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Student’s proposal gives kids WiFi

Nine Fremont Public Schools students now have access to WiFi at home, thanks to a project by Fremont Middle School seventh-grader Beau Shanahan.

The project was part of the Fremont Area Community Foundation’s Youth Philanthropy Contest, an annual contest that invites area youth to pitch philanthropic projects and receive funding to carry them out.

Beau’s project, however, is different from many of the others that have been approved in the past. It’s the first time in its four-year history that the Youth Philanthropy Contest will fund a pilot program, one that aims to provide several area households with WiFi for a year.

Beau says he got the idea after Fremont Public Schools recently provided new Chromebooks to every Fremont Middle School student, as part of a drive to give each student access to their own Chromebook.

“Kids don’t have WiFi at home,” Beau said. “With our new Chromebooks, everything is going to be on the Chromebooks — at least most of everything is.”

According to Melissa Diers of the Fremont Area Community Foundation, Beau came to the Foundation with “a great question”: How would the new Chromebooks affect kids who don’t have access to WiFi at home?

“The schools are wonderful about anticipating those kinds of issues whenever they embrace new technologies or provide these opportunities for students and families, but there’s only so much that the schools themselves could do,” Diers said. “So we thought, as a community, maybe we could explore this alongside with Beau and see if this is something that we need to try and find a way to make a sustainable program.”

As part of the project, the schools will collect data to see if the selected students see academic improvement with WiFi access at home. Throughout the course of the year, Beau will have to keep the Fremont Area Community Foundation updated on his findings and present a final evaluation on what the data shows.

For the project, Beau worked with Fremont Middle School teacher Jayme Bieker and assistant principal Todd Niehaus. He presented to school faculty and administration to explain his project. School faculty then helped Beau identify the students and families who would be eligible.

Beau also got help from the Fremont Public Schools Foundation, who offered to match the Fremont Area Community Foundation’s $1,000 grant. That additional money will either go toward extending the amount of time that the households will have access to the WiFi, or toward adding additional households to the program.

After meeting with faculty, Beau then met with the families of those students to pitch them his idea. There, he learned about some of the issues that families have faced without WiFi, says Beau’s mother Shawn Shanahan.

One family with four kids told Beau about their challenges.

“They were taking one of their kids to the library every single night because someone had homework,” Shanahan said. “And so they were pulling a parent out of the home environment and taking them to the library so that the kids’ homework could be completed.”

Beau also met with Spectrum, the company who would be providing the WiFi, to work out the logistics.

On Thursday, Beau and the Fremont Area Community Foundation presented a check to Fremont’s Spectrum location. In the end, eight households signed up for Beau’s pilot program, and four are currently set up to receive WiFi. Between all four houses are nine students from seventh grade up to the high school level.

“The project originally started off with seventh grade, just Beau’s team — it then grew to seventh grade as a whole,” Shanahan said. “But what we’ve also learned because of it being a pilot is that it’s nine students throughout our education system from seventh grade to high school that had the need, and were in the household with the seventh grader.”

Long-term, once the data is collected and Beau presents the findings, Diers says they will discuss the pilot program’s efficacy and how to proceed.

“With a pilot, it’s a learning opportunity, so we’ll see,” Diers said. “We’ll see if this makes a difference.”

Beau said that it felt “really good” to carry out the program.

This year’s batch of seven projects selected for the Youth Philanthropy Project will receive more than $6,000 in funding. Recently, North Bend Girl Scouts Charity Vyhlidal and Alexa Brodd presented 100 comfort blankets to members of the Dodge County Mutual Aid Association.

Other projects have included “Project Santa,” which features Archbishop Bergan Key Club members providing presidents to youth at the Jefferson House, and a 4-H club’s efforts to sew and fill bags with hygiene products for the residents of Care Corps.


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Fremont Parks and Recreation Department offer youth summer activities

With all the snow on the ground, it may hard to imagine that summer is coming.

But Nate Schwanke is getting ready.

Schwanke is recreation director for the Fremont Parks and Recreation Department.

