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City Council to Hear New Bids on Pioneer Trail Project

The Hastings City Council on Monday voted to remove all four ordinances from the agenda regarding construction projects around Pioneer Spirit Trail.

After review with city officials, the Department of Roads rejected a bid to go forward on the project. City engineer Dave Wacker explained the department's action.

"They've also indicated they will re-advertise and a new bid letting will be conducted on Nov. 13," Wacker said. He also told the Council that they've been told that funding will be preserved for a project in the foreseeable future.

City Attorney David Ptak assured the council the city had nothing to do with the bid letting.

"I think it's important to know that this was a state bid letting, not a local letting. It's the state's action in rejecting the bids, not anything that the city did. So were hopeful by rebidding this in November and maybe do a little better at finally getting this project let," Ptak said.

The Council also approved a resolution to make assessments in the Business Improvement District of the City of Hastings. They also unanimously approved an ordinance to provide additional appropriation for the Nebraska Wireless 911 fund and the Self-Insured Heath Fund.

The next Hastings City Council meeting is slated for Oct. 13.

Central Nebraska Woman's Child Care Provider License Revoked

Officials say a Broken Bow woman's child care provider license was revoked because her husband kept methamphetamine and guns in the home where she watched over children.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said Monday an emergency revocation order was issued to Fae Beaumont, who runs a day care business out of the home she shares with her husband Dennis Beaumont. He was arrested in August after a substance in the home tested positive for meth. Authorities also found several guns, syringes and a glass mirror with meth residue.

Officials say Mrs. Beaumont refused to sign an agreement prohibiting her husband from returning to the home during business hours. Her husband faces several charges in the case.

Shelley Casterline Gets Life in Prison

Days after an Adams County jury found her son guilty of first degree murder, 41 year-old Shelley Casterline learned Monday she'd be serving a life sentence for her role in the death of Virginia Barone. In March, Casterline entered a guilty plea of second degree murder. She received a lesser conviction than her son Andrew because of a plea deal. She testified last week that her son had nothing to do with Barone's death. He was convicted after a two-week trial. Her son also faces the possibility of life in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for December.

Hastings Man Sentenced in Death of 4 Year-Old Boy

A Hastings man convicted of negligent child abuse in connection to the death of a 4 year-old boy has been sentenced to nearly 5 years in prison.

A judge sentenced Matthew Edwards to 59 to 60 months in prison Monday. He was given credit for 137 days served and is eligible for parole in two-and-a-half years. Edwards pleaded no contest in July to negligent child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury. He is the boyfriend of the boy's mother Amanda Pecor. Pecor's 9 year-old son is being charged as a juvenile with manslaughter after police say he shot and killed his brother April 18.

According to school records, officials asked the couple to hide and secure any weapons in the home, as the 9-year old boy was showing signs of aggression towards other students. Edwards' attorney has stated her client was never present at any of those meetings, and did not know to hide the guns. She says they will look into filing an appeal.

Michael Petersen Found Dead in Prison Cell

The man convicted of murdering his ex-wife and the Grand Island attorney who represented him has died in prison.

Michael Petersen, assigned to the Lincoln Correctional Center in Lancaster County was found dead at 6:14 a.m. this morning. The 59 year-old began serving a life sentence on May 28 for 1st Degree Murder in Buffalo and Hall Counties. He was convicted of killing his ex-wife Nancy outside her Kearney home. He was also convicted of killing his attorney Todd Elsbern in Grand Island. Petersen had no parole eligibility or tentative release date.

Staff immediately called 911 and began administering CPR. Lincoln Fire and Rescue arrived and took over resuscitation. Efforts to resuscitate Peterson were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at 6:47 a.m.

The cause of death has not been determined, but authorities say it appears to have been a suicide. A grand jury will conduct an investigation.

Animal Shelter Takes in Starved Dog

It's one of the worst cases of abuse a local animal shelter has seen. Now they are asking for the public's help.

A dog near death was brought into Start Over Rover in Hastings Friday night. She is a boxer and about 4-5 years old. She was found wandering down the road near Kenesaw. Anne Halbert brought the dog, named Leona, into the KHAS Studios this morning.

"This is how a lot of our cute and cuddly friends start out. This is what our mission is about, stopping this from happening," Halbert said.

Leona's road to recovery will be lengthy. She's extremely starved and they will find out today how badly her organs are affected. Halbert says many of her organs may be compromised including some heart trouble. She has parasites, infections and some wounds. Halbert explains how important the next few weeks will be.

