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Icy New Year’s Day fire posed challenge for firefighters

A home in west Beatrice was destroyed early on New Year’s Day after a fire was reported just before 1:30 a.m.

Firefighters from Beatrice Fire and Rescue and Beatrice Rural Fire battled the blaze through the morning and were still on the scene Monday afternoon to monitor for rekindling.

Fire and Rescue Capt. Jeremy Seggerman said the cause of the fire in the 600 block of West Court St. is under investigation by the State Fire Marshal, and it may have originated in the attic.

“They encountered heavy smoke from the attic area and eves of the house,” he said. “I know they had some pretty heavy fire in the attic and eventually a section of the roof did collapse. Everybody was out when the roof collapsed and they continued to work on the fire.”

Seggerman said no occupants were harmed, and that the Red Cross was assisting the family with a place to stay.

One firefighter was transported to Beatrice Community Hospital for an unknown injury and later released.

Cold temperatures dipping to nearly minus 15 degrees posed an added threat to firefighters and made it more challenging to get the fire under control.

“We had a good one-inch thick sheet of ice all over the roof and yard,” Seggerman said. “There’s ice on everything. Obviously, that makes it a lot more hazardous walking around when its dark, smoky and slick. It’s harder on the equipment and that type of thing, also.”

Beatrice police assisted in directing traffic, and Board of Public Works crews helped thaw the streets and sidewalks.

YMCA aims to help people get fit in 2018

The new year is upon us, and area fitness centers are encouraging people to make 2018 the year they get fit.

Rachael Bauman, Director of Health and Wellness at the Beatrice YMCA, said there’s always an increase in new members around January as gym goers set out to improve themselves.

And staff members at the YMCA are there to help them achieve their goals.

“We do see a big growth, especially at the beginning of year as people set their resolutions,” Bauman said. “I’m always excited to see new faces come in and people meet those goals a lot of the time one of the biggest tips is when you make a big lifestyle change at once, you feel like there’s pressure or stress. I encourage people to break things down to small goals they can meet along the way.”

This strategy of focusing on small milestones that can be reached on a regular basis helps people stay focused and committed, increasing the odds of seeing major change over the course of the year.

“Those little changes add up to make a big difference,” she said. “That’s a huge one. We love to feel like an environment that people can come into to make a healthy approach.”

Brent Ruiz runs several programs out of the YMCA.

He added that setting an obtainable goal is one of the first positive steps to take entering the new year.

“The news year resolution is an annual right of passage, it seems like,” Ruiz said. “There’s quite a few new members that show up with some ideas in mind. One of my jobs is to help people achiever their goal and make sure their goal is realistic and obtainable.”

One reason some people are leary of joining a gym or fitness center is in intimidation.

Ruiz said there’s no need to feel intimidated, and some first timers are surprised to learn most people keep to themselves.

“The thing I think most people don’t realize is people have their heads down and are in their own little world,” he said. “Seldom do we see anybody judging, criticizing or even paying attention to what other people are doing.”

In addition to free weight and cardio areas, the YMCA offers a variety of classes. Bauman, who leads some of the class exercises, said the community atmosphere they provide can actually help people achieve their fitness and wellness goals.

“If you stay connected you feel like part of community, and that’s a big motivator,” she said. “There are times you may not want to come in, but if people are meeting you it’s easier to meet those goals.”

Bauman said tours and guest passes are available for those interested in exploring what the YMCA has to offer.

Once recent addition is an aquatic stand up class in the pool, where participants practice their balance on a board. She’s also hoping to implement a hip hop dance class at the YMCA in the future.

Setting the table

A longtime volunteer has retired after more than 12 years of assisting with American Red Cross blood drives in Beatrice.

Pat Creglow served as the canteen director during her time with the Red Cross before stepping down after her final blood drive on Thursday, Dec. 28. Creglow is hoping to take more time for her health, but she said she would miss working at the Red Cross blood drives with her husband.

“We see the same people all the time,” she said. “That’s what you miss the most is the people, because we’ve made a lot of friends—people we didn’t know before we started working.”

As canteen director, Creglow coordinated all of the meals and snacks prepared for donors who give blood during the drives. For her final event, she prepared chicken-noodle and vegetable-beef soups. She also worked with local businesses and organizations to make sure plenty of snacks were provided.

Members of the community don’t just donate blood, Creglow said. They donate time, food and money.

“People are just nice.” She said.

Robyn Steinkuhler, account manager for the Red Cross, said that residents are always encouraged to get involved, either by volunteering at drives or donating blood.

“They say the number one reason people don’t donate is because they’re not asked,” said Steinkuhler, but every donation is highly valued and appreciated.

“Each unit can save up to three lives," she said.

By Marcus Scheer/Daily Sun contributor 

Freeman's Logan Anderson (22) dribbles the ball as the Syracuse Rockets defeat the Freeman Falcons, 45-37, on December 30, 2017, in Adams, Neb.

2018 starts with record cold

Bone-chilling cold gripped much of the middle of the U.S. as 2018 began Monday, breaking low temperature records, icing some New Year's celebrations and leading to at least two deaths attributed to exposure to the elements.

The National Weather Service issued wind chill advisories covering a vast area from South Texas to Canada and from Montana and Wyoming through New England to the northern tip of Maine.

Dangerously low temperatures enveloped eight Midwest states including parts of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Nebraska along with nearly all of Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota.

The mercury plunged to a record-breaking minus 32 in Aberdeen, South Dakota, where the previous New Year's Day record had stood for 99 years. In Nebraska, temperatures hit 15 below zero in Omaha before midnight Sunday, breaking a record low dating to 1884.

Omaha's reading didn't include the wind chill effect, which could plunge to negative 40 degrees, according to the weather service. Omaha officials cited the forecast in postponing the 18th annual New Year's Eve Fireworks Spectacular that draws around 30,000 people.

It was even colder in Des Moines, where city officials closed a downtown outdoor ice skating plaza and said it won't reopen until the city emerges from sub-zero temperatures. The temperature hit 20 below zero early Monday, with the wind chill dipping to negative 31 degrees.

Steam rose up from Lake Superior as a ship moved through a harbor where ice was forming in Duluth, Minnesota, where the wind chill dipped to 36 below zero. In northeast Montana, the wind chill readings dipped as low as minus 58.

Plunging overnight temperatures in Texas brought rare snow flurries as far south as Austin, and accidents racked up on icy roads across the state. In the central Texas city of Abilene, the local police chief said more than three dozen vehicle crashes were reported in 24 hours.

It's even cold in the Deep South, a region more accustomed to brief bursts of arctic air than night after night below zero. Frozen pipes and dead car batteries were concerns from Louisiana to Georgia as overnight temperatures in the teens were predicted across the region by Monday night.

An Indianapolis woman was in critical condition after she became confused in the snow and ice and turned her vehicle the wrong direction, driving 150 feet on a retention pond before her vehicle fell through the ice, according to WISH TV. She managed to make an emergency call but the phone went dead when the ice cracked.

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's office said two bodies found on Sunday showed signs of hypothermia. They included a man in his 50s found on the ground in an alley and a 34-year-old man. Autopsies are being performed on both men.

Milwaukee's annual Polar Bear Plunge at Bradford Beach on Lake Michigan Monday could be more dangerous than usual, a city official told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The wind chill was expected to be about 9 below zero by the time of the event at noon.

"You're going to get hypothermic," said Milwaukee Fire Battalion Chief Erich Roden. "Everybody wants to do the polar plunge once in their life; it's a bucket list item. Unfortunately, it's something that can cause a lot of harm."