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A billboard at the intersection of 72nd and Dodge streets symbolizes demonstrations marked by racial justice advocates. Justice for James Omaha revealed the billboard July 2nd. That Thursday marked the 27th day of demonstrations against the Douglas County Attorney who activists say determined James Scurlock's death did not deserve justice. County Attorney Don Kleine said the death of 22-year-old Scurlock by bar owner Jake Gardner was out of self-defense and video evidence shows the decision was based on the information the office had at the time.

People in Nebraska celebrated the July Fourth holiday as many Americans did, with a barrage of fireworks. But this year's explosive festivities also came with a number of headaches. In Omaha, police say they received nearly 1,900 fireworks complaints in the days before and after the Fourth of July when fireworks are legal to sell and use. Police say that's a more than 30% increase from fireworks complaints received last year.

Omaha World Herald

The parents of four Gretna teenagers who died in a crash last year have filed a tort claim against Sarpy County, alleging that the design of the road where the crash occurred contributed to their deaths. A tort claim is the first step a private citizen must take before suing the government. The Omaha World-Herald reports the girls' parents argue the county road south of Omaha near the crash site, and a guard rail along the road, were negligently designed, constructed and maintained.

Five years after Nebraska lawmakers approved a sweeping plan to reduce prison crowding, state officials are only marginally closer to fixing the problem despite millions of dollars in additional funding. Nebraska is virtually certain to fall into an “overcrowding emergency” on Wednesday, having missed a state-imposed deadline to reduce its inmate population below 140% of what its facilities were designed to hold. The emergency designation will force Nebraska officials to consider paroling all inmates who are eligible.

A petition is going around to rename an Omaha high school. Over one-thousand people signed the petition to get Harry A. Burke High School renamed after an alumn came across a student newspaper article about the namesake of its former superintendent. The article claimed Burke said as long as he was superintendent, there would not be a black educator in the school system. Burke was the superintendent of Omaha Public Schools from 1946-to-1962. The petition asks that Burke High School be renamed to bring positive change and allow students of all races to feel safe and welcomed at school.

An employee at the Oriental Trading Co. who left a noose on the chair of a Black colleague has been fired. Authorities are looking into whether hate crime charges should be brought in the case.  Oriental Trading President and CEO Steve Mendlik says the company will not tolerate hate or racism and notified law enforcement of the incident at its office in La Vista, Nebraska. The Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office says it is still investigating the incident and the results will be sent to the county attorney who will decide whether to file charges.

Nebraska will extend its unemployment benefits for the first time in nearly 40 years in response to the mass layoffs triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. The Nebraska Department of Labor says it will provide up to an additional 13 weeks for eligible recipients who have exhausted their regular or pandemic unemployment benefits. The extended benefits were triggered when the state unemployment rate hit 5.2% during the week of June 14. Other states are offering similar extended benefits based on their unemployment rate.

The Nebraska Democratic Party is calling on its U.S. Senate nominee to drop out of the race after he made sexually repugnant comments about a campaign staffer in a group text with her and other staffers. The party says its state executive committee voted unanimously on Monday to withdraw all of its resources from Chris Janicek’s campaign. Janicek, the owner of an Omaha cupcake bakery, is challenging Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, who is seeking a second term.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau says the state potentially faces nearly $3.7 billion in agricultural losses from the coronavirus pandemic if economic conditions do not improve. The Lincoln Journal Star reports the estimate Wednesday projects revenue losses for this year’s commodities. It does not account for any financial assistance farmers and ranchers receive from COVID-19 relief programs.

Two children in Nebraska have been diagnosed with a rare and serious inflammatory condition that’s linked to the new coronavirus. Last week, a 9-year-old Lexington boy was diagnosed with the condition. On Monday, the Douglas County Health Department announced that a child under 12 has been hospitalized with the condition. That news comes as the one-day total of new coronavirus cases dropped to under 100 for the first time since May 10.

