hastings said the parade is a great way to combine her support of the military with that of local student musicians performing.

“I love parades, and I love bands,” she said.

Scott and Sarah Snell of Hastings brought their son, Gabriel, out for the parade.

Sarah said they have family members in the military.

“We wanted to bring our son to be a part of it and show respect to veterans,” she said. “We have a lot of pride in our veterans and think people should support them.”

Scott said his father was a chaplain in the U.S. Navy and he grew up in a military family.

“I understand the sacrifices our service members make as part of the military lifestyle,” he said. “It warms my heart to see people come out to support our military veterans.”

Started in 2005, the annual parade is sponsored by the Hastings Freemasons and Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce.

Grand marshals for the parade this year included Army Capt. John W. Wood, Marine Corps Sgt. Larry Smith, Navy Petty Officer 3 Kenneth Robinson and Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kent Rothfuss.

Capt. John “Woody” Wood of Hastings participated in the ROTC program in North Dakota and graduated from North Dakota State University in December 1966 before joining the U.S. Army.

Wood trained to pilot helicopters and served as a medivac pilot through the jungles of Vietnam in 1968-1969. Wood flew 605 hours over 757 missions and carried 1,763 injured soldiers to safety. He qualified for a belated Purple Heart after a bullet penetrated the cabin and struck his knee during one mission.

After Vietnam, Wood served in Grafenwöhr, Germany, where he was assigned to patrol the demilitarized zone for escapees from East Germany and transporting injured soldiers injured during military battlefield maneuvers until his enlistment ended in 1970.

Wood has been a licensed amateur radio operator since 1971 and became a life member of the local Amateur Radio Association of Nebraska in the mid-1990s. Woody held a number of positions within the club including member, trustee, and board of directors. Holding an Amateur Extra class license, his call sign is KCØWA.

He worked as an instructor for the Truck Driving Program at Central Community College from 2000-09, when he retired.

Sgt. Larry Smith of Hastings was raised on a farm near Lexington and graduated from Lexington High School in 1957. He joined the U.S. Marines Corps in January 1958.

Smith received his basic training at Camp Pendleton, California, and received an expert marksmanship medal after achieving 245 of 250 possible points with the M1 rifle.

Smith was assigned to a communications battalion with the First Marine Division stationed at Camp Pendleton where Smith taught computer classes to officers.

He was in charge of checking out communication and radio equipment for landings and held security clearances for sending communications when using a teletype machine.

His unit served as part of a blockade of Cuba in October 1962 after Soviet missile bases were discovered on the island. In December 1962, Smith received his honorable discharge.

Smith returned to Lexington and became a master electrician.

In 1983, he and his wife, Toni, joined the church mission field and served with the Lutheran Church in America in Liberia, West Africa, for two years. While there, Smith worked with engineers to build a hospital.

After retiring, he and Toni moved to Superior for a short time before transferring to Good Samaritan Village in Hastings. The couple has two daughters, nine grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

Tech. Sgt. Kent Rothfuss of Hastings was born and raised in Hastings. He graduated from Hastings High School in 1980 and joined the U.S. Air Force on Aug. 11, 1980.

He attended basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. After graduating basic training, Kent was assigned to Accounting and Finance.

During his 20 years of military service, Kent was stationed in Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, Naval Air Station Keflavik in Iceland, Kelly Field in Texas, Thule Air Base in Greenland, Lajes Field in Azores, Portugal, and Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota.

Returning to Hastings after his service, Rothfuss joined Elks Lodge No. 59 and currently serves as head of the Elks Lodge Veterans Programs. He manages a suicide prevention program and is adding a new program to work with disabled veterans to make flies for fly fishing.

He and his wife, Julie, have seven children and 13 grandchildren.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Kenneth Robinson of Hastings was born in 1944 and raised in Ayr, where his family farmed. He graduated from high school in Blue Hill and joined the U.S. Navy in January 1964. He went to basic training in California before he was sent to a Seabee unit and then on to Vietnam.

