FILE PHOTO: closed

Updates as of Monday, April 20

Grand Kubota

Grand Kubota in Grand Island is still open for business for all your equipment sales, rental, parts, and service needs. Mon thru Fri 8-5 and Sat 8-12.

Now offering 90 days no payments on new equipment and FREE NO-CONTACT pick up and delivery within 10 miles for any service item. We work on most makes and models.

Call us today! Service: Cheryl at 308-390-1990. Parts: Mary at 308-930-9232. Rental/Sales: Rich at 308-216-1841.

Updates as of Wednesday, April 15

Buck's Storage

Until further notice, Buck's Storage and Rental located at 716 S. Elm Street will be closed to the public.

Customers looking for payment, business inquiries, and service requests may call: 308.382.6758 or email:

If you are a customer who is accustomed to stopping into the office to pay your bill, you will need to drop your payment into the drop box. If you require a receipt, please indicate on the payment and your receipt will be mailed or emailed (provide email address).

Any additional updates, partial openings can be found at Buck's Storage- Grand Island on Facebook.

Updates as of Thursday, April 9

Central Community College to close amid Covid-19 outbreak

To limit the potential impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, Central Community College will close all campus buildings and centers effective Monday, April 13, through Friday, May 1. The move comes amid predictive models from public health entities, which predict the cases of COVID-19 will peak in Nebraska in late April.

CCC campuses are in Columbus, Grand Island and Hastings, while centers are in Holdrege, Kearney, Lexington and Ord.

Updates as of Tuesday, April 7

Party City

Open for curbside pickup only. Reduced hours are as follows:

Sun: 12 p.m. -5 p.m.

Mon-Sat: 11 a.m. -6 p.m.

Check the website or call 308-381-1809 for more information.

Updates as of Thursday, April 2

GI Loan Shop

GI Loan shop will close from April 3 to April 13 for the safety of employees, customers =, and families.

Updates as of Monday, March 30

Jackrabbit Run, Heartland Shooting Park closed

Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele has closed Jackrabbit Run Golf Course and Heartland Shooting Park, citing a directive from the state that limits the size of gatherings both indoors and outdoors.

The closings of the golf course and shooting park are effective March 30.

Buck's Storage

From March 30-April 15, Buck's Storage and Rental located at 716 S. Elm Street will be closed to the public.

Customers looking for payment, business inquiries, and service requests may call: 308.382.6758 or email:

If you are a customer who is accustomed to stopping into the office to pay your bill, you will need to drop your payment into the drop box. If you require a receipt, please indicate on the payment and it will either be emailed or mailed to you (provide email address).

Any additional updates, closures will be posted on the facebook page: Buck's Storage- Grand Island.

Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival canceled

The Central Platte Natural Resources District announced Monday that the Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival to be held May 12 in Grand Island is canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Boelus Easter Egg Hunt

Boelus will have its Easter Egg Hunt April 4th on main street at the fire hall. Its a drive by. Parents please bring your children and they will each be given a wonderful bag off Easter Treats. Everyone is welcome. We will have it going from North to south. Starts a 1:00. Any questions? Contact the Easter Bunny at 996 4316 . PLEASE pass the word!!!!

Updates as of Thursday, March 26

Galaxy Laundry

Galaxy Laundry will be closed until further notice.

Bucks Storage

For the week of March 23, Buck's Storage and Rental hours will be 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. for payment, business inquiries, and service requests. However, if possible, it is asked that customers use the drop box for payments. If a receipt is required, please indicate on the payment and a receipt will either be emailed or mailed (provide email address).

Additional updates, closures on the facebook page: Buck's Storage- Grand Island. For questions, please call: 308.382.6758 or email:

Updates as of Wednesday, March 25

Hall County Housing Authority to close to the public

As of noon today 3/25, the Hall County Housing Authority will be closed to the public until further notice. People can call if they need something. Information by email or fax will be sent out if possible.

A drop box is available that tenants/applicants/visitors can utilize to leave items.

Bad Blood Tattoo closing in response to COVID-19

To protect employees and customers, Bad Blood Tattoo in Grand Island will be closing until further notice.

Updates as of Monday, March 23

12 Street Cinema (Aurora)

The 12th Street Cinema in Aurora will be closed until further notice.

Updates as of Sunday, March 22

Committee postpones Grand Island Ag Day

With the growing concerns for the COVID-19 public health threat, and at the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control to limit large gatherings, the Hall County Agricultural Committee has canceled/postponed the Grand Island Ag Day scheduled for Tuesday, March 24, at Fonner Park in Grand Island.

The committee said it will continue to monitor the situation and make an announcement if a new date is selected.

Gordmans store adjusts hours

Stage Stores, including the Gordmans store in Grand Island, have adjusted their operating hours.

Until further notice, the stores are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. Sundays.

In addition to new store hours, management is taking the following actions to help keep their guests and associates healthy:

-- Increasing the frequency of store cleanings, paying special attention to frequently touched objects and surfaces such as register counters, shopping carts, door handles, restrooms, etc.

-- Reminding associates of their training on illness prevention

-- Advising all employees to stay home if they are not feeling well, or if circumstances might advise them to do so, to seek medical attention if they have symptoms.

Updates as of Saturday, March 21:

Southern Public Power District closes offices to public

The Southern Public Power District has closed its offices to the public effective March 19. According to SPPD's website, these offices include "our corporate office in Grand Island, as well as service area offices in Central City, Franklin, Funk and Hastings. Our office buildings are only open to employees. No visitors are permitted, including employee family members, or vendors. Delivery personnel, review instructions in the section below. No exceptions will be made."

Customers looking for billing, service requests and other business may call 800-579-3019 or email, or use SPPD's online payment portal.

