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Gunshot kills 4-year-old Hastings Boy Friday Morning

The Hastings Police Department is investigating the shooting death of a 4-year-old boy around 8:30 a.m. Chief Pete Kortum says it happened on the 900 block of North Saunders Ave., and is being considered accidental at this time, but he could not give any more information pending notification of all the family. More details are expected later this afternoon.

*Note* A previously posted version of this story stated the boy was 3-years-old. Hastings Police have since updated the information.

Lawmakers wrap up legislative session

Posted: 04/18/14 09:09

Nebraska lawmakers have finished their session having passed major legislation to lower taxes, reduce prison crowding and pay for water conservation projects. But the session that ended Thursday was also marked by drawn-out squabbles over seemingly trivial issues, and a failure to expand Medicaid under the federal health care law. Many bills were killed through legislative filibusters, including a repeal of Nebraska's helmet law and an anti-discrimination law for gay employees.

Attorney General candidates fight for name recognition

Posted: 04/18/14 09:11

In the race for attorney general, republican candidates are still trying to get name recognition across the state. It was a late start campaigning for them because of Jon Bruning’s late entry into the gubernatorial race. Candidate Doug Peterson says endorsements from people like Gov. Kay Orr and Coach Tom Osborne make all the difference. Peterson is an attorney in a private practice but has worked for the attorney generals office. As far as what he wants to accomplish—stronger human trafficking and consumer protection laws, and continuing the relationship with local law enforcement and county attorneys. Peterson will face Pete Pirsch, Brian Buescher and Mike Hilgers for the republican nomination in the May Primary.

Corn farmers prepare for planting season

Posted: 04/18/14 09:12

We told you just a few days ago that farmers are getting set to plant. Well we’re hearing estimates that Nebraska corn farmers will plant 9.4 million acres of corn, about 94% of last year’s total acres. At a cost of about $280 per acre to get the crop in the ground, that about $2.6 billion invested by the state’s corn farmers over a two-month period. The statistics are coming out today from the University of Nebraska and the USDA. Tim Scheer with the Nebraska Corn Board says just getting the crops in the ground is one form of economic activity, yet the full economic impact of planting reaches close to $6 billion for our state’s economy. Scheer says the challenge with planting investments this year is lower commodity prices, yet input costs continue to be on the rise.

HPD still searching for escaped minor

Posted: 04/18/14 09:09

Hastings police are still looking this morning for a 17 year old who escaped police custody last night. They sent out a recorded alert and an email to citizens about it. According to an automated message, Zachary Vaught was last seen near the Adams County Courthouse around 5:30 p.m. He's described as 5'4'' and 130 lbs. with a brown hair, a buzz haircut and blue eyes. He was wearing a white shirt, dark shorts and no shoes. He was also handcuffed in front. If you see him, you are asked to call 911.

Basement fire in Hastings

Posted: 04/17/14 08:22

A basement fire forced a Hastings family to stay somewhere else last night. The Hastings Fire Department responded to 423 S. New York just before 3. Fire Chief Kent Gilbert says crews did get the fire under control quickly, despite the difficult location. There were no smoke detectors in the home, but one of the residents discovered the smoke. Everyone is safe. The red cross is assisting the family.

Kaleena Fong steps down from position

Posted: 04/17/14 08:23

Kaleena Fong is stepping down from her position as Executive Director at the Adams County Convention & Visitors Bureau effective July 1, in light of a new career opportunity. Fong says she is grateful for the support she has received over the last eight years at the ACCVB. Fong has accepted a position at Oakeson, Steiner and Lindsteadt where she will manage marketing and sales strategy starting July 1.  In the meantime the CVB Board of Directors is taking applications. A job description and application can be found at http://www.visithastingsnebraska.com/jobs.

UNK ends planning for new site called University Village

Posted: 04/17/14 08:24

The University Of Nebraska Kearney has completed the planning stage for development of the 104 acre site known as University Village. Barbara Johnson the Vice Chancellor for business and finance says the University Village provides numerous future development sites both at the University and in the community. With everything from residence halls to new construction projects Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse says it’s been a tremendously successful year for the University. Site construction on the University Village could begin as early as 2015

Nebraska legislature wrapping up today

Posted: 04/17/14 08:21

This afternoon, Governor Dave Heineman will deliver the sine die address to the legislature, marking the end of the legislative session. Yesterday he crossed the state, flying into Kearney to highlight what he’s calling their biggest accomplishment—tax relief. He called it ‘good’ legislative session… saving taxpayers money. District 33 State Sen. Les Seiler says despite some challenges, the legislature made strides and passed bills that will have a big impact on the State of Nebraska. As Senator Seiler looks back at this legislative session he’s disappointed more couldn’t be done in property tax relief.

