July 3, 2015

7 hurt as blasts rock petroleum facility in West Point

FireA series of explosions in eastern Nebraska leaves two workers hospitalized in critical condition at Nebraska Medicine.

Crews were cleaning propane trucks at a business in West Point Wednesday afternoon when the blasts and fire happened.

Witnesses say the workers were taken to the hospital on a medical helicopter after seven of them had originally been transported to St. Francis Memorial Hospital in West Point.

It took about 30 minutes for fire crews to bring the blaze under control.

A woman living nearby says she heard an initial blast, then several more at about 3:30 p-m Wednesday.

The accident took place at Sapp Brothers Petroleum in West Point.

Gas prices are way down so 4th of July travel numbers are way up

Car passing carMany Nebraskans will be celebrating their freedom this coming holiday weekend by hitting the open highway for a road trip. Mark Peterson, with AAA-Nebraska, says they’re predicting a big boost in Fourth of July travel.

“AAA is projecting 41.9-million Americans will be traveling 50 miles or more from home this Independence Day,” Peterson says. “That’s the most since 2007. Independence Day is typically the busiest summer travel weekend for us. We think the rising income driven by a strong employment market is prompting more Americans to take a holiday trip this year.”

He says there’s another reason so many Nebraskans will be on the road…

“We think travel numbers will be increasing because we’re looking at some of the lowest gas prices we’ve seen in five years on any previous 4th of Julys,” Peterson says. “We’re looking at a difference in price of about 90 cents across the board and with that, we’re going to be seeing a lot more people out there traveling.”

The statewide average price for gas is $2.69, down from $3.58 a year ago.

With so many people on the roads, Independence Day weekend is also one of the most dangerous times to be on the highway.

“With the 4th of July, one of the deadliest holidays of the year, we’ll be asking our travelers to do their due diligence and make a few plans,” Peterson says. “If you can leave a little bit earlier, by all means, do so, or at the tail end of the trip, if you can take a little more time coming in or travel even possibly the next day and break up that time and get away from some of the masses that are traveling.”

Also, don’t try to make an exceptionally long drive home in one day, if possible. He suggests trying to break that up into two days to avoid fatigue.

Of all people who will be vacationing this weekend, he says nearly 85% of travelers will be in motor vehicles.

Wayne State College president set to retire this week

Wayne State CollegeTomorrow is the last day on the job for Wayne State College President Curt Frye, who’s retiring after 30 years at the school in northeast Nebraska.

Frye says he’s been fortunate to work with a lot of good people over the decades.

“You can’t be involved with a place, a job or an institution for 30 years without developing some attachments,” Frye says. “It’s the people that I’ve enjoyed the most working here. Seems like we all pull the cart in the same direction. It’s a great place.”

Frye says a lot has changed on campus since he first came to Wayne in 1985.

“The physical plan has changed dramatically,” he says. “There’s hardly a building on campus that hasn’t been paid attention to and upgrade or completely renovated. It looks a lot different than it did 30 years ago, that’s for sure.

Frye says he’s seen computers and technology greatly change the way colleges are able to reach and teach students, with a wide array of courses now available online and to far-away students.

After starting his career as a teacher, coach and guidance counselor, Frye began at Wayne State as the associate dean of students and later, became dean. He was appointed president in June of 2011.

A public reception to honor Frye will be held tomorrow from 1 to 4 pm at the Kanter Student Center Atrium.

The new president, Marysz Rames, currently at South Dakota State, will come to Wayne State in mid-July.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton

Dress like a “nerd” to avoid tick bites & disease exposure

Deer Tick

Deer Tick

Nebraskans are spending a lot of time outdoors now which may expose them to a tiny insect that could mean big trouble.

Epidemiologist Dr. Patty Quinlisk says ticks are very active during the summer months and carry several diseases — the most common is Lyme disease. Dr. Quinlisk says it’s fairly easy to prevent bites if you keep your skin covered in areas where ticks may be crawling.

“Wear long sleeve shirts, long pants and tuck your pants into your socks. I know that’s going to look like a nerd, but it will stop those ticks from coming up underneath your pant leg,” Quinlisk explains. “Then, you need to wear insect repellent and the one that works against ticks is the one that contains DEET.” Even if you avoid wooded and tall grassy areas where ticks are most often found, she says that doesn’t ensure you’ll be safe from bites.

“Ticks can be found anywhere, so I’ll just tell you, I wear insect repellent containing DEET when I go out into my garden just to be sure,” Quinlisk says. “Certainly, the higher risk would be in areas where there is wildlife — where there is deer, small rodents, things like that.”

If you find a tick latched onto your body, Quinlisk says you should remove it right away to prevent exposure to a disease.

She says you don’t want to do anything that would cause a tick to regurgitate into you, because that could transmit the disease. You should get down as close to your body as you can with your fingernails or tweezers and pull the tick straight out.

Nebraska sees between five and ten Lyme disease cases per year and perhaps 20 cases of another tick-borne disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.


Summer camp for future nurses targets Panhandle high schoolers

Dr. Liane Connelly, UNMC

Dr. Liane Connelly, UNMC

A summer camp is planned next month in Scottsbluff for high school students who are considering the field of nursing.

Dr. Liane Connelly, assistant dean of the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing, says the two-day camp is free to qualifying Panhandle students.

“It provides an opportunity for us to reach out and recruit a diverse, disadvantaged applicant pool of potential nursing students, high schoolers, who are thinking about a career in nursing,” Dr. Connelly says.

The summer camp offers students a chance to learn about the profession up-close and see if nursing might fit with their own career goals.

“The activities they would be involved in would include a lot of hands-on activities,” Connelly says, “like learning how to do assessments, how to listen to heart sounds, how to do blood pressures, how to assess different health statuses of people, working with simulated mannequins.”

Many high school students haven’t figured out what they want to do for their careers but she says this summer camp will offer them a good look at an in-demand position in the health care industry.

A study from the Nebraska Center for Nursing finds 34% of the RNs in Nebraska are approaching retirement age, while nearly 2,700 new nursing positions will be created by 2020.

“The summer camp provides the opportunity for the high schooler to visit and get to know some of the UNMC nursing students,” Connelly says. “They get a sense from them what it’s like to be a student in the nursing program. They also have the chance to interact with registered nurses who can also share with them their experiences and what it’s like to work in the profession of nursing.”

The camp runs July 22nd and 23rd in Scottsbluff. For registration information, contact Bobbi Hartshorn at (308) 632-0410 or bhartsho@unmc.edu.