April 25, 2014

9-year-old boy taken into custody in death of 4-year-old brother

Authorities have taken into custody a nine-year-old Hastings boy in connection with the shooting death of his four-year-old brother.

The death of Beau Pecor on Good Friday had originally been considered accidental.

Adams County Attorney Donna Fegler Daiss tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KHAS a juvenile petition has been filed, alleging one count of manslaughter.

The name of the boy has not been released, due to his age. He currently is in the custody of the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Investigators are looking into prior incidents between the two brothers.

Beau died of a gunshot wound to the head from a .22 caliber rifle that belongs to the boyfriend of Beau’s mother.

 Jeniffer Berry, KHAS, contributed to this article




Osborn claims US can achieve energy independence in five years

Republican candidate for United States Senate, Shane Osborn, says the U.S. can achieve energy independence in the next five years.

“I put a plan out that talks just about that; how we can get there through fracking and having a diversified energy portfolio with liquefied natural gas. Stop the war on coal. The EPA’s war on coal is going to really hurt Nebraskans, considering that 70% of our power comes from coal-fired plants,” Osborn tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Though Nebraska is highly dependent on coal to produce electricity in the state, many question whether coal-fired plants produce too much pollution for coal to continue as a major energy source.

“We already have clean coal. We burn it cleaner than anybody else in the world and it is a good, reliable, cheap source of power,” Osborn responds. “And what we need is cheap energy and infrastructure and that’s how we get the jobs back from overseas; the manufacturing jobs that we’ve lost. That’s what we need to do. People are going to burn the coal and we’re doing it the cleanest of anyone in the world.”

The Osborn energy plan states the federal government should entrust the states to regulate offshore drilling and fracking, the country should increase the export of natural gas, the U.S. should rely on North American energy producers until it achieves energy independence, nuclear power should be expanded, and the free market should determine investments in wind, solar, hydroelectric, and geothermal power.

Osborn adds the Keystone XL oil pipeline needs to be approved. Osborn criticizes President Barack Obama for again delaying a decision on Keystone.

“It just shows Obama’s doublespeak and how he says he’s for energy independence and for diversified energy portfolio, but his actions speak louder than his words,” according to Osborn.

The State Department has announced it will not make a recommendation on Keystone until legal issues in Nebraska are resolved.

Teen who escaped custody gives himself up three days later

A teen-ager who escaped the custody of the Hastings police reconsidered and turned himself in three days later.

The Hastings Police Department reports 17-year-old Zachary Vaught of Hastings has been charged with felony escape after surrendering to officers at the Hastings Police Department.

Vaught was being transported to the Adams County jail last week when he fled in handcuffs. He had been arrested for probation violation. He also faces a couple of new charges, assault and felony theft, from a previous incident.

Jeniffer Berry, KHAS, contributed to this article

Nebraska puts the brakes on California “ridesharing” companies

The concept of “ridesharing” may be growing in some big cities, but companies that coordinate the service need to drive around a few obstacles before heading down any Nebraska roads.

Ridesharing is popular with smartphone users in metro areas. An app links motorists with would-be passengers who will pay for rides. They can pay using the app and even add electronic tips.

Two ridesharing companies, both based in California, have been advertising for drivers in Nebraska on social networking sites like Facebook and Craigslist. Lyft and Uber are seeking drivers in Columbus, Lincoln and Omaha.

The state Public Service Commission is warning both companies they first need the panel’s permission before they can start offering the service here. So far, neither has applied.


Expert: Severity of wildfire season ahead is still a tossup

Fire in cornfieldThe training manager of the state’s Wildland Fire Academy says it’s still anyone’s guess as to how bad the year ahead will be for wildfires.

Casey McCoy, with the Nebraska Forest Service, says he puts little stock in long-range forecasts and says your odds of predicting a wildfire season would be just as good as flipping a coin.

“We could have a very, very dry summer and especially out in the western part of the state, if it’s really dry out there, the prime cause of fires out there would be lightning strikes in the summertime,” McCoy says. “We could have very dry conditions and not get the lightning storms, not get the dry thunderstorms and they may not have anything.”

The year ahead “has the potential” to be a very bad one for brushfires, he says, based on how 2014 started out.

McCoy says, “I’m also on a volunteer fire department and my fire department had more wildfire runs in January than we had in all of 2013.”

Some are already making comparisons of conditions this year to 2012, the worst fire year on record for Nebraska. He’s hoping they’re wrong and there’s not a repeat, but it could still go either way.

“In the places where we still have tall-standing dead grass, we could still have another month or two of busy fire season here,” McCoy says. “Typically, the way it works is, it transitions from the eastern part of the state in the spring to the western and north-central parts of the state in the summertime and then it comes back down here in the fall.”

In 2012, there were almost a half-million acres burned, 65 structures lost and about 12-million dollars in fire suppression costs.