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January 17, 2018

A year in review: The story of 2017 in pages of the PT

Another year has passed in The Pender Times coverage area. While they seem to fly by in no time, it can be amazing what just a sampling of events comprises in just 12 months. Follow along month by month to review some the year’s highlights.

 

January

The first baby born at Pender Community Hospital in 2017 was Jordan Lee Baker, the son of Jeff and Jenny Baker of Pender on Tuesday, Jan. 2………Pender Community Center is steadily rising from the ground at the former site of the Pender Legion Hall………One of the two men involved in the Nov. 2 murder of Emerson resident Kraig D. Kubik has entered a written plea of not guilty………Newly elected District 17 state senator Joni Albrecht of Thurston was one of three freshmen senators to be chosen to chair a committee during the current Unicameral session………Pender Booster Club purchased new wall mats for the gym recently. Each mat cost approximately $5,700………TeamMates coordinators and staff are coming together this January to celebrate mentoring in the Pender area………Thurston was recently selected as one of four Nebraska communities to receive Community Development Block Grant funds for on going planning projects………Cornerstone Assembly of God Church in Pender hosted a number of foreign guests from Western Iowa Tech Community College on Sunday………As the new Pender Community Center continues to rise from the ground, another round of leases was signed with the committee in charge of the project on Monday. The Pender Veterans will be tenants of the facility with their own room, rent free..

 

February

Pender business Penro Construction CO. celebrated its 45th year in business with a special open house on Feb. 3. Arlis “Bud” Kinning, along with partners Christiansen Construction of Pender and Cliff Albin of Oakland, started the company in 1971. Bud was the sole owner by 1986, and his sons, Mark and Ryan, have been in charge and equal partners since his retirement in January of 2000………Reed Allen isn’t new to Pender Implement. But as of this fall, he became its sole owner. Pender’s longtime John Deere dealer celebrated 50 years in business in 2016, and Reed Allen took over ownership of the business from his father, Russ, on November 1………Traffic had to be diverted from Highway 9 for a time on Monday as an older building made its way across town from Pender Grain to Smith Farm Service in Pender………A storm dropped nearly four inches of snow on Feb. 8 and then temperatures climbed from a low that day of 12 degrees to nearly 60 degrees two days later on Friday………Hundreds of barn quilts in several communities across the state, including the large collected scattered through the community of Pender, will be featured in an upcoming special from NET television………The new Pender Community Center needs a new logo, and a contest for the best one is now underway………A season that began last July culminated this past weekend for the Pender Flames dance team as the local girls took home not one, but two state titles from the 10th annual Nebraska State High School Cheer and Dance Championships in Grand Island.

 

March

A large swath of northeast Nebraska, including Thurston County, was virtually shut down for the past of last week (Feb. 23-24) when 10 inches of snow fell in the area……After a heartbreaking loss to Guardian Angels Center Catholic in D1-4 sub district tournament finals on Feb. 16, it appeared the PHS girls basketball season might be over, as they had just a slim chance of making the Class D1 state tournament as a wild card – but there was still a chance, nonetheless……….The PHS girls basketball team made its seventh state appearance and fifth in the past seven years over the weekend in Lincoln. Reaching state as a wild card, the Lady Pendragons more than held their own against Dundy County-Stratton, but the free throw line was unforgiving in a 47-40 loss to the eventual D-1 runner-up squad……….The Nebraska Tourism Commission has announced the stops that will be included in the summer 2017 Nebraska Passport program, and Pender is one of them………As has been the longtime tradition at PHS, “Pi Day” was celebrated on March 14, with the public welcome to attend and eat pies provided by the students……..The Pender Public Schools board of education approve the pay levels of three administrators for the 2017-18 school year at Monday night’s regular meeting with a 2.5 percent increase to all salaries……..A house fire Saturday afternoon between Bancroft and Rosalie is still under investigation after human remains  were found  in the home……Teams from 19 schools, including Pender, will be participating in the 15th annual March Blowout youth basketball tournament this weekend in Pender……….Pender Public School students held their annual science fair at Heese Event Center on March 21. The room was filled with decorated boards detailing the science experiments of dozens of students in grades 5-8……..An Omaha Nation Tribal Police officer - Sgt. Curtis Blackbird, 59, - was killed while on duty near Walthill over the weekend…….Main Street Thriftique store has given more than $120,000 back into the community in four years it has been operating.

