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JAMES FARRELL, Fremont Tribune 

Fremont's first solar farm, can be seen near the power plant. The city has begun the process of building a second farm due to high demand.

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Commission votes to recommend SunRidge zoning change

The Fremont Planning Commission voted to recommend approval of a proposed zoning change for a parcel of land within the proposed SunRidge Place housing development Monday at its regularly scheduled meeting.

The request came from Dodd Engineering & Surveying, LLC seeking approval of a zoning change, on behalf of Don Peterson and Associates, Connie & Paul Barron, and Luanne & Gary Ehmcke.

They are requesting 4.8 acres of the land in the SunRidge housing development be changed from RR Rural Residential zoning to GC General Commercial.

The 4.8 acre tract of land is a small part of Don Peterson & Associates’ proposed SunRidge Place housing development which is a multi-use development including apartments, townhomes and duplexes to the south along Jack Sutton Drive, with single family houses along the northern border of Military Ave and a small area of commercial space in the northeast corner of the property.

The commission decided to recommend approval of the change, by a vote of 7-1, after continuing consideration of the proposed change during its January 15th meeting.

The recommendation for approval came after much opposition to the proposed change by residents in the area, many of whom are concerned about the proposed convenience store’s proximity to Fremont Middle School and Johnson Crossing Academic Center.

“You just built Jack Sutton drive and as soon as you put up apartment buildings it will be obsolete, it won’t be big enough to handle the traffic,” Alan Fanning, who lives near the proposed development on Johnson Drive, said at a previous meeting. “Plus you have hundreds of kids walking along the street there and you’re going to put all this traffic right along those kids. I just think it is a really bad idea and I would really recommend that the Planning Commission deny the change.”

Additional concerns addressed over the proposed housing development over the past several meetings included: Flooding concerns, high volumes of traffic, sewage backups, decreased property values and a culture change in an area consisting largely of schools, parks and churches.

During a recent interview with the Tribune, Don Peterson & Associates’ Marlin Brabec pointed out that the City of Fremont and Fremont Public Schools have both been supportive of the proposed development and that SunRidge Place is the last piece of the puzzle in that area which includes past Don Peterson & Associates developments in the area like Day Acres, Day Acres East, Brentwood Park and Heatherwood.

“We are very experienced in what we have done, and we have always had a good product and this will be a good product, and I think it is important for people to remember that we don’t build junk,” he said.

With the recommendation the City Council will consider the proposed zoning change at its next regular meeting on Feb. 27.

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Oakland to celebrate 150th anniversary

You can hear the excitement in Melanie Johanson’s voice.

And other Oakland residents would agree there’s much to be excited about.

From May 25-28, the small community about 30 miles north of Fremont will celebrate its 150th anniversary with a host of activities.

Included in these events is a concert by the multi-award-winning country music band Sawyer Brown, a parade, fireworks, barbecue, quilt show, Humanities Nebraska speakers, a tractor and car show, and the burial of a time capsule.

“We like to throw a big celebration for these landmark anniversaries,” said Johanson, secretary of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce.

Plans and fundraising for the celebration have been in the works for about five years and Johanson said the event is being made possible through generous donations from present and former community members.

“We still have a few things to finalize,” she added.

Yet many plans have been established.

The Sawyer Brown concert will start at 8:30 p.m. May 27 at the Burt County Fairgrounds in Oakland. The band is known for songs such as “The Walk,” “The Boys and Me” and “Some Girls Do.”

Preceding Sawyer Brown will be a performance by the Dylan Bloom Band. Bloom, who has performed for eight years, released his first album, “Strong in a Small Town” in 2012 and “Population 1213” in 2016.

Bloom will perform at 7 p.m. that Sunday.

There is general admission seating. Tickets are $25 each until April 30. After May 1, tickets will be $30 each. To purchase tickets, go to:

Earlier that Sunday, the award-winning Pathfinder Chorus will perform in the Oakland-Craig High School gym. The internationally known barbershop, a cappella chorus will sing at 2:30 p.m. May 27 and will be joined by the Oakland-Craig choir for a few songs.

Oakland will also have a parade starting at 4 p.m. that Sunday.

Area schools are invited to enter their marching bands and communities are welcome to have entries, Johanson said.

Those interested in entering the parade may call Sue at 402-685-5005 or Randy at 402-380-1565.

The parade will end at the Burt County Fairgrounds and a barbecue will start at 5 p.m.

Area residents need not wait, however, until May 27 to take part in the four-day celebration.

Activities begin on May 25.

A king and queen will be crowned during opening ceremonies that Friday at the Oakland-Craig football field. Nominations for king and queen will be accepted.

Royalty will be chosen based on community service and people who were born and raised in Oakland.

Winners of the Oakland Sesquicentennial Beard Contest will also be announced.

The contest will feature several categories such as fullest and longest beards. The event will also include mustache categories.

A little more fun has been added to this contest.

