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Second Ebola Patient Released From Omaha Hospital

An American video journalist who has recovered from Ebola has been released from an Omaha hospital and is headed home.

Nebraska Medical Center officials say Ashoka Mukpo was released around 9 a.m. Wednesday from the hospital's biocontainment unit. In a statement read at a news conference today, Mukpo said, in part: "Today is a joyful day."

The hospital said Tuesday that Mukpo's blood tested negative for the virus. He had arrived at the Nebraska Medical Center on Oct. 6 and was the second Ebola patient to be treated there. The first, Dr. Rick Sacra, has also recovered.

Hastings City Council Considering Ban on E-Cigarettes

The Hastings City Council is considering adding vapor cigarettes to the city's smoking ban.

The council held about a 15 minute study session yesterday to discuss the matter. The ban was proposed back in June after officials raised concerns about the increased use of E-cigarettes in public. The city banned smoking in public parks back in 2012.

No vote took place yesterday. Another study session will take place in January.

Drowning Death of Hastings Man Ruled Accidental

Hastings authorities have completed their investigation into the drowning death of a Good Samaritan Village resident over the weekend.

Police say 92-year old Paul "Jack" Largent wandered away from his apartment at Good Samaritan Village and fell into a small pond. His body was found around 7:30 a.m. Saturday. They say it appears to be accidental.

Hastings Police Sgt. Steven Murphy says Largent suffered from dementia.

Hastings Police Arrest Man Using Counterfeit Bills

Hastings Police have arrested a man they believe tried to pass counterfeit $100 bills two days in a row.

55-year old Jose Llerena is charged with first degree forgery charges. Police believe he passed the first bill Monday at Uncle Neals on Burlington Avenue. Sergeant Steven Murphy says an investigation led an officer to the man. He was trying to pass a second bill at Uncle Neal's on 2nd Avenue yesterday.

Sgt. Murphy says the serial numbers on the two bills matched. The source of the counterfeit bills is under investigation.

Hastings Utilities Warns of New Scam

Hastings Utilities is warning of a new scam that's been circulating around the country and has now made it to Hastings.

Two customers were contacted yesterday by a group calling themselves "The Interruption Team." They told both businesses that their bills were overdue and that they needed to pay by credit card within the next hour or they would be shutoff. The person calling identified themselves as "John Cooper" and indicated that they were collectors on behalf of Hastings Utilities.

Steve Cogley, Customer Relations Coordinator with Hastings Utilities says that's not how his company works and says Hastings Utilities does would never operate in this manner and has never employed an outside agency to do so on their behalf.

Broken Bow Schools Give OK to Guns in Senior Pictures

One Central Nebraska school district has said ok to guns in senior pictures.

The Broken Bow school board voted unanimously last night in favor of the policy after an issue arose last year where a student was denied that option. Broken Bow hosts the annual One Box Pheasant Hunt each year and hunting is very popular among residents in the community.

Superintendent Mark Sievering says a lot of discussion was put into the board's decision and they decided it could be done in a tasteful manner. This was the second reading of the policy.

The new policy does not change the school's policy on bringing guns to school. That remains illegal.

Students will not be allowed to brandish or point the guns at the cameras in their pictures. If they do, the pictures will not be used in school publications.

Four Adams County Businesses Found Non-Compliant

The Nebraska State Patrol conducted compliance checks at 62 businesses in Adams and Webster Counties last Friday.

Of the 49 businesses checked in Adams County, four were found to be non-compliant after selling alcohol to a minor, including three in Hastings. The three Hastings businesses included Walgreen's, Los Caporales and El Toro Mexican Restaurant. Cow Town Saloon in Holstein was also cited for non-compliance. All 13 businesses checked in Webster County as well as the other 45 in Adams County were found to be in compliance.

These checks are routinely done to ensure that businesses are complying with the state's alcohol laws.

Mild Weather Helping Farmers Harvest Efforts

Recent mild weather has helped Nebraska farmers make good progress on harvesting their crops. The U.S.D.A says more soybeans are being harvested now because farmers are waiting for corn to dry out a bit more. But the corn harvest is underway. Roughly 69 percent of the soybeans have been harvested. That's behind last year's 77 percent and the average of 81 percent at this time of year. About 28 percent of Nebraska's corn has been harvested. That's similar to last year but well behind the average of 45 percent harvested at this point in the fall.

Plane Makes Emergency Landing in Grand Island

No injuries were reported after an airplane made an emergency landing yesterday at the Central Nebraska Regional Airport. The Allegiant plane was carrying six people, including two pilots and four passengers. The plane was flying from North Platte to Sioux City, Iowa when the plane's heat warning light came on. The plane landed safely at around 3:30 p.m. and was not damaged. Mechanics inspected the plane. The Grand Island Fire Department responded as a precaution.

