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Large change in registered voter affiliation

Posted: 04/23/14 09:25

Secretary of State John Gale says more than 8,000 registered voters in Nebraska have changed their party affiliation since the start of the year. “Around 4,300 voters have changed from other parties to Republican. More than 2,000 have become Independents and 1,300 now say they are Democrats.” Gale speculates that having a strong Republican U.S. Senate race and a crowded field of Republican candidates vying for the gubernatorial race are strong influences.”

Heineman signs in more laws

Posted: 04/23/14 09:26

Gov. Heineman approved a half dozen bills yesterday, including one that allows for designated license plates for veterans. But he vetoed one that would have changed state regulations for nurse practitioners, and it’s too late for lawmakers to vote to override that one. The bill would have removed the requirement that nurses have an integrated practice agreement with a collaborating physician in order to practice in Nebraska. In the final vote, legislators had approved the measure unanimously. Heineman says in the future there will be a shift toward additional independence for nurse practitioners, but the option provided by the bill went too far, too quickly. Heineman and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joseph Acierno expressed concern about patient safety in the governor's veto letter.

Denim Days to raise Sexual Assault Awareness

Posted: 04/23/14 09:27

Across the country and around the world men and women alike will be wearing their blue jeans for Denim Day today. Sasa Crisis Center Community Educator Ashleigh Drudik says it’s a day to raise awareness about sexual violence. Denim Days falls in Sexual Assault Awarness month, Drudik says wants people in the community to know that sexual violence happens here and SASA is ready to help. This is the 4th year SASA has been involved in Denim Days and this year they have 50 schools and businesses pledging to wear jeans on Wednesday. They’ll be sharing photos of those participating on their Facebook page.

Primary race for governor heats up

Posted: 04/23/14 09:24

The Republican primary race for governor is heating up between Omaha businessman Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning. Republican Pete Ricketts is promising to run a positive campaign for Nebraska governor. He says neither he nor his father, billionaire TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, are involved in a series of anonymous, third-party ads attacking primary rival Jon Bruning, whose campaign is running its own TV ads.

Pershing steps down from Board of Education

Posted: 04/22/14 07:58

There’s a vacancy on the Hastings Public Schools Board of Education. Dr. Matt Pershing had to resign. He moved out of the district and that makes him ineligible to serve. The school board accepted and approved his resignation last night. Members like Jessica Meeske said he’ll be missed. The board of education is accepting applications to fill Pershings’ seat for the remainder of his term, which is close to three years.

Autism law signed by Heineman

Posted: 04/22/14 07:58

An estimated 1,000 Nebraskans will receive insurance coverage for autism therapies under a new state law. Gov. Dave Heineman signed the bill into law Monday standing alongside two families with autistic children. The proposal allows for up to 25 hours per week of covered therapy until the insured person turns 21 years old. Required coverage would include applied behavioral analysis, a treatment method that has been shown to help autistic children learn to function better. Certain insurance plans will be exempt from the autism requirement.

Pipeline opponents planning big week in D.C.

Posted: 04/22/14 08:01

Thousands of Keystone XL Pipeline opponents are expected to take part in a week of action in Washington D.C. that beings today. The Cowboy and Indian Alliance (CIA), a group of ranchers, farmers and indigenous leaders, are hosting an encampment on the National Mall. The Reject and Protect event begins today… with a 40-person ceremonial horseback ride from the Capitol down the National Mall. The group is pushing for the president to reject the pipeline, especially because of the route through Nebraska. As we’ve told you, the state department has extended its comment period on the project, so we may not have a decision until after the November elections.

Discussions over student transportation for Hastings School Board

Posted: 04/22/14 08:02

If the Hastings Public Schools elementary bond is passed by voters in May, students will be bused during construction. The Board of Education approved providing limited student transportation. Right now, Jeff Schneider believes students at Longfellow and Alcott would need the service. Busing would last roughly four years and cost roughly $40,000 per year. Again this will only happen if voters approve the elementary bond.

Glenvil man pleads no contest to double murder

Posted: 04/22/14 07:57

The rural Glenvil man accused of fatally shooting his ex-wife and former divorce attorney has pleaded no contest in the death of his ex-wife. Michael Petersen entered the plea n Hall County District Court for the Buffalo County charge. Petersen faced two counts each of first-degree murder and use of a weapon for the Nov. 13 slayings of 52-year-old Todd Elsbernd and 58-year-old Nancy Peterson. Prosecutors agreed to drop the weapons charge against Michael Petersen in exchange for the plea in his ex-wife's death. Michael Petersen has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from Elsbernd's death.

Road Work to Begin on N-4 West of Lawrence

Weather permitting, construction work is scheduled to begin the week of April 21 on N‑4, beginning at the junction of US-281 and proceeding ten miles east to Lawrence, according to the Nebraska Department of Roads.
Vontz Paving, Inc. of Hastings, Nebraska, has the $4.1 million contract for the ten-mile project. Work will include culvert work, grading, asphalt overlay and seeding.
Traffic rerouted to a temporary gravel surfaced single lane road and controlled with traffic signals. The remainder of the project will be constructed under traffic with the use of flaggers and pilot vehicle. Work is anticipated to be completed by late September 2014.

