Kearney School Board to hear update on design process for new KHS Monday
(NRG)-The Kearney Public Schools' Board of Education will hear a report on construction design for the new high school at Monday night's regular meeting. Representatives from the construction management team and the architectural firm will report on the progress of the design phase for the facility. A group of Kearney Public Schools officials, Senior High teachers, and designers toured a handful of high schools in Colorado and Kansas in November to research and gather information they may apply in the building and planning of the new KHS.
In other business, the board will be asked to approve the calendars for the 2014-2015 school years by KPS Superintendent Dr. Brian Maher. He says the new calendars mirror this year's, with the exception of the inclusion of an inservice-teacher work day that will push the resumption of classes after Christmas break to Tuesday, January 6th of 2015. The board is also expected to approve a bid for underground sprinkler systems at the Central-Whittier campus, Northeast Elementary and the Kearney Education Center locations. Hoehner Turf and Irrigation of Kearney has submitted the low bid for the project totaling $140,000. The meeting is at seven Monday night at Sunrise Middle School.
KPS gets Sixpence grant for early childhood education
(NRG)- The Trustees of the Sixpence Early Learning Fund announced Friday that Kearney Public Schools will receive grant awards totaling approximately $174,000 beginning January 1. Sixpence awarded the grant to fund high-quality early childhood programs serving at-risk infants and toddlers. Sixpence grants are intended to build new early childhood programs, or expand existing services to reach more of the state's youngest, most vulnerable children.
For KPS, the Sixpence grant will allow the district to reach out to at-risk children birth to age 3 to support the family's needs. Home-based staff will make monthly home visits to the families with information on language development, social/emotional factors, and cognitive growth. According to KPS Associate Superintendent, Carol Renner, "This early intervention will provide a lifelong benefit to the children by empowering the parents/guardians to always provide the best activities/experience to stimulate learning and positive behavior. We are so thrilled and appreciative that the Sixpence Foundation has selected us twice this year. The first Sixpence grant funded a center-based program for toddlers."
Sixpence programs address the specific needs of children and families in their own school districts, providing an array of services and resources such as high quality child care, and specialists who work with individual families to improve parent-child interactions. Grantees are held to a rigorous evaluation process, and match their grant awards with local funds. Each community was required to provide matching funds to show a local commitment to this level of early childhood education. For more information about the Sixpence Early Learning Fund, visit www.singasongofsixpence.org.
Gale files for re-election as Secretary of State
(NRG)- John Gale officially filed for re-election Friday at the Secretary of State's office. Gale, who has served as Secretary of State since 2000, is seeking a fourth full term. Gale first announced his candidacy in June, when he launched a 1,000 mile announcement tour of Nebraska. Gale said some of his priorities for another term include: enhancing public access to government services online, streamlining the process for launching and growing businesses in Nebraska, and improving the security and reliability of the voter registration process to minimize possible fraud as well as working to boost voter registration and turnout.
Additionally, Gale serves as chairman for the Nebraska Real Estate Commission, Collection Agency Licensing Board and Nebraska State Records Board. He is a permanent member of the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, the State Canvassing Board and the State Pardons Board. Gale has served as Secretary of State since 2000 when he was appointed by Governor Mike Johanns.
Scooby Doo headed to Kearney for March show
(NRG)- The much-loved Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Inc. Gang take center stage in an all-new family musical, SCOOBY-DOO LIVE! MUSICAL MYSTERIES, presented by Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Life Like Touring. Featuring everyone's favorite characters from one of television's longest-running animated series, SCOOBY-DOO LIVE! MUSICAL MYSTERIES is set to thrill audiences at the Viaero Event Center on Tuesday, March 11th.
In this exciting new production, Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Inc. Gang have been called upon to help solve an epic mystery. A trouble-making ghost is haunting a local theatre and Shaggy, Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Scooby-Doo are on their way in the Mystery Machine to crack the case. With crazy ghosts, perplexing puzzles, and an abundance of Scooby Snacks, it's Scooby-Doo and friends at their best, travelling across the country, solving mysteries wherever they go.
