Two men were arrested on felony drug charges in rural Stanton County on Thursday morning.
At about 7:05 a.m. on Thursday morning the Stanton County Sheriff’s office responded to a report of a suspicious pickup parked near the historic Bega school, north of Stanton, according to the Stanton County Sheriff's Office. Upon arriving the Sheriff’s office had contact with two males who were found to be trespassing at the location and were further found to have possession of Methamphetamine, Marijuana and Drug paraphernalia in their possession. Zachary Price, 36, of Norfolk and Brit Blanchard, 34, of Pollock Pines, CA were arrested on felony drug charges.
Both men were booked at the Sheriff’s office on charges of Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Marijuana and Drug Paraphernalia and Criminal Trespass with initial court appearances set for next month. Both men have prior felony drug convictions.
Local law enforcement are investigating an accident involving a stolen vehicle.
At about 5:30 a.m. on Monday morning the Stanton County Sheriff’s office was notified of a one vehicle rollover accident near 838 1/2 and Hwy 15 South of Pilger. Upon arrival no one was located in or near the vehicle and the destroyed pickup that had rolled several times off the highway was found to have been recently stolen from Kansas.
The Sheriff’s office ask everyone in the area to be vigilant and report any suspicious person(s) or activity and to remove vehicle keys and secure your residences. No suspects are known according to Kansas authorities. The pickup had been northbound on Hwy 15 at high speed when it left the highway and rolled several times.
Ten national awards are on their way to Stanton — including four categories where the paper was named the best in the nation.
Fresh off of being named the best weekly newspaper in Nebraska in its circulation division, the National Newspaper Association recognized the Stanton Register in 10 categories — advertising, editorial content, page design and community involvement.
Beginning with the national championships, there were two top awards involving the Stanton Health Center. Carrie Pitzer won first place for localizing the national COVID story with the nursing home and assisted living reopening its doors to the public after nearly a year.
“Very good lede,” the NNA wrote. “Nice spin on a story that probably every newspaper in the nation told or would have told.”
Pitzer also won best serious column on spending time with a resident after the doors reopened.
“Her 10-minute interview lasted 90 minutes and she can’t stop thinking about it. The woman in the assisted living facility was alone and loved the visit. It had been a year since anyone but staff had been with her. Her daughter almost died without seeing her and her husband did die in the facility, and the 80-year-old had more to tell. Her family would be coming to get her soon. Nothing more timely than this and what the reporter felt. Well written,” the NNA said.
There were two first place advertising honors as well. Pitzer’s “Don’t Worry” series with Stanton State Bank was named the best in the nation.
“Love the photos used in these ads. The ads are simple — not a lot of clutter — but they tell a powerful message. The similar look to the ads helps keep this bank in people’s minds,” the NNA said.
Angelique Boyer won best small ad in the nation with a unique ad featuring The Greenhorn, which was for the Thanksgiving season and featured a turkey holding a shot glass and the words “Let’s Get Basted.”
“This is by far my favorite! Love the play on words. And the layout of the turkey — SO funny! Great job!” the NNA wrote.
The Register was named runner-up in the nation in two categories, both sports. In design, a sports page by Pitzer featuring the Mustang wrestling team was honored.
“Nice job with the headline, cutout photo to put the story on and the text wrap around the wrestler. I like the schedule at the bottom of the page,” the NNA said.
Also finishing second was Pitzer for best sports story involving Sutton Pohlman at state track in 2021, where he changed his routine and prayed before running the 400 final. The photo included him and the sign of the cross before he went into blocks, which the reporter recognized as not something he always did before running.
“Well told story with nice photos. Great quotes. Solid writing,” the NNA said.
There were two third place awards for the Register, both involving the community and through a team effort between Lisa Wilke and Pitzer. The efforts to work with the community on events from Easter to Christmas was recognized for best community service honors.
“This is a genuine and generous demonstration of cooperation between a publication and its community, at a time when that cooperation is most needed. This passionate, engaged publisher is going above and beyond to redirect the narrative about her community,” the NNA wrote.
