NEBRASKA CITY – The new year is bringing change to the Otoe County Courthouse.
Retiring are the county sheriff, county judge, register of deeds, county clerk, deputy clerk and county commissioner. Together they account for over 130 years of experience.
Jim Gress is the longest serving sheriff in Otoe County history, surpassing slightly the famous Carl Ryder whose exploits often reckoned back to an old west gunfight and included articles about how law enforcement is dealing with the rise of machine guns in the hands of criminals.
Judge John Steinheider, who led the Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative in the judicial district, is currently the chairman of the state Supreme Court’s code of judicial conduct revision committee. He has been a Nebraska State Bar Foundation Fellow and an “Ethics” presenter for new judges.
Janene Bennett and Deputy County Clerk Dee Norstadt trace their public service together to 1995. Bennett went across the hall to recruit Norstadt from the county asessor’s office. She has been the human resources go-to for the courthouse, while Bennett served as election commissioner, accounts payable and worked on county budgets.
Bennett is completing her sixth term. Her office was the first in the courthouse to get a computer.
Jan Reed started in the deeds office in 2001 and was elected to three terms.
When she came over from Professional Mortgage Services, the deeds office was still writing long-hand in record books. Today, Global Information Systems provides layers of digital information to online customers.
County Commissioner Ron Hauptman has served the first district for eight years. He introduced magnetic bars to pick up nails from county roads and will see construction begin on the Goosehill Road bridges this winter.