Nebraska News

Weather delays opening of 9 public swimming pools in Lincoln
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nine public swimming pools in Lincoln will open two days later than planned because recent rain and cool temperatures have made pool water too cold for safe swimming. The Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department made the announcement Thursday. The pools are now scheduled to open Monday for swimming. They typically open days earlier. Officials say while the facilities will not allow swimming until then, they'll open Saturday for registrations, sales and other requests. The pools will be available for use through August.

Omaha officer killed by gunman shot above protective vest
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The police chief of Nebraska's largest city says an Omaha police officer killed in the line of duty was shot just above the top of her protective vest. Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer gave more details Thursday of the shooting that killed 29-year-old Officer Kerrie Orozco on Wednesday. The chief said Orozco and another officer had responded to a call for backup from officers who came under fire from the heavily-armed suspect. Schmaderer says 26-year-old Marcus Wheeler fired on police who tried to arrest him Wednesday afternoon. Orozco and another officer soon arrived and chased after Wheeler, who turned and fired on them, too. Orozco was hit, and died at a local hospital. Wheeler was also shot and killed. Schmaderer says Orozco did not fire her gun.

Omaha mayor orders flags at half-staff for slain officer
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert has ordered flags in city to be lowered to half-staff in honor of Officer Kerrie Orozco, who was killed Wednesday in the line of duty. Stothert says flags should remain at half-staff until dusk Monday on Memorial Day. Stothert said Thursday the move is a sign of respect for Orozco and her service to the city. The city also plans to turn lights at the Heartland of America Fountain and on the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge blue beginning Thursday night through Memorial Day. Stothert is in Florida for her son's wedding on Friday. She will return to Omaha on Sunday, ahead of schedule, to participate in services for Orozco.

Nebraska votes to scrap ban on immigrant driver's licenses
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska's Legislature has voted to end the nation's last ban on driving privileges for young people brought into the United States illegally as children. In a 34-9 vote on Thursday, the unicameral Legislature agreed to scrap the policy by a veto-proof margin. Gov. Pete Ricketts has maintained that those who arrived in the country illegally shouldn't receive privileges intended for legal residents. The federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an executive action President Barack Obama announced in 2012, gives the youths a Social Security number, a two-year work permit and protection from deportation. A few states initially announced they would deny licenses to those youth, but only Arizona and Nebraska excluded them from driver's license eligibility. Arizona's law was blocked by a federal appeals court in July.

Nebraska farm, ranch tourism liability bill passes
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Farmers and ranchers who open their property to tourists could be shielded from certain lawsuits under a bill passed by Nebraska lawmakers. The Legislature gave the measure final approval on Thursday with a 46-0 vote. Senator Ken Schilz of Ogallala has said he introduced it to promote rural tourism and give farmers and ranchers another potential revenue source without the fear of lawsuits. The bill is aimed at sites such as working farms and ranches, hiking trails, lakes and hunting and bird-watching areas. It also could apply to hayrack or boat rides, vineyard tours and haunted houses. A 2012 Nebraska Tourism Commission report found that liability and insurance concerns were a major roadblock to the tourism industry's growth in the state. The bill is LB329.

Nebraska senators pass cannabis study for seizure sufferers
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska residents suffering from intractable seizures could have one more treatment option under a medical cannabis study headed to Gov. Pete Ricketts' desk. Senators voted 44-2 on Thursday to commission a University of Nebraska Medical Center study on the effectiveness of cannabidiol, a cannabis extract, in treating severe epileptic seizures. Nebraska would obtain cannabidiol from an England-based company authorized by the Federal Drug Administration for rare diseases. Supporters say the study could provide immediate aid to patients who have exhausted other treatment options. Ricketts' spokesman says the governor supports FDA-approved studies of marijuana for medical purposes. Ricketts has five days to take action on the bill, sponsored by Sen. Sue Crawford of Bellevue. The bill is LB390.

Bird flu crisis slows in Minnesota, focus now on recovery
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota has notched six straight days without a new bird flu case. And though state officials aren't ready to say the outbreak is over, they're beginning to stand down. The first case in the Midwest was confirmed in March at a Minnesota turkey farm, and the virus then spread to 88 farms in the top turkey producing state. But new cases have fallen off sharply and the focus is turning toward getting farms back into production. To be sure, the disease remains a threat. Iowa, the chief egg producer in the U.S., has reported several new probable cases this week. But things have settled down enough that Minnesota's Board of Animal Health stopped issuing daily updates unless it has new cases. And federal personnel assigned to the state have fallen.

Nebraskan accused of forgery and taking dad's check card
GERING, Neb. (AP) — A 27-year-old Scottsbluff man who faces three drug charges also is accused of stealing from his father. Online court records say a preliminary hearing is scheduled May 29 for Dustin Leonhardt. Jail records say he remained in custody on Thursday. His attorney didn't immediately return a call from The Associated Press, seeking comment on the allegations against Leonhardt. Leonhardt is charged with forgery and unauthorized use of a financial transaction device in addition to the three drug charges. A court affidavit says Leonhardt used his father's check card three times earlier this month and wrote a check on his father's account. The affidavit says the drugs were discovered Friday on Leonhardt and in his father's backyard shed, where officers found and arrested Leonhardt.

Michigan State beats Nebraska 9-7 in Big Ten tourney
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Ryan Krill hit a go-ahead grand slam in the eighth inning in Michigan State's 9-7 victory over Nebraska on Thursday in the Big Ten tournament. The Spartans (34-22) scored six runs in the bottom of the eighth to erase a 7-3 deficit in the elimination game. On Friday, Michigan State will play the Illinois-Maryland loser. Joe Mockbee retired 11 of 13 batters in 3 2-3 innings of relief for the fifth-seeded Spartans. The Cornhuskers (34-23) had a five-run fifth inning to take a 6-2 lead. Mark Weist and Chad Roskelly combined for six of the Spartans' 13 hits.

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