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(Grand Island, NE) - Monday morning a flyover..over CHI Health St. Francis in Grand Island to salute those on the front lines in our healthcare system, a healthcare system that with collaboration with other hospitals and an extremely dedicated staff of heroes were not overwhelmed by the coronavirus.

The data coming back from the Central District Health Department in GI is also showing positive signs, signs all pointing to one thing.

We are past the peak of this virus.

But instead of a sigh of relief, it’s more concern, and more questions for local businesses in Grand Island who watch other parts of the state slowly open, while our community sits on the sidelines.

Local business owner Casey Williams is in the tourism industry, a hotel owner with the Travel Lodge here in GI, who has seen bookings and stays simply come to a halt as more and more events preemptively call things off.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has said consistently, that the original goal of the DHM's and social distancing practices were to not overwhelm the healthcare system.

“That’s what we’ve done very successfully, at no point was our health care system in danger of being overwhelmed.”

So mission accomplished? Will we see a relaxation on the directed health mandates and social distancing restrictions?

The Governor has taken a more cautious approach.

The frustration that many Nebraskan’s are feeling isn’t due to the boredom of social distancing, it’s the uncertainty and the lack of a gameplan for the business community to move forward.

A popular hashtag on social media is “win back GI”, it could be argued we never lost it, but while we wait, the question remains...what will we come back to?


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The Nebraska State Fair Board has chosen their next Executive Director.

Bill Ogg, a Wyoming native and manager of the Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days in Washington was selected as the finalist by the personal committee. 

Ogg said this morning he believes he can help contribute to leading the state fair out of its current financial issues. 

Ogg was a finalist for the position three years ago when the board selected Lori Cox, who mutually agreed to a consultant position with the State Fair back in March. 
Ogg was approved unanimously, subject to contract approval by the State Fair Board.

That said, there are questions on the fair itself, especially after Governor Pete Ricketts commented on the possibility of public gathering in Grand Island being sidelined until August, at the least. A Covid 19 working group has been formed by the State Fair Board as they address the pandemic.

Kathleen Lodl said this morning that the committee doesn’t want to rush to a decision and is balancing the needs for a successful fair, and a safe fair, should the State Fair take place in 2020.

Ogg added these decisions aren’t just weighing heavy on the Nebraska State Fair, but every fair in the country right now.


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North Platte, Ne - The Miss Rodeo Nebraska Pageant will be postponed to Aug. 2-5 in observance of the social distancing practices occurring throughout the state and nation.

 

The move has prompted the Miss Rodeo Nebraska Association to extend its contestant deadline as well. Queen hopefuls now have until June 15 to enter.

 

“I would like thank everyone for their patience as we proceed with the pageant,” said Cindy Petersen, chair of the pageant committee. “This pandemic has caused the committee to adapt to new safety measures, but we are looking forward to another successful year.”  

 

The pageant was originally planned for June in North Platte - in conjunction with NEBRASKAland Days and the Buffalo Bill Rodeo.

 

However, on Tuesday, NLD announced that the Buffalo Bill Rodeo would be rescheduled for Aug. 5-8. A new Miss Rodeo Nebraska is traditionally crowned during the rodeo’s first performance.

 

Those interested in entering the pageant this year, or in receiving more information, can contact Cathy Ewing at (308) 530-0590 or buckcathy06@yahoo.com.

 

Rule books and contracts can be found on the forms section of the MRN website at missrodeonebraska.org.

 


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Covid-19 Update - City Hall/Grand Island

Notes from Mayor Roger Steele

 

Grand Island is projected to have a 12% decrease in sales tax revenue. That loss will be a loss of $1.5 million dollars to the general governmental fund for the fiscal year ending on September 30th.Overall the city is projecting a 5.6% decrease in all revenues for the general fund which equates to $2.2 million dollars.

 

Food and beverage tax collections were down for the month of April, that’s based on March sales, by 24% ($50,000) as compared to the same month last year. The city expects to have the food and beverage receipts to be significantly reduced for the rest of the fiscal year ending September 30th.

 

With an estimated loss of revenue of $437,000. Keno proceeds for the month of April are down 42%.

 

Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele spoke to Gov. Ricketts last Friday. Ricketts told him that he does not believe GI will be able to have gatherings of people until August, if even then. Referring to crowds where social distancing will not occur.

