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Art show offers inspiration

Therese Straseski might have an antidote to the cold winter weather.

And it may come in the form of some warm and whimsical artwork at Gallery 92 West in downtown Fremont.

The public is invited to a free artist’s reception from 5-7 p.m. Friday at 92 W. Sixth St.

Here, attendees can view Straseski’s paintings and sculptures. Her work is on exhibit this month in the Hinds Gallery of the Fremont Area Art Association building.

At the same time, works from the “Bridges: Sharing Our Past to Enrich the Future” exhibit, are on display in the Dugan Gallery.

These works are a compilation of photographs, which are part of the FAAA’s permanent collection and include scenes from around the state, captured by amateur and professional photographers.

The Straseski exhibit features several acrylic paintings on canvas with weavings incorporated into the artwork.

In these works of art, warp threads are wrapped vertically around the canvas. The weft pieces are strips of canvas and other wool or fiber, which are woven through the warp threads.

“They’re really unique,” said Barbara Gehringer, FAAA executive director. “I don’t know that I’ve seen anything like this.”

Gehringer noted something else about Straseski’s work.

“She’s pushing the envelope of both painting and weaving and really successfully and beautifully joining the two,” Gehringer said. “If people are discouraged with the cold and snow, these are certainly a bright spot.”

And they’re colorful.

Vibrant blues can be seen in some paintings, while pinks and oranges are found in others.

Straseski’s fiber art sculptures have deeper colors and are unique as well.

“Her sculptures are really whimsical and titled after quotations by Dr. Seuss,” Gehringer said.

Gehringer believes Straseski was inspired by Nebraska artist Sheila Hicks, who’s internationally known for her fiber art.

“Sheila would appreciate the whimsy,” Gehringer said.

The wall pieces also were inspired by a visit Straseski made to Opus 40, a modernist sculpture garden and art environment near Woodstock, New York.

“My work celebrates layers of textures, materials, colors and invites the viewer to slow down and explore,” Straseski said in an artist’s statement.

Gehringer said local artists can gain ideas and inspiration through viewing works by Straseski and others.

“Our artists might see something that causes them to go in a different direction or try something new,” Gehringer said. “(Straseski) took inspiration from a couple of very well-known artists, while maybe somebody here takes inspiration from what they see in this show.”

The local art association benefits the community in various ways which include exhibits, classes and other educational opportunities.

“You don’t have to go to the big museums to see first-class art — it’s right here,” Gehringer said.

In the past, the art association has exhibited some works by famous artists including: Pablo Picasso, Ansel Adams, Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, Dale Nichols, Alexander Calder and Andy Warhol.

And while most artists who have exhibits here aren’t internationally known, Gehringer said she believes their work is every bit as good.

Straseski received her bachelor’s of fine arts degree in drawing and papermaking from the Milwaukee Institute of art and design.

She has attended graduate classes in papermaking and printmaking at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She is an educator at Joslyn Art Museum.

In addition to Straseski’s art, guests to the FAAA building can see works by Donna Kriete of Hooper, who is the featured Loft artist for December.

Gallery hours are 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays. Admission is free.

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Bergan students earn honors for “Wit” production

Students at Archbishop Bergan’s One-Act group earned their second straight District Runner-Up finish at the C2-1 District Play Production competition in Nebraska City on Tuesday.

Bergan’s performance of the Margaret Edson play “Wit” earned the school the second place finish, as host school Lourdes Central Catholic earned a spot in the State Championship competition in Norfolk with their performance of “The Very Unmerry Adventures of Robin Hood.”

Bergan Director Chris Kabes, now in his second year leading the program, said that it was a bittersweet day for the team.

“We were thrilled to be rewarded for our work with some district hardware, but the kids also had their sights set a little higher,” he said. “I think our play could have competed well at State had we gotten through.”

Kabes said he was impressed by his cast and crew’s ability to take on a play like “Wit,” which features a challenging script focusing on the experiences of a terminal cancer patient.

The team had traveled to York earlier in November for a regular season contest in which it took first place out of eight schools, with sophomore Angelee Rump earning the contest’s overall Best Actress award for her portrayal of main character Dr. Vivian Bearing — a university professor of English who is dying of ovarian cancer.

“We got some great critiques from our judges earlier in the season, and were fortunate enough to beat a couple other teams who qualified for state,” Kabes said.

