Not many people can say they’ve had a friendship spanning 88 years, but Grace Frierichs and Katherine Wallman can.
These two 101 year old women first met each other in 1931, when they went through confirmation classes at Zion Lutheran Church in Pickrell.
“We had to go to confirmation on Wednesday and Saturday mornings for two years,” Frierichs said.
Wallman said that the students had to learn High German in order to get confirmed.
“Unless you absolutely couldn’t learn it then some [people] did it in English,” Wallman said.
Wallman and Frierichs were confirmed in 1933. Out of the 30 people in their confirmation class, Wallman and Frierichs are the only ones alive.
Years later, both women moved to Beatrice and joined a group that met to play pitch. Once a month in the evening they took turns playing at each other’s houses.
“Then we got too old,” Frierichs joked.
“Then we would meet in the afternoons and have a light lunch,” Wallman added. “Then we got too old for that, and we met at the senior center. Then one by one we disappeared, and now we’re here.”
Wallman is referring to the Samaritan Springs Assisted Living facility, where she and Frierichs both live.
They still occasionally play pitch on Frierichs’ enlarged deck, but more often they can be found working on crafts and playing bingo together.
Wallman said it was nice to have a close friend living in the same facility.
“But we both can’t hear. And I can’t see,” Wallman said.
As far as the secret to living a long life, Wallman isn’t telling.
“Then it wouldn’t be a secret,” Wallman said.
The Gage County Board of Supervisors is opposing a bill that officials say would hinder wind energy in the state.
Introduced by Sen. Tom Brewer of District 43, LB373 would deal with setback and other regulations for wind turbines.
Lisa Wiegand with Gage County Planning and Zoning said during Wednesday’s regular County Board meeting that the proposal was designed with Cherry County, which Brewer represents, in mind. Applying the proposal to areas like Gage County would be detrimental in three ways, she said.
• The bill requires a three-mile setback from turbines to residences.
• There’s no variable allowed for turbine height.
• The bill strikes the opportunity to take a wind energy issue before a variance committee.
Wiegand said three-mile setbacks would cripple wind energy in Gage County, due to the larger rural population.
“If you look at Gage County and you look at the three mile demographics that’s being proposed, that pretty well places a moratorium on any development,” she said. “Not saying those are for or against, but it’s a moratorium against because of our density and land use is so different.
“When we developed our wind regulations our goal was to create a balance between those people who choose to participate and not participate.”
Gage County’s current setback requirement is 1/3 mile for nonparticipating residences and no setback for participating landowners, which are people who own the land or have contracts for turbine use.
County Board member Matt Bauman questioned why the state would get involved in wind regulations rather than allowing counties to reach their own regulations.
“This is a local issue, why are they trying to make it statewide?” he asked. “This should be a countywide issue… If Cherry (County) wants every three miles, that’s on them. I don’t know why they would try and impose something for the entire state. It’s a local issue.”
The board ultimately voted 6-1 to submit a letter of opposition to the legislature, with Gary Lytle casting the lone vote in opposition. He cited numerous public hearings where residents expressed concern about health issues related to wind turbines as his reason for not wanting to publicly oppose the bill.
“I’m just not comfortable,” he said. “We’ve heard enough conversation in the last year from opponents of wind energy being outside their back door as far as health issues and that. I don’t want to be on the record with this letter.”
Despite hearings at county meetings regarding wind regulations, board member Dennis Byars said it was the county’s responsibility to submit the letter and let senators know its position.
“The problem is when you’re sitting in a committee in the legislature and you don’t hear opposition then you start to feel that people are in support of the bill that we have introduced,” he said. “The committee wants to hear if we’ve got problems and don’t think it’s a good idea. If we just ignore it, then we just give up.”
State senators will discuss the bill during a Thursday hearing.
Prosecutors allege a Beatrice man recently convicted of possessing child pornography sexually assaulted two children during a 14-year period in Lincoln, according to court documents.
Scott A. Buck Sr., 50, faces two counts of first-degree sexual assault of a minor, together punishable by up to 100 years imprisonment.
In an arrest warrant affidavit, an investigator said Buck repeatedly assaulted his victims between December 1990 and December 2004. Both of the children knew him.
The alleged abuse didn't surface until last spring, when a state investigator detected Buck had child pornography.
In May, law enforcement investigators found numerous child porn videos on a desktop computer in his Beatrice home, according to court documents.
After the discovery, investigators interviewed Buck's alleged victims, the arrest warrant affidavit said.
Buck was arrested Monday at the Gage County jail and brought to the Lancaster County jail.
He had been awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to three counts of possession of child pornography in November. He faces up to 60 years in prison at his sentencing next month.
Buck appeared in Lancaster County Count Tuesday afternoon and was ordered not to contact either of his accusers or anyone younger than 18.
He remained in jail on $750,000 bond.