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Crash near Odell leaves one dead

A collision east of Odell left one person dead Wednesday morning.

At the partially snow-covered intersection of Highway 112 and Highway 8, a pickup truck lost control on the ice and collided with a semi truck, ejecting the driver from the pickup.

Beatrice Fire and Rescue, the Odell Volunteer Fire Department, the Wymore Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, Nebraska State Patrol and the Gage County Sheriff’s Department responded to the call that came in around 10:30 a.m.

A StarCare helicopter medical transport was put on standby, but was called off after the driver of the pickup was declared dead at the scene.

Gage County Sheriff Millard Gustafson said that the pickup was heading northbound and tried to turn off the road, but lost control on the ice, slid over into the opposite lane of traffic where the vehicle was t-boned by the southbound semi truck.

The driver of the semi truck was uninjured and the name of the driver who was killed has not yet been released, Gustafson said.

“It’s absolutely a reminder to slow down,” he said. “Highways 8 and 77 were pretty clear, but 112 is considered a secondary road by the state and had slush and ice on it, which obviously contributed to the mishap.”


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'James and the Giant Peach' coming to Community Players

The musical version of Roald Dahl’s classic story about a boy and a giant peach hits the stage at Community Players on Friday.

“James and the Giant Peach” begins its two-week run at Community Players theater this weekend and promises to make audiences laugh, cry and possibly even dance.

Dahl’s children’s books, which also includes “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Matilda,” are known to incorporate some elements of darkness. Community Players managing artistic director, Jamie Ulmer—who also directs “James and the Giant Peach”—said that one common theme found throughout Dahl’s work is the heroic child character who stands up to tyrannical authority figures, is a reason the works have been so popular.

“One of the great things about Roald Dahl, and why I think his stories have continued on is because, yeah, they're dark and a bit twisted, but they do have that ultimate heartwarming sentiment at their core, with the good guy winning,” Ulmer said. “The good guy who is true to their heart and who is a genuinely good person ultimately prevails.”

Ulmer said he went with a kind of steampunk-meets-Tim-Burton feel for the show, with a color scheme full of grays and purples. He said Burton’s film “The Nightmare Before Christmas” kind of inspired the show’s visual language, as did the show’s artwork, created nearly a year ago by associate director Tyler Rinne.

With songs and music by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul—who were also responsible for the songs in “La La Land”, “The Greatest Showman” and current Broadway smash “Dear Evan Hansen”—the show premiered in 2010 and just recently became available for community theaters to perform.

“This soundtrack has been on random shuffle in my brain for the last three weeks,” Ulmer said. “Just little snippets of songs pop into my head and they just get stuck there.”

“James and the Giant Peach” isn’t fully a children's show, and it’s not a show just for adults, Ulmer said. Instead, it somehow manages to be both. It might be a little scary and dark at times, he said, but it’s a show that children can enjoy without being too young for adult audiences.

“It's Dahl, so there is a little bit of darkness, but you shouldn't be afraid of exposing children to something that's not bouncy-happy all the time,” Ulmer said. “Because the world isn't always bouncy-happy. If you don't have context to frame some unhappiness or some difficulties or some struggles in, how will you know how to deal with it when you eventually have to deal with it yourself?”

“James and the Giant Peach” runs this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with a Sunday matinee showing at 2 p.m. The same schedule will be repeated the following weekend. Tickets are $18 for adults or $12 for students and are available online or at the Community Players box office.

While they haven’t performed for a full audience yet, Ulmer said he got a sign that the show might hit the audience in all the right places. On Wednesday night, during the show’s tech rehearsal, the daughter of the lightboard manager was in the audience.

“She was watching the show for the first time last night and she was like, 'I cried and I was dancing,'” Ulmer said. “Right there, that's a great testament (to) the impact the show will have on audiences.”


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Beatrice man sentenced to prison in drug, burglary case

A Beatrice man with a criminal history dating back three decades was sentenced to prison Wednesday in two separate cases.

