This year, 2021, was full of excitement in Lincoln County — some in a fun way, some not so much.

There was a first-degree murder trial, COVID-19 mandate controversies, a tremendously successful Nebraskaland Days celebration, debate about a beef packing plant, the beginnings of mall renovations, new construction at Lee Bird Field, and much more, including several high school sports teams that had their best seasons ever.

It was a year of happiness and sadness, sickness and health, friendships and enemies, triumphs and losses.

Here is a rundown of the top stories of each week — remembering what the year was like in North Platte and the surrounding area.

Jan. 6

Three men arrested in alleged shooting

Three young North Platte men were arrested for a shooting that occurred on Dec. 26, 2020. Their names are Brayden Divine, Logan Divine and Joseph Martino. At about the same time that police arrived on scene, Great Plains Health called the North Platte police because someone entered the emergency room with a gunshot wound. According to a police affidavit, the 18-year-old victim had been arguing with Logan Divine about the amount of THC wax in a drug transaction.

Police say that the 18-year-old got back in the car with his father and was shot through the car door in both legs.

CBD appears on shelves all over town

CBD is an extract of marijuana without the psychoactive ingredient. Two years ago, it was technically considered illegal because it is a derivative of cannabis, which is a federally controlled substance. But since, the federal and state governments have legalized industrial hemp, another non-THC marijuana. There are now several places where CBD can be purchased around North Platte.

Jan. 13

Administrators propose school mergers, then back away

Closing or merging some North Platte public school buildings is off the table, Supt. Ron Hansen told the board of education on Jan. 11. The school district is faced with a $2 million budget shortfall and looking for ways to reduce expenses.

Where students go when they transfer

Of the students who leave North Platte public schools,  school records show that 46% moved somewhere else in Nebraska, 22% went out of state, 13% went to home-schools and 13% optioned to other school districts. That punctures the myth that the majority of those leaving are transferring to another school near North Platte.

Jan. 20

North Platte High student talks about race, diversity

Michelle Dominguez, a senior at North Platte High School, believes that racism is alive in our community. She is mixed race, part African-American and part Mexican. She feels that when she talks about her heritage, many people do not accept it because of her outward appearance. “I think it goes both ways, if you respect me, I will respect you,” Dominguez said.

Jan. 27

Social Media: Too smart for our own good

Social media, a huge force in the world, is much more than just that. It is also the largest business in the world, reaching an estimated 2 billion people. Your social media also seems to know just when you want to see a photo or receive a friend request. As the social media giants collect more knowledge about you, they adjust what they provide to you to keep your attention.

The situation is laid out in a documentary film, The Social Dilemma, a movie created by former big tech top executives who dropped out of the social media business to sound the alarm. They want everyone, not just those who work in the business, to know how social media manipulates them.

Feb. 3

Woman, victim of burglary, confronts suspect

A woman showed an unusual amount of fortitude in the arrest of a suspected gun thief on Jan. 18, after her home had been burglarized. She came home one night to find her room ransacked and several handguns stolen. She had an idea of who took them, Christopher Bornschein.

She kept her eyes open for him, and saw his car parked at a skill casino in town. She pulled up behind his car, so close that it couldn’t move. She looked into the windows of the suspect’s car and saw her backpack, which had also been stolen. She called the police and told them to get there before she did something crazy. Police responded and Bornschein was arrested.

Courthouse security; Local control

On Feb. 1, the guards at the Lincoln County Courthouse officially became employees of the county. They initially were employed by G4S, a global company headquartered in England, but are now under the supervision of the county’s detention center supervisor.

Community college makes suicide prevention classes permanent

To help combat the number of suicides, prevention training is now a permanent part of Mid-Plains Community College offerings. “We have trained nearly 400 people in the past three years and are thankful to Blue Cross and Blue Shield for helping us kick-start this project,” said Dr. Brian Obert, the area dean of student life for MPCC.

Feb. 10

Accused murder: Defense says death unintentional

Harlie Saathoff, a 19-year-old North Platte woman was charged with second degree murder. Her attorney had asked the district court to reduce the charges, saying that there was no evidence that Saathoff intended to kill the victim.

Harlie Saathoff

The court denied the request, so the charge remains second-degree murder  — a murder that was intentional, but without premeditation.

Feb. 17

Community college rodeo coach dies following accident

Garrett Nokes died unexpectedly on Feb. 4 after getting kicked in the head by a horse. Nokes was a world-class rodeo competitor and an award-winning coach. The college announced his passing with sadness. “He led by example and held high expectations for his student-athletes to do the same,” Community College Ryan Purdy said.

Students put together Valentines for the valiant

The Sioux Lookout chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution partnered with Adams Middle School and St. Patrick’s students to makes Valentine’s cards for first responders and residents in long-term care.

