Year in Review

WAHOO – Our trip down memory lane to the not too distant past continues, with a look at the events that took place in Saunders County and the rest of the Wahoo Newspaper coverage area in the second half of 2019.


For the second year, Camp Invention brought soon to be kindergarten through sixth grade students together for a five-day focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

The rank of lieutenant now exists at the Wahoo Police Department, and come Aug. 1, Officer Sean Vilmont will be assuming the duties that come with that administrative position. Vilmont was recently tapped for the position.

Diana Kerwin-Kubr was hired as the new coordinator for Southeast Community College’s Learning Center in Wahoo.

A weekend search found the body of a missing rural Cedar Bluffs woman. Tammy Sukstorf, 52, was last seen July 5. Her vehicle, with personal contents inside, was found a short distance from her home. Several searches from ground and by air were conducted, but her body was located by search dogs July 7 in a nearby creek. Saunders County Sheriff Kevin Stukenholtz said that an autopsy had been completed and there was no indication that foul play had a part in her death.

The trail between the City of Wahoo and Lake Wanahoo reopened July 3. The trail has been closed since March, when the floodwaters from the nearby Sand Creek had their way in several places along the rock surfaced path between Placek Park and Lake Wanahoo Recreation Area north of Wahoo.

The discussion about having trees in the downtown right-of-way came before the City Council at its meeting July 11. The topic has been in the coffee shop and in various other meetings recently, since Wahoo State Bank planted a tree on the street bump out next to its building in downtown Wahoo.

Sheryl Wieneke hung up the “closed” sign for the last time on July 12. After 20 years of operating the Stockyard Café at the Wahoo Sale Barn, she decided it was time to retire from the restaurant business.

Norm Manstedt retired after spending 50 years coaching high school wrestling at Clarks High School and High Plains High School. Manstedt grew up in Wahoo, went to Wahoo High School and played baseball for Bob Cerv at John F. Kennedy College.

The Wahoo Otters Youth Swim Team capped off their first year by competing at the East Husker Conference Swim Meet in West Point on July 20.

The Saunders County Board of Equalization was handed 81 destroyed real property claims at the board’s July 23 meeting. The claims came as a result of the March flooding and a new state law that allows property owners to ask for tax relief if they suffered significant damage as a result of a calamity occurring on or after Jan. 1 and before July 1.

The Yutan 14-and-under girls softball team won the Class D state championship.

Patrick Nagle was sworn in as the new representative for Ward III, taking the seat vacated Gerry Tyler who retired earlier this summer from the Wahoo City Council.


The Saunders County Fair wrapped up another eight day run, and officials gave the entire event high praise. Good weather, good crowds and good participation were on the report card again for the county fair.

A program to rehabilitate owner-occupied homes in Saunders County has received $500,000 in grant funds. The Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) has announced the recipients of over $7.5 million in funding through the Nebraska Affordable Housing Trust Fund (NAHTF) for 2019. A total of five communities in the county are collaborating on the project. Ashland, Wahoo, Prague, Yutan and Ceresco will split the $500,000.

Justin McEvoy and Brennan Teters, both 15 and both from Wahoo, will represent Nebraska in the 2019 Junior World Bass Championship in North Little Rock, Ark. Aug. 8 to 10.

About 100 people stuffed into the Saunders County Planning Commission’s meeting room Aug. 5 to offer comments about an application filed by Bruce Williams to construct a large poultry confined animal feeding operation in the Marble Township in northwest Saunders County.

Jason Camenzind announced at the start of the Aug. 6 meeting that he was resigning, effective immediately from the Leshara Village Board of Trustees. After presenting his letter of resignation, he left the village meeting room.

Thanks to a project by the Yutan Parent Teacher Organization, a book vending machine has been placed at the school.

National American Legion Commander Brett Reistad was an evening dinner guest Aug. 2 of the Valparaiso American Legion Post 371.

Jeffrey Ehrlich, 60, was taken into custody Aug. 13, after the Wahoo Police Department and Saunders County Sheriff’s Office got a handle on a situation in the 400 block of East Second Street. Ehrlich brandished a bat at police officers and sheriff’s deputies and allegedly drove directly at a law enforcement officer and into a police cruiser and a deputy’s cruiser. A Wahoo police officer sustained minor injuries and was treated and released at Saunders Medical Center.

St. Vitus Catholic Church announced plans to convert the former District 111 school house near Touhy into a small fellowship hall.

The District 39 Board of Education approved Aug. 19 hiring Heartland Center for Leadership Development to establish a stronger connection with the community as a whole and provide focused opportunities for engaging district stakeholders.

Cecilia Minchow was crowned Prague Czech Queen Aug. 10 during the Czech Heritage Festival at Beer Barrel Polka Days in Prague.

Darling Ingredients, Inc., located on County Road 13 east of Wahoo, held a grand opening to celebrate the expansion of its existing facility, which includes Nebraska’s first operation dedicated solely to poultry conversion. Gov. Pete Ricketts, State Sen. Bruce Bostelman and other dignitaries from nearby communities were on hand to cut the ribbon and officially open the facility.

Doug Watts retired after 18 years as Wahoo economic development director.

SMC Chief Executive Officer Tyler Toline reported that the Lake Wanahoo Clinic was again a discussion item at the board’s Aug. 27 meeting.


After nearly three hours of discussion, the Saunders County Planning and Zoning Commission gave their recommendation to approve a conditional permit for a poultry feeding operation near Morse Bluff on Sept. 9.

