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Movie theater closing for summer

The Schuyler Enrichment Foundation has decided to close the Colfax Theatre for the summer following the Memorial Day weekend show on Sunday and reopen the doors on Labor Day weekend.

This decision was made because of a lack of attendance and difficulty in getting weekend managers and volunteers during the summer.

Attendance at the theater has declined through the years and the cost to show movies has increased since the theater opened more than 10 years ago. If attendance does not increase when the theater reopens in the fall, the Enrichment Foundation may close the doors permanently.

During the summer, the foundation will be optimistically planning for the future of the Colfax Theatre. Deep cleaning will be done, plans for additional use of the theater will be explored and possible schedule changes will be looked at.

The foundation is asking the community for their help. The Enrichment Foundation board currently has two vacancies and would also like to expand the use of the theater with a Cultural Arts Committee. The group will need volunteers for the cleaning and will need to hire another weekend manager when the theater reopens this fall. Volunteers to work the weekends this fall are always welcome.

The current board members are John Sayer, Sally Jakub, Cathie Marking and Jill Ruskamp. You may contact any of them to volunteer to help or provide input and suggestions to save the Colfax Theatre.

Enjoy your summer and we look forward to renewing our drive to save the Colfax Theatre this fall.

Former restaurant finds new life as Gold Mine Antiques

A year and a-half after Gold Mine Restaurant closed, the building reopened as Gold Mine Antiques, which also carries Wemhoff Wrelics, furniture made from repurposed materials.

Gold Mine owner John Sayer has collected antiques for 30 years, with an emphasis on signs.

“Point to any kind of sign and he can give you a pretty darn close retail price,” said Wemhoff Wrelics owner Mark Wemhoff.

Wemhoff, who teaches construction classes at Schuyler Central High School, became interested in repurposed furniture after he remodeled his own house to look more rustic.

“I started building furniture out of old barn wood and using old ceiling tin,” he said. “Anything I can find that had an old, rustic look or kind of beat-up look.”

Sayer suggested Wemhoff sell his furniture at flea markets, so he built some more items and sold them in Brownville. That went well, so he spent about a year going to flea markets and craft boutiques selling his wares.

But it wasn’t easy.

“The hard part with my stuff is that it's big and trying to move it all the time, it’s laborious,” Wemhoff said. “You’re fighting the elements, taking a chance on those flea markets.”

Sayer still owned the Gold Mine building at 721 W. 16th St. in Schuyler and wanted to do something with it.

“It’s such a nice building, nice corner lot. It’s a secure building. We have security, we have cameras, it comes with everything,” said Sayer. “I've never had buyer's remorse. I like the place.”

The men decided to combine their interests under one roof and open an antique shop where Wemhoff could also sell his furniture.

In the center of what used to be the dining area, Wemhoff is displaying hall trees, trunks and tables made from barn wood, ceiling tin and corrugated tin.

He also has Christmas trees made from corrugated tin and barn wood he’ll sell later this year.

Sayer has been stocking up on antiques, particularly signs, some of which are from Schuyler. A giant Bryan’s Rexall sign from the former downtown drug store (which is not for sale) hangs over display cabinets filled with bric-a-brac.

“There's a lot of stuff that we're hoping (customers) want to display in their houses,” said Sayer. “And there's a lot of man cave stuff here.”

The restaurant equipment was sold after the closing, but Gold Mine patrons will recognize one area — the bar.

“We're going to do root beer and cream soda on tap and popcorn,” said Sayer. “You can come in, you can sit at the bar, have a root beer, popcorn, and we'll probably have candy bars or whatever, and shop.”

Gold Mine Antiques held a grand opening Sunday. Regular hours for the business haven't been set, but the antique store will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday and Monday for Memorial Day weekend.

Council adds rebate for historic preservation projects

Schuyler City Council approved an amendment to Schuyler Economic Development’s facade and building improvement fund that adds a financial incentive for owners who maintain or restore a property's historic components.

The fund provides zero-interest loans for downtown property owners who want to remodel the exterior of their building. The historic preservation rebate of up to $500 for every $5,000 spent is available for projects that meet certain criteria.

SED coordinator Kem Cavanah said the rebate was developed to help the downtown area maintain its status as a historic district by encouraging property owners to retain a building's historic features. The credit can also be used on buildings that aren't part of the historic district but have historic qualities that can be restored.

The council also approved $6,000 in economic development funds for exterior cleanup and minor repairs at the former Top Notch Café and Carnegie Library. Cavanah said SED has not finalized a cost estimate for the work, but will work closely with the city when selecting contractors.

He also said SED is in talks with an area clock repair expert regarding the clock tower above the police station, though nothing has been finalized.

In other business, the council authorized Mayor David Reinecke to sign an agreement with the Lower Platte North Natural Resources District regarding the Shell Creek levee.

