TIMELINES

Keith Blackledge Timeline


1926, November 29: Keith Lester Blackledge is born in Sheridan, Wyoming, to Isla (Polly) and Victor Raymond Blackledge. 1930, September: The Blackledges move from Sheridan, Wyoming, to Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Keith was nearly 4 years old. 1931, July 31: Blackledge’s brother, Walter McKinley, is born in Scottsbluff. 1936: Blackledge’s parents purchase their first home at 2623 Second Avenue in Scottsbluff where Blackledge’s close and lifelong friendship with Gene Chase would begin. There were a number of Second Avenue Blackledge homes in Scottsbluff—2015 and 2503—and also a house on 3rd Avenue. 1937: The 11-year-old Blackledge finds a racing pigeon wedged in the crossbars of the city water tower. The bird’s owner was traced through newspaper and wire service stories. Blackledge said later the experience taught him that journalism is a way to get things done. 1942, September - 1943, October: Blackledge is a paper route carrier for the Scottsbluff Daily Star-Herald. 1943: In the middle of his junior year, at Scottsbluff High School, Blackledge and his family move to Los Angeles, California, where Keith’s father is stationed with a coast artillery unit in the U.S. Army. 1943, spring: Blackledge participates in an Easter retreat during his first year at Belmont High School in Los Angeles and enters into what he calls a religious phase. During that time he read the Bible from beginning to end while sitting in a closet. 1943, summer: Blackledge works as a blister-rust control worker and crew chief for the United States Department of the Interior in Yosemite National Park, California. 1944: Blackledge, age 17, graduates from Belmont High School in Los Angeles. He received numerous awards for his journalistic endeavors in classes and on the school newspaper. 1944, June-1945, January: Blackledge participates in the Army Specialized Training Reserve Program at Oregon State University at Corvallis. He would earn a pre-engineering certificate. 1944, June: Blackledge begins active duty infantry training with the United States Army at Camp Fannin, Texas. 1945: When the war ends Blackledge participates in an advanced infantry course in Alabama. He is sent to the Philippines. Rank: Technician 4th Grade. 1946, September 23-October 14, 1946: Blackledge leaves the Philippines and returns to Scottsbuff. 1947, summer: Blackledge is a regional delivery truck driver and assistant in the job-shop bindery for the Scottsbluff Daily Star-Herald. He also takes flying lessons, earns a license and completed several solo fights, but he would not keep his license current. 1947, January-1947, June: Blackledge is in the pre-journalism program at Scottsbluff Junior College. He is the editor of the college newspaper and yearbook. 1947, September: Blackledge enrolls in the University of Missouri College of Journalism, fall semester. 1948-1950: Blackledge is a part-time waiter, bartender and fry cook at Charlie’s Café and The Stein Club in Columbia while he continues his studies at the University of Missouri. 1948: During his second semester at the University of Missouri, Blackledge purchases his first car, a 1928 Model A coupe, for $150. The car eventually would develop starter problems requiring the driver and/or passengers to maneuver the vehicle on hills. 1948, summer: Blackledge participates in a six-week ROTC summer camp at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado. 1948, October: Blackledge is one of seven Air Force unit members designated “Distinguished Military Student.” He also ties with another student for the highest score in the nation in the ROTC armament course tests. 1949, June 3: Blackledge receives a commission as a second lieutenant, U.S. Air Force Reserve. He had completed two years of advanced ROTC during his first two years at the University of Missouri. 1949, August 21: Blackledge and fellow journalism student from Scottsbluff, Jo Ann Hull, marry in Scottsbluff. 1950, June 9: Blackledge and Jo Ann graduate from the University of Missiouri. Blackledge earned a bachelor of journalism degree from the University’s College of Journalism. 1950-1952: Blackledge is on active duty as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force serving at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver as a training squadron adjutant. His rank on release from active duty was first lieutenant. 1951, October 8: Gene Clayton, the couple’s first son, is born in Denver. The baby was named after Blackledge’s boyhood and lifelong friend, Gene Chase. 1952, May 8-September 20, 1952: Blackledge is editor of the Russell (Kansas) Daily News. 1952, fall: Blackledge arrives in North Platte as a reporter/sports editor for the North Platte Daily Telegraph-Bulletin. 1952, July 25: Blackledge, while on vacation, takes a photo of Nebraska’s all-around high school cowboy champ as the young cowboy ties a calf at the National High School Rodeo at Harrison, Nebraska. Blackledge snapped the shot moments before a saddle bronc trampled him sending the photographer to the hospital in Lusk, Wyoming, for treatment of his injuries. 1953, May 14: Mark Allan, Blackledge’s middle son, is born in North Platte. 1953, November 16: Blackledge moves from the sports desk at the Telegraph-Bulletin sports to become an assistant editor and concentrate on news reporting. Blackledge former sports editor Jimmie Kirkman would be splitting the writing duties of the sports column, Dots and Dashes. 1956, May 22: Victor Roy, Blackledge’s youngest son, is born in North Platte. 1956, September: Blackledge is named managing editor of the Telegraph-Bulletin. 1957-1958: Blackledge serves as vice president of the Nebraska Jaycees. 1958-1959: Blackledge is president of the North Platte Jaycees. 1959, September 2: Blackledge is named Nebraska Outstanding Young Man by the Nebraska Jaycees at its state convention in Grand Island. In January of that year he was selected North Platte Jaycees’ Outstanding Young Man. 1959, January 1: Blackledge, age 33, resigns his position as managing editor of the Telegraph-Bulletin to take a position with the news staff of the Miami (Fla.) Herald. He would head the Fort Lauderdale news bureau. 1960, November 11: Blackledge becomes assistant city editor of the Miami Herald. 1961, March 6-17: Blackledge participates in the American Press Institute for managing editors and publishers at Columbia University in New York. 1961, late summer: Blackledge leaves the Miami Herald to return to Nebraska. 1961-1964: Blackledge teaches part-time at the University of Nebraska School of Journalism while taking graduate classes in history. He also worked part-time on Saturday nights at the Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal on the copy desk. 1964-1967: Blackledge is editorial writer, city editor and assistant managing editor of the Dayton (Ohio) Journal Herald. 1965: Blackledge is a part-time lecturer at Ohio State University in Columbus. He teaches an editorial writing class one day a week. 1967: Blackledge returns to the North Platte Telegraph as its new executive editor. 1968: Mary Ann Koch joins the Telegraph first as a typesetter and later a bookkeeper. She would eventually join the news staff and finally serve as regional editor. 