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By Luke Nichols/Daily Sun sports editor 

Beatrice's Ben Garland works on his opponent during the B2 District Wrestling Tournament Friday night at the Ozone in Beatrice.

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Beatrice CRA discusses two new industrial park projects

The Beatrice Community Redevelopment Authority approved sending two Industrial Park projects that could be completed with Tax Increment Financing on to the Planning and Zoning Commission for further review.

The first would be a building for Exmark Manufacturing. The city of Beatrice recently approved applying for a Site and Building Development Fund grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development for $250,000 for the building, located at 415 Industrial Row in Beatrice. The second project could possibly be the future home for companies potentially displaced by the first.

The Blue Valley Automation building in the Gage County Industrial Park is currently home to vendors for Exmark and Neapco, City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer said, in addition to serving as the bus barn for Mid States School Bus Inc., which provides the bus services for Beatrice Public Schools.

Exmark builds lawn care products at the current locations in the industrial park. The company has plans to turn the 84,000-square-foot building into storage and office space for the company’s divisional office.

The proposed $8.5 million expansion is in a Tax Increment Financing area, Tempelmeyer said, and things like site acquisition, grading work, site prep, professional fees, street work, lighting, public parking, drainage ditch and similar upgrades fall under expenses that can be done with TIF funds. All told, he said, Exmark would have around $4.4 million in TIF eligible expenses, though the project won’t generate that much revenue.

“As we proceed with this project, if you ask me how much TIF revenue it's going to generate, that's the good question,” Tempelmeyer said. “We need to go have that conversation with the county assessor.”

Exmark has just begun making information about the project available, Tempelmeyer said, and just recently it’s gotten to the point where the city can announce publicly that Exmark is moving forward with the project.

CRA member Lora Young asked Tempelmeyer if the move would displace the businesses currently located in 415 Industrial Row and if there were places for them to go. Tempelmeyer said yes, it would displace businesses, but the next project on the agenda could address that.

R.L. Tiemann Construction of Beatrice approached the city about building a new structure in the industrial park, Tempelmeyer said. Situated between Hybrid Turkeys to the north and Precise Fabrication to the south, the proposed building would be 38,000-square-feet and will be built on spec, he said.

For the proposed building, TIF could be used for things like site acquisition, parking, grading, professional fees and other similar things, Tempelmeyer said, but Hybrid Turkeys used TIF to install sewer and water to their site, so in the case of the Tiemann building, those have already been covered.

While the building wasn’t originally intended to become the new home for businesses at the Blue Valley Automation building, R.L. Tiemann Construction owner and president, Bob Tiemann, said it will be there if they’re interested.

Tiemann said the building is something he’s thought about for a long time. It’s been quite awhile since there was any space available at the industrial park with a building ready for someone to move into, he said, which can be a stumbling block for businesses considering moving to Beatrice or Gage County.

With the industrial park expanding this past year and some nice building sites available for industrial projects, Tiemann said it would be a good idea to take advantage of it.

“We don't have a customer lined up for it right now, so I guess it's a risk,” Tiemann said. “Lot of money involved there, but I think we're going to go ahead and take that risk.”

The 38,000-square-foot project is going to be a steel building, and Tiemann said he hopes crews will start construction in the spring, with a projected completion date in late summer.

Tempelmeyer said the project has an assessed value of about $1.4 million, but that’s not always an easy valuation to make in advance.

“You're trying to give the county assessor to give you an evaluation of a building that's not built yet,” he said. “They're trying to look at how big it's going to be, what kind of construction it's going to be. They're trying to look at some of those things and give you some estimate, but ultimately, they can't give you a true number until you go out and it's built.”

While they don’t have any companies ready to move in just yet, Tiemann said, if the building is a success and it does fill up quickly, they’ll consider building more in the future in hopes of attracting more business to town.

“One of the things that's really hard about economic development, and economic development's not as easy as it sounds--one of the things that's really hard is that if somebody's interested, they want something they can move into,” Tiemann said. “A lot of companies are in a position where they don't have time to wait six months or nine months for a project to get done.”

The CRA approved sending both projects on to the Planning and Zoning Commission for further consideration later this month.

All sides claim budget win; immigration fight looks tougher

WASHINGTON — Republican leaders, top Democrats and President Donald Trump are all claiming big wins in the $400 billion budget agreement signed into law Friday. But the push to pass the massive legislation underscored enduring divisions within both parties, and those rifts are likely to make the next fight over immigration even more challenging.

In Washington's latest display of governance by brinkmanship, the bipartisan accord bolstering military and domestic programs and deepening federal deficits crossed the finish line just before dawn — but not before the government shut down overnight.

Passage left nerves frayed and Democrats with little leverage to force congressional action on their most high-profile priority: preventing deportation of hundreds of thousands of the young immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children and remain here without permanent legal protection.

Lawmakers rushed to limit the disruption and impact over the lapse in government funding, voting in the middle of the night to reopen agencies before workers were due to report to the office. It was the government's second shutdown in three weeks, and most lawmakers were eager to avoid a big show of dysfunction in an election year.

Sen. Rand Paul did not share the urgency. Late Thursday, the tea party leader and Kentucky Republican put the brakes on the bill in protest over Congress' sudden willingness to embrace big deficit spending. Paul noted that he and many in his party railed against deficits when Democrats held the White House, but now seemed willing to look the other way with Republicans in control.