Another third-place award went to Wilke and Pitzer for working with the Stanton elementary students on “spreading the news” and selling subscriptions as a school fundraiser.
“Good series of appeals for subscribers to support not only the newspaper, but community resources as well. The ‘community’ full-page ad was dynamic,” the NNA wrote.
The Register received several honorable mention awards, which is fourth place. Pitzer was recognized for a story on the Northern Data building wanting to build in Stanton County. Pitzer also won for using local photography in ads. A Memorial Day ad for Stanton State Bank used a photo she took during a World War II veteran’s funeral after he was identified from Pearl Harbor wreckage.
Another newspaper owned by Pitzer Digital was also honored by the NNA. The Antelope County News received 15 awards, including four national championships. Pitzer earned best sports photo in the nation for the second time in three years. She also teamed up with managing editor Jenny Higgins for first place in breaking news as they covered an emotional accident story involving an Amish buggy and a juvenile automobile driver, which resulted in the death of an unborn child.
Boyer earned two national championships in ad design. The first was with Stealth Broadband’s “size matters” ad as they offered 1 GIG service and also for a tree cutting company that “went out on a limb” for its customers.
Since 2019, Pitzer Digital has won 48 awards from the National Newspaper Association, more than all other Nebraska newspapers combined.
On Thursday afternoon the Stanton County Sheriff’s office responded to a complaint of an unlawful entry and theft at a Stanton residence on the east side of town.
According to the Stanton County Sheriff's Office, the investigation identified a suspect had entered the attached garage and taken several items of value and left the scene on foot. The suspect was quickly identified as Kenneth Claussen Jr., 57, of Stanton and he was later located in Stanton by the Sheriff’s office and placed under arrest for Theft, Criminal Trespass and Obstructing a Police Officer.
A press released stated that Claussen ultimately admitted to the the thefts and the stolen property was recovered at his residence. Claussen was booked at the Sheriff’s office and is scheduled to appear in court in August.
It’s still unknown if the 17-year-old from Leigh charged with sexual assault in Stanton County will be tried as an adult or juvenile.
Gabriel Safty appeared in Stanton County District Court on Tuesday morning, where Judge Mark Johnson will determine if his case is moved to juvenile court. During Tuesday’s hearing, Johnson received 14 exhibits of evidence — including video of Safty allegedly admitting to the April 21 assault and DNA evidence linking him to the crime.
Stanton County Attorney Bert Lammli said Safty should be tried as an adult for protection of the public. Lammli said if Safty is convicted as a juvenile, he will not be placed on sex offender registry, which he said was the case with Safty’s previous adjudication. Evidence presented Tuesday included recently unsealed documents of Safty’s sexual assault of a 6-year-old female in 2018.
“Neighbors would have been alerted someone like this as neighbors in rural Stanton County,” Lammli said. “Protection of the public is big. This was a violent act, your honor.”
Safty appeared in Stanton County District Court with his attorney, Brad Ewalt, and his parents.
Lammli called two witnesses — Crystal Hestekind, juvenile probation supervisor of district 7, and Stanton County Sheriff Mike Unger.
Hestekind confirmed that Safty had received treatment for an earlier incident after being adjudicated of the previous sexual assault. Lammli asked the witness what would happen when Safty reaches his 19th birthday.
“The case closes,” she said.
Lammli responded, “No more probation?”
“No,” she replied.
During cross examination, Ewalt asked if Safty — who will turn 19 in April 2024 — potentially could have the same treatment regardless if it was a juvenile or adult. Hestiand said it would be similar, however, the wait time for treatment varies.
“Wouldn’t he have 1 year and 10 months for treatment?” Ewalt asked.
Hestiand said with just 80 beds available at the facility — and the next opening Aug. 1 — the timeline is difficult to narrow down, but “depends on how soon adjudication would occur.”
Sheriff Unger was called as witness to confirm the exhibits involving evidence, including body cam footage from interviews with the sexual assault nurse who collected the evidence. Unger testified that the victim received a shot and was prescribed four medications, including one for an STD.
