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Kirkwood Honored For Service to Community

A Buffalo County man has received a special thank you for paying it forward in his community.

Mike Kirkwood of Amherst was selected to receive free fuel from "Tanks of Thanks," a retail promotion offered by Cenex that rewards people who go the extra mile for others. Kirkwood recently received a $50 "Tanks of Thanks" card, which is redeemable at any Cenex location, for serving as a positive role model in his community.

Kirkwood is the police captain for the Kearney Police Department and is involved with several area non-profit organizations.

The "Tanks of Thanks" program from Cenex retailers encourages people to nominate neighbors, family and friends for free fuel as a way to thank them for doing good deeds-both large and small.
Each month, More than $5,000 in free fuel is given away through the "Tanks of Thanks" program

Osborne Stops in Hastings to Recruit.... For TeamMates

Former University of Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne was in Hastings yesterday on a recruitment trip... for the local Hastings Teammates chapter.

As of right now there are 45 mentors, helping mentees at the three Hastings School districts, but Osborne believes and hopes that number will grow this upcoming school year.

"I would say most communities of this size have quite a few more, in the 100-150 range. We have a lot of good support, Hastings College has been a good partner for us. We definitely hope people will step up to volunteer because a lot of kids want a mentor, but simply don't have one," Osborne said.

Tom and Nancy Osborne founded the TeamMates Mentoring Program in 1991 in an effort to provide support and encouragement to school aged youth, but says he's seen even the mentors themselves gain something from their experience.

"It gives an added dimension of purpose and meaning to their life to be mentoring. The greatest gift we can give is our time. You can make more money but you can't make more time. A young person realizes that this person who is not a teacher, not a preacher and not a parent or a grandparent, cares enough about me to show up every week," Osborne said.

If you're interested in mentoring a child, or want more information on the program you can log onto to

Lincoln Man Tried to Trade for Sex With a Child

A Lincoln man has been charged with trying to have sex with a girl in exchange for trading cards and a DVD player.

25-year-old Joshua Vrana was charged with attempted first-degree sexual assault of a child.

Authorities say a Nebraska State Patrol investigator received a tip about an exchange on an online dating site in which a user claimed to have a 25-year-old friend who wanted to have sex with a 16-year-old's younger sister.

Vrana was arrested after an investigator pretending to be the young girl arranged to meet him at a public library on July 1.

Grand Island Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Gibbon Packing Plant Murder

A Grand Island man will spend the rest of his life in prison for his role in the shooting death of a co-worker at the Gibbon Packing Plant.

35-year-old Angelo Bol received his sentence in Buffalo County District court Tuesday morning. On December 15th, Bol murdered 34-year-old Karel Perez-Almaguer, also of Grand Island in the parking lot outside the meat packing plant. Buffalo County Attorney Shawn Eatherton spoke just after the sentence was handed down.

"Justice was served. It's a terrible, tragic situation but hopefully everyone can start healing and move forward," Eatherton said.

According to records, Bol reported being harassed and mistreated on numerous occasions while at work, which ultimately led to the confrontation with Perez-Almaguer:

"I've had the opportunity of going through the reports and interviews and I'm familiar with his beliefs and the problems he felt he had with other people at work. He understands that violence is no justification for homicide. He felt he was wronged and wanted to have his say," Eatherton said.

As part of the sentence, Bol is not eligible for parole.

Former Hastings Teacher's Sex Assault Case Stalled Again

The case against a former Hastings teacher accused of sexually assaulting a female student has been stalled once again.

This morning, the attorney for Johnathan Shafer filed a plea in abatement claiming there was not sufficient evidence to bind the case over to district court. Shafer was scheduled for arraignment this morning, but the judge granted the plea and Shafer's hearing was pushed back to Aug. 17 at 2:45 p.m.

At a preliminary hearing Monday, attorney Kevin Knake (Kuh-nack-ee) said it could not be established when the relationship began. Shafer's accused of beginning a sexual relationship with the girl in 2012 when she was 15. She is now 18-years-old.

Nebraska Meet Processors Aim to Help Needy Nebraska Families

Nebraska meat processors have until July 20 to apply for this year's Hunters Helping the Hungry program, which provides ground venison to needy residents.

The state program contracts with local meat processors to prepare donated venison, which processors grind and distribute in 2-pound bags through a network of regional community groups. The meat ends up in local food pantries to help feed needy families.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will contract with eligible applicants by Aug. 7.

Boxcar Youth Theatre Presents "The Giver"

The Boxcar Youth Theatre Company will present the first of two big summer productions this week. "The Giver", based on the classic book by Lois Lowry will be presented on the Hastings College campus.

The small-cast production features area high school and college students from Clay County and the Hastings area as actors and crew members. Productions director Emily Funkey says it's something that audiences from tweens to adults can enjoy.

"Through Jonas, audience members will learn what it means to grow up, grow wise and take control of their own destiny," Funkey said.

Caitlin Kalvelage, who is directing for the first time said she has been very pleased by the effort the students have put forth in this serious, dramatic story line.

"We are asking them to go over and above with their emotions and their characterizations," she said. "We have spent considerable time having the actors get to know their own characters and their motivations. This is an outstanding, talented group and this play fits them so well."

There will be four showings of "The Giver" at the Hastings College French Chapel. Thursday, Friday and Saturday's performances will be at 7 p.m. with a 2:30 p.m. show set for Sunday. Tickets are $8 for those 12 and over and $6 for children under age 12.

Fireworks Destroy Heartwell Building

Investigators say careless use of fireworks led to a fire which destroyed a storage shed in Heartwell over the weekend.

