KPS Board continues moving forward on process of building new Senior High
(NRG)- The Kearney Public Schools' Board of Education will continue to move forward with the process for the building of the new Senior High at tonight's regular meeting. An update on the progress of the planning for the new facility will be provided by Kent Cordes of B-D Construction. The board is also expected to approve a resolution on the selection of a Construction Manager At-Risk Method for the management of the 2013 bond issue projects, a committee to select the Construction Manager and the RFQ, or Request for Qualifications, form for that firm.
In other business, the board is expected to formally approve the hiring of Lance Fuller as the district's new Human Resources Director, replacing the retiring Norma Hledik. The group will also set the maximum number of allowable "option-in students" at KPS. The meeting time has been moved to a 5:30 p.m. start at Sunrise Middle School this evening.
UNK elects student body officers
(UNK and NRG)- Connor Schulte and Hayden McKelvey are the new student body president and vice president, respectively, at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. They were elected Thursday following two days of campus voting this week. Student government inauguration is April 15 in the Nebraskan Student Union Ponderosa Room. As student body president, Schulte will serve as the official student body representative to the University of Nebraska administration and the public. The president has the power to pass or veto legislation passed by the Student Senate. Schulte, a junior advertising and public relations major from Kearney, is involved in Gamma Phi Beta sorority and the Panhellenic Council. She has been a student senator for three years, and isactive in Cornerstone UNK and Sigma Phi Epsilon.
McKelvey, a junior industrial distribution major from Kearney, will serve as the student body vice president. This is the second-highest student body official and representative to the University of Nebraska administration and the public. The vice president has the power to lead the Student Senate in the absence of the speaker of the senate, chairs the Presidential Executive Cabinet and is an ex-officio, nonvoting member of the Senate Executive Committee.
Schulte and McKelvey hope to increase student government transparency, increase direct collaboration with organizations and the city of Kearney, create a 24-hour study space and re-implement the Play It Forward initiative. In addition to Schulte and McKelvey, 15 students were elected to UNK Student Senate. The organization is the legislature for the student body, and students are elected from each of the UNK academic colleges. Student Senate has the power to pass legislation for the campus, approve new student organizations, appoint student representatives to UNK Faculty Senate and other administrative committees, and perform other duties concerning student issues of concern.
Nebraska Farm Bureau offers guidance on Farm Bill
(AP) - The Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation has prepared a list to help Nebraska farmers navigate changes wrought by the recently passed farm bill in Washington.
The list is titled the "Top 10 Things to Know About the 2014 Farm Bill."
Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson says the list "provides a baseline of information to help (farmers) get started."
The bureau says a critical component of the new bill for Nebraska farmers and ranchers is the retroactive extension of numerous livestock disaster programs. Livestock disaster signup begins April 15.
The bureau has developed a 2014 Farm Bill Breakdown web offering that includes a way to submit farm bill questions. The website address is www.nefb.org .
Man killed in crash near Cotesfield
(AP) - Central Nebraska authorities say snow and ice may have been factors in a collision that fatally injured a St. Paul man.
The Howard County sheriff's office says the accident was reported just after 6 p.m. Friday about two miles north of Cotesfield on Nebraska Highway 11.
Officials say 47-year-old Donald Kozeal was driving his van south when it was struck by a northbound semitrailer that had crossed the center line.
No injuries to the semi driver were reported. He was identified as 25-year-old Cody Stevens.
The sheriff's office says Kozeal was taken to Howard County Medical Center in St. Paul, where he died.
Dead eagles found in Nebraska used by native Americans
(AP) - The carcasses of dead bald and golden eagles found in Nebraska are collected and recycled for religious purposes.
The North Platte Telegraph reports (http://bit.ly/1nwRtQ2 ) the state is part of an unusual federal recycling program that provides parts of eagle carcasses to Native Americans who hold valid permits.
The feathers and other body parts of eagles are considered sacred by some Native Americans. But federal laws designed to protect the birds make it illegal for most people to possess any part of a golden or bald eagle.
Lauren Dinan with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission says the state recently sent 37 eagles to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Eagle Repository in Commerce City, Colo.
