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BNSF Investigating Derailment In Waco

BNSF Railway officials are trying to determine what caused a coal train to partially derail in York County.

Mounds of spilled coal shut down two tracks and a street in Waco on Sunday. A railway spokesman says the train was headed east when 28 of its 119 cars derailed. All but one of the derailed cars landed on their sides. There were no injuries reported.

The spokesman says it will likely take a few days to clean up the coal.

First Confirmed Flu Cases Hit Nebraska

It's unfortunately that time of the year again where we start mentioning the F-word. The "flu" is officially here in Nebraska.

The first confirmed cases of the season have been reported to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. All three cases are in Douglas County. Dr. Tom Safranek, the State Epidemiologist says it's possible now that the flu could spread very quickly.

"We wouldn't be surprised to see anybody come down with the flu now that we've seen it arrive, but I would say that in general we see these sporadic cases that are pretty uncommon until the year progresses and we get into December and January where flu season takes off," Safranek said.

The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated for the flu in the fall, or as soon as the vaccine is available. The CDC also says children between 2 and 8 years old should receive the nasal spray vaccine. Dr. Safranek says they can sometimes be more effective than the shot itself.

"These nasal vaccines are great. It looks like they are quite a bit more effective, in kids at least. We've been able to run studies in kids 2 to 8 years old and they should preferentially be getting the flu mist," Safranek said.

To find out if the nasal spray vaccine is available, Dr. Safranek says just ask your healthcare provider. However parents should not delay vaccination if the nasal spray isn't available. Severe cases of the flu can lead to hospitalization and even death.

The DHHS officially started flu surveillance Sept. 28. Surveillance shows where the flu is and how quickly it's spreading across the state.

Nuckolls County Crash Sends Seven to Hospitals

Seven people were hospitalized yesterday following a two-vehicle crash in Nuckolls County.

The accident occurred at approximately 12:30 p.m. A sheriff's investigation showed that a southbound Dodge Ram pickup collided with a northbound Ford Expedition, south of Superior on a road commonly referred to as the Webber Black Top. The collision forced the SUV to flip onto its side. Authorities continue to investigate the crash. They say it's likely that mechanical failure to the front passenger wheel of the pickup caused the vehicle to veer across the center line into the SUV.

The driver of the SUV, Jerry McMeen of Webber, KS was transported by helicopter to a Lincoln hospital with head injuries. McMeen's four daughters were taken to Brodstone Hospital in Superior. The driver of the pickup, Darrel Kile and his passenger Short Shambaugh, both of Superior were also transported to Brodstone Hospital.

Kearney Police and FBI Searching For Bank Robbery Suspects

Kearney Police and the FBI are investigating an armed robbery which took place this morning at a Kearney credit union.

Authorities responded to reports of the robbery at Kearney Eaton Employees Federal Credit Union on East Highway 30 at around 9:22 a.m.

Police are searching for two black males. The first is between 6-0 and 6-2, 175-190 pounds with short hair. He was seen wearing a black long sleeve shirt, blue jeans, tan boots, wearing a white construction hard hat and a blue backpack. The other is between 5-9 and 6-0, 160-180 pounds with short hair. He was wearing a long blue sleeve shirt, blue jeans and a white hard hat as well. One was armed with a hand gun. Both escaped on foot. The two men left with an undisclosed amount of money.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Kearney Police Department at 308-237-2104 or Crime Stoppers at 308-237-3424.

Kearney Police have released these images of the suspects.

Juniata Woman Claims Lottery Prize

The Nebraska Lottery has announced a Juniata woman was the winner of a $100,000 prize off a scratch lottery ticket. Lottery officials say the winning ticket was purchased at Ampride South in Hastings. There are three $100,000 top prizes for the Turquoise Treasures lottery game. Ginger Ogle becomes the second to win the prize. She told lottery officials, "I had to ask a coworker to pinch me so I knew it was real." Ogle plans to pay bills and buy a car with her winnings.