Feb. 24

Front-line caregivers overcome hardest year

After handling COVID-19 cases for more than a year, the number of COVID patients at Great Plains Health finally declined. As of Feb. 22, there were only eight COVID-19 patients in the hospital, compared to about 40 patients a day in the previous mid-Nov.

Great Plains Health opens Lamberty Education Center

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Feb. 19 to commemorate the grand opening of the new Lamberty Education Center. It was named after the late Dr. Leland Lamberty, and will be the education hub for employees, regional first responders and area hospitals. It also has an updated simulation lab, complete with three state-of-the-art training mannequins, named Victoria, ISTAN and Baby Super Tory.

Troopers find large meth shipment, suspected fentanyl too

State troopers arrested a California man on Feb. 19 and seized more than 25 pounds of methamphetamine in a traffic stop in Dawson County, as well as 0.3 pounds of pills suspected to be fentanyl. Although it was a big meth seizure, it was not the biggest. The largest meth seizure in the DEA’s Omaha Division was 39 pounds.

Mar. 3

Six children’s classics fly off shelves, never to return

Six of Dr. Seuss’s books were removed from publication on Mar. 2, which is also Dr. Seuss’s birthday. The removal was because of disparaging racial stereotypes. The six books are: And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, McElligot’s Pool, If I Ran the Zoo, On Beyond Zebra, Scrambled Eggs Super!, The Cat’s Quizzer

City rid of Iron Eagle golf course

A development company for Chief Industries made a deal for Iron Eagle Golf Course on Mar. 2 and expressed intentions to begin operations as soon as staff could get hired. The North Platte City Council approved the deal after considerable discussion. The deal was the company would rent out the land for $10 a year, and if they purchased the land within two years, it would cost $10,000.

Mar. 10

Skillstad receives statewide honor

A longtime educator from Lincoln County received an award from the Nebraska School Activities Association. Mark Skillstad, the former coach, principal, and activities director at the North Platte Catholic Schools, received the Distinguished Service Award from the NSAA on Mar. 6.

Mar. 17

Progress around town: Off to a good start

Lincoln County’s $5 million jail addition is in full development now, with most of the roof decking installed and interior work underway.

Mar. 24

Man finds armed woman in basement

On Mar. 22, at 11:49 a.m., police were called to the 700 block of West 11th to check out a reported trespassing. A man who lived there said he was working in his garage for about an hour and went back inside and heard a voice from the basement, although there wasn’t supposed to be anyone there other than him. The victim found a woman, a stranger, in the basement.

When he asked what she was doing, she allegedly pointed a gun at him and threatened to shoot. The man went outside and called 911. When police arrived and announced themselves, a woman’s voice shouted that she had a gun. Police arrested the woman after deploying a taser. The gun turned out to be a CO2-powered pellet gun that looked like a semi-automatic handgun.

COVID-19 precautions eased at high school

Mar. 12 marked the one-year anniversary since North Platte High School closed its doors to students. On Mar. 18, the West Central Health District’s risk dial went down to yellow, meaning that precautions could be eased at the high school.

Mar. 31

Daring duo hang bird diverters on power lines

Bird diverters were hung on power lines on Mar. 27, just west of Halsey, thanks to a brave man who hung from the side of a helicopter and a skilled pilot.

Close to the wire near Halsey

Lighting up the night race: First in over a year

The Platte River Fitness Series put on their first in-person race in more than a year on Mar. 27. It was made possible and run by members of the North Platte High Student Council. All proceeds from the event were donated to the Make-A-Wish foundation to support children in need.

Apr. 7

Jail escape won’t happen again

Inmate Anthony Nunnenkamp escaped from the Lincoln County jail in July 2020, one of the few people to ever escape the 10-year-old detention center successfully. He returned in late March after he was arrested in Phoenix, Ariz.

Apr. 14

Lawsuit filed over costs of Cedar Room

North Platte businesses are in a court battle, in financial dispute over the renovation of a popular downtown restaurant. The Cedar Room and Steele’s Roofing and Construction disagree about the renovation costs of the building that houses the restaurant. The battle was over $400,000 in construction costs in addition to $500,000 that was already paid.

Hadley Barrett memorial announced

The Wild West Arena Foundation teamed up with Hyannis area artist Jake Hebbert to create a bust of the late Hadley Barrett, who announced the Buffalo Bill Rodeo for more than 50 years. Barrett was a North Platte native. He passed away in 2017. He was one of the most respected announcers in the business, named PRCA announcer of the year four times, announcing the National Finals Rodeo five times and a member of the PRCA Hall of Fame.

Downtown lights up

New lights over Dewey St.

