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Sexual Assault Charge Brought Against Hastings Man

A Hastings man faces charges of sexually assaulting a teenage girl.

23-year old Andrew Williams was arrested Friday on a charge of first-degree sexual assault of a child. A police investigation revealed an apparent sexual relationship between Williams and the 15-year-old victim.

The mother of the victim first contacted police in mid-July after she suspected an inappropriate relationship. She has since filed a protection order against Williams in district court. That hearing is set for Wednesday.

If convicted, Williams could face up to 25 years in prison.

Two Injured in Downtown Hastings Crash

Two people were injured in a downtown Hastings crash Friday night.

Shortly before 10 p.m., two vehicles collided on Burlington Ave. Both were sent onto the north sidewalk on 2nd Street east of the intersection. One of the vehicles took out a bike rack and hit a light pole in front of Joseph's Beauty College. The other vehicle hit the traffic light pole at the intersection.

Both people injured received non-life threatening injuries. A third person was not transported to the hospital.

Sign Damage Suspect Identified

After numerous reports of road signs between Kearney and Ravenna being run over or damaged, the Buffalo County Sheriff's Office says they've identified a teen they believe to be responsible.

The incidents occurred on July 23 and 24 and included damaged stop signs, yield and curve signs. The teen faces charges in juvenile court.

If convicted, the teen could face an array of punishment including placement into the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center.

More Prison Sentences Miscalculated

More than two dozen inmates at Nebraska's prisons had miscalculated sentences recently.

Director Scott Frakes said Friday that all but six of those miscalculations had been given so-called "good time" credit they should not have received and saw their sentences lengthened. The maximum number of credits reversed was 21 days.

The release dates span a seven week period between June 10 and August 31. The department is currently reviewing 2,000 prison sentences after discovering the errors last month.

Nebraskans For the Death Penalty Gaining Momenutm

Organizers of a campaign to reinstate Nebraska's death penalty say they're cautiously optimistic they'll gather enough signatures to place the issue on the 2016 ballot.

Nebraskans for the Death Penalty has less than a month left to gather about 58,000 signatures before an August 27th deadline. Spokesman Chris Peterson says the group has collected signatures from all counties except for Sioux County, but declined to release how many have been gathered so far.

The group has had heavy financial backing from some of Nebraska's top officials including Governor Pete Ricketts and his father Joe Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade.

ACLU Executive Director Danielle Conrad, who is leading the Nebraskans for Public Safety campaign against the referendum, says her group will prepare a "strong and competitive" campaign if the issue makes it to the ballot.

Outdoor Skills Workshop Scheduled at Fort Kearney SRA

A family outdoor skills workshop has been scheduled at the Fort Kearny State Historical Park and Recreation Area.

The "Becoming an Outdoors-Family" workshop is set for Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 8-9. It will include sessions on fishing, hiking, camping, kayaking, aquatic education, outdoor cooking, archery and air guns.

The fee is $60 for a group of six or fewer people. Park entry and fishing permits are required. Registration forms are available at NebraskaBOW.com.

Frakes: 29 Nebraska Inmates Had Wrong Release Dates Over 7 Weeks

The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services says that of 390 prisoners who have or will be released between June 10 and Aug. 31, more than two dozen had miscalculated release dates.

Prisons director Scott Frakes said Friday that of the 29 miscalculations, 23 had been given so-called "good time" credit they should not have received and saw their sentences lengthened. The maximum number of credits reversed was 21 days.

Frakes says six did not receive credits they should have gotten. All six saw their sentences shortened by three days.

Nebraska's corrections department announced last month that it was reviewing 2,000 prisoner sentences for accuracy after discovering that some inmates received credit they shouldn't have.

B-17 Bomber Visits Kearney

A well known military aircraft from years past flew into the Kearney Regional Airport on Thursday bringing back countless memories for those who served in World War II.

The Experimental Aircraft Association is currently sponsoring a visit of their B-17 "Aluminum Overcast. The famous World War II bomber will be on display throughout the weekend.

"Kearney used to be a B-17 base, so there used to be hundreds of them here. Crews would gather here, get assigned an airplane and then go off to Europe," said Lorraine Morris, an experienced pilot who flew the plane to Kearney

With less than 15 B-17's still airworthy, having the opportunity to participate in an actual flight is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. To reserve a spot for a ride on the B-17 Bomber aircraft, you can stop by the Kearney Regional Airport or go to www.eaa.org for more information.