Robinson served with the Mobile Construction Battalion 9, Advance Party, in 1965 building a base in Da Nang, Vietnam.

While in Da Nang, the unit constructed the air base, roads, water system, outside fence and steel work.

The unit also worked with a Marine Air Group and helped build a Navy and Marine Hospital. In December 1968, Robinson returned to the United States and received an honorable discharge.

After his service, Robinson attended Central Community College before moving to Imperial. He worked as a well driller for a number of years before moving to the school system.

Since retiring and moving back to Hastings, Robinson volunteers at Good Samaritan Village and Senior Action Services.

He drives people to doctor’s appointments and helps with the North Shore Church Ministry in Motion at Christmas.

He and his wife, Vikki, have four children and nine grandchildren.

'Ambassador of Americana' to keynote HC Student Symposium

An overload of road trip adventures in search of classic and kitschy Americana pop culture is the focus of the enthusiastic history-based entertainer and “Ambassador of Americana” Charles Phoenix, the keynote performer of the Hastings College Lecture Series Student Symposium, at 7 p.m. Wednesday in French Memorial Chapel, 800 Turner Ave.

Phoenix caps the day-long symposium that expands on “The New Americana,” finding new and old definitions of what it means to be an American in a changing nation.

The symposium features only in-person presenters, all in the French Memorial Chapel beginning at 8 a.m., as well as a “Show and Shine” vintage car and motorcycle show in the Jackson Dinsdale Art Center and Gray Center parking lot from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information visit

Phoenix’s show, “Addicted to Americana,” is a mega mashup of retro road trip adventures inspired by found vintage photography. He will launch classic and kitschy pop culture into the stratosphere with his expertise, unbridled enthusiasm and eagle eye for oddball detail. He’ll share stories of his adventures in search of mid-century marvels, space-age style, unsung attractions, overlooked landmarks, roadside wonders, local foods, futuristic transportation, lost treasures and more. Phoenix is exploring the Hastings area for a couple of days before his presentation, including spending a day at the Harold Warp Pioneer Village in Minden, so attendees may spot a few local gems in his show. For more on Phoenix, visit his website,

The full schedule for Wednesday includes:

  • 8 a.m.: Michella Marino with a lecture titled “The People’s Sport: Roller Derby, Americana and the Struggle for Gender Equality.”
  • 9 a.m.: Retired Brig. Gen. Bob Stevenson, who served in the U.S. Air Force, with a discussion of “The U.S. Military and American National Identity”
  • 10 a.m.: Lt. Brent Bockstadter of the Nebraska State Patrol
  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Show and Shine vintage car and motorcycle show in the Jackson Dinsdale Art Center
  • and Gray Center Parking Lots; American identity through the vehicles that made America
  • 11 a.m.: Faculty Panel: The Immigrant Experience with Eleanor Reeds, Glenn Avent and Pedro Vizoso, discussing what it means to be American from a newcomer’s point of view
  • 1 p.m.: Patricia Oman, director of the Hastings College Press, with a talk on “Resisting Americana: Forgotten Writers and Forgotten Stories”
  • 2 p.m.: William Avilés, professor of political science at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, with a lecture titled “Immigration and Identity: How do we Construct a Nation?”
  • 3 p.m.: Terri Sanders with a lecture titled “Mildred Brown: Founder of Omaha’s African-American Newspaper”
  • 7 p.m.: Charles Phoenix performing “Addicted to Americana”

The Hastings College Lecture Series Student Symposium committee includes faculty sponsors Robert Amyot and Grant Bachman, and students Emma Downing, chair; Emma Severson, treasurer; and Effy Widdifield, secretary; as well as committee members Alyse Anderson, Brandon Hamel, Natalie Watson, Kyle Collins, Max Griffel, Riley Lanning, Tymia Thompson and Victoria Caplinger.

