Associated Press


Kellogg’s workers have overwhelmingly rejected a new contract that would have given them 3% raises, so the strike that began Oct. 5 will continue at the company’s four U.S. cereal plants. The union that represents the 1,400 workers released the results of the contract vote on Tuesday. Besides the initial raises, the five-year offer also included cost-of-living pay increases in the later years of the deal and would have preserved workers’ health benefits. Kellogg’s said it will move forward with plans to start hiring permanent replacement workers.


Nebraska State Treasurer John Murante says he will seek re-election for a second four-year term. Murante, a Republican, was first elected treasurer in 2018 while serving as a state lawmaker from Gretna. As treasurer, Murante pushed for legislation to establish financial literacy courses in Nebraska elementary and high schools. His office also helped create and host a first-of-its-kind financial wellness webinar series aimed at public employees. No other candidates have announced plans to run for the office.


Nebraska football star and 1972 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers remains in an Omaha hospital intensive care unit with COVID-19 and other complications. Business partner Denny Drake told The Omaha World-Herald that Rodgers was hospitalized Thanksgiving morning. Drake says the 70-year-old Rodgers seemed to improve after a few days, but took a turn for the worse last week and was placed in the ICU. Drake says Rodgers has since improved and is feeling much better.

Nebraska health officials say the vast majority of the COVID-19 patients who are filling up the state’s hospitals are unvaccinated and many of them are younger adults. The number of people hospitalized in Nebraska with COVID-19 continues to climb and reached 555 on Tuesday, which was the highest it had been since last winter. Although the number of hospitalizations remains well below last fall’s peak of 987, hospital capacity is strained. That state said just 13% of the adult intensive care unit beds and 20% of the pediatric ICU beds were available Tuesday.


A jury has awarded $26.1 million to a Sarpy County family who sued Children's Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha after their child was sent home following a fall, then suffered seizures that left her permanently disabled. The award is a record for medical malpractice in Nebraska, but could be drastically reduced under Nebraska’s $2.25 million cap on medical malpractice verdicts. The Omaha World-Herald reports that the jury on Monday awarded $21.5 million for a lifetime of medical care and damages to 5-year-old Vivianne Marousek and another $4.6 million to her parents.

Rural Radio Network

The parent company of First National Bank of Omaha is acquiring Wyoming-based Western States Bank. Terms of the deal announced Monday weren’t released, but the companies said Western States has $542 million in total assets and runs 10 branches in northeastern Colorado, western Nebraska and southeastern Wyoming. First National’s Chairman and President Clark Lauritzen said the deal will allow the larger regional bank to expand its existing services in Nebraska and Colorado while adding branches in new markets of Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyoming.


Gov. Pete Ricketts is railing against the chancellor of the University of Nebraska’s flagship campus in Lincoln, saying he was misled about a plan designed to address racial disparities on campus, even as the university system’s president tried to de-escalate the situation. Ricketts says he has “lost all faith” in University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green, who has endorsed the plan as a way to make the campus more diverse and inclusive.


Health officials have shut down a COVID-19 vaccination clinic north of downtown Omaha, citing repeated vandalism at the site of the drive-thru clinic. The Douglas County Health Department announced Friday that it's closing the clinic off Abbott Drive, just north of the CHI Health Center event facility. The department declined to give details about the vandalism, citing an ongoing criminal investigation into the matter. The health department says anyone who had an upcoming appointment at the site for a vaccine will be contacted by staff to reschedule elsewhere.


Nebraska’s unemployment rate fell to a mere 1.9% last month, which was the lowest any state has reached since U.S. data collection began in 1976. The October rate reported by Nebraska’s labor department and the Bureau of Labor Statistics marks the first time a state’s unemployment rate dropped below 2%. Spokespeople for both agencies confirmed that Nebraska’s rate is the lowest recorded nationally. Nebraska has maintained its status as the state with the lowest rate through much of the pandemic. It’s 0.1 percentage points lower than Nebraska's September rate of 2%.

