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Library program benefits children, parents

Brandon Gerardo didn’t have to be coaxed into reading.

The boy smiled and eagerly read aloud a few lines from the children’s book, “Ira Sleeps Over” by Bernard Waber.

Brandon was among local youngsters taking part in Prime Time Family Reading Time.

The six-week program is designed to help children read better and promote family interaction.

It takes place from 6-8 p.m. Mondays at Keene Memorial Library, 1030 N. Broad St.

“We target those families whose children struggle with reading,” said Jess Hill, Library Assistant III.

At the same time, the program has many children, like Brandon, who clearly excel at reading.

“It really works out,” Hill said. “The kids are able to work together and help each other.”

Hill has been pleased to see children – who once were frustrated about reading and didn’t like it – enjoy it now.

“It is a really beautiful thing,” Hill said.

She noted something else.

“They get into discussions and you can see how involved they become with the characters and the themes,” she said.

And suddenly, the child who wanted nothing to do with books, now can’t put them down.

The program begins at 6 p.m., with a meal.

“We serve something different each week,” Hill said.

One week, families were served Chinese food. This week, lasagna was on the menu.

At 6:30 p.m., the children are divided into two groups.

Preschool-age children go with a coordinator for age-appropriate activities.

In a small building across from the main library, Dawn Gilfry read a storybook to little children with Katie, a golden retriever, nearby. Gilfry is the Top Dog handler for Katie, a Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog.

At the same time, older children, ages 6 to 10, stayed with their parents to read books together in the main library’s auditorium.

“We read two books each week,” Hill said.

The books are chosen based on factors such as cultural relevance and the writing and language. Many have won awards.

Books that have proven popular with children this session have included: “Annie and the Old One,” by Miska Miles and “The Rough-Face Girl,” by Rafe Martin and David Shannon.

One of this week’s books was “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein.

The program is bilingual. Most of the books are in English and Spanish. Both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking families come to the program. Some families speak both languages.

Storytellers help read the books with the children. The children take turns reading aloud and a storyteller helps when they get stuck on words.

“The parents take turns reading aloud as well, which is really great, because English-speaking parents will try reading in Spanish and Spanish-speaking parents will try reading in English and they encourage each other,” Hill said. “It’s really amazing just to see the community coming together.

“This is the only place where I see that kind of interaction and I’d like to see more of it. We want to see this program continue and build it up.”

Hill also has been amazed to see adults get out of their comfort zones and try to learn a new language.

Many Spanish-speaking families have encouraged their children to be fluent in English, which Hill thinks is good.

“But now we’re seeing a lot of these Spanish-speaking children, who actually are forgetting their original language. They don’t know Spanish anymore. They can’t read Spanish,” Hill said. “I’m meeting a lot of families who are coming to Prime Time for that reason. Their children have become disconnected from their heritage and they’re trying to (have the children) relearn Spanish so when they visit with family they can actually speak with their family.”

That’s the case for the Nico and Chrissy Pitterson family of Fremont.

“We want our kids to have an opportunity to have interactions in Spanish, because their dad’s family is Hispanic and we want them to be able to communicate with them and be connected to that part of their culture,” said Pitterson, who homeschools her five children.

At the same time, Hill said, Spanish-speaking parents want to learn more English.

The program helps, because these parents aren’t only reading in English, but interacting with English-speaking families during the meal.

Hill said sessions have been limited to 25 families. Some sessions have been full. There is a smaller group this fall with 10 families signed up.

“The fall attendance tends to be smaller than in the spring,” Hill said, adding that the last session will be Nov. 20.

Families can still join the fall session, but won’t be able to complete the program, because it’s in the middle of its six-week period.

To register, families can complete a form at the library.

“But I would welcome them to come and participate, learn what the program is about and then maybe in the spring, they could complete the program for the full six weeks,” Hill said.

Funding for the meals comes from Humanities Nebraska. That organization received funding from the WK Kellogg Foundation, Nebraska Cultural Endowment, the State of Nebraska and an individual, Carol Gendler.

Children’s Librarian Laura England-Biggs started the program at Keene in 2013. Hill hopes to see the program expand.

“We are definitely going to continue the program,” Hill said.

Pitterson said her family has been involved in Prime Time for two years.

“The library has a lot of stuff for little kids so it’s nice to have something focused on the elementary kids,” Pitterson said.

Local artists featured at Blue Cat

Fremont native Kara Kloke began making collages after her sister, Kim Zach, started assembling her own pieces from old books, letters and magazines.

“She has been into it for a little bit longer than me, but once she started actually doing collages I just kind of jumped into it,” Kloke said.

When Kloke, a dental assistant by trade, started creating the pieces of art made from patchworks of different paper materials glued together to create a new image, it was a just a fun way to decorate her home.

“I just made them for myself because I like to decorate my house with them and then started giving them to my family because they all said they really liked them,” she said.

