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Stabbing Suspect to Undergo Evaluation

An Ohio man accused of stabbing an Elm Creek man several times during an altercation last month will undergo a psychological evaluation.

Attorneys for Caleb McDonald recently filed a motion in Buffalo County Court that their client be evaluated because he may be mentally incompetent to stand trial. McDonald faces multiple charges including felony first-degree assault for allegedly stabbing Johnny Quintana on April 3.

A judge granted the evaluation at Monday's hearing. McDonald remains jailed on $500,000 bond.

Teens in Grand Island Arrested on Suspicion of Burglary

Police in Grand Island have arrested three teenagers on suspicion of burglary.

Police arrested two 15-year-olds and a 16-year-old and also referred another 15-year-old to juvenile court. Police say a burglary was reported at a Grand Island home from which several items were taken. Capt. Dean Elliott says police have recovered some of those items, which included weapons.

According to police, a neighbor who was mowing his lawn saw the suspects fleeing the house and provided a partial license plate number. Authorities also said they recovered two items that had been taken from Grand Island Senior High after speaking with one of the suspects.

The suspects were transported to a juvenile detention center in Madison.

Sentencing Set For Lexington Shooting Suspect

A June sentencing has been scheduled for a 26-year-old man convicted for an exchange of gunshots with Lexington police.

Jose Covarrubias pleaded no contest and was convicted on four counts last week. A weapons charge was dropped in exchange for his pleas. He'll be sentenced on June 29.

Police say officers checking on a disturbance last July saw Covarrubias fire a handgun at a woman fleeing a house. The officers say he fired at their vehicles, and one officer returned fire before Covarrubias fled. A child was treated at a hospital for a minor injury from an apparent ricochet.

Authorities say Covarrubias was captured in September in Laredo, Texas, at the U.S.-Mexico border as he tried to return to this country.

Hastings Officials Considering Zero Waste Resolution

Hastings city officials say the community needs to do a better job recycling and decrease waste.

Council members heard from two people in the waste management industry at Monday's work session who pointed out where the city could improve their efforts. Nearly 85 percent of the waste at the Hastings Landfill could be recycled or composted.

Minetta Khan, CCC Sustainability Coordinator is encouraging the city to hire its own sustainability coordinator to aid with the efforts. The challenge for the city is a solid waste landfill that is projecting to be filled to capacity and close by 2034.

Khan and City Attorney David Ptak plan to draft a Zero Waste resolution which they hope to bring forward to the city council.

Gov. Ricketts Signs Tougher Legislation on Human Traffickers

Governor Ricketts has signed into law tougher penalties for human traffickers.

On Monday, he approved LB294 which allows prosecutors to file more severe felony charges against traffickers, including those who use threats or violence, and those who target victims younger than 16 years old. The law also allows victims or their parents to sue the traffickers.

Supporters called the bill a public health issue and pointed to reports citing weak enforcement in the state.

The bill by Sen. Jim Scheer was one of the main proposals backed by Attorney General Doug Peterson this year.

Dreamer's Licenses Set for Final Vote

Immigrant youths brought into the country illegally as children could soon get driver's licenses in Nebraska.

Lawmakers yesterday advanced a bill to a final vote despite a four-hour filibuster. Nebraska is currently the only state that does not issue licenses to youths who stayed in the country under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, approved by President Obama in 2012.

Supporters say the youths contribute to the state's economy. Some conservative senators argue that the bill rewards illegal behavior. The Dreamer's License bill advanced by a 37-9 margin.

Governor Ricketts said he supports the current law, but has not said whether or not he'd veto the measure if it gets past a final vote.

Free Breakfast to be Offered at Hastings Middle School

Free breakfast will be offered next school year at Hastings Middle School. The school board approved the program at last night's meeting.

Director of Finance Jeff Schneider said the district was hoping for a grab-and-go breakfast that students could take with them to class, but due to logistics, it made more sense to offer breakfast before school.

"Breakfast will be before school at 7:45 a.m. just as it is now. We'll re-evaluate that at the end of next year. We believe our plan is to go forward with breakfast in the classroom the following year. The reasons are both logistical and financial," Schneider said.

Board member Dr. Jessica Meeske (Me-skee) says federal guidelines already dictate what schools can offer from a nutritional standpoint. She says in addition the district takes extra steps to ensure kids are getting a healthy option.