“Those who decide not to grow beards can be thrown in ‘jail.’ They will need to purchase ‘shave permits’ to prevent being locked up,” Johanson said.

The idea for a beard contest came from a celebration in 1963.

“We thought it would be fun to do again,” Johanson said. “I’ve seen some people already sporting beards.”

Two bands, The Lip and Sons of the Purple Onion, will perform that night at the football field.

That Friday’s events will be capped off with a fireworks display.

Various activities are planned for May 26.

They begin with a 5K fun run which starts at 9 that Saturday morning in Oakland City Park. Sign up will be at 8 a.m.

The Tory Baldwin Memorial Golf Tournament, which raises funds for scholarships, is also planned at 9:30 a.m. at Oakland Golf Club.

Those who enjoy quilting may want to make a road trip to Oakland, where the Logan Valley Quilters Guild is planning a two-day event.

The quilt show will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday in the Oakland Craig Elementary School gym along U.S. Highway 77.

Plans are to display 150 quilts in observance of the sesquicentennial.

“Some of these quilts will be over a century old,” Johanson said.

History-lovers may want to make the trek to Oakland as well for Humanities Nebraska programs, which are free and open to the public.

On May 26, Sara Brandes Cook will talk on “Nebraska’s Winding Road to Statehood: In the Footsteps of a Female Settler.”

Cook’s presentation starts at 1:30 p.m. that Saturday in the Swedish Heritage Center on U.S. Highway 77 in Oakland.

Cook is a professor of political science and history at Peru State College.

Quilters can appreciate a program by Yvonne Hollenbeck, who’ll present “Patchwork of the Prairie.”

Hollenbeck’s talk will start at 12:30 p.m. May 27 in the Oakland-Craig Elementary School gym.

Hollenbeck is an award-winning quilter and will present a trunk show with approximately 40 family quilts.

Car buffs can motor over to Oakland for an event geared toward them.

The tractor and car show is set from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 27 on the town’s main street, which is called Oakland Avenue.

A homemade craft show is set from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 27 in the veterans’ building on Oakland Avenue. There will be a craft that children can make.

Activities on Memorial Day will include a barbecue, open to the public, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the veterans’ building.

The time capsule will be buried at 1 p.m. May 28 outside the veterans’ building.

Many more activities will be part of the celebration and Johanson hopes area residents will pay a visit to Oakland.

“We’re a town of 1,200, but we’re quite the self-sufficient little town,” Johanson said.

For more information about the 150th celebration visit, or call 402-685-5005.

Brent Wasenius / Evan Nordstrom / Fremont Tribune 

Samantha Shepard of Fremont High launches a shot during a December game in the Al Bahe Gymnasium. Shepard scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds as the Tigers beat Lincoln Southeast 66-40 on Thursday in the Heartland Athletic Conference Tournament. 

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Woman cleared up misconception on town's founding

Exactly when was Oakland founded?

A few years ago, Millicent Troupe was determined to set the record straight.

Troupe was a homemaker and community volunteer who spent thousands of hours researching and compiling history about Oakland.

Her desire to see Oakland’s history accurately preserved had her researching historical records and visiting cemeteries for information.

Troupe made notes from hundreds of microfilmed newspaper accounts and studied the personal writings of pioneer families.

One misconception she wanted to see corrected was about the date of the town’s founding.

Troupe would write a book, called “Oakland History Revisited,” chronicling the early history of the town — and clearing up that misconception.

And before her death in 2016, the 93-year-old woman saw her book printed.

In her book, Troupe tells about the area’s early history.

The Aaron Arlington family first settled in the Logan Creek area in 1857, when Nebraska was still a territory.

They lived on the site that became Oakland from that year until 1862.

In May 1862, they moved a spot six miles south of Decatur.

A Norwegian, named John Oak, and his wife Inger, homesteaded north of Tekamah in July 1855.

In 1866, they moved west and took over the log cabin built by Arlington, Troupe’s book states.

Settlers started moving into Logan Valley in 1866 and 1867.

Oak helped them file their homestead claims in Omaha and gave them temporary shelter in his log cabin.

His cabin was the site of the first school board meetings, the book states.

In 1868, settlers presented a petition to the Burt County supervisors asking that the new town be named “Oakland” in John Oak’s honor.

Troupe cites that date as the year when Oakland was founded.

The Oakland Post Office was established that year and Oak was the first postmaster. The post office was in his cabin.

In 1869, Oak resigned and moved to a settlement called Lodi, near Homer, where he invested $1,500 in a grist mill.

Oakland celebrated its centennial in 1963 probably because a granite marker in front of the Burt County Courthouse in Tekamah lists “Oakland founded 1863.”

But Troupe’s findings indicate the town actually was founded in 1868, when it was named and the post office was established.

Therefore, she said, the 150th anniversary should be in 2018.

John Oak served as the postmaster of Lodi. He died on Dec. 17, 1875, in Dakota County and is buried Taylor Cemetery.