Axtell Man Shows Off to Police... Gets Himself Arrested
An Axtell man spent much of the past weekend in jail after showing off with his motorcycle in front of a Kearney police officer and then attempting to elude police after they attempted to initiate a traffic stop.
According to a Kearney police report, the 44-year-old man was cited for felony flight to avoid arrest Saturday afternoon after a Kearney Police Department officer witnessed him popping a wheelie on a 1991 Yamaha VMax motorcycle. The officer tried to stop the man, but the driver led police on a chase covering several blocks before the motorcycle finally came to a stop. In addition to avoiding arrest, the driver was also cited for negligent driving.
The man was being held in the Buffalo County Jail Monday. The matter has been referred to the Buffalo County Attorney's Office for possible prosecution.
Kearney Superintendent Leaving for Sioux Falls
The Superintendent of Kearney Public Schools announced today that he has verbally accepted another position and will be leaving the district June 30. Dr. Brian Maher has been tapped as the new superintendent of the Sioux Falls, S.D. school district.
"I want to try my professional wares in a larger environment. Kearney has 5,300 students. Sioux Falls has 23,000 students. We're just trying to move to a larger environment and see if my skills will translate to that environment," Maher said Tuesday.
Maher has been Superintendent of Kearney Public Schools for the past 8 years and prior to that was at Centennial Public Schools for eight years. In his tenure at KPS, Dr. Maher has passed two major bond issues.
"We're building a brand new high school right now. We've already built two new elementary schools. Academically, our kids have shown gains across the board in their NeSa tests and their measure of academic progress tests. That's kind of where the rubber meets the road for a school district, so I'm very pleased with that," Maher said.
His experience includes being a principal at Waverly High School, assistant principal at Elkhorn High School, principal at Johnson-Brock Public Schools and a teacher at Elkhorn High School and Clarks Public Schools.
A special board meeting has been called for Monday, April 6 to accept his resignation. The search will then begin for a new superintendent.
Heartland Bank Breaks Ground on New Hastings Facility
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday to commemorate the beginning of a new era at a Hastings bank.
Heartland Bank will be moving into a new facility directly across from its current structure at year's end. The new building will be roughly 8,900 square feet. Their current facility is less than 3,000 square feet.
Heartland Bank first opened its doors on March 31, 2008. Regional President Jeremy Anderson remembers that first day when just three employees opened the doors to the bank.
"I'm very proud of where we are today and where we have come in those past seven years. As an organization I'm also very proud of the growth that we have seen," Anderson said.
A highlight of the new bank building will be a multipurpose community meeting room with state of the art technology. Kali Eklund is the project manager with Wilkins Hinrichs Stober Architects. She says the meeting room was designed specifically with the community in mind.
"It was a goal of Heartland Bank's to really have this be a part of Hastings. We worked hard to get in a location where the bank could be closed off and still have access to that community center and really designed it with the latest technology," Eklund said.
The new bank will be twice the size of the current facility. Construction is set to begin next month. The bank employees will move into the new facility by the end of the year.
Authorities Identify Man Killed in Fire North of Kearney
Authorities have identified the man who died Monday in a fire northeast of Kearney.
65-year old Eldon Schinkel was identified as the victim Tuesday by the Buffalo County Sheriff's Office. NBC Nebraska reports that investigators believe Schinkel died while burning trash without a permit.
Police and firefighters were called to the scene shortly after 2 p.m. Monday at a home on Sweetwater Ave. The fire was contained by 3 p.m.
An autopsy has been ordered, though authorities say foul play is not suspected.
Search for Fair Manager Continues
The search continues for a new general manager at the Adams County Fairgrounds.
A South Dakota woman chosen to replace Sandy Himmelberg at the fairgrounds surprised everyone and declined the offer. Randy Queen, fair board president told KHAS this afternoon she did not believe the move would be a great fit for her family. An emergency meeting of the fair board was scheduled at 6 p.m. Monday.
Current manager Sandy Himmelberg was set to retire in January after 28 years on the job. Her last day is tomorrow. Asked if the board might consider an interim manager, Queen said he couldn't speak to that, but said they'd like to have a manager in place as soon as possible.
The remaining three candidates are from Hastings, Wood River and Thayer County. Queen says the board will discuss their next choice tonight. Because the meeting wasn't advertised, they cannot hold a vote until a later time. A public vote is expected to take place later this week.
GIPS Planning Board Listening Session Tuesday
Residents in the Grand Island School District will have the opportunity to speak with board members about ideas they have for the district Tuesday night at Walnut Middle School.