Higher property valuations in Wahoo allowed the city council to set a new operating budget that is relatively flat, compared to last year, and to impose a tax rate that is a 3 percent drop during their Sept. 12 meeting.

A lightning strike to the Saunders County Courthouse late Sept. 9 took the 911 system down for more than 13 hours and affected computers and phones in some of the county offices for several days.

The amount of money requested from taxpayers by Wahoo Public Schools for its 2019-2020 budget is lower than the previous year and the tax levy has also decreased, according to the budget property tax request and approved by the Board of Education at their monthly meeting Sept. 16.

At the Sept. 17 meeting, the Yutan City Council approved the 2019-2020 budget and the property tax request. The tax levy is $0.4139 per $100 of valuation, compared to $0.4132 last year. The property valuation within city limits grew by 9 percent.

On Sept. 18, Michael Pettinger of Leshara filed two recall petition forms in the Saunders County Clerk’s office. One is to recall Leshara Village Board Member Dale Johnson and the other targeted Board Member Dennis Beers.

A drill teaming Saunders Medical Center with local law enforcement agencies and first responders on Sept. 19 practiced emergency response to an anhydrous ammonia spill in the Wahoo area.

After emotional testimony from two attack victims, the Wahoo City Council declared two dogs “dangerous” at their Sept. 26 meeting.


A conditional use permit to build a large poultry confined animal feeding operation in Morse Bluff Township was approved for Bruce Williams by the Saunders County Board of Supervisors on Oct. 1, after a week of deliberation and with numerous conditions attached.

Judge Christina Marroquin denied a request by Jeffrey Ehrlich for a furlough during a hearing in Saunders County Court on Oct. 15. Marroquin also denied Ehrlich’s request for bond reduction during the hearing.

About 55 visitors converged on the “Bohemian Alps” on Oct. 16 as part of the 2019 national conference organized by the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society, International (CGSI).

Roger Harders withdrew his application to rezone a six-acre parcel south of County Road M and north of 1595 17th Avenue Road during a public hearing at the Wahoo City Council meeting Oct. 22.

Dusty Reynolds and fellow Yutan resident and parent Todd Baker organized the first Pumpkin Derby in Yutan on Oct. 30 to teach STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fundamentals to area youth.

The Lower Platte North Natural Resources District wrapped up construction on the new Education Building, located on the east Day Use Side of Lake Wanahoo. The building will be used for educational programs hosted by the NRD and will also be available to the public for rent.


Greg Heldt and his children, Chelsey Wenninghoff and Jerod Heldt, have purchased Country Drive Golf Course between Ashland and Yutan. They took ownership on Nov. 1.

On Nov. 4, Theresa Klein took over as Wahoo’s executive director of economic development and executive director of the Wahoo Chamber of Commerce.

The Wahoo volleyball team came home with a third place trophy from the Class C-1 State Volleyball Championship on Nov. 9. They beat Broken Bow at Lincoln East High School three sets to one in the consolation game.

Tasha Osten was named the Middle School Counselor of the Year award from the Nebraska School Counselor Association during the NSCA’s annual awards luncheon on Nov. 7 at the Annual School Counselor Academy. Osten is school counselor for the junior and senior high school at Raymond Central.

A chain-of-events accident on Thanksgiving night led to the death of a man who was trying to help others. Gene

Lefler, 65, of Bennington was fatally injured while checking on other drivers after being involved in a five-car collision near Wahoo. Saunders County Sheriff Kevin Stukenholtz said Lefler fell off an overpass in a multiple-vehicle wreck on a slick Highway 77 overpass and died from his injuries later at a Lincoln hospital.

Lee Maly reopened the former Stockyard Café on Nov. 15. The eatery’s new name is Branding Iron Café.

The Wahoo Warrior football team left no doubt as to who was the No. 1 team in Class C-1 with a dominating 38-0 win over second-ranked and previously undefeated Pierce on Tom Osborne Field inside Memorial Stadium on Nov. 26 during the State Football Championships.


Beautiful weather attracted nearly 2,000 visitors to Christmas on the Prairie at the Saunders County Museum in Wahoo Dec. 7 and 8. The theme was “A Pearly White Christmas.”

JEO Consulting Group celebrated their new Wahoo headquarters with a ribbon cutting and open house on Dec. 12.

An outbreak of influenza A forced Yutan Public Schools to add an extra day to Christmas vacation. School was called off Dec. 20 at Yutan Elementary School after nearly 25 percent of the student population fell ill, according to Superintendent Mitch Hoffer.

A developer presented his proposal for a housing subdivision on the outskirts of Yutan to the city council on Dec. 17, but council members indicated they were not ready to sign on to the project just yet. Melvin Sudbeck of Melvin Sudbeck Homes told the council that he would like to build 200 homes over the next decade on a 70-acre parcel on the northwest corner of the community. He said he will request tax increment financing (TIF) for infrastructure improvements.

The 57th annual VFW Christmas Drive was once again deemed a success. The toy bags and food boxes were delivered Dec. 21 to nearly 120 families. Drive coordinators Lorraine Syverson and Jason and Michelle Libal reported that more than 150 children benefited from this year’s campaign.

At its Dec. 26 meeting, the Wahoo City Council voted to raise the mayor’s annual salary to $6,000, from $4,000. The council members pay will also increase, from $2,000 to $3,000 a year.

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