Tickets for the live stage show are $16, $25, $32, $42 and $52 (plus fees) and go on-sale December 13th. The $52 tickets come with a VIP package including a souvenir activities poster and meet-and-greet before the show. The $42 tickets come with a souvenir activities poster. Tickets can be purchased by calling 308-338-8011 or visiting www.KearneyEvents.com.
UNK students award Rural Futures Institute grants
(UNK and NRG)- University of Nebraska at Kearney students took classroom lessons to rural communities and helped two new businesses prosper by recently awarding them$2,500 grants. The Students Engaged in Economic Development of Rural Areas project aimed to engage undergraduate students in economic development in rural communities. Mathematics and statistics senior lecturer Kaye Sorensen and biology associate professor Marc Albrecht developed the project with the help of a teaching and engagement grant from the Rural Futures Institute. The grants must go to projects thatdemonstrate collaboration across campuses, departments and disciplines while also including external stakeholders.
Students from Sorensen's Finite Mathematics class and Albrecht's Biological Statistics class contacted stakeholders from their rural hometowns who were looking for business ideas. Students also researched community assets and needs, and the feasibility of prospective businesses. UNK students came up with 15 business proposals and narrowed them to a pair of winners. Misty Stinson, owner of Health Food Outlet Store in Alliance, and Christie Urwiller, owner of Christie's Kitchen in Ravenna, received the $2,500 grants during November's 2013 Rural Futures Conference in Lincoln.
Shawn Kaskie, director of the Center for Rural Research and Development, along with Allan Groenke, Entrepreneur in Residence at UNK, and Jake Messersmith, associate professor in the Department of Business, gave students guidance during the project.
Work set to begin at CCC campus in Hastings
(AP) - Central Community College officials expect to begin their Hastings campus renovation project in February.
The Hastings Tribune says (http://bit.ly/11KCE3E) the $8.2 million project includes work on the Campus Center and connecting Hall Building. The dining hall will be turned into a modern cafeteria.
The Hall Building houses the dining hall. It was built in the 1940s when the U.S. Naval Ammunition Depot occupied the space. The adjoining Campus Center was built in 1983. Neither building has received major updates since being built.
The plan is to start by remodeling the Campus Center with the goal of creating more natural gathering spaces for students. The Veterans Service Office will be enlarged and the snack bar will be upgraded.
Appointee to Legislature withdraws his name
(AP) - An appointee to the Nebraska Legislature has withdrawn his name, saying his father in Oklahoma just suffered a heart attack and he needs to care for his mother.
The announcement on Friday also followed news that Patrick M. Shannon owes the state $16,000 for campaign-disclosure violations during an unsuccessful bid for the Legislature in 2004.
Gov. Dave Heineman announced Friday morning that he had chosen Shannon, of Bellevue, to finish the term of former state Sen. Scott Price. Price resigned in November.
Less than five hours later, Shannon sent a letter to the governor's office asking that his name be withdrawn.
The Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission ruled in 2006 that Shannon failed to report expenditures and contributions related to an anonymous mailing that accused his opponent of domestic abuse.
Lincoln state senator says she'll probably run for Auditor
(AP) - A Nebraska lawmaker is leaning toward a run for state auditor.
Sen. Amanda McGill of Lincoln said Friday that she expects to make a decision by the end of the year. But McGill says she's 90 percent sure she'll join the 2014 race to replace auditor Mike Foley, who is running for governor.
McGill says she wants to continue Foley's focus on government mismanagement and waste, particularly at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and state corrections.
McGill, a Democrat, is entering her eighth and final year in the Legislature. She is a former administrator at the YWCA of Lincoln and worked as a television reporter in Lincoln and Sioux City, Iowa.
