Year in Review

WAHOO – Although it didn’t take place until March, the “bomb cyclone” that resulted in flooding across much of the state also had an affect on Wahoo and Saunders County. It became a dominant story for the first six months of the year.

However, many other events took place in 2019. We take a look back at them in Part 1 of our two-part series, The Year in Review.


The .5 percent local sales tax increase approved by voters in May 2018 went into effect Jan. 1. The new half cent local tax will be used to help pay for the Chestnut Street Improvement Project.

The two offices of Saunders County assessor and register of deeds officially merged into one office on Jan. 3, per the vote of the people in 2016.

Don Kavan of rural Morse Bluff retired as a Lower Platte North Natural Resources District director. He was on the board since 1972.

G & L Café in Mead has three new owners after the former owners, Layla and Gus Giargokopoulos retired. New G & L Café Owners Brian McVey, Mike Kennedy and Tom Fischer, bought the cafe.

Bishop Neumann senior Max Hohn set a new school record for wins in a career after scoring a 10-5 decision over Wahoo’s Peyten Walling on Jan. 15 during a dual against Wahoo.

The Weston Board of Trustees moved forward in January with plans for making Keno available in the village. Weston voters approved bringing a lottery to town in November 2018.


Raymond Central alum Margaret Lanik recently achieved a long-time goal of hers and published the children’s book “Different Means You’re Special, Silly.”

The No. 1-ranked Wahoo girls basketball team got their 20th win after scoring a 63-41 home conference win over the Arlington Eagles on Feb. 1.

Makovicka-Sylliaasen Physical Therapy was named the Terry O’Brien Business of the Year during the Wahoo Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting and awards ceremony Feb. 6.

Gawaine Dvorak of Wahoo was inducted into Milligan’s Musician’s Hall of Fame on Feb. 2.

Wahoo State Bank reopened on Feb. 19 after November 2016 fire forced the business out of its historic building at the corner of Fifth and Linden streets in downtown Wahoo.

Jack Suttonbecame the first Wahoo wrestler to win two state championships during the Class B State Wrestling Tournament in Omaha.

Two companies that haul garbage to the Butler County Landfill promised the Saunders County board of Supervisors at their Feb. 19 meeting that they would work harder to keep trash from flying out of their trucks.

A major winter storm Feb. 23 dumped about a foot of snow on most of the county. The National Weather Service reported about 12 inches of snow fell in parts of the county.

The blizzard didn’t stop Maddie Nygren and Jacob Tejral from reciting their wedding vows and celebrating afterwards. The ceremony went as planned, but getting to the reception in Lincoln was not possible. So the Mead community stepped into action, setting up the fire hall for the reception.


Long-time Valparaiso Village Administrator Floyd Maresh retired on March 1.

The Bishop Neumann Cavaliers beat the Lincoln Christian Crusaders 45-29 in the Class C-1 state championship game on March 2.

Plans began for the 150th anniversary of Wahoo’s founding. Wahoo Public Library Director Denise Lawver formed a committee to plan the activities for 2020.

The Yutan Chieftains’ quest for a state championship came to a disappointing end on March 10 at the hands of Bancroft-Rosalie/Lyons-Decatur during the Class C-2 State Championships in Lincoln.

Saunders County was among the many counties in Nebraska affected by the “bomb cyclone” weather event resulted in burst levees and flooded roads and fields. Flooding began March 13 as rain and rapid snowmelt led to overflow along Wahoo, Sand and Salt creeks. The next day, the ice chunk-filled Platte River spilled over its banks, with flooding from Morse Bluff to Ashland.

Some residents had to be evacuated as the flooding took out local roads and electricity. Record levels were set on the Platte River, with 24.26 feet at Ashland, over four feet above flood stage. In Leshara, the gauge recorded 12.63 feet, well above the 8-foot flood stage.

Cedar Bluffs, East Butler and Ashland-Greenwood public schools cancelled classes and other schools dismissed early or adjusted bus routes because of the flooding.

About a dozen people responded to a call from Rachel Stone of Wahoo to help those affected by the flooding. As a result, the Wahoo Emergency Relief Team was set up on March 15 to accept donations and offer assistance. A shelter was set up at Bethlehem Lutheran Church to help evacuees.

A huge concert March 30 at Starlite Event Center raised $61,144.03 for the American Red Cross Nebraska Flood Relief Campaign. About 800 people came to hear bands Bucka Ruse and Sack of Lions and singer Dylan Bloom.

On March 25, 1969, Mary Kay Heese was last seen at the corner of Fifth and Linden streets, about five blocks from home. The 17-year-old was reported missing and the next day and her body was found in a roadside ditch and three miles southeast of Wahoo. Fifty years later, the case remains one of the oldest open murder cases in the state. Saunders County Attorney Joe Dobesh said his office is actively investigating and following up on new leads five decades later.

Mead Principal P.J. Quinn was presented with the Outstanding Principal Award for 2018-2019 during the Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association conference on March 22.


The Wahoo Board of Education met with representatives of Heartland Center for Leadership Development, an independent firm hired by the board to help assess and engage the community following failed bond vote for facility construction in November 2018.

Rachel Stone, who founded the Wahoo Emergency Relief Team in March to help flood victims, has teamed up with Michelle Morgan to create a new organization – Saunders County Crisis Care – a faith-based response to anyone in a crisis situation.

On April 8, the Lower Platte North NRD Board of Directors got its first full report on flood damage in the area and gave the go-ahead for staff to work with consultants and assess damages on some of the previously co-sponsored structures in the district that were damaged.

A majority vote of the Wahoo City Council on April 11 denied the request to consider chickens as pets and not livestock.

On the north end of Lake Wanahoo, an eagle’s nest has produced three new eaglets.

The sixth-ranked Wahoo/Bishop Neumann/Lincoln Lutheran baseball team won the Capital Conference Tournament on April 15.

The third annual Saunders County Beef Progress show on April 20 gathered 136 head of cattle, well above the 100 expected by organizers.

East Butler Elementary Physical Education Teacher and Activities Director Dave Struebing announced his plans to retire after 40 years of teaching. He was head football coach for 20 years and has been activities director for the last 12 years.

Stiff wind and cool temperatures didn’t stop 200 people from showing up for the Bohemian Ag Tour on April 28. It was an ATV and UTV poker run sponsored by Alps Angels to raise money for Carson Biltoft’s journey with Spina Bifida.

The Bishop Neumann golf team finished second by just three strokes at the annual Columbus Scotus Golf Invitational at the Elks County Club on April 23.


A spaghetti dinner fundraiser was held May 4 at the Yutan Country Club to raise money for Jeremiah Johnson of Yutan, who is battling his second round with brain cancer.

The Village of Colon is taking the first few steps in its plans for a community park.

Six months after a vehicle crashed into historic Hanson House in Wahoo, repairs continue. Hanson House was the home to one of Wahoo’s Five Famous Sons. The building was badly damaged Nov. 7, 2018, when a vehicle hit the structure.

Allison Stansberry has been named the new principal for Raymond Central Public Schools.

Aquatics Coordinator Andrew Woita has formed a swim team in Wahoo. The team will join the East Husker Conference Swim League, which includes Fremont, Dodge, Scribner and other communities.

The Yutan Board of Education voted March 13 to hire an outside firm to provide custodial services for the 2019-2020 school year. The board pondered two bids, but ultimately left the decision up to Superintendent Mitch Hoffer.

The Bishop Neumann boys and girls track and field teams each captured district championships at the Class B-1 District Meet at Fort Calhoun on May 9. The Wahoo Public girls team was runner up.

The Bishop Neumann Cavaliers finished second at the Class B-2 District Golf Tournament in Blair on May 13.

