North Platte man sentenced for child sexual assault
(AP) - A 70-year-old registered sex offender from North Platte who pleaded no contest to a new charge of child sexual assault is going to prison.
Donald Warfield was sentenced in Lincoln County District Court Monday to five years in prison.
Prosecutors say a teenage girl reported that Warfield began giving her presents and touching her inappropriately when she was about 7 years old. She said the sexual assaults became worse and continued for three or four years.
Warfield was convicted in 2002 of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old.
Court records also show Warfield was arrested last year for failing to properly register as a sex offender. He later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
Hastings man sentenced for meth distribution
(AP) - A Hastings man has been given more than five years in prison for helping to distribute methamphetamine.
U.S. Attorney Deborah Gilg announced Monday that Ruben Manzano has been sentenced to 70 months in prison. He will be given two years of supervised release after he completes his sentence. He also will be ordered to pay a $100 special assessment.
Manzano pleaded guilty in late February to conspiring to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine between May and October 2012.
Game and Parks unveil new fishing website
(AP) - Nebraska officials are using a new website to encourage more people to fish in the state.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission says the user-friendly website allows visitors to buy a fishing permit. It also provides blogs, stocking reports and instructional videos on fishing.
The website offers maps for trip planning, as well as information about family fishing events scheduled across the state throughout the summer.
Members sought for Nebraska health boards
(AP) - The Nebraska State Board of Health is recruiting members to serve on five of its professional boards.
New professional members are required to be Nebraska residents who are actively engaged in practice, with a license in good standing. Residents who represent a consumer perspective may be eligible for the public member seats, if they are not licensed in the particular area that the board regulates.
The openings are on the boards of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, Hearing Instrument Specialists, Massage Therapy, Medicine and Surgery and Physical Therapy.
The appointments are partial terms, due to resignations. Members are eligible to serve up to two full, five-year terms after they complete the partial term.
Elm Creek newspaper's young owner publishes first edition
(AP) - The Elm Creek Beacon-Observer's 21-year-old new owner has published the first edition of the weekly newspaper he bought in March.
The Kearney Hub reports (http://bit.ly/10Kbrga ) publisher Michael Happ put out the newspaper for the first time Thursday, then graduated days later from Creighton University with majors in political science and theology.
Happ's father first told him the central Nebraska newspaper was up for sale. Happ says he'd always dreamed of owning a newspaper and quickly decided to buy it from owners Bob and Penni Jensen of Central City.
Happ doesn't have much journalism experience but wrote for his local paper in junior high and worked in Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle's communication office.
Once he's more familiar with the paper, he plans to establish an online presence and redesign the Beacon-Observer.
Lawmakers approve ban on synthetic designer drugs
(AP) - Chemicals that are used in the newest generation of designer drugs would become illegal in Nebraska, under a measure advancing in the Legislature.
Lawmakers gave first-round approval Monday to a bill that would restrict key ingredients in the synthetic drugs, which can mimic the effects of methamphetamine, marijuana and LSD.
Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha says he introduced the measure to address newer versions of the synthetic drugs that aren't currently restricted. The bill is dubbed "Tyler's Law" in honor of Tyler Smith, a Bellevue West High School student who committed suicide in September. A packet of synthetic marijuana was found in his pocket, and his suicide followed a sudden change in his behavior.
The measure advanced, 34-0, through the first of three votes.
Attempt to repeal sales tax provision rejected by lawmakers
(AP) - Lawmakers have rejected an attempt to repeal a new Nebraska law that lets cities raise their local option sales tax rates, as long as they secure voter approval.
The law gives cities the power to ask voters for an increase to as high as 2 percent, up from the current 1.5 percent lid imposed by the state. Lawmakers voted Monday not to reconsider a measure filed by Sen. Ernie Chambers, of Omaha.
Supporters of the law argue that any increase would require majority support from local residents, and cities would have to designate a specific use for the money. Chambers has argued sales taxes disproportionately affect the poor, who pay a larger share of their income when buying goods and services.
