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Mary Lanning Begins Phase Two of Cancer Center Project

Officials at Mary Lanning Healthcare broke ground this morning on phase two of an expansion project at the Morrison Cancer Center.

The $2 million project will expand the center north and will include seven private treatment rooms for chemotherapy treatments and will give more space to the pharmacy department. Mark Callahan, COO says the added space will allow more people to access cancer care without traveling to Lincoln or Omaha.

"We had lost some of our business to the Lincoln and Omaha area but now with the providers we have on staff and the services we can offer, we feel we have a very good, solid program. We'll be able to have people stay here in their home town for quality cancer care," said Callahan.

In addition to the Hastings area, Callahan says their market reaches as far west as McCook, points north of Grand Island and into northern Kansas. Callahan adds that the hospital has room to grow.

"We can continue to grow. We can come out to the parking lot to the north and parts west of the property. Part of our strategic planning is how to continue to grow. We should be able to continue to grow and hopefully have the need to continue to grow," he said.

Phase one of the expansion project was completed in February. Callahan estimates the second phase will be completed by late 2016 to early 2017.

NU President to Tour Nebraska

University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds will tour the state this week to speak with citizens about the university's opportunities in the years ahead.

Bounds will make stops in Ogallala, Alliance and Bayard today then continue to tour the panhandle over the next couple days. He will cap his trip by delivering the commencement speeches at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis and at UNK on Thursday.

During his April 15 installation address, Bounds detailed four "cornerstones" for success at the university. They include
· Becoming the best place in the nation to be a student.
· Transforming lives through research and innovation.
· Working hand-in-hand with partners to achieve shared goals.
· Winning with people.

Bounds also plans to promote his newly launched "Commit to Complete" initiative, which encourages timely graduation so students can minimize their debt and enter the workforce sooner.

Shelton Board to Interview Superintendent Candidates

The Shelton school board will interview interim superintendent candidates this week to replace a man accused of attacking his wife.

Brian Redinger faces felony charges of assault and terroristic threats. Board members have hired an Omaha recruiting firm to identify potential candidates.

The Board will consider a 1-year contract and will interview potential candidates on Tuesday. An announcement could come as soon as Thursday.

One person who may emerge as a top candidate is Kearney's interim superintendent Dr. Virginia Moon.

Moon was the Ralston Superintendent for 11 years before retiring in 2009. Since retiring, she's held interim superintendent jobs in Broken Bow from 2010-2012 and at Omaha Public Schools from 2012 to 2013. She signed a one year contract with Kearney Public Schools last year after Dr. Brian Maher resigned.

Moon wouldn't comment Monday when asked if she was a candidate for the Shelton job.

Adams County Sheriff's Searching for Suspects

A daytime burglary in Adams county yesterday ended with shots being fired. According to reports four men were attempting to break into a home on Osage Street in Juniata when the homeowner arrived home and interrupted their plans. The homeowner responded to this sight by firing off two shots. The suspects then fled, and according to witness accounts left the scene in a green pickup with possibily 37 county plates, which is Phelps county, however investigators are not limiting their search to that area.. Inspector kemp with the Adams County Sheriffs office says that authorities believe that this incident is connected to several other recent rural burglaries in the area. The suspects are still at large. No one was injured and nothing was taken from the home in the incident. Inspector Kemp also said that they are in need of the publics help. If you have seen anything or have any information please contact the Adams County Sherriffs Office.

Grand Island Library Has New Partnership

The Grand island Public library announced yesterday that they are beginning a new partnership with driving-test.org. This will provide patrons of the library to take advantage of free DMV practice tests. The tests are based on DMV state materials and is the only site of its kind that includes tools that let users have questions read aloud, convert tests into MP3s, translate questions into other languages, and magnify the text.
This new program will focus on outreach to several groups, including teens, those with disabilities, and seniors who need to take a renewal test. "We also have partnerships with hundreds of libraries and schools across the nation, devoted to creating safe drivers," says Driving-Tests.org's founder, Andrei Zakhareuski. "Our partners value information and accessibility – the same values we have, and ones that lead to safer roadways."
For more information on the new Driving-Tests.org database, visit the Grand Island Public Library website at www.gilibrary.org and click on the Driving-Tests.org link or call 308-385-5333.