And he’s already looking ahead to a full slate of summer activities.

From playground programs to baseball to tennis and swimming, the local parks department has a wide range of activities for children and youth during the summer.

The long-running Tiny Tots and Kids Park Play programs continue to be popular and families are urged to get youngsters registered as slots fill up quickly.

“Last year, we had some fill up by noon on the first day,” Schwanke said. “They fill up really fast.”

Signup starts at 8 a.m., starting March 19. Parents may register their children online at www.fremontne.gov or in person on the second floor of the city’s municipal building at 400 E. Military Ave.

Costs for the programs vary. A 2019 Summer Activity Guide with more details was inserted into the Fremont Tribune and Fremont Area Shopper.

Tiny Tots is a nine-week outdoor program for children ages 3-5 that takes place at various city parks. Games, songs, water fun and in-town trips are part of the program. There are two groups with 15 children each. Participants must be age 3 by June 1 and completely potty-trained.

Kids Park Play is a nine-week program for youth from kindergarten through sixth grade. Children are registered for one park of their choice and may go five times a week at designated days and times. Children must be able to use the restroom independently. Activities include swimming, bowling, arts and crafts, tours, a talent show, dodge ball, games and other activities.

“It’s a fun program for kids to go out in the summer and still have some structured play and get to see their friends,” Schwanke said. “It’s fully supervised by our trained staff. You get a T-shirt and there are some in-town trips that are made as well.”

Many children enjoy these programs.

“They’re really popular programs with the kids,” Schwanke said. “The kids love them. A lot of friends get together and they all want to be at the same park. The people who are friends know that if they want to get into the same park they have to sign up early.”

Schwanke said about 30 children take part in the Tiny Tots program each year and between 150 and 160 are in the Kids Park Play.

He notes the benefits of these programs.

“It’s a structured play where they’re still engaging and learning rather than just sitting on the couch or in unstructured play throughout the summer,” Schwanke said.

The parks and recreation department has baseball and softball programs, too.

Lil’ Sluggers is for boys and girls who will be 4 or 5 years old by June 1 and who’ve not completed kindergarten. Emphasis will be on the development of basic baseball skills. This is a co-ed league.

Youth baseball is for boys and girls who are 5 or 6 years old by June 1 and have completed kindergarten. The league stresses learning fundamentals and having fun in a non-intimidating environment.

Volunteer parents serve as coaches in both leagues. Practices take place for one hour, once a week at area parks and are scheduled by the coach at the coach’s meeting. Games take place in the evenings, Monday through Wednesdays at Christensen Field in Fremont. No games will take place during the week of July Fourth.

Participants must provide their own properly fitting glove.

The parks department co-sponsors tennis for youth through the Fremont Family YMCA and the Fremont Tennis Association. The program is open to youth ages 4-16. Participants need not be a Y member, but registration is at the YMCA. The registration deadline is June 3.

Ronin Pool and Splash Station will open on May 27. Ronin Pool hours are noon to 7 p.m. Splash Station hours are 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

If the air temperature hasn’t reached 70 degrees Fahrenheit by 3 p.m., the pools may not open. If a pool has fewer than 10 swimmers for an hour, the pools may close.

Children must be 6 years old to come to Ronin Pool without supervision.

At Splash Station, children must be 9 years old to come without supervision and those 6 years old and younger must be supervised by an adult — within an arm’s reach at all times.

Riders must be 48 inches tall to ride the yellow slide at Splash Station and 52 inches tall to ride the blue slide. Only U.S. Coast Guard-approved lifejackets are allowed in zero depth (no water wings). Coolers are not allowed inside the facility.

The parks and recreation department also offers a Learn to Swim class for children who must be at least 5 years old or who’ve graduated from Kinder Swim Level 1. Sessions are available at Splash Station and Ronin pools.

A Kinder Swim program is available for children ages 3 and 4 only at Splash Station. Graduates of Kinder Swim are eligible to take Level 1 Learn to Swim program.

Due to donations from businesses and the public, the Friends of Fremont Area Parks, Inc., is able to help families with program fees.

