July 4, 2015

Historic 1870s one-room schoolhouse to undergo restoration

Freeman SchoolOne of the oldest remaining one-room schoolhouses in Nebraska is undergoing renovation.

Susan Cook, a park ranger at the Homestead National Monument of America near Beatrice, says visitors won’t be able to step inside the Freeman School for a few weeks.

“We’re replacing the whole wood floor in it,” she says. “They did replace it 15 or 20 years ago and the boards buckled because of moisture issues.”

Cook says the Freeman School will be closed for about a month and much attention is being paid to every detail to best preserve the historic site, which dates to the 1870s.

“It’s very controlled in what we do and even in how we’re taking things out of there, where do we store it, what gets stored where, and how the work is done.”
Visitors can still walk up to the Freeman School and peer inside the building’s windows. Cook says a small heater was installed in the school years ago to help keep the building in good shape during the winter months. She says a few bricks have been replaced as well.

“We monitor the historic graffiti because there’s a tradition of when the students would graduate, they would etch their initials and the year into a brick,” she says.

Pictures are taken of each of the bricks every year to keep a record for preservation purposes. The Freeman School was the longest running one-room school in the State of Nebraska when it closed in 1967.

By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice


Wayne County to still conduct weddings inside courthouse

Same Sex WeddingsThere’s a correction from some local media reports about the Wayne County Courthouse being involved in part of the discussion about anybody, straight or gay, could no longer have their wedding in the Wayne Courthouse; you still can. Only the Wayne County Magistrate will no longer perform anymore ceremonies.

Randy Larson, Chair of the Wayne County Commissioners, clarifies that the Wayne Courthouse will still issue marriage licenses under the same guidelines with just an altered form.

“We will still issue marriage licenses, they are still available under the current guidelines for use, the form will be altered slightly,” Larson added. “The other thing is the courtroom can be scheduled for use during business hours, and take that to mean that if the wedding was planned, it could be planned there.”

Courthouse weddings are not mandatory duties of the clerk magistrates or judges.

The next Wayne County Commissioner Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday July 7th at 9 a.m. in the Wayne County Courthouse meeting room, and this topic is currently not on the agenda. But Larson adds that it doesn’t mean they won’t discuss it.

“We are probably are going to be forced to discuss it, and we will,” Larson said. “But at this point it is simply the County Court Clerk Magistrate.”

While same-sex couples can now get their marriage licenses and get married in Madison County, nobody, straight or gay, can have their wedding at the Madison County Courthouse.

That is the decision that Madison County Magistrate Lori Bohn and the three county court judges: Ross Stoffer, Michael Long, and Donna Farrell Taylor came to this week.

According to Bohn it was a mutual decision between the four parties. Courthouse weddings are not mandatory duties of the clerk magistrates or judges. Bohn did not give a specific reason for the change, but did cite Friday’s Supreme Court ruling as the catalyst for the discussion.

Wayne County also said that they decided not to conduct weddings inside their courthouse any longer. They made their decision at the same time as Madison County.

Pierce County is still conducting marriages in their courthouse. Stanton County could not be reached for comment.

By Aaron Scheffler, KTCH, Wayne


UNL grad is now CNN’s man in Washington DC

Jeff Zeleny

Jeff Zeleny

A University of Nebraska Journalism College graduate is in the midst of covering his fifth presidential election.

CNN’s senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny says the speed of the news cycle has changed how often candidates are forced to answer questions, which was the case with last week’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.

Zeleny says the campaigns have had to adapt to the speed of news through social media. He says the topic of day may require comment, but substance in the campaign will be critical.

He says he keeps his Nebraska upbringing close while covering presidential candidates.

“It’s a great privilege that I have to be in this position and I learned a ton in Nebraska and I try to take that Nebraska commoin sense and sensability out there with me,” he says.

Zeleny recently moved from ABC to CNN, but this is his first presidential campaign working on television. He’s covered the four previous presidential elections for the New York Times or other print media.

 By Kevin Thomas, KLIN, Lincoln

Historic Fort Kearny to host Civil War encampment this weekend

Forft KearnyOne of Nebraska’s longest-running Fourth of July celebrations will kick into gear again tomorrow at Fort Kearny State Historical Park near Kearney.

Gene Hunt, the park’s superintendent, says it’s a historic look at our state’s pioneer past.

“A group of Fort Kearny reinactors has been coming out here for years,” Hunt says. “They set up a living history area and portray camp life in the 1860s, which was during the Civil War time period. They’re in uniform and they fire the cannons at 2 o’clock every day and this year, they’ll be offering free wagon rides.”

This year’s event will take place on Saturday and Sunday from 9 to 5 each day.

A five-dollar park permit is required to enter the park.

By Brent Wiethorn, KKPR, Kearney

OSHA will investigate West Point explosion

The U-S Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an investigation into Wednesday’s explosion at Sapp Bros. in West Point. Workers were cleaning out propane tanks when the explosion happened around 3:30 pm. Seven people were injured and two were airlifted to Nebraska Medicine in Omaha for treatment.

OSHA spokesperson Rhonda Burke says their investigation will determine if any safety violations contributed to the accident. They will talk to workers, management and those at the work site to find out what caused the explosion.

OSHA has not inspected the West Point facility in the past five years but the company has been inspected five times in the past five years at other locations. Three of those resulted in citations at locations in Omaha, Wyoming and Iowa. In 2006 Sapp Bros. was fined $6,375 for two serious safety violations in Cheyenne, Wyoming when a worker was killed using a cutting torch.