Three weeks ago, the Westerhuis family was found dead in their home just south of Platte and we are still looking for answers about what prompted the horrific killings.

Our KELOLAND News investigation has followed the paper trail that ties Scott Westerhuis, business manager of Mid Central Co-op, to two other nonprofit groups that benefited from GEAR UP grant money. 

The state pulled the $4.3 million grant from Mid Central after a troubled audit. Hours later, Westerhuis apparently shot his family, started his house on fire and turned the gun on himself. 

Thursday Mid Central had its first regular board meeting since the tragedy. Immediately after the tragedy, Mid Central’s Director Dan Guericke hired attorney Scott Swier to represent the educational co-op and all questions were directed to him.

Angela Kennecke: “Can I ask you why you didn’t have more oversight of the GEAR UP grant funds?”
Dan Guericke: “That’s a confidential matter with our attorney.” 

Angela asked if he was suspicious of Scott Westerhuis, but Guericke walked away without answering.

While Dan Guericke is avoiding all questions about Westerhuis and GEAR UP, he couldn’t avoid leading a public meeting of Mid Central Co-op’s board, made up of superintendents from 13 districts in the area. 

GEAR UP only came up once with a couple of minor expenses from before the contract was cancelled.

“That’s a credit card bill for gas. It would be very difficult to separate that out,” Guericke said. 

Even though no one was talking about the situation facing Mid Central, there was evidence the problems has taken their toll on the co-op. 

“The distractions from our normal work, the strategic planning committee has not been able to meet, so we’re a little behind on some of our work in regards to writing our annual report for last year,” Guericke said.

After discussing other grants and programs, the co-op then kicked out our camera.

“We are now declaring an executive session,” Guericke said.

The superintendents have been in executive session for over an hour to meet with Mid Central’s attorney Scott Swier. 

In all, the group met behind closed doors for nearly three hours. 

Mid Central’s attorney says the board appointed Stephanie Hubers as interim business manager for Mid Central and they hired an independent financial consultant and appointed four people to a budget committee.