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County Board member to run for Nebraska Legislature

Myron Dorn

The chairman of the Gage County Board of Supervisors announced plans to run for the Legislature on Wednesday.

Myron Dorn of Adams will seek to replace state Sen. Roy Baker of Lincoln, who is retiring at the end of the 2018 session. Baker represents Legislative District 30, which encompasses Gage County and part of Lancaster County, including a piece of Lincoln.

Dorn has been a member of the Adams Rescue department for more than 30 years.

He ran for the Gage County board in 2010 and was re-elected in 2014.

He’s been the chairman of the board for two years and said his experience with the county would serve him well in the legislature.

“The experience I’ve gained and knowledge being a part of the County Board would be very valuable,” Dorn said. “I see that as being a big plus. I think I have the ability to listen to people, study the issues and make good decisions.”

Dorn was apart of two major road projects in his time on the County Board, a bond issue passed in 2013 for a 30-mile overlay project, and an additional 4.2-mile Hickory Road paving project that was completed in 2015-2016. Dorn served on the committee to help start the current economic development group, NGage, a joint venture between the county and the city of Beatrice.

Dorn has been a resident in the Adams area all his life. He and his wife, Julie, currently live on an acreage just outside of Adams. Dorn has been a lifelong farmer in the Firth and Adams area.

He graduated from Adams High School and the University of Nebraska, with a degree in Animal Science. He served on the Firth Coop Board for 20 years, serving as the chairman for 12 years. When the board merged with the Dorchester Coop, he served more than two years on the board.

Dorn is a member of the Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Soybean Association, Nebraska Corn Growers, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Farmers Union, and a Lifetime Member of the University of Nebraska Alumni Association.

Dorn is a registered Republican. Don Schuller, a farmer who lives near Wymore and a registered Democrat, announced in August that will also run for the seat.

Joe Murray of Firth also announced plans to seek the seat in the Legislature.

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Ted's excellent adventure

After nearly two months on the run, Ted--a 4-year-old Shiba Inu from Beatrice--was caught and brought home safely on Oct. 26.

The day Ted went missing, the dog escaped out of his yard at around 10 a.m. on Sept. 6 and got himself lost. His owners, Jordan Koerwitz and Emily Van Hauen, immediately started posting on the Beatrice Neighborhood Watch Facebook group.

They’d had Ted since Van Hauen was seven months pregnant with their son, Carson Koerwitz, and the two grew up together.

They think Ted pushed against the fence in their backyard to get out and he may have been taken in by a neighbor family initially, but they just couldn’t spot him.

“The first three weeks, every hint we would get on neighborhood watch, we'd go to that location and would look for him,” Koerwitz said. “After the three weeks went by, we kind of lost hope.”

By that time, Van Hauen thinks, Ted had made a nice, if somewhat scary, life for himself. They’re pretty sure he was sleeping near the duck pond at Chautauqua Park and making his way down the bike trail every morning to see some new friends in the Belvedere neighborhood.

Several families began leaving out table scraps for Ted. Some left out bowls of dog food. Ted might have been lost, but he sure wasn’t hungry.

People on Beatrice Neighborhood Watch were persistent and vigilant in their search for Ted. Every sighting was meticulously recorded, though some people mistook foxes and coyotes for him.

One day, Shelley Huston caught sight of him in her neighborhood. She’d call him, but he would only run away.

Julie Thornburg, who runs PetAgree Grooming in Beatrice was determined that they wouldn’t let Ted get away, but trying to figure out how was tricky.

“Shiba Inus are kind of independent anyway,” she said, “but so many times, when a dog is lost like that and you get too many people trying to catch them, they just see everybody as a predator that's trying to get them and you're not going to get them to come to you.”

In the game of fight or flight, she said, Ted chose flight and would sprint into the tree line whenever anyone approached.

Huston called Ted’s owners and told them where he was. They brought Ted’s crate with his blanket and left it outside for him.

He slept in the crate that night, but when someone would try sneaking up to close the door on him, he’d run off again.

Thornburg called animal control and was able to borrow a live trap. They put Ted’s blanket inside of it and waited.

He sniffed at the blanket cautiously, she said, then he put his head inside. As soon as he went to lie down on the blanket, the cage snapped shut and he was secured.

“I was so glad,” Thornburg said. “That was right when the weather was supposed to start taking a turn for the worst. I felt so bad he was out there, trying to stay warm at night and all the rain we've had. Where was he going to get out of all the elements.”

She credited Huston with doing most of the work to catch Ted, she just provided the cage she said.

After his capture, his family showed up within 15 minutes to take him home.

Ted saw Koerwitz and started barking excitedly. He had been found and was thrilled to be going home, he said.