 

April 

A few weeks ago, Pender farmer Nick Svoboda was scrolling through his Facebook feed where he noticed several stories being shared about the deadly wildfires destroying hundreds of thousands of acres of farm and ranch land. Trevor Hasenkamp of Beemer and Nick Svoboda decided to do something about it. The word got out and others wanted to help. They drove 375 hay bales and other supplies such as fence posts, barbed wire, mineral blocks, etc. The volunteer caravan set forth on the 500-mile journey to southwest Kansas……..Patients at Pender Community Hospital will soon benefit from access to the latest computed tomography (CT) diagnostic technology made possible through a grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Rural Healthcare Program. They have awarded PCH $400,00 for a new 64-slice CT scanner.……..The Beautification Committee is asking Pender residents for their support in reinvigorating the local barn quilts and the community in anticipation of the upcoming Pender Barn Quilt tour, one of 80 stops that are a part of the 2017 Nebraska Passage Program, which turned from May 1 through Sept. 30……..Pender Community Center will house a child care business when it is completed later this year, and the lease signing was made official recently. “Little Sprouts” is the name that will be used by the center, and it will be operated by Legacy Garden family of businesses that also includes Prairie Breeze Assisted Living and The Apothecary Shop.

 

May

Pender Public Schools’ First Annual Autism Walk was held on Sunday at the Heese Event Center. The gathering was originally scheduled to be held at Heyne Field but was moved indoors due to cold and wet weather………The Pender Volunteer Fire and Rescue held its annual omelet feed on Sunday……..Pender Public Schools held it Fine Arts/Academic Awards Night in the Heese Event Center the evening of April 24. Many students were recognized for their academic and artistic achievements and the event also featured both instrumental and vocal music performances throughout the evening.……..An Emerson man – Joe Saufley – was taken into custody early Sunday morning after assaulting his wife during a domestic dispute……..Pender High School held its commencement ceremony on Sunday with 21 seniors graduating with $900,000 in scholarship money given to the students……..Two new faces — Dr. Sarah Peters and Tyler Peterson – are now greeting patients at Herman Chiropractic in Wayne and Pender……..The Pender-Thurston Chamber of Commerce held its annual banquet at Twin Creeks Golf Club on Saturday night. Mark Lorensen was named the 2016 businessman of the year. Gavin Gralheer was named the volunteer of the year and Brieann Bruns, youth volunteer of the year.……..Janke Auto Co. of Pender announced this week that it would not be a General Motors Dealer as of the end of May.

 

June

Last month, more than 650 Nebraska veterans – including five men with area ties – boarded four planes at Omaha’s Eppley Airfield headed to Washington, D.C.……..A new chiropractic clinic (Align Chiropractic) will be opening its doors in Pender in late June with Dr. Karissa Johnson of Thurston as its owner/operator.…….. Pender’s alumni weekend is coming up fast and will be held Friday, June 23 to Sunday, June 25……..Benjamin Burmester of Pender recently graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in biology with a minor in Russian and was commissioned as a second lieutenant on May 24……..Representatives of the City of West Point and several area educational institutions have formalized a collaborative effort to expand career and technical education in east central Nebraska. Pender has also signed on to be part of the Pathways 2 Tomorrow consortium.……..Those who have pledged dollars to the Pender Community Center project were given a sneak peak at the facility last Wednesday. Saturday and Sunday will feature walk through during the alumni celebration weekend……..Pender Community Hospital received the Excellence in Patient Care Award – presented by Studer Group, a Huron solution – is considered an honor in the industry……..Pender alumni weekend is packed with activities for all ages – to the Street Legal dance on Friday night and fireworks to Saturday alumni banquet and the fly in-drive in breakfast and all the fun things in between……..Colonel Kirk Slaughter’s body was escorted to Pender from Omaha on Monday by a long procession of police vehicles, fire trucks and the Freedom Riders, ending at Munderloh-Funeral Home.  He was killed in a tragic accident involving a fishing boat in Waianae, Oahu in Hawaii on June 15.