Local Delegates Aim to Persuade Federal Government to Stop Vets Home From Moving

Three members of a local delegation returned home from a lobbying trip to Washington, where they told federal officials the Grand Island Veterans Home should be remodeled instead of giving way to a new home in Kearney. Mayor Jay Vavricek, Hall County Supervisor Pam Lancaster and Veterans Service Officer Don Shuda handed out booklets with a letter requesting that the federal officials intercede in behalf of Nebraska and deny funding the relocation of the home. Gov. Dave Heineman's announcement to replace the home with the Kearney project has been met with a lot of resistance in Hall County.

Liquor Control Commission Wants Jurisdiction Over Party Buses

The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission chairman says his agency should have jurisdiction over party buses. Chairman Bob Batt's remarks come days after a Doniphan man was struck and killed while walking on Interstate 80 near Lincoln after riding a party bus. The jurisdiction over party buses currently falls under the Nebraska Public Service Commission. Batt says the state's liquor commission is the right agency to handle them.

Synthetic Marijuana Blamed for Cardiac Arrest in Holdrege

A Holdrege man is in critical condition after smoking synthetic marijuana and going into cardiac arrest. Around 6 a.m. Wednesday, Holdrege Police responded to an 18-year old who was vomiting and had stopped breathing. He was flown to Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney. A preliminary investigation suggests that he was smoking synthetic marijuana, also known as K-2 or spice, right before going into cardiac arrest. Police say K-2 has been linked to two Nebraska deaths since 2012.

Party Buses Posing New Questions

There have been a lot of questions regarding party buses after the tragic death of a Nebraska Wesleyan University student last weekend. Officials believe that 22 year old Maury Lorence of Doniphan was left behind at a truck stop and while walking along I-80 near Lincoln he was hit by several vehicles.

This brings up the question of the responsibility of the bus company.

Joe Bisgard is the owner of Party Express Bus Nebraska and says they are not a bar on wheels and do not serve or sell alcohol on board.

The person who rents the bus and signs the contract is responsible for those on board. Bisgard says it's unfortunate, but people get left behind all the time.

The bus company encourages passengers have a buddy system so passengers are not left behind. He says they also have a company policy to drop those on board off at home or at a hotel so they don't get behind the wheel intoxicated.

UNO Grant to Help At-Risk Youth in Rural Nebraska

The University of Nebraska at Omaha has received a $1.3 million federal grant to send graduate students in social work to rural Nebraska areas to help at-risk youth with behavioral health concerns.

The grant is one of the largest received by the school and comes from the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration. Nebraska employs nearly 1,900 social workers with a focus on child, family or school issues and only 420 health and substance abuse social workers.

The grant will provide $10,000 stipends for the graduate students who practice in rural areas.

Early Voting Numbers Up

Early voting continues to fare well in Nebraska, according to Secretary of State John Gale.

Gale's office says that 33 percent of early voting ballots have been returned or cast in person at county election offices. That's higher than the 24 percent rate at the same time of the 2012 presidential election. Early voting by mail lasts for 35 days in Nebraska and 30 days for those voting in person.

Gale stressed that the last day to make a request for a ballot to be mailed is Oct. 29. The last day to register by mail is Oct. 17 and the last day to register to vote in person is Oct. 24.

Veterans Health Administration Giving Free Flu Shots to Vets

With the flu season upon us, the Veterans Health Administration is pushing to make sure all veterans are covered.

VA Healthcare facilities across Nebraska are offering free flu shots to veterans. Will Ackerman, Public Affairs Officer for the VA-Nebraska-Western Iowa Healthcare System says all veterans need to be enrolled in their system to be eligible.

The walk-in flu clinic in Grand Island is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Nov. 21. The Holdrege location is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Free flu shots are also available at select Walgreen's locations. Ackerman says it's a new partnership between the VA and the pharmacy chain. They are hopeful to reach more veterans that live further away from VA hospitals in Central Nebraska.

Ackerman says most Walgreen's locations are honoring free flu shots for veterans nationwide.

