Hall County to carve out space for judge in courthouse
(AP) - Hall County officials have decided to carve out space in the cramped courthouse to make room for a new, part-time judge.
On Tuesday the Board of Supervisors authorized spending upward of $40,000 to create the third county courtroom. The judge is expected to start work in about 60 days.
The courthouse's self-help room will be turned into a judge's chambers and hearing room.
Kearney Council approves re-zoning for southwest residential development
(NRG)- Despite concerns voiced from an area business and resident, the Kearney City Council approved a rezoning request at Tuesday night's meeting for TFD Investments for some property on the north side of 16th Street from 13th to 16th Avenues. The developers want to build 16 duplexes on around five acres at the site. The opposition centered on the possibility that the project would create traffic and safety concerns for the southwest Kearney neighborhood. The re-zoning was approved by a 4-0 vote. The council also granted a change in zoning and a final plat for the construction of a 3-lot rural subdivision for the construction of a house near a sandpit lake at Kearney Campground west of Avenue M and north of Archway Parkway. As part of the consent agenda, the council awarded the contract for the Central Avenue street project to Kearney's Blessing Construction for a bid of just over $2,470,000. The work will span Central Avenue from 26th to 31st Streets and 26th Street from Central Avenue to Avenue C and begin this spring.
Early voting brisk in Nebraska
(NRG)- Nearly 10,000 Nebraskans have voted early in the primary election. That number includes ballots received in the mail as well as those who have voted at their county election offices in person, according to Secretary of State John Gale. Of the 9,275 ballots cast during the first 10 days of early voting, 5,083 are from registered Republicans and 3,490 are from Democrats. Nearly 700 nonpartisan voters have also cast their ballots. More than 38,500 Nebraskans have asked to receive an early ballot to vote in the May primary.
Gale reminds voters there are deadlines associated with returning those ballots. Early voting ballots that are mailed in must be received at the county election office by the close of polls on Election Day, May 13. The same is true for any ballots that are hand-delivered. They must be returned to the county election office by the time polls close. Early voters may vote in person at their county election office up until the close of business on May 12.
Gale said since January, his office has noted that more than 8,000 registered voters in Nebraska have changed their party affiliation. "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 explained that it's hard to know the key reason that a significant number of voters have changed their party affiliation since January to Republican. "I can speculate that having a strong Republican U.S. Senate race and a crowded field of Republican candidates vying for the gubernatorial race are strong influences. But to what extent that's a factor, it's hard to know."
Horizon students collect 1,000,000 pennies
(NRG)- It's been a five year process, but the students at Horizon Middle School in Kearney have finally collected ONE MILLION pennies. According to math teacher Kris Grassmeyer, the project was started as a lesson in volume. "We wanted to give the students a visual of what one million of something looks like and the amount of space needed to hold that many items," said Grassmeyer.
A special box, designed to hold exactly one million pennies, was built for the project. The box is one cubic yard. It is estimated that the pennies weigh over 3 tons. The Horizon staff and student body will decide which projects and charities will receive the money. 1,000,000 pennies amounts to $10,000. The box is located in Mrs. Grassmeyer's classroom.
United Way to assist Postal Service with Stamp Out Hunger Day
(NRG)- The United Way of the Kearney Area is partnering with the US Postal Service for the 22nd year in the Stamp Out Hunger food drive. Kearney area citizens are encouraged to bag up non-perishable food items and place them by your mailbox, or front door by 9 a.m. on May 10. Volunteers from United Way will follow various routes assigned by the postal workers and collect the food. All donations will be taken to the food bank in Kearney and then will be distributed among area food pantries as needed. Watch for your reminder postcard in the mail.
Anyone looking to volunteer with this event can contact the United Way office at 308-237-6840 or e-mail Ashley at alytle(at)uwka.org. Volunteers are asked to meet at the Post Office by 8:45 a.m. for breakfast and to be assigned a route. The event should be completed by noon.
Now in its 22nd year, the Stamp Out Hunger effort is the nation's largest single-day food drive. In 2013, Kearney citizens donated over 6,000 pounds of food. Nationally, more than 74.4 million pounds of non-perishable food was collected - the second-highest amount since the drive began in 1992, bringing the grand total to just under 1.3 billion pounds.
