The Beatrice Educational Foundation named Dr. Christine Ellis as the newest member if its Hall of Fame and also recognized former teacher Louise Penner as the 2018 Friend of Education during a ceremony Sunday night.
Ellis graduated from Beatrice High School in 1983 and practiced veterinary medicine for 12 years before going on to work at the Centers for Disease Control where she researched mosquito-borne illnesses. Currently, Ellis works at the National Wildlife Research Center, researching wild animal species.
She began her career at the National Wildlife Research Center developing rabies vaccines for wildlife, like raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes and mongooses. She’s currently working on a research project to diagnose bovine tuberculosis in animals, for which she received a fellowship in 2014.
Retired Gage County Extension Educator Paul Hay introduced Ellis, saying he’d known her since he started at the Extension in 1980, back when Ellis was a young 4-Her with a horse named Gidget.
“It's an incredible honor for me to be back in Beatrice,” Ellis said. “I don't live here anymore, but Beatrice is never far from my heart.”
Ellis said that she was the type of kid who came out of the womb wanting a horse. Every birthday, she’d ask her parents for one and, when she was five, her dad told her she’d have to save her allowance if she wanted a horse.
When she was 12, she’d saved $750, which was just enough to buy a horse, but it still needed to be housed, so she would get on her bicycle and ride to every farmhouse in town, asking if they had a pasture she could use.
She found one farmer willing to offer some land and rode her bike back home, rehearsing a speech in her head.
“I rode my bike back home and prepared my speech and delivered it to my parents at the dinner table,” Ellis said. “And, thankfully, my dad remembered that conversation he'd had with me as a 5-year-old.”
She had to work hard to keep up with her horse, but it led her down a path into veterinary medicine and eventually to where she is today, Ellis said.
“I've just had a really blessed career,” Ellis said. “It all started here in Beatrice.”
Louise Penner graduated from Beatrice High School in 1937 and spent the rest of her life in education. She graduated from UNL and began teaching in a one-room schoolhouse near Beatrice, which was one of 150 one-room schoolhouses in Gage County at the time.
She taught in several local rural schools and eventually moved on to teach at Holmesville Elementary School. Penner got married and left the school system but continued to teach Sunday school and vacation bible school.
She was later hired by Beatrice Public Schools as a study hall monitor. During her 10 years in the position, she earned a loving nickname after helping students with school and personal problems, said foundation board member Mark Engler.
"We didn't call her Mrs. Penner," Engler said. "We called her Mom."
The Beatrice Educational Foundation presented 42 scholarships at the 2018 Scholarship and Hall of Fame Program on Sunday afternoon, worth a total of $80,275 for Beatrice High School students to use in furthering their education.
They’ve come a long way since their first year, said presenter and foundation board member Kay McKinzie.
McKinzie began the ceremony with a quote from Benjamin Franklin, who said “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
“That's what we hope to be doing as we give our students their scholarships today,” McKinzie said. “We're investing in them, gaining their knowledge with the idea that they're going to return interest back to their communities, their families and to themselves.”
Among those scholarship recipients honored Sunday were:
Mikayla Linn Bletscher, who will attend Cloud County Community College to major in sports medicine, took home the Virgil and Rhoda Pethoud scholarship for $500.
Allison Carothers, who is currently attending the University of Nebraska—Lincoln and will be conducting research on how environmental toxicology affects sea turtles in Mexico, received the Klaus Dueck Scholarship for $1,250.
Dillon Dean Damme, who will major in software engineering at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, was awarded the Fred and Virginia V. Vette Scholarship for $6,000.
Hannah Joy Drent, who plans to become a middle school math teacher after attending Peru State College, received the Lela A. Blas Scholarship for $500.
Arial Jean Eggert, who will major in elementary education at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, received the Peter W. Jepsen Scholarship for $1,700.
Brayden James Frerichs, who will attend University of Nebraska—Lincoln and major in agronomy, was awarded the Amber (Goossen) Schroeder Scholarship for $1,500.
Jessica Marie Fujan, who plans to major in architecture at University of Nebraska—Lincoln, received the George W. McNenny Scholarship for $250 and the Brandon Villafane Scholarship for $2,000.
Monica Jane Fujan, who plans to major in civil engineering at University of Nebraska—Lincoln, received the Irene Sokolik Scholarship for $750.
Benjamin Bryan Garland, who will major in aerospace engineering at Iowa State University, was awarded the Virgil Jurgens Scholarship for $375 and the Flint Hills Resources Discovery Scholarship for $1,500.
Colton Montgomery Gronewold, who will major in mechanical engineering at University of Nebraska—Lincoln, received the Fred and Virginia V. Vette Scholarship for $6,000.
Elijah James Havekost, who will major in physical therapy at University of Nebraska—Lincoln, received the Harold Deitmeyer Scholarship for $500.
Austin Dean Hinz, who will major in physical therapy at Nebraska Wesleyan University, was awarded the Beatrice High School Class of 1961 Scholarship for $700.
Tessa Anne Hoffman, who will attend Nebraska Wesleyan University before a career in health research, received the Frances V. Fellwock Reed Scholarship for $7,000.