Hastings School Board Recognizes Three Heroes

The Hastings Public School Board met last night in regular session. While the board approved several finance measures, it was the Superintendent's Good News report that captured the public at a jam packed city chamber hall Monday night.

Superintendent Craig Kautz brought three school officials forward last night who are being dubbed as local heroes. Annie Consbruck, Pam Ripperger and Jimmie Combs were commended for their efforts in responding to a student who had stopped breathing. Because of their efforts, the student's life was saved. He was transported safely to a local hospital and he is now doing well. Kautz introduced the three to a roaring applause and standing ovation.

In other business, the board approved an engineering contract with Kucirek Engineering and an architectural contract with Cannon Moss Architects for the elementary school renovations.

BNSF Investigating Derailment In Waco

BNSF Railway officials are trying to determine what caused a coal train to partially derail in York County.

Mounds of spilled coal shut down two tracks and a street in Waco on Sunday. A railway spokesman says the train was headed east when 28 of its 119 cars derailed. All but one of the derailed cars landed on their sides. There were no injuries reported.

The spokesman says it will likely take a few days to clean up the coal.

First Confirmed Flu Cases Hit Nebraska

It's unfortunately that time of the year again where we start mentioning the F-word. The "flu" is officially here in Nebraska.

The first confirmed cases of the season have been reported to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. All three cases are in Douglas County. Dr. Tom Safranek, the State Epidemiologist says it's possible now that the flu could spread very quickly.

"We wouldn't be surprised to see anybody come down with the flu now that we've seen it arrive, but I would say that in general we see these sporadic cases that are pretty uncommon until the year progresses and we get into December and January where flu season takes off," Safranek said.

The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated for the flu in the fall, or as soon as the vaccine is available. The CDC also says children between 2 and 8 years old should receive the nasal spray vaccine. Dr. Safranek says they can sometimes be more effective than the shot itself.

"These nasal vaccines are great. It looks like they are quite a bit more effective, in kids at least. We've been able to run studies in kids 2 to 8 years old and they should preferentially be getting the flu mist," Safranek said.

To find out if the nasal spray vaccine is available, Dr. Safranek says just ask your healthcare provider. However parents should not delay vaccination if the nasal spray isn't available. Severe cases of the flu can lead to hospitalization and even death.

The DHHS officially started flu surveillance Sept. 28. Surveillance shows where the flu is and how quickly it's spreading across the state.

Nuckolls County Crash Sends Seven to Hospitals

Seven people were hospitalized yesterday following a two-vehicle crash in Nuckolls County.

The accident occurred at approximately 12:30 p.m. A sheriff's investigation showed that a southbound Dodge Ram pickup collided with a northbound Ford Expedition, south of Superior on a road commonly referred to as the Webber Black Top. The collision forced the SUV to flip onto its side. Authorities continue to investigate the crash. They say it's likely that mechanical failure to the front passenger wheel of the pickup caused the vehicle to veer across the center line into the SUV.

The driver of the SUV, Jerry McMeen of Webber, KS was transported by helicopter to a Lincoln hospital with head injuries. McMeen's four daughters were taken to Brodstone Hospital in Superior. The driver of the pickup, Darrel Kile and his passenger Short Shambaugh, both of Superior were also transported to Brodstone Hospital.

Kearney Police and FBI Searching For Bank Robbery Suspects

Kearney Police and the FBI are investigating an armed robbery which took place this morning at a Kearney credit union.

Authorities responded to reports of the robbery at Kearney Eaton Employees Federal Credit Union on East Highway 30 at around 9:22 a.m.

Police are searching for two black males. The first is between 6-0 and 6-2, 175-190 pounds with short hair. He was seen wearing a black long sleeve shirt, blue jeans, tan boots, wearing a white construction hard hat and a blue backpack. The other is between 5-9 and 6-0, 160-180 pounds with short hair. He was wearing a long blue sleeve shirt, blue jeans and a white hard hat as well. One was armed with a hand gun. Both escaped on foot. The two men left with an undisclosed amount of money.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Kearney Police Department at 308-237-2104 or Crime Stoppers at 308-237-3424.

Kearney Police have released these images of the suspects.

Juniata Woman Claims Lottery Prize

The Nebraska Lottery has announced a Juniata woman was the winner of a $100,000 prize off a scratch lottery ticket. Lottery officials say the winning ticket was purchased at Ampride South in Hastings. There are three $100,000 top prizes for the Turquoise Treasures lottery game. Ginger Ogle becomes the second to win the prize. She told lottery officials, "I had to ask a coworker to pinch me so I knew it was real." Ogle plans to pay bills and buy a car with her winnings.