1975: Blackledge is named editor and director of community affairs and a short time later editor and vice president of the North Platte Telegraph. 1975, October 18: Six members of the Henry Kellie family of Sutherland are murdered. The accused killer Erwin Charles Simants is apprehended in Sutherland in the early morning hours the next day. 1975, October 22: During the preliminary hearing of Erwin Charles Simants Lincoln County Court Judge Ronald Ruff enters the first gag order that restricts the news coverage. Before the case is decided by the United States Supreme Court, there would be four restrictive orders entered against the press. Blackledge fought all of them. 1975: Blackledge is a member of the steering committee for construction of the Lincoln County Historical Museum. 1975: Blackledge receives the North Platte Sertoma Club Service to Mankind award. 1975-1977: Blackledge chairs the Nebraska Committee for the Humanities (Humanities Nebraska). He had been a board member from the time of its initial organization in 1972. 1976, June 30: Blackledge along with journalists around the country note the significance of this day because the United States Supreme Court decision in the landmark free press/fair trial case favored the press. The crime and the press restrictions that led to the decision in Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart began in North Platte and at the newspaper. 1978: Blackledge plays an instrumental role in launching the Mid-Nebraska Community Foundation, an organization serving people and non-profit causes in North Platte and the surrounding area. 1980: Blackledge receives the Nebraska Committee for the Humanities Sower Award for his contributions to the humanities as a member of the general public. 1981: Blackledge wins the Inland Press Association William Allen White Editorial Excellence Sweepstakes Award. This is the top award selected from among the four WAW Editorial Excellence Award recipients for a given year. 1981-1984: Blackledge is a founding member and chair of the Nebraska Foundation for the Humanities. 1982-1984: Blackledge is a board member of the five-state Old West Trail Foundation. 1983-1985: Blackledge is the president of the Mid-Nebraska Community Foundation. 1985, May 3: Blackledge’s first marigold campaign editorial is published. 1985: Blackledge wins the Inland Press Association William Allen White Editorial Excellence Award, first place for newspapers of 10,000-25,000 circulation 1987-1993: Blackledge is a member of the Nebraska State Colleges Board of Trustees. On February 21, 1989, he provided testimony on behalf of the board at a public hearing before the legislative Education Committee concerning Kearney State College leaving the state college system to become part of the University of Nebraska. KSC joined the university system in 1991. 1991-1992: Blackledge chairs the Nebraska Council for Public Higher Education, a group representing the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska, the Trustees of the State Colleges, and the governing boards of the six community college areas in the state. 1991-1997: Blackledge is board member of the Public Radio Nebraska Foundation, which included one term as board president. 1992: Blackledge and Jo Ann divorce. 1992, March 1: Blackledge is named the Telegraph’s senior editor, which he called a step toward retirement. Upon full retirement he would continue to write his weekly column Your Town and Mine until his death in 2010. 1992: Blackledge receives the University of Nebraska Alumni Achievement Award. 1992-1993: Blackledge is the regional vice president of the Nebraska Humanities Foundation. 1993: Blackledge chairs the fundraising campaign for an addition to the Lincoln County Historical Society Museum. 1993: Blackledge is a member of the steering committee for the Great Plains Chautauqua in North Platte 1993: Blackledge begins Things I Wish My Father Had Told Me, a family history, which he would later give to his three sons. 1994, September 2-4: The first Telegraph news staff alumni reunion is held in North Platte. Blackledge often referred to the alums as the Telegraph’s children. Other reunions would follow over the years with the last one held in Lincoln in 2005 when Blackledge was inducted into the Nebraska Press Association Hall of Fame. 1994, September 17: Blackledge marries Mary Ann Koch. 1994: Blackledge receives the Joe di Natale Award from the North Platte Jaycees. 1994-2002: Blackledge is a member of the Nebraska Educational Telecommunications Commission including one term as chairman. 1996: University of Nebraska College of Journalism Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Service to the Profession by a non-alumnus. 1996: Blackledge is the recipient of the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Ike Friedman Community Leadership Award from one of the state’s premier non-profit organizations. 1998: Blackledge initiates the formation of Habitat for Humanity in North Platte. He would serve three years as its first president. 2001: Blackledge is named to the North Platte Area Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame. 2002: Blackledge is named a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International. 2002: Blackledge chairs the Nebraska State Historical Society Board of Trustees. He was a board member from 1998-2003. 2003: Blackledge and Mary Ann spend two months in Americus, Georgia, working as volunteers in the headquarters office of Habitat for Humanity International. 2004-2005: Blackledge is co-chair of the state steering committee in support of Amendment 1 to provide a tax incentive for historical preservation. The measure would be signed into Nebraska law in 2005. 2005, October 7: Blackledge is inducted into the Nebraska Press Association Hall of Fame. 2005: A Short History of North Platte and the Election of 1951 is published. 2005: Blackledge receives the Nebraska Preservation Award from the Nebraska State Historical Society. 2005: Blackledge receives the Sower Award from the Nebraska Humanities Council. 2006: Blackledge receives the Wagonmaster Award at the NEBRASKAland Foundation Statehood Day dinner. 2007, April 26: Jo Ann Hull Blackledge dies at Bryan Memorial Hospital in Lincoln. 2007: Blackledge receives the Distinguished Service Award from Chadron State College and gives the commencement address. 2008: Letters Home, a collection of letters Blackledge wrote to his parents and brother Walter during his time in the Army during and just after World War II, is published. 2008: Blackledge receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Lincoln County Historical Society. 2009: Blackledge’s book, That Town Fights about Everything: Selected Arguments that Shaped North Platte: An Informal History, is published. 2010 late spring: Blackledge and his longtime friend former Secretary of State John Gale share their last fly fishing trip at the Diamond B Trout Resort near Orchard, Nebraska. 2010, May 10: City of North Platte hosts Keith Blackledge Day including a commemorative “Toast and Roast” celebration that evening. Blackledge delivered what would become his last public speech. 2010, July 5: At 7:18 Monday morning Keith Blackledge dies in North Platte at the age of 83. The previous night Blackledge and Mary Ann, holding hands, watched the July 4 fireworks at the fairgrounds from Blackledge’s Linden Court room.