Information on Wednesday’s presenters follows:

Marino is a 20th century U.S. women’s historian who focuses on sports and oral history. She earned her bachelor’s from Hanover College, a master’s from the University of Louisville and a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She was an assistant professor of history at Hastings College before relocating to her home state of Indiana to spearhead the Indiana Legislative Oral History Initiative. She is now deputy director of the Indiana Historical Bureau, a Division of the Indiana State Library, where she oversees the Public History, Digital Initiatives and Rare Books and Manuscripts departments. Her book titled, “Roller Derby: The History of an American Sport,” was published in fall 2021 by the University of Texas Press. Her book was nominated for the 2022 Indiana Authors Nonfiction Shortlist.

Stevenson served most recently as the deputy director of operations for Joint Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations, and the Mobilization Assistant to the Director of Operations, U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. Prior to that position he served as the assistant adjutant general for the Nebraska Air National Guard. Stevenson received his commission through Officer Training School in 1989 after graduating from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He flew C-130E’s and KC-135R Tankers, including in combat operations, before promotions gradually forced him out of the cockpit. He holds an master of business administration degree from Bellevue University.

Bockstadter is a lieutenant with the Nebraska State Patrol assigned to the Investigative Services Division in Troop C based in Grand Island. He leads the Criminal and Drug Investigative units in the Troop C area in south central Nebraska and serves the State Patrol as the agency’s crash reconstruction coordinator and the sUAS Drone Program Coordinator. As a 26-year member of NSP, Bockstadter has worked in the McCook, Hastings, Kearney and Grand Island areas in both uniform patrol and investigative services. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and a master’s in management from Doane University.

Reeds is an assistant professor of English at Hastings College, where she now teaches courses across a range of genres, periods and national traditions. Having studied at the undergraduate level at the University of Cambridge, Reeds received her doctorate at the University of Connecticut. Her scholarly interests span Romantic and Victorian British literature, genre theory, children’s literature and creative writing.

Avent is professor of history at Hastings College. His interests include Latin America, especially modern Mexico, gender history, and world history. He received a bachelor’s degree in international relations and master’s in history from the University of British Columbia, and a doctorate in Latin American history from the University of Arizona.

Vizoso is professor of Spanish at Hastings College, teaching Spanish at all levels, ranging from courses for beginners to capstone courses for majoring students, focusing not only in language studies, but also in the Hispanic culture at large. His area of specialization is Transatlantic Hispanic Modernism. Other areas of great interest include translation studies, Hispanic crime fiction, the Spanish poetry of the Restoration period and the poetry of French Symbolism. Originally from Spain, Vizoso received a bachelor’s degree in Hispanic philology from the UNED in Madrid, a master’s. in Spanish from New Mexico State University and a doctorate in Hispanic literature from the University of Arizona.

Oman is associate professor of English and chair of the Languages and Literatures Department at Hastings College, and director of the Hastings College Press. Her research interests include regionalism (especially the Midwest), popular culture and forgotten texts. Oman received her bachelor’s degrees in comparative literature and classics from the University of Illinois, a master’s in modern literature from the University of Leicester and a doctorate in English from the University of Oregon.

Avilés is professor of political science at UNK. His teaching and research interests include Latin American politics, globalization, illegal drug policy and political violence. The first-generation college student is the son of an immigrant (his mother), and grandson of immigrants on his father’s side. He earned a doctgorate from the University of California at Riverside and a bachelor’s degree from Florida International University.

Sanders is publisher of the Omaha Star, a newspaper founded in 1938 by Mildred Brown and her husband S. Edward Gilbert. The Omaha Star is the only remaining African-American newspaper in Omaha and the only one still printed in Nebraska. Sanders has a bachelor’s degree in public relations and journalism from Creighton University and is a self-described “serial entrepreneur” with successful ventures ranging from event management to technology concierge services. She’s been associated with several North Omaha entities, including the Great Plains Black History Museum and the Omaha Economic Development Corp.’s Fair Deal Village MarketPlace.

Dems, GOP make urgent final pitches as election season wraps

COATESVILLE, Pa. — Coast to coast, candidates and big-name backers made final appeals to voters Monday in the last hours of a fraught midterm election season, with Republicans excited about the prospect of winning back Congress and President Joe Biden insisting his party would “surprise the living devil out of a lot of people.”

