The 24th annual Saline County Spelling Bee competition will take place at the courthouse in Wilber on Feb. 12. 

The event, which features more than 50 students from area schools including Wilber-Clatonia, Friend and Crete, will be the last for its organizer, Bonnie Bleich, along with the reading classic competition and fair arts display. 

Bleich was working under county schools superintendent Eleanor Kolvin and the county planning and zoning department when she officially took over in 1999. 

“Willis Luedke had just come on as commissioner and asked me to continue to organize and conduct these events,” Bleich said. 

The spelling bee is the second Wednesday of February and the reading classic is the second Thursday of March. 

Bleich said for each event, she typically spends the month before it preparing and has seen participation grow over the years. 

“The reading classic has more participants recently,” Bleich said. 

The event qualifies students for the district reading classic in Fairbury and the spelling bee qualifies students for the Midwest competition in Omaha. 

Bleich said she is not sure who will run the events after she retires from them, but hopes they do continue. 

“Reading and writing are our basics, and (organizing the events) has been gratifying,” Bleich said.

hope@sewardindependent.com

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