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Grand Island Library Receives Conservation Award

Grand Island's Edith Abbott Memorial Library and Library Director Steve Fosselman have received a special conservation award for the efforts in creating the city's first biofiltration garden. The award was presented last night by the Central Nebraska Natural Resource District. The garden collects water off the south part of the library parking lot and filters it through the plantings instead of letting water go down the storm water drain. The project includes multiple benefits including the removal of pollutants. It allows educational opportunities of water quality issues.

Nebraska and Oklahoma Challenging Pot Law

Nebraska and Oklahoma are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to declare Colorado's legalization of marijuana unconstitutional. Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning announced Thursday that the states are seeking a court order to prevent Colorado from enforcing a measure that was approved by voters in 2012. The complaint alleges that Colorado's Amendment 64 violates federal law. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers says that the lawsuit is without merit. He says his office will vigorously defend the marijuana law in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Nativity Scene in Capitol Rotunda Drawing Criticism

A Nativity scene will go up inside the Nebraska Capitol this week, and it's drawing criticism from those who say such displays amount to an unconstitutional endorsement by the state of a religion. Capitol administrator Bob Ripley told the Lincoln Journal Star that the Thomas More Society applied and received permission to set up the display in the building's rotunda. The nonprofit group in charge of setting up the display says it is constitutionally protected free speech. State Sen. Ernie Chambers said he thinks the display pushes a particular religion view.

Burglars Ransack Hastings Auction Company

Burglaries are on the rise throughout the Tri-Cities. This morning, a Hastings business owner woke up to find the family's business inventory essentially wiped out.

Sheila Lightner and her husband Korky own and operate Korky Lightner Auction Service in Hastings. Upon arriving at their storage facility this morning to prepare for tonight's auction, Sheila's husband instead found more than $20,000 worth of merchandise had been stolen.

Among the items stolen were laptops, computers, tablets, PlayStation 4s and several other electronic items. The Lightners say this morning's devastating incident is life changing for the family. Korky has been involved in the auction business for 28 years. This is the first time they've been burglarized.

The Hastings Police Department is offering a $1,000 reward for anyone with information leading to the arrest of those involved in last night's theft.

Gun Thefts Spike in Hastings

There's been a recent spike in thefts throughout Hastings over the past week. The Hastings Police Department says a rash of gun thefts has hit the community lately.

Sgt. Paul Weber says the police department does not want weapons on the street. They ask anyone with knowledge of those recent thefts to call 402-461-2389. As thefts go up, a number of home burglaries are also on the rise. Grand Island has seen a plethora of burglaries in recent weeks especially in the daytime, and that unfortunately is beginning to happen also in Hastings.

Weber contends that thieves target homes in the daytime as most people are at work between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Weber adds that if you're expecting holiday packages in the mail, to bring them in as soon as possible to limit opportunities for thieves to take them.

Grand Island's Smelly Problem Raises Stink With Residents

Residents in Grand Island are raising a stink over a smelly pile of byproduct from a local meatpacking plant. A county board panel issued a special permit earlier this year to allow Chamness Technologies, a waste management service, to spread livestock waste from the JBS meatpacking plant on farm ground. Hall County Supervisor Steve Schuppan says the company hasn't spread anything for a long time, allowing the waste to decay. The waste can serve as a fertilizer, but if it's not worked into the ground right away, it ferments.

Buffalo County Attorney: "Suspect acted with Premeditation and Malice"

The Buffalo County Attorney says the suspect in Monday's murder at a Gibbon packing plant acted on premeditation and with malice.

34-year old Angelo M. Bol of Grand Island is charged with first degree murder in the death of 34 year old Karel Perez-Almaguer also of Grand Island. Officials located the body of the victim in the Gibbon pack parking lot a short time after 5 p.m. Monday. Bol is also charged with using a weapon to commit a felony.

Bol remains in Buffalo County Jail on $3 million bond and will make his next court appearance on January 6. He faces life in prison if convicted.

Making the Case for Hastings Behavioral Treatment Center

A Hastings facility could play a key role in easing the state's prison overcrowding problem while also serving as a state of the art Behavioral Health Treatment Center. The proposed new facility would be built on the campus of the Hastings Regional Center.

Senator Les Seiler of Hastings has been one of the biggest supporters for the proposed treatment center. He says it presents the community with a golden opportunity to help the youth and adults alike to help with mental health care as well as drug abuse and alcohol treatment. He believes with the help of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the center would flourish.

Seiler and Hastings Mayor Vern Powers both stressed the need to treat and educate offenders to stop the cycle of reoffending. They presented their case Wednesday morning in response to a state report that suggested Hastings would be a less than favorable option for the new Behavioral Health Treatment Center. According to the report, the city has a limited pool of behavioral health professionals and salaries for state employees are about $5 per hour less than those in the private sector. Seiler argues that Adams County actually leads the entire state in several of those categories, employing more behavioral health professionals per population.

In addition to helping patients, the facility would also help the economy in Hastings as noted by Mayor Powers, adding 285 new jobs and $13 million to the city's payroll.