He was smelly, Van Hauen said, but he was still pretty clean. His thick fur was full of bristles, but those were picked out easily, she said.

Even though he’d spent nearly two months playing a stray dog, Koerwitz said, Ted got used to being back at home pretty quick.

“You would think a dog that was on the loose as long as he was, the house training and all of that would have to start all over again,” he said. “No, he's been excellent, he's gone outside and done his business accordingly, like he never left the house. He's been great.”

Ted is now happily at home and, when he goes outside, he always comes right back when he’s called, Koerwitz said.

“I think he learned a valuable lesson.”

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Bluestem talks next steps with BPW

Plans for a 38-megawatt generating natural gas power plant that would have been built in Beatrice were scrapped, but alternate plans are in the works.

At Wednesday’s Beatrice Board of Public Works meeting, Adam Henrik of Omaha-based Bluestem Energy Solutions talked with board members about potential next steps in the partnership between the city and business.

On Oct. 20, Bluestem asked to withdraw the company’s petition to the Nebraska Power Review board to build the plant after the possibility of litigation from the Nebraska Public Power District and the Omaha Public Power District meant the project probably couldn’t be completed within the necessary timeline. Instead, the company would focus on developing a natural gas-fired plant outside of Nebraska.

After splitting with NPPD when the utility company wouldn’t guarantee prices in a long-term contract, the city decided to go with Ohio-based AEP for its power needs and to purchase power from the proposed plant to meet the city’s capacity requirements.

With the potential for litigation holding up the plant’s construction, Bluestem turned its sights outside of Nebraska to find a location that could hold a plant for Beatrice to buy its power from. As a member of the Southwest Power Pool, which covers 14 states, the power capacity can come from anywhere, so long as it’s covered by the SWPP, Henrik said.

While he didn’t say where the plant would be located, they’re looking at a place where energy can be sold for higher prices than it is in Nebraska, which, he said, which would benefit Beatrice.

“Instead of Beatrice borrowing the money and bonding for the project,” Henrik said, “Bluestem borrows the money, builds the plant and operates it on behalf of you and it serves as your long-term capacity.”

Moving out of the area would mean that local benefits, like jobs, construction costs and property taxes would no longer exist for Beatrice, he said, but there would be more financial savings based on the market when the plant is located in another state.

Henrik said that Bluestem had invested tens of thousands of dollars in the project as well as hundreds of man hours.

“No one was more disappointed than us that we weren't going to build this in your community,” he said. “It was going to provide jobs, tens of millions dollars in investment, but, as a developer, we have to bring you realistic options that we can finance, build and operate. So that's kind of where we are.”

The plant, Henrik said, would be built specifically for Beatrice’s needs and not overbuilt by a single megawatt. It would be turned on when intermittent renewable power sources like wind and solar weren’t enough.

It’s a modern type of plant, he said, and it's essentially a combustion engine. The current natural gas-fired combined cycle Beatrice Power Station works is a thermal power plant, which can take more than 15 minutes to get up to full capacity. The proposed Bluestem plant could be turned on in 11 seconds, he said.

While they’re not ready to announce a location yet, Henrik said, they’re expecting to announce it soon.

“We made a commitment to bring back a financially beneficial development and project for the city of Beatrice and we're going to do that,” Henrik said. “It's just got to be one that's realistic that you can afford to get done.”

Pleas entered in sexual assault case

A Barneston man accused of sexually assaulting a child pleaded not guilty to multiple charges this week in Gage County District Court.

Anthony A. Stautner, 28, was one of two people arrested in April after a juvenile was sexually assaulted in early March.

According to Gage County Court documents, Stautner and his wife were familiar with the 15-year-old female victim through the couple’s church and also his place of employment.

On March 3, Stautner's wife sent a Snapchat message saying Stautner was breaking up with her and she needed someone to talk to.

Arrangements were made for the victim meet her at the Doghouse Bar and Grill in Wymore. Stautner was there and bought the girl food. They drove the victim to a liquor store after and purchased alcohol, including vodka at the request of the minor, court records state.

The two drove the victim to a Barneston residence, where they drank and Stautner allegedly smoked marijuana.

The juvenile was given multiple shots of alcohol and fell asleep.

Stautner, who was allegedly nude, began fondling the victim in a bed.

Court records state the victim told Gage County Sheriff’s deputies Stautner made several attempts at sexual intercourse with her, and she continued to pull away.

On March 8, deputies served a search warrant on the residence and recovered items the victim described as being at the scene.

Stautner was charged with first-degree sexual assault of a minor, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, procuring alcohol for a minor and two counts of third degree sexual assault.

A pretrial conference in the case is set for Feb. 7.