Gunshot kills 4-year-old Hastings Boy Friday Morning

The Hastings Police Department is investigating the shooting death of a 4-year-old boy around 8:30 a.m. Chief Pete Kortum says it happened on the 900 block of North Saunders Ave., and is being considered accidental at this time, but he could not give any more information pending notification of all the family. More details are expected later this afternoon.

*Note* A previously posted version of this story stated the boy was 3-years-old. Hastings Police have since updated the information.

Lawmakers wrap up legislative session

Posted: 04/18/14 09:09

Nebraska lawmakers have finished their session having passed major legislation to lower taxes, reduce prison crowding and pay for water conservation projects. But the session that ended Thursday was also marked by drawn-out squabbles over seemingly trivial issues, and a failure to expand Medicaid under the federal health care law. Many bills were killed through legislative filibusters, including a repeal of Nebraska's helmet law and an anti-discrimination law for gay employees.

Attorney General candidates fight for name recognition

Posted: 04/18/14 09:11

In the race for attorney general, republican candidates are still trying to get name recognition across the state. It was a late start campaigning for them because of Jon Bruning’s late entry into the gubernatorial race. Candidate Doug Peterson says endorsements from people like Gov. Kay Orr and Coach Tom Osborne make all the difference. Peterson is an attorney in a private practice but has worked for the attorney generals office. As far as what he wants to accomplish—stronger human trafficking and consumer protection laws, and continuing the relationship with local law enforcement and county attorneys. Peterson will face Pete Pirsch, Brian Buescher and Mike Hilgers for the republican nomination in the May Primary.

Corn farmers prepare for planting season

Posted: 04/18/14 09:12

We told you just a few days ago that farmers are getting set to plant. Well we’re hearing estimates that Nebraska corn farmers will plant 9.4 million acres of corn, about 94% of last year’s total acres. At a cost of about $280 per acre to get the crop in the ground, that about $2.6 billion invested by the state’s corn farmers over a two-month period. The statistics are coming out today from the University of Nebraska and the USDA. Tim Scheer with the Nebraska Corn Board says just getting the crops in the ground is one form of economic activity, yet the full economic impact of planting reaches close to $6 billion for our state’s economy. Scheer says the challenge with planting investments this year is lower commodity prices, yet input costs continue to be on the rise.

HPD still searching for escaped minor

Posted: 04/18/14 09:09

Hastings police are still looking this morning for a 17 year old who escaped police custody last night. They sent out a recorded alert and an email to citizens about it. According to an automated message, Zachary Vaught was last seen near the Adams County Courthouse around 5:30 p.m. He's described as 5'4'' and 130 lbs. with a brown hair, a buzz haircut and blue eyes. He was wearing a white shirt, dark shorts and no shoes. He was also handcuffed in front. If you see him, you are asked to call 911.

Basement fire in Hastings

Posted: 04/17/14 08:22

A basement fire forced a Hastings family to stay somewhere else last night. The Hastings Fire Department responded to 423 S. New York just before 3. Fire Chief Kent Gilbert says crews did get the fire under control quickly, despite the difficult location. There were no smoke detectors in the home, but one of the residents discovered the smoke. Everyone is safe. The red cross is assisting the family.

Kaleena Fong steps down from position

Posted: 04/17/14 08:23

Kaleena Fong is stepping down from her position as Executive Director at the Adams County Convention & Visitors Bureau effective July 1, in light of a new career opportunity. Fong says she is grateful for the support she has received over the last eight years at the ACCVB. Fong has accepted a position at Oakeson, Steiner and Lindsteadt where she will manage marketing and sales strategy starting July 1.  In the meantime the CVB Board of Directors is taking applications. A job description and application can be found at http://www.visithastingsnebraska.com/jobs.

UNK ends planning for new site called University Village

Posted: 04/17/14 08:24

The University Of Nebraska Kearney has completed the planning stage for development of the 104 acre site known as University Village. Barbara Johnson the Vice Chancellor for business and finance says the University Village provides numerous future development sites both at the University and in the community. With everything from residence halls to new construction projects Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse says it’s been a tremendously successful year for the University. Site construction on the University Village could begin as early as 2015

Nebraska legislature wrapping up today

Posted: 04/17/14 08:21

This afternoon, Governor Dave Heineman will deliver the sine die address to the legislature, marking the end of the legislative session. Yesterday he crossed the state, flying into Kearney to highlight what he’s calling their biggest accomplishment—tax relief. He called it ‘good’ legislative session… saving taxpayers money. District 33 State Sen. Les Seiler says despite some challenges, the legislature made strides and passed bills that will have a big impact on the State of Nebraska. As Senator Seiler looks back at this legislative session he’s disappointed more couldn’t be done in property tax relief.