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Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska lawmakers who pledged to lower property taxes are getting ready to try again with a proposal that would boost state aid for K-12 public schools while restricting the districts' taxing power.

The tentative proposal, which is largely opposed by educators, closely resembles one lawmakers considered earlier this year. Its sponsors said they're working to address school officials' biggest concerns.

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska State Fair officials are blaming heavy rains for a drop in attendance and revenue at this summer's fair.

The Grand Island Independent reports that fair executive director Lori Cox delivered the news Friday at a meeting of the State Fair Board.

Attendance for the Aug. 23-Sept. 2 event was 283,468, down 10% from the 314,805 who attended last year. Officials say that led to a 12% decline in gate revenue from the previous year.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Omaha-based Scooter's Coffee is buying a local competitor, Crane Coffee.

Crane has eight locations in Omaha, and officials say the shops will be rebranded to Scooter's over the next three months.

Scooter's has more than 230 locations in 15 states.

The purchase price and other details of the sale have not been disclosed.

CLIVE, Iowa (AP) — A Mason City man has won the first $100,000 top prize in a new Iowa Lottery game.

The Iowa Lottery says Wayne Oswood won the big prize in the Iowa Lottery's "Holiday Dazzle" scratch game. He claimed his prize Friday at the lottery's regional office in Mason City.

Holiday Dazzle is a $10 scratch game featuring seven top prizes of $100,000 and overall odds of 1 in 2.80.

STERLING, Neb. (AP) — A 15-year-old southeastern Nebraska boy has been arrested after being accused of making a school threat last month that school officials didn't initially report to authorities.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The lower Missouri River will remain high into December because of the large amount of water being released from dams into the river.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the amount of water being released from the Gavins Point dam on the Nebraska-South Dakota border will remain at a level more than twice what is typical for this time of year — 80,000 cubic feet per second — into mid-December.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court has issued orders changing how the state court system conducts security assessments after two cybersecurity workers hired by state court administrators were arrested for breaking into the Dallas County Courthouse last month.

Chief Justice Mark Cady signed an order Thursday that prohibits physical break-ins of courthouses and entry outside of regular business hours as part of cybersecurity testing. Court administrators also must confer with local officials on systems testing.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — A man who spent more than 25 years in prison for an Iowa murder that he didn't commit is urging college students to help inmates who may be innocent.

Terry Harrington spoke to Coe College students Tuesday, recounting how he was wrongly convicted in the 1977 shooting death of a Council Bluffs security guard when he was a teenager.

Harrington had exhausted his appeals and was serving a life sentence at the Iowa State Penitentiary when he met a prison barber who believed in his innocence.

SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. (AP) — Forecasters say a wintry storm system could drop up to 10 inches (25.4 centimeters) of snow on northwest Nebraska later this week.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for the northern half of the Panhandle. The service says ice could form on wet pavement late Wednesday night or early Thursday as the system arrives, followed by snow and winds gusting to 35 mph (56.3 kph). Travel could be extremely hazardous.

Overnight low temperatures could dip below 20 degrees (minus 6.7 Celsius).

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraskans will need to spend nearly $1 billion over the next few decades to remove ash trees killed by an invasive pest, but local governments probably won't be able to afford the cost and it's not clear how much help they'll get from the state.

Lawmakers renewed their search last week for ways to fix the damage caused by the emerald ash borer, a major threat to the state's ash trees. State officials have already confirmed the insect's presence in Nebraska and acknowledged they have no way to stop it.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A public hearing has been scheduled Monday on a Lincoln proposal that would offer legal protection to people who break vehicle windows to save children or animals from dangerous heat.

Councilman James Michael Bowers told the Lincoln Journal Star his proposal would remove a legal gray area and would let people act with confidence if they were to follow specific steps.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraskans will need to spend nearly $1 billion over the next few decades to remove ash trees killed by an invasive pest, but local governments probably won't be able to afford the cost and it's not clear how much help they'll get from the state.

Lawmakers renewed their search last week for ways to fix the damage caused by the emerald ash borer, a major threat to the state's ash trees. State officials have already confirmed the insect's presence in Nebraska and acknowledged they have no way to stop it.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Proposed social studies standards for Nebraska schoolchildren would encourage them to look at history from multiple perspectives.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that the draft proposal was written by a group of Nebraska educators and suggests what students should know about, and be able to do, in history, government, civics, geography and economics.

If the standards are approved by the Nebraska State Board of Education next month, school districts then must adopt the standards or their own of equal or greater rigor.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A lawyer says Nebraska has agreed to pay $385,000 to a woman whose lawsuit said the state psychiatric hospital delayed her doctor-ordered mammogram for more than a year and then denied some radiation treatments for her breast cancer.

The settlement follows a federal judge’s decision that Ruth Cecetka's lawsuit could go forward against the Lincoln Regional Center and staff members. She says they failed to properly care for her health after she was committed there Jan. 31, 2013.

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa (AP) — Last month's closing of Unity Point Hospital's obstetrics unit in 

Marshalltown was only the most recent in Iowa.

The Iowa Public Health Department says nearly three dozen community hospitals have stopped delivering babies in the past two decades, and eight stopped last year — the most yet in one year.

Stephen Hunter is vice chairman of obstetrics at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. He says Iowa's aging population and shrinking rural numbers are among key reasons for the closures.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Motorists driving on a stretch of Interstate 80 north of Lincoln will be able to go a little faster starting today.

The Nebraska Department of Transportation announced Thursday that the interstate speed limit will increase from 65 mph to 75 mph between the 27th Street exit and the 56th Street exit.

