Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Exeter Native Experiences Costa Rica for a Semester

Jenna at the beach

From the left, Cathy Rhodes, Erma Zumpfe, Jenna Rhodes, Roma Rhodes and Sue Kittinger visiting Jenna in Coast Rica.

Jenna volunteering at a school in Costa Rica.

Exeter-Milligan graduate Jenna Rhodes recently spent part of her junior year in college abroad. Just not abroad in the way most people think of it.

Rhodes spent four and a half months living in Heredia, Costa Rica. She lived with a Costa Rican family or tico’s as they’re called and totally immersed herself in the culture and language of the country.

A Nebraska Wesleyan student with History major and Spanish minor, Rhodes had always heard that the “only way to learn a language is to study abroad or be immersed in it. I didn’t believe it until I went there.”

Rhodes participated in the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP) program. She was part of a group of 20 students from all over the United States who studied at the Universidad Nacional in the town of Heredia where they lived with host families.

Squeezing 17 credit hours in was more difficult than it sounds because they were all in Spanish. Yes, one class was a Spanish language class with all of the exchange students, but the others were content courses. Rhodes had health and environment, indigenous ecology, the culture and development of Latin America and a dance class all taught in Spanish with Spanish textbooks and assignments.

The dance class was “a huge part of my experience. Dancing is a huge part of the culture there,” according to Rhodes. She learned the salsa, merengue and cumbia in class each week and “then on the weekends we would go out and practice what we had learned in class.”

She also had visitors in the form of family members while she was there. Her parents, Steve and Cathy Rhodes, visited in March and then her Mom, her Aunt Sue Kittinger, and both of her grandmothers, Erma Zumpfe and Roma Rhodes, came for her 21st birthday in May. They had a fantastic time meeting her host family and experiencing the food, culture and scenery in Costa Rica.

Probably one of the most important aspects of the experience for Rhodes were the friendships that she made while she was there. In addition to befriending her host family and fellow students, she made friends wherever she went, from the coffee shop where she studied every week to her fellow classmates. Her host family included her in all of their extended family events as they considered her a part of their family.

She shared the home of her host family and their meals. The food, according to Rhodes, wasn’t what we typically think of as Mexican food. The food wasn’t spicy and they “ate a lot of beans and rice and fish.” Typically in the afternoon they would enjoy "pan y cafe" which is coffee and bread and then have a late supper.

As part of the ISEP program, Rhodes and her fellow exchange students enjoyed many of the tourist activities in Costa Rica like ziplining, going to beaches, tours of a pineapple plant and cacoa plant, rainforest tour, para sailing, dolphin watching, and snorkeling. During Spring Break the group took a trip to some islands off Panama which were right over the border from Costa Rica.

While these trips were a lot of fun, Rhodes and the other exchange students also spent some weekends trying to make a difference in the country. Three different weekends they spent volunteering in smaller communities, San Gabriel where they taught English and got to teach the kids fun songs on a Friday. On Saturday they painted the school. They also taught English in the town of Montelimar and spent the next day cleaning the school.

The final service project was in the town of San Isidro. This project was much more about physical labor as they scooped manure into bags, loaded it in a truck and spread it onto the soccer field to create a rich topsoil on which to plant grass.

It is obvious that the experience impacted her life as Rhodes is now double majoring in History and Spanish. She doesn’t like to call herself fluent. “I have a lot to learn, but judging from where I was before to where I am now, studying abroad made a huge difference.”

In fact, Rhodes plans to finish her senior year at Nebraska Wesleyan and then pursue an accelerated Master’s teaching program in Curriculum Development and Instruction which will allow her to teach both Spanish and Social Science.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Obituary Virginia Sudrla