City of Kearney announces Arbor Day event
(NRG)- The public is invited to join the City of Kearney in celebrating Arbor Day 2014 this Friday at 2:00 p.m. This year's Arbor Day Celebration will be held at The Archway. The celebration will include the City of Kearney Park Department employees planting a tree at the west parking area of The Archway. The city is inviting all residents to help them celebrate spring and Arbor Day at the event.
CNN Hero of the Week to speak at UNK
(NRG)- Chad Pregracke has made removing debris from the Mississippi River and other waterways his life's work. He and his crew of over 60,000 volunteers have collected over 6 million pounds of garbage. The CNN Hero of the Year will share his story Thursday at the University of Nebraska at Kearney as part of Earth Week events. Earth Week aims to educate the community about the importance of reducing the ecological footprint on the earth's ecosystems and promote easy ways to live more sustainably. Pregracke's presentation, which is free and open to the public, is at 7 p.m. in Copeland Hall room 142. He founded Living Lands & Waters, an environmental organization that hosts river cleanups, watershed conservation initiatives, workshops, tree plantings and other conservation efforts. Pregracke was also the recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service and wrote the book, "From the Bottom Up: One Man's Crusade to Clean America's Rivers."
Also part of Earth Week events, "The Lorax" will be featured at the World Theatre. The film begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. "The Lorax" tells the story of a 12-year old boy searching for the one thing that will win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To find it, he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world. Other events during Earth Week included a presentation on the latest research about the benefits and ecological problems with the plastic industry, a sustainable cooking demonstration and a campuswaste audit. Sustainability efforts on campus include refillable water stations in two residence halls, Green Resident Certification, tracking energy usage in residence halls and tracking cardboard recycling. The Residence Hall Association also encourages students to donate unwanted items at the end of the school year.
Earth Week events are sponsored by the UNK Sustainability Committee, the Residence Hall Association and Enactus. Follow UNK Sustainability on Facebook at UNKSustainability and use the hashtag #unksustain when attending events.
UNK Brigade honors outstanding seniors
(NRG)- Six University of Nebraska Kearney students have been chosen as recipients of the Blue Gold BriGade Outstanding Senior Award. The honor recognizes seniors for excellence in scholarship and leadership, as well as involvement and dedication to UNK and the Kearney community.
"The competition for these awards was very tough. We had over 30 applicants, which were narrowed down to 15," said Brette Ensz, assistant director of engagement with the UNK Alumni Association. "Those 15 were interviewed, and six were selected by members of the UNK Alumni Board and University of Nebraska Foundation staff." The Blue Gold BriGade, formerly known as Student Alumni Foundation, has been giving these awards since the group was founded in 1981.
This year's recipients include:
§ Michael Christen, a math major and finance minor from Anselmo. Following graduation, he will attend graduate school and pursue his Master of Business Administration.
§ Brandon Drozd, an organizational communication major from Genoa. After graduation, he willattend the University of Kansas to pursue a master's degree in rhetoric and serve as a graduate teaching assistant in the communication department.
§ Whitney Nelson, a biology comprehensive major with an emphasis in health science from Hastings. After graduation, she will join the University of Nebraska Medical Center's one-year accelerated nursing program in Omaha.
§ Amanda Swenson, a business administration major with an emphasis in finance from Grand Island. She has accepted a job as commercial deposit specialist in Omaha's banking industry.
§ Shelby Zimmerman, an exercise science major and public health minor from Beatrice.Following graduation, she will attend UNMC to pursue a master's degree in public health.
§ Yi Zhao, a student in the international program and business administration major fromChina. Zhao is pursuing post-graduate studies and intends to work in banking and finance for an international company.
Ted Cruz endorses Ricketts in governor's race
(AP) - Republican Pete Ricketts has won the endorsement of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a conservative leader embraced by the tea party.
Cruz praised Ricketts Tuesday for his experience as a businessman and his focus on taxes, job growth and education reform. Cruz gained national notoriety for leading the U.S. Senate opposition against the federal health care law championed by President Barack Obama.
