March 28, 2015

Storm chasers to be spotlighted at Saturday’s Severe Weather Seminar



The annual regional Severe Weather Seminar is planned for this weekend at the Saline Center west of Wilber along Nebraska Highway 15.

Saline County emergency management coordinator B.J. Fictum says experts from the Iowa Storm Chasing Network will be among the featured highlights this year.

“The Iowa Storm Chase Team that took all of the outstanding pictures of the Pilger twin tornadoes that you saw on CNN and the Weather Channel is coming down,” Fictum says, “and they’re bringing Team Dorothy, which is their version of the TIV or Tornado Intercept Vehicle, the big thing that looks like a tank.”

“Dorothy” began as a 2013 Ford E-350 van and was heavily modified with three-quarter-inch polycarbonate windows and double-walled 14 and 6-gauge steel. The four-person vehicle allows chasers to get an up close view of tornadoes.

The team’s Ben McMillan will give an insider’s perspective to covering the Pilger tornadoes last June, as well as tracking the EF-5 twister that hit Parkersburg, Iowa, in 2008, and the devastating twisters in Oklahoma.

Fictum says the 12:30 PM seminar on Saturday includes storm spotting information to provide continuing education for spotters. The regional seminar held at the Saline Center typically draws 200 to 300 people of all ages.

“The more people we can educate, the more people we can give the information to, the better off everybody is going to be and that’s preparedness,” he says.

Saturday’s seminar will be kicked off by the presentation of awards in the Saline County portion of the Nebraska Severe Weather Awareness Poster Contest, with more than 170 posters on display that were drawn by Saline County 4th graders. There will be several displays inside and outside the Saline Center, door prizes and a lunch. The event is free.

By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice


Middle school teacher charged with having sex with student

Jackson Hedrick

Jackson Hedrick

A first-year Lincoln middle school teacher has been charged with having sex with one of his students at a Lincoln residence.

22-year-old Jackson Hedrick has been arraigned on a charge of first-degree sexual assault and enticing by an electronic device.

Lincoln Police Department spokeswoman, Katie Flood, says Hedrick was first accused of enticing the student with electronic communication.

“The allegations included private messaging, sexual contact and furnishing the minor with alcohol,” Flood tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “Investigators reviewed messages sent between the two and found texts that were indecent, lewd and sexual in nature.”

The school district says another student brought the accusations to the attention of a social worker at another school, who then informed district officials.

Hedrick, a social studies teacher at Irving Middle School, is accused of having sex with the 14-year-old girl at a Lincoln residence. Lincoln police arrested Hedrick on Tuesday.

The Lincoln Public School District has placed Hedrick on paid administrative leave.

Superintendent Steve Joel says the situation is disturbing for both students and faculty.

“When something like this happens, it’s horrible,” Joel tells reporters during a news conference. “If there’s something that keeps us awake at night, it’s when a child feels unsafe or is being bullied or, in this case, something much worse.”

Investigators reviewed messages sent between the two and found texts that were indecent, lewd and sexual in nature, according to the department.

Lincoln police say the investigation is ongoing. The name of the student is not being released.

KLIN contributed to this report.

Nebraska teacher charged with sexually assaulting student

A middle school teacher has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old student.

22-year-old Jackson Hedrick teaches social studies at Irving Middle School in the Lincoln Public School District. He has been placed on administrative leave. Hedrick faces charges of enticement and first-degree sexual assault. The alleged incident happened away from the school.

Nebraska students rally to help make next generation smoke-free

KickButtsYoung anti-smoking activists across Nebraska will stand up to Big Tobacco today in joining their counterparts nationwide for the 20th annual Kick Butts Day.

John Schachter, spokesman for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says numerous events are planned in Nebraska, all focused on clearing the air.

“Young people across the country are sending out the message they’re sick and tired of being targeted by the tobacco industry’s manipulative marketing and they’re coming together to reject it,” Schachter says. “We will see more than 1,000 Kick Butts Day events across the country, with everybody working together to make the next generation tobacco-free.”

