Category Archives: Regional News

All Quiet on the Fischer Front as Money Rolls In

Omaha, NE.—It’s been nearly two weeks since Steve Bannon targeted Sen. Deb Fischer for defeat next year, two weeks of deafening silence from any possible opponents.

Privately there are at least four GOP names making the rounds: State Treasurer Don Stenberg, former State Treasurer Shane Osborn, State Sen. Mike Groene and Charles Herbster, who made a brief run for governor in 2013 and served as an agriculture adviser to President Trump during the 2016 campaign.

President Trump and Charles Herbster

News Channel Nebraska has been unable to reach any of them for comment.

In the meantime Fischer’s fundraising continues to roll up big dollars. Fischer holding a $3.5 million lead over Democrat Jane Raybould, according to the latest figures from the Federal Election Commission.

As of the end of September, Fischer—who has been collecting cash since 2013— had raised $3.7 million, spent $1.7 million and had nearly $2.1 million cash on hand.

Raybould—who started raising money when she announced her campaign in August—had raised $141,000, spent $24,000 and had nearly $117,000 cash on hand. Raybould’s fundraising includes a $25,000 loan “made by candidate.”

While all this is going on Politico reports that President Trump called Fischer this week and promised to back her against any challenger. Politico says Fischer would not comment on private conversations with the president.

During an October 9 on-camera interview Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, said he is “declaring war” on the Republican establishment and called Fischer out by name.

According to Bannon, “Even safe incumbents like…Deb Fischer—they have to understand something. Just voting is not good enough. You have to have a sense of urgency….We are coming after all of them and we are going to win.”

During an exclusive August interview with News Channel Nebraska, Fischer put little if any daylight between herself and President Trump.

NCN: Your Republican colleague from Tennessee, Sen. Corker recently said the President lacks the stability needed to deal with a crises. Do you agree that the President lacks some stability?

Sen. Fischer: I’ve been impressed with President Trump’s administration.

Fischer’s only opponent so far is Lincoln Democrat Jane Raybould.

Stenberg and Osborn have both run and lost Senate races. Groene was elected to the Legislature in 2014. Herbster is considered to be a candidate wealthy enough to fund his own campaign.

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Joe can be heard Tuesday’s 7:10 a.m. KLIN Lincoln; Wednesday’s 8 a.m. KUTT Fairbury ; Thursday’s 7-8 a.m. US92 and 8-9 a.m. KNEN Norfolk and 8:55 a.m KBIE 103.1 Nebraska City.

Lincoln TV Tower Collapses

Lincoln, NE— There are technical difficulties galore but no injuries following the collapse of a TV tower in north Lincoln.

The 500 foot tower located in an open field near 27th and Superior came crashing down about 8 o’clock this morning.

The cause of the collapse is not known but, according to one report, some witnesses heard popping noises just before the crash.

Several TV stations including News Channel Nebraska (27.1) and Telemundo Nebraska (27.2) have been knocked off the air.

“Thankfully, no one was injured,” said NCN/Telemundo owner Mike Flood. “We look forward to returning our signal to air and appreciate our viewers’ patience.”

Nebraska School Districts Face Substitute Teacher Shortage

NORFOLK — School districts are searching for the sweet spot. They want the right number of substitute teachers. Not too many so they don’t get enough work and not too few where they where they’re scrambling to occupy a classroom.

Norfolk Public Schools, and Nebraska in general, have been missing the sweet spot.

“The numbers have declined a little bit,” NPS Director of Human Resources and School Accreditation Mike Hart said. “But also, the expectations about what we want to put in front of our kids has also continued to increase because we’re not satisfied putting just anybody in front of our kids.”

Director of Human Resources and School Accreditation Mike Hart says the substitute shortage has grown in the last five years and forced the school district to get creative. They looked at raising sub pay and tried to improve the substitute experience. In their last school board meeting, the district approved a plan to hire a full-time substitute teacher.

