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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.

As part of the Generator Series, Omaha Under the Radar presents “How are you, really?” a virtual program of films set to new, original scores exploring health in one of our most difficult years in memory.  The program features original film scores by composers from the United States, Mexico, and India.  One video looks at how mugger crocodiles and people manage to live in close proximity in Western India.  Another explores sexuality, sanity and family pressures set to film clips from a 1919 Mexican film, El Automovil Gris (The Gray Car).  Another is an original score created for a 1947 educational film teaching about hygiene and how to avoid illness. 

Curator Stacey Barelos checked in with Mike Hogan to discuss the program and the work that went into collaborating during a pandemic. 

More information on the program can be found at the website www.undertheradaromaha.com or you can view the program at

River-Spanning Road Repair Project Begins

Mar 17, 2021
AARoads

A major bridge repair project is underway in the Omaha area.  The project to repair the Interstate-480 bridge between Council Bluffs and Omaha began yesterday as crews started working to set up a temporary lane.  Officials say the 40-million-dollar project will last about two-and-a-half years. 

Ponca Hills Fireman Laid To Rest With Honors

Mar 17, 2021
Washington County Enterprise

A fallen firefighter is laid to rest.  A procession took place yesterday to honor the life of Dennis Bender, who died last week while fighting a grass fire near Fort Calhoun.  Hundreds of first responders and law enforcement took part in the procession, and residents lined the route near the cemetery.  The Ponca Hills Fire Station also posted a sign thanking Bender for 50 years of service. 

Marietta Daily Journal

Omaha’s mayor says she’ll return to work and seek reelection after her husband, a prominent local surgeon, died earlier this month from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Mayor Jean Stothert on Tuesday thanked the public and her campaign opponents for their support following the death of her husband, Dr. Joseph Stothert. She says he would have wanted her to continue as mayor and recalled how he joined her door-knocking campaigns, her town hall events and her annual State of the City addresses. She says her children, Elizabeth Leddy and Dr. Andrew Stothert, have also encouraged her to run.

Sarah Lynn Brown has put together a non-traditional adaptation of Shakespeare’s most complex political villain, Richard III, which will be presented by an ensemble of three actors- all of whom share the title role among them. The show is called R3³ and it is at BLUEBARN Theatre right now.

Sarah took the time to chat with Mike Hogan on the “Live & Local” program about how she wrote the show and the great performers she directs in it.  The show can be seen live or streamed in the comfort of your own home.

More information can be found at http://bluebarn.org/

Nebraska state tax collections soared far above projections in February, but the numbers are likely to come back down in the next few months. The Nebraska Department of Revenue reported net tax receipts last month of $449 million, which is 96% higher than the certified forecast of $229 million. The surge was driven by net corporate income tax collections that were nearly 602% higher than expected and individual income tax collections that were nearly 164% above projections.

Covid Emergency Remains In Effect For Lincoln

Mar 16, 2021
Lincoln Journal Star

The city of Lincoln's COVID emergency declaration is staying in place.  City council members voted six-to-one yesterday against a motion to end the emergency.   Lincoln's emergency declaration has been in effect since March 2020, and supporters say it allows cities to get resources including personal protective equipment and reimbursement from the federal governor in a shorter period of time.

KKTV

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is railing against a proclamation by the governor of Colorado that encourages people to avoid meat for one day a week, calling it a “direct attack on our way of life” and signing a pro-meat declaration of his own. Ricketts surrounded himself with top officials from Nebraska’s meat, agricultural and restaurant industries on Monday as he declared Saturday “Meat on the Menu Day” in Nebraska. The day was chosen to coincide with Colorado’s “MeatOut Day,” a nonbinding proclamation signed by Gov. Jared Polis late last month and backed by an animal rights group.

Tony Wendice has married his wife, Margot, for her money and now plans to murder her for the same reason.  He arranges the perfect murder.  And it's never that easy in the suspense thriller "Dial 'M' for Murder" now playing at the Bellevue Little Theatre.

Actress Laureen Pickle plays the wealthy Margot who finds herself a potential murder victim, then a suspect, and fighting for her life on death row!   Laureen spent some time with Mike Hogan on the "Live & Local" to discuss this production, having two "gorgeous" leading men in the COVID era, and the thrill of safely performing in front of a live audience again.

