Associated Press

Inmates at a Lincoln prison damaged a housing unit during a Christmas Eve disturbance after staff confiscated food and homemade alcohol. A Nebraska Department of Corrections spokeswoman said about 14 inmates at the Diagnostic and Evaluation Center broke furniture, cracked a window and disabled surveillance cameras. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that the incident began about 7 p.m. Tuesday and that some inmates returned to their cells as directed at the start. Prison staff locked down the facility and called in an emergency response team to resolve the incident.

A three-alarm fire at an Omaha Housing Authority apartment building in north Omaha left about 60 people out in the cold, but all got out safely. The fire was reported Friday evening at the Ernie Chambers' Court Apartments. Arriving firefighters saw flames coming from the building's top floor, and part of the building's roof eventually collapsed. Omaha fire officials say the blaze was caused by youth playing with fire. Battalion Chief Mike Pritchard says no one was injured in the fire. OHA officials and the American Red Cross are working to find temporary housing for those displaced.

The economic development arm of a Nebraska-based Native American tribe is once again pumping big money into a campaign to legalize casino gambling. Campaign finance records show Ho-Chunk Inc. is bankrolling the petition ballot drive with nearly $1.5 million contributed so far to the Keep the Money in Nebraska campaign. The campaign would allow Nebraska voters to decide in November 2020 whether to allow commercial gambling at the state’s licensed horse racing tracks in Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island, Columbus, South Sioux City and Hastings. Ho-Chunk Inc.

An Omaha city councilman was sentenced Wednesday to four years of probation for not filing federal tax returns for 2012, 2013 or 2014. Vinny Palermo also was fined $35,000 and told to pay $21,209 in restitution for taxes owed. Palermo pleaded guilty in September. His lawyer says Palermo has paid what he owed. The Douglas County Republican Party has called on him to resign, but the Democrat has said he won't. The city charter allows the removal of a council member if the council were to decide he or she committed a crime that violated the oath of office. 

The Lincoln City Council has forbidden vaping in public spaces and work sites, adding e-cigarettes to the city ban on indoor smoking of tobacco products. The council voted 7-0 for the ordinance Monday. It takes effect in two weeks. The council rejected an attempt to delay to delay implementation so vape shops could seek exemptions. Sarah Linden is president of the Nebraska Vape Vendors Association, and she argued the ordinance conflates the dangers of smoking cigarettes with vaping. She says vaping is less harmful.

A former Democratic U.S. Senate candidate is running again for a seat in Nebraska. Chris Janicek, of Omaha, announced in a press release Tuesday that he'll file paperwork next week for another Senate run. He's seeking the seat held by U.S. Ben Sasse, a heavy favorite to win re-election in GOP-dominated Nebraska. One other Democratic candidate, Dennis Frank Macek, has already filed to run for the seat. Janicek last ran in 2018. He lost in the Democratic primary to Jane Raybould, who failed to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer.

Dozens of people who helped respond to the 2019 Nebraska floods are getting honored for work saving lives and rescuing stranded neighbors. Gov. Pete Ricketts and first lady Susanne Shore presented awards Tuesday to individuals and groups that contributed to the effort. Special accolades went to James Wilke, a Columbus farmer who died trying to save a stranded motorist from floodwaters, the Nebraska National Guard, and a group of firefighters and volunteers whose air boat capsized as they worked to rescue a family from their home.

A data center that could employ up to 10 people is being built in Council Bluffs.

The Daily Nonpareil reporeted that CyrusOne broke ground Tuesday on the $60 million facility. The first building phase is expected to be finished in fall 2020.

CyrusOne chief technology officer Kevin Timmons said Council Bluffs was an ideal site for several reasons, including the site's attributes, reliability of fiber optics and affordable power.

CyrusOne is based in Dallas and provides information technology infrastructure for about 1000 customers.

Nebraska's largest utility will keep electricity rates flat next year and give customers a small credit on their bills starting in February. The Nebraska Public Power District's board approved the 2020 rates on Thursday. Next year will be the seventh year in a row of stable rates for NPPD's retail customers. The utility says retail customers will also receive a monthly credit of between 2% and 4% of their bills in 2020.

Maine State Police say that a charter bus with 35 people on board overturned on Interstate 95 after the driver fell asleep and that four passengers suffered minor injuries. Police say the tour bus for the Nebraska Theatre Caravan drifted off the road late Tuesday, overturned and came to rest down an embankment in Burnham. The group was headed to Orono, Maine, from Schenectady, New York, for a performance of “A Christmas Carol” on Thursday night. The driver, 65-year-old Charles Barry, of Omaha, Nebraska, was cited by troopers on a charge of failing to maintain control of the bus.

