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Evan Nordstrom / Fremont Tribune 

Shelby Bretschneider of Midland University tips while Casey Krolikowski, left, and Logan Drueppel of Hastings go for a block during a match last season at the Wikert Event Center. Bretschneider is a returning starter at right side hitter for MU.

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Summer Reading Program once again proves to be successful

Every summer, hundreds of area children, teens and adults dedicate a portion of their time to bettering their minds through the Keene Memorial Library Summer Reading Program.

Kicking off May 25, the Summer Reading Program wasted no time engaging, challenging and enhancing all who participated. One of the major goals of the program is to ensure that students of all ages don’t lose reading comprehension through summer learning loss, Librarian No. 2 Laura England-Biggs said.

England-Biggs has coordinated the Summer Reading Program for years now, and her passion for it hasn’t wavered an ounce. One of her goals, she said, is always just to find a way to get students through Keene Memorial Library’s doors; the rest usually takes care of itself when they become immersed in the tales that lay within a book’s binding.

During a Thursday interview with the Tribune, England-Biggs spent some time enthusiastically speaking about this year’s summer reading results.

“We had a really good summer of reading this year,” she said. “We ended up with 315 people signing up to read, and of those people, 203 actually logged minutes, which is a 109-percent increase from last year from 186 (logging minutes).”

Of the total amount of people signing up to participate in the Summer Reading Program – 226 children, 25 teens and 64 adults —, England-Biggs said that 64 percent logged reading minutes. This year’s reading goal in terms of minutes logged was originally 283,500 minutes, however, England-Biggs said that number was adjusted to 191,835 minutes.

The goal minute mark was determined, she said, based off of 945 minutes reading over the course of nine weeks, multiplied by 300 readers.

As of Tuesday when England-Biggs calculated minutes, the total stood at 153,171 minutes, meaning 80 percent of the goal was accomplished. While the goal wasn’t quite met, England-Biggs doesn’t think much of it considering she always sets lofty reading goals.

“You aim high because at least that way you land among the stars,” she said.

Another positive from this year’s Summer Reading Program was that a record number of readers earned digital badges through Beanstack, the reading database. These digital badges recognize reading accomplishments and progress being made.

To earn a single badge, readers had to put in 110 minutes of work. This year, readers earned a grand total of 1,243 badges.

“We saw a 150-percent increase in the number of badges earned this year,” she said. “That’s a huge plus that we saw.”

In addition to reading, participants in the 2017 program once again had the opportunity to attend Special Program Mondays, where a variety of fun, entertaining shows and activities were held. Special Program Mondays are a great way to pique prospect readers’ interest.

“It always engages people, it brings them through the door, and once we get them through the door we can really show them everything we do,” she said.

While England-Biggs is once again highly satisfied with the results of the Summer Reading Program, she knows that there is always room for improvement. One idea being tossed around, she said, would be to potentially host some sort of Winter Reading Program to provide another outlet for community members to get involved.

Simply watching children find passion on a book’s pages is what it’s really all about for England-Biggs.

“It’s really fun to watch kids explore and find new books,” she said. “And just come up with an armful of books, and then knowing that they are going to come back tomorrow to return them because they will read through them that quickly. And then they just want more and more.”

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Sweden's Sofia Talvik to perform at May Brother Building on Sunday

This weekend at the May Brothers Building local residents will get the chance to hear live music brought all the way from Sweden.

Critically acclaimed folk musician Sofia Talvik will make a stop in town as part of her “5000 Mile Tour” as she is set to play at the Pioneer Theater in The May Brothers Building, 105 E. 6th Street, at 7 p.m. on Sunday.

The tour will take Talvik from Tallahassee, Florida, all the way to Valley Center, California when it wraps up in October.

“Its going to be a bit of the drive, but we have some fun stops on the way,” Talvik said. “We are going to be in Lincoln for the eclipse but we are still trying to find the goggles.”

Talvik who is originally from Sweden, now based in Berlin, Germany is an Americana singer songwriter whose music has an “unmistakable Nordic flavor.” She performs solo with an acoustic guitar with all of her original lyrics in English.

“All my original songs are in English but I do sing some Swedish folk songs,” she said. “Those are a good way to break up the set and do something different, and a lot of places that I play, not many Swedish artists come through there.”

Along with sharing Swedish folk music with American crowds, Talvik also likes to share her own stories while on stage.