 

Opening of the water park (Island Oasis) and Lincoln Pool will probably not be happening given the expense and uncertainty of when it will be allowed for people to gather in close proximity.

 

 


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Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele announced today the reopening of Heartland Public Shooting Park following its closure in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Mayor Steele issued the following statement:
   “I directed the closure of the Heartland Public Shooting Park, Jackrabbit Run Golf Course and other city parks and recreation facilities in order to promote the public health by slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  Opening any recreational facility is with the expectation that the public will follow health recommendations regarding public distancing, wearing face coverings, and other health related recommendations.  I have ordered the Shooting Park and the Golf Course to operate under rules and procedures designed to promote safe and healthy public use.
   Opening the Shooting Park will create additional financial pressure on the City at a time when we are anticipating significant tax revenue shortfalls.  Because of these anticipated revenue shortfalls, operation of the Shooting Park and other recreation facilities will be closely managed and overseen by my Administration to ensure the parks are run in an efficient and economical manner.
   The primary job of the City is to ensure public health and safety and recreational venues will not be allowed to detract from that priority, especially when we expect less revenue.  I will meet with the Shooting Park employees on a monthly basis to make sure the park is operated in an economical manner.  Simply put, I expect recreational venues to safeguard every penny until we can work our way through the impact of COVID-19.”


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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Gov. Pete Ricketts is pushing back against four Nebraska lawmakers who urged him to cancel a $27 million coronavirus testing contract with a group of out-of-state startup companies, calling their criticism “ludicrous” even though the program is off to a slow start hasn’t kept up with demand. Ricketts defended the state’s agreement with Utah-based Nomi Health and its business partners but acknowledged some early problems with the TestNebraska program. The same companies have similar no-bid contracts with Iowa and Utah that have also come under scrutiny as states scramble to offer more tests.

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — State health officials have reported two new deaths from COVID-19 that occurred in the central part of the state. That came as officials in the Omaha area noted the disproportionately high number of cases among minority populations. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services reported the two deaths Monday _ one in Hall County and the other in neighboring Adams County. The new deaths brought the state’s total since the outbreak began to 100. Meanwhile, the Douglas County Health Department expressed alarm at the number of Latinos, Asians and black residents becoming infected with the virus. Douglas County is nearly 70% white, but health officials say 77% of known COVID-19 cases in the county have occurred among people of color.

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska’s primary voters mostly steered clear of polling sites Tuesday while shattering the state record for absentee voting with nearly 400,000 mail-in ballots in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Republican President Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic challenger Joe Biden sailed to easy victories in the election, the first in-person primary since a heavily criticized election in Wisconsin five weeks ago in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. So did Republican U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, who faced a GOP primary challenge because of his previous criticism of Trump. Sasse will face Democrat Chris Janicek, the winner of a nine-way primary.

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Grand Island Public Schools - Ward A 
Terry Brown - 1,778 - 39% 
Lindsey Jurgens - 1,215 - 27% 
Randy Stueven - 884 - 19% 
Kelly Markham - 682 - 15% 

Brown & Jurgens advance to the November ballot 

Grand Island City Council - Ward 1 
Michelle Fitzke - 1,187 - 45% 
Jack Sheard - 941 - 35% 
Alan Pickrel - 335 - 13% 
Patrick Birkel - 194 - 7% 

Fitzke & Sheard advance to the November ballot 

Hall County - District Two Commissioner (Republican) 
Karen Bredthauer - 1, 301 - 62% 
Todd Morgan - 797 - 38% 

Bredthauer matches up with Bill Mowinkle (D) in the general election. 
Mowinkle was unopposed in the primary. 

US Senator (Hall County) (Republican) 
Ben Sasse - 5,825 - 72% 
Matt Innis - 2,224 - 27% 

US Senator (Hall County) (Democratic) (Top 2 of 7)
Chris Janicek - 892 - 28%
Angie Philips - 664 - 21%

Congress - District 3 (Hall County) (Republican) 
Adrian Smith - 6,161- 78%
Arron Kowalski - 743 - 9%
Justin Moran - 431 - 5%
William Elfgren - 259 - 3%

Congress - District 3 (Hall County) (Democratic)
Mark Elworth Jr. - 2,892 - 97%
Write-In Totals - 75 - 3%

Complete Results (View/Download)

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MAY 11, 2020 (NORTH PLATTE, NEB.)  — Troopers with the Nebraska State Patrol arrested a South Dakota man on several charges following a pursuit in western Nebraska.