"We sit down at least twice a year and we have a food advisory committee. It's made up of teachers, students, parents and those that work for the food vendor. We talk about what those healthier choices are going to look like and what kids seem to like. There's a good system already in place," Meeske said.

Free breakfast will be available to all middle school students. In addition, last month the school board approved a free breakfast program for next year at Lincoln Elementary. Meeske says at the end of next year, the board will look at whether the program can be implemented district wide.

Good Samaritan Cancer Center Purchases New Radiotherapy System

The CHI Health Cancer Care at Good Samaritan recently installed and began using a new state-of-the-art radiotherapy system, called TrueBeam by Varian Medical Systems. The new unit replaces the existing system that was installed 10 years ago.

TrueBeam STx is an advanced radiotherapy system that delivers treatment with better speed and accuracy for doctors. It also gives doctors the flexibility to customize treatments for a patient's particular cancer.

It was purchased through a $3.3 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. The hospital also invested in the project by paying for necessary renovation costs to accommodate the new equipment.

Pharmacy Arsonist Charged With Two Separate Offenses

A man charged with starting a fire at a Minden pharmacy in March has been charged with a similar offense at a Ravenna pharmacy.

35-year-old Aaron Stones of Kearney is charged with felony second-degree arson at Pedley Drug Pharmacy in Minden on March 27th. He's currently being held in the Kearney County Jail.

According to court documents on March 25th, the Ravenna Fire Department was called to a fire at Svanda Pharmacy. The fire was contained to the rear door area with the wood door frame being completely destroyed.

Two days later, another fire was reported at Pedley Drug in Minden. In that case the fire marshal found evidence of incendiary fires at both the front windows and rear door of the building. It was further determined that aluminum-based powders and a red-colored powdered chemical were used to set the fire.

If convicted Stones could face between one to 20 years in prison on each charge.

Planting Season On Schedule in South Central Nebraska

In our area, Blue Hill farmer Lance Atwater says the soil moisture is in great condition, thanks to the abundant rain we've received.

"These last few rains we've had have been great for recharging the soil moisture and ground conditions are pretty good. We've been lucky to have the rain we had to help get the crop growing and get it started," Atwater said.

Some farmers in the southeastern part of the state had to replant due to recent flooding. Atwater says luckily the flooding occurred earlier in the planting season rather than later.

"If it's earlier like first part of May or late April a lot of farmers will have the opportunity to replant the crops if they get flooded out or hailed out. As we move into the growing season, late May and into June your options start to become more limited as to what crop you can plant," Atwater said.

Most of the planting in our area finished up last week.

NEMA Requests FEMA Review of Storm Damage

The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency has requested that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) work with them and local emergency managers to review the damage from this month's storms.

Heavy rains, large hail, damaging winds, flooding and tornadoes destroyed public power systems and infrastructure in 10 Nebraska counties including Adams and Nuckolls. Teams will begin assessing the damage on May 25.

The assessments will determine whether or not disaster recovery is within the state's capabilities.

Hall County Approves Cremation-Only Services

Hall County supervisors have unanimously approved a measure to provide cremation-only services for people who die in the county and are indigent.

The 7-0 vote came at this morning's meeting. Hall County has been paying funeral homes over $1,000 per indigent funeral since 1986. The county will also raise the 29-year-old reimbursement rate from $1,470 to $1,750

According to claims data from the Hall County Clerk's Office, the county has been averaging about 22 indigent funerals costing about $40,000 a year.

State Patrol Enforcement Removes Impaired Drivers in Hall County

Two impaired drivers were taken off the road during a special weekend enforcement conducted by the Nebraska State Patrol in Hall County.

The special enforcement, which included high visibility patrols and a vehicle check, took place in Hall County during the afternoon and evening hours on Saturday, May 16 and the early morning hours on Sunday, May 17.

In addition to the two Driving While Intoxicated arrests, citations and warnings were issued for a variety of offenses including speeding, driving under suspension, driving with no license, no proof of insurance, no registration. At least one minor was cited for being in possession of alcohol and one person was cited for open container.