"If you are a customer who is accustomed to stopping into any of our offices to pay your bill, you will need to drop your payment into the drop box," the release says. "As always, outages must be reported by calling 800-579-3019."

Updates as of Friday, March 20:

Merryman PAC reschedules performances

KEARNEY — The Merryman Performing Arts Center in Kearney has announced new dates for two events. The Lettermen, originally scheduled for two performances on March 24, are rescheduled for performances at 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 17. The Bar J Wranglers concert, scheduled for March 27, now planned for Friday, May 8.

For The Lettermen, current tickets will be honored on June 17. Season members unable to attend on June 17 may receive a credit toward a 2020-21 season membership. Non-season ticketholders may receive a gift certificate for any future Merryman performance. Those unable to attend the rescheduled performance should contact the Merryman at by May 18.

For the Bar J Wranglers, any current ticket will be honored on May 8. If unable to attend the rescheduled performance, contact the box office at

Bomgaars (Central City, St. Paul) revises store hours

The adjusted store hours will be: Monday – Saturday 7:30am to 6:00pm, Sunday will keep normal hours.

Updates as of Thursday, March 19:

Central City theaters close temporarily

Widman Cinema in Central City is temporarily pausing operations. State Theater in Central City: Cinema is closed, however concessions are open from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. Friday.

Hy-Vee to ban reusable bags

Hy-Vee is asking customers to refrain from bringing in reusable bags starting today.

U-Save Pharmacy Northwest

U-Save Pharmacy Northwest is open to drive-through only; open regular hours

Grand Island Elks Lodge to close until March 31

The Grand Island Elks Lodge has closed to protect their members and guest of our facilities until closed until further notice. No Monday Night Tacos/Pool Leagues and No Sunday Brunches.

City of Grand Island offices to close to the public

The City of Grand Island is closing all city government buildings to the public effective at noon on March 19, 2020, in cooperation with Governor Pete Ricketts and health officials regarding ongoing efforts to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Click here for instructions on contacting city government offices for bills etcetera.

Island View Dental to close

Island View Dental in Grand Island, Nebraska closed until 4-20-20. Call office with concerns.

Conestoga Mall

Conestoga Mall will now be open from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon - 6 p.m. on Sunday. These hours apply to mall walkers as well. Store hours may vary. The children's play area and food court seating have been closed until further notice.


Gordmans has adjusted store operating hours. Until further notice, reduced store hours are as follows:

• Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm

• Sunday 12pm-6pm

Gordman's will also: 

• Increase the frequency of store cleanings, paying special attention to frequently touched objects and surfaces such as register counters, shopping carts, door handles, restrooms, etc.

• Remind our associates of their training on illness prevention

• Advise all employees to stay home if they are not feeling well, or if circumstances might advise them to do so, to seek medical attention if they have symptoms.

Gordman's also encourages guests everywhere to take the extra precautions necessary to safeguard their health and the health of others.

Law Enforcement Center lobby limits hours:

The lobby at the Law Enforcement Center (Sheriff's Dept and Police Dept) will be open to the public from noon to 4 p.m. starting Monday.

Updates as of Wednesday, March 18:

Equitable Bank closing lobbies

The lobbies at our downtown and Diers locations are currently closed. Please continue to visit our drive through at Diers or the EquiDirect Tellers and ATMs at the Diers, downtown or South Locust branches.

To schedule an appointment with a personal banker or loan officer, please call our office at


Skate Island to close indefinitely

We feel a total shut down is in order for the safety of our community, customers and employees. 

We will reopen when it’s socially responsible to do so and can ensure a safe & fun environment to our skating community.

Hastings College will conduct all Block 6 classes online

The College has made the difficult decision to conduct all Block 6 classes online for the rest of the spring term. Block 6 is scheduled to begin Monday, March 23.

We understand this decision will be challenging for our campus but it’s become clear that we, as a community, must do our part to mitigate the spread of the virus and put the health and wellness of people first.

We are therefore asking all students on campus to head home as soon as possible. Exceptions may be made for those with extenuating circumstances.

Students who are already away from campus are asked to stay home. The Student Engagement team is working on a plan to allow access to the residence halls and apartments for a safe, managed move-out process.

St. Pauls Lutheran Church cancels services, meetings

St. Pauls Lutheran Church is cancelling all in-person worship services including mid-week, Saturday, and Sunday.

Wednesday night and Sunday worship services will continue to be live-streamed and available online for viewing and listening. Radio ministry on Sunday mornings will also continue.

All meals and non-essential meetings of more than 10 people are also cancelled or postponed. Church offices and staff will continue to remain open and working.

Hastings Public Schools closed indefinitely

HASTINGS — Hastings Public Schools will remain closed through the remainder of the school year due to COVID-19.

Superintendent Jeff Schneider announced the closing Wednesday that it will close, will “continue to monitor the situation and listen to the guidance from state and local officials.”

During the closing, he said students will still be given academic activities and meals. Schneider said HPS will provide academic packets to students that parents can pick up beginning Monday, March 23 at each school building. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

“In order to prevent mass gatherings, please note that when you pick up the packets, there will not be staff members to conference with, it will simply be a very quick process of picking up the packets,” Schneider said.

He added that at his time, feedback will be given on the work, but the work will not be graded.

Meals will be served at Hastings High School, Hastings Middle School, Alcott Elementary and Lincoln Elementary, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday beginning Thursday. They will be available to anyone age 18 and younger and individuals do not need to be an HPS student to participate.

The meals will be grab-and-go sack meals.

“Be safe and stay positive,” Schneider said. “I am confident our community will work together and get through this unprecedented situation.”

