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Educator conference begins in Kearney

More than 1,000 school administrators and education leaders will attend an education conference in Kearney this week. Administrators' Days begins today and wraps up on Friday. Among the speakers at the conference will be Nebraska Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt, who will address the group Wednesday morning with a presentation titled, "Systems to Support Every Student, Every Day." Nebraska Department of Education staff also will provide information on numerous topics and issues during breakout sessions throughout today's portion of the conference.

Collision south of Doniphan leaves 1 dead

Authorities say a collision between a pickup and a sport utility vehicle has killed one person and injured three in south-central Nebraska's Hall County. The accident occurred a little before 7:45 p.m. on U.S. Highway 281 south of Doniphan. Nebraska State Patrol Lt. Jeff Pelowski says the SUV was headed south when it went out of control, crossed the median and hit the pickup. The names of the person killed and the three who were hurt have not been released. The three injured people were taken to St. Francis Medical Center in Grand Island.

West Nile found in Hastings

Mosquitoes collected in Adams County have tested positive for West Nile virus.  Michele Bever, Executive Director for South Heartland District Health Department reported Tuesday that mosquitoes collected on July 18 in the Hastings area tested positive for West Nile virus. Mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus can pass the virus to humans and other animals when they bite. Jessica Werner w/ the SHDHD says while most experience mild symptoms about 1% of people infected may develop more serious illness. Desiree Rinne the education coordinator with the SHDHD continues to encourage people to protect themselves from mosquito bites to prevent West Nile illness. This is the sixth consecutive year that mosquitoes collected in Adams County have tested positive for West Nile virus.

GIPS looks to bond issue for school upgrades

The community committee to help pass a $69.9 million mail-in bond issue for Grand Island Public Schools announced its leadership at a press conference yesterday morning at Jefferson Elementary, one of seven schools involved with the bond issue. The 7 projects include completely rebuilding 3 schools, renovating and expanding 3 other schools and renovating the 100 wing at GI Senior High. Ballots for the fall bond issue will be sent out Aug. 20 and are due back to the election office by 5 p.m. Sept. 9. 

Questions raised about Farm Bureau endorsement of Sasse

Nonpartisan U.S. Senate candidate Jim Jenkins, sent a letter to the Nebraska Farm Bureau yesterday questioning their endorsement of Ben Sasse in the U.S. Senate race to replace retiring Senator Mike Johanns. In the letter Jenkins writes… "While I realize that the Nebraska Farm Bureau decided to endorse Mr. Sasse early on, I would like to place my rural resume in front of you and allow you to compare it to that of Mr. Sasse who, while very intellectual, has virtually no agricultural or private sector experience and a very thin Nebraska resume, having moved back to the state only five years ago."

That letter sparked a response from Steve Nelson the President of the Nebraska Farm Bureau who said "Our next U.S. Senator will face many challenges. One of the largest is tackling the issue of runaway federal spending and government growth. The future prosperity of Nebraska farm and ranch families is dependent on Congress' ability to get our country's fiscal house in order, which has a direct connection to the development of sound farm policy.  We believe Ben Sasse is the right person to address this critical issue and with that ensure, we continue to have federal farm policy that meets the needs of farmers, ranchers and all Americans who benefit from the food, fuel and fiber derived from agriculture."

Republican United States Senate candidate Ben Sasse says he understands why independent candidates might have an appeal for voters this fall.
Two independents have joined the November ballot with Sasse and Democrat Dave Domina. Sasse says voters have seen enough of the two parties which dominate Washington. Both Jim Jenkins of Callaway and Todd Watson of Lincoln have qualified for the ballot.

Prison mistakes cause millions in losses for the state

Nebraska prison officials say the errors made in calculating sentences for hundreds of inmates will cost the state at least $4 million, but at least one lawmaker says the cost is likely to be higher. The state Department of Correctional Services released a preliminary cost estimate on Friday.
The miscalculated sentences of nearly 600 people were discovered earlier this month after it was reported that the state was using a flawed formula in cases involving mandatory minimum sentences. Officials estimate that correcting the sentences will cost the state about $4 million over the next decade and as much as $10 million through 2064. But Omaha state Sen. Heath Mello, who leads the Appropriations Committee, says he thinks officials are understating the costs.