City Attorney Richard Seckman said the NRD and city had a cost-sharing agreement in place before the levee project started, though the dollar amounts weren't finalized until recently. The NRD agreed to provide financial support for the project and the city would bear the responsibility for maintenance.

Seckman said so far the NRD has contributed $375,000 toward the project and $111,000 in in-kind contributions. According the agreement, the district will give the city another $125,000 by July 1 and $100,000 in fiscal year 2017-18.

Councilman David Johnson, who has represented Ward 2 since 2011, formally submitted his resignation.

Reinecke will present his nomination to replace Johnson, who moved outside the city limits, during the June 6 council meeting.

Other items from the May 16 meeting include:

• a payment of $82,729.57 to Stephens and Smith Construction for the Higgins Trail project, which JEO Consulting Group representative Steve Parr announced is nearing completing.

• City Clerk Lora Johnson announced two applicants for the police sergeant position completed the testing phase and will be interviewed by the Civil Service Commission.

• Cavanah said the Railside Green’s five-year enhancement project is complete, but asked that people not climb the trees. Several trees have been damaged this spring, according to Cavanah.

• the council changed the zoning of a lot at Colfax and 10th streets to general commercial. Sabino and Maria Hernandez submitted the rezoning request for the property where they operate a food truck so they can update the lot to comply with city ordinance.

• retail fireworks permits for SkyBlasters at 919 Colfax St. and 310 W. 16th St. and Marv's Fireworks at 218 E. 16th St. from June 25 through July 4.


Kracl recognized for leadership, community involvement

Denise Kracl continues to gain recognition for her work as Colfax County attorney.

The most recent honor came May 18 when she received the Excellence in Leadership Award from the Nebraska Juvenile Justice Association.

The award, established in 2011 to recognize those who demonstrate exemplary integrity and leadership while serving youths, families and staff members, was presented during a conference in Kearney.

“It is an honor to be recognized by people who I consider to be statewide leaders in juvenile justice,” said Kracl, who has served as Colfax County attorney since late 2010.

Kracl was nominated for the award by District 5 Chief Probation Officer Carrie Rodriguez, who called Kracl “the definition of what a leader should be” while referencing her involvement in the community.

Kracl started an intervention and truancy program at Schuyler Community Schools focused on improving student attendance. This program, backed by grant and county funding, added a full-time truancy officer at Schuyler Central High School who works with roughly 50 students a year to remove the barriers that keep them out of class.

“I am working to keep children in the classroom, not in the courtroom,” said Kracl, who also partnered with Nebraska Workforce Development in Columbus to create a program that replaces community service with employment training for some first-time, nonviolent offenders in the juvenile diversion program.

The Columbus native’s involvement in the annual Schuyler Food and Toy Drive was also noted in her nomination.

Kracl teamed up with former Colfax County diversion officer Saul Soltero to start the program about seven years ago. Since then the program, which is backed by community volunteers, businesses, service groups and SCHS students, has provided hundreds of area families with food, toys and sanitary items during Christmastime.

She is also working with the District 5 Probation Office to create a juvenile mentoring program that brings youths and law enforcement officers together, serves on a local coalition that’s addressing mental health issues in Schuyler, is president of the board at Center for Survivors in Columbus and volunteers with numerous events and programs aimed at bettering the community.

“Denise is one of those rare people that would give you the world and would not expect anything in return. She is a leader in so many ways and one day I hope I strive to be as admirable of a woman as she is,” truancy officer Sidnee Pavel said in the nomination form.

At the state level, Kracl addresses the Legislature on juvenile justice issues and serves on the Nebraska Coalition of Juvenile Justice, which has a goal of improving juvenile services across the state.

Rodriguez wrote that the county attorney inspires others to get involved and make a positive impact in their communities.

“Denise Kracl has dedicated her life to serving others and because of her the world truly is a better place,” Rodriguez stated.

Kracl, who was recognized in February as the volunteer of the year by Schuyler Area Chamber of Commerce, said she has a passion for working with children.

“I believe that every child should have their own champion, someone who believes that they are the greatest person in the world,” she said.

Professionally, Cynthia Kennedy, who leads the community-based juvenile services aid program through the Nebraska Crime Commission, described Kracl as a “fearless leader” who is not afraid to take on challenges while also demonstrating humility.

“To Denise, it doesn’t matter what degree you possess, where you come from, or who you know; she’s willing to listen to your story, assist in every way she is able, and learn something new from all situations,” Kennedy wrote in her letter supporting Kracl’s nomination.

Showing that humility, Kracl gave the credit to others when discussing the award.

“I commend local and state leaders who recognize the importance of early intervention for children who may be going down the wrong path,” said Kracl.

And they commend her.