The overhead lights on Dewey Street were switched on Apr. 8, capping the $2.9 million renovation that brought new energy into the downtown area. A crowd gathered for the lighting ceremony, and Sarah Talbott, the president of the downtown association, gave credit to “too many people to name” for all their help.

Apr. 21

North Platte: Great place for families

North Platte is a strong community for kids, shown on Apr. 17 with a two-hour celebration on the bricks. The celebration was for the week of the young child. In addition to games, contestants for Miss Teen Nebraska signed autographs and children had ‘passports’ to sign at local businesses that made them eligible for free ice cream. The celebration was organized by Diane Livingston.

First National Bank donates to community college

North Platte Community College’s Health and Science Center expansion project received a major boost thanks to First National Bank of Omaha. FNBO contributed $100,000 towards the project on Apr. 19.

Apr. 28

Plastic creates worldwide trash crisis

The waste created by one plastic bag compared to how long people use them is incredible. Someone might use a bag for a few minutes, maybe less, but they last for centuries in the environment. Every minute, a garbage truck of plastic is dumped into the oceans, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association says. To fight back, Keep North Platte and Lincoln County Beautiful volunteers handed out reusable shopping bags in North Platte on Earth Day, Apr. 22.

Once More with Style winds down after more than 30 years

From the start, it was a family operation, with Connie Kuhlmann’s mother, Barbara and her aunt, Merlee Hudson playing big roles in the business. The downtown store closed after 34 years of serving North Platte.

May 5

After 10-year legal battle, rancher wins tax protest

Donald Cain’s long and winding journey to determine how much property taxes he owes in Custer County for the tax year of 2012 finally ended. His taxes in that year jumped by 250%, and the Custer County Assessor failed to notify him of the increase in time for him to file a protest to the county board. He hired a lawyer and appealed the valuation. After a 10-year legal battle and three decisions by the Nebraska Supreme Court, he was victorious.

Music on the Bricks

Two days of festivities began at the Espresso Shop where The Platinum Pearls and Kim Baxter played for a full house for nearly three hours. The shop provided homemade Tastee Burgers and Chicago-style hot dogs. The second day of festivities brought 1,100 people in favorable weather, in a welcome outdoor gathering. The Platinum Pearls opened the show once again, with performances by Kim Baxter and his daughter Mikaela, joined by special guests Brian Baxter on keyboard and vocals, and son Brandon Baxter on the saxophone. They were followed by Jack Bunger & The Pro’s, who closed with a Led Zeppelin song, Been a Long Time. The audience demanded an encore. The newly formed band Straw Bone closed the evening with a wide variety of music, ranging from jazz to rock.

Incentives approved for North Platte Mall

In an overflow meeting, the city council approved a bundle of tax incentives for the developers of a new Mall, after listening to nearly two hours of public comments that were all supportive of the project. No one spoke against the renovation. Those in favor said they wanted more places to shop, plus more business activity in North Platte.

May 12

North Platte fugitive found under porch

A North Platte man, Kaleb Slaymaker, fled on foot on May 10 after his car was pulled over. Police found him hiding under a nearby porch. Meanwhile, a woman in the car got back in the car and left the scene while police were looking for Slaymaker.

Bailey Yard collision

A fuel truck and a locomotive collided in Bailey Yard on May 11. Although there was a fuel leak from the truck there was no spill. The incident occurred at about 10:30 a.m.

NP schools drop firm mask requirement

The reduced restriction went into effect on May 12. School ended five days later for summer break.

Sun shines on North Platte class of 2021

The sky cleared on Sunday, May 9 just in time for the sun to shine on the high school graduation. The students learned to work with what life handed them, including a year of COVID-19 restrictions and worries. While many schools across the country closed for an entire year or more, North Platte classes were taught in-person for the year. Principal Scott Siegel said “The fire that burns inside you burned so much brighter than any fire outside of you. Keep that fire for the rest of your life. Don’t ever let it go out.”

May 19

Investigation continues into mysterious unsolved homicide

The painstaking, slow investigation into the death of Nick Legas continues, nearly a year after the body was discovered floating in a public power district canal near Lake Maloney. The death has been ruled a homicide, but no suspects have been charged yet. There have been many setbacks in the investigation.  Lincoln County Sheriff’s Investigator Larry Meyer said it is taking time, but the case would be solved.

Great Plains Health acquires Urgent Care

Although the operating hours will remain the same, the clinic’s owner and name is new — Great Plains Urgent Care. “It is not part of our organization’s strategy to actively pursue the purchase of local clinics,” Great Plains Health Chief Executive Officer Mel McNea said in a press release. “However, when we are approached with an intent to sell and believe that our involvement will secure access to local healthcare, we come to the table.”