State DMV helps flatten the curve

In response to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 in Nebraska, the State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is taking a number of steps to help flatten the curve. Effective immediately, the DMV will no longer be conducting drive tests statewide until further notice. Steps to introduce social distancing will be implemented at State DMV offices, limiting the number of individuals able to congregate in the lobby. While the measures introduced will vary by office, they may include such actions as limiting the number of customers allowed inside the office, or asking customers to wait outside or in their vehicle.

Hall County Park to close

With the Coronavirus, Hall County Board decided to close the Hall County Park effective March 18 until further notice.

Hall County Park will close all Camping, Tent and RV, Picnics, Weddings and all other Organization Gatherings until further notice.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact (308)385-5049. Watch the Hall County Web site at for any updates regarding Hall County Park.

The walk in gate will remain open, however the gate to drive into the Park will be closed, we ask that if you are using the Park please be conscious of traffic along Schimmer Drive and do not block the road.

Social Security offices will only offer phone service 

All local Social Security offices will be closed to the public for in-person service starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020. This decision protects the population we serve—older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions—and our employees during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, we are still able to provide critical services. More details here.

Grand Island Police Department cancels Spring impound auction

The Spring Impound Auction, originally scheduled for April 25th, has been cancelled. We apologize for any inconvenience and will send updates on any furture sale date at a later time.

Hy-Vee to shorten hours

UPDATE: According to a tweet from Hy-Vee’s official Twitter account, starting on Thursday, March 19, the first hour of the store’s opening, which will be 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., will be reserved for higher risk shoppers.

Customers who fall into that category would be anyone older than 60, expectant mothers and anyone with an underlying health condition that makes them more susceptible to the virus.

For all other customers, Hy-Vee stores will close at 8 p.m. each day. Starting March 19, our new store hours will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, until further notice.

These shortened hours will allow our employees additional time to clean and sanitize all areas of the store, as well as time to restock the items that are in highest demand. Operating with shorter store hours also will allow our employees additional time to care for their families and loved ones.

All our Hy-Vee convenience stores will continue to operate under their normal hours at this time. Customers can continue to purchase snacks, fuel and other items at these locations.

All dining areas in our stores, restaurants and convenience stores are now closed to the public. All Hy-Vee Market Grille bars also are closed. Food service areas will still be operating during their normal hours, offering freshly prepared meal options for carry-out only. If your local Hy-Vee has a Market Grille, you can still order for pick-up or curbside services.

For our Hy-Vee Aisles Online customers, we want you to know that we are transitioning some of our delivery service in several areas to third-party partners like Shipt and Door Dash (where available) in order to help our in-store employees focus on Aisles Online pickup orders and other needs at our stores.

Planet Fitness has closed due to coronavirus concerns

Given the increased threat that COVID-19 poses to the global community, and out of an abundance of caution, the Grand Island, NE club will temporarily close on Tuesday, March 17th at 10pm for two weeks through March 31

Updated as of Tuesday, March 17:

Central Nebraska museums close indefinitely

Stuhr Museum, Hastings Museum and the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney have all closed until further notice.

In addition, the Archway in Kearney is closed until at least Sunday.

Stuhr Museum had earlier announced a temporary closure but a recent email stated: “In response to the COVID-19 pandemic Stuhr Museum will be closed until further notice to support our community and our effort to alleviate overburdening our health care system. We are grateful to our members and visitors and look forward to serving you soon. For more info on the COVID-19 virus, log onto For more information contact the museum via email at”

MONA issued the following statement:

“Following the guidelines of health authorities locally and nationally, and out of concern and care for everyone’s safety, the Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA) in Kearney announces that it will be closed to the public beginning Wednesday, March 18, 2020, with a reopening date to be determined.

“While there has been no known diagnosis in Central Nebraska, we believe a temporary closure is in the best interest of our visitors, staff and volunteers. During this time, all public programs and classes are postponed or canceled, and if possible will be rescheduled at a later date.

“While the museum is closed, staff will be available on a limited basis. If you need assistance please contact the museum at (308) 865-8559 or We sincerely appreciate your patience, understanding, and continued support at this time.”

Hastings Museum and the Archway have similar notices posted on their websites.

“Hastings Museum is closed. In conjunction with school closures and in the interest of public health and safety, we will be closing to the public until further notice. We will keep the public updated in the coming days.”

“The Archway will be closed on Tuesday, March 17, through Sunday March 22. Watch this space for re-opening status updates.”

Arc of Central Nebraska

The Arc of Central Nebraska is suspending all activities though April 17.

At that time, the Arc members will reevaluate resuming operations based on current conditions.

The Catalyst Awards presentation planned for March 24 will be rescheduled to a later date this year.

All tickets already purchased will be honored for the new date, which will be determined in later weeks depending on restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Members and the public will be notified when activities will resume.

For updates and additional communications from the Arc of Central Nebraska, visit its Facebook page at or go online to

Contact Audrey DeFrank, executive director, at (308) 379-8070 or for any questions or assistance.

Church fish frys canceled

St Michael’s Catholic Church in Central City and St. Mary’s Cathedral in Grand Island have canceled the remainder of their Friday fish frys for the Lenten season.

The Knights of Columbus at Resurrection Catholic Church has also canceled its fish fry that had been scheduled for March 27.

‘Hairspray’ at Northwest postponed

The Northwest High School production of “Hairspray,” originally scheduled to open Thursday, is postponed due to schools being closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Musical Director Jeff Vyhlidal said Northwest received approval from the company that owns the performance rights for “Hairspray” extending the rights to the show, allowing it to postpone the production.

While a date is yet to be determined, Vyhlidal said he expects the production to be rescheduled for sometime in mid-April or early May.

CNHS cancels rabies vaccination clinic, suspends volunteer program

In response to growing concerns regarding the spread of the coronavirus, the Central Nebraska Humane Society has decided to postpone a free rabies vaccination clinic that was scheduled for Friday.

