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State health officials announced 198 new cases of COVID-19 in Nebraska yesterday. There are now 20,623 confirmed cases of the virus in the state, and 284 deaths. Hospital capacity is currently at 41 percent, and 78 percent of ventilators are available. Meanwhile, the number of people filing new unemployment claims in Nebraska surged last week to its highest level in nearly two months. The U.S. Department of Labor says 6,143 people filed initial claims for benefits during the week that ended July 4. That’s a roughly 46% increase over the 4,203 new claims from the prior week.

A Nebraska egg processing company has agreed to invest $2 million in upgrades to its facility to limit pollution and pay an $827,500 fine as part of a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency and the state. The EPA said that Henningsen Foods has installed equipment at its facility near David City, Nebraska, to reduce the amount of pollutants in the wastewater it sends to the city’s treatment plant. The pollutants are byproducts of egg processing and a cleaning solution used at the facility.

Durham Museum Prepares To Gradually Reopen

Jul 8, 2020
Visit Omaha

The Durham Museum is welcoming back guests after nearly four-months. The museum tweeted to announce they will reopen next weekend for museum members only. They'll open to the general public August 1st. More information and hours can be found at durhammuseum.org.

KOLN

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.

State Covid Total Exceeds 20,000; Testing Centers In Flux

Jul 7, 2020

There are now more than 20-thousand COVID-19 cases in Nebraska.  As of yesterday, there had been 20-thousand-46 cases and 283 deaths reported statewide during the pandemic.  Douglas County leads the state with 75-hundred coronavirus cases. The Douglas County Health Department and the University of Nebraska Medical Center closed the COVID-19 testing site at 50th and G streets on July 4th due to a shortage of lab supplies.   Officials say the manufacturer is sending supplies to states where COVID-19 cases are surging. A new Test Iowa site is opening in Council Bluffs this week.

Protestors Call For Iowa State Capitol Statuary's Removal

Jul 6, 2020

Activists are calling for the removal of multiple monuments at the Iowa State Capitol.  Some activists say the monuments represent a history of racism and violence against native Americans.  One of the pieces is a statue called Pioneer which depicts a Native American at the feet of a white settler.  The protestors are also asking for the Christopher Columbus monument to be removed.

Ricketts Extends DMV Renewal Deadline

Jul 3, 2020

Governor Pete Ricketts extended the DMV renewal deadline again yesterday. The governor issued an executive order that gives Nebraskans until August 31 to renew their car registrations, titles, and driver's licenses. Ricketts issued an order in May that extended the DMV renewal deadline for people 72 and older by a year.

OPD Investigating Hateful Graffiti Found At Zorinsky Lake

Jul 2, 2020
Fox 42 News

Omaha police are investigating a possible hate crime.  City officials learned on Monday that swastikas and other racist symbols and language were painted on the grass at Zorinsky Lake Park.  Mayor Jean Stothert says city crews immediately removed the graffiti.  Stothert says the city's new hate intimidation ordinance could apply in the case, and anyone convicted could receive an increased sentence.

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.

**UPDATE: The entire interview has been posted below.  It has been broken into three segments for ease of listening during your schedule.

A candid Mayor Stothert discusses the pandemic, the protests, the riots, and what she and her office are doing to drive change in Omaha.

Thursday, July 2nd at noon, from the studios at 33rd and Burt, a special, extended installment of “Live & Local.” 

Host Mike Hogan gets to sit down for an hour with the current and first woman mayor of the city of Omaha, Jean Stothert.   That will be broadcast live at noon and posted online after the broadcast.  You can listen at 91.5 FM or just click the “Play” button above.

Storm Chasers Cancel 2020 Season

Jul 1, 2020

The Omaha Storm Chasers will not be taking the field this year.  Minor League Baseball announced yesterday that it is canceling the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  In addition, Major League Baseball also announced that it would not provide its minor league affiliates with any players this year.  The Storm Chasers are still planning to stage its fireworks show at Werner Park on Friday.

Protestors Stage Sit-In At Mayor's Office

Jul 1, 2020
WOWT

Protesters are making their voices heard in Omaha.  A group called the Progressive Black Led Allied Coalition sat in protest outside Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert's office yesterday.  Demonstrators say their goal is to get justice for all people.  The demands include the arrest of Jake Gardner, who was released from police custody after the killing of James Scurlock during a protest as well as having all charges dropped against protestors who violated curfew.

Douglas County officials are providing residents with financial help.  The county board voted yesterday to set aside four-million-dollars in CARES Act money for utility assistance for residents who are behind in the bills because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The vote comes as the Omaha Public Power District plans to mail disconnect notices starting today.