Fire crews were called to a report of a blaze on vacant property near the intersection of 2nd and Washington Streets Saturday morning. A power line running over the building also caught fire, resulting in a temporary power outage for some nearby residents.

No injuries were reported, but the building was a total loss.

Semi Catches Fire After Striking Deer

A semi-truck caught on fire after the driver struck a deer while traveling on I-80 near Elm Creek late Sunday night.

At around 11:15 p.m., Donald Archer of Marquette pulled into the Pilot Truck Stop in Elm Creek. His truck engine then burst into flames. An investigation revealed the fire was apparently caused by damage incurred when the semi struck the deer on the interstate.

The Elm Creek Fire Department responded and had the blaze contained a short time later.

Corn Mash Spill Causes Traffic Delays in Hastings

A corn-mash spill caused traffic headaches for the morning commute in South Hastings today. It happened shortly before 8 a.m. just north of the Highway 6 curve near J Street on Elm Avenue. Hastings Police, the fire department and city officials were dispatched a short time later and began clean up efforts.

Stu Mohlman, foreman with the Streets Department in Hastings says the road is clear now.

"It is completely cleaned off the roadway. We will not leave until we have it completely cleaned up. It was a unique situation with the rain, it was a little wet picking it up. We washed it all off to the side of the road and scattered it into the ditch," Mohlman said.

Traffic was closed for about a half-hour over the quarter mile-stretch of highway. Mohlman said typically in these situations, the person responsible for the spill will be charged for the city's cleanup efforts. But unfortunately that person didn't stick around this morning.

"Normally what happens if they do stay around, when we do a cleanup, we send them a bill for our portion of cleanup," Mohlman said.

Mohlman said the streets department plans to survey the area again after lunch. Anyone with information on who was responsible is asked to contact the city of Hastings or local authorities.

Former Husker Coach to Speak in Hastings

Former Husker coach Dr. Tom Osborne will speak in Hastings next week.

Osborne will be on hand at Mary Lanning Healthcare Monday in support of the Teammates mentoring program, an organization he co-founded with his wife Nancy in 1991. Osborne will speak about the importance mentoring can play on middle and high school students.

The event is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Monday at Mary Lanning Healthcare's conference room on the lower level. RSVP's can be made by contacting Hastings chapter coordinator Valerie Bren at 402-984-9016.

State Rejects Hall County's Request to Raise Fees for Prisoners

State officials have rejected Hall County's effort to raise its daily fee for housing state prisoners.

County corrections director Fred Ruiz told the county Board of Supervisors this week that he'd sought $93 a day, an increase of $5 from the current $88 a day. And he sought a guarantee of 90 state inmates a day.

The state rejected his bid and countered with an offer of $88 a day for 82 state inmates.

The county board voted Tuesday to offer the state a rate of $88 per day for 82 beds and offer to provide space for 14 more inmates for $75 a day each.

Shelton Marine Receives Purple Heart

A Buffalo County soldier has received a prestigious honor for his service in the war in Afghanistan.

U.S. Marine Corporal Colin Colindres of Shelton was recently awarded a Purple Heart for wounds suffered while serving in Afghanistan in January 2011, when his company came under sniper fire while helping local residents build a road.

Colindres was hospitalized for nearly a month after he was hit in the head with a metal door during an explosion.

The Purple Heart is awarded to people who are wounded or killed while serving in the armed forces.

Colindres is a 2009 graduate of Sumner-Eddyville-Miller High School and joined the Marine Corps soon after graduation.

Hastings Couple to Chair United Way Campaign

A Hastings couple has been selected to chair the United Way of South Central Nebraska's 2015-16 fundraising campaign.

Jeff and Abby Schneider will chair the campaign this year. Jeff is Director of Finance at Hastings Public Schools and Abby is a Paraeducator at Alcott Elementary. Jeff is also past president of Hastings Sunrise Rotary and the President Elect of the Nebraska Association of School Business Officials.

Joining the campaign cabinet also are Tim and Hilarie Redline, owners of Redline Pharmacy.

The United Way's fundraising goal will be announced when it officially kicks off in September.

Hall County to Investigate Jail

The Hall County Board of Supervisors has voted to hire a Lincoln law firm to lead an investigation into the Hall County Jail.

The board voted Tuesday after a short meeting with the county's attorney, Jack Zitterkopf. He declined to specify what led to the investigation of the jail.

Corrections Director Fred Ruiz said that there had been complaints recently filed by jail staff and that one employee who made allegations quit her job last week. He declined to give further information about the complaints.

Hastings Church Seeks Public's Help After Vandalism

A Hastings church was recently vandalized and now they are seeking the public's help to assist with cleanup efforts.

Hastings Police were called to the First Baptist Church on June 21, after someone reported graffiti spray painted on several walls inside the church. The suspects spray painted many of the rooms in the basement of the church and also broke a window and put a few holes in the wall.

The small church has no paid staff and is asking the public to join them on Saturday, July 11 to help them clean up and paint over the graffiti.

Officials say they have a few leads but anyone with information is asked to contact Hastings Police.

Aurora Stabbing Suspect Arraigned

A preliminary hearing has been set for a Grand Island man accused of stabbing a teenager in an Aurora park.

18-year-old Brayden Milhon was arraigned yesterday. He faces charges of second-degree assault, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony and terroristic threats. Court documents state that the alleged incident occurred on June 15.

Milhon admitted to police of the stabbing and said that he and the victim had exchanged Facebook messages the night before and agreed to meet to fight. The victim is not being identified because of his age.

Milhon is currently free after paying 10 percent of a $50,000 bond and has been ordered to not have contact with the victim. Milhon's preliminary hearing was set for July 21 in Hamilton County.

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