May 26

Police, firefighters show equipment at Cody Park

Families enjoyed a close-up view of emergency response vehicles, including a patrol car, fire truck and ambulance during an afternoon friendly get-together. Children asked many questions that were gladly answered by the crews of the respective vehicles.

Paws on the Platte return

For the first time since 2018, artists teamed up with Paws-itive Partners and painted statues of dogs. Twenty-five artists participated, creating colorful dogs. They were created as a fundraiser for Paws-itive Partner’s fund to care for animals that come their way, whether that be medical care or food. The first year of the auction in 2018, the fundraiser took in $35,000.

Jun. 2

Action a’plenty at Bucking Battle

A crowd gathered in the stands of the North Platte sale barn arena for the third annual Bucking Battle and Bash on May 29. The event included both bull fighting and bull riding. There was also live music by Josh Cox and food by La Pachenga, Snowball Express, Sabrositos Food Truck, as well as a beer tent.

Service held at 20th Century Memorial

The Memorial Day observance was held at the 20th Century Veterans Memorial on May 31 with music, a color presentation by members of the Civil Air Patrol and guest speakers. The service was not only for veterans, but also in memory of Veterans Memorial Board President, Kevin Kennedy, who died Dec. 26, 2020.

Kennedy was a Vietnam veteran who earned the Purple Heart for injuries suffered in combat.

Jun. 9

Patriot rally at fairgrounds

Scott McKay

About 400 people turned out Jun. 4 for a patriotic rally at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds, hosted by Scott McKay, who goes by the name “Patriot Street Fighter” on social media.

Arch, more features coming downtown

One of the arches at the entryways of the Canteen District was welded and just awaiting a powder coat before delivery. The arch was erected near the corner of Fourth and Dewey as a part of the “streetscape” improvements to the downtown historical area.

Grocery grabbers garner free food

On Jun. 5, the Noon Rotary’s 3rd annual Grocery Grab fundraiser was held. There was a raffle, and the winners got free groceries. Three winners each earned shopping times of 3, 2 and 1 minute. The money from the fundraiser will be put towards hosting foreign exchange students, blood drives and conducting their Josh the Otter water safety awareness program.

Jun. 16

Cowboys, cowgirls converge

More than 580 cowboys and cowgirls converged on North Platte, a major part of Nebraskaland Days. People from as close as Hershey to as far as the Canadian Provinces came to North Platte for the fun and excitement.

2021 Miss Nebraska crowned

Crowns were passed from the 2019 winners, which were Allie Swanson and Phoenix Stanford, to the next generation of Miss Nebraska and Miss Teen Nebraska. Miss Nebraska was Morgan Holen, who was previously Miss Omaha. Miss Teen Nebraska was Jamie Rose Chen, who was Miss Scottsbluff County.

Jun. 23

North Platte police chief announces retirement

A surprising announcement came in the thick of the Nebraskaland Days celebrations, as Dan Hudson said he would retire. Hudson said about his time with the police department, “You learn how to talk and most importantly, how to listen. We spend a whole lot more time these days taking the public’s interests to heart.”

National Guard facility underway

Ground was officially broken on Jun. 23 for a new vehicle maintenance facility near the North Platte Regional Airport. According to the plans, another National Guard building will be built nearby by 2029 – a readiness center, commonly known as an armory.

Jun. 30

Hospital CEO to run for state legislature

Great Plains Health CEO Mel McNea announced on Jun. 28 that he would run for the District 42 seat in the Nebraska Legislature held by Sen. Mike Groene. Groene’s second and final term will end in Dec. 2022.

Bridge, overpass work continues

Starting in Mar. 2020, work began on two of four projects to repair and maintain bridges and viaducts in the North Platte and Brady area. The two projects that started were the renovation of the Jeffers St. overpass downtown and the Newberry Road bridge on the east side of the city.

Nebraskaland music

Luke Combs

On the final night of the Nebraskaland Days festivities, Jun. 26, Toby Keith took the stage. He sang such famous songs as Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue and God Love Her. On Jun. 25, Luke Combs sold out the Wild West Arena. Combs won the CMA’s Performer of the Year Award later in the year. Combs performed some of his most loved songs, including but not limited to 1, 2 Many, Beautiful Crazy and She Got the Best of Me.

COVID-19 emergency ends

Gov. Pete Ricketts announced the end of Nebraska’s Coronavirus state of emergency. The state of emergency officially ended on Jun. 30 at 11:59 p.m.

Jul. 7

Meat packing plant: Concern over waste, flood vulnerability

The plant would sit over an old sewage lagoon that is no longer in use; however, it is between the North and South Platte Rivers. The two rivers meet less than a mile downstream from the proposed location, which raises the question of what action needs to be taken to protect the land.

