Two juveniles, who allegedly led law enforcement on a manhunt near Verdigre, were taken into custody Saturday.
According to the Knox County Sheriff's Office, a search along the Verdigre Creek by law enforcement agencies from Verdigre Police, Knox County Sheriffs Office and Nebraska State Patrol ended with law enforcement taking two juveniles — one 15-year-old male from South Dakota and one 16-year-old female from rural Niobrara — into custody along the banks of the Verdigre creek. The suspects were treated by the Verdigre Rescue Squad for dehydration and cuts and bruises.
According to the Sheriff's Department, at about 6:45 a.m. on Friday a member of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office found a 2007 Ford car licensed in Yankton County, South Dakota parked in the middle of the Spur 54D just north of Highway 12. It was determined to have been stolen from Yankton County, South Dakota. Shorty thereafter it was discovered a white Dodge Pickup was stolen from a nearby residence. While the officer was still there the stolen Dodge pickup returned and sped west on Highway 12 toward Niobrara.
The officer followed the vehicle though Niobrara and south on Highway 14 toward Verdigre, Nebraska. The Verdigre Police Department and the Sheriffs Office attempted to stop the vehicle which drove around Verdigre before going south on county road 521 Drive.
The vehicle went around county barricades and warning signs of the “Walton” bridge being washed out and drove until the road ended and into a pasture at which time two people jumped out and ran on foot.
Because of the large tree covered, severe terrain and lack of roads, a Nebraska State Patrol helicopter and canine units were brought in as well as additional manpower from The Nebraska Game and Parks, Nebraska State Patrol, Antelope County Sheriffs Office, along with some citizens to assist the Local law enforcement agencies.
The search was unable to locate the suspects and was continued by the local agencies until about 10:00 PM that night.
On Saturday morning, the search was continued by the Knox County Sheriffs Office and the Verdigre Police Department.
Based on an investigation with in cooperation with the Yankton Police Department and the Santee Sioux Nation Tribal Police, two suspects were developed by the local agencies.
Mid morning an ATV was reported stolen in the general area and contact with the suspects was made south of Verdigre by a citizen who called law enforcement and the suspects were contained along the Verdigre Creek by the local agencies while more manpower was brought back in, according to the sheriff's department.
The entry list has been set for the Nebraska State High School Finals Rodeo, to be held in Hastings June 13-15 at the Adams County Fairgrounds.
Over 250 high school rodeo athletes will compete in twelve events. The top four competitors in each event at the state level will earn a berth at the National High School Rodeo Finals in Rock Springs, Wyo., July 14-20, where national champions will be crowned in each event.
Verdigre’s Kalyn Nielsen will compete in the pole bending at state.
The twelve events include bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, breakaway roping, goat tying, pole bending, barrel racing, boys cutting, girls cutting, and bull riding.
The Finals, the culmination of 28 regular season rodeos, will be held at 10 am and 6 pm on June 13-14, with the short round on June 15 at 1 pm. After Thursday and Friday’s performances, the top ten contestants in each event will advance to the short round on June 15. The cutting will be held at 7:30 am on June 13-14, with the short round at 8 am on June 15. The 2019-2020 Miss Nebraska High School Rodeo Queen will be crowned prior to the performance on June 15.
Everyone in Verdigre and along the Western Knox Rural Water line will be under a boil water notice starting later today or tomorrow while repairs are made to water mains. The boil notice will last several days. Start saving water for consumption. The Village will communicate by radio, email and Facebook as soon as the boil water notice takes effect.
Erin Pulec sat at her home in Seward, watching online as the raging Niobrara River attacked Knox County on March 14. And then the Spencer Dam collapsed, sending even more devastation through the area.
Pulec, a 2007 graduate of Creighton High School and a 2012 graduate of Bryan College of Health Sciences, was immediately determined to help the area she called home growing up.
“Even then she called me saying she wanted to help people back home,” said her mother, Tracy Thompson. “It was still happening, and she was already talking about getting things together to help Knox County.”
