Improvements Coming to the Lincoln Airport
Spring means construction and that's exactly what you can expect when you drive into the Lincoln Airport.
It's all in an effort to make the entrance more appealing and the road smoother.
The City of Lincoln held an open house for people to see the current plans and construction schedule.
The 6.5 million dollar project includes parts of West Adams Street, Northwest 12th Street, Cornhusker Highway and the area of 9th and 10th Streets at S Street.
Improvements include planting the state flower, more trees and banners.
Construction is scheduled to start later this month and last through October.
The project is paid for through the street and bridge rehab money along with private donations.
Nebraska Joins Fight Against California Egg Law
Nebraska is joining a lawsuit that seeks to strike down a California law regulating the living conditions of chickens.
Gov. Dave Heineman and Attorney General Jon Bruning announced Wednesday that they will help Missouri with its legal challenge in federal court. The lawsuit pits California's new animal rights protections against the economic interests of Midwestern farmers.
The law set to take effect in 2015 would prohibit the sale of eggs that come from hens raised in cages that don't comply with California's new size and space requirements.
Heineman says the law will hamper interstate trade because it effectively imposes California's requirements on out-of-state farmers. He says it also could set a precedent for beef, swine and dairy producers.
Missouri's lawsuit was filed on Feb. 3 in U.S. District Court.
Indoor Tanning Bed Bill Advances
Teenagers younger than 16 years old may soon be restricted from using indoor tanning beds in Nebraska.
Lawmakers on Tuesday gave first-round approval to a bill designed to reduce skin cancer risks. The bill by Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha would also require tanning facilities to post a sign warning that overexposure to ultraviolet radiation can cause premature skin aging and skin cancer.
"Indoor tanning is considered and rated as a class one carcinogen, in the same level as tobacco, arsenic and asbestos. Obviously we regulate tobacco products, I think it just makes sense to allow appropriate regulation of indoor tanning," said Nordquist.
Senators added an exemption for young teens if they are accompanied by a parent, and the parent signs a permission form each time their child tans.
"When you're a young person, the last thing you think about is what's going to happen 40 years from today or 30 years from today," said Sen. Al Davis.
"Why not just have the state raise the kids? They don't make mistakes we'll just raise those kids right and just have the state do it," said Sen. Bill Kitner.
The bill advanced on a 34-0 vote. The original legislation would have imposed a ban on users younger than 18.
Bellevue police search for Miss Teen Nebraska
The public is asked to help in search for Miss Teen Nebraska Michaela Wells.
According to a missing person's report on the Nebraska State Patrol website, the 16-year old from Bellevue has been missing since Monday. Wells was wearing a black tank top with a teal hoodie, jeans, and black shoes. She's described as a white female, 5'6", 120 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes.
A Facebook titled "USA National Miss Nebraska Teen Michaela Wells", has post, believed-to-be from the Michaela's parents, stating she vanished around 8:30pm Sunday and that she was "not dressed for the weather and her cell is still here at home."
Anyone with information on Wells' whereabouts is asked to contact the Bellevue Police Dept. at 402-293-3100 or the Nebraska Missing Persons Information Clearinghouse at 1-877-441-LOST (5678)
Justices won't hear ordinance similar to Fremont's
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review a local immigration ordinance that closely resembles the measure approved by voters in Fremont.
The justices on Monday declined to take up appeals from the Dallas suburb of Farmers Branch, Texas, or the city of Hazleton, Pa., of lower court rulings that blocked their rental-housing regulations. Both ordinances were intended to keep people who are in the country illegally from finding housing in town.
Kris Kobach, an attorney defending Fremont, says parts of the Fremont and Farmers Branch ordinances are identical. Kobach says the decision not review the Farmers Branch case suggests the justices won't hear the lawsuit filed against Fremont.
The Supreme Court held in 2012 that immigration is primarily a matter for the federal government.
UNL to Host Event Cultivating Nebraska's History
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is hosting its third annual History Harvest event to honor the state's past.
The event will take place March 15 at the Nebraska History Museum, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The project brings together computer science and history students to produce a digital history of Nebraska.
UNL history professor Will Thomas says the project will help make remnants of the state's history available to teachers and scholars. It may also reveal new, untold stories about Nebraska.
The event is free and open to anyone who can contribute.
Materials include but are not limited to diaries, photographs, letters, maps, images, war memorabilia and other heirlooms.
Students will not keep the items, but will digitally document them. The finished products will go into a website and eBook.
Heineman opposes prison marriage at public expense
LINCOLN - Gov. Dave Heineman says he's opposed to any use of public money to transport Nebraska prisoners to marriage ceremonies with other inmates, and he says a majority of Nebraskans stand with him.
Gov. Heineman: "They are outraged at the thought that they ought to use their tax dollars to transport someone to get married when in fact, it's their fault. If they hadn't committed any crimes, they'd be on the outside and they could get married any day of the week."
Heineman's comments Monday came in response to questions about a lawsuit filed against the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services. The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the department on behalf of 42-year-old Paul Gillpatrick and 33-year-old Niccole Wetherell.
The department has refused to transport either of them for an in-person wedding, although they have offered to pay the transportation costs.
Neb. panel advances $31.5M for water, resources
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Water research and conservation projects would receive $31.5 million in state aid under a measure advanced by a Nebraska legislative committee.
The measure that moved Friday would help pay for current, unfinished natural resources projects for both land and water. It would also fund new efforts to keep Nebraska's water supply sustainable.
Committee members voted to use $20 million from the state's cash reserve, $11 million from its general fund, and nearly $500,000 left over from a Nebraska water task force.
Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege sought the water funding, saying it would ensure Nebraska's supply is sustainable.
Nebraska would continue to spend $11 million on water projects in future budgets, which is roughly double the current amount.
The proposal still requires approval in the full Legislature.
Medicaid Expansion Expected To Be Debated Later This Legislative Session
LINCOLN-Several topics will be debated over the coming days of this legislative session, but none will be quite bigger than the topic of expanding the Medicaid program in Nebraska.
Several state lawmakers believe LB 877, better known as the Nebraska Wellness Act, will be costly to taxpayers with arguably the most outspoken opponent being Governor Dave Heineman.
Henieman: "It would cost state tax payers hundreds of millions of dollars that we can't afford. It will mean less future funding for the Norfolk Public schools, for Northeast Community College and for Wayne State College. I don't think we should do it."
One of the authors of the bill, Senator Sue Crawford of Bellevue, argues that if we adopt wellness in Nebraska, the program would take over many of the things we are currently paying state and county dollars for health care.
Crawford: "Actually in my own county, Sarpy County, they tell me it would save them 200 thousand dollars a year. Because the wellness in Nebraska program will take care of health care cost that they now have to take care of as a county."
The final day of the 2014 legislative session is slated for April 17th.
Mountain Lion Killed in Nebraska Panhandle
The killing of a female mountain lion has automatically ended the year's second season in the Panhandle area where it was taken.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission says the 102-pound animal was killed Wednesday in Sheridan County.
The commission says the animal was about 5 1/2 years old and didn't show any signs of recent motherhood. One of its ears had a tag from South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.
Season 2 in the Pine Ridge Unit was scheduled to run from Feb. 15 through March 31, with a requirement to end once one female or two mountain lions total were killed.
The first season in the Pine Ridge Unit closed when two male mountain lions were killed on Jan. 2. The season is continuing in the Prairie Unit.
Proposal for New Airplane for Governor Gets 1st Around Approval
A proposal to buy a new airplane for Nebraska's governor and other state officials has won first-round approval in the Legislature.
Lawmakers advanced the measure on Thursday with a 31-3 vote.
A legislative consultant has recommended buying a new twin-engine King Air model that can carry five passengers and two pilots. It would cost as much as $3.8 million, though money from other aircraft sales would likely reduce that cost. The plane would replace the state's current, 1982 Piper Cheyenne aircraft.
The bill's sponsor, Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha, says buying a new plane instead of leasing or chartering is more cost-efficient over the long term.
