First steps are dependent on the Legislature approving a request for $24.9 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds. If approved, construction could begin on critical infrastructure improvements in 2023.
Patrick Kopke of Hastings also was ordered to pay $158,170 in restitution and perform 300 hours of community service as part of his sentence Friday.
Virus transmissions originating from the fair are likely, if not a sure thing, Central District Health Director Teresa Anderson said. “I don’t think we’ve made a huge impact on any behaviors at the State Fair.”
The experiential classroom includes programming such as “Meet a Farmer” with Midwest Dairy and the UNL Mobile Beef Lab from Nebraska Extension and 4-H. "It's fabulous for the kids," a Wood River teacher said.
“We’ve had parents and grandparents come out and watch us, and it’s always great to have a chance to come out to Grand Island and enjoy the fair,” the director of Wahoo Bishop Neumann's band said.
The fair has a number of COVID-19 protocols in place, although there is no requirement to wear masks anywhere on the fairgrounds.
Hall County District Judge Andrew Butler could give Patrick Kopke up to 20 years in prison on each charge at his sentencing and restitution hearing in October.
Skid Row and Warrant will perform Tuesday, Aug. 31, at the Heartland Events Center during the Nebraska State Fair.
After the money-losing 2019 event and changes in management, the fair appears to be in a strong financial position.
An annual audit shows the fair wound up with a net profit of more than $1.7 million last year, compared with a net loss of nearly $1.5 million in 2019.
Board members voted to approve what was described as a "conservative" budget for 2021, but Jeremy Jensen, a former Grand Island mayor who represents the city on the fair board, criticized the board's transparency and said he'd resign.
Patrick Kopke resigned from his job after a state audit showed a company he created was paid nearly $150,000 in state fair funds and no invoices showing the company had done any work for the fair.
The court filing provides few details, but it's likely the charges stem from issues that were raised in a state audit of the fair's finances earlier this year.
There will be no concerts inside the Heartland Events Center, but musicians will perform outdoors in the evenings.
Ten food vendors and 20 commercial vendors will be on hand for this year’s Nebraska State Fair.
The audit alleges the fair's former finance officer put two checks for nearly $150,000 into an account that he used to pay for a truck, trailer, ATV and personal credit card bills.
Plans are to host 4-H exhibits and contests on the first weekend of the fair, and FFA activities on the second weekend. The fair might "go dark" during the week, director Bill Ogg said.
Jaime Parr, interim executive director of the fair, said leaders have come up with six scenarios for the fair, which is scheduled from Aug. 28-Sept. 7. Do you think the fair should go on?
Nebraska State Fair officials are still planning — and hoping — to hold a full-fledged fair on schedule this summer.