By Nikki McKim and Jason Schock
With an increasingly vocal contigent of Falls City residents mounting an effort to ban alcohol sales for wedding receptions at Prichard Auditorium, and now seemingly a second consistent “nay” vote coming on individual liquor license requests, the City Council had plenty to fight about Monday night, as the issue was placed on the agenda by local retired businessman Bruce Walker. The discussion instantly warmed up and is likely to simmer for the foreseeable future.
But the Council was unified – delighted, even – when Councilman Don Ferguson requested that The City rename “Old Highway 73” in honor of one of its legendary sons: George William “Bill” Schock, Falls City High School athletic standout, war hero and long-time community activist and Falls City Journal owner/publisher.
Ferguson read a statement submitted by “Don Baldwin and Friends” regarding the name change:
“A request is being made by several citizens of Falls City to rename or incorporate the name of George William ‘Bill’ Schock to what is now called ‘Old Highway 73.’ This renaming would honor a beloved community leader, respected World War II veteran and POW at the approaching end of what is now known as “The Greatest Generation.”
To which Ferguson added, “Personally, I think that is a good request for a good man, so I would like to see us maybe attach his name to the street sign at what is now ‘Old Highway 73.’”
Some questions were raised about where exactly this road would start and end. Ferguson proposed it start at 28th and Harlan Streets in front of Lems Northvue Café and continue to 35th Street. He also explained that this change would not result in any address changes and would be an attachment like at Stanton Lake.
A motion was made to incoprate the name “Bill Schock BLVD” from 28th and Harlan Street to 35th Street was made by Ferguson. Before a final vote was taken, Alan Romine addressed the Council, requesting to petition the state and have “Bill Schock BLVD” start at the Nebraska/Kansas state line, run through Falls City, all the way to 35th Street.
But because Ferguson’s motion was made for just “Old Highway 73” it was voted on and unanimously approved.
Bill has been a lifetime resident of Falls City, graduating from FC High School, where he was a heralded football and basketball player under Hall of Fame Coach Jug Brown. He went on to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. While in Lincoln, Bill roomed with Heisman Trophy runner-up, Olympic shot put medalist and NFL No. 1 overall draft pick Sam Francis, perhaps the greatest athlete in Nebraska history.
Following high school graduation, Bill worked for The Journal until entering service during World War II. He served five years in the Army and Army Air Corps. He was commissioned a second lieutenant and received his pilot’s wings at Roswell, NM, in May of 1943. Bill became a B-17 bomber co-pilot, then pilot, and flew out of England with the 8th Air Force. He was shot down on his 25th mission over enemy-occupied Europe and became a German prisoner of war at Stalag Luft I on the Baltic Sea for 13 months. Decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters.
Following his discharge from the service, he married Dorothy Lunsford and they had two children, son, Scott, and daughter, Laurie. Dorothy passed away in 2008, two years after the Schocks celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.
Bill worked a year as a Richardson County service officer before rejoining The Journal as a sports editor. Then he served as city editor, then editor and became publisher of the paper in 1973.
He is a past president of the Falls City Rotary Club and the Nebraska Outstate Daily Publishers Association. He served on the Richardson County Veterans Service Committee for 34 years, many of those years as chairman; served a term on the Falls City City Council; two terms on the Falls City Board of Education, serving as President and spear-heading a successful effort to build North and South Elementary Schools; six years on the Community Hospital Board of Directors; over 20 years on the Board of Directors of the Falls City Savings and Loan Association, the Nebraska Committee for Employer Support and the Guard and Reserve. Bill has served on numerous boards; is a member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Ex-Prisoners of War, and the Elks Club.
At 96 years old, Bill continues to work five days a week at the Falls City Journal. He has three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Bill Schock has been, and continues to be, a unifying presence in the community.
The subject of alcohol sales at Prichard Auditorium, on the other hand…
After voting 6-2 (Council members Judy Murphy and John Vaughn voted “nay,” while Ferguson, Steve Scholl, Jim Wisdom, Angie Nolte, Mike Dougherty and newly appointed representative of the 4th Ward, Anthony Nussbaum, approved the requests) in favor of four special designated liquor license requests for wedding receptions at Prichard Auditorium, the City Council heard passionate pleas from members of the community against their decision.
Walker addressed the Council, urging them to think of the example they are setting for the younger people in the community.
“Our public buildings and streets should be free of alcohol. I encourage the Council not to bypass this ordinance in any future events.”
Following Walker’s plea to the Council, Pastor Stephen Floyd read a prepared statement on the same topic.
“It has been brought to my attention that although the city ordinance does not allow the possession or selling of alcohol on City property, you are again preparing to make exceptions to that rule,” he said.
Pastor Floyd offered some “practical things” for the Council to think over, such as someone’s individual reaction to alcohol, drunken disorderliness and death.
“I’m sure your Council lawyer has it all figured out how you won’t be held liable if someone is killed in an accident on the way home,” he said.
To that, Councilman Vaughn addressed the room, saying he agreed with Mr. Walker and Pastor Floyd
“I have to agree with them; I think we are not in competition with other places who do this kind of stuff and I don’t think we should be in competition with other places who do this stuff.”
Chuck Smith also addressed the Council with a passionate plea of his own, suggesting there is no reason to have liquor at the auditorium for funcitions.
“Mom’s and Dad’s go up there, buy a drink and set it in front of their kids,” he said. “You have to have the police walk through every now and then, and that is allowed. You wont stop that but you will eliminate one more place where that can happen. “
Scholl turned to Police Chief Duane Armbruster and asked if they would have time to send an officer into a dance.
“We do occasionally, but to be honest with you, we haven’t had any reports of problems,” Armbruster said.
Smith finished by stating that “little kids, middle school, whatever, are beginning, and high school kids already have the idea that the only way they can have fun is they are blasted out of my head or whatever. It’s not sending a good and proper example.”
City Clerk Gary Jorn intervened, explaining the history behind allowing alcohol to be served at Prichard Auditorium. He said a citizen came to City officials requesting to use the auditorium because the venue previously booked – Camp Rulo – was at the time inundated by the Missouri River. Since Camp Rulo was one of only a couple facilities in the area big enough to host a reception of several hundred people and since the Missouri River seemingly came out of its banks every summer, requests to utilize the auditorium only increased.
Each liquor application request is judged on a case-by-case basis. Murphy for years has cast “no” votes on application requests and Vaughn, who just recently took a seat on the Council, is building a similar voting record.