"We've just come light-years with this airplane in terms of safety and maintenance. This new airplane is a much better airplane," said Krist.
Krist says a new plane would have better safety features, and would retain more of its value after its recommended 20-year lifespan has expired.
Other senators question how much this plane will cost years down the road.
"I'd be interested to see when all this shakes down as far as costs because depreciation and all these things are figured in there and noticed. It's going to cost more money than we think," said Sen. Norm Wallman.
Gov. Dave Heineman has said the state needs a plane so officials can travel quickly and safely for state business.
Many Welcome Nebraska Bronze Medalist Home
Two days after winning a Bronze Medal in Sochi, Curt Tomasevicz got a hero's welcome home earlier this week in Lincoln.
A former Nebraska football player and Olympic bobsledder, Tomasevicz and his four-man sled finished just three-hundredths of a second ahead of a Russian team to win third place in Sunday's racing. Cheers erupted as about 100 people packed the Lincoln Airport wearing red, white and blue as he stepped off the plane.
Tomasevicz called the surprise incredible and thanked everyone who's supported him on his Olympic journey that started in his hometown of Shelby, Nebraska.
Tomasevicz won a gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 but says this one tops his accomplishments. Tomasevicz also said this is his last Olympics and he plans to retire.
Independent Jenkins Discusses US Senate Campaign
NORFOLK - There are a number of individuals coming forward seeking election to the U.S. Senate following the announcement that current Senator Mike Johanns will not seek election once again. Currently there are five declared Republican candidates, two Democrats, and two independent candidates. Former Nebraska Ethanol Board Chairman Jim Jenkins of Callaway, Nebraska has announced his candidacy as an independent.
Jenkins: "I just see our county being impacted negatively and our democratic system being undermined by the polarization that's going on. I see myself as sort of a bridge builder, someone that understands that you need to compromise and need to build consensus.
Jenkins also said that if elected, he'd continue to work as an independent and not caucus with either major party.
Heineman Discusses President's Cryptic Message on Keystone XL during National Governors Meeting
LINCOLN - Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman recently returned from attending the National Governors Association annual meeting in Washington D.C.. Heineman said that during the meeting, President Barack Obama discussed the future of the Keystone XL pipeline with the nation's governors saying that a decision would be made in the coming months
Gov. Heineman: "He gave no indication which way he was going to decide, noting only that a decision will be coming and some governors would be happy and some would not.
Calgary-based TransCanada, the developer of the Keystone XL pipeline says its proposed route through State of Nebraska, is still legally valid until a higher court decides whether the state's pipeline-siting law is constitutional. TransCanada representatives said that last week's ruling to strike down the law can't be enforced while the case is on appeal, and the ruling shouldn't affect the federal project review.
Attorney: Teen will be charged as adult in killing
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A county attorney says an Omaha teenager will be charged as an adult in the killing of another teen.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine announced Monday that 17-year-old Christopher Spears would be prosecuted as an adult. He's charged with second-degree murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony.
Spears, a student at Northwest High School in Omaha, was arrested after the killing of 17-year-old Dominique Hollie.
Kleine says the shooting happened after Spears made sexual comments about Hollie's sister, prompting Hollie to go to his bedroom and grab a sawed-off shotgun that he later returned to his room.
Kleine alleges that after an argument, Spears went to Hollie's room, returned with the shotgun and shot Hollie in the face.
Police arrested Spears a few blocks away.
Alternative breakfasts for Neb. schools supported
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Education groups are supporting a Nebraska lawmaker's effort to increase the number of students eating breakfast at school.
Sen. Bill Avery of Lincoln introduced a bill that would encourage schools to create alternative breakfast programs, such as grab-and-go breakfast or breakfast in the classroom through a grant program.
The bill was presented to the Education Committee on Monday. Avery says Nebraska has one of the lowest school breakfast participation rates in the country. Supporters of the bill say eating breakfast leads to better educational outcomes for students.
Norris School District Superintendent John Skretta testified in support of the bill.
Skretta says his school has seen higher participation rates at schools with grab-and-go breakfast than those with a traditional breakfast.
Creighton University president to exit next year
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Creighton University President Timothy Lannon has announced his intention to leave his post in June 2015.
Lannon returned to Creighton in 2011 as Creighton's 24th president. He said in an announcement Monday that when he returned he wanted "to give back to what the institution gave to me."
Lannon says there's another role ahead for him, one "that will be even more pastoral and less administrative."
He says his announcement gives the Creighton University board of trustees more than a year to find and confirm his successor.
TransCanada says Neb. pipeline route still valid
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The developer of the Keystone XL pipeline says its proposed route through Nebraska is still legally valid until a higher court decides whether the state's pipeline-siting law is constitutional.
A spokesman for Calgary-based TransCanada said Monday that last week's ruling to strike down the law can't be enforced while the case is on appeal. Company officials say the ruling shouldn't affect the federal project review.
Jane Kleeb, director of the anti-pipeline group Bold Nebraska, says the move is "a slap in the face to landowners, citizens and our state constitution."
President Barack Obama told a meeting of governors on Monday that he will make a decision on the pipeline in the next couple of months.
Gov. Dave Heineman says he's pleased a decision will be made after years of delay.
Neb. Medicaid bill sent to Legislature for debate
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A bill to expand Medicaid in Nebraska as part of the federal health care law has been sent to the full Legislature for debate.
The Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee voted on Monday to advance the "Wellness in Nebraska Act," a new version of a Medicaid-expansion proposal.
The new bill was introduced after a Medicaid expansion bill stalled in the Legislature last year. The rewritten proposal makes use of private insurance, cost-sharing and wellness incentives.
Committee members voted 5-1 to advance the bill. Sen. Dan Watermeier of Syracuse voted against it, and Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha did not register a vote.
Gov. Dave Heineman and a group of conservative state senators say they're still opposed to expanded Medicaid.
Psychology internship program clears 1st Neb. vote
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska lawmakers have given initial approval to a psychology internship program that would provide specialists in under-served parts of the state.
The proposal would offer funding for five doctoral-level psychology internships. The number would increase to 10 in the program's third year. Lawmakers advanced the bill on Monday with a 30-0 vote.
Interns would be placed in under-served areas and rural communities where behavioral-health services are needed.
Sen. Amanda McGill of Lincoln says her bill seeks to fill a gap in mental health services. Most professionals are based in Omaha and Lincoln, and even some parts of those cities are considered under-served.
The program would cost an estimated $548,000 in its third year.
Neb. senator targets 'hold' charges on debit cards
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Hotels, gas stations and restaurants would have to notify customers if they place temporary hold charges on their debit cards, under a bill set for review in the Nebraska Legislature.
The holds guarantee that merchants are paid for gas bought at the pump and food taken from hotel refrigerators. But they also temporarily deny customers access to money in their accounts, sometimes in amounts $50 to $100.
Senator John Harms of Scottsbluff will present the bill Monday to the Legislature's Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee. Harms says the bill is designed to help low-income people who don't realize their money could be held.
Nebraska oil production up to 2.8M barrels in 2013
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Oil production grew again last year in southwest Nebraska thanks to new techniques, but state officials don't expect the boom to last long.
The Lincoln Journal Star reports the Nebraska Oil and Gas Commission estimates that 2.8 million barrels of oil were produced in the state last year, but final numbers aren't yet available.
Commission Director Bill Sydow says that's better than the 2.5 million barrels produced in 2012, and it would the best year since 2001.
But Sydow says he expects many of the new oil fields in Hitchcock and Dundy counties will dry up by the end of 2014.
Omaha police ticket 52 minors for having alcohol
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Omaha police ticketed dozens of teenagers for possessing alcohol at a party this weekend and cited a 20-year-old man for providing it.
Officers were called to the party in midtown Omaha around 12:15 Sunday morning.
Police ticketed 52 juveniles for possessing alcohol, and a 20-year-old man was ticketed for procuring alcohol for minors and possessing a small amount of marijuana.