Ricketts has also received support from former Alaska Gov. and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; former Nebraska Govs. Kay Orr and Charles Thone; and U.S. Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska.
Ricketts is competing in a six-way Republican primary race with Attorney General Jon Bruning, State Auditor Mike Foley, Omaha tax attorney Bryan Slone, and state Sens. Tom Carlson and Beau McCoy.
Ricketts and Bruning continue to spar in governor's race
(AP) - The Republican primary race for governor is heating up between Omaha businessman Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning.
Ricketts promised Tuesday to run a positive campaign, saying he wouldn't make "careless accusations" against other candidates in the six-man field. His announcement at the Capitol came in response to new, critical television ads by Bruning's campaign.
Bruning has alleged that Ricketts' family and supporters are behind a series of anonymous, third-party attack ads against him, and that Ricketts is unwilling to attach his name to them. Ricketts says neither he nor his father, billionaire TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, are involved with the ads.
The third-party ads have drawn the ire of some top Republicans, including Gov. Dave Heineman, who has said the people behind them should identify themselves.
TD Ameritrade reports 35 percent boost in profits
(AP) - Online brokerage TD Ameritrade says brisk stock trading in the first three months of the year lifted its quarterly profit 35 percent.
The Omaha, Neb.-based company said Wednesday that it generated $194 million in net income, or 35 cents per share, in its fiscal second quarter. That's up from $144 million, or 26 cents per share, last year. Revenue grew 20 percent to $812 million.
Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. to report earnings per share of 34 cents on $800 million in revenue.
The biggest growth came from transaction fees, which jumped 30 percent to $374 million as TD Ameritrade handled roughly 492,000 trades a day.
TD Ameritrade's asset-based revenue and investment advice fees also grew.
Report blames pilot for fatal Nebraska plane crash
(AP) - Federal investigators blame the pilot for the crash of a small plane nearly a year ago in northeast Nebraska.
Omaha television station KMTV says (http://bit.ly/1iKiWg0 ) the National Transportation Safety Board has ruled out mechanical problems for the April 27, 2013, crash about two miles southeast of Norfolk. The pilot, 26-year-old Dale Butler, and passenger, 24-year-old Amy Brobst, of Fort Collins, Colo., were killed.
The board report says the accident was caused by Butler's decision "to fly at a low altitude and his subsequent failure to see and avoid power lines." The report says the pilot might not have seen the lower power lines the plane struck because he may have been focused on a set of high tension power lines about a half-mile from the crash site.
Man injured in North Platte fire
(AP) - A man has been injured in a fire that started in the basement of a house in North Platte.
The North Platte Fire Department says crews were dispatched a little after 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Fire Chief Dennis Thompson says firefighters found the man at the back door of the house. They pulled him outside and began CPR.
The man was taken to Great Plains Regional Medical Center and then flown to a Lincoln hospital. Thompson says the man had suffered airway burns from smoke and heat in the house.
The man was identified as 58-year-old Randy Mills.
Investigators say the fire began in the basement but weren't sure of the cause yet.
Lincoln man faces charges in wife's death
(AP) - A Lincoln man has been accused of killing his wife.
Forty-one-year-old Kent Burklund was arrested Monday and booked at the Lancaster County Jail on charges of second-degree murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony. Court records do not list an attorney.
Burklund's wife, Bettina, was found dead inside the couple's home Monday. The 41-year-old woman had a knife by her side, but authorities have not said how she died.
Kent Burklund was found later at a nearby lake. He was taken into custody without incident.
An autopsy was conducted Tuesday, but preliminary results have not been released.
State banking director to retire in May
(AP) - Nebraska's Director of Banking and Finance, John Munn, has announced his retirement, and Gov. Dave Heineman has named deputy director Ray Pont as the agency's acting director.
The 66-year-old Munn is responsible for the supervision of state-chartered financial institutions, registered and licensed financial entities including mortgage banking, delayed-deposit service companies and Nebraska's securities industry.
Munn was appointed in 2005 by then-Gov. Mike Johanns. His last day will be May 2.