Thompson was one of many who made the trek on Saturday from the Omaha/Lincoln area with a semi and small trailer packed full of donated items and delivered to Verdigre.
Erin Pulec, and her mother-in-law, Julie Pulec, organized the mammoth fundraiser with cooperation from the Seward Fire Department and Southview Christian Church in Lincoln.
“Hearing about the flooding in Knox County, it really pulled at my heart strings since I’m from here,” Erin said. “This was a wonderful place to grow up, and I know it’s super rural and over an hour from any major town with resources. I just felt a drive to want to come back and help.”
As soon as Julie heard Erin’s ideas, she was all in — and quickly enlisted the help of members of her congregation. Everyone wanted to help, she said, and quickly businesses jumped on board as well, making the donation even larger than they hoped for.
“I’m so amazed at the outpouring of help and support we got from the Lincoln community. The donations were overwhelming and the truck was full,” Julie said. “People are truly good and genuinely care about each other. Sometimes it’s just a matter of asking.”
Erin, who is the daughter of Tom and Tracy Thompson and Brad and Dianna Best, said they hoped to fill a semi lengthwise but quickly filled it top to bottom and needed a second trailer. Julie said there will be a second trip in the future since even more items are being donated.
“It’s an amazing problem to have,” Erin said. “It’s incredibly overwhelming in the best way possible. I think we’re still amazed and in shock ourselves, and seeing people’s faces full of gratitude just makes us feel so good to help.”
Lines of people stood behind the semi on Saturday, carrying items into the Bohemian Lounge, which was being used to store the donations — toiletries, houseware, baby items, cleaning supplies, beds, sofas, tools, appliances and more were carried inside.
As if that wasn’t enough, Southview Christian Church members also served a hot lunch for people in Verdigre after unloading the truck.
“We have some amazing people from our church who put together a meal. We have a hot spaghetti dinner or loose meat sandwiches and lots of pies,” Julie said. “We have an older congregation and there's not a lot some of them could do, but they can cook and serve. That was their way, besides donating products, to help out.”
Turns out the quickest way from Hutchinson, Kansas, to Verdigre is through the heart of Texas.
Lee Campbell gladly donated two semi loads of hay to flood devastated Verdigre, but he needed someone to hall it from Kansas. That’s when four juniors from Hill Country Christian High School volunteered for the 1,000-mile trip from San Marcos, Texas, to Knox County, Nebraska.
“Texas has had a lot of flooding in the past, so it really got me thinking about coming up here to help,” said Jeremy Crauthers, during a brief stop before crossing into Knox County. “It was time to give back.”
Crauthers said he first learned about the flooding when classmate Beau Nelson shared a video of Nebraska farmers needing help. Crauthers said the images immediately pulled at his heart, and he wanted to help.
Crauthers and Nelson, along with classmates Chase Harrison and Troy Wilks, made the trip over the weekend with Crauthers’ father, Chad, driving the semi of hay.
As if proof Crauthers was destined to be part of the effort, the day before the convoy left Texas, they were finally told their destination of Verdigre, which just happened to be where Jerry and Julie Crauthers — Chad’s parents — now live.
“Our family didn’t even know until Thursday that we were coming,” Chad said. “Actually, I didn’t even know until then either. They found out a boy named Jeremy was coming from Texas, and it sounded like us. And it’s us.”
Chad immediately agreed to haul the hay for the teens and said he was proud to be part of their effort. He said it was a great experience for all of them.
Nelson said he wanted to be part of the effort because he witnessed similar flooding in Texas a few years ago. He said people from across the nation, including Nebraska, steppedup to help Texas during its time of need.
“We witnessed it first hand, so it’s time to return the favor,” Nelson said.
Besides bringing hay and supplies on Friday night, the teens also spent time Saturday putting in fence and helping with clean up nearby.
“We’ll do whatever we can to help the people of Nebraska,” Jeremy said. “This is their time of need, and we’re here to help.”