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Dr. Grover "Nothing changes our dedication to students"

06-Feb-2017 / KRGI News
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.

Respectfully,
Dr. Tawana Grover
GIPS Superintendent

LB 632 A Concern For Local Breweries

02-Feb-2017 / Tyson Havranek
LB 632 is awaiting hearing later this month in the General Affairs Committee.
LB 632 in short summary would change provisions relating to the Nebraska Liquor Control Act and music licensing agencies, but it has Nebraska craft brewers concerned.

Nate Bell with Kinkaider brewery in Broken Bow says “LB 632 is taking away the ability to expand to any retail location. Whatever retail locations you currently have in place as of January 1st of this year is all you can ever have, and basically any expansion for any brewery to open a location anywhere in the state would not be possible.”

That has major implications for Kinkaider Brewing which had just this month announced plans to open another brewery in Downtown Grand Island.

Bell says “We are super excited to be a part of Grand Island, and really want to help revitalize railside. Any help you can provide in helping us kill portions of this bill would be greatly appreciated, because the last thing we want to do is not be able to participate in the redevelopment of Grand Island.” “I think we have a great building that we can really take advantage of, with us and Prairie Pride downtown it’s really going to start kicking off, and really amplify what Grand Island wants to do with their downtown”

A hearing on the bill will be held on February 13th

Additional Content full interview with Nate Bell from Kinkaider Brewing

Nate Bell Full Interview Nate Bell Full Interview (File size 5022 KB)

NEA President Says DeVos Unqualified For Education Secretary

31-Jan-2017 / Tyson Havranek
A Senate panel is scheduled to vote today on President Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, who has become one of Trump’s most controversial Cabinet picks.

Earlier this morning KRGI News spoke with the President of The National Education Association Lily Eskelsen Garcia.

Senator moved to withdraw LB 667

25-Jan-2017 / KRGI News
LB 667 the controversial horse racing tax increase bill has been withdrawn. No revisions or other changes are expected.

Press Release from Senator Robert Hilkemann.

Lincoln - State Senator Robert Hilkemann of Omaha moved to withdraw his bill, LB 667, Wednesday in light of concerns about the potential consequences of the bill’s passage.
LB 667 would have removed a tax exemption on parimutuel wagering, a type of betting that is used on horse races.

“I introduced this bill to have a discussion on tax exemptions,” Sen. Hilkemann said. “My intention was not for the bill to hurt the horse racing industry, and I certainly do not want to see horse racing end in Nebraska.”

Sales tax exemptions have often been part of the discussion when the Legislature considers potential methods of tax reform. This year, with the Legislature facing a budget crisis, which may result in significant cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services and the University of Nebraska, many senators are looking to the tax code for future safeguards.

Though sales tax exemptions warrant discussion this year, Sen. Hilkemann said, he does not believe LB 667 is the bill to facilitate that discussion.

“After several conversations with representatives from horse race tracks, along with my constituents and other Nebraskans, I have decided to withdraw this bill,” Sen. Hilkemann said. “I am fully committed to a deep review of our tax system, to ensure that Nebraska is serving the taxpayers wisely.”

Senator Robert Hilkemann of Omaha represents District 4 in the Nebraska Legislature. He began his first term in January 2015. Hilkemann serves on the Appropriations Committee.

Hall County Fatality Accident Update

23-Jan-2017 / KRGI News
Deputies responded to an accident on Interstate-80 near the Wood River exit on Saturday afternoon, where two people lost their lives.

A preliminary investigation indicates the mini van was traveling west on Interstate 80 between mile marker 298 and mile marker 299 when the vehicle lost control and left the roadway and entered the ditch, where it rolled multiple times.

The driver was identified as 47 year old Catarina Nolasco of Lexington. The female passenger was identified as 12 year old Maria Nolasco of Lexington. Maria was a student at Lexington Middle School, and was in 6th grade. The male passenger was identified as 17 year old Gaspariny Nolasco he was transported to CHI Health St. Francis.

This accident is still under investigation.


Legislature Preview: Seat Belts On School Buses.

22-Dec-2016 / Tyson Havranek
We’ve all heard the messages, and have seen the statistics, nearly every motorist and passenger in every vehicle is required to buckle up…that is unless you’re the passenger in a school bus.

Four times since 2007 school bus seatbelt legislation has failed in Nebraska, largely because some school administrators regard seat belts as an unnecessary cost. But Senator Robert Hilkemann of Omaha says you can’t put a cost on a human life.
Hilkemann plans to reintroduce legislation that he brought before the legislature in 2015
About a year ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reversed its longstanding position on the issue and came out in favor of seat belts in school buses. It’s one of the key reasons Hilkemann is bringing back his legislation.
Yet schools across the country have been slow to put seat belts in buses, with the added cost seemingly the only factor.
Another reason Hilkemann plans to reintroduce his legislation…17 new senators, that have been elected to the legislature, some of which will likely land on the transportation committee.
Despite the new makeup and shakeup in the legislature one looming issue may tie up all others, and that is the project 900 million dollar budget shortfall.
Only six states currently mandate seat belts in school buses, Hilkemann hopes to make it 7 in 2017.

