Kearney Man Charged with 30 Counts of Being a Felon with Firearms


The Kearney Police Department found a small arsenal of weapons in the home of a Kearney man who is a convicted felon.

Charges were filed against Ward Hunnel, 44, of Kearney.  Buffalo County Court Records state that Hunnel was charged with 30 counts of being a felon in possession of firearms-first offense.  A search warrant was served on Hunnel’s home Thursday afternoon by the Kearney Police Department.  Upon execution of the warrant, police found Hunnel to be in possession of 28 rifles and two shotguns.  All 30 counts are Class I-D felonies and are punishable by three to 50 years in prison.

The warrant was issued after police received information on Wednesday that Hunnel had a cache of weapons in his Kearney home.  The warrant was served by members of the Kearney Police Emergency Services Unit.

Kearney Police Chief Dan Lynch told the Kearney Hub that he believes Hunnel is a hunting enthusiast and not a threat to the community.

Hunnel also faces a similar weapons charge in Grant County after being charged with possessing weapons in November.

Hunnel will appear in Buffalo County Court in February.




NE Legislature Sets Hearing on ‘Social Media’ Bill to Prevent Meddling Bosses

facebook-log-onLawmakers have set a hearing for a bill that would prevent bosses from demanding access to private information within their employees’ Facebook or Twitter accounts.

The Legislature’s Business and Labor Committee will hold a hearing on the proposal on Monday.

The bill by Sen. Tyson Larson of O’Neill would make it illegal for employers or potential employers to request the information from a worker or job applicant.

The bill would prevent employers from ordering a worker to log onto a social media site in the employer’s presence. Employers also would be banned from demanding passwords, or accessing an account indirectly through a friend or third party.

The law would not apply to information posted by employees that’s in the public domain.

UNMC Claims New Breakthrough in Stem Cell Research

UOFNMEDICALCENTERUniversity of Nebraska Medical Center officials say researchers there have devised a new way to create stem cells that could cure several conditions causing blindness.

A team led by ophthalmology and visual sciences professor Iqbal Ahmad has devised a way to turn adult limbal stem cells from the cornea into cells similar to powerfully regenerative embryonic stem cells in animals.

The university says the new cells can generate retinal progenitor cells that could potentially cure conditions such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.

The work builds off that of Drs. John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka, who won this year’s Nobel Prize in science for their discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed into immature cells that can be turned into all tissues of the body.

NE Lawmakers Could Soon Ban Minors from Tanning Facilities

tanning-bed-no-minorsNebraska lawmakers heard passionate public testimony on a measure that would ban minors from tanning facilities, amid concerns that tanning beds can cause skin cancer.

The Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee held a hearing on the issue Friday at the Capitol. Several skin cancer survivors and dermatologists spoke in favor of the bill, while the tanning bed industry opposed it.

Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha introduced the measure, which would ban minors under the age of 18 from using tanning beds. Nebraska currently does not have any age restrictions on indoor tanning.

Nordquist says he is concerned about ultraviolet rays used in tanning beds that can cause cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says those under 35 who tan have a 75% higher risk of melanoma.

Lincoln Co. Marriage Licenses


Mark David Hooper, 25, North Platte and Megan Elizabeth Reynolds, 28, North Platte

Jason Michael Citta, 38, Hershey NE and Meghan Marie Gartner, 30, North Platte

Israel Gonzalez, 28, Lexington NE and Cristina Guajardo, 19, Lexington NE

Juan Francisco Orellana, 32,  North Platte and Chelsea Alexis Turnbull, 27, North Platte

Fundraising Event Organized for NP Infant Stricken with Near SIDS Episode


Zoie White

On May 28, 2012, Kellie Whyte and Matt White experienced one of the true joys in life, the birth of twins, Jaxon Maurice and Zoie Sloane at Great Plains Regional Medical Center (GPRMC) in North Platte.

The twins continued to grow and progress as most babies do.  However, on December 1, joy turned to tragedy and devastation.  Their father went to feed the twins their bottle and found little Zoie, who had been awake just moments earlier,  unresponsive.  Matt quickly summoned his wife, Kellie, who performed CPR while waiting for the paramedics to arrive.

Doctors at GPRMC were able to stabilize Zoie, who was then flown to Denver Children’s Hospital.