Norfolk Daily News

Protests are continuing in Omaha following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.  Thousands of demonstrators took part in a march to Memorial Park yesterday.  A Black Lives Matter rally took place at the Park.  The protestors called for an end to racial injustice and police brutality.  Public outrage over the death of George Floyd is spilling over into small town America. Rallies have surfaced in places such as Norfolk, Nebraska, and Sioux City, Iowa, drawing hundreds of people in communities that are mostly white.

Nebraska lawmakers will hold two hearings next week to hear public input about law enforcement and racial equity in the state. Members of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee will convene Monday at the Scott Conference Center in Omaha’s Aksarben Village. They’ll meet Tuesday at the Nebraska Educational Telecommunications office in Lincoln. Both events will be live-streamed online and on television by NET, the state’s public television service. Sen.

Fremont Tribune

A day after she rescinded a curfew, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert announced she would reinstate the restriction for Friday night and Saturday night. Stothert says she took the action after learning from police of five events planned Friday and a large gathering expected Saturday to mark the death of George Floyd after his arrest by Minneapolis police. The curfew will be stretch from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. on both nights. The Mayor on Thursday called the move “unfortunate but necessary."  The move came a day after Stothert said Wednesday she would rescind the curfew.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts apologized after an Omaha pastor accused the governor of using the phrase “you people” during a meeting with local black leaders. Ricketts says he chose his words poorly and apologized when it became apparent that he had caused offense. Pastor Jarrod Parker of St. Mark’s Baptist Church criticized the governor online after he walked out of the meeting. Parker says Ricketts made the comments in a meeting with black leaders about the killing of James Scurlock, a black man who was fatally shot by a white bar owner during the George Floyd protests.

A prosecutor says he'll call for a grand jury review of the case of a white business owner who fatally shot an unarmed black man during civil unrest in downtown Omaha. Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said in a news conference Wednesday that he'll petition the court to call a grand jury to review evidence to determine whether bar owner Jake Gardner should face felony charges in the Saturday night shooting death of 22-year-old James Scurlock. Kleine also said he'll turn over the case to a special prosecutor.

Gov. Pete Ricketts says Nebraska could see another flare-up of coronavirus cases because of the demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, but he concluded that allowing protesters to peacefully vent was more important than concerns about the pandemic. His comments came as new, lighter virus restrictions went into effect throughout most of the state. The restrictions approved by Ricketts allow bars, zoos, swimming pools and other public venues to reopen, with crowd limits based on a venue’s occupancy.

An Omaha bar owner won’t be charged  in connection with the fatal shooting of a 22-year-old man during weekend protests in downtown Omaha over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, authorities said Monday. The shooting occurred at around 11 p.m. Saturday in the city’s Old Market area and within a couple of blocks of where protesters had gathered. Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said Monday that Jake Gardner, who owns two bars near where the shooting happened, fired the fatal shot during a scuffle with protesters outside one of his bars.

Nebraska’s tourism industry has lost millions of dollars in revenue to the coronavirus pandemic and will face major challenges as it tries to recover. Nebraska Tourism Commission Executive Director John Ricks says visitor spending was $152.6 million lower in March than it was at the same time last year. The tourism commission’s revenue from a state lodging tax dropped nearly 60% as well, indicating that hotels and motels were severely hit. Ricks says he’s hopeful that the governor’s recent moves to ease social-distancing restrictions on Monday will help.

Omaha-area hospitals are reporting another uptick in coronavirus patients, but local health officials are still managing the caseloads without any issues. Nebraska Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Gary Anthone, says Douglas County’s hospitals are treating 135 patients, up from 122 last week. But Anthone says the increase hasn’t had much of an impact on the available bed space or ventilators within the hospitals. Among the coronavirus patients is Nebraska state Sen. Mike Moser, of Columbus, who is receiving care at Nebraska Medical Center. Gov.

