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Cold weather doesn't stop kids from enjoying Trunk or Treat at Midland

A blustery wind and temperatures in the 40s didn’t stop hundreds of kids and parents from trick-or-treating Thursday evening on the campus of Midland University.

Although the kids’ costumes were hidden by puffy coats and stocking hats, their smiles were not, as many braved the weather to attend Trunk or Treat & All Halls-O-Ween.

The events were a collaborative event held by Midland University, the Fremont Family YMCA and Sinai Lutheran Church, and provided a creative way for the community as a whole to come out for an evening of fun to get an early jump on the Halloween festivities.

More than a dozen vehicles, with their trunks decorated in various Halloween themes, lined Logan Street as children and families made their way down the road collecting candy and other goodies at Trunk or Treat.

Fremont Family YMCA decorated one of their buses with a spooky haunted house theme, while the Midland Dance Team dressed in M&M’s costumes and tried to dance away the cold.

Local residents Tim Jorn and Lynette Venzor even rode their motorcycles to the event, which were decorated with bride and groom skeletons riding as passengers.

It was the pair’s first time participating in the Trunk or Treat event.

“Actually the dentists locally are paying me off,” Jorn joked. “I did a Trunk or Treat at one of the churches here in town previously, but I like doing stuff that benefits people and I don’t mind getting out in the cold.”

Jorn and Venzor relied on their riding leathers to keep them warm at the event, but other Trunk or Treat participants went with a more traditional approach.

“I made sure to dress in layers, that’s the way to go when it is this cold,” Diana Myers said.

Myers has participated in several Midland Trunk or Treat events throughout the years, and decided this year to decorate her car with a quintessential Halloween theme.

“I went with a pumpkin theme, and a few cobwebs in there, nothing too extravagant but wanted to make it festive,” she said.

For Myers, and most of the Trunk or Treat participants, doing something for the kids made the event worthwhile.

“I just love coming out and seeing all the kids in their costumes,” Myers said.

After kids made their way through the line of cars at Trunk or Treat, they got a respite from the cold and made their way into several residence halls for the All Halls-O-Ween portion of the event.

For All Halls-O-Ween, Midland students decorated commons areas of their residence halls and provided games and candy for all of the kids.

Students in Beegle Hall went with a superhero theme and had several games for all the trick-or-treaters including a short shuttle race and the old carnival favorite milk carton game where kids threw balls to try to knock over three cartons stacked on top of each other.

At Benton Hall kids got the chance to play a variation on the birthday party favorite, pin the tail on the donkey. Instead of pinning the tail on the donkey, kids pinned the eye on a monster that looked very similar to the character Mike Wazowski from the Disney classic “Monsters Inc.”.

Following their trips to all the residence halls, attendees finished off the night with coffee, juice boxes and a picture background for the children all provided by Sinai Lutheran Church.


Local
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Gift-filled shoe boxes bless kids worldwide

It’s a record Charlotte Young hopes to break.

Last year, Fremont area residents packed 2,051 shoeboxes full of toys, school supplies and hygiene items as part of Operation Christmas Child.

Gift-filled boxes such as these go to children throughout the world — not only with toys, but with information about Jesus Christ.

Young is a drop-off center coordinator at First Lutheran Church of Fremont. This is the 12th year that the church has been a drop-off site for the boxes.

There are a couple things donors need to know this year.

For one, no candy or toothpaste will be allowed due to increasing customs regulations. Such items can be considered as food and may cause delays or even rejection of the boxes.

Donors are asked to put a bar of soap in a sandwich bag, because moisture could come out of the soap and cause damage due to temperature changes in different countries.

Shoebox packers also are asked to contribute $9 per box. Although that’s a $2 increase from last year, the funds are used for many things including: shipping to more than 100 countries, teacher training and books the children receive.

Besides getting a little booklet about Jesus with their Christmas box, children are invited to take a 12-week discipleship course with another book. When they graduate, they get a New Testament Bible. All materials are printed in the children’s own languages.