It will be rescheduled with the date and time yet to be determined.

The Humane Society will also be suspending its volunteer program beginning Thursday, until further notice.

“Our other operations will continue as normal at this time,” says the Humane Society. Community members may call CNHS at (308) 385-5305 with any questions.

AMC movie theater closed at least 6 weeks

The AMC Classic Grand Island 7 movie theater is expected to be closed for at least six weeks, and possibly up to 12. AMC announced in a press release Tuesday that it will close all of its locations for that duration to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

AMC said it will close to comply with local, state and federal directives, and as a precaution to ensure the health and safety of moviegoers and theater staff.

“AMC will continue to monitor the situation closely, and the company will remain flexible on reopening, in accordance with CDC recommendations and governmental directives,” the company said.

Midland Area Agency on Aging, Grand Generation Center closing to the public

Midland Area Agency on Aging and the Grand Generation Center will be closed to the public effective March 17, 2020.

Our agency feels this action is needed to help limit the possible spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus among our area’s aging population. We do not expect any disruptions in our Home Delivered Meal services and we will continue as expected.

In lieu of our meal programs at our centers, we will offer carry out, or in some locations, home delivered meals may be an option. Please contact the Grand Generation Center at 308-385-5308 to discuss what is available to you.

“We will do our very best at Midland Area Agency on Aging to continue to provide all services possible but do ask that friends and family continue to check on the elderly to make sure they are doing well,” said Casey Muzic, Director of Midland Area Agency on Aging.

Some ways to help support the elderly in your community are:

-- Call and check in with your elderly neighbors to help with social isolation

-- Offer to pick up food or medications

-- Make sure that if the individual has a care giver that they will be able to continue those services, and have a back-up plan in place.

We are taking concerns about the spread of COVID-19 seriously and will be staying in contact with State Officials and Local Health Departments to get continuous updates. For more information please call Midland Area Agency on Aging at 1-402-463-4565.

Greater Grand Island Community Foundation closed

The Greater Grand Island Community Foundation has been closely following the news surrounding COVID-19 and public health concerns in our area. As most are aware, this has led to school and business closures as an effort to prevent the further spread of the virus. We believe that it is our duty as an organization to set an example for other local organizations and to practice safe and healthy polices as we work through this crisis.

Please be advised that until further notice:

• The Greater Grand Island Community Foundation offices at 1811 W. 2nd Street in Grand Island are closed. Our team will be working from home during this time and will not attend group meetings in person. We remain available for meetings via phone or internet.

• When appropriate, all program meetings will be held via zoom video conference.

• The Scholarship Tea, scheduled for April 5th, is cancelled.

• Our grant programs will move forward as planned, however, discretionary grant making may be limited to operations and direct support of organizations that support the basic and health needs of the most vulnerable and at risk in Greater Grand Island.

Super Savers in Grand Island change store hours

Both Super Saver grocery stores in Grand Island have changed their store hours to 6 a.m. to Midnight, effective March 18, 2020.

Stuhr Museum Closed Until Further Notice

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic Stuhr Museum will be closed until further notice to support our community and our effort to alleviate overburdening our health care system.

AMC Classic 7 Grand Island to be closed for six to 12 weeks due to COVID-19

The AMC Classic Grand Island 7 movie theater is expected to be closed for at least six to 12 weeks as AMC announced in a press release Tuesday that it will close all of its locations for that duration to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

AMC said it will close to comply with local, state and federal directives, and as a precaution to ensure the health and safety of moviegoers and theater staff.

“AMC will continue to monitor the situation closely, and the company will remain flexible on reopening, in accordance with CDC recommendations and governmental directives,” the company said.

Race for GRACE, #WeAreGIPS 5k and One-Mile Family Run/Walk postponed due to the coronavirus

Two Grand Island races are postponed due to the recent spread of COVID-19.

In a press release Monday, the GRACE Cancer Foundation said it has decided to postpone the 10th annual Race for GRACE to Saturday, October 10.

GRACE Race Director Stacia Rice said the decision to postpone the race was not taken lightly but that it was what was best for the community, the people who come out to the race and those the GRACE Foudnation serves.

“In a time when inspiration and resiliency are most needed, we have decided to quickly adapt how we rally and support our ever so strong GRACE community,” she said. “We want you to keep your bodies strong, minds sharp and spirits high so you are ready when the race returns on Saturday, October 10, 2020.”

Other GRACE events and meetings are also being rescheduled at this time and will be communicated when all are finalized.

Grand Island Public Schools announced on its social media pages Monday that it is “pushing pause” on its #WeAreGIPS 5k and One-Mile Family Run/Walk event originally scheduled for May 16.

“We are not sure if we will have a chance to make up the event or not, however we want everyone to still be healthy,” the district said. “We’ll give more updates as we know more, but for now, the race is canceled.”

Grand Generation Center now offering a carryout meal

Effective Tuesday, the Grand Generation Center will be closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but home-delivered meals will continue as usual.

The Grand Generation Center will also be offering carryout meals.

“The Center will be following the menu that is published weekly in the Independent and is also in our monthly newsletter,” says a news release.

In order to receive a carryout meal, you must phone in a reservation by 11 a.m. the day before you would like a meal.

Volunteers will be in the north parking lot under the burgundy awning between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

“Your meal will be brought out to you along with a container for you to make a donation if you wish,” says the news release. “The Grand Generation Center will continue to keep everyone updated as much as we can.”

Updated as of Monday, March 16:

St. Mary’s cancels brown bag talks

As of Monday, all Lenten brown bag talks, held each Wednesday at St. Mary’s Cathedral, have been canceled. There was no further information available.

