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Free Christmas tree disposal

COLUMBUS — The Christmas tree drop-off site for residents of Columbus is at Platte County Agricultural Park.

This is only for live Christmas trees, which must be left south of the south entrance to Ag Park. Wreaths and garland won't be accepted.

All ornaments, lights, wires and bags must be removed from trees before they're dropped off.

Trees will be accepted through Jan. 22.

For more information, contact the city of Columbus.

Group for blind meeting locally

COLUMBUS -- The National Federation of the Blind will meet from 3-4 p.m. Thursday at the Eagles Club.

Attendees are asked to bring a snack to share and their own beverage. The group will be electing new officers and paying dues at this meeting.

For more information, contact Chapter President Linda Mentink at 402-563-8138.

3 people killed in house fire

INDIANOLA (AP) — Three people died in an early morning house fire in central Nebraska.

Authorities responded to the fire about 1 1/2 miles south of Indianola shortly after midnight Thursday. Indianola Fire Chief Tom Davidson says the single-story house was engulfed in flames, and firefighters spent most of the day battling the flames.

Davidson says four people lived in the home, and only one was able to escape. The Indianola, McCook and Red Willow fire departments all responded to the emergency call.

Davidson says cold temperatures made it difficult to battle the fire. He says flames were coming through the roof of the home.

None of the people inside the house were identified. The Nebraska State Fire Marshal's Office was requested for a fire investigation.

Beer stores fight tax bill

LINCOLN (AP) — The owners of four now-closed stores that sold millions of cans of beer next to an American Indian reservation where alcohol is banned are fighting a steep Nebraska tax bill.

An audit by the Nebraska Department of Revenue determined the shuttered stores owe more than $600,000 in taxes and underrepresented nearly $1.7 million in sales from August 2013 to August 2016. The stores closed in April after the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission denied the renewal of their liquor licenses following concerns that local law enforcement was inadequate to allow beer sales to continue.

The four stores are in the tiny village of Whiteclay on the border of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The reservation is plagued by a litany of alcohol-related problems, including high rates of fetal alcohol syndrome, and activists complain that Whiteclay fuels those issues. The village has only a handful of residents, yet sold the equivalent of about 3.5 million cans of beer annually.

Owners of the shuttered shops — Arrowhead Inn, State Line Liquor, D&S Pioneer Service and Jumping Eagle Inn — have asked a judge to review the audit's findings. The owners say the review was based on incorrect estimates. Their attorney filed nine petitions for review last week alleging the department's decisions were "arbitrary, capricious and/or unreasonable."

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