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lnichols / By Lee Enterprises 

Bill Moos talks with members of the University of Nebraska- Lincoln administration following a press conference Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017, at Memorial Stadium, where it was announced Moos would take over the athletic director roll from current interim athletic director Dave Rimington.

Kindergartners pick a winner at Korner Pumpkin Patch

They stared, steely-eyed at the gourds and squash that awaited them. The kindergartners from Paddock Lane Elementary were lined up, single-file, ready to pick out their dollar pumpkins.

Nothing could stop their singular pursuit of the perfect pumpkin.

Then a small cat strolled by. As it flicked its tail, most of the kindergartners broke free of their lines and ran to pet it, to the cat’s delight.

“When we're walking around picking our pumpkins, I bet one of the kitties is going to want to come and snuggle,” kindergarten teacher Ashley McConnell told her class. “You will find a kitty to pet.”

The Paddock Lane kindergartners made their yearly visit to the Korner Pumpkin Patch just outside of Beatrice last week. It was more than a chance to find a cool-looking pumpkin, it was a learning experience.

Jill Jobman, who led the school group around the pumpkin patch, started off the afternoon with a quick lunch before reading two short books about where pumpkins come from, one about the growing cycle of the pumpkin and the other about how many seeds are in a pumpkin.

“People usually think the bigger pumpkins have the most seeds,” Jobman said, “But the smaller pumpkins usually see more seeds.”

From there, Jobman led the three groups of kindergartners on a tour of the patch, through the lines of pumpkins, past the fields where squash was still growing on the vine and into the barn full of pumpkins, squash and decorative corn.

The kindergartners from Paddock Lane were one of many schools from around the area—including Lincoln Elementary, Freeman and Pawnee City—making the yearly trek to the pumpkin patch.

The kids, who by this time were aching to get out there to find a pumpkin to call their own, posed patiently for class photos before lining up to pick out the best pumpkin they could find for a class project.

“We're going to do a pumpkin book report,” McConnell said. “They will pick out their favorite book and then they will decorate their pumpkin as their favorite characters in their book.”

One of the numerous pumpkin patch cats wandered through, a small black and orange tortoiseshell cat, and was quickly covered in kindergartner hands before running off.

The kids took their time going over the dollar section of pumpkins. Some were deemed too warty, some were to flat, and some just weren’t quite "pumpkiny" enough.

“A lot of these funny looking ones are actually a type of squash that you can eat,” Jobman told the kindergartners. “So, not only are they good for decoration, but after you're done, you can eat them too.”

After picking out their pumpkins, the kids loaded them onto wagons which would meet them back in the classroom. Then they retired to splash around in a plastic pool full of corn kernels, while some found an orange and white cat who was more than willing to have his belly rubbed.

Courthouse work continues

Work to restore the stone exterior of the Gage County Courthouse started last week, and could be a nearly two month project.

Workers from Masonry Construction began work this week on the west side of the building, according to courthouse building and grounds manager Dave Jones.

“They just got started and had a bit of a rain delay,” Jones said. “Hopefully we’ll have some good weather so they’re expecting at least close to seven weeks worth of work on that side.”

In early September, the County Board of Supervisors approved the latest three rounds of work on the courthouse, focusing on the west side.

Since 2014, Masonry Construction has been progressing around the historic building, restoring problem spots in phases.

Repairing the west wall will cost $45,313. Another phase to remove caulking, as well as repointing and washing the chimney, will total $5,113, while another phase to wash, remove sealer, repair walls and correct joints on the northwest corner will cost $41,313.

The three phases of work total $91,739, with some additional items being included in the cost.

“In the past, some of those repairs weren’t an exact match, but in time with moisture they do change color and so they’re figuring out they have to paint on a die that will change that color a little bit, so they’re zeroing in on that,” he said. “That portion, there’s no charge on that.”

Gage County has a building fund, which had around $300,000 available for building maintenance at the time the work was approved.

The long-term plan is to do a different portion of the building each year to restore the stone.

An unknown number of years ago, the entire stone exterior of the courthouse was coated in a sealant that’s now causing water to bead up, rather than absorb, whereas the stone should be allowed to “breathe.”

Kansas inmates arrested after escaping jail

MARSHALL COUNTY, Kans. – Two Kansas inmates are back in custody after a escaping the Marshall County jail at gunpoint on Saturday.

Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents, the Crime Scene Response Team, and the Kansas Office of the State Fire Marshal responded to conduct the investigation.

Shortly before 4 p.m. Saturday, inmates lit a fire in a cell, causing smoke to fill the Jail. Two inmates, 46-year-old Jeffrey S. Guenther, and 30-year-old Matson Z. Hatfield allegedly forced their way through the jail, obtained two shotguns and then exited into the Sheriff’s Office parking lot.

A press release stated it was believed that while the two inmates were fleeing, a civilian county employee’s tan 2004 Dodge Ram pickup truck was stolen at gunpoint, and shots were fired at a Marysville Fire Department truck.

A responding Marysville Police Officer fired at Guenther in the fleeing truck. Meanwhile, Hatfield reportedly fled on foot to a residence nearby the Jail, and fired shots toward a male subject standing in front of the residence.

Hatfield was acquainted with the residents of the home. A short time later, Hatfield surrendered to an officer from the Marysville Police Department.

Guenther fled the area in the stolen pickup truck and headed north on Highway 77, across the state line into Nebraska. He was pursued by Marysville Police until he rolled the truck and was apprehended in rural Gage County, not far from the Kansas/Nebraska state border. The Nebraska State Patrol investigated the accident scene.

While being arrested, a trooper detected the smell of alcohol. A breath chemical test revealed an alcohol level of .087, according to Gage County Court documents.

Guenther was arrested in Gage County for second offense DUI, willful reckless driving and operating a motor vehicle to avoid arrest. He appeared in Court Monday, where bond was set at $10,000 with a 10 percent deposit.