A 93-year-old Chambers woman was killed Sunday after a house explosion on Sunday night.
According to the Holt County Attorney’s office, Chambers Fire and Rescue and O’Neill Fire and Rescue responded to a home explosion and fire South East of Chambers on Dec. 23. JoEllyn Lehmann was pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigation findings indicated the cause of explosion/fire to be accidental as a result of a propane release inside of the residence. An autopsy was requested and performed with the cause of death being accidental related to the explosion/fire. The investigation was conducted by the State Fire Marshal and Holt County Coroner.
The Nebraska State Patrol and Holt County Sheriff’s Department also responded to the scene.
Chambers is heading to state one act!
The Chambers cast and crew performed "The Book of Everything" for a first place finish at Monday's D2-3 District One Act Competition in Wynot.
They will perform on Wednesday, Dec. 5 in the 2018 Nebraska State Play Production Championships at the Johnny Carson Theater in Norfolk.
1. Chambers, "The Book of Everything"
2. Wynot, "Newsies"
3. Verdigre, "Maniac Manor"
4. Ewing, "A Thousand Cranes"
5. St. Mary's, "Upon a Sea of Dreams: A Journey on the Titanic"
6. Stuart, "The Spoofydoof's Funnybone"
7. Niobrara, "More Than a Soldier"
8. Keya Paha County, "They Eat Sunshine, Not Zebras"
Not even a broken down bus could stop Chambers from marching on.
As the Chambers band made its way to Grand Island for the Harvest of Harmony Parade, their bus broke down, leaving the band stranded.
Fortunately, the community pulled together to get the band to their competition. More than 20 band members, their director and all of their instruments piled into seven vehicles in order to make it to the parade on time.
The Chambers band was able to make it just in time to slip into their original entry slot #179 and march in the annual parade. Ninety-six bands competed in the contest.
Chambers student Wyatt Ehlers is one of five finalists in the Bank On Nebraska Challenge put on by the Nebraska Bankers Association (NBA).
The goal of the contest is to increase awareness of the important role Nebraska banks play in the well-being of communities, schools, and families.
With nearly 150 video entries from high school students from across the state, selecting the five finalists was not an easy task for Nebraska bankers. You’ll find a link to the top 20 videos on www.BankOnNE.com. Several members of the NBA’s Young Bankers of Nebraska Committee and the NBA Leadership Class of 2018 helped make the selections.
The winning student of the Bank On Nebraska Challenge will receive the top prize - a $2,000 scholarship. Five finalists will receive a MacBook and a $529 scholarship. The home schools of the five finalists will receive $529 in unrestricted funds to assist with school supplies, and the home school of the winner will receive an additional $2,000.
In addition, a $1,000 scholarship will be awarded to the funniest video. Also, $100 is being randomly awarded to 10 lucky winners out of the pool of contest participants.
Finalists, along with a parent/guardian/teacher, will be honored at the 2018 NBA Annual Convention on May 4 in La Vista, where the grand prize winner of the Bank On Nebraska Challenge and the funniest video will be announced.
You can vote for you favorite video at www.BankOnNE.com. Anyone can vote once per day during the voting period from April 6-20.
Mr. DeVries retires after 44 years of leading the band at Chambers.
He is presented by his former students with a customized golf cart. After only 60 hours being posted to "Go Fund Me", over $6,000.00 was raised. Congrats to Mr. DeVries on his retirement and his new golf cart.
After 44 years of shaping young musicians, Duane DeVries decided to call it a career and now his students are working to thank him for the lasting impact he has made on their lives.
The Chambers band director has spent three generations working with budding musicians. He has led the band on the field, in the stands and in the streets as he made marching band a way of life for many Chambers students.
"I am old enough to remember a band that didn’t get a one but we were the first group he got to buy in to his program," said 1979 graduate James Burtwistle. "I can still remember the first district music contest that we got a one. Du went completely bonkers. In fact, we all did. My freshman year he started taking some of us golfing. Understand, this was before golf was real popular. Well, 41 years later we are still golfing. His priorities are always intact though, if he has to play piano at the nursing home, mow a lawn for a senior citizen, or rehearse for a wedding, golf has to wait. He is a great teacher, a great musician, and most importantly a great person. I am so proud to call him a dear friend."
As one such former student, 1997 graduate Nate Metschke, said, every former pupil of Mr. DeVries knows his priorities include God, family, band, Huskers and golf. In return for his dedicated tutelage for nearly three generations, Metschke and other former band members are hoping to give thanks to DeVries with an accessory to take out for one of his priorities.
"A while back, Darci Fleek Macklem, the current president of the Chambers Band Aides, sent out an e-mail to alumni who had a current e-mail address on hand at the school. In her e-mail she stated that they wanted to raise money to get Mr. DeVries a golf cart as a retirement gift for his 44 years of service to the school and community," Metschke explained. "I talked to Darci this morning and asked if it would be okay for me to set up a gofundme account."
