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Former Hastings Mayor Dies

Former Hastings Mayor Bill Welton has died. He was 75.

The Hastings Tribune reports that Welton died Sunday. The funeral home handling his services said Wednesday that the family asked not to disclose his cause of death.

Welton was elected mayor in 1980, defeating incumbent Bob Allen. Welton elected to serve only one term, leaving office in 1984. Prior to his election, Welton served on the Hastings Board of Public Works. After his mayoral term, he served as president of the Hastings Museum Board of Trustees.

Welton wasn't the first in his family to delve into local politics. He was the grandson of former Hastings Mayor William Madgett.

Funeral services are set for 11 a.m. Thursday at First Presbyterian Church in Hastings.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Announces Corporate Mentoring Program

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hastings has announced the launching of a corporate mentoring program called the Beyond School Walls program. It's a partnership between Hastings High School and Hastings Utilities.

The program introduces young people to the corporate workplace. The agency has been doing partnerships like these for the last five years nationwide. Megan Schawang, Executive Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hastings, says it's had a great success rate with elementary school students. Now her agency hopes to start a new trend with high school students.

Megan Schawang, says they hope to expose high school students to the workforce and give them new ideas going forward.

Schawang says about 10 Hastings High students will be mentored in the upcoming new partnership which starts Oct. 14.

Grand Island School Recognized as National Blue Ribbon School

Four Nebraska schools were recognized Tuesday as National Blue Ribbon Schools. Seedling Mile Elementary in Grand Island was one of them.

The schools were honored for their overall academic excellence and for their progress in closing achievement gaps among groups of students. The other schools recognized in Nebraska were Carriage Hill Elementary of Papillion-La Vista Public School District, Johnson-Brock Elementary and Randolph Elementary.

The U.S. Department of Education will honor 287 public and 50 private schools at a ceremony Nov. 10-11 in Washington, D.C.

Sutton Man Killed in Crash

A Clay County man was killed early Monday morning after he lost control of his vehicle on Highway 6 near Sutton.

Authorities say 30-year old Blake Smith of rural Sutton lost control, left the roadway and was ejected from the vehicle sometime around 6:30 a.m. Monday. The accident occurred on Highway 6, about three miles west of Sutton near Road U.

Smith was pronounced dead on the scene. He was not wearing a seatbelt.

Seat Belt Saves Life of Grand Island Man

A Grand Island man walked away unscathed today after his pickup collided with a semi truck on Highway 30 near Claude Rd.

The accident occurred at around 11 a.m. Authorities say the man was trying to merge lanes when his rear brakes locked up. As a result, he went over the median and collided with the semi carrying a side-dump trailer. Officer Scott Arnold with the Grand Island Police Department says the man was very lucky.

"He had his seat belt on number one. Number two, the vehicle was equipped with airbags and they did deploy. I think he's going to be sore, but he would have been in a lot worse shape had he not had the safety equipment," Arnold said.

It remains unclear why the brakes locked up. Officer Arnold says they won't investigate that any further. He says this is a good reminder to all that you should always buckle up.

The crash brought traffic to a stand-still for about an hour. The driver of the semi was not injured.

Grand Island Candidate Dropping Out

Grand Island voters will have one less candidate for City Council on the November ballot.

Ward 2 candidate Karen Bredthauer has dropped out of the council race. She was seeking the seat currently occupied by Councilwoman Peg Gilbert, who is not seeking re-election. Bredthauer says she's dropping out of the race due to an unexpected life change. She got married last month. She has not ruled out a future run for the city council.

Her name will still appear on the ballot because they've already been printed. Grand Island attorney Roger Steele is also seeking the Ward 2 seat and is now the only candidate.

Hastings College Receives Large Donation

Hastings College has received a $1.7 million gift from an alumna's estate. Sarah (Thompson) Leer, a 1946 graduate known as Sally to friends and family, left the foundation her entire estate in appreciation for her college experience. In addition, she established the Thompson-Leer Endowed Scholarship in memory of her family and parents, Clyde and Flora Thompson. She also contributed to the restoration of McCormick Hall, the oldest building on campus. Leer passed away April 14.

Kearney UMC to Host Education Caravan

The Kearney First United Methodist Church will host the second of three Education Caravans in Nebraska tonight sponsored by the Great Plains Methodists. The caravan is designed to bring attention to the importance of public schools.

Bishop Scott Jones with the Great Plains Methodists, says they are hoping many churches will value the importance of public schooling.

Bishop Jones says he understands school systems can't propagate a religious perspective, but also says if religious people aren't supportive of public education it will be too week.

