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Gov. Ricketts Relieves State Patrol Colonel of Duty

LINCOLN – At a news conference this morning, Governor Pete Ricketts announced he had relieved the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) Colonel Brad Rice of his duties following a review into how use of force investigations are conducted by NSP.


“Today, I have relieved State Patrol Colonel Brad Rice of his duties,” said Governor Ricketts. “My decision was based on the initial findings of the review being conducted by my Chief Human Resources Officer. My team will commence a search immediately for the next Superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol to lead this agency which is vital to protecting Nebraska’s public safety.”


“Over the past week, my review has focused on how recent use of force investigations have been conducted,” said the Governor’s Chief Human Resources Officer Jason Jackson. “This review found interference into the internal investigation process of the State Patrol and violations of internal policies among other concerning issues at the highest levels of the agency’s leadership.”


The Governor has named Administrative Services Major Russ Stanczyk, the senior member of the command staff, as Interim Superintendent of the State Patrol effective immediately.


At the news conference, Jackson said that in addition to the Governor’s dismissal of the Colonel that two other command staff had been placed on paid administrative leave. Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Schwarten is among those being placed on leave.


A total of six personnel are being placed on paid administrative leave, including the command staff named above.


Jackson has turned over initial findings from his review to the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for further investigation. Jackson’s review continues into other matters.


Penner Running For 3rd District Seat

   Some may know Kirk Penner as the tenacious rebounder on the 1987 Aurora Huskies Class B state championship team, others as a small businessman, who for the last 25 years has been producing and manufacturing bathing systems for nursing homes and hospitals. Now Kirk Penner wants to be known for something else, a Congressional Candidate who will stand up for small business.


One of the main concerns for Penner is healthcare, as Penner says it’s dramatically impacted his business and his employees.

Penner says he’s already developing simple solutions to give Nebraskans better healthcare


Penner will be challenging incumbent Adrian Smith in the Republican Primary in 2018, however Penner says he’s not necessarily running as a Republican but rather “a red state conservative”


For Penner the challenge, if elected will be standing up for the 3rd district in the face of continued party gridlock, but Penner says he has the plans that will bring both sides to the table.


Additional Content:


Five Minute Focus Kirk Penner Five Minute Focus Kirk Penner (File size 5216 KB)


Kirk Penner Full Interview Kirk Penner Full Interview (File size 21862 KB)



Victory For Craft Brewers


A measure criticized as harmful to Nebraska's craft breweries has been defeated in the Legislature.

Lawmakers voted 30-4 on an amendment from Senator Carol Blood to strip the proposal out of a larger bill. The proposal would have clarified that beer produced by microbreweries must first go to a distributor's warehouse before it gets shipped to liquor stores, groceries and other outlets. That amendment had the support of Senator Dan Quick of District 35


Senators than voted to advance the bill, which many lawmakers said has good legislation in it..including a crack down on bottle clubs as Senator Bob Krist of Omaha took direct aim at the Midwest girls club here in Grand Island as well as Hastings and other adult establishments owned by Shane Harrington.


Krist further commented that he’s concerned about what kind of activity happens at these clubs.The bill also aims to protect bars from being harassed for music licensing fees.


LB 632 full report LB 632 full report (File size 2623 KB)

Future Plans For The GI Veterans Home land


There have been many questions and concerns about what the city is going to do with the land where the Central Nebraska Veterans Home sits. Just last week Grand Island Mayor Jeremy Jensen announced with the hiring of Olsson Associates the city is ready to start the planning process. Mayor Jensen said that plans are far from final and community input will be vital.

One of the concerns that has been addressed is some veterans feel as if they’ve had no say, and believe that now is time for veterans to be heard about the use of the Veterans Home property. Mayor Jensen doesn’t disagree.

Another important piece of information to know moving forward is that plans and ideas brought forth in the public meetings all won’t happen overnight.

There’s no doubt Grand Island residents and veterans are passionate about this issue and Mayor Jensen believes that passion will be beneficial if pointed towards the future, and not the past.

Additional Content:

*The Five Minute Focus Program which aired on 4/20/17 and airs each Thursday morning at approx. 8:20 on AM 1430 KRGI as well as 106.9FM 

* KRGI's Tyson Havranek sits down with Mayor Jensen for an extended interview on the planning process for the land where the Grand Island Veterans Home currently sits.

Five Minute Focus Vets Land Plan Five Minute Focus Vets Land Plan (File size 5756 KB)

Mayor Jensen Full Interview Mayor Jensen Full Interview (File size 17986 KB)


GIPS Officials Acknowledge Concern Over Elementary Schedule Changes

     Coming up this Thursday the Grand Island Public School Board of Education will meet for the first time since learning of the proposed changes to the elementary schedule that were announced last month. The changes, set to take place at the beginning of the next school year, have been met with criticism both from parents and teachers in the school district. A Freedom Of Information request filed by KRGI News reveals email communication where senior administrators acknowledged the major concerns. Chief Academic Officer Josh McDowell. 


McDowell 1 McDowell 1 (File size 220 KB)


In the weeks leading up to the March board of education meeting senior officials in email communication are quoted saying “Hearing rumors that a few elementary teachers are trying to gather troops to complain about the new schedule and everything else, spring break should help calm the troops" Another official responded by contemplating adding parents from the parent council meeting to talk about the positives of the changes”

In an earlier interview with KRGI News McDowell says he and Superintendent Dr. Tawana Grover were in the midst of one on one meetings with concerned parents and staff.


