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In this April 3, 2018, photo, Nebraska head coach Scott Frost, right, and offensive line coach Greg Austin, left, shout instructions during spring training in Lincoln, Neb. Unlike the trend in the sport of less contact in practices instead of more, coach Frost wants Huskers' practices to be physical to toughen up his team.


Crime-and-courts
Bank robber sentenced to probation

A homeless  man’s plan to rob a Beatrice bank as a way to go to prison instead landed him a probation sentence this week in Gage County District Court.

Terry L. Bailes, 54, was convicted of robbing Great Western Bank at 10th and Court streets last October.

He was initially scheduled to be sentenced last month on the reduced charge of attempted robbery, but District Court Judge Rick Schreiner declined to sentence Bailes, instead asking him to take time while being held in the Gage County Detention Center to think of a plan that would allow him to be successful on probation.

His plan on Wednesday consisted of living with a friend in Missouri who could help him get his life in order, and prompted Schreiner to issue a sentence of 36 months probation.

Schreiner admitted a probation sentence was highly unusual in a bank robbery case.

“This was a bank robbery, but your motivation was not profit,” Schreiner said. “You didn’t harm anybody in the process. You immediately asked them to call law enforcement. You stuck around until law enforcement showed up. I take the motivation for the offense into consideration and the motivation was to survive.”

It was stated the previous hearing that Bailes worked at Landoll Corporation for six years before developing a condition in his hand that Bailes said prevented him from doing simple tasks like putting on his shoes.

The condition led to Bailes losing his job and residence. With no family to turn to, he said being sent to prison might be the only way to get the care he needs.

Without a weapon, Bailes entered the bank last October and demanded money before asking the teller to call police and saying that he wanted to go to prison.

He left the bank with $10, purchased cigarettes and waited for police around a block from the scene of the robbery, telling officers immediately that he was the suspect they were looking for.

He pleaded no contest in the case.

Despite being sentenced to probation, Bailes will remain in custody in Gage County for at least the next 45 days. Schreiner said it will take that long to transfer his probation from Nebraska to Missouri, where he has a place to stay.

Releasing him on probation at the time of the sentence would have either resulted in Bailes violating probation by leaving the state or being homeless in Nebraska, potentially leading him to commit another crime to have a place to stay.

“The problem I had last time was that if I put you on probation and immediately release you, you go out on the street in the same circumstance you were in before you committed that bank robbery,” Schreiner said. “If I pout you back out on the street and your plan is still to go to prison to get your medical needs taken care of and you hurt somebody.”

Schreiner is also requiring Bailes to obtain a GED as part of the probation sentence.


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Beatrice Humane Society annual fundraiser Top Cats and Tails this Friday

On a cold, windy day back in early February, Charlotte was found shivering in the corner of the Big Blue Pet Park in Beatrice.

The small dog had on a pink collar with no tags when police found her abandoned in the park and brought her to the Beatrice Humane Society.

Charlotte got fresh water, food and a blanket, but a few days into her stay at the shelter, the staff discovered that she didn’t come alone.

“She was here for a week and a half and gave birth to six puppies,” said Kathy Keylon, who works for the Beatrice Humane Society. “Four females, two males. She's a great mom.”

The puppies are still a few weeks out from being able to be adopted, so for right now, they’re happy to stay warm piled on top of one another in the corner of a kennel, surrounded by toys.

Charlotte and her puppies were just seven of the hundreds of dogs that come through the Beatrice Humane Society’s doors each year. Having the space to be able to take in so many animals is in large part thanks to an annual fundraiser.

Top Cats and Tails will be held Friday night at Classics at the Beatrice Country Club starting at 6 p.m. Tickets for the annual dessert banquet and auction are available at the door or by contacting the Beatrice Humane Society at (402) 228-9100.

The event raises somewhere around 20 percent of the shelter’s annual operating budget, Beatrice Humane Society president John Rympa said. The shelter’s move to a new facility last year means that they now have extra expenses now that they have more overhead, more utility use, more insurance and more animals, he said.

The event will feature heavy hors d’ouvre as well as homemade desserts, he said.

They’ll have some big items up for the live and silent auctions, including a lawnmower, a snow blower, football tickets and a Husker helmet signed by Scott Frost.

“Some of the bigger items are condos,” Rympa said. “We've got two in Colorado and one in South Dakota. Those are always bigger items, people stay for four or five days.”

This is the 16th banquet for the shelter, and this year’s event is black tie themed. While it’s not required, many people do come to the event dressed for the theme, like last year’s 1960s-themed Woofstock event.

If people aren’t able to make the event but still want to donate, they can call the shelter or check out their Facebook page, which is updated occasionally with things needed for the animals.

As far as adoptions go, Facebook has dropped the number of days animals spend in the shelter dramatically, Rympa said. It also opens them up to a wider audience, including two dogs who were flown from the Beatrice Airport to Connecticut to become service dogs.

The Beatrice Humane Society is a no-kill facility, and, with 575 cats and 365 dogs coming through the door last year, they do their best to find each animal a good home, Keylon said.

