Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A nonprofit organization that's organized honor flights to Washington, D.C., for Nebraska veterans says its next free flight will carry Purple Heart recipients from combat in the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bill Williams of Patriotic Productions told the Lincoln Journal Star that the spring flight will also carry as escorts and helpers some widows and children of those killed in the line of duty.

Williams says the Military Order of the Purple Heart estimates it has about 60 members in Nebraska, but that figure doesn't include nonmembers.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium has announced the death of a one of its two male giraffes.

The zoo said Tuesday that Sam the giraffe was euthanized because of a degenerative joint disease that had progressed after several years of treatment.

Sam's condition was being tracked through X-rays, as well as behavioral and other indicators, the zoo says, and "concern for the animal's welfare required humane euthanasia."

The 17-year-old giraffe was born in 2001 at the zoo.

There is now one male and nine female giraffes at the zoo.

(Omaha, NE)  --  Omaha's official Christmas tree is ready to be decorated at the Durham Museum.  The Omaha World-Herald reports a 50-foot blue spruce was donated by a mother in memory of her two young daughters who died in a car accident in 2010.  The tree left from the 25-hundred block of South 46th Street around eight o'clock this morning.  The tree will be decorated before an official lighting ceremony on the day after Thanksgiving.

(New York, NY)  --  The Magic 8 Ball, Uno and pinball will now occupy the Toy Hall of Fame.  Since 1998, the Hall has inducted several notable toys that have had a large impact on child play like Barbie, Play-Doh and Crayola crayons.  The Magic 8 Ball has lost most of its novelty since the 1900s but remains a go-to for random questions about the unknown.  The card game Uno was invented by an Ohio barber in 1971 changing family game nights everywhere.  And, pinball, despite its early shady beginnings in gambling, now takes up innocent space in many arcades and bars across the U.S.  The icon

(Omaha, NE)  --  The city of Omaha is defending its snow removal efforts.  Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert says the city relied on weather forecasts prior to Friday morning's storm, and crews did not pre-treat streets with a brine solution.  Stothert says it wasn't until overnight between Thursday and Friday that officials learned that the storm would strike during the Friday morning commute.  Nearly 60 trucks were deployed Friday morning to spread salt as the snow started to accumulate.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Drake University says it will sell beer at its basketball arena this season, making the Bulldogs the first team in Iowa to offer alcohol sales to its fans.

The Bulldogs announced Wednesday their initial offerings at the Knapp Center will include a selection of national and local craft brands. They will begin selling beer Thursday when they open the season against Buena Vista.

  Thousands of votes are still uncounted in Douglas and Sarpy Counties today.  The Douglas County election commissioner says as many as eleven-thousand votes have yet to be counted, meaning multiple races in the area are still hanging in the balance.  The Omaha World-Herald says the District Six legislative race and the Omaha Public Power District race in Subdivision One are still up for grabs.  In Sarpy County, multiple school board races are still undecided including those in Papillion, Bellevue, and Springfield Platteview.

CLIVE, Iowa (AP) — A single mother from the small Iowa community of Redfield has claimed her share of a nearly $700 million Powerball prize.

Iowa Lottery officials confirmed Monday that Lerynne (lah-RINN) West was one of two winners of a $688 million jackpot drawn Oct. 27. She'll share the prize with someone who bought the other winning ticket in New York City.

West opted for the cash option, which will pay her an immediate $198.1 million, minus taxes.

Gas prices are on the decline this week in eastern Nebraska.  Gas-Buddy's daily survey shows gas prices in Lincoln have fallen over six-cents on average over the last week to two-dollars and 76-cents-per-gallon.  The average in Omaha is also down by three-cents to two-dollars and 72-cents-per-gallon.  

However, these are both higher than the average price from this time last year.

Today is Election Day in Nebraska.  Voters will head to the polls to decide several key races.  Incumbent Republican Governor Pete Ricketts takes on Democratic challenger Bob Krist, incumbent Republican Senator Deb Fischer faces Democratic Lincoln City Council Member Jane Raybould and all three of the state's U.S. House seats will be decided.  Polls will be open from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. central time.

