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The owner of the defunct Nebraska Auto Auction business has been charged with fraudulently financing more than $1 million worth of vehicles. Prosecutors charged 63-year-old Mark Cooley with theft by deception and he made his initial appearance in court on Wednesday. Lincoln Police said in court documents that Cooley improperly financed 80 vehicles worth $1,0430,220 between 2017 and 2019 with fraudulent information. Police said most of the vehicles had already been purchased by dealerships or financed by another company before Cooley borrowed money on them.

Gov. Pete Ricketts has named an engineering firm executive as the new director of the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources. Thomas Riley, of Eagle, will head the agency starting Nov 1. Riley serves as president of the Flatwater Group, a company he founded with offices in Lincoln and Imperial. The firm specializes in water resources engineering, restoration design and environmental engineering. Riley is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he received a bachelor of science in civil engineering and a master of science in civil engineering.

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Lincoln Police closed down a bowling alley this weekend for violating the city’s coronavirus restrictions after the owner vowed to fight the rules requiring people to wear masks in public places. On Saturday, Lincoln Police enforced the local health department’s order to close Madsen’s Bowling & Billiards for violating restrictions related to the coronavirus outbreak. Officials have said that employees at Madsen’s Bowling & Billiards weren’t wearing face coverings, patrons were told that masks were optional and people weren’t far enough apart.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for Lincoln yesterday in response to high temperatures. The advisory goes into effect when the heat index is from 100 to 104 degrees and there is a possibility of heat-related illnesses. To combat the hot weather, the CDC says to stay hydrated and wear light-colored clothing.

Lincoln Journal Star

Nebraska residents are showing their support for people who work in the meatpacking industry.  Union members, community advocates and church groups were among those who rallied outside the state Capitol yesterday. Demonstrators called on state lawmakers to take steps to protect meatpacking workers from the COVID-19 pandemic by requiring companies to provide protective gear, ensure social distancing and other measures.  

Million-Dollar Lottery Ticket Purchased in Lincoln

Jul 28, 2020

One lucky Lincoln resident is the winner of a million-dollar Lottery prize. Nebraska Lottery confirmed a ticket sold during Saturday's 117-million-dollar Powerball draw matched the first five numbers of the winning ticket. Officials said it was bought at the Fast Mart on North 27th Street. Nebraska Lottery says players should check their tickets and report them to Nebraska Lottery to claim their prize.

Ricketts Moves To Challenge Lincoln Mask Order

Jul 20, 2020
Lincoln Journal Star

Lincoln and Lancaster County's mask-wearing mandate is facing a possible challenge from Nebraska's top elected official.  Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts' office says the governor is considering all available legal options in challenging the mask order. A spokesperson for Ricketts says the governor encourages the use of masks in appropriate situations, but he disagrees with Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird's public mask order, which runs until August 31st.

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.

Demonstrations are continuing in Omaha in response to the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.  Hundreds gathered in the Old Market yesterday for a fourth day of protests, and Deputy Police Chief Ken Kanger joined demonstrators in a march.  At one point, someone threw a water bottle at officers and pepper balls were deployed.  Police say there were two gun-related arrests, and at least a dozen others were taken into custody. Omaha, Bellevue, La Vista, Springfield and Papillion all announced 8:00 p.m. curfews;  Lincoln implemented a 9:00 p.m.

A State of Emergency is issued in Omaha as protests continue in response to the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.  Mayor Jean Stothert announced the State of Emergency yesterday and it will last for 72 hours.  Omaha also implemented an 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. curfew that started last night.  Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has activated the National Guard to help maintain peace in Omaha. Demonstrations took place yesterday in North Omaha and the Old Market.  The North Omaha rally at the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation ended before the 8:00 p.m.

State health officials reported one additional death from COVID-19 in Nebraska yesterday. There are now 164 deaths from the virus in the state, and 13-thousand-261 confirmed cases. The Department of Health and Human Services says 41-percent of hospital beds and 79-percent of ventilators are available. Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird announced yesterday that she will allow some local restaurants to expand their outdoor dining areas. Baird said she will take emergency action to give the restaurants the opportunity to increase their capacity while maintaining social distancing guidelines.

Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird says Lancaster County will begin easing COVID-19 restrictions on Monday. The mayor says a new Directed Health Measure will match guidelines set by Governor Ricketts earlier this week, including allowing restaurants to reopen indoor dining rooms at 50-percent capacity. Services including beauty salons and tattoo parlors can also open as long as they follow safety restrictions put out by the state. Baird said she asked the state to extend the current order past May Eleventh, but decided to keep Lincoln in line with the governor's guidelines.