Iowa-based egg producer expands into SE Nebraska
BLUE SPRINGS, Neb. (AP) - An Iowa-based egg producer is expanding into southeast Nebraska to reduce the risk that a poultry disease could cripple its operations.
The Beatrice Daily Sun reports Hy-Line International is building a new chicken barn on Ed and Glennis McClure's farm near Blue Springs to expand and protect its business.
Hy-Line officials wanted to have some of company's chickens laying eggs at a site away from its West Des Moines headquarters to protect against disease.
McClure Farms is partnering with Hy-Line and will own the barn, but Hy-Line will own the chickens. The company chose McClure because of his experience raising chickens and his location.
Omaha man dies after his car strikes tree
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Douglas County authorities are investigating a weekend crash that killed a 23-year-old man near Omaha.
The Douglas County Sheriff's office says the crash happened early Sunday morning on 72nd Street.
Officials say Brandon Fry was driving north in his Volkswagen Jetta when he struck a tree. The impact broke Fry's vehicle in half and killed him.
A second vehicle was found in the ditch near Fry's car, but it didn't appear that the vehicles had hit each other.
Twitter co-founder Evan Williams to speak in Omaha
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - One of the co-founders of Twitter will speak in Omaha this spring at a conference on entrepreneurship.
Evan Williams is one of the speakers scheduled to appear at the Big Omaha conference May 7th through 9th.
Williams is a Nebraska native who helped create Twitter and has launched several other high-tech businesses.
The conference created by Silicon Prairie News focuses on entrepreneurship and innovation in the Midwest.
UNL Extension offers crop scout training in March
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension is offering a program to help crop scouts learn how to better manage corn and soybean pests.
The March 6th training program will provide detailed information from university specialists. Registration opens at 8:30 a.m., and the workshop will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the university's Agricultural Research and Development Center near Mead.
The program costs $135. Fees cover the cost of lunch, refreshment breaks, workshop materials and an instruction manual. Registrants should pre-register to reserve a seat and ensure workshop materials are available they day of the training session.
9-year-old dies after Kearney collision
KEARNEY, Neb. (AP) - Authorities say a 9-year-old boy has died after vehicles collided at a Kearney intersection.
Police say the accident occurred around 5:15 p.m. Monday, when vehicles headed south and east crashed into each other. There are no traffic lights or stop signs at the intersection, but police say drivers are expected to yield to each other.
The boy was identified as Jackson Wallace, of Kearney. Police say he was in the front seat of a car driven by his baby sitter, Rebecca Konate. She was taken to a hospital. It's unclear whether the other driver was injured.
The collision is being investigated. No citations have been reported.
Nebraskan pleads not guilty in 2 slayings
A 58-year-old Nebraska man has pleaded not guilty to charges that he killed his former wife and his former divorce attorney.
Michael Petersen, of Glenvil, entered a plea Tuesday in Hall County District Court.
He's charged with first-degree murder and use of a weapon in the slaying of 52-year-old Todd Elsbernd.
Prosecutors say Petersen shot Elsbernd on Nov. 13 outside his Grand Island law office.
Last week Petersen pleaded not guilty to the same charges in Buffalo County.
He's accused of killing his former wife, Nancy Petersen, on the same date at her rural Buffalo County home.
His trial is scheduled for May.
Neb. counties support solicitor regulation bill
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Counties may soon have a way to regulate door-to-door salesmen through a bill in the Nebraska Legislature.
Sen. John Murante of Gretna introduced the bill, which was heard by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
The bill would allow counties to regulate the salesmen through charging a fee, issuing a permit or both.
Murante says his constituents have had a problem with aggressive door-to-door salesmen.
Cities can regulate these solicitors but counties do not have the authority to do so. Most of the people Murante represents live outside of a municipality.
The Nebraska Association of County Officials and other county representatives testified in support of the bill. No one testified against the bill.
Nebraska law that allowed Keystone XL struck down
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A judge has struck down a Nebraska law that allowed the Keystone XL oil pipeline to proceed through the state.
Lancaster County Judge Stephanie Stacy issued a ruling Wednesday that invalidated Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman's approval of the route.
Stacy says the decision should have been made by the Nebraska Public Service Commission, which regulates pipelines and other utilities.
The ruling could cause more delays in finishing the pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to Texas refineries.
But it's a win for Nebraska-based pipeline opponents. They've argued that Heineman exceeded his authority when he approved the route in January 2013.
UNL Wants To Expand Bike Trails Within Master Plan
Members of the Great Plains Trails Network recently met to hear the accomplishments of the last year - bike trails that extend through all four corridors of the city.
Now the City Parks and Recreation Department will work with UNL to keep this trend going. UNL's master plan that was introduced includes a bike plan that will make it easier for students to get around.
Jennifer Dam, Assistant Director for Campus Planning at UNL says that while they will focus on the campus malls - she reiterates they also want to work with the city to include bike lanes in more spots downtown - making it safer for all students.
As the plan develops, many at the meeting believe that these trails will give UNL and the community an extra boost.
JJ Yost added that," I have to believe it is an incentive, a benefit to the community, a quality of life to the community and it is something we can be really proud of."
The Master Plan that includes these new bike trails has been approved by UNL'S Board of Regents already.
The Assistant Director for Campus Planning says that while there's no specific timeline, this is the vision that they want to complete within the next 10 to 15 years.
Bill seeks taxes on RVs registered out of Nebraska
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A Nebraska lawmaker and the Department of Revenue are trying to collect taxes from Nebraskans who register their recreational vehicles in another state.
Sen. Galen Hadley of Kearney has introduced a bill that would target those who register their RVs through sham limited liability corporations in Montana, where there is no sales tax.
Hadley says there are Montana lawyers who set up LLCs for those out of state so they can license their RV in Montana and save thousands in tax.
This bill would give Nebraskans 30 days to pay sales taxes and fees if they are served with a notice by the Department of Revenue or the Department of Motor Vehicles. Those who don't comply would face a 50 percent penalty.
Nebraska Sen. Janssen to run for state auditor
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska state Sen. Charlie Janssen is running for auditor.
The Fremont lawmaker filed papers Tuesday to seek the office held by Mike Foley, who is running for governor.
Janssen entered the contest little more than two weeks after he withdrew from the Republican gubernatorial primary race. State Sen. Amanda McGill of Lincoln, a Democrat, is also running for the auditor's job.
Janssen and McGill are the only two candidates who have filed for auditor. Sen. Pete Pirsch previously announced that he was a candidate, but he said last week that he would run instead for Nebraska attorney general.
Janssen has served in the Legislature since 2008, and was re-elected in 2012. He previously served on the Fremont City Council.
Lincoln attorney Mike Hilgers to run for Neb. AG
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Lincoln attorney Mike Hilgers is joining the race for Nebraska attorney general.
Hilgers will announce his bid Wednesday morning at the Capitol. The 34-year-old will compete against Lincoln attorney Doug Peterson and Omaha state Sen. Pete Pirsch in the Republican primary. Omaha attorney Brian Buescher is also looking seriously at the race.
Hilgers is a founding partner of Gober Hilgers, a firm with offices in Nebraska, Texas and Washington. He ran unsuccessfully for the Legislature in 2012.
The candidates are looking to replace Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, who is running for governor. Hilgers says he hopes to continue Bruning's focus on lawsuits challenging the federal government's environmental and health care regulations.
Fremont attorney Janet Stewart is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Cougar killed in trap in north-central Nebraska
SARGENT, Neb. (AP) - State wildlife officials say a mountain lion has been unintentionally killed in a trap north of Sargent in north-central Nebraska.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission said Tuesday that a trapper found the cougar on Sunday in a cable restraint trap he had set for other animals.
Officials say the trapper called Game and Parks officials immediately after discovering the mountain lion, described as a 150 pound male that had been in good health before it was killed.
Game and Parks' carnivore program manager, Sm Wilson, says high pelt prices have led to an increased effort to trap bobcats and other fur-bearing animals, which may have contributed to the accident trapping of the mountain lion.