Nebraska Legislature approves budget bills
(AP) - Nebraska lawmakers have given final approval to the seven budget bills that make the state's two-year budget.
Lawmakers passed the measures on Monday through their third and final vote. They now head to Gov. Dave Heineman.
The package contains increases for early childhood education and a two-year tuition freeze at the University of Nebraska and the Nebraska State Colleges. It also includes $230 million in continued funding for a state property tax credit program.
Senators also voted to transfer an additional $53 million into the state's cash reserve.
Sen. Heath Mello, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, says the money will be available in case of an economic downturn or tax reforms that rise from a state tax-climate study.
Woman dies in crash near Superior
(AP) - The Nuckolls County sheriff's office says a 31-year-old woman had died in a one-vehicle crash near Superior in south-central Nebraska.
The Hastings Tribune reports Renae L. Wheeland, of Nelson, died in the crash Saturday along Nebraska Highway 14, about a mile north of Superior.
The sheriff's office says Wheeland was northbound in a sport utility vehicle when she swerved to avoid hitting a car that apparently pulled out in front of her. She avoided the car but entered a ditch, hit an embankment and rolled several times. She was thrown from her SUV.
The car had been at a stop sign before pulling onto the highway. It was occupied by two teenage girls.
The sheriff's office is investigating the crash.
Lincoln man slams into dry cleaner's trying to avoid two men
(AP) - Lincoln police say a man smashed into a dry cleaner's business while trying to escape two men he thought were trying to rob him.
Lincoln police officer Katie Flood told the Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/17VnoEh ) a 37-year-old man was sitting in his car early Monday at a stop sign when two men rushed toward his car and yelled for him to get out. One man was running and another was riding a bicycle.
Flood says the driver punched the gas, then lost control of his car and slammed into Williams Cleaners.
Police responded and searched for the two men, but they had apparently left the area.
It wasn't clear if the driver was injured.
A damage estimate for the building and car were not available.
Stapleton man dies in crash in Logan County
(AP) - The Logan County sheriff's office says a 67-year-old man has died in a two-vehicle crash near Stapleton.
Sheriff Jon Heflin told North Platte station KNOP-TV (http://bit.ly/13GbfQe ) that Roger Beckett of Stapleton died in the Saturday evening crash.
The sheriff says the accident occurred about 5 p.m. when a pickup truck crossed the center line on Highway 83 and collided with a minivan in which Beckett was a passenger.
Beckett's wife, Barbara, was flown to a hospital for treatment of serious injuries.
The pickup driver, 71-year-old Jesus Gonzalez Torres of North Platte, also was taken to a hospital with injuries.
The sheriff's office says an investigation of the crash is continuing.
Nebraska officials kick off safety campaign
(AP) - Nebraska officials have kicked off their annual seat belt campaign to promote roadway safety.
The "Click It or Ticket" campaign began on Monday and will run through June 2.
Nebraska recorded 212 roadway deaths last year, marking the first time the fatality count has increased in the last three years. Gov. Dave Heineman says the number of roadway deaths this year has put the state on pace to see another year of increased traffic deaths.
The campaign involves 62 law enforcement agencies from across the state. It provides more than 12,000 hours of additional traffic enforcement time, with a focus on the use of seat belts and proper child restraints.
The summer also marks the heaviest time for roads projects.
NSP says Whiteclay attacks are troubling
(AP) - The superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol says law enforcement is increasing its presence in Whiteclay after activists attacked two beer trucks and threatened one driver with a knife.
Col. David Sankey said Monday that more officers are patrolling the tiny Nebraska town, which has seen an uptick in violence from protesters who oppose its beer sales. Whiteclay sits on the border of South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where alcohol is banned.
Sankey says most of the activists do not live in the area, but are avoiding arrest by crossing back onto the reservation, where Nebraska authorities have no jurisdiction.
No arrests have been made. Sankey says the patrol is working with local Nebraska and tribal law enforcement, as well as the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Repeat sex offender gets 20-year sentence
(AP) - A Nebraska man convicted for the third time of having sex with young girls has been sentenced to at least 20 years in prison.
