Medical Marijuana Shelved For Session
Nebraska will not legalize medical marijuana this year in light of other controversial measures dominating the final days of the legislative session.
Sen. Tommy Garrett of Bellevue asked Wednesday to hold his bill until June 15, ensuring senators will not revisit the debate until next year.
The bill made it through first-round debate with a 27-12 vote. But Garrett says the Speaker of the Legislature approached him Tuesday saying there was no longer enough support to guarantee its success.
Garrett says senators have been bombarded with criticism about their votes to repeal the death penalty and have to prioritize tough choices.
A bill to study a low-potency cannabis derivative for treating seizures passed last week and awaits action by Gov. Pete Ricketts.
Nebraska's Unemployment Falls to 2.5 Percent
Nebraska's unemployment rate dropped again in the month of April, to 2.5 percent, seasonally adjusted. That's down from 2.6 percent in March and down from 3.4 percent in April 2014.
That's still well below the national unemployment rate which dropped to 5.4 percent in April, the lowest it's been since 2008.
Labor Commissioner John Albin said in a release that employment remained strong last month with total nonfarm employment exceeding one million including new record highs for non-farm jobs in Lincoln and Omaha.
In Hastings, unemployment was at 2.6 percent in April compared to 2.9 percent in March. Kearney was at 2.0 percent in April compared to 2.1 percent in March. Grand Island was also at 2.6 percent.
Kearney City Officials Approve Deed Veterans Home Site Over to State
The Kearney City Council has approved vacating a parcel of land that will serve as the site for the new Central Nebraska Veteran's Home.
At last night's meeting, the council approved vacating a section of lots at 56th Street and Cherry Avenue. The city council had voted to deed the veteran's home site to the state in April, but the Buffalo County Register of Deeds Office did not accept the deed because of a discrepancy in the legal description.
The council also awarded a bid to RMV Construction Company for construction of a new household hazardous waste building at the Kearney Area Recycling Center. The total cost for the project is estimated at $525,000. The building is expected to be completed by mid November.
Hastings Police Drop Child Enticement Case
The Hastings Police Department says they don't have enough information to prosecute the four suspects involved in a March incident to entice children.
Three separate incidents were reported to police on Saturday, March 7 all within close proximity and timeline. It was reported that a suspect wearing a gold mask approached at least three different children and attempted to lure them into their car.
A police investigation found that the suspects intended to "freak kids out" in the community. Police Chief Pete Kortum says they still believe the motive was to terrorize children for the amusement of the suspects.
The last interview related to the case took place May 18. Kortum says since they have exhausted all leads, the case is inactive. He says the case will assigned for follow up if they receive anymore relevant information to the case.
Small Herd of Purebred Bison Growing on Central Nebraska Prairie
A small herd of purebred bison in south-central Nebraska has been growing with the births of at least six calves so far this spring.
The animals have been adjusting to their new home on more than 1,000 acres of tallgrass prairie on Crane Trust land southwest of Grand Island. The 41 bison were trucked in from Rimrock Ranch near Crawford in the Nebraska Panhandle in January.
Trust officials don't know how many of the 12 mature cows and five heifers will give birth and add to the herd this year. Experts say that of the 500,000 bison in North America, about 5,000 are genetically pure, descended from bison that have never been bred with cattle.
Death Row Inmate Dies in Prison
A prison inmate on death row for 30 years has died in prison.
A spokesperson for the Tecumseh State Correctional Institute confirmed Monday that 66-year-old Michael Ryan, convicted in the murder of two people in the 1980s died Sunday at the prison. Ryan was convicted in the 1985 torture and killing of 26-year-old James Thimm near Rulo, where Ryan led a cult. He was also convicted in the beating death of 5-year-old Luke Stice, the son of a cult member.
Ryan had been suffering from cancer for the past few years and was one of 11 people on Nebraska's death row. An autopsy will be done to confirm his official cause of death.
CCC-Grand Island Using Grant to Introduce Students to Transportation Careers
Central Community College-Grand Island plans to use a grant from the Federal Highway Administration to introduce students to transportation careers.
The $40,000 National Summer Transportation Institute grant will be used to hold a camp this summer focusing on female, minority high school students. This demographic is considered to be underrepresented in transportation engineering careers.
Boys are also welcome to participate.
There will be no cost for a student to attend the camp.
Lawmakers Approve Medical Cannabis Study
A study to determine the effectiveness of a cannabis extract's ability to treat severe seizures is heading to the governor's desk for approval.
Senators voted 44-2 yesterday on LB390 which would commission a University of Nebraska Medical Center study on the effectiveness of cannabidiol. The state would obtain it from an England-based company authorized by the Federal Drug Administration for rare diseases.
Supporters say the study could provide immediate aid to patients who have exhausted other treatment options. A spokesman for Ricketts says the governor supports FDA-approved studies of marijuana for medical purposes. Ricketts has five days to take action on the bill, sponsored by Sen. Sue Crawford of Bellevue.
Lexington Armed Robbery Suspect Arrested in Iowa
The alleged suspect in last week's armed robbery at a Lexington Liquor Store has been arrested in Iowa.
Joseph C. Fleming, 29, of Lexington was arrested Wednesday in Toledo, Iowa by local police on warrants issued by the Lexington Police Department and is awaiting extradition back to Lexington.
Flemming is accused of robbing Tom's Midwest Liquor in Lexington on Sunday, May 10th shortly before 1 a.m. According to records, he demanded cash and a money bag from a clerk.
He then fled the scene with approximately $1,200 in cash.
Casterline's Life Sentence Upheld
The Nebraska Supreme Court has upheld a life sentence for a Guide Rock woman accused of helping her son murder their neighbor in 2013.
Shelly Casterline was sentenced to life in prison back in September for her role in the stabbing death of Virginia Barone. Barone was found dead in her home with more than 20 stab wounds.
Casterline argued that the state made mistakes in her sentencing, arguing that she was convicted of a Class 1B felony but that her-life-to-life sentence is an effective life sentence without parole and punishes her for a Class 1A felony.
The state disagreed and said a life-to-life sentence is permissible. Casterline's son Andrew is also serving a life sentence for his role in Barone's murder.
Hall County Supervisors Call Emergency Meeting
The Hall County Board of Supervisors have called an emergency meeting this afternoon with plans to pass a resolution in support of capital punishment.
Supervisors are hoping to get the message to Grand Island state senator Mike Gloor. Gloor was one of the senators who changed his vote in favor of repealing the death penalty.
Governor Ricketts traveled to Grand Island Wednesday urging residents to contact Sen. Gloor to see if they can change his vote back to supporting the state's death penalty. Ricketts hopes to change the minds of at least three senators in order to prevent a veto override.
Today's meeting will be at 1:30 p.m. in the Hall County Administration building and is open to the public.
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.
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.