Democrats contend Republican victories could profoundly and adversely reshape the country, eliminating abortion rights nationwide and unleashing broad threats to the very future of American democracy. Republicans say the public is tired of Biden policies amid high inflation and concerns about crime.

“We know in our bones that our democracy is at risk,” Biden said during an evening rally in Maryland, where Democrats have one of their best opportunities to reclaim a Republican-held governor’s seat. “I want you know, we’ll meet this moment.”

Arriving back at the White House a short time later, Biden was franker, saying: “I think we’ll win the Senate. I think the House is tougher.” Asked what the reality of governing will be like, he responded, “More difficult.”

The Maryland event followed Biden’s late-campaign strategy of sticking largely to his party’s strongholds rather than stumping in more competitive territory, where control of Congress may ultimately be decided. Biden won Maryland with more than 65% of the vote in 2020 and appeared with Wes Moore, the 44-year-old Rhodes Scholar who could become the state’s first Black governor.

The president said at an earlier virtual event, “Imagine what we can do in a second term if we maintain control.”

Most political prognosticators don’t think the Democrats will — and predict that Tuesday’s results will have a major impact on the next two years of Biden’s presidency, shaping policy on everything from government spending to military support for Ukraine.

In the first national election since the violent Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection, the Democrats have tried to focus key races on fundamental questions about the nation’s political values.

The man at the center of most Jan. 6 debate, former President Donald Trump, was in Ohio for his final rally of the 2022 campaign — and already thinking about his own future in 2024. He had teased that he might formally launch a third presidential run at Monday night’s rally with Senate candidate JD Vance — which Trump concluded by promising a “big announcement” next week at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Trump’s backing of Vance in Ohio this year was crucial in helping the author and venture capitalist — and onetime Trump critic — secure the GOP’s nomination for a Senate seat. He’s now facing Democrat Tim Ryan.

“When I think about tomorrow, it is to ensure the American dream survives into the next generation,” Vance declared to thousands of cheering supporters, some sporting Trump 2024 hats and T-shirts, at Dayton International Airport.

While the GOP likes its chances of flipping the House, control of the Senate could come down to a handful of crucial races. Those include Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania, where Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman was locked in a close race against Republican celebrity surgeon Mehmet Oz.

“This is one of the most important races in America,” Fetterman told a crowd of about 100 Monday outside a union hall near a steel plate mill in Coatesville, about 40 miles west of Philadelphia. “Dr. Oz has spent over $27 million of his own money. But this seat isn’t for sale.”

At a nighttime rally at a suburban Philadelphia estate, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley introduced Oz to a crowd of about 1,500.

“There’s too many extreme positions in Washington, too much out there pulling us away from where the real answers lie,” Oz said. “I will bring balance to Washington. But John Fetterman? He’ll bring more extreme.”

Fetterman’s campaign noted that, in the final days, Oz has campaigned with Trump, at a wedding venue that refuses same-sex marriages and at a fitness center whose owner organized buses for Trump’s Jan. 6, 2021, rally in Washington.

In Georgia, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, who was in a nail-bitter with Republican Herschel Walker, tried to cast himself as pragmatic — capable of succeeding in Washington even if the GOP has more power.

Warnock promised Monday to “do whatever I need to do and work with whomever I need to work with in order to get good things done.”

Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly also tried to strike a moderate tone. He praised the state’s late Republican senator, John McCain, while noting that he didn’t ask Biden to campaign with him but would “welcome the president to come here at any point.”

Kelly’s Republican rival, Blake Masters, called the senator “just a rubber stamp vote for Joe Biden’s failed agenda.”

“You look at what Biden and Mark Kelly are doing. It’s like, are they that incompetent, or are they trying to destroy the country?” Masters said. “I think it’s both.”

Elon Musk, whose purchase of Twitter has roiled the social media world, used that platform Monday to endorse the GOP, writing, “I recommend voting for a Republican Congress, given that the Presidency is Democratic.”