Truck Driver Pleads Not Guilty to Manslaughter in Clay County

A truck driver has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges in the crash deaths of three family members in Clay County.

Online court records say 53-year-old Kenneth Johnson on pleaded not guilty Wednesday to three counts of manslaughter and one count of being a habitual criminal. His next scheduled court date is Nov. 12.

Authorities say that on Aug. 28 Johnson was driving south on Highway 14 when his semitrailer struck an SUV at the Highway 14 & 6 junction. Three Hastings family members killed including Gary Isom, his wife Susan and their daughter Tiffany. The couple's teenage son survived the collision.

County Officials to Meet in Kearney

A report estimates it would cost more than two-billion dollars to repair or replace all of the substandard bridges in Nebraska. That's one key issue facing members of the Nebraska Association of County Officials, who will meet this week. Executive director Larry Dix says they'll be addressing legislative priorities. Dix says they'll also discuss fiscal notes and the counties' role in making sure the state understands the impacts of state policy on local governments. The conference will be held Thursday in Kearney.

Traffic Stop Nets Nearly 80 Pounds of Pot

Authorities say the search of a car being pulled on a trailer in Lincoln has yielded nearly 76 pounds of marijuana.

The Nebraska State Patrol says a trooper pulled over a pickup for speeding on Interstate 80 a little after 6:30 p.m. Monday. The patrol says a drug dog taken to the scene indicated that drugs were in the car on the trailer. The patrol says the pot was found in three duffel bags in the car trunk and passenger compartment.

The pickup driver was arrested on suspicion of possession for sale.

Supreme Court Hearing River Dispute Between Kansas and Nebraska

The Supreme Court is considering how to resolve a long-running legal fight between Kansas and Nebraska over the use of water from the Republican River.

Justices on Tuesday seemed to agree with a special master's recommendation that Nebraska should pay $3.7 million in damages to Kansas for using more than its legal share of the river's water in 2005 and 2006. However, they were more doubtful about making Nebraska pay a $1.8 million penalty that exceeds Kansas' actual damages.

The dispute centers on a 1943 compact that allocates 49 percent of the river's water to Nebraska, 40 percent to Kansas and 11 percent to Colorado.

Kearney School Board Updated on Progress of New High School

The Kearney School Board heard an update on the building progress of the new Kearney High School being developed at last night's school board meeting.

The board unanimously approved a measure back in August, giving the go-ahead for the $68.7 million project. Kent Cordes of BD Construction told the board they've reached several milestones in the last month.

"The foundation was bid last month. That work has begun. Our 100 percent construction drawings have been submitted and Sampson is currently bidding out the majority of the remaining work," Cordes said.

The board also heard from Dr. Brian Maher and Nancy Williams regarding fundraising for landscaping at the new Kearney High School. Officials are working on a project to sell name plates on the seats at the new high school auditorium.

Investigation Continues Into Doniphan Man's Death

Authorities say a 22-year-old college student who was fatally struck while walking along Interstate 80 on the west side of Lincoln had been a passenger on a party bus.

The Lancaster County Sheriff's Office says Maury Lorence, of Doniphan, was hit repeatedly around 12:15 a.m. Sunday by eastbound vehicles. Investigators are still looking for the first truck that struck Lorence, who was a football player at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln.

Investigators say the party bus had been rented by a friend of Lorence and had halted at a truck stop at Northwest 48th and West O streets, just south of the interstate in Lincoln. Lorence got left behind when the bus departed.

Hastings City Council Approves Items For Police

The Hastings City Council approved a measure Monday to authorize the mayor to execute an addendum to the South Central Law Enforcement Services (SCALES) agreement by adding the Central City Police Department. The SCALES program allows area law enforcement agencies to pull together to acquire and share equipment between cities.

The council also approved the collective bargaining agreement between the City of Hastings and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 9. City Administrator Joe Patterson told the Council the negotiations went smoothly.

The next Hastings City Council meeting will take place Oct. 27.

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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