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By Luke Nichols/Daily Sun sports editor 

Meridians' Erin Johnson goes for a steal against Exeter-Milligan Friday during the semifinals of the MUDECAS Tournament at the Beatrice City Auditorium.

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Economic development officials visit South Korea

Area officials are hoping a recent trip to South Korea will enhance business relationships on an international scale.

Walker Zulkoski, director of the NGage economic development group, joined Gov. Pete Ricketts and others on the trip.

On Tuesday evening, the group met with approximately 40 representatives from the South Korean business community at a reception hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Seoul.

During the reception, a press release stated that Ricketts welcomed Korean guests via a recorded address and invited them to visit Nebraska and explore opportunities for business and investment.

Members of the trade delegation also had the opportunity to pitch Nebraska communities as potential locations for investment from Korean companies.

Zulkosksi said that at least one company was looking to expand to the American Midwest, and Nebraska is now on its radar.

“We’ve seen quite a bit of foreign direct investment with so many companies in our industrial park already,” Zulkoski said. “Even Rare Earth Salts does international stuff. We don’t really have any representation from Korea and if other companies can be successful in Beatrice, why not Korean companies? The point of this was to open that door and see where that goes.”

Korea imports approximately $517 million worth of goods from Nebraska, making it the state’s fifth largest trading partner. In April 2015, Ricketts announced the opening of the first Korean company offices at NIC. FDMR Inc. President Suji Park established operations in Nebraska to partner with the University Food Processing Center to develop market-ready bulgogi products and complete final product development and design for Korean food products sold in the United States.

“South Korea has been a strong international partner of Nebraska’s for years,” Ricketts said in a press release. “Shared values of hard work and loyalty have cultivated a strong and prosperous relationship. As our fifth-largest export market, South Korea provides numerous opportunities for Nebraskans every year, and we are working to grow trade opportunities and partnerships.”

Zulkoski said the purpose of the trip was to build relationships with foreign companies, a goal he and NGage will continue working toward.

Sam Craig Daily Sun staff  

Better known as "Farmer Derek" on YouTube, Derek Klingenberg signs autographs for Tri County students on Friday following a concert at the school.

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Car collides with snow plow, sending one to hospital

A car crashed into a road grader just before 6 a.m. in Beatrice on Friday morning.

A 1993 Pontiac Grand Am collided with a road grader that was plowing snow on Ella Street between Sixth and Seventh streets at 5:51 a.m. on Friday, sending the driver of the Pontiac, Beatrice resident Sheena Hammond, to the hospital.

According to the Beatrice Police Department, the grader, which was heading east on Ella and driven by Beatrice resident Matthew Hanshaw, was plowing the road at about three miles per hour when Hammond's car hit the plow head-on.

Police said Hammond was bleeding from her forehead and complained of chest and leg pain following the crash. Police also said it appeared that Hammond had not been wearing a seatbelt.

A witness who was behind Hammond's car told police that he did not see the Pontiac's brake lights before the crash and that it did not appear to be traveling at an excessive speed.

Police said that the windshield of Hammond's car was covered in ice, with only a small patch near the bottom of the driver's side clear. 

No damage to the road grader was reported, but the Pontiac was towed away from the scene and Hammond was taken to Beatrice Community Hospital by a Beatrice Fire and Rescue ambulance.

County could take action on communications tower Wednesday

The Gage County Board of Supervisors may decide how to handle a failing communications tower in Blue Springs as early as next week.

The board discussed the tower Friday during its regular committee meeting, where they heard a proposal from Zephyr Towers, a Beatrice-based company, to remove the tower.

Conflicting reports have raised questions as to if the tower can be repaired, or if it needs to be replaced altogether.

Multiple tower companies have declined to climb the tower in the past due to safety concerns, a decision Mitchell Williamson of Zephyr Towers agreed with.

One factor in the decision is that the tower lacks a safety cable for a climber to attach to.

“It’s basically a cable that runs on the outside of the tower from the ground to the top of the tower and would allow a climber to click onto this with a harness and allow them to climb up and down the tower without the risk of falling,” he explained.

The tower serves departments in the general southern part of the county, south of Highway 136.

Demolition of the tower is estimated to cost under $40,000, though the price could change if the board elects to also remove the surrounding underground concrete.

The board has also contemplated repairing the tower after it was struck by lightning that damaged some equipment and now poses stability issues.

Zephyr’s report indicated that repairing the 50-year-old tower would cost more than it’s worth.

“The guy wires, which are the wires that hold it up, are not installed properly,” Williamson said. “They would be expensive to replace. The tower, as we’re told, is probably 40-50 years old and it does not meet any of the standards for safety or even paint today… In order to get this tower back to existing standards, make it safe and make it last another 50 years, you would easily spend more than the $120,000-$150,000 you would put into a brand new tower at today’s standards.”

Building a new tower is one option. The board also heard a proposal from the Clearview Tower Company to take down the tower and build a new one that the company would own and lease back to the county to put communication equipment on it.

How much longer the tower would last is unknown, though most reports have indicated that it needs to be removed.

“This is not an emergency situation where it needs to be done immediately because there is a risk of loss of life or property,” Williamson said. “But it needs to be taken down in the next year. It’s possible it could fall down in the next 10 years. There’s just as great of chance that the next ice storm, the next large winds, could end it this year. The tower is not in a safe condition. It’s not worth the risk or financial cost to repair this tower back to safe conditions.”