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Production Brewery Coming to Hastings

For the first time in nearly 100 years, a production brewery will be coming to downtown Hastings.

First Street Brewing Company has announced that they are finalizing the purchase of a downtown building and that renovations will begin this month. Owner Nathan Hoeft (HAY-ft) moved to Hastings three years ago from Florida with his wife who is from Nelson. He says he fell in love with the community and wants to see the downtown thrive.

"My hope is to increase the number of people spending time in the downtown area. The brewery's main goal will be getting beer out the door, but we will have a taproom for tastings and events. My hope is that the taproom can be a springboard for people to try a couple different things and explore the downtown area," he said.

While the grand opening likely won't happen until about this time next year, Hoeft says he hopes to host some "pop up" tastings at different businesses in Hastings. A website has been set up at for for residents to learn more about the company.

The last time the city had a production brewery was in 1917 with the Hastings Brewery. That operation shut down due to prohibition.

Lexington Woman Killed, Baby Injured in Car/Pedestrian Accident

A woman pushing a baby stroller along a residential street in Lexington was killed when she was struck by a car shortly after 8:30 p.m. Monday night.

The victim has been identified as 32-year-old Alejandra Zamora of Lexington.

Investigators say Zamora was pushing a stroller with an infant near the intersection of 13th and Taft Streets when she was struck by a car driven by 25-year-old Krystal Saunders of Lexington.

The infant was airlifted to an Omaha hospital in critical condition.

The accident is being investigated by the Nebraska State Patrol.

Oregon Trail Rodeo Finishes Up Successful Weekend

The 24th annual Oregon Trail Rodeo was a big success over the weekend.

Most of Saturday's rodeo goers wore pink to benefit the Morrison Cancer Center. Publicist Ruth Nicolaus says they were able to raise a lot of cash.

"We raised about $2,250 for that. That was through people wearing pink, voluntary donations we picked up and from a contribution from Thrivent Financial," she said.

Although it competed against opening weekend at the Nebraska State Fair and a largely attended Keith Urban concert, the Oregon Trail Rodeo still drew good crowds.

"There's enough people to go around and we packed our stands Saturday night. We haven't seen it that full in a long time. And the competition was outstanding. We had the number one man in the bull riding in the pro rodeo at our rodeo Saturday," Nicolaus said.

Two Nebraska cowboys took the team roping title. Tucker White, a Hastings College student and Jeff Johnston of Thedford earned a time of 5.8 seconds, the fastest time of the weekend. Cheryl Wallace of Broken Bow earned the barrel racing title. Lindsey Hinrichs of Glenvil was crowned Miss Oregon Trail Rodeo during Sunday's event.

Hollands to Perform in Concert this Thursday at Kearney Public Library

The "Hollands," a seasoned musical entertainment group will perform in concert at the Kearney Public Library on Thursday, September 3rd at 7 p.m.

Christine Walsh, Assistant Library Director says "they bill themselves as merrymaking nomads. They live in the United States, but they travel all around and they also travel in Australia."

They do Folk music and American, lots of energy in their music, so its fun to listen to," Walsh added.

The performance is free and open to the public. For further information, you can visit their website at

Lottery Unveils Hot and Spicy Scratch Ticket

The Nebraska Lottery says it will be selling Sriracha-scented scratch tickets.

It's called Hot Sriracha, and each ticket contains a scent replicating that of the famous Asian sauce. Acting Nebraska Lottery director Jill Marshall says in a news release that lottery officials think the new game ``is the first Sriracha-scented scratch game ever made.''

Lottery spokesman Neil Watson said Thursday that tickets are being distributed and cost $2 to play. They will available at the Nebraska State Fair beginning on Saturday.

Doniphan Woman Gets Probation for Harboring Apes

A Doniphan woman who reported her pet gibbons as stolen has been sentenced to two years probation for having the apes as pets.

Nancy Stephens also was fined $4,000 Thursday. She had pleaded guilty in June to violating the Endangered Species Act, which prohibits the transportation, shipment or receipt of endangered species.

Stephens said she bought her two apes for $22,000 and transported them here from Florida. She reported they were stolen from her home by two men in September 2013.

The primates were eventually found in Florida and placed in a sanctuary.

Prison Time for Attacker in Hookup, Holdup Incident

A Kearney man will spend time in prison for his role in a January home robbery.

24-year-old Colbey Dunn was sentenced Thursday to three to eight years behind bars. On January 25, Dunn robbed and assaulted a Colorado man who was lured to a Kearney home by a woman for sex.

Three other men have also been convicted for their roles in the incident. In addition, 22-year-old Anne Schuster will be sentenced in December for her role in luring the man to the home.

32-year-old Melissa Callahan also is awaiting sentencing for her involvement.

EPA's 'Waters of the U.S.' Rule Put on Hold

The EPA's new 'Waters of the United States' rule has been put on hold by a federal judge in North Dakota.

The Republican Attorney General's Association says the District Court issued the preliminary injunction because the 13 states fighting the rule were likely to succeed in their case.

Nebraska ag producers say the rule oversteps the EPA's authority. Attorney General Doug Peterson said yesterday that the order is an important first step for those states challenging the rule.

The EPA's ruling would have gone into effect Friday.

Hastings Woman Arrested in Connection to Toddler's Death

A Hastings woman accused of causing a toddler to choke to death made her initial court appearance this morning.