Rachel Hoffman, who is majoring in elementary education at University of Nebraska—Lincoln and will be studying abroad in Scotland this summer, received the Klaus Dueck Scholarship for $1,250.
Jerad B.G. Humble, who is planning a career in financial advising and will attend University of Nebraska—Lincoln, received the Karla Hays Loving Heart Scholarship for $1,000.
Michala Marie Janzen, who plans to major in physical therapy at Southeast Community College, took home the Don Linn Scholarship for $700.
Jenna Leigh Junker, who will be majoring in physical therapy at University of Nebraska—Lincoln, was awarded the Neil and Alison Henry Scholarship for $2,500.
Kole Thomas Jurgens, who will be a diversified agriculture major at Southeast Community College, received the $150 Eighth Grade Leadership Beatrice Class VII Scholarship.
Whitley Clarice Kleveland, who will attend University of Nebraska—Lincoln to major in music education, was awarded the Esther L. Damkroger Scholarship for $250, the Margaret Kassing Scholarship for $1,000 and the Robert Taylor Scholarship for $5,000.
Nathan James Lancaster, who will major in agricultural engineering at University of Nebraska—Lincoln, received the Fred and Virginia V. Vette Scholarship for $6,000.
Trevor John Schmale, who is planning a career in ministry after attending Moody Bible Institute, was awarded the Perley and Bessie V. Bates Scholarship for $400.
Haley Lauren Sexton, who is planning an ultrasound technician career after attending University of Nebraska—Lincoln, won the Virgil and Rhoda Pethoud Scholarship for $500.
Graham Larkin Southwick, who will attend Nebraska Wesleyan University to pursue a financial advisor career, took home the Fred and Virginia V. Vette Scholarship for $6,000.
Samuel Austin Steffen, who will pursue a career as a farm manager after attending University of Nebraska—Lincoln, received the Diane Cornelius Scholarship for $350.
Samuel Carter Streeter, who plans to be a medical researcher after attending Nebraska Wesleyan University, was awarded the Colin Hays Legacy Scholarship for $1,000, the Neva and Ernest Smethers Scholarship for $1,000 and the Peter W. Jepsen Scholarship for $1,700.
Evan J. Sueper, who will attend South Dakota School of Mines and Technology to major in computer engineering, received the Frances V. Fellwock Reed Scholarship for $7,000.
Jamison Elizabeth Theye, who will attend University of Nebraska—Lincoln to major in accounting, received an Eighth Grade Leadership Beatrice Class VII Scholarship for $150, the Max Manes Scholarship for $1,000 and the Fred and Virginia V. Vette Scholarship for $6,000.
Angela Marie Thornburg, who will attend University of Nebraska—Lincoln to pursue a career in global leadership, took home the Delvin Koch Scholarship for $500.
Abigail Marie Witulski, who plans to be a certified nurse midwife after attending Missouri Western State University, was awarded the Leatha A. Grimes Scholarship for $100, the Colin Hays Legacy Scholarship for $1,000 and the Greg Replogle Scholarship for $1,000.
Joseph Vaugh Wright, who is planning to attend the University of Nebraska—Omaha to major in software engineering, received the Ben Stindt Scholarship for $1,000, the Flint Hills Resources Discovery Scholarship for $1,500 and the Peter W. Jepsen Scholarship for $1,700.
An Oklahoma man was arrested in a Beatrice motel after the smell of marijuana was reported to police.
At around 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Beatrice police were dispatched to Holiday Inn in Beatrice for reports of people smelling marijuana.
As police approached the room the smell seemed to be coming from, a male opened the door and the room was full of smoke.
Three males and a female were inside the room, and 23-year-old Leroy D. Harper allegedly said the marijuana was all his. He turned over a box to police that contained marijuana.
Court documents state that inside the box was a large brick of marijuana in a baggie and a second bag of large clumps of marijuana. The two bags totaled nearly 1/2 pound. A large wad of cash totaling $1,360 was also found in the room.
Harper was removed from the room and gave police permission to search the room for a scale he told them was inside. Another baggie of marijuana was found in the room, as was a gun case that held an unloaded Winchester shotgun and an loaded Glock handgun magazine. A Glock 27 handgun was located in a drawer. The gun was loaded and had a bullet in the chamber. Records checks confirmed the handgun was stolen out of Oklahoma.
Harper was placed under arrest for possession of a firearm while committing a felony, possession of a stolen firearm, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana, possession of drug money and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Harper's bond was set at $7,500 with a 10 percent deposit. His next hearing is set for May 8.
Fourth graders at Stoddard Elementary School in Beatrice built their own wax museum on Friday and filled it with famous Nebraskans.
There were 41 students playing the part of Nebraskan celebrities who included Arbor Day founder J. Sterling Morton, professional baseball player Alex Gordon, legendary Husker football coach Tom Osborne, Robert Taylor, Daniel Freeman, Fred Astaire, Johnny Carson, Father John Flanagan and even the likes of 14-year-old YouTube and “Dance Moms” star Jojo Siwa.
The students had to remain perfectly still until someone pushed their information button that made them "come to life" and explain why they were an important part of Nebraska history.