The fluorescent lights in the gym were turned down and white Christmas lights were strung from the basketball hoops, looking the part of a winter high school dance, but all the dance partners were separated by a few feet in height.
Friday night was the seventh annual Father-Daughter Dance at the Beatrice YMCA, where dads and their daughters get all dressed up to show off their dance moves.
The event has become an annual tradition, said Beatrice YMCA CEO Alison Leonard, and it's a growing tradition at that. This year, they expected 125 guests, up from 119 last year and 50 people the first year. It would have been more, but they ran out of seating for everyone, she said.
The dance has also become an important tradition for many families, Leonard said, including her own.
“My daughter is too old now to come, but my husband and daughter have kept this day as a forever day now,” she said. “They're going out to dinner tonight.”
When the dads and their daughters arrive, they can get their photos taken. This year, Leonard said they’ll get to take the photo home in a special frame that allows daughters to write in what they love most about their dads and also allows the fathers do the same about their daughters.
After the photos, it’s onto the dance floor. There are some slow dances and some fast dances, Leonard said, but really, it’s all a way for fathers to connect to their kids and for participants to get a chance to dress to the nines.
Shaun Petet and his daughter, Hadley Petet, were at their first father daughter dance. Hadley was wearing a dress with a sparkly top and Shaun was dressed in a black suit with a red tie.
“I have one and I was like, I need a second time to wear this,” Shaun said.
In order to prepare for the dance each year, the YMCA closes the gym for the afternoon leading up to the dance, and helpers put up lights and decorations, turning the workout space into something magical.
The dance also features a cupcake walk that gives the kids a chance to go home with some dessert, but there’s also a sit-down dinner that is kid-friendly, Leonard said.
“The dads will get to enjoy chicken strips, cheesy potatoes and corn,” she said. “Then, we'll have punch and the tables will have candy on them for the kids to take home.”
The YMCA’s mission is to create opportunities for families to build their relationships, Leonard said. The father-daughter dance is a fun way for kids and parents to do some bonding, she said.
“The daughters are looking to their fathers and modeling what they are going to be looking for in husbands someday,” Leonard said. “So, the more bonding that we can do and the more opportunity for them to build on their relationships, the better relationships they're going to have some day when they get married and have children.”
Shaun Petet said he hadn’t practiced too much dancing in anticipation of Friday’s event, but his daughter, Hadley, had no doubt in his ability.
“You remember how you did at Laura's wedding?” Hadley asked him, reminding him of his skills on the dance floor.
“I do remember that at Laura's wedding,” he said. “I did dance there.”
“Do that same thing,” Hadley said. “Do it, do it!”
He may have taken audiences to the furthest reaches of the galaxy, but Gene Coon got his start in Beatrice, Nebraska.
Though he may be best known for his work as a writer and producer for the original “Star Trek” series, Coon's story in the world of showbiz started right here in Nebraska where he started singing on the radio in Omaha at the age of four, and later spent part of his teen years as a newscaster for KWBE in Beatrice.
Next weekend, the Gage County Classic Film Institute—a part of the Gage County Historical Society—will host a program dedicated to the Beatrice-native and his work in the entertainment industry. The three-day program will feature a symposium and screenings of Coon’s work on TV science fiction and westerns, and it will include a visit from a very special guest who worked with Coon.
On March 2 at 6 p.m. at the Beatrice Public Library, the Gage County Classic Film Institute kicks off “Gene Coon: From Beatrice, Nebraska to Star Trek and Beyond” with a presentation by “Star Trek” writer David Gerrold and a screening of “The Trouble with Tribbles.”
Gerrold is the man who invented Tribbles and gave Captain James Kirk his middle name, “Tiberius.” He will be signing books and giving a presentation before the screening, which will be free of charge.
In his time, Coon was a big name in classic western TV shows like “Bonanza,” “Maverick,” “Have Gun – Will Travel,” “The Wild Wild West” and “Wagon Train.” But his work with the “Star Trek” series may be what he is most famous for. Coon created Klingons, gave Starfleet Command its name and came up with the character of Khan.
“He was very famous as a writer with the original Star Trek,” said Leigh Coffin, who serves on the Gage County Historical Society board.“ His stories actually developed the ongoing relationship between Dr. McCoy and Spock and Captain Kirk.”
Saturday, March 3 is the lengthiest day of the program. Starting at 9 a.m. at Community Players Theater, film historian Jeanelle Kleveland will discuss Coon’s TV westerns and librarian Laureen Riedesel will give a presentation on Coon’s Beatrice roots. Following the program, a 1960 “Bonanza” episode called “The Ape” and a 1963 “Wagon Train” episode called “The Emmett Lawton Story” will screen at the theater.
From there, the program heads to Valentino’s at noon for a question and answer session moderated by Omaha film historian Bruce Crawford.
At 1:30 p.m., it’s back to Community Players, where Gerrold will discuss Coon’s contributions to “Star Trek,” followed by screenings of 1967 episodes “The Devil in the Dark” and “A Taste of Armageddon.”
