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Local auctioneer among world's best

Trev Moravec’s second consecutive reserve champion finish at the International Livestock Auctioneer Championships is a testament to his lifelong commitment to auctioneering.

“Since it’s been two years in a row, obviously it wasn’t a fluke the first time,” said Moravec, who bested all but one of the 24 competitors from Canada, the United States, South Africa and Australia during the two-day event.

Preparation for the competition, held July 14-15 as part of the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, includes simply doing what auctioneers do — taking the block to get top dollar for their clients’ livestock.

“It’s a full, 100 percent real auction, real sale,” Moravec said. “The award is based on everything you do on the auction block.”

After a preliminary round, the 10 finalists showed off their chants in front of a five-judge panel that critiqued them on everything from spotting bids and livestock knowledge to their rhythm and timing.

Moravec, who brought home $2,000 and a Stampede buckle for his performance, got interested in auctioneering through his father Russ, who owns Moravec Auction Company in David City.

“It’s something I started doing from a very young age,” he said.

He received his license from the acclaimed Worldwide College of Auctioneering in Mason City, Iowa, when he was 17 years old and went to work for his father.

In 2007, he won an international junior auctioneer contest, which put him on the radar of international heavy machinery auctioneering house Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers. The Burnaby, British Columbia-based company hired him in 2008.

“I’ve been to places I never thought I’d go — the Middle East, Europe and Australia,” Moravec said. “It’s broadened my horizons quite a bit.”

While his job has him traveling the globe, when he’s not working Moravec hangs his hat at his home on Lake Socorro south of Schuyler.

“There’s a reason for that," he said. "I love Nebraska, I love the area and I love my family. I still love doing sales right around home.”

And he still enjoys participating in auctioneering competitions. Moravec’s father Russ, who was named the Nebraska Auctioneer of the Year in 2015, also went to the international championships, finishing fifth.

“Going to these competitions helps you out professionally because there’s people you can meet at the event,” Moravec said.

Although he grew up around auctioneering and has been doing it himself for a decade, Moravec said the competition still adds a level of pressure.

“When you’re doing what you do day in and day out among your peers, you’re always going to be on edge or more aware of how you conduct yourself, and nerves will get to you,” he said. “Because there 24 competitors and all eyes are on you. So if you make a mistake they’re going to catch you.”

Moravec is motivated to continuously improve because he knows sellers are putting their trust in him during each auction.

“It is someone’s livelihood you’re working with,” he said. “So I want to get top dollar for who I’m working with.”

He plans to continue competing with a goal of eventually claiming the top prize.

Richland man, 80, connects with young horse

LEIGH — Merle Mueller grew up around horses but didn't start showing them until his children were in 4-H.

He has a gift for training the animals, according to his daughter Pam Pieper.

“Dad was the one who would always inherit the horse that was unridable and make them ridable,” she said.

At Saturday's Colfax County Fair open class horse show in Leigh, Mueller stood out because of his beautiful 2-year-old horse King George, and because at 80 years old he was clearly the elder in the ring.

Pieper was also there, showing King George’s mother, Queen. She said she still gets nervous watching her father ride and show horses.

“Animals are unpredictable, even though he’s good at what he does,” she said. “But he has persisted and we’ve come to realize it’s good for him and it’s good for them.”

Mueller trained Queen and has worked with King George since he was born. Pieper said she’s amazed by the bond between her father and his horse.

“It seems like God said, ‘OK, if you’re going to do this, I’m going to give you the horse that can do it,’” said Pieper. “They just have an unbelievable connection.”

Mueller spends an hour a day riding and training King George, forming a bond between horse and rider Mueller called deeply rewarding.

“It takes time to bond, that’s the way it is,” the rural Richland man said. “It’s a lot easier than when you try to train a horse in a short period of time.”

Mueller said creating this bond is "90 percent of the process" when showing horses.

“They have to trust you," he said.

Saturday’s open class horse show was King George’s first time competing.

“He is very young to be in competitive classes,” Mueller said of the horse. “It’ll be interesting to see how he responds to people and me and a crowd.”