Nebraska officials shut down public shooting range
GERING, Neb. (AP) - A public, outdoor shooting range on a state-run wildlife management area in western Nebraska has been shut down over safety concerns.
Nebraska Game and Parks Wildlife Division Administrator Scott Taylor says the shooting range at Wildcat Hills Wildlife Management Area south of Gering was closed after receiving complaints from people using a recreation area across the road from range.
Taylor says people complained that they were finding spent shells and casings near recreational areas.
Taylor says no one has been injured from shooting at the range. He says officials are considering opening the range at another location.
The wildlife area is still open to hunting.
5 teens face charges in Omaha carjacking
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Five teenagers face charges in connection to a carjacking in Omaha.
Omaha police say a woman reported early Sunday that juveniles approached her as she pulled her car into a parking stall at an apartment complex.
The woman said one suspect displayed a firearm then took her cellphone and car keys. The juveniles allegedly fled in her vehicle.
Police later located the car and tried to pull it over. The car fled but then collided with a light pole. The suspects fled but were eventually apprehended.
The five teenagers face charges, and at least four face a robbery charge. Three of the suspects are juveniles. The Associated Press generally does not name juveniles charged with crimes. Court records do not list attorneys for 19-year-old Tomas Smith and 18-year-old Armon Jackson.
Hy-Vee grocery chain buying specialty pharmacy
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Hy-Vee grocery chain is acquiring a specialty pharmacy based in Nebraska.
Hy-Vee said Monday that it has agreed to purchase Amber Pharmacy, which is based in Omaha, Neb.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The employee-owned grocer says the acquisition of Amber will help it expand its pharmacy services for complex cases and for patients dealing with chronic illnesses.
Amber Pharmacy has locations in Omaha, Chicago, Dallas and Philadelphia. It will continue to operate independently of Hy-Vee.
Hy-Vee operates 235 stores in eight states. It is based in West Des Moines.
Panhandle bomb scare suspect seeks mental tests
MITCHELL, Neb. (AP) - A 39-year-old Mitchell man intends to use an insanity defense to fight charges stemming from a bomb scare in Mitchell.
Papers asking for a psychiatric evaluation of Christopher Lopez were filed Wednesday by his attorney. Lopez is charged with placing a false bomb, possession of methamphetamine and driving under suspension and is facing trial in May.
Mitchell Police Chief Mike Cotant says an officer recognized the man who fled a vehicle that had been parked behind the police station on Dec. 31. The officer raised an alarm when he smelled fuel coming from the vehicle and saw four fuel cans lashed together, sitting on the car's dashboard.
Judge: Omaha man not competent to stand trial
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A judge has ruled that an Omaha man is not competent to stand trial in connection to the death of his teenage girlfriend.
Douglas County District Judge Joseph Troia ordered 19-year-old Mikael Loyd on Thursday to be treated at Lincoln Regional Center until he's deemed competent to face a first-degree murder charge.
Loyd has pleaded not guilty in the case. A message left with his attorney was not immediately returned Thursday.
Prosecutors say Loyd strangled 19-year-old Melissa Rodriguez on the night of Aug. 14 following an argument. He had been released that day from emergency protective custody at a mental health treatment center.
Rodriguez's body was found the next morning in an open grave intended for another homicide victim in an unrelated case.
Neb. lawmakers worried by proposed tax rate change
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Even the lawmaker who introduced a bill seeking to lower Nebraska's income tax rates is acknowledging the proposal needs to be changed.
Sen. Burke Harr, of Omaha, introduced the bill, which was heard Thursday by the Revenue Committee.
The bill would lower personal income and corporate tax rates gradually by 2017 and reduce the number of tax brackets from four to three.
Harr says the state is receiving more tax revenue than it is spending, and the bill would help make the state more competitive.
But Harr notes a recently completed fiscal study of the bill indicates it's not workable, as the state would lose $595 million in revenue in fiscal year 2017.
Other lawmakers expressed concern the bill would hurt funding for state programs.
Neb. VA head defends decision to move vets' home
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The director of the Nebraska Department of Veterans' Affairs is defending a decision to move a state veterans' home from Grand Island to Kearney.
Director John Hilgert said Thursday that state officials went with a competitive bidding process for the Central Nebraska Veterans Home because they believed it was the best way to proceed.
Gov. Dave Heineman announced in July that Kearney had won the project. The decision angered local officials in Grand Island, where the home has been located for nearly 127 years.
Hilgert's comments came in response to a bill by Sen. Mike Gloor of Grand Island that would create more legislative oversight and potentially block the move. Gloor says the decision was based on subjective criteria, including "cultural factors" and "community support."
Omaha Public Power District sells property
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The Omaha Public Power District has sold a portion of its original property in the downtown area.
The utility's board of directors voted recently to sell land that included the generating facility known as the Jones Street Station. NuStyle Development Corporation bought it after submitting a bid for $100,000.
The facility, which once produced more than 100 megawatts, was decommissioned in the mid-1980s. The buildings on the 16-acre property have been unused for about 25 years. Still, they were incurring expenses.
The facility was marketed for sale in August.
Neb. awards more than $2M for recycling programs
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska officials have awarded more than $2 million in grants for recycling and litter cleanup programs.
The state Department of Environmental Quality announced Thursday that the awards aim to benefit litter cleanup, recycling and public education programs and activities.
The money will be used on multiple programs around the state. Funds for the litter reduction and recycling grant program are generated from a fee charged to companies that commonly contribute to litter.
Acting Director Pat Rice says the agency received many applications for the money. He said the awards will help local efforts to recycle and protect natural resources.
Neb. woman says gun pointed at her in standoff
BEATRICE, Neb. (AP) - A woman who fled from a standoff by an armed man at a southeast Nebraska motel says the man pointed a gun at her.
According to a probable cause affidavit, the woman told police after Thursday morning's incident that she and the man lived together. She says he was upset about their relationship and threatened to shoot himself at their home Wednesday night. She says he also pointed a handgun at her while she was holding their 20-month-old son.
She and the child and another woman went to the Travelers Lodge motel, where the man found them early Thursday morning. She says he broke into their room and pointed a rifle at her.
He surrendered to police about 2:45 a.m. Police identified him as Adam Wolken, of Beatrice.
AG: Ruling validates Nebraska rule on licenses
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The state's top legal office says a federal court ruling validates Nebraska's denial of driver's licenses to people who were brought into the country illegally as children.
U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp ruled Wednesday in favor of the state, saying Nebraska had not violated Mayra Saldana's equal-protection rights. Saldana, a student at Peru State College, was granted deferred-action status under an Obama administration program.
Saldana applied for a driver's license three times at the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles in January 2013, and was denied. Saldana came to the United States from Mexico at age 2.
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning says he's pleased that the judge "recognized illegal immigrants don't qualify for Nebraska driver's licenses."
Neither Saldana nor her attorney could be reached for comment.
Auditor Foley commits to Nebraska governor's race
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - State Auditor Mike Foley has committed himself to the Nebraska governor's race, ruling out speculation that he might seek re-election.
Foley filed for governor on Wednesday, saying he was going to "put it all on the line" in the crowded Republican primary race. Foley is one of six GOP candidates looking to replace Gov. Dave Heineman, who will leave office next year because of term limits.
Foley filed ahead of the Tuesday deadline, saying he wanted to end rumors that he might run for re-election as auditor. His announcement comes days after Attorney General Jon Bruning announced that he will run for governor.
Foley has served as auditor for eight years, and likely would have sailed to a third term if he had run for re-election.
Nebraska lawmakers question earned time proposal
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A proposal that would end automatic "good time" credit for violent prisoners in Nebraska is facing scrutiny from lawmakers.
Members of the Judiciary Committee questioned Wednesday whether the bill would work if adequate rehabilitation programs weren't available in Nebraska's prisons.
The bill by Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh would require those convicted of murder, robbery, sexual assault and other violent crimes to behave and participate in rehabilitation programs to earn reductions in their sentences. The bill was introduced on behalf of Gov. Dave Heineman, who has called for reforms in the wake of the Nikko Jenkins case in Omaha.