33-year-old Azudany Serrano-Contreras was extradited to Hastings from Texas yesterday on a charge of felony intentional child abuse causing death. An arrest affidavit alleges she stuffed a baby wipe down the throat of 19-month old Aliyana Peterson on March 14. Investigators determined that the toddler's death was a homicide after an autopsy revealed that the only way the wipe could be lodged in her throat was by force.

The judge denied a request to lower Serrano-Contreras' bond from $1 million to $100,000. The prosecutor said she poses a flight risk because of her many contacts outside of Nebraska and the United States.

Her attorney was not present today, so the initial hearing in the case was delayed until September 11th. If convicted, Serrano-Contreras faces 20 years to life in prison.

Pro Rodeo Competitors Coming to Hastings

More than 200 cowboys and cowgirls will make their way to Hastings this weekend for the 24th annual Oregon Trail Rodeo, with nearly $50,000 up for grabs.

The event has several national and world champion competitors coming to Hastings.

"Sage Kimsey, who is leading the world standings in bull riding and is last year's world champion, the Wright brothers from Utah. A father and son and brother are all competing. Two of the three have won saddle bronc riding championships," said Ruth Nicolaus, publicist for the Oregon Trail Rodeo.

The event kicks off Friday with a Kids Day event, something unique to this rodeo.

"We have fourth graders come in. They learn about the rodeo events, agriculture, Nebraska history and how rodeo has been involved in Nebraska history. It's just a great fun morning for all of the fourth graders," said Judy Mignery, Adams County Ag Society board member.

Friday and Saturday's performances will be at 7 p.m. and Sunday's event takes place at 5 p.m. at the Adams County Fairgrounds.

Nebraska Joins National Effort to Reduce Traffic Fatalities

Nebraska is joining a national effort this weekend aimed at reducing traffic fatalities. It's called the I-80/I-35 Challenge.

Colonel Bradley Rice, Supt. of the Nebraska State Patrol says August is one of the deadliest months for travelers and that officials are aiming for zero fatalities during this special enforcement.

"During this time, motorists can expect to see a very strong law enforcement presence as troopers and other officers work to reduce crash causing behaviors such as speeding, driving while impaired or distracted and we're also looking for those people to use their seat belts," he said.

Between 2009 and 2013, there were 92 people killed on I-80 during the month of August. Grand Island Police Chief Steve Lamken says his department also is focusing on eliminating drunk drivers from the roadways.

"Drunk driving has been and continues to be a major problem and in our communities. Grand Island is no exception. The cost is staggering. Just one crash can easily result in tens of thousands of dollars in property loss, personal injury and death. The suffering of people involved is immeasurable," Lamken said.

The I-80/I-35 Challenge coincides with the "You Drink You Drive You Lose" campaign and runs Friday through Sunday, Aug. 28 to Aug. 30.

Houser Named Interim Hall County Jail Director

Hall County Supervisors have named an interim jail director. By a unanimous vote this morning, former Richardson County Sheriff Randy Houser was approved for the position.

Houser will begin his duties tomorrow. He replaces former director Fred Ruiz who was ousted last week following an investigation of his management style and jail operations. Assistant director Jimmy Vann was also fired.

Former Hastings police sergeant Ric Hallett was the other candidate interviewed by board members at a special meeting yesterday. Board Chairman Scott Arnold says Houser will serve as interim director for the next three or four months until a permanent director is found.

Hastings Couple Escapes Mobile Home Fire

A Hastings couple was displaced from their mobile home after a fire last night.

Dennis and Joan Clark narrowly escaped the fire thanks the quick action of their neighbor Jorge Calderon who first noticed the flames.

"He went to the door, alerted them and helped Mr. Clark out the front door, passed the fire. The fire grew to engulf in front of the trailer and did damage to a recreational vehicle and a second trailer that was parked beside it," said Kent Gilbert, Hastings Fire Chief.

It happened just after 9 p.m. in the 1200 block of East Park Street. Gilbert says the Fire Marshal was called in to investigate the cause of the fire.

"We don't have an exact cause at this time. We believe it to be accidental. We'll have a more defined cause for the fire in seven to 10 days," he said.

Thankfully no one was injured although the home is a total loss. Gilbert says the couple will be staying with relatives.

Hall County Corrections Officials Fired

Following a closed door session that lasted nearly four hours yesterday, two top Hall County Corrections officials were ousted.

The Hall County Board unanimously voted to fire Jail Director Fred Ruiz and Assistant Director Jimmy Vann. One of four former corrections officers who attended the public meeting presented supervisors with a letter that said they and other officers had quit their jobs because of management issues under Ruiz and Vann.

The county is also preparing for a possible lawsuit from a 30-year employee who retired from the jail in June. Former Sgt. Debb Rea submitted a letter to the county board detailing management and operational concerns at the jail. The specifics of the complaint have not been made public.

The firings are effective immediately. Hall County Attorney Jack Zitterkopf will be in charge of the jail until the county board can appoint an interim jail director.

Minden Crews Respond to Collision

Emergency crews from Minden were called out Tuesday night after a farm tractor collided with another vehicle at the intersection of Hwy 34 and Hwy 6.

It happened shortly before 9 p.m. Initial reports indicate one person was injured and was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney by ambulance.

A small fire also broke out following the collision which was extinguished by the Minden Fire Department.

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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