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Crossroads Center Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner in Hastings

The Crossroads Center in Hastings is hosting a Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday for anyone who would like to attend. Dinner will be served from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Jerry Bumgardner, Executive Director says they'll have all the traditional Thanksgiving food options. Crossroads provides a program for the homeless to not only feed and shelter but also provide a pathway toward recovery. Crossroads served over 100,000 meals in the community in 2013.

Kearney Area Concerned Citizens to Host Thanksgiving Dinner

The Kearney Area Concerned Citizens will be hosting their 30th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner this Thursday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Kearney. Gailen Kotrous, Publicity Chairman for the event, says the meal is open to anyone who would like to attend. Special arrangements can be made for individuals who are in need of a ride to the event. The event is free, but donations are also welcomed and appreciated.

Parole Board Chairwoman Says She Was Pressured Into Paroling More Inmates

The chairwoman of Nebraska's parole board says a former prisons director pressured her into paroling more inmates in an effort to reduce crowding. Esther Casmer testified under subpoena Tuesday that some inmates were paroled even though they hadn't completed mandatory programming to treat anger management, addictions and other problems. She was appointed by Gov. Heineman in 2005. A spokesman for the governor says he will respond as soon as he can.

Hagel Will Stay On Until Successor is Confirmed

Former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel says he will stay on as defense secretary until the Senate confirms his successor. Hagel announced Monday he is stepping down. The Republican becomes the first senior Obama adviser to leave the administration following the sweeping losses for the president's party in the midterm elections.

Hastings Water Rates Going Up

Hastings residents will soon be paying more for water. The city council voted unanimously last night for a rate increase to help eliminate the city's water of dangerous nitrate levels. The proposed cost of the water treatment is $46 million. Mayor Vern Powers said that cost could end up being as high as $100 million. He says the increase has to start now so that residents aren't hit with huge increases in the future. The EPA will have final say as to when the treatment plant will be needed. Mayor Powers stressed the nitrate levels in Hastings are well below EPA standards. Most customers will pay $1.66 more per month starting Jan. 1.

Hastings Library Achieves Gold Standard

The Hastings Public Library has received the highest level of library accreditation. On Monday, the library received Gold level accreditation from the Nebraska Library Commission. The Hastings location is only one of four in Nebraska that received Gold. The raised accreditation level means an increase in the amount of state aid money they receive and an improved status when applying for federal, state of private grants to complete the library's renovation project. The library received 257 points for its 2014-17 renewal application, exceeding the 250 points necessary to achieve Gold level status.

Police Identify Kearney Shooting Victim

Authorities have released the name of the man wounded in a weekend shooting in Kearney. According to police reports, 31-year-old Gerard Vinett of Tennessee was shot twice early Saturday morning in south Kearney. Police later arrested 24-year-old Evan Swenson, along with 22-year-old Ashley Dominguez, both of Tennessee at a motel in Broken Bow. Swenson has since been charged with attempted second-degree murder and using a weapon to commit a felony while Dominguez is charged with suspicion of being an accessory to a felony. Both are currently being held in the Buffalo County Jail.

Nebraska Director of DNR Resigns

The director of Nebraska's Department of Natural Resources has resigned.

Brian Dunnigan stepped down from the position on Thursday after more than 30 years with the department. He was appointed director by Gov. Dave Heineman in 2008. Heineman is leaving office in January.

As director, Dunnigan oversaw a department that helps manage the state's waterways, dams and flood plains. The department is also heavily involved in discussions related to the Republican River, which runs through southern Nebraska as well as parts of Colorado and Kansas.

Dunnigan becomes the second department head in a week to announce he is leaving. Department of Health and Human Services CEO Kerry Winterer announced last week that he also is leaving his post in December.

Garage Fire Destroys Grand Island Home

A fire in Grand Island severely damaged a family's home late Thursday morning. All of the occupants, a husband, a wife and their daughter made it out safely. Grand Island firefighters responded to a garage fire shortly before 11 a.m. It took about 20 minutes for them to put the fire out. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. The garage was completely destroyed. The American Red Cross was on scene to assist the family.

Kearney Building Evacuated After Early Morning Fire

Several people were evacuated from a Kearney area industrial firm early this (Friday) morning after fire broke out in a maintenance storage area of the business.

At approximately 3:30 a.m., firefighters were summoned to Baldwin Filters located at 4400 East Highway 30. The fire was contained to a small area of the storage facility, due in part to two overhead sprinkler system heads which were activated when the fire broke out. One employee was taken to CHI Health Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney as a precaution due to smoke inhalation.

An investigation revealed the fire started from some recently used maintenance equipment which was being kept inside the storage building. A total of three fire trucks and about 20 firefighters were called upon the battle the blaze.

Total damage to the storage facility and the equipment inside was estimated at approximately $40,000. Firemen remained on the scene for about 20 minutes.

State Fair Considering Options for Concert-Goers

Nebraska State Fair officials are working on a plan to book a bigger musical act for a large, outdoor concert for next year.

The State Fair Board met for a retreat last week. Fair officials have noticed some county fairs are bringing in well-known performers that are as big or bigger than the ones at the state fair.

One of the plans being considered is perhaps moving one concert to the south end of the Fonner Park track. With the Heartland Events Center's capacity of 5,300 people, the venue is seen as too small to host the well-known acts.

An engineer and production manager have examined the park and say it could fit 10,000 people.

UNMC Paper Gives Advice to Other Medical Professionals

When the Nebraska Medical Center began treating patients for Ebola this fall, experts had to figure out how to safely conduct lab tests and handle samples.

A paper outlining some of the lessons learned in the lab has been published, so other hospitals can learn from their experience.

Pete Iwen, director of the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory says that when the first Ebola patient arrived in September, some of the tests doctors wanted couldn't be performed safely with existing equipment, so the lab developed alternatives.

The American Journal of Pathology fast-tracked the approval of the paper, so other labs would have the advice available.

Gas Prices Dip Below $3 Average

Gas prices in Nebraska continue a downward slide ahead of the holiday. The statewide average price for regular unleaded dropped to $2.97 a gallon this week. It's the first time that average gas prices in the state have been below $3 since December 2010. Prices in Hastings are actually five cents below the state average at $2.92 a gallon. AAA Nebraska says prices are likely to stay low throughout the rest of the year as commodity prices continue to fall. They also project holiday travel will be at it's highest rate since 2007.

Nebraska Republicans Crying Foul Over Obama's Immigration Decision

The president's use of executive action to delay any move to deport as many as five million illegal immigrants has angered Nebraska Congressional Republicans. Congressman Adrian Smith says President Barack Obama's rationalization for the move is insufficient. Congressman Adrian Smith says Congress must respond. Smith suggests Congress might file a lawsuit to stop the president's move.

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.

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