 

July

The Thurston County Law Enforcement Center is nearing-completion on the southeast corner of Pender. The 43-bed facility that will also house new sheriff’s office and 911 communications systems could be finished up as early as mid-August………..After 15 years operating her own daycare business, Jen Sturek will be taking an active role in family newspaper owned by Sturek Media Inc., starting this month……..The Pender 14-and under softball team completed a 34-10 season this weekend by going 6-0 at the Nebraska Class C State Tournament and bringing home another state championship for the youth softball program.…….The Pender American Legion Juniors baseball team punched a ticket to the Class C state tournament with an Area 2 championship secured Tuesday night in Wakefield, The squad, now 19-9, began the tournament as the No. 3 seed in an eight team bracket, winning three straight games to take the driver’s seat before falling to Hartington on Monday night 5-4……....The 43rd Annual Walthill Rodeo entertained crowds and awarded the best performers over the weekend……..The new Pender Medical Clinic is rising from the ground adjacent to the Pender Community Hospital. The projected completion of the facility is set for the spring of 2018.……..A quest by the Pender Tree Board and the village board called the Pender Community Street Tree Revitalization Initiative – to ensure that Pender has a healthy tree canopy now and well into the future – has led to a program that is open to all local residents.  This 10-year program, which started in 2014 and runs through 2024, aims to plant at least 25 new street trees each year.

 

August 

One student (Braden Peters) and one coach (Greg Conroy) from Pender High School were honored at the Nebraska Coaches Association annual banquet held July 23 at Old Lincoln train Station-Great Hall in Lincoln’s Haymarket district.…….. The Little Sprouts Child Development Center that will be housed in the new Pender Community Center when it’s completed has hired its first director. Andrea Gibson of Oakland is already working toward opening day……..The 2017 Farmers Open was held Monday at Twin Creeks, and if you drove by and did a double take – yes, that was an airplane on hole 9. Ryan Lihs of Redline Aviation was on hand with his Piper Cub aircraft, which landed on the highway Sunday night and was taxied out to a spot on the hole’s tee box……..The Subway in Pender has changed hands. Mike and Tanya Murphy of Homer have made the local sandwich restaurant their first franchise……..The clock has ticked away on summer vacation, and students at Pender Public Schools were back in the hallways today (Thursday) with the first day of the 2017-18 school year……...Braden Peters, member of the Pender FFA Chapter, was named the Nebraska FFA winner in Turf Grass Management-Entrepreneurship/Placement recently. ……..The Great American Eclipse was experienced in Pender on Monday as a rare total eclipse was seen in a path that crossed the entire continental United States, including portions of Nebraska to about 100 miles to the south of Pender.……..St. Peter’s Lutheran Church of rural Pender has welcomed new pastor Kathy Montira to its parish.

 

September

Eight Pender moms were charged with an effort to place new preschool-aged playground equipment at the Pender park last summer.  The site of the new playground equipment is on the south side of the large playground structure at the Pender city park and is focused more for the 0-3 year old children in the area……..Watermelon Days were held in Thurston over the weekend and as always the parade was a highlight as well as the free watermelon feed at the end of the weekend……..”Back to the 80s” hit the stage at Heese Event Center over the weekend by Pender Public Schools students, and with the big hair, stone washed jeans and Bon Jovi tunes it was a blast from the past……..Progress continues at the site of the new Pender Medical Clinic – and that’s a good thing, because growth isn’t slowing at the existing facility and in other nearby towns……..The hallways of Pender Public Schools are teeming with mythical creatures, Disney characters and perhaps a punk rocker of two this week as Homecoming 2017 is well underway……...Pender postmaster Mike Eilerts will be retiring from the postal service after 37 years of postal work. Those years included 14 different post offices, with his last 5.5 years spent in Pender……..The Little Bluejays preschool, a Head Start Center operated by Northeast Nebraska Community Action Partnership in conjunction with Walthill Public School, suffered a major fire on Friday afternoon………..The Pender Community Center has hired its first manager, Katie Gutzmann started work last week in a part-time position.