The current 65 mph speed limit will remain in place between the 27th Street exit and Lincoln’s western edge.

The 65 mph speed limit forced interstate drivers to slow down as they neared Lincoln, then speed back up to 75 mph after they passed the city.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — After an unusually rainy September in the region, the amount of water flowing down the lower Missouri River this year is likely to match the 2011 record.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it now expects 61 million acre feet of water to flow down the Missouri River this year. That would equal the record set during the prolonged 2011 flooding.

So the Corps will continue releasing massive amounts of water from the dams along the river.

BELLEVUE, Neb. (AP) — An Air Force colonel says he and other officials are paying close attention to resident complaints about living conditions and repairs at off-base, privatized housing for personnel at Offutt Air Force Base just south of Omaha.

Col. Gavin Marks is commander of the 55th Wing at Offutt, and Tuesday he told residents at a town hall meeting at a Bellevue school that he's set up a new hotline to handle complaints.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska officials say they're received the state's first report of a death associated with vaping.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said Monday that the unidentified person died in May, was older than 65 years old and lived in the Omaha area. No other details were given.

Nebraska officials say there have been 12 deaths reported in 10 other states.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A state panel has approved the latest bill for former Gov. Terry Branstad's continued fight against a jury verdict that found he discriminated against a former state executive.

The Iowa Executive Council approved payment Monday of a bill for over $488,000 to a Des Moines law firm. That raises the taxpayer costs of defending Branstad to $2.4 million.

HIAWATHA, Iowa (AP) — One Iowa police department is adding cameras to its handguns.

Hiawatha Police Chief Dennis Marks told KCRG that the new cameras will help ensure that a full recording will be made of any incident when officers pull their weapons.

Marks says body cameras can be obscured by arms or objects during confrontations, but an officer's gun is out front where it isn't likely to be blocked.

Marks says all 14 full-time officers and the department's two reserves will use the new cameras.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Des Moines Register reporter who wrote about racist tweets posted years ago by an Iowa security guard is no longer employed by the Iowa newspaper because he also made offensive comments on social media.

Editor Carol Hunter wrote in a column posted online Thursday night that reporter Aaron Calvin "is no longer with the Register."

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand is proposing legislation requiring mandatory prison time for those convicted of theft involving public money.

Sand's proposal comes just days after an investigative story by Cedar Rapids television station KCRG that found only about 40% of Sands' special investigative audit reports dating to January 2017 led to criminal prosecution. KCRG calculated that meant no one has been held responsible for at least $8 million in improperly used public funds.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Authorities say a teacher has been accused of dragging a 10-year-old student across a floor at an Omaha school.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that police say the boy had four or five rug burns on his back after the Sept. 6 incident.

Millard Public Schools spokeswoman Rebecca Kleeman says several staffers at Walt Disney Elementary saw and reported what she described as "unacceptable roughness with a student" to school administrators.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Des Moines lawyer is suing Gov. Kim Reynolds and other state officials, claiming a new law that gave the governor more power over the commission that selects supreme court and appeals court judges is unconstitutional.  It's the second such lawsuit filed in state court challenging the change that Reynolds signed into law in May.

The new case was filed Sept. 11 by Thomas Duff, a trial lawyer for 30 years who interviewed to be an Iowa Court of Appeals judge but wasn't chosen as a finalist by the State Judicial Nominating Commission.

ALTOONA, Iowa (AP) — Sports betting kiosks at Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona have been shut down while a vendor figures out why they came on in the middle of the night when they were supposed to have been turned off.

Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission Administrator Brian Ohorilko says surveillance video shows no one at the machines when they powered up overnight recently but William Hill, the company providing sports betting at the casino, has chosen to keep them off until the glitch can be resolved.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The annual Sensory Safari at Lincoln Children's Zoo will give students with disabilities a chance to explore through sight, sound, touch or smell.

The Oct. 2 event is organized by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, along with the Lincoln Children's Zoo and the Nebraska Center for the Education of Children who are Blind or Visually Impaired.

Stations will include a live fish touch tank; live native reptiles and amphibians; prairie plants; skulls and pelts of Nebraska mammals; birds of Nebraska; live insects and arthropods; smells of nature and many others.

The event costs $3.50 per person. Preregistration is required at lincolnzoo.org.

Contact Aimee Johns at ajohns@lincolnzoo.org or at 402-475-6741, Ext. 130, for more information.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Lottery officials say no one has claimed a $1 million Powerball prize for a ticket sold last month.

The Nebraska Lottery says the winner has until Feb. 17 to claim the prize.

The winning ticket was sold at a Casey's store at Evans Plaza. It matched the first five numbers drawn the night of Aug. 21. The numbers drawn were: 12, 21, 22, 29, 32 and Powerball number of 21.

GRETNA, Neb. (AP) — Sarpy County officials say a railroad's unauthorized closure of a street near Gretna snarled traffic during the Friday morning commute.

A news release from Sarpy County says BNSF closed a section of 156th Street east of Gretna to make repairs at a railroad crossing. Railroad crews closed the street, even though the county's engineer had denied the railroad's request earlier this week to do so. The county says the request was denied because 156th Street was serving as s detour route for another nearby street that also was closed for construction.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Bankers in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states expect slow growth in the months ahead, but the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China is weighing on the economy.

The Rural Mainstreet survey's overall index climbed into positive territory at 50.1 in September from August's 46.5. Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy, while a score below 50 indicates a shrinking economy.

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