North Platte Telegraph Timeline


1881, April 14: Vol. 1, No.1 of the Telegraph is published weekly as an afternoon paper. Subscription price, $2 a year. “Front page was two columns of mostly advertising, five columns passed off as news,” Keith Blackledge once told readers.

1930s-1940s: North Platte’s other newspaper, the Daily Bulletin, was published in the mornings.

1946: The Bulletin and Telegraph merge to become the Telegraph-Bulletin while holding to the Telegraph afternoon publishing schedule.

1946: The North Platte Telegraph and Bulletin merge when Joe W. Seacrest of Lincoln purchases the tabloid Bulletin. C. H. George Cooper is general manager of the Telegraph-Bulletin guiding the newspaper to new standards of quality journalism and community involvement.

1948: The Telegraph-Bulletin moved from its West Front Street location to headquarters on East Fifth Street.

1951: Kirk Mendenhall is elected mayor of North Platte in a campaign to eliminate wide-open gambling and prostitution. The Telegraph-Bulletin supported the reform movement that would eventually bring to an end decades of commercial vice and government corruption of the town appropriately called the “Little Chicago of the West.”

1952-1959: Keith Blackledge worked at Telegraph as a sports editor, reporter, city and managing editor. The newsroom was on the first floor, then moved to the second floor some time later, and back to first floor later still.

1953, November 16: Ken Langford takes over editorship of the Telegraph-Bulletin sports desk from Blackledge, who remains on the staff as news reporter and assistant editor. Blackledge and former sports editor Jimmie Kirkman would split the writing duties of the sports column, Dots and Dashes.

1966: The Telegraph drops Bulletin from its name.

1967, September: Blackledge returns to the Telegraph as the editor. C.R. (George) Cooper was the publisher.

1968, February 1: C.R. (George) Cooper, retires, and James W. Kirkman becomes the Telegraph’s 10th publisher. James Seacrest was the business manager. By 1968, the Telegraph represented one of two surviving newspapers in Lincoln County. At least 42 other papers had ceased publication.

1968, October: Major renovation gets underway in Telegraph’s main office area including the newsroom.

1968, June 10: The Telegraph publishes the first run of its new high speed web offset press. From its beginnings, the production process at the Telegraph had involved hot metal composition with copy from the newsroom being set into metal type on linotype machines. Type was then put into page form by professionals called make-up men. The completed page form was then made into a cylindrical metal plate, which went to the press. Typographic errors required the resetting and recasting of the entire line—sometimes adjacent lines if the spacing was changed too much by the correction. When the presses rolled, ink-covered metal plates “kissed” paper sheets at a speed of 4,800 pages a minute, or 12,000 papers an hour.

1970-1976: The Bieber Cartoon, which often dealt in local and regional issues, is a regular Saturday feature on the Telegraph’s opinion page. Cartoonist and rural mail carrier Carl Bieber lampooned local, state and national politicians and mostly held to Democratic political viewpoints, although he was said to be hard on both parties. The cartoon was suspended when Bieber became mayor of North Platte in 1976.

1972: John Martinez is named new sports editor of the Telegraph. He joined the news staff in 1966 working as city and area reporter and news editor while assisting with sports coverage.

1975: Blackledge is named editor and director of community affairs and a short time later editor and vice president of the North Platte Telegraph. He also serves as a member of the Executive Council for Western Publishing Co., which operates the Telegraph, the Scottsbluff Star-Herald, another twice weekly newspaper, a computer services company, and a group of video stores.

1976: The Telegraph begins to phase out scanners to be replaced by video display terminals (VDT’s). For several years, scanners were used to translate the reporters’ typewritten copy directly into punched tape that fed into a photo-typesetting machine, producing the type to be pasted on the finished page. With the new technology, reporters typed their stories on VDT’s where the copy appeared on a television-type screen instead of paper. The stories were transferred to another terminal for editing, or stored in a computer for later editing. Eventually, the invisible, computer-stored signals would go directly into a typesetting machine, eliminating the intermediate punched-tape step, Blackledge explained to readers in several columns that year.

1977: The Unifax II replaces Unifax I, the United Press International automatic facsimile photo receiver. Result: higher quality wire photos and faster transmission.

1977, September 11: The first Sunday Telegraph is published. When the Sunday (weekend) edition began, the Friday edition was dropped.

1977, September: Blackledge’s Your Town and Mine became a regular column in the Sunday edition.

1978: The Telegraph drops United Press International Telephoto service for Associated Press Laserphoto, which improved the transmission process and provided sharper wire photos transmitted from throughout the world. Also added to the Associated Press Wire Service was United Press International Datanews, with high speed news wire delivery.

1979, July 27: The Telegraph changes from an afternoon to morning newspaper. Publishing six days a week, the newspaper resumed the Friday edition and dropped the Monday edition.

1980: The Telegraph begins a business news page on Sunday and upgrades local market reports adding daily North Platte grain prices.

1981, February 22: Moving day for the Telegraph to a new building at 621 North Chestnut St. For several weeks, the newspaper operated out of both new and old headquarters. During the first week in March three press units were dissembled and moved into the new building along with two additional units that were added to the system. Meanwhile the Telegraph was printed on four units in the old building. By March 9, the units in the new building were ready to go.

1981, March 10: The first issue of the Telegraph is published in the new building. This completed the move from East Fifth Street where it had operated since 1948.

1981, May: The Telegraph celebrates its 100th birthday with an open house in its new building. The Telegraph brought the United States Army Jazz Ambassadors to North Platte with more than 1,200 participating in the free centennial birthday party concert. Other festivities included the Telegraph Centennial Ice Cream Freeze-Off at the Big Mac Spectacular at Lake McConaughy. Published was a special 100th anniversary section that reproduced the front pages from the past 100 years and the first, April 14, 1882, edition of the Telegraph in its entirety.

1982: The Telegraph is receiving “wire service” stories from satellite 22,300 miles above the earth, supplanting telephone wire transmission.

1982: The former Telegraph building on East Fifth Street becomes the home of the new Calvary Assembly of God Church with the pastor, the Rev. Ray Corlew, taking Blackledge’s old office as his own.

1983, January: Blackledge began the West Central Nebraska Save Our Language Society as an ongoing feature in the newspaper. “Members” submitted examples of poor grammar, misspelled words or language pet peeves—a number of which came from the columns of this newspaper.

1984-1992: Jim Kirkman, longtime sports editor, advertising manager and publisher of the Telegraph, serves as mayor of North Platte.

1986: “Telly the Zebra” becomes the Telegraph mascot. The caricature zebra appeared in most Telegraph house ads and on rack cards. Employees, who had worn out their “Bright All Day” tee shirts, could buy shirts and jackets with the zebra emblem. The new mascot was the brainchild of the newspaper’s advertising director “for reasons known only to himself,” Blackledge wrote in a column.

