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Omaha World Herald

Multiple explosions and a fire in an underground concrete electrical vault rocked downtown Omaha and forced the evacuation of a nearby hotel, but no injuries were reported. Authorities say the incident happened Monday night when a power transformer that sits under the sidewalk next to the Doubletree Hotel caught fire. Acting Omaha Fire Battalion Chief Mickey McLaughlin says explosions from the transformer continued after firefighters arrived, producing a large amount of smoke and flames coming from the sidewalk grates over the vault. The hotel was not damaged by the nearby fire.

Nebraska's COVID-19 vaccination eligibility opened to everyone in the state over the age of 16 yesterday, as positivity rates and hospitalizations are going up.  Governor Pete Ricketts says the number of people hospitalized with the virus rose last week after 18 weeks of decline.  He also says the state's positivity rate is above five percent for the first time in eight weeks. Last week, there was a 64 percent increase in cases in Douglas County compared to the previous week among people between the ages of 40 and 59. There was also a 58 percent jump in cases among people ages 20 and 39.

Omaha World Herald

Voters in Omaha will head to the polls Today for city primary elections that will whittle down the field of those in the mayoral race. Five candidates are vying for the post of mayor, while 29 candidates are seeking City Council seats. The top two candidates in each primary race advance to the May 11 general election. Among those seeking the top spot of mayor is incumbent Jean Stothert, a Republican seeking her third term in office who leads the field in fundraising, with more than $380,000 cash on hand.

The COVID-19 pandemic showed us just how fragile our local food systems are:
food supply chains were interrupted, jobs were lost, and families lined up for blocks around local pantries to receive food.  The Big Garden was able to help by growing roughly 15,000 pounds of nutrient-dense garden-fresh produce to distribute through local food pantries & food distribution programs.

This year, they are doubling the internship program so that they can grow even more food.
Donations will help them to strengthen local food systems by building more gardens,
teaching more school garden classes, planting more orchards, and growing more food for and with neighbors in need.

Cami Cavanaugh Rawlings is the Development Manager for The Big Garden.  In this two-part “Live & Local” interview with Mike Hogan, Cami details how the organization grows food and distributes this food the hungry families. 

For more information or to help them grow more food for the community, one can go to https://biggarden.org/

Lincoln Journal Star

A Lincoln business lobbyist and Republican operative has won confirmation to Nebraska’s state health board on despite criticism from a handful of Democratic lawmakers. Senators voted 37-7 to confirm Bud Synhorst to the state Board of Health. The board sets rules for a variety of health care professions, including doctors and nurses, and regulates the people who work in those fields.

Supermarket News

Nebraska will not participate in a vaccine passport program.  That's according to Governor Pete Ricketts, who made the announcement yesterday afternoon.  Ricketts says a vaccine passport program would go against the "freedom of movement and healthcare privacy." 


Blue Barn Theatre

 


KANEKO is hosting the 2021 Creative Camps this summer and they have expanded the age range of welcome campers!  They have also announced that the camp has moved to a 100% donation-based model to make Creative camps available to all learners in the community regardless of their financial ability.

Katherine Scarpello, Education Manager at KANEKO, chatted with Mike Hogan “Live & Local” to discuss the new financial terms, the additional grade levels that are welcome, and how one can get their children in this safe and socially distanced, creative summer camp.

Camps are held Monday - Friday 9 AM-4 PM, lunch and snacks are provided and camp t-shirts will also be provided for each camper.  More information is available at https://thekaneko.org/creative-camps/

Arbor Day Farm is 260 acres of natural beauty and outdoor exploration in Nebraska City, Nebraska. This National Historic Landmark—and the birthplace of Arbor Day, the tree planter’s holiday—is packed with fun and adventure for the whole family.  Krystl Knabe is the Event Marketing Manager and she spent a little time with Mike Hogan talking about all the activities at the farm as well as the Radler Bike Festival.

More information can be found at https://www.arbordayfarm.org/

Early In-Person Voting Deadline Soon For Omaha Primary

Mar 30, 2021
Civic Nebraska

Omaha's early in-person voting deadline is approaching.  Registered voters have until Monday, April 5th at 5:00 p.m. to cast an in-person ballot in advance of Omaha's primary election.   The Douglas County Election Commission office is offering extended office hours on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. for early voting.   Omaha's primary election is next Tuesday, April 6th. 