Ewalt asked Unger about Safty’s early release from treatment with his previous sexual assault.
“So he did well?” Ewalt asked.
Unger replied, “I can’t say that. I can say he was released early.”
Safty’s attorney offered no verbal argument during the hearing and requested 14 days to submit a written argument. Judge Johnson gave Ewalt until July 15 and Lammli until July 25 to respond.
“Then I’ll make a decision,” Johnson said.
Safety remains in custody on 10 percent of a $500,000 bond. He’s charged with first degree sexual assault, use of a weapon to commit a felony, burglary and theft.
According to the Stanton County Sheriff’s office, on April 21 just after midnight, they were notified of a break-in and sexual assault that had just occurred at a rural residence in southern Stanton County north of Leigh.
The report was that a male armed with a handgun had broken into the residence and sexually assaulted the female after tying her up and threatening to shoot her. After the attack the male stole the victim’s SUV and fled the area toward Hwy 32.
Within 10 minutes the vehicle was observed by the Sheriff’s office traveling east on Hwy 32 near the junction of Hwy 32 and 15. The vehicle was followed into Cuming County until a second unit was present and at that time emergency lights were activated and then the vehicle failed to stop and continued east as a pursuit was initiated and about two miles west of West Point, the Cuming County Sheriff’s office deployed a deflation device and the front left tire of the SUV was deflated.
After another half mile the vehicle pulled onto the south shoulder and the lone male suspect fled south into a field through the passenger door leaving the vehicle in gear. A perimeter was set up by the Stanton and Cuming County Sheriff’s office along with the Nebraska State Patrol and at about 2:40 a.m. Safety was taken into custody after he was found hiding on the top of a livestock trailer at a nearby farm residence. A handgun, knife and other items connected to the attack were seized during the arrest.
A 17-year-old from Leigh who is charged with four felonies, including sexual assault, is requesting his case be moved to juvenile court.
Gabriel Safty appeared in Stanton County District Court on Monday morning, slouched between his attorney Brad Ewalt and his parents as he fidgeted with his handcuffs. Safty stared straight ahead at the judge during his arraignment, nodding occasionally when saying “Yes, Your Honor,” when asked if he understood his charges.
Ewalt verbally requested to Judge Mark Johnson that the case be moved to juvenile court and said he would file the necessary paperwork. When asked how Safety pleas, Ewalt told the judge his client would not be making a plea until after it was determined if the case would be moved.
Stanton County Attorney Bert Lammli requested Safety submit to a DNA test for the investigation. Ewalt agreed.
Judge Johnson said he would make a ruling on July 5 in regard to the request for moving the case to juvenile court.
Safety remains in custody on 10 percent of a $500,000 bond. He’s charged with first degree sexual assault, use of a weapon to commit a felony, burglary and theft.
By CARRIE PITZER
He was an Eagle Scout. She was a Gold Medal Girl Scout. Both reached the highest level of their scouting programs. Together, Kevin and Katy Armbruster have become the faces of the Stanton Cub Scouts — not that either will admit it.
“It’s about the kids. It’s what they’re doing — not us,” Katy said.
Stanton’s Cub Scouts are seen at every home football game, raising the flag before kickoff. They will hold a flag burning ceremony in August at the Stanton County Fair. They were also part of Monday’s Memorial Day program, which is just the second year the youth were asked to hold flags during the service.
“It’s important to me to have the kids involved, so they know the day isn’t about a barbecue or a day off of work,” Kevin said. “They asked us last year to be part of Memorial Day because they are running low on numbers with the VFW, so we’re happy to be there.”
Tracy Yost, senior district executive of the Diamond Dick District, said Stanton’s humble leaders are making a huge difference in rejuvenating Stanton’s troop.
“We hit the jackpot with Kevin and Katy. They are genuinely great people, and I’m glad they’re all involved in scouts,” Yost said. “We have kids who have been together since the first grade who have bridged onto Boy Scouts, which is something I credit to them as leaders. If parents are involved in scouting, the kids are more involved. They’re a big reason why we have parents and kids in Stanton so involved in scouts.”
