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“Growing Together”
June 3, 2009

Tragedy has struck our two communities again. Another one of our youth has been taken from us. Fifteen year old Jake Ita was killed in a car accident Saturday near Broken Bow. Also killed were his father, Thad Ita, and his stepmother, Tricia. Jake’s 10 year old sister, Marti, survived but is in critical condition at Creighton Medical Center. Thad and Tricia lived in Rockville with their 19 month old daughter, Jaelyn, who was with them in the crash but suffered only minor injuries. Jake was driving and crossed the center line hitting another vehicle head on. The driver of the other vehicle was 17 year old Gentry Doane of Ansley. Doane won the Class D 300-meter hurdles at the State Track Meet in Omaha. He also ran a leg on Ansley’s winning 400-meter relay. He is currently in intensive care at Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney. He is scheduled for surgeries this week on his two broken ankles and his back.

Jake lived with his mother Kris Ita and sisters, AJ, 16 years old, and Marti, on a farm near Murdock. Jake was involved with sports and was a regular at the skating rink. He was full of life and full of energy. The girls loved his handsome looks and the boys loved his ability to find fun. Jake was always smiling. Always laughing at some joke he pulled on someone.

As with any news these days it was spread by text messaging. When the text messages started coming on Saturday afternoon the response was the same for everyone. “No, not again. It can’t be true.” But it was true. “How can this be happening to us again?” was uttered by everyone. And even more, “How much are these kids supposed to take?” The Elmwood-Murdock sophomore class of 2008-2009 are still mourning the loss of their friends, Dillon Synovec and Tyler Eggert, along with junior AJ Washington last October. Now the sophomore class of 2009-2010 will mourn one of their own.

Jake lived his life to the fullest. It wasn’t supposed to end so soon, he had much yet to do, many mountains to climb, many girls to kiss. Jake entered this world on May 30th and he left it on the same day, 15 years later. Ironic that his journey ended the same day it began. Hopefully we can all learn from the recent tragedy that life’s beginning and end is not up to us. We do get to decide what we do with our time here on earth though.

Erma Bombeck is credited with not originating this quote but with passing it on, “Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming Woo-Hoo! What a ride!” Jake was just getting a good start on his ride. He did arrive in Heaven with a healthy good looking body but I know he was screaming “Woo-Hoo! What a ride!” as he skidded into the arms of his friends, Tyler, Dillon, and AJ who were waiting for him.

As we deal with this tragedy and we help our children deal with it we must remember that in life we need to find our place. Find good friends. Live with passion. Live like you mean it. And prepare to slide sideways into heaven. We have friends waiting for us.

Visitation for Jake will be Wednesday 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Elmwood. A funeral Mass is planned for 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Manley.

Kris Ita and Jake at the Pancake Man in February

The Pancake Man kept having Jake back up until he was halfway down the rink floor!

Marti tries to catch her own pancake.

Marti had a good time at the party at Round-the-Bend. She danced with all her friends!

Jake and Mary Lenz are ready for Prom

Marti and Carlie Kuhlman help Brody Drake learn to skate. I’ve seen Brody skate and he didn’t really need help.

Marti can get down! How low can she go?

Marti, Kara Zimmerman, and Hannah Smith pal around

Jake and Austin Kuenning like being between the girls.


Eight Elmwood Murdock athletes qualified to compete at the State Track meet including 5 that received medals: Jon Luetchens, Tyler Schmale, Derek Stubbendeick, Lance Steffen, Nathan Hohman, Sam Burtch, Erika Stubbendeick and A.J. Ida. The 3 medals gave the boys track team 24 points at State, putting them 10th in team standings.

Family members old and young showed up in Support. 5 ½ month Ada Foral, neice of Sam Burtch, wore her support with a t-shirt that said, “Run Uncle Sam”, and “Sam’s #1 Fan”.

1st Race of the State Track Meet: EM 3200 Relay Team Gets Bronze:

The first race of the State Track Meet was the 3200 relay, (the 4x8 relay). Elmwood Murdock placed 2nd at the District Meet but qualified on best times in the state. Coach Schmale was hoping to have a respectable showing, maybe even a medal. The team came through with a 3rd place finish! A Bronze medal! The relay team consisted of Tyler Schmale, Lance Steffen, Jon Luetchens and Sam Burtch.

Tyler Schmale gets ready to run the first leg of the 4 x 8 (3200) relay.

Sam Burtch gets ready to take the baton on the anchor leg. EM Knights were in 9th place at that point and Sam passed six runners to get them to a 3rd place finish.

A happy 4x8 relay team after winning Bronze medal at State.

Tyler Schmale enjoys wearing his bronze medal.

400 Meter Race: Sam Burtch Gets Silver

Sam Burtch ran the preliminary 400 meter on Friday and the final 400 meter on Saturday. In his qualifying race on Friday, Sam finished with the fastest time of all runners in all classes, with a time of 49.72 seconds. His challenger from Gordon Rushville finished just .03 seconds behind him in the preliminary heat. In the final race on Saturday, the Gordon Rushville finished in first, just .15 seconds ahead of Sam. A great race! \ and Sam finished with the 4th and 5th fastest times for all classes.

Sam Burtch gets ready to run the preliminary heat for the 400 meter race. Sam qualified for the finals on Saturday with the fastest time in all classes of 49.72. Burtch took silver in the final on Saturday.