Jack Sheard, Marketing and Communications Coordinator says the idea is to have a less intimidating environment for the public to be heard.
"We want to do away with any barriers. If you have a thought, if you have an issue that you'd like to bring forth, you can bring it to the board listening session and they're just going to sit and listen, in a round-table discussion," Sheard said.
The goal is to hear what the public would like to see the district look like in the next three to five years. The board will then take those concerns into consideration for their April board retreat. Sheard says there will be a few topics that will be off limits.
"The board would prefer not discuss a lot about buildings just because we are so far along in the bond project. And also they don't want to hear complaints about teachers," Sheard said.
They hope to hear concerns parents might have as well as potential solutions to how the district can do a better job.
The listening session will take place at 7 p.m. at Walnut Middle School. The event is open to the public.
GI Police Admit Mistakes Made in Violent Crimes Report
The Grand Island Police Department admits mistakes were made in a recent violent crime report issued last week.
The FBI Uniform Crime Report only records felony or aggravated assaults in their reports. Police Chief Steve Lamken said this was his fault and that the initial news release should not have been issued without a more thorough audit of all assaults.
The completed audit of all assaults reported in 2014 reduced the number of UCR reported felony assaults by two, a drop of 5 percent from the previous year. The audit also reflects a reduction in the number of domestic assaults that were felonies. That number dropped from 37 the previous year down to 32.
CPI Coop Names New CEO
A South Dakota businessman has been tapped as the next CEO for Cooperative Producers, Inc. based out of Hastings.
The CPI Board of Directors announced late Friday that Steve Domm had been selected to replace Bob Fifield, who served as CEO until December. Domm has more than 30 years of leadership and experience in agriculture for both cooperatives and privately held companies.
Board President Bruce Favinger says Domm's leadership skills and diverse agriculture experience were key qualities the board took into consideration.
Domm previously was CEO of Central Farmers Cooperative and general manager of FREMAR LLC in Marion, S.D. He also served as CEO of Millennium Ethanol LLC and has also held management positions with Cargill.
Domm will begin his duties on May 11.
New Census Numbers Show Growth in Tri-Cities
New census numbers show growth throughout much of Central Nebraska.
The latest figures, released on Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau for counties and metropolitan areas shows Adams County's population actually dropped between 2013 and 2014 by 124. Since 2010, Adams County's population is up modestly at 0.3 percent. The latest number shows Adams County's population at 31,457 for 2014.
Neighboring Hall and Buffalo Counties are among the top five fastest growing counties in the state. Both showed gains from 2013 to 2014. Hall County is the fourth fastest growing county in Nebraska up 4.9 percent since 2010 while Buffalo County is fifth, having climbed 4.6 percent since the 2010 census. The latest numbers show Hall County at 61,492. Buffalo County's population is 48,224..
Populations are trending down in some of the rural surrounding counties. Clay, Fillmore, Franklin, Nuckolls and Webster Counties each reported a fourth consecutive year of declines in population. Kearney and Thayer Counties meanwhile both reported gains over the last two years.
The overall state population also grew 3 percent and is nearing 1.9 million people.
Nebraska's Unemployment Rate Now Lowest in the Nation
A new report released today shows that Nebraska's preliminary unemployment rate of 2.7 percent last month was the lowest in the country.
The Nebraska Labor Department said in the report released Friday that the February rate is seven-tenths of a point under the February 2014 rate of 3.4 percent.
The new Nebraska figure remains well below the preliminary national unemployment rate of 5.5 percent in February. U.S. Labor Department figures say Nebraska was trailed by North Dakota at 2.9 percent and South Dakota and Utah at 3.4 percent.
More Than 45 Pounds of Marijuana Seized Near Giltner
A traffic stop Thursday in Hamilton County led to a seizure of 45 pounds of marijuana and one arrest.
A trooper with the Nebraska State Patrol stopped a pickup driver for speeding just off the Giltner exit on I-80 shortly before 1 p.m. A service dog then alerted the trooper to drugs coming from the rear of the pickup. A probable cause search led to the seizure of the 45.3 pounds of marijuana which was contained in 42 packages located in two suitcases.
The driver, 47-year old James Slater, Jr. of Illinois is being held in Hamilton County Jail on a charge of Possession with Intent to Deliver.
Hastings College Says Vote No to Grow
Hastings College has a new motto: "Vote No to Grow."
That's the message college officials want voters to remember when they vote on a special ballot measure this spring which will decide the fate of 9th Street through the campus. The motto was unveiled at last night's Business After Hours event for the college.