One of the ways proposed to handle the flood vulnerability would be to raise the ground level four feet, which would take the building out of the 100-year flood plain, and another foot would be added for good measure.

Sutherland celebrates the Fourth

Sutherland held its 78th annual parade, which had around 60 entrants. Following the parade, even more festivities took place, such as Kids’ Mechanical Bull Riding, a Pie and Ice Cream social as well as Sutherland’s annual Fourth of Jul. Rodeo.

Jul. 14

Free rides raise suicide awareness

Free ice cream and rides were provided in Cody Park on Jul. 7, to memorialize the one-year anniversary of the death of 10-year-old Kodie Dutcher. “It’s a thing that nobody wants to talk about with their children because they don’t want to plant the seed, but they’re already thinking about it with social media, kids at school and bullying,” Dutcher’s aunt Hanna Fox said. “It’s really important to have that super-awkward and tough conversation with your children. It’s really important for parents to understand that mental health is a severe issue in children, and they should take it seriously.”

Hershey considers big school expansion

The Hershey School board proposed an $18 million expansion of the school, which would nearly double the size of the building. It would include a new gymnasium, locker rooms, commons / lunchroom, kitchen, weight room and would renovate parts of the existing school building. Later, the majority of voters turned down the proposal.

Near-hurricane force winds roar through town

Winds gusted to 70 miles an hour around 9 p.m. and again at 2:30 a.m., knocking over trees in the city. Trees were especially hard hit in Cody Park and Memorial Park.

Jul. 21

$$ recommended for Sustainable Beef

The proposed Sustainable Beef processing plant will likely receive $1 million to help pay for the studies for the project. The city council will have the final say, but typically acts on the recommendations of the advisory committee of the North Platte Quality Growth Fund.

North Platte’s newest homes celebrated

Ceremonies were held Jul. 20 to celebrate the construction of Victory Village and Pacific Place apartment complexes.

Jul. 28

Horse racetrack approved by North Platte planners

An application to build a horse racetrack south of I-80 was unanimously approved on Jul. 27 by the North Platte planning and zoning commission. This moves the proposal to the North Platte City Council, who will consider it. In 2020, Nebraska voters legalized casino gambling at facilities that offer thoroughbred horse racing.

Judge Turnbull resigns

Judge Kent D. Turnbull resigned after working at the Lincoln County courthouse as a prosecutor or a judge for 38 years. Turnbull became a judge in the 11th Judicial District on Oct. 22, 1999.

Paws on the Platte raises $52,500

A pack of 25 dog sculptures were auctioned off Jul. 23, with the top bid exceeding $5,000.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

A soldier never really dies until he is forgotten, and the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are intent on never forgetting.

Aug. 4

Lincoln County treasurer charged with theft

Lincoln County Treasurer Shelli Franzen resigned from her position just one day after she was charged with stealing money from her office, and Lincoln County. According to the charge, $1,500 – $5,000 is at issue.

Remembering the Unknown Soldier

A procession for unknown soldiers made its way through North Platte before a symbolic casket was placed in repose at Scouts Rest Ranch for the weekend. About 200 people gathered for the ceremony and many more visited through the weekend. Dawson County District Judge Jim Doyle delivered a keynote address.

Aug. 11

Nebraska State Patrol employs drones

The Nebraska State Patrol is now using drones to map crash scenes, in order to get roads cleared faster. The NSP (at the time of writing) now has 19 certified drone pilots based throughout the state.

Big Boy highlights Rail days

Big Boy during Rail Days (tap on images to enlarge)

The huge steam locomotive was built in the 1940s and was in North Platte to celebrate Rail Days on Aug. 5. The Big Boy steam locomotive is the world’s largest of its kind, and 25 were built. However, out of the eight that still exist, No. 4014 is the only one that still operates.

Aug. 18

Council approves racetrack-casino permit

Mayor Brandon Kelliher cast the tie-breaking vote on Aug. 15, to approve a casino and horse racetrack to develop in North Platte. 

B-24 Liberator lands in North Platte

The only B-24 bomber that is still flight-worthy landed at the North Platte Regional Airport on Aug. 16. Passengers could see and feel what WWII veterans encountered, and it allowed visitors to honor the sacrifices of countless men and women who fought and died for our freedom, the organizers said.

Music on the Bricks

Performers Kim Baxter and Skylar Faith set a happy tone on Friday night, Aug. 13, for a near-capacity crowd of about 100 people at the Espresso Shop. On Aug. 14, even more bands performed outdoors before a crowd of about 1,000, with games and a variety of music, including high school sensation Jack Bunger.

Aug. 25

Teens cited in golf course vandalism

Four more teenage boys have been charged for the vandalism at Indian Meadows Golf Course. The estimated damages add up to $58,000. Police said more than 20 interviews were conducted.