Some events in Nebraska today will be as simple as organizing groups of students to walk along roadways and pick up cigarette butts and empty cigarette packs.

“You’re going to see rallies at the state capitol to educate legislators about the importance of fully funding tobacco prevention efforts,” Schachter says. “Some groups will do things like a billboard of ribbons and glow-sticks with facts about the tobacco industry’s deceptive tactics. There will be groups of kids who will survey tobacco retailers to see if they’ve thought about going tobacco-free.”

A tobacco industry document reportedly refers to young people as “replacements,” meaning, replacement smokers for the half-million people who die every year from tobacco.

“We are encouraging young people across the country to take selfies with a statement that says, ‘I’m not a replacement, I am…’ and they’re filling in what they really are,” Schachter says. “Are they an activist, are they an advocate, are they an athlete, are they a musician, are they a future astronaut? They can put in whatever they want and they are posting these selfies to our gallery on our website.”

In Nebraska, tobacco use claims 2,500 lives and costs $795-million in health care bills each year. The latest survey finds 11% of Nebraska’s high school students smoke.

Nationwide, Schachter says tobacco companies spend $8.8 billion a year — or one million dollars every hour — to market tobacco products. In Nebraska, tobacco companies spend $59-million annually on marketing efforts.


In Nebraska, a few of the activities today include:

No Limits Nebraska will bus 100 students to Lincoln to lead a rally at the State Capitol to educate senators about the importance of fully-funded tobacco prevention movements. Time: 8 AM. Location: 1445 K Street, Lincoln.

Students from Schuyler Central High School will create a billboard of ribbons and glow sticks with facts about the tobacco industry’s deceptive tactics. Time: 3:45 PM. Location: 401 Adams Street, Schuyler.

Students from Northeast Community College in Norfolk will promote the #NotAReplacement campaign in the student center. Time: 1 PM. Location: 801 E. Benjamin Avenue, Norfolk.

On March 23, students from Columbus Middle School will collaborate with Tobacco Free Platte County to place a tobacco-free message in cups along the main fence of the school, and play jeopardy to learn the dangers of tobacco. Time: 3 PM. Location: 2410 16th Street, Columbus. Contact: Jamie Rodriguez (402) 563-9656 ext. 265.

For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Nebraska, visit

Son of disgraced former Penn State Coach Jerry Sandusky to speak at UNK

Matthew Sandusky/Photo courtesy of UNK

Matthew Sandusky/Photo courtesy of UNK

The adopted son of disgraced former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky will share his story of sexual child abuse tomorrow at the University of Nebraska-Kearney.

Matthew Sandusky will be the featured speaker during the 26th annual Criminal Justice Conference and Career Fair at the University of Nebraska at Kearney Tuesday, March 17th.

UNK Criminal Justice Department chairwoman Julie Campbell says it is extremely difficult for the victims of child sexual abuse to come forward.

“Matthew’s situation was very complicated, because he had to make that disclosure to his wife, Kim, to his family, but he had to do so very publicly in light of the Jerry Sandusky scandal,” Campbell tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KXPN. “Penn State fans are very loyal to the university and to their football program and I don’t think it was an easy process for him to come forward in such a public way.”

Jerry Sandusky is serving 30 to 60 years in prison after being convicted in 2012 on 45 counts of child sexual abuse. Matthew came forward during the trial, after hearing testimonies from other victims.

Matthew Sandusky and his wife created the Peaceful Hearts Foundation, which promotes stronger child sexual abuse laws and reaches out to the victims of childhood sexual abuse.

Matthew Sandusky will speak at 9:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. in the Nebraskan Student Union Ponderosa Room. His first talk will include his own story of overcoming sexual abuse. In his second presentation, he will discuss life after sexual abuse.

The conference is free and open to the public. It also includes a career fair for students of the university.

Brent Weithorn, KXPN, contributed to this article.