Mrs. Kottich’s gift of reading a lasting one

Diana Kottich was a person who had many interests in her life. None topped her love for children.  

Not only were her children and grandchildren held in high esteem, but also the students she came in contact with over the years. After her recent passing from a long battle with cancer, Diana’s family gathered to determine what to do with the memorial monies given in her honor. A healthy donation was given to help support the efforts of the Richardson County Cancer Fund. A discussion ensued regarding the balance of the funds.  

“It was decided (by unanimous vote) to establish a fund for the kindergarten kids, a group Diana dearly loved to work with,” her husband, Steve, said.

Consequently, “Mrs. Kottich’s Kids” was born.  

Beginning with this week’s book fairs being held at Falls City Public and Sacred Heart Schools, each and every kindergarten student in Falls City will receive a free book courtesy of the Diana L. Kottich Memorial Fund. 

Teachers and staff will select a group of books for the students to pick from. Kindergarteners will get to pick out their own books from this approved list. These gifts will be given every year during the spring book fair at the schools. It is reasoned that the spring book fair is the best time to do this as the youngsters have developed and acquired reading skills by this juncture of the school year.  

Mrs. Kottich passed away last December at the age of 58. She was born and raised in Falls City and, after graduating from UNL, returned home and taught elementary education at North and South Schools. For more than 30 years, Diana was an endearing figure to the hundreds of children she taught, as well as a multitude of educators she worked alongside. 

Upon being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, friends and family launched “Team Diana,” andFalls City was quickly painted teal, the color designated to promote ovarian cancer awareness. Boxes upon boxes of “Team Diana” shirts were sold last spring, as faculty members and students from all the schools for a day donned the uniform teal. Furthermore, the “Team Diana Merz Kottich” Facebook page garnered 600 fans in its first week. 

“We are thrilled and excited to initiate this program for the kindergartners,” Diana’s husband, Steve, said.

“Especially thrilled because we know Diana loves this. She loved reading and loved the kids,” he said.

Pioneer All-Conference Basketball


First Team

Noah Vasa, Sr.NCL

Austin Malone, Sr.FCSH

Hayden Albers, Sr.Southern

Nolan Schafer, Jr.HTRS

Logan Scheitel, Sr.FCSH

Second Team 

Ely Hroch, Sr.Diller-Odell

Tyler Gyhra, Sr.Pawnee City

Hayden Miller, Soph.NCL

Austin Lovell, Sr.Southern

Dalton Anderson, Jr.Lewiston

Third Team

David Segner, Sr.Friend

Devon Clark, Soph.J-B

Tanner Shea, Sr.Sterling

Eli Herr, Jr.HTRS

Austin Vitosh, Sr.Diller-Odell

Honorable Mention

Tom Gress, Sr.NCL

Micah Erickson, Soph.Sterling

Dylan Benson, Soph.Sterling

Bladen Ahl, Jr.Diller-Odell

Nathan Derr, Jr.Friend

Schuyler Kuhlmann, Sr.HTRS

Jaxson Balm, Soph.J-B

Ryan Husa, Jr.Lewiston

Ted Gyhra, Jr.Pawnee City

Atreyu King, Sr.Southern

Bryant Jorn, Soph.FCSH


First Team 

Abby Magdanz, Sr.FCHS

Taylor Cockerill, Soph.Sterling

Maggie Goltz, Jr.FCSH

Jenny Lawver, Sr.Friend

Raeleigh Menke, Fr.Friend

Second Team 

Elizabeth Magdanz, Sr.FCSH

Madison Jurgens, Soph.D-O

Laura Box, Soph.NCL

Jenna Habegger, Sr.Pawnee City

Erika Goracke, Jr.Sterling

Third Team 

Abbee Buss, Sr.Southern

Sam Heng, Sr.NCL

Josie Vitosh, Sr.Diller-Odell

Sam Due, Sr.Friend

Jessica Bohling, Jr.J-B

Bailey Kahler, Jr.Sterling

Honorable Mention

Jade Hill, Soph.FCHS

Lexi Ryan, Jr.Friend

Madison Hajek, Soph.D-O

Allie Binder, Fr.HTRS

Emily Zvolanek, Soph.Southern

Kendra Alberts, Sr.J-B

Brooke Wehrbein, Sr.Lewiston

Beki Warga, Sr.NCL

Shelby Hundley, Sr.Pawnee City

Becky Williams, Sr.Sterling

Fatal Accident at Shubert Corner

A 66-year-old Lincoln man was pronounced dead at Lincoln Bryan LGH West Monday morning, as a result of a violent collision between two Ford pickups at the Shubert corner, where Highways 67 and 62 meet. 

Gary Ossenkop was eastbound in a Ford F-150 at about 8 a.m. and investigators believe the blinding rising sun on the horizon, combined with unfamiliarity with the local highways, caused him to run through the stop sign where the east-west Highway 62 meets north-south 67, just east of Shubert. When he did, a southbound F-150, driven by Charles “Chuck” O’Grady, 55, a Falls City native who lives in Omaha, traveling about 60 miles per hour, struck Ossenkop’s vehicle almost directly on the driver’s side door. All airbags in both vehicles deployed. 

O’Grady was wearing his seatbelt and escaped severe injury. Richardson County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Frederick, who responded to the scene with Sheriff Don Pounds, said it’s unknown if Ossenkop was wearing his seatbelt. 