Virginia Mae (Muff) Sudrla was born December 8, 1921, to Joseph L. and Frieda (Coffey) Muff. She died at home in Exeter, Nebraska on August 8, 2010, at the age of 88.
Virginia was born in Crete, NE, attended St. James School in Crete and graduated from Crete High School class of 1940.
She married Frank Sudrla on February 17, 1941, in Crete. They settled on the family farm after spending a year in Kansas City. In 1952 the family moved to Exeter, NE and operated East Side Service on Highway 6 for many years. Virginia ran the station/mini mart and always had a smile for everyone. Not a person came through the station or her home without being offered a cup of coffee and a bite to eat. Many remember her home made angel food cakes and never empty coffee pot. In addition to operating the station, she raised four children and helped Frank with the farming.
After the station closed she began work at Exeter Public School, eventually becoming the head cook there. She knew everyone by name and countless students enjoyed her home cooked meals. She was an active member of St. Stephen’s Catholic Church and altar society and was generous with her time and talent in her circle of friends and her community. Virginia retired from Exeter Public School in 1991.
For the next few years, she spent time with her family and friends until she suffered a debilitating stroke in 1996, after which she was cared for at her home by family and friends. She valiantly struggled with the pain and her lack of mobility with grace and dignity. She maintained her sense of humor and quick smile throughout her nearly fourteen year struggle which ended on August 8, 2010. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend, and she will be greatly missed.
Virginia was preceded in death by: Frank, her husband of forty seven years; her son, Frank (Butch); her parents; three brothers, Elmer, Richard and Joseph Muff; five sisters, Marie Murphy, Betty Muff, Ruby Muff, Margaretta Muff, Pearl Putnam. She is survived by: son, John (Jack), Exeter; daughters, Freda Sudrla, Omaha, Virginia and son-in- law, Larry Ekeler, Lincoln, and daughter-in-law, Pat Sudrla, Exeter; grandchildren, Nicholas Sudrla, Exeter, Frank and Laura Ekeler, Lincoln, Lynn and Steve Shumake, Lincoln; great-grandchildren, Ashley Ekeler and Aubrey Shumake; brother Carl Muff and his wife Mary Lou of Dow City, IA; sisters-in-law, Rosemary Muff, Dow City, IA, and Dorothy Sudrla, Sacramento, CA; numerous nieces, nephews and friends.
A Funeral Mass for Virginia was held on Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church in Exeter with Father Tom Kuffel officiating the service. Agnes Anderson was the organist and Jessica Ruhl was the cantor and the musical selections included “On Eagles’ Wings,” “Here I Am Lord,” and “Be Not Afraid.” Aubrey Shumake and Pat Sudrla also performed a duet to the music of “Amazing Grace.”
Pall Bearers for the service included Nicholas Sudrla, Frank Ekeler, Steve Shumake, Larry Muff, Gene Harre, and Joel Vavra. Honorary Bearers were Francis Coffey and Buzz Putnam. Interment was held following the Mass at 1:30 p.m. at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Crete. Farmer Funeral Home of Exeter was in charge of arrangements and memorials are directed to the family.

Historical Markers Dedicated Near Milligan

Exeter American Legion Post 218 members from the left John Becker (partially hidden), Butch Jansen, Jack Underwood and Bob Becker.

Family members and guests look at the new historical markers.

It was about providing closure in the form of three Nebraska State Historical Markers for the family of 32 airmen involved in three midair collisions near Milligan, Neb.

Exactly one year ago, Jerry Penry, who has spent several years documenting Nebraska’s WWII air crashes, challenged a group at the Milligan Library as he shared with them some history of the crashes in their area..

Those community members took his challenge to heart and began collecting information about the crashes that took place near Milligan. They researched eyewitnesses, crash locations, and located family members from coast to coast.

Saturday , August 14th was the culmination of that work in Milligan. Family members from as far as Connecticut and California, South Carolina, and Oregon made the trip for the daylong celebration.

The family members were welcomed with nametags and corsages by the committee and started the day with a tour of the Fairmont Air Base. Doug Rung, a local historian and member of the FMZ Association gave them a bus tour of the locations of the buildings present and gone on the airbase. They had the opportunity to go inside a hanger that was open and were amazed at the size of the hanger. Rung expounded on the construction of the hanger and the base. The pilot’s lounge is still there and the family members were able to tour that as well.

Family members stopped briefly on Highway 41 at the marker site according to Committee Chair Janet L. Bartels. “We went straight to the markers so the family could go and have time alone with the markers that had their relatives name on it. It was very emotional for them to see these markers and I am so glad there were able to have that time there.”

After returning to Milligan, family members were greeted with a hospitality hour by the Legion Auxiliary. Local citizens escorted family members that wanted to to the crash site of their choosing. Returning to Milligan they boarded buses to the site of the three historical markers at 1 p.m. for a special dedication program. Janet Bartels, the chair of the Milligan Memorial Committee, served as the emcee of the event.

The short program started with the presentation of the colors by the Milligan Legion Post and the singing of the National Anthem by Karen Kotas Eisenhaur.

Rev. Brian Kottas gave a prayer and then Russ Karpisek the Nebraska State Senator from District 32 welcomed the crowd. First Lt. Ernest Pence of the Nebraska Wing of the Civil Air Patrol introduced the guest speaker, Retired Major General Roger P. Lempke.

Lempke spoke to the group of around 200 about the history that the markers will preserve. He spoke for Senator Mike Johanns who wanted him to share “he was so proud that you as a community came forward to make this happen.”

Lemke shared how the committee has “done something here to provide an opportunity for this history to continue. The stories from around here resonate. . .I hope that these markers will serve to help that resonation move ahead to future generations.”

After Father David Bourek of St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Milligan gave a prayer and blessing over the memorial markers Sue Underwood played Amazing Grace on her Dudy. Members of the Milligan Memorial Committee placed wreaths at the three new crash markers at the site.