300 Meter Hurdles

Nathan Hohman gets ready to run the 300 meter hurdles.

Last Race of the State Track Meet: EM 1600 Relay Tam Gets GOLD!!
The 4x4 relay team of Lance Steffen, Nathan Hohman, Jon Luetchens and Sam Burtch won Gold at the final race of the track meet. The team was seeded 5th on time, but bested their previous school record by a full 5 seconds to win. Each member of the team ran their fastest split of the season, and thrilled the crowd with a spectacular finishes. The team, coaches, family and fans were all smiles while the team ascended to the podium so received their medals. A celebration followed at Applebees. Congratulations to the entire team for a great finish to the season!

The team gets ready to run the 4x4 relay.

Lance Steffan steps up to the start of the race.

Nathan is allsmiles after the race!

Jon Luetchens finishes his senior year with a gold medal.

Lance Steffan has a lot to be happy about.

Coaches get a big congratulations

Sam celebrates the big win.

An Olympic resemblance

On the medal stand

Gold is sweet!

MedalStand 4x6

Celebrating at Applebees

Missoula Children's Theater Auditions

The Lofte Community Theatre near Manley is proud to announce that for the fourth year in a row, they will be hosting the Missoula Children's Theater based out of Missoula, Montana. The organization uses the performing arts to improve children's social and communication skills as well as create a strong work ethic and improve self-esteem. Dozens of directors working in two-person teams will travel the country this year and in all, over 60,000 American kids will be able to take to the stage thanks to MCT. This year, the Missoula Children's Theater will be coming to the Lofte in a little red truck full of props and costumes to perform, "The Pied Piper."

Auditions will be held at the Lofte at 10am on Monday, June 15th. They are open to all children who will be entering the first through the seventh grade. The audition process will take two hours. Parts available for approximately 70 children. No advance preparation is necessary. The children should be ready to smile, show energy and have a great time.

Rehearsals will take place for the entire week from 10am-2pm. Although not all actors will be needed for each session, they should make sure they have a clear schedule for the entire week. It is important that each child attends all rehearsals required of their role. Parents should also plan on bringing a sack lunch for their child each day including audition day, June 15, as the first rehearsal will take place immediately following auditions. There will be two public performances taking place at 3pm and 6pm on Saturday June 20th.

The Home State Bank in Louisville is sponsoring MCT's entire summer residency tour to the Lofte. Bank president John Plucknett along with his wife, Lynn will also be hosting the tour directors in their own home. Both Mr. and Mrs. Plucknett are long-time supporters of the Missoula Children's Theater, having become familiar with it over twenty years ago at their home in Ogallala when their own children were young.

For more information in regards to "The Pied Piper," Missoula Children's Theater, or the Lofte, please call (402) 234-2553 or visit theLofte's website,

Eagle Garage Sales!!!

Saturday, June 6th and Sunday, June 7th, are the city wide garage sales in Eagle. If you’ve never been you gotta go! Start early, stay late, bring a truck. Last year we made a day of it and took home a van load and a pickup load.
Here are some pictures from last year…we’ll see if we can top that!

Elmwood City Wide Garage Sales on Saturday, June 13th

Sign up at Bits N Pieces if you want to be on the map!!!

Was that Groucho Marx I saw at the rink Saturday night?

“I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it.”
Groucho Marx

“Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men, the other 999 follow women” Groucho Marx

“Q: What do you get when you cross an insomniac, an agnostic, and a dyslexic?
A: Someone who stays up all night wondering if there is a Dog.” Groucho Marx

“One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I'll never know.”

Saturday night was quiet but the kids kept us hopping!

Ashley tries to shoot pool.

Mikey thinks he can play the guitar.

And skate at the same time…looks like he can!

Christopher is the Dice Man

Kabby does her laps.

Ariel is all smiles!

Ariel and her dad go onto the floor for a daddy/daughter dance

Tyler and Jenny are moving to Elmwood with their children, Ariel and Atticus. Jenny works with Vince at Haven Manor and they’ve been coming out to go skating and decided they liked the town and found a place and are moving out soon. If you see them around introduce yourself and make them feel at home!

Noah stopped by with Justin for a little ice cream pick-me-up.

Flying Wheels Fun Center
Summer Hours

Tuesdays & Thursdays – 1:00 – 4:00
Saturdays – 6:30 pm – 10:30 pm
Sundays – special events
Closed on Tuesday, June 8th, Thursday, June 10th and Saturday, June 13th for rink maintenance.

Check out the website for special events and more details! There are special activities on Thursdays along with skating!

Call if you are interested in birthday parties! (402)994-6655 or (402)867-4123

Contrary to other postings we are open this Saturday night, June 6th. It is Joe’s birthday and he wants to celebrate with everyone! Free cake and ice cream for all!

Please keep the Ita’s and their families in your prayers. We will be waiting for you at the rink Marti! We’ll party when you get back!

Please keep Gentry Doane in your prayers, too. Pray that he will run again like he ran last week at the State Track Tournament.

Buckle up and drive carefully. Your life depends on it and so does your family.

I’ll be taking next week off from the newsletter because we’re having family in town for a reunion. I’ll keep collecting information though and have a whiz bang newsletter the next week. See you at the Garage Sales!



Julie Anderson

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