Jake Laner, who is 26, has been sentenced in Madison County District Court on a charge of first-degree sexual assault.
Norfolk Daily News reports (http://bit.ly/12PbaYj ) his prison sentence is 25 to 50 years but a mandatory minimum means he must serve 20 years before he's eligible for release.
Laner has two previous sex crime convictions in Cuming County from 2004 and was a registered sex offender last year when he became involved with a 15-year-old girl who became pregnant.
In court Friday he blamed the victim's mother for condoning the relationship.
If he's released from prison he'll be under parole supervision for life.
Kearney man arrested after dropping infant from car seat
(NRG)-A 19-year old Kearney man was cited and jailed for child abuse and neglect Saturday night after a 4-month old boy he was carrying above his head and unsecured in a car seat fell about six feet onto the pavement. The incident occurred just before 6:30 p.m. in the parking lot east of Herberger's in the Hilltop Mall. The infant was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital with preliminary reports indicating the possibility of a skull fracture. Officers from the Kearney Police Department and the Buffalo County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene. KPD continues to investigate the incident.
Volunteers needed for Lincoln Highway Celebration
(NRG)- Kearney has been chosen to host the historic National Lincoln Highway Centennial celebration later this summer. The two day event, set for June 30th and July 1st, will celebrate America's Main Street, the first coast to coast highway. Around 250 volunteer spots need to be filled for the event. The next Lincoln Highway Centennial volunteer meeting will be Tuesday evening at 6:30 at the Museum of Nebraska Art. More information on the Lincoln Highway Centennial Celebration is available online at lincolnhighwayassoc.org or at visitkearney.org. Potential volunteers can also get more information by calling the Kearney Visitors Bureau at 237-3178.
UNK names Buckle scholarship winner
(UNK and NRG)- Sean Stahly of Milford has been named the first recipient of the Buckle Excellence Scholarship at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. The Buckle Excellence Scholarship is a two-year scholarship in the department of Computer Science and Information Systems of $3,000 per year, for a total of $6,000. As the recipient, Stahly will also tour Buckle's facilities and become acquainted with the company's IT leadership through job shadowing opportunities. He will attend a spring luncheon during his freshman year, hosted by Buckle, and will deliver a presentation. A highly involved student, Stahly is graduating from Milford High School this spring, where he was captain of the quiz bowl team and member of the speech team. He is also a member of Future Business Leaders of America, including a term as treasurer, and was involved in One Act and Key Club. Stahly said he began programming on his own during his sophomore year after attending a workshop on building computers.
The scholarship was announced in 2012 when a $150,000 permanent endowment was established in the name of The Buckle Inc. at the University of Nebraska Foundation to provide annual scholarship awards for students interested in careers related to computer science or information technology. The Buckle Excellence Scholarship is a result of an on-going partnership between the Buckle and the UNK Department of Computer Science and Information Systems.
Contracts renewed for Lincoln area schools' officers
(AP) - Sheriff's deputies will continue to roam the hallways of four rural school district buildings near Lincoln with a Lancaster County Board decision that extends a contract between the sheriff's office and the school districts.
The Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/12ovgYM ) reports two deputies will split time between the Waverly, Norris, Malcolm and Raymond Central schools. It's a similar arrangement that has been in place for seven years.
In Lincoln, one officer is assigned to each of the public high schools, but four officers assigned to middle schools were pulled in 2010 and elementary schools lost their officers in 2004 to put more officers on the streets.
Norris High Principal Ryan Ruhl says having a deputy in the rural school adds a sense of security and provides good role models for students.
Pheasants Forever offering habitat tours
(AP) - Nebraska landowners who want to create or protect habitat for wildlife are invited to tour well-managed lands in the state.
The Nebraska chapters of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are hosting tours of 17 different locations in the state this spring and summer.
The tours began Thursday with a cedar tree removal project near Linwood. The final event is a rangeland management workship on Aug. 16 in Holt County.
The tours are meant to show habitat management practices in action and provide information on how landowners can take part in conservation programs.
