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City crew logs lots of hours dealing with snow

It wasn’t the iceberg credited with sinking the Titanic.

But the snow pile on Sixth Street looked pretty big.

Nearby, Joel Kotrous, shop supervisor for the City of Fremont’s Street Department, worked in minus 5 degree windchill as he replaced a blown hydraulic hose on a quick attach for the bucket on a front end loader.

With hands that would grow deep red from the cold, Kotrous worked quickly on Tuesday morning. And before long, heavy equipment operator Joe Walkenhorst was using the loader to scoop up mounds of snow and dump them into a nearby city truck.

As one truck pulled away with a load, another would pull up and the process was repeated on the quiet street in downtown Fremont.

“It’s been a long winter,” said Mark Vyhlidal, the city’s superintendent of public services. “There’s been a lot of snow and ice events.”

And recent harsh weather hasn’t helped.

“We’ve had three snow emergencies in the last week — in one week — and that is very rare,” Vyhlidal said. “I can’t ever remember that happening.”

Last weekend’s blizzard only added to the already white-covered landscape.

Snowfall amounts for Fremont ranged from 10 to 11 inches.

Vyhlidal estimated crew members spent 487.5 hours from early Saturday morning through Monday.

“It already started Saturday morning about 6 o’clock. There was a glazing already on the streets,” Vyhlidal said.

The street crew consists of 15 employees, plus two mechanics in the garage and a supervisor. That number does not include Vyhlidal.

Half of the crew went out Saturday morning.

“We came back in Saturday afternoon and we had a half crew and through the night,” he said.

The full crew was in at 1 a.m. Sunday.

Vyhlidal said the city has five motor (road) graders, seven trucks with plows and four loaders.

Besides snow removal, the city has dealt with issues involving salt needed to melt the ice.

“Just getting salt has been a big issue, because everybody needs salt,” he said.

That’s tough when it snows every two to three days with the first snow having fallen in October.

Mayor Scott Getzschman said at a mid-February city council meeting that the street department already had used 750 tons of salt.

Last year, the city used around 700 tons in the entire year, Vyhlidal told the Tribune in a previous story.

The most recent snowstorm presented challenges.

“This last one was a really bad one, because it rained first and then the winds blew and everything just froze and the winds didn’t quit blowing until Sunday,” Vyhlidal said. “There was considerable drifting from the blowing winds for a long, extended period of time.”

Back on Sixth Street, Tuesday’s snow removal continued amid temperatures so low that the cold clung to clothing even after passersby went into vehicles and buildings.

A mannequin in a white wedding gown seemed to stare blankly from a store window onto the street — perhaps a reminder area residents can look forward to spring and summer activities — but certainly a contrast to the big equipment that steadily chipped away at the gargantuan mountain of snow.

Brent Wasenius / Brent Hardin / Lee Newspapers 

Dylan Gartner of Fremont Bergan shoots in front of Plattsmouth's Hayden Stromsodt during the Ashland-Greenwood Holiday Tournament. The Knights will face Fullerton on March 7 in the opening round of the Class D-1 state tournament. 

hotalerttop story
Blood donors needed in March

With severe winter weather affecting blood drives in many parts of the country during the past several weeks, the American Red Cross is encouraging eligible blood donors of all types to donate over the coming weeks.

Currently, the American Red Cross has a severe shortage of type O blood and is urging type O donors — as well as all eligible blood donors of all blood types to give now to ensure lifesaving patient care isn’t impacted this winter.

According to information released by the organization, Red Cross currently has less than a three-day supply of most blood types, and blood products are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in.

“Recent snowstorms and severe weather in many parts of the country have forced hundreds of blood drive cancellations, causing more than 20,000 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected,” Samantha Pollard, Midwest communications manager at American Red Cross Blood Services, said in a released statement.

Type O blood is the most in-demand blood type as it can be transfused to patients with any blood type and is what emergency room personnel reach for when there’s no time to determine a patient’s blood type, according to Red Cross. Type O positive blood is also especially needed because it is the most transfused blood type and can be given to Rh-positive patients of any blood type.

To encourage donations in March, Red Cross has also partnered with HBO to ask fans of popular series “Game of Thrones” and blood donors to Bleed #ForTheThrone with six days of coordinated giving from March 7-12.

As part of the partnership, fans who come to donate blood or platelets with the Red Cross now through March 17 will automatically be entered for a chance to win one of five trips to the season 8 world premiere of “Game of Thrones.”

The trip includes travel for two, up to two nights hotel accommodations and a $250 gift card for expenses. Terms and conditions apply and are available at

Additionally, those who donate March 7-12 will also receive exclusive Game of Thrones swag including a T-shirt, stickers to unlock a unique Snapchat filter and other items, while supplies last.

Individuals of all blood types — especially type O — are asked to make an appointment to donate blood by downloading the free American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Upcoming blood donation opportunities in the area through March 31 include:


March 2—10 a.m.—4 p.m., Keene Memorial Library, 1030 N Broad St.

March 3—7:30 a.m.—1:30 p.m., Walmart, 3010 E. 23rd Ave. North.

March 9—9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Fremont Mall, 860 East 23rd St.

March 25—12 p.m. – 6 p.m., Christensen Field, 1710 W. 16th St.

March 26—10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Christensen Field, 1710 W. 16th St.


March 5—9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Logan View High School, 2163 County Road G.

North Bend

March 27—8:30 a.m.—2:30 p.m., North Bend High School, 1320 Walnut St.


March 25—8 a.m.—2 p.m., Scribner-Snyder High School, 400 Pebble Box L

Cedar Bluffs

March 26—12:30 p.m.—6:30 p.m., St. Matthew Lutheran Church, 300 S. Second St.


March 6—7 a.m.—1 p.m., Arlington High School, 705 Ninth St.

spotlighttop story
Library offers yoga session during Storytime

Sonia Vanderworth is inviting area residents to visit Keene Memorial Library, where they can stretch their minds — and their muscles.

On Saturday, the public is invited to Storytime Yoga, which starts at 2 p.m. in the Fremont library at 1030 N. Broad St.

Kai-Helin Cooper, a local children’s yoga teacher, will lead the event.

Cooper will integrate the movement of yoga into a traditional Storytime, said Vanderworth, Library Assistant III, youth services.

Participants will hear stories and practice poses under Cooper’s instruction, Vanderworth said in a prepared statement.

The activities will be geared toward children, but all ages are welcome to attend.

Vanderworth believes area residents will benefit from this event.

“Children are naturally flexible and introducing yoga at an early age helps teach them ways to keep their muscles loose and flexible,” she said. “Encouraging children to learn and grow with yoga will help them for the future, not only in keeping their muscles flexible, but in finding calm in an ever increasingly hectic world.”

She noted the benefits of Storytime in general and appreciates Cooper’s willingness to offer it.

“Storytime increases their comprehension for literacy and the world around them. Combine the two and it’s a winning package for children and caregivers. This is such a unique program to be offered at the library.”

For more information, contact Vanderworth at the library: 402-727-2694 or

Regular library hours are: 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday.