After two years and several loan extensions, the city of Beatrice appears to have completed its business with Dempsters.
On Monday, the Beatrice City Council approved releasing collateral secured from Dempsters, LLC following repayment of an LB840 loan the company received in 2015.
“I'm sure everyone's familiar with the history of this loan,” City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer said, “but at one point the city made a loan to Dempsters LLC and to Ryan Mitchell and a couple of extensions.”
In June of this year, Ryan Mitchell, president of Dempsters, repaid the LB840 funds and interest after two rounds of loan extensions for the original $250,000 economic development loan.
In September of 2015, the city council approved a loan to Dempsters for a period of one year at 3 percent interest, but it remained unpaid by September of 2016. The city council then approved a loan extension agreement in December of 2016, followed by a second loan extension agreement in May of 2017 before the loan was paid off in June.
“All of those funds have been repaid to the city of Beatrice,” Tempelmeyer said, “so, at this point, we just need to file a release and release all the collateral we had secured.”
The voter-approved LB840 funds come with no regulations for granting extensions, and it’s up to the council to decide if extensions are granted and what the terms will be.
According to Dempsters' loan application for the funds, the company planned to use the $225,000 to do a fall 2015 and spring 2016 run of 30 spreaders each.
The total of 60 spreaders had a value of $430,000-$450,000, depending on which options they're equipped with.
The September 2015 loan was the second round of LB840 funds Dempsters received from the city.
In February 2015, a $110,000 loan to build 30 spreaders for the spring 2015 line was approved. That loan was repaid in full in August 2015.
Dempsters focuses largely on its fertilizer spreader division, while also selling AlleyCat recycling trailers and maintaining a parts division.
Following the recommendation of the Beatrice Planning and Zoning Commission, the Beatrice City Council approved vacating and replatting the land that holds Paddock Lane Elementary.
On Monday night, the council voted unanimously to replat the area of Paddock Lane into one addition in anticipation of the school’s construction of a new building.
At a meeting last month, the city council approved vacating a 20-foot section of Irving Street between 15th and 16th streets, which had never been vacated, for replatting.
The area was formerly known as various blocks of Grable & Beachly’s Addition and Grable & Beachley’s Second Addition—the variations in the spelling of “Beachly” and “Beachley” are how the additions are filed with the Gage County Register of Deeds. Now, it has become the Paddock Lane Elementary School Addition.
“When we started to talk to the school about the new building they're looking to build there, it became obvious that it was easier simply to replat everything,” said City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer.
The new proposed building at Paddock Lane is scheduled to go out for bids on Nov. 21 and Beatrice Public Schools officials expect it to be completed by the beginning of the next school year.
The new building will include six classrooms that will replace four portable classrooms that are currently in use at Paddock Lane, with two additional classrooms to accommodate more students.
The addition will be outfitted with traditional tile in the hallways, carpet in the classrooms and at least one window per classroom. LED lights will also be featured in each classroom.
The city council approved both vacating and replatting unanimously with eight votes to zero.
Tall banks of snow were piled up alongside the road after a late-October blizzard through much of Colorado and Nebraska when Jamie Ulmer made his way to Beatrice.
Fresh out of college and on his way to what would become his new home, Ulmer was about to change the path ahead for Community Players in Beatrice.
Now, Ulmer is celebrating 20 years as the managing artistic director at Community Players, and things have changed--both for himself and for the theater.
In his time at Community Players, Ulmer has been a part of 135 shows—more than half of the shows ever produced at Community Players. Ulmer has participated by directing, designing and acting over the years, and he’s seen the number of shows produced increase from four a year to 10. He has also brought in three more employees and turned what used to be a drab auto shop into a well-lit downtown destination.
Ulmer graduated from Doane University with a degree in theater in 1997 and moved to Colorado to work as a newspaper reporter in a small town called Lamar. A friend of his mentioned that there was a job opening for an artistic director in Beatrice. It’s part of what he called his “radioactive spider bite origin story.”
“I saw the job listing for that and the job listing for a reporter at the Daily Sun,” Ulmer said. “I applied for and interviewed for both jobs on the same day. I was back in Nebraska for a family thing. That same Saturday afternoon, I interviewed at the Daily Sun then an hour later, I interviewed here for the theater job.”
He had some trouble finding the theater and drove up and down Ella Street twice before locating it. This was the era before GPS and cell phones, so he was relying on Mapquest directions he had printed out at home.
He ended up getting the job. Both of them, actually. The theater brought him on as managing artistic director and then-Daily-Sun-editor Diane Vicars hired him as a reporter.
He worked out a deal where he could be a newspaper reporter in the mornings and head to the theater every afternoon and evening.
“He's one of my great finds,” said Vicars, who is now the director of public relations at Beatrice Community Hospital. “I had just taken over as managing editor at the Daily Sun and I hired him. So, I'm very proud to say that I got him to Beatrice.”
While she was thrilled to have had Ulmer working for her at the Daily Sun, she said she’d never forget how disappointed she was when he told her he was going to leave the paper to work full-time at Community Players. She said Beatrice is lucky to have him in the role and she’s glad he found his passion and his niche.
The very first show Ulmer directed was an adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” that only had five actors.
The schedule for that season was already picked out when Ulmer came aboard. He stepped in when his predecessor left after the first show of the season.
“There was a lot of fence-mending and organization-rebuilding that needed to happen,” Ulmer said. “I joke a little bit, but had I known then what I know now, I don't know if I would have taken the job.”
When he started, there wasn’t even a computer on his desk, he said, just an old manual typewriter. The desk he uses now in his office is the same, but it now houses a dual-monitor computer, more suited to the job.