Officers Get Fast and Furious at MPH

If you drove by the Motorsports park in Hastings this week, you probably heard loud engines roaring, but they weren't race cars.

The Nebraska State Patrol Training Academy hosted a 3-day training seminar on the course which concluded Wednesday. Training Sgt. Cody Paro explains.

"These were all certified vehicle driving instructors just to keep everybody current and up to date on policy changes or training principles, maneuvers and techniques," Paro said.

The MPH owners opened up their course to the training event which Paro says provides a great setting.

"It is a very useful tool. It's excluded, it's safe and there's no fear of any other outside traffic making its way onto the track. The officers have the ability to drive at high rates of speed and test their skills. It makes them better overall instructors because of it," he said.

The State Patrol Training Academy offers the Instructor In-Service every one to two years.

Holdrege Shooting Suspect Arrested in Lancaster County

Authorities have arrested a man believed responsible for the shooting of a Cozad man in April at a Holdrege apartment.

On Thursday, the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office arrested Julio Valenzuela of Lincoln for attempted first degree murder and two firearms charges for the April 23rd incident.

The victim, Donald Handy recovered about a week later at a Kearney hospital.

Two Injured in I-80 Semi Collision

Two people were injured Thursday in a multi-vehicle crash on I-80 near Elm Creek.

The Nebraska State Patrol says a box truck trying to pass a semi near the Elm Creek interchange collided with it, then struck another semi.

45-year-old Tracey Gillard of Kearney suffered an apparent head injury in the crash. One of the semi-drivers also suffered hand and facial injuries.

Traffic in the area was rerouted for nearly four hours after the crash.

Puppy Killer Sentenced to Probation

There will be no jail time for a Florida woman who drowned a puppy in a Grand Island airport restroom.

Instead, Cynthia Anderson was sentenced Thursday in Hall County to 24 months of probation. As part of her sentence, she also will not be allowed to own any animals for the next five years.

The felony Anderson was charged with can carry up to five years in prison, as much as $10,000 in fines or both. Central Nebraska Humane Society Executive Director Laurie Dethloff says Anderson's penalty didn't fit the crime.

"It just draws more attention that there are some laws that we either need to do more precise laws or educate more about what laws are available for penalties," she said.

Anderson was denied access to a flight in January when she attempted to board a plane with three small puppies. She then proceeded to drown one of pups in a toilet.

The other two dogs have been housed at the Humane Society since January. Dethloff says Anderson only had to pay $100 in restitution to the humane society for lodging the animals.

"The restitution was disappointing. We're responsible while she's in custody to handle and take care of the animals. She had refused to surrender which would have eliminated her fee. We weren't able to do anything until her sentencing was complete. It was very expensive, for a nonprofit," she said.

Dethloff says the other two Yorkies have since been adopted by a local family.

Hastings Utilities Says North Baltimore Project Likely Delayed Until 2016

No work is likely to happen this year on a water storage and restoration project located on North Baltimore in Hastings.

The Hastings Board of Public Works will wait to hear from a Nebraska Department of Natural Resources report first, which will be presented at City Hall on Aug. 11. Hastings Utilities Manager Marvin Schultes.

"I do believe we've lost this construction season. We have to go through an approval for the design and that will take some time. Where it goes depends upon the Aug. 11 meeting," he said.

The project, known as the "Aquifer Storage and Restoration Project," is a water-swapping system meant to keep Hastings drinking water safe. The project was originally set to begin early this year but has been delayed until at least next spring.

Dept. of Education Report Uncovers Cheating Incidents

A report shows that Nebraska public schools have reported eight serious cheating incidents by school personnel during statewide academic testing since 2010.

The Nebraska Department of Education report doesn't offer specifics of the incidents, which it describes as security breaches. But it does give examples of what the agency considers a serious breach, including changing a student's answers, directly coaching a student, or providing test answers to a student.

The education commissioner wouldn't release further details due to the state's public records law.


South Platte Chambers of Commerce to Tour 17 Communities

As they look to reorganize and revitalize their organization, the South Platte United Chambers of Commerce will tour the region next month with stops at 17 different communities.