Sen. Pete Pirsch, an Omaha Republican, has already launched his campaign for auditor.
Fine arts standards proposed for Nebraska schools
(AP) - A proposal headed for the State Board of Education would set standards for fine arts education in Nebraska.
The Lincoln Journal Star says (http://bit.ly/1bliLTW ) backers of the proposal hope its adoption would raise visual and performing arts to the status of core subjects such as math, science and social studies.
The draft will be discussed at a public hearing on Jan. 16, then go to the board for consideration likely in February. If the board approves the standards, they could be made mandatory or be deemed as merely advisory.
The standards would be broad enough that school districts could adapt them to their curriculums and decide how they'd want the material taught.
Nebraska Chamber announces legislative priorities
(AP) - The Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry has chosen tax reform as its major goal for next year's legislative session.
The chamber announced that it will advocate for lowering Nebraska's top individual income tax rate and the corporate tax. The chamber will also oppose attempts to expand Nebraska's sales tax base.
The announcement came shortly after the Legislature's Tax Modernization Committee held its final meeting to discuss possible reforms. The panel opted not to recommend major changes, but to do more study of the state's sales, income and property taxes.
The chamber also says it will support efforts to expand job-training programs and public-private partnerships to grow Nebraska's work force. The chamber's board of directors approved the priorities at a meeting this week.
Governor names new director for state DEQ
(AP) - A longtime administrator for the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality has been chosen as the agency's new acting director.
Gov. Dave Heineman announced Friday that he has named assistant director Pat Rice for the job, effective Dec. 20. The 61-year-old Rice will replace Mike Linder, who is leaving to take a job with an Omaha law firm.
Rice has served as the department's assistant director for 19 years. He previously worked for the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality is assigned to protect the state's natural resources.
Rice earned a bachelor's degree in civil and environmental engineering from South Dakota State University. In his new position, Rice will oversee a department with more than 200 employees. His annual salary will be $120,000.
Give Where You Live raises over $450,000
(NRG)- The Kearney Community Foundation's "Give Where You Live-Kearney Area" 24-hour fundraising effort received $453,214 in donations. 1156 different donors made 2316 contributions to a collection of 99 different area charitable organizations. Highest totals went to the Kearney Area Animal Shelter with $53,230 and the Kearney Skatepark with $42,319. More details are available online at givewhereyoulive.razoo.com.
Former Congressman endorses Ricketts for governor
(NRG)- Former Third District U.S. Congressman Bill Barrett of Lexington announced his endorsement of Pete Ricketts for Governor of Nebraska at a Thursday morning press conference on the campus of the University of Nebraska in Kearney. In making the announcement Barrett said, "Pete understands the future of our rural communities and the economic well-being of our state is inextricably tied to the continued success of agriculture. He is a man of integrity and faith who shares our conservative values. As governor, Pete Ricketts will put his business experience to work for Nebraska's farmers and ranchers by holding the line on taxes and regulations. Our state's brightest days are ahead of us. With Pete's experience and leadership at work in state government, we can work together to preserve the American Dream for the next generation of Nebraskans." Barrett served the Third District of Nebraska in Congress from 1991-2001. From 1979-1991, Barrett served the 39th Legislative District in the Nebraska Unicameral, and also served as Speaker of the Legislature from 1987-1991.
Ricketts is the founder of Drakon, LLC, a company that supports local entrepreneurs and startups. He also serves on the TD Ameritrade Board of Directors and on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Ricketts is one of five GOP candidates for governor.
National Flu Vaccination Week is December 8th through the 14th
(NRG)- Two Rivers Public Health Department wants to remind everyone that National Influenza Vaccination Week is December 8-14 and "it is not too late to vaccinate." As long as flu viruses are spreading and causing illness, vaccination can provide protection against the flu and should continue through the holiday season and beyond. Even unvaccinated people who have already gotten sick with one flu virus can still benefit from vaccination since the flu vaccine protects against three or four different flu viruses.
