August 31, 2015

DC West Community Schools struggle with bond issue

Vandalism and accusations are running wild at DC West Community School District. After voters in November failed to pass a $45.8-million bond issue signs within the district have been vandalized and there are accusations the district purposely planted mold in the buildings so the next bond issue would pass.

Superintendent Melissa Poloncic says she too heard those accusations which are false. “She says this has been a very heated issue and many people are concerned about the affordability of the bond issue. She says there are some facts that can’t be ignored. She says there are fire safety violations and electrical and plumbing problems needed to be brought up to code.

Poloncic says, “We have some code violations that are looking me in the face on September 16th. The results on the 15th depends on how we attack those. I have to meet with the fire marshal in September and I have to have a plan of action. We have millions of dollars we have to find somehow.”

Poloncic says unfortunately if the bond doesn’t pass they will have to dip into general funds to make the repairs and possibly cut programs.

Voters within the district will decide a new bond issue on September 15th. Part one, or Plan A totals $38.85-million that is slated for building renovations and campus realignment. Plan B totals $7.1-million and would be used for a new gym, locker room and educational upgrades.

UNK students can now rent cars for $5 an hour

UNK logoStudents at the University of Nebraska at Kearney no longer need to have a car of their own on campus to get around town.

Scott Benson, UNK’s assistant director of business services, says they’re launching an affordable transportation option called Enterprise CarShare.

“Students will be able to rent cars for $5 an hour and that includes your fuel, insurance and maintenance,” Benson says. “Really, it’s an affordable option, especially for students who are not able to bring cars to campus, like our international students or others. You just go online and get a membership, the membership for this first semester is $1 and it’s $5 an hour after that.”

Benson expects the cars will come in very handy.

“Students can rent them to go to Walmart or the mall,” Benson says. The program is also open to UNK faculty and staff as well as to Kearney residents. “Cars are fuel efficient so it’s a green initiative and there will be fewer cars on campus which will help alleviate some of the parking issues.”

Enterprise CarShare is offering the program now in 35 states and on more than 100 university campuses, but this is the first venture in Nebraska.

By Brent Wiethorn, KKPR, Kearney

 

Autism awareness group plans fall conference, summer camp

Participants in the Operation Shine summer camp

Participants in the Operation Shine summer camp

A central Nebraska organization strives to raise awareness about children with autism and the challenges they face, including bullying. Aaron Bly, of Kenesaw, is the founder and president of the Kids and Dreams Foundation.

“My wife and I have adopted five children and the middle child has autism,” Bly says. “We have done a lot of different things, trying different items with him, a lot of stuff that people aren’t aware of. We felt that families experiencing autism could really benefit from more resources and options and that’s why the foundation was started.”

Another organization that’s based in Hastings is called Mustaches for Kids, which recruits men to grow mustaches over a month’s time and to raise money for a children’s charity during that month.

“The Kids and Dreams Foundation is the charity they selected to support during August, so this month, we have over 50 growers of mustaches who are not only growing the mustache but going out and trying to get support, donations from their families and friends,” Bly says. “All of those proceeds will go to the Kids and Dreams Foundation for our autism conference in October and for our Operation Shine Camp that will be next June.”

The autism conference will feature six speakers. It’s scheduled for October 2nd in Kearney, focusing on families, parents and professionals. Learn more at kidsanddreams.org.

By Brent Wiethorn, KKPR, Kearney

 

Kids with “learning trouble” may actually have vision problem

Dr. Triebel works with a vision therapy patient

Dr. Triebel works with a vision therapy patient

As tens of thousands of Nebraska children head back to school, a study finds one in four of them has a vision problem.

Optometrist Dr. Beth Triebel says kids may not be up-front about having a problem with their sight so parents need to be watchful for warning signs.

“A lot of times you’ll notice the kids squinting to see things,” Dr. Triebel says. “If they’re reading, they may turn their head funny, close an eye or rub their eyes a lot after reading. They may get very close to the reading material or move it really far away.”

Triebel says simple vision tests can be performed on children as young as infants which can spot potential problems very early.

“There’s a free program called InfantSEE that you can get your child in to get that very basic, preliminary exam to look for any red flags that could be a problem later,” Triebel says. “After that, I typically recommend an exam before kindergarten, between ages 3 and 5, and then after that, every couple of years is a good idea.”

Since 80% of all learning is visual, she says good vision is important in the classroom. A study finds 60% of students who are identified as “problem learners” have undetected vision problems.

“There could be some underlying vision problems that could either be the cause of it or certainly add to that type of behavior,” Triebel says. “It’s very important that if your child is having trouble in school or having trouble learning, that you get a comprehensive eye exam and make sure everything is working right.”

Triebel offers a few suggestions for things parents can do to protect their child’s vision, including:

  • provide a well-lit, comfortable area for reading and homework
  • a child watching TV should sit 6 to 8 feet away from the television set
  • children should take frequent breaks to rest their eyes while reading, working on a computer or playing video games
  • wear appropriate eye protection in activities where there is a risk of eye injury
  • time away from school should allow for creative play time to help his or her vision develop properly

 

UNK to open high-tech Health Science Ed complex this morning

UNK logoThe University of Nebraska at Kearney will hold the grand opening today of its new $19-million Health Science Education Complex.

The ribbon-cutting is scheduled for 11 AM.

UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen says the 46,000 square foot academic facility is a collaborative effort between UNK and the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha to meet the growing demand for primary and rural health care.

“This is where we’re bringing seven professional programs from the medical center out,” Kristensen says. “They’re going to increase the quality and size of the nursing program here and this building is high-tech. It’s been a couple of years in the making. The board of regents are excited. The medical center, I know, is excited.”

Public tours will be offered after the ribbon-cutting, which Kristensen says may create an unusual, yet welcome dilemma for the university.

“We’re going to have such a high demand for visitors,” he says. “We’re probably going to have to regulate who can come in and see the building after we get started, because it’s going to be a working, operating building, obviously.”

Funding for the project was made possible through a 2012 Nebraska Legislative appropriation, through the university-wide Building a Healthier Nebraska initiative and private donations.

By Brent Wiethorn, KKPR, Kearney