Kabes added that he expects Lourdes Central Catholic to represent the district well in the State Championships.

“Our hats are off to Lourdes,” he said. “They had a solid show, and I think they’ll represent our district well as they travel to Norfolk.”

Along with earning District Runner-Up honors — seven out of eight Bergan cast members received individual honors from the three-judge district panel.

Receiving awards were: Angelee Rump, Raegan Hoyle, Alyssa Frost, Grant Gibson, Brandon Wiesen, Haley Schuler and Alanna Huenniger.

“Anytime you can get that high of a percentage of your students recognized, it’s a testament to the hard work they put into the show,” Kabes said. “The kids have been working on a lot more script research and character development than we’ve had to do in the past, and it shows. They took a very difficult piece and did some wonderful things with it. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Kabes added that he is excited about the future of the program, as Bergan will return all of its cast members and eight of its 10 crew members for next season.

The team will now turn its sights to speech season, as students get set to compete at tournaments from January through March.

The Bergan Speech Team returns several district medalists from last year, as well as three national qualifiers — freshman Grant Gibson, senior Joanne Shin, and the defending State Champion in Persuasive Speaking, junior Raegan Hoyle.

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Dodge County Board
County Board votes to approve Joint Public Service Center land purchase

The Dodge County Board of Supervisors voted on Wednesday to enter into an interlocal agreement with the City of Fremont to purchase land and participate in planning a Joint Public Service Center, which would house both the Fremont Police Department and the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office.

The 12.2 acres of land, located in Fremont’s Technology Park east of Yager Road and south of 32nd Street, also has enough space for a jail, should the county decide to build one in the future. The county agreed to pay the city of Fremont $201,300 to acquire the property. The price for the property was determined by an independent appraisal, which the county also reviewed ahead of Wednesday’s meeting.

The vote passed five to one, with Supervisor James Vaughan casting the lone no vote. Outgoing Supervisor Rob George was not present at Wednesday’s meeting.

Despite the vote, it could be some time before the county begins any real work on the site. The interlocal agreement is a “watered-down” version of an earlier agreement with the city, which would have committed both parties to get started on building out the project, said Board Chairman Bob Missel.

The county was reluctant to commit to starting any work, as its finances are tied up in the recently approved project with Motorola to update the county’s reportedly outdated public radio system for emergency services and first responders.

That $11 million project put the county into debt and contributed to a raise in the tax levy during this past budget cycle. The board feared that moving forward now on constructing a new public service center would only further strain the budget.

“We certainly don’t want any more increases in that [levy] number in the future,” Missel said during the meeting. “This approach is timely in that it secures the ground, it acknowledges the effort to move forward, but in that same breath it allows us to go to our piece of this build in the future when we feel that we can financially carry that.”

At the last Board of Supervisors meeting, City Administrator Brian Newton suggested that work on the city’s portion of the joint public service center would begin without the county, with the expectation that the sheriff’s office and potential jail could be added on later. The city approved the interlocal agreement at its Nov. 27 City Council meeting.

Board members have suggested it could be four or five years before the county embarks on such a project. It will take up to 10 years to pay off the debt from the Motorola project, though board members on Wednesday said they expect it will be paid out sooner than that.

The approved agreement establishes a governing board that will be in charge of planning the project. Per the agreement, it is the same board that governs the Joint Communications Center, which houses both the city and county 911 dispatch centers.

Those board members would include the county board chairman, the Fremont mayor, two members of the Fremont City Council and two members of the Board of Supervisors.

Discussion at the meeting focused on whether the site fit the sheriff’s needs and on the future of an unpaved road near the property — 32nd Street between N Yager Road and Luther Road.

Dodge County Sheriff Steve Hespen didn’t oppose the agreement, saying that the sheriff’s office had outgrown its current space and the property had been the chosen location since the beginning of discussions because it was a feasible location to make a joint city-county venture possible.

But he said that the proposed site, as it stands now, poses some accessibility challenges for the sheriff’s office that would need to be addressed. It would require better routes going either east or west, so that officers could avoid more crowded routes, like at the intersection of Yager Road and 23rd Street.

“We want to get out on the bypass in the quickest way possible and not have to go through the city to do that,” Hespen said.

Increasing access would likely require paving of 32nd Street.

“I want it clear that we’re not paying for that,” Supervisor Lon Strand said. “That’s a city street.”

