KIOS-FM

Associated Press

Residents in Lincoln will soon see some of the city's new fleet of electric buses on the streets. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that the first of 10 electric buses bought to replace older diesel-powered buses will begin operating yet this spring. Three of the new buses arrived last week, and a fourth was set to arrive this week. StarTran Transit Manager Mike Davis says the electric buses generate electricity as they brake and will be able to run for a full, eight-hour shift. Fully charging a bus will take about three hours.

Omaha World Herald

A recently released public disclosure statement says a former Goodwill Omaha CEO got $610,000 after he was ousted amid scandal over his six-figure salary, bonuses and perks. Frank McGree sued Goodwill in 2017 because it wouldn't pay his severance. The Omaha World-Herald reports that the charity’s board acknowledged in 2018 that it settled the lawsuit. Until now, the settlement figure wasn’t publicly known. The newspaper first reported in October 2016 that McGree received total compensation of more than $933,000 in 2014, and 13 executives were paid more than $100,000.

Another one of the Americans who were exposed to a new virus on a Japanese cruise ship and were being monitored at an Omaha hospital has been released from quarantine. The University of Nebraska Medical Center said Tuesday that another patient had been cleared to leave quarantine by testing negative for COVID-19 three times. Earlier this week, four other people left quarantine at the Omaha hospital. Ten more people who were evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship earlier this month remain.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts says federal officials are urging states to seek whatever federal resources they need to prepare for the COVID-19 virus as it spreads in the United States and to focus as much as possible on prevention. Ricketts says he's aiming to ensure that Nebraska is the “best-prepared state” to handle the virus if any cases are confirmed outside of quarantine areas. His comments came after a conference call that included governors, Vice President Mike Pence and state and federal health officials.

Four of the Americans who were exposed to a new virus on a Japanese cruise ship and were being monitored at an Omaha hospital have been released from quarantine. The University of Nebraska Medical Center says two of them never tested positive for the new coronavirus and were cleared for release Monday. Two others left quarantine on Sunday after testing negative. Eleven more people who were evacuated from the Diamond Princess two weeks ago all tested positive for COVID-19. They will have to test negative three times, 24 hours apart, before they can leave quarantine.

Nebraska state government could see a boost to its emergency fund over the next few months, but the COVID-19 virus and a panicked stock market are tempering some of those expectations. Members of the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board predicted Friday that the state will collect $5.2 billion in tax revenue during the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. That's about $115 million more than the previous projections, and by law, that excess money will go into Nebraska state government's cash reserve fund.

Lincoln's mayor says selling the natural gas generated at one of Lincoln's wastewater treatment plants will produce $2 million of new revenue for the city annually. Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said Thursday the sales also will further the city goal of environmental sustainability. Lincoln has used the gas to produce electricity that helped power the wastewater treatment plant. City officials decided in 2017, however, that upgrading the system at the Theresa Street plant and selling the biogas locally or nationally would provide a greater return on investment.

A Lincoln health care company targeted by cybercriminals says there's no evidence of any patient data being compromised. NRC Health says it immediately shut down its system Feb. 11 to contain the ransomware attack. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that NRC Health says it's made significant progress in restoring services to customers. NRC Health offers performance measurement and management services for health care companies. Ransomware renders files inaccessible unless a computer user pays the cybercriminals to release them.

State officials have issued a warning for people in Nebraska who recently traveled to one of 10 countries that have experienced an outbreak of COVID-19 and are asking them to self-report to state or local public health officials. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday they were tracking the virus that originated in China. They're also seeking people who have traveled within the last 14 days to Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand or Vietnam.

Nebraska appears poised to allow college athletes to sign endorsement deals with sneaker companies, car dealerships and other sponsors after a measure cleared a major legislative hurdle. The measure advanced through the first of three required votes on Tuesday. It had bipartisan support in the officially nonpartisan Legislature. California last year became the first state to let college athletes use their status to make money. Other states are considering similar measures, though the NCAA has taken steps to address it on a national level.

