Public hearings on the Lexington Public School’s Parental Involvement Policy and the proposed 2018-19 Student Fees Policy were held Monday night just ahead of the Lexington School Board’s monthly meeting.
The parental policy outlines how parents can access and review student textbooks and curriculum, how they can observe district instructional activities, and have their children excused from school experiences they find objectionable. 
The Student Fees Policy remained almost the same for the coming year as it was in 2017-18. According to Superintendent John Hakonson, the only additional fee last year was a $5 fee for students attending the after-school academy.
Among the fees covered in the policy are admissions to athletic events, activities and performances, those charged for lost or damaged school property, library fines, summer school, special clothing – such as for gym, marching band, swing choir, cheerleading, computer insurance and more.
When the council moved into their regular agenda, Skyler Roemmich, a 2006 LHS graduate, addressed the board during citizen’s comments.  Referring to an item later on the agenda regarding proposals for physical therapy services for 2018-19.
She noted she and her husband, Curtis, had returned to Lexington to work at Lexington Regional Health Center (LRHC) as physical therapists. LRHC and Family Physical Therapists had both submitted proposals for therapy services for the district. 
“If the physical therapy proposal from LRHC is approved, I would be the primary therapist serving the district,” Roemmich noted, adding she and her husband intend to raise their family in Lexington and would be here for the long haul. 
“Consistency is key and I hope to see them (students) from kindergarten through graduation,” she said.
The board approved the LRHC proposal for 2018-19 physical therapy services.
Under the consent agenda the board approved the following hires: Angela Pitkin as an intervention specialist at Pershing Elementary to replace Peg Exstrom, who retired; Haley Rogers, Lexington Middle School Career and Tech Education teacher, effective second semester, following completion of her student teaching and receipt of her teaching certificate; Peg Stenberg – LMS Career and Tech Education teacher for first semester, until Rogers comes on board. Stenberg taught career and tech ed at LMS until her retirement.
In new business the board approved the purchase of 800 iPad cases from Apple for $27,960, approved the district parental involvement policy, student fees policy, the remaining policy revisions and deletions as part of the summer updates and the 2018-19 staff handbook.
During reports Tracy Naylor, director of the Lexington Early Learning (ELA) Academy shared the Results Matter report with the board. It was noted students who are able to start the year at the ELA and remain through both semesters show the most progress when assessed semi-annually through the Nebraska Department of Education Teaching Strategies GOLD system.
“Time is our biggest hurdle,” explained Naylor. “Children may start as soon as they turn 4, but sometimes that isn’t until half-way to nearly all the way through the school year. We have some students who enroll maybe a month to two weeks before school is out and it’s tough to teach anything in that time period.”
 So their enrollment numbers fluctuate throughout the year, said the director. In addition, state and federal funding only covers half-day classes, said Naylor. “Only migrant children go to ELA for a full-day, so we only have one full-day classroom, compared to 15 half-day.”
What is especially hard, she said, is sending students who have turned 5 by the state and federal cut-off date for pre-school to kindergarten who clearly aren’t ready. Naylor referenced an article that touched on similar problems at Schuyler, noting they are exploring a number of options with the state, such as transitional kindergarten.
Hakonson reminded the board of their planning session at 6 p.m. on July 17 to help everyone gear up for the 2018-19 school year.
  Goodwill Industries of Greater Nebraska is having a donation drive in Cozad beginning after noon on Tuesday July 10th through Monday July 23rd, 2018, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  People living in Cozad and in the surrounding area can drop off their donations at the Cozad Recycling Area on Highway 30. 
  Virtually anything in your home or garage that you no longer use is accepted; clothing, household items, shoes, boots, purses, belts, hats, books, computers, printers, monitors and computer accessories can be placed inside the Goodwill trailer.  Due to limited storage space, furniture, televisions and large appliances are not accepted.  Tax donation receipts are available at the trailer.  
 Goodwill appreciates the generosity of the people of Cozad and the surrounding area.  Revenue generated through the sale of donated items at Goodwill’s retail stores supports services for people in living in greater Nebraska.  
 Goodwill Industries of Greater Nebraska’s mission is to help people with disabilities or barriers achieve their goals and improve their quality of life.  The organization fulfills this mission every day by supporting people to find jobs that match their talents and gifts, teaching skills leading to increased independence, helping people through the process of recovery and empowering people to focus on their strengths and abilities rather than a diagnosis or disability. 
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Magic was in the air at the 24th Annual American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Dawson County with teams and sponsors raising a total of $37,153 surpassing the $35,000 goal set at the first of the year. More donations were expected to come in with teams continuing with fundraisers through the Summer.
“We are now just one more day closer to finding that magical cure and we all have one more day to spread hope and love to all those we come into contact with,” said Reuben Hoff, event chairperson of Cozad. “Let’s celebrate the fact the fundraising goal was met and even went above. That truly shows the magic that can happen when we all unite to fight this battle.”
Committee members, teams and volunteers set the stage for “A Cure Is A Magical Thing” beginning early afternoon last Friday at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Cozad. Several enchanting things appeared like Harry Potter and Hogwarts, a survivor witch, a princess castle bounce house and a pair of rabbit ears peeking from the Cure and Relay Magic hat near the Finance Wizard.
 Luminaria lined the sidewalk and teams set up camp sites in preparation. Later that afternoon, the skies darkened and a light rain started to fall. Opening ceremonies were delayed during the brief shower, but went on without a hitch. Many said it takes more than a little rain to stop Relay For Life!
The Cozad Honor Guard opened the event presenting the flags and Gothenburg’s Carter Kincheloe sang the National Anthem. State Senator Matt Williams of Gothenburg gave the opening remarks and a prayer as four honorary chairpersons prepared to lead the survivor and caregiver lap.
