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25 years of Fourth Grade Museum Day

By Dianne Girmus
The Nebraska Signal

Museums are fun and educational for all ages in different ways.
Fourth graders in Fillmore County have been learning about their heritage at the annual Fillmore County Museum of Fairmont since 1994 and last Tuesday they celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Fillmore County Fourth Grade Museum Day.
This special museum event originated through the joint-efforts of Janet Stephenson, former Geneva Elementary School fourth grade teacher, and the late Ruth Black, museum curator and leading spokeswoman for the museum at that time. Stephenson, who still coordinates the event today said,  “We decided we needed to show the county history and get the message out—to make the public more aware.”
Due to the chilly temperature, the fun, educational, learning stations, usually held outdoors, were moved inside this year, but that didn’t dampen the spirit of the event. The 55 students in attendance were divided into six groups which were rotated through the stations and tours, which included:  the Ashby and McClellan Buildings, the Country School Room, Soap and Butter-Making Stations, the Homesteader Presentation and the Quilting Station.  The day ended with a sing-along of folk music featuring string instruments with David Lynn of York.
Doug Rung, President of the Fillmore County Historical Society, said the Ashby Building, the original building of the museum was part of the Fairmont Creamery Company until 1885 and then was purchased by Dr. S. F. Ashby who made it into a doctor’s office and small hospital.  Drs. A. A. Ashby and Dr. Charles F. Ashby also practiced there.
In 1994, the building was donated to the Fillmore County Historical Society to be used as a museum to preserve Fillmore County’s history and heritage.  Historical artifacts were donated, items were catalogued and put on display. Rung said there is a big variety of items.
“The rooms contain medical supplies and equipment used by the Ashby doctors...musical instruments, World War I memorabilia, dolls and toys, kitchen items, various period-dresses, creamery items and there is a special room for doing family and county history,” Rung said.
A very special, one-of-a-kind item that is quite popular, can be seen in the medical supply/equipment area.
When a group of Shickley students were asked what they liked about the Ashby Building, they responded with strange looks and grins on their faces, “Dr. Ashby’s appendix!”  (Belonging to the late Dr. Charles F. Ashby and suspended in a bottle of formaldehyde.)
Lakota Tubberville, age nine of Shickley, said he really liked the Ashby Building.
He said, “There was a map of Shickley in the old-days and also an old year book with photos that looked really different than the ones today.”
Alexianna Lathan, 10 of Shickley, liked the mannequin (mother) taking care of the baby doll in the carriage—another unique Ashby Building exhibit.
The students were intrigued as they watched soap being made with melted lard, lye and water.  They even got to help stir the mixture.  One Geneva student, Brinleigh Foos, age 10, makes soap at home and was excited for another experience to do so, outside of her home.
At the Homestead Presentation Station, students learned about living on the “bleak” prairie and heard a story of how one young lady received flower seeds from her sister, who lived back East, to bring color to their homestead.  In the Country School Room, they learned about immigrants settling in the U. S. due to the Homestead Act of 1862.
Rung said the second museum building, the McClellan Building, donated by Beth Wilkins, is divided into historical stores and shops of the county’s history and includes a hat shop, telephone office, optometry office, one room school house, funeral parlor, electronic display, household furniture displays, farm tool display and a working soda fountain from Exeter. Rung said the historical society purchased the corner building adjoining the McClellan Building within the past 10 years.  A doorway was opened between the buildings and renovated to enlarge the museum.
Rung said, “This addition includes: memorabilia from the former Fillmore County Army Airfield, photography instruments, postal equipment, military uniforms, a doll house and the most recent addition, a bank teller cage.  It’s named “The Ruth Black Room” in memory of the late Ruth Black, museum curator and spokeswoman.
Owen Beavers, age 10 of Shickley, said he liked the McClellan Building because he saw a lot of World War II items and he enjoys history like that.
The Butter-Making Station was enjoyed by everyone, being a hands-on experience of shaking cream and salt until it solidified.  Joey Stoner, age 10 of Geneva, said he enjoyed making it because he got to shake it for a long time and that it looked good when it was finished. At the Quilting Station, the students each designed their own nine-patch quilt block.
Stephenson said that in spite of the weather, the day went very smoothly, even though the event had to be held inside. Stephenson believes it is an important event and she is very grateful for all the support received this year and previously.
“It’s good to educate our children in local history, and, hopefully, instill the importance of it.  Through the years, I’ve truly enjoyed this.   It’s always been a big success and we’ve received a lot of favorable comments—that’s why we keep going with it,” Stephenson said.  “The day would not be possible without the dedication of all the volunteers, most being board members, who help every year and the grants we receive from the Fillmore County Foundation and the Tous Charitable Foundation.”