Cabelas Agrees To Settlement

Cabelas, the Sydney based outdoor outfitter, has reached a settlement in a complaint from federal regulators at the Securities and Exchange Commission that investors were mislead about the company's 2012 profitability ratios. Cabelas has agreed to pay $1 million dollars in the settlement, and according to the Omaha World Herald, Cabelas chief financial officer Ralph Caster will also end up paying $50,000 to the SEC, although in a statement released by Caster, he admitted no wrongdoing.

Rural Airports Get Good News

In good news for several Nebraska airports, Congressman Adrian Smith has led the charge in congress to help rural airports from losing federal funding, even though their boarding numbers have gone down. Smith said that the regulations that have been imposed has hurt the boarding numbers at many of these airports, and hopes to pursue longer term solutions for these rural transportation hubs. While Senator Deb Fischer says its important to keep funding these airports, so these areas don't become more disconnected.

Frost or No Frost that is the Question

As we proceed through this time of year here in Central Nebraska, we usually see our last freeze. According to the national Weather Service here in Hastings, our area usually experiences the last freeze between April 25th and May 5th. However the last freeze can come at various times. In 2012 the area saw the earliest last freeze/frost on record, happening in early March, whereas in 2014 some areas saw the last freeze/frost in mid-May.
As of now, it doesn't look like there will be a need for a frost/freeze warning until at the earliest May 3rd. The National Weather Service says that they begin issuing frost advisories/freeze warnings starting May 1st, as needed. One just never truly knows very far in advance whether the last frost/freeze of the spring has in fact occurred, until well into May!

Give It Up For Hastings

It was a big day for giving yesterday in Hastings. The 24 Hour give Hastings Day put on by the Hastings community foundation raised $348,190.98, from a total of 2,418 donors. The unique fundraiser aimed at supporting local non-profit organizations, saw Hastings Catholic Schools come in on I money raised, seeing an average donation of $924, bringing in $43,430 from just 47 donors. Coming in second was the Prairie Loft Center who received a total of $21,075 from 164 donors. Start Over Rover came in third in dollars raised with $17,250, and led all organizations in donors with 196

Food Trucks Raise Parking Concerns in Kearney

The Kearney City Council met earlier this week. The biggest topic of discussion was food trucks.

Currently food trucks must have a license and permission to park on private property. If food trucks are added to the special event's permit, they would be allowed to park on streets and public lots. The Kearney Police Department and Parks and Recreation Department voiced their disinterest in expanding food truck parking to public spaces. Mayor Stan Clouse asked for the Downtown Improvement board to be approached for opinions

Other business conducted at the meeting was approving rezoning near the Younes Conference Center for apartments, various public improvement projects, and a proposal for naming rights of baseball and softball complexes at the new Patriot Park. The minimum bid will be $100,000 per complex for a 10 year period.

District 35 Candidates

Three candidates have been announced to be running to replace Sen. Mike Gloor in the District 35 seat in the state legislature, which represents the Grand Island area. May 10th is the date that is set for the non-partisan primary, with the top to candidates advancing to the November general election. The candidates are Gregg Neuhaus, Dan Quick and Zachary Zoul.

Neuhaus stated that his reason for running is family, specifically his six grandchildren, saying he wants to do something for their generation. Neuhaus is a practicing attorney and a third generation Grand Islander.

Dan Quick said that he is running due to the lack of representation for the working families of Grand Island in the Unicameral. Quick was raised on a farm in Hordville.

Zoul stated that he wants to be the common-sense voice in the Unicameral, but still believes in the values and traditions that our great state was founded on. Zoul is the chairman and CEo of Hospitality Advisors group. Each candidate has their own website for more information.

Who Needs A Ring?

Everyone knows that when you graduate you get a class... Belt buckle, right?

Well thats what the Aggie graduates from Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis will be sporting. These graduates are each awarded a western belt buckle engraved with their name, year, and major. "The buckles are absolutely gorgeous" said Haley Rogers of Lexington, who graduates on May 5, and will continue on for a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Tina Smith NCTA recruiting coordinator said they wanted to start a new tradition. Smith also said they wanted something representative of the ag college; symbolic and customized for student pride in their alma mater. "We thought about a class ring but a belt buckle seemed more appropriate for our students," Smith said.