Hart hopes a full-time sub would help the District know what they could expect from that teacher every day.

“This particular individual would be someone that would – we would guarantee that everyday we have a place for you,” Hart said. “But everyday we just don’t know where that’s going to be and sometimes it will be at the last minute.”

The shortage is statewide, with the Nebraska Department of Education addressing the problem by doubling the number of days a local substitute teacher could work.

But the issue doesn’t hit Norfolk’s surrounding communities as hard. Pierce Public Schools Superintendent Kendall Steffensen says they don’t have a problem because there are several retired teachers who live in the district.

“We don’t want an interruption to our teaching and our learning,” Steffensen said. “Pierce is fortunate to have retired teachers who have spent 30-plus years in the classroom. So we’re very confident that our teaching and learning continues.”

Steffensen did say he considered the full-time sub approach while working at a school in Kansas.

Judiciary Committee Hears Need For More Nebraska Community Corrections Centers

LINCOLN – A former state senator today urged lawmakers to support the establishment of community work release centers across Nebraska.

Dwite Pedersen is a drug and alcohol counselor.   He testified before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, on a study proposed by Senator Anna Wishart reviewing work detail and work release efforts.

He told the committee, “we’ve got a mess”, and the state needs work release centers.  He said the state is spending big money on locking people up.

:31                  “they don’t come back”

Pedersen said when the state built the Tecumseh State Correctional facility, it already had two such prisons but not enough maximum security prisoners to fill one.

:14                  “few employees”

Senator Anna Wishart says the state should look at other potential community facilities, such as county jails….and better utilize the state’s Work Ethic Camp in McCook.

:07                  “efficiencies”

Nebraska Inspector General for Corrections, Doug Koebernick said some states are establishing smaller community that allow inmates to be closer to their communities, getting support in transitioning out of prison, and toward a job.

Nebraska has two community corrections centers, in Lincoln and Omaha.

:26                  “overcrowded condition”

State Senator Bob Krist, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said the suggestions for community corrections centers were brought up two years ago, and are known to Corrections Director Scott Frakes.

:38                  “two years, too long”

Jerall Moreland with the State Ombudsman’s Office urged the Department of Corrections to enhance job skills training and focus on so-called soft skills for those transitioning from prison to society.  He also said employability skills should be provided earlier in an inmate’s sentence structure.

NSC: Seat Belt Usage in Nebraska Reaches All-Time High

LINCOLN – The Nebraska Safety Council says seat belt usage in Nebraska has reached an all-time high in 2017.

The NSC reports that seat belt usage is currently at 86 percent amongst Nebraska, according to NSC data. The closest it has been to the 86 percent dates back to 2009 when usage was at 85 percent.

The usage has risen 3 percent from 2016, according to NSC.

Beatrice Officials to Discuss Weed and Vehicle Complaints, Potential For New Fire Station

BEATRICE – Beatrice Mayor Stan Wirth says he wants to make the process of handling things such as weed complaints and junked vehicles, easier for the city’s inspection department.

At a Monday, October 30th city council work session, the city inspection department is being asked to make suggestions that are aimed at making the process move along more efficiently.

:25                  “ties their hands”

Wirth says the current way to address a problem with an unsightly property or junked vehicles is a multi-step affair.

:09                  “look at”

Wirth says the city still has its’ share of areas where junked vehicles are a problem.

:14                  “commercial area”

Also during the October 30th work session, the mayor says discussion will be held regarding the Beatrice Fire and Rescue Department’s ongoing crunch with space, at the Beatrice Municipal Auditorium.

:23                  “we do nothing”

City officials this summer sent out a survey question in utility bills, asking residents if they would support using additional local sales tax money to help finance either a new fire station or water park improvements.

One potential location for a new fire department headquarters is the property on which the Dempster Industries plant now sits.  It would have direct access to U.S. Highway 77.

Bond Set for Man Failing to Appear for Gage County Trial

BEATRICE – Appearance bond has been set at $250,000 for a man who failed to show for a September 27th Gage County District Court Jury trial.

