Nebraska News

Fourth case of bird flu found in northeast Nebraska
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A fourth case of bird flu has been confirmed on a northeast Nebraska farm. The state Agriculture Department said Wednesday the latest case involves 3 million hens on a farm in Knox County. The new case of contagious bird flu was found 50 miles away from three cases in Dixon County that involved 4 million birds. All four of the infected farms are owned by the same company. The Knox County farm has been quarantined, and nearby farms with birds will be tested. Agriculture Director Greg Ibach says poultry farmers should restrict how many people and vehicles enter their farms. Officials say the bird flu doesn't represent a significant health risk for humans, but more than 40 million birds have been killed nationwide to limit the spread of the disease.

Ricketts vetoes driver's licenses bill for immigrant youth
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Governor Pete Ricketts has vetoed a bill that would end Nebraska's ban on driving privileges for young people brought to the state illegally as children but allowed to stay under a federal program. Ricketts argued Wednesday that the bill would grant driver's licenses to an overly broad group of people in the country illegally. The federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program announced by President Barack Obama gives the youths a Social Security number, a work permit and protection from deportation. Lawmakers gave the measure final approval last week on a 34-9 vote, a large enough margin to override the veto. Nebraska remains the nation's only state to exclude the youth from driver's license eligibility. Senator Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha says he expects lawmakers will override the veto on Thursday.

Bill to allow packer-owned hogs in Nebraska defeated
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — An effort to lift Nebraska's ban on hogs owned by meatpackers has failed to advance in the Legislature. Supporters fell two votes short Wednesday of the support they needed to break a filibuster on a second-round vote. Opponents argued that the ban protects small and independent producers. Opponents say the bill would allow major corporations, such as the Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods, to squeeze out small and independent farmers and control the supply chain. They pointed to the poultry industry, where consolidations have given a handful of processors substantial leverage over producers because of their market dominance. Senator Ken Schilz of Ogallala says the bill would have kept the hog industry growing as fast as in neighboring states that have outpaced Nebraska.

Nebraska abolishes death penalty in landmark override vote
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska has abolished the death penalty in a landmark veto-override vote backed by a coalition of conservatives who oppose capital punishment. Senators in the one-house Legislature voted 30-19 on Wednesday to override Governor Pete Ricketts, a Republican who supports the death penalty. The vote makes Nebraska the first traditionally conservative state to eliminate the punishment since North Dakota in 1973. Nebraska joins 18 other states and Washington, D.C., in banning the ultimate punishment. Some senators say they philosophically support the death penalty but are convinced the state will never carry out another execution because of legal hurdles. Nebraska hasn't executed an inmate since a 1997 electrocution. The bill was introduced by independent Senator Ernie Chambers, who has fought for four decades to repeal the death penalty.

Nebraska man identified as rail worker killed in Minneapolis
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Nebraska man has been identified as a BNSF Railway employee killed in a rail yard accident in Minneapolis. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office identified the man Wednesday as 29-year-old Tyrell Anderson of Gering, Nebraska. According to the office, Anderson died of "multiple blunt force injuries" sustained while unloading track material Monday morning. BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth has said a locomotive passing on another track hit the material, causing it to fall on top of the worker. Deputy Fire Chief Todd White said he was part of an eight-person crew working in the area. The medical examiner's office says the accident is being investigated by BNSF, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Railroad Administration.

BNSF plans temporary layoffs with slipping freight demand
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — BNSF Railway Company says it's planning employee furloughs due to slipping freight shipping demand across its rail network. The company said Wednesday in a statement that it hopes to call back employees "as soon as business needs change." The railroad would not say how many employees were being furloughed but that they are "at different locations across our network." BNSF is based in Fort Worth, Texas and is part of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Incorporated based in Omaha. The railroad is the biggest player in North Dakota's oil patch, hauling most of the more than 1.1 million barrels that moves out of the region daily. The railroad also is the biggest hauler of freight in the Upper Great Plains.

Nebraska pilot's remains to be buried at national cemetery
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — More than 70 years have passed since the family of a 23-year-old Nebraska fighter pilot learned that he had been killed in World War Two. The Pentagon recently announced that the remains of U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lieutenant Alvin Beethe were found in Germany. Confirmation of his remains included two forms of DNA analysis. The Omaha World-Herald reports that Beethe's remains will be buried next month will full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery outside the nation's capital. Officials say Beethe was flying a P-38 Lightning during a mission on November 26th, 1944, when it crashed near Morschenich, Germany. His family held a memorial service in January 1946. Beethe was the oldest of four children in his family and grew up on a farm near Elk Creek.

Sheriff: Car that carried teens into river has been found
NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) — The Lincoln County sheriff says a diver has reached a car that carried two teenagers into the rushing waters of the South Platte River in western Nebraska. But Sheriff Jerome Kramer said Tuesday that the car can't be recovered until the river recedes. Hydrologists say the river is expected to reach flood stage late Wednesday or early Thursday. Officials have said 17-year-old Alexis Wiezorek (wih-ZOR'-ehk) and 18-year-old Noah Ramos have been missing since May 18th, when they drove into the river, which had washed out a road on the south side of North Platte. Kramer says the diver could see only silt inside the car but was able to remove a piece of the car's vinyl top, which allowed officials to confirm the car is the one driven by Wiezorek.

2 die after car runs stop sign and collides with semi
PIERCE, Neb. (AP) — Two people in a car that ran a stop sign have died in a collision with a semitrailer in northeast Nebraska. The Pierce County Sheriff's Office said in a news release Wednesday that the accident occurred a little before 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, about a mile west of Osmond. The release says the car driven by 88-year-old Darleen Wallin didn't halt at the Bloomfield Road intersection with U.S. Highway 20 and collided with the semi. The Sheriff's Office says Wallin and her husband, 93-year-old Lloyd Wallin, were killed. They lived in Newman Grove. The truck driver, Jeffrey Petersen, of Oakland, was taken to a hospital.

Man who cleaned homes in Lincoln accused of stealing jewelry
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A 48-year-old man is suspected of stealing jewelry from several Lincoln homes while working in them for a cleaning service. Robert Harris faces a felony theft charge from a March case and soon could face more charges. Harris has been jailed pending $75,000 bond. Online court records don't list the name of an attorney who could be contacted to comment on Harris' behalf. Harris was arrested on April 1st after being accused of pawning six items stolen from a Lincoln woman's home. He bonded out of jail but was rearrested last week after investigators checked reports from seven other clients of the cleaning service that jewelry had been stolen from December through March.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press