1987, July 31: Two new computer terminals in the newsroom enable editors to make up a page by computer. Looking at the screen, the editor placed stories, leaving space for photographs, cut and trimmed stories to fit, and finally sent blocks for half pages to the typesetting equipment. The two halves were merged when pasted on the page. This computerized pagination process was fast replacing what had been done with scissors and knives on a paste-up table for years in newspapers throughout the nation.

1988: The Telegraph drops United Press International, retains Associated Press and adds The New York Times News Service and Scripps-Howard News Service.

1989: The Telegraph begins extensive use of a newly-developed “low rub” ink. Not without hitches, the transformation to the new ink rendered some pages all black and some so light as to be unreadable. The paper would continue to work on the new ink through 1990.

1992: Blackledge retires from the Telegraph, but he would continue to write his weekly

column Your Town and Mine until his death in 2010. For several years after retirement, Blackledge maintained an office at the Telegraph.

1993, February: The Telegraph begins publishing signed editorials—a decision that was not without disagreement among the editors.

1990’s mid: The Telegraph’s first e-paper goes online.

2000: The Omaha World-Herald purchases the Seacrest operation, Western Publishing Company, which includes the North Platte Telegraph.

2008: Blackledge writes a scathing letter to Telegraph management lamenting the quality of the Telegraph since its purchase by the Omaha World-Herald. He refers to the decline in local coverage, news stories with inaccuracies and/or missing information, questionable news judgment and the abundance of grammatical and typographical errors. “I canceled my subscription to the World-Herald earlier this year because I could read most of it in the Telegraph,” he wrote.

2011: Berkshire Hathaway (BH Media Group) purchases the Omaha World-Herald, and 27 other dailies in the state including the Telegraph and papers in Kearney, Lexington, Grand Island, Scottsbluff and York.

2015: Lee Enterprises of Davenport, Iowa, takes over the management of the World-Herald and the other Berkshire Hathaway-owned daily newspapers—including the North Platte Telegraph. The efficiencies achieved by Lee would eventually include staff cuts.

2020, January: Lee Enterprises purchases the BH Media Group. By 2020 Lee would own and operate 81 daily newspapers including those in St. Louis; Davenport; Madison, Wisconsin; Billings, Montana; and Tucson, Arizona. In Nebraska, Lee’s holdings include newspapers in Omaha, Lincoln, Lexington, Beatrice, Columbus, Fremont, Scottsbluff, Kearney and North Platte.

2020: Consumption of local news increases as the Covid-19 pandemic grips the country yet advertising for local newspapers continues to plummet. Hundreds of journalists—many among the Lee Enterprises chain—are laid off or furloughed.




NPA v. Stuart Timeline


October 18, 1975: The gruesome murders of: six members of Henry Kellie family in Sutherland sets in motion events that would lead to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision over prior restraints of the press.

October 19, 1975: The accused killer Erwin Charles Simants is apprehended in Sutherland in the early morning hours. His arraignment before Lincoln County Court Judge Ronald Ruff is held later that morning.

October 21, 1975: Meeting convened by Judge Ruff to discuss news media coverage of the Simants preliminary hearing begins at 7:30 p.m. Ruff and his office had contacted local representatives of print and broadcast media earlier in the day. Blackledge gets the call late in the afternoon. North Platte attorney Harold Kay represents the media that night to oppose any restrictions being considered.

October 22, 1975: Preliminary hearing in Lincoln for Erwin Charles Simants in County Court with Judge Ronald Ruff presiding. Ruff declares that while the hearing would remain open, he enters the first gag order that restricts the news coverage. Before the case is decided by the United States Supreme Court, there would be four restrictive orders entered against the press.

October 23, 1975: The initial application is filed to appeal the gag in Lincoln County District Court. The court session to consider the appeal was held later that night before District Court Judge Hugh Stuart. Judge Stuart upholds the original gag with some modifications.

October 25, 1975: The North Platte Telegraph’s cartoonist Carl Bieber publishes one of several cartoons relating to the case. Titled “Hearing the Hearing,” it shows four bound and gagged persons depicting the press; two of them are thinking, “He sure is a Ruff judge.”

October 27, 1975: Lincoln County District Judge Hugh Stuart imposes his own gag order, which differs little from the restrictive order of County Judge Ruff. Both the Ruff and Stuart gag orders maintain the Nebraska Bar-Press Guidelines are mandatory—not voluntary.

October 31, 1975: Nebraska news organizations file motions to vacate Judge Stuart’s restrictive order in Lincoln County District Court and in the Nebraska Supreme Court. The motion to the state’s high court asks that the matter be resolved immediately. Such requests were repeatedly made to the court, which responds with silence.

November 5, 1975: Nebraska news organizations seek relief from Judge Stuart’s gag order with the United States Supreme Court.

November 13, 1975: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun remands the case to the Nebraska Supreme Court.

November 20, 1975: In a-chambers opinion Supreme Court Justice Blackmun partially stays while lifting portions of the gag. In his analysis he chastises the Nebraska high court for its lethargy. Blackmun notes the Nebraska Supreme Court’s delay in hearing the case is in itself a violation of the First Amendment because the prior restraint remained in place. Blackmun finds troublesome Stuart’s incorporation of the Bar-Press Guidelines; however, he leaves intact the gag pertaining to publicizing information about confessions.

November 21, 1975: Nebraska media files a motion requesting a review by the full United States Supreme Court.

November 25, 1975: The Nebraska Supreme Court hears arguments.

December 1, 1975: The Nebraska Supreme Court renders a 5-2 opinion, putting into place a gag of its own that essentially okays the closing of pretrial hearings.

December 8, 1975: The United States Supreme Court refuses to stay the gag order.

December 12, 1975: The U.S. Supreme Court announces it would accept the case for review; however, the court denied the media’s request for an expedited hearing. Crux of the issue: should the district court order barring the press from reporting testimony given in open court stand or be struck down?

December 30, 1975: Lincoln County District Judge Hugh Stuart denies a change of venue in the criminal trial of the accused Erwin Charles Simants.

1976: Lincoln County District Court Judge Stuart bans Telegraph courts reporter Jeff Funk from the district court offices, library, and from speaking to court employees. Thus began an ongoing battle between editor Blackledge and the recalcitrant judge. While the judge was essentially hamstringing the reporter from covering the courts, the newspaper editor was demanding the restrictions be lifted. The newspaper’s local attorney Don Pederson served as mediator in the dispute, and the judge eventually would back down and rescind the restrictions.