After starting her work on collages two years ago, and giving them out to relatives for birthdays and other celebrations, Kloke is now taking her artwork to the next level as it will be featured at the Blue Cat Gallery & Studio in Wayne as part of the month long “Under Two Hundred” exhibit.

Kloke and Zach’s collages will both be featured during the exhibit that will run from November 3 through December 23 at the Blue Cat Gallery, 114 W. Third Street, in Wayne.

“They’re great for something for my father for Father’s Day, or my mom’s birthday and giving them away as gifts and now we’re kind of taking the next step because they will actually be for sale,” Kloke said. “Were trying to find out how much an interest there is and how much further we are going to pursue it.”

Along with Kloke and Zach, the “Under Two Hundred” exhibit will feature a wide variety of area artists, who work in a wide variety of mediums.

Both artists work has a distinct vintage feel as they peruse garage and estate sales for old stationary, books and magazines to create their collages.

“We both use a lot of old books and decorative pages, sheet music, old piano books — handwritten letters are really nice to include,” Kloke said. “We kind of call it found papers, we end up tearing the books apart. We don’t like tearing good books apart, but ones that are fraying and falling apart that people are just going to throw away. “

One of Kloke’s pieces that will be featured in the exhibit, titled “Vitalized Chemistry”, was created with old chemistry books that she found at an estate sale of a former patient.

“She actually only lived a few blocks away from me and I walked over and introduced myself to her son and they said I could take any books I wanted. I hadn’t even known that she had a degree in chemistry, but there were all these books from the 40s and 50s,” Kloke said. “So the collage features her things from the workbook, like little doodles and equations that had to do with chemistry. So we really like to use any of that hand written stuff in the collages.”

Kloke will have six of her collages featured at the exhibit and most are sized around 10X10” with frames.

Along with all of the artwork at the “Under Two Hundred” exhibit being featured from Nov. 3 to Dec. 23 there will also be an open house weekend planned for Nov. 16-18.

There will be a reception for the artists on Nov. 16 from 5-8 p.m., where many of the artists will be in attendance. The reception is open and free to the public and coincides with the Wayne Main Street Christmas event.

There will also be a drawing for visitors to win one of several gift certificates from Blue Cat as well as other items. Entrance to the drawing is free, and the actual drawing will held on Nov. 18. Entrants do not need to be present to win.

The “Under Two Hundred” exhibit features a variety of art mediums and artist from around the region. Artists include: Michael Fluent, Barbara Hayford, Nicole Listerfelt, and John Hughes all of Wayne along with Annette Leu (Waterbury), Kari Kollars (Randollph), and Jan Johnson (Wakefield).

It will also include Leroy Von Glan and Lavonne Nightengale of Norfolk and Jerene Kurse of Columbus, among other artists from around the state and Iowa.

For more information, people are encouraged to visit

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Dwyer ends campaign for District 16 seat

Arlington resident Michael Dwyer announced that he would be ending his campaign for Nebraska’s District 16 legislative seat on Monday.

Dwyer cited personal health concerns as a contributing factor for the announcement to end his campaign.

“Over the last five months, I have worked to balance my faith, family, business, community involvement and the campaign. Unfortunately, and unexpectedly, I have not been able to achieve that balance and it has taken a toll on my health,” Dwyer said in a statement released Monday.

“In consultation with my doctor and, of course, in conversations with my rock and my champion, my wife Gail, it has become clear that to restore balance to my life and begin to regain control of my health it is necessary to end my campaign for the Legislature.”

Dwyer initially announced his campaign for the District 16 Legislative seat, which encompasses Burt, Washington and Cuming counties, on June 12th.

The seat is currently held by Bancroft’s Lydia Brasch, but will be open in 2018 as Brasch has reached the end of her term limit. Brasch and former Governor Kay Orr both offered their support for Dwyer shortly following his announcement to run for the seat in June.

“This was a very difficult and personal decision because of the amazing support from so many people for my campaign,” Dwyer said. “I want to thank the many friends and supporters who have given so much by way of campaign donations, walking in parades, volunteering in other ways, and of course the prayers of support.”

When Dwyer initially announced his run, his key policies revolved around a strong advocate of public safety, being a pro-life Christian and being a leading advocate for Nebraska’s death penalty.

Dwyer is a volunteer firefighter, Emergency Medical Technician and a 34-year member of the Arlington Fire Department. Released information shows that Dwyer volunteered as Washington County’s Emergency Manager and was formerly the chairman of the Arlington Planning Commission. He also spent 12 years spent on the Arlington Board of Education and also served on a legislative committee for the Nebraska School Board Association.

Although Dwyer is ending his campaign, he vowed to continue serving his community.

“Rest assured that Michael Dwyer isn’t going away,” he said in a released statement. “I will continue to look for ways to serve my community and state in the years ahead.”

With Dwyer leaving the race, Former University of Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook of Lyons remains the only candidate for the District 16 seat.

Hassebrook, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2014, announced his candidacy for the position on Aug. 30.