McDowell 2 McDowell 2 (File size 327 KB)


The Board meets Thursday at the Kneale Administration building at 6:30



Homicide Investigation



Grand Island- Grand Island Police are investigating a fatal stabbing that happened Saturday evening.

Police say 59-year-old Christian Peterson died after being stabbed several times at his home. After the stabbing, Peterson sought help from neighbors before collapsing near Jefferson Elementary School about a block away from his home. Neighbors called police, and officers arrived shortly after. No arrests have been made at this time.

The Grand Island Police Department is utilizing all resources in this open investigation. At this time, police continue to apply their resources toward this investigation, and are requesting to speak with friends, family, or associates of Peterson who may have information about persons he was associating with around the time of the homicide.

Anyone with information pertaining to this investigation is urged to contact the Grand Island Police Department. no further information is available at this time, but we will update as new information becomes available.



Plans Continue On Campus Of Central Nebraska Veterans Home

Development plans continue on the 500-plus acre campus of the Central Nebraska Veterans Home, after the State handed the property back to Grand Island back in December of 2015.

Grand Island Mayor Jeremy Jensen spoke with KRGI's Tyson Havranek and says the city is set to announce more plans very soon that will include multiple opportunities for community input.


GI Mayor Jeremy Jensen GI Mayor Jeremy Jensen (File size 7144 KB)

Governor Stops In GI To Celebrate Agriculture


Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts was in Grand Island Yesterday for National Agriculture week.

The Governor made a stop at Raising Nebraska and said Raising Nebraska is a perfect example of the state's efforts to increase AG education

The Governor was joined by state ag director Greg Ibach, who spoke about his office's efforts to help farmers during this trying time. Ibach remains very confident in the Trump administration to begin the process of working through several bilateral trade agreements.


National Agriculture week was the topic of our five minute focus program this morning a replay of the program can be found by clicking the link below.



Nebraska Crane Trust Loses Bid For Property Tax Exemption



A state panel has upheld Hall County's refusal to exempt from property taxes the land and buildings of the Crane Trust Nature & Visitor Center near Wood River. The Nebraska State Tax Equalization and Review Commission last week ruled against the Platte River Whooping Crane Maintenance Trust. Hall County had argued that some of the trust's land was leased to agricultural operators.Trust officials have said the lease money sustains the trust's charitable mission.


Additional Content: Reaction From Hall Co. Assessor. Janet Pelland.







Dr. Grover "Nothing changes our dedication to students"

With parent teacher conferences this week and in light of recent national news items, Dr. Tawana Grover, the Superintendent for Grand Island Public Schools issued the following statement reminding patrons of the mission of Grand Island Public Schools: Every Student, Every Day, A Success.

This is a letter from Dr. Grover to GIPS students, staff, parents and the community.

“Our students have a right to a public education. In fact, we are required by law to educate every child who lives in our district. All children are welcome and encouraged to attend our schools.

More important than any law, we want our students to be in class every day. We look forward to seeing them here. When you join GIPS, you join a district rich in diversity, something in which we take great pride. We love our students. We provide a safe and engaging learning environment for them. We embrace what each unique student brings to our schools.

It does not matter to us where a student was born, who their parents are, what their home life looks like, what language they speak or with what abilities they come to us. We are here to provide them all with the opportunity to lead a successful life. We strive to get them future ready.

It is easy to be wrapped up in the national news, the drama from the political world, the fear circulating around us. However, our charge is to stay focused and maintain the relationships we have with our students and this community. Together, we are the ones who create a positive, supportive, unified culture.

When you look at GIPS, you see 9,800 students, 1,500 employees, a $100,000,000 budget, two dozen buildings. We spend countless hours on training, building partnerships and researching ways to improve our operations.

What everyone may not see or may easily forget is how every decision we make, every dollar we spend, every discussion we have, every second of every day is for one purpose: educating the hearts and minds of individual students.

Our nine-member Board of Education starts every January meeting by rededicating themselves to these operating principles:
every student will be taught to read, write and communicate effectively; solve problems; acquire and apply knowledge; and demonstrate mastery through performance to the best of the student's abilities;
every student will be treated with fairness and dignity;
every student will experience a sense of belonging, contribution and success; and
every student will develop responsibility and show respect for others as well as oneself.
In educating students, we teach hearts as well as minds.
The Board isn’t required to do this. They do it because they find value in reminding themselves - and the community - this passion for students is what the district stands for. The Board sets the stage for creating the environment of student success.

These operating principles convey the intent of the work we do for students.

We know it is making a positive impact when we see the hug a teacher receives from a child in the morning. The fist bump with the custodian. The reassuring smile over a shared success. The close-knit unity of our teams and families. The early morning breakfast gatherings. The late-night rehearsals. These validate our acceptance and appreciation of all kids in our community.

When you hear us say Better Together, you should know it means all of us. Students, staff, parents and community. Together WE are GIPS. We are family. We are all invested in improving the lives of every student we have in our schools.

Nothing is more important to us than our students.

And nothing can or will change our commitment to every single one of them.

Dr. Tawana Grover
GIPS Superintendent
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