The governor's office says that under Munn's leadership, the assets of state-chartered banks the department supervises have more than doubled, from $16 billion to $35 billion.
(AP) - Nurse practitioners will still need to collaborate with physicians in order to practice in Nebraska, after the governor vetoed a bill that would have changed state regulations.
Gov. Dave Heineman on Tuesday vetoed the bill, which 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.
Lawmakers adjourned last week, so they cannot try to override the governor's veto.
Nebraska legislative candidate faces tax lien
(AP) - A Scottsbluff legislative candidate says he's been working with the IRS to eliminate a $30,500 tax lien.
Scottsbluff lawyer Mike Meister told Scottsbluff radio station KNEB (http://bit.ly/1f0cxOS ) on Monday that he'd gotten into a "cash flow crunch" so he couldn't pay the accumulated federal withholding for his employees. He says his staffers are "not in any risk."
Meister says he's working with the IRS on paying the arrearage. He told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he expected to be caught up by the end of the month.
Meister is running against Valley Bank President John Stinner Sr. for the legislative seat in Nebraska's 48th District.
Lincoln County won't exempt land bought for water from taxes
(AP) - Lincoln County commissioners have refused to exempt from taxes thousands of acres of land bought by a group of natural resources districts so groundwater that had been used for irrigation would instead flow into the Platte and Republican rivers.
The North Platte Telegraph says (http://bit.ly/1kWP9S8) the Board of Commissioners on Monday followed the recommendation by county assessor Julie Stenger to tax the property on its grassland value.
Farmers and ranchers from throughout the county gathered to hear the board's comments about tax exemption requests for the Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement land.
The co-op is an agency composed of several natural resources districts. It bought 19,500 acres to stop irrigation and direct the groundwater into the Platte and Republican rivers to help the state meet river water obligations.
3 Kearney teachers to be inducted into UNK Teaching Academy
(NRG)- Three Kearney educators are being inducted into the University of Nebraska at Kearney's Academy for Teacher Education Excellence for their work with UNK students entering the education profession. Inductees represent professionals who work in schools as educators or as faculty members at UNK. The UNK Advisory Council on Teacher Education will recognize the inductees at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday at the UNK Health and Sports Center room 150-151.
Ed Scantling, dean of the College of Education, said the 2014 class of inductees is "very strong and representative of the many dedicated educators who commit themselves each year to working with future teachers from UNK. "We are indebted to them for their long term work with our students," added Scantling. This year's class includes Mary Iten, health education instructor in the Kinesiology and Sport Sciences department at UNK, Jan Jones, art teacher at Horizon Middle School in Kearney and Clayton Seeba, fifth-grade teacher at Meadowlark Elementary School in Kearney.
Good Samaritan Hospital seeking Healthy Community nominations
(NRG)- For the fifth year, area residents and organizations will be recognized in June for their work in developing programs that make Central Nebraska a healthier place to live. The recognition is part of the Healthy Community Awards program, a unique opportunity to celebrate the good health of Kearney and Buffalo County citizens and those individuals and groups who, through their leadership, education and assistance, help make the community a healthier place to live. Contributions from individuals and groups throughout the Kearney and Buffalo County community are significant in the continued efforts to keep this community a healthy place to live. Area residents are encouraged to nominate local individuals, businesses and organizations for their work in making the region a place to live. Nomination forms are available at www.gshs.org. The deadline to submit a nomination is May 12 and forms should be returned to Marsha Wilkerson at Good Samaritan Hospital.
The Healthy Community Awards include a total of six categories-advocacy, education, prevention, partnership, leadership and recreation. A local advisory committee will select award recipients based on their contributions in a particular category. The breakdown of each category is as follows:
· Advocacy is awarded to the group or individual who has creatively implemented health improvement or awareness programming on behalf of a specific population.
· Education is awarded to the group or individual who has provided health education opportunities and is an advocate of health within the community.
· Prevention is awarded to the group or individual who has provided a service or program that makes a significant contribution to preventing injury, illness or disease.
· Partnership is awarded to the group or individual who has actively partnered with Good Samaritan Hospital to provide health services in the community.