Department of Correctional Services Director Michael Kenney spoke in support of the bill, saying it would apply to offenders who pose the greatest risk to the community.
NU announces collaboration with Indian institute
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The University of Nebraska says it's collaborating with the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi to study information assurance and cyber security.
An agreement between the schools was signed Friday in New Delhi. Officials say they developed the plans last summer.
The partnership aims to advance research and education in engineering, technology, information management, the sciences and other areas. The agreement means the schools will engage in joint research projects and create opportunities for faculty and student exchanges.
The University of Nebraska will also help IIT Delhi create a new Center for Cyber Systems and Information Assurance.
Psychiatrist labels Nikko Jenkins 'psychopath'
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A psychiatrist who evaluated Nikko Jenkins three years before Jenkins was accused of killing four people in and around Omaha last summer has testified that Jenkins "is a psychopath."
Dr. Eugene Oliveto, who serves as a psychiatrist for the prison system in Douglas County, testified over the objections of prosecutors Wednesday in a hearing to determine whether Jenkins is competent to stand trial. Oliveto says he took it upon himself to re-evaluate Jenkins on Monday after being subpoenaed by Jenkins' lawyers.
Oliveto declared that Jenkins is "one of the most dangerous people I have ever evaluated."
Oliveto is not a forensic psychiatrist and did not testify to Jenkins' competency to stand trial. But he said his Monday evaluation of Jenkins found him to be schizophrenic, among other things.
Neb. city keeps rules aimed at illegal immigration
FREMONT, Neb. (AP) - Voters in the eastern Nebraska city of Fremont have decided to keep an ordinance that requires all renters to swear they are legally living in the U.S.
A majority of local voters agreed Tuesday to support restrictions they first adopted in 2010.
Elected officials decided last fall to ask voters to rethink the ordinance. It was part of an effort to crack down on illegal immigration in Fremont, which is northwest of Omaha.
A federal appeals court signed off on the ordinance last year. But Tuesday's vote was scheduled because of concerns about how much the regulations would cost the city in legal fees and lost federal grants, and the effect they have on the city's reputation.
Lincoln bar manager accused of recording 2 workers
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Police in Lincoln have seized the phone and laptop of a sports bar manager accused of secretly recording video of two employees in a dressing room.
Authorities say 29-year-old Dustin Robert Lindgren was arrested Monday night on suspicion of committing two felony counts of unlawful intrusion. Court records do not list an attorney.
Two employees at the Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery say they found Lindgren's phone recording video while it was hidden inside a coat pocket in the women's locker room.
One employee says her discovery happened a week ago. The second employee says she found the phone Monday evening and called police.
Investigators say they're trying to determine if the case involves other women.
Officials ID body found after Omaha apartment fire
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Authorities have positively identified the body of a man found inside a burned Omaha apartment.
Omaha police say 82-year-old William Stewart Jr. was discovered Friday afternoon after firefighters put out flames inside a midtown apartment. Additional information about the cause of his death was not released.
The fire was contained to the apartment, and no one else was injured.
Man gets jail time for crash that killed Neb. boy
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A truck driver convicted of misdemeanor vehicular homicide for a 2011 crash that killed a 2-year-old Nebraska boy has been sentenced to less than a year in jail.
Leamond Pierce, of New Castle, Del., received a 300-day sentence Tuesday. He was ordered to pay a $500 fine.
The 54-year-old Pierce was driving a semitrailer on Interstate 80 near Waverly in December 2011 when it rear-ended a vehicle driven by the family of Robert "Aiden" Curry, of Bellevue. The boy was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Authorities say poor weather conditions contributed to the crash.
Corps adjusts dam water releases to Missouri River
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Changes in the Missouri River levels caused by cold temperatures have forced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to increase the amount of water being released out of Gavins Point dam on the South Dakota-Nebraska border.
The Corps says the dam has been releasing 16,000 cubic feet per second. The target winter release is 12,000 cubic feet per second.
The Corps adjusts the amount of water released from dams along the river in response to conditions.
The Corps says it expects to bring down the amount to less than 13,000 cubic feet per second in the next two weeks as milder temperatures move through the region.
Nebraska motorcycle helmet law survives filibuster
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Motorcyclists will still be required to wear helmets when they ride in Nebraska.
Opponents succeeded Tuesday in blocking a bill in the Legislature that would have repealed the state's helmet requirement. The measure by Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins would have exempted riders older than 21 from the law.
Lawmakers voted 25-22 to cease debate on the bill and force a vote. Thirty-three votes were needed to stop the legislative filibuster. Lawmakers started discussing the bill on Thursday.
Scottsbluff district settles 'huffing' lawsuit
SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. (AP) - School board documents say the Scottsbluff Public Schools district has settled a lawsuit filed over a 2011 "huffing" incident at Westmoor Elementary School.
A memo in the board meeting packet says the lawsuit was settled for $50,000. All but the $2,500 deductible was paid by an insurance provider.
The mother of two Westmoor students sought nearly $4,500 for medical expenses. The lawsuit said a district employee had included children in huffing from whipped cream cans and cans of a substance used to clean electronics. "Huffing" is the intentional inhalation of chemical vapors to attain a high or euphoric effect. It can have health effects ranging from dizziness to heart failure.
Staying Safe on the Ice
People who head out for activities on frozen bodies of water should be extra careful in the coming days with warmer weather expected.
Anglers were out on the ice at Lake Maloney Tuesday afternoon, braving cold temperatures to land the next big catch. But before setting up shop and dropping a line in the lake, fishermen need to make sure the ice is plenty thick.
"You need to drill holes in the ice about every ten yards or so to make sure that you have at least four...thick inches of ice," said Julie Geiser with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. "6-10 (inches) is desirable but if you have four inches, that's pretty good."
When it comes to bodies of moving water, it is never a good idea to venture on to the ice. Area rivers may appear to be frozen, but looks can be deceiving. Instability that will only get worse as warmer weather is expected to make it's way into the area this week.
"Wear a personal flotation device," said Geiser. "Carry fifty foot of rope with you, just in case an accident should happen."
For those heading out on to a frozen lake or pond, higher temperatures should mean an increase in caution.
Nebraska National Guard museum to open in Seward
SEWARD, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska National Guard's museum pieces will be moving from Lincoln to a new home in Seward.
The Nebraska Guard's adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac, and Seward Mayor Josh Eickmeier announced the project on Monday. Bohac says the museum "will provide an opportunity to tell the rich history of the Nebraska National Guard."
The former National Guard armory in Seward will be turned into the museum by summer 2015. Officials say the project will be done in three phases.
The artifacts that will go on display are stored in the State Arsenal Museum at the old state fairgrounds in Lincoln.
Corps adjusts dam water releases to Missouri River
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Changes in the Missouri River levels caused by cold temperatures have forced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to increase the amount of water being released out of Gavins Point dam on the South Dakota-Nebraska border.
The Corps says the dam has been releasing 16,000 cubic feet per second. The target winter release is 12,000 cubic feet per second.
The Corps adjusts the amount of water released from dams along the river in response to conditions.
The Corps says it expects to bring down the amount to less than 13,000 cubic feet per second in the next two weeks as milder temperatures move through the region.
Last year, releases were limited because the Corps was conserving water as the region recovered from drought. That affected barge traffic along the river.
Neb. trails other states in student AP test scores
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A new report says Nebraska's high school seniors are trailing students in other states when it comes to scoring well on Advanced Placement exams.
A College Board report released Tuesday says nearly 10 percent of Nebraska's high school seniors scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam last year. The exams give high school students a way to earn college credit. Many colleges and universities require at least a 3 before they award credit.
Nationally, 20 percent of seniors scored at least a 3 on an AP exam last year.
The report says the percentage of Nebraska students who earned a 3 or higher increased since 2003, when only 3.5 percent achieved that score.
A Nebraska Department of Education spokeswoman says state officials are reviewing the report.