More details about the free tours are available online at www.nebraskapf.com . Anyone interested in attending can register by calling Pam Grossart at 308-850-8395.
Woman admits to helping hide body in Panhandle slaying
(AP) - A 20-year-old Hemingford woman has admitted helping hide the body of a Denver man in northwest Nebraska months before her boyfriend died in an armed standoff.
Rose Siefke pleaded guilty Friday to being an accessory to a felony in the death of 38-year-old Josh Bullock.
Siefke's trial was scheduled to begin Monday, but she agreed to plead to the reduced charge after a judge ruled that some of what she told investigators couldn't be used.
Prosecutors say Siefke helped her boyfriend, Andres Gonzalez, hide the body of Joshua Bullock in December 2011.
Gonzalez was killed last June after a daylong standoff with police in Alliance where he wounded three officers. Before his death, Gonzalez told police he had killed Bullock and buried the body in Dawes County.
Nebraska lawmakers push to session's end
(AP) - Nebraska lawmakers are forging ahead slowly this year with the state budget, a new school funding formula, and an overhaul of juvenile services, but some of the most contentious priorities will likely have to wait.
With three weeks left in the session, supporters of a Medicaid expansion bill are still short of the votes they need to return it to the floor for debate. The measure was halted by a filibuster, as was a proposal to repeal the death penalty.
Many supporters say they're now looking to next year on both bills. Speaker of the Legislature Greg Adams says he won't allow the Medicaid bill back onto the agenda unless supporters can garner at least a two-thirds majority needed to overcome a filibuster.
Hastings ethanol plant closing permanently
(AP) - A Hastings ethanol plant that announced in February that it would temporarily shut down will not reopen.
The Ag Processing Inc. cooperative said Friday that it is permanently shutting down the 55-million-gallon-a-year plant, citing the plant's age and high utility costs associated with running it.
Officials had cited a slowdown in the economy, high corn prices and low oil prices for the temporary shutdown.
Matt Caswell, vice president of corporate relations with AGP in Omaha, said the company didn't see "any turn-around in the industry anytime soon."
Most of the plant's 43 employees found jobs within AGP's other operations in Hastings. AGP also operates a soybean processing plant, vegetable oil refinery and an AminoPlus production facility in the city.
AGP says none of those facilities have been impacted by the ethanol plant's closure.
A man and woman hospitalized in Grand Island stabbing
(AP) - Police say a man stabbed his estranged girlfriend at least 20 times in a Grand Island church parking lot before cutting his own throat and fleeing.
Police say the man, identified as 41-year-old Aslin Nabarro, and 33-year-old Mirna Medina-Colocho argued in the parking lot Friday morning before Nabarro pulled out a knife and began stabbing the woman in the torso and head.
Police say he then inflicted a deep cut to his own throat, fled and collapsed in an alley less than a block away.
Both Medina-Colocho and Nabarro were taken to a local hospital, where each underwent surgery. A nursing supervisor at St. Francis Medical Center said both in stable condition Friday evening. Their conditions were not available Saturday.
North Platte veterans group asks for return of memorial bricks
(AP) - Officials are hoping for the return of some 40 personalized bricks destined for a North Platte veterans' memorial that someone intercepted at the memorial group's office, then hauled off.
The North Platte Telegraph reports (http://bit.ly/12k5VPz) that someone signed for the package of memorial bricks delivered by UPS on April 25, using the name "Saelers."
The office manager says she doesn't know who that is. Now, she's pleading for the return of the bricks, which each bear the name of a veteran. Families of those veterans paid to have the bricks inscribed and installed at the memorial. The bricks were to be unveiled at a Memorial Day ceremony.
UNL offering Water Resources Tour in June
(AP) - The University of Nebraska is offering a two-day tour that will focus on the state's water resources.
The tour is slated for June 25-26. It will start on the university's east campus in Lincoln, but will be based primarily around York and Clay Center.
Tour organizer Mike Jess says the tour will focus on water demands in both rural and urban areas, both now and in the future.
The tour is expected to include stops near Denton, Genoa, Waco, Deshler, York and Clay Center. It will include an overnight stay in York.