Strand voted for the proposal only after it was clarified that passing the resolution wouldn’t lock the county into making any such payments, and that any decisions like that would need to be made by the governing body of the new center, which is split evenly between county and city officials.

Vaughan voted against the proposal, bothered that the county always seems to be “out of lockstep” with the city’s plans in terms of timing. As an example, he cited the Motorola project. The city upgraded its radio system in 2016, before the county.

That put the Fremont Police Department and the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office on separate systems, which officials say made it difficult for the two agencies to communicate with each other, ultimately contributing to the county’s need to upgrade.

Vaughan worried that pledging to the project now before being ready could put the county behind again.

“In 10 years, is that still the right plot of land? Will it have enough space? Will the city build with the intent of easily hooking on another section of the building?” he said. “I know we’re going to save some money by putting this together in good faith. I’m going to vote no on it because I can’t support not doing it in lockstep. I think our savings are chipped away little by little by not doing it together at the same time.”

At meetings with the city, an architectural firm concluded it was possible for the county to “add on later and still get the benefits of shared space,” Missel said. Additionally, going into the agreement now locks down space for a future jail — an important consideration given that new jails are traditionally difficult to locate, he argued.

“In entering into this agreement, accepting the land purchase, it does align us for the future as the potential for development arises,” Missel said.

In other news from Wednesday’s meeting:

  • The board approved a request from Muller Farms Inc. of Scribner to obtain a conditional use permit for a new cattle feeding operation containing 999 animal units. The spot is located in Cuming Township, and received unanimous support from the Planning Commission ahead of Wednesday’s board meeting.
  • The board approved an emergency item: a request from the Dodge County Attorney’s Office to apply for a grant through the Nebraska Crime Commission for $115,190 that would fund the salary youth diversion program coordinator, who works to divert youth from the justice system. The position has existed in Dodge County for three years. The item was considered an emergency because it was not originally on the agenda and required board approval before the Dec. 18 deadline, while the next board meeting is Dec. 19.

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Midland to host open house for Miller Hall project

Midland University is set to host an open house informational meeting regarding its recently announced plan to build a new residence hall to replace Men’s Memorial Hall.

The informational session will be held at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 13 in the Anderson Conference Center located within Anderson Hall on the university’s campus.

According to information released by Midland, the university will be sharing additional details about the Miller Residence Hall project as well as taking questions from the public.

In November, Midland announced plans for the construction of the new Miller Residence Hall to replace Men’s Memorial Hall as part of a phased campus investment to create comfortable, contemporary spaces for students.

The roughly $10 million project is expected to begin construction in early spring of 2019 and is expected to be completed by 2020. The new 98-bed facility will house sophomores, with the current class of high school seniors expected to be the first to call the new residence hall home.

The project was spurred on in part by student feedback, said Merritt Nelson, vice president of enrollment management and marketing. The Men’s Memorial Hall was built in 1947 and its “shelf life was getting close to the end” — something Nelson said the administration was aware of and was echoed in student surveys.

“For the last several years, we started to hear from our students that it was time to start looking at replacing Men’s Hall,” Nelson said in November. “Trends have changed in higher ed residential living, and we need to stay with those trends and even be ahead of those trends a little bit.”

The new building will be located directly on the footprint of Men’s Memorial Hall, aims to update the quality of housing on campus, not the quantity.

There is enough capacity on campus, Nelson said, and so the new residence hall will have roughly the same capacity as the current building.

The hall will be a sophomore, co-ed residence and will emphasize “social engagement to help students build relationships and make connections that foster their academic success,” according to a press release from the university. It will feature suite-style living with a majority of students having a private bedroom and shared bathroom, kitchen and living room, depending on the floor plan.

It will include several ADA compliant suites, as well as student lounges, study rooms and laundry facilities on each floor. The main floor will include kitchen facilities, a fireplace, an outdoor patio, meeting spaces and a residence hall director suite and office.

The project’s cost is being funded through fundraising, Nelson said, with the lead gift coming from the future residence hall’s namesake donors — James W. Miller and Donna Miller.

Those with questions or comments about the Miller Hall project are encouraged to email Midland at

Brent Wasenius / Evan Nordstrom 

Kinely Shallberg competes for the Fremont High School swim team at the Dillon Family Aquatics Center. Shallberg won two individual events Tuesday during a dual against Norfolk. 


Submitted photo