Nebraska city to reconsider 2010 immigration law
FREMONT, Neb. (AP) - Almost four years after a small Nebraska city tried to crack down on illegal immigration, the town is having second thoughts about requiring all renters to swear that they have legal permission to be in the United States.
Voters in Fremont northwest of Omaha will have a chance Tuesday to repeal the housing restrictions, which critics say are less effective and more costly than anyone expected and damaging to the city's image.
The conservative agricultural community of about 26,000 people was one of a handful of U.S. cities that acted alone to curb illegal immigration. Most of those efforts have become mired in court battles.
The key to Tuesday's outcome will be turnout and how many people have changed their minds since 2010.
Dakotas reservation with propane crisis gets help
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - An American Indian reservation in the Dakotas that has been hard hit by the nation's propane shortage is getting help from the Shakopee Mdewakanton (mehd-WAH'-kuh-tuhn) Sioux.
The Minnesota tribe that operates several enterprises including a casino and runs a charitable giving program is giving the Standing Rock Sioux $500,000 for propane.
As many as 5,000 homes on the reservation that straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border rely on propane, and many residents can't afford the higher fuel prices tied to the shortage.
North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple (DAHL'-rimp-ul) issued a statement Monday saying the state also is offering help to the tribe.
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux also is giving $300,000 to the Yankton Sioux Tribe in South Dakota and $70,000 to the Santee Sioux Nation in Nebraska for propane.
Neb. casino gambling measure opposed at hearing
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A proposal that give voters another chance to legalize casino gambling in Nebraska was opposed at a hearing before a legislative committee.
The General Affairs Committee heard testimony Monday on the proposed constitutional amendment by Senator Russ Karpisek of Wilber.
Karpisek says the tax revenues could help with issues such as property tax relief and education.
Pat Loontjer of Gambling with the Good Life says the social costs of expanding gambling outweigh the benefits.
The amendment would appear on the general election ballot this November if approved.
Neb. motorcycle helmet repeal debate continues
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska lawmakers are continuing to debate a bill that would let motorcyclists older than 21 ride without helmets.
Lawmakers finished a third day of debate on the measure Monday without reaching a vote.
Senator Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins says he introduced the bill because wearing a helmet should be a personal choice. Opponents are concerned about safety and health care costs.
An effort to stop debate Monday failed. Supporters need 33 votes to end a filibuster.
Nebraska State Patrol begins training new recruits
GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska State Patrol has begun training a new recruitment class.
Authorities say the 25 members of the 55th recruiting class began instruction Monday. They will go through 23 weeks of training.
The class is made up of 20 males and five females. They were identified through interviews and testing that took place over several months.
TD Ameritrade investors remain active in January
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Omaha-based TD Ameritrade says investors took advantage of the ups and downs of the market in January to buy more stocks.
TD Ameritrade said Monday that its Investor Movement index increased to a new all-time high of 5.66 in January from December's 5.62.
The six-point index is based on what TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation's 6 million clients were buying and selling. Inactive accounts are excluded.
TD Ameritrade's Chief Strategist JJ Kinahan says the online brokerage's clients acting smart when they bought in January by buying after stocks declined or buying dividend stocks.
Nikko Jenkins' relatives plead not guilty
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Relatives of an Omaha man charged with four killings have entered not guilty pleas to charges related to an alleged 10-day crime spree.
KETV reports those who appeared in court Monday included Erica Jenkins. She pleaded not guilty to charges including first-degree murder, two counts of criminal conspiracy and use of a weapon.
Jenkins is the sister of 27-year-old Nikko Jenkins, who is charged with killing Curtis Bradford, Jorge Cajiga-Ruiz, Juan Uribe-Pena and Andrea Kruger over 10 days last August.
Two other relatives and another person also pleaded not guilty to related charges.
Former Stanton Music Teacher Accused of Arranging Sex with Minor
KEARNEY - A former music teacher in the Stanton School District who was let go after pleading guilty to child pornography charges is in trouble with the law again.
The Nebraska State Patrol says 52-year old Glen Ogden, now of Lincoln, has been arrested after authorities say he communicated with an undercover investigator to arrange sex with a minor.
Ogden was arrested in the parking lot of a Kearney fast food restaurant on Saturday. Authorities say they are examining computers and other electronic devices found at Ogden's residence, and that he will at least be charged with attempted sexual assault of a child.
Ogden pleaded guilty in 2002 in Stanton and Madison Counties to possession of child pornography. He was a music teacher in the Stanton School District at the time, and lost his teaching license shortly afterwards.
Nebraska Lawmakers Seek Water Sustainability Funding
A couple Nebraska lawmakers are hoping to help the state avoid drought and other water-related problems by investing in water projects across the state.
Possible projects could address flood control, increase water supply in areas of scarcity and rehabilitate infrastructure.
Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege introduced a bill that would provide $50 million a year, beginning in October 2015. Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala introduced a bill that would provide a one-time $50 million appropriation.
Carlson says Nebraska needs to get to a point of water sustainability, in which the state doesn't use more water than its supply.
Last year, the Legislature created a Water Funding Task Force, which came up with a process for approving water projects.
Motorcycle Helmet Law Debate
Motorcycle helmets have been in and out of the legislature for years. So, 10/11's Casey Geraldo headed to Frontier Harley Davidson to talk to those most effected by a possible change- the riders.
"If you have a hundred dollar head, buy a hundred dollar helmet," said Bryan McFarland.
That's the first piece of advice McFarland was given about motorcycle safety.
"So, I've always bought the most expensive helmet I could buy because my head is worth that money," he said.
McFarland said the man who told him that had just lost his son in a motorcycle accident.
"His son didn't have a helmet on, and that's why he died," said McFarland.
Even though McFarland chooses to wear a helmet, he still said people should be able to decide.
When it comes to his son. He said he'd be honest.
"I'd tell him the truth. I choose to wear one. But, it should be your preference once you reach a certain age," he said.
And it seems that's what it comes down to - choice.
"I think that you'd find at least among our customer base, that while many of our customers, maybe most of them support freedom of choice on this issue, I think you'd find many of them would still choose to wear a helmet," said Dave Fischer, who owns the store.
Senator Dave Bloomfield who introduced the bill said it should be up to the rider. And Chris Simanek agrees.
"Feel your hair blow in the wind. Just a sense of freedom, I guess," he said.
But, Senator Bill Avery argues it's in the public's best interest to avoid the cost of treating traumatic injuries.
AG Bruning joins Nebraska gubernatorial race
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Attorney General Jon Bruning has declared his candidacy for Nebraska governor.
The 44-year-old Republican joined the crowded GOP primary field Saturday, about three months before the May 13 primary.
Bruning enters the race with immediate statewide name recognition. He has twice run unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate, most recently in 2012. Bruning has been attorney general since 2003 and previously was a state senator.
He says he will hit the campaign trail Monday.
Governor Dave Heineman says it's unusual for someone to join so late and "become the initial front-runner."
The other Republican candidates are Omaha businessman Pete Ricketts, State Auditor Mike Foley, Omaha tax attorney Bryan Slone and Nebraska state Sens. Tom Carlson and Beau McCoy. Former University of Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook is unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Lincoln ice center cost estimate being reviewed
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - University of Nebraska-Lincoln officials have asked architects to review their cost estimate for the Breslow Ice Center.
The Lincoln Journal Star says the $11 million estimate is higher than average for other, similar new ice centers. The estimate is for a facility big enough to expand to two rinks but start with just one.
A UNL vice chancellor, Christine Jackson, says the university also is developing an alternative that may reduce some of the UNL space within the center so a second rink could be accommodated.
The Breslow Ice Center is to be built between the Pinnacle Bank Arena and the West Haymarket baseball stadium.
Fremont police officers to face investigation
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The city of Fremont says an investigation will be conducted into the police officers who reportedly were at a bar where a teenager drank alcohol and later died in a crash.