Flu activity usually peaks in January or later in the United States and can last as late as May. As long as flu viruses are circulating, it's not too late to get vaccinated. With flu activity starting to increase and family and friends gathering for the holidays, now is a great time to get a flu vaccine to protect yourself and your loved ones.
The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. Traditional flu vaccines made to protect against three different flu viruses are available this season. In addition, flu vaccines made to protect against four different flu viruses are also available. Check with your health care provider about which vaccine you should get. Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor's offices, clinics, retail stores and pharmacies, and health centers, as well as by many employers and schools. Call the providers in your area to find one that is convenient for you.
For more information, visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov or visit the Two Rivers site at www.trphd.org or call 308-995-4778 for more information.
Denton man sentenced for sexual assault of a girl
(AP) - A man has been given 15 to 20 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl at his home in southeast Nebraska.
Online court records say 66-year-old Dennis Holman, of Denton, was sentenced on Thursday. He'd pleaded guilty to sexual assault of a minor after prosecutors lowered the charged and dropped another. He was credited for 32 days already served.
His wife had reported his crimes to Lancaster County sheriff's deputies in December last year.
Schuyler crash victim identified
(AP) - Authorities have released the name of a 16-year-old Schuyler boy who died in a rollover crash southwest of Schuyler.
The Colfax County attorney's office identified the boy as Ramon Azcunaga, a student at Schuyler Central High School.
The Columbus Telegram reports (http://bit.ly/1f2gfU1 ) that Azcunaga was a passenger in a car that ran off a gravel road and rolled over in a farm field a little after 4 a.m. Thursday. Azcunaga was ejected.
Two other boys in the car were treated at the scene and released. Their names haven't been released.
The crash is still being investigated. An autopsy was ordered.
1 of 3 defendants in Columbus murder makes plea deal
(AP) - A 26-year-old man has pleaded guilty to a lesser murder charge and agreed to testify against two other people charged with stabbing to death a Columbus man.
The Columbus Telegram reports that (http://bit.ly/1f2gy1f) Quentin Critser, of Lincoln, made his plea on Thursday morning in Platte County District Court. Prosecutors lowered the charge from first-degree murder in return for Critser's plea.
Critser is expected to testify in January against 31-year-old Eric Henry and 32-year-old Kimberly Henderson, who are charged with first-degree murder and use of a weapon. The three are accused of killing Steven Jorgensen at Jorgensen's Columbus home on May 18.
Authorities say the three intended to rob the 51-year-old Jorgensen, but the robbery turned violent when Jorgensen resisted.
Critser's sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 13.
Congressman collects over 10,000 cards for the troops
(AP) - Congressman Adrian Smith says his office has collected more than 10,000 holiday cards to help the American Red Cross deliver holiday cheer to military members and their families.
The Red Cross will deliver the cards to American military personnel, veterans and their families across the country and around the world.
Smith's offices in Scottsbluff and Grand Island served as collection points for constituents to drop off postage-free cards for the Holiday Mail for Heroes program.
Smith says he's "grateful and inspired" by the support shown for American troops through the program.
8 hunters rescued from Missouri River
(AP) - Eight hunters and a dog have been rescued from two boats that were stranded in the rapidly freezing Missouri River off northern Nebraska.
The state Game and Parks Commission says a Nebraska State Patrol helicopter pulled all of the hunters from the boats just east of Santee by Thursday afternoon. There were no injuries.
The boats had been blocked by ice in the river. The hunters told officials there was no ice in the water when they put their boats in that morning.
The 18-foot flat-bottom boats were left in the water after the rescue.
2 students bring gun to Omaha school
(AP) - Officials say two students have been arrested for allegedly bringing a loaded gun to an Omaha school.
Omaha Public Schools says the students were found in possession of the weapon at Benson High School Magnet on Thursday.
