Spring fires caused a great deal of devastation across the area in 2011. An April fire destroyed 11,000 acres near Thedford and utilized the manpower of 28 fire departments to finally be brought under control.
This year saw many positive changes in the community of Broken Bow, and in Custer County and the surrounding area. Education was a big focus during this year, with the addition of a college campus and a school bond approval in Broken Bow, and the co-oping of several area athletic teams.
Here is a reminder of just some of the highlights that made the headlines of the Custer County Chief during the months of January - June, 2011.
In his 30th year at Mead Lumber in Broken Bow, Rick Maas made the decision to â€śsemi-retireâ€ť and hand the reins over to a new store manager.
â€śIâ€™ll have more time to spend with my family... and more time to play golf!â€ť
The Broken Bow City Council voted to lock in bids for the new aquatic center.
The first baby of 2011 at Jennie Melham Medical Center was Walker Lemens Lange, son of Jacob and Kammi Lange of Ord
The Broken Bow School Board approved the purchase of a route bus, bringing to completion a 2-year transportation improvement plan for the district.
SEM girlsâ€™ basketball coach Ron Long won his 300th game as a head basketball coach.
After more than 37 years in law enforcement, Custer County Sheriff Ted Henderson retired.
Heavy snow, slick roads and poor visibility lead to a large number of accidents in the area. Custer County emergency personnel responded to 11 vehicle accidents in two days, three with injuries.
BBPS Interim Superinten-dent Dr. Virginia Moon agreed to stay on one more year, giving the school board additional time to conduct a permanent superintendent search.
A public hearing was set as the third step in NPPDâ€™s process for its proposed Broken Bow 115,000-volt transmission line project for a wind farm.
The Litchfield Trojans and the Mullen Lady Broncos became the 2011 Loup Valley Conference champions. Meanwhile, the Sargent/ Burwell wrestling team won their sixth straight LVC title.
The Broken Bow City Council instituted a new city ordinance requiring every building in the city, from residences to businesses, to have a building number posted and visible from the street. The numbers must be on the building, not the curb, and are to be at least three inches high and two inches wide and made of metal or some other durable material.
Forty-one area wrestlers qualified to compete at the 2011 State Wrestling Champ-ionships. Sargent/Burwell junior Jed Fenske won the gold medal in his weight class, and became a three-time medal winner.
The Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce named Bill Reichert Citizen of the Year at the Chamberâ€™s annual banquet. Reichert has taught band at BBPS for 37 years.
Broken Bow welcomed a new business to town, when Becky Pearson opened Pearson Physical Therapy, PC.
Fire destroyed the home of John LeFever of rural Litchfield. A wood burning stove was determined to be the cause of the fire.
For the third time in school history, the Ansley Lady Warriors qualified for the Girls State Basketball Tournament. The Sandhills/Thedford Knights returned to the Boys State Basketball Tournament for the second consecutive year.
The announcement was made that ag co-ops in Holdrege, Gothenburg and Merna were joining forces to build a shuttle train loading elevator on the BNSF rail line, serving the grain farmers of Custer County.
Ag Land ATV in Broken Bow expanded its business into a new building, located on the west edge of Broken Bow. Owners Cody Schweitzer and Kevin Evans have had the store for seven years.
Seventy-four BNSF railway cars laid in rubble when two trains collided. The early morning derailment took place between Seneca and Thedford, and landed a number of cars in the Middle Loup River.
Midwest Wind Energy filed formal plans with the Custer County Zoning Board. They hope to enter into 36-38 landowner contracts, with construction to begin in June or July.
Ansley Public Schools launched an almost $2 million renovation and expansion project. The projected time frame for renovations to be finished is around eight months.
The city of Broken Bow officially broke ground on a new swimming pool and aquatic center, after the citizens approved a bond for a new pool last May. The project was seven years in the making.
Fires kept many area fire departments busy, when a control burn east of Arnold and a second 15 miles northwest of Callaway fell victim to the wind. Emergency crews spent an estimated 12 hours on the job brining the fires under control.
Just days later, a massive grass fire broken out eight miles west of Thedford. By the time that fire was over, 28 fire departments had answered the call, two firemen were hurt and at least two ranchers took refuge in a stock tank while the fire burned over the top of them.
The fire burned 11,000 acres, with 8-10 ranches impacted by the blaze.
Americans finally received the much anticipated news many thought may never come - Osama Bin Laden was dead. A strategically planned operation, carried out by a team of Navy SEALS, had located and killed the most wanted man in the world.
The Orscheln Farm & Home store in Broken Bow added 6,000 square feet to the sales floor and 3,000 square feet in storage to its location. The new addition has been in the works for at least 10 years.
The community of Ansley received word that they had qualified for a Community Development Block Grant, which will allow the village to get a new wastewater treatment facility.
The South Loup Bobcats and the Ansley Lady Warriors became the Loup Valley Conference track champions.
Nebraska State Bank & Trust Company broke ground on a new branch bank to be located on the east side of Broken Bow on Highway 2.
Ten area schools sent 56 athletes to the 2011 NSAA State Track and Field Championships in Omaha. Seven of those area athletes claimed gold medals.
Equine virus forced the cancellation of the Buzzards Roost Annual Trail Ride at Eddyville.
Broken Bow Pharmacist Mike Holcomb was named the University of Nebraska College of Pharmacy
2011 Preceptor of the Year.
The population of Oconto increased by roughly 12.11 times during the annual Blowinâ€™ the Doors Off BBQ, with a total estimated attendance of 1,829. Ocontoâ€™s current population, according to the 2010 census, stands at 151
The Broken Bow School Board approved hiring CG Architects of North Platte for the purpose of architectural planning at North Park School, at a June 1 special board meeting.
The Custer County Ag Society announced the headline act for this yearâ€™s Custer County Fair entertainment. Hardcore country traditionalist, Daryle Singletary, will perform Saturday, July 30, at the Custer County Fairgrounds.
Three WW II veterans from Custer County, one from Blaine County and one from Sherman County, had the privilege of being part of a special Hero Flight to Washington, D.C. Custer County donors paid for the Custer and Blaine County veterans to attend.
Ground was broken on the west edge of Broken Bow for the new Lomax Professional Building. The professional building is being built on property which has been in Chris Pearsonâ€™s family for more than 100 years. Chris is designing and building the facility.
The ribbon cutting has been scheduled, furniture has been ordered, and if you have driven west of town on Highway 2, you have seen the exciting progress that has happened with the vision of Custer Campus finally becoming a reality for Custer County.
*See next weekâ€™s Custer County Chief for highlights from July - December, 2011.