Nebraska News

Governor OKs disaster declaration for Dakota City
DAKOTA CITY, Neb. (AP) — Gov. Dave Heineman has signed a state disaster declaration for northeastern Nebraska's Dakota City following recent severe weather. Heineman made the announcement Tuesday about severe weather that hit the area on Aug. 31. The storm produced large hail, damaging winds, heavy rains and flooding. The declaration allows money from an emergency fund to be used to help the community, which experienced significant damage to its public infrastructure. It included tree damage, closed roads and widespread power outages. The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency conducted a preliminary damage assessment of the area. An official says the agency will work with the city to determine accurate costs for damages.

Review hearing delayed for man who killed 6
NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) — A judge has postponed an annual review hearing for a man who killed six members of a western Nebraska family in 1975. Lincoln County District Judge Donald Rowlands rescheduled the hearing for Erwin Simants to Nov. 18. Simants has lived at the Lincoln Regional Center in 1979, the year he was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the shooting deaths of six in the Kellie family of Sutherland. Prosecutors say Simants shot and killed Henry and Audrey Kellie; their son David; and three of their grandchildren in 1975. Doctors testified last year that Simants is no longer mentally ill, but the judge ruled that he still would pose a threat to the public if released.

Nebraska reconsiders, discloses oil train records
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Three trains loaded with at least 1 million gallons of crude oil routinely cross eastern Nebraska each week. Nebraska officials released the information Tuesday after earlier refusing to disclose it when The Associated Press and others requested the details. BNSF railroad says the trains enter northeast Nebraska from Iowa and are carried across Dakota, Thursday, Burt, Dodge, Saunders, Cass, Lancaster, Gage, Johnson, Pawnee and Richardson counties. Federal transportation officials ordered the railroads this spring to notify states about trains carrying at least 1 million gallons of crude oil. Railroads are under pressure to improve safety after several fiery derailments involving crude oil, including one in a small Canadian city in eastern Quebec where 47 people died last July when 60 cars derailed and exploded.

Hastings College receives $1.7M gift
HASTINGS, Neb. (AP) — A 1946 Hastings College graduate has left her entire $1.7 million estate to the college. The Grand Island Independent reports ( ) Sarah Leer's gift is among the largest the university has received. She died in April in Viroqua, Wisconsin. Leer majored in business administration at Hastings College, participated in the campus Spanish club and also met her husband, Stanley, while at school. She spent her career as an administrative assistant with the Social Security Administration in Madison, Wisconsin. In addition to the gift, Leer established a scholarship in memory of her family and parents. She's also helped support the restoration of the oldest building at Hastings College.

Nebraska police: Man dies after forklift pins him
VALLEY, Neb. (AP) — Authorities in eastern Nebraska say a man has died after being pinned by a forklift. Valley police say George Young was using the forklift Monday night while working at Midwest Manufacturing. At some point, the machinery backed into a shelving unit and pinned him. Co-workers freed Young and began performing CPR on him. He was sent by helicopter to a hospital and pronounced dead. Omaha television station KETV reports the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is conducting an investigation.

Company wants to build Nebraska wind farm
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A company wants to build a wind farm with 54 turbines in southern Lancaster and northern Gage counties. Volkswind USA Inc. would like to build the farm on 7,000 acres of land in Lancaster County and 4,000 acres of land in Gage County. The company is a member of the Volkswind Group, which has built more than 60 wind farms, including in Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Poland. According to documents from the Lincoln/Lancaster County Planning Department, more than 50 landowners have already signed leases. Volkswind USA wants to start construction later this year, but it has to get special use permits for the turbines from the two counties first. The Lincoln Journal Star reports ( ) the project could start generating electricity next year.

Heineman honors Nebraskans for emergency planning
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraskans who helped their communities prepare for and respond to natural disasters were recognized for their work at the Capitol. Gov. Dave Heineman on Tuesday presented volunteers and community groups with this year's "Be Prepared" awards. The awards program is in its seventh year. It's sponsored by the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center. This year's recipients included the Beaver Crossing and Cordova Fire Departments, which responded to tornadoes that struck earlier this year, and Wayne County's Emergency Manager, who worked in the aftermath of several devastating tornadoes. The full list of winners is available at .

Lawmakers will look at new prison sentencing issue
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A legislative committee will investigate Nebraska's newest prison sentencing problems, which took place while officials were rounding up inmates who were released too early. Sen. Steve Lathrop, the committee's chairman, said Tuesday that members will look into the issue during an Oct. 10 hearing. The committee is already reviewing problems in the Department of Correctional Services, including the premature release of hundreds of inmates. The Omaha World-Herald reported Sunday that the department failed to follow a 2008 Nebraska Supreme Court ruling while rounding up those prisoners. Lathrop says that ruling made clear that prisoners who committed crimes after their early release should have to serve the time that they originally owed. It also said those prisoners are accountable for time owed if they were aware a mistake had been made.

Nebraska stop nets nearly 36 lbs of marijuana
HERSHEY, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska State Patrol says a traffic stop on Interstate 80 in western Nebraska has led to the seizure of nearly 36 pounds of marijuana. In a news release issued Tuesday, the patrol said the stop occurred early Monday afternoon when a trooper stopped a car on suspicion of failing to signal as it exited near Hershey. The trooper reported smelling marijuana and searched the car, leading to 35.7 pounds of marijuana, located in two large bags in the trunk. The driver, 28-year-old man from Kenosha, Wisconsin, and a passenger, a 40-year-old woman from Sturtevant, Wisconsin, were both arrested and booking in the Lincoln County Jail on suspicion of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.

Former Nebraska Chevy dealer dies at 96
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Ray Lambrecht, the former northeastern Nebraska Chevy dealer who collected a lifetime of cars that sold for $2.8 million last year, has died. He was 96. Pierce County Sheriff Rick Eberhardt confirmed Lambrecht died at his home Sept. 22. During one weekend last year, Lambrecht's sale of his car collection drew 30,000 people to Pierce. The History Channel gave the auction three hours of prime time, and the highway through Pierce was backed up for miles because of the sale. At the sale, the auctioneer sold one 1958 pickup for $140,000 and a 1978 Corvette for $80,000. The Lincoln Journal Star reports the sheriff visited with Lambrecht's wife last week. He said she was missing her husband and that they'd been married nearly 70 years.

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