A $9 check can be enclosed in the box or donors may follow their box by paying online at https:/www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child

Young hopes many area residents will participate in Operation Christmas Child.

Area residents wanting to take part may use any regular-size shoebox.

Next, donors decide if they want their box to be for a boy or girl, and the child’s age category: ages 2-4; 5-9; or 10-14 and mark that category on the box with labels from a brochure or downloaded from the Samaritan’s Purse website.

Donors can print out a label from their computer and attach it to the box. They also can print out a receipt for tax purposes.

Important things to pack are school supplies, hygiene items and a “Wow!” gift like a doll, stuffed animal, an outfit to wear, a small musical instrument like a harmonica or a deflated soccer ball (make sure to include a manual air pump so the ball can be re-inflated).

“Paper and pencils are the most important, because some kids can’t go to school if they don’t have a pencil,” Young said.

She recommends sending a pencil sharpener along. Donors also may pack pens, crayons, markers, coloring and picture books, stickers, notebooks, writing pads, playing card games, and dry watercolor sets.

Besides a bar of soap, hygiene items can include a toothbrush, hairbrush and wash cloth.

Other items can include hats, scarves, mittens, shoes, socks, flip flops, shirts, pants, underwear, tote bags and hair bows.

Toys may include: small cars, foam balls, finger puppets, a Slinky, jump ropes, yo-yos, toy jewelry, watches, $1 solar-powered calculators.

As in the past, lip gloss and glue bottles, which are liquids, cannot be included. Nor can balls with liquid glitter inside. Glue sticks are allowed.

Young said the boxes most needed are those for boys ages 2-4 and 10-14. Box items for the older boys can include flashlights with extra batteries, a ball cap, comb, T-shirt, socks, work handkerchiefs, work gloves, a tape measure, sunglasses, calculator, school supplies, shoes or flip flops.

Donor can bring their boxes to First Lutheran Church between 5-7 p.m. Nov. 13-17; noon to 3 p.m. Nov. 18-19 and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 20.

Young said the gift-filled shoe boxes not only touch the lives of the children who get them, but their families.

“They see how the children change for the better,” Young said. “Sometimes, the kids have been misbehaving and once they start learning about Jesus, they calm down and work together because they’re excited to share.”

Any questions about items to pack in boxes can be emailed to: occinfo@samaritanl.org.gift


Local
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Fremonter recalls conference experience

For Nadia Karnatova, a gift-filled shoe box didn’t only bring joy at Christmas.

It was an answer to a parent’s prayer.

Growing up, Karnatova was one of nine siblings in a Christian family in Ukraine. Her story was shared during a Global Connect conference in Florida.

Fremonter Charlotte Young, a drop-off center coordinator for Operation Christmas Child at First Lutheran Church, attended that event last summer.

Operation Christmas Child is a Samaritan’s Purse project in which donors pack standard-size shoe boxes with gifts that are sent to children around the world.

Each box is given with a booklet called, “The Greatest Gift,” telling about Jesus in the child’s own language. They then have an opportunity to take a 12-week discipleship course called, “The Greatest Journey.” When they graduate, the children receive a New Testament Bible in their own language.

Young enjoyed the Florida conference.

“I had the most amazing time at the Global Connect, where over 4,000 people attended from around the world,” she said.

Young and others at the conference were able to meet people who help distribute the shoe boxes and teach the discipleship programs.

“They are so amazed by us — that we care enough to send gifts to kids who we don’t even know and we are so amazed of all the work they do on their side to get the boxes to the kids and to share the good news of Jesus with them,” Young said.

Christmas boxes are carried on the backs of camels and elephants. The boxes are transported in makeshift boats or carried on the heads of volunteers.

“It was so fun to step out of our comfort zone and go up and ask others to exchange and tell what they do,” Young said. “We went to eat our meals, we would find others to sit with and visit from other countries.”