Just a few days ago, the shelter adopted out a couple of long-term residents, Ruby and King Kong, which came as a bit of a surprise to King Kong, Keylon said.

As his new family was leaving, King Kong kept turning around, wanting to come back, she said. They’d spent a long time with him, and tried to get to know all of his likes and dislikes, like they do will all the animals, Keylon said.

“I feel that just goes to show new adopters how much we really do love them,” Keylon said. “We don't let any animal walk out this door misunderstood.”


Nebraska seeks execution date for inmate

Death row inmate Carey Dean Moore might soon have an execution date, following a request by the Nebraska Attorney General's Office for an execution warrant from the state Supreme Court.

It would be Nebraska's first time carrying out capital punishment since Robert Williams was electrocuted in 1997 for killing three women.

In the motion filed Tuesday, Solicitor General James D. Smith said Moore has no appeals pending.

"The State of Nebraska has a constitutionally acceptable method of carrying out Moore's death sentences by lethal injection, which method is both available and can be carried out by the Director of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services in accordance with the Department's Execution Protocol upon the issuance of an execution warrant," Smith wrote.

On Jan. 19, Prisons Director Scott Frakes notified Moore that diazepam, fentanyl citrate, cisatracurium besylate and potassium chloride would be used and were on hand.

The Nebraska death penalty protocol requires the director to provide notice to the condemned inmate at least 60 days prior to the attorney general’s request to the Nebraska Supreme Court for an execution warrant.

Then, by state law, it's the Supreme Court's duty to establish a date for the enforcement of a death sentence and command the prisons director to proceed.

An execution date is to be set no more than 60 days following the issuance of a warrant.

Moore, 60, was sentenced to death on two counts of first-degree murder in Douglas County in the 1979 deaths of two Omaha cab drivers, Reuel Van Ness Jr. and Maynard Helgeland. Van Ness was shot during a robbery, with Moore’s younger brother along, and Helgeland was shot three times, Moore has said, just to prove he could take a man's life all by himself.

He is being housed at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution.

Moore has had multiple execution dates, the latest in 2007 and 2011, and all of them have been stayed. Nine months after the 2007 date, execution by electric chair was declared unconstitutional by the Nebraska Supreme Court. Before the June 2011 date, the state's high court issued a stay after Moore's lawyer challenged the purchase of one of the lethal injection drugs to be used and the lethal injection law itself.

A number of lawsuits currently are working through the courts about the new drugs chosen to carry out capital punishment in Nebraska, including three seeking public records about where the state got the drugs.

Danielle Conrad, executive director of the ACLU of Nebraska, condemned Tuesday’s move, which she called a “rush towards an execution with a four-drug cocktail that has never been utilized in executions, while hiding the source of these drugs in open defiance of our state's strong open-records laws and failing to account for its apparent failure to follow federal law and DEA regulations.”

She said there are multiple pending court and administrative actions and more expected. Conrad said the process needs to play itself out before Nebraska executes a single person.

“While we respect Mr. Moore's decision to stop fighting at this juncture, it is precisely because he is not fighting that our institutions bear extra responsibility to check themselves by ensuring that the laws are followed and that an unlawful and potentially cruel and unusual execution does not take place. Holding a lawless execution would greatly diminish our state,” she said.


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BHS inducts National Honor Society members

At a ceremony in the Hevelone Center in March, Beatrice High School inducted 27 new members into the school’s chapter of the National Honor Society.

Sophomores and juniors with a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or above are invited to apply for the National Honor Society and then have to get past a selection committee to be admitted, said National Honor Society advisor Tracy Post.

The 27 BHS students admitted into the National Honor Society join the current 54 members at the school and include Morgan Burenheide, Mckenzie Barnard, Holly Fischer, Jordan Maschmann, Aaliyah Miller, Gerin Zimmerman, Whitney Schwisow, Veronica Pinkerton, Isabella Ruskamp, Matilda Saunders, Jayden Baete, Alexis Schwartz, Hannah Lytle, Hannah Kassmeier, Payton Neunaber, Cameron Lancaster, Chase Barber, Matthew Price, Boden Ruskamp, Dawson Saathoff, Sydney Southwick, Colton Husa, Silas Jurgens, Zackary Zimmerman, Bladen Bayless, Evan Busboom and Dakota Adams.

When they’re admitted, they have to do 10 hours of community service. They’ve worked with the Bloodmobile when it comes to town, loading and unloading and hanging posters around Beatrice. Students have worked with Keep Beatrice Beautiful for three years to paint houses around town. Next week they’ll be heading to Veteran’s Memorial Park in Beatrice to help the city parks department to clean and mulch the park, Post said.

“We try to get them involved with the community and not just with the school,” Post said. “We try to reach out to the community and do some community service with community organization.”

The Beatrice High School chapter of the National Honor Society, in its most recent iteration, began in 1995, Post said. For some of the students, it gives them their first taste of community service, he said.

“It's neat to see them get involved,” he said. “Hopefully that carries over into their young adult lives when they're out of high school and they continue to be involved in their communities wherever they're at.”