Hall County Jail becomes first agency to not honor immigration detentions

Fear of being sued has led Hall County's jail to become Nebraska's first law enforcement agency to stop honoring federal "immigration detentions." Other Nebraska counties may follow suit, thanks in part to efforts by civil rights organizations. The 48-hour immigration detainers are issued to local law enforcement by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. They ask that immigrants who have been arrested be held for two days after they would normally be released to give federal officials time to initiate an investigation and take the person into custody for deportation, if necessary.
The practice is under scrutiny, and several agencies around the country have stopped complying with the requests. Hall County jail director Fred Ruiz said the move followed consultation with attorneys for the county and its insurance carrier.

Johanns confronts EPA

Senator Johanns joined other Republican senators in confronting EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, arguing against expansion of the Clean Water Act which could lead to the regulation of ponds and streams on farms. Johanns says Republicans expressed frustration with what he calls a long list of regulatory burdens against agriculture. Johanns says a proposed expansion of the Clean Water Act could cost farmers in both permit fees and fines.

Keystone protesters begin walk across country

Protesters who support climate change legislation and who oppose the Keystone X-L pipeline project are marching across the country today. A group of protesters led by BOLD Nebraska will march to the state capital in Lincoln. BOLD's Jane Kleeb says they're delivering one-thousand petition signatures which ask the governor to disclose the contents of oil trains and oil pipelines. Kleeb says while opposition to Trans Canada's X-L pipeline project is growing, she doesn't expect a decision from President Obama on the project anytime soon. Kleeb says the Nebraska Supreme Court on September 5th will hear a case involving a state law that allowed the routing of the Keystone XL project through Nebraska.

Fires continue to break out in Central Nebraska

Gibbon officials say damage from the fire that destroyed several vehicle and a city shop building wasn't as bad as feared, but still will slow routine maintenance and other projects this summer. The city lost four pickups and a street sweeper in Tuesday's blaze. City Administrator Chris Rector says it likely will be months before all the vehicles and tools are replaced. A wire in the engine compartment in one of the city pickups is the suspected cause.

A fire broke out yesterday afternoon at the Sutton Bus Barn. Officials say the fire broke out around 2PM, and was under control an hour later. There were no injuries in the blaze however, two buses and the building are a total loss and the damage is estimated to be at least 500 thousand dollars.

Perkins opens in Hastings

The Perkins family restaurant has now opened there doors for customers. Nick Rayfelt the VP for Cyhawk hospitality says this restaurant is one that not only the community wanted but he believes was needed in the Hastings community. Rayfelt says this opening will provide a good boost to the local economy. The Hastings location adds to the 10 Perkins restaurants in the state of Nebraska.

Gibbon City Maintenance Building a total loss after fire

The city maintenance building in Gibbon is a total loss after a fire started in a pickup and spread. City Administrator Chris Rector in the city of 1,800 people says the building was reported in flames at 9:20 p.m. Tuesday. The fire was extinguished about four hours later. A wire in the engine compartment in one of the city pickups is the suspected cause. Rector says four pickups, a street sweeper, and the city's front end loader was a total loss. A road grader and a dump truck also have extensive damage and could also be totaled. Rector said the building is also likely a total loss. He estimates damage from $400,000 to $500,000.

Lawmaker's face a general fund shortfall

Nebraska lawmakers may have to add money to the state's general fund when they convene next year. A legislative report says the state faces a projected shortfall of nearly $4.6 million for the new budget year that began this month. Despite the estimate, state officials say Nebraska's overall finances are in good shape. The state is expected to see a record-high cash reserve of $707.8 million.

Fire in Hastings, quick thinking neighbor helps kids

Quick thinking by a neighbor Wednesday afternoon alerted two children that their house was on fire. Denise Kamper says that her neighbor then called 911. Hastings Fire and Rescue was able to put out the fire in the attached garage at 38 Sara Dr., but not before it started to spread.  Fire Chief Kent Gilbert said that even though the house didn't burn too badly, there is damage. Chief Gilbert said it was up to the five members of the Kamper family and the American Red Cross to determine if they were going to say in the house Wednesday night.

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