State senators to act on income tax measures
(AP) - Nebraska lawmakers are poised to act this session on income tax cuts for seniors and veterans.
Lawmakers will debate a bill that would ensure Nebraska's income-tax brackets keep pace with inflation, while giving a greater tax break to low- and middle-income Social Security recipients. They also are likely to debate a tax-break for service members who choose to live in Nebraska after retiring from the military.
The bills were introduced in the wake of a legislative tax study last year. Sen Galen Hadley, chairman of the Legislature's Revenue Committee, says the tax-bracket bill would address cost-of-living salary increases that can bump taxpayers into a bracket with higher rates.
Roosters seized from Grand Island mobile home
(AP) - A central Nebraska shelter is caring for some feathered friends after officers seized several roosters from a Grand Island mobile home.
The Grand Island Independent reports (http://bit.ly/1ntdVcy) that police were called to the home for a report of kids trying to fight roosters.
When an officer and an animal control worker arrived Wednesday afternoon, they found eight roosters, two of which were dead.
While city law allows some residents to have chickens, roosters aren't allowed in city limits.
An officer told a man who claimed the birds that he isn't allowed to have roosters on his property. The roosters were impounded, and Human Society officials are waiting to see if they will be surrendered, returned to the owner or if there will be a court hearing on the matter.
North Platte woman accused of using stun gun
(AP) - A North Platte woman has been charged with assault and other counts after being accused of using a stun gun on another woman during an argument.
The North Platte Telegraph reports (http://bit.ly/1ntgsDP) that 30-year-old Julie Bowman is charged with aggravated assault, burglary and a weapons count.
Police say a woman reported that she and Bowman had been arguing on the phone Thursday before Bowman came to her house, broke in and brandished a knife. The woman said Bowman then dropped the knife, pulled out a Taser and stunned her with it.
The victim said Bowman left her house with several DVDs. Bowman was arrested a short time later.
Doane College offering three-year degree
(AP) - Doane College in southeast Nebraska's has announced it will begin offering a new three-year undergraduate degree in computer science, math and history.
Doane says it is the first private liberal arts and sciences college in Nebraska to offer a three-year undergraduate degree program that comes backed with a graduation guarantee. The program would save students and their parents on the cost of a college degree.
Students must apply for the program, and eligibility and acceptance are based on GPA, ACT/SAT scores and credits earned prior to enrollment.
The program is set to launch in the fall of 2014, with plans to expand to more areas of study in the future.
Nebraska lawmakers to consider Nikko Jenkins case
(AP) - Nebraska lawmakers have approved a committee to investigate the state's handling of Nikko Jenkins, who is accused of killing four people in the Omaha area after his release from prison.
Senators adopted a resolution Friday that would create a special committee to look at the circumstances of the case, and review the Department of Correctional Services' rehabilitative and mental health programs. Jenkins was allowed to leave without supervision, despite making threats of violence and begging officials to commit him to a mental health institution.
Lawmakers also adopted a resolution that would create a special committee to study ACCESSNebraska, the state's public benefits hotline. Supporters of the resolution say the system has had problems with long wait times and lost paperwork.
Boardings continue slump at Kearney Airport
(NRG)- Problems with flight cancellations with Great Lakes Airlines continued to affect the number of enplanements at the Kearney Regional Airport in February. This past month saw 844 boardings, a decrease of 14 percent over the same month last year. Total enplanements for 2014 are 1,599, down 17.5 percent for the same period in 2013.
City sales tax receipts for December were a little over $1.2 million, an increase of about $86,000 for December of 2012. 2013 total sales tax receipts for Kearney were just under $11.9 million, an increase of $600,000 for the same period in 2012. Six single-family building permits were issued in February for a total value of $1,150,000.