Local Delegates Aim to Persuade Federal Government to Stop Vets Home From Moving

Three members of a local delegation returned home from a lobbying trip to Washington, where they told federal officials the Grand Island Veterans Home should be remodeled instead of giving way to a new home in Kearney. Mayor Jay Vavricek, Hall County Supervisor Pam Lancaster and Veterans Service Officer Don Shuda handed out booklets with a letter requesting that the federal officials intercede in behalf of Nebraska and deny funding the relocation of the home. Gov. Dave Heineman's announcement to replace the home with the Kearney project has been met with a lot of resistance in Hall County.

Liquor Control Commission Wants Jurisdiction Over Party Buses

The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission chairman says his agency should have jurisdiction over party buses. Chairman Bob Batt's remarks come days after a Doniphan man was struck and killed while walking on Interstate 80 near Lincoln after riding a party bus. The jurisdiction over party buses currently falls under the Nebraska Public Service Commission. Batt says the state's liquor commission is the right agency to handle them.

Synthetic Marijuana Blamed for Cardiac Arrest in Holdrege

A Holdrege man is in critical condition after smoking synthetic marijuana and going into cardiac arrest. Around 6 a.m. Wednesday, Holdrege Police responded to an 18-year old who was vomiting and had stopped breathing. He was flown to Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney. A preliminary investigation suggests that he was smoking synthetic marijuana, also known as K-2 or spice, right before going into cardiac arrest. Police say K-2 has been linked to two Nebraska deaths since 2012.

Party Buses Posing New Questions

There have been a lot of questions regarding party buses after the tragic death of a Nebraska Wesleyan University student last weekend. Officials believe that 22 year old Maury Lorence of Doniphan was left behind at a truck stop and while walking along I-80 near Lincoln he was hit by several vehicles.

This brings up the question of the responsibility of the bus company.

Joe Bisgard is the owner of Party Express Bus Nebraska and says they are not a bar on wheels and do not serve or sell alcohol on board.

The person who rents the bus and signs the contract is responsible for those on board. Bisgard says it's unfortunate, but people get left behind all the time.

The bus company encourages passengers have a buddy system so passengers are not left behind. He says they also have a company policy to drop those on board off at home or at a hotel so they don't get behind the wheel intoxicated.

UNO Grant to Help At-Risk Youth in Rural Nebraska

The University of Nebraska at Omaha has received a $1.3 million federal grant to send graduate students in social work to rural Nebraska areas to help at-risk youth with behavioral health concerns.

The grant is one of the largest received by the school and comes from the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration. Nebraska employs nearly 1,900 social workers with a focus on child, family or school issues and only 420 health and substance abuse social workers.

The grant will provide $10,000 stipends for the graduate students who practice in rural areas.

Early Voting Numbers Up

Early voting continues to fare well in Nebraska, according to Secretary of State John Gale.

Gale's office says that 33 percent of early voting ballots have been returned or cast in person at county election offices. That's higher than the 24 percent rate at the same time of the 2012 presidential election. Early voting by mail lasts for 35 days in Nebraska and 30 days for those voting in person.

Gale stressed that the last day to make a request for a ballot to be mailed is Oct. 29. The last day to register by mail is Oct. 17 and the last day to register to vote in person is Oct. 24.

Veterans Health Administration Giving Free Flu Shots to Vets

With the flu season upon us, the Veterans Health Administration is pushing to make sure all veterans are covered.

VA Healthcare facilities across Nebraska are offering free flu shots to veterans. Will Ackerman, Public Affairs Officer for the VA-Nebraska-Western Iowa Healthcare System says all veterans need to be enrolled in their system to be eligible.

The walk-in flu clinic in Grand Island is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Nov. 21. The Holdrege location is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Free flu shots are also available at select Walgreen's locations. Ackerman says it's a new partnership between the VA and the pharmacy chain. They are hopeful to reach more veterans that live further away from VA hospitals in Central Nebraska.

Ackerman says most Walgreen's locations are honoring free flu shots for veterans nationwide.

Truck Driver Pleads Not Guilty to Manslaughter in Clay County

A truck driver has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges in the crash deaths of three family members in Clay County.

Online court records say 53-year-old Kenneth Johnson on pleaded not guilty Wednesday to three counts of manslaughter and one count of being a habitual criminal. His next scheduled court date is Nov. 12.

Authorities say that on Aug. 28 Johnson was driving south on Highway 14 when his semitrailer struck an SUV at the Highway 14 & 6 junction. Three Hastings family members killed including Gary Isom, his wife Susan and their daughter Tiffany. The couple's teenage son survived the collision.

Ravenna Man Sentenced in Child Sex Abuse Case

A 33-year old Ravenna man who was convicted of incest and sexually assaulting a child has been given 15 to 25 years in prison. The incident happened in Kearney between Aug. 31 and Sept 2, 2013. The man's name is not being released in order to protect the identity of the young girl who was a minor under the age of 12 at the time of the incident.

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