After a flyover by a Blackhawk helicopter piloted by Captain John Vavra Fong, son of Bartels, American Legion Post #240 gave a volley salute. Taps and taps echo was played by Michael Kassik and Galen Beck before the retirement of the colors and closing remarks.

After the ceremony the family members soaked in the words on the marker where their loved ones name was etched. Members of Sgt. Ursulo Galindo, Jr.’s family came from Escondido, California and Sioux Falls, SD. His niece, Denise Snyder, was so thankful for the honor that had been bestowed on the uncle she never got to know. “I was one week old when he died,” said Snyder.

This was an unexpected opportunity for Snyder as she received word from her mother that a letter from Milligan, Neb. had been received. Snyder started corresponding with Memorial Committee member Shirley Brunkow. She had never delved into the history of her family so deeply. What struck her the most was the impact that her uncle’s death had on the community. “At that time Escondido had about 3500 population and my uncle and his two brothers were well-known baseball players, especially after winning a big tournament. They even had their picture taken with the governor.”

These bits of history also prompted her to research her own father, Adan. She found her “Dad’s aviation book, all because of this.” She and her husband Dennis along with her cousin Pete and five of his family members felt it was important to be there for the dedication.

Also making the trip were John Herzog, his sister Catherine and their cousin, Camille. John, of Springfield, Ohio was very touched by the memorial services. His uncle, 2nd Lt. William Herzog was killed in the October 25, 1943 crash that also killed Galindo. He had “always wanted to have a relationship with my uncle. This is my only connection with him. It was like I was able to attend his funeral. I feel a bonding here, I feel like my grandparents are here today.”

Corporal Walter A. Divan was just 20 years old in 1944 when his plane was involved in a mid-air collision on September 8th. He was one of four survivors of that crash, and spent several days in the hospital recovering followed by 30 days of leave. He is the only still living of those four survivors and spent the weekend in Milligan.

After the marker dedication program on the highway, Divan spent a few moments decompressing in the cool semi-darkness of the Milligan Auditorium. He was overwhelmed “by the dedication of the committee and all they have done. City people are city people and they just don’t get all of this. Small town people have roots and they care about their roots.”

Divan spoke about his own grandson who has been in the service for 10 years and how proud he is of him “doing what we need to in order to have a strong country.”

When asked about the weekend memorial events he explained how much “this means to the families of those who didn’t make it. They have a better sense of knowing their soldier’s service was appreciated and not wasted.”

After his leave, Divan and the other three survivors were assigned to another crew and went overseas to fly 23 missions before the war was over. He met his wife June after the war while attending college. At his request, June had her wedding dress made from the parachute that saved Divan’s life and brought the dress with her to the Memorial Weekend where it was displayed. They and daughters Cindy Clemens and Debbie Norris made the trip from Wisconsin for the event.

Later in the afternoon the Memorial Committee and Milligan Public Library hosted a dedication program in the Milligan Centennial Garden and the Milligan Auditorium.

American Legion’s from the surrounding areas sent color guards to help open the program. According to committee member Shirley Brunkow, “our visitors were most impressed with the community support and the many honor guards who came to honor the fallen.” Brunkow was impressed with the turnout at the highway dedication, which she estimated was close to 200.

During the 3 p.m. program the Milligan Brass Band provided musical numbers as well as other community members. Featured speakers were Governor Dave Heineman, Lempke, Secretary of State John Gale and Karpisek.

Letters of the airmen who served in the area were read and the Memorial committee spent some special time recognizing the relatives and special guests of the airmen. The family members were presented with a flag flown over the airbase where their family member was stationed. Balloons holding the names of the airmen that were involved in the crashes were released after Amazing Grace was played.

After several more musical numbers, another volley salute by the Milligan Legion and the playing of Taps and Taps Echo the program was concluded by a benediction by Rev. Brian Kottas and the singing of “God Bless America.”

The Sons of the American Legion hosted a dinner in the Centennial Garden and during the evening a slide presentation on the crashes and sites was given by Penry before the dance featuring the Leo Lonnie Orchestra.

End of Summer Acquatic Center Hours

The Exeter Acquatic Center will remain open the regular hours for the first week of school.

The week of August 23 and 27 the pool will open at 3:30 and close at 8 p.m. Regular weekend hours on 28th and 29th. Starting the 30th the pool will be open at 3:30 and close at 8 p.m. On Saturday September 4th the pool will close for the season. The hours on Saturday will be 1:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. - midnight with EVERYONE invited to stay until midnight.

Any questions call the pool at 266-3001

Exeter-Milligan District Levy Override on November Ballot

The Exeter-Milligan school district is once again looking at a levy override on the November ballot.

The last levy override was on the February 2005 ballot and covered the years through 2011-12. The new ballot issue will start the same .30 per $100 override in the fiscal 2012-2013 year and will be for five years, in effect through the 2016-2017 school year.