(Lincoln, NE)  --  A state senator is proposing to lower the voting age in Nebraska.  Anna Wishart, who represents Lincoln, announced her plan on Wednesday to offer a constitutional amendment in 2019 to lower the age to 16.  The current age for voting in Nebraska is 17, as long as the voter in question turns 18 the same year as the election is being held.

(Washington, DC)  --  A Nebraska State Trooper was at the White House on Wednesday for the signing of legislation intended to address the nation's opioid abuse crisis.  President Trump noted Sam Mortensen seized 118 pounds of fentanyl in April and recognized him for a job well done.  It was reportedly one of the largest fentanyl seizures in U.S. history.  Mortensen was invited to speak after being introduced.

(Omaha, NE)  --  The city of Omaha is requesting bids for a new trash collection contract.  Mayor Jean Stothert said yesterday that a modern, safe, efficient and environmentally friendly collection system is what the city is seeking.  Stothert added that she will not raise taxes for the bid.  More details are on the city's website.

(Omaha, NE)  --  The Omaha Public Power District is drafting a new environmental policy in an attempt to satisfy competing viewpoints.  Some people are wanting the company to set specific limits on how much renewable energy it uses while others would prefer it reduce its carbon footprint any way possible. 

The result is a draft that promises 50-percent of electricity coming from renewable energy and a 20 percent reduction in carbon intensity.  The public can weigh in on the new draft by using a forum on the company's website.

Officer Jodi Sautter spotted 25-year-old Vernon Williams behind the wheel of a stolen white truck at 31st and Bedford.  Williams led police on a chase until he crashed near 14th and Carter, and ran from the truck.  He went to a house, kicked in the back door and ran inside. He was captured inside a stranger's home and the arresting officer was a good boy in blue named Tye.  Tye is a K9 officer who has been on the force for four years.  K9 officers are used as a precaution when officers or citizens may be in danger.

(Undated)  --  Tonight's Mega Millions drawing could make someone a new billionaire.  The jackpot for tonight's drawing is a record one-point-six-billion-dollars.  Taking the cash option would net you a cool 904-million-dollars.  Tomorrow night's Powerball drawing offers another chance to win big.  The jackpot is 620-million-dollars, with a cash option of 354-million.  These are two of the top five biggest jackpots in U.S. lottery history.

Hy-Vee, Inc. is voluntarily recalling six of its meat and potato products across its eight-state region due to possible contamination with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

The potential for contamination was discovered after Hy-Vee’s supplier, McCain Foods, announced it was recalling its caramelized mushrooms and fire-roasted tomatoes, which are ingredients that are used in six Hy-Vee products. To date, no illnesses have been reported in connection with these products.

Hy-Vee is recalling the following products from all of its stores:

(Lincoln, NE)  --  A new police K-9 training center is open in Lincoln.  The half-a-million-dollar facility in northwest Lincoln will serve as a central location for eight police dogs from the city police department and county sheriff's office, a Lincoln police spokesperson tells the Lincoln Journal Star.  Previously, training was done in a patchwork of places in Lincoln and also in Grand Island.

(Lincoln, NE)  --  Nebraska's new tourism slogan quite literally might not be for everyone.  The state's tourism commission previewed its new promotional campaign this week highlighting their new slogan: "Nebraska: Honestly, it's not for everyone."  Tourism officials say the move was made upon revisiting the state's character and an acknowledgement that they "can't offer something to everyone."  This change replaces the old tagline of "Nebraska Nice."  The state says the new promotion will tell potential vacationers they should visit for outdoor recreation, natural beauty, an escape from t

Powerball jackpot grows to $430M; Mega Millions' $900M lottery drawing set for Friday

The line for lottery tickets at your nearby convenience store is about to get even longer.