A petition drive is underway to change the Nebraska constitution and eliminate the state Board of Education. The proposal would shift oversight of the Education Department into the governor’s office and eliminate the elected board, but backers would have to gather roughly 125,000 signatures by next July to put the question on next November’s ballot. The measure comes after Gov. Pete Ricketts clashed with the Education Department at times in the past year. But critics of the petition drive said it would concentrate too much power in the governor’s office.


Deere workers approved a new contract Wednesday that will deliver 10% raises immediately and end a monthlong strike for more than 10,000 employees. The United Auto Workers union members voted 61% in favor of the deal with the tractor maker. It was the third vote on a contract offer. Workers recently rejected an offer that was similar to the one approved Wednesday. This latest proposal made only modest changes to the details of Deere’s internal incentive pay plan.


President Joe Biden has announced the appointment of former U.S. Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield to serve in a top agriculture position in Iowa. Greenfield, the Democratic nominee who lost to Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst last November, was named Thursday as Iowa director of rural development. The position is in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She will serve as the chief executive officer of the program that offers loans, grants and loan guarantees to help create jobs and support economic development.

Rural Radio Network

Nebraska officials including Gov. Pete Ricketts are putting out a call for people to adopt foster children, as the numbers have declined during the pandemic. State officials say there have been 304 adoptions so far this year and 360 in 2020. But in each of the preceding five years, Nebraska logged more than 500 adoptions. Ricketts says Nebraska currently has 646 children who are waiting to be adopted.

Lincoln Journal Star

U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska will likely be facing two opponents in the 2022 election: a progressive Democrat with a lot of support in the state’s second-largest city, and a federal prosecutor in California who has accused him of lying to the FBI. Democratic state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks announced her candidacy for Congress on Monday.

Nebraska Public Media

The Kellogg Co. has filed a lawsuit against its local union in Omaha. It's complaining that striking workers are blocking entrances to its cereal plant and intimidating replacement workers who are entering the plant. The company based in Battle Creek, Michigan, asked a judge to order the Omaha chapter of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union to stop interfering with its business while workers picket outside the plant. The workers in Omaha and at Kellogg’s three other U.S.


A longtime state corrections worker will become the new warden at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution in southeast Nebraska. The Department of Correctional Services announced the appointment Tuesday of Craig Gable. Gable started in the department in 2011 as a correctional officer and has risen through the ranks at seven different Nebraska prisons. He earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Nebraska Omaha and a master’s degree in public administration from Bellevue University.


Nebraska recorded a second straight week of increased COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continued to creep up. That prompted the state to resume daily updates on the virus instead of providing only weekly numbers. The state reported 5,104 new virus cases last week to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That was up from 4,177 cases during the previous week. Before that, cases had been flat or slightly falling for several weeks. An average of 400 Nebraskans were hospitalized with COVID-19 during the past week, which was up from 386 the previous week.

Nebraska Legislature

A leading Nebraska senator who helps create the state budget says he’s already getting requests for how to spend the state’s share of federal pandemic relief money, and he’s expecting a lot more. Sen. John Stinner, chairman of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee, says he has spoken with groups including Nebraska’s child welfare and developmental disability service providers. Stinner, of Gering, says the providers are under competitive pressure to keep workers because they aren’t able to pay as much as other employers.

Nationwide Children's Hospital

Health officials in Nebraska say they’re expecting 64,200 initial doses of the coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. The allocation is enough to cover nearly 35% of the 186,200 Nebraska children who fall in that age range. Don Herrington, the acting director of the state Department of Health Services, recommends that parents have their children vaccinated against COVID-19. He says pediatric vaccinations will be available in some areas at special vaccination clinics arranged with schools and local health care providers.


Douglas County Election Commissioner Brian Kruse will stay in office for at least another four years. Gov. Pete Ricketts announced Wednesday that he had reappointed Kruse to another term. Kruse was first named to the post overseeing the county’s elections in 2016. Douglas, Lancaster and Sarpy counties are the only ones in Nebraska where election commissioners are appointed by the governor, because their populations are greater than 100,000. The appointed commissioners are then required to appoint a deputy from the opposite political party.