Additional Content: Five Minute Focus Program Aired 12-22-16

Five Minute Focus Buses And Belts Five Minute Focus Buses And Belts (File size 4481 KB)

CNRA Announces First Class Flights To DFW

20-Dec-2016 / Tyson Havranek
Soon travelers headed to Dallas/ FW from the Central Nebraska Regional Airport will have more room and will be able to enjoy flying first class. Mike Olson the Director of the CNRA announced yesterday that effective February 16th American Eagle will be upgrading from a 55 seat to a 74 seat jet, with nine of those seats being first class.
Olson also says with the loss of the Orlando flight, for now, Allegiant has will be adding a third flight to Phoenix/Mesa from the CNRA effective February 22nd

Additional Content: Olson Announces Air Service Upgrades 12-19-16

Corrections Issues To Challenge Lawmakers In 2017

15-Dec-2016 / Tyson Havranek
With a projected revenue short fall of nearly one billion dollars, and a continued push for property tax relief it’s hard to imagine any other issues making an impact on the upcoming Legislative session in January.
State Senator Matt Williams of District 36, as well as five other state senators were in Grand Island this week for a legislative kickoff event put on annually by the chamber of commerce. Senator Williams devoted the majority of his time informing those in attendance about the issues in department of corrections and how to correct those issues in corrections.
The problem first came to light in the summer of 2014 Governor Dave Heinemann’s final term was coming to an end and mis-calculated sentences had been uncovered resulting in of all people Nikko Jenkins being sent back out in the public. Since than a new corrections director, Scott Frakes has been hired, but even he admits the process of correcting corrections will take years and will not be cheap.

The legislature has looked at the issue in special committee meetings since that time and the full body took a look at the issue during the last legislative session, and Senator Williams believes the legislature is ready, despite the budget concerns to spend money to fix a plethora off issues facing the states corrections department. Programming, Williams said would help lower the amount of recidivism, or inmates who end up back in prison within a year after they are released, which is currently at a National rate of 50%

While many will point to funding as one of the main reasons programming such as mental health doesn’t happen or happen enough in the state prisons Williams says another reason is the “extremely high” turnover rate of corrections employees.

In a year that will have many state agencies, counties, cities, schools and homes cutting and tightening their respective budget belts, Williams says he sees only one way to correct corrections, providing the new corrections director, with the funds and resources he needs to fix the problem.

Additional Content:

KRGI’s Five Minute Focus Program “correcting corrections”

KRGI’s Full Interview with State Senator Matt Williams of District 36



Legislative Kickoff Held In Grand Island

13-Dec-2016 / Tyson Havranek
Earlier this morning six state senators joined Lt. Governor Mike Foley in Grand Island for a legislative preview meeting, as part of the Grand Island Chamber’s Legislative Kickoff.
Foley says the number one issue the legislature will have to deal with this session and the projected revenue shortfall of nearly one billion dollars.
Foley stressed the importance for counties, cities and schools to be conservative with their spending.
The legislature convenes on January 4th, in related news Senator-Elect Dan Quick of District 35 has announced that he will retire from his long time position at the power plant on January 3rd


Additional Content: KRGI’s Tyson Havranek catches up with the Lt. Governor following the kickoff event.

Lt Governor Mike Foley 12-13-16 Lt Governor Mike Foley 12-13-16 (File size 4949 KB)

Nebraska Senator Calling On Legislature To Pass Convention Of States Bill

08-Dec-2016 / Tyson Havranek
Coming up Thursday night State Sen. Laura Ebke of Crete will discuss a proposed Article V Convention of States during a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. at the Northwest High School cafeteria.
Those who are behind the efforts for a Convention of States believe that Washington, D.C., will never voluntarily relinquish meaningful power—no matter who is elected, and believe Article V is the answer.
A Convention of States can propose amendments to the U.S Constitution if 2/3 of the states submit applications for such a convention. These applications must first be approved by the State to be submitted to Congress, and you might be surprised at just how many states are currently looking into this process.
When and if 34 states submit applications to call for a Convention of states, Congress has no authority to stop it.
Several states have already called for a convention to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and impose term limits on federal officials. Leading Ebke to believe it’s not if a convention of states ever happens..it’s when.
Ebke will again be bringing up the convention of states bill in this years legislative session, it will take the support from 33 Senators for Nebraska to become the 9th state, to call for a Convention of States.

Additional Content:
Five Minute Focus Podcast
Full interview with State Senator Laura Ebke



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