Rain floods part of Hershey

About 2.5 inches of rain fell overnight on Aug. 19, breaking the drought that plagued the area for nearly a month and a half. It was the first rain since Jul. 16, and enough rain accumulated in some areas to float an empty kayak. Residents blamed a poor drainage system that needs to be updated.

Family, friends step up to pay tribute to slain youth

On Aug. 15, a candlelight vigil and balloon release was held for Geoffery Allen, 23, who was killed by a vicious beating. Police said that they got a 911 call about an unconscious man, who was receiving CPR. When officers arrived, they found the man on the floor of an apartment. The suspected assailant, Logan Divine, was performing the CPR. Witnesses said that Allen was hit with a baseball bat at least two times outside the building, hit with fists and kicked several times. Allen died of his injuries after being flown to a Denver hospital. Earlier in the year, Divine was arrested in connection with a shooting.

Sep. 1

Protest held against mandatory masks

Some parents who think that each individual student should have the right to decide if they should wear masks in the North Platte Public Schools system held a protest on Aug. 25 outside the offices of district administrators. They carried signs with phrases such as “Masks don’t work,” “We love Freedom,” and “Let our kids breathe.”

Hotel Pawnee renovation

The basics of the Hotel Pawnee’s neon signs are now working for the Tom Tom Coffee Shop and the White Horse bar. “We just need to get some broken glass repaired for the rest of the letters to light up,” owner Jay Mitchell said. On Aug. 26, Mitchell showed several of the grandchildren of the original builder, Keith Neville, around the hotel.

Sep. 8

North Platte man dies in tragic drowning

On Sep. 6, Lincoln County divers found the remains of a man at the Fremont Slough Wildlife Area, commonly called Maui Lake. The Lincoln County 911 Center received a call about a man who was drowning at the I-80 lake, which is just east of North Platte. The young man, Brandan Freeman, swam out to retrieve a duck he’d shot, went under, and never resurfaced.

Trooper Goodschmidt receives national honor

Nebraska State Trooper Goodschmidt received a national honor on Aug 31 from the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) for his work in motor vehicle criminal interdictions during the 2020 calendar year. Goodschmidt made several arrests for possession of controlled substances, and in one arrest he found 2,300 pounds of marijuana. That seizure was the largest in the United States in 2020.

Tribute to U.S. troops killed in Kabul bombing

Another Round Sports Bar and Grill, as well as other restaurants, reserved honorary seats for the 13 U.S. service members who were killed near the Kabul Airport on Aug. 26, as U.S. forces pulled out of Afghanistan. Those slain were trying to get Afghans to safety. Of the 13 service members that were killed, there were 11 Marines, a Navy medic and an Army soldier. One of the Marines killed was Cpl. Daegan Page, 23, of Omaha.

Log Cabin comes down; long history

The Log Cabin was being demolished, after decades as an historical small restaurant on Rodeo Road on the west edge of North Platte. The Cabin dates back to 1929 but was closed for about five years before the demolition. The property owners are steadily renovating the area as an overnight stop for RVs and the headquarters of their woodworking business.

Sep. 15

Supt. Hanson plans to retire

North Platte Public Schools Supt. Ron Hanson announced that he will retire after seven years at the helm of the school district. Hanson made the announcement at a school board meeting. He said he battled cancer this year, for the second time in his life, which he said makes a person rethink their priorities.

Breaking ground for mall renovations

Ground was broken Sep. 14 for major renovations to the shopping mall in North Platte, which will be renamed the 177 District, after the I-80 number on the city’s main interchange.

Sep. 22

Parents, businesses struggle with childcare shortage

The widespread worker shortage was fully realized in the community when the Kid’s Academy Childcare Center closed. The academy took in about 120 children while their parents were working. The closure put immediate strain on the 100 or so families that depended on the childcare.

Volunteers build park playground

Hundreds of volunteers from the North Platte community stepped in to help build a new playground at Centennial Park. The volunteers worked from sunup to sundown for four days with three four-hour shifts.

Sep. 29

Relay for Life generates thousands for research

This year’s Relay for Life generated more than $12,000 for cancer research, even before the live and silent auction results were tallied. Four hundred luminaries lined the sidewalks, and painted pallets were auctioned in honor of people who have suffered from cancer. Although most of them brought in $20-50, there were several that brought much more than that. In total, 33 pallets were auctioned.