"The first two to three weeks are going to be really critical to see how she does," Halbert said.

Start Over Rover asks that anyone with information about this dog contact them or local authorities.

Nebraska Unemployment Rate Holds Steady

The Nebraska Department of Labor announced today that Nebraska's preliminary unemployment rate for August is at 3.6 percent, seasonally adjusted. Acting Commissioner of the Labor Department John Albin says it's the first time since 2007 that the state sustained under 4 percent unemployment for an entire year.

The jobless rate was the same as the July rate of 3.6 percent and down 0.4 percentage points from the August 2014 rate of 4.0 percent.

Preliminary unemployment rates fell across the tri-cities. Grand Island's preliminary unemployment rate fell to 3.3 percent, down from 5.8 percent in July. Albin says Much of that can be contributed to seasonal employment factors. Preliminary unemployment rates for August were 3.2 percent in Hastings and 2.7 percent in Kearney.

The seasonally-adjusted national unemployment rate in August was 6.1 percent, down a-tenth of a percent from July and 1.1 pecent from the August 2013 rate of 7.2 percent.

Enterovirus (EV-D68) Now Confirmed in Nebraska

The respiratory illness that has spread throughout the Midwest has made its way to Nebraska. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Enterovirus (EV-D68) has been confirmed in Nebraska. The virus has now spread to 18 states since mid-August, infecting 153 people. The CDC says in the coming weeks more states will have confirmed cases of the infection because of complex and slow testing. The virus causes severe breathing problems in young children. Symptoms appear similar to that of a cold.

Central Nebraska Regional Airport to Expand

Federal authorities have awarded $9.8 million to the Central Nebraska Regional Airport to create a passenger terminal. The Federal Aviation Administration awarded the grant for the $14.2 million terminal. Construction crews will break ground next month and the nearly 34,000-square-foot building is expected to be completed in 2016. The administration office and covered parking area will be demolished to make room for the terminal. It will replace a 60-year-old terminal.

Mosquitoes in Webster County Test Positive For West Nile

Mosquitoes collected in the Red Cloud area of Webster County have tested positive for West Nile virus. Michele Bever, Executive Director for South Heartland District Health Department says mosquitoes that carry West Nile can pass the virus to humans and other animals when they bite. There is no vaccine to protect against the virus. While less than one percent of those infected may develop more serious illness, Bever suggests limiting outdoor activity between dusk and dawn, cover skin with long pants and sleeves, use insect repellent containing DEET, install or repair screens in doors and windows and drain any standing water around the home. The mosquitoes tested were collected Sept. 3.

Casterline Found Guilty of Murder

A jury has found 24 year-old Andrew Casterline guilty of first degree murder in the death of Virginia Barone. He was also found guilty for use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony and burglary. The verdict was reached last night, according to Adams County District Clerk Chrystine Setlik. Sentencing has been set for sometime in December. Casterline could face life in prison. The jury deliberated for over six hours on Thursday before announcing their verdict. He was accused alongside his mother Shelley of stabbing to death Barone last October in Guide Rock.

Seiler Says Hastings Building Could Help Ease Prison Overcrowding

A Hastings building could be renovated to house and treat up to 240 prison inmates with mental health and addiction issues.

State Senator Les Seiler on Tuesday shared some details about the proposal during a Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce legislative forum. He says the new treatment programs would help inmates transition back into society and avoid reoffending.

Seiler says architects and engineers will visit the Hastings Regional Center on Oct. 7 to examine the property. He will be our guest tomorrow morning on the KHAS Radio Close Up Program.

CHI, Uninet to Unveil New Health Care Plan

CHI Health, Coventry Health Care and UniNet recently announced a new health care plan, Carelink from Coventry, that will be available to individuals and employer groups in Omaha and Lincoln on Jan. 1.

The new plan unfortunately for Central Nebraska will not be available right away. Dr. Ken Shaffer, medical director of Uninet says they hope to get a plan rolled out for Central Nebraska as soon as possible.

"We have to have enough physicians in Uninet in Kearney, Grand Island, Lincoln or Omaha and have a fairly complete network before we can roll that out," Shaffer said.

The plan is designed as an alternative to those patients previously covered as in-network under the CHI-Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan which was terminated on Sept. 1. The plan provides a new "value-based" model which CHI has been advocating.

"We're looking for a value based contract that really rewards physicians' performance and an ability to control cost and increase quality," Shaffer said.

Dr. Shaffer says there's no telling how soon the new plan will be available to Central Nebraska. He also says the dispute between CHI and Blue Cross/Blue Shield does not appear to be ending anytime soon.