Fonner live horse racing canceled until further notice

Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele has canceled live horse racing at Fonner Park for this year until further notice.

Steele said he realizes how much of an impact the decision will have on horse owners, trainers and employees. So it was a very difficult decision, he said.

But he is trying to discourage people from gathering in groups when it’s not really necessary.

Steele realizes how important horse racing is to Grand Island and its history. But given the national emergency posed by the coronavirus pandemic, he feels it’s necessary to close the horse track until further notice.

“We’ll just have to see how the coronavirus plays out in our community,” Steele said.

Fonner Keno will continue, as will off-track betting. The Finish Line bar and restaurant will remain open,

Fonner Park CEO Chris Kotulak said the cancellation of racing will be a burden for hundreds of people, but he understands and respects the mayor’s decision.

The Independent offices will close to the public beginning March 17 

For the safety of our employees and the general public, starting March 17th, The Independent offices will be closed to the public. Appointments may be set up by calling (308) 382-1000. Business by phone is available.


(308) 382-1000 

  • Classifieds: Press 2
  • Advertising: Press 4
  • Newsroom: Press 3
  • Circulation: (308) 381-9476


Nebraska Extension face-to-face meetings cancelled

Due to the health concerns about the potential risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus, the University has decided to cancel all face-to-face meetings beginning March 16th. Nebraska Extension is fully committed to the health and well-being of Nebraskans. In a disease situation like COVID-19, the principle of social distancing is one of the main methods that can be used to help reduce the spread of the disease.

Chancellor Ronnie Green has issued guidance that all UNL classes will move to ‘remote’ modes. To be consistent with that guidance, Nebraska Extension will, whenever possible, provide Extension programs remotely (video or teleconferencing) but will not provide in-person Extension programs, at least until May 9th. We recognize that this practice may create some level of disruption relative to the important information we provide to Nebraskans. This means that any in-person trainings that were planned during March and April in the Dawson, Buffalo, and Hall County regions have been cancelled at this time.

Click here for more information

Grand Island Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting postponed

With the growing concerns for the COVID-19 public health threat, and at the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control to limit large gatherings, the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce has made the difficult but obvious decision to postpone the Annual Meeting scheduled for Thursday, March 26.

We will continue to monitor the situation and make an announcement when a date for the Annual Meeting has been selected.

Tickets already purchased for the event will be honored at the new date.

Hall County Airport Authority

The Hall County Airport Authority Board meeting for Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at 8 am has been cancelled.

Central Platte NRD Physical Office to Close Until March 30

The Central Platte Natural Resources District (CPNRD) will close our physical office to the public until March 30, 2020, to ensure a healthy and safe environment for our employees and communities effective immediately. We continue to closely monitor the evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, along with implementing the latest recommendations from federal, state and local authorities.

Central Platte NRD staff will continue to answer phone calls and reply to emails.

If you are not already utilizing our digital tools for updated information, we strongly encourage you to begin using the District’s website at, Facebook and Twitter pages. As we navigate through these uncertain times, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at (308) 385-6282.

Statewide assessment suspended one week

The Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) is suspending the Nebraska Student-Centered Assessment System (NSCAS) testing for the week of March 16-20 due to concerns regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) and school closures across the state.

The NSCAS testing window was scheduled to open Monday. Right now, the priority is to ensure the health and safety of students, educators, and communities.

This is a rapidly changing situation. The NDE will continue to gather information and will share an update about NSCAS testing later this week.

More information about NSCAS is available online

NSAA suspends all high school sports practices and competitions

The Nebraska Schools Activities Association has curtailed spring activities.

The NSAA released a statement Monday saying all practices are suspended until March 30, and all competitions are suspended until April 2. Those suspensions may be extended should conditions warrant.

"Member schools and student-participants are expected to adhere to the NSAA Constitution & Bylaws and activity manuals during this time," according to the statement.

The NSAA will share more information and official updates through its website and social media platforms.

Grand Island schools making plans to teach, feed students while they stay home

After initially saying all classes would be held as scheduled this week, Grand Island Public Schools, Northwest Public Schools, Grand Island Central Catholic, Heartland Lutheran High School and Trinity Lutheran School will close this week as a way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

GIPS said it will close its schools beginning Monday, but that the reality is it may be a several-week closure. As a result, the district said, all student activities, athletics, fine arts, clubs and meetings are canceled until further notice.

“We have said from the beginning this is a fluid situation, and events in the past 48 hours have encouraged us to take action to help slow the spread of COVID-19 across our communities,” GIPS said. “Because schools have dense populations, closing can prevent students from spreading the virus to others in their families and the community.”

GIPS said it realizes that food insecurity is a reality in the district and that many of its students rely on its schools for meals.

“District and community organizations are working to address this need,” the district said. “We will give much more information on solutions for feeding students in the next 24 hours. I know our community, working hand-in-hand with us, will ensure our students are taken care of during this closure.”

GIPS said it is also working to roll out an online learning system.

“This will take flexibility from our staff and our students, and the support of our parents, families and the community,” it said. “We will continue to provide developmental instruction to our students during this formative time of their growth.”

In a message to parents Sunday, Northwest Superintendent Jeff Edwards said the district’s schools will be closed through Friday.

“Events in the past 48 hours have encouraged us to take action to help slow the spread of COVID-19 across our communities,” Edwards said. “We will be in communication with the Northwest Public Schools community in the coming days in regards to future plans and upcoming activities.”

In a letter to families posted on the Trinity Lutheran Facebook page, Principal Jerrita Staehr said her school will be closed through March 27 as a preventive measure.

“The circumstances will be evaluated on a weekly basis to determine if we remain closed or (if) we will be able to once again open our doors,” Staehr said. “Our top priority is the health and safety of our students and families.”