· Leadership is awarded to the group or individual who has shown outstanding leadership in the community by preventing, promoting or protecting health issues.
· Recreation is awarded to the group or individual who has shown outstanding leadership in organized sports-youth or adult-in the community.
A luncheon recognizing the Healthy Community Award winners will be held on June 20.
UNK Theater production begins Wednesday
(NRG and UNK)- The University of Nebraska at Kearney Studio Theatre's production of "A Cry of Players" is a journey of moral perfectionism. "This is a story that many many people can identify with," said production director Sam Umland. "What do you do to enable yourself to become who you really are?" "A Cry of Players," written by William Gibson, is the fictionalized story of William Shakespeare's life as a young man in Stratford. "'A Cry of Players' is one possible version of the life of the young William Shakespeare before he became the person known as William Shakespeare," Umland said. "For such a famous person, we know very little about him. This is a play that attempts to present a fictionalized portrayal of what his life may have been like." The play takes place in the fall of 1587, which is the last time Shakespeare was recorded as living in Stratford.
The cast of over 20 students has been rehearsing since the beginning of March for the play, which Umland said is an emotional rollercoaster. "A Cry of Players" is at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday (April 23-26) and at 2 p.m. Sunday (April 27) in the Miriam Drake Theatre. For tickets, contact the Theatre Box Office at 308.865.8417 or boxoffice(at)unk.edu. Tickets are $8 for adults; $6 for non-UNK students, seniors and UNK faculty/staff; $5 per person for groups of 10 or more; and free for UNK students with a valid ID.
Bruning endorsed by state police group
(AP) - Attorney General Jon Bruning has won the endorsement of the Nebraska Fraternal Order of Police in his primary campaign for governor.
The group announced its support for Bruning on Monday, saying he has remained a strong advocate for law enforcement throughout his public service career. The Nebraska Fraternal Order of Police represents more than 2,600 law enforcement professionals throughout Nebraska.
Bruning has served as Attorney General since 2003, and has worked with the Legislature to pass dozens of bills designed to reduce crime. This year, his legislative proposals included an expanded ban on the popular synthetic street drug known as K2. He also has been endorsed by 119 Nebraska county sheriffs and police chiefs.
Bruning is competing in a six-man Republican primary race to replace Gov. Dave Heineman.
Nebraska farmers starting to plant spring crops
(AP) - Nebraska farmers are just beginning to plant their spring crops, but the U.S. Agriculture Department says conditions remain dry across a large part of the state.
The USDA says much of western Nebraska continues to experience severe drought.
And only about 46 percent of the state's topsoil and 39 percent of its subsoil has adequate or surplus moisture.
The USDA estimates that 59 percent of Nebraska's winter wheat is in good or excellent shape.
About 4 percent of the corn crop has been planted, which is a bit behind the average of 6 percent at this point in the year.
Trial date set for Madison man accused of threats
(AP) - A June trial has been set for a 23-year-old man accused of threatening three students at Northeast Community College in Norfolk.
Norfolk radio station KNEN says (http://bit.ly/1iFbDX3 ) John Ertzner pleaded not guilty on Monday in Madison County District Court.
Officials say an armed man approached three students at the school early last month. A court affidavit says the students reported that the man followed them on a campus road and stopped next to them when they stopped, pointing a gun at two of them.
Ertzner told an investigator he mistook the three for other men who'd chased him earlier in Norfolk. He said he'd put his BB pistol on his car console but didn't point it at the students.
His trial is scheduled to begin on June 9.
Tilden man sentenced in kidnapping case
(AP) - A northeast Nebraska man has been given 50 years in prison for trying to kidnap his former wife.
Online court records say 50-year-old Kevin Heldt, of Tilden, was sentenced on Monday. He'd pleaded guilty to attempted kidnapping in exchange for prosecutors dropping several other charges. The judge credited Heldt with 337 days already served.
Madison County Attorney Joe Smith says Heldt took his ex-wife from her home in May 2013 and took her to an abandoned farm. Smith says Heldt hit his ex-wife and terrorized her while demanding money. The woman later escaped when Heldt was distracted.