Nebraska’s largest and oldest state prison lost running water because of a plumbing issue, forcing inmates and staffers to use bottled water and portable toilets and raising concerns about conditions at the facility. Officials at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln say they had to shut off the water when they discovered numerous leaks in the facility’s old, brittle pipes on Tuesday. A Nebraska corrections spokesperson says Thursday that crews have restored water service to the prison.


A woman is suing a University of Iowa fraternity and two men after an alleged sexual assault that spawned protests on campus earlier this fall. The woman alleges in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that two members of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, also known as Fiji, sexually assaulted her at a party at the house in September 2020. She says the alleged assault was filmed and widely circulated. The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages against the two males and the fraternity. The two men were expelled from the fraternity, but no charges were filed.

Beatrice Daily Sun

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is voicing support for U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, a fellow Republican who was indicted last week on allegations that he lied to FBI agents who were investigating illegal campaign contributions from a foreign national. Ricketts defended the nine-term Republican congressman Monday as a “man of high integrity.” He says he doesn't  believe Fortenberry would knowingly violate federal law, and will pray for him and his family. Fortenberry has denied the charges and pleaded not guilty last week in federal court.

Yahoo Finance

Union Pacific and its labor unions are suing each other to determine whether the railroad has the authority to require its employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. The unions argue that the Omaha, Nebraska-based railroad should have negotiated with them before announcing it would require all employees to get the shots. The railroad contends in its own lawsuit that it believes it has the authority to require the vaccine under its existing contracts because it can set standards for when employees are fit for duty.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A federal grand jury has indicted U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, accusing him of lying to the FBI and concealing information from federal agents who were investigating campaign contributions funneled to him from a Nigerian billionaire. The U.S. attorney’s office announced that the federal grand jury in Los Angeles had indicted the nine-term Republican on one charge of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. The congresssman is proclaiming his innocence and promising to fight the charges.


Nebraska’s attorney general says he won’t seek disciplinary action against doctors who prescribe controversial, off-label drugs to treat and prevent coronavirus infections, as long as they get informed consent from patients and don’t engage in misconduct. The office of Attorney General Doug Peterson released a legal opinion saying it didn’t see data to justify legal action against health care professionals who prescribe ivermectin, a decades-old parasite treatment, or hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug that former President Donald Trump took to try to prevent a COVID-19 infection.

Crime And Justice Institute

Nebraska’s court system agreed to release a nonprofit group’s analysis of state criminal justice data after the governor’s office refused to release the information. The state’s judicial branch released almost 100 pages of reports the nonprofit Crime and Justice Institute has presented to a group of officials who are trying to decide how to address Nebraska’s prison overcrowding. The director of the ACLU of Nebraska, Danielle Conrad, praised the decision to release the records on Friday.

ABC News

Nebraska’s corrections director says the state's prison workforce shortage has become so severe that two facilities have cut back on the hours when they’re fully operational and a third will do the same starting next week. Nebraska Department of Correctional Services Director Scott Frakes says the prisons now have more than 625 job openings, thanks to an increase in staff turnover, which has forced remaining workers to pick up the slack.

Fremont Tribune

 Officials at the Lincoln Children's Zoo say five big cats tested positive for COVID-19 this week. Zoo officials announced Wednesday that two Sumatran tigers and three snow leopards were tested after they began showing symptoms of the virus during the weekend. Spokeswoman Sarah Wood said in a news release the cats are the first animals at the zoo to contract the virus. They are being treated with plans that have been successful at other zoos.

Lincoln Journal Star

A Lincoln man accused of mispresenting himself as a financial adviser has been arrested after police say he bilked four people out of more than $1 million. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that 65-year-old Douglas Cmelik turned himself in to police Tuesday and was arrested on suspicion of four counts of sale of securities by an unregistered investment adviser. Investigators say his scheme dates back to 2013, when a Lincoln man reportedly invested $500,000 with Cmelik. Police say three other Lincoln residents together invested another $768,000, and that Cmelik charged fees for his services.