January 5, 1976: Jury selection begins in the criminal trial of Erwin Charles Simants following an early morning meeting convened by Lincoln County District Judge Stuart for members of the press. During the unusual gathering, the judge asks news reporters to voluntarily agree not to report or publish certain types of information that might be revealed during the selection process. Reporters not only refuse to sign the agreement, they boycott the court session entirely.

January 7, 1976: Jury selection is completed in the late afternoon after three days of voir dire (the preliminary examination of potential jurors). Judge Stuart responds to questions from several out-of-state reporters in an impromptu press conference that evening.

January 8, 1976: Simants’ criminal trial begins in Lincoln County District Court with Judge Stuart presiding. With the sunset of the gag order, unrestricted press coverage begins.

January 17, 1976: The jury convicts Erwin Simants on six counts of premeditated murder.

January 29, 1976: Judge Stuart sentences Simants to die in the electric chair. Execution date: Wednesday, April 21, 1976.

April 19, 1976: Oral argument in Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart is presented before the nine justices of the United States Supreme Court.

June 30, 1976: United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger announces the decision: The nation’s high court finds the gag order imposed against the press in the criminal proceedings of Erwin Charles Simants to be a violation of the First Amendment. The decision also sets boundaries for court closures and discouraged judicial censorship of the press in criminal proceedings. The decision, however, fell short of granting the press all that it asked for; namely, a blanket prohibition on all gag orders on pretrial news publicity.

January 6, 1978: In a motion for a stay of execution, Simants’ attorneys accuse Lincoln County Sheriff Gordon “Hop” Gilster of improper contact with the jury in Simants’ criminal trial. The bailiff had reported the sheriff played cards with jurors during the time they were sequestered at a North Platte motel.

April 3, 1979: The Nebraska Supreme Court vacates Simants’ conviction and death sentence and orders a new trial.

October 1, 1979: Jury selection begins in the Lancaster County District Court in the state’s capital, Lincoln, Nebraska, in the second trial of Erwin Charles Simants. Lincoln County District Judge Hugh Stuart presides.

October 5, 1979: The second trial of Erwin Charles Simants begins.

October 17, 1979: Exactly one day less than five years after the killing spree took place in Sutherland, the Lancaster County District Court jury acquits Simants, finding him not guilty by reason of insanity. The jury deliberated for 18 hours.

October 26, 1979: The Lincoln County Board of Mental Health commits Simants to the Lincoln Regional Center in the state’s capital city. Under Nebraska law, Simants will annually undergo a review to determine whether he remains mentally ill and dangerous.

December 2, 2020: During his annual competency evaluation in Lincoln County District Court, Simants is ordered to remain in the Lincoln County Regional Center. Simants, 74, had waived his appearance during the hearings for years. Although Simants’ defense attorney Robert Lindemeier of North Platte said the defendant exhibited exemplary behavior, Lincoln County District Judge Michael Piccolo said Simants still is mentally ill and dangerous.




North Platte Timeline


1822: The great Lakota Chief Red Cloud was born just east of what is now North Platte: where the North and South Platte rivers become one.

1859-1860: Lincoln County was created by an act of the Legislature in 1859 but was not established as an organized county until 1860.

1863, November: Fort McPherson is established.

1866, October 1: First meeting of county commissioners is at Cottonwood Springs. Originally named Shorter County, later reorganized as Lincoln County.

1866, fall: North Platte is laid out by chief engineer of the Union Pacific Railroad, Major General Grenville Mellen Dodge (retired).

1866, November: Union Pacific track is completed to North Platte.

1866, November 9: The first building, a general store, is owned and operated by Penniston and Miller and focused on selling to railroad builders. The building and business was sold in 1872 to Charles McDonald. It was destroyed by fire on April 21, 1910.

1867, January 31: North Platte town site plat is filed with clerk of the court.

1867, February 13: North Platte Post Office is established.

1867, June: Terminus (end of a transportation line) of railroad moved to Julesburg, Colorado. North Platte drops from about 2,000 people to about 300. Only 20 houses remained. But when North Platte was later designated a division point on the railroad, a new period of growth would be stimulated.

1867, March 1: Nebraska is admitted to the union as the 37th state.

1867, October 8: Twenty-one votes are cast in the election moving county seat from Cottonwood Springs to North Platte.

1867, fall: First newspaper, Pioneer on Wheels—published in a boxcar—is established.

1868: School District 1 is organized. Classes began with eight students in a log structure at what is now Fifth and Dewey. The structure was built through private donations.

1869, May 10: The gold spike driven at Promontory Point, Utah, celebrates completion of the transcontinental railroad. After the golden spike was symbolically tapped, a final iron spike was driven to connect the railroads. The Central Pacific laid 690 miles of track; the Union Pacific 1,068. They had crossed 1,776 miles of desert, rivers and mountains to bridge the country.

1870: Andrew Carnegie donates $12,000 for a public library. The city of North Platte furnished the site.

1872, January 12: Grand Duke Alexis of Russia arrives in North Platte by train for a buffalo hunt guided by William F. Cody in Hayes County.

1873, January 8: A petition, signed by 64 citizens, is presented to county commissioners to incorporate North Platte.

1873, June 13: North Platte Cemetery Association is formed. The cemetery would be located on five acres of land purchased at $20 an acre. John F. Kramph would be the first person buried in the new cemetery. In 1884, Mrs. W. F. Cody added an additional 10 acres.

1873, September 13: The county commissioners incorporated North Platte as a village in 1873. It became a second class city in 1875 and a first class city in 1910 when the population reached 4,793.

1873: A new school house is erected to replace the log school at a cost of $16,000.

1875: The first courthouse is built at a cost of $2,000.

1875: The first banking house is established by Walker Brothers and later sold to Charles McDonald.

1876-77: Telephones are introduced soon after their invention. Sizemore and Field held the first franchise with 33 subscribers. The exchange was located in the rear of Sizemore's barber shop.

1877, January 16: A city law is passed to “prevent lewd women from entering saloons."

1879, May 6: Mayor and council vote North Platte "dry"—the first in Nebraska. Saloonkeepers sold beer, calling it buttermilk.

1880: The population of North Platte is 363.

1882, July 4: Col. William “Buffalo Bill” Cody stages his "Old Glory Blowout" in North Platte—the nation’s first rodeo.

1890: The population of North Platte is 3,550.

1899, November 17: The North Platte Hospital opens.

1900-1910: North Platte’s gains 1,153 citizens, a 31 percent population increase from 3,640 to 4,793.