Young is featured in an Operation Christmas Child video with a woman named Rasa from Lithuania, which was filmed at the conference. That video may be seen at: https://video.samaritanspurse.org/both-sides-of-the-shoebox-volunteers-2/

Young loved meeting Rasa.

“Now seeing our video, my heart is so full!” Young said.

While at the conference, Young heard Karnatova’s story, which also is shared on a video on the Samaritan’s Purse website.

In the video, Karnatova tells how her mother would pray all night when the family had no food and that “Jesus would always answer.

“Jesus is so amazing and when you put your trust in him, he’ll never let you down,” she said.

Karnatova was 10 years old when her mother took her to a church where she received one of the gift-filled shoe boxes.

“That Christmas, she could not give us a gift, but Jesus did through Operation Christmas Child,” Karnatova said.

A Barbie doll was in Karnatova’s shoe box.

“I was so excited about my Barbie,” Karnatova said.

Karnatova would let her friends take the Barbie home for a “sleepover,” not seeing the doll for days, but the child was happy to be able to share her toy.

Today, Karnatova lives in America, where she’s the mother of three children.

“I can only imagine how thankful and relieved my mom felt that day, watching all nine of her children play with new toys and be so joyful,” Karnatova said. “She never knew that one day her children would come to America and be able to give back.”


Govt-and-politics
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County Board creates new probation office fund, amends matrix

The Dodge County Board of Supervisors approved an amendment to create a fund for the construction of the new probation office at their meeting on Wednesday.

The board held a public hearing to consider amending the 2017-18 County Budget, specifically to increase the budget and revenue by $1,015,000 each by creating a new Probation Office Construction Fund.

“We needed to create a separate fund to pay the bills from, we just couldn’t write them out of the General Miscellaneous budget so we created the Probation Office Construction Fund,” Supervisor Bob Missel said.

The creation of the Probation Office Construction Fund was approved by the Board of Supervisors at the meeting, and appropriated with $1,015,000 with revenue received from the sale of bonds.

“The funding had already been preapproved at a prior meeting but we needed an account to put that money into,” Missel said. “We were literally waiting to deposit that check to do the action.”

Along with the creation of the Probation Office Construction Fund, the board also approved an amendment to the County Budget to increase the appropriation in the Probation Office by $25,000 and decrease the General Miscellaneous budget by $25,000.

“The $25,000 was to cover some fees related to the bonding program, we don’t think it will end up being that much, but to meet state statute we needed to do that publicly because it effected our budget,” Missel said.

With the current probation office at 320 N Main Street’s lease ending, and the need for more space, the Board of Supervisors previously decided to move the office and construct a new building at 2860 W 23rd Street, which is expected to open in 2018.

“The probation office serves not only Dodge County, it serves multiple counties, so all the counties share in the cost but because it is in Dodge County we manage it,” Missel said. “Everybody is very pleased with the new probation office and it appears to be of tremendous value for what we are going to gain out there.”

Another topic of discussion at the meeting was possible amendments to the Nebraska Livestock Siting Assessment Matrix. The matrix was adopted by the board in a previous meeting, and according to Missel the intent was for the matrix to be used as a tool by the Planning Commission.

At the meeting, the Planning Commission requested the removal of an item from the matrix, which stated “If the points scored is 75 points or above the property owner shall be granted a Conditional Use Permit”. The request by the planning commission was based on the wording of “shall be.”

“Initially the Planning Commission was saying we needed to remove that because the matrix is a tool for the process, it doesn’t guarantee that they are going to approve it,” Missel said. “What we said was to leave that sentence in there because that 75 points is an important metric or level to reach and that is the way it was designed. So we just changed the wording from ‘shall be granted’, to ‘shall be considered’.”

The Board of Supervisors approved a motion to send their recommended amendment to the Nebraska Livestock Assessment Matrix back to the Planning Commission for approval. If approved by the Planning Commission, it will come back the board in November for final approval.

The next Dodge County Board of Supervisors meeting will be held on November 8 at 9 a.m.