The project will remain at a stand still until new state department heads take over next year. The project is estimated to cost $43.6 million.

UPDATE: Gibbon Shooting Suspect to Appear in Court Tuesday

The suspect in last night's shooting at a Gibbon packing plant is expected to appear in Buffalo County Court this afternoon.

34-year old Angelo M. Bol of Grand Island is charged with first degree murder and use of a firearm to commit a felony. The victim in the shooting has been identified as 34 year old Karel Perez-Almaguer. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The incident occurred at approximately 4:54 p.m. Monday in the parking lot at Gibbon Pack. The preliminary investigation reveals that the victim and Bol were familiar with each other, and that Bol specifically targeted Perez-Almaguer. The investigation is ongoing. Bol remains in Buffalo County Jail. He'll make his initial court appearance today at 1:30 p.m.

Grand Island Mayor Seeking to Fill Council Seat

Grand Island Mayor Jeremy Jensen announced letters of interest are being sought from citizens interested in being considered to serve on the Grand Island City Council for Ward 1. The vacancy is due to former city council member Kent Mann changing his residence. Mayor Jensen's recommendation to fill the position is anticipated to come before the city council for action at the regularly scheduled city council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015.

Andrew Casterline Sentenced to Life in Prison

A Nebraska man has been sentenced to life in prison for helping his mother fatally stab her boyfriend's 68-year-old mother. 24-year old Andrew Casterline of Guide Rock was sentenced Monday. He was convicted in the death of Virginia Barone. Authorities say Casterline and his mother, Shelly Casterline, stabbed Barone 22 times and hid her body beneath boards in her home. Shelly Casterline told authorities her son wasn't there but prosecutors say cuts on his hands indicated he wielded a knife. His mother was sentenced to life in prison in September.

One Dead in Gibbon Packing Plant Shooting

One person is dead and another is in custody after a shooting at the Gibbon Packing Plant. The shooting took place shortly before 5 p.m. in the parking lot of the plant. Captain Bob Anderson with the Buffalo County Sheriff's Office said the victim is a 34-year old male from Grand Island. The suspect is also identified as a 34-year old male from Grand Island. Names have not yet been released of either man. The suspect is being held in Buffalo County Jail until his court appearance. Several employees were held at the plant for questioning until shortly after 10 p.m. More details are expected to be released later today.

Woman Accidentally Pinned By Truck

Police say a Grand Island woman was injured after her son accidently pinned her against a church with their family's truck. 43-year-old Maria Atjun was taken to an area hospital Sunday night and released. Sgt. Todd Dvorak says she suffered injuries to her legs and torso. Dvorak says her 13-year-old sun started the truck while it was in gear and it drove forward, pinning Atjun. He says people at the church pushed the truck off of the woman before first responders arrived.


Grand Island Park to Get Upgrades

A Grand Island city park will be getting more than $86,000 of upgrades next spring. Improvements to George Park in the northwest section of the city will include an 8-foot-wide concrete walking trail. Parks and Recreation Director Todd McCoy says the trail will connect the west end of the park to the east and connect ball fields to parking areas. McCoy says the park has been plagued by low-lying areas that often stay wet and become mud holes after rains or watering. Underground drainage pipe will be installed in trouble areas before paving of the new walkway begins.


Minden Man Arrested in Heartwell Armed Burglary

A Minden man has been arrested in connection with a robbery Thursday in Heartwell. 19-year old Devin R. Silvrants is charged with burglary, criminal mischief, terroristic threats and use of a weapon to commit a felony. The Kearney County Sheriff's Department received a call saying that Silvrants was in a village leader's garage Thursday morning. After a brief confrontation, Silvrants fled with firearms and ammunition stolen from the resident's garage. Minden Police recovered the items. He remains jailed in Kearney County on $150,000 bond.

UNK Receives Grant for ATV Safety Training

The University of Nebraska-Kearney has received a $2,000 grant to help provide 4-H ATV rider safety training at the campus' Nebraska Safety Center. The grant was made possible through Farm Credit Services of America's Working Here Fund for Agriculture Education. The Nebraska Safety Center will use the funding allocation to provide safety training for youths in agriculture and to purchase age-appropriate ATV'S and safety helmets for training youths.

Hastings College To Build New Art Center

Hastings College has announced a press conference next week. Constructed in 1908 as the College's library, the current home to Hastings College's Art Department no longer serves the growing program's needs. President Don Jackson and other Hastings College officials are expected to announce the construction of a new art center on campus. The announcement will take place next Tuesday at 4pm at the grey center on the HC campus.

Heineman Grilled at First Testimony Hearing

The chairman of a legislative committee says 162 Nebraska inmates convicted of violent crimes were freed early under a furlough program. The program was revealed at a hearing yesterday as the chairman, Senator Steve Lathrop, questioned Governor Dave Heineman. The Republican governor was subpoenaed to testify under oath as part of an investigation into miscalculated prison sentences and other problems.

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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