Fire station to go to bid

Signal Editor

The Geneva City Council unanimously voted to go out for bids for a new fire station and debated on what the lot prices should be at Geneva's 19th Street Housing Addition at the city council's regularly-scheduled meeting last week.
The time line for the fire station project will be: May 8-22, three weeks of legal publication; May 13, JEO Consulting Group, Inc., releases bid documents; May 29, 10 a.m., pre-bid meeting; June 11, 2 p.m., bid opening; June 17, Geneva City Council approves contracts; July 8, construction begins and April of 2020, completion.
Corey Brodersen with JEO went over the fire station project with the city council and a handful of Geneva firemen last week.  The 13,600 square foot pre-engineered metal building will contain six bays, training and meeting room areas, equipment storage areas and a mezzanine level.  It will also have areas designed for future uses.  Current estimates for the project range between $1.6 and $1.76 million.
"It is a pretty straight-forward design for a community like Geneva," Broderson said.  "I think the project really came together well."
Some items recently finalized including moving the building's design up six inches to help with drainage; keeping the building 12-15 feet from the property line; keeping a generator with the project; in-floor heat or radiant heat and if a safe room is needed.
"Your firemen have really went over the building," Broderson said.  "I also think the bid environment is very strong right now for a project like this."
Former Geneva fireman Tom Ortgies noted the current Geneva Fire Barn was built in 1971 or 1972 and needed modifications from day one.
"I ask you to do it right," Ortgies said.  "I see how much work the firemen have had to do on their own in the current fire barn to make it usable...insulate, making the heating right...  If you don't do it now, you're going to pay for it later.  It is a focal point of the community...just like city hall."
The city council voted 6-0 to go out for bids for the new fire station, which will be located at 7th Street and F Street.
"I think we have a good building," Geneva Mayor Eric Kamler said.
In conjunction with the new fire station location, the city council approved having JEO design a two-block water main extension to the building's location.  This project is estimated to cost about $100,000. The six-inch water line will move along the south side of F Street from 8th Street to 6th Street.
Another topic on the May 6 agenda included discussion on lot prices at the 19th Street Housing area.  Actual assessment prices for the six lots in the Third Addition ranged from $14,954 and $24,800 as computed by JEO.  Assessment prices for the 10 lots in the Fourth Addition ranged from $13,522 to $38,264.
Geneva City Attorney David Solheim and Geneva City Administrator Kyle Svec also noted that $275,000 in City of Geneva Sales Tax Economic Development dollars have been earmarked to make the lots affordable for work-force housing.
"I think if you get these lots down to an affordable price, they would sell like hot cakes," Svec said.
An average lot sale price of $15,000 was discussed.
"Guys, these people are getting a brand new street, brand new lot," Council President Josh Turner said.  "You're by the elementary school, hospital, new community center..."
The city council voted to use some of the economic development sales tax funds to offset the JEO-estimated assessments.  Two lots in the new housing development will be priced at $10,000, while two more will be priced at $20,000 and the majority (12) being priced at $15,000.
In other meeting notes:
• Craig Jones with First National presented an interim financing bond package to the city council.  The bond issue will not exceed $1.55 million and will run for one year to move current projects along.  After one year, 15-year permanent financing will go into place.
• Kamler outlined a Memorandum from the Mayor that encourages city workers to report any and all visible City Code of Ordinance violations.  These violations could include overgrown grass/yards; abandoned cars; dilapidated properties and creation of emergency snow routes.
"This will encourage people to keep things a little cleaner," Kamler said.  "The goal is to keep city codes in line."
• John M. Lentfer gave a seven-minute presentation questioning stop-sign locations, arterial street identifications and right-of-way obstructions.
• Mike Motis requested the city council look into forming a Paving District for S. 10th Street between A Street and B Street.
• Street improvements on H Street between 18th Street and 19th Street were discussed. The improvements will cost $97,647.39 with $64,438.23 being paid by the City of Geneva and $33,209.16 being paid by adjacent property owners.  The project will be a change order to the 19th Street paving project.
• The city council was in general consensus to wait on any changes to the center medians along 13th Street. "I think they function okay as they are," Turner said.
• During his city administrator's report, Svec noted that Werner Construction paving crews are in town.  He also said he has been approached by a group of citizens who are interested in establishing a walking trail in the city.