Weekend Obscured By Saharan Dust Cloud

Jun 30, 2020

A dust cloud from the Saharan Desert is leaving the Omaha area today.  The Environmental Protection Agency ranked dust in Nebraska and western Iowa high enough to advise those sensitive to air pollution to stay indoors Sunday.  The Air Quality Index shows the cloud particle matter reached 140, just ten points under what's considered unhealthy for people with lung and heart conditions.

There are now more than 19-thousand COVID-19 cases in Nebraska.  As of yesterday, there were 19-thousand-42 COVID-19 cases and 269 deaths reported across the state since the pandemic started.  Douglas County has seen seven-thousand-19 cases.  There have been 741 coronavirus cases in Pottawattamie County during the pandemic, and 17-hundred in Lancaster County.

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.

Lincoln Journal Star

The number of COVID-19 cases in Nebraska is approaching 19-thousand.  As of yesterday, there were 18-thousand-899 cases and 267 deaths reported statewide.   Douglas County has seen the most coronavirus cases in the state with nearly seven-thousand. State health figures show the number of hospital beds available in Nebraska has dropped below 40% as the state continues to see more COVID-19 cases confirmed. The state's online coronavirus tracker shows that as of Thursday, 2,330 of the state's total 3,834 hospital beds were occupied. That left 1,504, or 39%, of hospital beds available.

The following is a letter from Omaha Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Logan to the OPS staff.  Near the bottom of the letter is a link to live stream a presentation to the Board of Education tonight at 6:30 p.m.

To Our Omaha Public Schools Staff:

When early August arrives, more than five months will have passed since we last learned with students in-person. We have actively planned for a responsible reopening of our schools throughout the spring and summer. Your safety and care will continue to be at the forefront. You bring education to life for our young people.

Stothert Announces Investigation Into Cafe Closure

Jun 26, 2020

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert is calling for an investigation into protests that led to the closure of a restaurant.  Stothert announced yesterday that police are looking into allegations that protesters pounded on the windows of the 11-Worth Cafe, blocked traffic and attempted to extort money from the owners.  The restaurant near 24th and Leavenworth closed after protests earlier this month.  

DCS Prepares For Visitations Despite Overcrowding Crisis

Jun 26, 2020

The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services says inmates will soon be able to visit with friends and family.  DCS officials say social-distancing will be maintained, face-masks will be required, and visitors will be have to undergo a health-screening.  They're still working out the details but hope to resume visitation the week of July 13th. Nebraska prisons are far exceeding capacity and director Scott Frakes announced he will certify an overcrowding emergency on July 1st because the state's prisons are currently at 151-percent.

In The Wake Of Protests; Reforms Within OPD

Jun 26, 2020

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and Chief of Police Todd Schmaderer are announcing changes within the city's police department.  Officers are now forbidden from using their knee to pin a person down by their neck.  They're also required to intervene and report when a fellow officer is not taking the appropriate actions.  The updated policy was announced yesterday.  Officer training will begin next month.

Be a Part of the KIOS-FM Team!

Jun 25, 2020

Be a part of the KIOS-FM team!  We have an open position for a Producer/Host.  Check the link below for all the details on the job position and application. 

Now you can support public radio with your talents…And get paid!

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.

Pandemic Leads To Record-Setting Fuel Tax

Jun 24, 2020

Nebraska's state motor fuels tax is expected to reach a new record high.  The "Omaha World Herald" reports that starting July 1st, the motor fuels tax will reach 33-point-two-cents per gallon, which marks an increase of nearly four cents.  State officials say the higher tax is needed to offset a loss of revenues to the state road-building fund due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nebraska Covid Total Surpasses 18,000

Jun 24, 2020

The number of COVID-19 cases in Nebraska is now more than 18-thousand.  Officials confirmed 135 new cases yesterday, bringing the statewide total to 18-thousand-92.  Douglas County has seen the most COVID-19 cases in Nebraska with more than 64-hundred.

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.

Omaha Parks Director Resigns To Head Nonprofit

Jun 22, 2020

The city of Omaha is looking for a new parks department director.  Omaha Parks Director Brook Bench resigned on Saturday and will lead a new philanthropic organization dedicated to park development.  Bench has led the Omaha Parks Department since being named director on an interim basis in 2011.  He plans to leave the parks department later this summer.

State health officials announced 189 new cases of COVID-19 in Nebraska yesterday. There are now 17,415 confirmed cases of the virus in the state, and 240 deaths. The Department of Health and Human Services says 42 percent of hospital beds and 80 percent of ventilators are available. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts says counties that require masks in government offices will not be eligible for coronavirus relief funds.

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