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1995: Firefighters extinguish blaze at Hartington Hotel

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Feb. 7, 1990

HARTINGTON —The Hartington City Clerk’s office is in the process of computerizing the city’s accounting system.

The computer system was installed in December and the conversion will take several months.

According to City Clerk Alice Pommer the computer will make information more available.

“The city is growing and when there’s more people there’s more paperwork,” she said. The computer will make auditing and quarterly reports less complicated, too. There will be more information at our fingertips.”

Feb. 7, 1990

HARTINGTON — An assortment of illegal drugs was displayed Jan. 31 by State Trooper Gary Kinney at a meeting of the fledging organization. Forty people who attended a meeting at the Hartington Senior Center were told that “they have their work cut out for them,” if they wish to make a difference in the fight against drug abuse.

Feb. 7, 1990

ST. HELENA — Students at East Catholic School competed in various events Jan. 31 for Catholic Schools Week. Students from Bow Valley and St. Helena were in St. Helena for the events, which included an egg toss, a bubble blowing contest, and a freethrow contest.

Feb. 8, 1995

HARTINGTON — Fire officials blamed an electric blanket for a blaze that damaged the Hartington Hotel Wednesday morning.

Quick response to the fire is credited with keeping the blaze contained to the southwest end of the historic three-story facility.

Three rooms in the 24-room facility were completely gutted by the fire. The rest of the building suffered heavy smoke damage.

All 12 people staying in the facility were evacuated safely. No one has been allowed to inhabit the facility since the fire. The Nebraska Fire Marshall’s office is mandating that several changes be made before the facility can be opened again.

Hartington Hotel owner Jean Larson said she was awakened at about 6:30 Wednesday morning by her father, who said his electric blanket was on fire.

She called 911, then attempted to douse the flames herself using a fire extinguisher.

The Hartington Volunteer Fire Dept. responded to the fire and immediately started working to make sure everyone was out of the three-story brick building.

Hartington Fire Chief Gerald Fischer surveyed the situation and quickly called for backup support.

Fire departments from Coleridge, Crofton, Wynot and Fordyce responded. Over 50 fire fighters were poised and ready to battle the fire if needed.

Fischer said a combination of hard work, good planning and luck helped the fire fighters.

”Everything just fell into place for us,” Fischer said. “That building is just in a very critical place. We knew that with a good south wind, you could lose the entire block to a fire.”

Most of the area fire crews were able to leave the scene by 7:45 a.m. A Hartington fire crew stayed on the scene most of the morning inspecting the damage and making sure the fire was completely out.

Fischer said he was appreciative of all the help from the community and from all of the other fire departments.

The Hartington City Council on Monday was told the Hartington Hotel will not stay unattended for long.

Tim Kuchta told Council members Monday night the fire has had no affect on his plans to renovate the facility. City leaders had feared that Wednesday’s fire might keep developers from wanting to refurbish the historic building.

The city has been working with developers for several years on plans to renovate the 78-year old building.

The city obtained a $150,000 community block grant in 1992 from the Neb. Dept. of Economic Development to be used to help refurbish the facility.

A Missouri company had planned to turn the facility into an assisted living elderly housing unit. However, the company informed city officials last fall that it had failed to raise the necessary funding to renovate the facility and thus was backing out of the proposal.

The Neb. Dept. of Economic Development informed city officials in December that if a new developer was not found soon, the grant would be revoked.

Kuchta said he plans to refurbish the building into 18-20 apartment units for low to moderate income people. He expects the renovation project to take 1-2 years.

Kuchta’s plan does not limit housing to elderly or assisted living residents.

Hartington Mayor Gayle Hochstein said the project will fill a great void in Hartington.

Feb. 2, 2000

HARTINGTON—Cedar County Clerk Dave Dowling said there will be only one election this year for county office. The term of District Two Commissioner Marlen Kramer is up. Kramer has already filed for re-election to the post, which represents southern Cedar county.

Feb. 2, 2000

HARTINGTON—Holy Trinity Elementary students and teachers got to enjoy a special treat as part of Catholic Schools week. Gary and Brenda Palmer brought their hot air balloon to school for an all-school showand-tell.