Both men were transported to Community Medical Center in Falls City by Nemaha County Rescue and Ossenkop was then taken by Life Flight to Lincoln. He was pronounced dead at 11:14 a.m.

Immediately following the accident, Ossenkop was in a great amount of pain, but was able to communicate with rescue personnel. 

“He was coherent - he knew what medical personnel were telling him,” Dep. Frederick said. 

In addition to the members of the Sheriff’s Dept., members of the Stella Fire Dept. and RC Emergency Managment Director Brian Dixon were also on the scene. 

Tigers, Irish both No. 5 seeds this weekend

Falls City Sacred Heart and Falls City High School boys’ basketball teams are both District Champions and both will take No. 5 seeds in their respective classes in this weekend’s State Basketball Tournament beginning Thursday in Lincoln. 

The 22-3 Tigers will play 20-5 Columbus Scotus at 3:45 p.m. Thursday at the Devaney Center in Lincoln. School will dismiss early: North and South Schools will dismiss at 11:15 a.m; Middle School at 11:20 and the High School at 11:30. If the Tigers win on Thursday, there will be no school on Friday, March 13. If the Tigers lose, school will go ahead as planned on Friday with a normal schedule. 

The public is invited to attend a pep rally at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, at McIntyre-Henderson Field House in FCHS. 

Sacred Heart, 20-6, will be at Lincoln Southeast at 8:45 p.m. to face Riverside on Thursday. Sacred Heart School will dismiss at 11:30 a.m., giving the Irish fans a chance to support the Tigers. Sacred Heart will not have school on Friday due to the late game on Thursday night. A pep rally is planned for Sacred Heart at 11 a.m. Thursday.

The Tigers are making a second straight trip to the state tournament and 28th overall in school history. It’s Falls City’s third trip under the direction of Coach Don Hogue, who is the school’s all-time winningest coach and earned his 200th win in this season’s opener. FC went 47 years before taking the District Title in 2010.

Thursday’s first-round game with Columbus Scotus is the first-ever meeting between the schools in boys basketball. Scotus, which earned a wildcard after losing the district final by nine points to top-ranked and No. 1 Wahoo Bishop Neumann, is only appearing at state for the sixth time ever and last year’s third-place finish was it’s highest finish. The winner of Thursday’s game at Devaney will very likely face the defending champs at 10:15 a.m. Friday.

It’s been 52 years since the Tigers won at the State Tournament - they beat Minden 56-51 to win Class B in 1963. The game, played at the Lincoln Coliseum, was a sellout and Bill Schock of The Journal reported at least 250 Tiger fans were turned away at the gate, forced to either watch the game on TV or listen to the car radio on their way back to FC. Scalpers, he noted, were asking for as much as $2.50 for the 75-cent tickets.

The Tigers, as it turned out, didn’t need to beat Boys Town in last week’s District Final - and perhaps shouldn’t have. FC would’ve earned a wildcard berth and might have appeared in the other side of the bracket with a No. 6 or 7 seed. As it stands, FC has to beat C1’s top two teams to advance to Saturday’s title game.

The Irish are making a fourth straight trip to the state tournament and 19th overall in school history. It’s Sacred Heart’s 15th trip under the direction of Coach Doug Goltz, who is 29-6 all-time in state tourney games. He went 19 tourney games that spanned a period of more than 15 years before first suffering the agony of defeat in 2003 (Spencer-Naper, semifinals). Goltz’ teams have captured eight championships (1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2008). 

Whether it’s Karma or coincidence, it’s worth noting that the Irish finished third in both the 2013 and 2014 state tournaments - just like the Lady Irish, who Saturday captured the 2015 D2 State Title with a five-point win over four-time champ Wynot. 

— Sophomore big man Bryant Jorn, a 6-4, 270-pound round mound of rebound, has found a different gear in the ‘15 postseason. He averaged 16 points in the two subdistrict wins, scoring 17 in FCSH’s 57-53 double-overtime win over Lincoln Parkview Christian, then had nine points and nine rebounds in his team’s 57-42 blowout victory over Exeter-Milligan in the District Final. Senior Logan Scheitel was on fire in that one, hitting 11-of-12 free throws and 3-of-5 threes in a 24-point effort. 

— Sacred Heart’s first round opponent, Riverside, located in Cedar Rapids, is making just its second state tournament appearance ever and first since 1927. The Chargers handed Wilcox-Hildreth, D2’s second seed, just its second loss of the season in the District Final, 48-36. 

An Irish victory late Thursday night sends them to the 3:45 p.m. Friday semifinal likely against top-seeded, top-ranked defending Class D2 State Champion Bancroft-Rosalie at the Devaney Center. It would be a rematch of last year’s semifinal, where the Panthers beat FCSH 58-50 en route to the D2 title.

Irish to face Exeter Tuesday in Beatrice

Falls City Sacred Heart's thrilling 57-53 double-overtime win over Parkview Christian Thursday in Auburn sets up a Class D2-1 District Final against Exeter-Milligan at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Beatrice High School.

The loser, regardless, is in a good position for one of two state tournament wildcard berths, as the 18-6 Timberwolves and 19-6 Irish are 4th and 5th, respectively, in today's wildcard point standings, and Nos. 1, 2 and 3 (Bancroft-Rosalie, Wilcox and Minatare) won their respective subdistricts and enter Tuesday District Finals as favorites.

That's not to say Tuesday's game in Beatrice will be without drama: It was the Timberwolves who ended FC Sacred Heart's football season on a frigid afternoon back in November.