Staehr said teachers will make final preparations on Monday and Tuesday to switch to a distance learning format. Some classes will have online assignments, while others will have a combination of paper packets and online components.

She said Trinity Lutheran will be ready to move to online classroom delivery by Wednesday.

In a video posted to the school’s Facebook page Friday afternoon, GICC Principal Jordan Engle said student safety and well-being is a top priority for the school.

Since last Friday, GICC has received “a plethora of new information” from a group of local physicians, and Nebraska has also seen the first community spread of COVID-19, Engle said.

He said after talking with GICC administration and its board of education, the decision was made to cease all student gatherings, including classes, practices and activities, at GICC through March 22.

“At the conclusion of the week, our board of education will reconvene and consider whether new information is available to make a determination on the following week,” Engle said.

GICC staff plans to begin offering virtual resources this week.

Engle added since the closure announcement was abrupt, students may need to gather their technology resources and/or personal belongings from the school. The building will be open Monday during regular business hours to allow students to gather these items.

In his message to the GICC community, Engle encouraged students to engage in social distancing and not to gather in close quarters at this time.

Leech echoed Engle’s comments in a Facebook Live message Sunday afternoon, saying that since he received similar information from the medical community, and in light of the first community spread of COVID-19 in Nebraska, he made the decision to cease all classes and student activities for one week as a preventive measure.

He said this week will serve as the school’s spring break. The decision to return to face-to-face classes will be re-evaluated throughout the week and will be made by Friday.

“However, we are expecting the state to step in at some point and shut down all schools in the state as this situation continues to unfold,” Leech said. “At that time, if we do not go back to face-to-face classes on Monday, March 23, we will be prepared to go to online learning.”

He added: “We will continue that for as long as we need until we feel it is safe to go back to face-to-face instruction.”

Central Community College cancels classes this week

Central Community College has canceled all classes at all of its campuses and locations beginning Monday through Sunday, March 29. All residence halls and college services will remain open.

CCC said in a press release that the decision was made following discussions with area public health departments, state officials and regional school partners. It added it is continually monitoring the COVID-19 situation and will communicate any additional updates.

Tabitha’s Closet closed for a month

Tabitha’s Closet, the free clothing giveaway program at the Stolley Park Church of Christ, will be closed for the next month because of the community’s concerns about the coronavirus.

Clothing donations also will not be accepted for the next month.

Literacy Council of Grand Island closes indefinitely

Due to the concern for the safety and well-being of the students, staff volunteers and members of the Grand Island community, the Literacy Council of Grand Island will be closed indefinitely starting Monday following the closure policy and recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in response to the COVID-19 situation.

No on-site programming will take place at this time.

News of reopening will be shared on their website, social media accounts and email.

In the meantime, it is at the discretion of each tutor as to whether to meet with their students off-site; however, the Literacy Council asks that people strongly consider the CDC’s prevention guidelines, regarding social distancing and hand hygiene, when making this decision.

There are a number of ways to connect with students without in-person contact, such as a phone call, FaceTime, Skype or What’s App messaging app.

Let Literacy Council know if you would like assistance with contacting your students.

There are several online resources available to students and tutors to encourage continued literacy education during this time.

Each student has a Mango Languages account that can be accessed at or through the mobile app on their phone.

If students do not have reliable Wi-Fi access, lessons on the mobile app can be downloaded while connected to Wi-Fi and completed later without internet access.

Students can also access, which provides written and audio news articles at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.

More resources may be found at

For more information, email

The Literacy Council of Grand Island said it is grateful for the patience and support of the community at this time.

Grand Island mayor orders closing of library, Fieldhouse

Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele Monday ordered the closing of the Grand Island Library and the Fieldhouse because of coronavirus concerns.

The mayor also suspended the use of city meeting rooms until the nature and scope of the coronavirus can be evaluated in the community.

All public meetings and or public programming at the City Hall Community Room, the Community Room at the Law Enforcement Center, or public meetings at Fire Station No. 1 are canceled until further notice.

Mass gatherings of the public at city buildings will not be permitted except as reasonably necessary to conduct essential city business, the mayor said.

The mayor said the library and Fieldhouse would be closed until further notice.

A press release said the mayor’s office is carefully monitoring the evolving circumstances presented by the coronavirus.

“A public health emergency has been declared in the United States, and guidance from public health official suggests that one of the most effective ways to protect against the spread of this disease is to limit exposure, particularly to persons at higher risk of developing serious coronavirus illness,” the press release said.

Updated as of Saturday, March 14:

Grand Theatre closes for March, Grand Comic Con canceled

The Grand Theatre Foundation board announced Thursday evening the theater will be closed to the public until the end of March, at which time the board will assess the situation.

Regular movie showings have been canceled, as has the Grand Comic Con scheduled for the weekend of March 27-28.

A post on the theater’s Facebook page reads: “We feel to err on the side of caution is the best way to help stop the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and to keep our volunteers and patrons safe. Thank you for your support during this time, please stay safe and healthy.”

United Way annual meeting postponed

Amid the growing concerns for the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, the Heartland United Way is postponing its annual meeting scheduled for Thursday, March 19.

The meeting will likely be rescheduled to early ball and be combined with the 2020/2021 Campaign Kickoff, the United Way said.

All ticket holders are offered a choice to have tickets refunded or be reserved for an advanced registration for the fall event. If the ticket holder has a conflict with the new date scheduled, refunds will be offered again at that time.

Anyone wanting a refund is asked to contact Cammie Benson at (308) 382-2675 or

GICC’s annual fundraiser Karnival Kapers canceled

Grand Island Central Catholic’s annual Karnival Kapers event has been canceled.