One night after the largest jackpot in Mega Millions history rolled to Friday, Powerball's $378 million prize survived to the next drawing, meaning that the United States' two big lottery games will have a combined $1.3 billion up for grabs at week's end.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha has announced plans to erect a new building on land it's occupied since 1931.

The museum said in a news release Wednesday that the architectural firm of Snøhetta has been chosen for the project. The firm's many noted projects include work for the Norwegian National Opera in Oslo, the National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion at the World Trade Center in New York City and the expansion of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A man accused of shooting an officer during a traffic stop before being shot himself by other officers has been released from a hospital and booked into jail.

Omaha police say 36-year-old John Ezell Jr. was booked Wednesday into the Douglas County jail on suspicion of attempted murder, assaulting an officer and weapons counts.

Omaha's Robert Abraham cut it close but showed up in time for a million dollar payday.

The winning Powerball ticket, with a $1 million prize, was purchased for the April 18th drawing.

One ticket sold in Nebraska matched all five winning white ball numbers (09, 10, 12, 17, 23). The ticket was sold at the Kwik Shop at 2103 Capehart Road in Bellevue.

Nobody showed up to claim the prize and the ticket was going to expire on Monday, Oct. 15. It had a 180 day shelf life.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Agriculture groups and Nebraska state officials have created new guidelines for taking care of livestock on trucks that are pulled off the road due to an accident or a failed safety inspection.

The new procedures announced Monday are designed to ensure that animals being transported are kept healthy, protected from extreme weather and properly fed.

They also were created to help livestock haulers comply with state road rules.

(Omaha, NE)  --  More than 100 people are forced to evacuate due to a natural gas leak in Omaha's Elkhorn neighborhood.  Officials say construction work on a bridge caused gas to leak from a four-inch pipe near 202nd and Hopper last night.  Surrounding homes and the nearby Hillrise Elementary School were evacuated as a precaution.  Crews had to clamp the pipe and turn it off before making repairs, and the area was declared safe about 10:30 p.m.

(Washington, DC)  --  Senator Ben Sasse says the nation's overall sense of community is being undermined by the digital revolution.  On CBS' Face the Nation, the Nebraska Republican says it's causing Americans to feel loneliness.  Sasse says politics alone won't solve the country's problems.  He says America's struggles have been decades in the making and the blame for that shouldn't be placed on President Trump.

(Lincoln, NE)  --  The newest Nebraska Teacher of the Year is a ninth-grade English teacher at Lincoln High School.  Sydney Jensen was announced as the recipient of the 2019 edition of the award on Thursday by Nebraska Department of Education Commissioner Matthew Blomstedt.  Jensen is the fifth Lincoln High teacher to get the award, according to a report from the Lincoln Journal Star.    

(Omaha, NE)  --  Winter weather is to blame for power outages in the Omaha area.  A wintry mix moved into the region yesterday morning and downed tree limbs and power lines.  More than 50-thousand Omaha Public Power District customers lost power in the aftermath of the storm, and more than 18-thousand homes and businesses remained without service as of late last night.  Utility crews are continuing to work to restore electricity to impacted areas.  Currently, OPPD reports more than 2800 customers are still without power in Douglas, Sarpy, and Saunders counties.

 (Omaha, NE)  --  Omaha police officer Ken Fortune, who was shot while on duty last month, is back on duty.  The Lincoln Police Department tweeted a photo of Fortune, dressed in a police uniform, picking up cards and a gift sent to him by the LPD on Wednesday.  The police department said Fortune had fully recovered.  He was shot in the shoulder during a confrontation between gang-unit officers and two men in North Omaha on September 11th.

(Council Bluffs, IA)  --  A Council Bluffs boy with brain cancer is getting a special message from one of his heroes.  The Omaha World-Herald reports Iron man star Robert Downey Junior recently sent a video to seven-year-old Jackson Tijerina encouraging him to stay strong during his fight against cancer.  Meeting the real Iron Man was the last item on a bucket list for Jackson created by his parents.  Jackson and his sister sent a response video to Downey Junior thanking him for the encouragement.