To be considered for financial assistance, families must complete a financial assistance request form. These forms are available at the parks and recreation office at 400 E. Military Ave., second floor.

One annual, free event is the Citywide Pet Show which takes place indoors at the Christensen Field Main Arena. This event is set for June 26. Registration starts at 12:30 and closes at 1 p.m., when judging starts.

Children may bring their dog, cat or miscellaneous pet to be judged. Ribbons are awarded in a host of categories such as longest ears, best dressed or most spots. Trophies are awarded to the grand champion in each division. All pets must be in a cage or on a leash.


Brent Wasenius / Kim Mruz / For the Fremont Tribune 

Grant Frickenstein (15) and Jake Ridder (5) of Fremont Bergan apply defensive pressure to Brandon Rasmussen of Fullerton during Thursday's opening round of the Class D-1 boys state basketball tournament. Frickenstein scored 31 points as the Knights won 73-64.


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Winning Powerball ticket purchased in Fremont

A $1 million Powerball winning ticket was sold at a Fremont Hy-Vee, according to the Nebraska Lottery, and the lucky winner has 180 days to claim their prize.

The winning numbers were read during Wednesday’s $381 million drawing, and were 6, 10, 21, 35, 46, Powerball 23 and Power Play 2. Players are encouraged to check their tickets at any Nebraska Lottery retailer, online at nelottery.com or by calling the Lottery office at (402) 471-6100.

The Nebraska Lottery confirmed that the ticket, which was sold at Hy-Vee Gas at 828 East 23rd St. in Fremont, matched the first five numbers but not the Powerball number itself.

Neil Watson of the Nebraska Lottery confirmed to the Fremont Tribune that the winner had not come forward as of noon on Thursday. Usually, the winner claims their prize within the first two weeks.

And the mystery winner won’t be the only one who gets a payout — the store that sold the lottery ticket also gets a seller’s bonus of $10,000, which will be presented to them tomorrow, Watson said.

According to the Nebraska Lottery, the odds of winning any Powerball prize are 1 in 24.9, but the odds of winning $1 million is 1 in 11,688,053.52.

The Nebraska Lottery aims to generate proceeds for good causes, according to a press release from the agency. More than $717 million has been raised for the Nebraska Lottery’s beneficiary funds since the lottery began in 1993.

Additional information about claiming prizes can be found at nelottery.com or by calling 800-587-5200.


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Free kits available for Colon Cancer Awareness Month

In honor of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the Three Rivers Public Health Department and Methodist Fremont Health are partnering to provide free test kits to area residents throughout the month of March.

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in men and women, and is expected to cause approximately 51,000 deaths during 2019.

Free colon cancer screening kits can be picked up at Three Rivers Public Health Department for men and women ages 50-74 that reside in Dodge, Saunders or Washington County.

Additional kit pick-up locations include Wahoo Public Library, Ashland Public Library, and the Washington County Extension Office in Blair. More information about the colon cancer test is available by calling Three Rivers at 402-727-5396 or visiting www.threeriverspublichealth.org.

According to Three Rivers, the tests can be done in the comfort of one’s home and are recommended to be performed once a year between regular screening colonoscopies for those 50 and over.

When it comes to fighting colon cancer specifically, regular screenings are particularly important says Great Plains Colon Cancer Task Force Director of Communications Kelli Sweet.

“Colon cancer is unique in that it is one of the few cancers where you can actually be a pre-vivor, meaning through a colonoscopy they can remove a polyp before it becomes cancerous,” Sweet said. “It is huge in this arena to try and catch it before stage three, or stage four, where it is much more difficult to treat.”

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer affects all racial and ethnic groups and is most common in people ages 50 and older. Those at higher risk may include those who are African American, those who smoke, and those with a family history of colorectal cancer.

Three Rivers also offers these tips to help prevent colorectal cancer:

- Get screened starting at age 50.

- Encourage your family members and friends over age 50 to get screened.

- Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.

- Get plenty of physical activity and eat healthy.