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Bargain Box treasurer Brenda Garcia and outgoing Bargain Box president Jane Nider present Mosaic employees Mike Bock, Margie Hofeling and Amy Bell with a check for $68,000 at the Children's Guild annual luncheon.

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A medical fund has been established for Shelby Erb at both branches of Pinnacle Bank in Beatrice. All proceeds from The Shelby Erb Medical Fund will go directly to the family to help pay for medical expenses.

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Bigger on the inside: Small houses pack a punch

There’s a group of small houses popping up on the west side of Beatrice.

Built by Fakler Architects, the six rental houses being erected on Graham Street look like little bungalow-style homes.

They’re two-bed, one-and-a-half-bath houses with 944 finished square feet inside, including a finished basement. The houses will also have a two-car carport and a 10-by-12 foot outbuilding for storage.

Like houses his company built back in 2007, Michael Fakler said that these homes will be highly energy efficient. Those homes featured heavily-insulated walls, an insulated header for doors and windows and an over-insulated attic, which helped to reduce monthly energy bills.

This time around, Fakler went one step further, using all the same techniques from the previous homes, but reducing the area of the homes that’s exposed to outside air, he said.

“We decided instead of a slab on a grade like most rentals, we decided to go with a full, finished basement,” Fakler said. “That way, we reduce the size of that envelope and we put some of the living space underground.”

About three feet down, the ground temperature stays right around 55 degrees all year long, he said. That should reduce the need for excess cooling in the summer and helps to insulate the home from winter cold. The goal is to get the monthly utility bill down to $100 a month or less, he said.

Fakler said he’s hoping to have the first house interior finished by mid-April and by the first of May it should have the exterior carport and storage in place.

Fakler Development started in Beatrice in 1995 building duplexes. Since that time they’ve built 23 rental units, including the most recent homes, which Fakler said will have a target rent of $850 a month.

Small houses have become popular with a younger generation, Fakler said. He says the new houses aren’t those tiny houses you’ll see on TV shows and in fact could appeal to everyone.

“If you look at the house across the street, we really wanted to fit the neighborhood and not make something that was out of the ordinary,” Fakler said. “So, we did kind of base it off that bungalow-type look.”

Burglary suspect arrested

Beatrice police arrested a man accused of breaking into a tobacco shop late Saturday night or early Sunday.

Eric D. Smith, 27, was arrested for burglary and possessing stolen goods as part of the investigation. He appeared in Gage County Court Tuesday, where bond was set at $50,000 with a 10 percent deposit.

Police previously said that the perpetrator broke into the shop through a front window.

Authorities contacted Smith on Monday morning regarding the burglary at K&B Tobacco Outlet on North Eighth Street.

Police had information that Smith was connected to the burglary. He allowed police to enter his apartment in the 1800 block of Scott St. Smith had three packs of Marlboro cigarettes on the living room table and shoes that resembled those the suspect was wearing in the surveillance video, according to court documents.

He signed a permission sheet allowing police to search the apartment, and authorities found multiple packs of cigarettes in a freezer that he stated were taken from K&B tobacco.

He had a bicycle in the kitchen that police believe was used in the burglary, as well.

Smith’s next hearing is set for April 17.