Nebraska will use its $1.1 billion share of federal coronavirus money to help small businesses, local governments, nonprofits and other groups hard-hit by the pandemic. Gov. Pete Ricketts provided a first glimpse of the state’s plan, which focuses heavily on small businesses and unemployment insurance for laid-off workers. Nebraska will receive $1.25 billion under the federal CARES Act, the emergency law passed to help Americans with the pandemic.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for rural parts of south-central Nebraska after up to 8 inches of rain fell in the region overnight. The weather service has issued the warning for parts of Adams, Kearney, Buffalo and Hall counties, reporting that roads in some low-lying areas were covered by floodwaters and impassable early Monday morning. The service says at least one house, near Kenesaw, has been flooded.

Nebraska will let bars, zoos, movie theaters and swimming pools reopen and allow small concerts and auctions to resume on June 1 in all but four hard-hit counties. Gov. Pete Ricketts says he plans to further loosen social-distancing restrictions to strike a balance between public health and the need to move back toward normal life as people grow restless. His announcement came as the number of coronavirus deaths continues to rise. Businesses that do reopen will still face mandatory social distancing restrictions.

Creighton University has furloughed 190 employees and made several other spending cuts because of the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Creighton officials said Wednesday they expect to have to cut at least $35 million from the university’s budget to offset declining revenue from tuition and fees. The university said it will suspend its contributions to employee retirement plans on July 1, and top executives will take a pay cut. Creighton said it also won’t pay merit raises this year and will cut discretionary spending.

The coronavirus has hurt a vast majority of Nebraska’s businesses and about one in six of them are worried that it will force them to close their doors permanently. That's according to a report released Tuesday by the Nebraska Business Development Center at the University of Nebraska Omaha. The report highlights the sweeping damage caused by business closures and social-distancing measures to keep the virus from spreading. It says 87% of Nebraska businesses have been hurt because of the pandemic.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is warning that the coronavirus pandemic will likely lead to state budget cuts and force lawmakers to water down two of his biggest priorities, including a property tax bill for farmers and homeowners and a new business incentive package. His comments came after lawmakers announced plans to resume their regular session on July 20. It’s not clear whether the property tax or business incentive measures had enough support to pass even before the pandemic.

U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse’s attempt at humor during a speech at a Nebraska high school's online commencement, which included jokes about students’ fitness and psychologists and also blamed China for the coronavirus outbreak, has drawn strong criticism.

Republican U.S. Rep. Don Bacon has scored a surprise endorsement from former Nebraska state Sen. Bob Krist, the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor. Krist previously supported Omaha attorney Ann Ashford, who lost to Kara Eastman in Tuesday’s primary election. Krist was a Republican for most of his time in the nonpartisan Legislature, but left the GOP shortly before he announced his gubernatorial bid. He initially launched his campaign as an independent, but re-registered as a Democrat because of the difficulties nonpartisan candidates face in qualifying for the ballot.

Nebraska may not make its goal of conducting 3,000 coronavirus tests per day by the end of May through the state’s TestNebraska program, but Gov. Pete Ricketts says he's confident testers will reach that pace “at some point” if residents continue to sign up. His comments came after state officials reported that the program produced 2,358 results last week _ well short of the 3,000 per day that was expected by the end of the month, when the ramp-up period is supposed to end.

The YMCA of Greater Omaha is reopening some facilities soon, starting with those in Iowa. Metro YMCA  said both the Charles E. Lakin YMCA in Council Bluffs, and the Mills County YMCA in Glenwood will open next Monday, and all Nebraska YMCA facilities including Armbrust, Southwest, Butler-Gast, Maple Street, Downtown, Sarpy, and Twin Rivers are tentatively scheduled to open June 1st. The Y said like most businesses, reopening will look differently than pre-coronavirus operations and members should expect to follow safety guidelines when they return.

It looks like scooters will be back on the streets of Omaha this summer, unless the coronavirus keeps them away. The city announced Thursday that two companies, Spin and Bird, signed up for the second year of the city’s pilot program. Unless the pandemic prompts the city to stop the program, scooters will return in June and remain until November. Across the U.S., scooters have proven popular with riders, but led to several accidents. The city said that for 2020, scooter companies must provide assurance that that they can slow down and stop.

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