Animal neglect case continued

By Signal Staff

The Exeter man accused of letting dozens of cattle and a horse in his care perish did not appear in court last week.
Aaron Ogren, 30, of rural Exeter was scheduled to appear in the Fillmore County Court on Wednesday, May 1 for arraignment.  On April 10, Ogren told Fillmore County Court Judge Michael Burns he would be hiring an attorney. Since then, Ogren filled out a financial affidavit and was granted counsel from the Fillmore County Public Defender's Office.  Fillmore County Public Defender Brad Kalkwarf was not available on May 1.  Ogren will now appear for a further hearing this week, on Wednesday, May 8, at 1:15 p.m.
Ogren was also able to post bond (10 percent of $300,000) on April 26, signed all the necessary documents before release and is no longer incarcerated.  At an April 19 civil hearing, Nebraska Brand Committee inspectors were still going through the cattle being cared for by Fillmore County and determining which, if any, could be released to owners.  On April 23, the Fillmore County Board Supervisors approved paying nearly $2,000 in vet bills associated with caring for the cattle.
Since the April 19 hearing in the Fillmore County District Court, a large portion of the cattle being cared for by Fillmore County were returned to their owners.  Fillmore County Sheriff Bill Burgess said that the county was granted special permission on Thursday of last week by the Fillmore County District Court to dispose of the remaining cattle.  The cattle were taken to a sale barn on Friday, May 3, and sold, Burgess said.  Burgess said, the sale proceeds were placed in the county's General Fund and will be used to offest costs associated with the care of the livestock.  If any funds remain, the money could be used for payment to qualifying plaintiffs in any associated civil suits involving the cattle.
Ogren is charged with 25 counts of Cruelty to animals (all Class 4 felonies); two counts of Prohibited sale of livestock (both Class 3 felonies) and one count of Theft by unlawful taking (a Class 2A felony).

Hearing on proposed wind farm to take place May 14

Signal Editor

There will be a Public Hearing on Tuesday, May 14, at 1 p.m., in the basement meeting room of the Geneva Public Library to discuss the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) filed by Milligan 1 Wind, LLC, to construct, operate and maintain up to nine Utility Grade Wind Energy Systems in Glengary Township, Fillmore County.
The nine, up to 600-foot wind towers, would be located on nine of 14 land parcels in the county—mainly between County Road 20 and County Road 25 and between County Road Q and County Road R, southwest and south of Milligan.  Three land parcels, including a railroad right-of-way, are located on a section of ground just northwest of County Road 25 and County Road Q. In all, parts of six sections of farm land would be included in the project in Fillmore County.  The vast majority of the project would be located in Saline County.
The Fillmore County Board will be conducting the Public Hearing.  EDF Renewables Development is the project manager.  The company did not return an email for more information on the potential project.  Fillmore County Zoning Administrator Jennifer Slezak said, the company is including 14 parcels in the CUP because the exact placement of each of the nine wind turbines has not yet been determined.
"They are asking that the CUP be approved without that information," Slezak said.
She also said that maps have been provided to zoning officials that indicate the individual potential building sites that meet all the set-back requirements.
"They do not have a set in stone site layout," Slezak said.
At least one area property owner is not in favor of the proposed project, according to a Letter to the Editor that appeared in last week's edition of this newspaper.