The Saturday morning and afternoon sessions are covered by a $35 ticket that can be purchased at the Gage County Museum during business hours or online at eventbrite.com by searching for “Gene Coon.”
There’s another free screening on Saturday night at 7 p.m. at the Beatrice Public Library featuring “The Questor Tapes,” a Coon-written TV movie about an android searching for its purpose.
On Sunday afternoon, the Beatrice Public Library will also be offering a free screening of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”—which features Gerrold playing a crew member.
Beatrice Public Schools’ director of business affairs, John Brazell will be leaving Beatrice and heading to McCook Public Schools to work as the district’s business manager.
On Feb. 12, the McCook School Board approved Brazell’s contract for the position which will begin on July 1.
Brazell has been with Beatrice Public Schools since 2010 but tendered his resignation to the Beatrice Board of Education back in November of 2017. Brazell cited restructuring in the district’s administration, following Superintendent Pat Nauroth’s planned departure, as his reason for leaving in November.
The district recently went from a four-person administrative staff down to three people, which will start in the 2018-2019 school year. In December, the school board approved Jason Alexander to replace Nauroth, who gave his resignation notice in September of 2017.
Brazell’s job in McCook—which is about 200 miles east of Beatrice—will be similar to the position he’s worked in Beatrice for the last eight years, he said.
Brazell has a bachelor's degree in music education from Hastings College and two master's degrees from Kansas State University—one in curriculum and instruction and another in education administration. Brazell also has an educational specialist degree from Wayne State University.
He started his career in education as a music teacher and band director until the late 1980s, when he began to suffer from hearing problems. He moved into administration and worked as a principal before moving on to become the superintendent of Freeman Public Schools until 2008. He then served as superintendent of Anita Public Schools in Iowa until he was hired as the business manager at Beatrice Public Schools in 2010.
Brazell, whose salary for the 2017-2018 school year was $110,565, will stay on as director of business affairs until his contract expires in June of 2018. According to the McCook Gazette, Brazell’s new contract is for $120,000.
Brazell said that he still has to find a place to live in his new district, but that he appreciates his time at Beatrice.
“You're always going to miss the people and the relationships that you've built,” Brazell said. “I'll miss those the most.”
Two men were arrested on Thursday night after Beatrice Police said they were found in a marijuana smoke-filled vehicle with two children.
Ryan K. Matthews, 29, and Emmanuel X. Beach, 18, were arrested on Feb. 22 on two counts each of child abuse, a class 3a felony, and possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, a misdemeanor. Matthews was also arrested on two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, possession of drug paraphernalia and a child restraint violation.
On Feb. 22 at about 7:30 p.m., Beatrice Police officers were dispatched to the 900 block of Ella Street following a report of a white Chevy pickup blocking a driveway.
The reporting party said that she believed the pickup was occupied and that the occupants were aware that she was trying to leave her driveway, but they refused to move. The woman also told dispatchers it appeared that they were smoking something inside the truck.
Upon arrival at the intersection of N. 10th and Ella streets, Beatrice Police officer Derrick Hosick said he saw a white pickup pulling out of the alleyway, and as the truck pulled alongside the vehicle, Hosick turned on his light to initiate a stop.
As Matthews, the driver, rolled down the pickup's window, a large amount of smoke allegedly billowed out and into Hosick’s face, he said in a report. He identified the smell as burnt marijuana.
Hosick said he saw Beach in the passenger seat, along with a 15-year-old male in the back passenger seat and a two-year-old child in the center backseat with no seatbelt or child car seat.
The officer asked where the marijuana was located and all the vehicle’s occupants said they did not know of any marijuana. Hosick said he spotted a large bud of cannabis on the center console.
Hosick said he removed the toddler from the smoke-filled truck and all passengers were transported to the Beatrice Police Department.
A large sandwich bag containing about three quarters of an ounce of a green, leafy substance was discovered during a search of the vehicle, underneath where the 15-year-old male had been sitting. A pipe was also discovered on the floorboard of the front passenger seat, with a freshly-packed, unsmoked bowl. Matthews said the pipe did not belong to him.
A search of a bag that had been sitting on Matthews’ leg found a matching piece of the pipe, filled with burnt and fresh marijuana. Matthews said that the pipe was his, as was the bud on the center console, but the marijuana in the sandwich bag was not.
Matthews was read his rights. The Department of Health and Human Services allowed police to read the Miranda Warning to Beach, a state ward, and both men were then questioned about the incident.
Matthews declined to discuss the incident, but Beach told officers that he had been in the pickup for about five minutes.
Beach said that he was an active cannabis smoker, but said he hadn’t smoked any inside the pickup. Beach also said he hadn’t seen anyone smoking cannabis in the vehicle.
Beach said that the others in the pickup were not responsible for anything and allegedly told officers that they could take him to jail if they wanted. Beach also said he did not know who the bagged marijuana or the pipe between his feet belonged to and said he did not know the pipe was at his feet.
The two men were taken to the Gage County Detention Center for booking on Thursday night and at a bond hearing on Friday morning, the two men were released on their own recognizance and are scheduled to appear in court again in March.