Nebraska News

Court: Food stamp recipients entitled to local hearing
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska Supreme Court says food stamp recipients are entitled to a face-to-face meeting in their local welfare office for hearings that could affect their benefits. The ruling upends the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services' longstanding practice of requiring recipients to travel to Lincoln for the hearing or participate by telephone. The ruling Thursday came in the case of Melanie Marshall, of North Platte, who sued after she was denied an in-person hearing in the North Platte office. The high court on Thursday said the department's own regulation on such hearings gives recipients the option of a face-to-face hearing in their local office.

Schools OK to use lease-purchase agreements for construction
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska Supreme Court has reaffirmed that public school districts are not prohibited by state law from using lease-purchase agreements to fund building projects. The decision Thursday came in a lawsuit filed by taxpayers in 2012 after the after Scribner-Snyder Community School district entered a lease-purchase agreement with a bank to pay for building several classrooms. That came after voters rejected a $7.5 million bond proposal by the school district for the work. The taxpayers did not seek a temporary restraining order to try to stop construction. The high court found that the taxpayers' claims moot, because the work has already been done. But it issued a "public interest" ruling, finding that state law does not prohibit use of such lease-purchase agreements.

Nebraska senators approve limits on juvenile restraints
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska children would not wear handcuffs or leg irons in court unless absolutely necessary under a bill passed by the Legislature. Senators voted 44-2 Thursday to prohibit mandatory juvenile restraints during court appearances. A judge must conduct a hearing with lawyers and guardians to decide whether or not to restrain a juvenile for the purpose of courtroom safety. Currently, juvenile offenders transferred from detention centers appear shackled in court regardless of the severity of their offense. Advocates say the presumption of restraints damages children psychologically and affects courtroom behavior. The bill would also lower penalties for status offenses, which are age-dependent crimes like truancy or possession of alcohol. Governor Pete Ricketts has five days to take action on the bill. The bill is LB482.

Nebraska senators vote to cut ties with Midwest rail bloc
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska would cut its membership in the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact under a bill that cleared first-round debate in the Legislature. Senators voted 37-0 Thursday to leave the compact in three years, an action senators have been debating for the past eight years. The sponsor, Senator Bill Kintner of Papillion, says Nebraska has been wasting time and $15,000 a year in dues for a membership that does little to benefit the state. But Senator Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha says Nebraska has not invested time and effort in the opportunities the compact provides to link Midwestern states with alternate forms of transportation. The bill is LB317.

17-year-old to be charged with homicide for 4 crash deaths
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Douglas County prosecutors say a teenage driver will be charged with homicide as a juvenile for the deaths of four people in a three-vehicle collision. A news release from the office of Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine says the 17-year-old boy will face four misdemeanor counts of vehicular homicide. The Associated Press generally doesn't name juveniles accused of crimes. The accident occurred around 8:30 p.m. on April 5th northwest of Omaha. Authorities say the boy was driving a pickup north and didn't halt at a stop sign at an intersection with Nebraska Highway 36. The pickup knocked an eastbound vehicle into oncoming traffic, where it was struck by a westbound vehicle. The four killed were in the eastbound and westbound vehicles. The boy and his teenage passenger were hospitalized.

Woman accused of starting fire at Norfolk apartment complex
NORFOLK, Neb. (AP) — A 24-year-old woman has been accused of starting a small fire in a hallway at a Norfolk apartment complex. The Norfolk Police Department says Johna Richards was arrested Wednesday and booked into jail on suspicion of arson and terroristic threats. Online court records don't list the name of an attorney who could be contacted to comment on Richards' behalf. Police say the charges stem from a December 29th fire at a complex on South Hickory Street. A resident used a rug to put out the flames, and another resident told officers about threatening messages he'd been getting on Facebook. Police say investigators eventually were able to obtain information from Facebook about the person believed to have posted the messages, and Richards was arrested.

Sports video software company building new Lincoln HQ
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A sports video software company plans to build a new headquarters on the west side of Lincoln's Haymarket District. The company, Hudl, also announced Thursday that it expects to hire 300 more people over the next three years. Hudl expects to share space in the building with Nelnet, a student loan company. Hudl has grown rapidly since it was started in 2006. The company reported $23.2 million in revenue in 2013, compared with $1.2 million in revenue in 2010. The company has about 150 people working in Lincoln and around 50 in Omaha. It also has offices in Boston and London.

Nebraska science class to test physics skills with catapult
NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) — A science class from North Platte High School is ready to compete at the fourth annual Thrills in the Hills Catapult Competition. The North Platte Telegraph reports the goal of the April 29th competition in Arthur is to build a machine that can propel an object great distances. The school with the machine that throws a 16-pound bowling ball the farthest wins the competition. Science teacher Todd Ascheri, whose class will be competing, says the competition is an opportunity for students to learn basic physics concepts such as rotational movement, fulcrum and lever arm mechanics, and Newton's laws of motion. The teacher, who created the competition with his son, says he assisted his students, but they were primarily responsible for the design and construction of their machine.

Creighton lands K-State transfer Marcus Foster
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Marcus Foster, who led Kansas State in scoring before his dismissal from the team, is transferring to Creighton. The Bluejays said Thursday that Foster will have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules, but will have two years of eligibility remaining. Kansas State dismissed Foster last month, saying he had not lived up to standards the school sets for its players. After a sterling freshmen season, Foster's play deteriorated last season. He was suspended for three games and removed from the starting lineup at times. In 29 games last season, the 6-foot-3 guard from Wichita Falls, Texas averaged 12.5 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists. Creighton went 14-19 last season.

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