Lincoln Public Schools has announced it will pay $80,000 to provide Wi-Fi hotspots for students without internet access at home who are now having to learn remotely as schools have closed to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Lincoln Journal Star says the district is paying AT&T Mobility Holdings for the two months of data through 1,000 phones provided by the company at no cost. LPS chief technology officer Kirk Langer says the phones will provide up to 100 gigabytes of data a month to allow students to access Google Classroom through their school-provided laptops.

One Hour Covid-19 Test Results In Lincoln

Apr 24, 2020

Bryan Health is reporting a major breakthrough in COVID-19 testing for Lincoln patients. Officials say the healthcare system now has the ability to get in-house test results back in one hour. The organization says the one-hour test will be reserved at this time for patients who are in-house, coming from nursing facilities, healthcare workers and first responders.

Police say someone threw a rock through a window of the downtown Lincoln headquarters of the Nebraska Republican Party _ the fourth act of vandalism at the office in two years. The state party’s executive director, Ryan Hamilton, said three people were inside Wednesday when the brick went through a window in his office. Hamilton was not in the office. Lincoln police spokeswoman Officer Erin Spilker said evidence did not indicate the vandalism was related to a political statement.

Lincoln Nonprofits Awarded Grants To Combat Coronavirus

Apr 13, 2020

Nonprofit organizations in Lincoln are being awarded grants to help fight the coronavirus.  Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird says 189-thousand-dollars in Lincoln COVID-19 response fund grants were awarded to 12 nonprofit groups. Organizations that will receive the grants include the Center for People in Need, Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska, Lincoln Literacy and the Northeast Family Center.

LLCHD Suggests Mask Use As Covid-19 Cases Rise In Lincoln

Apr 7, 2020

More than a dozen new COVID-19 cases are reported in Lincoln.  The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department announced yesterday that an additional 13 cases had been confirmed.  Six of the cases involve community spread, four of the cases are travel-related and three cases are under investigation.   Thirty-one COVID-19 cases have been reported in Lancaster County since the pandemic began.

Drive-Thru Coronavirus Clinic Open In Lincoln

Mar 25, 2020
Bryan Health

Nebraska's first drive-through coronavirus clinic is open in Lincoln.  The screening clinic in the parking lot of Bryan Health's LifePoint Urgent Care Center opened Tuesday afternoon.  Officials say the clinic can accommodate about 12 to 15 patients per hour.  The clinic tested more than 50 patients as of 3/24.

For more information on the Drive-Thru Clinic, please visit bryanhealth.org/drivethru

Nebraska lawmakers have taken a major step toward increasing transparency and accountability in state-run juveniles homes following an outbreak of violence, vandalism and escapes. Lawmakers on Tuesday gave initial approval to measures that would require state officials to create a long-term operations plan for how to safely run the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Centers in Geneva, Kearney and Lincoln.

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.

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.

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.

Lincoln Airport Receives $800,000 Grant

Feb 20, 2020

The Lincoln Airport is getting over 800-thousand dollars from the U.S. Department of Transportation.  The DOT recently announced about ten-point-seven-million dollars in infrastructure grants to 18 Nebraska airports.  The DOT says Lincoln will use about 450-thousand dollars to update the airport master plan and 360-thousand on snow removal equipment.

 

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.

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.

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.

Lawmaker Proposes Train System

Jan 15, 2020

A Nebraska lawmaker is proposing a new train system to link the state's two largest cities.  State Senator Adam Morfeld unveiled a proposal yesterday that calls for building a train system between Lincoln and Omaha.  Morfeld says a train system would boost each city's economy and help attract jobs.  The proposal also calls for a study to be conducted to determine the cost and economic impact of the project.

 

Electronic cigarette use is now prohibited in places of employment and indoor public places in Lincoln. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that the ordinance change approved by the City Council Dec. 16 went into effect Wednesday with the start of the new year. Violation is a misdemeanor, but police and the county health department will not immediately issue citations. For the first few months of 2020, the health department will instead respond to complaints of e-cigarette violations by providing educational materials.

Students may receive two bachelor’s degrees from two Nebraska colleges after four years in a new biology and agriculture program. Wayne State College and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln announced the program earlier this month. Students can earn a life sciences degree with a concentration in biology from Wayne and an applied science degree with concentrations in agriculture and natural resources from the Lincoln university.

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