A "No" vote would mean the college could close the one block between Elm and Ash Avenue and move forward with capital improvement projects. A "Yes" vote allow the thoroughfare to remain open.
Ballots will be sent out to voters on April 22. The election deadline is May 12.
GIPD Arrests Five Linked to Burglaries
Police in Grand Island say they've arrested five individuals over the past three days who have been involved in burglaries.
One of the suspects arrested Thursday was located in a stolen vehicle and was in possession of drugs. Police were tipped when a neighbor called 911 and reported suspicious activity in the neighborhood.
Police also arrested three teenagers Wednesday after a neighbor spotted the three breaking into a home. They fled but were caught by police. On Tuesday and adult male was arrested after witnesses observed suspicious activity. Two others fled the scene are still being sought.
In a release this morning, Grand Island Police thanked the public for reporting such activity and reminds others to always call 911 if they observe suspicious activity.
G.I. Police Work to Correct Errors in Annual Violent Crimes Report
The Grand Island Police Department is working to fix errors that recently appeared in their annual report of violent crimes.
This week, the Grand Island Police Department corrected an earlier report that showed violent crime had gone up between 2013 and 2014 in the city. But the department's crime analyst spotted some logging errors in those reports to indicate that violent crimes were actually trending down.
Captain Dean Elliott with the Grand Island Police Department told KHAS Radio in an email that says they are continuing to comb over all the details of their new report and have uncovered even more logging errors, especially in domestic violence cases. He says just this morning, the crime analyst found an additional dozen offenses that were coded as misdemeanors that should have actually been coded as felonies.
An earlier report showed domestic violence to be up slightly in Grand Island from the previous year, but that number is expected to be up even more. Elliott says the department plans to issue a final revised report early next week to clear up any confusion.
Hastings Senior Named National Finalist for Merit Scholarship
A Hastings High School senior is a national finalist for a merit scholarship.
Ryder Mays was announced as a finalist on Wednesday. Mays joins a group of close to 8,000 finalists nationwide. Mays is in this class based on his outstanding score on the PSAT/merit scholarship qualifying test. He also scored a perfect 36 on his ACT, which was not a factor in the process.
Mays has been involved in several extracurricular activities including being a mentor for freshmen. He plans to go to college and hopes to one day become a young adult novelist.
*Pictured: Ryder Mays at center with father Greg and mother Ann Mays.
Farmers Cry "Fowl" Over Platte River Conservation Efforts
Farmers in the Wood River area claim that waterfowl conservation efforts along the Platte River are damaging Hall County roads and cropland.
Four families spoke with county supervisors Tuesday about their concerns. The families said that flood damage that occurred in February along Shoemaker Island Road will happen again because of raised nesting islands that have been placed in the river by the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program.
They say the land has flooded twice since the islands were placed in the river. Platte River Recovery Executive Director Jerry Kenny said analysis shows the flooding was not caused by the nesting islands.
Kearney Man Sentenced For Child Sexual Assault
A Kearney man has been sentenced to 100 days in jail and four years probation after he was convicted of having sex with a minor.
20-year-old Jonathan Slagle was recently sentenced in Buffalo County Court on a charge of felony attempted second-degree sexual assault. As a result of his sentence, Slagle was ordered to avoid contact with females under the age of 18.
He was also ordered to complete sexual abuse counseling, group therapy and was told to register with the Nebraska State Patrol as a convicted sex offender.
Kearney School Raises Money For Animal Shelter
A Kearney elementary school recently raised $1,481 to buy supplies for the Kearney Area Animal Shelter.
Students at Central Elementary School raised the money through a coin drive that brought in 228 pounds of coins. In addition to helping a worthwhile cause, the class that brought in the greatest weight in coins won a cookie party, and the class that raised the most money won a pizza party.
The "Fluffy Friends" coin drive ended Friday, at which time students went on a shopping spree at a local retail store to buy items for the shelter.
Following their shopping trip, students delivered more than $800 dollars worth of goods to the Kearney Area Animal Shelter with the remaining balance being put on a gift card for the shelter.
Lawmakers to Debate Medical Marijuana Study for Seizures
Lawmakers will debate a bill allowing patients with seizures to legally access a marijuana derivative under the supervision of University of Nebraska researchers.
A legislative committee voted 6-0 Tuesday to advance a measure creating a pilot study of cannabidiol to gauge its effectiveness treating severe seizures. Cannabidiol has extremely low levels of THC, the compound responsible for the marijuana high.
Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha told the committee the $250,000 project would be funded by the Nebraska Research Initiative, a state-funded grant program administered by the university, rather than state general funds.
Sen. Sue Crawford of Bellevue has introduced the measure and designated it as her priority bill, increasing the odds that senators debate it this year.
Hotel, Restaurant and Housing Development Planned for South Kearney
A major hotel, restaurant and housing development project will be coming to south Kearney in the near future. Paul Younes, president of Younes Hospitality is planning to build a new extended stay four-story Candlewood Suites hotel with 84 rooms.
At Tuesday's meeting, the Kearney City Council approved a change in zoning, along with special platting and annexation requests to accommodate the new development. In addition to the hotel, a 12,000 square foot restaurant and apartment complex are also being developed. Younes, who was present at last (Tuesday) night's meeting said he's looking forward to beginning work on the new development:
"I think it's going to be a great thing for the community as well for our complexes out there. We needed some restaurants for people to be able to walk into. We also need more room to accommodate the conference center. The apartment situation is to help accommodate our employees to have affordable lodging down there," Younes said.
Because of traffic congestion and other concerns, the city has agreed to build another access road to accommodate the new development. With all of the necessary building requirements now in place, Younes expects to begin work on the project very soon:
"We're hoping to start moving dirt next week. We're going to start working on the hotel project as soon as we can as well as the restaurant pad. We'd like to have everything done by May 1, 2016," Younes said.
The hotel, restaurant and apartment development project is expected to cost an estimated $13.35 million dollars.
No New Judge Yet in 10th Judicial District
The search for a new judge in the 10th judicial district continues. The Nebraska Supreme Court announced this week that only one of the five candidates who applied for the seat garnered enough votes to be nominated to the governor. By law, a nominating commission must present at least two to the governor.
Applications are now being accepted through 5 p.m. on April 21. A second public hearing will be held in the Adams County Courthouse at 10 a.m. on May 12. All five of the previous applicants must reapply to be considered.
The 10th Judicial District is comprised of Adams, Clay, Fillmore, Franklin, Harlan, Kearney, Nuckolls, Phelps and Webster counties. The primary office for the vacant position is in Hastings.
Judge Rejects Plea Withdrawal Stemming From Officer Dragging Incident
A judge has rejected a Hastings man's request to withdraw his pleas to charges stemming from the dragging of a police officer.
30-year-old Marty Deckert had accepted a plea deal on charges of attempted second-degree murder and other crimes. But at his sentencing hearing last month, Deckert tried to fire his court-appointed attorney and withdraw his pleas.
Authorities say Deckert tried to avoid arrest in July by speeding away in a car while dragging a police officer.
Deckert said in court on Tuesday that he thought his attorney had pressed him to take the plea deal without fully explaining what it included.
Judge Terri Harder denied Deckert's motion, saying he didn't provide enough evidence to back up his argument and had lied at the sentencing hearing.
Court Issues Stay in Nebraska Same-Sex Marriage Challenge
Nebraska's ban on same-sex marriage will stay in place, at least for now.
A federal appeals court has granted an emergency stay, putting a federal judge's ruling striking down the ban on hold. The ban will remain in effect until an appeal in the case is decided.
Had the appeals court ruled in favor of the lower court, Nebraska would have been ordered to recognize gay marriages and civil unions starting on Monday.
The ACLU of Nebraska said they are disappointed by the 8th Circuit Court's ruling and will continue to challenge the ban.
Kearney Man Accidentally Shoots Himself
A Kearney man is recovering after accidentally shooting himself in the hand Sunday evening.
According to a Kearney Police Department incident report, Dallas Murray was attempting to remove a laser-guide rod from a 9mm handgun, but forgot to remove the magazine and clear the weapon before clearing the jam.
As a result, the weapon discharged striking Murray in the left palm. Murray's injuries were said not to be serious and he's expected to make a full recovery.
Hastings College To Build New Art Center
Hastings College has announced a press conference next week. Constructed in 1908 as the College's library, the current home to Hastings College's Art Department no longer serves the growing program's needs. President Don Jackson and other Hastings College officials are expected to announce the construction of a new art center on campus. The announcement will take place next Tuesday at 4pm at the grey center on the HC campus.
Heineman Grilled at First Testimony Hearing
The chairman of a legislative committee says 162 Nebraska inmates convicted of violent crimes were freed early under a furlough program. The program was revealed at a hearing yesterday as the chairman, Senator Steve Lathrop, questioned Governor Dave Heineman. The Republican governor was subpoenaed to testify under oath as part of an investigation into miscalculated prison sentences and other problems.
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.