U.S. Census now recruiting workers

By Dianne Girmus
The Nebraska Signal

Some historians believe the Census is an incredible creation, with words put down in 1790, by the country’s Founding Fathers, that have reached out over the centuries and given birth to a new census every 10 years. The massive data-gathering organization is currently gearing up for the 2020 Census.
While the Census will be conducted next year, the U. S. Census Bureau is already recruiting thousands of Americans as Census Takers throughout the country—and they are searching for more.
The goal of the bureau is to get an accurate count of residents living within the U. S.  borders—state by state, community by community. Accuracy is vital to obtain a broad sense about the population in general, and the results have real-world impacts and consequences.  Then the information is used to calculate the number of seats that each state will have in the U. S. House of Representatives.  Information will also be used to determine which communities will receive federal funding for roads, schools, hospitals, Medicare, Medicaid and the amount of money to be allocated.  Census inaccuracy can result in huge monetary losses for states.
Nebraska receives $2.5 billion per year in federal funding based on the decennial census data—that's a per-capita allocation of $1,342 per person per year.  So, it's important to take part and be counted.
For 230 years the Census has been taken by questionnaires delivered to homes and returned through the post office, but major changes will be occurring in 2020, as the system is going digital.  A huge percentage of households will receive an invite to submit their responses over the Internet.  The Census Bureau estimates that 45 percent of those households will respond online.
A new question could, possibly, be added to this survey, “Are you a citizen of the U. S.?”  The decision is before the Supreme Court and officials say an answer is needed before the end of June in order to meet printing guidelines.  The last time this question was used in the survey was 1950.
The Census has already begun in many respects.  Address Canvassing (ADCAN) is scheduled to begin in June.  It is a physical check of addresses and whether they line up to current maps.
Geneva operations are expected to begin in late June—training recruits.  It is important for interested citizens to apply, now, for these summertime positions. The actual census taking is expected to place in Fillmore County during April of next year.
To enable the Census Bureau to do the best job for everyone, they need help in recruiting thousands of Americans now. By helping recruit Census Takers applications from local communities, one can help ensure that community is properly represented.
The process begins by individuals or organizations getting the word out.
Any of the following can be done:
• Posting information about 2020 Census jobs using your organization’s social media channels, as well as by tagging organizations that might also be willing to share this information.
• Posting information about 2020 Census jobs on your organization’s website and/or members’.
• Distributing promotional materials about 2020 Census jobs to your clients, customers and/or members.
• Displaying promotional materials about 2020 Census jobs in your offices and other facilities.
• Allowing a Census Bureau recruiter to distribute promotional materials to your clients, customers and/or members.
• Sending an e-mail with 2020 Census jobs information to your contacts.
• Inviting a Census Recruiter to present information about 2020 Census jobs at your meetings or other gatherings or be willing to provide 2020 Census jobs materials at those times yourself.
You may have other ideas that would pertain well to your organization. The Census Bureau will provide all necessary informative materials needed.  Visit for information on how to contact your Regional Census Center.
Applicants are encouraged to apply online at or call the toll-free number at 1-855-jOB-2020 with questions or to obtain more information.
 Individual response to the Census is required by law.  Individuals can be fined up to $100 for refusal to complete a form and up to $500 for answering questions falsely. Returning an incomplete form may lead to a phone call or an in-person visit to your home by workers of the Census Bureau. Field staff will always show a valid census ID and a copy of the letter sent.  They will never ask for a full social security number, money or donation, anything on behalf of a political party or your full bank or credit card account number.