Married for nearly 14 years, Kevin and Katy are both graduates of Stanton Community Schools. Called “a dynamic duo” by Yost, Kevin was recently named Cubmaster of the Year for the Diamond Dick District — nominated by someone in the community outside of the troop. Yost said although both Kevin and Katy were nominated, the award could only go to Kevin as the Cubmaster.
“Kevin actually modified the award and added Katy’s name,” Yost said with a chuckle, referring to the piece of tape on the award with Katy’s name. “That’s fantastic because they really are such a dynamic duo. It’s phenomenal to watch them in action because what one doesn’t do, the other does. We’re really lucky to have them.”
The Armbrusters said they enjoy scouting because it builds a foundation of lifelong skills and community involvement.
“It teaches a lot of the morals, ethics and skills they may not learn in school anymore or other places,” Kevin said. “Service to the community is something I push a lot because I believe in community service very strongly. We do a service project every month during the summer and several others during the year. Raising the flag at a football game is a small thing, but it’s an important value.”
Kevin began as a Cub Scout in the first grade and worked his way through the levels to reach Eagle Scout in 2000 during his senior year at Stanton. He returned to scouting six years ago when their youngest son, Josh, became a Lion in kindergarten.
“That’s when they started allowing kindergarteners to join the scouts. He was part of the pilot program for the Lions,” Kevin said. “The next year he became a Tiger, and I became the Cubmaster.”
Yost said it’s been a great asset having an Eagle Scout as the Cubmaster in Stanton.
“He brings a lot of experience and knowledge to the position,” she said. “I get a little choked up thinking about having such great people leading them. They are phenomenal people and very humble.”
Having three sons, Katy said it was inevitable that the family would be involved in scouting. Josh, 11, is a Boy Scout; Jake, 9, is a Bear in Cub Scouts; and Sam, 6, will join Cub Scouts as a Lion this fall in kindergarten.
Their son, Josh, was in the first group of Cub Scouts when Kevin became Cubmaster. It began with Josh and Collin Rutten as Lions. Six years later, five Cub Scouts recently transitioned to the Boy Scouts, which tripled the number with the Stanton’s troop.
Many other communities, including Neligh and Creighton, don’t have the numbers for their own troop and commute to Norfolk for weekly meetings. The Armbrusters said having a local troop in Stanton has kept more youth active in scouting.
“It’s hard for parents because of the traveling. That’s how you lose parent involvement,” Katy said. “There are a lot of options for kids these days, besides scouts.”
Katy took on the role of den leader five years ago when Kevin became the Stanton Cubmaster. Yost said it’s not uncommon for couples to share duties because of the amount of paperwork and meetings involved with being in a leadership role.
During her youth, Katy — a 2001 graduate of Stanton — was involved in Girl Scouts and advanced to its highest level. Helping her niece, she volunteered as Girl Scout leader in Stanton for several years until their sons started scouting.
“Everything we do with our kids we do together, so it was inevitable that I’d be involved, too,” Katy said. “We have a very long history with scouting.”
It is the mission of the Mid-America Council, Boy Scouts of America to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the scout oath and law.
Kevin said Stanton meets two Sundays a month as a pack and then breaks into their dens. Some of the older youth help with activities to work on their own leadership skills with core activities. Electives are often completed on their own. Kevin said it’s fun to watch scouts find their niche and excel in those areas.
The Armbrusters said scouting is more than the traditional activities of knot tying and camping — although both admitted the outdoor activities are among their favorites as leaders.
“Anything outdoors — that’s what I like,” Kevin said. “I hunt and fish on my own time, so I enjoy anything outdoors with the kids. I also do some medal working and woodworking, so I try to pass that along.”
Kevin has been a firefighter and paramedic with Norfolk Fire since 2004, so he teaches the first aid. Katy said there’s definitely a level of safety by having Kevin and Scott Rutten, who is a sergeant with the Nebraska State Patrol, involved in Stanton’s scouting program.