The guest speaker tonight is Litchfield Superintendent Dr. Scott Maline, formerly with the Minden School District. The event starts at 7 p.m.

UNK Students Rock the Vote

Many UNK students are now registered voters, thanks to the recent efforts of a political science class.

Students from the Democracy as a Political Idea class set up booths in the Nebraskan Student Union and Wellness Center, and asked students to become registered voters. As a result, 204 UNK students registered to vote.

Dr. Christie Maloyed, assistant professor of political science said the effort is aimed at getting young people in the habit of voting now, to make it a lifelong habit.

The effort was part of a civic engagement project the class is working on this semester. The class is creating a mid-term voting guide for the upcoming election. The non-partisan guide will include information on candidates and political issues in the news.

The voter registration deadline is Oct. 17.

Third City Community Clinic Receives Large Grant

A six-figure grant was awarded Friday to the Third City Community Clinic in Grand Island.

The clinic is receiving $175,950 from Women Investing in Nebraska. WIN is a group of women dedicated to focused, collective giving.

Susan Aguilar, Executive Director of the clinic says the grant will help in many ways.

"The grant will help sustain some of our programs such as WIC, our dental program and our registered nurse, dental hygienists and medications and supplies," Aguilar said.

Third City Community Clinic offers health and dental care for low income individuals who don't have insurance, government assistance or funds to pay for their own care. The clinic receives no federal, state or city funding. Last year, more than 3,500 patients received free health care from the clinic.

Grand Island Flood Control Project Behind Schedule

A Grand Island flood control project that was scheduled for completion next year is four years behind schedule and $13 million over budget.

The project was delayed in part because of the time required to clean up buried explosives from land that once housed an ordinance plant and an insufficient drainage map. The project originally relied on watershed data from the 1980s.

Officials say the project is over budget because of an abnormal jump in construction prices over the project's 10-year development.

Woman Arrested on Prostitution Charges in Kearney

An Arizona woman was arrested in Kearney over the weekend on prostitution charges. 20-year-old Ninveh J. Daoud was formally charged Friday. A Minden man was also arrested on suspicion of soliciting a prostitute in the same incident. The man has not been charged. Both are free on bail and are due in court in October.

County Jails to House State Prison Inmates

The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services has found space and obtained permission to place some state inmates in county jails as a way to relieve overcrowding in the state prison system.

The prison system is currently at 158 percent capacity. So far six counties have agreed to take in the state inmates. They are Buffalo, Dawson, Hall, Phelps, Platte, and Saline. Fred Ruiz, Hall County Jail Director, says they've been housing state inmates there since June 17. He says they are not taking in those convicted of murder and other high profile crimes.

The state is paying most counties $75 a day to house the inmates. Hall County is being paid $88 a day because of their willingness to take on more challenging inmates. Ruiz says this may continue for the next few years.

The Hall County Jail has a capacity of 321 beds. They currently house 265 inmates. Of those, 118 are state inmates.

Kearney Man in Custody on Child Pornography Charges

A Kearney man accused of possessing and distributing child pornography is behind bars.

Cameron M. Lambert is charged in Buffalo County Court with possession of child pornography on May 2 and with distribution of sexually explicit conduct. Both are felonies. Police served a search warrant on his home Tuesday and he was arrested.

According to court records, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children contacted the Kearney Police Department, notifying them of suspicious activity occurring at Lambert's home. An investigation showed Lambert allegedly uploaded child erotic videos and images of females ages 7 to 12 to an internet website.

Lambert was employed for the last 11 months as a part-time fitness instructor at the Kearney YMCA. Executive Officer Denny Placzek released a statement this afternoon stating that Lambert's employment had been suspended pending the outcome of the charges. He has been banned from the YMCA.

YMCA officials met with child care parents this morning as children were being dropped off.

Placzek says the YMCA has received no complaints during his employment, nor did they observe any inappropriate behavior.

Lambert remains in custody at the Buffalo County Jail on 10 percent of a $500,000 bond. Judge John Rademacher forbid him from using any device with access to the Internet.

Lambert is scheduled to appear in court later this month. If convicted, Lambert faces four to 70 years in prison.

Homecoming Celebration Set For Saturday in Hastings

Plenty will be going on this weekend surrounding homecoming festivities at Hastings College. The annual Melody Round Up Parade will take place tomorrow morning starting at 10 a.m. in downtown Hastings. The parade route will start at 4th Street and Colorado Ave. and continue west to Hastings Ave, then south to 2nd Street and East back to Colorado Ave.