The special enforcement was made possible by a $2,375 grant from the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Launches Remodel For Kids Fundraiser

A Hastings non-profit agency is beginning a month-long campaign today which they hope will be a huge success.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is launching their Remodel for Kids fundraiser. Ticket buyers can enter a drawing for a chance to win a $10,000 home remodel or $7,500 cash. Raffle tickets are available for $50 a piece at any Five Points Bank location, the Big Brothers Big Sisters office or by contacting any board member.

The drawing will take place June 18 at the Lark, in conjunction with a Business After Hours. Other prizes will also be awarded for 2nd through 5th place. Big Brothers Big Sisters is a one-to-one mentoring program that matches children and youth facing adversity with adult mentors and given professional support during their time together. The organization has been part of Hastings for over 55 years.

Wilcox Marine Confirmed Dead in Nepal

Over the weekend, family members of a South Central Nebraska marine confirmed that he was killed while on a relief mission in Nepal last week.

Keith Lukasiewicz, father of Captain Dustin Lukasiewicz, said his family was notified of Dustin's death on Saturday. The Wilcox native was on Huey helicopter with five other marines and two Nepalese soldiers when the chopper went down.

All eight bodies have now been recovered. The helicopter disappeared Tuesday while delivering aid to victims of the second earthquake to hit Nepal in less than a month.

Strip Club Owner Sues Hall County Officials, Petitioners

A man who wants to open a strip club near Grand Island has sued opponents to his plan and the Hall County Board of Supervisors.

Attorneys for Shane Harrington, of Lincoln, filed the lawsuit Friday. He's seeking $10 million in monetary damages and $100 million in punitive damages. Named in the suit are several individuals, business owners, church leaders and others who signed a petition against the proposal.

Harrington's lawsuit includes allegations of defamation, interference with business relationships, antitrust violations and constitutional violations regarding free speech, equal protection and due process.

Harrington also wants a judgment against restrictions for sexual-oriented businesses in the Hall County zoning resolutions. KHAS Radio reached out to Hall County Attorney Jack Zitterkopf's office Monday morning, but they said they are not commenting on the case.

Grand Island Motorcyclist Killed in Collision

Police have released the name of the victim of yesterday's deadly motorcycle crash in Grand Island.

39-year-old Todd Schlender of Grand Island was pronounced dead at the scene after his motorcycle collided with an SUV. Police say the SUV turned into the Skate Island parking lot along Webb Road around 4:30 p.m. The man was run over and the fire department had to use the Jaws of Life to remove his body.

The driver of the vehicle, 27-year-old Ruby Orozco of Grand Island will be referred on charges of Failure to Yield Right of Way on a left turn.

Woman Unharmed After Rollover Crash Near Shelton

Buffalo County Sheriff's Authorities say a woman had to be freed from her vehicle after she lost control and overturned on a county road north of Shelton Sunday afternoon.

At around 3 p.m., sheriff's deputies were dispatched to a report of a single vehicle rollover accident near Shelton Road and 220th Road. A preliminary investigation revealed the woman was traveling north when she lost control and overturned. The woman was pulled from the vehicle, but was not taken to the hospital.

The accident remains under investigation.

Officials Monitoring Platte River from Kearney to Grand Island

Parts of western and central Nebraska are bracing for flooding conditions this week.

Flood Warnings along local rivers are expected to last for several days. Officials are continuing to monitor the water levels along the Platte River, especially in western Nebraska near Ogallala and North Platte as both areas have been under flood warnings for the past week.

Officials are also monitoring the water levels further to the east as the potential for flooding exists near Kearney and nearby areas. Buffalo County Emergency Manager Darrin Lewis was out monitoring water levels Monday along the Platte River between Shelton and Elm Creek:

"We are expecting higher flows in the river. As of yesterday at the Kearney bridge we were at 5.8 feet. The flood stage for Kearney is 6 feet. They expect the river to crest at 6.2 feet, so that would be slightly above flood stage," Lewis said.

Although major flooding is not expected at this time, local officials still plan to monitor the situation closely as long as river levels continue to rise:

"It's not something that we're entirely worried about at this time. We're going to monitor it. We've seen much higher waters over 7 feet in the past years and have had little low-land flooding into the wooded areas," Lewis said.

Meanwhile downstream into Hall County, Emergency Manager Jon Rosenlund says he doesn't expect any issues with flooding there this week. A flood warning remains in effect from Deuel County to Hall County along the Platte River.

