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Police, community celebrate National Night Out

Hundreds of community members came out Tuesday for National Night Out to support local law enforcement at Chautauqua Park.

Hastings Police Chief Adam Story said he was encouraged by the attendance to the annual event.

“It’s great to see the support,” he said.

National Night Out is designed to give officers a chance to meet community members in a positive setting. Hastings police officers showed off patrol vehicles, fired off the sirens and handed out stickers for kids. People could ask about different pieces of equipment or vehicles.

Story said officers participate in many activities through the course of a year, but National Night Out is the one where they attempt to bring as many officers as possible. He said they schedule as many staff as possible for the event, which is about 75 percent of the total officers and dispatchers.

“We do a lot of community activities and events over the year,” he said. “This is the one night we have the majority of staff come out.”

The Adams County Sheriff’s Office and Nebraska State Patrol also attended the event. The state patrol brought a rollover simulator to show how easily a person can be thrown from a vehicle.

Organized by the Hastings Police Department and the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce’s Crime Prevention Task Force, the event is designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, generate support for law enforcement, strengthen community spirit and send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are fighting back.

Participants started with a walk around the park, followed by a free barbecue with hot dogs, hamburgers, chips and water. They brought supplies to serve about 1,000 hot dogs and hamburgers.

Greg Sinner, chairman of the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce’s Crime Prevention Task Force, thinks the event has helped bond the city together since it started as a community event in 1995. Many volunteers are needed to cook and serve food to hundreds of people, including a group of halfway house residents from Bristol Station.

“I think it’s a great partnership,” he said.

Officer John Adams agreed, explaining that this is a good opportunity for law enforcement officers and ex-convicts to work side-by-side.

“It proves they want that second chance,” he said. “Everybody makes mistakes.”

National Night Out is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, Hastings Police Department and Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce. More than 10,000 communities from across the nation and Canada are expected to participate in the event. People are asked to lock their doors, turn on outside lights and spend the evening outside with neighbors and police.

About 30 public service agencies had booths set up to talk about the variety of services available in Hastings. Many offered free items and/or games for kids.

Hastings Fire and Rescue also brought vehicles for kids to climb in and explore.

Fire Chief Brad Starling said firefighters enjoy the chance to speak to the public because of the pride they have in their jobs. He said that the department also likes participating in the event because firefighters work alongside law enforcement on a regular basis, but this is a chance to socialize outside of an emergency situation.

“We think it’s important to show support to law enforcement since we work so closely together,” he said.

J Street now open as part of Southeast Truck Route

After being closed a few weeks as part of construction of the Southeast Truck Route, J Street has reopened west of Showboat Boulevard.

Adams County Highway Superintendent Dawn Miller made that announcement during the Adams County Board of Supervisors’ meeting Tuesday.

Construction on Showboat Boulevard south of the Motorsport Park Hastings driveway is expected to be complete by the end of this week. That section, too, will then reopen.

Access on Showboat Boulevard will be available only as far north as the MPH driveway. Direct access to U.S. Highway 6 is not yet available.

The span of Showboat Boulevard north of the MPH driveway to U.S. Highway 6, phase 2 of the project, will be closed until construction there is complete with a target date of Oct. 1.

“Even though we had delays on the Southeast Truck Route, they did so much work on that section of Showboat south of the MPH driveway, hopefully that will stay on schedule and proceed fast,” Miller said.

As Adams County officials continue to work on the county’s 2019-20 budget, members of the Adams County Board of Supervisors approved giving the board the ability to exceed a state-imposed lid of 2.5 percent on allowable growth in budget authority pertaining to restricted funds, by up to an additional 1 percent.

The board has approved such an override annually for many years. A supermajority vote is required.

Miller and Zoning Administrator Judy Mignery, who are part of the committee that prepares the county’s budget, presented the proposed override during the board meeting. The supervisors voted 7-0 to approve the item.

“It has been common practice for Adams County to do this in the years we have presented the budget for the county and goes way back through (former county clerk) Chris Lewis’ presentations,” Miller said. “It’s a common practice and is encouraged by the state auditor.”

Mignery cited Deann Haeffner, assistant deputy state auditor, who said recently during a budget workshop there are Nebraska counties that don’t approve the override and then run into issues with budgeting authority.

Miller and Mignery said Adams County has not had to make use of the additional budget authority in recent memory.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the supervisors unanimously approved the 2019 Fracture Critical Bridge Inspection Agreement with the Nebraska Department of Transportation.