KIFI

Strong winds, warmer conditions and low humidity are combining to create a fire danger across several states, including parts of Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri. The National Weather Service has issued red flag watches and warnings for most of all four states on Monday. A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are present. The weather service says south to southwest winds of 15 to 30 mph, with gusts as high as 50 mph, are expected in areas covered by a red flag watch or warning. Outdoor burning is not recommended. 

The transmitter for KIOS-FM is having some work done on it to insure it continues to function.  So, it will be transmitting on "low power" for the next couple of days.  Some listeners may find the signal a little less clear than normal during that time.  We apologize for the inconvenience and want you to know that if you are able to listen at www.KIOS.org, the stream is coming through "loud and clear."

Thank you for your continued support!

After his 2017 performance to a sold-out Omaha audience, nationally renowned cellist Joshua Roman returns to the Holland Performing Arts Center stage – once again under the baton of Maestro Thomas Wilkins, the two join the Omaha Symphony to perform Saint-Saëns’ groundbreaking Concerto No. 1 in A minor for Cello and Orchestra.  The performances March 26 and 27 are Omaha’s chance not only to see one of the beloved Maestro’s final performances as Music Director of the Omaha Symphony, but also to see one of the United States’ greatest soloists in action.

In this two-part interview, Joshua shares some insights into his approach to music, fond memories of Maestro Wilkins, and much more with Mike Hogan on “Live & Local.”

For information or tickets to this socially distanced Holland Center performance, go to https://www.omahasymphony.org/concerts/wilkins-roman

Urban League Nebraska is building a resilient North Omaha through strategic partnerships, generous giving, and community engagement that helps clients navigate their challenges and negotiate solutions.

Their vision is to lead Nebraska in helping people achieve social equality, economic independence and personal growth. 

President and CEO, Thomas Warren, spent some time chatting with Mike Hogan on “Live & Local” about the Tech Boot Camp, an accelerated program that provides AIM Code School’s accredited Foundations of Web Development curriculum paired with the Urban League’s professional bootcamp and career-readiness skills training. 

For more information, or to sign up for an opportunity to become “career ready” go to https://urbanleagueneb.org/jobs/career-boot-camps/

Data Center Dynamics

Facebook is again expanding a data center it is building in the Omaha suburbs. The social media giant said Wednesday that it will spend an additional $400 million to add another 1 million square feet to the data center that is partly operational southwest of Omaha in Sarpy County. The company estimates that it will spend nearly $1.5 billion total on the project that will now expand from Papillion into Springfield and include 3.6 million square feet. When the project is completed in 2024, Facebook said the data center will employ roughly 300 people.

Washington Times

The top prosecutor serving Omaha and surrounding areas in Douglas County has convened a single grand jury to investigate more than a dozen in-custody deaths — including two people killed by Omaha police. The Omaha World-Herald reports that Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine is leading the process and that the unusually high number of case represents a backlog as courts sought to avoid convening jurors and others during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Among the cases the grand jury will consider is the Nov.

Wet Weather Leads To Wind Turbine Blade Obstructing I-80

Mar 24, 2021
WOWT

A turbine blade is to blame for stopping traffic on a Nebraska interstate.  The Sarpy County Sheriff's Office says a wind turbine blade slipped onto Interstate-80 near Gretna yesterday when the trailer carrying it went onto the shoulder.  Authorities closed westbound I-80 until the blade could be removed.  Officials say weather played a role in the accident. 

Omaha World Herald

Federal wildlife officials have confirmed that a gray wolf was shot and killed last fall in north-central Nebraska south of Bassett. The Omaha World-Herald reports that the 81-pound male wolf was shot Nov. 16 by a rancher checking on his livestock. Wildlife officials said the wolf had coloration like a coyote, but was much larger. The rancher told authorities he had recently lost three yearling calves to what he suspected were coyote attacks. The World-Herald learned of the killing through records it obtained from the U.S.

Nebraska 4H

Despite being much smaller than normal because of the coronavirus, last years Nebraska State Fair ended with nearly $1.8 million profit. That was an improvement of more than $1.5 million from the 2019 fair. An annual audit found the 2020 fair had revenue of $6.5 million, down nearly 37% from the previous year. But because the fair had no carnival and paid entertainment, expenses were only $3.7 million, about $7 million less than 2019. Auditors said with other factors considered, the fair had a net profit of about $1.8 million, compared to a nearly $1.5 million loss in 2019. 

The Omaha Community Playhouse has opened a new production called Fully Committed. The show, held in the Howard Drew Theatre at OCP, stars Josh Peyton.  This comedic tour de force has Josh portraying 40 larger-than-life characters!