“We want the kids to have a fun and enjoyable time, so having Kevin and Scott involved does provide a level of safety, which is awesome,” Katy said. “The parents we have a very involved and realized this is a family-based organization.”
The Cub Scouts spend the winter months mostly working on projects to accomplish their core loops while the summer months include more outdoor activities, including camping trips. The Cub Scouts also try to camp at least once a year with the Boy Scouts.
They are involved with scouting for food, which benefits the local food bank, as well as cleaning up the rural cemeteries and other other community service activities.
While Stanton’s scouting group is growing, Katy said they always welcome new faces and hope the pack continues to grow and see more youth reach toward being an Eagle Scout.
“We’d love to have more kids join,” she said. “It’s a great program that gives them a really great start to being good people. It’s not just about being a good student or good athlete — it’s being a good person. I think that’s something every kid can use. It’s helpful to have scouting, and I don’t want to see it go away in Stanton. That’s why we’re going to stick with it as long as we can with our kids.”
A Germany-based data company that had planned to build its “flagship location of North America” in Stanton County this year has reportedly “hit the pause button.”
According to officials, the $20 million project located about 5 miles outside of Stanton near the NPPD substation has been pushed back to the beginning of 2023 due to the uncertainty of the global energy situation, along with supply chain issues.
Northern Data purchased 39.81 acres for the site and had met with the county to discuss the road leading to the facility.
Officials said the company appears to still be committed to the project, however, will be waiting to proceed in Stanton County until there is more certainty with the situation.
Northern Data describes itself as a global B2B technology company developing, using and selling solutions on vertically integrated high-performance computing infrastructure.
Monte Stahl, managing director of Northern Data, North America West, explained to Stanton County officials during meetings in December that the company works “business to business” for cloud-based computing.
The Stanton County project is slated to bring 25 new jobs to the community.
A rollover involving teenagers led to a 16-year-old female being life-flighted to Omaha on Monday afternoon.
According to the Stanton County Sheriff's office, the accident occurred near Norfolk close to 3421 Old Highway 8.
Another 16-year-old — a male driver — allegedly fled on foot but was located by deputies.
Just after midnight on Thursday morning, the Stanton County Sheriff’s office was notified of a break-in and sexual assault that had just occurred at a rural residence in southern Stanton County north of Leigh, according to the sheriff's office.
The report was that a male armed with a handgun had broken into the residence and sexually assaulted the female after tying her up and threatening to shoot her. After the attack, the male stole the victims SUV and fled the area towards Hwy 32.
Within 10 minutes the vehicle was observed by the Sheriff’s office traveling east near the junction of Hwy 32 and 15. The vehicle was followed into Cuming County until a second unit was present and at that time emergency lights were activated and then the vehicle failed to stop and continued east as a pursuit was initiated. according to the sheriff's office.
About two miles west of West Point, the Cuming County Sheriff’s office deployed a deflation device and the front left tire of the SUV was deflated. After another half mile the vehicle pulled onto the south shoulder and the lone male suspect fled south into a field through the passenger door leaving the vehicle in gear.
A perimeter was set up by the Stanton and Cuming County Sheriff’s office along with the Nebraska State Patrol and at about 2:40 a.m. the suspect was taken into custody after he was found hiding on the top of a livestock trailer at a nearby farm residence, according to the sheriff's office.
The suspect is identified as Gabriel Safty, 17, of rural Leigh and he was booked on felony charges that include: Burglary, Possession of Burglar Tools, False Imprisonment, First Degree Sexual Assault, Armed Robbery, Terroristic Threats, Use of a Weapon to Commit a Felony, Theft of a Motor Vehicle and Operating a Motor Vehicle to Avoid Arrest. He was jailed at the JDC in Madison pending a detention hearing.
The female victim was taken to FRHS by Creston Rescue for treatment. A handgun, Knife and other items connected to the attack were seized during the arrest. The Dodge County Sheriff’s office also assisted with a K-9 unit as did Stanton County Emergency Management with a thermal drone that was deployed.