More information can be found at http://bellevuelittletheatre.weebly.com/

Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte was the first Native American doctor in the United States.  She was also a reformer in the late 19th century.  She campaigned for public health and for the formal, legal allotment of land to members of the Omaha tribe. In addition, she started a hospital on the reservation in Walthill, Nebraska that needs some restoration help today.

Joe Starita is a journalism professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and he joined Mike Hogan “Live & Local” for a two-part chat about the amazing life, achievements, and work that Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte accomplished in her short life.

More information about this incredible woman, her hospital and its renovation can be found at  https://drsusancenter.org/

Lincoln Journal Star

Nebraska officials are speaking out against a bill that could legalize medical marijuana in the state.  Governor Pete Ricketts, Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley and former University of Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne hosted a news conference yesterday to voice their opposition to the proposal.  Ricketts mentioned several young people who died after consuming marijuana products.  Osborne noted that he has mentored people whose lives have been negatively impacted by the drug.

More than 250,000 people have signed up for a coronavirus vaccination on Nebraska’s official registration website, but state officials say they want more and urged residents to add their names. State officials want residents to sign up online at vaccinate.ne.gov or through a toll-free hotline at 833-998-2275. The state is currently working to vaccinate residents who are at least 65 years and older, but the next phase will focus on people ages 50 to 64 and those with certain underlying health conditions.

Biden Marks 1 Year Of Coronavirus Pandemic

Mar 10, 2021
Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, March 11th at 7 p.m. CST, President Biden is giving the first prime-time address of his presidency to mark one year of the coronavirus pandemic, a day after Congress passed a massive relief package. More than 500,000 people have died from the virus in the U.S.  Watch or listen to President Biden's address here.

Sarpy County Moves To Oust Treasurer

Mar 10, 2021
Omaha World Herald

The Sarpy County Commission is moving forward with legal action to remove County Treasurer Brian Zuger from office.  The commission's vote comes after the Nebraska State Auditor released a report that identified numerous issues in the Sarpy County Treasurer's Office that impacted more than 12-point-five-million-dollars in public funds.  According to the report, some districts were either overpaid or underpaid in property tax disbursements. 

Covid Variants Now Confirmed In NE

Mar 10, 2021
NBC

Nebraska health officials continue to identify more cases of different variants of the coronavirus in the state. The state said Monday that five cases of the variant first identified in the United Kingdom and 14 cases of a variant first identified in California have now been confirmed. Both of those variants of the virus are believed to be more easily transmitted. State officials said they expect to receive 82,430 doses of the vaccines this week.

March is colorectal cancer awareness month.  In fact, the governor’s office finds the topic so important, the governor himself issued a proclamation officially naming March "Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month."

Joining Mike Hogan in a two-part “Live & Local” discussion is Dr. Josh Evans.  Dr. Evans specializes in gastroenterology and is involved with the Nebraska Cancer Coalition, the nonprofit organization behind the "Dress in Blue Day" and Colon Cancer Awareness efforts.  He breaks down the steps that you can take to not only detect colorectal cancer early (increasing chances of survival) but actually preventing any colorectal cancer from developing in the first place.

For more information, visit the Nebraska Colon Cancer Screening Program website, call (800) 532-2227, www.coloncancertaskforce.org or go to https://www.necancer.org/.

Loessfest Cancelled Again

Mar 9, 2021
loessfest.com

An annual celebration in Council Bluffs is cancelled for the second year in a row.  City officials have announced that the Loessfest celebration has been called off again.  Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh says the event was cancelled because officials weren't sure where the city would be by Memorial Day of this year, and acts must be booked several months in advance.  Loessfest has been held at Council Bluffs' River's Edge Park since 2013. 

Mayor Suspends Re-election Campaign In Wake Of Tragedy

Mar 9, 2021

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert is putting her reelection campaign on hold temporarily.  Stothert's office announced yesterday that the mayor is pausing all campaign activities following the death of her husband.  Dr. Joe Stothert was found dead on Friday at the family's home in southwest Omaha, and no foul play is suspected. 

Omaha World Herald

Roughly 5,000 teachers from the Omaha area received their coronavirus vaccine shots this weekend. The Douglas County Health Department held two large vaccination clinics Saturday at Millard North and Omaha North high schools to distribute doses of the new Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine to educators. Tim Royers, president of the Millard Education Association, praised the mass vaccination effort. Royers said he’s optimistic all educators in Douglas County could be vaccinated by the end of next weekend. 

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