He said he hoped his stand would teach conservatives "to not accept just anything because it comes from a GOP Congress."

Paul's call clearly angered Republican leaders — Sen. John Cornyn called it "grossly irresponsible" — and it exposed a contradiction that may come to haunt Republicans as they try to fire up conservatives in midterm elections.

The budget measure provides Pentagon spending increases sought by Trump and the GOP, more money for domestic agencies demanded by Democrats and $89 billion that both wanted for disaster relief. The two-year pact, which also continues the government's authority to borrow money, postpones any possible federal default or likely shutdowns until after the November elections.

But the 652-page budget bill says nothing about protection for the "Dreamer" immigrants. That omission largely explains why a quarter of Senate Democrats and two-thirds of House Democrats voted no, and why immigration now because the next battle. In January, after a three-day closure, Senate Democrats secured from GOP leaders the promise of a debate and vote on a deal to protect the younger immigrants from deportation.

"Democrats have fought hard but, in the end, many opted to say yes to other priorities and leave Dreamers behind," said Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigration America's Voice. He called that decision plus opposition by many Republicans "inhumane and indecent."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., set next Monday as the start of a free-wheeling immigration battle, a debate he promised when Democrats agreed to vote to reopen the government last month. Ryan hasn't scheduled House consideration, infuriating Democrats, but he said Friday, "We will focus on bringing that debate to this floor and finding a solution."

Democrats want to extend the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which lets the immigrants temporarily live and work in the U.S. but that Trump would end March 5. The Democrats also want to make the immigrants eligible for citizenship or permanent residence.

In exchange, Trump wants $25 billion to build his beloved, proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall and other barriers. He also wants reductions in legal immigration, including limiting the relatives whom legal residents can sponsor and eliminating a lottery that offers visas to residents of diverse countries.

There's no obvious compromise that could win the 60 votes from Republicans and Democrats needed to prevail in the Senate. The most promising outcome may be a narrow bill extending DACA protections for a year or so and providing some border security money for Trump.

Whatever happens, this week's budget battle dealt a clear immigration defeat to Democrats, who'd initially vowed to block spending bills until there was a deal to help the Dreamers. The setback left party members divided.

No. 2 Senate Democratic leader Richard Durbin of Illinois, a leader in the immigration fight, said the budget pact "opens the door" for Senate votes on protecting the young immigrants. But Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., said anyone supporting the spending measure was "colluding with this president and this administration to deport Dreamers."

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona is preparing compromises to offer during his chamber's upcoming debate and says his party will suffer in November if the issue isn't addressed. No. 3 House GOP leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana says Republicans still disagree about "how to handle this number of people that Barack Obama encouraged to come in here illegally."

With the immigration fight looming, Congress voted overnight to finance the government through March 23, giving budget-writers time to craft detailed legislation funding agencies through the rest of this fiscal year.

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Beatrice student in custody after online threats

A Beatrice High School student was taken to the Lancaster County Juvenile Detention Center after allegedly posting a threatening message on social media.

Beatrice Police Chief Bruce Lang said the 16-year-old male student posted a photo of himself on the social media platform Snapchat with the caption, “The next school shooter.”

Police found the special education student and searched his residence, but did not find any weapons.

“We sent officers to find this individual and they did a search of where he was staying,” Lang said. “They did not uncover any weapons to speak of. He does have a history of making these type of comments, and in fact has been expelled in another district for bringing a gun to school.”

When authorities became aware of the post, the middle and high schools were placed on a lockout.

Authorities put the schools on lockout because the incident occurred at around 5 p.m., after school was dismissed for the day.

Lang said after school practices were in session and allowed to continue, while police monitored the entrances of the two buildings and only allowed selected people inside.

Beatrice Public School alerted parents of the incident on Friday morning, saying the lockout lasted for around 40 minutes and commending law enforcement for a quick response.

“We were still waiting on some information with it,” Nauroth said. “It was quite a bit later as things came about. Law enforcement determined that no further precautions were needed. We were in lock out for about 40 minutes, but it felt like we needed to at least get something out to staff and families this morning so they were aware of what had gone on.”

Lang added that the department takes such threats seriously, and advised people to be mindful of what they post on social media.

“In this particular case, this was a person who made a comment that was perceived to be threatening,” Lang said. “If you do that, we’re going to take that seriously. I think any jurisdiction would take that seriously and take action on that threat. My advice to people would be to not do that, and certainly coming back later and saying ‘just kidding’ or ‘I didn’t mean it’ isn’t going to carry the day.”

Traffic stop results in arrest

Gage County deputies arrested a man for drug possession following a traffic stop Thursday evening.

Shortly before 8 p.m. Thursday, a Gage County sheriff's deputy spotted a vehicle speeding southbound on Highway 77 near Cedar Road. The vehicle was clocked at 72 mph and a traffic stop was conducted on the black Pontiac G6.

The deputy learned during a records check that the driver, 38-year-old Rodney L. Foss, had an active warrant out of Lancaster County. He was arrested on the warrant, and an inventory was taken of the vehicle.

During the search, authorities found a small cylinder container with a white, crystal-like substance in the driver's side door.

A purple container with two glass pipes that had residue was found in a backpack on the front passenger's seat. All three items field tested positive for methamphetamine.

Foss was placed under arrest for possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Bond was set at $5,000, with a 10 percent deposit. Foss is due back in court on March 6.