Exeter-Milligan Superintendent Paul Sheffield states, “Our goal in renewing it (the levy override) is to maintain the quality of education and opportunities for our students.”

Although the district has the ability to go up to $1.35 currently they are using a levy of $1.22. Sheffield expects that number to go down next year as it has every year.

The district heavily depends on the override passing because they get very little in state aid. According to Sheffield, “State aid for the 2010-2011 school year is $32,948.34 and that will go down next year because of the state budget crunch. Last year it was 47,000.00 so it dropped 15,000 this year.”

In looking at the dependence on the levy override, Sheffield noted that they would have to “cut $400,000 - $500,000 from our budget and the only way you can do that is people. Roughly we would have to cut a minimum of seven to eight teachers.”

For a small district like Exeter-Milligan that is a large percentage of their total budget of $4.3 million.

The last time the override measure was on the ballot it passed by a vote of 288 for and 129 against. In 2002, the vote was 357 for and 140 against. To Sheffield and the Board of Education the override is essential, “We are trying to control costs, but with anything the costs of providing a service goes up,” he stated.

As for the future of the district he hopes “to look at it as an investment in the future. We are investing money in our students for the future. As our mission statement iterates, in partnership with parents and the community, our mission is to provide excellent educational programs, which empower our students to be knowledgeable, responsible, patriotic citizens. Ultimately we would like them return to the Exeter-Milligan area to work and raise a family.”

Recently, the district had a facilities study done to access where they are as far as codes and efficiency. With the results of the study in hand the maintenance staff spent a great deal of time painting inside the facility this summer and also all of the lights in the Exeter gymnasium were replaced with more efficient fluorescent lighting.

For Sheffield, “Our first priority is the levy override, make sure that passes. Next step is a facility study which is done, and then we will have some community-wide discussions with the results of the facility study."

Voters in the Fillmore Central district will have the opportunity to vote on this levy override at the polls in November.

FC Hospital Vote Wrap -Up

Special election turnout is notoriously low, but of Fillmore County's 4,114 eligible voters nearly half of that number voiced their opinion at the ballot box during Tuesday's Fillmore County New Hospital special election.

Of the 1713 who voted in the hospital special election the official results show that 1298 supported the new hospital while 415 lodged their vote against building a new hospital. The results were finalized with Exeter voting 71 for and 52 against.

With the overwhelmingly positive vote, the Hospital Board will now wait for notification from the USDA regarding the loan application for the project. That decision is expected sometime around August 31st.

Following approval of the USDA loan the Hospital Board will have to finalize all of the financing between the USDA and the General Obligation bonds before completing transactions on the site acquisitions.

"Should all of the pieces of the plan proceed as scheduled, a start date in the month of October should be possible," said Utemark.

As of now, the medical clinic is included in the funding application for the new hospital as an option but could be a possibility with a capitol campaign that is being discussed by residents of the county.

Fillmore County Hospital Board members and Utemark are thrilled with the results, "We are thankful the voters of Fillmore County attended town hall meetings, asked questions, became informed and turned out to vote. The strong support of the proposed project is appreciated by the board and the hospital staff."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

New Teachers at Exeter-Milligan

The Exeter-Milligan school district welcomes two new educators to the community. Casey Pohl joins the district in the third grade position at the Milligan campus and Jamie Ellis will be teaching High School English and Speech at the Exeter site.

Pohl, a Dorchester native, graduated in May from UNL and is looking forward to the small town atmosphere. She is "looking forward to meeting my students and getting involved in the community."

She loves the smaller class sizes and is glad to be closer to her family. Pohl is living in Geneva right now and enjoying getting familiar with her new surroundings.

Ellis, originally from Elm Creek is also looking forward to getting to know her students. She graduated from UNK in December of 2009 and had a permanent substitute job for the spring last year.

Ellis, will be teaching English to 10th, 11th and 12th graders as well as speech. She will also be coaching the speech and one-act teams.

Ellis is engaged and living in Crete.

Salon C adds Nail Technician

Exeter now has a nail services available two days a week. Salon C, in Exeter, recently added to their services a full line of manicure and pedicure care.

Nail technician Kristine Winters will join owner/stylist Christina Hartmann at Salon C. Winters has 13 years of experience with nails and will be in Exeter on Tuesday and Friday's and in Beatrice the rest of the week.

She and her husband, Scott, recently purchased a home in Cordova and, after some updating, will move there.

Originally from Beatrice, Winters loves doing nails and has over 70 nail colors to choose from in Exeter. She also offers pedicures, acrylic and gel nails.

She always says, "I love my job because someone comes in and they might be in a bad mood but when they leave they feel good about themselves."

She enjoys welcoming her six children home for visits now that they have all left the nest and made sure to purchase a home where they could all stay for the holidays.