That came too late for more than 44 million Americans who had already cast early ballots. Biden, meanwhile, wasn’t exclusively positive on the final day of campaigning. He’s spent weeks warning of extremism and also said Monday, “We’re up against some of the darkest forces we’ve ever seen in our history.”

“These MAGA Republicans are a different breed of cat,” he said, referring to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan. Biden also raised concerns about voter intimidation during the midterms, even suggesting that some people were outside voting stations with automatic rifles.

The president was expected to watch Tuesday night’s returns from the White House.

Trump has long falsely claimed he lost the 2020 election only because Democrats cheated, and he has begun raising the possibility of election fraud this year. Many Republican candidates across the country continue to adhere to his election denialism, even as federal intelligence agencies are warning of the possibility of political violence from far-right extremists.

Threats could also come from abroad, as they have in past races. Kremlin-connected Russian entrepreneur Yevgeny Prigozhin admitted Monday that he had interfered in U.S. elections and would continue to do so.

“If you want to stop the destruction of our country and save the American dream, then tomorrow you must vote Republican in a giant red wave that we’ve all been hearing about,” Trump said at Monday night’s rally in Ohio. He also went after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying, “I think she’s an animal” mere days after her husband, Paul, was severely beaten by an attacker at the couple’s San Francisco home.

First lady Jill Biden appeared with her husband in Maryland but also campaigned earlier Monday for Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton in northern Virginia. It could be an early indicator of GOP midterm strength if Wexton’s seat flips to her Republican challenger, Hung Cao.

The first lady told about 100 people outside a home in Ashburn, about 30 miles from Washington, that the race could come down to a tiny margin of votes. And she warned that, in Congress, a “Republican majority will attack women’s rights and health care.”

AC P&Z addresses Kenesaw subdivision

To help facilitate the development of three lots within a Kenesaw subdivision, members of the Adams County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended rezoning a larger tract of land within the subdivision.

Planning and Zoning Commission members voted 8-0 at their regular meeting Monday to recommend approval to rezone a tract of land owned by Chris and Keri Wheeler in Lot 1 of Estey Acres near the 17000 block of West 42nd Street, from transitional agriculture to urban residential. Commission member Belva Junker was absent.

Lots 5, 6 and 7 are .93 acres, .58 acres and .54 acres in size, respectively.

Zoning Administrator Judy Mignery said the acreage for those lots doesn’t meet the county minimum for transitional ag, so the property has to be rezoned to urban residential to allow replatting.

Neighboring property owner Amy Parker, who has had a 20-by-500-foot private easement near the development area in effect since 2007, expressed concern during the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting about how the proposed development might affect drainage.

It was stated action was being taken to address the rezoning. Drainage issues would be brought up during the Kenesaw Village Board meeting, which is 8 p.m. Nov. 8 at the Kenesaw Fire Hall, 115 E. Maple St.

The agenda also included possible annexation of lots 2, 3 and 4 of BLW Subdivision, but Mignery said according to the Adams County Assessor’s Office, those lots were annexed when the Estey Acres subdivision was created in 2004 and so the annexation now was unnecessary.

Planning and Zoning Commission members also unanimously tabled a replat of lot 1 Estey Acres and lots 5, 6 and 7 of KCDC Subdivision containing 7.62 acres.

A portion of the property was subdivided in 2019 as the KCDC Subdivision.

Mignery said that portion of the subdivision was a tax increment financing project.

The proposed replat would add 100 feet.

She recommended tabling further action until the applicants can meet with the Community Redevelopment Authority and amend the contract.

Otherwise, she said, there’s a portion of the lot that would be TIF property and a portion that’s not.

“That’s just going to make an assessor nightmare,” she said.

As part of the annual reorganization, members of the Planning and Zoning Commission members unanimously approved keeping the same slate: chairman Dean Rolls, voce chairman Henry Wilson, secretary Judy Mignery, Board of Adjustment representative Bob Hansen and legal newspaper Hastings Tribune.