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By Luke Nichols/Daily Sun sports editor 

Beatrice's Carley Leners passes the ball during an RCC Tournament game Monday against Omaha Roncalli at the Ozone in Beatrice.

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Council approves Sixth Street rezoning

The Beatrice City Council unanimously approved rezoning a stretch of Sixth Street at its meeting Monday night.

The rezoning of the area across the street from the Dempster building in Beatrice was spearheaded by Matt Ideus, who plans on opening a gun store at 606 S Sixth St. In order to sell products at the shop, the property needed to be rezoned from its general industrial to a general commercial designation, which was recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission during a January meeting.

During the application process, city administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer said, the city looked at other properties in the area that could be rezoned to general commercial at the same time.

“If you remember, several years ago we went and rezoned everything along the highway, most everything along the highway to general commercial,” Tempelmeyer told the council. “The only area we hadn't gotten to was this area down here. So, we had Matt go out and talk to the adjacent property owners as to who else would be willing to go from general industrial to general commercial.”

The city found eight additional parcels of land that could be changed to the designation in the area between 606 S. Sixth St. and 900 S. Sixth St. The area also contains the land where the large grain elevator was demolished in October and stretches nearly all the way to Caldwell Street.

The other parcels of land included on a separate application were both properties belonging to the city of Beatrice and private owners who wanted their land rezoned to general commercial, Tempelmeyer said.

“There's one more property south of here that didn't get rezoned,” Tempelmeyer said. “That gentleman at this point didn't want to be rezoned. You go south of that one, it's all city of Beatrice property and the flood plane. It's still all technically general industrial, but it's in the flood plane, so we did not rezone that one.”

The ordinance rezoning the area passed the council unanimously with all eight members voting in favor.

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Taco John's gives back: Nacho sales fill the shelves at food pantry

For the past few years, the Beatrice Community Food Pantry’s shelves have stayed stocked, thanks in part to Christmassy nachos.

Taco John’s owners Dave and Sheila Rosno donated a check for $3,095.27 to the Beatrice Community Food Pantry on Monday as something that’s become an annual tradition.

Throughout the holiday season, Taco John’s sells Nachos Navidad, served with multicolored chips, and for each one sold, diners have an opportunity to donate $1 or more that will go directly to the food pantry and the customer gets to write their name on a paper ornament to be hung on the wall of the restaurant.

This is about the seventh year for the Rosno’s donations to the Food Pantry, the funds for which are also raised with a cash box for donations and they also run a fundraiser through the sale of less festive nachos.

“The store itself donates 50 cents for every large super nacho that's sold throughout the season and 25 cents for every small one,” Dave Rosno said. “That was like 1,400 or 1,500 super nachos that get sold. That's not just because of this. That's normal.”

The money donated will allow the food pantry to provide much needed food items they’re running low on, said Karen Mains, the food pantry’s coordinator.

Things like potatoes, eggs, margarine, sugar, flour, Tuna Helper and oil don’t get donated as much as other goods, and she’ll be able to keep the shelves stocked.

“I can buy whatever I need now,” she said. “I can buy my staples. It allows me to buy the stuff that we need.”

Other items that can’t be purchased with food stamps are in high demand, she said. She’ll be able to keep a steady supply of personal items like toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, dish detergent, bar soap, shampoo, deodorant, razors and feminine hygiene products.

After the first of the year, donations start to slow down, Mains said. Once the holidays have passed, it’s a struggle to keep food coming in as quickly as it goes out.

With nearly all of the pantry’s supply of turkeys and hams gone after Thanksgiving and Christmas, the pantry is focused on trying to get enough hams in time for Easter, Mains said.

This isn’t the biggest year for donations, Rosno said, that honor went to the first year they worked with the food pantry and raised more than $4,000. They’ll continue to do it, he said, as both Taco John’s and the food pantry work toward the same goal of feeding hungry people.

“We're in the food business,” he said. “It's part of what we do and we sometimes forget that there's people that can't afford to go to the fast food restaurants or even go out to eat just because they can't. It's our way of giving back.”

Court throws out Exmark judgment

A federal appeals court has thrown out a more-than $24 million jury verdict in a patent infringement case that favored a Beatrice manufacturer.

Exmark Manufacturing, which makes lawnmowers, had alleged in a 2010 lawsuit that that Briggs & Stratton Power Products Group and Schiller Grounds Care Inc. were manufacturing mowers that infringed on a patent for multiblade mowers equipped with baffles between blades that allow the mower to be converted from a mulching to a side-discharge mower.

After a 2015 trial in U.S. District Court, a jury decided that Briggs & Stratton had willfully infringed on Exmark's patent and awarded the Beatrice company nearly $24.3 million, an amount the court doubled because of the willful infringement involved.

A three-judge appeals court panel, however, ruled last week that the District Court judge in the case erred when he dismissed a Briggs & Stratton claim that the Exmark patent in question was not valid.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel also threw out the damages award because it said an expert employed by Exmark did not provide an adequate explanation as to how she came up with a 5 percent royalty rate figure on which the jury relied in calculating damages.

Both issues were remanded back to the District Court for reconsideration, including a potential new trial.

A spokesman for Briggs & Stratton declined to comment on the ruling. Officials from Exmark could not be reached for comment.

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Pursuit leads to arrest

A man who fled Beatrice police was later arrested on multiple charges last week.

At around 4 a.m. Thursday, a police officer was east bound on Court Street when he saw a white vehicle approaching him.

The car was traveling at 40 mph in a 35 mph zone. The officer recognized the vehicle as one he'd had frequent contact with, according to Gage County Court documents.

When the officer turned around the vehicle sped up and quickly turned.

The vehicle stopped and a man fled police on foot, court documents state.

While fleeing, the suspect was identified as 19 year old Darrian Norman, who the officer knew to have an active warrant.

Norman was not immediately apprehended and police found a green glass pipe with a white substance inside when they took an inventory of the vehicle. The substance tested positive for methamphetamine.

Police contacted the registered owner, who said Norman was only allowed to drive the vehicle when he had a valid driver.

Norman was arrested later that day and told officers the vehicle was stolen and that he found the keys on a front porch. He denied driving the vehicle or fleeing police.

Norman was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving under suspension, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and obstructing a police officer.

His bond was set at $5,000 with a 10 percent deposit in Gage County Court. His next hearing is Jan. 30.