President Tim Anderson of Holdrege, Dena Beck of Minden, and Kelly Gewecke of Kearney are going out to talk about how the "new" South Platte can better fulfill its mission to furthering the area's economic and social welfare. The new action zones for the group are Tourism, Community Promotion, and Lobbying.

The central leg of the tour is scheduled for Tuesday, August 11. The scheduled visits include the Minden city office at 9 a.m.; the Hildreth Community Building at 10 a.m. and the Johnson Center in Alma at 11:15. Visits to Orleans and Arapahoe are also scheduled for that afternoon.

The South Platte region includes 22 counties located south of the Platte River in central and western Nebraska, including the Hastings region.

NPPD Warns of New Electric Bill Scam

The Nebraska Public Power District is again warning of an electric bill scam making its way to some customers.

NPPD says it's been happening lately in Norfolk. The phony caller tells the customer they are overdue on their bill and must pay within 20 minutes to avoid being disconnected. They are then instructed to purchase pre-paid cards in order to make immediate payment.

Officials say several businesses in the Norfolk area fell victim to the scam Wednesday. NPPD says if an individual is behind on payment, they will be notified on their monthly bill.

Three Arrested in Connection to Kearney Credit Union Robbery

The three men believed to be responsible for robbing a Kearney Eaton Employees Credit Union last October are now in police custody.

Two of the suspects, 29-year-old Patrick Wigley and 28-year-old Thomas Dunlap were arrested in Chicago Tuesday. Both will be transported to Lincoln by the U.S. Marshal's Office. The third suspect, 28-year-old Clifton Hudson was arrested in Kearney this week and is currently jailed on drug charges in a separate case. Hudson will be taken to Lincoln today for his initial appearance and arraignment.

According to records, on October 17, two men wearing work clothes and white hardhats entered the credit union, as one of the men displayed what was believed to be a handgun. Both suspects then jumped the teller counter, ordered the tellers and other employees into a nearby office.

The employees' hands were then bound while the suspects proceeded to remove more than $120,000 in currency before fleeing the scene on foot. If convicted, the suspects could face up to 25 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and other consequences.

Hastings Police Sergeant Retiring After 43 Years

The Hastings Police Department will soon say goodbye to one of its longest serving members.

Sgt. Steven Murphy is retiring next week after 43 years on the job. Murphy was first hired on Aug. 1, 1972. He spoke at the city council meeting last night and says he's looking forward to retirement.

"I've enjoyed every year that I've worked here. Ten years ago I picked this date to retire on. It's time to go and I'm going happy and I'm going thinking I can still do the job. My wife and I have lots of other things we want to do and it's time to move on and do those other things," Murphy said.

During his time he has served in the department's patrol division, detective bureau, drug division and administration. He says while he's seen lots of change in his 43 years, the job itself has not changed at all.

Sgt. Murphy's last day will be Aug. 7. Sgt. Brian Hessler will succeed Murphy as sergeant of administration services.

Auditorium Project Stalled While Negotiations Continue

Following Monday night's Hastings City Council meeting, city officials went into closed session for an informative meeting with the architects involved in the city auditorium renovation project.

City Administrator Joe Patterson says the council did not take any action but provided an update on what was discussed.

"What we're in the middle of with the architects is the design of the auditorium renovation. They are also designing the conference center link. That project is not moving forward as quickly as the auditorium project needs to so we were discussing the scope of the project and the fees," he said.

The project has slowed to a screeching halt. Patterson said there hasn't been much new discussion as they await potential funding and a suitor willing to build a hotel on the property.

"The developers were trying to get investors and trying to get the hotel and the college to be a part of it. We have not met with them in a very long time. The grant for the auditorium will expire and right now it's on hold until whether or not they find a hotel willing to build and find investors," he said.

The state grant expires at the end of the year but may be extended if no progress is made by that time. Patterson says after January 1st, no organization will be able to rent space at the auditorium because of the anticipated project. He says that makes it critical to move forward on the project as soon as possible.

Rollover Accident Halts I-80 Traffic Near Shelton

Eastbound traffic was backed up for two miles along I-80 near the Shelton interchange late this morning due to a rollover accident.

According to scanner reports, an eastbound vehicle overturned near mile marker 290. Initial reports indicate there were two people inside the vehicle, who received minor injuries.

Traffic was being redirected to the inside lane of I-80 by police.

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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