Oct. 6

Unique triple burial at Fort McPherson

The cremains of three military veterans were laid to rest on one day, Sep. 27. This was the first triple burial in the history of the cemetery. The three veterans buried were: William H. Jellison, a World War Two Veteran, Byron H. Jellison, an Air Force Veteran, and Michael G. Jellison, an Army Veteran. Also, William’s wife, Vondalee M. Jellison, was laid to rest that day as well. Their gravesites are all in a row. “It was a beautiful day and we’re glad that they’re all together,” said another son, Bob, who lives in Grant. Each of those buried died separately, and family members had kept the cremains until all three were laid to rest.

Oct. 13

Semiconductor chip shortage leaves dealerships empty

The shipping difficulties caused by COVID-19 have caused a semiconductor chip shortage. A chip is used to control certain aspects of a vehicle, such as power steering and emergency braking systems. The shortage is impacting nearly every dealership in Nebraska, as inventories decline sharply.

Oct. 20

COVID-19 vaccination mandate sparks protest

President Joe Biden’s vaccination mandate and Union Pacific’s decision to implement it promptly sparked backlash, leading to a four-hour protest outside of the Lincoln County Courthouse. Up to 150 people were there at the height of the rally.

Keith Allen verdict: Guilty

One thing was abundantly clear from the outset of the murder trial: Keith Allen pulled the trigger. The question was if it was justified. The trial took seven days, and the jury returned a verdict that was read by the Clerk of the District Court, Deb McCarthy. Allen was found guilty of first-degree murder and guilty of use of a weapon to commit a felony.

Public schools add another officer

A second police officer was added to the North Platte Public School system. Officer Matt Elder will be stationed at Adams Middle School and provide support for Jeremiah Johnson, the highly praised resource officer at the high school.

Oct. 27

Rainforest, Andes puts NP woman on top

Former community leader Alisha Forbes feels like a new person, refreshed and invigorated, after taking a trip through Peru, visiting places such as the Machu Picchu ruins high in the Andes mountains. She also spent time in the Amazon Rainforest at the Arkana Spiritual Center.

Three dead, one wounded in Superior

The Nebraska State Patrol investigated a shooting that happened on Oct. 21 at the Superior Agrex elevator. According to preliminary investigation, Max Hoskinson, 61, of Superior was let go from his job earlier on the day of the shooting. He returned to the elevator with a handgun and opened fire, striking three people. An employee returned fire with a shotgun from the office, striking Hoskinson.  Sandra Nelson, 60, was pronounced dead at the scene. Darin Koepke, 53, was life-flighted to Bryan Health west campus, and later died. Hoskinson was taken to the hospital in Superior, where he died.

Kevin Hines, suicide survivor, speaks

Nobody asked Kevin Hines if he was okay even as he walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, crying. He then jumped off, falling 220 feet into the cold waters of the bay. He survived, one of only 36 to do so. He spoke to students at North Platte High on Oct. 22. “I believed I was useless,” Hines said. “I thought I had no value, and I thought my family wanted me gone. But I was wrong.” He said that his suicide attempt wasn’t something he wanted to do, but it was something he felt he needed to do, as he urged students and staff to show compassion for each other. 

Nov. 3

North Platte study group checks Idaho packing plant

A handful of key North Platte decision-makers stopped on the road in Kuna, Idaho on Nov. 1, next to a beef packing plant. They stopped to see if there was any detectable smell. Their visit was unannounced, so that nobody at the plant or the area could take extraordinary steps to impress them. “We generally found good info. We got the kind of feedback we thought we would get, or in some cases, it was better than expected,” Planning Commissioner David Fudge said.

City chlorinates some water wells

Starting Nov. 2, the North Platte Water Department chlorinated water coming out of three wells on the north side of town to meet a 30-day requirement from state and federal agencies. A minimal amount of chlorine was added, just 0.2 milligrams per liter. Water Superintendent Leroy Kramer said that the procedure was required because city water samples in September and October tested positive for coliform bacteria. Although coliform is not hazardous, it is a precursor of more dangerous bacteria growing in the water. No other forms of bacteria have been identified.

Three attorneys nominated for judge

Three North Platte attorneys were nominated for the position of county judge, and their resumes were sent to Gov. Pete Ricketts on Oct. 27. The vacancy is due to the resignation of Judge Kent Turnbull. The names of the three attorneys are: Michael Nozicka, Patrick Heng and Tanya Roberts-Connick.

Nov. 10

Flood gates open, money pours in

Recently, the state of Nebraska has been returning to prosperity, as the 2021-22 fiscal year estimated revenue from taxes and fees increased by more than $475 million. The forecasting board makes the projection three times a year. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, with the state receiving more than $1 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds. Lincoln County, North Platte public schools, and the city are each receiving millions of dollars too.