Ulmer now wears several hats he didn’t before, when he started at Community Players. He said he still does the production, designing and directing that he did when he began, but in the 20 years since he started, he’s added more responsibilities.
It’s all about learning, Ulmer said. He’s now a social media manager, interacting with the public on Facebook and other social media platforms. He works with donors, takes charge of marketing and fundraising and manages the theater’s employees.
“I have a theater degree,” Ulmer said. “It was a fairly well-rounded theater degree, but I've learned so much more since then, and it's all been on-the-job training. And it's an opportunity that not a lot of people in my career would ever have.”
In the past 20 years, the job has changed substantially. In the first year, Ulmer was responsible for directing four shows for the theater, with a $40,000 budget for the season. Now, he manages a stable of employees, works with the board of directors and has a budget of just under $200,000 for ten shows each year. And it’s been amazing to be able to go through all the stages of organization and growth with the theater, he said.
For the past several years, Ulmer has been teaching a theater management class at Doane University, which has been helping him grow, he said.
“It’s great to go back and revisit all this stuff,” he said. “I think I learn just as much when I teach the class as the students do, because I go back and I reread all those materials and those texts.”
He didn’t originally plan to stay in Beatrice as long as he has, he said, but he’s a big believer in supporting the arts in smaller communities. That passion was instilled in him in Sutton, Neb. where he grew up, a town where the choir had more members than the football team, he said.
Morgan Tunink is the president of the Community Players board of directors. She got her start working with Ulmer about seven years ago when she auditioned for “Annie Get Your Gun.”
She’d been looking for a way to get out of the house after moving to Beatrice with her husband, Jeff Tunink, and their first daughter. It took her a year to work up the courage to try out for the musical, she said. You might not know it by looking at her, she said, but she’s very shy.
She hadn’t sung in public since elementary school, she said, just in the car. She brought a friend with her to the audition, just in case she got sick. As it turned out, she didn’t get sick, and ended up getting the part.
Tunink has been playing an active part in Community Players ever since.
"We have a really great bond,” Tunink said. “We work well together. Jamie is a really fun person to work with, and he’s extremely knowledgeable.”
The Community Players theater does offer some unique challenges, however, as the building isn't large enough for a two-story set. But even with a relatively small stage, the theater was able to produce the notoriously complex “Les Miserables.”
“Sometimes you can overcome with creative design and creative staging,” Ulmer said. “Sometimes you just can't.”
But making things that seem impossible work on stage is just one challenge. Keeping the audience coming back and making sure there are enough volunteers to act in the shows is another hurdle facing Community Players.
Actors, who all participate as volunteers, give up six weeks of evenings for rehearsals, plus another two weekends for performances, which, Ulmer said, can be a big sacrifice.
“It is a lot harder to keep people's attention and get them to come to the shows, but also to participate,” he said. “There's just so much going on all the time for everyone. People say all the time, 'Oh, it's a busy time of year,' but I've had someone say that to me for 12 months.”
Making sure the theater isn’t taken for granted is also a big issue, Ulmer said. People come to expect the kind of quality the theater strives for, he said, but it doesn’t just happen. They’re reliant on ongoing and continuous donations of both money and time to keep the theater at the level it has reached, he said.
“Sometimes, it's hard for us to appreciate what we have in our own backyards,” he said. “Make it better in your backyard. Buy some fertilizer, kill the dandelions and mow the lawn.”
Ulmer’s work with the theater has changed the community of Beatrice for the better, Vicars said, and, even though she lost him as a reporter, he’s done an incredible job in the role of managing artistic director.
“To have a live theater with the skill and success that our theater has had is just tremendous,” Vicars said. “Jamie is the key to that. I'm very proud to have had a little bit of an impact on bringing him.”
Gage County authorities are warning of ongoing phone scams making the rounds in Gage County after multiple recent reports of suspicious calls.
A woman called the Gage County Sheriff’s Office to report that her parents, who are Pickrell residents, received a telephone call from someone stating he was their grandson.
The person calling was not their grandson, but told them he was a passenger in a car that was stopped by police and he needed $4,000 in bail.
Believing it was her grandson, the victim went to Walmart in Beatrice and purchased $4,000 worth of gift cards and provided the card numbers to the suspect, according to a press release.
Later that afternoon, they were again contacted by the suspect, who stated he needed another $4,000. At some point during this process, the victim's daughter and the victim's credit card company became aware of the scam and prevented the victims from sending the additional money.
An investigator with the sheriff’s office said this type of scam is commonly referred to as the “Grandma/Grandpa” scam, in which elderly residents receive a telephone call from someone pretending to be the resident's grandchild. The victim often responds with the name of the grandchild they believe is calling.
The suspect then has the grandchild’s name and proceeds to tell a false story about being arrested or needing financial assistance. The scammer then asks for bond or bail money and tells the victim how to send the funds.
In another recent scam attempt, a Clatonia resident called the Sheriff’s Office after she received a telephone call on her house phone from an unknown number. The person left a message stating they were with the IRS and if they did not call her back, a warrant would be issued for her arrest.
The investigator confirmed for the resident that she had received a scam telephone call from people not associated with the IRS or any government agency and there was no warrant issued for her arrest. The victim stated she did not give out any personal, confidential or financial information and has not lost any money to the scam.
Some warning signs of a scam include when someone asks for money in a method outside of normal business or government practices, such as purchasing gift cards, sending funds to a third party, or demanding immediate payment.
Anyone who receives such calls should report it to their local police department or the Gage County Sheriff’s Office and ask to speak with an investigator to determine if their situation is an attempted fraud.