Fremont City Attorney Paul Payne tells The Omaha World-Herald that city administrators have known about the incident involving the officers since several days after the December 2012 crash that killed 18-year-old Jacob Dickmeyer, of Valley.
That news came a day after a Douglas County jury convicted 20-year-old Amanda Heiman, a former waitress at the bar, of procuring alcohol for a minor resulting in death.
Testimony during her trial indicated, among other things, that four off-duty Fremont officers were in the bar when Dickmeyer was drinking, and that one of the officers bought him a beer.
2 Omaha officers shoot at fleeing suspect's truck
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Two Omaha police officers' decision to shoot at a fleeing suspect's truck will be investigated, but no one was seriously injured in the shooting.
Police Officer Michael Pecha says the two officers were working security at the Tequila Bar when the incident happened early Sunday.
The officers and the bar's security staff noticed someone prowling the parking lot checking car doors while another man followed in a white truck.
The man roaming the lot was apprehended without incident, but the man in the truck drove at the officers as he fled. The officers fired at the truck.
The man in the truck turned himself into police later and was arrested.
One of the officers sustained minor injuries. Both officers will be on leave while the shooting is investigated.
Fundraiser held for victims of industrial accident
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Roughly 1,000 people attended a fundraiser Sunday for the victims of last month's deadly building collapse at an Omaha livestock feed manufacturer's plant.
Organizers of the spaghetti dinner event were pleasantly surprised with the turnout at the Ralston Arena.
Alyssa Stout said she never expected this big of a crowd at the event to help the people who worked with her father, Duanne Stout, at International Nutrition.
The Jan. 20 collapse killed 47-year-old David Ball and 53-year-old Keith Everett and injured several others.
Then the company laid off 25 production workers while it works to rebuild the plant.
The money raised Sunday is going to be shared by all the victims.
The cause of the collapse hasn't been determined.
Neb. economic outlook meetings to be held in March
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A series of meetings throughout Nebraska will give farmers and ranchers an outlook on the state's agricultural economy.
The Cornhusker Economics Outlook meetings will take place in nine locations. The meetings will include presentations by University of Nebraska-Lincoln economists and policy specialists. They're scheduled to last 2 1/2 hours each at various locations throughout the state from March 3-7.
The meetings will take place in Hastings, Gothenburg, Sidney, Chadron, Valentine, O'Neill, West Point, Lincoln and Nebraska City.
The series of offered by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, the Department of Agricultural Economics, the Nebraska Corn Board and Great Western Bank.
Maintenance Fund for Game and Parks
Nebraska Game and Parks officials could resume work on a backlog of maintenance projects under a bill advanced by a legislative panel.
The Legislature's Revenue Committee advanced a bill Friday that would create a state maintenance fund, paid for with incoming sales-tax revenue from motor boats, ATVs and utility vehicles.
If approved, the bill would divert that money into the Game and Parks maintenance fund over five years, starting in October. The sunset was part of a compromise to give the state Game and Parks Commission time to pay for repair and renovations, without disrupting the flow of sales-tax revenue into the state's general fund.
The bill is now headed to the full the Legislature for a vote.
Snow Covering Fire Hydrants an Issue for Fire Crews
When crews show up on the scene of an emergency like a fire, time is of the essence.
"When we get there we've got to locate the Fire Hydrant, UN-bury it if necessary to make it usable," said Assistant Lincoln Fire and Rescue Chief Pat Borer.
With several inches of snow falling this past week, getting to this vital resource has been difficult and crews say they find themselves wasting valuable time just trying to hook up to the hydrant.
"That snow freezes over and gets really hard and it's not a matter of kicking the snow out of the way, you actually have to dig the hydrant out and get down to it," said Borer.
With Fire Hydrants located on nearly every other block, Fire and Rescue Crews are asking homeowners to help keep these hydrants free of snow and ice and allow this crucial resource to be ready.
"In the winter we ask that they remove the snow from around it, about a three foot area around the Fire Hydrant so that we can get right up to it so we can hook our hoses up to it as quickly as possible" said Borer.
That way, Rescue Personnel can focus on battling the blaze.
Neb. day care provider faces child porn charges
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Authorities say a day care provider in eastern Nebraska faces child pornography charges.
Omaha television station KETV reports 35-year-old James Klinkner of Bellevue was arrested following a nine-month-long investigation that began with an online tip.
Authorities say they found child pornographic images on Klinkner's home computer. Investigators say the images depicted children between the ages of 8 and 11.
Klinkner faces 31 counts of distribution of child pornography and two counts of possession of child pornography. Court records do not list an attorney.
The station reports Klinkner works at an Omaha day care center. He is in custody at the Sarpy County Jail.
Neb. woman found guilty in fatal crash case
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A former Nebraska waitress has been found guilty of serving alcohol to an underage teenager who later died in a car wreck.
A jury returned the guilty verdict Thursday for 21-year-old Amanda Heiman, of Fremont, on a felony charge of procuring alcohol for a minor resulting in death.
Prosecutors say Heiman was a waitress at a Waterloo bar in December 2012 when she served alcohol to 18-year-old Jacob Dickmeyer of Valley and another underage friend. Prosecutors say Heiman knew the men were not legally old enough to drink.
Dickmeyer died later that night when the car he was driving rolled. His passenger was injured.
The defense said during trial that Heiman was a scapegoat. Prosecutors said someone needed to be held accountable.
Governor seeks candidates for Neb. education board
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Governor Dave Heineman is looking for applicants to fill a second vacant position on the Nebraska State Board of Education.
The governor says in a news release Thursday that there's an opening in the eight-member board to represent residents of District 4. That includes portions of Douglas and Sarpy counties.
The announcement comes after the resignation Tuesday of board member Rebecca Valdez. She is the second board member to resign in a month, after Mark Quandahl of District 2 resigned in late January.
The terms for Valdez and Quandahl both run through 2016.
Lawmakers hear pitch for Nebraska prison reform
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Supporters of a Nebraska prison reform effort are arguing that the state needs to expand its supervised release programs and offer more services to help inmates return to society.
Senator Brad Ashford of Omaha said Thursday that the current system forces inmates to "jam out" of prisons with inadequate medication, housing or oversight, and no real prospects for a job. The state's prisons have collectively risen to 153 percent of their design capacity, with nearly 4,900 inmates.
Lawmakers have promised a series of prison reform efforts this year.
A new report by the Platte Institute for Economic Research suggests that the prison population soared with the passage of truth-in-sentencing laws.
The bills are LB907 and LB999.
Motorcycle helmet bill revs up debate in Nebraska
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A bill that would let motorcyclists ride without helmets in Nebraska has reached the full Legislature, but supporters will have to overcome a filibuster if they want it to pass.
Lawmakers began debate Thursday on a measure to partially repeal Nebraska's helmet requirement for motorcyclists. The measure by Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins would exempt riders who are older than 21 years old from the helmet requirement.
Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins says he views helmets as an issue of freedom and personal choice.
Opponents have promised a filibuster, saying the helmet law saves lives while reducing insurance and Medicaid costs. Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha says the 24-year-old helmet law has helped Nebraska prevent needless deaths and brain injuries.
Report shows Nebraska groundwater declined in 2013
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Groundwater levels declined significantly across Nebraska after the 2012 drought when farmers and cities pumped more water and less rain fell.
A new report shows that the average groundwater decline in Nebraska was 2.54 feet between spring 2012 and spring 2013.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln groundwater resources coordinator Aaron Young says that's the biggest average drop in groundwater since monitoring began in 1930.
Young says Grant, Hooker and Thomas counties in the Sandhills were the only counties in the state that didn't record declining groundwater. Some locations saw groundwater drop nearly 25 feet.
The drought conditions in 2012 drove strong demand for groundwater. The High Plains Regional Climate Center says the precipitation Nebraska received was 12-16 inches below normal that year.
Nebraska still lacks drug needed for execution
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska still has no means to carry out an execution because state officials have not replaced their supply of one of three drugs needed for lethal injection.