The animal seemed a bit restless at the fairgrounds, especially when Queen was in the ring. But Mueller was able to keep him together.

“He’s a very calm horse,” Mueller said. “Unless something startles him really bad, he’s very quiet.”

Mueller showed his horse in every event he could, from haltering to barrel racing.

“He’s not proficient at the barrels and poles. He’s not too proficient to ride with an 80-year-old guy on his back,” he said. “He’ll sidestep and do a lot of stuff that older horses have a hard time learning.”

At the end of the day, Mueller and his horse walked away with a mix of purple, blue and red ribbons. That's not too bad for a horse's first competition.

Mueller said working with the young horse is also good exercise for an 80-year-old man, something that keeps him active. So he plans on continuing as long as he’s able.

“My plan was to ride horses until I was 80 and then I’d quit. Then I started training George and I decided one more year wouldn’t hurt,” he said. “The good Lord willing, I’ll ride again next year.”

4-H'ers compete in Ag Olympics

LEIGH — This year’s 4-H council had a good problem.

More young kids signed up for 4-H and the group wanted to find a new way to include them in the Colfax County Fair.

“We thought we wanted to do something a little more age-friendly,” said Julie Kreikemeier, a Colfax County Extension educator.

The council had heard about Ag Olympics events held at other county fairs and decided to give it a try in Leigh.

“It’s the council’s way to give the kids something fun to do,” said Kreikemeier.

Outside the exhibit hall, youths went from station to station Saturday while learning skills and competing with each other during the Colfax County Fair's inaugural 4-H Ag Olympics.

They tossed hay bales, aimed slingshots, raced in burlap sacks and identified cow parts.

At a “dress the farmer for work” station, youths participating in a relay pulled on overalls, a plaid shirt, ball cap, gloves and work boots and ran with a bucket as fast as they could.

4-H council member Laura Eisenmann watched kids in her club learn how to lasso a dummy.

“I think it’s a great addition,” she said of the 4-H Ag Olympics. “It keeps the kids entertained on Saturday afternoon and keeps them out of trouble.”

Council updated on housing, clock tower projects

Schuyler Economic Development housing coordinator Brian Bywater reported at last week's city council meeting that five of the eight workforce housing project homes are occupied, as well as seven of the 14 units in the Kracl Meadows senior living duplexes.

City Councilman Alden Kment asked Bywater why the workforce houses are being rented instead of sold and questioned if this would impact their value.

Schuyler Community Development economic development director Kem Cavanah noted that the group is in debt because of the project and is using the rental money to make payments on that debt.

The tenants are new residents to Schuyler, including a veterinarian and teachers. Cavanah said he hopes they will decide to stay in the community and eventually purchase the homes.

Bywater told the council the residents can choose a rent-to-own agreement if they decide to purchase the homes.

In other business, Cavanah said repairs on the downtown clock tower are underway.

Mark Burkey of Lincoln-based City Clock Company said three gear pinions must be fabricated, which will cost an additional $1,000.

The city council previously approved spending $2,400 in local sales tax revenue dedicated to downtown redevelopment to repair the clock tower at the corner of A and 11th streets.

City Clerk Lora Johnson reported the city submitted a letter of map revision to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the Shell Creek levee. Johnson estimated it will take six to nine months for the agency to respond.

The council also approved:

• New signage for 22nd and Denver streets near Schuyler Elementary School. The change will allow parking along the streets outside school hours.

• A $16,000 payment to NeighborWorks Northeast Nebraska for a house at 503 W. 19th St. built as part of the residential construction program.

• A keno "community bonus day" in Schuyler on Sept. 2.

• The use of city streets for the annual Labor Day parade, which will follow the usual route beginning at the Colfax County Courthouse.

• Temporary advertising signage on the city-owned lot adjacent to 11th and Colfax streets for the Divine Mercy Bazaar scheduled for Sept. 17.

• Use of the city parking lot at 12th and C streets and some downtown streets for Labor Day weekend activities scheduled for Sept. 1-4.