Omaha television station KETV reports (http://bit.ly/1gI5NBy ) school principal Anita Harkins-Baldwin said in a letter to parents that a school resource officer confiscated the weapon and police were called. She said there were no threats, shots fired or injuries.
In October, a student gave a loaded gun to another student while at Benson. No shots were fired in that case and both students were arrested.
Papillion lawyer named to county court judgeship
(AP) - A lawyer in the Sarpy County attorney's office has been named to a county court judgeship in eastern Nebraska.
The office of Gov. Dave Heineman on Thursday announced his appointment of Stefanie Martinez, of Papillion (puh-PIHL'-yuhn), to the post in the 2nd Judicial District. The district consists of Cass, Otoe and Sarpy counties.
The 43-year-old Martinez has served in several positions at the Sarpy County prosecutor's office. She earned her law degree from New York Law School.
The vacancy was created when County Court Judge Jeffrey Funke became a district court judge.
Nebraska lawmakers discuss funding for school security
(AP) - A legislative committee is considering ways to pay for more and better security at public schools in Nebraska.
The Lincoln Journal Star says (http://bit.ly/1kfkGLD ) the Education Committee members heard testimony Wednesday from school officials and child advocates.
A major worry for some: Can school districts pay for security improvements without taking money away from education?
Some people who testified said state aid in some form was needed.
Joseph Wright is director of security for Lincoln Public Schools, and he testified that the issues schools face are nontraditional and will be difficult to solve with regular funding.
He says the building improvements and the costs of more security personnel are "well outside standard school budgets."
Former Omaha state senator gets three years of probation
(AP) - Former state Sen. Brenda Council has been given three years of probation on one federal count of wire fraud.
A federal judge in Omaha also fined Council $500 on Thursday.
She'd pleaded guilty in September to spending money from campaign donations to gamble at casinos. Council agreed to plead guilty after prosecutors said they'd ask the judge to give her probation.
Council pleaded guilty last year to two state misdemeanor counts of filing false campaign finance reports. State prosecutors say the reports concealed her misuse of more than $63,000 in campaign donations at casinos. She was fined $500.
State Sen. Ernie Chambers, who beat Council to regain the legislative seat he held for 38 years, filed a complaint in 2012 that prompted the U.S. attorney's investigation.
Sales tax receipts jump in Kearney
(NRG)-The city of Kearney's sales tax receipts for September saw a big jump, according to the latest City Manager's monthly report released Wednesday. September's receipts were just over $1,025,000, an increase of nearly $129,000 over the same month in 2013. Year-to-date totals are at just under $8,760,000, an increase of about $422,000 through the same period last year.
Enplanements at the Kearney Regional Airport for November were 910, bringing this year's total to 11,804, a 5.2 percent increase over last year's numbers. Building activity continued at a brisk pace with eight permits issued for the month totaling $1,490,000 of activity.
Conservation sign-up period runs through January 17th
(NRG)- Nebraska landowners and operators have until Jan. 17, 2014, to sign up for the Conservation Stewardship Program at their local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service office. CSP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to help farmers and ranchers conserve and enhance soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their agricultural and forestry land. CSP applications are accepted at any time. However, only applications received by the Jan. 17 cutoff date will be considered for the current ranking and funding period.
Craig Derickson, NRCS state conservationist in Nebraska, encourages Nebraska farmers and ranchers to not miss out on this opportunity. According to Derickson, CSP has been a very successful program for Nebraska's farmers and ranchers. Over 2,000 CSP contracts occur in all 93 counties and cover 4.8 million acres in Nebraska. CSP is available statewide to individual landowners, legal entities, and Indian tribes. Eligible land includes cropland, grassland, prairie, improved pastureland, non-industrial private forestland, and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe. Contracts are set at five years and include all the land controlled by an operator. For more information about CSP, including eligibility requirements and a self-screening checklist, producers can visit www.ne.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/CSP or stop by their local NRCS field office.