At approximately 2:15 p.m. MDT Sunday, a trooper observed a BMW speeding near mile marker 132 on Interstate 80. The trooper performed a traffic stop, but during the process of the traffic stop the driver provided a fake name. As the trooper was attempting to verify the driver’s identity, the driver accelerated and fled the traffic stop at a high rate of speed. The trooper initiated a pursuit, but lost sight of the vehicle as it fled in the area south of Ogallala.

A short time later, an officer with the Ogallala Police Department located the vehicle and initiated a pursuit, which traveled on county roads and eventually returned to I-80 traveling eastbound. As the pursuit reached I-80, NSP took over as primary in the pursuit. During the pursuit, the BMW reached speeds of up to 120 miles per hour, both on I-80 and on county roads.

At approximately 3:45 p.m. MDT, the driver voluntarily came to a stop near mile marker 131. The driver, Misiker Ashame, 20, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was quickly taken into custody without further incident. Ashame was lodged in Keith County Jail for operating a motor vehicle to avoid arrest, no operator’s license, willful reckless driving, criminal impersonation, and possession of marijuana – less than one ounce.

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SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. (AP) — One person died after two vehicles collided east of Scottsbluff. The Scotts Bluff County Sheriff’s office said the crash happened around 9 a.m. Saturday on Highland Road about 3.5 miles east of Scottsbluff. The sheriff’s office said an eastbound vehicle crossed the center line and collided with a westbound vehicle. One person died in the crash and another person was seriously injured and taken to the hospital in Scottsbluff. Officials didn’t immediately release the names of the drivers involved in the crash.

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska health officials have reported two more COVID-19 deaths in the state, bringing the total since the outbreak began to 98. Of the two deaths reported Sunday, one was in Douglas County. No information was immediately available on the second death. The state is also reporting more confirmed cases of the new coronavirus. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said the number of confirmed cases in the state increased by more than 80 on Sunday to 8,315. The actual number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

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Grand Island, NE - Grand Island Police responded to 331 Nebraska Avenue on Thursday, May 7th to what would start out to be a verbal altercation between Alexander Babella and Levi Kullums. The incident would carry into the early morning hours of Friday, May 8th. Babella discharged a firearm at Levi Kullums which lead to causing serious bodily injury to Kullums hand and stomach. Alexander was arrested for attempted murder - 2nd degree, assault - 1st degree, and use of a deadly weapon (firearm) to commit a felony. 

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Grand Island, NE - On Thursday morning Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele provided a Covid-19 update alongside Central District Health Department Director Teresa Anderson. Mayor Steele also read a statement that was provided by CHI Health St Francis President Ed Hannon. President, CHI Health St. Francis Ed Hannon. "From the perspective of CHI Health St. Francis, we are seeing great declines in the number of patients presenting to the hospital emergency room or the Respiratory Fast track. As a matter of fact, the volumes of these patients has declined to the single digits seen each day, and we have closed the Respiratory Fast Track that was set up to deal with the influx of patients. The number of patients in inpatient beds who have tested positive is half of what is was at our peek on April 18th. We continue to have 50% of our ICU beds and ventilators available over the past several days. Below watch & listen the update from Thursday morning.

(May 7th) Covid-19 Update from Grand Island’s City Hall

Posted by KRGI News on Thursday, May 7, 2020

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MAY 6, 2020 (NORTH PLATTE, NEB.) — A collaborative effort of several law enforcement agencies has resulted in the arrest of the suspect involved in a pursuit Tuesday near Brady. 

At approximately 7:50 p.m. Tuesday evening, a trooper located a Chevrolet Silverado, which had been reported stolen in Cozad. The trooper observed the vehicle speeding at 100 miles per hour as it was traveling westbound on Highway 30 in eastern Lincoln County. The trooper attempted a traffic stop, but the vehicle fled. 