"We really want to honor Mr DeVries for dedicating his life to the Chambers Public school and our community," added Macklem, a 1990 Chambers graduate. "He has helped put Chambers on the map. You can't travel anywhere that they haven't heard of the Chambers Coyote Marching Band or Mr. DeVries. We, as a community and alumni want to thank him and show our appreciation for all that he has done here in Chambers."
The group is raising money to purchase DeVries with a specialized "Chambers customized" golf cart to take on the links during retirement as a reminder of the impact he has had on the students of Chambers for many years.
"We have all been impacted by Mr. DeVries for the past 44 years," Metschke said.
"My experience growing up in Chambers was top notch," Metschke continued. "The pride that Mr. DeVries instilled in us was unbelievable. I learned so much from him as a student, and I still learn from him as he comes and listens to my band at Neligh-Oakdale when he can. My favorite memory would have to be our marching season where we played Mocombo. I have no idea how he pulled it off, but as a teacher now, it was an unbelievable group effort! We definitely got a class A band experience at a class D school."
Metschke and other former band members have set up a GoFundMe account for any former Chambers students to help fund the cart. A decision on whether it will be possible to afford the cart is needed by Thursday, June 22 in order to have enough time to get it customized. If the funds are met to purchase the specialized cart, DeVries will be presented with the gift after his final performance as head of the Chambers Band.
He will direct current and former Chambers band members during the town's annual Fourth of July Talent Show. Metschke hopes that many former members can join the band to help send off DeVries properly.
"Mr. DeVries picked out 10 songs that we plan to play," Metschke explained. "We will practice at the school at 3:30 p.m. on the Fourth and perform at 7 p.m. at the park for the talent show. This will be his final time directing us, and if it's even half as much fun as his surprise 40th Christmas Program band, it will be wonderful. I'm hopeful that lots of current high school students will join us, as their lips are in shape, and well, maybe some of us haven't been practicing like we should."
At the conclusion of the performance, the plan is to present DeVries with his personalized cart. However, Metschke stressed that while the plan is being made openly online, it is important to keep it a secret from DeVries who fortunately doesn't spend much time online.
"I'm sure he will be speechless, but this gesture is a small token of appreciation for all of the lives that he has touched," said Metschke.
Anyone wanting to donate can do so at https://www.gofundme.com/mr-devries-retirement-golf-cart. If anyone is wanting to join the band at the talent show, they are encouraged to contact Metschke at email@example.com so he can send them the music to practice beforehand.
Chambers/Wheeler Central fans will have plenty to cheer about next week as they head to the state track meet in Omaha to support seven of their own.
Six boys and one girl will represent the Renegades at Omaha Burke. Jacie Laetsch will be the lone girl representative for CWC. She will take part in the long jump and triple jump.
For the boys, the 4x400 relay team of Derek Mahoney, Nicholas Haburchak, Daniel Libolt and Connor Croxen earned a spot. Patrick Tomjack will represent CWC in the 110 hurdles. Croxen will also compete in the 100 meter dash and pole vault. Finally, Trevor Klabenes will take part in the shot put.
The Chambers/Wheeler Central girls struggled through an uncharacteristically poor shooting day on Wednesday at the Cyclone Holiday Tournament in a 37-20 loss to Elkhorn Valley. As a team, they shot just 21 percent from the floor.
Jacie Laetsch led the Renegades with seven points from the floor. Regan Dierks added six points while Taylor Peter was responsible for five. Dierks and Peter were also strong under the rim, pulling in 12 and 7 rebounds, respectively.
In the boys game, the Renegades were seemingly unstoppable from the floor, with five players reaching double figures in scoring in a 63-44 win over Elkhorn Valley.
Connor Croxen led all Renegades with 16 points. Carter Croxen added 12 points while Zane Patrick and Daniel Libolt finished with 11 each. Logan Pelster dropped in 10 more points as well. All five double-digit scorers shot better than 43 percent on the night.
Libolt also had a strong night finding those scorers, dishing out six assists and also leading the team with five rebounds and four steals.
Two Renegades posted big nights to lead Chambers/Wheeler Central to two wins on Saturday in Tilden.
In the girls game, Jacie Laetsch scored 22 of the Renegades' 38 points to lead them to a 38-29 victory over Elkhorn Valley.
Laetsch shot 50 percent on the night, including three of eight from behind the arc. Taylor Peter was the only other Renegade to score more than three points, adding seven points on the night. She also added 11 rebounds while Regan Dierks added 14.
In the boys game, Daniel Libolt connected on 63 percent of his shots to lead CWC to a 60-40 victory over the Falcons.
Libolt finished the night with 26 points, five assists, four rebounds and four steals. Zane Patrick added 12 points and four rebounds while Connor Croxen added 10 points, four assists and four steals.
Hampton entered Friday's showdown with Chambers/Wheeler Central undefeated for a reason.
They dominated much of the game, taking down the Renegades in straight sets 25-14, 25-20, 25-16.
Statistics for the Renegades will be added as they become available.
CWC now falls to a consolation game showdown on Saturday against the loser of the Exeter-Milligan versus Wynot game.