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Miguel Carrasco of Schuyler pins Jarrett Parsons of High Plains community during the High Plains Invitational on Jan. 4. Carrasco was narrowly defeated by Colby Gilson during the Jan. 3 dual. 


News
County courthouse work still going

It’s taking a little longer than originally anticipated, but construction on the Façade Restoration Project at the Colfax County Courthouse continues progressing.

During a recent conversation with the Sun, County Attorney Denise Kracl, who frequents the facility most days, said that some work is still being completed on various portions of the 1920s-built structure.

Real talk of what was to happen with the facility began in October 2017 after the three-person Colfax County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted in favor of accepting a $962,564 bid from Bierman Contracting Inc. of Columbus, as previously reported by the Sun. The project was slated to get underway in April 2018 and be completed sometime in fall 2018, however, it wasn’t fully completed in that time frame.

Originally, the project was planned in two phases. The first was restoring the north and east facades on the courthouse and installing and repointing terracotta in 2017, followed by up to four months of work on the south and west facades from April to July in 2018.

However, the decision was ultimately made to complete work on all four sides of the courthouse in one wave of work. The board’s primary reason for the shift from a two-phase to a one-phase project is that it was expected to take about six months to produce the terracotta in winter 2017.

The renovation is needed because moisture had penetrated the nearly 100-year-old courthouse's exterior in spots, separating the bricks from the walls and cracking and wearing away the glaze on the clay-based terracotta embellishments, as previously reported by the Sun.

Upon reviewing a façade study completed in 2016, the county board recognized the need to invest in long-term restoration solutions in order to preserve the building’s exterior and to help prevent further deterioration, released information states. As a major defining feature of the building, the highest priority was to repair and replace -- where needed -- the terracotta units that showed signs of cracking, deglazing, spalling and joint failure.

The total scope of project work calls for terracotta restoration, masonry restoration, masonry cleaning, new fourth-floor windows, exterior painting and improvements to the handrails and guardrails around the perimeter of the building to improve the safety and accessibility in these areas.

The existing courthouse was designed by Lincoln Architect George A. Berlinghof, who designed the building in the Beaux Arts style with a symmetrical five-bay façade constructed of cream-colored brick and buff-colored terracotta detailing, released information states. The original terracotta on the building was manufactured by the Chicago-based Northwestern Terra Cotta Company and features both sand-rubbed and vertical drove finishes.

The Colfax County Courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural and political significance and continues standing as an iconic landmark for the city of Schuyler and the county.

See next week's edition for a more in-depth look on the project and what's ahead.


News
top story
Peak flu season right around the corner

It’s that time of year once again when influenza is flaring up around Schuyler and throughout the state.

Recently, the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) classified the influenza activity level as widespread, according to Caitlin Schneider, chief public health officer of East Central District Health Department.

And though the term widespread may raise a few eyebrows and cause concern, this is really nothing out of the ordinary during flu season. In recent years, the virus has ramped up in early October, peaked during January and February before diminishing in March, according to DHHS figures calculating influenza information beginning in October 2016.

From Sept. 30 through Dec. 22, 2018, 12,541 total influenza tests were performed yielding 1,012 positive results. Of those positives, nearly 94 percent were Influenza A with the remaining 6 percent being Influenza B, according to the most recent DHHS weekly report.

Schneider said that referencing state figures is one of the best routes of determining what’s happening with flu season because the department doesn’t tally these numbers.

“The hard thing is that influenza is not a reportable condition, for example, if someone has Chicken Pox that is a reportable disease. It would have to be reported by the clinic that saw that person and then our disease surveillance staff has access to any of the reportable conditions in the four county areas the (department covers),” Schneider said of Colfax, Platte, Boone and Nance counties. “But influenza is not one of them, so we don’t count individual cases of influenza.”

The information compiled by the state, she said, is strictly from confirmed cases of people who see a doctor or get admitted to a hospital. Because many people with influenza don’t see a doctor, it’s difficult to get a true reading on what’s happening with the illness at a given time.

East Central does, however, keep track of what is happening locally with the flu by collecting weekly reports from all schools K-12 in the counties it serves. 

“We haven’t had any schools go over that 10-percent threshold as of yet,” she said of the percentage of student body that would need to be sick for real concern to set in. “But, the season is just starting to pick up. This time of year we are always really going to hit those high levels no matter what.”

Schneider said that East Central representatives have been trying to do their part by encouraging people to get flu shots, as well as by actually hosting approximately 10 immunization clinics for businesses in their coverage area. Released information from the department shows its distributed more than 1,100 flu shots in the four-county area.

Although many might think it’s too late in the season to get a flu shot, Schneider said it absolutely isn’t.

“We would always encourage people to get the shot if they haven’t yet – there’s still time,” she said. “Most likely we haven’t reached peak season yet, so the sooner they can get it the better because it does take a few days, usually, for it to go into effect on the body. So the sooner you can get it, the better.”

For a full view of the DHHS’s weekly flu reports and to learn more information – and prevention tips – about influenza, those interested are encouraged to do an internet search for Nebraska DHHS: Seasonal Flu, for relevant up-to-date information.

Sam Pimper is the news editor of the Schuyler Sun. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.


SAM PIMPER PHOTOS, SCHUYLER SUN 

Caitlin Schneider, chief public health officer for East Central District Health Department, on Wednesday discussed what is happening with influenza number locally and at the state level this flu season.


News
Nebraska group seeks ag enthusiasts

Young people in Colfax County interest in agriculture have a chance to get some aid as they pursue their dreams.

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association is now accepting applications for the fourth class of the Future Leaders in Agriculture Scholarship (FLAGship) Program, which is for future ag leaders in Nebraska.

As part of it, the Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) will award up to five $2,000 scholarships to high school seniors or college freshman who are continuing their education in the state of Nebraska. New this year, two of the scholarship will be open to non-ag majors, and three will be open to ag-only majors.

“Each time we look over applications for this program, the quality of applicants seems to get better and better,” said Dan Nerud, president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. “We are excited to open a portion of the scholarship program to non-ag majors this year. We know we will need friends in every field to keep the future of agriculture bright.”

To be eligible for this scholarship students must be a member of NeCGA or the son/daughter of an NeCGA member. The application for the FLAGship Program must include one letter of recommendation, a current resume (not to exceed one page), as well as proof that the student is continuing their education in state. Applicants are also asked to explain how they will advocate for agriculture in their future career as well as what issues they feel the ag industry is currently facing.

Applications must be postmarked by March 1, 2019. Packets can be mailed to 4435 O Street, Suite 210 Lincoln, NE 68510 ATTN: Scholarship, or emailed to mwrich@necga.org. Recipients will be notified by April 2019 and scholarships will be distributed in December 2019. For more information about the scholarship, visit necga.org or call 402-438-6459.

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association works to create and increase opportunities for Nebraska corn farmers through advocacy, education, partnerships, and leadership development. This scholarship is intended to form a solid base for the next generation of ag leaders.


Bostelman