The trooper initiated a pursuit, which turned north on Haythorn Road before circling back and returning to Highway 30 westbound. As the vehicle continued driving at approximately 100 miles per hour, NSP dispatch was able to confirm the identity of the suspect. Troopers then discontinued the pursuit. The entire pursuit lasted approximately nine minutes. 

Wednesday morning, a local resident located the Silverado, which had been abandoned on Tin Camp Road, south of Highway 92 in McPherson County. The McPherson County Sheriff’s Office responded and confirmed that it was the vehicle that had been stolen and had been involved in the pursuit with troopers Tuesday evening. 

Several law enforcement agencies, including deputies from the McPherson, Logan, and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Offices, the NSP Aviation Support Division, and NSP Police Service Dog Division, reported to the scene to assist in a search of the area to locate the suspect. Law enforcement received a report that the suspect was at an abandoned farmstead and were quickly able to locate him and take him into custody without further incident at approximately 2:25 p.m. 

Shawn Grizzle, 33, of Cozad, was arrested for operating a motor vehicle to avoid arrest, theft by unlawful taking, willful reckless driving, and as a habitual criminal. Grizzle was lodged in Lincoln County Jail. Additional charges are pending from Dawson County. 



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LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraskans may begin enjoying recreational vehicle camping by reservation only at select state park areas starting May 20, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Limited RV camping will be available at select park areas where social distancing and group-size recommendations can be maintained to help ensure compliance with the state’s public health directives amid the COVID-19 health situation. A list of the available park areas will be posted on the agency website and updated as additional areas are established.

“We sympathize with those who have been affected by this virus and the rippling effects of trying to contain it, and we appreciate the patience and understanding of people who are passionate about camping,” Game and Parks Director Jim Douglas said. “We are pleased to now be able to allow limited RV camping, and we look forward to restoring more opportunities when the time is appropriate and as conditions allow. Our priority remains to protect the health and well-being of all Nebraskans.”

Those RV campsites will have the following requirements:

-- Designated sites, which will be spaced at least 25 feet apart, can be reserved online beginning May 17 at OutdoorNebraska.org and prepaid. First-come, first-served and tent camping will not be allowed.

-- Only self-contained recreational vehicles, with factory features that allow them to hold potable water, contain wastewater/sewage and connect to electrical service, will be allowed to reserve a site.

-- No parks’ showerhouses or modern restrooms will be open until further notice. Vault toilets and RV dump stations will be open.

-- Each campsite will be limited to eight guests, and the length of stay will be limited to seven days.

-- Mormon Island State Recreation Area (SRA) near Grand Island and Danish Alps SRA near Hubbard will not be available, as they are near communities with high COVID-19 incidence. Park areas may be added to or deleted from the list as warranted and upon recommendations of health officials.

Game and Parks retains the ability to scale back the number of campsites if social practices are not followed or if public health officials determine there is an increased incidence of virus in any region of the state.

Park grounds remain open to the public for day use and a park entry permit is needed for each vehicle entering a park.

State designated beach and swimming areas will be closed until further notice, in part due to recent incidents involving large gatherings and lack of social distancing on beach areas at multiple state park venues. Other waterfront areas will remain open for day use and fishing as long as social distancing and the 10-person gathering size limit are maintained.

In addition, current Game and Parks closures for cabins, lodge rooms, group shelters, undesignated campsites, and tent camping at state park areas and wildlife management areas will be extended at least through May 31, with possible further extension.

People with park reservations for camping or lodging affected by the extended closure can contact Game and Parks for a refund or to reschedule.

Game and Parks will continue to evaluate closures and opportunities that can be restored following state guidelines and local directed health measures. More information, including a list of closures, and answers to frequently asked questions, can be found at OutdoorNebraska.org.


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The Mayor’s office issues the following order regarding the operation of parks and recreational facilities effective May 7, 2020 until further notice.

OMAHA, Neb. — Two Nebraska meat processing plants have announced temporary closures in the wake of a surge in coronavirus cases among meatpacking plant workers. Tyson Foods pork plant in Madison and a Cargill beef plant in Schuyler announced Monday that they would temporarily shut down production to deep clean the plants. Tyson said it will await the results of workers who had been tested for COVID-19 last weekend before deciding when it will reopen. The plant closures will affect more than 3,000 workers and will likely slow the ability of producers to get hogs and cattle to slaughter.

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