Honorary chairpersons were Melissa BeDunnah of Lexington, Reuben Hoff of Cozad, Joyce Olds of Cozad and Susan Williams of Gothenburg. They led a big crowd of survivors and caregivers together to symbolize unity in fighting cancer. Participants then lined up to enjoy a pulled pork meal.
Deejay Steve Clouatre of North Platte said he always enjoys his stint as Relay For Life Prince of Music and Fun. He and emcee Theresa Bubak of Cozad are veteran Relay entertainers and bring their own magic to the microphone. They were joined this year by the young Kincheloe who found out how much fun it is to be holding a microphone on stage. He charmed the crowd with his smile and enthusiasm.
A scavenger hunt and Harry Potter magic wands were big hits with all Hogwarts fans. Door prizes and the silent auction also were favorites with the crowd.
As participants continued to walk around the park, they were encouraged to light the candles in the luminaria bags.  A luminaria ceremony was conducted by Blanca Hernandez, Sylvia Prado and Briana Prado, all of Cozad. The three sisters were among the original Cozad High School FCCLA Pink Ladies Relay For Life team sponsored by FCCLA advisor Bonnie Hansen.  Hansen passed away this year after fighting breast cancer and the young women were asked to do the ceremony as a way to remember her positive influence.
This year’s Relay also included stories of hope and inspiration from survivors and caregivers. “What a magical night it was to hear all of the stories of peoples’ fight against cancer,” Hoff said.
Among the speakers was Gillian Meredith of Cozad who honored her grandfather Jerry Hemphill, a Vietnam veteran exposed to Agent Orange, for his courageous fighting spirit against cancer. Meredith was later named as the winner of the Relay For Life Spirit Award for inspiring planners with her request to do a magic theme this year.
This year’s Relay For Life fundraising included more than $17,500 from corporate sponsors. Many local businesses and individuals helped provide food and supplies for the meal including New Life Interiors, Shane Schutte, Peterson’s Supermarket, Plum Creek Market, Cody and Kristina Messersmith, People First of Dawson County, Family Dollar and Dollar General. The meal was served by volunteers from Cozad Community Hospital.
In addition, goods and services provided by City of Cozad, Johnny On The Spot, Culligan, Dawson Home, Natural Escapes, Brooks Screen Printing and Sign Pro helped make the event a success.
Teams and individuals fundraising for Relay included Angels Among Us, captain Kim Sutton; Anytime Fitness Warriors (no captain named); Lexington Regional Health Center, captain Kristina Messersmith; People First of Dawson County, sponsor Tricia Nix; Reuben Hoff, individual; R.S.C.S. (Relatively Speaking Cancer Sucks), team captains Chris Barnes and Candice Sartin; and W.C.S.G. Garden of Hope, captain Pam Ackerman.
Memorial gifts were received from families of Bonnie Hansen, Ruth Lif, Virgil Coryell and Bill Bailey.
“I want to thank everyone for all the hard work and hours you put in to make this event a success,” Hoff said. “It has been an honor to work with you and I hope we keep on fighting this battle against cancer as long as we can.”
Donations and memorials for Relay For Life are accepted throughout the year. Contact finance chairperson Pam Ackerman of Lexington at 308-324-2230 for assistance. The 2018 Relay will end August 31.
The 25th Annual American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Dawson County will be in Gothenburg. Anyone interested in helping plan the event may contact Sara McCarty at the American Cancer Society office in Kearney at 308-237-1631.
For more information about cancer, contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345; or visit the webpage at www.cancer.org For more information about Relay For Life, go to www.relayforlife.org
For more information about Dawson County Relay For Life, go to www.relayforlife.org/dawsoncone or visit Facebook at www.facebook.com/dawsonrelayforlife/
Cozad native Jessica Finnegan has returned to her hometown to practice as a Doctor of Physical Therapy at Cozad Community Physical Therapy.
“I’m thrilled to return to the community that’s supported me all of these years,” Finnegan said. “We have a great hospital system in Cozad and I knew that the Physical Therapy staff was amazing from my summers working here,” Finnegan continued.
Jessica Finnegan graduated from Cozad Community Schools in 2011 and delivered one of the valedictorian addresses at the commencement ceremony. Finnegan was also a three-sport athlete and involved in numerous school and community organizations and activities throughout her high school years. She gained valuable experience ‘shadowing’ at Cozad Community Physical Therapy during her sophomore and junior summers in high school. “Robert Dyer has been and will continue to be a wonderful mentor,” Finnegan expressed.
Jessica attended Hastings College where she majored in Biology and Exercise Science. She graduated with Magna Cum Laude honors in 2015. Finnegan worked as a Physical Therapist Tech a couple of summers during collegiate career.
Finnegan graduated in May 2018 from University of Nebraska Medical Center with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree. Her clinical rotations included stints at Sidney Regional Medical Center, Pediatrics at Children’s Rehabilitation in Grand Island, Homestead Rehabilitation in Lincoln, and St. Francis Memorial Hospital in West Point.
Finnegan said that her favorite part of her vocation is serving and treating a huge variety of patients of all ages, getting to meet new people and witness them progressing and meeting their goals.
Finnegan is the daughter of Dan and Cindy Finnegan of Cozad.
When asked about Finnegan returning to work at Cozad Community Physical Therapy Dr. Robert Dyer replied: “I personally feel that Jessica could have had the opportunity to work anywhere. Our community is extremely blessed to have such a young, talented and compassionate clinician return to her hometown. The fact that she chose to work here says a lot about our health system and the community of Cozad.”