Initially, doctors at Denver Children’s gave the devastated parents a very bleak prognosis stating that Zoie had experienced a “near SIDS” episode, and on December 12, Matt and Kellie were forced to make the decision that no parent ever wants to make, removing their baby girl from life support.  As the family waited for the inevitable to happen, Zoie miraculously began breathing on her own and on December 17, they were treated to the most amazing sound possible; the crying of little Zoie.

To the amazement of doctors, Zoie continues to make small improvements.  She is currently receiving speech, occupational and physical therapy, and here therapists are thrilled with her accomplishments.  However, the road to recovery for Zoie is still a long one.

The family has received a tremendous outpouring of prayers, love and support during this unbelievably difficult time.  But, the ordeal has been extremely costly and the family needs your help.

Friends of the family are organizing a fundraising event to assist the family with medical expenses.  The event will feature a bake sale, vendor booths and a silent auction, and will be held on Saturday February 2 form 10:00am to 4:00pm at the Knights of Columbus building located at 515 E. 5th in North Platte.  Additionally, donations can be made to the Zoie White Fund at Wells Fargo Bank and t-shirts can be purchased at White Tail Screen Print for $15.00.  Friends have also established a Facebook page to update the status of Zoie.  All proceeds will benefit Zoie and her family.



Paxton Man Accused of Sexually Assaulting Boy Changes Plea and Waives Jury Trial

Cortney Schrader

Cortney Schrader

A 29-year-old Paxton man charged with sexually assaulting a young boy in North Platte last June has changed his plea and waived his right to a jury trial.

Cortney Schrader changed his plea to ‘no contest’ in a Lincoln County courtroom Friday after initially pleading ‘not guilty’ to third-degree sexual assault back in July.

Schrader was arrested June 12, 2012, after an officer from the North Platte Police Department responded to 500 North Pacific Place on the report of a sexual assault.

The juvenile victim, whose name is not being released, alleged that Schrader inappropriately touched him in a sexual manner on two prior occasions. The alleged sexual assaults occurred while Schrader was visiting the victim and their family.

Following an investigation and interviews, Schrader — a registered sex offender — was placed under arrest for two counts of third-degree sexual assault.

In 2002, Schrader was convicted of two counts of attempted first-degree sexual assault of a minor, according to the Nebraska Sex Offender Registry website.

He has been free on a $5,000 bond since June 18, and has been ordered to have no contact with the victim.

Schrader will be sentenced March 7 in Lincoln County Court.

Grand Island Police Looking for Missing Mother

Maria De Los Angeles-Ventura

Maria De Los Angeles-Ventura

Grand Island police are searching for a woman who they say left her child with a babysitter last Tuesday and then went missing.

Authorities say 22–year–old Maria De Los Angeles–Ventura was reported missing last Friday night, shortly after 11 p.m.

Officials and family members say she left her child with a babysitter for what was supposed to be 30 minutes sometime Tuesday, and never returned.

Officer Wes Tjaden of the Grand Island Police Department says authorities have tried to reach her to no avail. “Several attempted contacts have been made with her and there has been no response,” he said.

Police are attempting to reach out to people who they believe she might be with.

Family members say she was last seen wearing black skinny jeans and a brown jacket.

If you have any information about De Los Angeles-Ventura’s disappearance, please call the Grand Island Police Department at (308) 385-5400.


NP Principal Placed on Administrative Leave

NP-Public-SchoolsA Principal at a North Platte Elementary School was placed on paid administrative leave on Monday.

Shane Alexander, Principal of Washington Elementary was placed on leave pending an ongoing investigation.

North Platte Public Schools Superintendent, Marty Basset, said in a statement that the investigation is a personnel matter and asked that no assumptions be made.  Basset along with Tami Eshleman are assuming Alexander’s duties until the investigation is completed.

Alexander has been at the helm at Washington since May of 2011.  He previously served as the Principal at Eisenhower Elementary.


Dentistry Students at UNMC Offering Free Dental Care to NE Children

UNMCDentistry students from the University of Nebraska Medical Center are providing free dental care to Nebraska children.

The students are offering the free screenings on Feb. 1 at the UNMC’s Lincoln-based College of Dentistry. Children from Lincoln, Crete, Columbus, Madison, Norfolk, and Stanton will participate, as well as children from Wayne, West Point, Wisner, Beamer, Lyons, Lexington, Hastings and Grand Island.

College dean John Reinhardt says the children selected for the program have no other access to dental care.

UNMC has been offering the program for the past 12 years. The university says students have provided more than $2 million in dental services to nearly 5,000 children.