Adams County emergency manager Chip Volcek also says there is no concern of flooding right now in Adams County.

UNK Student to Stand Trial For Alleged Sexual Assault

A University of Nebraska-Kearney student charged with sexually assaulting an acquaintance at a UNK residence hall in April will stand trial in Buffalo County District Court.

Twenty-year-old Jorge Gutierrez-Alavez of Lexington was scheduled to appear in Buffalo County Court this morning for a preliminary hearing, which was waived with the case now being bound over to district court.

Alavez was charged with first-degree sexual assault in connection with an incident that occurred on April 26th at a UNK residence hall. According to police reports, Alavez and the 21-year-old victim were recent acquaintances.

Court documents pertaining to the case have been sealed to protect the victim's identity.

Officials Say Likely No Survivors in Marine Helicopter Crash

President Obama is expressing condolences to the families of six Marines and two Nepalese army soldiers who were in a helicopter that crashed during a relief mission in an earthquake-ravaged region of Nepal.

Obama says the Marines "represent a truth that guides our work around the world: When our friends are in need, America helps."

Nepalese rescuers on Friday found three bodies near the wreckage of the Marine helicopter. It had disappeared earlier this week, and officials said it was unlikely there were any survivors from the crash.

Among those on board was Captain Dustin Lukasiewich (Luke-uh-sav-itch) of Wilcox. Lukasiewicz is a 2003 graduate of Wilcox-Hildreth High School. The family says they appreciate all the prayers and support from the community.

Obama addressed the crash victims today during remarks at the National Peace Officers' Memorial Service outside the U.S. Capitol.

Walmart Evacuated After Slight Gas Leak

The Hastings Walmart store was briefly evacuated this morning due to a small gas leak.

Members of the Hastings Fire Department and Hastings Utilities both responded to the scene early this morning after an employee handling heavy equipment struck an internal gas line which began leaking.

As a precaution, around 6 a.m., Walmart employees decided to clear everyone out of the store. Steve Cogley with Hastings Utilities says employees set up fans to move air and began letting people back into the store around 8 a.m.

Gas was shut off to the store while repairs were made. Officials were on scene until about noon.

A University of Nebraska-Kearney student charged with sexually assaulting an acquaintance at a UNK residence hall in April will stand trial in Buffalo County District Court.

Twenty-year-old Jorge Gutierrez-Alavez of Lexington was scheduled to appear in Buffalo County Court this morning for a preliminary hearing, which was waived with the case now being bound over to district court.

Alavez was charged with first-degree sexual assault in connection with an incident that occurred on April 26th at a UNK residence hall. According to police reports, Alavez and the 21-year-old victim were recent acquaintances.

Court documents pertaining to the case have been sealed to protect the victim's identity.

Accused Puppy Killer Enters No Contest Plea

A July sentencing has been scheduled for a 57-year-old Florida woman convicted of drowning a puppy in a south-central Nebraska airport restroom.

Cynthia Anderson, of Florida, pleaded no contest on Thursday and was convicted of cruel neglect of animal, resulting in its death. She faces up to five years in prison on the felony charge. Her sentencing is set for July 30.

On Jan. 23 Anderson was barred from boarding a flight at the Central Nebraska Regional Airport in Grand Island because the puppy was so young and not properly contained.

Authorities say Anderson then was seen entering the restroom. Another woman soon reported finding a dead Doberman puppy in a toilet.

Nepal Officials Locate Missing Helicopter

Family members of a Marine Corps helicopter pilot from Central Nebraska are holding out hope that he'll come home safely.

So far nothing's been heard from Capt. Dustin Lukasiewicz (Luke-uh-sav-itch) since a U.S. Marine helicopter went missing Tuesday in Nepal. Army officials have located the wreckage of the missing chopper and Nepal's Defense Secretary Iswori Poudyal (Is-war-ee Pood-yall) says three bodies have been found. Altogether six U.S. Marines were on board the chopper along with two Nepalese army soldiers when it disappeared.

Lukasiewicz is a 2003 graduate of Wilcox-Hildreth High School. He has lots of family still in the Wilcox area including a pregnant wife. The helicopter was delivering supplies to victims of the deadly earthquakes that rocked Nepal this past month.

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