Josh took a little time out of “talking to himself” to chat with Mike Hogan on “Live & Local” to discuss how he keeps all the voices in his head straight, how to approach the mechanics of the show and how excited he is to be in front of a live, socially distanced audience!

More information can be found at www.OmahaPlayhouse.com

Omaha World Herald

Residents of 12 units of an apartment complex in Omaha are out of their homes after a fire. The blaze broke out Saturday afternoon at the Fontenelle Hills Apartment complex. WOWT-TV reports that authorities believe improper disposal of smoking materials is to blame. The fire began in one of the units then spread into the attic and into other units, causing the roof to collapse. The building was constructed in the 1970s, before sprinklers were required. A few people were treating for smoke inhalation but no serious injuries were reported. The building was a total loss. 

legacy.com

A former longtime Nebraska state lawmaker has died at the age of 79. Dwite Pedersen of Omaha served in the Nebraska Legislature from 1993 to 2009. Pedersen was a leading advocate for alcohol and drug rehabilitation and worked with troubled youth and prison inmates. Pedersen represented the Elkhorn area of Omaha and ran unsuccessfully for Omaha City Council in 2017. He worked as a counselor focused on youth and was a recovered alcoholic who had been sober for 40 years. He also was known to help prison inmates, including those who rarely got visits from others. 

ABC13

Heating bills are showing up now in many rural Nebraska communities, and residents are shocked at what they’re seeing. The Omaha World-Herald reports that bills for residents of Pender that are typically $200 to $250 ballooned to $900 because of the cold stretch in February that caused a spike in wholesale natural gas prices due to high demand and a lack of supply. Utilities that had to buy gas during that period got burned. Municipal governments are also are feeling the shock.

Fremont Tribune

Nebraska will move to its next coronavirus vaccination phase today with a focus on residents who are 50 to 64 years old and those with certain health conditions. Gov. Pete Ricketts says the change will apply to the entire state, unlike previous phases where the transition has taken place by public health district. Under the new phase, 90% of doses are required to go to residents in the 50-to-64 age group or people who qualified under previous phases. The remaining 10% will go to people with health conditions that are chosen by local doctors and public health officials in each region.

Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease that has touched the lives of all of us.  There are several fronts to battle this insidious illness: the search for a cure, improving treatments, caring for those afflicted, and caring for the caretakers.

Terry Streetman is the director of Public Policy and Advocacy for the Alzheimer’s Association-Nebraska Chapter.  On a daily basis, Terry is working hard to make sure Alzheimer’s issues are front and center in the minds of our government leaders.  In this two-part interview with Mike Hogan, Terry discusses how he leads the charge, tells us about progress, and what needs to happen next.

For more information on Alzheimer’s resources, one can go to the website https://www.alz.org/nebraska/about_us/staff

The Omaha STEM Ecosystem, a not-for-profit, is offering free resources online.  The Omaha STEM Ecosystem and AIM Institute announced the launch of the online STEM Community Platform. The mission of the STEM Community Platform, stemplatform.org, connects youth, parents, educators and professionals to an online hub of high-quality STEM programs, resources and events in the Greater Omaha area.   

Julie Sigmon, the director of The Omaha STEM Ecosystem, joined Mike Hogan on the “Live & Local” program to discuss these free resources, the importance of STEM education, and the partnership with AIM.

Omaha Daily Record

Home prices in Omaha are on the rise despite the ongoing pandemic.  The Housing Price Project at the University of Nebraska at Omaha shows the average price of single-family home rose by more than ten-percent in 2020. That's a nearly eight percent jump compared to the previous 20 years. 

 

BBC

Nebraska health officials say a variant of the coronavirus first found in Brazil has been found in Omaha. The Omaha World-Herald reports that the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed two people in Douglas County have tested positive for the so-called Brazil P.1 variant. That strain is believed to be responsible for a surge in hospitalizations in Brazil even though many people there had already developed COVID-19 and made antibodies against it.

Omaha Police Chief Defers Retirement

Mar 18, 2021
Omaha World Herald

Omaha's police chief wants to stay on the job. Chief Todd Schmaderer is deferring his retirement eligibility and wants to continue in his role for up to five more years. Mayor Jean Stothert's office made the announcement on Wednesday.  Schmaderer was eligible to retire last month after 25 years on the force in Omaha. He's been chief of police since 2012.

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