“Im sort of a talker,” she laughed. “So I like to share my stories in between songs, so hopefully my goal always with my concerts is to make people feel comfortable and to make them feel like they get to know me a little bit and just to create a nice comfortable atmosphere and for everyone to have fun and enjoy themselves.”

Talvik’s discography contains 12 releases including her most recent full-length studio album “Big Sky Country” which was released in 2015 and was inspired by a previous tour across the U.S. that included 37 states and lasted over a year and a half.

“Most of the album was inspired by that long tour,” she said. “I got to see a lot of the U.S. and meet a lot of people, so that kind of emerged into songs that became that album.”

Talvik plans on releasing two new albums over the next year including a Christmas album that has already been recorded and another full-length studio album that she is still writing.

“I am planning on starting recording for the new album once I get to California, but hopefully I’ll have some new songs by then,” she said.

“I don’t have all the songs that I need yet, so I am planning on writing a few on this trip as well.”

Tickets to the show at The May Brothers Building are $5 for floor seating and $10 for balcony seating and can be purchased online at

For more information and upcoming tour dates visit Talvik’s website

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Eye protection important when viewing upcoming solar eclipse

On August 21st people from coast to coast will gather to view a rare solar eclipse as the new moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun.

A large swath of Nebraska will also be in the path of totality, running from the Northwest corner to the Southeast, bisecting the entire state.

While taking the time to view the natural phenomenon is highly recommended, it is important to remember to take proper safety precautions when looking directly into the sun.

“People shouldn’t be afraid of it, they should definitely get out and just take proper precautions because it should be a once in a lifetime experience,” Dr. Steve Samuelson, Ophthalmologist at Fremont Eye Associates, said.

“We plan on shutting down our office and heading down to Lincoln and checking it out.”

The number one item needed for safe viewing is solar filters, usually found in the form of eclipse glasses, that block the harmful rays of the sun while still allowing wearers to view the eclipse.

Eclipse glasses should be worn at all times when viewing the 2-3 hour eclipse, unless you are viewing from the path of totality.

“If you are in that path of totality you have anywhere from less than a minute up to three minutes depending on where you are at on the path, where you can actually take off your glasses and use your naked eye,” Samuelson said. “In fact it is recommended to do it that way to really take in the whole experience better.”

Eclipse glasses should be worn at all other times during the eclipse, and if you are not in the path of totality the glasses need to be worn for the entirety of the eclipse.

“If you are outside the path, and Fremont is outside the path, that means you need adequate protection the entire time,” Samuelson said.

“That is three hours that you are at risk.”

Not taking proper precautions can lead to permanent eye damage that comes with looking directly at the sun.

“The danger is the intense solar rays can end up damaging our retinas and can end up leading to permanent visual loss,” he said. “When we look at something we use a very small portion of our retina to give us our fine detail vision and that is the portion that the solar rays would be focused on.”

It’s as simple as something your mom probably told you as a kid:

‘Don’t look directly at the sun’.

“It is the intensity of the energy of those solar rays that damage the photoreceptors in our retina that is too much to handle,” Samuelson said. “We’ve got the natural reflex to turn away form the sun when we look at it, and that is because it is bad for us.”

It is important to remember that regular sunglasses will not protect your eyes from the intensity of the sun, and if viewing with binoculars the solar lenses need to be placed between the binoculars and the sun.

“If you have binoculars, do not look through the binoculars with your eclipse glasses on, the filter has to go on the other side of the binoculars in order to filter the suns rays,” Samuelson said.

“Otherwise the solar rays are going to be focused by the binoculars onto the eclipse glasses and that can damage the filter and put you at risk of eye damage.”

Welding lenses can be used, but need to be at least a No. 14 filter to adequately block out the harmful rays.

Also, eclipse glasses and solar lenses should not be used if they are scratched or damaged, and there is an easy way to tell if your eclipse glasses are up to snuff.

“Looking through the eclipse glasses in a well lit room, you don’t see anything at all,” Samuelson said. “That is one way to check if your eclipse glasses are adequate, it should look totally black.”

Samuelson encourages everyone to go see the impressive natural phenomenon, but to just take the proper precautions when doing so.

“Everybody should try to see the eclipse, and in the path of totality that is when it is a really special event,” he said. “One of the most spectacular natural phenomenon we are going to be able to see in our lifetime.”