Hydroplaning Sends Two to Hospital

Two people were hospitalized this afternoon in southern Hall County after their vehicle left the roadway and crashed into a tree.

It happened in the southbound lanes of Hwy 281 near Rosedale Road. Both occupants were transported to Mary Lanning Healthcare for unknown injuries. Their names were not released. An official with the Hall County Sheriff's office said the injuries did not appear to be life threatening.

It's believed the vehicle hit a wet spot on the highway and hydroplaned. The accident remains under investigation.

Mary Lanning to Break Ground on Next Phase of Cancer Center Project

Mary Lanning Healthcare has announced they will unveil the second phase of a construction project at the Morrison Cancer Center next week.

The first phase added a new CT scanner and a vault for a state-of-the-art linear accelerator for radiation treatments. That project was completed in February.

The new project includes a 6,500-square-foot addition to the north that will feature seven private treatment rooms for chemotherapy patients. The Pharmacy Department also will have more space for preparing chemotherapy treatments.

A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Monday, just north of the hospital.

Hastings Man to Stand Two Trials

Timothy Arce

A Hastings man will stand trial in two separate cases this year.

The Grand Island Independent reports that Timothy Arce entered a not guilty plea in Hall County court yesterday to felony drug charges. He's accused of possessing methamphetamine with intent to deliver. A jury trial has been scheduled for June 6 in that case.

Arce also faces five felony charges in Adams County stemming from a Dec. 15 shooting incident. A pretrial hearing has been set for next Tuesday in that case. A jury trial will begin May 16.

Arce currently remains jailed in Hall County.

Deshler Hit Hard By Heavy Rains

It was a stormy night for some in portions of south-central Nebraska last night.

The hardest hit area was around Deshler, where flooding was the biggest problem. Thayer County Emergency Manager Bill McPherson says a local nursing home had to be evacuated last night.

"Water was getting up toward the floor level, but I don't think ever got in. They decided to evacuate for health reasons," he said.

Roughly 45 patients were moved from the home into Deshler High School, which has closed for the day. They began moving back to the nursing home Wednesday morning. Hwy 136 has also been in rough shape between Deshler and Hebron.

"The Department of Roads has placed markers on the edge because water was high enough that it ruined the shoulders but the road is still driveable if you slow down," he said.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jerilyn Billings-Wright says a radar-estimated 6 to 8 inches fell Tuesday and overnight to the west of Deshler. No property damage was reported.

A link to video of the floodwaters over Hwy 136 is available here: https://www.facebook.com/trevor.tetley/videos/10153548070347197/

Homemade Explosives Led to Deadly Grand Island Fire

Photo taken by Joe Wicks.

The deadly fire that destroyed a Grand Island business Sunday night was caused by the manufacturing of homemade explosives.

"The structure is believed to be a total loss. An interagency investigation involving Grand Island Fire Department, Grand Island Police Department, the Nebraska State Fire Marshal, the Nebraska State Patrol, ATF, and the Hall County Attorney determined that this incident was the result of manufacturing of homemade explosives by the deceased," said Ray Nance with the Nebraska State Fire Marshal's office.

The man who died in the fire was identified by investigators yesterday as 65-year-old Mike Winfrey, the owner of Winfrey Plumbing and Heating. After speaking with witnesses, Grand Island Police Captain Dean Elliott explains what may have caused the loud explosions heard late Sunday night.

"From what we heard, he was attempting to make fireworks or some kind of pyrotechnic type thing," he said.

Two others also suffered minor injuries. Investigators say it appears the fire was accidental.

Hughes Blocks City From Advancing Downtown Project

A Hastings mayoral candidate has blocked the city temporarily from approving a downtown city block project.

Butch Hughes informed the city council last night that he has purchased the LLCs that the developer was going to use to proceed with a redevelopment agreement.

"I own Hastings Catalysts Housing LLC and I've also reserved the name for the Hastings Catalysts Partners Hospitality. There's been no attempt by city hall to contact me on how I want to buy that parking lot. I really think you need to get back to square one," said Hughes.