This is the last year the Nebraska Department of Transportation will be hiring consultants to do fractured critical bridge inspections.

Starting in 2020, each county is responsible for its own inspections.

Miller said for the five applicable structures in Adams County, inspections will cost $10,922.83. Adams County is responsible for 20 percent of that amount — $2,185, which will be taken from the county’s soft-match credit that is on file with the Department of Transportation.

“Essentially there is no money transferred for this,” she said.

In other business, the supervisors:

  • Unanimously approved a deobligation letter in the amount of $1.10 from the county’s victim and witness unit.
  • Unanimously approved a $679.78 homestead exemption denied by the state due to clerical error.
  • Unanimously denied a $384.27 personal property refund claim due to late filing.
  • Unanimously approved fund transfers from the county general account to the roads fund to bridge a funding gap until the county’s 2019 levy is approved and collected.
  • Unanimously approved a resolution authorizing petty cash amounts.
  • Unanimously approved a contract with Big Red Bunks of Doniphan for four tractor/side dump units each for $120 per hour for 80 hours to help haul dirt to construction sites.
  • Unanimously approved an Adams County Office Building assembly room rental request for Sept. 14 from Anthony Hilburn.
  • Unanimously approved a resolution stating Adams County will only cover health care procedures that took place through Partner’s Health Alliance prior

to July 1, 2019, at which point Adams County switched to Blue Cross/Blue Shield for health insurance.

Boom in overdose-reversing drug is tied to fewer drug deaths

NEW YORK — Prescriptions of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone are soaring, and experts say that could be a reason overdose deaths have stopped rising for the first time in nearly three decades.

The number of naloxone prescriptions dispensed by U.S. retail pharmacies doubled from 2017 to last year, rising from 271,000 to 557,000, health officials reported Tuesday.

The United States is in the midst of the deadliest drug overdose epidemic in its history. About 68,000 people died of overdoses last year, according to preliminary government statistics reported last month, a drop from the more than 70,000 in 2017.

“One could only hope that this extraordinary increase in prescribing of naloxone is contributing to that stabilization or even decline of the crisis,” said Katherine Keyes, a Columbia University drug abuse expert.

About two-thirds of U.S. overdose deaths involve some kind of opioid, a class of drugs that includes heroin, certain prescription painkillers and illicit fentanyl. Naloxone is a medication that can reverse opioid overdoses, restoring breathing and bringing someone back to consciousness. It first went on sale in 1971 as an injection. An easier-to-use nasal spray version, Narcan, was approved in 2015.

Local, state and federal officials have embraced naloxone as a lifesaving measure. Cities and states have standing orders that allow pharmacies to give it out without a doctor’s prescription, and officials have tried to put it into the hands of virtually anyone who might encounter a person overdosing, including drug users, police and even librarians.

CDC researchers noted there were fewer than 1,300 naloxone prescriptions dispensed in 2012, meaning the number grew more than 430-fold in six years.

Health officials said pharmacies should be giving out even more.

“We don’t think anybody is at the level we’d like to see them,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC report is based on data from IQVIA, a company that tracks health care information, and looked at prescriptions from more than 50,000 retail pharmacies across the country. It included both prescriptions written by doctors for specific patients and those filled under the broader standing orders.

The report offers only a partial picture, however, since only about 20 percent of naloxone was sold to retail pharmacies in 2017, according to an earlier government report.

Still, it’s the CDC’s first close look at where most retail dispensing is happening. The agency provided data for about 2,900 of the nation’s 3,100 counties and parishes.

The researchers found it was most common in cities, and in the South.

Experts said the findings likely reflect a number of factors. More naloxone is likely prescribed in places where more people are using opioids and where policies increase access.

Of the 30 counties with the highest rate of naloxone dispensing in 2018, 13 were in Virginia and five were in Kentucky. But the highest naloxone dispensing rate was in Marshall County, Indiana, according to the CDC data.

The CDC recommends that naloxone be prescribed to patients who are getting high-dose opioids and are at risk for an overdose. It noted that only one naloxone prescription is written for every 69 high-dose opioid prescriptions.

Another finding: The number of high-dose opioid prescription painkillers dispensed fell to about 38 million last year, from nearly 49 million the year before.

That likely also contributed to the decline in overdose deaths last year, Schuchat said.


The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.