Jane Goodall to speak at UNK March 20th
(UNK)- Internationally acclaimed primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall will give a free, public lecture at 7 p.m. March 20 at University of Nebraska at Kearney. In her speech, "Sowing the Seeds of Hope," Goodall will bring her audience into the world of the Gombe chimpanzees - from herearly observations and experiences to the latest news and stories from the field. Goodall will also talk about the work of the Jane Goodall Institute, which continues her pioneering research and celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2012. Today, the Institute is a global leader in the effort to protect chimpanzees and their habitats. It also is widely recognized for establishing innovative community-centered conservation and development programs in Africa, and Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots, the Institute's global environmental and humanitarian youth program.
Free tickets may be picked up (limit 2) from the UNK Nebraskan Student Union customer service desk beginning Monday (March 10) for students, faculty and staff with a UNK ID. Remaining tickets may begin to be picked by the general public beginning at 9 a.m. March 17 through 2 p.m. on March 20. Seats may be available the evening of the lecture if any tickets are undistributed or if patrons do not show. Anyone without a ticket will be able to stand in line, and will be granted entry at 6:55 p.m. if open seats remain.
Goodall, at age 79, continues to work, traveling some 300 days each year to speak on the plight of the chimpanzees, other environmental crises, and her hopes for humankind. She is a lover of the annual Sandhill crane migration. She is the author of numerous books and articles, including two autobiographies, and has been featured in television documentaries and large-screen format films. More information about her can be found at janegoodall.org. Goodall will be signing copies of her books, available for sale after the lecture.
Abducted teen featured at UNK Criminal Justice Conferece
(UNK)- Alicia Kozakiewicz was bound with chains, tortured and raped repeatedly in a weapon-filled dungeon. She was 13. The victim of an Internet predator in 2002, she was abducted outside her Pittsburgh home and held captive 250 miles away in Virginia before FBI agents rescued her four days later. "I cry inside. I mourn for that child that was me. The child that was stolen from me," Kozakiewicz said while testifying in Congress in 2007. "Make no mistake, that child was murdered. I know now that some parts of me are forever there. The child that I was is still chained in that room, still suffering."
Kozakiewicz is the keynote speaker at this year's Criminal Justice Conference at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. She will speak at 9:15 a.m. on March 13 in the Ponderosa Room at the Nebraskan Student Union. The conference is free and open to the public. In its 25th year, the event also includes a career fair for criminal justice majors. It is presented by the UNK Criminal Justice Honor Society Alpha Phi Sigma, Criminal Justice Club and UNK Criminal Justice Department.
In her keynote, Kozakiewicz will discuss her efforts to keep other children from traumatic experiences such as hers.Kozakiewicz formed "Alicia Project," which provides Internet safety and awareness education for children, families, teachers, law enforcement, governmental and social agencies. Her story has been featured by numerous national media outlets, and she participated in Internet safety films for the FBI, Pennsylvania Attorney General and others. Kozakiewicz also was the subject of "Alicia's Message: I'm Here To Save Your Life" - an award-winning documentary for PBS - and the Emmy Award-winning "Alicia's Story."
Nebraska Tourism Passport sites selected
(NRG)- The Nebraska Tourism Commission has announced the 80 featured stops in the 2014 Nebraska Passport Program. New to the program this year are special-interest tours featuring top Nebraska quilting destinations, patriotic and military sites and a tour that will help visitors learn about the history of transportation. The Passport program encourages travelers to explore Nebraska, collect stamps from participating attractions and earn great prizes.
The 2014 Passport will feature 80 attractions on 10 themed tours: Sips and Suds, Patchwork Passion, Rare Finds, Home Grown Nebraska, Fork in the Road, Hit the Snooze, Without Walls, Stars and Stripes, How We Move and Can't Get Enough. Travelers have from May 1 through September 30 to visit attractions and redeem their stamps for prizes. For each completed tour, participants win a Nebraska Passport T-shirt. Travelers also can receive 20 $1 Nebraska Lottery Scratch coupons (for 20 stamps) and a digital picture frame (for 40 stamps) and a Pebble Smartwatch (for all 80 stamps).
A grand-prize drawing for a 60" Plasma TV will be held in October. This year, an additional drawing for 300 $1 Nebraska Lottery Scratch tickets will be held for all participants, 19 and older, who turn in passports with at least one stamp. Passports will be available at participating stops in May or can be pre-ordered by emailing info(at)NebraskaPassport(dot)com.