Principal Jordan Engle said the event, which was scheduled for March 22, was canceled out of a concern for public well-being following the recent spread of COVID-19.

The raffles will be broadcast live.

Tri-City Storm joins sidelined teams

The U.S. Hockey League has decided to suspend game play effective immediately until further notice.

The decision was unanimously made by the USHL Board of Directors with the best interest of USHL athletes, staff, officials and fans in mind, according to a news release. The league is based in Chicago.

In addition, all hockey activities, including practices, workouts and meetings have also been suspended until further notice. The league continues to closely monitor the situation and will use this hiatus to determine next steps regarding the 2019-20 season.

The Tri-City Storm in Kearney is a member of the USHL.

Local and area activities, programs affected

A number of events highlighted in the Your Ticket section of Thursday’s Independent have been postponed of canceled. In addition to other events listed here, they include:

  • “Tales of Hans Christian Anderson,” Saturday, Wood River High School, postponed (will be rescheduled).
  • Young Irelanders, presented by the Grand Island Concert Association, Grand Island Senior High, canceled.
  • Scrabble Game Night, Monday. Primrose Assisted Living, canceled.
  • “Doolittle,” Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Grand Theatre, canceled.

Kearney Public Library suspends public meetings, programming

KEARNEY — According to the City of Kearney, the public library will make the following changes immediately to protect the workforce and the public during COVID-19 concerns:

All public meetings and study room uses are suspended and will resume on April 6, if possible. Reservations will not be taken for study rooms and meeting rooms until April 6.

All library programming is suspended and will resume on April 6, if possible. This includes guitarist Jerry Barlow, scheduled to perform on St. Patrick’s Day.

Patrons are encouraged not to return any items until April 6. Any fines will be waived during this time period.

The computer lab and makerspace will be closed and will resume hours on April 6, if possible.

2020 Whoopers and Hoopers Tournament canceled

The 2020 Whoopers and Hoopers Tournament scheduled for March 20-22 has been canceled. The Board of Directors and staff understand the hardship that this may cause to the local businesses. The Board feels the safety of the community should always come first.

A refund of team registration fees will be given to all those who have already paid.

For questions please contact Mikki Shafer, president of the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce, at (402) 461-8400.

Doane University cancels classes March 16-22, transitions to online learning

Due to the threat of COVID-19, Doane University has made the decision to cancel all in-person classes next week (March 16-22), extending the current spring break of its Crete residential students one additional week. This includes the cancellation of courses on Doane’s Lincoln, Omaha and Grand Island campuses. Those programs would be in the second week of their spring term.

All classes (including adult and graduate) will resume on Monday, March 23, in an online/virtual format and will be taught online for the remainder of the semester/term. All current online courses for the spring term will continue uninterrupted.

In-person spotter training with weather service canceled

The National Weather Service in Hastings has canceled all previously scheduled in-person spotter talks for the spring season. The talks will be not be rescheduled.

The NWS–Hastings released the following statement:

“The public’s health/safety and that of our staff is most important in dealing with the effects of Covid-19 and canceling the talks is an appropriate measure to take at this time. We will review options for potential virtual training sessions but no formal plans have been made at this time.

“We are in the process of notifying our partners and the public of these changes as well as updating websites and social media posts.”

Buffett says Berkshire Hathaway meeting could be scaled back

OMAHA (AP) — Investor Warren Buffett says he plans to decide whether to scale back his company’s annual meeting, which typically attracts roughly 40,000 people, around April 1.

Berkshire Hathaway is still planning to hold its annual meeting on May 2, but the ongoing coronavirus outbreak may force the company to make changes to the event.

Buffett told Yahoo Finance that he will follow the advice of public health officials when deciding whether to alter plans for Berkshire’s annual meeting. The event includes a massive trade show where Berkshire companies, such as Fruit of the Loom, Geico and Pampered Chef, sell products.

“It definitely may be scaled down,” Buffett said during an interview with Yahoo Finance. “We’ll consider that between now and roughly the first of April. Then we’ll announce, so people can make their plans.”

The meeting usually attracts a huge crowd of people who want to hear Buffett and Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger answer questions over several hours.

The meeting itself will be broadcast online by Yahoo Finance, so investors don’t have to travel to hear Buffett’s and Munger’s answers.

Care facilities adjust visitor protocols

With many local and national events canceling or severely limiting attendance, curious minds want to know how local nursing homes, assisted living and retirement homes are protecting the most vulnerable demographic from COVID-19.

Teresa Anderson, health director with the Central Nebraska District Health Department, sent out information to care providers on what to do to protect their residents.

In the news release, Anderson said the recent cases of COVID-19 in a long-term care facility in Washington State has left people concerned about the vulnerability of the elderly and immune-compromised population.

“Our goal now is to keep COVID-19 out of a long-term care facility,” Anderson said.

Kelly Hranac, executive director of Edgewood Memory Care Facility, said the facility is limiting visitors and visiting hours to 10 a.m. to noon and from 4 to 6 p.m.

Hranac said staff members are telling visitors they must log in and log out when they visit and the must be symptom free and haven’t traveled in an international airport recently.

Employees must follow the same protocol on symptoms and traveling.

“We are sanitizing all surfaces three times a day,” Hranac said.

Hranac said it is important to follow the rules to protect their residents.

“For people with a compromised immune system, this (COVID-19) could be really tragic for them,” Hranac said.

Cathy Roark, independent living director at Riverside Lodge, said visitors are not allowed except in the case of medical need or necessity.

“The residents have been absolutely wonderful and they know we are just looking out for their well-being and doing what we can to protect them,” she said.

Roark said they are looking into inventive ways for residents to be able to speak with their family members.

The Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs are launching virtual visits to help keep veterans’ home members and families connected, according to a news release.