New Mall Owners Plan to be Aggressive in Drawing New Business to West Hastings

A dying shopping center appears to be getting new life. Rock Step Capital, a real estate investment group from Houston, Texas, recently acquired the Imperial Mall which located on the west side of Hastings.

The once thriving mall has been reduced to a virtually unoccupied shopping center as most of the retail growth has shifted to the northern part of Hastings. Andy Weiner, President of Rock Step Capital says his company will be aggressive to acquire new retailers to locate in the mall.

"Because we have excess space out there, we can provide dramatically lower occupancy cost for any type of retailer or other user than alternatives in the market or even in Grand Island," Weiner said.

The existing mall was built in 1970 and last renovated in 1998. Weiner says the company has all options on the table for the future of the building. He says often times buildings like this become multi-use.

"We have recently put in community colleges and other educational uses into our properties. We have worked with medical office groups and with hospital groups to put medical offices into these properties," Weiner said. "We've also worked with local commercial users to combine with retailers and that's how a lot of these properties get rehabilitated and get redeveloped."

Rock Step Capital was in negotiations for 22 months to secure the Imperial Mall. The company has purchased and revitalized more than 4.5 million square feet of retail space in the Midwest including the Monuments Mall in Scottsbluff, which they acquired last December.

Hospital to Take Back Unwanted Prescription Drugs

CHI Health St. Francis and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will take back unwanted prescription drugs later this month. This gives the public its ninth opportunity in four years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs. The unwanted drugs will be taken from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27.

Unwanted pills can be disposed at the St. Francis patient tower lobby at 2620 W. Faidley Ave. in Grand Island. The DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps - only pills or patches. The service is free and anonymous with no questions asked.

Last April, Americans turned in 390 tons of prescription drugs at nearly 6,100 sites operated by the DEA and more than 4,400 of its state and local law enforcement partners.

Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are remain high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.

Gibbon Head Start to Move

The Gibbon Head Start location was given official notice on Monday that they must soon vacate their location.

The building the group currently is in, the Assembly of God Church, is pending sale. The move would affect 18 preschool students and their families Lois Butler, Head Start Director with Community Action Partnership of Mid-Nebraska says they are in the process of finding a new facility.

Due to limited funding, the program cannot afford to purchase or build a new center. Finding a new location is the primary concern. Butler says when that happens they will need help from the public.

A move might be required as early as October or November.

Adams Co. Fairground Manager to Retire

The manager of the Adams County Fairgrounds has announced that she will be retiring Sandy Himmelberg who's career at fairgrounds spans just shy of 28 years announced yesterday that she will be retiring at years end.

Himmelberg, who started working for the AG society in 1986 has been manager of the Adams County fairgrounds for the past 19 years. In those 19 years she oversaw growth both on the fairgrounds and with the county fair.

Himmelberg is set to retire in January.

Grow Grand Island Getting Off the Ground

The committee behind efforts to "grow" Grand Island, met earlier this month. They are expected to begin the implementation phase of their combined efforts.

Brad Mellema is the director of the Grand Island County Convention and Vistors Bureau. He says the overall objective is to further enhance business development, making the area more attractive for business growth, thus improving the tourism industry in the city.

Mellema says education efforts are under way for the public, hoping to learn about Grand Island and what it offers.

The Strategic plan is expected to be completed in November or December.

Visitation Restricted for Young Patients at Good Samaritan

Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney is currently restricting visitation to its young patients to prevent the spread of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) - a virus that can cause mild to severe respiratory illness. While Nebraska has not yet reported EV-D68 cases, surrounding states have seen EV-D68 infections and an increased number of children have been hospitalized.

In a statement on the Good Samaritan hospital website, the hospital says it's taking the following proactive precautions:

The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is closed to all visitors ages 14 and under.

Patients aged 14 and under may not have visitors who are 14 or younger. Exception: Patients' own siblings may visit if the siblings are free of symptoms of infection (i.e. fever, cough, wheezing, difficulty breathing, muscle aches, tiredness).

If at all possible, the public is asked to not bring young children to visit the hospital at this time.

Ravenna Man Sentenced in Child Sex Abuse Case

A 33-year old Ravenna man who was convicted of incest and sexually assaulting a child has been given 15 to 25 years in prison. The incident happened in Kearney between Aug. 31 and Sept 2, 2013. The man's name is not being released in order to protect the identity of the young girl who was a minor under the age of 12 at the time of the incident.

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