1904, March 4: University of Nebraska Agricultural Experiment Substation begins operation at North Platte on land purchased for $15,000. About half of the funding was donated by citizens of North Platte and the surrounding area. Today it is the UNL West Central Research and Extension Center.

1905, May: President Theodore Roosevelt's train car stops in North Platte, and he delivers "a splendid speech."

1907: North Platte experiences a wave of prosperity and building activity. In that year 70 residences were built, and seven miles of cement sidewalks laid. The Burlington Railroad Company surveyed for a roadbed through the south part of town and purchased $200,000 worth of property. The Odd Fellows also reconstructed and enlarged their lodge building at a cost of $20,000. The Free Masons erected a temple at a cost of $30,000. The Masonic Temple was dedicated February 22, 1908.

1908, April: Free delivery mail system begins.

1908, May: Using federal building funds construction of the $110,000 federal offices and post office building begins at Fifth and Jeffers. It was completed in 1913. Over the years the building would serve several functions: home to North Platte Junior College, the Mid-Plains Community College Area Administrative Offices, and, since 2008, the North Platte Prairie Arts Center.

1910-1920: The census counts 5,673 new residents representing an 118 percent increase from 4,793 to 10,466.

1911-1912: Foundation of a Chamber of Commerce is established. It would be reorganized in 1920.

1912, April: Opening and dedication of the new Carnegie Library. (now being renovated as a home for the North Platte Children's Museum.)

1913, September: North Platte’s first fire truck is purchased for $5,700.

1913: A “No Sunday Theater Performances” ordinance is created.

1916: St. Patrick’s School is completed at a cost of $52,000. In 1968, it was renamed McDaid School in honor of Father Patrick McDaid, the pastor of the parish from 1910 to 1948.

1916: Keith Neville of North Platte is elected governor of Nebraska. The 32-year-old Democrat was called ''the boy governor." He served a two-year term, 1917-1919.

1916: The City of North Platte purchases 75 acres for $12,000 to house a city park. A year later, the North Platte City Council would vote to change the name from North Side Park to Cody Park.

1917, January 10: Buffalo Bill Cody dies in Denver, Colorado. To the disappointment of many North Platte residents, he would be buried on Lookout Mountain near Golden, Colorado.

1917: "Massive brick building, two stories in height" is erected on Front Street for a fire station and city offices. Cost: $12,000. (Privately renovated, it now houses apartments and law offices at Front and Vine).

1918, April: Spanish flu epidemic hits North Platte. By 2020, an estimated 200-250 died in Lincoln County.

1919, March: Union Pacific station building is completed and dedicated.

1920: The population of North Platte stands at 10,466.

1921: North Platte Chamber of Commerce organizes private funding to buy land to build an airport.

1921, Feb. 21: Jack Knight flies the North Platte to Omaha leg of the first night air mail flight. He then flew from Omaha to Iowa City and on to Chicago. The trek helped to establish a new transcontinental record and build support for air mail service.

1922, November 24: Keith Neville opens the Fox Theatre. The theater was hailed in a November, 22 Evening Telegraph headline as "Wonder House Best in the West."

1923, April 30: Lincoln County Courthouse is destroyed by fire. It was later found to have been set by County Treasurer Samuel Souder in an effort to conceal embezzlement of county funds. Souder was convicted of arson on December 23, 1923.

1925, September 9: McCook School Board votes to start a two-year college in the fall of 1926.

1927, May 14: Ira Bare’s column in the North Platte Evening Telegraph reports, “Today the Chamber of Commerce began a survey which has as its purpose the ascertainment of the number of probable students who will attend a junior college in North Platte should such be established.”

1928, December 26: The first all-talking movie is shown in the Keith Theater.

1929: The Pawnee Hotel is built. This eight-story brick Georgian Revival hotel was designed by architect F.A. Henninger and constructed in 1929 by Alex Beck. In 2019 it was purchased by Jay Mitchell who plans a total restoration of the property.

1929: Jeffers Pavilion is built by Union Pacific Employees Athletic Club as an open-air dance pavilion. It would later be enlarged and enclosed.

1929, July 13: A white police officer, responding to a call to break up an argument, is shot and killed by a black man, who also was killed. Within hours, word spread that all the black people "had better get out of town." They did.

1920-1930: The population of North Platte grew from 10,466 to 12,061, representing an increase of 1,595 or 15.24 percent.

1930, July 5: North Platte’s first radio station goes on the air as KGNF. It would later be identified as KODY.

1930, December: Classes move to the new North Platte High School, replacing the high school built in 1899.

1935, November 5: A dinner at the Pawnee Hotel celebrates completion of the last link to be paved in the Lincoln Highway (2-1/2 mile segment west of North Platte), giving the nation its first hard-surfaced transcontinental highway.

1936, February 1: Thomas Ewalt of Geneva, Nebraska, picks up a turn-of-the-century carousel where it had been stored in Akron, Colorado. The carousel was thought to have made its way to North Platte in 1944.

1930-1940: The population of North Platte grew from 12,061 to 12,198, an increase of only 137 or 1 percent.

1941, December 25: The North Platte Canteen opens at Union Pacific Depot and serves free food to more than 6 million military service personnel traveling by train. The entire project was completely staffed by volunteers who met every troop train that stopped for 10 minutes for locomotive fuel and water. The Canteen closed on April 1, 1946.

1948: North Platte voters approve a $987,000 bond issue for a new junior high school and additions and improvements to other school buildings.

1948: Union Pacific builds a first retarder or " hump yard" at North Platte at a cost: $3.5 million.

1940-1950: The population of North Platte grew from 12,198 to 15,433, an increase of 3,235 or 26.5 percent.

1950: Clarence Ketchum, a Union Pacific machinist from North Platte, installs a carousel in Cody Park after repairing and repainting the antique merry-go-round. The carousel had been purchased in 1936 by a Geneva, Nebraska, man.

1951, April 1: Kirk Mendenhall is elected mayor of North Platte, heading a slate organized to eliminate the prostitution and open gambling that had given the city a reputation as "Little Chicago." He appointed a new police chief, Charles Dick, and the "rooming houses" were closed.

1952, November: Robert B. Crosby of North Platte is elected governor of Nebraska. He would serve one term, then be defeated in a race for the U.S. Senate by Congressman Carl T. Curtis of Minden.

1956: Jeffers Pavilion, where many had danced to name bands of the Big Band era, is destroyed by fire.

1950-1960: The population of North Platte grew from 15,433 to 17,184, an increase of 1,751 or 11.3 percent.