Dusty G. Mayhew, 52, was sentenced in Gage County District Court to two years prison for possession of methamphetamine and three years prison for being an accessory to burglary. The two cases will run consecutively, totaling five years, and be followed by 12 months of post-release supervision, which is essentially a term of probation following incarceration.

“You don’t have to live like this, and neither do the rest of us,” said Judge Rick Schreiner before announcing the sentences. “We don’t have to be subject to your criminal ways. You’re ill and you’re not going to get any better. You keep putting methamphetamine in your veins, you’re going to die. For what? You could help others if you would just sober up and straighten up.”

Deputy Gage County Attorney Justin Huber said Mayhew’s criminal history dates back to 1984 and includes a burglary in 1985 and a possession of methamphetamine conviction in 1990.

“It’s the state’s position that he had 33 years to change,” Huber said. “He’s been sentenced to probation, to jail, to prison numerous times, and none of that has changed his criminal conduct.”

Defense Attorney Lee Timan argued that Mayhew, who was in custody Wednesday for an unrelated case, had made use of his time served and has made strides to turn his life around.

“Over the last few months that he’s been incarcerated, I think Mr. Mayhew has actually shown quite a bit of growth and correction in his behaviors,” Timan said. “Mr. Mayhew has a very sincere desire to enter into a rehab program that will address his addiction.”

A warrant was issued for Mayhew after deputies interviewed another man in a burglary case who said Mayhew typically hid stolen items and methamphetamine high in Mayhew’s residence so they wouldn’t be found.

Deputies went to his residence and were given permission by a female resident to search the home, according to the warrant.

On top of the kitchen cabinets, deputies found three silver spoons, two of which had white residue, and an empty syringe.

Elsewhere in the residence, deputies found methamphetamine in a ceramic container, three more syringes and five empty plastic baggies with a white residue. The residue field tested positive for methamphetamine.

Mayhew has a separate case in District Court scheduled for a jury trial beginning Dec. 13. He’s charged with burglary from last December in that case.

Mayhew was sentenced in September in another case to two years in prison followed by 48 months of post-release supervision for failing to properly register as a sex offender.

He was sentenced to three months in prison on a separate charge of driving under suspension in that case, with the sentences being served concurrently.

An arrest warrant was issued for Mayhew last May in the burglary case after items were taken from a Homesville residence.

According to the warrant, the window on a back door of a residence was shattered and around $1,000 worth of items were taken.

A hearing to determine restitution in that case is set for March 7.


Scott Koperski /   

Dusty Mayhew


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Sentence given in stabbing case

A Beatrice man who stabbed someone in the face in 2016 must pay restitution as part of a sentencing order in Gage County District Court.

Brandon C. Hatfield, 22, was sentenced to serve a total of 725 days in the Gage County Detention Center for three charges, including third-degree assault, attempted false reporting and second-degree trespassing.

The sentence was announced by District Court Judge Rick Schreiner, though Hatfield received credit for 391 days served during the pendency of the case, so after credit for good time served was applied, his jail sentence was deemed to have been carried out.

Hatfield previously told the court that $1,991 in restitution to the victim would be paid before the time of sentencing, though indicated on Wednesday he had trouble finding a job. He was given until April to make restitution as ordered by the court.

Hatfield was arrested in November 2016 after the stabbing. The victim stated he had been stabbed in the eye by Hatfield, who was not at the scene when officers arrived.

Court documents state the victim had an obvious injury to his left eye, with blood coming from the area and blood on his shirt. The victim told officers he had been asleep, and woke up when his son’s probation monitor alerted him that his son was leaving the property.

The victim said numerous individuals were drinking alcohol in the front yard and driveway.

He told them he was calling the police and many left, though Hatfield allegedly approached the victim and refused to leave. The victim told Hatfield he was calling the police again, at which time Hatfield allegedly pulled an object the victim believed was a knife from his pocket, flipped it open and approached the victim.

The victim said he took a step back, but felt something stab his eye. The victim was transported to Beatrice Community Hospital, where he was treated and released.


Scott Koperski /   

Brandon Hatfield