 

October

Superintendent Jason Dolliver told the group of staff and children in grades K-12 about something called the U.S. Department of Education National Blue Ribbon School. State by state, starting with Alaska, the list went by and intensity built as it neared Nebraska. the room erupted as “Pender Elementary School” was on the list, one of four in the state to make it for 2017………..Thurston County officially joined the ranks of more than 40 other in the state with a “Livestock Friendly” designation at a meeting on Oct. 2 at the courthouse..………..Heavy rains over the past few weeks have delayed the opening of the new Pender Community Center. Originally scheduled to open in November in time to host a pair of events, it is now targeting a December opening in the front half of that month………..Bryan Galvan-Hernandez says he didn’t know he was about to see a man die. His stated goal on an early November night almost a year ago was to feed a drug habit that began that spring.………..After trailing by 24 points at halftime, Pender mounted a remarkable comeback to trail 58-50 in the warnings against undefeated Guardian Angels Central Catholic last Thursday, Oct. 19 at Heyne Field. While the Blujays were able to escape with a 64-50 win, they’ll have to face the Pendragons in the first round of the Class D1 playoffs next week. ………..Pender volunteer firefighters responded to an afternoon blaze at the home of Mike and Suzy Hastings at 417 Whitney Street in Pender. 

 

November 

It’s becoming hard to find a soybean field in the area that hasn’t yet been harvested, and corn is also on its way to bins and piles. A harvest bee was held to assist Pender farmer Randy Moeller with eight combines running in multiple fields as he recovers from a recent stroke………..A week after giving them a close tussle, Pender football team was able to come away with a win over Guardian Angels Central Catholic during the first round of D1 playoffs. The 3-5 Pendragons outscored the 8-0 Blujays, 52-50, on the road in Beemer………..Thurston County Sheriff Shelly Perez says the last thing she wanted was to remain silent when a former deputy (Nick Carlson) on her staff was accused of public indecency.………..Pender Public Schools will host a Veteran’s Day Program at the Heese Event Center on Friday with guest speaker Captain Matthew D. Bartling of the Nebraska Army National Guard………..There is good news and bad news for those who enjoy the annual Pender-Thurston Chamber of Commerce pancake feed. The good news is that it will be held again soon- but it won’t happen until early next year………..Pender Public Schools will be holding a formal celebration of its designation as a National Blue Ribbon School on Nov. 21 at the Heese Event Center with dignitaries Gov. Pete Ricketts and Miss Nebraska Allison Tietjen attending the celebration.………..Only four funds got the good news, and the Pender-Thurston Education and Community Foundation Fund was one of them. The Sherwood Foundation, which was established by Susan Buffett in 1999, offers a matching grant for communities. For every $2 count between now and Dec. 31, 2018, an additional $1 will be added by the grant.

 

December 

The Pender-Thurston Chamber of Commerce will once again host Santa in Pender on Saturday. The special Saturday will start with story time at the House Memorial Library, Santa arriving at the library, cookie decorating and fire truck rides provided by the Pender Fire and Rescue squad, the Kids Zone opening over the noon hour and later the chili cook-off contest, people parade, ugly sweater, holiday character and more at Welsh’s Bar in Pender.………..The Quacky Wacky Walkers Relay of Life team held a tour of homes at the end of November to raise money for cancer………..”Sounds of the Season” was held at the Pender Public Schools on Sunday, Dec. 10 with entertainment for all ages………The home of Mike and Suzy Hastings at 417 Whitney Street in Pender was demolished after suffering a serious fire on October that rendered it a total loss……..The stands were pretty full as always at the Emerson-Hubbard gym on Tuesday – but not for a basketball game this night. Dozens of Pirates faithful were in attendance for something far more than a singular event. They were there for the entire future of E-H athletics……..Test scores were touted as the driving force behind Pender Public Schools receiving recognition as National Blue Ribbon School for 2017 at the elementary level, excelling in English, Mathematics and Science levels……..Pender Community Center will open its doors for a special open house on Wednesday, Jan. 3. The center will house four tenants – Anytime Fitness, Little Sprouts Child Development Center, Pender Village offices and the Pender Veterans office.

 






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