Former Hall County prosecutor named judge in 5th district

Posted: 04/16/14 08:45

A former Hall County prosecutor has been named to fill an open district court judgeship in eastern Nebraska's 5th Judicial District. The office of Gov. Dave Heineman says he's selected 43-year-old Rachel Daugherty, of Grand Island. She's been in private practice in Grand Island since 2000. She holds a law degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln law school. She will replace Judge Michael Owens, who was appointed to the post in 1996.

Endorsements for Attorney General candidates

Posted: 04/16/14 08:46

State Senator and Republican candidate for Attorney General Pete Pirsch picked up a few South Central Nebraska endorsements yesterday. Another republican candidate for Attorney general announced an endorsement yesterday. Tom Osborne is backing Doug Peterson for the position. Petersen said in a press release, I am honored to have the endorsement of Tom Osborne in this campaign.  As a public official, Tom Osborne's focus was always on service, not politics.  That's exactly the kind of approach I want to bring to Nebraska's Attorney General's office.” Brian Buscher and Mike Hilgers will also be on the Republican ticket.

Farmland prices continue to rise in valuation

Posted: 04/16/14 08:44

Assessment of agricultural land continues to rise, adding to the disappointment farm groups are expressing about the legislative session.
The Nebraska Department of Revenue's Property Assessment Division reports the valuation of farmland for tax purposes rose nearly 30-percent between 2013 and 2014.
Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson says the assessment report comes on the heels of a legislative session that talked alot about reducing property taxes for farmers, but did little. Legislators did add 25-Million dollars to the 115-Million dollar Property Tax Credit Fund. They failed to move on a proposal to drop the assessed valuation of farmland from 75-percent of its market value to 65%. Gov. Heineman will be in Kearney today talking about the legislative sessions, taxes will likely come up.

Big change to the State Fair concert ticket program

Posted: 04/15/14 08:51

There is a new change to the Nebraska State Fair concert series this year: No lines, no waiting and no wristbands. Nebraska State Fair officials have announced they’ll be replacing the free wristband program with a reserved seat ticketing program. That means concertgoers will no longer need to stand in line to receive wristbands—something that will help those who live outside of the Grand Island area, and who were unable to make it to the fairgrounds for wristband distribution. State Fair executive director Joseph McDermott says even though there’s a $6 convenience fee, he thinks fairgoers will be happy with the change. And we had our first concert announcement today—The Nebraska State Fair says BJ Thomas will play older Nebraskans day.
Known for tunes like Raindrops Keep Fallin on my Head and Hooked on a Feeling, fair goers will get two chances to see Thomas perform--at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Wednesday August 27. Tickets will be available on August 4 at Etix.com or the Heartland Events Center Box Office in Grand Island.

Record early voting in Nebraska

Posted: 04/15/14 08:50

In the first five days of early voting for the 2014 primary, 23,447 requests have been made for early voting ballots. That’s according to Secretary of State John Gale. It’s the highest number of early voting ballots requested during a five day period in the last four Nebraska primaries. Registered voters in Nebraska can request an early voting ballot 120 days prior to the election. The first wave of ballots went out April 7. They are due back into the county election offices by the time polls close on Election Day. Now through May 12, Nebraska voters can also vote in person at their county election office.

Judgement over death of woman by prison bus in Lincoln

Posted: 04/15/14 08:49

A judge has given final approval to a $2 million state settlement with the family of a Lincoln woman who was struck and killed by a state prison van driven by an inmate. The settlement will go to the husband and son of 47-year-old Joyce Meeks, who was killed in the crash on June 25 in Lincoln. Last month legislators approved the payment as part of the state's annual claims bill. The inmate driver, Jeremy Dobbe, was seen speeding and swerving erratically before he struck Meeks' vehicle. Dobbe was driving to transport inmates as part of a state work-release program.

Cornfield artwork protests Keystone XL Pipeline

Posted: 04/14/14 09:09

The “Cowboy and Indian Alliance” is sending a message to President Obama—from a Nebraska cornfield. The 80-acre artwork, which was done last week and reads "Heartland(hash)NoKXL," is the latest protest environmentalists and landowners have employed against TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Bold Nebraska’s Jane Kleeb said they’re trying to get their voice heard again now… because it’s a critical time in the decision making process with the national interest phase coming to an end. The alliance heads to D.C. from the 22 through the 27th for a week of action called reject and protect. Members of the alliance fear the pipeline could contaminate groundwater and contribute to pollution. TransCanada has said the pipeline will have upgraded safety measures, including remote control shut-off valves and frequent inspections. It has already built the southern leg of the pipeline between Oklahoma and Texas.