Hughes submitted the paperwork with the Secretary of State's office as of March 9. The attempt is seen as a minor set back for the city as it prepares to approve the project. It may buy more time for those who are against the convention center and hotel to rally support for a possible petition against a referendum.

After a 10 minute closed session last night, the council agreed to table any decision until at least their May 9 meeting.

Confusion Forces City Council to Table Ordinance to Restructure Boards

The Hastings City Council has tabled an ordinance to repeal part of the city code which defines how certain boards and departments are structured.

It comes as the city tries to merge Hastings Utilities with city hall and hire a new utilities manager. But the ordinance also includes changing the library and museum boards to advisory boards.

Some fear that an abrupt change in the library board's structure could hinder progress as the library undergoes its major renovation.

"At this point I think that the renovation project would not be happening if we didn't have the level of coordination and the level of work that's gone into the project. It probably would not have gone off as well as it has," said Shelly Kort, Library Foundation President.


Council members debated for close to an hour about how they should proceed with structuring the Board of Public Works. Kathy Duval said there was too much confusion in the way the ordinance was drafted.

"I think we need to separate the library and museum as a whole different issue than what we have with utilities. They're not a business, they are a city department. What we are trying to do is pull the city together and streamline. We've had problems for 30 years on this," she said.

The council is focusing on recommended changes from a recent citywide study of its departments. Most council members agreed that a utilities manager needs to be hired first prior to restructuring the board of public works. But the city council, under current city code doesn't have the authority to make that hire.

"The Board of Public Works has the authority to hire the new utilities manager. Unless that portion of the code is changed, there is no provision for the mayor and city council to be involved in the hiring at all," said City Attorney David Ptak.

A committee will look into amending the ordinance and clear up some confusing language to bring back before the public at their May 9 meeting.

ROYALS FANS FLOCK TO CONESTOGA MALL

Hundreds of Kansas City Royals fans from across the region were in Grand Island this morning to be a part of a championship celebration.

The World Series trophy tour stopped at the Conestoga Mall this morning from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It was the only stop for the trophy west of Lincoln. Some parents even took their kids out of school to witness a moment 30 years in the making including. We spoke with Derek from Grand Island who brought his young son Gavin to share the moment. "It was pretty awesome. Hes only two years old so he probably dosent get it, but he knows the wors baseball and Royals. Watching in 2014 was excruciating, being just 90 feet away. But this is exciting for everybody. It was fun watching last year."
The trophy tonight was on its way to Des Moines, Iowa. It will also make several stops throughout Missouri and Kansas through the end of February.

Blizzard Shuts Down the Mail in Hastings

The blizzard is crippling many businesses throughout the Tri-Cities and South Central Nebraska.

Even the US Postal Service, which rarely closes, is not operational today.

Mike Jones, postmaster at the Hastings post office says there will be no mail delivery today. There also will be no retail postal service as none of the employees were able to make it into work today.

The Hastings facility was unable to get its delivery from the Omaha distribution center.

Hastings Police Trying to Identify Possible Car Thief

Hastings Police are seeking the public's help identifying a man believed to have been involved in a vehicle theft last week.

The stolen vehicle has since been found in Doniphan was stolen from a Hastings business. A surveillance photo of the man (at right) is posted to the Hastings Police Department Facebook page.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Sergeant Paul Weber at 402-461-2380.

Chicago Man Gets 11 Years For Kearney Federal Credit Union Robbery

A Chicago man who last fall was convicted of helping carry out the robbery of the Kearney Eaton Employees Federal Credit Union in October 2014 has been sentenced to 11 years in federal prison.

Twenty-eight-year-old Thomas Dunlap was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Lincoln. Dunlap is one of three suspects involved in the robbery.

Twenty-nine-year-old Patrick Wigley of Chicago has also been convicted of robbery and is scheduled to be sentenced in February. Another man, 28-year-old Clifton Hudson of Kearney is also accused of taking part in the robbery. His case is pending.

Records indicate the three men entered the credit union on the morning of October 17, 2014 wearing dark work clothes and hard hats before carrying out the robbery.

In addition to his prison sentence, Dunlap was also placed on five years supervised probation after his release and he was ordered to pay approximately $123,000 in restitution jointly with Wigley.

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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