The Yutan Chieftains golf team placed third in the Class C-2 District Tournament in Beemer on May 13.

Cedar Bluffs High School received the EF High School Global Excellence Award from the EF High School Exchange Year in recognition of its commitment to providing opportunities to international exchange students at their schools.

Raymond Central Superintendent Derrick Joel said the Vision 2025 sessions held in various locations across the district this past semester provided good discussion and feedback. The forums began in February and rotated to different communities each month through May.

The Bishop Neumann girls track and field team finished in a tie for eighth as a team at the Nebraska State Track and Field Championships on May 17 and 18 in Omaha. The Cavaliers scored 23 points at the meet and was led by three medals from freshman Kali Jurgensmeier.

Despite all of the obstacles in front of them the Warrior quartet of Jaci Schnakenberg, Lauren Kavan, Zoe Christenson and Kendal Brigham captured the Class B gold medal in the 3200 meter relay at the State Track and Field Championships.

Six Bishop Neumann boys track and field athletes scored 43 points, good enough for a tie for fourth place in the Clss B State Track and Field Championships.

The Bishop Neumann golf team played in the Class B State Golf Tournament in Columbus on May 22. The Cavaliers ended up in fifth place as a team, with a score of 341. Sophomore Patrick Kenney and freshman Lauren Thiele tied for 16th place.

The Yutan Chieftains played in the Class C State Golf Tournament in Kearney on May 22. Sophomore Will Elgert finished in a tie for ninth place.

Three area fire departments responded to a barn fire on May 27 at 1790 County Road L. The fire was contained and extinguished within 20 minutes. A fire caused minor damage on May 28 at First Presbyterian Church in Wahoo. The fire was located near the cross on the east exterior of the church. The cause was an electrical short from the florescent lighting system on the back of the cross.


The village of Ithaca celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding with a two-day celebration on June 1 and 2. The activities included a car and tractor show, living history camps, lunch, bingo, old-time baseball game, Civil War re-enactment camp, beer garden, street dance, community church service. Joe Murray, former Ithaca mayor and the town’s oldest resident, led the parade. Author, speaker and consultant Jay Izso, a native of Ithaca, held a presentation and signed copies of his latest book.

Local representatives from the Quilts of Valor Foundation honored John Raiter, John Buhr, Ernest Raiter, Dr. Howard Russell Bradley and Edward Komenda with special quilts as an expression of gratitude for their military service during Val Days on June 2.

Wahoo Super closed its doors June 7. Owners Hank Vice and Rex and Diane Kumpula said they closed after 20 years for health issues and a desire to retire.

The first Saunders County Youth Agriculture Tour was held on June 7. About 30 seventh through 12th graders from multiple Saunders County schools toured Wahoo Locker, Kavan Farm Services and Raikes Farm Enterprises.

Cedar Bluffs celebrated summer with the annual Cedar Bluffs Days June 7 and 8.

On June 15 and 16, Mead Days was held.

Working with the Wahoo Public Library, a new Little Library was set up at the Wahoo Police station.

The Wahoo Board of Education voted June 17 to leave the Capitol Conference and join the Trailblazer Conference.

The Cedar Bluffs Village Board hosted an informational meeting June 18 to discuss water options with town residents.

The Malmo Fire Department purchased a tank and truck over a year ago from the Nebraska Forestry Service. The vehicle was modified and is now ready for service. The department is also raising money for a new fire barn.

The Wahoo City Council voted June 27 to approve changes in zoning regulations to allow child care centers in neighborhood residential districts with a conditional permit.

Organizers asked the city council on June 27 to allow a change in location for the proposed dog park.

Representatives from Nebraska Chapter of Quilts of Valor Foundation were at the Saunders County Medical Center Long Term Care in Wahoo on June 22 to recognize veterans Harley “Bud” Larsen, Albert Leudtke, John Martin, Alton Lee Anderson, Derald Hageman, John Dahl and Howard Pearson.

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