Dozens of bronze headstone flower vases have been stolen from a cemetery in Lincoln. Police say each vase was valued at $50, so the loss is estimated at $2,000. The thefts were reported Saturday at Lincoln Memorial Park. In October, about a dozen vases were also stolen from the cemetery. Police say the thief might try to sell the vases at pawn shops or scrap yards. They ask that anyone with information call police.

An eastern Nebraska fireworks company has been sentenced to three years’ probation and ordered to pay a $35,000 fine for falsifying work safety records. U.S. Attorney for Nebraska Joe Kelly announced that Wild Willy’s Fireworks, of Springfield, was sentenced in Omaha’s federal court on Thursday. The company’s representative and owner, Dan Williams, pleaded guilty to the charge in August. Prosecutors say Williams had forklift training certificates for four employees who had not undergone such training falsified and sent to an Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspector.

Officials on Thursday confirmed a career military man and former superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy as the president of the University of Nebraska system. The university Board of Regents confirmed Walter “Ted” Carter as president, succeeding interim President Susan Fritz. Officials began searching for a new president after Hank Bounds left the position in mid-August, leaving Fritz to oversee the system until a permanent replacement could be found. The 60-year-old Carter had been superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, from 2014 until this year.

As health officials scrutinize marijuana vaping, it’s increasingly on law enforcement’s radar, too. Authorities across the country have seized at least a half-million marijuana vape cartridges and arrested more than 120 people in the last two years. That’s according to an Associated Press tally derived from interviews, court records, news accounts and official releases. Vaping has gained ground in the last few years among marijuana users as a discreet alternative to smoking the drug.

The city of Papillion is using signs to try to slow traffic at a downtown intersection where a 10-year-old girl was fatally hit by a car earlier this year. The Omaha World-Herald reports that six yellow crosswalk yield signs were bolted to the street on Monday at the intersection. The city has been analyzing the crosswalk after a driver struck Abby Whitford in August as the girl crossed the street on her way to Sump Memorial Library. She later died in a hospital.

Nearly 800 Nebraska State Penitentiary inmates _ more than half the Lincoln prison’s population _ have signed a petition sent to state officials and various news outlets decrying conditions at the prison. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that the petition pans penitentiary administrators for putting the prison in modified lockdown, which has curtailed clubs or organization meetings and kept inmates from having full use of the prison law library.

Officials say Heartland of America Park in downtown Omaha will close Monday for construction. The Omaha World-Herald reports that the nearly $300 million transformation of three downtown parks is moving east from Gene Leahy Mall. The park will reopen once construction is complete in 2023. A portion that leads to the Conagra campus will remain open. Officials don’t expect to close streets for this step in the big project.

Omaha is receiving a $4.7 million federal grant to help buy new city buses to replace older buses in its fleet. The U.S. Transportation Department’s Federal Transit Administration recently announced the Omaha grant as part of $423 million in grants nationwide. Omaha plans to use the money to buy 11 new buses. The new buses will help improve the reliability of Omaha’s fleet of 98 city buses.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Another Nebraska prison is switching to 12-hour shifts for correctional employees in response to persistent staffing shortages.

The Tecumseh State Correctional Institution in southeast Nebraska will follow in the steps of the Nebraska State Penitentiary, where administrators made a similar change early this year. Director Scott Frakes said Monday that the change will help ensure reliable staffing numbers to run the prison safely.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — Some business owners at a western Iowa mall say they’re upset at being forced out of the building by the end of the year.

Officials say the Mall of the Bluffs on the east side of Council Bluffs is being acquired so Menards can demolish it and build a new home improvement center.

Nebraska is temporarily lifting weight restrictions on trucks carrying propane to address a shortage of heating fuels.

The finance director of the Nebraska State Fair has resigned, saying the state fair may be on the verge of bankruptcy.

The Omaha City Council has decided to subject vaping products to the city’s tobacco tax.

Sarpy County commissioners are cutting the county pay for their posts by $95 a year.

The Nebraska corrections department is asking more than 600 inmates to step forward if they’d like to serve out the remainder of their sentences in their home states.

Nebraska and federal health officials say a hepatitis A outbreak that includes Nebraska, Indiana and Wisconsin has been traced to blackberries sold in Fresh Thyme grocery stores.

Nebraska is the first state to publicly acknowledge it will share drivers’ license records with the U.S. Census Bureau as the federal agency tries to comply with President Donald Trump’s order to count the number of U.S. citizens.

Hundreds of containers — many carrying hazardous materials — have floated into Missouri since flooding in the upper Missouri River basin during the spring.

Authorities say firefighters have completely contained a fire that blackened just under 604 acres (244.4 hectares) in the Nebraska National Forest, west of Dunning.

An oil spill from the Keystone pipeline in eastern North Dakota has affected almost 10 times the amount of land as first reported.