The state's batch of sodium thiopental expired last year, and prison officials said Tuesday that they haven't yet restored it. Sodium thiopental renders inmate unconscious.
The Swiss company that made the drug says it was sold to Nebraska without authorization after being stolen by a broker in India. Nebraska's execution protocol specifically mentions the drug, which is no longer produced domestically.
The drug was discussed during Nebraska Supreme Court oral arguments for former cult leader Michael W. Ryan. Ryan was sentenced to death in 1985 after being convicted of first-degree murder of one of his followers.
Neb. educators support changes to truancy law
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Educators and advocates are supporting efforts to change Nebraska's truancy law.
The Judiciary Committee heard testimony Wednesday on a proposal to change the state's truancy law at a hearing.
Current law allows schools to report when students missed 20 days or more due to documented illness or other approved excuses. If any of the absences are unexcused, the school can request more time to work with the student or the school can request that the county attorney intervenes.
Senator Brad Ashford has proposed a change so that illnesses would not need to be documented and schools would not report the information to county attorneys if all 20 absences are excused.
The measure is AM1734.
Bill to keep Neb. school funding steady advances
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A bill that would keep some $35.7 million in state aid for Nebraska's public schools has won first-round approval in the Legislature.
The bill that advanced Wednesday would increase state aid by about $35.7 million for fiscal year 2015. The state budget approved last year included $940 million for school aid in that period, based on estimates. But the current state aid formula calls for $900 million.
Senator Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids, chairwoman of the Education Committee, says the bill would ensure roughly the same amount of funding for schools that was approved in the budget.
Supporters say increasing state aid helps reduce pressure on property taxes, though not all districts receive equalization aid.
Lawmakers voted 29-0 to advance the bill.
The bill is LB725.
Homestead Monument sets Great Plains film feature
BEATRICE, Neb. (AP) - A program examining the remaining wildness of the Great Plains will be shown this weekend as part of the Homestead Film Festival at the Homestead National Monument of America.
"Great Plains: America's Lingering Wild" will be shown at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. It is based on Nebraskan nature photographer Michael Forsberg's book of the same name.
Monument Superintendent Mark Engler says the documentary "tells the powerful story of transformation from nature's perspective - specifically the perspective of the Great Plains."
On the remaining 2014 film festival schedule are the "Road to Valhalla" on Feb. 15 and Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax" on Feb. 22 and Feb. 23.
Homestead National Monument of America sits four miles west of Beatrice off Nebraska Highway 4.
Neb. State Patrol seizes marijuana in traffic stop
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska State Patrol says a traffic stop along Interstate 80 near the Lincoln airport has netted nearly 39 pounds of marijuana.
The patrol says a car was stopped on suspicion of speeding just before 10 a.m. Wednesday. A police drug-sniffing dog indicated the smell of illegal drugs coming from the car, and a search of it uncovered 36 packages of marijuana located in two duffel bags in the trunk.
The 63-year-old driver from Klamath River, Calif., was arrested and jailed on suspicion of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.
Buffett's index fund outpacing hedge funds in bet
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The recent strong performance of the stock market is making billionaire Warren Buffett's bet that an index fund will outperform a collection of hedge funds over 10 years look good.
The latest results in Buffett's bet with the money managers who own Protege Partners LLC were reported by Fortune magazine. Buffett made the bet in 2008 to demonstrate how hefty fees can hurt investment returns.
The Vanguard S&P 500 Admiral index fund Buffett picked is up 43.8 percent after six years.
The five funds of hedge funds Protege selected were up about 12.5 percent at the end of 2013.
The winner will donate at least $1 million to charity. The money both sides put up is invested in Berkshire Hathaway, and it was worth $1.27 million at year end.
Ag. Director: Farm bill will help Neb. recovery
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Farmers and ranchers who suffered losses due to Nebraska's severe weather may see some relief with the passage of a new farm bill.
The bill includes livestock assistance provisions for producers, some of whom were hit by an October blizzard that killed thousands of cattle. Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach said Tuesday that the legislation also includes support for natural resources programs, international trade and nutritional services.
Ibach says the bill includes a strong insurance component, which Nebraska producers had also sought.
Nebraska lights bill for patrols falls by wayside
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A Nebraska bill that would let civilian crime-prevention groups patrol the streets with flashing amber lights on their vehicles has fallen by the wayside in the Legislature.
Supporters on Tuesday fell one vote short of the support needed to stop a filibuster by state Senator Ernie Chambers of Omaha. Chambers has argued that citizens shouldn't act as law enforcement officers.
The bill was inspired by citizen groups in Omaha that patrol neighborhoods to deter crime. The groups are taught by police to observe and report crimes, but they aren't supposed to confront the perpetrators.
Senator Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha says he introduced the measure so group members could use the caution lights to alert people of their presence.
Neb. early childhood education bills supported
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - School and teacher associations are supporting a push for early childhood education in Nebraska.
The Education Committee heard testimony Tuesday on a series of bills relating to early childhood education.
Senator Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids, chairwoman of the committee, has introduced a bill that would allocate an additional $4.6 million for early childhood education grants for next year.
Lawmakers included $3.6 million budget for early childhood education grants in the state's two-year budget last year.
Senator Heath Mello of Omaha has introduced a bill that would provide $400,000 for the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska over the next two years.
Chambers seeks to repeal Nebraska prairie dog law
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A law that gives Nebraska counties the power to manage black-tailed prairie dog populations has drawn the ire of Senator Ernie Chambers.
Chambers proposed a repeal bill to a legislative committee on Tuesday, saying he would have fought to block the law had he been in the Legislature when it passed in 2012. Chambers, the state's longest-serving senator, was forced out briefly because of term limits but returned to office last year.
The law allows counties to launch prairie-dog management programs, with the power to go onto a landowner's property to eradicate the animals if they stray onto someone else's land. Ranchers view them as pests that can threaten cattle.
Nebraska prison guards' lawsuit reinstated
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A federal appellate court has reinstated several portions of a lawsuit brought by five Nebraska guards who alleged their prison was a racially hostile workplace.
The Lincoln Journal Star says the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday overruled a judge who said the guards' allegations didn't meet the exacting standard required for such a distinction.
The guards filed the lawsuit in 2010, saying they were subject to racially charged comments and other bias at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln. It named several officials in the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services. The lawsuit dismissal came in 2012.
Worker found dead at nuclear plant in SE Nebraska
BROWNVILLE, Neb. (AP) - Authorities are investigating the death of a worker at Cooper nuclear power plant in southeast Nebraska, but foul play isn't suspected initially.
The Nebraska Public Power District says the contract worker was found dead in Cooper's reactor building between 7:30 and 8 Tuesday morning. The utility says natural causes are suspected in the death.
The plant's paramedics tried to help the worker who was employed by a contractor doing work at Cooper, which is near Brownville and about 80 miles south of Omaha.
The worker's name wasn't immediately released. The Nemaha County Sheriff is investigating the death.
NPPD officials say they notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Occupational Safety and Health Administration about the death.
Data shows decline in horse racing sales in Neb.
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - New data shows there's been a steep decline in horse racing sales in Nebraska.
The Nebraska State Racing Commission released a report last month that shows wagers at thoroughbred tracks in the state fell from $78.8 million in 2012 to $68.3 million last year.
The Lincoln Journal Star reports there's only one weekend of live racing in Omaha and no permanent track in Lincoln. There were 89 days of live racing at Nebraska tracks in 2012, and 51 in 2013. Another 51-day schedule is set for 2014.
Authorities: 1 dead in car crash in Nebraska
ASHLAND, Neb. (AP) - Authorities say blowing snow may have been a factor in a fatal crash in eastern Nebraska involving a farm tractor and a pickup truck.
The Saunders County Sheriff's Office says 36-year-old Arlin Kasuske of Ashland was driving a pickup Tuesday afternoon near a county road when a tractor in the other lane attempted to make a left turn into a farm driveway.
The tractor's front-end loader collided with the side of Kasuske's pickup. He was pronounced dead at the scene.