Lincoln schools consider ID system test
(AP) - Lincoln officials are thinking about requiring some middle school students to wear photo IDs on lanyards around their necks.
The Lincoln Journal Star says (http://bit.ly/1f5XLnx ) the ID system has been required at district high schools since 2007. The IDs help administrators ensure the teenagers in the school buildings are supposed to be there. The IDs also serve as lunch tickets and passes at football games and other school events.
District security director Joe Wright says he wants to test the system at Irving Middle School and another middle school he hasn't yet selected.
He says the company that makes the IDs will provide free badges for two middle schools for a year. Wright says that would give the district an opportunity to determine whether expansion is worth the expense.
29 state senators show support for pipeline
(AP) - A majority of Nebraska's state lawmakers have signed a letter in support of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was signed this week by 29 of Nebraska's 49 state senators. It urges federal approval of the pipeline, which would carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries.
Nebraska has been a stronghold for pipeline opponents, including environmentalists and some landowners. A district court judge last month invalidated a state law that was used to approve the project, but the state is appealing.
Sen. Jim Smith of Papillion, who supports the project, gathered signatures for the letter. It was signed by 22 Republicans and seven Democrats in the officially nonpartisan, one-house Legislature.
Bill to reduce ag land values stalls in committee
(AP) - A proposal to lower the taxable value of Nebraska farm and ranchland has stalled in a legislative committee.
The Legislature's Revenue Committee voted 4-4 on Thursday on a bill that would phase in a reduction of taxable ag-land values, from the current 75 percent to 65 percent.
Opponents say they're concerned the bill would place additional financial pressure on rural, K-12 public schools that use the land as a major part of their tax base.
The bill's sponsor, Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha, says he will attempt to secure additional support. McCoy, a Republican candidate for governor, says he doesn't believe lawmakers have done enough this year to reduce taxes.
Nebraska construction company fined for worker death
(AP) - A Hastings-based construction company is facing $14,000 in fines for safety violations regulators found after a worker's death.
The Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration says it found three safety violations when it investigated the death of a Werner Construction worker.
The 35-year-old worker died after being struck by a front-end loader at an asphalt facility in Albion, Neb. Werner specializes in asphalt and concrete paving projects.
Werner officials weren't immediately available to comment, so it's not clear if they plan to appeal.
OSHA says Werner failed to maintain safety features of the front end loader and failed to train someone to administer first aid. Those are both serious violations.
The company was also cited for failing to assess hazards related to personal protective gear.
Texas-based lender eliminating 105 Nebraska jobs
(AP) - A Texas-based mortgage company has announced it will be eliminating 105 jobs at its Scottsbluff office in western Nebraska.
Nationstar Mortgage spokesman John Hoffmann says the cuts will begin on March 28 and will leave 215 Nationstar workers at the loan servicing office, plus 50 contractor positions not held by Nationstar employees.
Hoffmann says the demand for mortgages has slowed so there's simple less work to be done by workers in loan origination and servicing.
In November the company announced it was eliminating 900 jobs companywide, including 300 employees who were working for a division that was sold to another mortgage company.
Hoffmann says the company announced last month it would eliminate loan origination jobs of 230 people based in St. Louis, Denver and the home office in Lewisville, Texas.
Nebraska lawmakers vote to expand homestead exemption
(AP) - A proposed expansion of Nebraska's homestead exemption program has won first-round approval from lawmakers.
Senators voted 34-0 on Thursday to advance the measure, which would allow more property owners to qualify for the tax-relief program. The exemption is given to seniors, disabled veterans and their spouses, and people with certain disabilities, depending on their home values.
Current state law allows married couples to receive at least a partial exemption until their household income reaches $28,501. The bill would increase that threshold to $46,901.
Sen. Galen Hadley, chairman of the Revenue Committee, says the bill attempts to make it easier for retirees to stay in Nebraska.
Some lawmakers voiced concerns that the bill would shift residential property tax burdens onto younger homeowners as baby boomers retire.