The first clinical trial in the U.S. of a possible coronavirus treatment is underway in Nebraska and is eventually expected to include 400 patients at 50 locations around the world. Half the patients will receive the antiviral medicine remdesivir while the other half will receive a placebo. Several other studies are already underway internationally. Dr. Andre Kalil, who will oversee the study at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said Tuesday the clinical trial was developed quickly in response to the virus outbreak that is centered in China.

Some Nebraska lawmakers are expressing shock and outrage that gun owners were allowed to bring loaded, semi-automatic rifles into the state Capitol to protest bills that would have imposed new restrictions on gun ownership. Some lawmakers say they viewed the demonstration as an intimidation tactic during a contentious legislative hearing Friday afternoon that drew an estimated 400 protesters.

A wildlife biologist will present a program next month about people-powered science and wildlife observation. The presentation March 15 is part of a Sunday speaker series at Schramm Education Center. The presenter will be Alie Mayes, a biologist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Her program is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. at the center. It sits along Nebraska Highway 31 near the Platte River, about 6 miles south of Exit 432 off Interstate 80.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Omaha District says work crews have closed the final breach of a Missouri River levee in the far northwest corner of Missouri that broke open during massive flooding last year. The break just southwest of Rock Port was one of several along the levee section that saw thousands of rural acres submerged and a section of Interstate 29 and other roads in the region damaged and closed to traffic. The Corps says crews will continue restoring the levee section to its pre-flood height.

Officials say the 57 Americans who've been held in quarantine at a Nebraska National Guard camp left the location Thursday. They landed at Omaha's Eppley Airfield on Feb. 7, having flown from the Wuhan region of China. They soon were bused to Camp Ashland. On Thursday morning, all of those in quarantine left Camp Ashland and headed to the Omaha airport. During their stay, one woman who developed a cough was tested for the virus and was cleared. They've not been asked to wear masks or take any other health measures as they leave or once they arrive home.

Federal experts confirmed that 11 of 13 people evacuated to an Omaha hospital from a cruise ship in Japan have tested positive for COVID-19. The University of Nebraska Medical Center announced Thursday night that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had verified test results completed Monday by the Nebraska Public Health Lab. Ten of those people are being cared for at the National Quarantine Unit while three are in the nearby Nebraska Biocontaiment Unit. The medical center said only a few of the patients were showing symptoms of the disease.

Nebraska's pardons board has refused to pardon the murder conviction of the ex-girlfriend of Charles Starkweather, the infamous killer who went on a rampage in the 1950s. The board voted 3-0 Tuesday to deny the application from Caril Ann Clair, even though some relatives of Starkweather's victims lobbied in her favor. Clair. who was known as Caril Ann Fugate at the time, currently lives in Michigan. She was 14 when Starkweather, then 19, went on a killing spree in 1957-58 that left 11 people dead in Nebraska and Wyoming, including her mother, stepfather and baby half-sister.

Two state-run homes for Nebraska’s high-risk juvenile offenders are facing new scrutiny after a string of high-profile escapes and violence, including an outburst that sent two employees to the hospital after a group of boys beat them with pieces of a metal bed frame. The incidents at the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Centers in central Nebraska have escalated to the point that state officials are moving the most violent youths to separate facilities and lawmakers are proposing millions of dollars in facility upgrades to try to keep them and the adults who treat them safe.

Officials at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha say they have received 13 people from a cruise ship in Japan where coronavirus has spread as part of a larger group of American citizens brought back to the U.S. Chris Kratochvil, an executive director of the Global Center for Health Security at the medical center, says Monday that 12 of the people are in quarantine. They currently have no symptoms of the coronavirus. One man is in a bio-containment unit to receive a higher level of care.

An arctic cold front that descended upon eastern Nebraska and most of Iowa may have claimed an elderly victim. Omaha police say officers found the body of an 80-year-old man a little before 5:40 a.m. Thursday in a street not far from an assisted living center where he lived. Police say he was not dressed appropriately for the cold. The National Weather Service says the wind chill had dropped to minus 26 degrees (minus 32 Celsius) at that time. He's been identified as Robert Freymuller.