1958-1965: North Platte is involved in an effort to develop Buffalo Bill’s home as a state historical park.

1960, July 28: Chamber of Commerce and Historical Society leaders begin a drive to raise $37,500 for one-half the purchase price of part of historic Scout's Rest Ranch. State Game, Forestation and Parks Commission would match that amount and establish the Cody home as a state historical park.

1961, October: North Platte votes to create North Platte Junior College. After two failed attempts, a bond issue to remodel the 1912 Federal Building and US Post Office into the college would narrowly pass in 1964. Classes would convene in September 1965.

1961, November: North Platte voters approve the formation of a junior college district to share boundaries with the city’s public school district. However, voters would fail to pass two separate bond elections to build the school.

1965, June 24: Scout’s Rest Ranch, home of North Platte’s most famous citizen, Buffalo Bill Cody, is dedicated as a state historical park.

1966, November: Voters approve the formation of a 10-county district with North Platte to house the vocational technical school. In the contentious election, voters in Red Willow County (McCook) oppose the proposal 5-1, but the measure passes with the overall vote in the 10-county area in favor of the school in North Platte.

1966, September 22: Interstate 80 opens to North Platte.

1966, November: North Platte is selected as the permanent home for the statewide NEBRASKAland Days celebration by 4-3 vote of Game Commission. From June 17- 23, 1968, NEBRASKAland Days would be celebrated for the first time in North Platte.

1968: The eastbound hump, the new "Bailey Yard," is completed. It was named for Union Pacific president Edd Bailey, who called North Platte home. Cost: $12.5 million.

1968, September: Mid-Plains Vocational Technical College opens.

1969, June 6: North Platte Memorial Hospital announces it is launching a half-million dollar fund drive to help finance a $1 million, 42-bed facility. The news sets off North Platte’s prickly health care battle: two hospitals or one? Mayor Bob Phares would appoint a committee to review community health needs in the North Platte region while Memorial Hospital would hold off on its funding campaign, and a professional consulting firm, J. J. Rouke Co. of New Rochelle, New York, would be hired to study hospital needs.

1969: Jack Sawyer, a manufacturer of cattle guards and rodeo bucking chutes at Roscoe, Nebraska, purchases the Cody Park carousel and horses. From 1970-1975 Sawyer would operate the carousel playing tapes of authentic carousel music (the original player organ apparently was not part of the carousel purchase). The merry-go-round was thought to be one of only 173 antique carousels left on the North American continent.

1960-1970: The population of North Platte grew from 17,184 to 19,447, an increase of 2,263 or 13 percent.

1970, June: The so-called Rouke Report, prepared by the firm to assess the region’s hospital needs, recommends consolidating the two North Platte hospitals (Memorial and St. Mary). The long-range goal: to build a single modern facility.

1971, April 22: The new Union Pacific Diesel Repair Shop at North Platte opens. Cost: More than $10 million.

1971, May 1: Passenger train service to North Platte ends with a mock Wild West train robbery on the last passenger train.

1971, May: The state legislature passes LB759 creating eight districts in the state, each to offer a junior college education and vocational schooling.

1971, June 25: Construction begins on a $4 million shopping mall.

1971, May 16: The new vocational tech building north of Interstate 80 is dedicated. Some classes had moved into the completed half in 1969 while work continued on the north half. The entire building would be complete and occupied in 1972.

1972, April 12: Grand opening of the “The Mall,” which later would be renamed the Platter River Mall.

1972, May 4: North Platte is awarded a $692,262 federal grant to begin a downtown urban renewal program.

1972, June: NEBRASKAland Days Wild West Arena is completed for the 1972 Buffalo Bill Rodeo, which had been held at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds.

1972, January: Mid-Plains Vocational Technical College completes the second phase of its campus construction. The entire vocational college would eventually occupy the Halligan Drive campus.

1973, July 1: The state Legislature mandates the merger of Mid-Plains Vocational Technical College, North Platte Junior College and McCook College to form the Mid-Plains Community College Area. Many people throughout the region were not pleased.

1973, July 9: Formal groundbreaking is held for the McDonald-Belton Building, which would house the Mid-Plains Community College—now referred to at South Campus. The fundraising initiative ran from 1969 to 1971.

1973, July 18: The North Platte hospital fund tops its goal. The St. Mary hospital building would be bought by the state of Nebraska to house state offices. The city of North Platte would purchase the Memorial Hospital building for a police station. A public safety building and fire station would later be added to the site.

1973-1974: Monte Montana, Jr. leases the new NEBRASKAland Days Wild West Arena, adjacent to Buffalo Bill’s Ranch, to re-enact Buffalo Bill’s Original Wild West Show. On June 13, 1974, canine movie and television celebrity Lassie was guest star of the opening night of the season. The show was performed nightly during the summers each year. However, the show was unable to generate enough revenue from ticket sales and sponsorships to continue after a second year.

1973, November 1: Union Pacific begins demolition of its depot, ending community efforts to save the building that housed the famous World War II Canteen.

1974, February: McDonald-Belton Campus of Mid-Plains Technical Community College Area’s Phase 1 was dedicated. Phase 2 was completed in June 1977 and Phase 3 in the fall of 1980.

1974, July 1: Following years of conflict, the merger of McCook and North Platte junior colleges with the Mid-Plains Technical College into the Mid-Plains Technical Community College Area is complete. The three colleges would later be renamed to become the Mid-Plains Community College Area.

1975: City of North Platte purchases the carousel from Jack Sawyer of Roscoe, who had owned and operated the carousel and other children’s rides at Cody Park since 1970. Price: $15,000.

1975: The Wild West World Musical runs nightly during the summer. But the show would meet the same fate as the earlier Monte Montana show, losing about $200,000 from local investors.

1975: Work continues on North Platte’s new indoor swimming pool-recreation center at Centennial Park.

1975, July 23: A public mini-park is dedicated at the site of the North Platte Canteen at Union Pacific milepost 284.1.

1975, August 9: The new Great Plains Medical Center building is dedicated, climaxing an effort that began in 1969. “Regional” would later be added to the name.

1975, September 10: The Nebraska Midland Railroad, an antique operating steam railroad, departs Victoria Station in North Platte in route to Grand Island’s Stuhr Museum The train had operated briefly at North Platte but plans to run the train between the city and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park were derailed when the company was unable to secure the right-of-way.