Several local marching bands will be in attendance including Axtell, Blue Hill, Columbus Scotus, Doniphan-Trumbull, Elm Creek, Hastings St. Cecilia, Holdrege, Shelton and Sutton. Also reuniting for the homecoming festivities will be the 1954 Hastings College football team celebrating their 60th reunion.

After the parade, join KHAS for the Pepsi Tailgate celebration at Hastings College from 11 a.m. until noon.

Early Bird Ballots to be Mailed on Monday

With now less than 40 days until the general election, early voting ballots will be mailed out next week.

The office of Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale says the first ballots will be sent on Monday. Voters will be able to cast early ballots in person at their county election offices starting Oct. 4.

Gale says early voting was a popular choice for voters in the 2012 presidential election. Twenty-six percent of registered Nebraska voters cast their ballots early.

The secretary of state's office says registrations sent in by mail must be marked by Oct. 17. That's also the last day to complete a voter registration at Department of Motor Vehicle offices, county treasurer offices, state agencies or departments.

Nebraskans can complete or update their registrations at the Secretary of State's website,

Archway Attendance Up

Despite being closed for two months at the beginning of the year, the Archway in Kearney has seen a spike in attendance.

As of August 31, the Archway had 39,703 visitors. The summer tourist season ended with the best August in five years. Marketing Coordinator Jace Robinson credits the Archway's increased involvement in community activities as just one contributing factor.

Another contributing factor to the rise in attendance could be the new East Kearney Bypass at Exit 275. Robinson says they have no way of knowing for sure how much the new exit has helped lure people in.

Robinson says the Archway will continue to improve the guest experience. He adds that they will continue to be aggressive in hosting community events in the future.

Arrest Made in Connection to UNK Library Threat

An arrest has been made in connection with the evacuation of the UNK campus library earlier this week.

The 19 year old UNK student was booked into Buffalo County Jail on Thursday for threatened use of explosives, a Class IV felony. Charges against the student are pending.

On Wednesday, UNK evacuated the library after an anonymous threat was made using social media. UNK Director of Police and Parking Services Michelle Hamaker (Ham-uh-kerr) said officers located the individual via the social media channel Yik Yak, a cell phone app where the threat was observed. Yik Yak cooperated with the UNK Police in tracking the threat. Hamaker says all threats to the campus are taken seriously.

The student's conduct is being reviewed by school officials. The student's name is not being released by the university at this time. Hamaker reminds individuals that the public should never assume anything posted on social media is anonymous, even when advertised that way.

Lincoln Man Sentenced in Assault of Kearney Jailers

A young Lincoln man has been given 10 to 20 years in prison for assaulting jailers at the Buffalo County Jail in Kearney.

19-year-old Audon Green was sentenced on Tuesday in Buffalo County District Court. Green had pleaded no contest to two felony counts of assault by a confined person and one of attempted assault.

Authorities say Green already was serving a sentence for assault when the jail incident occurred on March 11. Authorities say Green refused to cooperate with jailers who approached him about kicking his cell door. They suffered minor injuries when he fought their attempts to restrain him.

Kearney Unveils New Logo

A new logo was unveiled Thursday for the City of Kearney, featuring the Sandhill crane. Assistant City Manager Suzanne Brodine says Kearney is excited to rebrand itself.

The new logo was designed by local graphic artist Dana Wright, a 2008 graduate of UNK. She is the Vice President of Marketing for the Viaero Event Center and the Tri-City Storm.

The logo will be used in digital communications and incorporated wherever possible in public outreach and marketing materials such as press releases, business cards and informational brochures. It will be slowly implemented to keep costs to a minimum.

Water Swapping Project Set to Begin in 2015

Hastings Utilities will soon move forward with the Aquifer Storage and Restoration Project. The department monitors nitrate levels and have data going back several years. Steve Cogley, with HU says they've watched those levels dramatically rise. Their project entails taking water from the aquifer that is lower down and pumping it out, the re-injecting it to the top of the aquifer. The second step of the project includes taking the high level nitrate water, which is located at the top of the aquifer and storing it in an aquifer storage facility. Customers can expect higher rates to help pay for the $46 million project. Groundbreaking is set to begin in early 2015.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Reiterates Support For Ricketts

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation reiterated its support for Republican candidate Pete Ricketts for Governor yesterday at the Myles Ramsey Farm near Kenesaw. Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson also thanked Gov. Dave Heineman for being an advocate for farmers and ranchers with their fight against groups that oppose agriculture industry standards. Ricketts called the Farm Bureau's endorsement an honor and says lowering property tax is his key to helping grow the ag industry in Nebraska. He also spoke out against the EPA and their waters of the U.S. rule, calling it a concern for Nebraska's agriculture industry.

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