Four state veterans’ homes have limited access to NDVA teammates and medical professionals as a precaution.

“Protecting our members’ health and safety is our top priority,” NDVA Director John Hilgert said. “However, we also want to protect the bond they have with their loved ones and ensure they can remain connected. Through our virtual visitor system, we’re striking a balance between the two.”

Members will have access to computers, tablets and other devices with video messaging programs such as Skype and FaceTime, and teammates will be available to help members connect with their families.

Carol Bryant’s 94-year-old father, Gerald “Jerry” Bryant, is at Riverside Lodge.

“I visit him every day with my dog Joy for an hour to an hour and a half,” Carol Bryant said.

She said she understands why the retirement facility is implementing the policy and has the utmost praise for those who work in health care, especially under the current circumstances.

Carol Bryant said she will miss seeing her dad every day, but that she know this is what’s best for the residents at this time.

“My dad was sad when he heard of the news and he said, ‘How am I going to get by not seeing you for the next several months?’” Carol Bryant said.

Carol Bryant said she assured her dad that she will talk to him by phone.

She said that her dad was alive when the Republican River flooded and the community was cut off from outside visitors.

“He has been through hardships like this,” Carol Bryant said. “He will get through this, too.”

Roark said Riverside Lodge staff are also working to provide residents with exciting activities to keep them stimulated.

“We meet the residents at the entrance of the dining room with hand sanitizer,” Roark said.

Roark and Melissa Miller, the assistant living director, said they both called residents’ family members to explain the situation to them so families understand why they are taking the certain actions they are.

“All cooperation from the community is appreciated,” said Roark. “Our main concern is residents’ health and well-being.”

Stuhr Museum closed March 14-20

Stuhr Museum announced it will close beginning Saturday and will re-evaluate its position Friday. At that time, the museum will announce its decision to either continue its closure or to reopen.

In a news release, the museum stated: “In addition to closing for a week, Stuhr has canceled all public gatherings on our calendar for the next several weeks including the closing reception for Wings Over the Platte and this weekend’s Family Game Night. We will be reassessing the situation on a continual basis.”

For more information, contact the museum via email at

NSAA cancels district and state speech contests

The Nebraska School Activities Association has called off district and state speech contests until further notice, according to a Friday news release.

The release reads: “The NSAA is aware of the fluidity of COVID-19 and the potential impact hosting statewide events could have regarding the ongoing public health threat. Many of our member schools are making decisions in the best interest of their student participants, coaches and communities.

“This is an unprecedented event. The NSAA Board of Directors and staff understand the hardship this has created for our membership. The NSAA will use this time to evaluate potential alternatives and the next steps for moving forward.”

Shelton church cancels fish fry

Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Shelton has canceled the community fish fry set for March 20.

March mobile pantry canceled

The monthly mobile pantry scheduled Saturday in Grand Island has been canceled due to the weather and concerns about the coronavirus.

This month’s food distribution will not be rescheduled. The next mobile pantry is scheduled for April 11 in the garage at the Grand Island Engineering Division, 315 N. Jefferson St.

Crane Trust shuts down because of coronavirus

Crane Trust Nature and Visitor Center, making a tough decision because of the business it does every March, has closed its doors until the first week of April.

Because of coronavirus fears, the facility shut down Wednesday night.

“We don’t know of anybody that’s been there that has the coronavirus, so this is kind of proactive,” said Chuck Cooper, Crane Trust’s chief executive officer.

But with 30,000 people going through the Nature Center every March, “it’s going to happen,” Cooper said.

“We did get contacted that one of our guests had been near somebody who has it,” but no one who’s been to the facility has been tested, he said.

Still, “we just all of a sudden felt very vulnerable.”

It was a difficult decision to close, “because we raise half a million dollars this month. This is a big portion of the money we raise for the whole year, to do our work.”

But, thinking about “our friends and guests” as well as volunteers and staff, “we just had a responsibility” to close.

At this point, the Crane Trust will reopen around April 4. But reopening could happen sooner or later than that, depending on how things go.

Things were looking good for this month.

“It had the makings for just a wonderful crane season,” Cooper said.

In addition to a lot of cranes, “We’ve already seen whooping cranes. It’s pretty sad,” Cooper said of the decision.

Bookings have been good.

“We were packed the rest of the month.” Crane Trust is in the process of contacting those people to tell them about the shutdown.

Normally, the bird-watching location entertains international visitors. But no one had made reservations from overseas this year.

For the most part, the Crane Trust is empty.

“There’s a couple of staff out there, but we sent a lot of people home,” he said.

Rowe Sanctuary cancels public tours and programs

As a coronavirus precaution, the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary has decided to cancel all public tours and programs starting on Monday, March 16. As of right now, the center itself will stay open.

Last year’s tourism numbers at Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary hit record-low numbers during crane season due to the historic flooding. This year, it could be because of coronavirus concerns.

“Watching the Sandhill Cranes on the Platte River is one of my favorite experiences to share with people,” said Kristal Stoner, Executive Director of Audubon Nebraska. “It’s unfortunate we need to cancel the crane tours for the rest of the season, but keeping everyone here safe and healthy is what’s most important.”

Currently, there are no reports of anyone with COVID-19 visiting Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary.

All registrants will receive a full refund. If anyone would like their registration to stay with Audubon as a tax-deductible donation, please email or call (308) 468-5282.

For those who are no longer able to see the cranes in person, Stoner recommends another viewing option.

“We were fortunate enough to partner with to upgrade our crane camera,” said Stoner. “Now, everyone can experience the migration, even from thousands of miles away.” View the live crane camera at

Further updates about the coronavirus will be posted online at and on Rowe Sanctuary’s social media.

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