1975, March: North Platte City Councilman Bruno Albert “Al” Fontane seeks grants to help pay for a fountain to be located in a lake south of Interstate 80 near North Platte. Grants failed as did the fountain, which would soon be dubbed “Fontane’s Folly.” City crews dutifully installed the fountain in the lake each spring and removed it each fall for a number of years. It eventually was moved to the Cody Park pond. Some years later, it was removed and never replaced.

1975, October 18: The gruesome murders of: six members of Henry Kellie family in Sutherland sets in motion events that would lead to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart, over prior restraint of the press.

1975, October 21: North Platte approves a nearly $10 million bond issue to build a new junior high, one new elementary school and new buildings or additions to six elementary schools.

1976, July 4: Dedication ceremonies are held for the new Lincoln County Historical Society Museum on North Buffalo Bill Avenue as part of the bicentennial celebration.

1978: Scout’s Rest Ranch is named to the National Register of Historic Places.

1970-1980: The population of North Platte grew from 19,447 to 24,479, an increase of 5,032 or 25.9 percent

1980, July 20: Dedication of the new Union Pacific Railroad westbound hump yard at North Platte. Cost: $40.1 million.

1980, March 14: Inmates at the Lincoln County Jail stage a one-day hunger strike in protest of the quality of the meals.

1980, September 18: Ceremonies mark completion of the new 8,000-foot jet runway at North Platte's Lee Bird Field. Frontier Airlines jet service would begin October 1.

1981, July 27: Willow Street viaduct construction begins. It would be dedicated in November 1982. Cost: just over $2 million."

1983, April 17: Jeffers viaduct closes for widening. Cost about $2 million.

1983, December 9: Grand opening of the Neville Center for the Performing Arts in the old Fox Theatre. The building had been donated to the Community Playhouse by the Neville sisters and renovated after a fund campaign that raised more than $265,000.

1984-1992: Jim Kirkman, longtime sports editor, advertising manager and publisher of the Telegraph, serves as mayor of North Platte.

1984, August 20: The newly widened Jeffers viaduct reopens.

1987, August 13: President Ronald Reagan visits North Platte for a barbecue at the Ted Long ranch and a speech at the NEBRASKAland Days Wild West Arena before a crowd estimated at 15,000.

1989, November 1: Buffalo Bill viaduct opens. Cost: $3.8 million.

1980-1990: North Platte’s population declined from 24,479 to 22,605, a decrease of 1,874, -7.65 percent.

1992, May 12: North Platte voters approve construction of a municipal golf course on donated land near Newberry Road off Interstate 80.

1994: Iron Eagle Golf Course opens. Voters had previously approved construction of the municipal course.

1994, October 11: A reception for World War II Canteen workers is held at the Lincoln County Historical Museum. The oldest volunteer in attendance was 101. An exhibit dedicated to the Canteen—including hundreds of letters from former servicemen and women and their families—would be housed at the museum.

1996-2004: Jim Whitaker serves as mayor of North Platte.

1997: North Platte voters defeat a $27 million school bond request.

1997: A life-size statue of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, to be located in Cody Park, arrives from England.

1998: Habitat for Humanity is established in North Platte.

1998, January: Boys and Girls Home of Nebraska moves into new building at 2300 E. Second Street.

1998: Campaign to build the 20th Century Veterans Memorial near the Interstate 80 interchange begins.

1999, July: Plans are announced for the 150-foot Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center at the Union Pacific Bailey Yard, and a fund campaign is launched. However, controversy would plague the campaign on issues ranging from fundraising, the acquisition of loans, the two-percent occupancy tax on motel rooms, to the actual physical design of the proposed tower.

2000, May 4: North Platte voters give 63 percent approval for a $29 million bond issue to build a new high school.

2000, June 3: Scouts Ranch Recreation Area is dedicated. The additional 233 acres were purchased following a successful community fundraising.

1990-2000: North Platte’s population increased from 22,605 to 23,878, a rise of 1,273 or 5.6 percent.

1990-2000: Demolition of downtown buildings to accommodate new construction. During that time six banks would be built: Wells Fargo Bank, First National Bank, Nebraskaland Bank, Adams Bank and Trust, Great Western Bank and Sandhills Bank.

1990, December: Walmart opens to the North Platte public.

1998: 20th Century Veterans Memorial is completed and dedicated.

2000: Voters approve a $29 million bond issue for a new high school.

2000, May 17: The new Walmart Super Center, which replaces the original building, grand opening is celebrated.

2002: Walmart Distribution Center announces construction of a 858,000-square-foot building. It was expected that 400-600 people would be employed. By 2021, center would employ 800.

2002: North Platte voters reject the $9.8 million bond issue to convert the 1930 high school building into a public library.

2003: The 1930 high school building is demolished after an unsuccessful attempt at saving a portion of the old structure.

2003: A major makeover of the Cody Park carousel and its 24 original horses takes place. City park employees worked on the carousel for its first thorough make-over in 20 years to remove old paint, re-varnish wood and the re-gild the gold on the metal parts.

2004, May 29: The new band organ for the Cody Park carousel—the first in nearly 40 years—is dedicated. The new band organ was made possible by a $21,500 gift from Jim and Rhonda Seacrest.

2004, September 12: Local and area artists are recognized at the annual Art in the Park festivities for the series of oval paintings that circle the cornice of the turn-of-the century Cody Park carousel. The paintings, two-feet tall and three-feet long, depict scenes of pre-history, the Old West, the early 1900s and the North Platte Canteen.

2005, March: Menards Building Supply opens.

2009: The Golden Spike Tower and Visitors Center is dedicated.

2009: Three apartment style residence halls are opened on the North Platte Community College South Campus (formally known as the McDonald-Belton Campus).

2009, February: Gary Suhr announces Gary’s Super Foods would replace True Value Super Center.

2012: Great Plains Regional Medical Center announces a $100 million expansion plan.

2012: North Platte Community College-South Campus opens a new health and science building.

2012: North Platte Community College expansions including the health and science buildings are dedicated.

2012, September: Downtown Improvement Board unveils plans to revitalize downtown.

2014: The Cedar Bowl is sold to Gary Suhr and Lonnie Parsons and renamed Wild Bill’s Wings and Bowling.

2014, June: Great Plains Regional Medical Center is renamed Great Plains Health.

2015, August: Great Plains Health cuts ribbon on expansion project.

2018, February: Business building awnings are removed as part of downtown revitalization project.

2020, November 18: Platte River Mall is sold to a Lincoln, Nebraska, developer.

2020: Many community and regional activities and events—including NEBRASKAland Days—are postponed or cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.