Nebraska legislators have given initial approval to a measure that would require law enforcement officers to undergo anti-bias training. The bill that received first-round approval Wednesday in a 43-0 vote could be the last major piece of legislation proposed by the state's longest-serving and best-known state senator, Ernie Chambers. The Omaha lawmaker designated it as his last official legislative priority in what could be his final year in office.

A bill designed to lower property taxes by boosting state aid for Nebraska's K-12 public schools has advanced out of a legislative committee but will still face opposition when lawmakers debate it. Members of the Revenue Committee voted 6-2 Wednesday to send the proposal to the full Legislature. The bill has won  support from farm and business groups, but some school districts have objected because they would lose some taxing authority and the bill would tighten state-imposed spending restrictions. Gov.

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society needs a new home for its 8,000-piece collection. The collection's been housed at the Union College library for the past 30 years. But the college has decided to turn the collection space into a student tutoring center. Michael George is the genealogical society president, and he told the Lincoln Journal Star the society has until mid-March to find a new place or the collection will go into storage.

Hormel Foods has confirmed that it will be opening a new manufacturing plant in the Omaha suburb of Papillion, bringing about 200 jobs to the area. The Omaha World-Herald reports that Papillion Foods LLC, an offshoot of Hormel, recently bought a former Shopko distribution center in Sarpy County that closed last year. Hormel says the center will undergo a $60 million renovation to convert it into a manufacturing plant for its food brands, which include Spam, Skippy peanut butter and Jennie-O turkeys. Hormel says it paid about $25 million for the building and the land it's on.

The Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles is warning residents of two phone scams targeting licensed Nebraska drivers. The first has callers claiming to represent Amazon or Apple warning that the targeted victim's account has been hacked. The caller then requests a photo of the front and back of the victim’s driver license to verify their identity, followed by a request for their bank information. The second phone scam is from a caller claiming to represent the FBI, who then requests a photo of the front and the back of the victim’s driver license followed by a demand for money.

All the bridges damaged during last spring's massive flooding in Nebraska have now been reopened. The Nebraska Department of Transportation said the Nebraska 13 bridge near Hadar in northeast Nebraska reopened Friday. The bridge about four miles north of Norfolk was the final one of 27 bridges damaged during last spring's flooding to reopen. The flooding last March caused the closure of 3,300 miles of highway in Nebraska. All of the highways affected by the flooding have been reopened. The Transportation Department says it spent $2.8 million to replace the Hadar bridge. 

A stretch of rural highway in eastern Nebraska that was closed by flooding has reopened.A 9-mile (14.5-kilometer) stretch of U.S. Highway 275 between Scribner and West Point had been closed Friday because ice jams had backed up the nearby Elkhorn River, causing the flooding. The Nebraska Transportation Department reopened the highway on Saturday.  

Nebraska lawmakers who want to minimize partisanship when they redraw the state's political boundaries will make one final push to change the process before it begins anew next year, but creating an independent commission to guide their work appears to be a lost cause. Barring any changes, the process that’s set to begin in the 2021 legislative session will follow the same rules that led to a bitter struggle between Republicans and Democrats during the last redistricting in 2011.

The Nebraska Capitol's public wireless internet was turned off temporarily after a “critical security breach" this week. Sen. Mike Hilgers, chairman of the Legislature's Executive Board, says the Wi-Fi was shut down to protect the state's network and the private information held by state lawmakers and other state officials. Hilgers says state officials don't know who caused the breach and were still investigating. He said the internet service would return as soon as it's safe.

A key state lawmaker says Nebraska’s severe prison overcrowding is only going to get worse over the next few years if state officials don’t take more aggressive steps to address the problem. Sen. Steve Lathrop, of Omaha, told a legislative committee Wednesday that the state’s prison population is projected to grow so fast that it will outpace the new beds that corrections officials are adding to try to ease pressure on their facilities. Lathrop made the remarks as he proposed a new, $52 million Omaha community corrections facility to members of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee.

Pages