Fischer announces staff additions, including 2 with Kearney ties
(NRG)- Nebraska U.S. Senator Deb Fischer Wednesday announced four new hires who have joined her Washington, D.C., and Nebraska offices and will assist her with both policymaking and constituent services. The new staff includes two Legislative Assistants, a Director of Constituent Services, and a Director of Military and Veteran Affairs and two staff members with Kearney ties.
Aaron Taylor joins Senator Fischer's Washington staff as a Legislative Assistant and will cover economic policy, financial services, pension and retirement, taxes, and trade. Taylor is a native Nebraskan, who grew up in Kearney and Bennington before graduating from Brigham Young University in 2006 with a degree in Business Management. Based in Kearney, Julie Brooker will serve as Senator Fischer's constituent services representative in central Nebraska. Brooker has 15 years of experience in constituent services, most recently for Sen. Mike Johanns. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Kearney and Kearney High School.
UNK upgrades their Internet core speed
(UNK)- The University of Nebraska at Kearney has upgraded its Internet core backbone to 10 gigabytes per second - more than 1,000 times faster than the average U.S. connection speed. The upgraded connection between UNK and Lincoln will help assure critical connections that are data-intensive run smoothly over the Internet, and pave the way for expanded online learning opportunities, live-streaming events and cloud-based services, said Deborah Schroeder, assistant vice chancellor for information technology. Ten Gbps is Kearney's fastest, and far faster than Google Fiber, which at 1,000 megabits per second has been featured in the national news.
Schroeder said average U.S. connection speeds are 7.2 Mbps and is the recommended minimum speed to stream super-HDmovies. The 10 Gbps connection would enable thousands of super-HD movies to be streamed at the same time. The faster, more-reliable connection isn't all about movies and games, Schroeder said. It supports research computing, enhanced and future software, and cloud-based services. The connection to Lincoln connects UNK to the other NU campuses, the state network and the Internet 2 100-Gbps research network. The switch to the new connection occurred Feb. 10 and went smoothly, Schroeder said. An additional 10 Gbps wave will be available soon to support off-site backups of critical services. Google on Feb. 14 announced plans to deliver data transfer speeds of 10 Gbps by 2022.
Lawsuit againist Scottsbluff and former police chief dismissed
(AP) - A judge has dismissed a federal lawsuit filed by a woman against the city of Scottsbluff and its now former police chief.
U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf said in a ruling issued Tuesday that Tamara Villanueva had failed to prove the elements of her various claims.
Villanueva had sued the city and then-Police Chief Alex Moreno in October 2011, alleging that her rights to equal protection and due process were violated because of her affair with Moreno. He acknowledged the affair and eventually resigned on Oct. 1, 2012.
The lawsuit says Villanueva told Moreno in August 2009 that she'd been a victim of domestic assault and later reported the same to another department officer. The lawsuit says neither Moreno nor the other officer made written reports.
State treasurer looking to return unclaimed property
(AP) - The state treasurer's office is seeking to return $135 million in unclaimed property to more than 350,000 Nebraskans and former Nebraskans.
The office will publish the names of more than 37,500 people owed money or property in state newspapers this month and in April. A list of those owed unclaimed property may be found on the office's website at www.treasurer.org.
Under state law, the state treasurer is responsible for handling unclaimed property. Examples include health claim payments, dividends, utility deposits, life insurance proceeds, wages, stocks, outstanding checks, safety deposit boxes and unused gift certificates.
The list of names of those owed money or property will appear in the Omaha World-Herald and Scottsbluff Star-Herald on Sunday. It will be published in 14 more Nebraska newspapers in to coming weeks.
Proposal to expand Nebraska horse race betting advances
(AP) - Nebraska racetracks are one step closer to allowing bets on previously run horse races, after a vote in the Legislature.
A constitutional amendment by Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha would allow voters to decide if Nebraska should license and regulate wagering on the races.
The measure advanced Wednesday on a vote of 25-18, but faces one final vote. The issue would appear on the ballot in November if approved. Lawmakers first debated the legislation last year.
Lautenbaugh says the state has a tradition of horse racing, and the proposal would save jobs.
Opponents say the bill represents expanded gambling.