Safer hike-bike trail along State Farm Road finally connects

A decade-old dream has finally come true as plans and finances are set for a new hike-bike trail along State Farm Road. The North Platte Trails committee started working years ago on concrete trail that stretched from State Farm Road to Buffalo Bill Ave., to make it safer for walkers and bicycle riders. A bike rider was tragically killed on that stretch of road in 2011.

Nov. 17

Council hears pickleball story, potential in North Platte

One of the fastest growing family sports in the country is called pickleball. North Platte is on the leading edge of the trend, as the city council looked at a plan to rebuild the tennis courts at Cody Park, converting four tennis courts into nine pickleball courts.

Expanded county jail opens

After a $5.1 million dollar expansion, the expanded county jail opened on Nov. 3 and was immediately occupied. The new section expanded the building by about 25% and added 52 new beds in two “pods.” One pod holds about 32 prisoners, and the other pod holds 20.

Nov. 24

D & N Event Center aims to boost sports opportunities

Tad Haneborg of the D&N Event Center has big plans to double the size of the center. Although it is already North Platte’s largest sports center, Haneborg has even bigger dreams. With seed money from a $600,000 improvement fund grant from the Visitor’s Bureau, he is setting his sights on a $7.5 million expansion, which would add 5,000 square-feet to the center.

Dec. 1

Court halts vaccination order for healthcare workers

Hospital CEO Mel McNea

The U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Missouri halted the Biden administration from enforcing its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers. The preliminary injunction was issued on Nov. 29. The mandate would cause workers to walk off their jobs and force the North Platte hospital to cut back on services, CEO Mel McNea said.

World War II era Civil Air Patrol: 80 years

The Civil Air Patrol, an Air Force Auxiliary, was created on Dec. 1, 1941, six days before the Pearl Harbor attacks. Civil Air Patrol was credited with sinking several German U-Boats. There is a squadron in North Platte, Lee Bird Composite Squadron.

Dec. 8

Council unanimously advances beef processing

Many speakers stated that a new beef plant would ‘do wonders’ for North Platte’s economy at a Dec. 7 public hearing. Sustainable Beef CEO David Briggs said about half of the financial package is put together for the plant and organizers are eager to get it started.

Horse track, casino developers present plans

A “North Platte Exposition and Racing” operation would be built on undeveloped land along the south side of I-80. The city council voted 5-4 on Aug. 18 to approve a zoning permit for the racino, with Mayor Brandon Kelliher casting the deciding vote. It is expected to take about two years to license and build the track. The horse track would have 30 race days a year, and the casino would be open 24-7.

North Platte Canteen festival

A North Platte Canteen festival was held on Dec. 18, with music and acts that paid tribute to what made North Platte so memorable for soldiers in World War II. Organizers hope to present the shows to visitors during the summer and hold the festival each year. The Canteen lasted for 54 months, involved 12,000 volunteers, and served more than 6 million service men and women during the war.

Dec. 15

Speech coaches relieved of duties after ‘blackface’ incident

Coaches David Cooper and Staysha Adams were removed as the NPHS speech and drama coaches. Cooper had coached the program for 26 years. There was an email complaint sent to the school administration by Anthony Sullivan the day before the two were fired about a white actor wearing blackface in a one-act play earlier in the season.

Heineman decides not to run for governor

Former Gov. Dave Heineman decided not to run for the office again, and cited family reasons as the reason. “I loved being the governor of our great state,” he said. “As I listened to Nebraskans the past few months, I appreciated the strong support and encouragement they offered me to run again. I was very close to saying, ‘Yes,’ but family is very important to me, now more than ever.”

Dec. 22

New police chief

The North Platte city council approved the appointment of Interim Police Chief Steve Reeves to the permanent position. Reeves has been on the North Platte force for 33 years, working his way up through the ranks.

Careful where you park

The city administration proposed a ban on parking cars on front lawns, and then withdrew the proposal, saying they needed to revise it.

Rhodes selected

Former North Platte school principal Todd Rhodes was selected as the new school superintendent. Rhodes has previously served as superintendent of Maxwell and Gothenburg schools.

New judges

Gov. Pete Ricketts named Prosecutor Tanya Roberts-Connick and Defense Attorney Patrick Heng as new county judges in North Platte and McCook, respectively.


More than 4,000 wreaths were placed on gravestones at Fort McPherson National Cemetery.

The Lincoln County Commissioners awarded $85,000 to four food pantries in the area – the first distribution of $6.8 million in federal “pandemic relief” money.

Holiday lights

After judges of five families ranked the entries for Keep North Platte and Lincoln County Beautiful, six homes were awarded first place in the annual holiday lights contest, sponsored by the Bulletin, Great Western Bank, Cody Keno, Menards and Fellows Home Appliance.

This report was first published in the Bulletin’s Dec. 29 print edition.

© 2022 The North Platte Bulletin. All rights reserved.