Robert Waite was to go on trial on charges of strangulation, domestic assault and false imprisonment.   He was recently arrested for alleged shoplifting in Carroll, Iowa.  He waived extradition proceedings, and is now being held in the Gage County Jail.

During a district court hearing Thursday afternoon, Waite requested a preliminary hearing on an additional felony charge of failure to appear in court. That hearing is set for October 30th, before Judge Steve Timm.

Waite is next scheduled to appear in district court before Judge Julie Smith, on November 2nd.

Congressional Candidate Visits Madison County Democrats

NORFOLK — Health care was on the mind of congressional candidate Dennis Crawford on Thursday night.

The Lincoln personal injury attorney and Democratic candidate for Nebraska’s Congressional District One spoke at an event for Madison County Democrats at the Norfolk Country Club. He is opposing incumbent representative Jeff Fortenberry who has been in the House since 2005.

Most of Crawford’s speech was focused on the country’s debate over health care.

“The Trumpcare bill that Mr. Fortenberry voted for in May would have taken away insurance from 23 million people, brought back pre-existing condition clauses, all to fund a tax cut for the top one percent of wealthiest Americans,” Crawford said. “In my estimation, that’s going in completely the wrong direction.”

In addition to a speech, Crawford also answered questions and had dinner with the group.

He hammered on Fortenberry’s alignment with President Trump, saying he voted with the President 95 percent of the time.

“The Trump Administration is proposing cuts in crop insurance programs and the Ag budget,” Crawford said. “Once again, that would be very bad for Nebraska.”

Crawford ran against Fortenberry in the 2014 election and lost by over 67,000 votes. He says the 2018 election would have a different result because the Democratic base will turn out.

“I think this time the Democratic base is engaged. I think they’re alarmed by the decisions of the Trump administration and the Republican Congress. I think our voters will be willing to run through a wall to elect a Democrat in 2018,” Crawford said.

Crawford will face Democrat Jessica McClure in the primary election.

Turkey Trot Approaching, Benefiting Fairbury TeamMates

FAIR BURY –  What better way to start Thanksgiving Day than with a run before you put on the calories at dinner?  The 5th Annual Turkey Trot 1 mile or 5K Fun Run/Walk is about giving back to the community and encouraging local youth to grow.

All of the proceeds will benefit the Fairbury TeamMates Mentoring Program. TeamMates focuses on providing school-based mentoring during school hours. Mentors give one hour per week of their time students between the 3rd and 12th grade.

Runners who want a t-shirt must register by November 8. Registration on the day of the race will begin at 6:15 a.m. with the race beginning at 7:00 a.m. Runners will meet in the Fairbury High School Commons.


Construction Begins On Holiday Inn Express At Nebraska City

NEBRASKA CITY – Construction has begun on a new Holiday Inn Express & Suites at the new Highway 2 interchange on Nebraska City’s southern edge.

Dan Mauk of the Nebraska City Area Economic Development Corporation said it’s exciting to see construction underway on the $8.5 million hotel.

Mauk: “We’re excited to see things coming out of the ground now. The footings and some of the plumbing are starting to be visible and we are anxious to see it be completed probably in the late spring of 2018.”

He said the new hotel fits in with Nebraska City’s reputation as a tourism and cultural center.

Mauk: “This will fill a niche between current properties, the Lied Lodge in particular and the Best Western. It will give us a real visible landmark on the new intersection of Highway 2 and 75.”

The construction is north of the former outlet mall property, currently managed as Arbor Crossing. It will be accessed by new roads under construction as part of the interchange.

Mauk  said the Holiday Inn Express will be a draw for additional development.

Mauk: “The owners are working on a lot of opportunities there. I think, once the people see Holiday Inn’s recognizable sign out there they will say I want to be located next to that.”

The city has participated with the project with tax increment financing and Nebraska City Growth Funds.